So now that Star Wars is back in the limelight in a way that was almost unimaginable, I decided to go out shopping and see what the best items were on the shelves for the fans and collectors.
I’ve been a Star Wars fan literally since I was born – the first movie, A New Hope (just Star Wars at that stage), was released two months before my birth and every early memory I have has Star Wars in it to some extent and, as I walked through the shops going through the merchandise (it’s such a chore being chief writer on a site like this sometimes), it really got my blood pumping to see all the new toys, costumes and gifts that were on sale and, best of all, was the quality of most of it was really, really good.
Remember when the prequels were flooding the market with inferior items? Well, the majority of the new stuff under the Disney banner is really good quality and (comparatively) well priced.
And you know what I loved most? It was seeing the kids playing with lightsabers and picking up figures of Finn and Rey, they had no idea who they were but they wanted in on that action! And it reminded me of buying figures as a child of new characters from each movie before they came out and wondering who each one was and what role they would play… and the best part was that my imagination could run wild. Then and now.
That’s Star Wars…
So, without further ado, let’s check out what I picked up and what I would recommend you pick up for yourself or the die-hard fan in your life, especially with Christmas already looming.
DISNEY STORE EXCLUSIVE electronic BB-8
Although everyone is talking about the Sphero BB-8, the price tag was a bit much and the size was concerning as I had visions of someone walking on it by accident, so I went for the Disney BB-8. Sitting at a much more reasonable price point (aprox £35), this is a bigger BB-8 (I’ve added a mug in for scale) and looks great as a display piece (mine lives on my fireplace at home and is a regular conversation piece with guests).
While the Sphero version can be controlled via your iPhone (or Android) and works exactly like the movie version ie magnets and magic (it was build by the company that created the movie one), this version is just a static ball with a big wheel in the underside. You turn it on, put it down and it wheels around on its own, beeping, whirring and randomly moving. There’s a setting whereby it’s noise activated too, so it’s certainly a fun little item. Although, in fairness, it works best as a display piece.
There’s an R2D2 version also available at Disney Store and Disney store Online
Hasbro Titanium micro ships
Next up is Hasbro’s nice little collection of ships from, primarily, The Force Awakens (though I got the Slave I which, as far as we know, isn’t part of this story). These aren’t anything really new for collectors but they are a nice price point for those on a budget or living off pocket money (aprox £6 in all good toy shops)
The detail on these is first rate and the die cast gives the vehicles a nice weight and feeling that always manages to surpass the plastic versions. Also, they remind me of the diecast Kenner vehicles I collected as a kid when The Empire Strikes Back was released. And I’m just fine with that.
LEGO’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens range
Oh, yes! New Star Wars, new Star Wars LEGO! Once again, LEGO has tapped into the true essence of Star Wars with the new wave of toys. I picked up Rey’s Speeder and, as always with LEGO’s SW line, I love it. The range includes Poe’s black X-Wing (must have), Kylo Ren’s Command Ship, the Millennium Falcon and more. From £20 – £120 (all good toy shops), the range is going to be massive with collectors and children alike.
The beauty of LEGO is that, despite the blocks and cute appearance of the characters, they truly capture the magic and essence of Star Wars. The detail is simply amazing for toys made from building blocks and the best part? After you’re finished fighting the First Order or the Empire, you can break it all up and create whatever you want… how cool is that?
Disney Exclusive diecast vehicles
The Disney Store debuted their line of die cast vehicles last year, with The Millennium Falcon, Tie Fighter, Slave I and much more, so it as inevitable that the line would continue with the new movie. In fact, collectors noticed that the first line was coming up very short in stores and suspected that a new line was on its way.
And they were right; for this write-up I picked up Kylo Ren’s Command Ship and the First Order TIE Fighter and, just like the previous wave, the detail is wonderful. The paint apps too are on point, however – and the is no fault of the manufacturer but rather the nature of the material- if the vehicles knock against anything hard, they will chip easily, so be careful.
The size and weight is superb and the level of detailing is first rate – just look at the detail down the front of the wings on Ren’s ship or the panelling on the TIE – however, if you are picking them up for a collection and fancy keeping them on the packaging (or even not) you might want to dig through the stock levels as the plastic pieces (ariels, guns etc) seem to be easily bent or warped in transit and, as a collector, that would really bug me – look at the guns on the front of Ren’s ship. But if you’re a kid who plans to run around with your friends playing intergalactic civil war then you might not mind just as much.
Disney Exclusive Elite Series
These may well be the jewel in Disney’s merchandise crown. The large scale action figure market for Star Wars fans has so far been dominated by the Black Series (more below) but with the new Elite Range, the Disney Store may have moved the goalposts for the collectors.
The figures are slightly larger than the Black Series – this is important to know as I picked up First Order Flametrooper and Captain Phasma because so far they aren’t available in the Black Series but sadly the scales don’t match – as with all of Disney’s output so far, the level of detail is wonderful on these figures, especially on the (not pictured) human figures of Finn and Rey (and the recently addeded Maul) which all manage to have the likenesses spot on, despite being made with metal.
One drawback is that, from behind, the figures have pretty obvious and ugly screwpoints to hold them together (glue doesn’t work on the heavy metal, it seems) but for play and general display purposes, it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of them at all and, with a price point of aprox £18, these just may be the best collectible from the new movie yet. Oh and the little stands are a nice added bonus.
The Black Series
Ok, now on to The Black Series, the range that has been running for a couple of years now, Hasbro’s Star Wars Six inch range. It’s still crazy to think that the Black Series now includes figures from a new Star Wars movie, yet here we are. Isn’t it great?
The first wave (in all good toy shops now) consists of Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, First Order Storm Trooper and Chewie. Chewie is the first of the original movies’ characters released and, admittedly, he’s one for the collectors as he doesn’t differ a great deal from the earlier Chewie in the Black Series.
However, the new figures are fantastic; the new movies’ heroes Rey and Finn are wonderfully captured here with their likenesses being spot on. As with previous Black Series figure (Ok, maybe not Slave Leia), the paint apps and detailing are on the money, with their costumes from the movie (or what we’ve seen so far) having great attention to detail.
Moving on to the bad guys, Ren is possibly my favourite figure in all of The Black Series… and we don’t know a thing about him yet! The sculpting and paint on his mask is fantastic and the cape perfectly compliments the villain’s over-all, Vader-esque appearance. His triple blade lightsaber is the final piece and sets the figure off beautifully, the rough sculpting on the laser blade really captures the apparent roughness of the blade in the movie.
As for the Stormtrooper, anyone who managed to get the SDCC exclusive needn’t worry about picking it up as this is the exact same figure with clean, crisp detailing capturing the look of the galaxy’s newest force for evil. We’re still not sure if the exemplary sculpting has improved their aim… we guess that’s up to you when you play with them, em, put them on display, we mean.
And finally… Hasbro’s Kylo Ren Lightsaber
Ok, so we HAD to get a lightsaber. We were given the chance to buy one at £12, £35 or, em, £260. So, needless to say, we went for the cheapest option. And the reason we did? Well, because the most expensive one is truly a collector’s item and we don’t currently have the space to store it, but the ForceFX blade is beautiful.
The next cheapest option is electronic and has some nice detailing and is a Bladebuilder piece, so it can be used to build customisable sabers with others in the line.
So the £12 option was the winner because, let’s be honest, the detailing is just as good as the Bladebuilder set (minus the electronics) and, most attractive of all, it’s great for fighting. Yup, we said that.
It looks great on the shelf and, best of all, when your mates (be they 10 or, ahem, 40) come around and decide a lightsaber battle is the way to go, you’ll not be concerned about collateral damage.