Q&A: Star Wars Luke Figures, Kylo Ren Head Swapping, and Exclusive Exceptionalism

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 20, 2016

1. Obviously I've been asleep at the wheel, because I missed this one entirely - a TRU exclusive armor-up Poe Cameron with two new (?) sets of armor. I know you don't love the armor-up line, and I agree with you about the price point. But in theory, kids might like it, and I see multiple suits as adding play value.

But what else did I miss? Are there other multi-armor sets at TRU? I know of three waves of black series at Wal Mart. did they ever confirm a fourth?

What else did you miss? I have no idea. There's a lot of stuff in circulation and I don't know what you actually have - and for some reason Hasbro now has seemingly decided it's not worth the time to alert you to all the new releases. Toys R Us only got two exclusive armor sets - Poe and Phasma - but they also got a couple of "trilogy" six-packs of mostly Saga Legends/Mission Series molds that I skipped due to a lack of newness. There's a lot of stuff out there right now, but what you might actually want is tough to tell - after all, I don't know how complete you are, and people are finding interesting ways to define what's new and worthwhile and what's not.

While nobody confirmed a fourth wave of Walmart's The Black Series directly, last week we saw leaks of a snow coat Old Han Solo, a The Force Awakens General Leia, and a new black R5-series astromech droid pop up. Hasbro did say they would be doing more for Walmart but declined to offer such niceties as to what, when, and how many for how long. For all we know there's just one more wave, or maybe there are a dozen. It's all part of the bizarre level of secrecy that is generally unproductive, because good customers like yourself are left in the dark when Hasbro doesn't bother to actually share things with the rest of the class.



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2. I'm wondering if you (or any of readers) have tried to put the Armor Up Kylo Ren head on the TBS Walmart 3.35" Kylo. If so, does it fit, or does it require "a few special modifications"?

It's not an easy fit - the ball/peg on The Black Series 3 3/4-inch Kylo Ren is a good deal larger than the one on the Armor Up figure. If you want the armor head to fit on the Black Series body, you're going to need to shave something down or dremel something out.




3. What's the deal with zero versions of Luke Skywalkers in the works from TFA? It seems especially conspicious considering every other OT/ST main character has been released now or will be soon. Granted, He got no lines but he was top billed in the film and was pretty much the star of the last trilogy not to mention is mentioned by full name in the opening scroll of 3/5 of the films he's starred in. I mean they could even pack him with Rey as a two-pack and it would still sell like hotcakes even if Rey is a straight up repack.

Well, you're partially wrong - Funko has a Luke Pop! Vinyl figure in development, which was only first previewed as artwork at Toy Fair. I would assume this is because Disney wanted to keep his appearance a secret, despite the leaks, in part because a big part of the movie's message (that was not played up as well as it could have been) was "Where is Luke Skywalker?" The big reveal at the end was done that way for a reason, and showing off how Luke has aged is probably not what they want to do. If that sounds absurd to you, remember that in 1996 Kenner tried doing a removable helmet Darth Vader and Lucasfilm decided that showing Vader with his mask off as a toy may have been too soon. (We got the figure in 1998.)

It's very likely that assets for Luke were not officially available to manufacturers until the movie (this is what happened with Baby Groot for Guardians of the Galaxy, and Hasbro has yet to make a movie baby Groot) and for that reason, given the long lead time for a newly sculpted action figure, odds are the very soonest Hasbro could possibly have a Luke in your hands would be November or December of this year. (Hasbro usually says it takes 18 months - 12 if they rush - to get a product from concept to shelf.) And that's if Disney and Lucasfilm are cool with it, and that's also keeping in mind the possibility that Hasbro may not even want to do it now. We know Luke is in Episode VIII. He'll probably even be in the same costume. Since the original plan was for Ep8 to be out in May of 2017 - it's December now - it's not impossible that Hasbro might say "Well, let's just hold him for the next movie" because of the gap being so short. It's not so short now. Things change, so I'm basically second-guessing Hasbro's plans based on what they won't tell us and probably never will because disclosure of their conversations with an extant licensor are a) none of our business and b) arguably bad for business relationships.

So my guess - things are going according to plan. Funko can get a product out much more quickly than Hasbro for a variety of reasons, and Hasbro has said to us at Toy Fair that they do have plans to do Luke. What those plans are, they didn't share - which seems to be par for the course under the Disney regime. I look forward to Hasbro actually giving us a better road map of what the year will look like, but the scary thing is that with so much Marvel mania on the books it's not impossible that we saw most of what we'll get prior to the Rogue One launch already.




The big news this week is that those of you wanting a Maz Kanata or a Rey might want to snag the Takodana Encounter set, which was devised as a companion to last year's six "Digital Release" sets - you remember the ones with the slipcases, right? This box has the same footprint and was originally meant to sit next to them on the shelf. I'm not sure if the spines are going to line up, I should have taken a better shot of that at Toy Fair.

So what else is new? Not a ton. Star Wars Rebels continues and I'd say the show is mostly better in its second year when compared to the first. This week's episode featured Chopper, a Death Star Droid that sounds vaguely like Alan Rickman, and a real surprise for comedy fanatics - the great James Adomian, as Jesse Ventura, as an Imperial Officer. Before watching the episode I scanned The AV Club for its letter grade because, on the whole, the more they hate Star Wars TV the more likely I am to walk away enjoying it. (I typically agree with their other TV and movie critiques.) They really hate Chopper - I don't - and generally speaking I figure any time you have someone that can build an episode around a mostly non-speaking hero that's a pretty incredible feat. A new droid, AP-5, looked pretty awesome and would make a great action figure - although, so far, it's starting to seem increasingly unlikely that non-combatant characters from the show will ever see plastic. I'm thrilled that we're getting old man Rex right now, plus a couple of Inquisitors and a new Sabine, but... then what? One of the unfortunate things about there being so much Star Wars is that the toy line may never actually be complete, at least as far as characters go. We're still not done with The Clone Wars, or for that matter, the now 39-year-old original movie. There's not a lot left, but there are still gems to be mined out of the existing galaxy. My hope for our getting stuff from new TV projects once we're beyond the launch window of the show and any new toy line is pretty low, but the fact that we actually got a new vehicle in 2016 shows that maybe we've got some hope.

It's a really weird thing to be in an era where we have multiple generations of fans of something that used to just be three movies - or two, or one. (Well, also five... with two cartoons.) Depending on when you grew up, you've probably got an idea in your head of what Star Wars stories and characters are crucial to your collection and with all the new stuff it's less and less likely other fans are going to necessarily agree with you. Me, I'd love to see toys of Vlix, Morag, the Marauders, and especially Noa. I don't necessarily expect anyone too much younger than 30 to know who any of them are. As we get a new episode of TV every week with a big movie push seemingly every year, it seems like the chances for more original trilogy figures are low, classic Expanded Universe (Legends, whatever) are nil. I'm not feeling too good about the original six films right now either. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it goes back a while ago to something I mentioned about there being a monopoly on male action toys - Hasbro basically owns the movies of summer. Transformers, Star Wars, Marvel, and to a lesser extent G.I. Joe (if it makes a comeback) means that they have four big brands fighting for resources. And now within that fight, Star Wars has numerous stories each fighting for attention too. When it was three movies, it was a pretty safe bet that you were going to like the story from which the toy came. Now? There are two CG series and seven movies that are likely to be pulls, but the TV series aren't getting much love and the only movie that's being given anything is The Force Awakens. For more original trilogy stuff, I'm betting it's going to have to cameo in the new movies.

What does that mean for you? It's time to campaign for your most-wanted toy character to appear in a new movie and hope someone is listening. Semi-related: Zootopia and 10 Cloverfield Lane were entertaining, I'm very late to the Shovel Knight party and it's fantastic, plus the Filmation-style He-Man from Mattel arrived late but it's pretty spiffy. Also, some of you have been writing in about Indiana Jones merch now that there's a new movie - the licenses are separate, and there's no known plans for any products just yet. Based on comments surrounding the last movie, I'd expect very little for the new one. Like, even Funko didn't do Indy last time out - based on the fan reaction to the merchandise, I don't suspect you're going to see a ton. Maybe a NECA figure.

--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.


AP-5 Lookalike

There was a purple death star droid that came in a comic pack - I want to say it came with a comic-colored Boba Fett. It's based on the old 1998 mold, but it looks pretty close to this new companion for Chopper. It would at least now have a use besides being in the background of some random Jabba/ Mos Eisley scene.


Well technically the new 6" Darth Revan will be a "legends" figure...if it comes out.

I liked your reviews of the Rebels TV show, are you planning on doing any more?

There's a few figures since

There's a few figures since 2013's Black Series that might make the cut as a Legends figure, depending on what was approved when.

Rebels TV show reviews? Probably not in the near term. There hasn't been a lot of request for it but if I get more requests, I might try to put something together.