To many fans the 1980s was the most formative time in their life, giving us so many classic TV shows, memorable movies and hands-down awesome toys - and The Empire Strikes Back, which was released at the start of the decade, is getting commemorated this year.
Before we go on to delve into all the new products that are marking the occasion, let's look at just a few of the other events that took place during the year:
Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state.
Ronald Reagan was elected US president.
The world reeled to "A dingo ate my baby!"
Voyager I probe sent the first pictures back of Saturn.
Whip It, by Devo, hit the charts.
Airplane! took off and landed in theatres.
Viva the greatest decade in the history of pop culture!
History lesson complete, this year's New York Toy Fair has revealed a whole slew of new action figures, collectibles and miscellany - here's a taste of what's to come.
While there is a lot of attention being payed to the home release of The Rise of Skwalker (March 31st) and the upcoming complete Skywalker Saga box set (April 24th), it's largely gone unnoticed that the entire run of Star Wars movies are getting released individually in 4K UltraHD - and this includes The Empire Strikes Back Ultimate Collector's Edition.
This three-disc set includes the Blu-Ray and 4K UltraHD versions of Episode V (each with multiple audio commentaries by the cast and crew), and a bonus disc with 125 minutes of special features containing Conversations: The Lost Interviews including George Lucas on Editing The Empire Strikes Back (1979) and A Conversation with the Masters (2010), Discoveries from Inside: Matte Paintings Revealed, and a Making Of collection.
Available to pre-order from Walmart.com and Best Buy, priced $29.96, now, it will be released on March 31st.
Messing with a cinematic masterpiece (again) might not go down well and there's no room to improve the artwork in the original 1980s comic book adaptation of the movie, so Marvel is taking another direction and further expanding the events between Episode V and VI.
Have you ever wondered what happened to Luke, Leia, Lando, et al between fleeing Cloud City and the mission to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine?
“No…I am your father." In the wake of the events following The Empire Strikes Back, it is a dark time for the heroes of the Rebellion. Luke, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, the Wookiee Chewbacca and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 must fight their way back to the Rebel Alliance—for the fate of the entire galaxy is at stake! After so many losses is victory still possible?
Filling in the gap without introducing a red-neck Chewbacca or pheromonal aliens, this new ongoing series started in January and is already three issues into the story arc.
Forty years ago if you made a list of the top selling toys it would definitely have included Kenner’s action figures and toys from their The Empire Strikes Back collection. Saturday morning TV ads were filled with the cry of “Wampa! Wampa!" and Sears Christmas Wish Book had pages and pages devoted to these toys.
All that’s really changed is the logo on the cardback and the scale, because Hasbro is releasing two waves of new/previously released/repainted 6" action figures in Black Series in May and August, and two vehicles in March and June.
The Black Series AT-AT Driver - adapted from the classic Kenner action figure, this updated version has been modernized and enlarged with an incredible sculpt that features over 20 points of articulation and comes with a detailed blaster accessory. In keeping with the throwback theme it is presented on a vintage-style cardback packaging with Kenner branding.
The Black Series Luke Skywalker (Bespin) - dressed in the fatigues he undertook his training on Dagobah and faced Darth Vader in Cloud City, this 6" tall action figure is modernized and enlarged with an incredible sculpt and accessories, on vintage-style cardback packaging. Luke features over 20 points of articulation and comes with a lightsaber and blaster.
The Black Series Yoda - patiently waiting to resume his duties as a Jedi master, Yoda trained the impetuous Luke Skywalker on the swamp planet of Dagobah. This modernized and updated action figure fits in with The Black Series 6" scale, features premium decorations and comes with a gimer stick, snake, flutes and his lightsabre.
The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) - featuring 1980s retro styling in 6" scale, this new action figure captures the scene where she helped repair the Millennium Falcon during the flight from Hoth. Comes with over 20 points of articulation and accessories that include a blaster, goggles and welding torch and packaged in a vintage-style cardback.
The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) - sporting premium poseability and with four movable limbs - plus even more points of articulation - this action figure offers a highly detailed sculpt and decoration and comes with a blaster and holster.
The Black Series Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) - piloting his Snowspeeder (also available as part of The Black Series and including Dak Raltar), this detailed sculpt of Luke Skywalker in his flight suit includes a removable helmet and lightsaber for close encounters with Imperial Walkers.
The Black Series Artoo-Deetoo (Dagobah) - faithful to a fault, this droid was obviously unhappy trundling through the mud of Dagobah, which forms part of this action figures patina. Included with this The Black Series action figure is a removable periscope and replacement dome piece.
The Black Series Rebel Soldier (Hoth) - take advantage of this Hoth Rebel Soldiers massive amount of articulation to pose it in any firing position you can imagine, or simply display it in its retro-style cardback with vintage Kenner graphics. Included with this action figure is a movable pair of goggles, survival backpack, blaster and rifle.
The Black Series Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot - as black as the space of spades, the ominous TIE Fighter Pilot's agility in space combat comes from its plus 20 points of articulation that allows it to maneuver its fighter craft with skill. Included in the retro-Kenner packaging is a blaster.
The Black Series Lando Calrissian - the almost straight Baron Administrator of Cloud City plays both sides of the field when he lures his friends into an Imperial trap as part of his plan to regain the Millennium Falcon. Packed in a reproduction 1980's cardback, this detailed 6" tall figure comes with a cloak, blaster and communicator.
The Black Series Imperial Probe Droid - successfully complete its mission to find the Rebel base, it wasn't lucky enough to survive to buy a lotto ticket. Featuring five articulated limbs and a rotatable head piece, it comes with a display stand that replicates the drifting snows of Hoth.
The Black Series Snowspeeder Vehicle - this modified T-47 airspeeder is to scale with The Black Series, making it the largest Snowspeeder that Hasbro has ever produced. This upsized version has all the features you'd expect - retractable landing gear, hinged cockpit cover, harpoon gun, control surfaces - and an exclusive Dak Ralter figure.
Fans of the traditional 3-3/4“ scale need only look to The Vintage Collection and the Retro Collection to fulfill their collecting habits. These two lines will replicate the original excitement of growing up in the 1980s (but with 2020 prices).
The Vintage Collection Boba Fett's Slave I - with original Kenner branding and realistic detail including an opening cockpit, functioning landing gear, separating wings, and a ladder accessory, this vehicle can be displayed on the stand that is included and comes with a Han Solo in Carbonite accessory.
Hoth Ice Planet Adventure Board Game - based on the vintage game that was released in 1980, this updated re-release includes the second original addition to the Retro Collection - Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder Pilot) - and has distressed "shelf wear" packaging. Loosely based on the Battle of Hoth, players compete to be the first to acquire enough Force to battle and defeat Darth Vader.
Detailed to capture the look and appeal of the original Kenner 3-3/4" action figures, the Walmart exclusive Retro Collection feature the same aestehtics, accessories and articulation the original Star Wars generation grew up with. Available this Spring, they each have an MSRP of $9.99.
Hasbro might be happy to share details if its forthcoming Empire 40 toys, LEGO on the other hand is much more reticent and we only have rumours to share.
Though unconfirmed LEGO is expected to mark the movie's 40th birthday with a new Imperial Walker (75288), priced $149.99, this summer. Then there is the displayable Boba Fett helmet that LEGO are thought to be introducing this year too!
Funko might not have been around at the time The Empire Strikes Back was released, they’ve still made a big impact on the Star Wars collecting community, and - by devoting six of its newest Funko Pop figures and an all-new addition to the POP! Town to mark the event - they’re not missing out on the opportunity to mark the fifth episode of the Star Wars ennealogy’s birthday.
If that isn’t enough The Empire Strikes Back for you then make sure you attend Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2020 where its birthday is sure to be heavily focussed on.
By making purchases at some of the links provided you may be taking part in our retailer affiliate relationships. This doesn’t cost you anything and helps us to ensure Rebelscum will continue bringing you the latest Star Wars toy news.