Mando Goes Retro

I’m a big fan of Hasbro embracing the retro aesthetic of Star Wars toy history. I was a total mark for Hasbro’s Vintage Collection – basically, fairly high-end 3.75″ figures in retro-styled packaging – especially once new characters who were never seen in vintage-style packaging became a mainstay of the line. (I like it enough that a representative sampling of the Vintage Collection is literally part of the decor of the home office where I’m writing this.)

Yes, this is actually my office. I really do work here. And fight space battles when no one’s looking.

The Mandalorian, returning this week on Disney Plus, has joined the Vintage Collection, though at an agonizingly slow clip. The figures are the same high quality – basically, the Vintage Collection figures are what used to be called the 3.75″ Black Series figures – and the packaging is that same lovely dollop of cognitive dissonance that you get from putting current Star Wars characters in old-style Star Wars packaging.

But in May 2021, The Mandalorian gets an entire wave of Hasbro’s Retro Collection figures to itself. Different from the Vintage Collection, the Retro Collection has – up until now – reproduced the original five-point-of-articulation Kenner style, complete with more impressionistic sculpts of the characters, simpler color schemes, and very basic accessories. The Retro Collection has, however, already broken from the reproductions-only scheme to give us a Kenner-style Grand Moff Tarkin as a pack-in with a reproduction of the classic Kenner Escape From The Death Star game.

Next year, the Retro Collection gives us a whole batch of new characters never even imagined on Kenner’s watch, but now rendered in Kenner’s style – not only is the packaging retro, but the figures are too.

It’s just possible that the eight characters previewed omit new characters yet to be revealed – which wouldn’t be unprecedented, given that the existence of The Mandalorian’s breakout star, the Child, was kept even from the makers of licensed Star Wars merchandise until this time last year.

The figures have the same simple joints and vinyl “capes” that were such common features of Kenner’s original action figure lineup. There’s also been a hint or two that these figures may be a little easier on the wallet than the more complex Vintage Collection figures – a little bit of Beskar may go further with the Retro Collection. (Bonus points to anyone who poses Moff Gideon in a hand-to-hand battle with the Gus Fring figure from the ReAction Breaking Bad toy range.)

And hey, they’d look great in my office, clearly a place where lots of serious business gets done.

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