Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Special Report - Twenty Clone Wars Figures We NEED (Part 1)


The Clone Wars line in crisis! As Hasbro cuts back on this fan-favorite action figure line, the reporters here at Echo Base News present the case for why we need to see more from The Clone Wars, and most importantly, which characters fans want to see included in the line next! David, Chris, and Ruari, joined by guest contributor "darth_sidious" have compiled a list of twenty must-have characters. Read on!

Remember that period of a few years in which Hasbro's focus was clearly on The Clone Wars line, and some collectors were outraged that characters from the rest of the Star Wars saga were being underrepresented and that collecting would become less fun, etc.? Fast forward to New York Comic Con 2011 and we're looking at the opposite situation. Some of us had to have known this was coming. After all, we're in a 'movie year,' so the focus is currently on the 3D re-release of The Phantom Menace. Fans are troubled though because every year for the next six years (if all goes according to plan) will likely see a 3D re-release of one of the main live-action films. Don't get us wrong, we're thrilled to be seeing all of the six films we know and love re-released in theaters in incredible 3D glory. However, we fear that this means The Clone Wars line will never return to its former prominence which it enjoyed throughout most of 2009-2011.

This ties in to some other concerns we have about the state of the line as well. By 2011 we were seeing some pretty incredible stuff in The Clone Wars line. Figures of secondary characters such as El-Les, Seripas, Saesee Tiin, etc. were bringing a great range and diversity to the line which we really hadn't seen yet. Fans and collectors were starting to embrace the line. So it's poor timing that just when we've all started to really get behind The Clone Wars, it's taking a back seat to the movie stuff rather drastically. The Clone Wars line in 2012 consists of only twenty basic action figure releases, and even more troubling is the fact that less than half are all-new figures. The rest are repacks that most people already have! The problem of bad repacks is growing and we've never seen it worse than in 2012. Also, it's sad to see The Clone Wars line like this because Hasbro's new Movie Heroes line that is arguably taking up the space, resources, etc. that The Clone Wars line used to occupy is (for the most part) completely terrible. All the Movie Heroes line has consisted of so far is a couple waves of useless repacks. The new figures that are being released later in the Movie Heroes line seem to have taken a huge leap backward in quality. Gimmicky action features have returned and taken the place of premium articulation and sculpting. But that's for a whole different report/rant....

Long story short, we don't like to see The Clone Wars line like this, and we want to start seeing some more new figures. We fully understand that no line of Hasbro Star Wars action figures can ever be composed entirely of all-new figures. But there are things Hasbro can do to remain cost-effective AND please fans, collectors, and kids alike with what they have to offer. Re-release the figures of primary characters that are in demand. Without a doubt the best example of where Hasbro is failing in this area is by not re-releasing 2011's Ahsoka figure that's based on her new look in the show. Ahsoka is Star Wars' most popular heroine right now and a main character in the show! In the new 2012, why is Hasbro re-releasing figures we've seen over and over again like Mace Windu and Yoda, or unnecessary figures like Plo Koon (Cold Weather Gear) when they could be re-releasing Ahsoka? It's crazy! One upcoming exception to this bad practice of theirs seems to be the re-release of Aayla Secura, an ultra-rare figure we haven't seen since 2010. THAT is a good choice for a repack. So wherever repacks are necessary, we'd like to see more figures like Aayla. How about Darth Sidious from the same wave back in 2010? He's incredibly rare! Also, why didn't we see a re-release of the rare Savage Opress figure in full armor rather than the shirtless version of Savage that warmed the pegs in some areas? Another way Hasbro could be saving money in The Clone Wars line is with repaints! There are tons of Clone Trooper characters in the show. Let's see some clone repaints in those slots that need to be filled by cost-effective figures. For example, Plo Koon's Wolfpack battalion appears frequently in the show and could use some more representation in the line.

Those are the issues we have, accompanied by some suggestions and solutions. Hasbro needs to know that we love The Clone Wars line and we want them to continue bringing their A game to it like they've done in years past. It's all about achieving balance. We can have a great line for The Clone Wars and a great movie-focused line like The Vintage Collection. A different approach is definitely needed though.

As for all-new figures in The Clone Wars line, here are the ones that we'd like to see included before it's over. We'll take them in Battle Packs, Class I sets, etc., but we really feel they're deserving of those precious few basic action figure release slots over the next few years. We're surprised some of them haven't made it out yet, and urge Hasbro to consider including them in some form. So without further introduction, here's the first installment in Echo Base News' list of "Twenty Clone Wars Figures We NEED!" The remaining ten characters in our list will be revealed in Part 2. Enjoy!


Lux Bonteri
"Lux is an interesting character. Maybe not on his own right, but because he has a love story ongoing with Ahsoka. He teamed up with Death Watch to try and take out Count Dooku, so he’s got display options. Not to mention that he’s pulled a weapon, and kissed Ahsoka, so collectors should want Lux and would buy him if he were made. He is also one of the main characters in a political story arc that actually has an interesting story line, so I would suggest that Hasbro gets on this before interest runs out." (Chris Wermeskerch)


Prince Lee-Char
"Seeing as Hasbro have stated they have no plans for an animated Ackbar figure, Lee-Char is probably our only hope for a named Mon Calamari figure. Lee-Char went through a lot of character development in the final episode of the Mon Calamari arc, which earned him a lot of respect from the fans. Lee-Char would certainly add something unique to the line." (Ruari Williamson)


Clone Trooper (Wolfpack Squad)
"If there's one Clone Trooper that should be on the list, it is a generic Clone Trooper from Wolfpack squad. Whether in Phase I or Phase II armour, we really should see a Wolfpack Clone Trooper released. They're arguably the most-liked Clone Trooper legion in the show, and they have an awesome commander in Wolffe, who has the best Phase I figure to date (and an upcoming Phase II figure). We really need a generic Wolfpack Clone Trooper for play/display alongside Wolffe. These clones have appeared more than a lot of other clones that have got a figure, so we really need one of these released." (Ruari Williamson)


Nute Gunray

"The Clone Wars line is in desperate need of Separatist leaders. We’re not talking about more Count Dooku or General Grievous figures. We mean the greedy corporate schemers who are pulling all the strings! Unless I’m forgetting something there hasn’t been a single Separatist Council leader released in the line to date, unless you count Dooku (no pun intended). For me, filling this slot in my list was a toss-up between Wat Tambor and Nute Gunray, but ultimately I chose Gunray because he’s literally the last character yet to be released from the thrilling Season 1 episode “Cloak of Darkness.” And he’s just an awesome Prequel-era villain that I’d love to finally see released in animated form." (David Delgado)


The Son
"From the Mortis trilogy, we were introduced to this character - along with Father and Daughter, to give us a story about Force wielders that was truly beyond imagination. While Father and Daughter might not be top sellers if made, a figure of Son would likely be a hit among kids and collectors. When it comes to Sith or any dark side characters, I've noticed that they do well at retail and have an unending group of interested fans." (darth_sidious)


Bo-Katan
"Mandalorians sell. I can’t think of any Mando that sits, and even Boba and Jango still manage to fly off the shelves. Hasbro has done straight boxed sets of Mandos, had a few Comic Packs featuring them, many basic figures, etc. Point is, Hasbro knows they sell. In The Clone Wars line, one of the best selling waves of Battle Packs featured ARC Troopers and a solid set of four Mandalorians. Pre Vizsla flies off the shelf, I have only seen one single carded Mandalorian Warrior EVER, and director Dave Filoni hints at a greater role for the Death Watch in Season 5. With all of this money Hasbro could basically be printing, why isn’t Bo-Katan on target for this year?" (Chris Wermeskerch)

"Mandalorians are highly popular among fans, and so are the figures. So what could be better than a regular Mandalorian figure? A female Mandalorian figure, of course! Which is where Bo-Katan comes in. Bo-Katan would sell extremely well as a figure. Hasbro have no plans for her now certainly, but once we've had the Death Watch arc in Season 5, maybe they'll re-consider and release her, as well as a new version of Pre Vizsla. Only time will tell." (Ruari Williamson)


Admiral Trench
"Season 2’s most popular one-episode baddy was a giant Separatist tarantula general named Admiral Trench. Everything about the episode “Cat and Mouse” was simply phenomenal. It was Star Wars war storytelling at its finest. We got to learn some of Admiral Yularen’s back story, which involved a costly space battle with Trench several years before the onset of the Clone Wars. Trench is creepy and cool looking and needs a figure as soon as possible! His chances of seeing plastic glory may be slightly higher than those of most other one-episode The Clone Wars characters because he performed very well in the most recent official Fans’ Choice Poll." (David Delgado)

"Admiral Trench was a hugely-liked villain after his appearance in a Season 2 episode. Yes, he's a Separatist, and he died within his only episode. However, he got great feedback and fan reaction. Admittedly, Trench would be a very hard figure to sculpt, especially if Hasbro were to include a lot of articulation. However, Trench would be well worth it and sell really well, and was a great new villain on the show." (Ruari Williamson)


Nightsister
"These girls have a ton of options for figures: different weapons such as knives or bows, some have hoods, some have pants, some are zombies…lots of options Hasbro should end up making. These girls would make a fantastic Battle Pack, three different costumes with different weapon variants and I could definitely be down for buying two or three of them. After “Massacre,” we have seen them in action, big time. These girls fought against Grievous’ invasion force head on, led by Asajj Ventress. It was a great fight and these girls would make a welcome army." (Chris Wermeskerch)

"Probably one of the coolest elements to come out of the Clone Wars cartoon thanks to the writing skills and imagination of Katie Lucas. The Nightsisters have support from all types collectors (including females), discussion is endless as to which one they want to see the most. Many would like to see the basic hooded Nightsister which is often dubbed as the 'ninja' of the group.  There are several that sport this same likeness, leading many fans to ask for a battle pack with multiples. Hasbro could easily sculpt 1 body and 3 differnt heads to give us a battle pack that would quickly vanish from store shelves." (darth_sidious)


Mother Talzin
"Creepy is the best word to describe Mother Talzin, who made her debut in the Season 3 story arc that introduced Savage Opress. As soon as we meet her, we know that she is a witch lady with some pretty extraordinary powers that could have broad implications throughout the past, present, and future of the Star Wars galaxy. It’s clear that she has an incredible amount of influence in the Star Wars story, apparently playing a major role in the schemes of the Sith. Long story short, she seems like a pretty dang important character not to be made into an action figure! I look forward to her appearance in the Season 4 finale, in which she’ll be playing a part in once again unleashing a certain red and black Sith Lord upon the galaxy! Another neat note: she’s based on some stunning Prequel concept art! It’s fun when old concept art influences new designs in The Clone Wars, something we’ve seen quite a few times now." (David Delgado)

"I have a love for concept art. The Nightsisters and Mother Talzin were made to be the Sith enemy for The Phantom Menace. They were scrapped, but their ideas remained in the vaults and were brought out for The Clone Wars. Not to mention, when they were requested, George asked that they were based on the artist’s worst nightmare. I can safely say that even in the cartoon these girls are very creepy. As the head of the Nightsisters, Talzin deserves her place in plastic. If you guys haven’t seen "Massacre" yet, go watch it and see her lay some waste to Battle Droids. Not to mention the fact that she wrecked Dooku, shaped Savage and is acting behind the revival of Darth Maul. Why shouldn’t she be made?" (Chris Wermeskerch)

"Easily one of my favorite characters from the last two seasons of the Clone Wars cartoon - and my most wanted figure from the series. After her memorable appearance in the episode "Massacre", you'd be hard pressed to find a fan that didn't enjoy seeing her finally get some battle scenes. As she created the glowing green force shield and tore into the battle droid army with Force lightning - she was cemented in as my top choice for the action figure line. This character would be great for either the animated or realistic line." (darth_sidious)


Duchess Satine
"I am not the biggest fan of Duchess Satine. I know lots of people were drinking the Haterade when it was revealed that Satine had helped transform the tough warrior society of the Mandalorians into a bunch of peace loving pacifists. And I’ll admit, I also was definitely not loving this change. The poisoned tea story arc in Season 3 did nothing to help. In my opinion, “Corruption” (starring Padme and Duchess Satine) has been the absolute worst episode of The Clone Wars to date. However, the importance of Satine in the show cannot be denied. And there is one aspect of the character I actually kind of like, and that is her romantic relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Their interaction in “Voyage of Temptation” was shockingly believable and well done, and added a whole new depth to Obi-Wan Kenobi; a character we’ve known for 35 years! Just when you think there’s nothing more to Old Ben, Satine shows up and changes the way we look at him. And for that, she’s an essential and effective character, and one that deserves an action figure. Her royal wardrobe is stunning! With modern sculpting technology, can you imagine the detail Hasbro could capture? It would certainly make for a striking action figure. If her royal wardrobe is considered too boring for kids to enjoy (I don’t think so at all though), then Hasbro always has the option of releasing her in her pink battle outfit seen in "The Mandalore Plot" and later in "Corruption." I’d actually buy both, but I’d definitely prefer the blue gown and headdress. The way I see it, approaching Satine in the basic figure line is no different than approaching Padme." (David Delgado)

"Kids don’t buy queens. I’m going to start with that basic fact. But the Duchess has been in at least five episodes already and it’s about time that we gave her the figure that she deserves. Not to mention that the design of her royal outfit is great and based on concept art, but I think that Obi-Wan needs a love interest and she fills the role in the show. Now, Satine in her adventure gear might be a more likely candidate. The term adventure gear was given to Padme’s outfit that she wore in the Malevolence trilogy because, well, obviously, she wore it on adventures and not in the Senate or meeting with fellow delegates. Satine has seen some action in this outfit and it's also a great look. " (Chris Wermeskerch)

"Hasbro can release so many Padme Amidala figures, but not a Satine figure. How different is a Satine figure from a Padme figure, really? Hasbro should give us a Satine figure, because she's had interaction with all three of the main characters in the series, and she's a fairly important character. How different would a figure of Satine in her adventure gear be from the figure of Padme in her adventure gear released back in 2009?" (Ruari Williamson)


That wraps up Part 1 of our special report! Thanks for checking it out, and be sure to let us know if you agree with our character choices by posting a comment below or commenting on Facebook. We hope that The Clone Wars line has a long and successful future ahead of it and that we'll see all of these characters released at some point!

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