Star Wars action figure variations date all the way back to the 1970's when the first few waves of figures hit the stores. Whether it was the length of lightsaber, size of the head or even the material used for the cape (cloth vs vinyl), variations have existed for over 35 years. Figure variations have continued to be a popular marketing strategy amongst toy companies to draw collectors to the stores for that small chance to find a hidden gem.
While some of these differences between figures are noticeable upon first laying eyes on the figures, others require a much deeper inspection. In 2015, LucasFilm's main action figure licensee, Hasbro, released it's first line of action figures relating to the newest Star Wars installment-Episode VII: The Force Awakens. As to be expected, multiple variations amongst the figures were present (some more subtle than others, but variations none the less).
Let's begin with the film's main villain, Kylo Ren. The first, and probably most noticeable variation between figures, is the cover art. The cover art on the main figure appears to have Kylo Ren using his left arm to use the Force while his right arm is gripped firmly on his triple-bladded lightsaber. In the variation, however, both of Kylo's hands are gripping his saber and Kylo is at somewhat of an angle. Additionally, the "combinable" pieces (used to combine with pieces that come with other figures of the wave to create a weapon) that are included with these figures are completely different. The piece that comes with the main figure is much smaller while the piece that comes with the variant is a lot longer and larger. The figures themselves are exactly the same.
Kylo Ren's foot soldiers of choice are known as First Order Stormtroopers. Clad in white armor, these troopers were also released in wave one of The Force Awakens line. Very much like the Kylo Ren, the cover art on the packaging is different. In the main figure, the artwork shows the Stormtrooper running with the blaster out front. In the variation, the trooper in the artwork is using the blaster and we can see a laser blast coming out of the blaster barrel. Also similar to the Kylo Ren variation, the combinable pieces that accompany these figures are different. One looks more like a blaster, the other looks more like a backpack of sorts. The figures themselves are exactly the same with these as well.
Chromed and shiny, Captain Phasma is one of the leaders of the First Order Army. Her action figure is one the presented a lot of speculation. Unlike the previous variations discussed in this article, the Captain Phasma artwork and the "combinable piece" are exactly the same. The difference with these Captain Phasma figures can be found on the figure itself. One the main figure, Captain Phasma has a pouch that is painted silver on the left (our right) side of her belt. On the variation, that same pouch is black. The difference in color caused some confusing thoughts. Was this done on purpose? Was there a mistake in painting? Whether this was done on accident or on purpose, there are multiple versions of Phasma with the black pouch which suggests the difference in color was not specific to one individual's figure.
Although Ezra Bridger is not in The Force Awakens, his character was included in wave two of The Force Awakens line. Star Wars: Rebels is currently airing weekly on Disney XD and it's nice to see figures in this animated series represented on shelves. The two versions of Ezra figures are very similar. The artwork, combinable pieces and even the figures are identical. What's the difference then, right? The difference is in the way they are packaged. In the main figure, Ezra Bridger is packaged with his helmet off to the left (our right) of his body. The combinable pieces are packaged slightly lower in this version as well. In the variation, Ezra is wearing his helmet and the combinable piece is raised in the package.
Generally, the variations are a harder to find in the store and therefore are more sought after (but not always). To some people, these differences may not matter. To some, they may seem petty and worthless. To most Star Wars collectors, finding variations like these is something that continues to fuel the fire for Star Wars collecting.
Be on the lookout for more action figure variations in the next few waves as this figure line is currently in stores.
By: Eric Pfeifer