I think, without a doubt, that Revenge of the Sith had THE best movie year ever... It has had bumps though at times, and some that look to be more like ruts for future trouble actually.
The line's success, I believe, is attributed 50% to a vastly improved film this time over the predecessors... People didn't want to like Star Wars after Episode I came out and basically was a flop to the general public... Episode II came out and while it was better to many people's eyes, it still was a flop in the eyes of the general public. It wasn't "cool" to like Star Wars because Star Wars sucked... I liked the movies enough, but die-hards are bad to judge a film by and the toy lines I believe suffered tremendously based on the respective film's success rates.
The other 50% of the success the ROTS line has had I attribute to a very high jump in quality over the past two toylines tied to a film. The figures were vast and varied, they were made to appeal not just to a single demographic but in an attempt to appeal to "everyone" as best the company felt they could... Really, ROTS felt like it was still a collector's year on top of a movie year "devoted to kids".
Hasbro can claim kids drive the line, but the simple fact we got two sculpts of Clones tells me Hasbro doesn't even believe this mantra completely anymore. Kids are important but fickle, and they know they have to cater to us even in film years. I like that.
Hasbro had great hits from the basic line, to Deluxe, and beyond. The Evolutions concept is probably their best idea in 10 years, and they've touched on really making the basic line get to where it needs to be for collector's to generally be on cloud 9 most of the time. They still regress at times it seems, both in ROTS and in some future Saga'06 figures, but Hasbro's improved the line since 2003 quite a bit I believe... I just wish they were more constant.
Sales are high, undoubtebly, and I'm anxious to see quarterly reports after X-Mas time.
At the same time though, Star Wars is going into unknown waters... And Hasbro DID drop the ball at times, as has retail.
-Target's exclusives are absolutely dickish at this point I believe. The pricing is out of control, and Hasbro fuels that fire but really ought to rethink what they're offering I believe... Price and availability make them the "chase figure" of this line, and a dangerous edge to be walking on for Hasbro... This could be the kind of stuff that ultimately kills collector support for Star Wars much like it did for Star Trek, especially going into a time when kid support is going to start drifting away as it inevitably will.
-Distribution was poor from about April to August... You couldn't find a Clone on the pegs till September in most areas, and that's a huge negative for the line. I think it hurt.
Similar distribution problems have gone into the holidays now, where retailers were burning out on Star Wars, and haven't seemingly ordered enough to satisfy demand. Even I'm at a point where I can't find X-Mas gifts for the kids. Again, at a crucial time everything everyone wants is gone... Hell practically everything nobody wants is gone too! We're at December 17th now... Where's the ****?
-And looking towards the future, I see Hasbro regressing in quality some. I'm hoping it's more a case of older items maybe just now seeing release, so their quality levels are perhaps more atuned to 2003 than 2005/06, however some cutbacks on some figures started surfacing in the ROTS line... This is disappointing if it's going to be the start of a backwards trend in the line's quality on certain figures here and there... Or that only one figure out of a wave is really gonna get the quality work while the others get shafted.
What happened to an entire wave ala the Cantina Wave, where each figure impressed you equally? That was setting a line standard, and that's where we should be. This just strikes me as a forseable issue that will frustrate some collectors. I bought my ROTS figures, I loved them... I'd hate to pay the same (or potentially more) for what feels like less in the upcoming years.
Anyway, just some observations... Star Wars is popular. Even old stuff that was basically crap last year this time is being bought up at times. My local Toy Show had clearanced Episode 1 stuff going for as much as $10... How much sold, I do not know, but I do know that something lit a fire under those fat balding comic book guy's asses to jack their prices up...
I think times will change as we get further from the movie though. And a good movie it was... It's amazing to look at Star Wars as something other than a dying line at the moment. This same moment in 2002 it looked like we'd be lucky to get a handful of figurs for 2003 because pegs were clogged to the brim with crap and the line had gone through its worst slump since the Episode 1 figure glut. How things can change with good figures (overall) and a good movie that even the most critical people were enjoying it seemed.
Here's to hoping for some good TV series to perhaps keep things afloat for quite a while.