Star Wars figures kick-started a merchandising craze back in the 1970s, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to see so many different types now weighing down shelves. But which ones should you buy? And what on earth is the difference between the Black Series, Power of the Force, and Vintage Collection Star Wars action figures?
Regardless of whether you want a collectible for your shelf, something for the toybox, or good old-fashioned Star Wars gifts, it can be a confusing minefield to navigate. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to let you know what sets each line apart.
There are other Star Wars figures, of course (including many cheap and cheerful options that are either super-sized or part of a generic multipack), but the ones we’ve listed below are what you’ll usually encounter.
Star Wars figures – The Black Series
If you want the highest possible quality without spending a fortune, The Black Series should be where your search ends. Thanks to impressive levels of detail and versatile articulation, these are fantastic display pieces. They’re also toys a youngling would kill for, putting them above and beyond anything we probably could have comprehended at their age (I’m speaking from experience here – my Power of the Force toys were all absurdly buff for some reason).
They almost always come with a bunch of accessories, too. Whether it’s a character’s iconic weapon, a jetpack, or even a stowaway like Baby Yoda, Black Series action figures feature something to pose with more often than not.
Take the Mandalorian for example. His Arvala-7 figure (where he went toe to toe with that enormous rhino monster) comes with the egg, Baby Yoda using the Force, and the Child’s hovering pram. It also features a rifle and pistol, both of which can be holstered on the toy itself if you don’t fancy an action pose. Indeed, both versions of Mando that I’ve seen in person feature a holster that can be clipped open or closed to house a small blaster. It’s a totally unnecessary touch that elevates the figure overall.
It’s a big galaxy
The Black Series isn’t limited to Star Wars figures; it also includes replica helmets, lightsabers, and other collectibles.
The same is true of Black Series figures’ build-material. They’ll often use cloth for clothing rather than hard plastic, and that makes a tremendous amount of difference in terms of how premium the toy feels. I was able to go hands-on with classic Luke Skywalker, for instance, and the gulf between this model and the original one I had as a kid is absurd. This version features a cloth tunic, and the proportions are far more realistic.
Because they have half an eye on being displayed, most Black Series Star Wars figures also come packaged in gray-scale boxes with a subtle glow of color to set them apart from one another. It’s a classy design.
However, it’s worth pointing out that there are other packaging lines. The Power of the Force and the Archive ranges are still Black Series figures, they just have a different package and paint job in some cases. We’ve broken it down a bit more below.
- Power of the Force: If you’re a ’90s kid that grew up loving Star Wars figures, you’ll probably recognise that packaging – it’s a throwback to the original Power of the Force Series. However, this time it contains larger Black Series toys. Yup, these are still the same highly-detailed figures listed above, only with a different packet.
- Archive Collection: To celebrate the first 50 years of Lucasfilm, some Star Wars figures from The Black Series’ past are being brought back with updated packaging.
- Comic and book range: Another celebration of Lucasfilm’s first 50 years, these figures are based on numerous Star Wars comic books and novels from the last half-century. Each one comes in a special display box featuring the cover of its inspiration, too.
- Credit Collection: While the packaging looks similar to The Vintage Collection listed below, these figures are still part of The Black Series. The difference? They feature a color-scheme inspired by the concept art you’ll see at the end of a Mandalorian episode, resulting in more vibrant, impressionistic designs. There are unique collectibles as well, like the galactic credits that come with figures such as Greef Karga.
Star Wars figures – The Vintage Collection
Although you may not be able to tell from pictures, the main difference between this line and The Black Series is size. Whereas other Star Wars figures on this page are six inches tall or thereabouts, the Vintage Collection is roughly half the height at three-ish inches.
That isn’t to say they’re lacking in detail though. These toys are surprisingly intricate considering their short stature, right down to facial features that are the spitting image of their inspirations. In addition, they still include accessories to go with cloth materials wherever appropriate.
The Emperor is a great case in point. Rather than sticking to hard plastic for his robes, Darth Sideous is bedecked in a full cloth getup that feels much more realistic. Sure, this sort of clothing can occasionally swamp the subject, but because these Star Wars figures are based on the toys of yesteryear that were a little out of whack in terms of scale, it’s more of a fun tip of the cap than a mistake.
To be precise, this design is aimed squarely at fans who bought Star Wars figures in the late ’70s and ’80s. The packaging is almost identical, right down to the Kenner branding and a picture snapshot from the films.
Happily, they’re slightly cheaper than The Black Series as well.
Star Wars figures – Retro Collection
While The Vintage Collection presents old-school toys with a modern twist, Hasbro’s Retro Collection recreates them in the classic style. That means – and I say this with love – stiffer poses, less articulation, flatter colors, and a thing for cloaks that curl upward like they’ve been dipped in starch.
Basically, this is a spot-on recreation of how Star Wars figures looked in the late 1970s. As such, it’s right on the money if you want a hit of nostalgia from the earliest days of the franchise. It even uses the same packaging style, so these figures wouldn’t look out of place beside a 1977 Darth Vader or a 1979 Boba Fett.
I’ve not been able to take a look at these myself, but everything I’ve heard about them suggests they’re exactly what you’d hope for. In fact, some are almost identical to the original toys that inspired them.
Star Wars figures – Galaxy of Adventures
Hoping to pick up some Star Wars figures for your kids that won’t break in five minutes flat? Then the Galaxy of Adventures range is spot on. Besides being fairly hard-wearing, they don’t have as many fiddly bits that are prone to snapping off and there aren’t loads of tiny accessories that are going to get lost by the end of the day, either. Each toy comes with the character’s iconic weapon, and that’s about it.
In addition, their design is a little friendlier thanks to a cartoon overhaul. This more energetic look is based on an animated series of the same name, and in spite of that, it still manages to capture the energy of each character in a dynamic way.
Although I’ve yet to see them in person, almost all of the customer reviews I’ve read for these toys confirm that they’re a good fit for young Jedi in training. Even though they’re very affordable, they don’t skimp on quality.
Star Wars figures – Mission Fleet
Space battles are some of the best bits in Star Wars, and this range gives younger fans a chance to recreate those moments for themselves. Each set comes with a different vehicle and pilot, and all have been put through a cartoon filter for a chunkier, jollier design. It feels like Star Wars: Kindergarten edition, and that’ll make this range a hit if you have a little person at home who’s obsessed with the galaxy far, far away.
More importantly, these stylized ships are interactive. The Razor Crest set we tried highlights that perfectly. As well as featuring an opening cockpit and cannons which fire rockets at the press of a button, it has a cabin that can be exposed by lifting away the side panels. This allows you to peek inside, and while most of the interior’s a printed sticker, there is a 3D weapons closet for Mando to store all the blasters this toy comes with, too.
OK, I’ll admit that Mission Fleet might not suit older kids like the original Action Fleet series did. But because they’re sturdy and inviting, they serve the 4+ audience really rather well.
Note: Reviewed using products supplied by Hasbro.
Looking for presents? Be sure to check out the best gifts for gamers, not to mention these Disney gifts. It’s worth taking a look at the top Lego Star Wars sets as well.