Note: Video on this has been added to The Rock Father™ YouTube Channel!
Since the 2015 relaunch of the Star Wars franchise with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we’ve entered a new era of fandom in which families have regular access to perhaps the widest assortment of merchandise from a galaxy far, far away than ever before. Under Disney‘s leadership, Lucasfilm no longer has the lull of a “non-movie year,” since there’s going to be a new Star Wars film each year for the foreseeable future. For consumers, that means steady access to new toys and gear, but as recent years have shown us, there’s just too much stuff out there, and it’s not always what the people want. For our family, the true core of Star Wars imaginative play lies solely with Hasbro’s 3.75″ action figure line – the one whose lineage dates back to the original Kenner Star Wars Collection of figures, vehicles and playsets. For the current generation of kids and collectors, there’s been a huge omission on the playset front, and with the Force Friday II launch of toys for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Hasbro aims to fill that gap with the BB-8 2-in-1 Mega Playset. This impressive set* looks like a near life-sized BB-8 Astromech Droid while closed, but opens up into a First Order Star Destroyer packed with play features!
Supreme Leader Snoke and an Elite Praetorian Guard are included as exclusive action figures, as is a Force Link bracelet. When I first heard of the latter, my immediate thought was that it’s the 2017 version of 1999’s “CommTech” Chips – small soundcards included with toys from The Phantom Menace, each revealing movie sounds when placed upon a special reader.
Force Link is wearable tech that I thought my girls would completely ignore. You wear the bracelet, and when placed near a special icon on the playset, sounds are activated. The same thing happens while holding an action figure or vehicle that bears a Force Link mark. Certain hand/wrist motions during the course of play reveal different sounds and phrases, and much to my surprise – the kids actually enjoy this, and use their Force Link bracelet regularly.
This playset features four levels of play, lights and sounds, and trap door, falling walk way, interrogation chair and room, a “trash compactor” area, throne room and more. Overall, it’s decent size, and the levels are much wider that they appear on the packaging photos. There’s even more than fifty built-in pegs to hold your figures for posing. The set also has some neat spots that allow it to make for a great backdrop/set for a little “toyography” (which I like to do), and holds the kids’ attention, which makes for countless hours of play.
Given BB-8’s round shape, this playset has a classic “Death Star” feel to it, and that would make it fairly easy for adult customizers to tweak this into a classic look. Or, I could totally see this being reissued down the line as a “retailer exclusive” with some alternate decor to give it that “Original Trilogy” vibe. As you can see in our photos, we’re using a mix of villains from both The Empire and First Order to fully populate this battle station.
A point of criticism is that there’s a “breakaway” piece on the third level that never seems to detach properly (a really minor issue), which it should do when pressing a certain button that also activates a coordinated lights & sound feature.
The biggest issue here is the price. While we absolutely love this set and would certainly recommend it for Star Wars-loving families, the $199.99 MSRP is high, and that tends to be a problem with the entire Hasbro action figure line right now. When compared to other action lines out there, Star Wars carries a disproportionately premium price – particularly when trying to get new fans into the mix. I’m thrilled to finally have a real playset for our Star Wars figures, but when other toymakers can pull off larger sets for bigger scale at a lower price point (Playmates 4′ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer Lair $100; Mattel’s 4′ Justice League Batcave $100; Just Play’s PJ Masks HQ $70) while even Hasbro has the forthcoming Spider-Man Mega City at just $99, double the price is something to think about, especially since this will probably be the “big gift” that a lot of kids want this holiday season. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful set that’s sturdy and well-constructed, plus it doubles as a nearly full-sized Droid with lights and sounds! This is a fantastic move in the right direction, though I still wish there was something perhaps simpler, if only to come in at a price point that would allow it to be put into the hands of even more children in the years to come.
*Playset pictured with action figures and accessories from our existing collection.
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