It just dawned on me that we're in the last month of the year and nothing new is on the horizon, the final TVC wave has shipped to customers, there's no expectation of Clone Wars or Legacy Collection 2 to look for late-year releases on, the 2012 Star Wars line is essentially done... and looking back through the year, there's almost nothing exciting from it.
Let me explain what I mean: removing the issue of distribution entirely, there were very few figures released in the January to December 2012 period compared to other recent years, and of those while many were dutiful and didn't fail, very few were actually above and beyond the quality expected.
It's as if the line was just treading water, there weren't significant articulation coups, weren't many paint/deco jobs went above the bare minimum to get by, weren't figures with an overabundance of accessories included, that sort of thing.
In short, there weren't many "wow" figures.
Perhaps that is due to the stagnant nature of the line, or the higher expectations with the price hitting $10 a figure, but when looking at the figures from the last year, there are a lot more "oh yeah, that one was nice" figures than truly exceptional and thus memorable ones. There's also been a lot of missteps this year: missed paint opportunities, missing or sub-standard accessories, wonky soft-goods, questionable articulation choices. Sometimes those issues were major, but more often they were minor and just led a figure to being "ok, fine, good" instead of "great, impressive, totally worth ten bucks" territory.
Here's the list of figures I came up with as 2012 standouts, and it took real mental muscle just to get to these.
- Darth Malgus
- ANH Vader
- Shae Vizla
- Biker Scout (from the Speeder Bike set)
- Sith Witch (the Sith Witch sculpt was released in the Clone Wars line as a generic Nightsister in a Target 3-pack)
- Battle Droid
And of those, only Malgus and Starkiller feel enough like real wins to break out, the rest I can't yet foresee giving them the top honor. Malgus has the sculpting, intricate detail, quality paint, and soft goods to make a run; while Starkiller has an accurate sculpt, decent articulation, and great accessories to push back. Yet there are X-factors in the rest that could potentially sway my opinion - Shae for example has a lot of intricate sculpting and paint, yet she's held back by a few little things like her tiny waist and preposed torso.
I guess my frustration is as much about the limited nature of what we got: 6 waves of figures we actually saw from TVC, the Discover the Force wave at WM, a few odds and ends entries in Movie Heroes, and essentially no Clone Wars. It was not much, it was nearly all hard to find except the TPM wave, it came with a price increase and a light quality decrease, and just a feeling of a lack of inspiration for anything other than TPM's re-release.
What do you guys think, are you going to have an easy time pointing to a handful of figures and saying "I really liked these and think they represent the best of what Hasbro Star Wars has to offer to fans overall", or like me are you going to feel stymied?