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.
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.
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