San Diego Comic-Con 2019
-Guest post by Toytooine
Can you believe San Diego Comic-Con has been going on for 50 years? Well, realistically, most people reading this (myself included) have not been alive that long to really put that into context. But let’s think on that. That means that Comic-Con now predates most properties that people go to the convention to see. It’s certainly older than Star Wars.
On my end, it feels super surreal to show up at the place as a PATHETIC 6-year attendee and think that we are all here as a part of this tradition older than us. I love this show. Its a nearly one-week experience that takes all your energy to get through and you still love it in the end.
This year, as every year, I waited in line in the blistering San Diego sun with a giant, unwieldy plastic bag on my back to enter this giant hall in the hopes to drain my wallet participating in my favorite hobby, collecting all the things. Did I succeed? Let’s see:
Wow, that’s a lot. But most of this is not relevant to this blog here, right? I will say, this Marvel figure of The Collector is my spirit animal… I’m not sure why…
So let’s take a look at all the Star Wars goodies in particular:
Yeah, that’s a less embarrassing amount of stuff. For a show that didn’t have too much Star Wars news at it, there was sure a lot of fun stuff to be had. So, let’s take a lovely journey with me to see what was on sale at the Greatest Show on Earth. I think with Ringling Bros. closed, SDCC now holds that title.
Smuggler’s Run 4-Pack – The Black Series
Now, I’m gonna clarify this right off the bat and say this is not an SDCC item, but I did get it DURING SDCC, and I’m digging it, so I’m gonna give this a mention here. This is one of three 4-packs of 6-inch action figures for The Black Series. And, no, I’m not just trying to put the most numbers in one sentence. For the opening of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, Hasbro released at the parks 3 themed sets of action figures vaguely themed around the park. One set was Imperial baddie themed, one was various droids, and this one seems to be an assortment of the good guys. I only got this one because I’m trying to cut back on The Black Series (he lied). However, I think you’ll see why this one rises above the other two, like some kinda unnamed Skywalker.
The first up is Chewbacca, which is fine, I suppose. He appears to just be a rerelease of the previous Black Series Chewie, so hopefully, you didn’t get him already. If you are in a position where you need a Chewie, this is a good one. For me, he’s gonna become a Holiday Special Life Day custom ‘Bacca when I get the ol’ sewing machine up and running.
Next is Rey, who is… sorta new? Again, you are buying the same Last Jedi Rey you likely got already, but she has a new print for her facial details. IF you want the best of the best version of every figure, this one is slightly better looking, but not really enough if you already got a perfectly good one. I will note to be careful when placing her blaster in the holster as the holster seems to be made of tough, tight plastic.
So here we have my favorite Fantastic Beasts, these 2 Porgs. I love Porgs. Love them. You have no idea. Let me just say, Hasbro, I see what you’re doing here. This is a 4-pack of figures, but you can’t count these teeny, tiny, little porglets as their own figure. If they are getting their own figure slot, I want 20 Porgs, minimum. Heck, I want 20 Porgs regardless. I thought these were the same as the first Black Series Porgs… wrongly. These are actually new body/head sculpts. Even better these are scene-specific Porg sculpts! Notably, these are the sad Porg and the Porg screaming its little battle cry on the Millenium Falcon. That’s amazing attention to detail. I love this.
Lastly, we have 100% of the reason anyone bought this set. Here he is, the man, the myth, the legend, fan-favorite Hondo Ohnaka joins The Black Series. Having been popular enough in The Clone Wars to join the regular cast of Rebels, he now is appearing in Galaxy’s Edge as a pretty spiffy animatronic. Move over, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln! This figure represents the ride version from the sequel time period, so what you are getting is a distinguished older Hondo.
The face may look a little wide for his body sculpt, but that may be an attempt to make it feel more like an animatronic? It’s a bit of a nitpick. I like the detail of his coat being folded behind his holster. The one real gripe I have is that my sample is missing his blaster! The plastic tray of the package is loose, so there is an empty void where his gun was. Even Rey’s lightsaber was rattling around in the box. If you plan to buy this, try to inspect the package before buying!
Kenner Boba Fett – The Black Series
Hey guys, remember when I said I was cutting back on The Black Series? Oops
I love toys if you haven’t noticed. But the one thing I love even more are toys that pay homage to other toys in some sort of messed up toy turducken.
Fun fact: Boba Fett was the very first Black Series figure as an SDCC exclusive with Han in Carbonite. So, it’s kinda fun to revisit ol’ Robert Fett as another SDCC figure. This time, as his package indicates, he is celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. Famously, most audiences first learned of Boba before the movie in the 80’s from an action figure promotion. You could mail away to Kenner to receive one action figure early – a mysterious new character, Boba Fett.
For a lot of people, this was the first teaser of what was to come in the very first Star Wars sequel (That incident with Bea Arthur…doesn’t, doesn’t count). To honor this legacy, this toy takes the Black Series Boba figure and paints him in the colors of the old action figure. So, he’s similar, but with bigger and bolder colors. To be a real stickler, he’s not really 100% accurate to the old toy either, but he does have a bright red top to his jetpack as a nod to the legendary Rocket-Firing action feature that never made it to production back in the day.
This is the perfect kind of exclusive. It’s got so many fun details its worth buying, but it’s weird and niche enough that you wouldn’t feel bad if you missed out on him. Speaking of further details, He is lacking his cloth cape as the original figure did not have it. There’s a tiny hole left behind, but it’s not an issue. He includes as Stormtrooper blaster to be like the generic blaster the vintage Boba had back in the day. If I could make one change on this guy, it would be adjusting his headsculpt a little so his visor could be half-down like in the classic toy. Then again, that always did look pretty goofy.
The Sith Troopers of Comic-Con
Hey guys, remember when I said I was cutting back on The Black Series? Oops
This was truly the year of the Sith Trooper. Well, at least the con of the Sith Trooper. I suppose this was the one bit of design Lucasfilm allowed companies to show for the upcoming Rise of Skywalker. This being the case, every company under the sun with access to Star Wars was releasing some form of the product with this red Stormtrooper on it. While we don’t know what role these dudes will have in the film, we do know one thing, these companies want you to buy them in droves.
Out of all the different options, I chose to get the Black Series figure, as it fits in with a collection I already have and I was lucky enough to get a spot on the line for the Hasbro booth. As is common for a Black Series exclusive, this is a figure that will be released in the mainline later at retailers everywhere. This version acts as a preview for the movie and toy line and comes in a fancy exclusive package with some extra accessories that may not come with the regular figure.
Well, the fancy packaging is nice. I was surprised that once the paper slip is lifted off the box, the figure is just hanging out there in the open. Behind the figure are two flaps with little handles. When you pull the handles out, you get two trays full of weapons for this trooper, laid out all nice and on display. The box is very classy and very red. The major detraction is the way the figure is laid out, it just looks lanky and gangly.
So now that we’ve talked all about the box, let’s rip it all open. This is a really slick toy and design. This trooper is bright and will stand out on a shelf. The articulation is plentiful and not hindered by too much. It can hold a ton of poses and can realistically hold all the crazy accessories, except that weird giant gun. I’m not sure how the figure is supposed to hold that thing. I suppose you could get a few and have each one decked out with a different weapon, like the Praetorian Guards before them. I really want to see what they use that claw thing for in the movie…
I do not like that they have updated the neck articulation scheme. It may just be this figure, but the neck is far too stiff and you really need to force it into position. However, it makes up for it in bonus point for having hidden shoulder joints under the chest armor. It quite helps to get natural weapon-holding poses, which is often tough on other similar figures.
For my money, I think this trooper design looks pretty dang sweet. At a glance, it’s similar to the First Order troopers, but upon closer inspection, it has some sharp angles and edges that make it look more menacing and less like an Ipod. The helmets, in particular, seem to combine a few design elements. The stripe down the middle gives a slight Mandalorian vibe, paying homage to their clone ancestors, and the sharper angles on the cheeks remind me of the Rogue One Death Trooper look. But most of all, these are really looking like the clone helmets from Revenge of the Sith, so perhaps the name “Sith Trooper” also pays homage to that film’s title. I’m low-key digging the shoulder-mounted flashlight, its neat.
Hot Toys was selling their amazing looking 12-inch version, but I don’t have the money for that! There was a Lego bust for sale of this guy too. Don’t feel bad if you missed out on that one because you can make it with your own parts using these instructions:
But this little bust was totally upstaged by a life-size LEGO model on display at the booth.
The last thing worth mentioning was the children’s Halloween costume. I never once saw a little Sith Trooper out and about on my five days at the con. But passing by the booth, those things were selling. Considering I still see little Praetorians at every Star Wars event I go to, I imagine there will be a few this holiday season, at least in the Southern California region!
Luke Skywalker – Special Action Figure Set
Here we get to my bread & butter, the classic 3 ¾-inch scale action figures. For SDCC, Hasbro went with the “Special Action Figure” 3-pack format they pulled off last year. For 2018, they gave us a set of Dr. Aphra and her 2 droid companions from the recent comic books. For 2019, they gave us 3 Lukes. Its a theme for sure, but lacking a little diversity in the product. It reminds me of the Evolutions 3-packs of the Revenge of the Sith product line. My personal preference would have been for 3 different characters, however.
But opening the unassuming box, my fears of the set were baseless. This is a nearly perfect action figure set. Each figure is super articulated for a 4-inch figure and comes with appropriate accessories. All of the Luke headsculpts and paintwork are the best that he has ever looked at this scale. Now I am really wanting my number one wishlist figure, a proper Farmboy Luke.
Stormtrooper Luke looks great paired with the recent Target exclusive Han Solo. He has even been engineered to be a little shorter making him – yes – a little short for a Stormtrooper. I love the attention to detail, giving us the comm unit on his belt. And he still looks good with the helmet on, making him a great stand-in if you just want to army-build Stormtroopers.
X-Wing Pilot Luke is a totally new sculpt with an all-new articulation scheme. I didn’t think I needed a new X-Wing Luke as there have been so many rebel pilots over the years. However, this new body type is very well done. All of the articulation is tight and holds up.
Jabba’s Palace Luke is a great addition to the Jabba kick Hasbro has been on lately. He’ll fit right in with the new skiff and skiff guard figures coming out about now. His cape is a great shade of brown and looks nice on this figure. I’m enjoying how much it looks like the vintage figure. He’s mostly reused parts from the deleted lightsaber construction scene Luke figure but the paint, head, and cape are all new. Again, I did not think I ever needed an update to this figure, but he’s really nice.
In the end, the only issue I can take with this set is that I think a character like Luke should just be at retail for fans to buy, especially if the figures are this nice. At least one of these will come to stores later, but all these costumes would work well in stores, as opposed to limited at a con. That was a better fit for Aphra’s droids which are a bit more niche.
Prototype Darth Vader – The Retro Collection
The Retro Collection sold out almost instantly in stores a few months ago, so it makes sense that there was an exclusive from the line at Comic-Con. This is a weird one, guys.
So, this is a repaint of the retro Darth Vader figure. OK. And it’s repainted to look like how a test shot would look. A test shot is a prototype where the factory tests the mold they would use to make the toy. Since they are just testing the mold, they don’t need it to look nice, so they may use any color plastic they have on-hand. Often, early test-shot prototypes will look unpainted and in crazy colors.
This figure is made to look like if that had happened with this Darth Vader. To add to this effect, apparently different Vaders have a different combination of colors, so it would be an expensive endeavor to get every limb color combination. Having seen many vintage prototypes, I can say none of them look as crazy and LSD-laced as this thing but I appreciate the novelty and the nod to the toy industry.
I also have yet to mention that every one of these SDCC Hasbro card backs has been on a shiny print like your Holographic Charizard Pokemon card back in the day. This package is especially good, looking like a piece of Warhol-Era pop-art. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a toy opener by nature, but I’m really tempted to keep this in the box.
Now it’s storytime. This was the most difficult exclusive for me to get at the con. The Entertainment Earth booth line was capped and they were not letting any more people in every day, nearly all day. To make matters worse, even though I got in early, this toy was sold out nearly before doors opened. So, I had to pick this up at a higher price from someone else selling it on the floor. As Lando would say, “I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it, but I accept it.”
Metropolis “Maria” – Super7
Here’s another amazing toy homage. Super7 makes a line of action figures of various and seemingly random properties that are done in the style of the classic 70’s-80’s Kenner action figures. In their line, they recently made a “Maria” action figure from the silent film classic, Metropolis. As many of us overly obsessive Star Wars fans may know, this automaton was an inspiration for Ralph McQuarrie’s C-3PO design.
Now, things have come full circle with this Metropolis toy, designed like a Star Wars toy, in the paint scheme of C-3PO. The shiny gold from the vac metal paint looks really fetching and the silver shin really reads Threepio. This gets a ton of extra love for the packaging in the font and style of vintage Star Wars, complete with a metal coin straight out of the Power of the Force toyline. You can tell this really gimmicky and niche product was made with a lot of care and love from some big fans of Star Wars toys.
With their Hammerhead homage last year, Super7 is a booth I love to visit at this con every year.
The Books of Comic-Con
OK, so I’m gonna be real here. I’m not gonna review these books in earnest. I’m not the fastest reader (or writer) as you can likely surmise from how late this post is. The truth of the matter is that SDCC is a whole intense week of doing all the stuff and I am still unpacking from that “vacation.”
So we’re gonna look at these books as objects d’art, if you will. This is a blog post of collectible stuff, and sometimes these books are the best collectible stuff. I have no idea how long Del Rey has been doing this, but I’ve been going to a ton of cons where I’ve noticed they do a promotion at each one. At nearly any con they attend, they will be selling their latest book as an early release hardcover, with a con exclusive slipcover, a bonus page on the inside signed by the author, a tote bag, and a pin. So I think from the past years, I’ve gotten Thrawn: Alliances, The Last Jedi, Master and Apprentice, and this con was Thrawn: Treason.
What you need to do is hit up the Del Rey booth first thing the doors open and get in line. When you reach the front, they’ll slap a wristband on you. You come back later in the day, and if you have the wristband, you can purchase the book or audiobook.
The Thrawn book has a sleek and menacing cover of the main man himself sitting in the galaxy’s most uncomfortable chair, with the implication of the Chiss (Navy? Army? Space Force?) behind him. Its some cool art and there is a page towards the front dedicated to Timothy Zahn’s autograph.
I’m really glad this SDCC cover has no title on it – it looks a bunch classier with just the dark art. The package comes with an exclusive pin. Last year, we got Thrawn’s Admiral rank as a pin, but I’m not familiar with this triangle design. Based on the pattern, I am assuming this has to do with his rank in the Chiss Ascendancy? The outline appears to be the silhouette of a Star Destroyer.
I probably should read the book. Might be a good idea.
On the short Sunday of the con, I wandered by the Lucasfilm setup and picked up another hardcover I’ve really been wanting to read, Queen’s Shadow. Listen, I am a huge fan of Phantom Menace, the most wizard of the Star Wars movies. So, anything to do with floofy Naboo crap is right up my alley. I’m really crossing my fingers for the Ric Olie series on Disney+. I came across this “exclusive edition,” and finally decided to bite the bullet.
Honestly, I have no idea what this is exclusive to – SDCC? No idea. But it’s got a nice purpley color that fits in well with my vaporwave art and it came with this nifty keychain free!
This one is also signed, but not on a dedicated autograph page. Still nice, though.
The Lack of Announcements of Comic-Con
I have to say, there was a lot of great merch at SDCC this year. Some of this will stick around as great pieces to my collection. Not Funko. I’m tired of your “chrome version of a thing you already have” exclusive mentality lately.
However, I really have to say, this felt like a very hollow convention for Star Wars. I think Disney or Lucasfilm or someone has a huge embargo over anything with the upcoming films and shows coming out, which makes a little sense. Nobody likes getting things spoiled for them.
I just feel like some things should not be veiled in so much mystery. For example, we know that Rey will be in the new movie and what she will look like. Show off one toy or statue or SOMETHING. Since we know they will be selling it. Most of the booths had nothing new on display, and that’s kinda the whole point of these shows, to hype and promote media. These companies need to learn that not everything is a spoiler that will ruin an upcoming project. I’ll show you an example. Here’s the lineup of Revenge of the Sith toys before the release of the movie.
Look at that colorful cast of characters! Before the film came out, it looked crazy with all these designs and creatures in it. You needed to see this movie just to know how they would show all of this off. Sure, many of those characters were not much of anything, but this is how you build hype.
When you look at the Boba Fett figure from earlier, this was based off a toy that came out to preview The Empire Strikes Back. It hyped that movie up so much that people love that character to this day, despite him not really doing anything on screen. Like the Gungans and the Naboo, Stars Wars and merchandise cannot exist without the other. It’s one of the few franchises where toys have basically existed since the start.
But, if we want to keep hiding these new movies in a mystery box, then maybe companies can start thinking of some products to display, working around this. Long story short, Hot Toys needs to show off that Sio Bibble doll they’ve been working on.
All that ranting having been done, I gotta say, this convention is a joy every year. I sincerely wish every fan could get the chance to go to it at least once. It’s not just a fan convention. It’s a whole city getting wrapped up in a fervor of fun. And buying stuff is just a byproduct.
It is tempting to dwell on the fact that there was little news at this event, but when we look over the stuff that was there, we should be reminded to enjoy the plentiful things that we have already gotten. There is no shortage of Star Wars goodness to be had at pretty much any con, and we can assume there will be more to come at the next.