I'm moving the animated vs. realistic debate over here from the "More Ultimate Battlepacks" thread, just for clarity's sake.
So why'd Hasbro go with realistic styling? Because the Animated Style of figures flopped... big time.
Or because the Clone Wars cartoon has been off TV for a while and out at DVD for a while, and there's no real "media" to push an animated line for it, plus the original cartoon's styling was VERY radical and different from the basic line with extremely exagerrated features, while the CW3D TV series will, by the very nature of 3D animation, have an aesthetic that translates a little better to "realism" while still having an animated style.
Look at some of the animated figures from the original CW line and compare with a "realistic" counterpart... Durge would be my best example. Animated Durge and realistic Durge are DRAMATIC differences.
Now look at 3D animated Durge and the comparison is dramatically diminished.
Hasbro's reaction to doing realistic for collectors in these years after the Clone Wars toon has been off the air is great to me. It's what I want because it's what fits in with my collection, and the new figures don't fit enough... What I think Hasbro's doing though, is they're recognizing that the original toon was incredibly popular, probably more than they considered. Kids loved it... It got people fired up for the E3 blitz. The toy line was so-so, but the toon's popularity is undeniable.
Flash forward to 2008, a new CW toon is on the way, it's been expanded and will be much more a "real" TV show than the original series of shorts were. Hasbro, likewise, wants to get as many new kids involved in the line as possible, and they want to do that by offering toys of the media they've been told to market, and while collectors largely dislike the animated stylings (Hasbro admits that readily), they're aiming for kids who are more accepting of it... All the while, hoping the very nature of 3-D animation and it's more "realistic" aesthetic, helps some of the toys fit in with existing collections just enough
that a fraction of the old collecting community will "accept" them.
To that end, I think Hasbro has succeeded... How the line sells to kids is undetermined, but just reading forums I see collectors are a broken group on the animated look. I don't know if it's 50/50, 60/40 or what, but it's certain there's no concensus among the old guard.
Kids... It's untested, and if the animated looks fail, I'm sure we'll see them go back to realistic, which I would be happy to see personally because I want the new characters and things in realistic fashion. I'm also content to save a lot this year though too and wait this out and see how it goes.
Comparing the original animated figures to these though, is comparing apples and oranges...
Two different TV series with two distinctly different styles means right off the bat there's unfair comparisons. Not to mention the new line's figures are pushing all the features of the basic line with articulation and such, and keeping the figures in-scale with the current line, and a much broader range of characters, etc. While the old CW line's "animated" figures were largely unarticulated, weren't overly abundant with character selection, and even came out a ways after the Clone Wars toons first were airing even.
Not to mention the original's realistic line didn't do so hot at retail either, but that's a whole other point.