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2020 in Review : The Best of Star Wars Black Series

2020 was officially the biggest year ever for Star Wars Black Series releases. Since the line launched in 2013, the releases have steadily grown each year to the staggering high in 2020 of 106 figures released across the line - for collectors who bough them all, that is an eye watering £2,120 if you assume each figure works out at £20 each!

The start of the year saw a couple of waves of figures focusing on the prequel trilogy - and Attack of the Clones in particular. We got new versions of Anakin and Obi-Wan along with new Jedi characters like Plo Koon and Kit Fisto. Our first "Best of" for 2020 comes from these early 2020 waves with the very striking Count Dooku figure. Dooku, from wave 24, would feature a fantastic Christopher Lee head sculpt and also included the first lightsaber effect blade with a sweeping effect option that slotted in to the hilt in place of the standard blade.

2020 was the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and is therefore not surprising that Empire figures dominated the release schedule with 30 in total across the year. There was a lot o f repetition in these releases with Anniversary carded figures either being repacks of older releases like Bespin Han or Hoth Leia - or new figures going on to be repacked in the main line later in the year.

One of these new figures is going straight into my "Best Of" list. Its inclusion on the list is not so much the character or design, but rather the innovation and execution of the figure. I am of course talking about the Hoth Rebel Trooper - a figure that featured some wonderfully clever swap out face and head parts giving collectors a total of 15 different look combinations in just one figure, perfect for army builders and the first of many more hopefully.

There were some wonderful deluxe releases linked to the Empire 40th Anniversary like the Probe Droid, the Luke & Yoda Jedi Training on Dagobah pack an the Hasbro Pulse Exclusive Hoth Wampa. The biggest release though also makes it onto my "best of" listing, the Rebel Snowspeeder.

So far vehicles in the Black Series have been smaller Speeder Bike releases - with the exception of the enormous First Order Tie Fighter in 2020. The Snowspeeder found a nice middle ground of being impressive for display, correctly scaled but not so big as to be restrictive for display. Couple that with the inclusion of Dak Raltar and the release of a Luke Snowspeeder pilot in the anniversary line it made up for a very coordinated release which looks excellent on display.

2020 saw the arrival of the Gaming Greats exclusive line, with existing figures tweaked and repainted into video game versions such as Darth Nihilus from Knights of the Old Republic, Jango Fett from Bounty Hunter or Troopers from The Force Unleashed games. There was also an exclusive line from Galaxy's Edge with single releases of figures linked directly to the Disney Parks. Most of the figures were from the 2019 box sets, giving us a more widespread availability for figures like Hondo Ohnaka and Commander Pyre, and it also brought us new figures like Captain Cardinal and Hondo's droid R5-P8. While none of these made my final list, the evolution of the line from simple repaints to essentially new characters like Nihilus bode well for the future.

After 5 years of the red & black Phase 3 packaging spanning The Force Awakens all the way through the sequel trilogy to The Rise of Skywalker, 2020 finally saw a move to a new Phase 4 packaging. The Galaxy Collection would re-order releases into source film or tv series and revamp the numbering to sit within each source so fans could choose to collect smaller collections or the full line entirely.

Phase 4 launched with a full general wave of figures and an exclusive wave of Rebels figures - bringing back all the existing Ghost crew characters with updated face décor, and dropping in a deluxe Zeb figure to join them to finalise the full team. There was also an exclusive launched in the Galaxy Collection styled packaging to coincide with launch in the shape of Cad Bane and his droid TODO 360 from The Clone Wars.

Bane is translated beautifully from the animated style of Clone Wars and is executed really well in terms of his removable hat, gunslinger inspired outfit and coat and his twin rocket boosters. While he did get a general release, the exclusive release is the one I am putting into my "best of" list thanks to the inclusion of TODO 360.

Despite 2020 being a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Empire, Hasbro did take the unusual step of making Return of the Jedi their focus for their main convention exclusive of 2020. The Heroes of Endor pack would bring us Endor figures of Luke, Leia and Han as well as an Paploo the Ewok and a Speeder Bike for him to ride. While our heroic trio would go on to be repacked as regular releases in the 2nd wave of the Galaxy Collection, Paploo would remain exclusive to the set.

The back end of 2020 was very much focused on The Mandalorian, with Season 2 of the show on the horizon. The Mandalorian would notch up 19 released figures in 2020, 2nd behind Empire, with both standard releases as well as a new Vintage style card subline called the Credit Collection.

The Mandalorian is breathing fresh life into Star Wars presently, and with that comes a desire for figures and all of the Mando figures in 2020 have been highly sought after - particular the Exclusive Armorer set and the Din Djarin and Child Deluxe Set. For my "best of" listing I am going to choose The Beskar Armour Mandalorian as my pick to represent the series. While it is frustrating he cant wear his cloak and his jetpack, the figure is pretty much the definitive version of Mando and doesn't come with the issue of an exposed chin that the Din Djarin figure suffers with.

There were a lot of armoured Mandalorian figures released in 2020 including a revamp of the original Jango Fett and two Clone Wars Mando's based on the same sculpt. My final "best of" choice is another armoured Mandalorian but with a difference. The Armorer was one of the stand out characters from Season 1 of The Mandalorian and she made her Black Series debut in 2020 with an exclusive release. This exclusive would go on to get a standard release come the end of the year, but the exclusive version boasted soft goods fur coat as well as a number of extra forging accessories and a part forged Mando helmet.

If I turn my attention to look at what our site visitors were focusing on in 2020, then the Ahsoka Tano figure from the exclusive Clone Wars Season 7 wave takes top spot on total visitors. Closely followed by Beskar Mando, Din Djarin and The Armorer. The Clone Wars Season 7 Clone Trooper from the 332nd makes up the top 5.

I do like to make predictions for the coming year where Star Wars is concerned, and considering what we have seen this year I think The Mandalorian is going to feature prominently. We know that Season 2 figures are incoming, with Bo-Katan already confirmed, and I suspect that the main players from Season 2 will be announced in figure form in 2020. I expect to see a Rosario Dawson Ahsoka as well as a re-release of the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker in cloak - this one would be epic as a deluxe set with Grogu and R2-D2. The Dark Troopers are a must for army builders, although knowing Hasbro they will make these exclusives.

Boba Fett is a no-brainer, and hopefully Fennec Shand will also make an appearance. In fact I can see a potential 2021 convention exclusive of Boba Fett on the Jabba's Palace throne - with Hasbro then able to recycle the base into an actual Jabba's box set in the future.

The other media bound for figure coverage in 2021 is The Bad Batch with two of the main team already confirmed for a Spring 2021 release. I'd expect Wrecker and Tech to follow Crosshairs and Hunter into the main line - with an outside chance of Echo at some point.

After that, it is anyone's guess which way Hasbro would go. I think we will see an increase in Return of the Jedi figures in 2021 and 2022 so they can be repacked on Vintage Cards in 2023 for the 40th Anniversary - as was done for both A New Hope and Empire. Bib Fortuna is high on that list for me, and hopefully on Hasbro's radar too with his recent return.

Whatever happens, 2021 is bound to be another bumper year for the Black Series and I for one can't wait.... although please, no more Holiday Troopers!

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About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...

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