Merchandising, merchandising! Yogurt had it right — the only thing bigger than Star Wars is the business of selling people Star Wars stuff.
And oh, how much stuff there is right now. You can’t swing a lightsaber without hitting a Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens-branded mug or t-shirt these days, but look past the fluff and you’ll find a small galaxy’s worth of legitimately cool playthings. If you’re gifting some Star Wars this year, these are the toys you’re looking for.
BB-8 by Sphero
The Force Awakens isn’t out yet, but it’s already turned the adorable BB-8 into a mega-star. A killer toy was inevitable, but no one was prepared for Sphero’s impossibly clever take on the rotund ‘bot. Controlled via your iOS or Android device, BB-8 responds quickly to a virtual joystick and can even by guided by voice commands. He’s both pricey and in short supply, however, and while Sphero is cranking up production to make sure everyone from here to Hoth can pick one up, he might be a little hard to find. | $199 - Check Amazon
Alternative: Hasbro makes a cheaper one, but it’s not quite as impressive.
Air Hogs Ultimate Millennium Falcon Quad
The only people who like drones are their owners, but pretty much everyone on the block will be jealous of this high-flying replica of Han Solo’s beloved hunk of junk. Essentially a quad-copter made to look like the famous smuggling ship, the Falcon is made of a resilient, high-density foam sturdy enough to survive rough landings. Its one drawback? It takes a good hour of charging for 10 minutes of flight time, though that should be just enough to make the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs (I think). | $89.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: More of an X-Wing fan? Air Hogs has one of those, too, but it’s not anywhere near as fancy as the Falcon.
Star Wars Battlefront
You can’t have Star Wars without a little war, and when it comes to combat, no game has come close to replicating the feel of a chaotic Star Wars battle quite like the gorgeous, riveting Battlefront. Help the Rebels take down the Empire — and vice versa — by blasting through incredibly detailed takes on famous Star Wars locales. It’s not the deepest shooter in the galaxy, but it’s definitely a can’t-miss for Star Wars geeks. | $59.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: This is it, folks: If you want to shoot stuff in Star Wars, Battlefront’s your pick.
Star Wars Armada
Flying an X-Wing is cool, but how about controlling a Star Destroyer? Shrink it down a bit and you can do exactly that in this brilliant tactical board game. Players build fleets and attempt to outmaneuver one another by nudging gorgeous, miniature versions of Star Wars ships around a (big, if you’ve got it) table. It’s much more complicated than that, naturally, and can get pretty costly as you start buying extra ships, but for strategy buffs, Armada is worth the price. | $100 - Check Amazon
Alternative: If you find Armada too daunting, you might want to start with the equally fun (and somewhat easier to understand) X-Wing Miniatures Game. Unlike the Rebels, you really can’t lose either way.
He’s spent 800 years training Jedi, but thanks to Spinmaster, the most powerful hermit in the galaxy is ready to bring his skills directly into your living room. Standing 16 inches tall and equipped with 7 motors, 360 degrees of movement, and a tiny lightsaber, Legendary Yoda whips around the house to the sounds of your voice. It’s an awesome effect, though we’re bit bummed he couldn’t use a Jedi mind trick to lower the price a little. The trip down from Dagobah ain’t cheap. | $179.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: Talk this one does, but move it does not.
Hasbro’s Black Series Action Figures
Star Wars and action figures go together like Chewie and Han, but with so many different options out there, which ones should you buy? The cheap ones aren’t built very well, and the really fancy ones are either too expensive or impossible to find (or both). Split the difference with Hasbro’s Black Series. At about $20 apiece, they won’t break the bank, and at a sturdy 6 inches with plenty of articulation points, they’ll stand up to serious play. Though you might want to just stare at them instead. | Starts at $19.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: Disney’s Elite series, which are a bit pricier but stand an inch taller.
Star Wars Role-Playing Series
If fiddling with tons of miniatures is a little too stressful, perhaps a game that takes place inside your head is more appropriate. Fantasy Flight has you covered with their fantastic Star Wars role-playing series. Essentially a Star Wars take on Dungeons and Dragons, it comes in three interoperable flavors that roughly span the original trilogy: the Edge of the Empire set, the enticing Age of Rebellion, and the brand new Force and Destiny. Create characters, roll dice, and try to outwit the game master as you embark on insane, intergalactic adventures. | Starts at $29.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: Prefer cards? Magic: The Gathering fans will dig the similarly structured Star Wars: The Card Game.
Star Wars Bladebuilders
Kids running around the house making swooshing sounds with cardboard tubes? We’re all for imagination, but we’re also all for good toys. Hasbro’s Bladebuilders is a set of interchangeable electronic and plastic parts that will let Padawans craft — and re-craft — their very own colorful lightsabers. The collection is expandable, but you’ll want to start with the Jedi Master kit. | Starts at $49.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: For serious Siths, the Kylo Ren Force FX Lightsaber, which includes the crossguard, sound effects, lights, and a metal hilt. It will also set you back a villainous $250, though.
Disney Infinity 3.0
Disney’s toys-to-life franchise has been bumping around for a few years, but the 2015 take is tailor-made for fans of the Force. It’s been revamped to take better advantage of its new stars, with improved gameplay and larger worlds. The game’s main Starter Set includes Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, but fans can also pick up toys and playsets based on the original trilogy and The Force Awakens. | Starts at $64.99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: If you already own a Disney Infinity game, you can skip the Starter Set and download the new Toy Box for a mere $20. You won’t get the new adventures, but using your old base, you’ll be able to warp the new toys into the Toy Box.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Board game geeks swear by this terrific take on life after the death of the first Death Star. One player controls the Empire, while up to four others try to undermine the Imperials as Rebel heroes. It’s a great mix of role-playing, tactical strategy, dice-rolling, and shifting beautiful plastic bits and pieces back and forth. A brand new Hoth-based expansion set is due out by Christmas. Because snow! | $99 - Check Amazon
Alternative: If you don’t have the time or space to deal with Imperial Assault, consider something a little slimmer (and affordable) like Risk: Star Wars Edition.
When Ben Silverman isn’t playing with toys, he’s playing around on Twitter at @ben_silverman.
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