Proud Parent and Geek, living in the South West of England with interests in Sci-Fi, Music, Numismatics and History.
Hasbro's Star Wars Retro Collection
In February 2019, Hasbro made a surprise announcement at the NY Toy Fair: They would be releasing a new series "inspired" by the original Kenner 1978 Star Wars action figures. Titled the "Retro Collection", the 3.75" action figures would be a selection of figures closely approximating (but not identical to) the first wave of iconic action figures that followed the release of George Lucas's 1977 blockbuster.
Whilst it's not the very first time Hasbro have released figures inspired by the 1970s action figures (in 1995, Hasbro released a limited edition Toys 'R' Us exclusive four-pack reproduction set featuring Luke, Darth Vader, Han and Chewbacca), it's the first time they have released a full-scale retail release, which has been hugely popular with collectors.
"Vintage" Figures Without Vintage Prices
Released initially as an exclusive to US store Target in May 2019, they were soon after released to all retailers, both in the US and internationally. The release was (unsurprisingly) hugely popular—mostly, I'd imagine, with senior collectors, due to its nostalgia value. The release also provided collectors with an opportunity to own a perfect, sealed version of their favourite original figure (as the eye-watering cost of a similar original vintage figure would be just a dream for many collectors).
Wave 1 Figures: A New Hope
After the initial Target release the first wave of figures appeared in retail stores. The Wave 1 release consisted six "core" figures from the original 1978 Kenner release;
- Luke Skywalker: Excellent assimilation of the original "yellow"- haired Farm Boy hero from (the yet to be titled) "A New Hope". The figure features the classic single integrated telescope yellow lightsaber (which was always an anomaly, as Luke's lightsaber in the film was blue! ).
- Princess Leia: The Classic Bun Haired Princess figure, in white outfit worn from the opening Tantive IV to the rescue from the Death Star..
- Han Solo: The reproduction "New Hope" figure is the "large head" version ( the original figure's design was changed from a smaller to large head, despite many preferring the original smaller headed version).
- Chewbacca: Faithful reproduction for Han's trusty Wookie sidekick, with original four points of articulation and Bowcaster assault rifle.
- Darth Vader: Near perfect reproduction of the 1978 archetypal .Star Wars villain, with vinyl cape (and skinny suited body underneath) and built-in right armed Orange single telescoping lightsabre.
- Stormtrooper: Faithful reproduction of the white suited henchmen, including e-11 blaster. Probably the most popular figure out of the release, for collectors.
Value of Wave 1
The secondary market had been active for these figures, some variation on the figures, which is always subject to change, however, as of January 2022, the figures are selling for approximately ; Luke Skywalker (US $40/ UK £35 ), Princess Leia (US $20/UK £24) , Han Solo (US $15/UK £24 , Chewbacca (US $24/ UK £25 Darth Vader ($20/UK £20) & Stormtrooper (US $45 / UK £45)
Wave 2 Figures: The Empire Strikes Back
Late May/Early June 2020 saw the release of Wave 2 from Hasbro, at least in the U.S (they seem to arrive in Walmart ahead of other retailers) , arriving later in the year, in Europe.
As before, a further core set of six figures released, this time the packaging reflect s the next instalment, The Empire Strikes Back, and reproduces some of the Kenner figure releases from 1980, again the faux distressed cardboard backs, in keeping with the initial wave and again, six initial figures from the 1980 classic.
The six figures in the Wave 2 series consisted of:
- Luke Skywalker in Bespin outfit
- Princess Leia (Hoth)
- Han Solo (Hoth)
- Lando Calrissian
- Boba Fett
Value of Wave 2
Unsurprisingly, the Wave 2 figures have increased in value on the secondary market. As of early 2022, the secondary market values are approximately as follows;
Luke (US $25/UK £18), Leia (US $15/UK £13), Han (US $15/UK £16) Lando (US $14/UK £12), Yoda (US $30 /UK £20) & Boba Fett (US $30 /UK £24).
Board Game With Exclusive Figure
Similarly to the Wave 1 release, Hasbro released a reissue of a board game, this time "Hoth Ice Planet Adventure game, which comes with an exclusive Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) figure. Retailing for around $40 in the US and discounted to £22 in the UK. As of early 2022, it is still widely available.
Wave 3: The Mandalorian
Figures reproduced from 1983's Return of the Jedi were the obvious choice for Wave 3, however, Hasbro confounded expectations and announced in October 2020, that the figures released in Wave 3, would be characters from Disney TV's "The Mandalorian".
One can only speculate that this leftfield decision was to capitalise on the popularity of the TV Series, which had been a huge hit with Star Wars fan, but it sent the series into a completely different direction, as the figures would still be produced in the style of the late 70's/early 80's figures, but would be new representations, rather than being based on previous figures. It could be considered an odd and bold marketing decision, as nostalgia played a big part in the success of the first two waves.
The seven figures released in Wave 3 are:
- The Mandalorian
- Cara Dune
- Greef Karga
- The Child
- Moff Gideon
Value of Wave 3
The figures retail for US $10 / UK £11.99 As of early 2022, there still appears to be most of the figures still widely available and certain ones, such as Kuill, heavily discounted, which may point to the non-nostalgic Wave 3 proving less popular.
The one exception to this release is the Cara Dune figure. There were strong rumours that Hasbro were axing all Cara Dune figures, in light of the Gina Carano's controversial departure from the series, however it seems this didn't extend to the Retro Collection release, however the Cara Dune figure is selling for roughly US $18/UK £18 in the secondary market.
Board Game With Exclusive Figure
In keeping with the tradition of previous waves, Hasbro announced in May 2021, a special limited edition of The Mandalorian Monopoly set was to be re-released to accompany Wave 3, including a Limited Edition Remnant Stormtrooper. The set is still quite hard to find in early 2022, but can still be found, retailing at around UK $53 / UK £50.
The standalone figure is quite difficult to acquire separately, although the Disney Store appeared to sell it briefly, at least in the UK for £25, in the secondary market, it is advertised at around US $100/ £55.
Limited Edition Prototype Figures: Waves 1–4
For the first three wave's , there have been a very limited edition release of one "prototype" Limited Edition figures. These are reproductions of Kenner's legendary prototype figures, in which the designers at Kenner would create their pre-production prototype figures using whatever plastics where available at the time, creating multi-coloured versions of what would eventually be the production figure.
Some of these figures appear have been released initially at the San Diego Comic Con, followed by Target in the US and on the Hasbro Pulse sites in the US and UK. They have all been sold at standard retail prices of around US $25 / UK £14.99, however these have sold out almost immediately and their values have rocketed on the secondary market, particularly as the figures have a myriad of mix and match colours, with some collectors trying to collect as many different colour combinations of the same figure.
Wave 1 Prototype
Wave 1 had a Darth Vader prototype, probably the most sought after figure in the entire series to date, with the figure selling in the secondary market currently at around US$100-120/UK£75.
Wave 2 Prototype
Wave 2 saw another "prototype" figure released in May 2021, this time Boba Fett and again, highly sought after by collectors . Originally retailing at around £15, but almost impossible to find below US $38/ £35 in the secondary market .
Wave 3 Prototypes
Wave 3's Limited Edition multi-coloured prototype figure is the Stormtrooper and unsurprisingly very popular, selling out at RRP almost immediately, however currently in early 2022, seems easy to acquire providing you're happy to pay around US $25 / UK£30
In early April 2022, Hasbro announced the immediate release of a prototype Chewbacca. In the US it's released initially as a Target exclusive for $14.99. In the UK, it's released on general retail release, but similar to previous issues, appears to sold out almost immediately (as of late August 2022, HMV UK still had them in stock for online ordering)
Wave 4 Prototypes
In June 2022, Hasbro announced another addition to the Limited Edition "Prototype" collection in the form of a multi-coloured Luke Skywalker in Snowspeeder outfit, along with lightsabre and blaster. Official release is January 2023, however most retailers in US & EU are taking pre-orders, although unsurprisingly sold out on Hasbro Pulse sites already.
Wave 4: The Mandalorian Series 2
In October 2021, Wave 4 was announced. Again, in a surprising move, being a second group of Six "The Mandalorian" figures. The figures announced are possibly more interesting than Wave 3 and include a Beskar Armoured Mandalorian/Din Djarin, Bo-Katan, Ahsoka Tano, The Armourer, Boba Fett and Death Trooper. These figures have been announced to released around July 2022, but will likely ship sooner.
Bounty Hunter - Special Edition Twin Pack
In early April 2022, Hasbro announced that a Limited Edition twin pack of Dengar and IG88, the infamous bounty hunter's from Empire Strikes Back. Hasbro advise that it will initially be an Amazon exclusive in the US. There are no details on a UK/European release, although some toy sellers will likely have it available on import. Unlike any previous release, it will comprise of an outer retro styled box containing the two individually carded figures.
July 2022 saw Hasbro announce another Bounty Hunter twin pack, this time Boba Fett & Bossk. As before, appears to be an Amazon US exclusive. Rumours continue to circulate (although nothing seemingly official yet), that the mini series will be completed with a Zuckuss and 4-Lom twin pack.
Wave 1 Re-release Limited Edition Six Pack
In May 2022, Hasbro announced they are re-releasing the first six Retro Collection figures released in a Limited Edition Box Set, containing Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca Darth Vader and Stormtrooper. The special edition box contains the six carded figures within.
The Box-Set appears to be limited to the Hasbro Pulse websites and DisneyStore, retailing for pre-orderat $69 in the US and slightly more expensive €89.99 in the Euro (Germany Site). The set was retailing for £74.99 on the UK Hasbro site, but has now sold out. The set appears to be shipping in the UK as starting to appear on the secondary sales sites like eBay for around £100-£110.
Wave 5 - Obi Wan Kenobi - Retro Collection Figures Release
In early June 2022, Hasbro announced the release of wave five, featuring a further six figures. Similar to The Mandalorian figures, the release is set to capitalize on the relative success of the “Obi Wan Kenobi” Series on Disney + and issue six new “retro” inspired but unique figures from characters from the new series.
The figures being released are Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Grand Inquisitor, Reva (Third Sister) ,Fifth Brother and Droid Ned-B.
As of late August 2022, online retailers have the figures in stock and are shipping. Figures have increased in price in the UK/EU from previous releases, now retailing at UK£14.99/€16.99, however appear to be $11.99 in the US.
My Thoughts on the Retro Collection
I am a huge fan of this series from Hasbro. Having slowly reacquired over the years some of the Kenner figures from the original 12 figures, this has probably offered the only realistically affordable opportunity to acquire near perfect versions of the carded figures I owned and loved, growing up in the 1970's and a particular fan of the first two wave's, and own most of those figures mentioned above from these series.
Although I love Disney's "The Mandalorian" I'm not quite as keen to acquire the full set, but I have bought The Mandalorian, IG88 and Cara Dune figures from Wave 3, and I'm always drawn to the aisle in the local supermarket that stocks them, just in case there are any new arrivals (or heavy discounts), as am very keen to purchase the retro Death Trooper.
Based on the somewhat haphazard releases, it's hard to speculate what will come next in the series? The Retro Collection started by fairly faithfully reproducing figures from the 1970's, but then went leftfield and produced figures never produced previously, to capitalise on popular Disney TV series , but following the style of the earliest Kenner figures, whilst intermittently releasing copies of figures from forty years ago.
To date, there are still no Return of the Jedi figures, so these will likely come along at some point, meanwhile, it seems likely there will be more figures released from popular Disney + Star Wars TV series' such as Andor, Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, Mandalorian Series 3 etc. which may not have the nostalgic draw to older collectors, of the reproductions of the 70/80's figures.
This content was accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge at the time of publication but may be out of date. The information contained in this article may not reflect current policies, laws, technology, or data.
© 2022 Kieran Clarke