Last week, Star Wars and Disney bloggers were at the House of Mouse to check out new toys including Disney's own 12 3/4-inch scale electronic action figures. It's important to note that these are not 1:6 scale (12-inch figures) - Luke is taller at 12 3/4-inches, with other characters like Darth Vader and Chewbacca exceeding 14-inches.
Each figure has a lot of articulation plus electronic lights and sounds - a decent deal at $29.99, wouldn't you say? Hasbro had a similar transforming Darth Vader/Anakin last year at a similar price without the high level of articulation. While each figure is loaded with joints, you can see on the image of Luke to the left that the legs can only swing forward a tiny bit - but the arms can go straight up. Each figure has one arm that can only swivel at the shoulder, rather than a ball joint - this seems to be consistent with other electronic figures where the wiring goes through the joint and you need to be careful about construction around wires.
I asked a few questions, as that's what I do, and I can tell you that the gentleman in charge of presenting these clearly was a proud parent of a new type of figure. It's a challenge to make something for kids and possibly even collectors in a space dominated by Hasbro, Sideshow, Hot Toys, Medicom, and countless others - and I think they managed to do something new and interesting.
At first glance these look like The Black Series 6-inch figures from Hasbro, but it turns out that they were developed without Hasbro or Disney.
Each figure was engineered in-house at the Disney Store's headquarters, sculpted digitally by some guy whose name we didn't get. (Trade secret, I suppose.) The very first figure will hit stores on May 4, because of course it will, with the Stormtrooper.
A new figure will debut each week following, but out handlers were not privy to which one would be next, nor on which day of the week it would hit shelves. If you're concerned, don't be - they're probably going to have a bunch of these on hand and you can always give them a call before making a trek to your nearest mall-based purveyor of princesses and rodent wares.
As with the die-cast metal ships, the line will focus on Star Wars from the get go with some characters featuring designs from later in the trilogy. The Stormtrooper will be joined by Han Solo, Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker in X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear before you flip your calendar to June. Each figure has a surprisingly high quality sound box activated by small, unobtrusive buttons on the front of the figures. Weapons are non-removable and exaggerated slightly, with red LEDs that activate when the sounds play.
Other notable features include a non-working holster on the Stormtrooper, Darth Vader's flexible soft plastic cape, and a removable helmet for Luke. We were also given a sneak peek of an unfinished Chewbacca (which if you ask me looks pretty great - look at some of the larger figures over the years, this is one of the better ones) as well as an early take on Boba Fett, who we were assured will feature the less-colorful The Empire Strikes Back deco when released later this year. More figures are planned, but who? Well, it's not in my notes from the show, so we'll just have to wait and see if they tell us before it shows up on a shelf near you in the fall. While I'm sure few of our regular readers are looking to start a completely new scale, the level of articulation is pretty good, the likenesses aren't bad, and the level of detail is impressive. If you're new or want a fresh start, you could probably get a pretty decent collection of these scraped together between now and the time everything shifts over to sequel movies and new TV shows.
Special thanks to Disney for the early look at these items! More articles from this event are still coming featuring plush, kid's costumes, mini-figures, and mugs.