As with previous years, this summer's San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) previewed the release of many new TV series, movies and toy lines connected to familiar, well-worn franchises. Star Wars was one of those franchises at SDCC, with an upcoming movie trilogy in the works, an animated TV series named Rebels that's premiering this fall, and a wide selection of merchandise to keep the fans engaged and excited. The merchandise came in a wide selection of sizes, and one of the most intriguing and fun set of items appeared in a very small size: Hasbro’s new Star Wars Command toy line.
Star Wars Command takes characters and vehicles from the six movies and Rebels and gives them the plastic toy soldier treatment so that kids can re-create some of the saga’s epic battles. (No word yet on whether future Command released will include characters and vehicles from the Clone Wars animated series.) Command sets will feature multiple miniature figures and vehicles from one of four factions: Republic, Separatist, Rebel Alliance or Imperial Empire. Most of the figures will be soldiers, with an occasional "General" figure based on one of the major characters from the Star Wars saga. There’s a possibility of additional character types--I saw a picture of several Tusken Raiders (a.k.a. Sand People) on display with the other Command toys at SDCC --but the initial toy line appears to be focused on the saga's most heavily armed groups.
Star Wars licenses have yielded plastic toy soldier-like lines before, with varying degrees of popularity. Kenner first tried with its Micro Collection line back in 1982, but that didn’t sell well and disappeared before Return of the Jedi arrived in theaters the following year. Galoob added Star Wars vehicles, characters and play sets to its Micro Machines and Action Fleet lines and although they were a hit with toy collectors, the design of those items placed a much greater emphasis on compactness than combat-oriented play. In contrast, Star Wars Command aims to let kids engage in all sorts of scale-sized chaos.
In addition to the figures, the miniature vehicles in the Command sets come with "Strikers", pull-back motors that can be clipped to the vehicles for ramming into figures and other vehicles. The largest Command set comes with a remote control Star Destroyer; not only does the Star Destroyer move forward and backwards, but it also splits apart to launch "Energy Blast" balls. I'm hoping that if this toy line takes off, more RC toys based on larger Star Wars vehicles will become available and play sets will be produced based on key battles with the saga. For example, I think a play set based on the Hoth battle--complete with a battery-powered ion cannon that launches "Energy Blasts"--would be a great addition to the line.
Click here to see a complete list of Star Wars Command sets that will arrive on toy store shelves this fall, and check out the video below that shows a demo of the toy line from last February's American International Toy Fair.