One thing that took the wind out of the sails of many Star Wars toy collectors was the lack of fully articulated 3.75″ action figures. In terms of mass retail releases, the 6″ Black Series has, for all intents and purposes, taken over as the predominant collector-oriented toy line from Hasbro. The 3.75″ figures have opted for the reduced articulation and less detailed sculpts which we’ve seen in many Hasbro toy lines of late.
Me, personally, I am kind of charmed by the more basic 3.75″ figures, which feel like a logical extension of the classic Kenner toys from the 80s… but that design choice isn’t for everyone, and I feel for the folks hoping for more highly detailed Star Wars figures in the classic smaller scale. And there has been no word about the future of the 3.75″ Black Series from Hasbro… until now.
And hey– it’s good news and bad news! The good news is, the 3.75″ Black Series will continue, with Force Awakens characters as well as new versions of Original Trilogy staples. The bad news is, they’re Wal-Mart exclusives. This is the part where your mileage may vary, but as a toy collector in the northeastern United States, Wal-Marts are terrible. The stores, by and large, are notoriously bad at stocking new items and even worse about reordering. I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re the worst retail venue for exclusives– back when the movie Marvel Legends were a Wal-Mart exclusive, I never once saw any Captain America or Thor Legends… until a year later when they miraculously materialized in the clearance aisle.
I know that Wal-Marts provide a much better consumer experience in other parts of the country, with more attentive and business-savvy managers and more helpful employees. And with any luck, the new Black Series figures will be easy to find, especially in those areas where Wal-Mart staff is willing to help paying customers.
If nothing else, there’s one really big new development in this line of figures– Wal Mart is taking preorders online. That’s a great step, especially if you live in an area that gives you pause as to whether these figures will even see the light of day. All three of the first wave of figures– that’s Jedi Luke, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca— are available now for preorder. The second wave, with Kylo Ren, a First Order Stormtrooper, and Princess Leia in her ceremonial attire, will follow shortly, along with more figures down the road.
It’s always a bummer when great toy lines become relegated to store exclusives, but it’s better than nothing. And I’m really, really happy to see Hasbro include this Leia figure in the lineup. You may recall, she was cancelled earlier this year from a different wave, which caused a justifiable bit of questioning as to why Hasbro would limit the presence of a female character in the already male-dominated Star Wars universe. It’s great tat Hasbro responded correctly to that criticism, and found a new channel to release this figure. Between this news and the awesomely matter-of-fact response by the Star Wars Facebook page to a sexist comment about the practicals of Captain Phasma’s armor, Star Wars is really leaning in to positive gender representation. That might be the most exciting thing to come out of Force Friday, in my opinion.
Here’s the whole story on the Wal-Mart exclusive 3.75″ Black Series:
Walmart and Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) announced today that the retail giant will be the exclusive home of the fan-favorite STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES 3 3/4-inch toy line in the U.S.
Starting on “Force Friday,” September 4, Walmart.com will begin selling the first wave and taking pre-orders on the second wave of the highly collectible toy line. Customers will find the product in stores beginning in October, making Walmart the only destination in the U.S. for fans looking for highly detailed, highly articulated 3 3/4-inch figures based on the upcoming film STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.
First launched in 2013, STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES 3 3/4-inch line quickly became a fan-favorite line, in the tradition of earlier Hasbro toy lines like the STAR WARS VINTAGE collection. As the new exclusive US home to the STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES 3 3/4-inch line, Walmart is proud to become the go-to destination for STAR WARS fans looking for the finest Hasbro toys available.
“Walmart is very excited to be the exclusive home of the Star Wars Black Series 3 ¾ inch figures,” said Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys at Walmart. “This is just the beginning – fans, customers and collectors can expect Walmart and Walmart.com to be the place to find the newest characters and figures as they are released.”
“We’re thrilled that Walmart will be the new home for fans’ beloved STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES 3 3/4-inch toy line,” said Maureen Smith, senior vice president of brand marketing for Hasbro. “With the support of a world-class retailer like Walmart, we can ensure that collectors continue to get new, highly detailed and articulated 3 3/4-inch STAR WARS action figures for years to come.”
The first wave of the new STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES 3 3/4-inch line is currently available for purchase on Walmart.com and features EPISODE VI DARTH VADER, EPISODE VI LUKE SKYWALKER, and EPISODE IV CHEWBACCA. The second wave, featuring a brand new EPISODE IV PRINCESS LEIA figure and the first two figures based on STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER and KYLO REN), are available to pre-order now on Walmart.com. Both waves will be available in stores in the next few months. Additional 3 ¾-inch figures will be coming later in 2015.