HASBRO PREVIEW NIGHT
By Adam Pawlus

SAN DIEGO JULY 14, 2005-- After exhibiting at Comic-Con International year after year, Hasbro makes sure to hold back some choice items for your revealing pleasure, bypassing events like Celebration III in favor of hitting a wider audience alongside the likes of their other hot brands, which this year included G.I. Joe in 3 3/4-inch, 12-inch and Sigma Six flavors, Transformers Cybertron and Alternators, Blythe, My Little Pony, and a surprising amount of other stuff. If you have any interest in male action toys, a trip to Hasbro's booth at San Diego is arguably superior to any trip you could make to Toy Fair in New York-- and not just because of the freebies. Not shown: Zoids, Xevoz. Stikfas were in their own booth with Saizon, and a free SDCC repaint of the Stikfas teddy bear was available. 

Freebies

   

 

Going to Hasbro's booth? There are some top notch freebies which are so good, we're frankly shocked Hasbro isn't selling them as part of their HasbroToyShop.com setup. For Star Wars, people that present their badge are treated to up to three free figures. From Galactic Heroes, you get the Burger King promotional pack-- a Yoda and R2-D2, polybagged for your protection. From Attacktix, one random figure, similar to the ones given out at Wal-Marts and Celebration III back in April. Fans of Transformers were in for a real shocker with what may well be the best booth freebie we've had in years-- Skywarp.

 A repaint of the Legends of Cybertron mini Starscream, he's fully transformable and includes a bonus (and seemingly exclusive) black Autobot Cyber Planet Key for your other larger Cybertron toys. But obviously, you don't read this article for the news on Transformers, so let's Star Wars! Handshakes and cookies all around to team Hasbro for having some great freebies. 

Evolutions  

   

     

   

The belle of the ball in 2005 is Evolutions, the subset of Star Wars that's the spiritual successor to the 2004 Vintage Original Trilogy Collection line. With enhanced articulation and accessories and poses similar to the toys made from 1978-1986, most fans have been delighted with these new figures. While no new sets were shown at present, we were presented with a delightful repaint of the Clone Trooper set. This new set includes a repainted Revenge of the Sith Clone Commander in grey, a plain white AOTC Clone, and a positively filthy repaint of the Sandtrooper. All in all, delightful-- it's nice to see Hasbro seeing opportunities for running changes like this, assuming fans can get them all. 

Basic  

    

    

     

The big question on everybody's lips was "will there be more Revenge of the Sith? What are they?" Well, thankfully, there were more and as expected, they were pretty much entirely repaints. While the jury is still out on if these appeared in the movies or not, there were lots of troop builders, a few fan requests, and one of our personal favorites, another Astromech droid. (We can't get enough of them.) Later this year, fans can snag the following: Holographic Aayla Secura, Holographic Plo Koon, Wookiee Warrior (now with extra "cloth" parts and new coloring), 501st Clone Trooper, Obi-Wan's other astromech droid, silver Neimoidian Warrior, redeco Magna Droid (General Grievous' Bodyguard), another Wookiee Warrior (cloth added to Sneak Preview mold), Commander Gree, Passel Argente (redeco), Shu Mai (redeco) and a properly decorated Commander Bly. We're pleased as punch by most of the choices given the fact that most of these we'd buy extras of anyway. The post-Revenge line was not shown at this time. 

   

     

   

 

 

Battle Packs

   

 

 

 In addition to the three previously announced Battle Packs, several new ones were shown. Rather than start with the best, we like to start with the funniest. The Toys "R" Us exclusive Hoth Battle Pack includes the Saga/OTC Snowtrooper with cannon, General Veers (AT-AT Commander, 1998), and two 1997 Snowtroopers plus a bonus Probot. For $20 it's a good value, but what's really awesome is the goof-up on the back of the box-- instead of the AT-AT Commmander included with the set, the vintage 1982 AT-AT Commander is pictured! Even the original gun is clearly visible, causing a burst of laughter in this reporter.

 The Jedi Temple Assault was a fine item and one that I'm glad to see released. For $20, you get Anakin, a Clone Pilot, and a trio of 501st Blue Clone Troopers. Anakin and the Clone Pilot appear to be similar if not identical to previous issues, but three good clones for $20 are guaranteed to make this set a hit. Hasbro: if you aren't already planning on shipping solid cases of this, we suggest you do so now. Another set based on the Emperor's Throne Room included two AOTC Royal Guards, a Stormtrooper (POTF2 CommTech/OTC/Saga style), and more figures you already have. The Battle Packs are showing a lot of range, but so far, it seems this is an item guaranteed to make sure kids can get a great set of figures-- which we're glad to see. But we really like the Jedi Temple Assault. Too bad it didn't have Zett Jukassa or a Padawan to mow down, or Anakin with his hood up. 

Unleashed  

 

Shown: the Shock Trooper, Han Solo as a Stormtrooper, and Chewbacca. Not shown: any hint of things to come. 

Force Battlers  

   

 

 

Now on display: Yoda and the Emperor. A good mix, but nothing you haven't seen before. 

Vehicles  

 

 

 

A shock, there were new vehicles. The Toys "R" Us exclusive blue Obi-Wan Kenobi's Jedi Starfighter was on display and we were very happy to see it. Also exclusive to Toys "R" Us is the Millennium Falcon from 2004 in a new box-- it is not the blue-tinted version seen on screen in Revenge of the Sith. These are $30 and $40 respectively. 

Exclusives

    

   

   

 Hasbro revealed few exclusives on the first night, but there were some good and noteworthy releases. The day started with the official announcement of Wedge Antilles. Providing a real shock to the system was what it was and what it costs-- the figure is a repackaged version of the figure released around 1998, but here's the kicker-- it'll be $13-$16, and a shared Internet exclusive. Shop.StarWars.com has it for $15.99, but you get extra free exclusive trading cards. Entertainment Earth is charging $12.99, and overall, the piece is a weird one. Fans of packaged figures should like it, as it's on the OTC-style package you all love. But for toy buffs, you'll recall that this figure, when originally packaged with the giant Millennium Falcon Carry Case, typically sold for $20-$25. It's not a great deal. 

Target once again gets a buttload of new exclusives. Repackaged and repainted versions of the arm-swinging versions of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are packaged with new and very spiffy Mustafar bases. We like them, as long as Target eschews the ridiculous $11.99 price tag-- there's no excuse for a mass-marketer to charge that for a basic figure. The "Star Cases" returned to the display, as did the collector cups. While most fans are still searching for the second batch of Revenge of the Sith cups, a third is making its debut at the convention-- now, you can get Stormtroopers, Darth Vaders, and Princess Leias. Series 2 was Boba Fett, Han Solo, and Yoda. Series 1 featured General Grievous, Clone Trooper, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

More Micro is coming too, as is an exclusive Plo Koon Jedi Starfighter, previously a wide-release item. Kay-Bee's collector pack is different than what was previously announced in many ways. For starters, Hasbro says it's $40, has a blue Royal Guard, and the Silver Vader is based on the Dagobah mold from Power of the Jedi-- Kay-Bee had it with a red guard, $20 more, and in a slightly less cool looking box. Either way, it's $40, and the only real treat in here is the third edition of Silver Darth Vader. 

In addition to the two vehicles mentioned above, Toys "R" Us is getting a Holographic Emperor based on the Revenge of the Sith mold complete with all the accessories and spring-action fun. As the third version of the Emperor (or Darth Sidious) in holographic form, he holds the record with Silver Darth Vader as the most issues of a most redundant concept. Still, it's cool, and as many fans missed out on the 2000 Holographic Darth Sidious and the 2004 Fan Club Holographic OTC Emperor, it's not a bad choice. No Holographic Anakin Skywalker was on display, contrary to the rumor mill, but that isn't to say we won't see one. As far as older exclusives go, it seems the only carry-overs from earlier in the year are Entertainment Earth's Clones and Holiday Jawas. This is unfortunate, as a lot of people seemed to blink and miss out on Anakin's Green Jedi Starfighter and a number of short run promotional figures from Target, Toys "R" Us, and elsewhere. We were informed that future exclusive announcements should be made later this week. 

Attacktix  

More Series II and the Republic Gunship were on display. Fancy stuff for a fancy line-- here in Southern Caliornia, most stores are completely sold out and Hasbro informed us they, too, were completely sold out-- unless your stores have some coming in from the slow boat in China, you're out of luck! 

M-Pire

 Nothing new at this time beyond what was initially shown. Some items were also on sale at the booth.

Titanium  

    

  

 

 

Not content to do a few new molds and rehashes from Galoob's 1997 offerings, Hasbro is expanding the line to include 3 3/4- inch figures, larger Action Fleet sized vehicles, and more. Looking at the larger vehicles, we weren't sure if we were looking at repaints of Action Fleet or a new tooling-- which isn't really a compliment. An obvious desire to grab that Action Fleet market was present, and it's a start-- new vehicles in the scale would have had us more excited, like any of the Jedi Starfighters. While we don't see metal as the be-all and end-all way to make a great vehicle, it certainly does look marvelous and it seems Hasbro found out how to give Code 3's $250 toys a run for their money. The figures appear to be awesomely detailled figures with limited articulation-- Boba Fett was on display. While we adore the concept, the price makes us wretch-- $14.99 is a lot of money for the size. In this case, a larger figure would soften the blow to the wallet, but if all you plan on doing is collecting Titanium, well, the lineup really does look wonderful. 

But what about..?  

 

12-inch? Hasbro's done with it. Sideshow announced they had the license. In their booth was a three-panel announcement with an illustration of a naked Sideshow body wearing a Jedi cloak and holding a lightsaber. For anyone complaining, let me assure you it's a huge improvement-- Sideshow's prices may be higher, but their product is usually just that much better. The Clone repaints? No sign of the Black Clone Pilot, Green Clone Commander, or Red Shock Trooper were on display. Retrobilia's Pride Displays? While not a Hasbro item, Diamond had what appeared to be final product of this faux-vintage item and it was quite impressive. We look forward to handling one up close. Action Fleet? As mentioned above, the closest thing to Action Fleet will be the "larger scale" of Titanium vehicles. If these do well, or don't, we could see pretty much anything happen. The rumors of Transformers branded Star Wars toys? We saw nothing at this time. We also saw no Transformers/G.I. Joe toys, which we've been wanting for a while. Where are those, Hasbro? More news? Well, obviously, this was preview night-- more items will be shown as the week goes by. You'll be back, and so will we-- stay tuned!

 









 
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