Star Wars at New York Toy Fair 2019
Mid-February marks every toy nerds favourite industry event – New York Toy Fair. It’s the premier opportunity for the biggest names in plastic merchandising to show off their wares for the upcoming year.
Hasbro is no exception, and from Transformers to Overwatch, the Pawtucket toy company made a splash this year. But it was the company’s Star Wars reveals that I was waiting for.
And reveal they most certainly did.
The Good, the Great and the WTF
For such a thinly-spread line Hasbro certainly delivered a memorable Toy Fair for Star Wars collectors, that’s for sure. But while some of the Big H’s new toys blew minds in a good way, other choices have proven to be real headscratchers.
With that in mind, let’s check out the toys!
Is The Vintage Collection (TVC) actually back?
After being passed over in favour of the 6″ Black Series line, the super-articulated TVC figures looked like a relic of the past up until last year. When the line relaunched with two waves of repacked figures it felt like some kind of life support… and then Toy Fair happened.
With a host of new figures including a fantastic looking Stormtrooper and two (yes, two!) versions of Lando Calrissian, the basic line is strong – and that’s even before you get to the skiff.
An awesome-looking new Skiff is coming this year, meaning that alongside your Sail Barge you’ll have everything you need to recreate the skirmish at the Pit of Carkoon. Just to make sure of that fact, there’s even a three-pack of Jabba’s goons en route to help you to fill out the display.
3.75″ Star Wars collecting has not had it so good for quite some time.
That said, the real 3.75″ centrepiece as far as I’m concerned is the TVC Jabba’s Palace Adventure playset.
Recreating a certain alcove of Jabba’s throne room, this detailed playset includes Jerba and Tauntaun trophies right next to a magnetic carbonite block, encasing everyone’s favourite Correllian smuggler.
This is exactly what collectors have been clamouring after for years, and it looks like it’s going to hit the spot. Given the design, there’s even been speculation that it might be modular, in which case this particular collector would be ecstatic.
There’s more. It also comes packed with individually-carded TVC versions of Han Solo in Carbonite and Ree Yees, which makes the whole set at the price even more attractive. Personally I can’t wait to see what it looks like loaded up with POTF2 figures, but you know. You do you.
Oh, hi there twentieth anniversary of The Phantom Menace.
I’ve wanted one for a while, and now Hasbro has delivered – Episode I Obi-Wan Kenobi looks unbelievably good. This is a stone-cold day one purchase.
Kenobi was revealed alongside a Black Series Archive version of Darth Maul, with both on Star Wars Celebration-exclusive Episode I card backs. As a dedicated opener I can’t quite believe I’m typing this, but… I would actually love one of these for display.
Of course, it’s almost certainly moot because I’m not going to Celebration and would never pay scalper prices for a figure heading for regular release, but still. Seeing my era of Star Wars recreated like this I’m going to open the door on the possibility that I might just finally understand *a little bit* what all those carded TVC nuts (in the nicest possible way) get so excited about…
Nostalgia’s a killer, man.
For all the many highs to get excited about above, Hasbro also delivered some reveals that went beyond perplexing.
The “Hyper Real” Darth Vader is an 8″ Dark Lord of the Sith figure that marks Hasbro’s first waltz into the higher end of the market.
Vader is built on top of an articulated skeleton and features a material costume, a stand and interchangeable hands, as well as a removable lightsaber blade. It looks OK if you’re into that sort of thing. A few collectors have warned that the material used doesn’t have the best shelf life.
What’s confusing is why this figure even exists. Launching a new scale about five and a half years ago already caused a schism in the community, and has clearly given Hasbro difficulty with brand management. No-one wants a new scale, and I imagine even less would be willing to give it a go for the $80 asking price.
It’s just a strange, strange choice.
… Which brings us nicely on to the biggest single WTF moment from New York Toy Fair 2019: Hasbro is re-releasing vintage Star Wars figures.
Called the “Retro Collection” these are literal remakes of six of the original Kenner Star Wars line from 1978. They come on reproduction cards (with affected wear and a big red label on the front) and otherwise look exactly like the very same toys that you can buy right now on eBay.
Of course, it’s not all that straightforward. Taking a leaf out of ReAction’s playbook Hasbro has made a vintage-style figure of Grand Moff Tarkin, a notable absentee from the original Kenner line. Tarkin, which will be available exclusively with a re-released Escape the Death Star board game, has split opinion – but there’s definitely collector interest in seeing Hasbro continue to make unmade characters – kind of like POTF2 did.
It’s all a bit strange.
What’s New is Old Again
I’ve gone back and forth on the vintage remakes. My initial impassioned reaction was that it’s a waste of plastic and resources (although it’s clear Hasbro are targeting a different market to hardcore toy collectors here).
However, after soaking the news in I pulled out my POTF2 Millennium Falcon and thought about having a Chewie that could fit in the pilot’s seat. Then, today, I took a 1983 Scout Trooper out to the woods for a couple of photos.
There’s a definite charm to the vintage figures, just as there is with some of the better modern 5POA figures. While I 100% prefer the improved sculpting of the figures from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi lines, I still played with my own ’78 Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Stormtrooper as a kid.
Do I want that feeling back? I’m not sure. It’s an itch that POTF2 obliterated from 1995 onward, and I love my collection of that line.
But I’m not as opposed to the Retro Collection as I immediately was – which almost certainly means I’ll end up taking a certain skinny Wookiee home before 2019 is out.