Once upon a time I was a die hard Star Wars fan and more importantly collector. Throughout my childhood, my parents enabled the collecting of Star Wars figures, and in truth I think my parents got more into it than I did. There was a certain thrill in chasing down those last few figures that I did not have. So it was not a huge surprise in 1996 when the figured were re-released to the marketplace that I got back into it. In fact there were so many of my college friends who went damned near bankrupt buying various bits of star wars merchandise. This fervor was only made more insane by the re-release of the movies in the theaters. My wife was a trooper and tolerated the shit out of my habits, and I even got her into sifting through the racks looking for this or that figure. However when I went to see Phantom Menace it pretty much killed my desire to keep doing that. I know it is cliche’d but I still have not reconciled the disappointment I feel over the prequels. I am sure taken without the viewpoint of a lifetime of nostalgia and hero worship over the original movies… they are probably not that horrible. However for me personally… they were just a bunch of cool lightsaber battles and the bits of movie I tolerated until I got to see more of said lightsaber battles. The problem is it is a habit you never really kick, and on a regular basis I filter through the toy isle and look at the star wars figures. I still have a handful of figures hanging out around my office.
With the announcement of Force Awakens, I have to say I have been getting pretty damned excite about it. So when I heard about this Force Friday thing where they would be releasing in bulk all of the Force Awakens merchandise out into the stores…. it made me think of the sheer excitement I felt when they released all of the Phantom Menace merchandise. Now I know people who went out Thursday night at midnight for the official first moments… me however… I am past the whole doing something at midnight time. The last item I purchased like that was probably the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I did however need to run get cat food over lunch and while I was at Target, there as no way in hell you could keep me from going through the Star Wars isles. From the moment I stepped into the store things just felt strange. They had this huge cardboard stand-up of Chewbacca near the front entrance in the dollar section… asking patrons of the store to take a selfie with it… and do your best Chewie Roar. I mean I realize this is Disney we are talking about… a company that has made its entire career by capitalizing on our nostalgia. It just felt somehow more cheap… more commercial… more forced. It didn’t help that quite literally you could not go for very far in the store without running into some bit of Force Awakens merchandise stuffed here or there. I mean even in the home goods section they had cups on one of the end caps.
Low Quality Figures
The thing I regret is not having taken any good pictures, because for this next section it would help out quite a bit. They had a dedicated section set up in the seasonal area, and I of course made a bee line there expecting it to be some sort of a one stop shop for all of the merchandise. Now there was quite a bit there, but one thing was missing completely… the standard sized Star Wars action figures that I collected so many years. For those I had to go to the traditional “Star Wars” isle in the toy section, and they had a fair assortment. I had a Kylo Ren and a Captain Phasma in my hands, when I started to notice a few things about the figures. Firstly the cards they were on felt really cheap compared to modern Star Wars toys. Instead of a thick piece of cardboard with printing on both sides… it was some sort of a sandwiched construction made out of a bunch of thinner layers of cardboard which gave it a very irregular look. Then I started paying attention to the figures themselves…. and while the sculpts themselves were fairly nice… the paint jobs were atrocious. It looked like they had applied the worst sort of rush treatment to get them out the door in time for this “big event”. I’ve been looking for images that illustrate my point, but all i can really say is that it felt like they were a paint by number that just could not stay inside of the lines.
On the storm troopers for example… large chunks of black were globed over onto the white sections of armor. The Captain Phasma figures that I had seen preview shots of had a nice satin sheen to them to simulate the chrome armor. Instead the figure I had in my hand was a dull matte hunk of largely unpainted grey plastic. I looked at figure after figure and they all seemed to have these same basic defects that just made them look cheaply produced. The thing is… this is not the standard I am used to in Star Wars figures. I have a bunch of the more modern figures… and they all had excellent paint jobs. Granted the “newest” figure I have is of Savage Opress, but it still is a figure from the last few years. The twelve inch figures looked a little better, but they were still not really up to the standards I would expect from that sort of a figure. On the positive however… the Funko Pop figures looked amazing as always, and the Lego display I saw looked amazing. Lego is on of those companies that is always spot on when it comes to quality, and you know that for the most part anything you buy will be perfectly formed and defect free. Hasbro on the other hand… seems to have slipped massively, and if I were them I would be ashamed of the quality of this figure line.
I find it extremely bizarre that I have yet to get Diablo 3 out of my system. When I came home last night from work, I immediately plunked myself down on the sofa, put something on Hulu and started working on bounties for crafting materials. At this point I am two achievements away from getting my season four toys, and I think probably I can knock one of them off soon. The biggest challenge seems to be getting legendaries to drop so that I can fill gear slots with them. More so than that… the real challenge is getting legendary rings and a necklace with gem slots in them… because with the introduction of legendary gems no piece of level 70 jewelry is really viable without a gem slot. I hear tell that there are items in the game that you can use to socket items, but I have yet to actually see any of them. Right now I would settle for a second level 70 ring so that I can maybe knock out the legendary in every slot achievement. Still enjoying the barbarian, but it gets frustrating the higher I dial up torment because I just take so damned much damage… since I require being in the thick of everything to deal any real damage. At this point Torment 1 is my new normal, and I keep thinking the more paragon levels I pour on… the easier things will get. In the mean time I will keep plugging away at Rifts and Bounties until I get the items I actually need to drop.