Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens may not be out in theaters until December 18, but the marketing push officially kicked off on September 4 – “Force Friday,” the day that a huge number of merchandise, collectibles, and other movie tie-ins flooded store shelves.
Given the insanely large amount of merchandise that has gone hand-in-hand with the Star Wars franchise since literally day one, all the way back to 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope, it’s no surprise that Force Awakens’s new generation of products has been greatly anticipated. What wasn’t known across the giant build-up was just how eclectic and, indeed, fun some of these items would be – it’s quite honestly never been a better or more rewarding time to be a Star Wars fan, especially as more and more new releases continue to accrue over these last several weeks before the big day.
Whether you’re a casual fan who’s looking to pick up the occasional item, the die-hard collector who wishes to amass the most impressive finds, or the curious viewer who wants the latest clues to the new film’s mysterious story, we’ve got you covered in our Best Force Awakens Gifts for Star Wars Fans.
10 Disney Infinity 3.0
Type: VideogameManufacturer: Disney InteractiveRelease date: 08.30.15
Nearly a week before Force Friday, Disney kicked off the Star Wars celebration by releasing the third iteration of its massively popular Disney Infinity “toys-to-life” videogame series. Not familiar with the premise? It’s simple – well, kinda. Buy a copy of the game for your console (or computer) of choice, and then purchase a series of additional add-on figurines to unlock those characters in the video game (and to collect the figurines themselves, of course).
Whereas the first two installments in the series focused on Disney, Pixar, and Marvel characters, 3.0 offers the long-awaited Star Wars entry. The standard edition of the Starter Pack (which costs $64.99) comes with a copy of Disney Infinity 3.0, the Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano figures, and the Twilight of the Republic Play Set, which is a Clone Wars adventure set in between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The Saga Bundle version includes all that plus the Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa figurines, the Rise against the Empire Play Set (which takes place during the original trilogy), and a timed-exclusive Boba Fett figure.
Additional figures cover a gamut of original trilogy and Star Wars: Rebels characters. They will be available between now and November 3. Finally, on December 18, the Force Awakens play set will ship and will include Rey and Finn.
9 The Force Awakens Costumes
Type: Halloween costumesManufacturer: VariousRelease date: 09.04.15
Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without Star Wars costumes, and it just so happens that The Force Awakens offers several new characters and designs to add to stores’ ever-growing racks.
Kids have it pretty good here, getting a nice variety of styles and personas: everyone from Rey (the new protagonist) to Captain Phasma (the commanding officer of the new Stormtroopers) to Kylo Ren (the new antagonist) to the First Order Stormtroopers are represented. Although there are several vendors providing the clothing, they all seem to be of high quality and made with enough detail to be in the general ballpark of their film counterparts (which, sadly, is not always the case for the kids’ market).
Adults have it even better, though, with even more detailed versions. Take this description for Captain Phasma as a good for-instance: “The armor itself is made of individually sculpted and detailed foam pieces, and the included molded two-piece Captain Phasma helmet fully encloses the head, to transform the wearer completely.”
Please note that not all of the costumes come with all the accessories that may be needed to complete the picture; Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and Rey’s headgear, in both the junior and adult varieties, are good examples.
8 The Force Awakens Elite Series Action Figures
Type: Action figuresManufacturer: HasbroRelease date: 09.04.15
Star Wars action figures have dominated store shelves since 1978, and The Force Awakens is no exception: no fewer than four different toy lines are currently available, ranging from children’s 3.75-inch figures all the way to the more detailed and articulated six-inch Black Series figures.
But the cream of the fanboy crop is undoubtedly the Elite Series, which consists of high-end die-cast metal figures that are the most detailed, fully articulated, “meticulously crafted,” and, of course, the most expensive. The lineup includes Rey (with BB-8), Finn, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, a First Order Stormtrooper, and First Order Flametrooper.
Please be aware that the Elite Series is exclusive to the Disney Store (and its website, of course), so don’t try to go looking for a better deal at other locations.
7 “Star Wars: Aftermath”
Type: BookManufacturer: LucasBooksRelease date: 09.04.15
Getting a new Star Wars book is, in and of itself, nothing special; there are, after all, some several hundred novels that have already been released over the course of the past 25 years. What makes Aftermath, the first installment of a new trilogy, so unique is the fact that it’s the first canonical book to take place in the time period after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
With Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams being characteristically – and notoriously – secretive about the new movie’s plot and, even, backstory, Aftermath is the first official chance fans will have to start to piece together the 30-year period in between the original and sequel trilogies, making this something of a must-have for the nerd set.
(Note: there are four additional books that also released on Force Friday, but they are all young adult novels, and they are generally believed to be more primers for the younger fans than narrative teases for the hardcore adult fan. Still, there should be something in there for everyone, so be on the lookout for Lost Stars, The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure, Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure, and Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure.)
6 BB-8 App-Enabled Droid
Type: Remote controlManufacturer: SpheroRelease date: 09.04.15
The remote-controlled BB-8 just may end up being the most impressive item on this list – no small feat, given just how impressive everything else on it is.
Let’s start with the basics: users control the little spherical droid with their smartphones or tablets, using their accelerometers to drive BB-8 around. There’s even a “patrol” mode which has the toy take control of itself and randomly roam about the environment.
Then there’s the voice activation controls – he’ll move about or stop once he’s told to do so – and, intriguingly, the ability to “holographically” project a video that users record on their smartphones (the hologram can only be seen when looking through, say, a tablet’s camera, making it an alternate-reality take on the Star Wars staple).
Finally, the icing on the droid cake is what Sphero describes as his “adaptive personality” – his level of expressions will change depending upon his interactions with the user, giving him an “unique attitude” from all the other BB-8s on the store shelves.
(And for all those story sleuths out there, the official product description refers to the little guy as an astromech droid, proving that he’s the next-generation version of the now-ancient R2-D2.)
For more on the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid, be sure to check out our complete guide.
5 Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle
Type: Lego setManufacturer: LegoRelease date: 09.04.15
At a little over 1,000 pieces, Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle may not be the biggest of the new Force Awakens Lego sets (that would be the new Millennium Falcon, at approximately 1,300 pieces), but it’s certainly the biggest of all the Episode VII-specific content.
It’s also the coolest-looking and the most feature-packed of the new Legos. It comes with spring-loaded shooters, extending wings (which add an additional eight inches to its wingspan), detachable weapon racks, and multiple opening storage bays to fit all of the other Lego characters and vehicles. Speaking of which – the Command Shuttle comes with six mini-figures that each possess their own weapons and accessories: General Hux, First Order Officer, First Order Stormtrooper Officer, two First Order Crew, and Kylo Ren himself.
4 Legendary Jedi Master Yoda
Type: ElectronicsManufacturer: Spin MasterRelease date: 09.04.15
This 16-inch motorized figurine is touted as being “the most realistic Star Wars toy ever.” That’s quite the claim, but there seems to be enough in this little package to live up to the hyperbole. Yoda’s skin is latex, his robe is real fabric, and both his lightsaber and hand light up (the latter representing a “Force blast”).
But the real treat here lies in the figure’s fully articulated body, which is powered by seven motors and which results in movements that are not unlike an audio-animatronic figure seen in one of Disney’s theme parks around the world. Yoda Force pushes, swings his saber around, and moves his head and arms as he talks, creating the illusion that he is a puppet being manipulated by Frank Oz – he even will move backwards when you Force push him in return!
Even more impressive is the toy’s voice recognition capabilities: he can understand six key phrases, answer yes-or-no questions, utter 115 different phrases from the films, and will even sense whether users lean more towards the Light or Dark Side of the Force.
The price tag is stiff, but Legendary Jedi Master Yoda truly is an impressive collectible.
3 Kylo Ren Force FX Lightsaber
Type: ToyManufacturer: HasbroRelease date: 09.04.15
The deluxe Force FX lightsabers have long been associated with high-quality items for the “serious fan,” and the controversial lightsaber introduced in The Force Awakens won’t be spared the lovingly detailed treatment.
The Star Wars Black Series Force FX Kylo Ren lightsaber (that’s quite the name) contains three LED blades, a real metal hilt, and an accelerometer to reproduce a wide swath of sound effects, depending upon how quickly the user swings it about (which isn’t to mention the other sound effects activated when either powering the blade up or down and hitting it against objects).
What has really set this particular piece of Episode VII merchandise apart from all the others actually has less to do with its “ultra-premium” nature and more to do with the insane amount of secrecy surrounding the film: the lightsaber’s telltale hum was divulged by Hasbro’s replica, revealing quite a different tenor from the other sabers used across all the other movies and television series. It’s only further added to the mystique of the still-enigmatic Knight of Ren.
2 Hot Toys Kylo Ren
Type: Collectible figureManufacturer: Hot ToysRelease date: December 2015 - February 2016 (estimate)
The 15-year-old Hot Toys company quickly made a name for itself in the 1/6th collectible industry, specializing in high-end military action figures. Since then, it’s hit the big time, expanding to include such properties as Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and various entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Now Star Wars has been added to the list, with Kylo Ren being the main entry. He is 13-inches-tall, contains over 30 points of articulation, possesses extremely detailed clothing (including a weathered helmet), features an LED light-up lightsaber, and comes with eight interchangeable gloved hands that are arranged in various gestures.
(An equally beautiful First Order Stormtrooper figure was also revealed, which will come in three variations: standard, heavy gunner, and squad leader.)
1 Millennium Falcon Bed
Type: FurnitureManufacturer: Pottery BarnRelease date: 09.04.15
And, finally, the ultimate collectible, intended for only the very biggest – and the richest – of Star Wars fans.
Pottery Barn, known for its unique and rather expensive catalogue, has decided to outdo itself by making an extremely high-end children’s bed that is a replica of the Millennium Falcon. The main feature here is the ship’s iconic cockpit that acts as the foot of the bed and which doubles as an interior play space, offering a faithful reproduction of the Falcon’s famous control panel, but there’s some additional touches, as well, such as the bed’s feet being themed as the vessel’s landing gear.
There’s no doubt that this piece of children’s furniture is all sorts of amazing… but at $3,999, we have to wonder just how many of these will end up selling. (But at least purchasers end up getting a golden plaque certifying its authenticity!)