#2496: EV-9D9

EV-9D9

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“EV-9D9 is ideally suited to its job as cyborg taskmaster in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. It was one of many droids in service to the crimelord.”

Hey, remember how I was reviewing Star Wars stuff all week?  Well, get settled in with that, because we’re just gonna keep that rolling one day further.  Of course, it’s no fancy Black Series offering today.  Nope, we’re instead going back to my old mainstay, Power of the Force.  I mean, hey, at least it’s somebody who hasn’t gotten any Black Series love, just to keep things different and interesting.  And it’s someone with a speaking role, even!  Let’s look at EV-9D9, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

EV-9D9 was added to the Power of the Force line-up in 1997.  He was one of a handful of Jabba’s Palace denizens added to the line-up that year, so he was quite at home (although he wouldn’t get an 8D8 to boss around until the next year).  This marked his second time getting a figure, following the vintage release, as well as his final time in figure form.  Poor EV, getting no modern day figure love.  That feels downright criminal.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The design doesn’t quite as easily lend itself to a waist swivel, so he doesn’t get that.  Sadly, he also lacks the moving mouth of the original release, which is definitely a sad omission.  On the plus side, the figure’s nice and stable when it comes to standing, so he won’t be faceplanting nearly as often as some of the figures from this line.  He also avoids the pre-posing of earlier entries, making him a nice basic figure.  The sculpt is quite nice, doing a respectable job of capturing the design of the prop from the film, while also being sharp and clean on the details. It’s just a really nifty little sculpt.  The paint work is also pretty decent for this era of figure.  All of the important details are there, and there’s even some pretty nice accenting on the bronze sections of his body.  EV-9D9’s only got one accessory, but it’s a pretty good one: it’s the podium he stands behind when administering R2 and 3PO’s jobs. Pretty central to the character, and rather sizable to boot,  so it’s a winner in my book.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

EV is another of the large batch of figures I picked up in late 2018 when I really started trying to fill in my collection for the line.  It’s definitely a figure I didn’t think much of when I grabbed it, but he’s a pretty solid figure, especially given the lack of further coverage of the character.

Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2495: Battle Droid – Geonosis

BATTLE DROID — GEONOSIS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Rather than use flesh-and-blood warriors, the Separatists prefer mindlessly loyal soldiers that are easily controlled. Battle droids are dim-witted and no match for clone troopers or Jedi, but they weren’t designed to be smart – they were designed to overwhelm Republic civilians through sheer numbers, something they do very effectively.”

Since the Stormtroopers were off limits due to timelines and continuity and all that jazz, the Prequel Trilogy had to come up with its own form of armies of troops for the bad guys to throw our heroes’ way.  Taking advantage of being able to do designs and concepts not as easily allowed by the technology of filmmaking in the early ’80s, Lucas and company introduced the Trade Federation’s Battle Droid army, who became the backbone of the separatist forces for the next three films (and Clone Wars, of course), all while some how becoming more comically slapstick in their mannerisms with each subsequent appearance.  At this point, it really wouldn’t be that far-fetched for them to come out with a rendition of “who’s on first?”  Whatever the case, they were absent from The Black Series for a good bit, but finally joined the line early last year.  Of course, the assortment they were a part of was kind of unbalanced in its distribution, so Hasbro opted to give us another chance at the mold, this time with a tweaked color scheme.  Yay for me!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Battle Droid (Geonosis) is figure 108 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s the third Battle Droid we’ve gotten, following the tan Episode 1 version and the Gaming Greats heavy gunner.  All three of them are the same mold, which is sensible, since the core droid design didn’t change throughout the three prequel films.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Battle Droid figures historically have a lot of trouble matching the movement of the droids in the films.  Given that the joints are right there in the design, it’s a shame that they almost never articulate them.  However, this figure addresses that, and actually manages to articulate most of the built-in joints, making this by far the most Battle Droid put out by Hasbro.  The hip joints are slightly limited, and a few of the smaller joints were stuck on mine right out of the box, but he’s overall really posable, and a lot more steady on his feet than prior Battle Droids I’ve messed with.  Most impressively, he can actually properly fold up like the droids do in the movie, which is pretty cool.  The sculpt is also a pretty spot-on recreation of the designs seen in the movie, with all of the detail work being nice and crisp, sharp, and clean.  He’s quite a sleek-looking figure.  The colors are where this figure differentiates himself from the prior releases.  This one uses the Geonosis coloring, so he’s all red to match the rather amber terrain of the planet.  I’ve always been kind of partial to this coloring, so I’m happy to see it represented here.  The paint work gives him some wear and tear, so that he looks like a proper “battle” Droid.  He’s armed with the standard E-5 blaster, and also includes both a backpack, and the streamlined antenna pack, to allow for some distinction of ranks within the set-up.  It would have been cool to also get a C-3PO head to swap out, but perhaps they’ll just make the heads swappable when they make the inevitable AotC 3PO.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was tempted by the tan release of this figure last year, but never saw him in person, and didn’t feel majorly inclined to track him down after the fact.  Once I knew this one was coming, I officially switched over to just wanting him, because I like this color set better.  Now that I’ve finally gotten to mess with this mold, I can definitely see why people like it so much.  I’m sure Hasbro’s already planning to do a few more rank variants with it, and I can see myself picking some of those up to be sure.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2493: Anakin Skywalker – Padawan

ANAKIN SKYWALKER — PADAWAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A hero of the Clone Wars, Anakin was caring and compassionate, but also had a fear of loss that would prove to be his downfall”

Okay, so we were looking at some figures from Empire, the second installment in the Original Trilogy, which everyone loves.  Now, let’s jump forward (or is it backward?) to Attack of the Clones, the second installment of the Prequel Trilogy that most people don’t love.  I’m with most people on this one.  Delving back into my archive of old reviews tells me that the only other Anakin Skywalker figure I’ve reviewed here was back in May of 2014, and was another version of him from Attack of the Clones.  So, let’s do more of that, I guess?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Anakin Skywalker (Padawan) is figure 110 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s from the latest assortment of the main line, which is an entirely AotC-based line-up.  It’s also the last line-up before the line ditches the overall numbering scheme and goes to more themed subsets starting in the fall.  Gotta say, ending the longest running incarnation of this line with an all Attack of the Clones assortment is a pretty baller move.  Go for it, Hasbro.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  A lot of this figure’s parts are shared with the Revenge of the Sith version of the character, released way back in Series 4 of the original Black Series incarnation.  Remember in my Luke review on Tuesday, when I mentioned how nice it was to get an all-new sculpt for the Snowspeeder gear, even though they might have been able to try for some re-use?  Well, that feels somewhat relevant here.  Anakin’s look in the two films isn’t terribly different, so on one hand, some re-use is sensible.  However, it has the side effect of putting this guy on a base body that’s from 2014, which, from both a sculpting and an articulation stand point, puts him rather behind the times.  The torso in particular is rather boxy, and the movement on the elbows, waist, and knees is quite limited, especially when compared to more recent offerings.  He does at least get a new head, right forearm, and belt, which help to change him up a bit from the prior release.  The head is probably the strongest piece, and manages to give us a solid rendition of Hayden Christiansen.  It’s certainly an amazing improvement over any of the prior versions of him we’ve gotten, especially when it comes to his AotC appearance.  They definitely got that broody facial expression down.  The only slight issue with mine is that he’s got a bit of flashing on the right side of his jaw.  The new forearm is really just meant to mirror the left side, since this is a pre-robo arm Anakin.  It’s a real shame they didn’t take the opportunity to make it more easily removed at the elbow, to simulate some battle damage.  Of course, they also left Bespin Luke without an easily removed hand, so maybe they’re just really banking for potential variants down the line.  In terms of paint, this figure tries, but has one major issue, which is that his neck and face just don’t match.  Sadly, this is the potential problem you face when you’re painting one and molding the other in the appropriate color.  More recent figures have been using the double ball joint set up so that the neck is separate from the torso, allowing it to also be molded in the appropriate color, but no such luck here with this older mold.  At least the face printing looks pretty good.  In terms of extras, Anakin’s pretty light.  He gets his lightsaber…and that’s it.  It’s not even a really great mold, since the hilt feels somewhat oversized.  I’d really liked to have seen an alternate arm with his robot hand, or a robe, or even his green loaner saber from the end of the movie, so that we could properly set up the duel with Dooku (I had to steal one from Grievous to set up the shot at the end of the review).  Given that the figure whose mold he’s using most of included an extra head in addition to the lightsaber, this feels like a real missed opportunity.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I feel the need at this point to say that not only has my “no prequels” rule with this line been broken, it’s been poisoned, shot, stabbed, clubbed and finally drowned.  Very Rasputinian, if I do say so myself.  I’m really just all in at this point, honestly.  It helps a little that I already had Dooku, and also that I’m becoming increasingly in touch with the nostalgic twinge I have for Attack of the Clones, especially when it comes to toys.  This guy’s got his flaws, and in some ways feels a touch phoned in, but as a whole, he’s still a very enjoyable figure, and I’m hoping I can manage to snag Obi-Wan to go with him soon.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2492: R2-D2 – Dagobah

R2-D2 — DAGOBAH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Can you believe that in the 133 Black Series reviews I’ve written, I haven’t yet looked at R2-D2?  That’s crazy, right?  Well, okay, not really, since I got my Series 1 figure a couple of months before starting the site, and obviously didn’t pick up the subsequent re-release for the 40th line.  They finally opted to actually do a slight variant to the character, so I can totally justify buying another figure, and I have the drive to actually review the mold.  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2-D2 (Dagobah) is another figure from Series 2 of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of The Black Series line.  He’s the last “new” figure in the assortment, but as I touched on above, new is sort of relative here, since he’s just a repaint of the first R2.  He’s 4 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  The movement is a little different on this figure.  He’s got fairly typical joints at the top of the legs and at the “ankles”, as well as an opening door on each side of his front, each with an articulated arm inside.  The head turns as well, but it’s connected to an action feature that drops his third leg down.  It’s surprisingly gimmicky for this line, and makes posing the head a little tricky, since getting it set just right can be a little counter intuitive.  I think leaving the feature out may have ultimately been better, but I suppose it’s not the worst concept.  Otherwise, the sculpt is a pretty impressive representation of R2.  It’s a solid rendition, and pretty sharply detailed.  The main selling point on this release, of course, is the paint, which this time around replicates R2 after he falls into the swamp after landing on Dagobah.  He’s pretty sufficiently grimy and gross.  My only gripe with it is that the third leg doesn’t get fully painted, so it’s slightly jarring when extended.  That said, I don’t believe R2 has the third leg out while on Dagobah, so I guess it’s technically accurate this way.  I think the grime helps to showcase the strengths of the sculpt a little better than the original release’s paint, so I definitely dig it.  The original R2 had quite an accessory assortment, covering attachments from six movies.  This one’s not quite as impressive, getting only the periscope attachment from the first release.  It’s not a huge surprise, given it’s the one we see him use in the movie, and this is supposed to be a specifically Empire-based and all.  You can still remove all of the panels and swap them with the accessories from the prior release as well, but he does end up feeling a touch light given that he still holds the same price tag as the original release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve picked up more versions of the core OT cast in The Black Series, I’ve arrived at the point of having multiple displays with them from each film.  However, I still only had the one R2, and at the going rate for the standard, I certainly wasn’t picking up a second.  Fortunately, this guy came along and solved that problem for me.  He’s a little light on the accessories front, but I like the new paint job for sure.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2492: Luke Skywalker – Snowspeeder

LUKE SKYWALKER — SNOWSPEEDER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“During the Battle of Hoth, Luke Skywalker led the Rebel defense against the Empire’s ground forces, giving the Alliance time to evacuate the planet.”

With no shortage of costume changes in A New Hope, Luke Skywalker kept his impressive wardrobe going for Empire, with not only a new standard get-up and some cold weather gear (because everyone was doing it), but also an upgraded version of his pilot gear from the first movie.  The differences aren’t huge, but they’re certainly more than enough to qualify for another figure, and in fact they have for about 20 years now.  We got Luke’s first pilot gear way back at the beginning of Hasbro’s Black Series line, but now we’re finally getting the tweaked version as well.  Let’s have a look at how that turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) is the second figure in assortment two of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of The Black Series.  Like yesterday’s Rebel Soldier, he’s an all-new offering, and also like that figure, he’s already slotted for release in the main line later this year.  Luke is just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This version of Luke is sporting an all-new sculpt, which is quite nice, because Hasbro certainly had some room to phone things in and try to re-use parts of the X-Wing pilot sculpt.  It wouldn’t be as accurate, nor would it make for as good a figure, so I’m glad they went the way they did.  He also continues the trend of the butterfly shoulders, which is great when it comes to lightsaber posing.  I definitely enjoy this thing becoming a regular feature.  I have one notable issue with this sculpt, and ultimately, it comes down more to personal preference than to anything truly wrong.  Under the figure’s removable helmet, he’s sporting an insulating cap over his head.  This is accurate to the updated uniform, and we see a number of the other snowspeeder pilots wearing them when their helmets are removed.  Luke, however, we only see with all of the head gear either on or off.  So, while this is *technically* accurate to the costume design, the figure sans helmet isn’t actually accurate to anything we see in the movie.  I would have liked to get him without the cap, but I guess I’ll just have to make due swapping his head with the Dagobah Luke once I get my hands on that (actually, I really wouldn’t be opposed to a Dagobah landing Luke without the cap and gloves.  That’d be a cool variant).  As it stands, with the helmet, he looks pitch-perfect, and that’s really the way most people will be displaying him anyway.  Luke’s paint work is all pretty solid.  The base work is all pretty clean, and he’s using the face printing, so that looks pretty good.  The eye on my figure is slightly off-set, but not terribly so.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber.  He doesn’t get the grapple he uses in the scene against the AT-AT, but fear not, it comes with the Snowspeeder.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I definitely dig the Snowspeeder gear and the whole Snowspeeder set-up in general, so I was pretty happy when this guy was shown off, and even happier to hear he was getting an all-new sculpt.  Though he may not look like much new or exciting outwardly, he’s got a lot to offer, and improves on the already pretty solid X-Wing Luke.  Now, can we get a Wedge to match, or is that too soon?

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2491: Rebel Soldier – Hoth

REBEL SOLDIER — HOTH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“After the battle of Yavin, the rebels fled from the Imperial Starfleet, seeking a new main base of operations. They settled on the frozen Outer Rim world of Hoth.”

For The Black Series, Hasbro’s managed to give us a quite a good number of troop building options for the Imperials, the Republic Army, the First Order, and even the Battle Droids as of late, but somewhat smaller in quantity at this point in time are the Rebel forces.  Admittedly, part of that’s to do with how it’s a fair bit harder to make an easy army builder of the not-so-faceless forces that back up our heroes.  We got a Fleet Trooper from A New Hope back in 2018, but he was based on a specific guy from the movie’s opening moments, so army building was a touch more difficult.  For our first proper follow-up to that figure, based on the main look of the rebels from Empire, Hasbro’s really throwing their all behind some true troop building.  Let’s dive right on into this review, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rebel Soldier (Hoth) is one of the five figures in the second assortment of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.  Unlike the first assortment, most of this round is new figures, or at least notably changed figures.  The Rebel is one of two all-new offerings, though he will also be showing up in the standard line as well this fall.  That’s a very smart idea on Hasbro’s part, because this guy is definitely one that warrants multiple purchases.  This guy is meant to replicate the frontline soldiers we see in the trenches on Hoth during the Empire’s invasion.  He’s doesn’t look to specifically patterned on any one soldier in the film, and is like many Rebel Soldiers a sort of an averaged appearance.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  I’m happy to see that the butterfly joints introduced with the Sith Trooper are becoming a standard offering for the line, because they really add to the posing potential on these figures.  It means that he can certainly get more realistic poses with his rifle, at the very least.  The sculpt on this guy is all new, a slight surprise, given they never did anything more with the Hoth Luke from early in the line.  I can’t say I blame them for going all-new, because that old sculpt is more than a little dated.  This is definitely one of the best of The Black Series sculpts, and I really love all the layers to this sculpt.  I can also really appreciate that they gave us a clean-shaven Rebel Trooper, since most of the Hoth troopers were without facial hair, and for some reason we still always end up primarily getting them bearded. The paint work on this guy is pretty basic  for the line.  It does what it needs to, there’s no noticeable slop or major issues with bleed over, and the face gets the face printing to keep him more lifelike.  Now, onto perhaps the best part of the figure: accessories, and by extension, customizability!  This guy gets both a Blastech A-295 rifle and a DH-17 blaster, as well as a pair of goggles and a bandanna for more layout possibilities.  What’s that?  You want more customizability?  Well, pull off his enviromental pack from his back, pop of the panel at the bottom and, boom, extra faceplate, sporting that beard that these toys all seem to love.  With all of the extra parts, you’ve got a lot of distinct combinations, making army building with this release very easy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been waiting for some good Rebel Soldier army builders since The Black Series started, and while the Fleet Trooper was cool, it’s never been my favorite Rebel look.  As soon as this guy was shown off, I knew I was down for him, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting his release since we saw him at Toy Fair.  Honestly, in hand, he’s even better than I’d expected.  The options for customization on this guy are really fantastic, and I hope that Hasbro can keep this same energy going for when the Endor version gets its time up to bat.  I definitely look forward to some army building.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2490: Space Wolverine

SPACE WOLVERINE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The X-Man known as Wolverine will travel anywhere for a good fight with the forces of evil – even to the far reaches of outer space! Wolverine’s space armor protects him from the hostile conditions of deep space, while still allowing him to bring his adamantium claws to bear on alien evildoers! Even in this harsh environment, Wolverine is still the best there is at what he does!”

The eighth assortment of Toy Biz’s X-Men line was the first to properly theme itself, being based on the Pheonix Saga, which had just been adapted for the cartoon.  While a number of the character choices were pretty self-explanatory, they were still faced with a need for a Wolverine variant.  So, they kind of made one?  I mean, it’s not too far of a reach.  It’s a space suit variant, and in both comics and cartoon, the team does go into space.  Never in anything that looks like this, but still…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Space Wolverine was, as noted in the into, released in the eighth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  He marked the line’s first dabble into made up Wolverine variants, something that anyone who followed the Day of Wolverines will know was far from at its end here.  At least this one was tame, I suppose.  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall (continuing the upward size trend on Wolverines) and has 8 points of articulation.  Due to a returning of the Series 1 style retractable claws, he lacks any sort of elbow movement, but at least the posing isn’t quite as stiff as it was on the Street Clothes Wolverine.  As far as sculpting goes, this Wolverine gets a head that’s really similar to Wolverine II’s, albeit with some slightly sharper details.  The body is kind of on the wide side, at least in contrast to previous Wolverines.  It does match the overall bulking up trend that Logan went through as the line and the decade progressed, however.  The space suit for some reason doesn’t actually cover Wolverine’s whole body, leaving part of his costume exposed.  I guess his costume really doesn’t breathe?  That can’t be all that comfortable, can it?  Like going everywhere in a tyvek suit.  Yuck.  I guess it helps with branding, though, so there’s that.  In terms of paint, Wolverine again stays on-brand, with what we see of his costume being the usual colors, and the space suit continuing those general colors, but in a more metallic sense, so it’s more golds instead of yellows.  It honestly works pretty well.  There was also a variant of this figure released a bit later alongside a CD-Rom including the original Phoenix Saga issues, which swapped out the gold for a metallic blue.  I also have this figure…somewhere.  Unfortunately, all I could find at the time of this review was his helmet.  Maybe I’ll find him and I can run an addendum, I guess.  For the original release, as with all of the Phoenix Saga figures, there were two releases, once with the short card and once with the wider card the following year.  The initial version included just his removable helmet, second version(which is the one I had) added a gun and two of Shatterstar’s swords to the mix.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was still new to the collecting game when these guys came out, so I got most of the assortment new, Wolverine included.  He was a gift to me from my parents, shortly after we moved into the house they live in now, and I recall that he was accompanied by an X-Men carrying case to keep all of my figures in (which was a far more realistic goal back when I received the case and it could actually hold all of my X-Men figures).  He’s a little more gimmicky than earlier Wolverines, but he is at least a somewhat sensible variant.

#2489: Prince Xizor VS Darth Vader

PRINCE XIZOR VS DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

In the time between Han Solo’s capture by the Empire and his delivery to Jabba the Hutt, a secret struggle for power took place within the shadows of the Empire. A clash between power hungry crimelord Prince Xizor and the dreaded Darth Vader meant certain death for Luke Skywalker. As the Rebel Alliance’s only hope, a band of heroes led by Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and Dash Rendar set out to rescue Solo while protecting the young Jedi from a horde of bounty hunters and assassins.”

Oh, I bet you thought I was done with Shadows of the Empire, didn’t you?  Well…I wasn’t…so, you know…here we are?  Yeah, I know, I’m not thrilled about it either, but think of it this way: after today, the Shadows figures can’t hurt you anymore.  See?  Doesn’t a little but of optimism go a long way?  Okay, let’s get through this together guys.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Xizor and Vader are the second of the two Shadows of the Empire comic packs, the other being the Boba Fett and IG-88 set.  That one is, admittedly, a little more of an exciting prospect than this one, what with our only PotF2-style IG and all, but this one has value, too….there’s, um…a comic?  And the figures, too, I guess.  While the Xizor was technically distinct from his single-card release, this Vader would also end up single-carded in a Power of the Force assortment later down the line.

PRINCE XIZOR

“Xizor is the head of Black Sun, an intergalactic criminal empire that supports literally millions of outlaw organizations and activities. Since entering the service of the Emperor, the Dark Prince is widely considered one of the powerful individuals in the galaxy. He controls his operations with cold, deadly accuracy assuring that those who dare challenge Xizor meet with swift death, often by his own hand. His hunger for power has put him at direct odds with Lord Vader, But Xizor is afraid of no one; his hunger for power has driven him to dispatch an onslaught of assassins with orders to eliminate Luke Skywalker. Xizor plots to spoil Darth Vader’s promise to deliver Skywalker to the Emperor alive — a maneuver that would undermine Vader’s reliability and secure Xizor as the Emperor’s most favored ally.”

Prince Xizor was Shadows‘ primary antagonist, and that netted him not one, but two figures in Kenner’s tie-in line.  I’ve already looked at his single-carded release here on the site, but the two-pack was *slightly* different.  He’s only *mostly* the same.  That’s not quite as bad as *all* the same, right?  Well, actually, that’s probably up for debate, because if they were all the same, I’d only need to own and review one of them, rather than two.  Damn you Kenner and your making me right about Prince Xizor twice as many times as I needed to!  Like the single card, this figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Also like that release, his movement’s incredibly limited by the braids on his head and the thick plastic robe, and even further hindered by the tweaked posing of the arms, which prevents them from being quite as useful.  As far as parts, this guy and the other Xizor use the same head, torso, and pelvis, and he’s got ever so slightly tweaked arms and legs, which now are more pre-posed than the prior ones.  The robe also remains the same as the other release, despite this figure’s more dynamic pose.  In my review of the single Xizor, I remarked that I didn’t feel his color scheme was very Star Wars-y, and I stand by that here.  Application of the paint is at least still pretty good, so I guess he’s got that going for him.  This Xizor trades out the last release’s weird fan blade things for a battle staff, which works a bit better with the pose, I suppose.

DARTH VADER

“Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, has instilled terror throughout the galaxy since the beginning of the Empire. His devotion to the Emperor and mastery of the dark side gives him more power than any single individual in the galaxy except for the Emperor himself. Draped completely in black and wielding the ability to take a life with a mere gesture, Darth Vader stands as the incarnation of evil. His dislike of Prince Xizor is intense and his distrust well-founded. Though Vader would gladly eliminate Xizor, Emperor Palpatine has need of Black Sun’s shipping operations to speed construction of the new Death Star. Xizor had best watch his back however, as Vader’s control of the dark side of the Force makes him a most formidable foe”

Though a notable player in Shadows, Vader faced the problem of not actually having his appearance change at all from his normal look for the purposes of the story.  That’s a little hard to sell as a separate figure, so Kenner had to figure that out.  Enter the pre-posing.  Effectively, this guy takes the initial PotF2 Vader and sort of bends and contorts him a bit.  Now he’s different!  Yay!  Honestly, it’s not terrible in terms of design, and he balances on those mid-walk legs better than you might expect.  His cape gets a little more flair to it as well, which works out pretty well.  He gets the same saber as his standard counterpart, as you’d expect.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have trouble fully articulating how little I care about this particular release.  I literally only own it because a) I’m collecting the whole line, and b) it was bundled with the IG-88 and Boba set, which I actually wanted.  Neither of these figures exactly has much new to offer, and furthermore, I just don’t care about Xizor in the slightest.  So, here’s this set.  Cool.  I’m done now.

Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2488: Scarlett

SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

To wrap up up my look at the first assortment of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe relaunch, I’m making my way to the First Lady of the franchise, Shanna O’Hara, aka Scarlett.  Debuting as one of the Original 13 back in the day, Scarlett has a sort of hot-and-cold run when it comes to action figures.  She’ll go long stretches between updates, and finds herself frequently left out of line-ups where she should be included (Sigma 6 being the biggest offender on that front).  Fortunately, she’s right here at the start for Classified.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Scarlett is figure 05 in the Classified Series line-up.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 35 points of articulation.  As far as mobility goes, she’s definitely the most limited of the first series figures, thanks to actually just having less articulation.  For the most part, she’s still pretty serviceable on that front, but the elbows are a lot more limited than I’d like, especially given that she’s got a weapon she’s meant to hold two-handed.  Some deeper bends are really needed.  Of all the designs in this first set, Scarlett’s is the one that’s the most far-removed from her original figure.  Now, in her defense, even the original animation and comics designs were a little bit removed from how the figure looked, so she’s already starting from there.  That said, there’s still a lot more modernization and tweaking going on this one.  It kind of makes sense, with her being the least regulation of the original bunch anyway.  She was running around in a leotard and was just shy of a super hero costume, so she’s always been a little bit of an outlier.  She’s also the one most prone to rather sizable re-works as the line progresses, so this is really just the next one of those.  For me, this design really works, because it possesses all of the broad strokes elements that really read as Scarlett, while still fitting in a little bit better with a modern aesthetic.  This design has a nice fusion of practicality and fantasy, and it keeps it pretty fun.  The sculpt does a solid job of bringing her into three dimensions, with a nice set of balanced proportions, and a ton of small detail work that helps her really pop.  In terms of paint, Scarlett is definitely a brighter splash of color than the rest of the assortment.  That’s not a bad thing, and it’s in keeping with usual depictions of her.  The use of the gold that’s been on most of the Joes looks a lot better here, especially when merged with the yellow that’s already there.  I’m also quire a fan of the variation on her hair, which gives it a nice sense of transparency and light.  I did notice a few spots of slop on the base paint for my figure, especially on the wrist guards.  I’m hoping Hasbro can tighten up the paint a little more on this line going forward.  Scarlett is packed with an updated version of her crossbow, plus three knives.  The crossbow is in two parts and has a tendency to pop apart a lot, but is otherwise pretty cool.  The knives can all be stowed on the figure, which gives them a nice extra interactive feel which I really enjoy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a very big fan of Scarlett, so as soon as I saw Snake Eyes, I was waiting to see the corresponding Scarlett.  I know she’s not everyone’s jam, but I really dig this new design a lot, and I like having her to go with my updated Snake Eyes.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a more classic version at some point as well, though, since I’m hardly going to turn down the chance to get another Scarlett figure.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2487: Duke

DUKE

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Alright, we took a slight detour over to the Cobra side of things yesterday, but today we’re returning back to the Joes with perhaps the most Joe-y Joe there is, Conrad “Duke” Hauser.  Since joining the teams ranks in 1983, Duke has pretty much been the face of the franchise, taking a major role in the the last several revisions of the franchise as well.  He’s also nowhere near as cool as anyone else on the team, but I guess we’ll try not to hold that against him.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Duke is figure 04 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line.  Initially, he was supposed to be heavier packed alongside Snake Eyes, but when the cases dropped to 6 figures instead of 8, he went down to one per case.  It’s okay, though; it’s just Duke.  It’s not that big a deal.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  In terms of posablilty, he falls between Snake Eyes and Roadblock, being not quite as agile as Snake Eyes, but still getting a little more range than Roadblock.  Much like yesterday’s Destro, Duke’s a more faithful recreation of his old figure than the others in the set.  There are still a handful of changes, of course, to help bring him more in line with the slight sci-fi flair of the rest of the updated line, and to just sort of modernize him a bit.  I know some people weren’t big on the shin armor, but it feels rather Aliens-like to me, and I’m definitely down for that.  The head sculpt has gotten a little bit of flak from collectors who think he either has too modern of a haircut or looks a little too young for Duke.  I myself quite like the sculpt.  It’s got a little bit of a John Cena vibe to it, which actually works surprisingly well.  I also like that they’ve kept the scar that Duke frequently sports (in reference to the original Joes, of course), though it’s been moved up to his eyebrow instead of his cheek.  The overall end result definitely amounts to a very Duke-esque figure, and I can definitely get behind that.  Duke’s paint work is rough; definitely the roughest of this bunch.  My figure’s got quite a bit of slop on his uniform, especially at the top of the shirt and on the gloves.  Like I said, it’s rough.  At least mine has a decent looking face, which I can’t say for every other Duke that All Time got in.  I don’t know if there are line-wide issues with him or what, but he definitely ended up way worse on this front than the rest of the group.  Duke’s accessory selection is almost a match for his V1 figure’s set-up.  He gets a rifle, a pistol, a back pack, and a small pair of binoculars.  The rifle and pistol are again more sci-fi-esque designs, though I really dig how they’ve matched the silhouette of the rifle to the vintage counterpart’s sub machine gun.  I also really like how the binoculars clip onto his belt.  About the only thing this guy’s missing for the full vintage set-up is a helmet, and that’s honestly never been a very intrinsically Duke piece.  I definitely can’t knock what he’s got here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Classically, I’m not the biggest Duke fan, but of the Toy Fair reveals, he was probably the one who impressed me the most, because I think he’s a very nice merging of classic with modern.  The final figure has to contend with some production errors, which makes him a little touchy in some spots, but I’m overall quite happy with the end result.  I suppose he’ll be a suitable leader to my Joes for now.  You know, until Hawk arrives and I kick this guy to the curb.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.