Hasbro’s ‘Star Wars’ Team Revels In Vintage Reveals At the First-Ever HasCon
This past weekend, Hasbro’s biggest brands gathered in Providence, Rhode Island for the first ever HasCon, and gave fans a much more intimate and personal glimpse at what the future of Star Wars toys held. While there weren't many new toys on display, thanks in large to Hasbro just releasing a bevy of new Star Wars figures at the start of the month, there was still plenty of love for the Black Series, Forces of Destiny, and everything in between.
A common theme across all of HasCon was brands like Star Wars and Marvel giving fans a deeper look at how toys are developed from start to finish. On a milestone anniversary year like Star Wars’ 40th, getting to hear from people who've worked on the toys since 1977, and how things have evolved to where there are now, was a great treat. That kind of focus is something that was only possible at a convention like this, where Hasbro had the time to showcase more than just the latest and greatest; it had the time to revel in its history and the people that made it possible.
“Our leadership wanted this to be an experience. Something that you can go and be a part of, participate with, and get your hands on toys,” director of Star Wars brand strategy Joe Ninivaggi said. “You know, we make toys and we forget. It’s such a serious thing sometimes, with things behind a glass case you can photographs as part of the procession.
“That’s all fun, but we get to celebrate the really serious fans with things like the exploded view of our new Vintage Series vehicle, but we also get kids to go hands-on with new toys. Getting fans more close up and intimate, like at our panel with Mark Boudreaux, hearing his stories from Kenner on. It gives us the opportunity to spend a little more time, a little more detail on the things we love and that we do every single day.”
Having HasCon in Providence meant that Hasbro could also take a few more liberties with the presentation, including bringing products still freshly in development to the show floor without missing a beat. “We’re just down the street from where we work,” Star Wars’ director of design and development Steve Evans said. “Literally, the Imperial Assault Tank we have here, we are using that to develop it. We didn’t grow that for this convention. That is from Mark’s office, and we just said why don't we stick that in a case for the weekend. Mark was working here for the weekend anyway because we’re all manning the show, so we brought it down. And this week, Mark will continue working on it.”
With HasCon and Force Friday II all happening in the span of a few days, there wasn’t much room for a lot of new products to be revealed. Most of what was on display from Star Wars featured figures and accessories we’d seen previously, though having the space to actually take it all in without dozens of others breathing over your shoulder was certainly appreciated. What Hasbro did bring to the table though should make Forces of Destiny fans and Vintage Collection die-hards happy.
The first wave of Vintage Collection figures was shown in full, with Jakku Rey, Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren, a First Order Storm Trooper, Jyn Erso, and a Rebel Hoth Trooper establishing the pace for 2018. The aforementioned Imperial Assault Tank, which you might remember from Rogue One’s Jedha street fight, was also shown complete with its driver. The breakdown of the 3.75“-scale vehicle was impressive, and I spent a lot of time pouring over every detail I could. It’s not often you get to see this element of production without breaking a toy apart on your own, and it really lends some appreciation to the craft.
That said, even with a fairly strong line-up set for the first wave of Vintage Collection figures, the team is feeling the pressure to deliver on their much-awaited return. Vintage Collection fans are arguably the most fervent in the Star Wars toy community, and finally bringing this line back comes with a number of expectations for the company.
“I think there is pressure. I won't deny that,” Evans explained. “We feel a great responsibility to that. We know who the core audience is for Vintage, and we listen to them and talk to them. We’ve been very explicit, and have told them we’re going to repack. We’re going to take some of the figures we’ve got from the new movies, and we’re going to put them on those classic Vintage backs. We’re also going to bring back ones that have never been on a Vintage back, like the Rebel Hoth Trooper. He’s been available in a super-articulated 3.75” figure before, but never on a Vintage card.
“We’re also going to new ones, like Snoke, and I’d imagine some from the new Han Solo movie. We’re going to start small because we have to make sure there’s a consumer base to support it. I’m very confident there is, and as long as everybody keeps buying one. We’re already planning 2019, so it’s focused on those fans. We’re listening to them. But we’re also putting Kylo Ren in there to get interest from the kids and fledgling collectors. There are a lot of fledgling collectors out there that like the new stuff, and haven’t seen Vintage before. It’s not clear cut where if you’re over a certain age you only like these figures, so it’s a blend. We’ll tread carefully and build momentum.”
As great as all of those mainline Star Wars figures have looked, right now it’s all about Forces of Destiny. The new action doll line launched earlier this summer, and with new animated shorts coming through the rest of the year, Hasbro has plans to keep following those up with new figures like Padme Amidala and Ahsoka Tano. Technically Ahsoka was first shown off during Star Wars Celebration earlier this year, but HasCon gave guests a chance to get a much better look at the beloved character.
Additionally, a new Jedi Training Rey and Kylo Ren from The Last Jedi were revealed, giving the line another male figure to join Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca in fleshing out the roster. Rey looks amazing as always, but there’s just something a little too handsome and princely about Kylo Ren to make him intimidatingly authentic. If you were worried there wouldn’t be another Leia to add to your collection, worry no more. A new Platinum Series Princess Leia is coming in 2018 with a full soft-goods gown and those glorious hair buns. She even comes in deluxe packaging that replicates the scene at the open of A New Hope where she gives R2-D2 those stolen Death Star plans.
You can check out more images from HasCon’s Star Wars booth below, and look for many of these figures and products to hit shelves throughout the rest of 2017. We’ll have to wait until October’s New York Comic Con and Toy Fair 2018 to see where Hasbro takes Star Wars beyond that though.