Star Wars Collecting: The Best and Worst of 2015

2015 best and worstIn previous years we’ve included the 6″ Black Series releases as part of the Best/Worst Figure category but this year we’re creating a new Best/Worst Figure 6-8″ category and renaming the Best/Worst Figure category to Best/Worst Figure 4″. With all of the new Black Series releases from Hasbro, and now having Disney Elite, Tamashii Nations, and Medicom Toy joining that scale, we thought it was time.

The first 3/4 of the year were relatively bleak for Star Wars fans and collectors, with Celebration Anaheim being a bright spot in the spring, but September saw the launch of The Force Awakens merchandise and things have been at a breakneck pace since then. Hot Toys really was the breakout leader this year, when compared to Sideshow and Gentle Giant on the mid to higher end collectibles market. Lego continues to roll along with releases from the entire Saga as well as Clone Wars and now Rebels. Their The Force Awakens launch had some good stuff off the bat and we’re expecting a lot more good things from them in 2016.

Mattel joining the Star Wars family has also been excellent news for fans of die-cast toys. Their launch in 2014 of the Character Cars was just the beginning, with 2015 seeing the ships line debut along with the Factions and Pop Culture assortment of Star Wars themed classic Hot Wheels designs. We’re looking forward to seeing Mattel expand all of their lines going into 2016.

It’s also an exciting time with all the new licenses being handed out to the Asian companies like Bandai/Tamashii Nations, Medicom Toy, Herocross, and Square Enix. Their unique take on Star Wars characters and the level of detail and articulation they include often blows away what Hasbro’s releasing in the US, even though the price point is higher. Hot Toys is now cranking on all cylinders and with the release of their Chewbacca figure, and we feel that the sky truly is the limit with what we could see from them over the next few years.

With one new movie already here and years of more to come, 2015 is the kick off for a new generation of fans and collectors and the members of the old guard are more than happy to go along for the ride.

Best

Best Figure 4″

Mosep Binneed (Hasbro)
Hasbro’s 4″ Black Series line died mostly with a whimper before coming back as a Walmart exclusive. The final few waves were extremely hard to find at retail but there were a few bright spots and Mosep Binneed was one of them. The design of the character is based on a background alien in A New Hope and an appearance in an early Marvel comic, but he now has his own identity. The figure itself is relatively basic but has a nicely detailed head sculpt. The plain tunic outfit hides the articulation, which works well, and he comes with a blaster pistol. Mosep Binneed is more of an Expanded Universe (now Legends) creation than anything else and with Hasbro cutting back on those types of characters, it was nice to see this release before we move into the era of the Sequel Trilogy and Anthology movie characters.
AT-AT Driver (Hasbro)
The tail-end of the Saga Legends line offered up some fun characters from Rebels and The Clone Wars but we’re a little biased when it comes to the AT-AT Driver. Lucky for us, even with only 5 points of articulation (POA), the AT-AT Driver was one of the better releases this year. The paint jobs aren’t as detailed as previous releases but what is there hits all the necessary marks from the helmet insignia to the chest box.
Jedi Temple Guard (Hasbro)
Released in the same case as the AT-AT Driver, the Jedi Temple Guard comes from a couple of episodes of The Clone Wars and has a solid design. Compared to some other Saga Legends figures from the same time period, the Temple Guard has several paint apps that highlight the mask and robe designs well. He comes with a nicely detailed double-bladed lightsaber and a neutral pose that seems to work both for standing guard and battling it out with other saber wielding toys. Of all the Legends figures, this is the one we’d most like to see with upgraded articulation but barring that, this is a very well done toy and is a good example of what Hasbro can do on their budget line.

Best Figure 6-8″

Samurai Taishou Darth Vader (Tamashii Nations)
Tamashii Nations, via their Movie Realization line, launched Samurai inspired versions of our favorite Star Wars characters earlier this year and the first release was Samurai Taishou Darth Vader. The incredibly detailed Samurai armor coupled with Darth Vader’s iconic helmet and lightsaber make for an excellent combination. The figures in the Movie Realization line feature multiple points of articulation, interchangeable hands and plenty of detailed accessories. Vader, specifically, has over 16 points, three sets of hands and a lightsaber with removable blade. The price on the figures is in the $90 range in the US but the value is in the detailed paint jobs and design. S.H. Figurarts, also from Tamashii Nations, is right in the mix but the Samurai Taishou Darth Vader stands out as the best in 2015.

Best Figure 12″

R2-D2 (Sideshow)
With the Hoth-heavy releases and multiple Clone Troopers, R2-D2 stands out as a win for Sideshow this year. He’s an all new design, being the first astromech, and has lights along with plenty of accessories, including the drink tray from Jabba’s barge and Obi-Wan’s table with a holographic Princess Leia. The exclusive adds some arm attachments but the base model is more than enough to make R2-D2 a must-have for your collection.
Han Solo & Chewbacca (Hot Toys)
Even though these figures could be purchased separately, the set added a couple of accessories and let’s be honest, these two go really well together. Neither is perfect but both are the best examples we’ve seen yet at this scale. Chewbacca is the standout of the set and the first time we’ve had a legitimate entry at this scale. The fur isn’t perfect but he looks like Chewbacca and a little time spent with a brush does wonders. Other than a re-relase, it’s also a stretch to think we’ll have many more shots at him as his look doesn’t change significantly through the films.
Captain Phasma (Hasbro)
We’re giving this Toys-R-Us exclusive figure an honorable mention. The 12″ line from Hasbro isn’t always the best representation of what the company is capable of in that scale but Captain Phasma is an exception. It didn’t stand out boxed but we saw it on display surrounded by Sideshow, Hot Toys and Medicom figures and it fit right in. Phasma features upgraded articulation from other figures in the line with a ball jointed head and swivel wrists to go along with the shoulders and hips. The slightly dynamic sculpt is very well done, the paint apps were mostly clean, and the moulded cape hangs nicely. The blaster is a relatively accurate sculpt but lacks some detail and paint apps. Hasbro even included the ability to attach it to Phasma’s hip. The figure is a solid toy and that’s what this line from Hasbro is supposed to be.

Best Vehicle or Playset

Rey’s Speeder (Hasbro)
The $25 vehicle comes packed with a Rey figure featuring her head wrap and goggles (non-removeable) and features firing missiles. The speeder is built well, painted nicely and looks like a solid representation of what we’ve seen from the movie. We would have liked to have seen a better net for hauling scavenged parts, but the removeable rubber net and molded parts will work for most play time. You can also pair it with the unmasked, carded Rey, or the upcoming Black Series version for some variation. It makes an excellent toy and it falls into an affordable price range.
Black Series First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter (Hasbro)
Hasbro has shied away from larger vehicles and playsets due to cost and lack of sales but seemingly threw all those concerns out the window when they decided to make a 6″ scale TIE Fighter for The Force Awakens. The new TIE Fighters seat two and Hasbro’s release accommodates this. The box is massive and is almost literally wider than the store shelves holding it. It’s nearly 3′ tall at the wings and has a very detailed cockpit. It also includes a pilot. It’s not cheap, MSRP $169.99, but there were plenty of sales on it leading up to Christmas. It’s an impressive toy and we’re glad to see Hasbro take a chance on something like this, and execute it so well.
Battle Action Millennium Falcon (Hasbro)
We give an honorable mention to the Battle Action Millennium Falcon. While a lot of fans were hoping to see a new relase of the Big Millennium Falcon for The Force Awakens, Hasbro took a different direction and created a new toy that’s both ship and playset. The cockpit holds two action figures and then has a back that opens to create a two-level playset with a gunner station, holochess table and sick bay. The Falcon has lights and sounds and has pop-up Nerf missile launchers. The set includes Chewbacca, Finn, and BB-8 figures. It’s smaller than the BMF but that makes for a ship that kids can “fly” around the house when playing but also allows for plenty of play when they put it down. It’s priced at $139.99 which isn’t bad for the amount of play options it offers. Collectors may not be the target audience for this release of the Falcon but we think it’s an excellent toy.

Best Other Toys

Sphero BB-8
BB-8, the droid from The Force Awakens, is arguably one of the best new characters with all the personality of R2-D2 while possibly being cuter. Sphero, the company behind the tech that powers the actual movie prop, released their own BB-8 droid for Force Friday and it’s been a hit. Unlike the Hasbro version, which is controlled by a more traditional remote control, the Sphereo droid is powered by a tablet and phone app that lets you drive BB-8 around or send him off to explore on his own. The app offers the ability to record and play back holo messages and gives you access to pre-programmed movement and sounds. The app is also voice activated so you can speak to BB-8. Launched for Apple and Android tablets and phones, Sphero added a Windows app in December and after the release of the movie, new features will be added to the droid.
Hasbro Black Series Kylo Ren Voice Changer Helmet & Force FX Deluxe Lightsaber (Hasbro)
Rather than listing these separately, we’re combining them because they make an excellent, and affordable, cosplay combo. The Black Series Kylo Ren Helmet features electronic voice changing capabilities and unlike the less expensive masks, this is a complete helmet that fits over the head. It’s very detailed and looks like Ren’s helmet from The Force Awakens. To go with it, Hasbro also is offering up Kylo Ren’s Force FX lightsaber which features lights and sounds and comes with a stand. The helmet runs $80 and the lightsaber $200, but have been excellent sellers.
Mattel Hot Wheels
Mattel kicked off their Star Wars license with the 2014 wave of Saga themed and character cars but 2015 saw the Pop Culture line of vans and the Factions themed cars. We also were treated to the release of their Vehicle line which included single packs, 2-packs and playsets. While the vehicle line lacks any “articulation,” variants of X-Wing fighters with both open and closed wings helps to make up for it. Five waves in there is a decent selection of vehicles from across the entire Saga, including Rebels. The Character cars continue to roll on with The Force Awakens releases and more Saga selections coming soon. We also like Mattel’s ability to provide stock to stores, where we can wait months sometimes for action figures, the Hot Wheels lines are pretty consistent, on time with announced release dates, and continue to be restocked even when the pegs haven’t completely emptied. It’s one of the more friendly lines of toys for both kids and collectors.

Best Lego

Slave I #75060
The Ultimate Collector Series ships are the best of the best when it comes to Lego sets so it’s no surprise when they make the Best & Worst list, but the Slave I set really deserves it. The design is excellent, it looks very much like the model from The Empire Strikes Back. It doesn’t offer a lot of play pieces but does have a detailed cockpit, rotating wings and pop-out missiles. You can also load Han Solo into the hold. The selection of minifigures isn’t that diverse but the Boba Fett figure is one of, if not the best representation of the character yet. You also have a Bespin Guard, Stormtrooper and Han both frozen and ready to go into the freeze chamber. The set has 1996 pieces and is priced at $199.99, which keeps it in range for a lot of collectors.
Rey’s Speeder #75099
We picked up Rey’s Speeder on Force Friday, as we did with the Hasbro version, and don’t regret it. The small build has 193 pieces but it’s well designed and looks very accurate to the film version. The set includes Rey and one of Unkar’s thugs. The speeder features a storage area with opening doors on the sides and stud shooters along the front. There are attachments on the side for Rey’s scavenging tools which is a nice touch but we would have liked to have seen a cargo net to haul other bits. We also would have liked a BB-8 figure with this set since the only way to currenlty get him is in two expensive sets (Poe’s X-Wing #75102 $80 and Millennium Falcon #75105 $150). Still, this is an affordable set, has an excellent build, and features the hero of the new movie in minifigure form.

Best Busts and Statues

Queen Amidala (Gentle Giant)
Although this was a 2014 Premier Guild membership gift it didn’t hit until 2015. The face sculpt and detail on the dress and hair show some of the best work Gentle Giant has done in the past few years. The paint was basically flawless on ours and it looks like Natalie Portman. Not knowing how many other versions of the queen we may see (as either Amidala or Padme), we recommend this bust if you want an excellent example of the character and GG’s work in your collection.

Best Non-Toy Collectible

HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook
HP took what could have been a gimmick and made a well designed laptop for the consumer market. Starting at $700, the laptop model includes themed graphics, including a touchpad with the classic Death Star trench graphic, a decent processor and memory and a large hard drive. The 15.6″ screen is sizeable and paired with a nice graphics processor, will allow for light gaming. The red backlit keyboard continues the dark side imagery which can be expanded with a Darth Vader themed wireless mouse and slipcase guarged with Stormtrooper graphics. Included on the computer are photos and sound themes straight out of the films. All of the models include Windows 10 and if you step up to the $1000 model you add on a touchscreen. With all of the tie-ins for the new film, this was one of the more pleasant surprises. It’s not for everyone, but unlike a themed game console, this laptop is designed to be both a collectible and a computer that you can work on every day.

Best Exclusive

Jabba the Hutt, Slave Leia & Salacious B. Crumb (Funko)
This Pop! vinyl bobble-head set was a Walmart exclusive and included the three characters in the title and as with all of Funko’s Pop! figures, takes a humorous, stylized look at famaliar characters. The set includes a cardboard dais for the three figures to sit on with Jabba being the centerpiece. He’s cute, with his tongue hanging out and there’s a natural break for the wobbly head which makes for a nice overall look. Leia has her metal bikini look and Salacious Crumb, who’s almost a characture normally, lends himself to being a bobble. We’re not a huge fan of the bobble-head lines but we thought this set was really fun and deserved a spot on the list. The only downside to this exclusive, finding it. We haven’t seen one in stores lately so it seems to be a better seller than the Dewback exclusive set that was released at the same time.
BB-8 (Hasbro)
If you’re looking for a more affordable interactive BB-8 than the Sphero version, or one that’s more oriented towards younger kids, then you can’t go wrong with the Target exclusive remote control BB-8 by Hasbro. He’s larger than the Sphero model which can help him roll on more diverse floor coverings (especially thicker carpet). The controls are rather simple and the sounds come from the droid itself rather than the app as the Sphero version does. This makes Hasbro’s BB-8 feel more like a real droid. Hasbro’s BB-8 takes regular AA batteries and while we have read some reports that they go pretty quick, it’s easy to swap them out to get up and running again. In contrast, the Sphero BB-8 has an internal battery that lasts about an hour but takes up to three to recharge. Hasbro’s BB-8 is about half the price of the Sphero version and while it lacks the interactive features of the app-driven Sphreo it is a fun toy of what’s sure to be one of the more popular characters from the new movie.

Best Events

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The new film doesn’t land on this list just because it’s new, it’s actually really, really good. And while it’s easy to pick on some of the shortcomings, there isn’t anything that was so glaringly wrong with it that it really matters. And if you can put the issues aside, it’s a hell of an enjoyable movie. The new characters, Rey, Finn and Poe, not to mention BB-8, have the potential to be as iconic as Luke, Leia, Han and R2-D2 did a generation ago. The film left us with a lot of questions and blanks to fill in, as the first in a trilogy should, but also left us with plenty of cool things to discuss and huddle over for the next year. The Force Awakens is an excellent entry to the Saga and the best event this year.
Star Wars Celebration Anaheim
Celebrations always make the best list and this year is no exception. Although the cost doubled to attend, vs going to Orlando, it was a much better event than Celebration IV which was in Los Angeles. There was a lot of hype for Rebels and (then) upcoming The Force Awakens, but there were a lot of Original Trilogy and Clone Wars events to look back on. The panels were interesting and the prop display for The Force Awakens was fun. The floor and show store were okay, but it was once again the fan initiated events and gatherings that made the trip so much fun. The room sales were the best ever, the fan clubs joining together to offer free swag, and the fan room hosted by the Star Wars Action News hosts were just as interesting as anything. And kicking off the whole weekend was The Force Awakens panel with JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and the cast of the film, there to launch the newest trailer. With a recorded attendance of nearly 60,000, it was the must-attend event of the year (not counting the movie opening!).

Worst

Worst Figure 4″

Hasbro – Selection
As with the vehicle situation, the characters released in the first two waves of The Force Awakens figures were lacking. The main characters were there; Kylo Ren, Rey, Fin, First Order Stormtrooper and Poe Dameron, but the second level choices were not outstanding. Troopers are always a good thing, and a few were available, but we also saw the Resistance Trooper, Constable Zuvio, Sarco Plank and PZ-4C0 among others. None of them had stand-out scenes in the final movie and while the designs are nice on some, such as Sarko Plank, they’re probably not going to be the most popular choices in the long run. We’re sure that Hasbro made these characters in good faith, and were given access to the designs by Lucasfilm, but we’re hoping for more important characters going forward.
Hasbro Black Series Princess Leia
When the Black Series Princess Leia was first announced there was a lot of buzz for her, and when she was pulled from what should have been her release wave there was a lot of grumbling in the collector community. Hasbro only delayed her release, however, and she turned up this fall in the Walmart exclusive BS series but she’s probably not what most of us wanted for the $12.99 premium price. The figure is basically a “salt shaker” in that there’s no articulation below the waist, the head sculpt, while not terrible, has a tentative resemblance to Carrie Fisher, and the paint apps can really tank the overall look. Hasbro even forgot her silver bracelet, something they did include on the POTF2 version. The soft goods shawl is a nice touch and seems to work well but her only accessory is one medal. Granted, Leia didn’t do much in the scene from the movie, but with her being on the small side (which works for scale with Luke and Han) and lacking articulation it would have been nice for Hasbro to throw in something extra. If the only way to keep a premium line of figures on the market is to make them a store exclusive, we can learn to live with it, but Hasbro needs to keep the quality and value in place if they want us to keep buying.

Worst Figure 6-8″

Hasbro Distribution
The final two waves of the 6″ Black Series by Hasbro were extremely difficult to find at retail and had, arguably, some of the best figures with Bossk, IG-88, and Leia as Boushh. Some Walmart stores were no longer carrying the line by this point and Target and Toys-R-Us stores were very backed up with previous waves, specifically Slave Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in his Bespin Fatigues. At one point our local Walmart had 6 each of Obi-Wan and Luke on the pegs and Target had 6 Leia figures. They were all 2014 releases yet they sat on pegs until August, or later, before finally being marked down and moved in favor of The Force Awakens releases. The problems didn’t originate in any one place; you had character and outfit choices by Hasbro, stocking and distribution problems with retail stores, and the port strike that backed up shipping until February of this year. Still, there weren’t problems with stores receiving merchandise from other companies such as Lego or Mattel. With The Force Awakens being a success and product moving, hopefully we won’t see the huge delays and retail backup like we did in 2015 going forward.

Worst Figure 12″

Cad Bane in Denal Disguise (Sideshow)
Cad Bane is arguably one of the top 4 or 5 characters to come out of the animated Clone Wars show and the only 1:6 scale option we have is from one appearance where he steals Clone armor. His iconic look is in the duster coat and large hat with all of his bounty hunter gimmicks and weapons, where this release is as much the Clone Trooper Denal as it is anything else. The story arc from the Clone Wars is a good one and Cad Bane stealing a trooper’s armor is fun but I’d bet many collectors would rather have the iconic Cad Bane look over this release.

Worst Vehicle or Playset

Hasbro – Various
We give Hasbro credit for making several vehicles from The Force Awakens, including the X-Wing and TIE Fighter, but the list of ships released on Force Friday included several that were either not in the movie or used as background set dressing with very little screen time. We’re not sure if some of them were cut from the final film or always intended as background, but Finn’s Jakku Landspeeder, the First Order Assault Walker and Speeder Bike, and First Order Snowspeeder were all missing (or barely glimpsed) from the final film. The designs of the toys are fine and they all came with a figure which added to the value, but it’s hard to find much attraction in what ended up being, for lack of a better term, expanded universe ships. We understand there was a long lead time on developing toys but something like the luggabeast or First Order Transporter would have been a plus.
Poe’s X-Wing Fighter (Hasbro)
While Poe’s X-Wing is in the film, the toy had some flaws out of the box, most noticeably, the disfigured wing canons. We saw multiple reports of collectors opening the box to find the wing cannons warped out of shape. Some heating could help them but we’re always disappointed when a toy comes out of the box needing work, especially when you’re dealing with a $50 vehicle. The Poe Dameron figure does feature a removable helmet, which is an upgrade from the carded figure, but there seems to be a lot of issues fitting the figure in the cockpit even if it will go eventually. The ship is similar in size to the vintage Kenner and early Hasbro X-Wing releases which is on the small side but not unexpected based on ship releases from the last couple of years. The rubber nose cone is very soft and could easily be deformed and while the paint apps on the ship aren’t terrible, the fixed BB-8 droid only has detailing on his dome. While the paint is fine we do have to ding Hasbro for not making the body of the ship a darker color, or even black, like the film model. As with the Kenner and early Hasbro ships, pressing on BB-8 locks the wings into attack position and the ship features a firing missile that shoots from the bottom. Both nice action features but we can’t help but wish the toy also had some basic sounds for the price. Even though Hasbro issued some replacement cannons to customer that called or chatted with support, that doesn’t help kids receiving these as gifts.

Worst Other Toys

Box Busters (Spin Master)
The Box Busters from Spin Master are both a game and a collectible toy but don’t seem to make overly impressive versions of either. Each Box folds open to reveal a scene from a movie, such as the Death Star, Endor, or the attack on Hoth. Small figures and vehicles are attached to the scenes but are all static, the only action feature is when you open the spring-loaded box by pushing the Star Wars logo. The game play consists of rolling dice which simulate attacks and defense with the goal of advancing a playing piece down your opponents game board. Fun, but very basic. The ships and figures are smaller than Micro Machines and while they seem to have decent paint applications, there’s no play value to them. Single Box Busters are about $10 with the deluxe 2-packs running in the $20 range. They’re not inexpensive especially when you compare them to a more complex game such as Star Wars Monopoly which is about $25. These are being sold in the action figure aisle at Target and not with the games. Price, simplistic game play, and somewhat of an identity crisis (is it a toy or a game?) all seem to be strikes against this series.

Worst Lego

Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle #75104
While we see Kylo Ren’s shuttle a couple of times in The Force Awakens, it seems less interesting than the Tydirium from the Original Trilogy. The Lego set itself is on the large size, 1005 elements, and comes in at $119.99 which is one of the more expensive sets for the year. While it does come with a nice assortment of minifigures, including Kylo Ren, General Hux, and a female officer, the set doesn’t offer a lot of play features. The ship has two huge wings that take up a large portion of the build and I give Lego credit for articulating the tops and including firing missiles to add some play value. But the minifigures and wings aside, the interior of the ship, while detailed, is rather boring and doesn’t hold all of the minifigures included with the set. The detail on the outside and the very innovative wing builds fall in the pro column but fall short when compared to the on-screen ship as they don’t tilt out from the fuselage. It’s also the wrong color. In Lego’s defense, early photos seemed to show the shuttle in a more greyish color but the final color in the movie is more black. Hasbro also got this wrong on their Titanium ship (which has since had a running change) and we chalk that up to a late change during production. However, detail, innovative wing design, and minifigure selection aside, for the price, the toy is lacking in play value especially when compared to the Imperial Assault Carrier and Millennium Falcon which are only $10 and $30 more, respectively, or the First Order Transporter which is $30 less.

Worst Busts and Statues

None
We’re not picking anything for this category in 2015 not necessarily because there weren’t any busts or statues that were lacking, it’s mostly that there were barely any released from the big two license holders, Sideshow and Gentle Giant. There were only 6 mini busts from Gentle Giant released this year with all of them but one being some type of exclusive (PGM memberships, Celebration Anaheim, San Diego Comic-Con) and they only had one statue release. Sideshow released two Premium Format statues, Legendary Scale Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Life-size Yoda figure. None of which were that bad. The closest we came was the new Classic Darth Vader mini bust from Gentle Giant. This new entry-level line of busts is really nothing more than an outlet for GG to remake the most popular characters without putting them in their more popular, and longer running, mini bust line. The GameStop exclusive Darth Vader still rang in at $80 even without arms and while we’d argue that $80 isn’t “entry-level,” it’s not a terrible looking rendition of the Dark Lord of the Sith.

Worst Non-Toy Collectible

Branded Food Items
Star Wars has had promotions with food products going back to the Original Trilogy and with a new movie in theaters, that marriage was bound to continue. But unlike cereal, potato chips, and fast food tie ins, this year we had some odd ones. Coffee-mate creamers, bags of oranges with BB-8 on the packaging, cases of bottled water, Campbell’s Soup, and others stretched the marketing. We sampled a couple of the Coffee-mate Star Wars creamers at New York Comic Con this year and they’re okay but they’re just standard flavors with Star Wars characters added to the packaging. We still enjoy a box of cereal with a poster or prize inside and a Happy Meal now and then is fine if there’s a fun toy, but this year’s food promotions were kind of odd, kind of excessive, and not really much fun.

Worst Exclusive

None
We’re not going to pick a worst exclusive for 2015. There were a few exclusives, both convention and store, that would not be considered highlights for the year but none of them were really that bad. Not to mention that there weren’t as many as we’ve had in previous years. The Force Awakens had 6″ Black Series exclusives spread around, San Diego and Celebration Anaheim had their share, and even Amazon and Entertainment Earth got in on the game this year. Most of the exclusives were relatively easy to pick up if you spent a little time online or doing your research and nothing ended up being terrible as far as sculpts or designs or even choices of what character or collectible type was in play. This could all definitely change in the future, but we think 2015 was a pretty good year all around on the exclusives front.

Worst Events

Force Friday
Midnight toy launches for new movies and TV shows have become standard over the last 15 years and for The Force Awakens, a new global event called Force Friday was introduced. It kicked off with 24 hours of toy reveals around the world and ended with stores opening at midnight on September 4th. Unfortunately, the toy reveals during the day were relatively lackluster and when doors opened in the US there was confusion over what fans and collectors should actually be looking for. Unlike previous events, there were no substantive announcements or checklists released by Hasbro and others. The best most of us had were lists put together by collecting sites based on rumors, early store computer entries, and leaks. There was also the issue of many stores not receiving enough stock to go around. The employees at the Toys-R-Us we attended actually apologized for the lack of product (specifically Hasbro action figures and toys) available. We walked out with only a Lego set and the store giveaways. We understand the secrecy leading up to the movie release but hyping an event for people to attend and shop with only promises that there would be something for us to buy became a huge letdown for many collectors and a waste of time being out late on a work (and school) night.

Wrap-up

We were going to throw Topps under the bus again this year but that was low hanging fruit. Their over-the-top releases, and overabundance compared to previous years, saturated the market and made completing sets nearly impossible. It took the fun out of collecting to the point that even the “fun” sets (eg. Galactic Connexions) became a pain to buy into. With the exception of the 3D sets, which we’re looking to complete, and the new The Force Awakens set, we won’t be buying into many of the Topps releases.

We want to thank Joe Kersavage for his input on this year’s list. When he sent in this thoughts, we mostly agreed on everything with two exceptions. Joe nominated the Disney Elite series of 8″ die-cast figures for the Best list and while they have had a nice selection of characters that look good, the limited editions which required 3:00 am EST online ordering or waiting in line for tickets to a lottery in-store created unnecessary hassle. The screw holes in the back come with the die-cast game but could have been mitigated. And then there were the head sculpts on some of the human characters; they weren’t always worse than Hasbro’s attempts but they could have done better. The Disney Elite line is still worthy of collector interest, we just felt there were some better choices this year.

The other disagreement was on the Worst exclusive. Joe called out the Toys-R-Us Jabba’s Rancor Pit because of the price and the included figures. However, the set includes a new Jabba the Hutt figure which contends for the best version of that character to date. It also includes the excellent Rancor and one of the most desirable army builder figures, the Vintage Collection Gamorrean Guard. Rounding out the set are fine examples of Jedi Luke, Leia in the slave outfit, and C-3PO. Compared to last year’s Battle on Endor set, which did have more figures and the included AT-ST, we thought this was a better set even with the price being $30 higher (Note that TRU knocked the price down to $80 in stores and online right after Christmas).

Although 2015 got off to a rough start, with a new movie in theaters now and more to come each year, we definitely have the potential to see really good work on the collectibles market from all the major players. It doesn’t hurt that the new heroes and villains introduced in The Force Awakens were well received. There’s a definite possibility of oversaturation of Star Wars collectibles as well, but it would be hard to argue against having more to choose from. We’d rather have to make the choice not to add to our collection rather than starve waiting months for new product to be released.

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