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Comic-Con exclusive toys we're excited about

By Henry Hanks, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fans look forward to San Diego Comic-Con exclusives every year
  • The best time to get exclusives are on Wednesday, Preview Night
  • Hasbro has previously unreleased "Indiana Jones" figures this year
  • Mattel will offer its first "Voltron" figure, and Entertainment Earth has "Dexter"
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(CNN) -- You can almost hear them now. The throngs descending on San Diego Comic-Con, ready to devour as much pop culture as they can possibly muster over an extra-long weekend.

Officially, the Con begins on Thursday of next week. But, there is that magical time known as Preview Night on Wednesday, when the number one, two and three items on the agenda are to snag as many exclusive goodies as possible... namely, toys!

Comic-Con exclusives tend to be nostalgic in nature, and Hasbro's "Lost Wave" of "Indiana Jones" figures -- revealed for the first time on CNN.com -- is no exception. In honor of "Raiders of the Lost Ark's" 30th anniversary, the toy company is adding to the 2008 line of figures, including two new versions of Indy and one of Marion.

John Frascotti, chief marketing officer with Hasbro, explained that these figures were never released in stores as planned in 2008. "They truly are a special edition, because it was never made available to the public," he said. "It ties right into what collectors at Comic-Con are looking for, which is something unique, something special, something that no one else has."

The major and smaller toy companies have been offering up exclusives as part of the explosion in interest in the convention over the past five years.

"It's really a unique event," said Frascotti. "It's a special chance for many elements of our company to interact with people that have a special passion for these brands."

The new Indy figures are sure to get fans drooling at Comic-Con, and here are five more toys that should fly off shelves on Preview Night.

-- "Back to the Future" Hot Wheels vehicle

Fellow toy giant Mattel also has a major presence on the convention floor, and this year the company is offering fans their very own "Hot Wheels" version of a Delorean from the movie "Back to the Future." The best part of this, however, is the packaging. It's a mini-version of the briefcase in which Dr. Emmett Brown kept the plutonium! (As for sending the Delorean back to the future -- or the past -- you'll have to figure out how to get it up to 88 mph first.)

"This is a 1/64 scale time machine, which comes in its own plastic display case right in front of the clock tower, with flames coming out of the tires just like it's jumping into time," said Scott Neitlich, manager of Boys' Entertainment at Mattel and a collector in his own right.

The exclusives like these cater to the hardcore fans, as opposed to casual collectors of all ages.

"We look very carefully at what brands we have that play up to the key demographics at Comic-Con," said Neitlich. "Obviously not every brand is appropriate for Comic-Con. We will go with the obvious "low-hanging fruit" brands like Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe and DC Comics. Hot Wheels is not necessarily a Comic-Con brand, but when you apply it to a sci-fi, geekdom vehicle, like the Delorean, then it becomes a great item for Comic-Con."

-- The "Revenge of the Jedi" collection

Taking its name from the original title of "Return of the Jedi," this collection includes special versions of "Jedi" characters Boba Fett, Wicket the Ewok, Salacious B. Crumb and an R2-D2 who serves drinks.

-- Skystriker with Cobra Commander

This one will basically blow the minds of fans who grew up in the 1980s. Here we have what is a version of the "Transformers" character Starscream being piloted by Cobra Commander.

"We're mashing up 'Transformers' and 'G.I. Joe,'" said Frascotti. "We're giving the Skystriker plane from 'G.I. Joe' a custom makeover and making it the Decepticon Starscream. Fans of both franchises really like it when we do this type of mashup."

-- Voltron

This year, Mattel will be introducing its very first Voltron figure at the Con, for those who look back fondly at the anime character from the 1980s (recently brought back on a current NickToons series).

"Obviously, there have been many other Voltron figures in the past. What we're offering is the first ever 6-inch scale Voltron," said Neitlich. "This figure makes Voltron at the same size with other figures that collectors may have."

Best of all, Voltron comes with his blazing sword.

-- "Dexter" Dark Defender

Aside from the nostalgia factor, there are some more recent properties that do well on Preview Night. Last year's "Dexter" bobblehead was a hot seller for smaller toy company Entertainment Earth. This year, they've created a Dexter action figure complete with its own card packaging showing star Michael C. Hall. "America's Favorite Serial Killer" is certainly for the grownup collectors out there.

Whether you're there to relive a part of your childhood or celebrate genre entertainment in the present, fans can usually find at least one thing that they're dying to part with their hard-earned money to get, and in the age of fan conventions, companies continue to tailor their special-release toys like these to what the geek crowd wants.

So if your colleague comes back to work after his trip to San Diego with a bobblehead TARDIS, now you know it came from Preview Night.

 
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