Last year at this time we just had the first new Star Wars movie in theaters in 10 years. It was an exciting year leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens but it also signaled a coming change in the way marketing and collectibles would be released starting in 2016. This year, rather than having a 2 – 3 year gap before the next movie in a trilogy, we’re in a movie per year format which accelerates the launch of new collectibles in some cases and slows them in others.
With new movies, new characters (and old returning), we’ve decided to change our Best & Worst list by removing the categories we used in past years, replacing it by picking our top 5 – 10 best and worst overall collectibles.
This also allows us to look at collectibles from all over the world without needing to shoehorn them into an existing category or create a new one to point out something that’s well done.
Finally, we reached out to some Friends of the Holocron for input on their favorites for the year.
Hasbro’s releases for 2016 were mostly split between The Force Awakens and Rogue One. The short window of time between the two movies didn’t allow Hasbro to dig very deep into secondary characters from the new film or look to the Original or Prequel Trilogies to upgrade figures or offer more obscure characters. They did, however, manage a couple new Rebels characters like Rex and the Fifth Brother, upgraded Sabine, and put out Hera with a new A-Wing. We particularly liked the A-Wing, which is a nice size, holds action figures well and includes a Nerf blaster on the bottom that, while not aesthetically accurate to on-screen ships, makes it a fun toy to play with.
Rogue One brought out some new designs for ships and Imperial troopers and we especially liked the Scarif Trooper. Hasbro released a 5 points of articulation (POA) Squad Leader in the 3.75” line with Moroff as well as a super articulated (SA) version in Walmart’s Black Series line. Walmart also had a 6” Black Series exclusive Trooper while a wide release Squad Leader was offered to all retailers. The 6” Black Series versions are very well done with excellent paint and articulation.
The Asian market has some of the hottest collectibles and for Star Wars fans, Tamashii Nations, a brand of Bandai, really stepped up this year. In the Meisho Movie Realization line, Tamashii Nations released the Akazonae Royal Guard, an articulated and detailed 6”action figure featuring the Royal Guard in a Samurai inspired style. Featuring a sword, staff, and removable robe allowing for two different display options, the Akazonae Royal Guard was the stand-out from a very unique and popular line.
Hot Toys is another company creating some of the top Star Wars collectibles with their 1:6 scale line. The bulk of their releases this year were from The Force Awakens and we think the Rey and BB-8 release is the best example of what they can do. Plenty of detail went into Rey’s Jakku outfit with multiple layers of clothing, the face sculpt is a very good representation of Daisy Ridley, and the alternate display choice of having her scavenger head wrap and goggles gives plenty of display opportunities. The included, but originally unannounced, lightsaber along with her other Jakku accessories make for a complete collectible.
Sideshow themselves offered some interesting collectibles this year but our favorite is the Concept Artist Series Ralph McQuarrie Stormtrooper. The 1:5 scale statue was offered in both a regular and exclusive edition but we feel the exclusive offered the best deal, including a second helmet design. Both versions have interchangeable right arms, one holding a blaster and the other a lightsaber. The detailed sculpt, down to the base, and paint applications created a very faithful representation of Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art for the Stormtrooper.
Lego had a number of fun releases in 2016, including sets for both The Force Awakens and Rogue One, but we liked their Rebels offerings. Target had 75141 Kanan’s Speeder Bike which included some fun accessories and Minifigures while the wide release 75127 The Ghost MicroFighter with Hera was an excellent way to get a popular character without buying a $90+ set. But we liked the Toys-R-Us exclusive 75158 Rebel Combat Frigate. At $110, it wasn’t the most affordable set but it included an excellent new Ahsoka Tano Minifigure along with Ezra, Chopper, Commander Sato, and Agent Kallus. The 936 piece set is very detailed both inside and out, with launching missiles and stud shooters, and opening and closing rear engine compartment. There’s also a carry handle at the top for added play. This is not an Ultimate Collector’s Series ship so the outside dimensions are not scaled up in proportion to the Minifigures, but we’re fine with the tradeoff for a $110 set of a capital ship.
The final item that we really enjoyed this year is by Hallmark, the Death Star Tree Topper. The Death Star plays both the Star Wars main theme and the Imperial March in conjunction with lighting features in the trench and dish. The included remote control allows you to illuminate the Death Star so you don’t have to touch the tree every time you want to make a change. The Death Star Tree Topper is $100 and it quickly sold out. Luckily, Hallmark is taking pre-orders for another release in 2017. If you’ve been collecting Keepsake Ornaments, this is the perfect companion to finish off your themed tree.
Most of the collectibles released in 2016 were well done so our worst list isn’t very long. There were some players that didn’t really seem like they were in the game, Gentle Giant for example, but most had plenty to work with from The Force Awakens. Because most of the releases were well done, when companies missed, it really stood out.
Hasbro’s 3.75” Black Series is a Walmart exclusive and that means fewer releases per year and fewer new characters and figures per wave. So it was questionable when the first wave of 2016, which included three new The Force Awakens figures, featured Princess Leia in her blue dress outfit from the end of the film and Han Solo in his Starkiller winter jacket. Leia had more scenes in the film in her Resistance outfit as a General and Han in his more classic brown jacket, which is how he was released in the 5POA line. Neither figure has been a good seller at the several Walmart stores we checked, and it seems like a waste of resources on Hasbro’s part when there are so many more characters and outfits that would rate better with the collector market, which this line is aimed towards.
Even when a Lego set doesn’t hit a home run, it still usually has a bright spot whether it’s a Minifigure or fun element that can be used with other sets. While both of those seem to apply to 75098 Assault on Hoth, it doesn’t save it from being a low point for the year. With 2144 elements and 16 Minifigures, the set rings up at $249.99. What hurts the set is that unlike the Death Star or various other UCS sets, Assault on Hoth is more a conglomeration of small, individual sets rather than one large cohesive set. Some of the components, such as the Wampa cave or the Snowspeeder, have been released separately in the past and most of this set could be broken into smaller releases rather than asking people to spend this much money. The individual pieces of the set are well done, but for an expensive exclusive, it falls short of the mark.
While we loved Sideshow’s McQuarrie inspired Stormtrooper statue, Boba Fett was less impressive and that was mostly due to the paint scheme. There is room for some interpretation of McQuarrie’s original design, but most examples up to this point used mostly white with some light grey in the jumpsuit. Sideshow’s statue relies much more on grey in the suit and for highlights on the armor which seems to be counter to what most people think of for the design. Other than the paint scheme, the statue has brilliant detail and a fine pose but the grey keeps it from rising to the level of the Stormtrooper.
Friends of the Holocron
We reached out to Bill Cable, founder of the Pennsylvania Star Wars Collecting Society, and Joe Kersavage, our reporter and photographer, for their input on what they thought some of the best collectibles were for 2016. I also weigh in on my personal favorites.
Eric: This year was notable for the number of AT-AT Driver themed collectibles. Sideshow released their 1:6 scale figure, Hasbro added him to the 6” Black Series line, Funko had a Pop! Vinyl release at Walgreens, Hot Toys did a Cosbaby, and Disney released a Tsum Tsum version. There was also a new piece of artwork that showed up on mugs, handkerchiefs in the UK, and an iPhone case. As a character collector, it was a very good year.
Bill C: For my favorite collectible of 2016 I choose the 2016 PSWCS.org fundraiser medallion to benefit the Pets for U.S. Vets program at the Washington Area Humane Society. This is the sixth medallion the members of the Pennsylvania Star Wars Collecting Society have produced for charity, but what makes this one particularly dear to me was the beneficiary’s choice of C-3PO as the featured character. It’s deeply satisfying to have a hand in producing officially approved Lucasfilm collectibles, and even more so to do so to benefit worthy causes. But having the chance to do one that matches my focus collection was an absolutely joyous opportunity. I did the photography and layout of the design, which was finished by our graphic artist Mike Nair. He did a brilliant job working in negative space, a design choice we used after opting for a gold finished coin rather than our traditional polished nickel. The result is a gorgeous design I feel tops anything we’ve produced to date. It’s truly the finest collectible released in 2016.
Editor’s Note: The Pets for U.S. Vets C-3PO charity medallion is still available for purchase. Please visit http://pswcs.org/charity.cfm where you can place your order.
Joe K.: The Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie book is absolutely gorgeous and a must buy for fans. I also really like Target’s exclusive Jakks Pacific Big Figs Rey & Kylo Ren. It’s really well done, the sculpts are nice, and the packaging is excellent.