While in quarantine, we’re taking the time to take a close look at the Hasbro Black Series line from Star Wars.
Hasbro’s Black Series collector-focused 6inch line launched in 2013 with great success. But even from the start, there was a certain pattern already in place – a focus on the Original Trilogy. In the first year, there were only 4 Prequel figures while there were 9 OT figures. In 2014, it was the same 4 PT figures while there were 11 OT figures. Among the OT figures, there was also another pattern appearing – focusing on Han, Leia, and Luke. In just two years, there were already 3 Luke figures while the Prequel trio was still incomplete without Padmé and let’s not even mention the Emmy award-winning series The Clone Wars. And in 2014 was the start of the Emmy nominated series Star Wars Rebels but no support from Hasbro in terms of Black Series figures.
And that is the Black Series line in a nutshell but it only got worse to the point we are today with a growing number of collectors being seriously unhappy with the choices Hasbro is making with this line. Let’s take The Rise Of Skywalker for example as it was released just a few months ago. Poe Dameron and Finn are an integral part of the trio of the Sequel trilogy and yet, Hasbro hasn’t released their figures for this movie. The only characters they released for this one were Rey, Kylo Ren (only with his helmet), Jannah, Zori Bliss, a Knight of Ren and stormtroopers. But there are no Lando and still no digital face print tech Leia figure from the Sequel trilogy. In October, Hasbro launched their Triple Force Friday meant to celebrate the release of Jedi Fallen Order, The Mandalorian and The Rise Of Skywalker, which at first seemed like a great idea but when you looked at its content, it was just a wave with two figures from each media so a limited offer of characters.
It would have been just fine if we were sure that we would later get more characters from these three new Star Wars stories but it wasn’t the case. Season 1 of The Mandalorian is over and we still have no Greef Karga, no Kuuil, no Moff Gideon, no Armorer figures announced. The only two additional figures from the series that we are getting, for now, are The Child and The Mandalorian in full Beskar armor.
However, as you already know Hasbro has planned dozens of figures including many repacks for the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. Two waves have already been revealed and one more is on the way along with the release of the Snowspeeder, a deluxe Probe droid. The Star Wars team said it during Toy Fair, 2020 is mostly an ESB year. And that is the problem with this team, they focus only on the Original Trilogy and they willingly don’t support the new Star Wars releases. The Clone Wars is currently airing its final season but there has been no sign of Black Series figures for the return of the show. Disney is marketing this season as the epic conclusion to this beloved show but Hasbro is showing no support for it. Much like they did for Star Wars Resistance.
Commander Pyre was the only Black Series figure released from this show and it was a US Disney Parks exclusive. And let’s not forget Star Wars Rebels, they have given us the Ghost crew at the end of the series run (in their season 1 outfits) and we are still waiting for a figure of Zeb which was delayed quite a few times, it is now rumored to be for 2021 but at this point, we don’t even know if we’ll ever get this Zeb figure.
In June, there will be the very first Prequel focused wave since 2013. It took Hasbro 7 years to decide to do a Prequels focused wave while they did plenty of only OT focused waves and still do. There is no doubt that with the current Star Wars team at Hasbro that this is a one time wave and won’t happen again any time soon. But the problem is a good number of collectors are unhappy and these numbers are growing as Hasbro is alienating almost everyone except OT fans. Star Wars is a vast universe with so much content that there is something for everyone and it is clear the Star Wars team at Hasbro has forgotten that.
If you look at the Marvel team at Hasbro, their approach to the Marvel Legends line is entirely different. A new Avengers video game is being released in September and Hasbro is releasing a wave for this video game. They are also releasing a wave for the Black Widow movie while at the same time releasing a wave of X-Men comics figures. The Marvel team is releasing figures for every collector and they support each new content that is released while also releasing old comics figures. I applaud this team for their incredible work for handling this line. The Star Wars team should definitely take inspiration from them!
While this article is about the fall of the Black Series line in terms of how the line is being handled, I think it is important to point out the improvements that have been made on the figures over the years. The biggest improvement is the use of the digital face print tech, it has radically changed the figures and upped Hasbro’s game, making them a worthy competitor of S.H. Figuarts. Improved articulation on some figures has been more than welcome but should extend to more figures especially troopers. The distribution problems Hasbro had for the past few years are now disappearing and Europe finally has everything at a reasonable price and that is definitely a step in the right direction.
The improvements being made are good and they have revitalized the line for the better, however, the choice of figures being made and the team in control of this line refusing to consistently support new Star Wars content being released is the real problem and is what is leading the Black Series line to its downfall. We can only hope for the best but a change in thinking needs to happen. The change will only come when there is a change of personnel or the current team finally widens its scope and casts a wider net into the galaxy far, far away…
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Thomas Storai is the Senior Collectables Correspondent for Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a wide range of movies. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasStorai where he uses the force frequently!