February 22, 2017 – Hasbro’s latest announcement of collectible six-inch figures, in honor of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary, has some fans cheering and others perplexed.
The following video provides a good visual preview of some of the newest 6-inch figures, including the first five (Luke, Leia, Han, Obi-Wan, R2-D2), to be released this spring:
What We Like
● The new packaging, with its vintage Kenner-inspired look, is visually appealing and a respectful nod to the past. While we enjoyed the Black Series’ black boxes in the past for their sleekness and easy stackability, it is time for a change.
● If you want super-articulated (SA) figures, Hasbro has essentially been forcing fans and collectors to choose the 6-inch line. The release of SA 3.75-inch figures – or even 5POA figures for that matter – has been so sporadic and wanting, that many fans have walked away from collecting.
Other collectors have simply refused to engage the 6-inch line. A collector who began since Day One would by now have nearly 2,000 3.75-inch figures. And so it’s hard for some collectors to switch gears, whether for reasons of space, money or an understandable refusal to be “forced” into the 6-inch line by Hasbro.
And yet the vintage look of Luke, Leia, Han and friends will be difficult to walk away from. Plus there’s the guarantee of 20 points of articulation per humanoid.
● The accessories provide extra value and appeal: Han Solo comes with two weapons and an alternative pair of gloved hands. Luke has a blue lightsaber and macrobinoculars. Leia has two different-sized blasters. Artoo has seven doohickeys (sensorscope, lightsaber hilt, tool extensions).
● Additional characters we all want: While the first case wave is limited to Luke, Leia, Han, Obi-Wan and R2-D2, other popular figures are now confirmed: R5-D4, Death Star Commander, Tusken Raider and a Jawa.
● The Darth Vader Early Bird Legacy Pack should be available sometime in June. If you missed the original Early Bird offer 40 years ago – because you weren’t born yet or were asleep – here is your chance to grab this re-imagined set.
● Hasbro has fixed Princess Leia’s puffy face: If you picked up the 2016 Black Series “Princess Leia Organa” #30 6-inch figure, you risked being sorely disappointed by her unrealistic face sculpt and poor paint app. The 2016 version was too round, too chubby and bee-stung.
Thankfully, the 40th Anniversary version appears to have struck gold with an admirable likeness of the Princess Leia we know and love. Compare:
What We Don’t Like
● From its earliest days, Star Wars action figures have followed the 3.75-inch format. The size made sense for all sorts of reasons: The size was compatible with small children’s hands and could easily be applied to larger vehicles and playsets. Kenner/Hasbro could produce mass quantities at reasonable cost, vendors could fairly easily manage large quantities of these figures, and consumers would be all too eager to snap them up.
So it’s regrettable that Hasbro has chosen to ignore the traditional 3.75-inch line for the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. While it is possible that Hasbro has determined that the 6-inch line is more profitable (but who knows, the financial numbers are a closely-guarded secret), Hasbro risks forever losing a large slice of past and future customers.
● Some of these are repacks in new packaging: Luke, Leia, Artoo and so on. True, if you missed picking up R2-D2 the first time around, here is your second chance. But there are so many more classic characters we would love to see.
● Case assortments, here we go again: The Wave 1 case assortment is perplexing because it under-produces the most popular, in-demand characters (such as R2-D2), and over-produces potential peg warmers (Luke).
EntertainmentEarth.com, among other vendors, is offering a pre-order option now. For $164.99 U.S. and free shipping, EE’s website states you will receive:
“Case includes 8 individually packaged action figures:
1x SW E4 HAN SOLO
2x SW E4 LUKE SKYWALKER
2x SW E4 BEN OBI WAN KENOBI
2x SW E4 PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA
1x SW E4 ARTOO DETOO R2D2
(subject to change)”
The End of the Line?
During the annual New York Toy Fair (Feb. 18-21, 2017), a Hasbro representative made a very cryptic remark to the effect that “a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end”. But what does that mean?
Hasbro did not reveal any SA 3.75-inch figures to honor Star Wars‘ 40th anniversary, to the great disappointment of longtime collectors. While Walmart has some repacks headed for its store shelves, Hasbro has nothing new to offer in the traditional line.
An optimist might point out that we are at the beginning of 2017, which promises to be a very busy year: With the Rogue One toy line coming to a close, the 40th Anniversary now rolling out, Star Wars Celebration Orlando in April, “Force Friday II” announced for Sept. 1st, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiering Dec. 15th, we could have a flood of product.
By contrast, a naysayer might turn Hasbro’s beginning-middle-end story metaphor on its head. As one commentator, Rivesjunctionite, has noted, perhaps this year is the end – at least for the 3.75-inch line:
If there is to be a headstone or grave marker for the old line (1978-2017), perhaps we have already seen it: Just two weeks ago, Hasbro announced the future release of its 3.75-inch diecast figurines (see story HERE).
Diecast … as in zero articulation.
We certainly hope Hasbro will surprise us with a revived 3.75-inch SA line. After all, the Star Wars universe has many more decades of story-telling to present. Where the toy line goes from here, however, is anyone’s guess.