SWCC 2019: 7 Things We Learned from the Hasbro Star Wars Panel

StarWars.com

From a fan-favorite animated character brought to life in the Black Series, to a mind-blowing prototype, the reveals from Hasbro’s panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago made one thing clear: the company is changing the way we think about Star Wars toys.

In a panel discussion today, Patrick Schneider (senior manager, global brand development & marketing, Star Wars), Sam Smith (product design manager, Star Wars), Vickie Stratford (director product design and development, Star Wars), Chris Gollaher (director, product development at Lucasfilm), Sarah Carroll (director global brand strategy & marketing, Star Wars), Mark Boudreaux (senior principal product designer, Star Wars), and Eric Franer (associate product designer, Star Wars) discussed the latest in the Hasbro Star Wars galaxy, from upcoming releases to some surprise announcements. Here are seven things we learned.

1. The 6-inch Black Series is coming to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Three sets of exclusive figures are on their way to the upcoming Star Wars-themed land. The First Order 4-pack includes an existing Kylo Ren, Commander Pyre (the first Star Wars Resistance character brought to the Black Series), the Mountain Trooper, and an MSE (or mouse) droid. “The inspiration, the authenticity that we see in Galaxy’s Edge, we can bring in here,” said Chris Gollaher. And of course, the mouse droid has rolling wheels.

The Droid Depot 4-pack features C-3PO with articulated elbows and updated thighs, an existing R2-D2, BB-8 with more screen-accurate weathering, and DJ R-3X, or Rex — the former Star Tours pilot who will be spinning tunes at Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. “Renaissance droid,” Patrick Schneider quipped, also noting Rex is his favorite droid.

Finally, the Smugglers Run 4-pack includes Jedi Training Rey with Photo Real deco (for the first time), cheerful and sad porgs, an existing Chewbacca, and the shifty pirate, Hondo Ohnaka. The reveal of Hondo, a fan-favorite from Star Wars: The Clone Wars featured prominently at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as an animatronic, drew particularly huge cheers from the crowd. “He’s got a new look exclusive to the [Disney] Parks,” said Sarah Carrol, adding that Ohnaka comes with translucent goggles and his iconic blaster.




2. The packaging for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge figures is in-world. As the land is a real Star Wars locale — Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu — most product packaging will fit seamlessly, appearing of the galaxy. Hasbro’s offerings will be no different. “You’ll notice there’s no Hasbro or Disney logo in the front of the pack,” Schneider said. “This is supposed to be a product you can buy in that world, so there’s nothing to break that fantasy on the front of the pack.”



3. You’ll soon be able to channel your inner Luke Skywalker thanks to an amazing new helmet. The Luke Skywalker Black Series Helmet — the most requested roleplaying helmet according to Schneider — looks to be a brilliant blend of sound and light effects for play, mixed with screen accuracy. “Visually, this has been the most labor-intensive helmet that we’ve ever done,” Sam Smith said. “This is the most deco we’ve ever put on one of these Black Series helmets, and we did our best to match the original prop.” The helmet features interior padding, an adjustable elastic chip strap, synchronized LED lights and three speakers for surround sound, along with lights to recreate flare from TIE blasts, chatter from R2-D2, and much more; you can even switch modes between Battle of Yavin and Battle of Hoth. Red Five, standing by.


4. The Emperor returns to the Black Series. Based on his appearance in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, this new take on Palpatine includes three alternate (including gloriously evil-looking) heads, lightning, and a throne. “We’ve updated the soft goods,” said Smith, which is important for our Emperor. Unlike the earlier iteration of the Sith Lord, this new version can fully bend his legs thanks to a fully cloth cloak, allowing him to do something simple but iconic: sit down. And because of this, Hasbro created something extra for the figure. “To celebrate the fact that he can sit now, we’ve included his throne,” Smith added. You want this…don’t you? Good news: The Emperor will be an Amazon exclusive, available for pre-order tomorrow.


 

5. Luke fans, this is for you. The Luke Skywalker Jedi Destiny 3-pack in the 3.75-inch Vintage Collection features iterations of the farmboy-turned-Jedi from every film in the original trilogy, each with a new head sculpt utilizing Photo Real printing, and other improvements. The legendary Mark Boudreaux, who has helped make Star Wars toys since 1977, sees this set as something of a tribute to a central figure of the saga. “We really want to…use our timeless brand, the Vintage Collection, to give you a new look at Luke,” he said. The Jedi Luke figure, in particular, looks to be definitive, from new soft goods to gloveless hands. “We’re getting it right,” said Smith, emphatically. Look for the set at San Diego Comic-Con.

6. New creative, colorful convention exclusives reference the toy-making process — and Star Wars toy history. The retro prototype Darth Vader, revealed at the panel, features random pops of color — the way a prototype might. “You can get a ton of different color combinations on these,” said Eric Franer, who also noted that the packaging has been designed to match the spirit of the figure. “We modified it to make it brighter, poppier, more Andy Warhol-esque from the 1980s.”

Boba Fett, too, is going retro. The 6-inch Black Series version of the bounty hunter — in celebration of the coming 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — is getting a release in the original 1979 Kenner deco. The packaging is based on the original Kenner cardback, as well — featuring a Star Wars logo. You can pick up both figures at San Diego Comic-Con.

7. One more thing… Hasbro cut the lights and showed off a lightsaber — just a prototype with no plans for release as of yet — that actually ignites a beam of light. As Vickie Stratford said, it’s the latest in their efforts to develop “the ultimate Star Wars lightsaber.” No photographs or video were allowed, but based on what we saw, it’s safe to say they’re on their way.

Visit StarWars.com’s Star Wars Celebration Chicago hub for all the latest Celebration news.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsCelebrationChicago2019, #SWCCPanel

SWCC 2019: 7 Things We Learned from the Hasbro Star Wars Panel

Thanos Gets a Suitably Smug Avengers: Endgame Figure, and More of the Most Triumphant Toys of the Week

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Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of all the future drains on our wallets we’ve seen on the internet lately. This week, Avengers: Endgame comes to Hot Toys, Wolverine gets a truly ridiculous samurai re-imagining, and you can be on Detective Pikachu’s case with a truly adorable hat. Check it out!

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Here’s All the New Avengers: Endgame Toys That Tell You Absolutely Nothing About Avengers: Endgame

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Lego Batman Celebrates 80 Years of Comics Batman, and More of the Most Bat-tastic Toys of the Week

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The New Power Rangers Fighting Game Could Use A Lot More Power Rangers 

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago Exclusives Preview

StarWars.com

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, an exclusive set of action figures will pay homage to the iconic red cardbacks from the original toy line that hit shelves two decades ago in support of Episode I.

These are just some of the exclusive toys and bobbleheads that you can get your hands on at Star Wars Celebration next month.

Today, The Star Wars Show and StarWars.com have your first look at what three of the top toymakers are bringing to the Windy City — and everything you need to know about entering the online lottery for the chance to take them home.

Hasbro The Black Series Darth Maul in packaging

Hasbro The Black Series Padawan Obi-Wan in Pack

A special Hasbro Black Series figure available at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
A special Hasbro Black Series figure available at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Hasbro will celebrate the duel between Darth Maul and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi with a pair of 6-inch Black Series figures on special Episode I cardbacks; both releases utilize the innovative Photo Real paint application technique.

A LEGO bust available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

A LEGO bust available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

LEGO has crafted a special brick bust in the visage of the mask of Darth Vader, with limited availability at Target.

A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

And Funko has given a special chrome blue treatment to six of its character sculpts in the POP! line.

A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. A Funko Pop! available only at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The bobblehead range is also releasing new Funko POP! figures of Watto and Darth Maul.

Check out this week’s episode of The Star Wars Show for even more Star Wars Celebration news!

And stay tuned to StarWars.com for more Star Wars Celebration Chicago updates!

Star Wars Celebration Chicago will take place April 11-15 at McCormick Place. Visit StarWarsCelebration.com for tickets and more info!

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Star Wars Celebration Chicago Exclusives Preview

Nothing Can Stop Captain Marvel’s Cat-Based Domination, and More Purrfect Toys This Week

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Thanks to HasLab and Fans, Jabba’s Barge, the Khetanna, Sets Sail

StarWars.com

Reclining on his throne aboard the Khetanna, Jabba the Hutt gripped his microphone and growled the final death sentence for Luke Skywalker and his friends hovering just above the Sarlacc pit. But moments later, the execution turned into an escape, leaving the mighty Jabba dead at Leia’s hand and his opulent sail barge imploding in the sands of the Dune Sea.

A close-up of Hasbro's HASLAB Jabba's sail barge toy.

When Jabba’s sail barge, HasLab’s first crowd-sourced project, hits doorsteps early next month, the painstakingly detailed Hasbro toy vehicle will allow fans of all ages to recreate this scene in Return of the Jedi, right down to a series of hinged shutters perfect for Threepio to peek through.

It’s been just over a year since the project was first announced, a proposal to make the nearly 4-foot-long toy barge a reality for the first time ever with the help of dedicated backers supporting a 5,000-piece manufacturing run.

A close-up of Hasbro's HASLAB Jabba's sail barge toy.

Since then, less than 10,000 have rolled off the assembly line, a delicate balance of plastic tooling and handcrafting that captures the minute details glimpsed on film and builds upon the legend of Jabba’s opulent ship with new details and immaculately crafted, functional parts. For Chris Dern, Lucasfilm’s senior manager of product development, the project demonstrates the dedication of the toymaker’s design team, a longstanding partnership and collaboration with Lucasfilm, and the love of the fans, who had clamored for years to see Jabba’s sail barge join their motley crew of action figures.

A close-up of Hasbro's HASLAB Jabba's sail barge toy.

Look at the size of that thing!

Weighing in just shy of 14 pounds, and measuring at 49.35 inches long, 14.64 inches wide, and just over 17 inches from the base to the tips of the sails, the barge is an impressively massive piece of merchandise.

“The size of this thing is incredible,” Dern says. “From a manufacturing/tooling perspective, this is quite an undertaking. The tooling just to create something at this scale, with such an amazing level of detail, is a remarkable achievement.”

Designers captured ornate, cinematic details, like Jabba’s microphone, trophy heads, and other sculptures, then took it to a whole new level, imagining other necessities for a crime boss’s floating yacht. “The designers went into this really thinking of functionality and playability,” Dern says. “Our goal in our role here is, how accurate can we get? Whether it is scouring for an old set of blueprints, utilizing archived models, published materials, and/or entertainment footage, all of which helps guide us in our decision making and ultimately to the final result.”

Designers surmised that Jabba would need a kitchen to keep the serving trays of pesky astromech droids and the bellies of the barge guests full, so they created a galley kitchen, complete with fresh-caught meats. Transporting prisoners required a jail, including one forgotten Ithorian, now little more than a pile of bones in a cell, and an armory.

Every detail was accounted for and made for active play, Dern says. The prison cell, for example, includes a tiny set of chains that can be used to secure an action figure of your choosing. And there are plenty of other trap doors, hidden compartments, and removable pieces.

“What I’ve always liked about any vehicle that Hasbro or Kenner has developed,” Dern says, “is the detail that they capture and then the functionality of it. What opens? What little trap door does it have? What little space can we capture to have secret hidden compartments? It makes the experience much more fun, compelling and allows everyone to immerse themselves deeper into the fantasy.”

A close-up of Hasbro's HASLAB Jabba's sail barge toy.A close-up of Hasbro's HASLAB Jabba's sail barge toy.

Handmade with care

Each of the 250 individual parts were molded by factory machines, then pieced together by both machine and human hands, Dern notes. “All of these little, hinged shutters — there’s quite a few on here — somebody had to piece those together.”

To capture the weathered, used look that dominates the design aesthetic of nearly every ship in the Star Wars galaxy, the paint deco was painstakingly applied in layers, a mix of molding, airbrushing, and handpainting that makes each individual barge unique. “You can see the brush strokes,” Dern says, and every nick and ding. “Star Wars is full of that, right? George [Lucas] and all those designers did such a great job of making things look lived in and old and beaten up. It made it more real. So we take great care in trying to best match that.”

A close-up of Hasbro's HASLAB Jabba's sail barge toy.

The team even flipped the vehicle over and decorated the underside, Dern notes. And textures incorporated into the plastic capture the roughness of the cockpit seating and the delicate appearance of frosted glass panes.

900 pounds of (I hate) sand

Along the way, HasLab has documented the creative process like never before, giving fans and backers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the massive toy. “There’s a lot of behind-the-curtain here, which is kind of a first,” Dern says. “That’s a big deal and quite unique in this industry to share design, development and even manufacturing processes. We hope the fans truly appreciate the efforts the team put forth.”

For instance, to capture the glamorous vintage-inspired box art showing the barge in full-color glory, 14 Hasbro employees spent 120 hours on the photoshoot, which included bringing in 900 pounds of sand to recreate the Dune Sea and the creation of one custom, posable Sarlacc.

The ship is delivered with a 3.75-inch scale Jabba the Hutt, with detailed paint deco to match the grandeur of the Khetanna, and a special Vintage Collection Yakface figure. A carded version of the figure will be available for the mass-market release.

Dern, who had the privilege of being the first to receive a final production barge at his office in San Francisco (for final product review purposes) is excited for fans to finally get their hands on their own sail barges soon. But he’s hard pressed to identify his favorite aspect of the finished vehicle. “As a toy designer I appreciate this grand undertaking from a pure design, engineering and manufacturing toy perspective. The amount of deco and level of detail is absolutely incredible on this. It’s a bit of a showstopper. Wait until you see the size of the box this arrives in!”

Hasbro The Vintage Collection Jabba's Skiff

Other new items, including Jabba’s Skiff, above, and various other figures from Hasbro’s The Vintage Collection, below, were recently announced at Toy Fair, and will soon be available in stores.

Hasbro The Vintage Collection Tatooine skiff set
Hasbro The Vintage Collection Lando Calrissian Skiff Guard

With the sail barges now shipping, HasLab, the crowdfunding platform that helps put dream products in the hands of eager fans with their support and pledges, is expected to announce its next collectible soon. But Hasbro has plenty of other exciting new Star Wars toys heading to store shelves this year, including everything recently announced at Toy Fair in New York.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Thanks to HasLab and Fans, Jabba’s Barge, the Khetanna, Sets Sail