Though much of Hasbro’s upcoming plans for Star Wars remain under tight lock and key, the company did preview a handful of new figures during New York Comic Con. It’s not surprising that so few Star Wars figures are being shown considering just how secretive Disney and Lucasfilm are being about the upcoming sequel. Very few characters not shown in trailers or official photos have been teased or released previously, but that didn’t mean there weren’t a few exciting reveals this week.
To this point, the only classic trilogy character to get a new figure for The Force Awakens lines has been Chewbacca, but the Wookie’s best friend and co-pilot will soon join him. Old man Han Solo was the centerpiece of Hasbro’s Black Series unveilings at NYCC this week, and rightfully so. The iconic smuggler with a heart of gold has long been a fan favorite, and he’s one of the few returning heroes to have made an official appearance in promotion for The Force Awakens. Sure, there were some characters on display, too, but it’s hard not to feel a bit sentimental for a Han Solo figure based on a aged Harrison Ford.
Where Hasbro's pre-San Diego Comic-Con event treated us a new Spider-Man line, including Spider-Gwen and more, this week's pre-NYCC show was much more of a mixed bag. Though some of the figures shown actually made a brief appearance in San Diego (Captain America, Mockingbird and Taskmaster), the new additions were a stunning surprise. Of course, as great as it was to see such variation shown in the 6" Marvel Legends line, the news that the 3.75" line would be ditching its former monikers to fold into the Legend banner was just as huge.
No longer its own separate brand, the former Universe/Infinite line of figures will now also be known as Marvel Legends moving forward. Though it might cause some confusion among less savvy consumers, Hasbro has been using a similar tactic with the Star Wars Black Series to keep its highly-articulated figures, which are geared towards the adult collector, portioned off from the less articulate series. By bringing the 3.75" figures under the Legends marquee, Hasbro's just making a smart business decision to put its highest quality figures all in the same room. But enough about branding, let's talk about that 1990s Rogue.
Prior to the release of the remastered classic trilogy, the only place to get Star Wars toys was at a garage sale or flea market. That is, unless you wanted to pay a premium for classic figures from the '80s. When the new movies were announced twenty years ago, it allowed for an influx of Star Wars collectibles that had been sorely missed from the marketplace. In fact, the desire for Star Wars figures was so large that once Hasbro started putting out new figures in the '90s, it never stopped. Through various series and incarnations, Hasbro's Star Wars figures have been a steady sight on store shelves for two decades.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens due to arrive in theaters this winter, it presented companies like Hasbro with the chance to bring the first truly new characters to life in figure form. For months, Hasbro teased the lead-up to Force Friday, a global event that saw the simultaneous launch of every single manufacturer's first Force Awakens merchandise. While Hasbro has numerous versions of these characters available, the company's signature Black Series line is undeniably the cream of the crop. After a tumultuous Force Friday which saw sellouts and shortages nationwide, I managed to procure a set of the first wave. I wasn't disappointed with the results, but I had certainly hoped for more from the big reveal.
It wouldn't be a day of the week without another Star Wars leak of some kind. In the lead up to Force Friday, the Sept. 4 launch day for all Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise, more and more action figures and collectibles are finding their way into the wild. That's one of the disadvantages to releasing said merchandise to the retailers early so they can properly prepare their action plans for the big day in a few weeks.
While the silence from Hasbro with regards to what to expect from Force Friday had been deafening, these past few days have proved very fruitful for Star Wars collectors salivating for a glimpse at what was coming down the pipe. Several eBay listings popped up today (captured by YakFace) offering potential buyers the very first opportunities to buy new Star Wars: The Force Awakens figures before they actually hit retail shelves on Sept. 4. More importantly, they also gave us our first look at the planned 3.75" figures coming from Hasbro in just a few weeks.
This September is home to arguably the most anticipated shopping day of the year for many longtime Star Wars fans. Hasbro, Disney and Lucasfilm have appointed that day as "Force Friday," which will be the very first day merchandise from Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be available for purchase. If you've visited a Toys 'R Us in the past month, you may have spotted the countdown clock, ticking down to 12:01AM on Sept. 4, 2015, which will be when hundreds of stores nationwide open their doors for thousands of fans eager to get their hands on Force Awakens merchandise.
To this point, much of the upcoming slate of releases for the Force Awakens have been shrouded in secrecy. There have been hints and teases as to what to expect, but until very recently, no one outside of the major merchandisers and manufacturers really knew what was in store. That all changed about a week ago when the very first leaks started springing from the good ship Star Wars. While we've only seen a few Hasbro products in blurry pictures to this point, today Amazon (which is always good for a few leaks) accidentally pushed the pre-order pages for all of Funko's planned Force Awakens Pop figures.
This past week, Hasbro and Marvel teamed up for another fan vote to determine one new figure for the Marvel Legends line. The qualifying rounds actually took place at San Diego Comic-Con, with each day of the convention hosting a different round of four. You had to visit the Hasbro booth to place a vote, but the initial round of 16 was quite intriguing. In addition to well-known characters like Symbiote Spider-Man, Quasar, Nebula, Lady Sif and Nova, there were a lot of fringe heroes and villains thrown into the mix like Lyra, Cosmo, Bor, the Executioner and Angela.
Now that I look at these names again, there were a lot of cosmic and Asgard-related characters. Guess that means there's likely to be a Thor line and a cosmic hero line in the next year or two, which makes sense given Marvel's movie schedule (Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 are both due in 2017). Of the sixteen announced, only three (Mysterio, Spider-Man and the Hood) wouldn't fit into those two molds. When all was said and done at SDCC, only four characters remained, and fans would have to choose from Mysterio, Symbiote Spider-Man, Darkhawk and Angela to determine the next Marvel Legend.
It's not often that I set my alarm on a Sunday, but when there is an opportunity to check out some new toys before they arrive on the market, I have been known to be motivated enough to drag myself out of bed. I've been eager to see Disney Playmation in action ever since it was announced, and even though I'm not the target demographic, I happened to know a would-be Avenger that was more than willing to try out the new toys, too. What kid doesn't want the opportunity to be Iron Man for a day?
There hasn't been much news about Playmation since its big reveal in June, but the Disney Store just started hosting public preview events earlier this month. Disney Playmation came about in response to a Disney-funded study that revealed parents wished their kids spent more time being active, but didn't want them to have to give up newfangled technological advances. Created by some of Disney's best and brightest Imagineers and developers to nail the intersection of that big Venn diagram, and with a little help from Hasbro, Playmation was born. Thirty minutes after arriving at "Avengers Labs," I had a much clearer idea of what Playmation was and what to expect. Even though I now have a better notion of how Disney Playmation works, I have concerns about whether or not it can accomplish the lofty goals set for it.
Did you know there's a superhero called Ant-Man, and that he's going to be starring in a major motion picture later this month? Have you also been living with three other people in a bunker run by a mysterious man who thinks he has what it takes to be on The Apprentice (RIP) for the last twenty years? There's a lot of hype surrounding the pint-sized Marvel hero these days, and in an effort to serve the fervor surrounding Ant-Man, Hasbro is releasing a limited box set featuring the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, in some of his most famous incarnations.
Throughout the years, Hank Pym has been many heroes. Though he's most synonymous with the Ant-Man persona, Pym has also been Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp. He also accidentally created the genocidal artificial intelligence Ultron, but since that's not what happened in the movies, it doesn't count in real life any more. And as luck (and keen marketing) would have it, almost all of those alternate identities are captured here in the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive set.
In 2011, Hasbro started releasing its own building block sets under the Kre-O brand. GI Joe made its debut in the line in 2013, and Hasbro has slowly been rolling out sets based on the classic Real American Hero brand. This year at San Diego Comic-Con, Sgt. Slaughter and the Marauders make their debut in grand fashion. Not only that, but he'll be joined by Destro and his Iron Grenadiers.
Unlike this year's Transformers Kre-O exclusive, this set is more than just a collection of minifigures. The GI Joe set will also include a Tag Team Terminator vehicle to build. Yes, the Sergeant's Triple "T" single-pilot tank is here in all its Kre-O glory. It's quite a little set, and one that brings back incredibly fond memories of sitting around watching GI Joe with my cousin and being jealous he got all the cool vehicles. Who's laughing now, Steve? It's me because now I have the cool things.
This year at San Diego Comic-Con, Hasbro is finally giving Dr. Strange and many of Marvel's other magical characters their due. For as long as Hasbro has been in charge of the Legends line, fans have been clamoring for characters like Magik and Brother Voodoo to show up. While those might sound like rather non-traditional choices for a mass market toy line, the roster for Legends has grown so much over the past few years that it's actually not that surprising to see heroes like Illyana Rasputin finally rendered in action figure form.
In fact, Brother Voodoo, Magik and Dormammu were characters Hasbro teased at SDCC within the last few years, but wave after wave of the Legends were released at retail with little hint of their inclusion. Finally, Hasbro unveiled the Book of Vishanti box set ahead of SDCC '15, which featured the aforementioned trio, as well as a variant of the just-released Dr. Strange and the all-new Hela. Oh, and there's this little thing in there called the Eye of Agamotto in there, too. As box sets go, it's an impressive piece of work, and one that's sure to make a lot of die-hard Marvel magic fans very happy.
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