Hasbro gathered fans in the media from far and wide together this past Saturday for its Collector-Fan Media Day preview event, part of the 2011 American International Toy Fair in New York City. CBR News got a look at great swaths of the company's big releases for the coming year in the Star Wars, Marvel, Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises, along with a surprise appearance from a whip-wielding, fedora-wearing old friend.
There are a few huge highlights on the Star Wars front to talk about. For the first time, Hasbo will be releasing an action figure for a character featured in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Nom Anor, a Yuuzhan Vong infiltrator featured in a recent arc of the series' books and comics. It's a pretty deep-cut addition to Hasbro's line of toys, but one that elicited bellows of joy from the gathered crowd. Also later this year, "deleted scenes" collector sets will be arriving in support of the "Star Wars" Blu-ray release, which will feature never-before-seen footage from all three films. There's also more coming from Hasbro's Vintage line, which launched in 2010. Wave 5 will hit later in 2011 with 12 action figures packaged in vintage-style "Revenge of the Jedi" cardbacks. Yes, you read that right. "Revenge of the Jedi."
"Star Wars: Episode VI -- Return of the Jedi" was very nearly released with "Revenge" in place of "Return," until George Lucas made a last minute decision -- after promotional materials had been printed, of course -- to change the title because "Revenge" isn't a very Jedi-like attribute. Any Star Wars merchandise with the original title printed on it fetches big money on the collector market and Hasbro's next Vintage wave will reference back to that moment in the franchise's history. Comic-Con International attendees will have an opportunity to pick up the full set, packaged in a rather awesome Death Star box and including Salacious Crumb and a Mouse Droid as bonus figures, complete with their own mini-cardbacks.
That's not all for Lucasfilm, however, or for CCI attendees. The gist of it is: bring money. Hasbro is also prepping an "Indiana Jones" collector's set featuring a redesigned Indy, plus action figures that were planned and never released. This one's a pure CCI exclusive, like the Death Star box set detailed above. In addition to the new Indy, the set will also include Toht (with swappable melty head and scarred hand), Marion Ravenwood, Sati, the bald German mechanic from "Raiders" and Indy in a German soldier disguise.
Like I said: bring money.
Marvel and Transformers are both going to have a sizable presence in the toy market later this year, with highly anticipated summer blockbusters set to arrive for each franchise. "Thor" and "Captain America" are obviously the focus for Marvel, with the expected assortment of 3 3/4" and 6" figures incoming, though "Iron Man" is getting some love too, with Crimson Dynamo and "Initiative" War Machine figures. Sadly, there were no "X-Men: First Class" toys, though.
The biggest news for Marvel is the planned 2012 return of Hasbro's Marvel Legends line, starting with a Modern Thor 6" and continuing next spring with 6" Ultimate Hawkeye and Heroic Age Bucky Cap figures. Build-A-Figure will also be returning, starting with Terrax. Hasbro is also looking to one-up last year's giant-sized Galactus with a mutant-hunting Sentinel. CCI attendees will be able to buy this sucker on an oversized cardback, though if you pick it up in stores -- Hasbro promises greater quantities than there were of Galactus -- you'll get a Wolverine figure thrown in as well.
As you might imagine, the main focus for Transformers is tying into this summer's Michael Bay sequel, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Look for a multi-platform video game from fan-faithful "Transformers: War for Cybertron" developer High Moon Studios. No word on the game's release date, but the movie toys will be out on May 16.
To be honest though -- and this is no fault of Hasbro's -- the upcoming "Transformers Prime" line, based on the recently launched TV series, is much more appealing. I've made this complaint before and have seen it echoed by colleagues: Bay's robot designs all look the same. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee manage to stand out, but most of the alien robots just look like jumbles of oddly shaped metal strips thrown together. The Prime character designs, and action figures by association, have far more character.
Despite that, the coolest bit of Transformers merchandise does in fact tie to the movie. Hasbro will be selling Optimus Prime and Bumblebee half-face masks that double as RealD glasses. Buy one of these puppies before you see the movie, or any other 3D movie for that matter, and you won't need the theater-provided shades. Plus, you'll look completely ridiculous.
There's one other seriously awesome piece of Transformers merch coming, but it's actually more of a mash-up. Hasbro dug into the vaults for some of its upcoming G.I. Joe offerings, and one item that will be re-designed and re-released is the fan-favorite SkyStriker fighter jet. Hasbro will offer a special edition of the SkyStriker as a Comic-Con exclusive, featuring a Generation 1 StarScream paint job and a Cobra Commander action figure as the pilot. Also, Cobra Commander is armed with the gun form of Generation 1 Megatron. Can you handle that?
Which brings us to all other things G.I. Joe. Technically speaking, 2012 marks the 30 year anniversary for the franchise. Hasbro has decided to celebrate a little bit early, specifically this year, because, as a rep said during the presentation, there might be other notable Joe happenings in 2012.
The plan is "30 for 30," as in 30 products to celebrate 30 years. In addition to the SkyStriker, Cobra's H.I.S.S. tank is also making a comeback. Action figures will feature new vintage-style cardback art specific to each figure's faction: G.I. Joe, Cobra and Renegades, spawned from the popular new animated TV series. The figures themselves look great in pictures, even the slightly more stylized Renegades line. The return of the SkyStriker and H.I.S.S. tank is definitely the biggest news, though you can also expect to see new figures for Cobra Commander, Hawk, Blowtorch and various accessory-laden soldiers.
There was plenty more revealed, but this brings you up to speed on the most notable collector-focused items. Be sure to check out our Hasbro 2011 Toy Fair gallery right here.