Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Turning To The Black Side

Like most kids born in the late 70’s, Star Wars was the first major toyline I fell in love with. It was my older brother that introduced me to that wonderful world in a galaxy far far away inhabited with jedi masters, stormtroopers, droids and numerous other alien races. And it was my dad that steadily fed and nurtured my growing collecting habits and completist tendencies by bringing home endless numbers of Star Wars action figures whenever he returned from his numerous business trips.

Despite the fact that Star Wars was the first toyline I really collected as a kid, when I got older and resumed my toy collecting, it was the one toyline I made a conscious effort to avoid. And the reason was simple, there were just so many Star Wars toys out there, I really wouldn’t know where to start.

do you remember this guy?
Ever since the original toyline, Star Wars was known for making an action figure of almost EVERY SINGLE character that appeared in the movies. It didn’t matter if the character appeared for only a few seconds in the background of a scene, more often then not, that said character was immortalized in plastic form. There were just too many toys to collect so I didn’t even try (ok so I picked up a few bounty hunters, jedi and ewoks here and there).

Now aside from having a kajillion characters already existing in toy form, another detail common with all Star Wars action figures were their scale size, which was 3.75”. This all changed however in 2013 when Hasbro launched their 6” Black Series line aimed at adult collectors like me. And so to cut a long story short, I eventually caved and bought my first Black figure…Darth Maul whom I found for cheap on Amazon.

At this point I was still very much in denial and telling myself that Darth Maul would be it. He’d be the ONLY one I would get…but I’m sure you’ve read about me saying that before. It wasn’t long when I found more Black series figures on sale practically half off in a Toys R’Us in Hong Kong….and so I ended up grabbing a Han Solo, Bespin Luke, Slave Leia and young Ben Kenobi. And when the opportunity to get a decently priced Boba Fett arrived, I didn’t think twice and clicked on the purchase button.

Slowly but surely, just like Anakin was swayed into the Dark Side, I felt myself being sucked into collecting this new toyline. Now because I got Han Solo, I just had to get Chewbacca as well. And owning Boba Fett meant that I needed his bounty hunter cohort Bossk. And how could I NOT get a Wampa?

Then came September 4, 2015, Force Friday. Weeks before, I told myself that I wouldn’t let myself get caught up in all the hype of the midnight release of the new Episode 7 toys. In fact I even declined an invitation from a PR rep of a local toy store that was holding a midnight launch event. Although I was remotely interested in getting a 6” Kylo Ren, the new baddie for the new movie, I figured I would just get him eventually when the hype died down. I didn’t feel the need to hunt for him at the stroke of midnight.

Anyway, the next morning, my Facebook feed was filled with pictures of people’s purchases from the midnight launch and feelings of jealousy and regret started to stir in me. It turned out that aside from the first wave of Black figures, the second wave was also released in limited quantities. The second wave contained another character I was interested in, a giant silver Stormtrooper named Captain Phasma, whom everyone is expecting to be the next Boba Fett.

So after work, I decided to check out some toy stores and try my luck at finding myself a Kylo Ren and possibly a Phasma. The first couple stores I checked were practically wiped out of any 6” figures, so I moved on to the next store and then the next. Every store I checked yielded the same result…nada, and by the 5th store I was totally hooked on “the hunt”. I HAD to find my Kylo Ren (at this point I had already given up on Phasma). Thanks to my amazing wife who drove around with me from store to store I was able to check out 8 different stores and unfortunately came up with nothing.

After striking out 8 times I was pretty much given up all hope. We had one more thing to do for the evening, which was to watch a play my nephew was acting in. Luckily it was being staged in a mall, which also had a toy store. It was my final shot and at this point I wasn’t really expecting anything. As I slowly approached store like a defeated man simply going through the motions, I noticed a shiny figure being displayed in the store window. As I got closer and realized who it was I had to do a double take…it was Phasma! Immediately I ran into the store and went straight to the Star Wars display and I just couldn’t believe my luck! After 8 strike outs I finally hit gold! They had BOTH wave 1 & 2 Black series on display! So I grabbed my Phasma and I grabbed my Kylo Ren…then in my excitement, I grabbed a First Order Stormtrooper and a Guavian Enforcer JUST because he looked cool. And just like that my Force Friday was made!

But it doesn’t end there. After the excitement of my Force Friday purchases winded down, I realized that there were now a few gaps I had to fill in my new collection. First I now needed a regular Episode 4-6 Stormtrooper to compliment my First Order Trooper. And while I was at it, I figured a Clone Trooper would complete that set quite nicely! Second, having both Darth Maul and Kylo Ren meant that Darth Vader had to follow. And finally I added IG-88 to my bounty hunters, now all we need is a 6” Dengar to complete the original four hunters…come on Hasbro what are you waiting for?

So there you have it, my current Black Series collection in a nutshell. Because of the extra cost of making these figures, I don’t expect Hasbro to release too many of these guys. I also don’t feel the need to be a completist with this line and am quite content to just cherry pick the characters I really want.

It took awhile, but I guess it was inevitable that I eventually come full circle back to the first toy line I collected as a kid. Despite my best efforts to resist I have totally turned to the Black Side…..