#1551: Sasquatch & Vindicator

SASQUATCH & VINDICATOR

ALPHA FLIGHT (TOY BIZ)

“Dr. Walter Langkowski was content with his quiet, fairly normal life as a college physics professor. That was before his insatiable curiosity regarding the effects of gamma radiation upon the human body led him to accidentally transform himself into the mighty Sasquatch! Standing at nearly ten feet tall, covered with orange fur and able to lift nearly 70 tons, Sasquatch is a physical powerhouse of superhuman strength. Led by electromagnetically charged Vindicator, Sasquatch serves Canada as a member of its foremost group of super heroes: Alpha Flight. Together, Alpha Flight fights to protect Canada and the world from the forces of evil.”

Okay, so there’s a bio for one of the two figures in the set, with like a passing mention for the other one.  Kind of an odd choice.  The combined bio thing worked better for Northstar and Aurora.  Here it feels awkward, right? Also, it’s worth noting that the use of just the “Vindicator” name with no pronouns or anything means it could technically be referring to either James or Heather.  Perhaps Toy Biz hadn’t decided which of the Vindicators was going to be included yet when the text was written?  Come to think of it, Vindicator’s not even in the illustration on the top of the box like all the others are.  It’s just Sasquatch.  Weird.  Well, I’m still gonna review them both.  Here we go.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Sasquatch and Vindicator were one of the three two-packs that made up the first (and only) series of Toy Biz’s Alpha Flight line from 1998.

SASQUATCH

Gonna be honest, I didn’t actually know all that much about Sasquatch until that bio up there.  He’s one of the most prominent members of the team in terms of toy representation, with this figure, a Minimate, and TWO Marvel Legends.  He’s rivaled only by Puck in terms of representation.  That’s not bad for what essentially translates to Canadian Hulk.  This figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He’s a little smaller than Sasquatch tends to be depicted in the comics (where he frequently falls into the 8-10 ft range), but he’s still noticeably taller than the rest of his teammates, which is really the important thing in all of this.  Though his head is a separate piece from the torso, the nature of the neck and hair design is such that there’s no actual motion, an issue that would crop up on most of Sasquatch’s future figures.  Sasquatch’s sculpt was new to him (though it would be re-used for the Dark Side line’s Man-Thing figure not too long after), and it’s not a bad piece of work.  It matches pretty well with depictions of him over the years.  There’s some pretty great work  on the texturing, showing Toy Biz’z slow improvement over time that would eventually lead to the likes of Marvel Legends.  In terms of paint, Sasquatch is actually a bit better than you might expect.  TB could have gone the easy route and just done straight orange, but instead they’ve actually done quite a bit of accenting on the musculature and such, which looks pretty great.  Sasquatch has no accessories, though if you want to get technical, the way the packaging is laid out I suppose you could consider Vindicator his accessory…but that makes me uncomfortable.

VINDICATOR

This is actually the second time I’ve looked at a figure of Heather Hudson as Vindicator, in the same costume no less!  After this, I’ll have reviewed 100% of the Heather Hudson figures ever made.  Yay?  Like the Minimate, this figure depicts Heather wearing her (then) deceased husband Mac’s Guardian/Vindicator costume.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and she has 12 points of articulation.  Vindicator premiered this particular body, but it went on to serve as the basis of a number of other female figures, including the previously reviewed Bloodstorm figure.  It was a decent enough body for Heather, though it has a little bit of difficulty staying standing.  Her head is re-used from the Marvel Collector Editions Jean Grey figure, which isn’t the best sculpt Toy Biz ever put out, but at the same time, the head’s hardly the worst part of the original figure.  Plus, there’s a visor added to it, which helps to mask some of the weirder parts of the original piece.  The hair is still rooted, which isn’t super ideal in this scale, but it could be worse.  The paint work on this figure isn’t quite as interesting as with Sasquatch, but it gets the job done.  The edges are a bit fuzzy, but  for the time not bad.  Like Sasquatch, she includes no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unlike the previously reviewed Northstar and Aurora, I didn’t get this pair new.  I saw them many times at retail, but wasn’t familiar enough with the characters to really be drawn in.  I ended up picking up over this past summer, loose, from Yesterday’s Fun.  Vindicator’s just okay.  Not anything really special or anything.  Sasquatch on the other hand, is actually pretty awesome, and I’m glad I finally got one.  Now, I’ll just need to find Puck and Snowbird.

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#1550: Captain Poe Dameron

CAPTAIN POE DAMERON

STAR WARS: TITAN HEROES (HASBRO)

“It takes defiant courage to stare down the threat of the First Order, and while Captain Poe Dameron is eager to fight, he worries that some of the Resistance leadership don’t have what it takes.”

If that bio sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’re losing your mind!  Nah, it’s actually because it’s the exact same bio that was used on the Black Series Captain Poe Dameron figure.  He’s the same guy and all, so I guess it’s okay.  So, today I’m breaking from my trend of Black Series figures, and switching gears over to the line that’s sort of the exact opposite, at least from a collecting perspective, Titan Heroes.  Let’s have a look at the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Poe was one of the first three The Last Jedi-themed Star Wars: Titan Heroes, released back in September for Force Friday II, alongside Rey and a Stormtrooper.  He was also available in the big Target-exclusive 6-pack with Rey, BB-8, Kylo, and two troopers.  The figure stands 12 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  His construction is pretty much the same as the other two Titan Heroes I’ve looked at, with the main body being molded in a harder, hollowed out plastic, with softer pieces for his head and hands.  He’s also a little skinny like those two, but that’s really just the aesthetic of the line.  Poe’s sculpt is surprisingly good, given the line he’s from.  These figures tend to be more on the basic side, but Poe is quite detailed, and the head in particular is one of the nicer sculpts I’ve seen out of this line.  I can’t say it’s a spot-on recreation of Oscar Isaac, but it’s pretty decent, and it looks like a real human being, which is certainly a step-up.  The work on the body is also pretty decent, with lots of texture work.  The hands in particular impressed me.  His paint work is also pretty decent, again, given the style of the line.  What I found most impressive was the work on Poe’s face scruff.  It’s something that Hasbro’s been unable to handle with any sort of subtlety on any of their Poe figures, but they actually managed to do it really well here.  Hopefully, this will translate to future figures.  Poe is packed with his usual blaster pistol, sadly without any painted details, but well-sculpted nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Rey on my own and then getting a Finn for Christmas, I figured I might want to track down a Poe from this line, just to complete my power trio set.  I ended up finding him at the same time as the Black Series Finn and Kylo figures.  He was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase, since I had just seen the movie, and it was a Poe figure I didn’t have and he was relatively inexpensive.  That said, I’m happy I picked him up.  He’s a better figure than I’d expected.

#1549: Resistance Tech Rose

RESISTANCE TECH ROSE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Part of the support crew that keeps the Resistance star fighters flying, Rose has hated the First Order since she was a child.  Now able to fight back against the enemy, Rose keeps her focus on her mission.”

Introducing a new main character to an established franchise is always tricky business.  Our new heroes from The Force Awakens sort of got away with it, thanks to the narrative effectively rebooting, and giving the new characters more of a clean slate to work with.  For The Last Jedi, things have been re-established, and become more rigid.  Nevertheless, our newest hero Rose Tico made herself feel right at home with the rest of the cast, and is one of my favorite parts of the movie.  I’ve looked at her basic figure back during the Force Friday reviews, but now I’ll be taking a look at her Black Series release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rose (who is officially called “Resistance Tech Rose” on the box.  Are we not supposed to know her last name?) is part of the third assortment of TLJ-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, numbered at 55.  She’s seen here in her Resistance Tech jumpsuit, which was her main look in the movie, and the one used for her smaller-scale figure as well.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is all-new to this figure, though it definitely shares some origins with the two smaller scale figures, as a lot of the details line up with each other.  Given it’s the same character and all, it’s kind of sensible, though.  As much as I liked the smaller Rose’s sculpt, I must admit, I find this figure to be a slight downgrade.  A lot of it’s changes that had to be made for the sake of adding in extra articulation, but there were also a few changes in proportions, so for instance her neck seems a bit longer than it should be.  There are also some areas where the details seem a little simpler than I’d expect for a figure of this scale, namely her hair, which looks almost animated in nature.  Still, there’s plenty of solid detail work on the jumpsuit, so it’s not a total downgrade.  Honestly, it’s really just the head that’s throwing things off.  Even the likeness to Kelly Tran seems a little off the mark, which is especially surprising, since the smaller figure was spot-on in that regard.  In terms of paint, Rose is generally pretty good.  The application is clean, and the small details, such as the information printed on her pocket, are all really sharp.  Her eyes seem to have been painted slightly wider than how they were sculpted, which I think is likely contributing to the likeness being a little bit off.  I do appreciate that she actually gets extra detailing on her belt that the smaller figure didn’t have, since it could have easily been left one solid color.  The larger Rose comes with the same accessory compliment as her smaller counterpart: a standard Resistance blaster rifle in gold, and her small taser device, which can once again be clipped onto her belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

You know the last three figures I looked at?  The ones I saw once and passed on at first before ultimately picking them up again after seeing the movie?  Yeah, I found all of them because I was actually looking for Rose, because I really wanted her in this scale.  I did actually find one that I passed on, because I found her two days before Christmas and had better things to do with my money.  By the time I went back, she was gone.  Not to worry, though, because I found her at the same Target where I ultimately ended up getting Rey.  Despite some of my complaining here, Rose is actually a really good figure.  I was just spoiled a bit by her exceptionally good basic figure, so the fact that this one doesn’t completely out place that one is slightly frustrating.  Still, I’m very happy to have found her.  She’s really great.

#1548: Finn – First Order Disguise

FINN – FIRST ORDER DISGUISE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“To carry out a mission crucial to the Resistance, Finn adopts a First Order officer’s uniform, going undercover and doing his best to blend in among his former ranks.”

Toy companies seem to have a hard time making toys of Finn exciting.  When the product for The Force Awakens first hit, all of the Finns were in his jacketed civilian style look.  While that’s certainly his main design from the movie, it was perhaps not the most thrilling, especially to a customer base that wasn’t yet familiar with the character.  For The Last Jedi, where Finn is sporting a look very similar to the one from the last film, toy makers wisely chose to use Finn’s disguised look from later in the film as his initial go-to for the figures.  While Hasbro gave us the standard Finn for their smaller basic line, they did the Officer’s uniform for his Black Series release, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

First Order Disguise Finn is part of the second assortment of TLJ-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, hitting just after Force Friday II, alongside Leia, Poe, Maz, and the Guard.  He’s figure 51 in the line, placing him between the Guard and Leia numerically.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  His sculpt was technically new to him, but all but his head was almost immediately re-used for the First Order Officer included in a TRU-exclusive two-pack with Ackbar.  Given that it’s largely just a standard Officer’s uniform, that’s a rather sensible re-use, and I have no doubt it was part of what made this particular look appealing to Hasbro.  It’s a solid sculpt, and also makes for a very easy to pose, very playable figure.  The only truly unique piece is the head.  They could have just re-used the first Finn head, but they didn’t.  I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t, since that was a pretty solid sculpt and had a decent Boyega likeness.  While I certainly don’t dislike this sculpt, I do feel it’s resemblance isn’t quite as strong.  From a purely technical standpoint, though, it’s the better piece, with sharper detailing and better relative scaling to the body, though, so it’s not a total loss.  The paint on this guy is generally pretty decent work, with pretty clean detailing and a palette that’s a good match for what’s seen in the film.  I wish the pupils on my figure were a little better centered, but they aren’t as bad as some figures I’ve gotten.  Finn’s packed with a removable helmet, a pistol, and a riot-control baton.  The hat’s a good fit to the head, and isn’t overly bulky like some removable pieces, so that’s good.  The pistol’s pretty basic, but a good match for the material.  It’s a little hard for him to hold it, since his hands aren’t really designed for it, but it’s still a welcome addition.  The best piece is definitely the baton, which, rather than being a simple re-use of the one from TFA, has been totally re-tooled, so that it now can be properly extended into attack mode.  It’s a really fun piece, and I hope it sees re-use elsewhere.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with Rey and Kylo, Finn is a figure I passed on when I first saw him (sensing a theme to this week’s reviews?), since I already had the TFA Finn and this was a non-standard variant.  I ended up grabbing him at the same time as Kylo, while I was actually on my way back from seeing the film for the second time.  Despite not being the standard version of the character, I really like this figure, and I think he’s an improvement on the standard Finn from TFA.  I’m hopeful that Hasbro will find a way to release his standard look from TLJ somewhere down the line, though, because I’d like to have it in this quality.

#1547: Kylo Ren

KYLO REN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Growing more powerful in the dark side of the Force, Kylo Ren pursues his enemies with sinister determination.  He will prove to Supreme Leader Snoke that he is truly capable and will hunt down those who caused his defeat at Starkiller Base.”

There was a lot I liked in The Last Jedi, but I think perhaps my favorite character arc contained there-in was that of Kylo Ren.  He goes from a character that could have been a rather one-note retread of Darth Vader, to something much more fully formed and unique.  Certainly the similarities still persist, but I don’t find his arc quite as predictable as it was at the end of TFA.  Just like the last movie, he was a prominent fixture of the associated toys, including the fan-favorite Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kylo is figure 45 in Star Wars: The Black Series.  He was originally released with the seven-figure assortment that hit on Force Friday II, and was then immediately re-released with the next assortment, alongside Leia, Poe, the Guard, and Maz.  This had the unintended side-effect of making Kylo look like a particularly slow seller for a little while, but it appears things have mostly evened out now.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  As with yesterday’s Rey figure, this is a figure that shares more than a few design elements with its TFA predecessor (and even more with the unmasked variant of that from the Rogue One product), but there are no shared pieces between them.  This Kylo is an entirely unique sculpt, and it’s quite a good one at that.  The likeness is definitely one of Hasbro’s best attempts at Adam Driver, and is closer than the last unmasked Black Series Kylo.  The rest of the body does a pretty great job of capturing all of the texturing and patterns of Kylo’s costume from the movie, thankfully unencumbered by ill-fitting cloth pieces this time around.  He’s perhaps a little scrawnier than I’d like, but beyond that, this sculpt is a pretty fantastic translation of his look from the film.  This Ren figure marks the third time we’ve gotten a sculpted plastic cape in the larger Black Series line.  It’s a much better look, especially when you’re doing the over the shoulders draped look as seen here.  It’s actually a little odd that they did Kylo this way, but still went with the cloth set-up for Luke, who was released in the very same series.  I definitely prefer how it was handed here.  In terms of paint work, Ren is admittedly pretty straight forward, mostly being a lot of flat black.  They did put some effort into making his pants a slightly different temperature of black, as well as adding a gloss finish to the boots, which certainly makes for a nice look.  Unlike the smaller figure, Ren’s scar goes unpainted here.  I’m actually not sure which way I prefer it.  While it was a little too obvious on the smaller figure, here the scar gets rather lost.  Maybe a slightly less jarring paint app?  Beyond that, the paint on the face is pretty great, and I’m happy to see he has a healthier skin-tone when compared to the very pale unmasked Kylo from TFA.  Kylo is packed with his distinctive cross-guarded lightsaber in both ignited and non-ignited forms, which, combined with the removable cape, makes for a pretty solid selection of extras.  For those that are so inclined, there’s also a deluxe version of Kylo, just released in the last few weeks, which adds a die cast helmet and a display stand based on Snoke’s throne room to the mix, though that one does swap out the nice plastic cape for a rather standard cloth one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kylo was certainly the easiest to find of the initial TLJ Black Series figures, but, as with Rey, I passed on him due to how similar he was to the previous figure.  And, just like with Rey, I regretted having passed on him as soon as I saw the movie.  Whilst on vacation the week after Christmas, I found this guy at a nearby Walmart, marked down to $15 no less.  I guess it was a good thing I waited.  This is definitely Hasbro’s best Kylo so far, and I’m glad I finally grabbed him.

#1546: Rey – Jedi Training

REY – JEDI TRAINING

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“At long last, Rey has found Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master in the galaxy.  Hoping to find a hero of legend, she must unlearn what she has learned as Skywalker challenges her expectations.”

Oh boy, this might offend some people, but you know what?  I really liked The Last Jedi.  It was a solid, thoroughly enjoyable film.  Most importantly for any entry in the Star Wars franchise, it made me want to go out and buy some toys.  And buy some toys I did.  So, I’m gonna do a bit of a Star Wars week, because why not?  Let’s start this whole thing off with a look at the new trilogy’s central figure, Rey!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rey is figure 44 in the latest iteration of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.  There are actually a few different releases of the figure.  The first was in the SDCC 2017 two-pack with Luke. She was then released solo during the Force Friday II product launch.  All of the initial TLJ Black Series figures were rather scarce, so she was given another release as part of the latest assortment (the one that includes Rose and Snoke).  While the first two are identical, the last release (which is the one I have) has one minor detail that differentiates her: the small cut on her right shoulder, which she earned during her battle in Snoke’s throne room.  The figure stands about 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Though there are some slight design similarities between this figure and the Force Awakens release, this figure is a wholly unique sculpt.  I was actually a pretty big fan of the last Rey when she was released, but in the two years since then, there’s no denying that The Black Series has definitely made some leaps and bounds in quality.  So, that older figure was looking a little out of date.  This one, on the other hand, is an incredibly strong sculpt.  The proportions on the body feel more realistic, her outfit now consists of several overlays to convey the proper depth, and there’s just a tremendous amount of detail and texture work all throughout.  The likeness on the head still isn’t quite as spot-on as the Titan Heroes figure (my favorite Rey head sculpt to date), but it’s certainly a marked improvement over the TFA release, and there’s still a lot of Daisy Ridley in there.  This figure is also an improvement when it comes to paint.  The painted skin is gone, replaced by molded plastic, but unlike some of the later TFA Black Series offerings, the sheen isn’t too shiny or lifeless.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors match well with the source material.  There’s still some room for improvement, of course.  There’s some slop on the hairline and on the wrapping around her waist.  I also feel like the eyebrows are a bit too which, which is likely contributing to the slightly off likeness.  But, for a mass-produced figure, she’s not bad.  Rey is packed with her staff (which is a brand-new mold, and a definite upgrade to the last one), the blaster she got from Han, and Luke’s lightsaber.  I miss BB-8, but it’s still a nice assortment of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Black Series offerings for Force Friday II were amongst the most difficult to find, so I didn’t come across any of them in my first week or so of hunting back in September.  I did eventually find a Rey, but ultimately passed on her, feeling she was rather similar to the one I already had.  After seeing the movie, I somewhat regretted this decision.  Fortunately, Hasbro did the re-pack, and I was able to score that one just last week.  While I’m sort of kicking myself for waiting so long on this figure (given how big an improvement she is over the last one), it’s one of those times where I’m ultimately grateful I waited, since I do kind of prefer the running change with the scar on her arm.  This is probably my favorite Rey in my collection.  Of course, there’s that Island Journey Rey looming on the horizon which may unseat her, but we’ll see.

#1545: Shanna the She-Devil & Savage Land Reaper

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL & SAVAGE LAND REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

One the cooler, yet sadly under-used, aspects of the X-Men universe is the Savage Land, a secret tropical area located within Antartica.  It’s a fairly standard hidden land sort of idea, and the X-Men have a tendency to find themselves stranded there every 20 years or so.  Because, honestly, what’s cooler than watching your favorite heroes duking it out with actual dinosaurs?  Very little.  While the typical “lead” in any given Savage Land story is Ka-Zar (Marvel’s answer to Tarzan), in recent years, the breakaway character has actually been his frequent co-star (and eventual wife) Shanna the She-Devil, who, interestingly enough, was actually imported to the Savage Land after she and the location had both been established.  She and her pack-mate the Savage Land Reaper became the first residents of the Savage Land to make it into DST’s Marvel Minimates line back in 2013.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Shanna and the Reaper were released in Series 51 of Marvel Minimates.  The whole series was themed around Marvel’s then-current “Marvel Now!” relaunch.  Shanna was serving as a major player in the Savage Wolverine title, so she found herself in this assortment, with the Wolverine that went with her being packed into the 15th TRU-exclusive assortment released at the same time.  Both figures were packed with a Savage Land Reaper, which served somewhat as an army builder.

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL

“Shanna O’Hara is a former Olympic athlete and a licensed veterinarian, and she has made the Savage Land her adopted home. Her fierce hatred of firearms arose from the accidental shooting death of her mother.”

Shanna gained some additional notoriety in the early 00s when Frank Cho helmed a heavily cheesecake-driven solo series featuring the character.  It was actually an alternate universe Shanna, with very little connection to the real character, but it served to elevate her somewhat in the public eye, and it was successful enough for Cho to be able to work her main universe counterpart in when he launched Savage Wolverine.  This figure draws her look from that series, meaning she’s kind of an amalgam of the two Shannas.  She’s built on the standard ‘mate body, meaning she stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation (though the hair restricts a lot of the neck movement).  She has add-ons for her hair and her belt/loincloth, both of which were new to this particular figure.  The hair’s a little bulky for my taste, but it’s not terrible.  The belt piece is actually pretty nice, and I particularly like the the sheath for her knife.  In terms of paintwork, Shanna’s okay, but she certainly leans far heavier on the Frank Cho alternate universe side of things.  Her hair’s straight blond, rather than the starwberry blond the 616 version’s supposed to have.  She’s also wearing a far more revealing bikini, which is perhaps not the most flattering thing on a block figure.  Ultimately, she looks okay, but I can’t say it’s my ideal take on the character.  She’s packed with a knife (to go in that cool sheath on the belt), a spear, and a clear display stand.

SAVAGE LAND REAPER

“In the Savage Land, the skies are owned by the Reapers, giant pterodactyls who resemble X-Men villain Sauron. When the attack Wolverine and Shanna, they quickly learn that the pair are not easy prey.”

Originally, this ‘mate didn’t just resemble Sauron, it actually was him.  When 51 was originally solicited, the Reaper was just called Sauron, despite being based on the more generic group of pterodactyl men from Savage Wolverine.  A number of people brought up the various design differences between them, and ultimately this figure was re-labeled.  24 Series later, the real Sauron still hasn’t made an appearance.  Poor guy.  This figure starts with the same basic body as Shanna, but gets a unique head, hands, and lower legs, as well as add-ons for his wings and tail.  The new pieces help to sell him as one of the Reapers, without removing him too much from the usual Minimate aesthetic.  His paint is mostly just a lot of the same shade of green, but it’s appropriate for the character, and the detail lines are all pretty decent.  The Reaper is packed with a clear display stand, specially molded to fit his slightly smaller than average feet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 51 was released, I was in the habit of ordering full cases of the latest series, so that’s what I did here.  While this wasn’t a set I was dying to have, I like both characters (or at least the characters that inspired both characters) enough to want them on my shelf. Both ‘mates are decent additions to the line, but neither is particularly thrilling.

#1544: Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise

LUKE SKYAWALKER IN IMPERIAL GUARD DISGUISE

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s victory in the Battle of Hoth has brought hard times for the Rebel Alliance. Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, and two huge bounties have been placed on the head of Luke Skywalker. The Emperor wants him alive, but Prince Xizor , underlord of the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy, wants him dead. Worse still is that the diabolical Xizor is holding Princess Leia Organa prisoner in his castle on the Imperial Center of Coruscant. this is a tactical maneuver, part of a larger master plan to lure Luke Skywalker into his castle where he can be easily eliminated — the key step in Xizor’s plan to replace Darth Vader at the Emperor’s side. unaware of this danger, the young Jedi and Lando Calrissian sneak into Imperial City hoping to rescue Leia. Simplylaying foot on Coruscant is a dangerous act for these two: high on the Empire’s list of most-wanted outlaws, they could easily be recognized and captured — or assassinated. Disguising themselves as beggars, they “borrow” the armored uniforms from a pair of elite Coruscant stormtroopers. These troopers are some of the Empire’s finest, selected as home guards for the wealthiest and most cultured city in the galaxy. Joining forces with Chewbacca and Dash Rendar, Skywalker and Calrissian attempt to infiltrate Xizor’s nearly impenetrable stronghold and rescue the princess.”

1996’s Shadows of the Empire was important, in that it was the first time the public at large had been introduced to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  It’s also an interesting experiment in marketing, essentially being a movie merchandising campaign that lacked a movie.  There were a handful of figures, mixed in with Kenner’s then running Power of the Force II.  Newcomers Dash Rendar and Prince Xizor got figures, of course, but there were also new variants of out heroes Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, all of whom had to take on disguises during this new story.  I’ve looked at both Leia and Chewbacca, which just leaves Luke, who I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise was released in the basic figure assortment of Kenner’s Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire line.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  This Luke uses the same head as all of the other early PotF2 Lukes.  It’s not the best likeness, but hey, here’s to consistency, right? The rest of the figure is brand new.  The packaging dubs his look as “Imperial Guard Disguise,” a name that tends to conjure up the red guards from Return of the Jedi, who look quite a bit different than the look Luke is sporting here.  However, the bio fills us in that this armor is actually from one of the elite Stormtroopers on Coruscant, making it a separate look entirely.  As with so much of the design work seen in Shadows, the armor is undeniably a product of mid-90s comic book design, meaning it’s a little divorced from the original trilogy designs.  His armor’s bulky and ultra padded, and seems to lack that used look we’re so accustomed to.  It’s a little hard to reconcile this as a design that would appear in between Empire and Jedi.  That being said, it’s hardly a terrible look.  In fact, it manages to be rather unique and helps this Luke to stand out a bit from the crowd of other Lukes from over the years.  The paint work on this figure is fairly decent, and, like the rest of his design, fairly unique.  The red’s a nice shade, and all of the application is pretty clean.  He’s packed with a removable helmet and half-cape to help complete his full disguise.  Since Luke lost his father’s lightsaber in Empire and didn’t build a new one until the beginning of Jedi, he of course needed a new weapon, so this figure included a taser staff weapon.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was, I believe, my first Shadows of the Empire figure.  My cousin Noah had saved up to buy the PotF2 Millennium Falcon, and was along for the trip to go buy it.  Noah’s mother, who took us on the trip, agreed to get me one figure.  Luke was my favorite character, and this figure appealed to my 5-year-old self, so he was the one I picked.  I’d say having this guy in my collection already was probably what pushed me to pick up the Bounty Hunter Chewbacca instead of the normal one, and owning these two is certainly not a decision I regret in the slightest.

#1543: Black Bolt

BLACK BOLT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Supercharged powers and a quasic-sonic scream let Black Bolt destroy enemies with a single utterance.”

You might think you’ve caught on to my little running theme the last three days, where I review Marvel Legends with the prefix “Black.”  You might think you’re clever, noticing this trend.  But you’re wrong.  Today’s figure doesn’t fit that trend, because the first half of his name isn’t actually “Black,” it’s “Blackagar.”  Because, as I’d like to remind you all, dear readers, Black Bolt’s real name is Blackagar Boltagon, the stupidest name in comics.  Nah, I’m just kidding! I totally picked Black Bolt to do the whole running theme thing.  But who can resist the chance to make fun of Black Bolt’s real name?  I certainly can’t.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Bolt is part of the latest series of Marvel Legends, which is themed around next month’s Black Panther movie.  Why is Black Bolt in a Black Panther-themed assortment?  Your guess is as good as mine.  They both certainly like the same predominant color on their costume.  They were also both part of Marvel’s Illuminati team at one point, but I don’t think there was ever any overlap between them.  But hey, if it gets me a new Black Bolt figure, I guess I won’t complain too much.  Black Bolt is one of three comics-themed figures in the assortment (all of whom have questionable ties to Panther at best).  Like the Panther figure I looked at earlier this week, a lot of this figure is just a slight re-working of a previous figure, specifically the Black Bolt from 2014’s SDCC-exclusive Thanos Imperative boxed set.  That set was pretty difficult to acquire outside of the con, and Blackagar here was probably the most sought after in the set (since Star-Lord got a pretty quick re-release), so the re-release is much appreciated.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Like his predecessor, he’s built on the Bucky Cap body, which seems a reasonable enough choice for Mr. Boltagon.  His upper arms are the same pieces used on the last figure, which, admittedly, isn’t a huge point in this figure’s favor.  The wings are solid plastic, and jut straight out of the back of the biceps.  They’re sculpted to rest flush with the sides of the torso, but it only works in a very specific pose.  move the arms any other way, and the wings are just sticking straight out.  I would have liked to see this handled similarly to the Jessica Drew Spider-Woman, where there are two different sets of wings that can be swapped out.  As it is, they’re more than a little limiting.  This figure also gets the same head as the last one, which is a solid piece of work, and a good fit for the character.  However, Hasbro was also kind enough to throw in another head, this time depicting Black Bolt screaming and all powered-up.  There’s a lot of of fun expressiveness to this one, and I love the Kirby Krackle effect on his tuning fork.  In addition to the new head, the other change between the TI Black Bolt and this one is his paint.  It’s really just a minor shift, with a dark blue in place of the straight black, but I like it.  I do wish the silver detailing was a little cleaner, but it’s not awful.  Black Bolt is packed with the previously mentioned extra head, as well as the right leg of the Build-A-Figure, Okoye.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Bolt caught me by surprise.  Tim and I were out and about, and we stopped by Walgreens, mostly to see if I could find the new Legacy Gold Ranger.  I didn’t find him, but I did find the remnants of this assortment, which I didn’t even know was hitting yet.  I missed the TI set, so I was definitely getting this guy.  He’s got a few flaws, but I’m still happy with him overall.

#1542: Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Natasha Romanov uses her fearsome fighting techniques for good as Black Widow!”

Well, except for initially, when she…ya know….used them for…bad.  But that was only at the very start!  Promise!  Just two years at the very beginning there, then it was all straight and narrow from then out.  Despite being arguably Marvel’s most prominent female hero these days, Black Widow’s been oddly absent from the toy shelves, and what we’ve gotten’s been mostly movie-based.  In a slightly strange turn, we’re finally getting some comics-based Widow product…a few months after she died in the comics.  I mean, it’s not like it’s gonna last, but still.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Widow is part of the first series of Hasbro’s new Marvel Legends Vintage line.  Much like last year’s Star Wars: The Black Series: 40th Anniversary line, it’s a mix of re-releases and “new” figures, all packed on vintage-styled card backs.  In this case, the cards are patterned after the old Toy Biz Marvel Super Heroes packaging, which is certainly unique.  While Widow never had a figure in that line, they’ve done a respectable job of creating an accurate card in the same style.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Widow is seen here in her third main costume, which debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #86, back in 1970.  It’s very definitely the “classic” Black Widow design, and this is the first time we’ve gotten it as a Legends figure.  Despite the all-new look and being the only “original” figure in this first series, Widow is actually almost entirely reused pieces.  She’s built on the Phoenix body, which is a good starting point for Widow (though I do wish the elbows had a slightly better range of motion).  On top of that, she’s got the bracelets from the Hobgoblin Series Spider-Girl, and the head from this summer’s TRU-exclusive Mary Jane.  The re-use on the head has been a point of some contention for fans.  Personally, I don’t mind so much, but that might be partly due to the fact that I never actually found the MJ figure anyway.  I also find this sculpt is pretty solid for Widow as well, so on it’s own, it really works well for the character.  Worst case scenario, the upcoming Widow and Motorcycle set’s going to have two heads packed in, so there are some options available. As far as I can tell, Widow’s only new piece is her belt, which is a fairly simple add-on piece.   I wish it was affixed some how so it didn’t float around so much, but it’s not terrible.  It’s possible her hands are also new, but I’m not 100% sure on that.  They’re just pretty standard trigger finger hands, but they get the job done.  Widow’s paint is clean and bold, and really well suited to her classic design.  There’s not a ton of work going into it, but the end result is still very sharp, and I just really like it.  The figure’s a little light on the accessories front, with only a pair of pistols packed in.  I can’t say there’s much else I would give her, but considering she retailed for the same price as normal, BAF-including figures, she does feel a little lacking.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as these figures were shown off, I knew I wanted Widow.  I’m fortunate enough to have the original releases of the other figures, but there hasn’t been a proper comic Widow since back when Hasbro did the two-packs, and that one was pretty hard to come by.  I ended up finding this figure sort of by accident.  Super Awesome Girlfriend and I were on our way home from taking the cat to the vet, and I made a wrong turn, and the next closest place to turn around was the Walgreens parking lot.  I figured I might as well run in and check their stock, and sure enough, Natasha was one of the two Marvel Legends Vintage figures they had on the shelf.  And, as luck would have it, they were even running a sale on Legends that week!  Hooray for me!  Like yesterday’s Panther figure, there’s not anything particularly revolutionary about this figure, but she’s still a really strong addition to the line, and I’m happy to add her to the shelf!