#2410: Imperial Probe Droid

IMPERIAL PROBE DROID

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Tenacious hunters, probe droids are armed with powerful blasters.”

Oh my, could it be?  Could it actually be something new on the site?  Yeah, I’m as surprised as all of you.  I was fully expecting the delving into the back catalog to go on a little bit longer…it actually might still, but at the very least, I’ve two new items for today and tomorrow to keep everyone feeling at least a little bit up to date (or as up to date as a review written a month ago can be…I built up quite a buffer you guys).  So, what’s the new thing?  Well, technically something old.  2020 marks the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and so Hasbro’s kind of re-orienting their various Star Wars lines this year in order to tie in with that a bit.  Some of the vintage-style-cardback figures have slipped out early, but the first real release of the 40th stuff is the next entry in the Black Series deluxe line-up, the Imperial Probe Droid.  As the first thing the audience sees in Empire, I suppose it’s a pretty fitting way of launching things, so let’s get right into it!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial Probe Droid is figure D3 in the Black Series line-up, putting him right after the (no longer Best Buy-exclusive) Heavy Infantry Mandalorian.  It marks the Probe Droid’s fourth time in figure form, coming fairly closely to the third, which was released with the Last Jedi stuff in 2017.  On its base, the Droid stands, or floats rather, 8 1/4 inches tall and it has 23 points of articulation.  The smaller Probot was quite well articulated for the line he came from, and this guy does even better, with joints at pretty much all the spots that there are joints on the actual thing.  You’d be surprised how rare an occurrence that is.  In terms of the sculpt, this figure feels very much like an upscaling of the Last Jedi figure, which I suppose makes sense, because it effectively is.  They are adapting the same source material after all.  It’s even more sharply detailed this time, as you would expect for something with this much more canvas to work with.  In general, it’s just a very technically impressive sculpt, and the only way you’re really going to get better is with something on the much more high-end side of things.  And even then, that goes into the question of more details just being more attainable at a larger scale.  While the smaller Probot was light on the paint front, this one is actually pretty involved.  There’s a lot of really nifty little detail work, with all sorts of wear and tear worked in on the body’s main chunk.  It makes him look like a real working robot, and it really sells that signature used styling of the Star Wars universe.  The Probe Droid is a bit hard to accessorize, since it’s not like it uses a lot of stuff.  This guy gets a base to allow for a simulation of its usual hovering.  It’s the one area where I don’t feel this is quite as across the board an improvement on that smaller release, as they’ve opted to go with a more environment based stand, rather than the all clear like the prior figure.  It doesn’t look bad, and the snowy grounds of Hoth are the only time we see the bot in the movie, but it’s a little bit less versatile than I’d like, since I’m not really one for diorama set-ups.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Probe Droid is my first new toy purchase in roughly a month…or at least was when I wrote this review back in April.  I don’t know what antics future Ethan’s gotten up to in the mean time, but I’m sure we’ll all find out together.  While I wasn’t quite as excited as some when the figure was shown off (I was pretty darn happy with that smaller-scale one), I’ve kind of given in on owning most things Black Series these days.  Whatever the case, All Time got them in stock, and I, as previously noted, hadn’t gotten anything new, so, yeah, sign me up for that.  I’m glad I picked him up, because he’s the best Probe Droid out there, and a cool centerpiece to the Empire collection I’m going on only further build during this coming year.

As noted above, the Probe Droid was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1698: Probe Droid

PROBE DROID

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

After some rather goofy offerings to kick off the deluxe sub-set of their Power of the Force II line, Kenner followed up with some downright sensible offerings.  In the ‘90s.  I know, it was weird.  I was there, and I thought so.  But that’s not the point.  The point today is that I’m reviewing the very first figure of the Imperial Probe Droid.  Woooo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Probe Droid was released in the 1997 deluxe assortment of Power of the Force II figures.  It’s based on the droid’s appearance in Empire, which was, at the time, its only canon appearance.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Not above the norm on movement, but a bit surprising, given the different anatomy of the design.  It also gets more mobility, since the limbs are all on ball-joints, which is pretty cool.  The figure has a sculpt that was, up until very recently, the only Probe Droid sculpt out there.  It’s not 100% accurate to the model from the film, but it’s certainly good for this era of figures, especially when compared to some of the humanoid figures from the line.  There was definitely a reason this sculpt stuck around.  There were some minor fixes to the proportions that were fixed on the more recent one, such as a slightly smaller head, and slightly longer legs.  The legs in particular have been tweaked so that it can actually stand on them, rather than relying on a flight stand like the more recent figure.  It’s the biggest departure of the figure, but it’s sensible from a practicality standpoint.  The paintwork on the Probe Droid is pretty decent, especially for the time and design.  Technically, the base plastic should be a little darker, but it works alright, and there are lots of small little details.  The Probe Droid features two different action features.  The first is a “Photon Torpedo,” which is just a fairly standard missile launching feature, which fires from its eye.  It has the side effect of making the central eye bright orange, which is kind of weird, but there it is.  The second feature is a “Self-Destruct Exploding Head” which works in a similar fashion to the missile launcher above, just at a slightly larger scale.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Last Jedi release was my first Probe Droid, and I liked him enough to be on the look out for this figure.  I ended up grabbing it from Lost in Time Toys, during one of their winter sidewalk sales.  Though the newer one is still the superior offering, there’s still a lot to like about this release.

#1425: Darth Vader & Imperial Probe Droid

DARTH VADER & IMPERIAL PROBE DROID

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

“Tenacious hunters and searchers, Probe Droids (or Probots) have a variety of sensors and the ones employed by the Empire are armed with powerful blasters and, in some models, shields.”

Remember when I was mentioning the Empire Strikes Back stuff that hit with The Last Jedi product?  Just yesterday?  Well, hey, here’s some more of that.  This set pairs another variation of one of the franchise’s juggernaut characters with a fan-favorite design that actually hasn’t seen a new figure in almost 15 years, which seems a little crazy.  Onto the review!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Vader and the Probot are one of the two “creature” sets released alongside the Last Jedi product.  Interestingly, the two characters included here never actually share any screen time or even reside in the same general area over the course of Empire, but I guess that Vader’s the Probot’s boss, so that sort of makes a little sense.

DARTH VADER

So, I was discussing yesterday about how the whole Star Wars line would fall into disarray were there not a steady stream of Boba Fett figures offered.  That goes double for this guy.  Despite dying at the end of Return of the Jedi, he’s managed to find his way into every movie line launch since Episode 1 in some way or another.  This figure stands a little over 4 inches tall and has a whole 6 points of articulation (thanks to a cut joint at the waist).  This Vader is based on his appearance from Empire, which was slightly changed from A New Hope (and, by extension, Rogue One, which used the ANH design), but not terribly different from the one seen in Return of the Jedi.  Essentially, this figure’s sculpt is the later film equivalent to the fantastic Rogue One Vader we got last year.  At first glance, I actually thought this figure was mostly re-used from that one, but it’s its own wholly original work.  This means there’s no real compromises made, which is nice to see after lots of years of Vaders based indeterminately on several different movie’s designs.  It’s a very strong sculpt, and were it not for the RO Vader from last year, it would easily be my favorite Vader sculpt to date.  As it stands, it’s a definite top two.  I enjoy this just as much, but for differing reasons.  Interestingly, the helmet is a separate piece from the mask and head, but it’s not removable or anything.  I was sort of expecting this to be a “reveal” figure, showing the back of his head like we see in his chamber, but it wasn’t the case. It’s not really a big deal, though, and I honestly prefer a Vader with all of his pieces connected.  This Vader gets another plastic cape piece, which is a different piece than the one on the RO Vader, but still very nice.  This one drapes over the shoulders a bit more, which is certainly appropriate.  Vader’s paintwork is pretty solid all around.  There’s a lot more going on than might be evident at first, especially with all the differing shades of black.  I like that they’re putting in that sort of effort.  Vader includes his lightsaber, which this time around can be held in either of his hands.  He is also ForceLink compatible, though I still don’t have the wrist thing to try him out, so I don’t know what sounds he makes.

IMPERIAL PROBE DROID

In a movie full of distinctive things, the Probe Droid actually manages to stick out, being one of the very first things the audience sees on the screen.  The Probot’s only had two figures before in this scale; both were actually made from the same mold.  It’s long been a favorite item amongst the fan base, so an update was certainly much appreciated.  The Probot is about 5 inches tall (when placed on his stand, of course) and has an astounding 16 points of articulation.  Those arms really help him out on that front.  The sculpt on this guy is all new, and definitely top-notch.  Like Vader, it’s very accurate to the film prop, and offers a lot of really great little details.  Obviously, it’s a little less detailed than the real scale-model of the thing, but it’s far from “basic.”  The head in particular just perfectly captures the shape and sizing of the in-film design so well, and I love how well his large camera eyes have turned out.  In terms of paint, there’s not a *ton* going on with the Probot.  He’s largely just molded in a very dark grey plastic.  hat being said, it’s a good shade of grey, and there’s still nice paint work on the lenses of the cameras.  He’s also got a number of silver scuffs all over him, befitting the used-future look of the OT films.  It’s subtle, but it definitely adds a lot to the figure.  Since the Probot we see in the film is always hovering and doesn’t really have an easy way of standing, this figure includes a clear stand to help him “hover.”  It’s a fairly basic piece, which just plugs into the base of the figure’s body.  I do quite like the little Imperial insignia that’s molded into it.  It’s a fun touch.  There’s also a missile launching component worked into the figure, but in a less obtrusive way than the prior Probot mold.  It’s just one small panel on the body, and it’s not really noticeable when it’s in place.  Lastly, there’s the ForceLink feature, and this time around, I do actually have an idea of what sounds it makes.  It just makes the transmitting sounds from the movie, which is a feature I really look forward to trying out when I get the chance.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like yesterday’s set, I didn’t pick this pair up on Force Friday.  I didn’t even pick them up the next week when I went back.  In part, this was due to my thinking that the Vader was actually a lot more similar to the RO version than he ultimately was.  But I saw some photos online and I was really digging the Probot, so I decided to try and grab one.  Of course, I forgot that this set’s packed one for every three Rapthar packs, so it wasn’t super easy to track down.  I did eventually manage to find one at Walmart, so yay for that.  This is definitely a strong set.  Sure, a figure other than Vader might have been nice, but at least it’s a good Vader figure.  And at the end of the day, the Probot’s definitely worth buying another Vader figure to get.  And that wraps up the small-scale Force Friday offerings that I’ll be reviewing.  Not a bad assortment at all.