#2530: Profit Director Destro

PROFIT DIRECTOR DESTRO

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Remember when Destro was pretty fliggity-fly for a chome-headed guy?  No? Yeah, that’s fair, because that’s totally a phrase I just made up, and if I’m honest, I’m kinda regretting it just a touch.  It’s okay, let’s just move on and not dwell.  Today, I get to touch on one of my favorite things: weird toy production trivia and oddities!  Yes, today’s focus figure has a definite story behind it, going back to the year 1997.  The 3 3/4 scale Joes had taken a 3-year break, and Hasbro was looking to attempt a relaunch of the line.  The result was the Real American Hero Collection, a collection of mistakes, mishaps, and misfortune that somehow still managed to be an overall success and bring the line back.  Interspersed with all the madness that surrounded the project, Hasbro was still trying to inject at least *some* new life into the franchise, and subsequently brought in some outside artists to try and spruce up some of the mainstays with some new color schemes.  Amongst these new designs was one for Destro, which replaced his usual black and red number with something more…exotic?  Okay, look, you’ve seen the picture at the top, I don’t need to beat around the bush: it’s leopard print.  They gave Destro leopard print.  What began as more of a jokey concept on the part of artist Steve Masso actually managed to get approved and go into production…briefly.  Once a few people higher up on the Hasbro chain saw the design, this new Destro design was deemed a step too far, and the leopard print was replaced with black on the final production figure.  A small sample of the original design, dubbed Pimp Daddy Destro by the fanbase, managed to make it out, however, and the whole thing has become rather legendary in the Joe community.  Hasbro paid its first bit of official homage to the design as a SDCC-exclusive in 2007, and is now following that up by bringing the design into their latest re-launch of the line, with a figure I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Profit Director Destro (rather clever way of getting an official take on the name on Hasbro’s part) is a fan channel-exclusive Classified Series offering, numbered at 15 in the line, making him chronologically the latest figure in the line.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  At his core, this figure is the same as the standard Destro from Series 1, which is pretty sensible, since PD Destro’s always been a repaint.  It’s also a really strong sculpt through and through, so I’m not unhappy to see it show up again.  He does actually spruce things up a little bit more than the prior two versions of this design, gaining a fairly swank cape.  Oh wait, did I say cape?  I meant capes, plural, because he’s got not one, but two fur capes going on there.  It’s definitely a fun piece, and manages to actually stay in place quite securely once you’ve got it one there, and definitely adds to the whole look.  The rest of the appearance has been achieved through paint work.  There were a lot of smaller detail changes on the body suit of the main Destro, and so this figure kind of adapts the PD color scheme around them.  The main red of the body suit is definitely more present this time around, and the leopard print is slightly more downplayed.  Also, much like the variant edition of the 2007 release, he swaps the silver helmet for a gold one.  It calls back to his V2 design, and it actually works a bit better with the overall color scheme of this design.  Destro’s pretty decently packed when it comes to accessories, including the briefcase and pistol from the standard release, as well as a pair of sunglasses and a stack of money that’s been lit ablaze.  The last two extras are definitely the coolest ones, as they perfectly complement the overall over the top nature of this design.  I dig the vibe.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a sucker for cool toy history throw-backs, and I was always kind of bummed that I’d missed out on the ’07 edition of this design.  As soon as this one was shown off, I was definitely on board.  Obviously, he’s not going to be my standard Destro by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a really fun little side figure, and he’s got a really fun design.

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.

#2529: Arctic Mission Storm Shadow

ARCTIC MISSION STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Even before G.I. Joe went heavy into its ninjas, they’d been present for a while.  While everyone associates Snake Eyes with the whole ninja thing, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t so much responsible for bringing it into the franchise, since in 1982 he was still just a commando.  It was actually Storm Shadow’s arrival on the scene in 1984 that really ushered in the ninjas, with Snake Eyes getting a bit of a re-work to match Storm Shadow’s ninja skills for the other side.  The two have subsequently become rather intertwined, and ninjas have become a fixed piece of the mythos.  So, it’s not too much of a shock that Storm Shadow cropped up pretty quickly for this new incarnation of the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Arctic Mission Storm Shadow is figure 14 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is an Amazon-exclusive item.  He’s our first Storm Shadow, so it’s kind of interesting that he’s an environment-specific figure, rather than an all-purpose version.  That said, with the exclusive status on this guy, it makes sense to do something a little bit less standard, while still giving us a taste of the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 37 points of articulation.  In the history of environmental specific Joe appearances and Storm Shadows, there’s not actually been an Arctic Storm Shadow (well, okay, there was *technically* one in Sigma 6, but he was just the standard figure with the arms painted grey, so it’s iffy), so this is *technically* a new design.  That being said, he’s actually *not* really a new design, because Hasbro’s aptly repurposed Storm Shadow’s Ninja Force design for this release.  As with any of the designs for this line, there have been some adjustments to update it, give it that slightly sci-fi bend, and just generally fill the larger canvas a bit better, but the broad strokes are certainly all there, and I really like how this thing turned out.  There are a ton of layers to this design, and the most impressive part of it all is definitely the mask and removable hood.  The original figure had a permanently attached hood, but this one takes advantage of the scale and modern innovation for the removable factor, allowing a lot more depth of detail to the underlying mask, and the neck and collar of his uniform.  There’s a lot of really cool details I like in there.  The figure’s shoulder pads are also designed much like Baroness’s from yesterday, moving on their own, and allowing for more movement on the shoulders.  Another touch I like quite a bit is the absence of any sort of a Cobra insignia from his outfit; the Ninja Force figure was released while Storm Shadow had switched over to the Joes, so he didn’t have the Cobra logo, obviously.  Since this figure is *technically* still a Cobra, he can’t very well have any Joe logos either, so instead he got his Arashikage emblem, which definitely looks cool.  Storm Shadow’s paint work is what really sells the Ninja Force-esque design, with the proper black and white with gold accents.  It’s pretty clean and slick, and he’s also got printed eyes, which keep him nice and lifelike.  Storm Shadow is packed with another impressive selection of accessories, including a bow, arrow, quiver, sword, sheath, grapple, and sickle.  It pretty much covers all of the major bases for what a Storm Shadow could need, so I definitely dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since this is an Amazon exclusive, it’s probably not too hard to piece together where this guy came from.  He went up for order, and I ordered him, and then I received him in the mail.  Very exciting story, right?  Obviously, I had Snake Eyes, and I needed a Storm Shadow to pair off with him.  I gotta say, while he may not be standard, I really dig how they managed to get this particular design out there, and it makes for a really fun figure.  I can’t wait to see how the proper version turns out.  Also, can we possibly get a V4-inspired “Arctic” Snake Eyes to pair off with him?  Because that would make me very happy.

#2528: Baroness & Cobra C.O.I.L.

BARONESS & COBRA C.O.I.L.

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Since its move to the 3 3/4 inch scale and subsequent re-branding under the “Real American Hero” branch of the franchise, vehicles have been a somewhat central piece of G.I. Joe.  When it became official that the line would be jumping to 6 inch scale, one of the early questions to pop-up amongst the fan base was: “What about the vehicles?”  Vehicles have been a hard-sell for the line pretty much since the end of the vintage years.  Obviously, at almost twice the size, they’re an even harder sell, but Hasbro’s dipping their toes in the water, much like they did with Star Wars, with a smaller-scale vehicle to try things out.  And, it’s also packed with one of the franchise’s central characters, so let’s see how all of that works out, I guess.

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

Baroness and the Cobra C.O.I.L. are another piece from the Target-exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-line of Classified Series.  They’re numbered 13 in the overall line-up, showing that the vehicles will also apparently be getting in on that main numbering scheme as well.  Also, for those of you tracking at home, you’ll see I went from 11 to 13.  That’s because 12 is the Cobra Trooper, and I haven’t yet become a miracle worker.

BARONESS

Baroness was an early addition to the toyline (and an even earlier addition to the franchise, due to being present in the comics well before her toy appeared), and has long been at the core of the franchise, so it’s no surprise that she’s getting added to this relaunch pretty early on.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 35 points of articulation.  She’s got the same articulation scheme as Scarlett, meaning she’s a touch more limited in terms of posability than some of the others in the line, but as I noted on Scarlett, she’s still very serviceable on that front. In fact, she’s actually got one improvement over Scarlett in terms of construction; her shoulder pads are their own piece, allowing them to rotate out of the way, giving the shoulder’s slightly cleaner movement.  I do still wish there was a deeper range on the elbows, but I’m overall pretty happy with the mobility on this one.  In terms of design, Baroness joins her boy-toy Destro in staying pretty faithful to the vintage figure.  Obviously, there are a lot more parts and depth to this particular iteration, but the major parts of the costume all line up pretty much piece for piece with the layout of the V1 figure’s gear.  I definitely dig this.  Her head sculpt definitely falls slightly more into the modern era depictions of the character, and I definitely see a lot of similarities to Sienna Miller’s take on the character from Rise of Cobra going on.  That being said, there really are worse parts of that movie to be borrowing than Baroness’s design.  The glasses are a separate piece that’s been glued in place, and they’re quite well scaled to the figure.  Sometimes, I’m sketchy on that sort of set-up, but it actually works here.  Baroness’s color scheme is classically just a lot of black.  This figure takes that as a starting point, but does a fair bit more with it, adding dark grey sections to her underlying body suit.  She’s also got a printed face, which looks pretty solid, apart from one errant mark on my figure.  I also quite dig the gold tips on her glasses.  That’s a fun touch!  Baroness is quite well accessorized, with a second head sporting a helmet, two golden pistols, a strange snake gun thing, two rifles, and a knife.

COBRA C.O.I.L.

Our first vehicle for the new line is honestly not a huge surprise.  Motorcycles have been a piece of the Joes since pretty much the very beginning, and it’s a good, fairly low-cost way to introduce a vehicle to the line.  The only thing that I’m left to ponder is just what C.O.I.L. stands for, because the box doesn’t share that info with us. Alas, we’ll have to figure that out for ourselves.  The cycle measures 4 1/2 inches tall by 8 1/2 inches long, and has working wheels.  When I first saw the cycle, I was honestly expecting it to have a fair bit in common with Black Widow’s bike from Marvel Legends, but the two are wholly unique from each other.  This one’s got a rather unique design to it, which looks pretty decent, and fits well with the whole overall Cobra aesthetic.  It’s definitely in line with the line’s high-end sci-fi elements as well.  Baroness sits well on it, and you can even mount the two rifles each on the sides of the bike, for some proper armaments.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Given the nightmare that other people have been having trying to locate this one, I was anticipating not getting the chance to grab it at all.  However, like with the Roadblock from yesterday, I got a call from Max, who found one while on a grocery run.  Dope!  Baroness is a really nice figure, and a fantastic companion to the Destro figure from Series 1.  I feel confident she’ll be out again in some shape or form, and probably rather soon.  The bike I can kind of take or leave, because I don’t really associate Baroness with it, and I don’t really have anyone else who quite fits it yet.  Still, it’s not a bad piece either.

#2527: Roadblock

ROADBLOCK

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

For the second day of this week of G.I. Joe: Classified Series reviews I’ve got going, I’m gonna be doing some retreading….which is what I did for the second day of my last round as well.  Am I getting predictable, or is Hasbro?  Probably both of us, really.  The line’s first retreaded character was, unsurprisingly, Snake Eyes, but the second character to get the follow-up treatment is, a little bit surprisingly, Roadblock, a character that Hasbro seems to be really getting behind for this reboot.  Hey, I can’t really knock it myself, especially when it means more cool toys.  Let’s check it out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roadblock marks the second figure in the “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-line of Classified Series figures, which is currently exclusive to Target…and eBay, I guess, but let’s try not to dwell.  Roadblock is numbered figure 11, picking up from Beach Head, and by extension the whole main line.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Unlike Snake Eyes, who was just a straight deco change between the two figures, Roadblock’s gotten a rather adjusted design for his second outing.  While a lot of people were pulling for a Roadblock that came close to the V1 figure, this one actually moves even further away from it.  He’s got more of a covert ops feel to him, befitting the Cobra Island mission theme of the set.  It also seems to take a sizable chunk of its inspiration from Roadblock’s successor Heavy Duty in his Sigma 6 incarnation.  Given my vocal approval of Sigma 6, I’m definitely okay with this.  In order to get this new appearance, this guy uses the same core body as the prior Roadblock, but without the vest piece, and with the addition of a new head, and add-ons at the wrist and thigh.  Removing the vest does a lot to change up the body from the start, but the new pieces take it even further.  The new head is really the star piece, and the thing that brings up the Heavy Duty/S6 similarities.  He’s sporting a bandana and a sort of high-tech comm piece on his ear.  It also appears that Roadblock’s been on his mission for a little while now, because he’s got a large, bushy beard, and his friendlier expression from the last figure has become much more intense and worn down here.  I like how they’ve convincingly changed so much about his appearance.  The add-on pieces for the wrist and thigh straps are actually a bit of a preview here, initially being designed for the Gung-Ho figure that’s in the second main assortment.  They add a bit to the sci-fi elements of the design, and also do a little more to mix up the body, which certainly is fine by me.  Roadblock’s paint helps to sell the more covert elements of this design, transitioning him to more blacks and greys.  It’s not eye-catching, but then it’s not meant to be.  I don’t hate it; I can kind of dig the understatement.  Roadblock is armed with the same weapon as the last time, so he’s still toting around the big rail gun thing.  It does at least get a slightly altered paint scheme, with a bit of graffiti on the side, which I really quite like.  He’s also packed with a pair of sunglasses, which help to further sell the Sigma 6 feel on the design.  I’m down for this, you guys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Roadblock is actually the first of these exclusives I was able to get my hands on.  It’s not much of a surprise, since he’s the one that everyone seems most willing to pass on.  Nevertheless, Max found this guy while on a grocery run, and hit me up, and boom, there he was.  I know he kind of pales in the light of new versions of major players and the line’s first army builder, but I really enjoy this Roadblock figure.  Honestly, with the number of changes, I’m thinking I might just find a slightly more Roadblock-y weapon for my Series 1 figure, and keep the rail gun with this guy so he can just be Heavy Duty.  Boom.  Then I can keep them both on my shelf, and my Joes get one more member.  I don’t know about you guys, but that seems pretty downright awesome to me.

#2526: Wayne “Beach Head” Sneeden

WAYNE “BEACH HEAD” SNEEDEN

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

It’s been a month since I took my last look at Hasbro’s re-boot of their G.I. Joe line under the Classified Series banner.  The initial drop from the line was a general release.  The immediate follow-up has been split between a few different locations.  The majority of the second round of product is courtesy of Target’s exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” assortment.  It’s…not been a smooth process getting them out there, but….well…it’s not smooth.  That’s kind of the central piece to these figures.  Fortunately, it does seem like they’re finally making their way into some dedicated fan’s hands.  And hey, look at me, over here, being a dedicated fan.  The first of the new figures I’m taking a look at is the Joe’s own resident Drill Sergeant Nasty, Wayne “Beach Head” Sneeden!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beach Head is the first figure in the “Cobra Island” sub-line of figures for the Classified Series line-up.  He’s numbered figure 10, and it looks like all of the other exclusives will be following suit, and keeping the on-going numbering for the line.  That’s different from how Hasbro handled the Black Series numbering, so I was a little surprised to see them go this route.  Given the total lack of any sort of actual exclusive branding, its possible that these might end up getting wider releases later?  One can only hope.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Beach Head’s design remains quite faithful to his V1 figure from ’86.  In terms of vintage accuracy, I’d say he’s pretty much only rivaled by Destro.  The specifics of his design have, of course, been somewhat refined, both to fit in with his more sci-fi-esque teammates, and to take advantage of the larger canvas that the new scale gives the character.  Beach Head marks the line’s first instance of cross-character parts re-use, making use of Duke’s legs and hands.  Given the sort of standard issue nature of both characters’ designs, it’s hardly an issue, and honestly not that noticeable at first glance.  The rest of his parts are new, and they’re really impressive.  From the incredibly dedicated texturing and stitching of Beach Head’s sweater and mask, to the angry and determined expression clearly visible beneath his mask, there’s a lot going on in this sculpt, and it’s all pretty awesome.  Quite honestly, it’s probably the best sculpt produced by the line so far, and that’s really saying something.  In terms of paintwork, Beach Head again stays pretty close to his vintage routes.  There’s one spot of the bright Tron-esque blue that’s been on all the Joes so far, but that’s it, and it’s honestly pretty tame.  The rest is drab greens and browns, and it works.  There’s actually a paint variant on this figure, which concerns the eyes.  Mine are blue, but there’s also one with black eyes out there, for those that care about such things.  I personally prefer the one I got.  Beach Head does quite well when it comes to accessories, getting a rifle, pistol, small crossbow, backpack, knife, and a beret.  I don’t know how I feel about the solid green on the weapons, but it’s not the end of the world.  I guess I just got accustomed to the painted weapons from Series 1.  Overall, definitely a fun selection, though, and he’s only an ammo case away from covering what was included with the original figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

To say that these Target-exclusive Joes have been hard to track down is something of an understatement.  I didn’t even come close to getting in on the online orders, so I’ve been relying on the kind nature of others to help me track them down in person.  Fortunately, Max was able to set me up with this guy via one of his collecting acquaintances, so I didn’t have to do too much searching on my own.  I’m glad I got him, because he’s probably my favorite thing to come out of the line at this point.

#2523: Kit Fisto

KIT FISTO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Two days ago, I was discussing the Prequel Trilogy’s background Jedi, and the fact that they were always received pretty well.  Don’t fear, my thesis still stands with today’s offering, but the turn around on cool stuff being done with him was actually way quicker than just about any other Prequel Jedi (barring the main guys, of course).  Yes, Kit Fisto’s propensity for being cool goes back to 2003, when he got a focus episode of the Genndy Tartakovky-helmed 2D Clone Wars cartoon, showing him as an underwater bad-ass.  It kind of stuck with the fanbase a bit, and Kit has subsequently remained a definite fan favorite.  Fitting, then, that he finally gets The Black Series treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kit Fisto is figure 112 in the Black Series line-up.  He is the final figure to grace the red-striped packaging that’s been running since 2015, which is honestly a pretty big deal.  After the handful of false starts with the orange and blue line packaging, I don’t think any of us thought this one would stick around past number 100, but Hasbro managed to prove us wrong.  And we get to go out with a real cool guy, which is really just the best.  This version of Kit is based on his Attack of the Clones appearance, which makes sense, given the rest of the assortment.  It’s also a pretty standard look for the character, so it’s pretty multi-purpose.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, you aren’t getting much range of motion out of the neck, due to the tendrils, but he’s otherwise very impressively articulated, mostly due to being another re-use of the TMP Obi-Wan body.  I like the body a lot, so I don’t hate its re-use here.  It’s not totally accurate to Fisto’s garb in the movie, of course, with the lack of his more distinctive collar and the fact that he’s just got Obi-Wan’s belt and boots being the primary issues.  That being said, it’s a much closer match than what we saw on Plo Koon, and ultimately works in a pinch.  He gets a new head and hands to differentiate him a bit further, and those pieces are really great.  The head’s definitely a good match for Kit’s appearance, or at least what it should be, since his AotC head is a little bit unfinished under close inspection.  This seems to go for what that was *supposed* to look like, and that works better in the long-run.  Kit’s paintwork is generally pretty decent.  There’s some rather basic work on the robes, but they seem to be the right colors for the character, and the head and hands gets some really impressive accenting, which helps them to look quite lifelike.  In my mind’s eye, I feel like he should be a touch more green, but that might just be the old Saga figure influencing my opinion.  Kit is packed with his lightsaber, and that’s it.  It’s a nice piece, but unfortunately the hilt isn’t able to be hung from the belt like Obi-Wan, which makes it a touch less impressive.  And, again, he feels a bit light.  A cloak would have been nice to help fill things out a bit more.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a Kit Fisto fan since Attack of the Clones, when I was determined to get his figure because I thought he was the coolest of the new Jedi introduced.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him on the first shot, which is what ultimately led to me getting Plo Koon.  Hey, it worked out, because I also love Plo Koon.  I’ve definitely been wanting a Kit Fisto for Black Series, and I’m thrilled to have gotten both him and Plo in one fell swoop.  This guy’s a really strong figure.  I don’t know that he’s quite as solid as the Obi-Wan, but after the slight let-down on Plo, he made me feel a lot better.

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.

#2522: Obi-Wan Kenobi – Jedi Knight

OBI-WAN KENOBI — JEDI KNIGHT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Obi-Wan Kenobi became a general in the Army of the Republic as the Clone Wars continued, having many adventures with Anakin Skywalker.”

Obi-Wan’s definitely been the best treated of the Prequel characters when it comes to The Black Series.  It’s fair, because he’s probably the best of the core prequel characters, anyway, so I can’t argue with it.  But it’s certainly still noteworthy, because he’s so far the only character to get his primary look from all three of the films, as well as getting one from Clone Wars.  That’s certainly something of an accomplishment, don’t you think?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obi-Wan is figure 111 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s the penultimate figure in the final red-box assortment, and unlike yesterday’s figure, he’s unquestionably Attack of the Clones based.  Yes, we finally have a Black Series release that can confuse your very religious Grandmother!  Unexpected bonus!  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The vast majority of this figure’s sculpt is shared with the Phantom Menace version of the character.  I was a pretty big fan of the sculpt the first time around, and I think it’s honestly one of the best Jedi sculpts the line’s put out.  I know others have issues with how the hip joints work, but I personally think they have a solid range, and in general, the figure’s posability is top-not.  He gets an all-new head sculpt to adjust him to his Episode 2 appearance, and it sports another really strong McGreggor likeness, matching both the Ep 1 and Clone Wars versions in terms of quality.  The only slight nit to the quality is the somewhat obvious join between the hair piece and the head.  It’s not terrible, and it’s better on some figures than others.  Ultimately, it’s just the price of doing business this way.  It’s probably better than a solid head would have turned out.  Overall, definitely a strong offering.  In terms of paint work, Obi-Wan is about what you’d expect from the line at this point.  He’s got the face print, the base color work on the robes, and a little bit of accent work on the hair to bring out the details.  Not a bad set-up.  Obi-Wan’s only accessory this time around is his lightsaber.  It’s not a bad piece, but it’s a shame they couldn’t also give him a robe, or maybe an alternate soaked head from Kamino, possibly even his pilot head gear.  It does feel rather light as-is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t initially on-board for any Obi-Wan apart from the Episode 1 version, but the unexpected Clone Wars variant kind of broke that dam down.  While I didn’t outright want this figure, after snagging the rest of the assortment, I wasn’t exactly going to pass on him.  While he’s maybe not my favorite Obi-Wan design, he’s the best Obi-Wan figure to come out of The Black Series so far.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the RotS version get a re-do using this set-up as well.

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.

#2521: Plo Koon

PLO KOON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A Kel Dor from Dorin, Plo Koon was among the wisest members of the Jedi Order, respected for his level-headed analysis of events and unflappable calm.”

One of the consistently agreed upon not terrible things of the prequel trilogy, even back when they were new and fans were rabid about hating them, were the background Jedi characters.  Sure, they didn’t get to do much, and they weren’t all the best, but there were some really cool concepts and designs there.  The creators of Clone Wars, who were charged with actually injecting some likability into the prequel concepts and characters agreed, and those background guys got some serious love.  Chief among them was today’s focus, Plo Koon, who got quite a few prominent appearances during the run of the series, and has subsequently become quite a fan favorite.  And now he’s got a Black Series figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Plo Koon is figure 109 in the Black Series line-up.  He joins the previously reviewed Anakin and Battle Droid in what is the final assortment of the red-boxed Black Series incarnation, which is *kind of* Attack of the Clones-themed.  I say “kind of” because, well, this guy is the figure that sort of breaks the rule, for reasons I’ll get into as I go through the review.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This assortment is heavy on the re-used parts, and Plo is no exception.  He gets a new head, neck, and hands, but is otherwise a re-use of the Mace Windu figure from early 2019.  I didn’t get that figure personally, so I hadn’t yet gotten to mess with it.  It’s a strong sculpt, and is a good early sign of the improved articulation that came into The Black Series in the last year.  The new head and hands are really nice pieces, which do a fantastic job of capturing how the character looks in the films.  The head in particular is a really wonderful piece of work with so much detailing and depth to the sculpt.  Ultimately, the details on Plo’s robes aren’t quite a perfect match to what he’s wearing in the films, since Plo was sporting a few less layers than Mace, but it’s not terribly far off from a sculpt perspective, and it’s at least a pretty nice starting point.  Also, the average consumer is less likely to notice the re-use/inaccuracies anyway, since the cloth cloak that the figure comes wearing isn’t really designed for removal, being sewn shut at the top.  Of course, if you’re a bit adventurous, you can remove it by popping off Plo’s head and taking it off that way, which I’d call a plus, because I don’t really think it’s one of Hasbro’s better cloth pieces.  The downside of taking it off is that it reveals something that I’ll touch on in the paint section.   Here we are in the paint section.  So, the head and hands look great, and Hasbro’s done some awesome work there.  Kudos and all that.  The problem with the paint/coloring?  The upper robes.  Plo has been seen a number of times without this cloak, and he’s pretty much always seen with a very dark brown set of robes.  That’s what he’s got in AotCRotS, and Clone Wars.  This figure goes down the path set by the Power of the Jedi and Sideshow figures, depicting Plo in a lighter set of robes, which are presumably the ones under his long robe in Phantom Menace.  It’s not awful, but it doesn’t seem to read the right way for the character, and only further emphasizes the inaccuracies of the sculpt.  It also doesn’t match up with the otherwise AotC-theming of the rest of the assortment.  Definitely an odd choice.  Plo is packed with his lightsaber, which seems a sensible choice.  It’s a pretty solid recreation of his blade from the movies.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really like Plo Koon as a character, and have dug him ever since getting the old Saga figure.  I was definitely on board with him getting a Black Series release, and I was happy to see him shown off.  Getting him in-hand was something of an experience, because I was really excited, then rather let-down, and then built back up to enjoying him again.  He’s ultimately a good figure, but certainly a flawed one.  I wish that Hasbro would have at least given him the proper coloring, if they couldn’t actually afford the new sculpting needed.  As it stands, he’s fun, but in the back of my mind I’m sort of waiting to see another release.

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.

#2520: Luke Skywalker & Yoda – Jedi Training

LUKE SKYWALKER & YODA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“At the urging of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda agreed to instruct Luke Skywalker, developing his Jedi abilities.”

Since introducing the concept of a Deluxe line of figures into The Black Series, it’s felt to a degree that each release has sort of reinvented the wheel to work within this new price point.  Greivous was a slightly larger and more intricate figure, the Heavy Mando has one really large accessory, and the probe droid was just an entirely different style of figure.  Now, we’re just going for some sort of a two-pack set-up.  Really, I can’t complain too much, because it means I’m getting one of my favorite set-ups, Jedi Training Luke and Yoda!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jedi Training Luke and Yoda are entry D4 in the Black Series line-up, signifying that their the fourth non-exclusive Deluxe item.  They mark the second deluxe this year, following up the Imperial Probe, and effectively close off the 40th Anniversary sub-set that figure kicked off.

LUKE

Luke’s Dagobah training gear is really just a dressed-down version of his main gear from Empire, but is still a pretty notable look.  It didn’t come to the toy world until the ’90s, but its had a few releases since then, including this one.  This figure is actually available two ways right out of the gate.  There’s this deluxe release, and then there’s a vintage carded one with just Luke and some paired down accessories.  It’s kind of an odd choice on Hasbro’s part, and feels like it’s splitting demand right off the bat, but time will tell how it does.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  To date, he’s Hasbro’s most posable version of Luke in the Black Series line-up, and I can definitely get behind that.  It puts him far more on par with the likes of Bespin Han than his prior, slightly stiffer variants were.  Really, the differences between this and Bespin Luke are pretty much night and day.  This Luke does seem a bit smaller when compared to prior versions, but he actually fits in better with some of the more recent figures than those older ones.  Hamill’s not a huge guy, and the build on this figure really feels about right.  The quality of the sculpt is pretty top notch, with a very realistic set of proportions, well-worked in articulation, and probably the best Hamill likeness we’ve gotten from Black Series.  It’s worth noting, however, that the hair placement seems to be rather off on a lot of copies of the figure, which can rather hinder the likeness. I picked myself the best out of a sample size of four, which worked out pretty well for me, but your mileage may vary.  The paint work on Luke is pretty solidly handled.  He’s got the now standard printed face, which works out quite nicely for the sculpt, and he’s also got some great accent work on both the hair and on the clothes, which offer up some additional depth to the sculpted details.  Both releases of Luke get his lightsaber and blaster (which are the same as previous releases), but the deluxe release also adds in a spare set of hands and the bag for carrying Yoda.  The hands are cool in theory, as they’re meant to let him do his handstand, but the arms are just a touch too loose on my figure to actually keep him standing up.  Oh well.

YODA

Yoda’s gotten four prior releases in The Black Series, including one just this year in the first series of the 40th Anniversary carded figures, all of which were built on the same body as the very first Black Series figure.  That’s a figure that is, at best, a less than stellar offering, and while some of that can be attributed to paint (because boy was that a mess), there’s a heck of a lot of it that was linked to it just having a poor underlying body underneath of that cloth robe.  So, for this latest take on Yoda, Hasbro’s opted to throw everything out and just sort of start from scratch.  Best call, really.  The figure stands just over two inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Pretty much, the first thing that you’ll notice when comparing this figure to his predecessor is how much smaller he is…well, overall.  The heads are pretty much the same size, and honestly pretty much identical in terms of sculpting.  It’s the body that’s much smaller, and much like Luke, that’s ultimately more accurate to the source material.  He also actually gets proper articulation in his legs this time, which is a huge plus in my book, and keeps the single joints in the arms instead of double, meaning his arms aren’t nearly as long this time.  Unlike the last time around, the robe’s not really designed for removal, since the belt is all one solid piece with no clasp on it.  I suppose you could take the robe off if you were really determined, but I’m really not.  Another area of major improvement between Yoda releases is on the paint front.  The original figure hit during one of the worst periods for the line in terms of paint quality, and as such looked pretty bad, with only the bare minimum of detailing, and some really poor quality application at that.  The Archive and 40th re-issues fixed the paint, but this all new version takes it even further, and gives us by far the most “life-like” (as much as a toy of a puppet can be that) version yet.  I also appreciate that they actually painted his flute this time around, as it makes the whole package look just a bit better.  The last Yoda got an okay selection of accessories, and this one’s technically got less, but they work a bit better.  He still has the cane, but he loses the snake and the light saber for a second head with his eyes closed, like when he’s lifting the X-Wing out of the water.  I really don’t miss the lightsaber, since it’s not OT anyway, and the snake was a pretty minor vintage throwback.  The new head is actually a pretty useful piece, so I’m glad to have it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Power of the Force Dagobah Luke was my first Star Wars figure, so I’ve got a soft spot for the design.  I was absolutely thrilled when this set was shown off, and I’ve been patiently awaiting its release.  I even held off grabbing the single carded Luke, because I knew this one was coming, and I wanted the whole deluxe set-up.  Luke’s not a standard design, but he’s the best Luke Hasbro’s released in this line.  The Yoda is also the best Yoda, but it’s really not even a close race on that.  He’s just demonstrably better than the prior release on every front.  This is definitely one of my favorite releases from The Black Series this year, and that’s saying a lot, because it’s been a really good year.

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

#2516: Moon Knight

MOON KNIGHT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“A vision in an Egyptian temple leads Marc Spector to don a shroud and become the crime-fighting hero, Moon Knight.”

Well, I gotta admit, this was sooner than I’d expected.  I…uhhh…thought I had more time.  You know, to really prepare, and build up the energy.  Do a whole thing.  Play up the crowd.  But, you know what, here goes:

It’s MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON KNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep, there’s a new Moon Knight, and I’m right here reviewing it.  Reviewing all those lame Deadpool figures early in the week paid off, didn’t it?  You know it did! ….Okay, maybe I’m being a little mean to the Deadpool figures.  It’s not their fault they aren’t Moon Knight.  Aw, what do I care, I’m reviewing a Moon Knight!  Let’s do it!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Moon Knight is the latest Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends release, following up on this year’s first offering of Iron Man 2020, who I’m just now remembering I haven’t actually gotten around to reviewing.  2020’s been a roller coaster of a year, but it’s not so much of a roller coaster of a figure.  It’s also not Moon Knight, which is really a point against any figure that’s not Moon Knight.  Or ’90s Havok, but he’s a whole other thing.  This is our second Moon Knight Legend in the last few years, following up on the Marvel Now!-costumed one that was in the Homecoming tie-in assortment.  He’s sporting his classic attire this time around, which I’m definitely down for.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  While the last Legends Moon Knight made use of his own unique body, this one opts for building off of the 2099 body.  I’m a little iffy on this body, as I find it’s not always well integrated with its new, more character specific pieces.  I could definitely see an argument for it also being a touch on the small side for Marc.  I think a lot of people were kind of expecting him to show up on the Spider-UK body.  That being said, the 2099 body means he gets the butterfly shoulders, which are a definite plus.  In addition to re-using the cape, hands, and underlying head of the 2017 Moon Knight, this guy also gets a healthy helping of new parts, including a new hood, forearms, shins, and belt.  It all amounts to a figure that looks quite different from his mold ‘mates, and in fact quite different from the prior Moon Knight figure.  I was particularly impressed with the new hood sculpt, which adds some extra detailing to what we got on the last figure, blending with the cape even better.  I also really dig the clean sculpting on the arm and leg bracers, which help to break up what could otherwise be a pretty basic costume set-up.  The only slight complaint I have on the construction side is that the cape is actually just a touch too long for the 2099 body.  It’s not terribly off, and is really only an issue when he’s standing straight up, but it is slightly annoying.  Moon Knight’s paint work is surprisingly intricate given how little variation of coloring there is in this design.  The slightly metallic coloring on the bracers and belt definitely does a nice job setting them apart, and I really love the slight shading they’ve done around the eyes and on the bottom of the hood.  I wish there there a little more shading on the cape, but what’s there works, and it’s honestly better that it being too heavy.  Perhaps my favorite thing about the coloring is the all-white mask.  I really dig this look for Moon Knight, and while I was a little iffy about how it worked out on the Mezco figure, it ends up working out really well here.  But, if you don’t care for the all-white set-up, have no fear: Hasbro was kind enough to include a second head with a black mask, giving you the choice.  It’s amazing that the $20 Legend can do this, but the $90 Mezco can’t.  In addition to the second head, this guy gets two large moonerangs, three of the smaller ones, an actual proper staff (the one notable omission from the prior figure), and two spare gripping hands.  As with the previous release, the standard fisted hands on this guy have slots to hold the smaller moonerangs, which is cool.  The only thing I’m not big on here is the alternate hands; for some reason, rather than using the gripping hands from the last Moon Knight, which match the fists in terms of detailing, they just used a basic pair, which aren’t even gloved hands.  They also aren’t quite the right size for his accessories, which can make holding things troublesome for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After the very lengthy search that surrounded getting the last Legends Moon Knight, and the serious trouble I’ve been having getting the other Walgreens exclusives as of late, I was actually kind of dreading this release a little bit.  I pre-ordered him through Walgreens’ website, which didn’t actually end up helping, because they cancelled my order with no warning.  It’s okay, though, because I’d actually found him about two weeks earlier when I swung by my local Walgreens for a couple of essentials, and found this guy there before even knowing he was actually out.  So, that was pretty easy, I guess.  In sort of a similar fashion to Iron Man, I had picked up Mezco’s One:12 offering because I wanted a more classic Moon Knight, and then Hasbro went ahead and rather quickly gave me one in Legends style.  And, again, I feel like this one kind of ends up doing the job a little bit better.  He’s just about everything I’d want out of a Moon Knight figure.  He’s really good.