The Force Won't Stop Being With You! The magic word for next January's massive Phantom Menace line relaunch is Wal-Mart. The mega-retailer has 12 exclusive "3D" carded figures plus repackaged vehicles/beasts like the Dewback (yes, the OT one) on deck with a mix of enitrely new product, pre-release Vintage product (as some are coming to TVC this Fall), and of course, exclusive and repackaged product. According to the information Hasbro released thus far, it seems only Ric Olie and G8-R3 are true exclusives instead of merely being exclusive packaging/window/etc., so make those your primary targets. Because I know you'll be excited for Ric Olie.
During the presentation, Hasbro made a few small gaffes which may lead to confusion. This is not to knock the very able presenters, it's just that I'm anal and have nothing else to do but nitpick this stuff-- like the new Movie Heroes line of action feature figures. They said the electronic R2-D2 has a new sculpt. Not true! It's the same basic beeping (literally beeping) design we've had for years, but with dozens of sound effects making it a worthwhile upgrade. Light-up lightsaber figures are amazing, and at the right angle, they seem to photograph with a bright white hot core. Sadly, the batteries were confirmed not to be replacable, which upsets me for many reasons. While kids don't have to worry about corrosion during the time they play with the figures, I'll have these things until I die so it's a concern.
The new Darth Maul sculpt does indeed have ball-jointed elbows and knees, plus a new double-bladed lightsaber with that "flare" that was introduced way back in 2001. To date, no non-Expanded Universe Maul has included those newer-style blades. I should note, his blades are not removable. Also, the giant roleplay Maul lightsaber is no longer electronic, but the Ultimate FX one is and you can screw two of them together.
The big new vehicle for the prequel relaunch is an all-new Naboo Fighter which is an interesting mix between kid-friendly and collector-friendly. The new sculpt is longer, but no longer has electronics or the blue proton torpedo launcher beneath the pilot's seat. Instead, it has pull-out firing cannons in the engines, a working Astromech socket, amazing sculped interior detail with a flight yoke,
The Boba Fett Speeder Bike and Mini Attack Shuttle vehicles from The Clone Wars have fallen by the wayside-- it was like pulling teeth but from what I managed to hear, it seems these guys aren't coming any time soon. As a weird vehicle fanatic, I'm hoping they still make it.
Some other items were shown too but the neatest thing there is the Movie Heroes line, and I should point out it will be expanded to include other film characters before the year ends. Darth Vader was not confirmed... but were I a betting man I bet we'll get one before the year ends.
Oh! And that Royal Starship Droids Battle Pack? All build-a-droid molds, so they're all new enough to be interesting enough to pick up. (This does not make me mad.) The main reason to get this set is that R2-B1 finally has a painted silver dome, the previous releases were vac-metal (2000) and flat grey (2007). So it's your lucky day, robot fans!
Expected to be a big deal with the kids are a bunch of squishy Star Wars micro-figures which... well, there are over 100 of them and they were neat enough I guess. It's sort of like the other similar micro guys out for other licenses. If you aren't a kid this may not be for you, but I could see them being fun to track down as some are blind-packaged.