#1655: Guardians of Evil

SENATE GUARD, IMPERIAL ROYAL GUARD, EMPEROR’S SHADOW GUARD, & ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Hey, it’s May the 4th!  You guys know what that means…it’s the original Infinity War release date!  Nah, just kidding.  It’s obviously Star Wars Day.  In honor of the day, I’ll be taking a look at a Star Wars-themed item.  I have a few of those lying around here, I think. <Checks the mountains of un-reviewed figures>  Yeah, I think I can manage that.  So, let’s have a look at the “Guardians of Evil” boxed set!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Senate, Imperial Royal, Emperor’s Shadow, and Elite Praetrorian Guards were released as part of the Star Wars: The Black Series line, as the GameStop-exclusive “Guardians of Evil” boxed set, which hit just after last year’s Force Friday II event.

SENATE GUARD

“For centuries, the Senate Guards kept the galaxy’s legislators from harm while they went about the Republic’s business on the capital world of Coruscant.  With the decline of the Republic, the blue guards were phased out by the Imperial stormtrooper patrols and the red guard in the Emperor’s service.”

Though largely forgettable, the Senate Guards appear in both Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and were technically in Revenge of the Sith, I guess.  Their best showcase, however, came via the Clone Wars cartoon, where, admittedly, they had a slightly tweaked design.  Of course, the film design is essentially the same as the Royal Guard, thereby allowing for some serious parts re-use.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Senate Guard’s sculpt is a mixed-media affair.  The bulk of it is sculpted, though it’s largely hidden by a cloth cape.  A cape, which, by the way, is a lot better tailored than a lot of the cloth parts from this particular line.  Under the cape, there’s a fully detailed, fully armored body.  This armor design first showed up in toy form back during the Revenge of the Sith days, shared by the Senate and Royal Guards from that line.  The sculpt is top-notch, and the armor is nice and sharp.  The arms are just a touch on the long side, but that makes them look a bit better when the cape is pulled down.  The Senate Guard’s helmet is actually one of my favorite designs from the prequels.  It’s got this cool futuristic Spartan warrior flair to it, which is quite fun.  The paint work on the Senate Guard is quite subtle, with lots of variations of blue.  The armor is appropriately shiny, which looks nice.  The blue on the cape matches pretty well with the paint and molded plastic, which is definitely a plus.  The Senate Guard is packed with a blaster rifle, which he can hold in his hands, or sling over his shoulder, as well as a small blaster to keep in his hip holster.

IMPERIAL ROYAL GUARD

“Resplendent in crimson robes and armor, the Imperial Royal Guard protected the Emperor.  Secrecy shrouded the Guard, with rumors abounding about the sentinels’ backgrounds and combat capabilities.”

By far the best known of the four designs seen in this set.  The Royal Guard never does much in Jedi, but they sure look cool, and they’re one of the Empire’s most distinctive designs.  This figure’s actually a pretty straight re-release of the single-released Royal Guard from last year.  Of course, that one was pretty scarce, so the re-release was more than warranted.  Apart from the head, this figure’s sculpt is identical to the Senate Guard.  He had it first, so it’s fair.  The helmet is a pretty perfect recreation of the simplistic design from the movie, and sits perfectly on the body.  The paint work on this guy is the same as the Senate Guard’s but with shades of red instead of blue.  The differences between the reds are a bit more pronounced, though, which I think looks a little bit better.  The Royal Guard includes a staff, and the  same blaster pistol as the Senate Guard.

EMPEROR’S SHADOW GUARD

“Each one of these elite guards is specially chosen by Palpatine for his exceptional loyalty to the Empire, and for his ability to use the Force. Each of the Shadow Guard carries a pike that can be ignited to use as a lightsaber-like blade.”

The Royal Guard has taken the black!  Okay, I’m not actually familiar with this one.  My extensive research (read: I googled “Emperor’s Shadow Guard” and skimmed the link) tells me the concept comes from The Force Unleashed.  That makes this another video game-based figure, which is pretty cool, I guess.  Structurally, the figure’s 100% the same as the Royal Guard, which seems sensible, since they’re essentially the same design.  The main difference is that this one’s been done up in black, so he looks super edgy.  And also super slim, right?  Has he lost weight?  No, it’s just the black.  The Shadow Guard includes a new staff, with a removable laser blade, as well as the blaster pistol from the other two.

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

“As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any threat.”

Last up, we’ve got the most recent, and most unique of the designs in the set, the Praetorian Guard.  I’ve already looked at one Black Series Praetorian Guard.  This one’s got a new hat different helmet.  Hasbro released all three styles of helmet in both scales; this one is the “hat-wearing” helmet that we also saw in the two-pack with Rey.  Probably my least favorite of the three designs, but a solid one nevertheless.  Anyway, this figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s largely the same figure as the other Praetorian Guard.  The big change is obviously the helmet, which it just as nicely detailed here as it was on the smaller figure.  The other, more subtle change is the skirt, which is now a cloth piece instead of sculpted.  It matches better with the rest of this set, but it means he’s not consistent with the other two Praetorian Guards, which is rather frustrating.  Also, while it improves posability, I don’t find it looks quite as good.  The Praetorian Guard is packed with his axes that snap together into a bladed staff, just like the smaller figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been eying this set up for a while, but it’s got a hefty price tag, so I was biding my time.  As luck would have it, the set went on clearance at Super Awesome Girlfriend’s GameStop, and she was nice enough to buy it for me.  I’m glad I was able to finally get my hands on a basic Royal Guard, and I’m actually thrilled to have the Senate Guard, since it’s one of my favorite designs.  Another Praetorian is never a bad thing either, and the Shadow Guard is fun in his own right.  Overall, quite a fun set, especially since I didn’t have to pay full price for it.

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#1464: Elite Praetorian Guard

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any threat.”

Does that bio sound familiar?  It should, because it’s exactly the same as the one used for the last Elite Praetorian Guard review I did.  I’m not unnecessarily repeating myself,  I assure you.  Hasbro just used the same bio twice, that’s all.  And honestly?  I can’t really blame them.  It seems a little silly to write two distinct yet essentially identical bios for what is undoubtedly a rather minor character when it would be just as easy to use the same one twice.  So kudos to Hasbro and their efficient allocation of resources!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Praetorian Guard is another figure from the second Last Jedi-themed assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s figure 50, which makes him the second figure in the assortment numerically.  As I’ve noted in my last two Praetorian Guard reviews, there are three different helmets for the guards.  The one I’m looking at today is the same one we saw on the smaller Black Series release.  I think it’s safe to say this one’s the lead guard, given he’s the only one currently available in all of the styles.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  There’s actually some pretty clever design work going on with this figure’s articulation.  First of all, we get the ball-jointed shoulder pads, which are a godsend, and always encouraged.  I initially didn’t care for the arms, and found them to be exceedingly limited in posability, but after messing with them a little bit, I discovered that there’s a separate floating piece hovering over the elbow joints.  It takes a little bit of careful work to get it going at first, but once you do, you’ve got an elbow joint that’s just as posable as any other figure’s but without breaking up the segmented design of the armor.  I really dig it.  I definitely prefer the sculpt on this guy to the smaller figure.  Lines are sharper and proportions are more balanced.  I also much prefer the soft plastic robe to the cloth one.  Yes, it’s a little more restricting on the leg articulation, but not horribly so, and it looks way better.  The paintwork on this guy is about the same as the other two guards I’ve looked at.  The design is decidedly basic on the color front, but the variance in finish looks pretty great, and all of the details that are there are clean.  Like the smaller figure, this guy’s one accessory is his spear.  It’s a bit more detailed, of course, and still looks pretty slick.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy at the same time as Leia and Poe.  He was a little more of an impulse buy than those two.  I had been contemplating holding out for the slightly more expensive Amazon exclusive Guard, since he’s sporting my favorite of the three helmets, but upon seeing this guy in person, I had a hard time passing him up.  Definitely my favorite Praetorian I’ve gotten so far.

#1455: Elite Praetorian Guard

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any threat.”

It’s been almost a month since I reviewed the Force Link reader and wrapped up my Last Jedi reviews.  Now I’m back with more!  Woooooo!  I’ve yet to find any of the post-Force Friday basic figure releases, but I have managed to find a few other things of interest.  As with The Force Awakens and Rogue One, there’s a Walmart-exclusive assortment of smaller-scale Black Series figures.  It would seem the timing is a little better this time around, since they started hitting only a week or two after the initial product.  Today, I’ll be looking at that series’ take on the Praetorian Guard!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Praetorian Guard is one of the four figures in what is the final series of Walmart-exclusive Black Series figures (the line’s being replaced by the returning Vintage Collection next year).  This guy’s got a different helmet than the one in the two-pack with Rey, denoting he’s a different guard.  I like this one a little more than the last one.  Given the presence of this design in the big playset with Snoke and as the main release in the larger Black Series, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this guy might be the “lead” guard, but time will tell.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  The Guard’s articulation is showing the same improvements we saw with the Rogue One figures, though I found his to be about on par with the Death Trooper, who was definitely the most limited of that bunch.  Still, he’s way easier to mess with than the TFA figures.  The Guard gets an all-new sculpt, which is pretty decent overall.  The upper half is really the best work; it’s sharply detailed, the articulation is pretty well integrated, and the build looks to match what we’ve seen so far of these guys.  The lower half has his skirt piece done with cloth, rather than sculpted.  It looks alright, and helps with porsablity, but the shaping’s definitely a bit off in basic standing poses.  His legs are also really skinny, at least to my eyes.  Like his more basic counterpart, the paint on this guy is pretty simple.  He’s mostly just molded in glossy red plastic, with some slight black detailing here and there.  It still looks pretty slick, and one can hardly fault them for following the film design.  This guy includes one accessory: his spear.  It’s a pretty cool piece, and this figure can hold it with both hands, which is a definite plus.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I came across this assortment while I was out searching for a Voltron Keith (who I still haven’t found, by the way).  Luke and Rose weren’t different enough from the basic figures for me to feel they were worth it, and the Executioner’s built on the same body as the rather flawed FO Stormtrooper, so this guy was the only one that came home with me.  Admittedly, I don’t think he’s quite as strong as the Rogue One figures, but he’s still pretty fun, and I’m happy to have him.  Now, let’s wait and see if Hasbro decides to offer all of the helmet variations in this style.

#1414: Rey – Jedi Training & Elite Praetorian Guard

REY – JEDI TRAINING & ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Another Rey review? In the same day, even?

Back when I was looking at the stuff from the very first Force Friday, I had no clue who the heck this Rey person was.  I didn’t even know she was the main character (I mean, neither did anyone else not involved in the film at that point, but still).  Things are rather different now, of course, since she’s undoubtedly the central character of this new trilogy, and privy to all the action figures that entails.  Hasbro is doing their darnedest to make sure the standard Rey is available as many ways as possible, in much the the same way that they handled the standard Jyn figure for Rogue One.  At launch, the Jedi Training variant of Rey is available both on her own and packed with one of Supreme Leader Snoke’s fancy new guards.  Since I’m a sucker for cool faceless minions, I, of course, went for the two-pack option.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These guys are on of the pair of two-packs in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi line at launch.  This one’s the only announced two-pack so far to be TLJ-based, but I’m sure that’ll change.  As noted above, the Rey figure here is the same as the version included in the Wave 1 Orange assortment, with one extra accessory thrown in.

REY – JEDI TRAINING

It looks like Rey will be wearing her cool Resistance togs from the end of The Force Awakens for at least some segment of the new movie, but this figure depicts her in her brand new Jedi training outfit.  The design actually isn’t too far removed from her Jakku look, albeit in grey and black instead of the tan and white, as well as boots that go further up her calves and a holster for the blaster she got from Han in TFA.  It’s definitely a strong look.  I think I still like the Resistance look a little more, but I do find this to be an improvement on the scavenger look.  This figure stands a little under 3 3/4 inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation.  Rey’s all-new sculpt is a definite improvement over her inaugural figure, which I always found to be the weakest of the initial batch of figures.  This figure’s proportions are far more balanced, she feels much less frail, and the likeness to Daisy Ridley definitely feels like an improvement over prior attempts.  Still not spot-on, but closer.  Rather than the robes sculpted onto the legs schtick of the last sever Rey figures, this one opts for an add-on piece instead, which works far better for her shorter cut style of garment.  As with Luke, the texturing on this figure is nothing short of amazing, and just phenomenal for the scale.  In terms of paint, Rey is generally pretty well handled.  The application’s all pretty sharp, and the colors appear to match pretty well with what we’ve seen so far from the movie.  Both versions of Rey are packed with her staff, blaster, and Anakin’s lightsaber, which is a very impressive selection.  The two-pack version adds in a…weird-back-pack-shoulder-blaster thingy… I kinda thought we were done with these.  I mean, it looks like one of the Rebel packs from Endor, so that’s at least kind of cool, but it’s still not a piece I see myself using ever.  Both the figure and the backpack are ForceLink compatible, so there’s that.

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

First we had the Imperial Royal Guards, now we have the Elite Praetorian Guard.  Always gotta have those regal looking dudes in red, right?  These guys were kept und wraps for a while in the lead-up to the product launch, but now they’re all over the place.  Here’s hoping they don’t end up as glorified cameos like the Guavian Enforcers.  There are three different helmet variations for the Guards; the one seen here has what appears to be a hat of some sort.  Maybe he’s trying to keep the sun out of his eyes?  Anyway, the figure stands about 4 inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation.  Like yesterday’s Luke figure, this guy’s got the skirt cut into legs thing going on.  It works okay with this design, fortunately enough, so I can’t really complain.  The sculpt is all-new, and generally pretty decent.  The work on the armored parts is nice and crisp, and he’s even got some great texture work on the skirt to denote it as a separate material.  The Guard’s paintwork is actually quite minimal, with the only real work being the small blue dot near the top of his torso, and a little bit of black on his inner thighs.  It’s accurate to what we’ve seen so far of these guys, and they did go to the effort of giving the armor and the skirt two different finishes, which is nice.  He’s packed with a pair of axes, which can be dual wielded or snapped together to form one larger weapon, which is pretty nifty.  Like Rey, he’s also ForceLink compatible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Luke, this set was pretty high on my Force Friday list.  I had initially planned to just grab the standard Rey, but I really couldn’t pass up the sweet looking Guard.  I found this set early as well, but was still unable to purchase it until the actual event.  This set didn’t prove too difficult to grab on Friday morning; I ended up picking it up off the floor after the guy mentioned yesterday flung it from its peg.  Rey’s probably my favorite small-scale figure of her yet (though the Resistance version is still a very reputable contender).  The Guard is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to pick up the other two variants down the line.