Monday, November 21, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Hasbro)



Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Hasbro
2015 - 2016

Ah, Star Wars. How you rose to the top, only to fall into a deep slumber, then be awoken...Ha...Puns. Technically though, to be as accurate as possible it would either be the Power of the Force II Awakens or the Thrawn Trilogy Awakens. Those were the start of new life being breathed into the lungs of Star Wars.

We have a love / hate relationship with Star Wars toys. By that we mean that we love there are still Star Wars toys being produced today, but we hate the majority of them. We'll go into details during our whining session below.

With Rogue One right around the corner, we thought we'd take a look at last year's hype machine, The Force Awakens. Though the movie was well received by the general population, there were of course many people who scorned the film for being nothing short of a retelling of A New Hope. Admittedly there is some merit to that argument.

After the reception that was the George Lucas Prequel Trilogy, Disney definitely played it safe with the first entry in their Sequel Trilogy. By that we mean they seemed to fear stepping anywhere outside the box of the Original Trilogy so much to the point that they did indeed mirror A New Hope almost to a "T".




We're sure this topic could be debated ad nauseam by Star Wars fans on both sides of the fence. So, we're going to go ahead and shift the attention now to the toys themselves in attempts to sidestep that argument.

Hasbro has produced hundreds, if not thousands of Star Wars figures since acquiring Tonka / Kenner in mid 1991. Though it was public knowledge, the Hasbro brand didn't appear on the front of Star Wars figure packages until the Flashback Series of the Power of the Force II line which was released in 1998. Many figure collectors of course remember the entire PotFII line as both a joy and nightmare at the same time for its ever leaching effects on wallets as well as a breath of life in Star Wars returning to toy isles back in 1995.




Since then, Hasbro has launched and ended numerous Star Wars related lines coinciding with the 3 3/4 inch scale figures. They not only covered all three of the Prequels; The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones (known in the toy isle as Star Wars Saga) and Revenge of the Sith, but also the various television series; Clone Wars, The Clone Wars and the recent Rebels iteration. They even produced a throwback to the vintage line with their highly popular Vintage Collection series. These of course are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lines as there were many others.

It was inevitable that 2015 to 2016 would be The Force Awakens' turn. Though there were many figures released, the series as a whole seems incomplete. Where is Leia, Luke, Lor San Tekka and the various creatures seen in Maz's "palace"? Heck, you can't even get Maz Kanata if you don't buy a multipack. Meanwhile, characters that weren't even part of the film got thrown into the mix to "flesh out" the line. Overall, it just seems like a missed opportunity on Hasbro's part, but then again, they've been missing the mark on Star Wars lines for quite some time now (more on that below).




With that said, we get it. Hasbro has shifted their production to gear it more towards children as opposed to collectors. They created the six inch Black Series for the collectors, and essentially said, "This will suffice you because that's all you're getting." Since then they have cut back on articulation and in general the quality of their 3 3/4 inch line. Oddly enough, the prices still remain the same in toy isles, if not a little higher at this point.

Rather than focus on solid figures and vehicles that carried the various Star Wars lines through success for years, Hasbro has resorted to gimmicks - Such as this line's "Armor Up" collection - AKA big bulky accessories that are irrelevant to the character, but add eye candy to the package for children, and additional dollars to the parent's buying price. Even some of the basic figures seem encumbered with large accessories that serve no purpose - Why does Captain Phasma come with a large green bladed unicycle?




In all seriousness, we do know why. See, that's Hasbro's other gimmick. Each basic figure comes packed with an accessory to create an even larger irrelevant accessory when combined. Man do we miss the days of "Build A Droid" - You know, when each figure came packed with a piece of a droid that when combined at least made for an awesome figure to add to your collection.

With all this "hate" for the line, it makes you wonder if there was anything good that came out of it. Short answer - Yes.

As someone once said, "Hate leads to suffering." Which oddly enough is what many fans of Star Wars who hate what has become of the toys, but still buy them, are doing.




The line isn't terrible. It's just disappointing in terms of what characters got left out. Still, if you're looking for the main cast of new faces, you will find that here. Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren are all here - The majority in multiple iterations. Furthermore, you can find them all in the basic packs, so you're not having to buy the bulky deluxe editions if you don't want to.

Even then, it's not like you have to utilize the packed in accessories from either the basic or deluxe versions. Heck, if it bothers you that much, you can just throw them away - Though we don't know why you would buy them if you were just going to throw pieces out.




Hasbro released three waves of basic figures, each comprising of twelve figures. A unique twist they came up with was to split each wave in half, designating one half to the Desert / Snow theme, and the other half to the Forest / Space theme. This theme carried over to the deluxe, or "Armor Up" series, which includes a figure from each theme in each of its two waves. Well, to correct that statement, it would have, but it appears that the Forest Gear figure from wave 2 was cancelled.

Toys R' Us released two "Armor Up" exclusive packs. The first pack contained a Desert and Space themed set of figures, and the second pack covered the Snow and Forest themed ones.



Speaking of store exclusives - Though there weren't many multipacks produces for The Force Awakens line, two of the three were exclusive to specific retailers. Amazon got the First Order Legion - A pack that contains pretty much every form of First Order Stormtrooper you can think of (seven figures in total). Kohls on the other hand received a pack refereed to simply as Kohl's Exclusive Set. It contained four figures in a Forest theme.

The series was rounded off with numerous vehicles. Much as the standard of any Star Wars line these days, the vehicles are separated into one of three classes; I, II and III.




There were eleven vehicles in total produced - five from Class I, Three from Class II and three from Class III. The Class I vehicles contained an exclusive walker which could only be purchased from Entertainment Earth.

The most expensive vehicle to come from the series was the Battle Action Millennium Falcon - AKA a Transformer. Really the only "neat" thing to come from this toy (for us) was the new radar dish. With that said, we can definitely see why kids would get excited about it. Sure, it's not screen accurate, but look at that massive cannon that pops out! Fun times indeed! It's always great when toys incorporate projectiles or sound effects, or (mind blown) both!


For us, and yes, this is totally a personal opinion - Hasbro has been missing the mark on their Star Wars toys for quite some time now. In general there doesn't seem like too much care goes into a Star Wars line these days. It's as if they don't listen to the fans anymore. Remember when there used to be a yearly poll for a "Fan's Choice" figure? Where is that these days?

Hasbro wants so desperately to cater their toys to kids, and has for many years now. It seems so obvious with all the silly gimmicks and pack-ins they're focusing on. The problem with this is that they seem to have forgotten that it was collectors that took them from 1995 to present. Grown up fans of the Original Trilogy were the ones clambering over each other in the 90's to get to the newest figures, not children. We're not saying that kids didn't want these figures, but let's be real about it. The majority of Star Wars toy buyers back then were in the age range of 20 - 40.

Don't get us wrong. We don't hate the idea that a toy line is being geared towards children. We suppose that this is how it should be. However, in the past Hasbro seemed to have been on a path where there was still somewhat of a balance. Main characters were the focal point for those young and old, but then Hasbro would throw in a gem here and there strictly for collectors. Those days seem gone.

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