In the past, I’d referred to Hasbro’s Star Wars Black Series (the 6-inchers) as “Star Wars Legends” insofar as the brand’s first foray into the 6-inch scale has taken strong cues from the Marvel line in terms of its sculpt and articulation. But despite an assumed softness in the age-old 3.75-inch scale that I think prompted the new line, we shouldn’t forget that the brand is more like the Empire, able to take grab shelf space and subvert it to its will.
So while Marvel Legends relies on programs like Build-a-Figure to sweeten the deal for consumers and retailers, Star Wars needs no such enticements. The “big” reveal for this Toy Fair is the introduction of the Black Series Deluxe line extension, offering a vehicle for Hasbro to bring higher price point items into the retail mix. If this were Marvel, we’d have a Build-a-Jabba; the Star Wars brand allows for a shelf-grab for more of your collector dollars.
Hasbro revealed portions of three waves of the regular 6-inch single-carded figures for 2014.
STAR WARS® THE BLACK SERIES 6-Inch Action Figures
(Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 4 & up; Available: Spring 2014)
In 2013, Hasbro took collectible STAR WARS action figures to the next level with the introduction of the 6-inch BLACK SERIES action figure line! This exceptional collection of figures features incredibly accurate design and a high level of articulation of the greatest characters from the STAR WARS universe. New figures in 2014 include STORMTROOPER, OBI-WAN KENOBI, LUKE SKYWALKER and ANAKIN SKYWALKER! Each sold separately.
There’s a familiar pattern emerging that was established back in October when we first got wind of the line-up for the first wave of Star Wars Black Series for 2014 – Prequel Obi-Wan Kenobi, Bespin Luke Skywalker, Stormtrooper, and as we learned later, a re-pack of Han Solo. The line will continue to feature four figures per wave, with two new characters, an army builder, and a re-pack.
Wave 2 – Anakin Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Clone Trooper
Anakin Skywalker had been previously shown with Hasbro’s Star Wars reveals at their New York Comic-Con preview party, and I had not been too jazzed about his angry head sculpt. Pics from the event show an alternate head sculpt for Anakin that I find a little soft but still more appealing than what had been shown before. Chewbacca is the gem of the wave for me, clocking in at about 7-inches tall. Fans of the prequels will army build that clone trooper and customize it to no end, but I suspect we’ll see it re-released with different paint apps in waves to come.
Wave 3 – Darth Vader, RotJ Luke Skywalker, and Sandtrooper (again already?)
With lots of new ground to cover in the scale, we can expect really big hitters in each wave. With the first Darth Vader in 6-inch scale, Hasbro has added features that make it the definitive one – a removable helmet in two pieces for authenticity reveals a decrepit Anakin head sculpt to be swapped in. Fabric apps continue, and while I’ve found it acceptable in this line, Darth Vader’s cloak in this instance seems overly thick.
A Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi marks the
first second (after the Rebel pilot and Bespin Lukes – thanks Norm!) variant of a character we’ve already gotten, but I don’t think anyone’s complaining – Hoth versions of Luke and Han are other legitimate variants we should expect, and I’d be very happy for Hasbro to make another attempt at Leia, as her current slave outfit may be a cosplayer’s fantasy but has been the biggest letdown in the series thus far. According to reports, there’ll be RotJ Luke variants with the chest flap open or closed, but it wasn’t clear whether that would be available in a single package or if you’d have to hunt for the one you want.
For the army builder in wave 3, we get a re-issue of the Sandtrooper, with the enlisted rank’s black shoulder pauldron instead of the commander’s orange pauldron we saw in the first wave of this line last year. I don’t know about you guys, but I think a lot of people figured out that this customization was easy enough to do on your own and army built the heck out of the Sandtrooper already. On the flip side, the Sandtrooper can be cleaned up and converted into a Stormtrooper, so for those who don’t get their fill in the first part of the year can continue to build up their Imperial troops.
We assume that following the case pattern will allow for them to come evenly packed, refreshing what’s on shelves but keeping the heavy hitters around. However, of concern for the longevity of the line is how this plays with the highly subjective whims of the broader audience – enough Greedo peg warmers may dampen retail orders and get the shelves jammed up with stale product.
The extension of the line to include deluxe figures shows that its doing well despite what we may see warming pegs.
STAR WARS® THE BLACK SERIES 6-Inch Deluxe Action Figures
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $39.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
The STAR WARS BLACK SERIES 6-inch Deluxe assortment takes STAR WARS action figures to the next level with the introduction of iconic in-scale vehicles and alien creatures, all featuring the incredibly accurate design and high level of articulation fans have come to expect from the STAR WARS BLACK SERIES. Each sold separately.
With Jabba and Biker Scout with Speeder Bike, hits a new premium price point for the Black Series on retail shelves and will punish our wallets with an army builder. The details look fantastic on the Speeder Bike, and Hasbro makes shelf displays more enviable with the inclusion of a multi-height stand. Jabba gets the first action feature in the line, with reports stating that moving his arms will articulate his mouth – I don’t know if this means a soft sheath covering movable parts for his mouth, but I do hope there’ll be some tongue involved. (Man, that sounds dirty!)
Typically, Hasbro would introduce their plans for Star Wars exclusives for SDCC at Toy Fair, but this year they left us just with a tease, according to the various reports I read – their presentation was closed out with Salacious Crumb’s laughter, leading most people to infer (myself included) that SDCC would have an exclusive 6-inch scaled Jabba plussed up with Crumb and other of his throne room’s accoutrements.
This would fit in great with Boba Fett and the Han Solo in carbonite exclusive from last year, and don’t forget we’ve also got the Leia in slave outfit (no matter how disappointed you may be with her). If you want some kind of idea what this set could feature, look no further than Joe Amaro’s custom Jabba the Hutt. If we get anything like his custom playset, Star Wars fans will be happier than a scruffy-looking nerf herder with a rebel princess.