Last year around this same time, I was out in Los Angeles, more than 1,500 miles from my Illinois home, living a dream that I never knew could be a reality. As Disney/Lucasfilm prepared to move the Star Wars saga forward with the release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, I was attending the global media event, and Harrison Ford was playing with toys. My toys, specifically, vintage Han Solo and Chewbacca figures that I’d brought along for the journey.
Fast-forward a year, and here we are again, gearing-up for the second Star Wars film under the Disney era—and the first of the “standalone” films, formerly known as “anthology” pictures—now being released under the banner of “A Star Wars Story.” And for Rogue One, we’re taking things back to what truly does feel like “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” This film splits off from the linear timeline of the episodic saga films, and fills a gap between the adventures of Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels, and the beginning of the very first Star Wars film, 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
As a kid that was there the first time around, and one who’s now a parent raising a new generation of Star Wars fans, I’ve written at length about the Star Wars galaxy in the past, and that will no doubt continue in the years to come, as new stories are told, and new toys continue to hit the shelves.
Whether you’re into the Rebels or The Empire, there’s a great mix of heroes, villains, and cool aliens to be found, with current assortments including characters from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Star Wars Rebels. With the 40th anniversary of Star Wars taking place in 2017, rumor has it we’ll be seeing characters from the classic trilogy making their way back to stores very soon.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Rebel U-Wing Fighter and Imperial TIE Striker (Hasbro)
As always, you shouldn’t have action figures without some cool vehicles for them to ride in, and here we have a pair of ships geared toward the 3.75-inch action figure collection.
Packed with detail and playability, there’s been some controversy among the collecting community over the past year regarding Hasbro’s decision to include Nerf features into the Star Wars line. As a parent who sees these played with regularly, kids love it, despite the fact that as grown-ups we might feel it takes away from “accurate appearance.
Star Wars: The Black Series 6-inch & 3.75-inch Action Figures (Hasbro)
This collector-oriented line presents “super-articulated” action figures in two scales, each crafted for maximum poseability.
Like the less-expensive basic action figure collection, recent assortments of the 6-inch Black Series focused on characters from The Force Awakens, Star Wars Rebels, and Rogue One. The 3.75-inch line, however, is currently available exclusively at Walmart, with classic trilogy characters such as Luke Skywalker, The Emperor’s Royal Guard, Lando Calrissian, and Admiral Ackbar making their way into recent assortments.
Hot Wheels Star Wars Carships (Mattel)
After making a big splash with Starships, Character Cars, and Pop Culture assortments based on everything from characters and planets to concept art, Mattel put a new spin on things this fall with the release of their Carships collection.
These 1:64-scale die-cast vehicles are designed to race on the Hot Wheels orange track, with four-wheeled vehicles inspired by the flying ships of the entire Star Wars saga—new and old alike.
Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty Subscription Box (Funko)
Subscription boxes are all the rage these days, and the folks at Funko are among the best at pulling it off. As the only official Star Wars box on the market, Smuggler’s Bounty brings fans a themed assortment of 100-percent exclusive Star Wars items every other month.
For kids and collectors alike, Funko’s flagship Pop! Vinyl line is featured heavily, with exclusive bobbleheads showing up often, alongside T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, Hikari vinyl, patches, pins, and more. Rogue One is the most recent box, and the first of 2017 has already been announced as The Empire Strikes Back!
Star Wars Games (Hasbro Gaming)
Crossover games are nothing new when it comes to Star Wars, but this year Hasbro has released updated versions of some old favorites, along with bringing the galactic flavor to some new and unexpected places.
Among my favorites, Star Wars Clue swaps the mansion for the Death Star; Trivial Pursuit—Star Wars: The Black Series Edition updates the game to include questions from the entire saga, along with an all-new game board and player tokens; and the fan-favorite Star Wars Monopoly gets updated once more, now easier to play on-the-go with a gameboard that doubles as the box.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters Dec. 16. Look for these toys—and more—at your favorite retailer. May the Force be with you!