In 1996, Lucasfilm tried something that was pretty ballsy at the time, so ballsy in fact that it has left an impression on fans the world over.
They released a movie… without the movie.
‘Shadows of the Empire’ was a phenomenon, a cross-media event that told the story between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ through a book, a comic series, a musical score, a video game as well as a whole range of toys, most of which were brand new (a couple of repackaged figures too but that’s not new). All that was missing was a film, but that was Lucasfilm’s intent and it showed just how popular the franchise still was in the lead up to the release of the Special Editions.
Similar things have happened since. I remember a huge range of merch for ‘Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’, with a novel, a graphic novel and toys, including at least one Lego set to whet the appetites of the fans, especially at a time when fans were clamouring for Star Wars content before ‘The Clone Wars’ came out.
And just look at how popular the world of ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ is, the amount of toys that have been produced, even to this day, are incredibly sought after.
Even since the Disney acquisition, we’ve gotten figures based on games (mainly from ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ but some for ‘Battlefront 2x’). But there seems to be a serious lack of merchandise from ‘The High Republic’, which so far has mainly been in books and comics, but a recent update to the newest VR game, ‘Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge’ is a story set in the same era and with much more to be announced there is a myriad of potential merchandising opportunities.
It’s not like there isn’t any reference material to work from, in every ‘Behind the Scenes’ video we’ve seen for the initiative there have been walls full of designs, from the characters and the creatures to the vehicles it’s all there, not to mention the monthly issues of the two comics series.
Hasbro could be bringing new figures out regularly (or as regularly as Hasbro does so these days), imagine having Avar Kriss and Marchion Ro in your display of figures, I’d love it, and at the same time, even though the recent packaging for ‘The Black Series’ is wonderful, they could give ‘The High Republic’ figures a different type of packaging, as a way of showing the opulence of the era as part of the overall design. Imagine the fun the designers could have, I don’t know about you but I’d pay out for a Deluxe set of Bell Zettifer and Ember the Char Hound and imagine how amazing a Drengir figure could look. It’s not even just about ‘The Black Series’, with ‘The Vintage Collection’ Hasbro could even put out ships and also get the younger readers buying those ‘Action Fleet’ toys, which look pretty good to be fair.
The new vehicles are just begging for Lego to drop some sets. Give me a Jedi Vector, any time with any Mini-Figs they can think of (Burryaga please) and just think how creative the designers could be when building the Nihil ships. They could even forget about the ships (not that I’d want them to) and just do a series of ‘The High Republic’ Mini-Figs in blind bags. I know I’d be buying one… or three every time I went shopping.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, given the relative freedom of the time period, that the upcoming UBISoft open world game isn’t set during ‘The High Republic’, or another game come out that makes use of the time period on the next few years. Or even add characters to ‘Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes’ which would be a great draw for fans of the books.
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