The whirlwind that was Toy Fair has come and gone, knocking me for a loop that I'm still recovering from. (It SUCKS being sick in New York!)
Now that the storm has passed, it's time to pick up the debris and see where things stand. We'll kick things off with the latest Hasbro gallery made up of images from the press kits, which were distributed at their showroom, and then made available online late last week.
The Clone Wars
The BIGGEST news from last week was naturally the debut of the look of the upcoming line of figures from The Clone Wars
. As expected, this has caused a huge debate among fans on both sides, from those who want their figures to be realistic and match what's come before on one side, and fans those who want their TCW figures to match what's on the screen in the upcoming 3D series. Rumors have been swirling around for months as to which way this line would go, with the most recent reports claiming a mix between the two.
This is almost true...just as the character designs themselves are meant to be an amalgam of the animated designs from 2003's Star Wars: Clone Wars
micro-series and the life-like designs seen in Revenge of the Sith
, so follow the action figures in TCW. But unlike the last animated-style action figure outing, these are not limited-articulated statues with flat colors and smooth features. No, these figures look just like they jumped off the screen: the sculpting may be animated, but the articulation and paint deco is pretty realistic....which is how the characters look. When fans look for these toys in stores, they are going to recognize the characters as they know them from the show, which makes sense and also gives the line a fresh look, especially when you consider that there have already been multiple versions of figures based on these characters over the years.
Of course, not everyone is excited over this decision. There are many collectors who feel the end of their collecting has come. They want realistically-sculpted figures. They want OT characters. They want something more than a cartoon. To this end, Hasbro is also creating a second action figure line...
The Legacy Collection
Previously rumored to be called "Star Wars Classic" or "The Droid Factory", The Legacy Collection
is a continuation of the realistically-sculpted, articulated action figures that we've seen for decades now. You wanted realistically-sculpted figures? Here they are. You want OT characters? They're right here. You want a little something extra included? How about a Droid Factory?
The TLC line will incorporate all 6 movies and the EU underneath one banner. What's interesting is that we haven't even seen the NEW figures yet!
Bear with me for a minute....Wave 1 will consist of 3 characters from a deleted scene (prompting speculation that said scene might be included in a DVD one day...no word on that though), a fan favorite character, 3 obscure background aliens (Ak-Rev is not shown above, but he's the other drummer in Jabba's band and he comes with the other half of the drum that began with Umpass-Stay), and, well, another Darth Vader (although with a twist that we haven't actually seen yet....but hey, you need to include a Vader figure every so often). What's interesting is that this wave was originally set for The 30th Anniversary Collection
, but it was pushed back.
Likewise, so was the second wave. Taking inspiration from the Clone Wars
micro-series, the figures in wave 2 (not shown) actually accomplish what some fans have been asking for: realistic versions of the designs from the animated series, including an improved General Kenobi and several troop builders. This wave was also planned for TAC, but the decision was made to push it back into the initial offerings for TLC.
So, from a certain point of view, we have not yet seen what Hasbro had originally planned for this line! Oh, there are PLENTY of rumors (which I won't go into here), but nothing official should be expected until San Diego Comic-Con in July.
But that's not all...each wave will include a Build-A-Figure component to it. Dubbed the "Droid Factory", every single figure will have a dedicated extra piece included with it, so that by collecting the entire wave, collectors will have enough pieces to assemble some extra droids. Depending on how many figures are in each wave, the pieces can be assembled to create different droids: waves that include 8 figures (like those mentioned above), will include extra pieces for 2 astromechs. Waves that include 6 figures (which we have not yet seen), will include extra pieces for 1 protocol droid.
What's more, the pieces are also customizable, so if you want to mix-and-match to create your own droids, you have that freedom.
This all kicks off with a Wal-Mart exclusive sneak preview wave of 6 2-packs this July, which includes a few pilots with their droids, and extra pieces to assemble a C-3PX bounty hunter figure from the Star Wars: Droids
comic book series.
The very popular Comic Packs series will also continue with 15 new sets, many of which have been rumored for months now. Well, most of those rumors are indeed true. The new sets are mostly based on various Dark Horse Comics series (including an upgraded Thrawn we first reported way back in 2006), although there are a few Marvel Comics issues in there are well, plus some exclusives lined up for later in the year (including a nice troop builder set!)
There's only one image for the Battle Packs in the press kit, but we saw a few others in the showroom, as well as one that wasn't on display. The Battle Packs assortment will be a mix of TLC and TCW, meaning we'll see both styles released simultaneously.
In the TLC line, there's a Hoth Speeder Bike Patrol set, featuring two Imperial Hoth scouts on their bikes, plus a Rebel Hoth set with Han, Chewie, K-3PO, R5-M2, and a Probot.
Over in TCW, look for a Speeder Bike Recon set, featuring two clones on their BARC Speeders, plus another set called Battle at B'Omarr Monastery with figures unknown.
The popular Evolutions series of 3-packs continue, and have been rumored for months. But no amount of rumors can take away the excitement one gets when first viewing the actual figures. According to the rumor mill, this is only the first Rebel Pilot set we'll be seeing in 2008, and there will also be an Imperial Pilots set as well. Since they're not due until the fall, we'll just have to settle with the ones currently hitting retails, including The Fett Legacy set shown above.
Ah, "the beast". Really, words cannot describe the beauty that is the AT-TE.
By now, you've seen the photos, you've watched the video, you've mopped the drool from your chin. This really is a work of art. Loaded with everything you could want from a vehicle: electronic lights, sounds, and voices! Slow-moving spring-loaded opening hatches! Launching projectiles! An exclusive figure! This baby is HUGE, and can hold an army of troopers (roughly 20).
Whichever style of action figures you prefer, they will both fit inside and alongside this vehicle. Which brings up an interesting point. The vehicles (also look for V-19 Torrent Fighter and Federation Spider Droid, plus some repackaged TAC ships as well) are the same style as we've seen them in the past. As with the animated series, where the digital models are the exact same as those seen in the films, the same thinking holds true here. The vehicles (both land-based and flying starfighters) will be the same sculpts, and will fit both TCW and TLC styled figures inside.
Over in the super-cute and super-popular Galactic Heroes line, there are a few new sets planned, but we'll also see the return of some past favorites. Which makes this no different from any other year really, does it?
But what does set this year apart is the return of the GH vehicles. there will be several returning favorites, as well as some all-new ships coming in 2008. Plus look for several exclusive multipacks later in the year.
Ah, the Mighty Muggs! Love them or hate them, this line is here to stay for awhile at least. The second wave is starting to show up in stores now, and we've already seen a third and fourth wave planned for 2008, for a grand total of nearly 30 by year's end (including an SDCC-exclusive General Gree). And the line is also expanding into other Hasbro properties as well, so there's no stopping this "made from 100% recycled awesome" line!
For the fan who likes to dress up and recreate favorite scenes, the always available lightsabers and blasters are returning for another go-round, with some slightly new color schemes. Plus, look for an all-new Clone Trooper voice-changing helmet. Wrapping It Up
Star Wars is going to be BIG in 2008. I'm not talking about the AT-TE (although, hey, that sucker is HUGE!) With The Clone Wars
slated for a theatrical release in August, this fall and holiday season will see an onslaught of new toys released centered around the new animated series, with a new market of fans seeing it for the first time.
What's a little concerning for longtime collectors like me is that nearly everything shown by Hasbro during Toy Fair is slated for a Fall release. The major kick-off for both TCW and TLC takes place on 7/26/2008 (hopefully this means another midnight madness launch party!), and last year's TAC toy line will still have a handful of spring exclusives released March-May, but there's going to be something of a drought for Star Wars fans. The big promotional crossover event, The Force Unleashed
, has fizzled out due to the game's frequent delays, turning it into a non-event really.
So where will fans be able to satisfy their need for adventure and excitement during the bulk of the year? I hear there's a certain swashbuckling, whip-cracking archaeologist marking his territory in the toy stores as we speak. I'm betting this return may have something that fans are looking for. While a Jedi may not crave these things, we toy collectors certainly do!