Force Friday has come and gone, but there are a lot more toys and action figures coming for Star Wars. At New York Comic Con earlier this month, Newsaraam was invited to a special private Hasbro event and received a special first look at some of what will initially be launched and hinted at things to come. Again, the level of secrecy was approaching a colossal scale, but we did manage to get some key production notes and photos of the upcoming toys.
The team behind the newest Star Wars toys talked about some of the upcoming releases, but all eyes were on everything Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The team consisted of Star Wars Senior Product Designer Steve Bono, Design Director Steve Evans, and Hasbro’s Global Marketing Manager Joe Ninivaggi, who had brought in some of the new toys that were tied to the movie, but obviously couldn’t reveal too much. The team had brought a slew of merchandise to talk about, and it was a difficult choice on where to start first.
Talk first went to the 7” Black Series, which is reserved for the adult collector, led by the recently revealed Phasma. The figure is fully detailed, and comes with her intricate blaster and resin cape instead of cloth, which gives her a more regal silhouette. Now all figures thus far has Phasma in her chrome armor, but are we ever going to see her without her helmet as a toy? Evans chimed in with mild ambiguity.
“I cannot say yes or no,” he said. “It’s such an open question, I don’t know. At the moment though? No.”
Evans also explained why they went in the direction they did with casting her cape in PVC instead of cloth cape.
“The decision on that to go PVC on the cape was because of how she has a particular way that she wears the cape and the cape is not just soft goods. It’s got pocketing and patches.”
“Yeah, if you look at the detail on the back of it,” Bono said as he demonstrated the sculpt of the cape, “you can see what she all has. It’s easier to represent that well with plastic.”
Next up, we talked about the recently debuted Han Solo Black Series figure and how it really stood out with the detailed likeness of Harrison Ford. Bono talked about how easier it’s been with digital scans being involved to capture the legendary actor’s features.
“It’s quite easy to capture the likenesses of actors because of the technology. We used to sculpt in wax with photo reference, but now it’s done with digital scans. However, that still requires a certain amount of skill to use the technology and clean up the scans and make sure the details are represented well.”
The surprising hit character has been the roto-droid BB-8, who was shown having various weapons that were debuted at the convention and droid will be featured in a multitude of ways and scales, according to Evans.
A few years back, Hasbro had released the Darth Tater, a Mr. Potato Head with Darth Vader’s helmet. This time around, it’s Frylo Ren, but why keep this product line? Evans again explains it’s a perfect match up of pop culture icons.
“Mr. Potato Head is this pop culture commentator. He dresses up as different characters in pop culture and calling him Frylo Ren makes sense as [Kylo is] the new face of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie and merchandise. It was an easy get really, and at the end of the day, a pun works.”
Now, Hasbro didn’t just have movie figures to show. They also presented a prototype of the Seventh Sister character from Star Wars: Rebels. It was announced a few weeks back that actress Sarah Michelle Gellar would join husband Freddie Prinze, Jr. on the show as the new villain of the series, complete with rotating lightsaber.
“The Seventh Sister on this one will come with a removable face mask so you can see the character beneath,” Evans explained, showing off the figure. “She has a micro probe droid character that will be a part of an action feature. So she comes all out.”
Turning to the “Galactic Heroes” line, which are essentially made for much younger fans, but older fans have found their appeal as well. Though, when you have characters with such intricate and detailed designs and costumes, are you risking loss of detail when you bring things down to that scale? That’s not always the case.
“There’s a translation there that the designers are really adept at,” Bono explains. “You’re taking a character that’s very realistic and then fitting it to that scale and style, but we have several clever and talented designers in that group that can do that well.”
“An eye for minimization and what to keep and what not to keep is essential,” added Evans.
Playing around with the “Galactic Heroes”, you can see how each toy, even given smaller points of articulation, still have fun features such as the Flametrooper actually has a weapon that fires and Kylo’s comes with a floating orb droid. Ninivaggi mentioned, though, that it isn’t a movie-based prop and a repaint of something similar they’ve had for a while. One of the big differences is that Phasma comes with a cloth cape instead of a plastic one like her larger scale counterpart does.
Comparing between Galactic Heroes and the Black Series is apples and oranges. With the Heroes figures, the team tries to go on functionality, even with their limited articulation, make them fun for kids. With the Black Series, Evans explains that their biggest goal is authenticity.
“It’s taking the scans that we’ve got and try to replicate that with multiple articulation. It’s this kind of balance of display and play. You know, you’ve got some collectors who display them in their boxes, some of them out of the boxes, some like to pose them in little dioramas. Some kids just like to grab them and play with them because these characters are larger than life and you can take them around. So it really is authenticity at the end of the day.”
The biggest toys displayed at the table were the 12” Rey and Kylo Ren, but there are plans for the big names of the movie to join that scale. “Well we have Rey, Finn, Kylo, the TIE Fighter was just announced, BB-8, and Phasma [which is looking to be a Walmart exclusive].”
Lastly, Star Wars means so much to multiple generations. Ten years ago, we got the seemingly last Star Wars movie of this generation, but with the release of Episode VII, a new generation will get to experience a Star Wars movie almost every few years. The crew elaborates on what this multibillion dollar franchise and iconic characters mean to them and what they’re most excited about.
“For me, I think my kids are the perfect age to live this,” Evans said. “I was about 5 or 6 when the first Star Wars hit and my kids are 5 and 6 and I can now share this experience with them. They can relive it with me.”
Bono mentions his experiences in the 70’s as well with the Star Wars explosion. “It was cool to feel that as a consumer and now I get to experience it as someone who is able to create this product which is for other kids.”
“Yeah, I’m in a similar stage with Evans about passing this onto my kids at this age,” said Ninivaggi. “I think also, in general, just seeing this massive wave of love and enthusiasm come back amongst all of pop culture and for us to be part of that, we’re really blessed. In general, it’s exciting to be part of Star Wars, but in this moment in time, this whole new generation of kids coming in and everybody, pardon the pun, reawakened with Star Wars is really cool.”