Action figure blister card
This July, as the world breathlessly awaits the release of the new CG animated Clone Wars series, fans and collectors will get an eyeful of all-new packaging for scores of Clone Wars products soon to be lining store shelves.
Pilot, the packaging design firm who recently pulled off the amazing looks for both the 30th anniversary and collector series of Star Wars products as well as the soon-to-be-released Indiana Jones line, has conjured up a stunning, fresh look for Clone Wars that brings the Clone Army color of choice -- white -- to the front line.
"We started with the premise that Clone Wars is a bold new initiative in Star Wars entertainment and therefore the packaging needed to convey bold, new and different," says Lucas Licensing President Howard Roffman. "We took our cue from clones, since they are central to the stories and are actually very cool characters in the series, and clones are essentially white."
Pilot Principal Bill Concannon agrees. "The artwork in the new series is colorful and enriched with unique texture. The white backdrop is a fantastic canvas to pop those colors and showcase the tremendous style of art the fans will see in the new series."
Solid and window-box designs
While many fans and collectors may be accustomed to Star Wars packaging designs dominated by blacks and metallics (a stylistic tradition that's been with us since 1977), the new white look feels both fresh and relevant to the Clone Wars series, and even offered some unique design opportunities for the action figure cardbacks. Rather than serve up the traditional square-cut card with character art, each new cardback will feature a die-cut clone helmet with domed blister.
"My favorite part is the idea of clone trooper helmets as blister cards because that means at retail we will literally see an army of clones out there!" says Roffman.
While the new packaging looks downright cool, infusing the Star Wars look with a predominantly white color scheme wasn't something taken, well, lightly. "Working with white is refreshing, but the absence of color has its challenges," says Pilot Principal Chris Ford. "Layouts can appear undercooked if you are not careful. Put too much detail into the look and you can lose the freshness that white gives you. It's one of those designs that looks easy until you get into balancing it with all the other elements that packaging design must address. As you will see, the look is amazing on shelf. It stands out tremendously and puts the focus where it belongs, on the property."
Collectors will also be quick to notice that the new packaging clearly brands the line as "Star Wars" rather than "Clone Wars". Howard Roffman explains:
"We've stuck to a very clear branding strategy for the past decade. This is Star Wars. Individual movies come and go, as do TV shows, video games, books. They all contribute to the lore of Star Wars, but in the end it is one saga and that saga is called Star Wars. We've wanted to send a clear message to our fans that everything we do is part of that overall saga."
Packaging aesthetics, as any collector can tell you, plays an enhanced role in the collectibility of a line these days, due in no small part to the fact that many figures remain intact on their cards long after purchase. Because of this, a lot of care and consideration is lavished on the look of a new Star Wars line, with both designers and marketers working together to come up with a successful look that resonates with all Star Wars fans.
"Developing a packaging style guide in this industry has many challenges," explains Ford. "There are many folks needing to view and understandably approve every detail of what you do. There is always a danger of losing great design concepts to committees and deadlines. Perhaps no group works the development process better than the team at Lucasfilm."
"One thing we've learned over the years is that no matter how good your packaging design is, licensees need to do a good job in applying it to specific package needs," adds Stacy Cheregotis, head of Product Development for Lucas Licensing. "We brought Hasbro and LEGO directly into the process with Pilot to make sure that the great design would carry through to final packaging. It was a real team effort."
Look for the new Clone Wars packaging designs to hit store shelves on July 26.