Aside from BB-8, the most-wanted action figure/collectible for Star Wars fans this season has to be anything Captain Phasma. A bit of that desirability comes from how rare the figure has been at retail, as both the Disney Elite, Hasbro Black Series and the Hasbro 3.75" versions have all be very hard to get your hands on. That of course springs from the character's mysterious nature and kick-ass costume. Also, she's played by Gwendoline Christie, making Phasma immediately one of the most bad-ass characters in Star Wars canon. And she hasn't uttered a single word yet. Phasma is basically the Boba Fett of The Force Awakens from a collector's standpoint.
As difficult as it's been to track down the current crop of collectibles, you can believe that the upcoming SH Figuarts Captain Phasma will be equally as hot when it hits the market. It's a bit of a challenge to get Figuarts figures here in the States already, but when you add in the fervor around this character, it starts to shape up into a perfect storm of impossible odds. That is, if you hope to pay normal, human prices, and not the "time to sell a kidney" prices the second-hand market often deems as "fair" and "reasonable."
Right now, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a little bit like Shrodinger's Star Wars. Longtime fans of the franchise have been burned by incredible trailers and hype before, and aren't so eager to let their guard down just in case Episode VII disappoints them yet again. But there's also reason to believe that the new trilogy (and the numerous other films in development) won't fall prey to the same pitfalls that ended up being the prequel trilogy's downfall. As such, The Force Awakens exists as both an incredible triumph and a spectacular failure all at once. It's interesting then that Tamashii Nations next three figures happen to tie the prequels and the new sequels together.
The next wave of SH Figuarts Star Wars figures will hit this winter, and includes Obi-Wan "The Only Good Part of the Prequels" Kenobi, Kylo Ren and the First Order Stormtrooper. Tamashii's gone with the padowan incarnation of Obi-Wan, which is an interesting choice given that rat tails never took off as a viable haircut, but it does allow pit the soon-to-be Jedi Master against the previously released Figuarts Darth Maul. The figure looks sharp, even in the sculpted and articulated robes, and includes two different facial expressions. Kenobi's bemused confusion was certainly an expression used often in the early film, but I'm a little surprised Tamashii didn't go with something a bit more aggressive to match up with Maul.
You can never have too many Avengers figures. This is a lesson I'm now learning some months after the Marvel Cinematic Universe finalized its third phase. The merchandise just keeps on coming, whether you're ready for more of it or not. Honestly, the only thing I have to truly complain about when it comes to this kind of news is that I'm running out of money to afford all the things. That there are too many Marvel collectibles on the market to collect is a good problem to have. Sort of.
While the rest of the core Avengers cast had already been announced as getting their own SH Figuarts incarnations earlier this year, the big bad of Avengers: Age of Ultron had been missing for some time. Tamashii Nations formally unveiled the SH Figuarts Ultron this week, bringing the number of Ultrons announced or released in 2015 to 1,345,875, which is an 1,345,875% increase year over year. Built to scale with the rest of the line, which is still minus Black Widow, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (I guess we can give up on that dream now), Ultron looks as formidable here as he did in the film.
Since 1978, there have almost always been Star Wars figures of some kind of the pegs at your local toy shop. There was a bit of a lull for a few years between the end of Kenner's run and the start of Hasbro's, but these days it's almost impossible to walk into a store and not find some kind of Star Wars toys. As such, there have been a lot of different versions of the same characters and outfits repeated with slight adjustments over the years. It's hard to craft a new Star Wars figure that stands out while also staying true to the core idea of the original interpretations.
For those of us that have been collecting Star Wars figures since the '80s, the new iterations from companies like Square Enix and Tamashii Nations have been eye-opening. This is particularly true of Tamashii Nations, as the company's variants aren't just stylized interpretations. Instead, Tamashii's figures are rooted in the storied history of Japan's samurai culture, which itself is an inspiration for the original Star Wars films. Already a few figures deep with the likes of a Samurai General Darth Vader and a Teppo Ashigaru Stormtrooper, Tamashii officially unveiled a new Royal Guard and Sandtrooper to join the ranks of its growing army.
Comic-Con International in San Diego is nothing if not a great excuse to buy things that you can't get anywhere else, and folks, I am no more immune to the siren song of consumerism than anyone else. For me, my particular vice comes in the form of action figures -- specifically the Tamashii Nations S.H. Figuarts line of high-end Japanese action figures. At their booth last weekend, they had not only all five of the Inner Senshi from Sailor Moon, but they also had that giant Hello Kitty that Hello Kitty herself pilots so that she can fly around and battle against giant monsters, aka the single greatest thing that has ever been produced by the hands of man.
Obviously, I had to buy it all. So to justify my expense (and for tax purposes), join us on a journey to the floor of San Diego and find out just how much money I spent on toys. The answer will not shock you, but it may give you the impression that I should never have been trusted with a debit card.
Get ready to play with fire. This September Bandai will expand its Tamashii Nations Effect Impact line to include sprawling sets of both blue and red plastic "flame" for any fiery action figure display need.
Bandai's Tamashii Nations toys look stellar at conventions when Bluefin displays its wares, and that has as much to do with the toys themselves as it does their unique environments. Come April, even the most casual collectors will be able to come closer to achieving the same level of display detail on their own with new stand bases from the Tamashii Stage line.
Sanrio's Hello Kitty and Bandai's long-running die-cast Chogokin toy line are both turning 40 next year, so they're commemorating the occasion the only way that makes sense: teaming up for a righteous Hello Kitty mech action figure that, among other things, shoots rocket fists like Mazinger Z.
This past summer at San Diego Comic-Con, Tamashii Nations teased S.H. Figuarts based on NetherRealm's DC fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us with but a sign. Now at New York Comic Con 2013, Batman has broken the silence with a blank 6" prototype demonstrating the upcoming line's precision sculpting and articulation. It's still early to tell just how posable, colorful and accessorized this line will be based on a lone unpainted Batman toy, but given the die-cast and resin construction, detailed sculpts and accessory-packed nature associated of the S.H. Figuarts line, Batman fans who're cool with his Injustice duds can probably expect a something comparable to what they've seen before from Bandai with other licenses. You can get a look at the upcoming 2014 release after the cut.
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