As 2014 comes to a close Hasbro will be shutting the books on their 19th year of producing Star Wars action figures. It goes without saying that 2014, although better than 2013, was not a banner year for the toy producer’s Star Wars line. Distribution problems still existed, product offerings were very light, advertisement was minimal and public “collector” opinion about their 5 points of articulation didn’t improve. But despite these criticisms, Hasbro continued a long tradition of giving children, fans and collectors some great Star Wars toys to play with and collect!
Now to hear which figure and vehicle we specially liked (and disliked) the best from 2014, you’ll need to make sure to listen to Episode 37 of Galaxy of Toys Podcast.
While we were doing our show prep and making the our best and worst lists we were surprised to come across the number fifty-eight. Our friends over at ThisWeekinStarWars.com have a fantastic database which tracks the total number of Star Wars action figures Hasbro produces annually and this year (2014) will end with just fifty-eight. For the bulk of the 2000’s, fifty-eight would be just the number of single carded figures produced. Not to then mention the number of figures from deluxe sets, multi-packs, vehicles, playsets and exclusives. This is the lowest amount of figures produced since The Power of the Jedi in 2001.
Now to Hasbro’s defense they were left holding the ball in late 2012 and 2013 due to the redirection and cancellation of the 3-D releases by Disney and by having their focus shifted to The Force Awakens. But was that enough to justify such a meager offering in 2014? Could some of the internal change-ups at Hasbro with the Star Wars Brand Team have something to do with it. As Hasbro is a professional company who knows better than to publicly answer that question we are left to come to our own conclusions. But one thing we know is that 2014 was a year of good and bad when it came to their action figure offerings. Below you will find our final overall thoughts on the Star Wars lines offered by Hasbro in 2014.
The Black Series (Orange “Bespin” Cards)
We saw the end of Hasbro’s initial collector focused series.
- The Pros – It gave us some great figures like Ree-Yees and the Episode III Darth Vader. It also gave us the long desired figure of Toryn Farr.
- The Cons – This line gave us Dagobah Luke and Yoda, two figures that were highly anticipated and had much potential but Hasbro’s final take on them left many with complaints about joint articulation and poor accessories. A fair number of repacks and repaints also didn’t do much to lift collector’s spirits nor did the extremely limited distribution of the final wave.
The Black Series (TIE Pilot Cards)
Hasbro began what will most likely be their final collector-focused series before The Force Awakens line takes over.
- The Pros – The first wave provided many collectors with a second opportunity to get a few of the more rare and costly figures from The Vintage Collection line (ie Starkiller and Malgus). It also improved the neck peg on the Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back.
- The Cons – This first wave was almost completely reissues and repacks and only one figure had some original retooling. Their only exclusive was as well a complete reissue. Also the availability of these figures at retail was a bit of a flash in the pan.
Saga Legends (Vader Cards)
This almost exclusively 5POA line wrapped up before being rebranded as Star Wars Rebels.
- The Pros – The Mission Series’ Darth Sidious (just read Eddie’s review of Senate Duel)
- The Cons – The undersized vehicles continued to be produced despite little collector desire.
Hasbro gave us the first wave of their animated follow-up to their The Clone Wars lines.
- The Pros – Hasbro provided some very screen accurate and original sculpts in this line while also providing just about the only new vehicles for the year.
- The Cons – The line pales in comparison to their The Clone Wars offerings. There was no Midnight Madness release nor a concerted effort to even get these figures on the shelves prior to the release of the series on Disney XD.
So where does this leave us to go in 2015? The answer is only up! We’re pretty sure that 2014 will be remembered as the calm before the storm. Once The Force Awakens line hits and the spin-off films and sequels each following year, Hasbro will remember their stride and flood us with merchandise for years to come. Our wallets just might make us eat our words in a few years about “only” getting 58 figures in a year (we sure hope so).
Now to read our and many other action figure collectors site’s (Yakface, Star Wars Action News, JediNews, etc.) thoughts and predictions about The Force Awakens, Star Wars Rebels and Hasbro in 2015, check out Jedibusiness.com’s article;
And until next time,
May the Figures be with you!