#2761: Casey Jones & Raphael in Disguise

CASEY JONES & RAPHAEL in DISGUISE

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE MOVIE (NECA)

“Now you can catch America’s favorite green teens in their first live-action blockbuster film!  After wading in a puddle of radioactive waste, these radical reptiles are transformed into New York City’s greatest crime-fighting quartet.  Raphael’s a skilled sai-wielding ninja.  Beware: when he gets angry, you don’t want to be around.  Casey Jones, the masked vigilante, carries a golf bag on his back filled with clubs, bats, and sticks…makeshift weapons in his war against crime.”

Hey, how about that totally not at all troublesome or even slightly infuriating topic that is NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  Which one in particular?  It doesn’t matter!  They’re all equally infuriating!  Yay!  Equal opportunity awfulness!  ….Okay, I’m gonna try not to let this be a review of me just complaining about distribution issues.  Those are no fun to experience, and even less fun to read about.  Let’s just skip past, shall we?  Remember back in early 2019, when I had a man on the inside a fiancee working at GameStop, which was pretty much the sole reason I was able to get a set of the GameStop-exclusive movie Turtles?  Well, NECA decided to do more of those.  And they were even harder to get than the first round, so they stopped giving them to GameStop entirely (not a bad decision, to be fair), and moved the movie-related stuff over to Walmart (a horrible decision, really).  Now, instead of single releases, they were doing two-packs, which they kicked off roughly around the middle of last year, starting with the pairing I’m looking at today, Casey Jones and Raphael in Disguise!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Casey and Raph were, as discussed above, a Walmart-exclusive two-pack, released as part of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie line last summer….or they were in theory, at least.  It’s not like anyone really saw them–right, trying not to dwell.

CASEY JONES

Casey here is really the main appeal of this set, since he was previously unreleased by NECA, in any scale, or any style.  We got two of them last year, and neither one was particularly easy to–right, I’m dwelling again.  Don’t do that.  This one is movie-based, as you may have guessed from him being in a line that has “Movie” in the title.  This is a kind of big deal, since we’ve not gotten any form of movie Casey from any manufacturer prior to this one.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit better in the articulation department than the Turtles were, showcasing some of NECA’s steps forward in that area since doing those guys’ sculpts back when they were still 1/4 scale.  In particular, he’s got much better range on his elbows, which have the same sort of structure as Brett did earlier last year.  Casey’s sculpt is all-new, and certainly on par with NECA’s usual work.  Since they didn’t get Elias Koteas’s likeness rights, the figure is without his face, instead keeping him permanently masked.  While it’s somewhat limiting, it’s also not that weird for a Casey Jones figure, since the vintage figure’s mask was sculpted in place too.  This one does at least look as if it *could* be removed, since it is actually a separate piece.  It’s a sharply defined and very clean piece, and definitely the best part of this figure.  The body sculpt does a respectable job as well.  The level of detail is definitely up to the standards of the other figures in the set; there are some spots where the articulation could be a little better worked in, especially on the knees, but for the most part, he’s pretty strong.  Casey’s paint work honestly isn’t all that involved for the most part, largely being just large open areas of solid color.  The shirt and vest do get some impressive accenting, however, and, apart from one spot on the side of his hair, the application is pretty clean.  Casey’s accessory selection is certainly one of NECA’s most impressive.  He gets four pairs of different hands (fists, loose grip, tight grip, and open gesture/flat grip combo), as well as his golf bag mentioned in the bio, which can be filled with his included hockey stick, goalie stick, golf club, two baseball bats, and cricket bat.  It certainly gives him a lot of options in how to bring the pain.

RAPHAEL in DISGUISE

Raphael largely exists as an excuse to make a two-pack out of this whole set-up, but I guess also as a way to get Raphael out another time, after the less than stellar distribution of the first two movie releases.  This one operates on the general thematic of Raph and Casey’s first interactions with each other in the first film, which has Raph in the aforementioned disguise, which amounts to a trench coat and hat.  How does this figure manage that?  By taking the previous Raphael (which I reviewed here) and putting him in a trench coat and hat.  The coat is a cloth piece, and is decent enough for the scale.  Some of the tailoring is a little oversized, but it’s not a terrible look, and it’s a pretty close match to the one he had in the movie.  It can be removed, if you so choose, but it’s not really optimized for it.  It’ll definitely take some doing (hence why I didn’t, what with already having one sans coat and all), but it’s possible.  The coat is held in place a little more so by a sculpted back pack, which is a reasonable enough piece.  The whole disguise is topped off by the hat, another sculpted plastic piece.  It’s designed with a hole at the back, so that it can sit more properly on the head, while still allowing for the knot on the back of his mask to be left undeterred.  It’s a little janky to look at from behind, but it does stay in place pretty nicely.  In terms of accessories, Raph has the same alternate hands, alternate ties to the mask, slice of pizza, and sais as the single release, but also adds an extra set of hands which are pointing, you know, for pointing purposes.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always been a Casey Jones fan, and I’d go so far as to say he’s my favorite part of the TMNT mythos.  Despite all this, I owned no Casey Jones figures beyond the Minimate, which seemed wrong.  I’d been hoping for NECA to do some version of Casey, so I was interested in this one, but then there was the whole distribution thing.  That was a mess, wasn’t it?  Fortunately, I’m a patient man, so I just kind of avoided the whole issue for the entirety of the last year.  As luck would have it, my patience paid off, and someone happened to trade this set into All Time last month, at last giving me the opportunity to get one without having to deal with Walmart.  Yay for me!  Casey’s definitely a nice figure, worth the wait, but also not really worth the mark-up, so I’m glad I didn’t pay it.  Raph is kind of redundant for me, and I ultimately decided not to hang onto him, but he’s still as good a figure as the first release.  If someone didn’t get that one, I imagine this one would be a great alternative.  Perhaps even a better one, really.  Whatever the case, I’m just happy to have a Casey to go with my Turtles.  Now, here’s to hoping that April’s not quite as much of a nightmarish ordeal to acquire.  Man, even *I* don’t believe myself when I say that…

#2760: Mechagodzilla

MECHAGODZILLA

GODZILLA VS KONG (PLAYMATES)

“A robotic apex predator with unstoppable powers of laser destruction, Mechagodzilla was created in secret to destroy Godzilla and end the reign of monsters.”

On March 31st, we finally got the conclusion to what Legendary’s Monsterverse has been building up to for a few years, Godzilla vs Kong, which was a movie that was, unsurprisingly, about Godzilla and Kong having a little bit of a spat.  It’s a big, fun action movie, which very much delivers on the promise of the title, and I really quite enjoyed it.  After being rather on the quiet side in terms of merchandising, this movie was a Monsterverse film that actually got a pretty well-formed tie-in line of toys, giving us a couple of variants of the two title characters, as well as some of the more antagonistic threats that they face within the movie.  The film’s biggest antagonist is definitely Godzilla’s robotic doppelgänger, Mechagodzilla!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mechagodzilla is part of Playmates’ basic Godzilla vs Kong line, which is, as of right now, a Walmart-exclusive line of figures, which started hitting shelves a couple of weeks before the film’s release.  He was one of two items that leaked the character’s appearance prior to the film’s release, although we all had a sneaking suspicion even before that.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s actually one of the best articulated figures in the line, with most of the basics covered, as well as a few extra joints.  I was a little bummed by the lack of elbow joints, but otherwise he’s pretty posable, especially given the price point.  The figure’s sculpt is so far unique to him, although it’s possible it might be picked for a repaint later down the line, like the basic Godzilla and Kong sculpts got.  Whatever the case, it’s a pretty decent one.  It’s not quite to the level of Bandai Japan or NECA, with the general detailing being a little on the softer side than the more collector-oriented stuff, but there’s still a lot of detailing going on there.  Like the rest of the line, he boasts “Battle Damage Reveal!” which in his case means that the panel on the center of his torso comes off, revealing some more mechanical details beneath.  It doesn’t really track directly with anything from the film, but it’s still kind of a cool gimmick.  Additionally, while it doesn’t do much for the figure on his own, the interior of the mouth has a spot that’s compatible with the atomic breath effects piece designed for the standard Godzilla.  We still don’t have said piece in red, of course, but it’s still nice from a cross-compatibility stand-point.  Mechagodzilla is rather basic on the paint work stand point, mostly being molded in the proper colors.  There’s a few small spots of red, but that’s really it.  It’s not particularly involved, and does look somewhat devoid of detail in some spots, but, again, for the price point, it does make some sense.  While Mechagodzilla doesn’t include any sort of effects pieces of his own, he does include a miniature version of the HEAV, or Hollow Earth Anti-Gravity Vehicle. Mechagodzilla doesn’t actually ever directly interact with the HEAV, but it’s a nice way of at least getting the piece out there.  It’s also just a pretty nifty little piece all on its own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I’m hit and miss with Godzilla himself in regards to the toy world, I do like me some giant robots, and as such, Mechagodzilla is very definitely a thing that makes me go “wow, I want that.”  That’s ultimately what I said when, after Max picked up one of these for himself.  Thankfully, he was more than happy to keep an eye out for a second one for me, and boom, here we are.  Mechagodzilla is a really fun figure, and very hard to beat for the $10 asking price.  Playmates did a great job with this line, and I’m very seriously tempted to pick up a few of the others.

#2759: K-2SO

K-2SO

STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION (HASBRO)

Back when Rogue One was first released, the more articulated Star Wars stuff was largely on hiatus.  They were just doing the Walmart-exclusive Black Series figures, and Rogue One only got a small four figure assortment.  We only got two of the film’s three leads in that way, which left poor K-2SO out of all the extra articulated goodness.  Fortunately, with the relaunch of the Vintage Collection, Hasbro is going back to some earlier projects and filling in some holes.  K-2 was fortunate enough to be part of that set-up, and is finally getting his due…in this very particular sub-set of figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

K-2SO is figure VC170 in Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Vintage Collection.  He was released in mid-2020, as part of an assortment that also contained Clone Commander Wolffe, Stormtrooper Luke, and the GNK Droid.  A rather diverse line-up to say the least.  The figure stands 4 1/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  K-2’s articulation is pretty nicely implemented, and pretty much on par with his larger figure.  It’s one of the better articulation set ups for the line.  The sculpt is an all-new offering, and is to date Hasbro’s most screen accurate rendition of K-2.  The proportions are good, the articulation is worked in well, and the head in particular is a real match for the on-screen design.  This is definitely one of the best VC sculpts of the current batch.  The paint work on K-2 is pretty solid work.  It’s easy to let him be rather basic, but Hasbro’s at least gone the extra mile and added in some wear and tear throughout his outer plating.  It’s all rather nicely laid out, and gives him that proper unique appearance.  It might be interesting to see a more generic security droid re-deco, at some point, should Hasbro be interested in such a thing.  In contrast to his larger figure, this K-2 is not without accessories; he actually gets the small blaster pistol he’s given by Cassian during the climax.  It’s a small extra, but a nice character-specific piece, and one that was overlooked on earlier figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve largely given up collecting the VC stuff, just because it exists in a weird middle ground between the 5POA and the Black Series figures, and I usually find myself kind of let down.  That being said, I’ve always really liked the more articulated Jyn and Cassian, and wanted a K-2 to match, so this guy was the only recent VC figure I actually made an effort to pick up.  He’s a nifty figure, and probably the best version of the character on the market.  He’s certainly my favorite VC figure.

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

#2758: Evangelion Proto Type 00/00

EVANGELION PROTO TYPE 00/00

ROBOT SPIRITS (BANDAI)

Despite being a pretty big fan of the whole big mechas versus big monsters sub-genre, I somehow managed to avoid any major exposure to anything Evangelion until the last two years.  I know, shame on me.  Last winter I marathoned my way through Neon Genesis Evangelion and it’s follow-up movies, and then after a few months, my brain started working again, and now we’re kind of here?  I did enjoy the show, despite it’s brain breaking properties, and I certainly was down for some toys.  Fortunately for me, there’s a lot of options on that front!  I’m decidedly going with something generally more on the recent side, and I’m kicking off my collection with Eva Unit-00, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Evangelion Proto Type 00/00, or Unit-00 for short, was released as part of Bandai’s Robot Spirits toyline.  She’s figure 270 in the line, and marks the second of the Evas for the line.  This particular version of Unit-00 is based on her appearance in the Rebuild of Evangelion movies.  While Units 01 and 02 remain rather similar to their original designs, Rebuild does mix things up a little bit more for Unit-00, who in the original begins as an orange mecha, and then switches to blue for her more armored appearance.  In Rebuild, she instead keeps a more consistent orange and grey color scheme between both appearances.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 54 points of articulation.  This sucker’s pretty darn mobile, with a very impressive range of motion.  My prior exposure to Robot Spirits was through the Pacific Rim figures, and they  were solid for what they were, but the posability definitely wasn’t like this.  The figure’s designed for a lot of deep poses, as the Evas are prone to get into within the series, and that definitely works out very nicely.  I was also quite impressed by the engineering of the articulation, and how it works within the sculpt.  By far the coolest part is on the neck, which has a segmented construction that actually simulates stretching and compressing.  It’s really cool.  In general, the sculpt, which is quite an impressive piece of work, does a really good job of working in the articulation in an aesthetically pleasing way, while still maintaining a nice bit of accuracy to the source material.  Speaking of accuracy to the source, Unit 00 has two different looks in Rebuild, and this figure is actually designed to replicate both of them.  Right out of the box, she’s in her later, more armored up appearance, complete with the shoulder pylon things.  The shoulders are even on separate joints, so that you can keep them properly oriented, and out of the way of the arms when posing, which is pretty cool.  The shoulders, chest plate, and part of the thighs swap out for secondary parts, allowing for a conversion to the more streamlined appearance from earlier on, which looks pretty good too.  I’m more a fan of the out of the box set-up, but extra display options are always fine by me.  Unit 00’s color work is bold and clean, which is what you want to see on such figures.  A lot of it’s done through molded plastic, but the actual paint application that’s there is cleanly applied as well.  I certainly had no issues with it on my figure.  Unit 00 is quite nicely accessorized.  There are, of course, the previously mentioned alternate armor pieces, but on top of that she gets six sets of hands (fists, gripping, flat, relaxed, and two different styles of open gesture), an umbilical power cord, knife, smaller rifle, larger gun (complete with a spinning drum), handcuffs, an alternate open port for the plug, and some sort of crucifix antenna thing that I assume is somehow plot relevant to Rebuild.  It’s a really impressive selection of extras, and pretty much covers anything I could possibly think of wanting for the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I hadn’t seen anything Evangelion-related until the last two years, I also hadn’t gotten any of the toys, since I (typically) steer clear of toys for things I haven’t really experienced.  After watching the show, I definitely found Unit 00 to be my personal favorite of the main Evas, and I was definitely down for some version of it in toy form.  I’ve been looking at my options, and then this one wound up being the first of the Robot Spirits Evas to come into All Time, which certainly made my choice quite simple.  It’s a really fun figure, and probably the most fun I’ve had with a Robot Spirits release.  There’s so much cool stuff going on, and so many different options for display, but at the core of it, there’s a figure that’s just really, really fun to play around with.

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.

#2757: Black Cat & Ben Reilly

BLACK CAT & BEN REILLY

MARVEL MINIMATES

The third year of Marvel Minimates had a very focused beginning, bringing in the FF for the first time, but after getting them out of the way, the rest of the year wound up being a pretty major mixed bag.  The 9th, 10th, and 11th assortments were all sort of mixed bags in terms of characters, and the 10th and 11th in particular would introduce something new to the brand: total parts re-use assortments.  In order to stretch things as far as they could go, DST would do as many characters as possible with no new pieces.  Included amongst these heavily re-used figures were today’s offerings, Spidey characters Black Cat & Ben Reilly!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Cat and Ben Reilly were released in Series 10 of Marvel Minimates, which hit in the summer of 2005.  Black Cat would remain exclusive to this pairing, but Ben found his way into a re-pack, alongside fellow Series 10 figure Sandman, for Target later that same year.

BLACK CAT

Black Cat made her Minimates debut here, sporting a fairly classic design for the character.  She was built on the basic body, post C3 feet, so she stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She doesn’t get the new head with peg hole, due to the re-used hair piece, which comes from the Series 6 Phoenix.  While not a terrible piece on its own, it was about to get a bunch of uses all right on top of each other, which earned it the nickname “The Rachel”, in reference to when lots of women got the same haircut as Jennifer Aniston, during Friends‘ hey-day.  And now you know that completely useless bit of trivia.  Aren’t you glad?  Apart from the hair, Felicia was a totally vanilla ‘mate, which honestly isn’t all that out of place for the character.  The rest of her design is handled through paint.  It’s actually pretty decently handled.  The face is really my favorite of the Black Cats that DST did, and they even did a respectable job of recreating a more feminine shape for her body, by use of shading.  It’s actually pretty cool.

BEN REILLY

Spider-Man had plenty of Minimates by this point, but this marked the first one for his clone, Ben Reilly.  Interestingly, it’s not in his Scarlet Spider gear, but instead his take on the Spider-Man costume.  Exactly why is anyone’s guess, especially since it’s usual thing of “being a more credible standard Spidey variant” is kinda lost given he didn’t get Spider-Man in his name at all.  I’m probably over thinking things.  DST didn’t overthink this guy, that’s for sure.  He’s got two add-ons, for his web-shooters on his wrists.  They’re re-used from Power Man, and, while they should technically be segmented, they do work pretty well in a pinch.  Beyond that, he’s another heavy on the paint sort of figure.  It’s pretty good paint, and I do like how they actually painted the red entirely, rather than the mix of paint and plastic like the standard Spidey.  Honestly, this is probably my favorite Spidey paint scheme.  He’s got no accessories, not even the generic webline piece, which is kind of a shame in one way, but a bit of a relief in another, because one man can really own so many of that one piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a set I actually snagged new.  This whole period of time marked me starting to fall out of things a touch (though, to be fair, it’s not like even DST felt all that invested at the time), but I liked this pair enough to buy them.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ben Reilly Spider-Man costume, and it remains perhaps my favorite Spider-Man minimate.  Black Cat’s not too shabby either.  Overall, a pretty solid set, even if they were just re-use.

#2756: Firestorm

FIRESTORM

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Firestorm has the ability to alter the atomic structure of all things. He uses this power to fly, cause nuclear blasts, and transform objects into other things.  Firestorm is not invulnerable. He loses all his powers when he switches to his civilian identities. Firestorm is actually TWO people – teenager Robbie Raymond, and Professor Martin Stein. Firestorm was created when their two bodies were atomically fused during an explosion in a nuclear power plant.”

Super Powers‘ fixation on both Super Friends and the Satellite Era of the Justice League line-up made it a good time to be Firestorm, a member of both teams in at least some capacity.  A relatively new character, being introduced only six years prior to the line’s launch, he nevertheless found himself a home in the line, netting him his first, and for a very long time only, action figure, which I’m going to be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Firestorm was included in the 1985 line-up for Kenner’s Super Powers line, during it’s second year at retail.  He was one of the four Justice Leaguers added in the second year, and was definitely the most eclectic choice of that bunch (though, in a year that included Desaad, Mantis, & Steppenwolf, he was certainly far from the most obscure character included).  The figure stands almost 5 inches tall (thanks to that really tall bit of fire hair) and he has 7 points of articulation.  His movement scheme is pretty much the same one that the entire line sported; it’s not bad for the era, and is certainly a step up from where Kenner tended to be.  Firestorm had a totally unique sculpt (which would have seen some re-use had the planned Power Plus subline launched in 1987 as planned), patterned on Jose Garcia-Lopez’s style guide illustration for the character.  He’s based on his original Raymond/Stein fusion design, which was at this point still the only one he had, so I guess it made sense.  It’s a distinctive look, and one that certainly translates nicely into figure form.  The only slightly awkward part, I guess, is the hair, but honestly even that doesn’t look so bad here.  There’s also a really nice flow on the puffy sleeves, which could look way sillier than they ultimately do.  Firestorm’s paint work continued the line’s trend of being bright, clean, and colorful.  He actually had a little more going on than some of the other figures, and in particular they’ve made the hair look pretty good again, even if the design necessitates it being totally opaque.  Firestorm included no accessories, but he did get the requisite super power action feature.  His is a “Power Action Atomic Punch”; squeeze his legs and he moves his arms back and forth.  Wooooooo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Firestorm is another very early addition to my Super Powers collection.  I got him for my eighth birthday, as a gift from my parents.  I remember being rather excited, especially since it was literally the only Firestorm available at the time, and would stay that way for a few years.  I was still catching the occasional Super Friends reruns, and that included a few of his later series appearances, so I definitely liked the character.  This would actually remain the only Firestorm in my collection until the DCUC version was released.  He’s a pretty solid figure.  I mean, so’s the rest of the line, for the most part, but I do like this one quite a lot.

#2755: Bo-Katan Kryze

BO-KATAN KRYZE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A gifted warrior, Bo-Katan Kryze is a legendary Mandalorian. She refused to align with the Empire’s occupation of Mandalore.”

One of the very short list of characters who have pulled the trifecta of Clone WarsRebels, and The Mandalorian appearances (while still remaining absent from the movies proper), is Katee Sackoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze.  Despite being a rather prominent character across three different Star Wars series, Bo-Katan has, up until recently, been without any action figure coverage.  I suppose an argument could be made that it’s because she’s just the worst, but that’s, admittedly, not a universal opinion.  Also, not my opinion, really, though I do get the argument.  Whatever the case, it’s her appearance on The Mandalorian that finally got her the toy coverage, going straight for the Black Series offering, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bo-Katan Kryze is Figure 10 in the Mandalorian sub-line of Star Wars: The Black Series.  She’s the final figure in the latest assortment of the line, as well as the only Mandalorian figure included.  She’s patterned specifically on her appearance on the show (or at the very least a very close to final version of the show’s design), but it’s worth noting that her other appearances aren’t terribly far removed from this one, so she can sort of pull triple duty, if you’re looking for her to fill out your Clone Wars or Rebels shelves as well.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her articulation is pretty well standard for a modern Star Wars release, which is to say it’s quite good.  In particular, I was quite impressed by the range of motion on her hips, especially with that belt and holster set-up there.  Her sculpt is an all-new affair, which isn’t too surprising.  As I touched on up above, she’s definitely based on her appearance in The Mandalorian‘s second season, but there are some minor design elements that point to her being based the designs for her outfit for the show, rather than the physical prop suit.  It’s still very close, though. and it’s more of how the parts all fit together than it is the actual individual parts.  Underneath of her removable helmet (complete with articulated range finder; I’m glad that’s become standard) is a fully-formed head sculpt, which sports a rather decent likeness of Katee Sackoff, on the face, at least.  The hair’s a different story; it’s styling is slightly off for the show, though it’s possible that owes more to making the helmet sit a bit better than it is an actual misinterpretation of the design from the show.  It means that she works better with the helmet on than off, but it’s not a terrible look either way.  More so than the sculpt, the paint work on this figure shows some of that not-quite-final source material it was working from; she winds up with generally a more muted color scheme than she had in the show.  Her blues should definitely be brighter, and some of the accents should be a little darker.  But, as with the sculpt, it’s not like it’s incredibly far off.  The base coloring is still there, and she’s even got some decent accenting on the armor, to wear it in a bit.  Bo-Katan is packed with her aforementioned helmet, her jetpack, and a pair of matching blaster pistols (borrowed from Sabine).  It’s not a ton, but it’s a good match for the character and what she needs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My re-watch of The Clone Wars and Rebels definitely left me hoping to see Bo-Katan show up in figure form at some juncture.  Her re-appearance on The Mandalorian, as frustrating a character as she may have been to some of the viewership, just really pushed it for me.  She’s definitely prominent enough to deserve figure treatment, and I definitely dig the character’s design enough to want that figure.  The end result is a pretty strong one.  She’s not without flaws, but she’s still pretty solid, and I’m glad to have her.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2754: Elite Squad Trooper

ELITE SQUAD TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“After the formation of the Galactic Empire, a small group of highly skilled enlisted recruits is tasked with neutralizing anti-Imperial insurgents throughout the galaxy.”

I see a Trooper and I want to paint it black! No colors anymore, I want them to turn black!

It’s a pretty well-established thing that you can make anything in Star Wars better by, as The Who said, painting it black.  Well, it mostly applies to troopers, I guess, but there’s a lot of those, so that’s a high percentage of Star Wars things.  While mostly an excuse to sell some more toys, the concept of painting a trooper black has also found its way into the Star Wars ‘verse proper, with all sorts of different rationales behind it.  In the case of the Clone Troopers, the latest excuse for them being all dark and monochromatic comes in the form of the Elite Squad Troopers, who will be playing some sort of role in the upcoming Bad Batch show, though specifically what, we don’t know quite yet.  It does mean we’ve got the toy, though, which is good an excuse as any to trot out the Clone Trooper molds in swanky all-black.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Squad Trooper is figure 03 in the Bad Batch sub-set of Black Series, and is the third and final of the three Bad Batch-related figure in the most recent assortment of the line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This guy is completely built out of re-used parts, though, in contrast to how things may look at first glance, they’re not all from the new Kamino Trooper mold.  He uses that figure’s upper half, combined with the legs of the previous Clone Trooper body.  It’s…different?  I’m admittedly not sure why exactly they’ve made the change here.  The range of motion was certainly better on the newer legs; the old ones are rather restricted in the ankles and hips.  The only thing I can think of is that there were concerns of long-term durability with the construction of the new knee pads.  I suppose there’s also potentially some aesthetic benefits to the older legs, but I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the trade-off, if I’m honest.  I mean, it’s still generally better than just using the whole older Clone Trooper body; at least this one can more properly hold his weapons.  In another instance of looks being deceiving, the paint work isn’t just a straight all-black set-up.  In addition to the green visor, it’s also worth noting that the armor proper isn’t straight black, but rather more of a slate color, while the body suit is a straight black.  It’s a subtle, but well done contrast, which also keeps him from being too visually bland.  This guy’s packed with one single accessory, the DC-15A blaster.  It’s a shame he just gets the one, since prior clones have gotten both the 15A and 15S versions.  I’m guessing this might be a show-accuracy sort of thing, but it still makes the figure feel a little light, especially since he’s all repaint.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

An all-black repaint of any new trooper mold is effectively a given, so I was sort of expecting this one to crop up at some point, though I wasn’t expecting it quite this quickly.  The mixed mold is a little weird, especially this soon after establishing the new body, and I wish they weren’t cutting accessories, but I will admit this figure is really slick looking.  Sometimes, I’m just very easy to please, and this is one of those times.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2753: Crosshair

CROSSHAIR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Bad Batch, technically known as Clone Force 99, is the result of Kaminoan experiments to create specialist clone commandos. Crosshair is the team sniper who displays superior accuracy.”

The Bad Batch is, admittedly, a team primarily built out of action movie team archetypes.  Hunter’s the team’s leader guy, specializing in…uhh…leading?  So, he’s got that role covered.  But where would the team be without some sort of of dark loner guy who keeps to himself and snipes from afar?  Fear not, they’ve got Crosshair for this role.  He’s dark!  He’s a loner!  He snipes!  What more could you want?  Hopefully it’s action figures, because that’s what we’ve got here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Crosshair is the second figure in the Bad Batch-sub-line of Star Wars: The Black Series‘s Phase IV run.  He’s another figure in the fourth assortment of the line, and the second of the three Bad Batch figures included therein.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Crosshair’s articulation scheme is the same as Hunter’s, largely because he’s built from a bunch of the same parts.  It’s sensible, since they do have a lot of the same elements in the show, and, unsurprisingly, have the same build.  He does get a new head, helmet, shoulder pads, upper torso, and bandolier/belt overlay pieces in order to set him apart, as well as ditching Hunter’s more character-specific under-arm knife (though there’s still a hole in his forearm where the sheath plugged in on Hunter).  Hunter’s sculpt was pretty decent, but I like Crosshair’s even more; I think it’s partially just that his design translates to toy form a little bit better, but it also feels like they had just a little more fun putting him together.  His new upper torso gets its own slightly tweaked wear and tear, and his un-helmeted head has that slightly Clint Eastwood-ian look that goes well with the character.  His hair’s been slightly changed up in the transition to a more real-world set up, presumably because his animation style hair just looked a bit too silly on a real face.  The helmet again sits nicely atop the head, but unlike with Hunter, I do find myself actively preferring the helmeted appearance on this one.  His helmet’s even got a moving range-finder, which is definitely cool.  Crosshair’s paint work is pretty much on par with Hunter’s.  It’s not bad from a basic stand point (although he’s missing his little painted crosshair over his helmet’s visor, which is a shame), but it does lack in the way of weathering or any major accenting.  It would definitely help these sculpts to stand out a little bit more.  As it stands, he still looks okay, but it’s not much to write home about.  Crosshair’s accessory selection is pretty solid, as he gets his own back pack, his sniper rifle, and a small blaster pistol.  Unlike Hunter, he’s actually got storage for all of his weaponry, with the rifle breaking into two pieces for stowage on his back, and the blaster fitting into the holster on his belt.  Definitely a nice set-up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hunter’s kind of the blandest member of the Batch, so while he was pretty cool, he lacks a lot of that flair that the others have.  Crosshair is our first real taste of that more individualized set-up, and I think it does the figure a lot of favors.  From a purely technical standpoint, both figures are well executed, but Crosshair’s definitely a little more fun, and certainly my favorite of the two.  I look forward to seeing the show, and I certainly look forward to getting the rest of the Batch.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2752: Hunter

HUNTER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Bad Batch, technically known as Clone Force 99, is the result of Kaminoan experiments to create specialist clone commandos. Hunter, their leader, is a strong and stoic soldier.”

The Bad Batch, an elite squat of slightly defective clones, made their first appearance in what was originally one of a handful of unfinished episodes of The Clone Wars following its <second> cancellation.  When Disney+ renewed the show for one last season, the Batch’s introductory episode was expanded into the full planned arc, and the characters were well received enough to gain a further follow-up, this time in the form of their own dedicated series, which will be premiering next week for May 4th.  In an effort to tie-in, Hasbro’s doing the whole squad in Black Series form.  I’m starting things off, appropriately, with the team’s leader, Dutch Hunter!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hunter is the first figure in the Bad Batch-based sub-set of Black Series Phase IV, and is part of the fourth Black Series assortment since the re-work.  He’s the first of the three Bad Batch figures in this particular round.  The figure stands just over 6 inches all and he has 27 points of articulation.  Hunter’s articulation scheme is very much the same as that of the recently re-vamped Clone Trooper figure, which is rather fitting, and also a solid basis for articulation, since that figure moved pretty well.  His sculpt is largely a new piece (though a fair bit of it is shared with his assortment-mate Crosshair), but he does share his feet with the standard Clone trooper.  Otherwise, it’s new, and it’s pretty strong.  I did notice that his armor design does stay a little closer to the animation styling that other Clone Wars clones, but with no real-word-equivalent armor design for him, I guess that’s kind of a little more expected.  There are at least some extra smaller details added throughout the armor, in order to make it a little more lived-in, so he’s got some scratches and such worked in.  The design is a little stubborn in figure form in a few spots, especially on the shoulders, I found.  That said, I do think it’s generally a nice piece, and I was impressed by how the removable helmet worked out in particular.  Given Hunter’s longer hair, I was expecting it to be a much tighter fit, and for the helmet to end up making him look a lot more bobble-headed than it does.  I think I do still slightly prefer him un-helmeted, but both ways work out alright.  Hunter’s paint work isn’t bad, but it’s a bit of a mix, really.  The underlying face has the printing technique, which looks good, and the customized look on his helmet is impressive, but it does feel like he’d be a little more impressive with some additional accenting to bring out the sculpted details.  As it is, it still looks okay, but it could be better.  Hunter is packed with his customized larger blaster, as well as one of the standard smaller blasters, a knife, and a back pack.  It’s a shame that there’s no storage for either blaster, but it’s a minor complaint.  Getting extras is always cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Bad Batch are a cool enough concept, and certainly one that seemed to be begging for toys.  I’m glad they finally got something, and Hunter’s a good starting point for the line.  He pretty much gives a slight taste of all of the elements we’ll see with the others from the squad.  The paint detailing could maybe stepped up a notch, but otherwise he’s a pretty solid offering, and on par with the new Troopers they’ve been putting out recently.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.