Lucasfilm’s Brian Merten hosted an all-star Star Wars collectibles panel at San Diego Comic-Con, highlighting new and upcoming releases by ANOVOS, Bandai, EFX Collectibles, Gentle Giant Ltd., Kotobukiya, Sideshow Collectibles, and Regal Robot, while also discussing the creators’ love of Star Wars. It was a great way to see how various companies continue to push the art of collectibles forward, while getting to know the people behind it all. Here’s what we learned (aside from the fact that we want everything you’re about to see).
1. The talented folks behind our favorite collectibles love Star Wars just as much as you and me. All of the presenters showed personal Star Wars-themed photographs, illustrating the many ways the saga has been a part of their lives through the years, with some even taking sides in the galactic civil war. Matt Bischof, Sideshow‘s production director, said he’s “Imperial all day,” and is passing on what he has learned — his daughter has become a huge fan.
Tom Spina (above), founder of Regal Robot, said he would “live inside the cantina” if he could, having had a love of the locale and its creatures from an young age. “It started pretty early for me,” he said, showing a photo from of himself with his Kenner figures lined up — and Yoda’s snake around a stormtrooper’s neck. “I was immediately drawn into the world that George [Lucas] and his crew created,” he said. “Even as a kid, I knew that this wasn’t real. I knew someone made it. That’s what led to Regal Robot.”
Brian Ono, CEO of EFX, goes all the way back to 1977 — an OG Star Wars fan, as it were. “I saw Star Wars in the theater 38 times,” he said, noting that the then ticket price of $5 was still expensive for a student. He went to see the first showing of The Empire Strikes Back at 12:01 a.m. on its first day of release at the famous Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and was photographed in the local paper. “We only had to wait 18 hours. The good old days,” he joked. Ono has also been able to meet some of his Star Wars heroes, including Harrison Ford, Ralph McQuarrie, and Mark Hamill. “I’m a longtime Star Wars fan and it’s ingrained in me, and it’s going to be for the rest of my life.”
Joe Salcedo, CEO and co-founder of ANOVOS, had a different answer for rebel or Imperial: “Mandalorian, thank you,” he said to applause. “I can’t remember a time I wasn’t a Star Wars fan,” Salcedo said. “It was the one movie that really bridged reality to imagination.” It was always a hobby for Salcedo — in fact, ANOVOS was formed because Salcedo built his own armor.
Dan Pickett, marketing manager of Gentle Giant, showed an old photo from Christmas morning in which Santa brought some Star Wars toys. “Here I am, completely ignoring the bicycle I got,” he said. We don’t blame ya.
2. Sideshow’s Sixth Scale Lando Calrissian is “ohh” and “ahh” worthy. When Matt Bischof of Sideshow revealed the company’s take on the smooth talker’s undercover Return of the Jedi look, the crowd audibly reacted in amazement. “We’ve been building up to this with our bounty hunters,” he said. The level of detail — look at that mask! — is astonishing. Also shown were a Sixth Scale Luke Skywalker, based on his Jabba’s palace appearance, and the slimy piece of worm-ridden filth himself, Jabba the Hutt, retooled with new design techniques. “This Jabba’s really great,” Bischof said, noting that he’s in scale with the rest of the line, comes with three sets of eyes, and alternate arms.
The Darth Vader Premium Format Figure was shown, representing a first for the Sith Lord from Sideshow. “This Vader is based off Rogue One,” Bischof said. “We kind of like to think of this as him right after he impales that one last [rebel] that hands off the plans.” Other figures shown include Premium Format Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi, complete with Ponda Baba’s arm — maybe the greatest accessory ever.
3. BB-8 lights up! Among Sideshow’s many other reveals — including beautiful Kylo Ren and Darth Maul busts, along with a Legendary Scale Yoda — was a life-size BB-8. This is a 1:1 scale BB-8, complete with light, sound, and a 360-degree rotating dome. Happy beeps, indeed.
4. The Mythos line strikes back. Fans loved Sideshow’s take on a post-Revenge of the Sith Obi-Wan in the Mythos line, and the range is set to continue with Boba Fett in desert fatigues. “Mythos is not based on any scene,” Bischof said. “It’s kind of connecting dots in between what could have happened, what might have happened. It’s for you to decide how you want to display it and the story you want to tell with your collection.”
5. Regal Robot makes amazing Star Wars-themed furniture — and is now starting a custom character studio. This is Death Star-sized news for collectors. Tom Spina and Regal Robot are masters at restoration and custom geek furniture, and they’re taking that expertise into collectibles. “We’re taking the idea of custom pieces for people’s homes and expanding that into…real niche, real low-run, realistic busts and statues.” There will also be, wait for it…replica maquettes and puppets. “I can’t wait to dive into some of these,” Spina said. “If we get some fan who’s obsessed with a random creature, we can look into that.” Regal Robot’s first maquette will be the tauntaun, using Phil Tippett’s original mold from Empire. The first live-size bust will be Chewbacca, incorporating hand-glued hair — the same way it was done in the original trilogy. That’s deserving of a Wookiee roar.
6. EFX loves the details. There was a common theme among all the EFX product revealed: detail. Rose Tico’s replica Resistance ring is on the way, and fans of the mechanic-turned-hero will love it. “It actually opens and closes, just like the actual piece in the film,” Brian Ono said. Also coming from The Last Jedi are Han’s dice, scanned from the actual prop used in the film. In addition, a new replica of Luke’s lightsaber from Empire is in the works, and EFX redesigned the interior to match what’s seen in The Last Jedi, when the weapon breaks in half. (Just try not to break it in half yourself.)
7. Porgs! That’s right, EFX is readying an adorable porg that is “going to be made exactly like the film maquette.” EFX has identified every single type of feather used on the movie prop, and will be using those on its version of the lovable island creature. Be warned that you may experience cuteness overload.
8. EFX and Sideshow are forming a tag team. The first result of a new collaboration between the two collectibles powerhouses is a replica of the melted Vader helmet from The Force Awakens. Kylo Ren would be very happy with this.
9. Kotobukiya has a unique approach to collectibles. “We’re looking out for what we think the fans would really be into,” said Kim Miller, Kotobukiya‘s licensing and marketing coordinator. “But in addition to that, we’re trying to bring, as a Japanese company, something uniquely Japanese to everything we make while still maintaining the original spirit of the character from the series.” This was evident in Kotobukiya’s new statue line designed by manga artist Kamome Shirahama, which was announced at the panel. Rey will kick off the collection, and a very cool early sketch was shown, which you can see above; Darth Vader will follow as the next statue in the line. A series of bounty hunter models was also shown, each coming with an additional piece to build Boba Fett.
10. ANOVOS is moving to an inventory model. The purveyor of gorgeous, screen-accurate costumes and armor has listened to fan feedback and is changing its release methods. “I think now is the time that we step and do the right thing,” Joe Salcedo said. ANOVOS will overlap its pre-order programs with inventory stock programs. This means when you see new product on the website in the future, you’ll be able to buy it and have it shipped right then and there. Not waiting is always a good thing when it comes to getting awesome stuff.
11. Calling all troopers. ANOVOS has some exciting trooper-related gear planned for the Imperial faithful. The Solo: A Star Wars Story patrol stormtrooper helmet (fiberglass, fully-lined) is set for 2019; a classic stormtrooper helmet — not vacuformed and precision cast for exact detail — is coming; and finally, the dynamic Mimban stormtrooper helmet is also in the works, and will be available in clean and weathered iterations. Plus, just in time for Clone Wars fever, ANOVOS’ first clone trooper helmet is also coming. ANOVOS has maintained complete detail from the original Revenge of the Sith helmet, including ridges in the back that cannot really be seen in the movie. That is accuracy that any trooper can appreciate.
12. Bandai Tamashii Nations is bringing C-3PO to its Movie Realization Star Wars line, and he’s perfect. While many figures in the company’s Feudal-Japan-inspired series are translated into a samurai or warrior aesthetic, that wouldn’t be right our favorite fussy droid. Thus, Bandai Tamashii Nations‘ C-3PO is inspired by Karakuri puppets, which were used in tea ceremonies. Honyaku Karakuri C-3PO will arrive in early 2019.
13. Bandai Spirits Hobby’s Millennium Falcon model is no hunk of junk. Based on the iconic ship’s appearance in Solo, Bandai’s model is filled with detail, from the lounge area complete with dejarik table to a detachable escape pod. Like all of its models, the Falcon requires no gluing or painting. Punch it! (Not literally. That would probably break it. You know what we mean.)
14. Gentle Giant is going big and retro. If you loved Kenner Star Wars figures, you’ll love this: a life-size Kenner-style R2-D2 is coming soon — and he even makes the clicking sound when you turn his dome! (You know how amazing that is if you had the original toy.) “These guys are ready to go, they just hit our warehouse last week,” Dan Pickett confirmed. Also revealed was an Animated Boba Fett mini bust, based on the bounty hunter’s appearance in the cartoon segment of The Star Wars Holiday Special. It captures the animated style perfectly, from colors to weapon design, representing a fan-favorite piece of Boba and Star Wars history.
See below for even more reveals and upcoming Star Wars collectibles shown at SDCC!
Bandai Tamashii Nations
Bandai Spirits Hobby
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.