Star Wars action figures are growing up with their audience.
After 35 years of fantastic plastic standing tall in pop culture at 3¾ inches, Hasbro is releasing the Star Wars Black Series this year, beginning a new set of 6-inch figures that will feature more articulation and an increased attention to detail.
Priced at $19.99 each, eight figures are planned for 2013 — Hasbro will primarily draw characters from the original Star Wars trilogy of films while also bringing in key players from the prequels.
The first wave of four, due out in early to mid-August, includes Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing Fighter flight suit, fan-favorite droid R2-D2, bad guy Darth Maul and an Imperial Sandtrooper.
“We consider them the best figures that Hasbro’s ever produced for Star Wars that meets the sensibilities of romancing the character as well as the playability and poseability that fans really appreciate,” says Derryl DePriest, Hasbro vice president of boys marketing.
Hasbro has had success with the scale before with the 6-inch Marvel Legends figures based on Marvel Comics heroes and villains. In terms of Star Wars, though, the Black Series will act as a transitional point between the 3¾-inch toys — “which is rooted in the childhood memories of generations of now-grown kids,” DePriest says — and the 12-inch Sideshow Collectibles figures for adult collectors.
The current “vintage”-style line of 3¾ figures will also continue under the Black Series banner.
In creating something new and different with Star Wars, the color black became an inspiration for toy designers, DePriest says. “It’s one of the main colors of Star Wars all the way back to the beginning, and it’s the approach that Lucasfilm has taken with their collector-oriented product line. We’re bringing that simplicity and essence and focus on the character now to the toy aisle.”
The Black Series appeals to those newbies who want to start a series from the start as well as those hardcore collectors who gobble up anything having to do with the words “Jedi” or “Empire” and “are looking for something new and their interest isn’t as piqued by the 15th cantina alien we have yet to do,” DePriest says. “We realize folks want their iconic characters delivered up in a new way.”
With Star Wars: Episode VII coming from new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams in a couple of years, as well as comics, novels and other media adding to the universe George Lucas started in 1977, it’s a good time to figure out different scales and toys for the next generation of Star Wars fan, according to DePriest.
Before then, however, the Black Series also gives a chance for parents to connect with their own little Star Wars fans.
“Our focus here is the adult collector, the dad,” DePriest says. “We know they have their own generation of youngsters they like to share the adventure with. It can be something for dad, and the 3¾ world can be something for the kids to share.”
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