Collectors anxious for new vehicles will want to visit their local Wal-Mart later this year as two new exclusives will hit the shelves: a TIE bomber
and Luke Skywalker
's battle-damaged snowspeeder
As with the upcoming Target exclusive B-wing, it is Hasbro's challenge to find ways to give collectors the kind of items they want in a non-movie year when overall demand is lower. "Our team has a lot of enthusiasm for Star Wars," said Andrew Frankel, head of the Hasbro custom toy group. "Myself and all of the designers grew up with Star Wars and we love it."
While producing completely new sculpts was not a realistic option this year, the group was able to produce something brand new. "We wanted to get a villain ship to collectors this year before the launch of Episode II", said Frankel, "to get back into the themes and meanings behind the beginnings of the Imperials. The TIE bomber has always been a popular design from the original trilogy that both kids and collectors should respond well to it because it's never been done before."
Adapting the existing TIE pilot mold to allow bending knees for a better fit, using existing tooling from the wings of Darth Vader's TIE, combined with a newly tooled torso, the ship became a reality. "The wings don't explode off like the regular TIE fighter, but you don't see that action in the films," said Frankel. "But the second bomber cockpit is the arsenal which can actually drop three missiles, as seen in The Empire Strikes Back."
"We had great feedback from fans about the skiff and Y-wing vehicles we produced in the last few years that took vehicles from the 80s and put a new spin on them," Frankel recalled. "We put them in special diorama packaging like it was a scene you remember from Star Wars. We're doing the same with these new ships. The TIE bomber will be against an asteroid background and the snowspeeder will represent a specific scene from Empire where Luke has crash-landed on Hoth."
The new snowspeeder will not contain the electronics of the last version released, but will faithfully recreate the moment before the vehicle is smashed by the foot of the oncoming AT-AT. "All of the decoration on the speeder will authentically recreate the specific vehicle flown by Luke," reported Frankel. "There will be a new version of Luke as a pilot. And, of course, a never before produced Dack figure will be there and he'll be kind of resting 'taking a nap' in back of the snowspeeder. The artwork around it will give the illusion that the ship has landed in a snow bank."
"With both of these ships, collectors will feel like they're taking a bit of the movie and putting it on their shelf."
The TIE bomber and snowspeeder are expected to be available in the October or November time frame exclusively at Wal-Mart stores.