Mark Hamill recently revealed that George Lucas had lunch with him and Carrie Fisher at Celebration VI and told them that the next trilogy of films was in the works. Mark told him that he thought that he was nuts but was completely thrown for a loop when he heard about the merger – apparently George didn’t tell him everything.
The stuff that came out from Celebration VI had the benchmarks for the shift. The signs were there, but everyone was so focused on things feeling rather the same that no one saw them as big clanging red klaxon signs showing that change was afoot.
1) Star Wars Detours: This new cartoon collaboration project between Seth Green and LFL came out of nowhere. With fully realized segments, promo videos, and clips the series seemed to be done and in the bag – only problem, it hadn’t been sold to anyone. The cartoon is hyper, it’s crazy, it runs at the speed of kids brains. It’s also 100% unlike anything that LFL has ever produced.
Apparently there was also a focus group where they pulled families in and discussed possibly having a padawan-centric “Clone Wars” cartoon to see what the reactions to that would be. Kid-friendly cartoon fair – although LFL does have “The Clone Wars” which is kid-friendly it’s still focused on appealing to adults also. LFL hadn’t made anything since the days of “Droids” and “Ewoks” that were just Kid approved. I remember when I heard about “Detours” I was excited at the thought of them bringing the franchise back to kids and to lure in a new generation – now I know why they did this, these were test market series that could be given to Disney as shows that they could run right away with showing.
2) EU Novels: Focusing back on the Saga: For many years nearly all of the Expanded Universe books have been focused on The New Jedi Order. Now that series is dying out. The only new books ordered for the EU era is a Jaina Solo trilogy. Other than that we’ve got a boatload of books coming that focus on our main characters:
A Trilogy between A New Hope – Empire Strikes Back that will have each book focus on a specific character – book 1 will be about Luke, the second Leia, and I’m assuming the third will be Han.
Kenobi – a standalone book about Ben’s days on Tatooine in exile (this also seems to go nicely along with Sideshow’s beautiful EU Obi-Wan statue. )
Crucible and Scoundrels – 2 more up-coming books that focus on our main trilogy characters, Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn will focus on Han Solo.
With the emphasis of the books moving away from the Post-films EU, LFL is working to clean the slate and have that timeline ready for a reboot.
3) EU Female Characters Getting Attention: Celebration VI had an utterly random lovely statue of Mara Jade as one of the exclusive items for sale. The figure didn’t have a manufacturer’s mark on her, she was just made for Celebration.
The previous year Kotobukiya announced their Jaina Solo Biishoujo statue also seemed to come out of nowhere. At San Diego Comic Con the company announced that Mara Jade would be next. (Jaina’s release date got pushed back to December this year – look here for a review on her once she is released.)
With Sideshow’s Mythos line of new saga-centric EU statues coming out, this all just seemed odd. Not that EU fans complain because EU characters usually don’t get a lot of attention unless it’s a scary looking Sith Lord. Perhaps the ladies pieces were test market items to see how swiftly they’d sell to the adult collector market, especially if the new trilogy is going to reboot their characters and we’ll see them on the big screen.
As to how collectibles will be affected by the merger, I don’t think that overall a lot will necessarily change. It’s doubtful that Disney go in and break relationships that help make LFL money. If anything, I think with the Mouse now at the helm we might see those relationships expanded and we’ll see more collectibles coming. Hot Toys has produced “Pirates of the Caribbean” figures and this year released the entire set of “Avengers” in 1/6 scale. I think it’s possible that we’ll see the Mouse pushing for Hot Toys to work on more “Star Wars” figures as a part of their plan to expand shelf space in other countries. We might see some other high-end international toy makers who do quite a bit with Disney suddenly start producing more Star Wars stuff.
We might also see new partnerships show up as the Star Wars universe expands with the new films, cartoon series, and other TV ventures. Disney has huge contracts with Mattel, Mattel focuses more on making kids toys than Hasbro and of course they’re the girl’s toy maker, I can see them shifting some of their merchandising needs over to Hasbro’s biggest competitor. The 2 companies are different – if Mattel focuses on making toys for Detours and allows the Star Wars girls to collide with Barbie, there’s guaranteed huge $ generating potential there. I know that I’ll be first in line to snatch up everything that Mattel would produce – why? Because FINALLY Trisha Biggars’ beautiful costumes from the prequels will all get the respect and detail that they deserve for merchandise.
Hasbro will probably see its contract expanded, they make boys toys better than anyone and I can’t see Disney taking the ships/action figure toy lines away from them. I believe that if anything they’ll be pushed to produce even more items and expand their annual merchandise offerings.
What does all of this mean in the end? Dear lord, my wallet is going to be aching because I love Star Wars, it’s always been my favorite franchise with my favorite characters. If the new films produce characters that appeal to me, my collection will continue to grow. I hope that in the future we continue to see a nice variety of merchandise offerings that focus not only on the new Star Wars projects but continue to explore the characters who the franchise was born from.