As the merchandising behemoth that is action figures has grown over the years, the market has split into two groups—the kids-focused smaller figures that trade articulation for oversized accessories and kooky action features, and then the serious (as serious as toys can be), “collector-aimed” ones. This new Star Wars figure blurs the line.
Revealed at Fan Expo Canada this weekend, Hasbro’s range of fancy Black Series Star Wars figures is being bolstered by another arrival from Solo: A Star Wars Story in the form of villainous Crimson Dawn mob boss Dryden Vos, due out early next year. Aside from featuring a stunning likeness of actor Paul Bettany, the six-inch figure also comes with several small accessories—namely Dryden’s weird knuckle-duster-slash-fancy-knife weapons. Usually for a collector-focused toy like those in the Black Series line, that’s all you’re paying for. But Dryden also then has a feature quite atypical of these kinds of figures: depending on the temperature of the room you put the figure in, the scar-like markings on his face change colour intensity.
It’s a small thing, and a very cool nod to a trait of the character an action figure usually wouldn’t be able to capture. But it’s also surprising because it’s not something showing up in the “kidsy”—yes it’s still extremely silly to differentiate between “for kids” and “for adults” when it comes to toys—Star Wars figures Hasbro does, it’s appearing in their fancy, older-audience range. Some collectors might think it’s a bit childish for their $US20 ($28)-odd action figure, but I love the weird and silly charm of it all.
When I was a young kid in the ‘90s and Hasbro’s Power of the Force line of Star Wars toys was fuelling my early adoration of both the galaxy far, far away and action figures in general, I adored the extra little action figures had like this. The Jawas whose eyes would light up thanks to a see-through panel in their heads to let natural light in, the R2-D2 with a spring-loaded pop-up scanner, or even the pre-posed Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader that had light-up lightsabers they could aimlessly swing at each other in “remote dueling action!”
All those extra little things meant so much more to me than the fact that for some strange reason the Luke Skywalker figure looked more like He-Man on steroids than it did Mark Hamill. And now that we’re living in an age when the toys can be so detailed and screen-accurate anyway, I miss silly things like that. Maybe Dryden’s figure is a sign that there’s a way to do a fancy action figure that still captures some of that childlike glee.