This year is also the 15th anniversary of Revenge Of The Sith, and like with previous anniversaries, Fantha Tracks will be covering this movie with a couple of articles. From behind the scenes to source and merchandise, we go in-depth to hopefully show you the movie in ways you have never seen it before.
Unless you are living in exile on Dagobah dependant with a very crappy internet connection, you cannot have missed that this year The Empire Strikes Back turned 40 years old. Merchandise to celebrate this is everywhere, for the movie that is the all-time favorite for many. But do you realize that this is not the only movie this year that is having its birthday? Probably not, as everybody seems to have forgotten it. Nobody seems to have mentioned it anywhere, no live YouTube panels with cast and crew members are being held, no exclusive merchandise for Celebration was planned for it, or any regular merchandise even.
Truth to be told, I am a child of the Prequels, and my nostalgia lies with those movies more than the generation before me who grew up with the Original Trilogy, or even generations after me citing The Clone Wars or even the Sequels as their entry point into Star Wars. And while I love A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back (and yes, I bought my fair share of their celebratory merchandise), something does not sit well with me. Something that does not sit well with all of us from the Prequels generation who realizes this harsh inconvenient truth: The Prequels are still mostly forgotten, which is even more sadly visible during their anniversaries. Case in point? The movie that is having its 15th milestone anniversary this year, yet nobody releases anything about it: Episode III, Revenge Of The Sith.
To start showing how askew the focus is, we start at the books and comics that have been released during the past, but truth to be told: in general books and comics do not follow the trend of anniversaries; rather they follow the trend of whatever new movie needs to have its tie-ins. However, having said that, it is curious to note the few examples that still set the tone right for this askew balance.
‘The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film’: Now this is a wonderful making of book by J.W. Rinzler about A New Hope, which was released in 2007. Indeed, to coincide on purpose with the 30th Anniversary of said movie. While adequate, the only making offs for the Prequels, were released when their movies came out.
Comics as said do not tie in usually, except for one way: for the 40th of A New Hope we could buy a grand total of 48 cover variants spread out through the entire ongoing line-up. This year, with Corona happening, has been a bad comic year so far and their intended plans, but even TESB is already busy cranking out those special anniversary comic covers as well. Who would not have liked the entire story of The Phantom Menace told in 20 variant covers?
When A New Hope celebrated its 40th, Del Rey released ‘From a Certain Point of View’, an entertaining short story anthology telling stories from the movie form a point of view of lesser known characters. It was such a huge hit that this year we will be getting the version for TESB. With the popularity of ‘Queen’s Shadow’ and ‘Queen’s Peril’, where are similar anthology novels for The Phantom Menace when it turned 20 last year, or Revenge of the Sith this year? Will they even consider an anthology for Attack of the Clones when it turns 20 in 2022? Probably not…
Hasbro started off great when they, to celebrate the 30th birthday of A New Hope in 2007, came up with a line devoted to the entire saga, up till that point. Not even that, it went above and beyond with figures based on Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art and deleted scenes. Any quick look reveals that there are plenty Prequel figures among the Original Trilogy ones, which were not just A New Hope ones either despite the name that the line carried. And thus it was a well balanced line as it should be.
And so it was that when 2017 came along with A New Hope 40th anniversary it was, rightfully so, time for two full waves of the 6 inch Black Series that came around with just figures of that movie. The total of figures was 11 regulars, a special edition pack and 2 exclusives. This year for TESB’s 40th we have even more out, or coming soon, with 15 regular 6 inch figures and 4 exclusives. Guess how many, or little really, The Phantom Menace got last year from Hasbro for its anniversary? A mere two…an Obi-Wan and a Darth Maul, and to rub further salt into the wounds of both collectors and Prequel lovers: They were even exclusive just for Celebration Chicago! Making them difficult to find and more expensive to get then regular released ones.
If ANH and TESB can give us all our main characters in one wave, where is the TPM wave? With a Padmé and Jar Jar Binks? Or even a Qui-Gon Jinn to complete the Duel of the Fates scene? Or Yoda and Mace? Or a good Darth Sidious or a great alien character like Nute Gunray? Or a battle droid? They could have easily made 3 waves of 5 figures that would sell.
Anniversaries are things that LEGO also let slide calmly, not making much of a fuss about any of them, except for one of them. Last year they had their own celebration with the event of the 20th anniversary of Star Wars LEGO. A special line that was dedicated and brought back many classic releases in a newly updated set. And despite that this celebration coincided with The Phantom Menace, which back then were the first sets released, it only gave a small nod to The Phantom Menace initial waves with a remade set of Anakin’s Podracer and a polybag of the Naboo N-1 starfighter. This is a bit disappointing, even if LEGO was celebrating themselves more than TPM. And while we have no special tiles to point it out, it is most likely not a coincidence however that there are three sets this year that are Episode III themed that they have released: 75269 Duel on Mustafar, 75281 Anakin’s Jedi Interceptor and 75286 General Grievous’s Starfighter. So good job LEGO, but next time, no need to be sneaky alright? We all know why these are suddenly released after all now.
The biggest offender however is Funko – which is a shame, because I am a big collector of them as they make many great products, but unfortunately their balance is the worst.
For ANH 40th they released a special edition of their Smuggler’s Boxes, four figures combined with vehicles and four movie moments, which combines two characters and some scenery. This makes for a grand total of 14 figures and four vehicles.
For TESB 40th they have released 8 regular figures (a couple of them in a bigger size), a movie scene convention exclusive (Yoda lifting the X-wing) and then there are two two-packs, one with Han and Leia saying goodbye and one with Yoda and his hut and currently they are busy unveiling an exclusive diorama series of Hoth. Exclusive to Amazon, this series will add another 6 to a grand total of 18 (or 20 if you count Yoda’s hut and the X-Wing).
And then we arrive at last year’s TPM 20th, and guess what? Funko really pulled a very disappointing Hasbro-like stunt by releasing a mere two bobbleheads. Two amazing ones, a Watto and a Darth Maul. Not that many people will get these because unlike the ones mentioned in the last two paragraphs for ANH and TESB, the TPM ones are once again exclusive. Why? Why exclusive when there are a lot of fans who would love to get their hands on a Watto? Or finally a Darth Maul that is way better then the very first one released by Funko in 2011.
Sadly, I wish this askew balance was the only one I could tell you all, but sadly there is more…or little really…for the Prequel fans to enjoy. There are just 14 figures in total released of TPM, 11 for AotC, 7 for TCW and 10 for RotS. Compare that to ANH’s 42, TESB’s 33 and RotJ’s 40 (which does not even include the vehicles or the newer released ones that I had not yet added to my list where this count comes from) and you see a very askew balance. This also means that many significant characters are still missing! Unlike the Original Trilogy, this is pretty much done and complete by now with all the main character variations being done.
The only Obi-Wan is one from RotS, where is his Padawan version or the mullet one? Where is Padmé besides the Queen one and a convention exclusive arena one? Where is Anakin besides his TPM young boy version? And no, his movie moment one from Mustafar does not count as it is a scene fighting with Obi-Wan. Where is the ultimate bad guy, Darth Sidious (in a regular release with his unscarred, black cloak, single release rather then put away in a difficult to find three pack looking like he is still dueling Yoda in the Senate) or his henchmen like Nute Gunray, battle droids or a destroyer droid?
Again, like with Hasbro and their 6 inch insult: Why are Prequel fans not taken seriously to get all their main characters? Why all the damned exclusives making the few good ones expensive and hard to find? And Isn’t it insulting that since 2011 Funko released less Prequel figures per movie in total, then what they are doing in 1 year with just the TESB 40th line?
And now we have looked at the harsh facts, here is some more that hopefully make people think even more about all this:
Do people not care worldwide for a 15th or 20th anniversary? Are they not, as it is here in my area of living, the first two milestones one truly celebrate? But if that is the case, why still make a meager effort for some other exclusives related to TPM at last year’s Celebration, with a shirt, a cap, a Darth Maul salt & pepper shaker and a jacket with his face? Or a ridiculously overpriced $100 dollar football with, again, Maul’s face?
The Sequels were often met very mixed feelings (to say it politely) and many people in these past few years have been appreciating the Prequels a lot more than they used to with many vocal haters of the Prequels speaking out how wrong they were back then.
And yes, the past ten years the Sequels were the cow to milk, and with it the wave of nostalgia people felt for the Originals – that is all well and good, and understandable, but those sales are now in decline and interest has moved on. So why not shift attention back to the Prequels? Which ties in closer with the upcoming ‘The High Republic’, Jedi in their prime is what we get, and what we already had in the Prequels.
The soaring popularity for the Prequels is not just seen with what we said in the LEGO paragraph, but also with The Clone Wars returning and Disney+ giving us a ‘Kenobi’ series, both of which many fans had hoped for years for. New books about Padmé and Sabé are instant hits, as was the ‘Age Of Republic’ comic miniseries which sold roughly the same amount of issues as ‘Age of Rebellion’ did, and their worst selling issues were still better than the best two selling ones of ‘Age of Resistance’.
And last but not least, the Prequel fans who were kids at the time are now adults with disposable income. Wouldn’t it be stupid to not take advantage of that if you were Marvel, Del Rey, Hasbro, Funko or LEGO? There is a rise in popularity and still a few anniversaries upcoming (AotC 20th in 2022) companies make use of it and jump on the Prequels bandwagon to make more money!
Join us next time for another article to celebrate Revenge Of The Sith’s 15th Anniversary!