Q&A: New Star Wars TIE Fighters, 3 3/4-Inch Black Series, and MicroMachines Aplenty

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 1, 2015

1. Adam, I was wondering about the TIE fighter in the attached screen grab from the new trailer. It seems to sport the new white wings, however the red glowing ion engines seem to be stacked on the top and bottom instead of next to each wing pylon and it seems to be missing the large wheel like structure on the wings and the chin and pylon guns the newly released toy has or the wider body and rear view window. 3013 I'm assuming then that we're potentially getting two different TFA TIE fighters come Christmas or early next year? Have you heard any rumblings and do you know what the difference between the two are besides one seemingly still a single man fighter the other being the two man chin gun toy version of the fighter? I'm guessing that the new larger toy version has a hyper-drive installed hence the big wheel thingies on the wings and the larger engine exhaust ports but I could just be geeking it up too much.

Since the movie isn't out yet, we're not entirely sure how things are going to shake out.

However, there do seem to be two "normal" TIE Fighters - there's a standard model, and a Special Forces model. The Special Forces is the one we've seen as action figure toys - it has the red markings and the extra ammo around the pylons. It is sold in pretty much every toy style. The other one is a First Order TIE Fighter, but not an elite one - the back window is different and, as you say, seems to be a one-seater. We'll know for sure later (I hope) but as of right now we're not necessarily expecting another full-size TIE Fighter toy - Hasbro could make one, and they might not. We really don't know.

However if you collect MicroMachines (and I do) both versions exist in that scale. The version you mentioned is indeed included in the "X-Wing Dogfight" 3-pack with a couple of X-Wings. No wheel, no red markings, and the back of the ship is closer in line to the classic 1970s and 1980s TIE Fighters (but not the Kenner toys, for obvious reasons.

This is neat, because it's rare that we get a new TIE variant where the wings are the part that they don't change. It seems Hasbro could rerelease its older TIE Fighter tooling (last seen in the 2010 Vintage Target exclusive box) in a Rebels-themed deco as well as The Force Awakens, were it so inclined. The only drawback for Hasbro is that it's not a $40 vehicle - The Force Awakens toy we have now is really nifty in terms of features, but side by side your average schmuck won't see an obvious difference between the two other than the red and the wings.

I don't know how Hasbro plans to roll out its Star Wars toys from here on out - I know about as much as everybody else thanks to the secrecy surrounding the launch, which is, well, nutty. (Did anyone really benefit from not knowing we'd see a reissue of Chopper?)



Buy The Force Awakens Stuff at Entertainment Earth!

Star Wars Desert Assault Walker with Figure - Entertainment Earth Exclusive Star Wars Black Series 6-Inch Action Figures - Entertainment Earth Exclusive

Free U.S.A. Shipping - Spend $79+ on in-stock toys!


2. You think there's any chance we'll ever see Micro Machines release army builder packs like they did in the 90's ala Ewoks, Rebel Pilots, Stromtroopers, etc? Is there any reasonable reason why they would or can not? Also, Same question with the PT era Unleashed line in both the original large form and in their later smaller one? I remember them selling quite well from 2002-2005ish, So it's not like the line was a bomb like more recent Hasbro have been in the past few years. I thought it was a great cheap alternative at retail for statue-esque figures even if they were dust magnets.

It's possible but so far, I'd say unlikely. I'm rather surprised we don't have blind-bagged MicroMachines figure packets yet, mostly because the form factor is perfect.

The 7-inch Unleashed line is super dead. Depending on who you asked, they were not great sellers - the first wave went on clearance, and the line benefitted greatly from rumors and poor perception. (For example, Padme received the bogus "rare/recalled/censored" rumors despite being packed at the same rations as her casemates, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker.) I picked up several of these on generous clearance prices, and Hasbro's reissues received bigger boxes and price increases as time went on. At $15 each, they were minor miracles - gorgeous figures at a great price that nobody really appreciated as much as they should have. It wouldn't surprise me to see them give it another shot - no doubt under the increasingly diluted "The Black Series" banner - but it makes less and less sense for them to do so when the 6-inch The Black Series figures are fundamentally the same size and gobs more articulated. If you put The Black Series 6-inch Bossk next to the 7-inch Unleashed Bossk, the similarities are striking. Given the time between them and the shift in priorities (articulation vs. no articulation) I assume that Hasbro would not want to release a competitor to one of its more popular collector lines. Doing so is, well, bad.

Let me put it this way - back in the 1990s, we all bough the Power of the Force figures. JusToys' Bend-Ems weren't really a competitor, nor were Galoob's Micro lines - they were a different kind of a thing, you didn't get traditional figure-and-vehicle play. As time went on, we got LEGO - they took a bite out of the Kenner/Hasbro pie. So did the prequel figures - the unified base didn't all follow the new movie. And then Hasbro began to diversify, with people trying other scales like Unleashed. And then we saw them split up the line between animated and "real" in 2008, which caused another split. In 2012 (and 2013) we saw the line shift almost completely toward "collector" with Vintage, and then rubber band back the other way with a hard split between The Black Series and Mission Series/Saga Legends, and ANOTHER competitor in the 12-inch Titan series as well as the 3 3/4/-inch Black Series fighting the 6-inch Black Series. It's not just a dollars issue, it's a priorities issue. Hasbro will no doubt see some attrition from their current focus, as we don't know when (or if) we'll see "classic" come back around in a big way in 3 3/4-inch - regardless of the format.

The smaller Unleashed line, well, we just had (and lost) Star Wars Command. I don't doubt Hasbro will continue to dabble in this scale, but the format will probably continue to change.

I'm not saying Hasbro is doing a poor job, because they aren't. Things are going very well right now, the new movie guarantees that even some of their slower products will do well. I mean, there's a new Jar Jar Binks this year, and it's actually selling. As long as new movies keep the world interested in Star Wars with annual - if not more frequent - line reboots, I would expect pretty much anything can happen. I don't know that it will, but Hasbro has been doing great with blind bags and collector-level figures for $20 or more. They may wish to expand their offerings. I mean, would any of us have really expected to see a rebirth of MicroMachines just a few short years ago? I wouldn't have.




3. Is there a definitive checklist of Walmart's 3 3/4" black series more-than-five-points-of-articulation figures?

I thought I read in an interview Hasbro will wait and see if these exclusives are a success before producing more in the line — with the lead time required for tooling and manufacturing, is it correct to assume we're at least a year away from more super-articulated figures (assuming Walmart's exclusive proves to be a hit)?

Sometimes "wait and see" is code for "we're not going to say no because we want you to collect this with hopes of more, and we know if we say it's over you'll lose interest really quickly." It's happened before in other lines, so it wouldn't stun me if Hasbro just said "let's finish it up as a Walmart exclusive and then not look back." Sometimes Hasbro says they're going to "rest" a line, and about half the time that's a nice way of saying "we're not going to make any more, ever." They may not know that's what they're saying when they say it, but Hasbro had the US rights for Zoids over a decade ago, and supposedly still do, and I've not seen a new Hasbro-boxed one since like 2004.

Right now, these are the ones we know of:
__ Chewbacca
__ Darth Vader
__ Finn
__ Han Solo (Endor)
__ Kylo Ren
__ Luke Skywalker (Jedi)
__ Poe Dameron
__ Princess Leia (Ceremonial)
__ Rey
__ Stormtrooper (First Order)

As far as I know, we've only gotten Vader, Luke, and Chewie so far - if you've seen others, let me know. It's worth noting Chewbacca has a change - this release has a black bowcaster instead of dark grey. While your mileage may vary, I saw lots of these figures in several Walmarts over the last few days. This probably - hopefully - means that there will also be a ton of the subsequent waves as well.

...having said that, as a toy collector, no time of year offers more opportunity than November and December. Lots of product flows into stores, with big chains blasting through cases of figures in a day or even less time than that - it is always possible that you could go into a store after dinner, and again after lunch the next day, and miss something. You're not just competing with the decreasing pool of adult fans who were around for (and still interested from) the original trilogy - now you've got moms, aunts, dads, uncles, cousins, and other gift-givers who just want to buy something. They're not very picky, they're not very savvy, and if they're out of 12-inch Titan Hero Series figures then all of a sudden the other options look a lot more promising.

Another fun thing to remember is that fans are, as a rule, not very good at paying attention. It's true. Depending on which item we're talking about, prices have gone up and down a bunch over the last decade - there was a time you could get all 60 30th Anniversary Collection figures off of eBay in a lot for about $300-$350. The various store and convention exclusives from Revenge of the Sith now cost less than their 2005 issue price. I don't advocate waiting for the sake of waiting, but if you can't find what you want at a price you're willing to pay, and you expect to still be collecting in the next five years, I'm willing to bet that in most cases your patience will be rewarded.




On Saturday my big giant TIE Fighter came in the mail. This is the 6-inch Black Series one, and let me tell you it is big and mostly impressive. Just don't get too close - the plastic already shows some wing warp, and my wings had some minor blemishes and discoloration. There are no electronics or firing rockets, but the interior of the ship looks like a prop from the movie. There's seating for two and tons of displays, controls, and even a rear window! I brought it down to the room with my other Star Wars vehicles and put it on top of some cabinets - and the giant wings proceeded to block out light on half the room. It's bulkier than a closed Matty Collector Castle Grayskull, which may be problematic for fans as they age. Really big toys were easier to absorb when we didn't have hundreds of other figures - I assume someone, somewhere, will probably come up with a good aftermarket display for this item. Also if it does well, the real question is "what's next?" Hasbro doesn't usually just go do one of a thing - and I'd have expected a Dewback or a Landspeeder first, personally. All I'm saying is, with something this big, feel free to skip things you don't like for the new movie. I thought I'd probably be able to keep up with space for these toys for six more movies, and now I'm a little less sure - one or two of these titans can fill up an average office real quick.

Here's hoping for some more adjuncts to The Black Series, but smaller would be nicer. ...having said that, I'd throw down $80 for the world's best 6-inch scale Bantha. Or Jabba's throne. Or a Tatooine Skiff.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.