Poe’s Point > Why hasn’t Star Wars Black 6″ made me obsessed with Star Wars again?

Hasbro 2013 Star Wars Black Series logo

There’s a great book by psychology professor Daniel Gilbert (you may have seen him recently in a Prudential commercial where people put stickers on a big board showing the oldest person they know) called Stumbling On Happiness. It’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it. What it talks about is that humans are terrible about knowing what will make them happy. Predicting that some future event – a new house, a child, a promotion, getting a new toy – will finally make us really happy is an error we make over and over. But research into happiness suggests that’s not what happens. The person we are when the event actually happens will be a different person, in different circumstances, than the person who was waiting for it to happen two, three, ten years before, and so the prediction is just as likely to be untrue as it is to be true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in regards to Star Wars Black. For years – ever since the inception of Marvel Legends, really – I’ve been saying that if we ever got a 6″ Star Wars line, I would immediately go crazy for it. That it would drive me into a full-on SW obsession. That this site would suddenly have a vaguely SW-style theme, that I’d probably go around writing fan fiction in my head and buying Rebel-logo bumper stickers. Longtime readers know how faddish I can be. I know many of you still visit hoping to find a renewed love for MOTUC (probably my high-water mark in terms of readers – there’s one Hordak-related post from 2009 with over 200 comments. I can’t get anywhere near that today.).

I’ve been trying to determine exactly why my predicted Star Wars mania hasn’t happened. What wasn’t I taking into account in my prediction? I think there are a few factors.

First, I can’t underestimate the effect of S.H.MonsterArts. I love Star Wars, yes, but I love Godzilla several orders of magnitude more.* That goes for any other geek property you could name – Batman, He-Man, Evil Dead II, maybe even Lord of the Rings. And S.H.MonsterArts is not a cheap line. It’s forced me to make more difficult toy purchase decisions in the last two years than I’ve ever had to make (which is to say, any such decisions, really). The S.H.MonsterArts figures have to be purchased no matter what else I’m collecting. So it’s possible my brain is subconsciously resisting obsessing over SWB6 for sound financial reasons.

Second, Star Wars as a franchise hasn’t really offered something I’ve been interested in in a while. I hated the prequels and the universe they spawned, so I skipped The Clone Wars (I know the show is supposed to be good, but I have zero interest in that world and those characters). The last SW thing I enjoyed was Knights of the Old Republic. I was very interested in Star Wars 1313, and thought that had a chance to rekindle my excitement for SW, but the game was cancelled after the Disney purchase. I did enjoy the hell out of the two Dark Forces games, particularly the first one.

See, the part of Star Wars I’ve always loved most isn’t the lightsabers and godlike Jedis dueling it out, or the galactic politics or even the battles with the Death Star. It’s the seedy underbelly of the universe, the one glimpsed in the Mos Eisley cantina. My favorite Star Wars books are The Han Solo Adventures, Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, Tales from Jabba’s Palace and Tales from the Empire (okay, and Death Troopers). I know I’m not alone. Joss Whedon apparently loved this part of Star Wars so much he based an entire TV show around it. (It’s yet another reason I wish Whedon and not Abrams – whose films I’ve found oddly but consistently forgettable – was in charge of this particular part of the Disney empire.)

But when I really thought about it, I decided that most of the above issues could be cast aside if I became excited enough. I could even see myself buying the prequel figures – after all, if I could I talk myself into the likes of Lightray and Demo-man, I could talk myself into Darth Maul and prequel Obi-Wan.

In truth, there is just one thing standing between me and being able to love Star Wars again. I know it’s become cliché, and many geeks are tired of hearing about it and want to move on. But what keeps me from getting into Star Wars is that I can’t get the original films in pre-Special Edition form in HD. I want Blu-Rays of the films as they existed in the remastered, touched-up VHS versions that were released in 1995. I’ve heard (though I don’t know if this is true) the masters were physically altered to create the Special Editions and therefore what I want is no longer possible without extensive digital restoration.

Someday I may have kids, and I have no doubt I’ll watch all the films with them again. Maybe they’ll love the prequels as well as the new Abrams movies. Maybe my kids’ love for Star Wars will bring back my own, as I watch them discover the universe.

But for now, the fact that I can’t watch the films I watched when I was young (in the high-quality format they deserve) just bothers me too much. And yes, the whole “Han Shot First” thing matters an incredibly stupid amount to me. Lucas took the baddest-ass moment of one of my favorite fictional characters** and nerfed it. I saw A New Hope at a drive-in when I was two years old and I’m one of the least aggressive people you’ll ever meet. It didn’t scare me; it didn’t make me think Han was a bad guy. It was obviously self-defense even without having Greedo miss at point-blank range. Lucas’s changes softened the character unnecessarily and ruined one of the best character moments he ever scripted.

It’s not that I won’t buy figures from Star Wars Black. I definitely will. But I’m just going to pick and choose – I won’t be a completist on this, or even try to be. From everything revealed so far, I’ll pick up R2D2, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and the regular Stormtrooper. Greedo is a maybe. Aside from that, here’s every figure I foresee myself buying:

  • Darth Vader
  • Original trilogy Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • C3P0
  • Chewbacca
  • Luke in Tatooine and Jedi Knight outfits
  • Leia in A New Hope outfit
  • Original trilogy Yoda
  • Lando in either ESB or ROTJ outfit
  • Grand Moff Tarkin (actually really hoping for this figure)
  • The Emperor
  • Hammerhead, because he’s my favorite Mos Eisley patron

There’s a chance that, if the fever does somehow catch me, I suspect I might go completist on the Original Trilogy (especially if S.H.MonsterArts decides not to give us any more Showa-era figures). But it will require a change of heart. That’s just where I am now.

One final note: it’s also possible my ability to become obsessively interested in a single franchise has waned as I’ve aged. Even with Godzilla or Pacific Rim, I don’t have that brain-on-fire mania I had when I first discovered Hellboy in ’04, or when I was really into Halo in ’07, or even at the beginning of the MOTUC era.

* You may be wondering, if I love Godzilla so much, why I haven’t been reviewing S.H.MonsterArts on the site and writing about it incessantly. I’m not sure, honestly. There seems to be some psychological stuff going on, like not wanting to dwell on the figures’ faults when reviewing them. Anyway, I’m hoping to start the reviews soon.

** Han is probably #4 behind Godzilla, Gandalf, and Batman, if we can count Godzilla as a character. After Han is Hellboy, then Grimlock, then Will Graham from Red Dragon, then Ash from the Evil Dead films, and then maybe Quint from JAWS. After that I’m really not sure who would rank where.

Comments now closed (36)

  • I hear you about wanting future youth to enjoy the movies you grew up with. However, I’m still an old fogey who watches DVDs so the editions they released a while back with the unaltered OT as “bonus content” suffice for me. Yeah it’s not HD, but you know what? A lot of classics will never be truly HD. A lot of old movies look old, but they’re still classics. Personally I’m super jazzed about the black series, but like you I’m thinkin maybe OT completist, PT cherry picking. I’ll get a darth maul and the ROTS obi wan, but they’ll never get me to she’ll out $20 for a clone wars anakin.

    • I hear you, but what bums me out about those "bonus content" versions is that they're not even the remastered versions from 1995 where they repaired the colors and vibrancy. They're just made from the laserdiscs from the early '90s if I recall correctly.

      • Exactly! They were the non-anamorphic Laser Disc versions. It was basically a lazy way of saying they were satisfying demand.

        • I saw it as a way for them to say "here, damn it! Happy now?" and at the same time know that they kicked a bunch of us in the nuts.

        • Yeaaaahhh…I kind of felt that way too when those were announced. Lucas seems to be deliberately cruel to fans in this regard. He really hates that some fans prefer the original versions.

  • An Original Trilogy Tarkin in this scale would blow my mind. And I would certainly buy an extra to pop off the Peter Cushing head and try to kitbash a Van Helsing or Dr. Frankenstein figure with it.

  • If Disney decides to ignore Lucas' stubbornness and somehow release the ORIGINAL original trilogy on Blu-Ray, they will have completely won me over with their good will toward the Star Wars franchise and fans.

    • There is a part of me that keeps hoping this will happen – it's not up to Lucas anymore.

      But as I said, I'm not even sure it's still possible to reconstruct the original trilogy to the quality it deserves.

        • Nope – Disney owns all the movies, where it gets messy is that Fox has distribution rights, and maybe home video too, for another 5 or so years. What's worse is that they OWN distribution rights for A NEW HOPE, since that was made FOR them essentially. So, Disney not only has to ride out the license (or perhaps buy it out a la Marvel/Paramount) they have to negoiate the sale of ANH, otherwise even when the license ends they'd still never be able to release anything that includes ANH.

  • I am somewhat a fan of Star Wars (original trilogy) but not a rabid fan. I would like to have six inch figures but these look like crap! Too few details for the price point.

    • Not trolling, just curious – what details are missing? I have the Boba Fett in hand and I am astonished at the level of detail, but in sculpt and paint.

      • I may be being too harsh. I'll clarify I've only seen the stock images. And judging by those images, the figures just look way too smooth and toy-ish for what I want and especially at $20 a pop. I want to see a NECA Aliens/Predator quality. I want the Han Solo to look like Harrison Ford as the Dutch does to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

        • I agree, more or less. Given what Hasbro has been able to accomplish at the 3.75" scale these just aren't that impressive. I was hoping (though not expecting) that we'd get something much closer to NECA levels of sculpting.

      • Slave Leia looks amazing in the pics and she has a fabric skirt. Fabric only bothers me when it's not used well. Some of the 3.75 inch vaders have fabric that works. The fabric Jedi robes have NEVER worked on such a small scale.

  • I think it's age.

    I still collect Star Wars stuff, but nothing like it used to be. I just can't get as obsessed with it as much as I used to be. I get what you're saying.

  • My lack of excitement is, I'm pretty certain, a result of over-saturation. I think the really smart play from Hasbro would have been to hold off on 6" till at least next year and make that a VERY BIG DEAL by playing off of the excitement for the new movies. As is, it really feels more desperate than exciting, like – hey, you stopped buying Star Wars figures… do you want these? Please buy these…

    I'm going to get them (all of them) and may even double up on some. But it's just hard to get excited for them when they'll essentially be the most expensive 6"-7" figures on the market.

    • "My lack of excitement is, I'm pretty certain, a result of over-saturation."

      "'m going to get them (all of them) and may even double up on some."

      I love you, Rustin. Never stop being you. ;)

  • I love articles like this and I hope you write them more frequently. Your insights on collecting and toys, and your/our relationship with them, are fascinating and make this my favorite toy blog. Reviews are great, but these articles are why I keep coming back.

  • I second the "over-saturation" sentiment. Hasbro has been milking Star Wars too long for anything they reveal to feel fresh or innovative. I had to forego the completist approach to the line's mid-'90s resurrection after about seven years of buying background characters I didn't want. While I've continued to pick up multiple "new and improved" variations of my favourite characters, the repetition has burned me out of that habit as well. I can see myself picking up a few of the BS6 figures like Boba Fett and Darth Maul because the characters look cool. I'm much less excited about their value as toys, because I have literally a dozen other versions of Fett and Maul, already.

  • Poe, I'm begging you to review the s.h. Monsterarts. I've been waiting to jump into these, but have been unsure. I'm very curious about the faults to which you've alluded.

    I'm fine with all the clean-up and additions in the original trilogy except for two: the cgi musical number in Jedi (I consider it almost movie-ruining), and the oft-mentioned Greeo-shoots-first scene, though not for the typical reason. I'm okay with greedo taking the first shot, but the way Han awkwardly cg jumps like a cutout on a Popsicle stick makes my teeth grind. It just looks so damn awful.

    • And the Jabba scene in ANH is pretty bad too in execution. Jabba couldn't move around at all in ROTJ…I have a hard time believing he was squirming his way around Mos Eisley six years earlier. And the part where Han steps on his tail isn't just prequel-level goofy, it looks bad.

      I'm gonna review SHMA. I promise.

  • I don't mean to be pithy after all the deep, thoughtful stuff a lot of you have written, but, as a non-fan (in other words, from the outside looking in), I have to ask…FFS, how many SW figures do you people need? Don't take me wrong, I ask this with love. But seriously, isn't it just possible that the answer is you have simply had your fill?

    • Well, if you're asking me specifically, I haven't bought a Star Wars figure since…1998?

      "Having my fill" isn't really the answer in my case, particularly since I've never had the opportunity to have my fill of 6" SW figures until now.

      • Not specifically aimed at you, more a general question. In your case, not having bought a figure since 1998, I would say…haven't you answered your own question? (Hint: You aren't obsessed again because you obviously aren't deeply invested in the toys anyway.)

        • I have to disagree again. I think you're underestimating how disinterested I am in the 3 3/4" scale. If there had been 6" Star Wars figures between 1998 and now, it's entirely possible that when they came out I would have gone nuts for them.

        • But for how long? You've admitted (and your history of reviews confirms) that you have a habit of throwing yourself whole hog into certain lines for a time, but tend to gradually move on to other things.

          Of course, I could also bring up the sordid topic of age, since you and I are relatively close in years. The older I get, I find myself increasingly less interested in actually buying/collecting. I still "ooh and ahh" over things, but tend to leave them on the shelf rather than take them home. You?

        • If you mean "age" as in "growing out of my interest in toys," I don't think that's the case at all. (And if it were, it would probably bum me out a bit.)

          However, if by "age" you mean that at this point in my life, I have a lot of considerations beyond "I like this" affecting my purchase decisions, then sure. From a purely financial perspective, by buying stuff like S.H.MonsterArts I'm spending as much per year as I ever have over the six years this website has been in existence – but that money is more concentrated on fewer toys.

          So yes, I leave a lot of stuff on the shelf these days, but it's usually stuff I would get if I could afford it. I put it back on the shelf because I say internally, "Nope, gotta save for that $230 S.H.MonsterArts Biollante."

          If I could afford it, there's a metric shitload of stuff I'd like to be buying right now – all of NECA's Aliens, Predator, Robocop and Pacific Rim stuff; all the OT SW Black stuff (if money wasn't a consideration); all of the 4H's Power Lords stuff; Figma Link; the S.H. Figuarts Marvel stuff; and so on. But I just don't have that much disposable income – and it seems I've remained honest enough with my reviews that I'm not offered many review samples.

          That said, one thing I have learned about myself – and I think this has always been true, not something I've aged into, but it's also not something I've acknowledged often – is that I seem to prefer having fewer items on display. Having every MOTUC figure produced standing on my toy shelves didn't make me happy; it looked crowded and I wasn't able to enjoy the figures' aesthetics. What I've been doing lately is putting fewer figures up and doing more diorama work around them. However, I still like having the figures and rotating the displays.

  • Poe, I totally understand your feelings with regards to the SW franchise. I'm not sure exactly when I lost my love for SW but I think the big "screw you" to fans of the OT is part of it. I'm a little younger than you but I remember being obsessed with SW as a kid watching ANH and TESB on HBO and going to see ROTJ at the movies. I begged my parents for anything SW related. I moved on but in the 90s while in high school I got my first job. The special editions of the OT were out and I watched them all and used my.money to buy those Power of the Force line. Just about every vehicle and main figures from the OT. Then came the PT. Film by film I started to loathe SW. I'm not sure if that was Lucus intention but overtime he made me hats SW. I came to just see it as mediocre. Not relevant any longer. Other franchises took its spot. I'm sure if Disney ever released the OT in beautiful glory it would help bring me back but I doubt it.

  • I grew up on the Original Trilogy- My dad showed me the original trilogy on VHS when I was 3. I rented them repeatedly, and then we finally bought the box set that was hyped as the last chance to get the original cuts… For me, the theatrical experience came at the age of six. The Special Editions hit theaters- I saw all three. It wasn't particularly a better experience so much as much more of a wow factor- though I kept watching the originals at home. At the age of 8, well. Episode I hit- and I enjoyed it. Cut me some slack, I was eight, and it was new Star Wars. I loved it. Even Jar Jar. As a 'second-generation' Star Wars fan I grew up with the Prequels- though I knew they weren't quite as good on some level, and in the case of episode II outright sucked. I resisted getting the DVDs for years because of the Han Shot First debacle- but a week ago, Best Buy had a fortuitous special on the Blu-rays- $25 for the OT set. I bit, and you know what? I don't regret it at all. Seeing these movies in HD brought it home to me, reminded me how much it wowed me as a kid- even WITH Lucas' later meddling. The key is to relax, sit back- and let the movie take you like it always had.

  • Will Graham from Red Dragon, wow! Poe you are a man after my own heart. I'm guessing you mean a film version, but would you want a William Petersen from Manhunter Will Graham or the Edward Norton version from Red Dragon?

    • Well, the novel version of Will Graham is my favorite, but if I had to get a figure of one of the three media versions, it would be Will Petersen from Manhunter, as that's my favorite of the three portrayals.