Star Wars toys used to be magic in the old days. But the Force, says Chris Edwards, is decidedly crap with the new ones.
When I was five-years-old I successfully piloted the Millennium Falcon into the heart of the second Death Star, blew up its core reactor and escaped just in time to avoid becoming space dust. If I were to try that now with the latest model of the Corellian freighter, I probably wouldn’t fit through the Death Star’s narrow tunnels and vents, because I’d have a whacking great Nerf cannon sticking out the top of my ship that would catch on something and cause Lando and Nien Nunb to crash and die. I am, of course, talking about Star Wars toys.
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The new Millennium Falcon, which ominously includes the words ‘Battle Action’ in its name, is nowhere near as good as the original, a perfectly detailed, pure joy-inducing piece of plastic that was basically on a par with an actual spaceship. All the guns and pulley-out-bits were in the exact right place, the colour scheme was bang on and the interior was spacious enough to hold a debauched Ewok party. This new one looks like a hospital tray and there isn’t even enough room for my Han and Chewie figures to sit down and eat space biscuits.
But why would a newer version be so much worse? Why would it look nothing like the real thing and why would they make it fire foam bullets, like some ghastly summer toy gun that you have to pretend to enjoy when your child shoots you in the face? In fact, these are the sort of questions I ask myself about most of the new Star Wars toys, which, since the arrival of the latest films, have just not been up to my incredibly high standards.
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I am particularly offended by the 4-inch action figures. Imagine the look of horror on my face when I noticed that horrendous joint in their stomach that allows them to fold almost completely in half was still a thing. They were like that in 1978 and have barely changed. Even the late 1990s/early 2000s prequel Star Wars toys (excuse my language) were better than this, with their discrete groin joints and soft fabrics for Padme’s skirt. If anything, these newer ones are less robust and share as much likeness with the actors as Anakin does with his kids. And the paintwork’s shit.
For a while, I was mildly invested in Disney’s Elite Series Die Cast figures, primarily because they feel hefty enough to murder someone and come in a lovely box. But after the first few waves, they soon started resembling differently dressed versions of Kim Jong Un, with puffy, expressionless faces that look less determined than the machine that shat out the paint. The most recent Rey figure looks like a disconcerted Nick Cave or Michael Jackson on trial or Daniel Day-Lewis after being told he actually hasn’t won the Oscar this time. It definitely doesn’t look like Daisy Ridley.
The Black Series figures are the only ones really worth buying. My new Han Solo is basically photorealistic, which makes it all the more believable when I’m pretending to interview Harrison Ford on my chat show. Then, of course, there’s my favourite, Admiral Ackbar, who I fondle in bed at night, caressing his detailed gills and liver spots. But even this range occasionally disappoints. I genuinely mistook The Last Jedi version of Kylo Ren for a young Neil Diamond, and the facial features are sometimes misprinted, making Luke Skywalker look like Sloth from The Goonies. For £24.99 I expect each one to contain the actors’ actual hair.
It’s quite clear, particularly for the Disney figurines, that this lack of detail and care coincides with the studio inheriting the merchandise. They stink of being mass-produced, as if all they care about is selling as many toys as possible to kids who don’t know any better, which is ridiculous. They should be making them for people over the age of 37, those who appreciate proper toys and have the imagination to create amazing scenes, like when my Tauntaun (with fur) punched down an AT-AT with its tiny dinosaur arms. I bet a Porg can’t do that.