A Premium line of die cast action figures.
In the period leading up to the release of ‘The Force Awakens’, a new line of toys appeared, almost completely unadvertised. The Disney Store exclusive, Star Wars Elite series. My first introduction to these premium collectibles was an A5 cardboard sign on a shelf in the Milton Keynes Disney Store. That’s it, a major line launched at the same sort of level you advertise for a lost cat or babysitter for hire. Picking it up, this modest flyer promised a new figure inspired by each movie in the septology to be released periodically , culminating in a mystery figure to celebrate the release of the latest movie. The first was an impressively fierce Darth Maul and he really set the bar high for the following figures.
As soon as you saw Maul lined up on the shelves, the packaging alone drew you in like a tractor beam. The windowbox has minimal cardboard, and a sturdy shiny front piece showing off the toy within, already posed nicely – ready to be freed and displayed right out of the box. I think that was actually the real advertising campaign, showing you such a gorgeously designed and executed piece that you simply had to own it. Having made that decision, how could you not come back for the next one? The final figure of the seven was Ray and BB8, the hottest droid on the block for that year. Campaign successful, everyone off to the pub to celebrate.
Hang on mate, not so fast. The packaging of the Elite series describes these premium collectibles as ‘die cast action figures’. While this is true, they are really more of a range of ornaments or even sculptures in some cases. When compared to the Black series, a similar sized luxury figure, these are heavier and not really designed for action. The figures all have varying degrees of articulation but are designed to be displayed from the front and if you can grit your teeth – never taken from their box at all. One reason for this is the die cast process results in some obvious screw holes in the rear. Another reason is they look so good in their shiny prisons, and as we all know the packaging is also part of the product. This means for some people the Elite series might be a bit of a hard sell when there are so many alternatives.
The range has grown since that first seven, and I was considering cutting them out, in favour of the cheaper Black series which tends towards pose-ability at the expense of accuracy. Last years Force Friday set me straight when they featured an entire selection of Rogue One Elite series all at once. K-2SO and C2-B5, two Imperial droids were suddenly in my hands and I felt the pull of that beam again, the whole range was quickly bagged up and rushed out to a getaway car before I could change my mind. This morning I made a trip back to that same Disney store in Milton Keynes where it all began. Sixty six miles each way to get one I thought I’d missed, Luke and Han in Stormtrooper armour. What a magnificent addition to my collection, big grunty looking E-11 blasters, and shiny enamel surfacing on the armour.
If you haven’t added some Elites to your collection yet, I recommend jumping on E-bay and dodging the scalpers to grab yourself some of these solidly built, highly detailed works of art. And put some money aside because Force Friday is coming, and Elite Jedi Luke is sure to vanish as soon as the doors open.