PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

61yJBSeuYNL._SL1500_I briefly mentioned Star Wars Command earlier this year when I was wrapping up web coverage of the International Toy Fair in New York, but now that these toys are actually in stores, it’s time for a closer look.

sw 01Star Wars Command is a throwback to the days of the classic Marx Toys playsets. This series is comprised of small plastic figures, most of them around 57 mm from their base to the tops of their heads, along with out-of-scale vehicles, pull-back toys onto which figures or vehicles can be placed, and a few over-sized vehicles with extra features.

This is basically Star Wars done up in the style of Green Army Men. Common figures are molded in one-color of plastic. You get multiple figures so you can build an army. The sets are relatively inexpensive. You can get nine figures for five bucks, or pay more for larger sets.

sw 03The sculpting on these is amazing. Most of the figures don’t have any paint applications (“General” figures do, but that’s usually just one or two figures per set), so they can go all-out on the sculpting detail. The quality on these figures rank with the best that Marx offered in their classic playsets in the 1950s. The color choice is appropriate–tan for the Tusken Raiders, white for Stormtroopers, for example.

There are a few drawbacks. Foremost is the choice of characters in the initial release. With eleven different sets available, ranging in price from five to sixty dollars, there are a lot of major names missing. Some of this is due to the line being used to support a new “Star Wars Rebels” cartoon, but it’s a real head-scratcher that you can’t get Princess Leia, Yoda, C-3PO, or Greedo in this form yet. I’m hoping these catch on, because as cool as they are, once you get beyond The Empire Strikes Back I have no real interest in owning toys of any of the characters.

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SW 02There are other major characters from later in the Star Wars mythos, like Mace Windu, but you’d think they’d want to go for the most recognizable icons before scraping the barrel for characters like Ezra Bridger. You can get Luke Skywalker in four sets, and Darth Vader in three, but no Lando Calrission or older Obi Wan Kenobi figures are available.

When your biggest complaint is that there aren’t enough figures, that’s a sign that you have a cool toy on your hands.

The other issue is that the vehicles are not in scale. The Millenium Falcon is slightly larger than a Land-speeder should be. The X-Wings are smaller than the figures. This is one of the conventions of the plastic playset. Even with Green Army Men the tanks and Jeeps are usually two small for the figures to use. It’s just something you have to get used to.

These figures seem to be designed for table-top gaming, but there aren’t any solid rules. This is actually pretty cool because it leaves something up to the imaginations of kids, while adult collectors don’t have to worry about making sense of a phone-book sized guide telling them how to play.

placing a spaceship on a striker
placing a spaceship on a striker

Some sets include “strikers,” which are pull-and-release bases that figures or vehicles can be snapped into. You pull back, aim it at a line of enemy fighters, and release, causing havoc and destruction.

There are other special features that will be listed in the extensive press release for the product, posted below.

Star Wars Command is a terrific idea, and it’s nice to see Hasbro scare up a concept from the past that just might work in today’s shaky toy market. If this line takes off we might see a major expansion (with more of the “star” characters) and we might also see Hasbro try this format with their Marvel Comics license, which is floundering at retail. This line has turned up locally at Target, and is also available (with higher prices) at Amazon. I’m sure it will hit other retailers very soon.

Let’s check out the press release…

STAR WARS® COMMAND

91mLZlY9XHL._SL1500_STAR WARS® COMMAND Battle Packs
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $4.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
The battle is in kids’ hands with STAR WARS COMMAND! Each STAR WARS COMMAND Battle Pack features nine permanently posed and collectibly-sized figures —eight soldiers and one specially detailed General—for kids to pit against their friends in epic battles! Each pack sold separately.

STAR WARS® COMMAND Versus Packs
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $9.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
Each STAR WARS COMMAND Versus Pack features ten permanently posed and collectibly-sized figures —eight soldiers and two specially detailed Generals—plus two vehicles on stands for kids to pit against their friends in epic battles! Each pack sold separately.

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STAR WARS® COMMAND Invasion Packs
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $14.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
Kids can customize their attacks with STAR WARS COMMAND Invasion Packs. Each pack features ten permanently posed and collectibly-sized figures —eight soldiers and two specially detailed Generals—plus four vehicles on stands and two special Strikers that kids can rev up and launch into battle! Each pack sold separately.

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STAR WARS® COMMAND Epic Assault Pack
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $19.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
The STAR WARS COMMAND Epic Assault Pack features two armies and everything kids need to stage an epic battle right out of the box! Comes with 14 permanently posed and collectibly-sized figures —12 soldiers and two specially detailed Generals—plus six vehicles on stands and two special Strikers that kids can rev up and launch into battle!

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STAR WARS® COMMAND MILLENNIUM FALCON Set
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $29.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
Now, kids can finally take command of the greatest battles in STAR WARS history! STAR WARS COMMAND lets kids pit huge armies of collectibly-sized figures and vehicles against each other to determine the fate of the galaxy! The STAR WARS COMMAND MILLENNIUM FALCON features one of the most iconic vehicles in the STAR WARS universe, plus two armies for everything kids need to stage an epic battle right out of the box! Kids can pull back the MILLENNIUM FALCON and see it race forward then blast into battle at hyper speed! Set also comes with 24 permanently posed and collectibly-sized figures which includes 22 soldiers and two specially detailed Generals—plus six vehicles on stands and two special Strikers that kids can rev up and launch into battle!

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STAR WARS® COMMAND STAR DESTROYER Set
(Ages: 4 & up/ Approximate retail price: $59.99/ Available: Fall 2014)
Now, kids can finally take command of the greatest battles in STAR WARS history! STAR WARS COMMAND lets kids pit huge armies of micro-figures and vehicles against each other for the fate of the galaxy! Using the Controller, you can control the flagship of the evil GALACTIC EMPIRE with the power of the FORCE!! Send the STAR DESTROYER backwards or forwards, then unleash up to 4 Energy Blast balls to devastate your opponent’s army! Also comes with eight permanently posed and collectibly-sized figures —six soldiers and two specially-detailed Generals.

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