• SDCC Star Wars Collectibles Panel Write-Up

      Attachment 25289San Diego Comic Con's Star Wars day - Friday, July 22nd, 2011 - included a fine Star Wars collectibles panel. On hand were Dan Lujan and Robert Paske from Kotobukiya, Bryan Ono from eFX Collectibles, Ashly Powell from Gentle Giant ltd., and Brant Bridges from Sideshow Collectibles. The panel was moderated Chris Spitale of Lucasfilm Licensing.

      The panel started with a 5-minute video from Gentle Giant, including an Anakin and Sebulba 2-pack of mini-busts; the Clone Wars ARF Trooper atop AT-RT maquette, which is scaled to the rest of their Clone Wars maquettes. On the scaled-up classic Kenner figures front, GG is finishing up their 12-back characters, including a release of the Stormtrooper that's on the original Star Wars backer, since the original GG Stormtrooper at last year's Comic-Con was on an ESB backer for the ESB 30th anniversary. After that, they're switching to the 21-back figures, like Greedo, Walrusman, Luke X-wing pilot, and "maybe even a Blue Snags."

      Following that was a 7-mintue presentation from Bryan of eFX, who jested that he only had a powerpoint video, it was cheaper than making a video to just fly his product development guy, Gino, out from Ohio. eFX highlighted their Legend line, prop replicas with a direct lineage back to the original parts, no scanning or 3D modeling, so the pieces in this line will connect to the original molds or the original prop. Last year they showed off their Vader helmet, this year they were showing off their Hero Stormtrooper helmet from ANH. There were only 6 of those Hero helmets made for the filming of ANH, and of those, only one's location was known, the helmet in the Lucasfilm archives, but that one was missing lots of parts that were replaced with inaccurate ones. Recently, by sheer good fortune, a private collector who knew Bryan showed him one stored in his closet in a garbage bag, it had been 1 of the 2 used for pickup shots in the San Fernando Valley, the stormtroopers in space portrayed by Joe Johnston and another actor, this was the non-Joe Johnston one. Bryan immediately sent a photo to Gino, who immediately recognized what it truly was, and from there team eFX was graciously allowed to take that helmet apart, study and authenticate parts down to the aerator nozzles on the "mouth", and pull molds directly from the helmet's parts, even the lenses which haven't been seen on a Hero prop since filming on the movies ended.

      Bryan talked about how eFX is using only non-invasive materials and methods to prevent damage to the original props or molds they are replicating. This has been the only time in history, aside from Episode III, where an original item can be used to make prop replicas for collectors. In the Hero Stormtrooper helmet's case, eFX would be making them vacuform just like the method used to make the originals, that made them thin and lightweight, but exactly like the original props, as close as collectors can get to owning the original pieces.

      Up next was Kotobukiya's 7 minutes, which seemed to be aiming for a chronological powerpoint presentation rather than by line - although both the Japanese and US street dates were shown, I'll only mention the US ones. ArtFX Commander Cody light-up version, available now, with parts to make 2 different stances, either holding a battle droid head or a Palpatine hologram, so before or after Order 66. The SRP is $124.99 and has fine details like Obi-Wan's lightsaber removable from the belt. Although visibly lit in the room already, Dan had the room lights dimmed to display the full brightness of the hologram, and it was impressive.

      ArtFX Darth Vader ROTJ is coming October, same price as Cody, and has multiple lights including chest, belt boxes, and one of the 2 interchangeable heads (it appeared the lightsaber was also lit, but wasn't specifically mentioned). The second head that comes with this Vader has a button on the underside which sets off the flickering light inside the skull to simulate the Emperor's Force lightning.

      January 2012 brings the ArtFX+ Clone 2-pack for an SRP of $79.99. Like the current ArtFX+ Stormtrooper 2-pack, the set comes with multiple parts and weapons for many different poses; 1 set has around 18 different poses possible within.

      After the clones, ArtFX+ has the R2-D2 and C-3PO set, again looking at $80. 3PO will have a second arm that holds the ANH commlink, and his arms do swivel and his head moves. R2 has a removable middle leg and his dome moves. Koto said the 3PO they have is not accurate, the final paint will be more metallic than shown.

      March '12 brings the Obi-Wan ArtFX from A New Hope. There's an LED in the saber, a removable hood, and is looking at an SRP of $110.

      Second quarter '12 brings the ArtFX+ Darth Maul, with a price still to be determined. Expect the same interchangeability as the others, 2 heads with one evilly grinning and tghe other not.

      Also 2nd quarter '12 is the Yoda ESB ArtFX statue inspired by Luke's training session, with levitating rocks, generator, and lamp - the latter 2 will also have light-up feature. The prototype shown has a thick base which will be thinner by production. Yoda will include 2 heads, one with his eyes closed in concentration.

      After that release, ArtFX+ brings back Phase II Clone Trooper figure but based around specific squads and offered in series of limited editions, with final breakdowns still to be determined (tbd). First in that series will be the 501st limited to 1500 pieces. Koto is also looking to offer the red Shock Trooper as a 2-pack. After those rele3ases, a single pack of Commander Thire, including additional armor pieces and body parts, the visor, weapons, there will be at least 5 new pieces. Following Thire will be Commander Bow. The dates on those are also TBD.

      But wait, there's more. Koto is looking to Japanese A-un demon styling for Star Wars ArtFX statues, a fusion of Japanese styles with SW. For that concept's example, they showed a Gamorrean in that may or may ot come out.

      And finally, if you're not familiar with Koto's Bishoujo line of statues, they are female characters in sexy, seductive poses - Bishoujo means "beautiful girl" - Koto has done a lot with the concept from their other licenses such as Marvel Comics. Koto has proposed a series of Star Wars Bishoujo, and showed art for a Jaina Solo figure which would be first in that series.

      The final licensee on the panel was Sideshow Collectibles with a 5-minute video. Highlights include their Premium Format R2 and 3PO set which will change things up for PF by including some slight articulation since 3PO is defined largely by his motion, evoking attitude without facial expression by subtle changes to his posture. R2 will have different painting or plating options, a rectractable middle leg, lights, a movable dome, and body gadgets.

      Sideshow's Legendary Scale bust line will have a 501st Clone, Boba, Jango, Vader, and they will bring out more by including an arm or a prop for context.

      12" Scale (aka 1:6) starts with IG-88 who has lights and magnets for interchangeable accessories.
      General Grievous comes with switch-out arms, change-out faceplates, a real fabric cape, and is articulated like an action figure.
      1:6 also will have more environment display sets, and the image for that comment showed a 12" Clone Trooper riding a prototype Tauntaun.

      The video ends, and Brant takes a couple minutes to talk about Sideshow's other offerings as the company expands into more expressions, such as their Legendary Scale figures, half-scale statues that stand around 3-feet-tall. SSC is lookiing into neon tubing for sabers, and including a lot of attention to materials and translucency to make each piece pop, to make them come to life.

      Thus ended the panel proper, followed by a brief Q&A and then a trivia contest with giveaways from each company, cut short by Comic-Con staff despite the panel having another 10 minutes for the room. I personally choked on an improptu trivia question at the dais as we were all leaving, despite knowing it by heart (the first line to ESB: "Echo 3 to Echo 7, Han ol' buddy, you read me?" a line that often comes up in my verbal Star Wars handbag, oh what a time to suffer a mental lockup!).
      Buy the hottest collectibles from: BigBadToyStore.com and BriansToys.com.

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