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Kenner-Hasbro 1995-2000
toy lines analysis & review (p 1/2)

This article is a review an analysis about new Star Wars action figures released from Kenner-Hasbro since 1995. It explains card waves and collections, packaging, figures variations, and other important facts that makes this toy line very different from the vintage 1978-85 collection. Please note that some information may have been omitted for a better reading. It is not allowed to take this article for any publication, without author's agreement. Article updated on December, 7th 2000.

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A new toy line
Since the late 1995, Kenner-Hasbro who had designed the vintage Star Wars toy line back in the 80’s, has released a new Star Wars toy line titled Power Of The Force, commonly called POTF2. In the beginning, there were only ten action figures available, not really well-designed, and mostly looking like wrestlers than Star Wars heroes.

But it was an immediate success for children and collectors, enough so that the toy line could go on. In a few years of production, the number of available figures and accessories is really impressive and constantly growing, month after month. Good thing is, quality is constantly improving, offering more and more details (molds and paint realism) and playing possibilities (articulated knees and elbows, removable helmets...).

Different Collections of cards

The first action figures produced were taken directly from the Classic Trilogy and based from characters already available during the vintage era. Figures released between 1995 and mi-96 were packaged with a red lightsaber picture on the card front and a character’s shot from the movies, located at the left of the plastic bulb that holds the figure. Then, came the Shadows Of The Empire wave, during 1996, which were taken from the same novel’s main characters and were packaged with a purple lightsaber card.

In late 1996, until end 1997, the lightsaber color was changed from red to green with a whole new set of figures, and all cards released during that time - including purple ones – included either the character’s shot or hologram next to the bubble. Starting in late 1996, figures were splited into different collections (displayed on the card front), depending on their affiliation in the Star Wars universe, and that caused many errors. In 1997, the first red-carded waves were re-produced using green cards, with or without holograms.
Beginning in january 1998, character’s picture and hologram were replaced with a Freeze frame slide taken from a movie scene. This slide can be used with a projector or just seen through the blister card without removing it. Many new characters were released with this wave including heroes in new outfits/postures, monsters and droids released during the vintage era (Ree-Yees, 8D8, Yak Face...). 

This “Freeze Frame” wave marks a major turn for this toy line, basically for two main reasons : First, the company began to interest into secondary characters never released before (like Bigss, Piett, Ishi Tib, Mon Mothma), but it was also the opportunity to make a much better work and improve largely both quality and details with articulated hands, removable masks (like Luke Bespin and Vader), articulated elbows and a very realistic paint job (like Prune Face). After the first waves, some already released figures from red/green cards, were redone onto FF cards, sometimes in very limited quantities, becoming rapidly collectors like Weequay.

The toy line improvement
Around late 1998, the Expanded Universe wave was produced based on novels and video games. It was available at retail during a very short time without any re-assortment and was an instant best seller with characters such as Mara Jade, Kyle Katarn and the famous Space & Dark Troopers. Each card could transform into a 3 dimensional diorama, inserted between the cardboard layers.

In early 1999, with the Episode I coming to theaters, Kenner changed the card drawing with a new background for the Star Wars logo and a “lightspeed” type star field. Left to the bubble, a “flashback” photo of the character showing it in both Classic Trilogy and Episode I. Also important, the famous Kenner blue logo used on Star Wars toys since 1978, was replaced with the Hasbro logo, and for all following toys produced ever since.

The new Episode I toy line released in May 1999 was a major turn for the Star Wars toy line and Hasbro, but also for the toy industry with the introduction of a chip containing digitized speech from the characters in the movie. These voices can be activated when placed near a “commtech” reader and interact between characters. The card design is very similar to those flashback, but red colored with Darth Maul’s face instead of Vader. Also beginning with this toy line, all Classic Trilogy action figures have been released with an accessory other than the usual weapon, like R2-D2 with Leia’s hologram or Vader with its interogation droid...


During that same time, a small wave was made, based on Classic Trilogy characters with a CommTech chip. For a few months, the Classic Trilogy was left behind in the benefit of Episode I, but despite a large toy line, sales did not reach the expectations. Hasbro reviewed its position and came back to a 60 to 40 percent ratio in favor of the Classic Trilogy which is still a best-seller.

In November 2000, both Classical and Episode I lines sells under the same toy line called “Power of the Jedi”. In this new line, the CommTech chips have been removed and replaced by a small booklet that describes the character. The Darth Vader head stays on the top of the card and is completed with the young Obi-Wan from Episode I. Also, lots of Classic Trilogy characters will be released (Chewbacca with chess game, Dagobah spirit Darth Vader...) and Hasbro does not plan to release older molds under this new packaging, which is a good thing to slow down card variations.


Finally, the consecration of these lines is the release of the 300th action figure since 1978. This action figure will be Boba Fett, sold in a window box with a background and a short notice on the back about the toy line since the beginning. Hasbro also takes the opportunity to give back this action figure its famous backpack rocket which had to be removed in 1979 for safety reasons... 

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