As we pass a little over the halfway point of 2014, many collectors are wondering if this has been the worst year of collecting ever. While we’ve had some highlights for The Black Series, especially in the 6 inch scale, one can’t help but feel that 2014 is more of a “placeholder” year. A transition period that came as a result of the dynamic changes for the franchise in 2013 with Hasbro having to change up strategy and make quick realignments of their resources for Episode 7. It sure seems that way with the scarcity of product since the beginning of the year. But based on what Hasbro previewed during their annual Comic-Con Star Wars Day panel, we have some good things to look forward to for the back to school/holiday season and Q1 of 2015.
Things being as they are, I wasn’t surprised that Hasbro didn’t produce a big vehicle or playset exclusive for the holiday. I’m sure Mark Boudreaux is cooking up a lot of goodies in his plastic lab for Episode 7 as we speak, and it looks like the move for now is to offer large hollow plastic vehicles, like Walmart’s Millennium Falcon, in the cheap mom-friendly category and their “downsized” Class II vehicles.
Collectors haven’t been abandoned altogether during this period of transition, and The Black Series is picking up some steam as Hasbro expands the 6 inch assortment to include small vehicles and gangster slugs. Even the 5 point articulated Saga Legends and Rebels figures offer a surprisingly lot of quality sculpt and paint detail for 6 bucks. Yeah, I get you can’t pose them dynamically, but they look awesome on display nonetheless, and army building a bunch of Saga Legends Stormtroopers for 4 bucks less is a great value proposition. I also get that today’s play habits have drastically changed and the paradigm has shifted, and while I’m also a fan of super-poseability, the sculpt and aesthetics of some of the upcoming SL figures are amazing.
Star Wars Command looks to be the centerpiece for this year, taking over for Angry Birds, whose presence has been diminished to one store exclusive set. I played with Army Men when I was 5 or 6 and understand where Hasbro is going with the concept, but I sure miss the small Unleashed Battle Packs from a few years ago and hope Hasbro re-introduces it for the new movies. That and Micro Machines, although Mattel’s new offering looks pretty damn awesome.
Here’s the rundown of Saturday’s reveals:
BLACK SERIES 3.75 INCH
The collector oriented line continues with hopefully improved distribution for the rest of the year. If you are a Clone Trooper fan, then you should be quite happy as a new version of Captain Rex with Phase II helmet is on his way next March along with a “Yoda’s Test” Darth Vader from Episode V with helmet revealing Luke’s face. Also in this wave is a new Dutch Vander.
Hasbro refreshes “Medal Ceremony” Princess Leia, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that hasn’t been updated since 1997. The facial sculpt isn’t as accurate as I would’ve like, but the soft goods works well. Episode IV Chewbacca will also be released featuring a groove sculpted on his neck to place the medal that is accessorized with Ceremony Leia. Hasbro designer Bill Rawley mentioned that the goal was to re-produce the whole Ceremony ensemble (Ceremony Luke was refreshed earlier) and that foremost in their mind was for Chewie to finally receive his medal.
Also releasing in March is an amazing new Commander Wolffe from CW Season 6 with the McQuarrie concept inspired helmet. The paint detail on this figure is pretty phenomenal and should be the one collectors will be after in this wave. There’s also a Clone Commandor Doom, whose color scheme should be quite familiar with Marvel and Fantastic Four fans if his name hasn’t given you a strong hint already.
Finally, there’s an Episode II Clone Sergeant on it’s way that was a holdover from the cancelled Droid Factory series in 2013.
BLACK SERIES 6 INCH
This is where we hit pay dirt. The 6 inch series has been phenomenal so far, giving Hasbro’s artists a larger canvas to add more detail and accurate paint applications.
The Deluxe segment continues with Han Solo and Tauntaun and Luke Skywalker and Wampa. The sculpts on both look spectacular and is priced right for $39.99 considering the standard figure alone is $20. But having to work with that pricepoint has certain drawbacks. Bill indicated that they could unfortunately not budget in a slit stomach and innards for the Tauntaun. Both are slated for release next February.
Just in time for the holidays, a Tie Pilot, Bossk, and Han Solo Stormtrooper are scheduled to be released in December. Again, fantastic true to subject sculpting on these figures. Hasbro captures Han’s facial likeness spot on and Bossk even comes with an articulated jaw even though the movie character didn’t.
Finally, to answer one of the questions submitted through our Facebook page, General Grievous is not scheduled for TBS 6 inch in 2015.
Based on the previews we’ve seen of Rebels so far, this series is shaping up to be a banger. Hasbro hasn’t produced the assortments as robustly as it had for The Clone Wars,, and that’s probably due to Episode 7. The figures have 5 points of articulation and sculpts executed remarkably well, and for $5.99 for single carded and $9.99 for Mission Series, that’s a great value.
Coming this December for the Mission Series are Cikatro Vizago and IG-RM and Sabine and Stormtrooper. The latter is sure to fly of the shelves due to familiar notes on the new Rebels character and the troop building worthiness of the Stormtooper.
Also out the same mont for Mission are Bossk and IG-88 and Wicket and Biker Scout. Wicket has to be the best version yet, and both sets should be popular. A fuzzball combo of Wullfwarro and Wookiee Warrior are also planned for release.
Releasing next February for Rebels are Hera Syndulla and Stormtooper Commander.
If you’re a fan of quality sculpts and lower pricepoints, then this December is for you (and the kids) starting with Plo Koon and Commander Gree.
One of may favorites of the Hasbro booth has to be the Jedi Temple Guard from Season 6 of Clone Wars. There will be a lot of troop building for these, and for the pricepoint shouldn’t be as costly.
The appeal of figures with 5 points of articulation that has been constantly touted by Adam Pawlus and Hasbro is that they can easily sit and fit in their appropriate vehicles. You can now further put this thinking to the test with a new TIE Pilot, AT-AT Driver, and AT-DP Pilot.
Fans of vintage Kenner will have a certain appreciation for the new refangled and somewhat downsized Imperial Troop Transport that’s due out next February. It features slots for your troops and a firing missile, and for $24.99, is a great value. Hasbro’s Mark Boudreaux, who designed the vintage vehicle, looks to have meticulously worked to fit in every detail for the pricepoint.
Out in October for the same pricepoint is an all new AT-DP and Phantom Attack Shuttle from the Rebels series. The Attack Shuttle has similarities with the much larger vehicle released for Clone Wars a few years ago and has firing and transforming features.
Target will be releasing an Imperial Shadow Squadron set Shadow Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper with Speederbike for October. These are very nice repaints of previously released pieces, but work well as an exclusive pack and should be popular with collectors and fans of the 6 inch Black Series.
Also for Target is Heroes and Villains 12 inch 6 pack scheduled for release in October.
- Words and Photography by Mike Sullenger