#1873: Tobias Beckett

TOBIAS BECKETT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Beckett is a survivor, always quietly working out angles to come out ahead. He’s assembled a team of specialized scoundrels to carry out risky but profitable heists.”

In a lot of ways, Solo doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.  Fortunately for fans of the movie, The Black Series is one place it does get its proper due…or at least is going to in the very near future.  We’ve already gotten the young versions of Han, Chewbacca, and Lando, as well as Qi’ra and the Range Trooper.  Following those up, is Han’s mentor, Mal Reynolds knowledge and generally Woody Harrelson-esque dude, Tobias Beckett!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tobias Beckett is figure 68 in Hasbro’s The Black Series line-up.  He shipped in the early fall assortment of the line, alongside Bespin Han and the Rebel Fleet Trooper.  Beckett is seen here in his standard heist gear, which he wears from the train heist onward.  While I was definitely a fan of his Imperial disguise look, this is his main appearance, and is definitely the best choice for this figure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  Beckett’s sculpt is unique to this figure.  It’s a pretty decent offering, though I think when compared to the really strong offerings we’ve gotten so far from the Solo stuff, he’s maybe a little more rudimentary.  It’s mostly how the articulation is worked into it; the mid-torso joint in particular is a little jarring, as are the hips.  In addition, the double holsters are rather restricting to the hip movement, making the awkward joints seem even more unnecessary.  On the plus side, his long coat hides a lot of this, and is one of my favorite parts of the sculpt.  His likeness is a decent match for Harrelson.  The hair, which is a separate piece, is a little bulky, but it’s still a respectable handling of his somewhat scraggly hair from the movie, especially at this scale.  The paintwork on Becket is pretty decent, but again, seems like a very slight step down from the other Solo figures.  He’s got a printed face, but it seems a little blurrier than other figures.  It’s still pretty solid, though, and his general color scheme matches up well with his on-screen appearance.  Beckett is packed with his pair of revolver-style blasters, which can either be held or stowed in his holsters.  They’re some of the best detailed weapons from this line, continuing the upward trend of the weapons in this line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beckett was a little bit illusive, mostly due to a general lingering of the preceding assortment at retail.  But, I was fortunate enough to find him at a somewhat less-travelled Walmart, so ah-ha!  I liked Beckett a lot, so I’m glad to finally have him in figure form.  He’s the weakest of the Solo figures so far, but seeing as the Solo figures have been consistently my favorite Black Series figures of late, that doesn’t really hinder him. I look forward to getting the rest of his crew!

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#1841: Solo Set

HAN SOLO — MIMIBAN, STORMTROOPER — MIMIBAN, STORMTROOPER SQUAD LEADER, MUDTROOPER, IMPERIAL PATROL TROOPER, & TIE FIGHTER PILOT

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

Solo may not have been quite the box-office-smash that Disney was hoping for, but it’s maintained a nice little following of fans, and by extension has managed to support a nice little selection of continuing merchandise.  While its toy presence hasn’t been quite as pervasive as the three films that preceded it, there are still some fun pieces trickling out.  Target’s picked up a healthy helping of exclusives, including today’s set, a selection of the film’s various Imperial forces, all in one convenient package!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set is a Target-exclusive boxed set, part of Hasbro’s continuing Solo line.  It started hitting retail shelves about two weeks ago, and if other such sets are anything to go by, it’ll be staying on them for at least a little while.

HAN SOLO

It would be a little bit strange to have a Solo set that didn’t include the title character, and as luck would have it, he does spend at least some of his screen time in an Imperial uniform, so he still fits the overall theme of the set.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation (get used to those numbers; they stand true for most of this set).  The sculpt is “unique” in the sense that it’s new to this set, but not totally unique to just this figure.  It’s a solid sculpt, nicely detailing Han’s environment specific armor from Mimiban.  The goggles and rebreather are separate from the main head sculpt, allowing for a fully revealed or fully covered look, which means he can operate both as a Han variant or a troop builder, depending on your fancy.  Also of note, the pre-posed arms, allowing for a proper handling of his weapon.  It’s a nice change of pace after a couple of years of purely straight-armed set-ups.  Han’s paintwork is solid, and pretty straight forward.  Application is mostly pretty clean, and all of the important details are there.  It gets the job done.  Han is packed with a blaster rifle, of a different style than we usually see.

STORMTROOPER

Perhaps the most difficult figure to find in the single-packed assortment was the Mimiban Stormtrooper.  He was a new trooper and he was packed at one per case.  Maybe not the best break-down, but at least Hasbro was nice enough to offer up a straight re-issue here.  The figure’s sculpt has a lot in common with the Rogue One Stormtrooper; no actual shared parts, but a very similar styling.  This new sculpt is pre-posed like the above Han, allowing for a proper rifle-holding pose.  His helmet has been slightly tweaked to add his blast shield, and he also gets an additional cape piece.  His paintwork is suitably muddy for the much more worn-in Mimiban armor, covering him in all sorts of much and grossness.  The Mimiban Stormtrooper is packed with a larger marksman rifle, as well as one of the standard E-11 blasters.

SQUAD LEADER

Hey, remember that awesome Rogue One Stormtrooper?  And then remember the Mimiban Stormtrooper?  Great.  Smash those two together and throw in a shoulder pauldron, and boom, you’ve got this guy.  Not really anything new, but it makes for the best Trooper variant available in the modern line, so I’m definitely counting this one as a win.

MUDTROOPER

Hey, remember the Han figure from up above?  Great.  This is the same figure.  Okay, not exactly.  The helmet and goggles are all one piece, and his rebreather is glued in place.  Throw on a slightly different application of paint on his right arm, and a slightly different blaster rifle and boom, new figure.

PATROL TROOPER

Easily one of my favorite designs from Solo was the Patrol Trooper.  It’s not a huge surprise, given that its really just a take on the Biker Scout, my favorite Trooper design of all time.  The absence of the Patrol Trooper from earlier assortments was definitely my biggest complaint about the line-up.  This figure gets an all-new sculpt, and boy is it a nice one.  The details are really sharply defined, and very accurate to the film.  It’s a slick design, and it certainly translated well into toy form.  The paint work maintains the slickness, with clean application and a lot of smaller details that you might not expect to see on a lower end figures.  There’s a lot of detail work going on there, and it makes the figure all the better.  Since a full patrol speeder seems like a bit much to ask for in this sort of set, the Patrol Trooper instead has to settle for a Biker Scout-esque blaster pistol.  Worse things have happened.

TIE FIGHTER PILOT

Though they don’t figure prominently into the film at any real point, there certainly have to be some TIE Pilots in Solo, somewhere, right?  More importantly, Hasbro had this great TIE Pilot mold sitting around, and had only released it a single time, so I guess they wanted everyone to have another shot at it.  This figure is sculpturally identical to the Rogue One version packed in with the TIE Striker.  Like the Rogue One Stormtrooper, it’s one of the most screen accurate sculpts Hasbro has produced, making it a fantastic offering even in spite of its lessened articulation.  The paintwork is ever so slightly tweaked from the last release, with a small bit of extra detailing on his helmet denoting that this figure is a higher ranking pilot than the last.  That’s a cool touch.  The TIE Pilot is packed with a mid-sized blaster, same as the prior release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Care to guess where I got this Target-exclusive set?  Did you guess “Target”?  Good for you!  You get the FiQ-No-Prize!  I didn’t quite know when or even where this set was hitting, but I knew as soon as I saw that Patrol Trooper that I was getting one.  So…I kinda bought this big set for one figure.  I know, bad Ethan.  In my defense, the Patrol Trooper is really, really good, and I found myself happy with all of the figures included, so I don’t at all feel like the money I spent was wasted.

#1752: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“A mighty Wookiee nearly two centuries old, Chewbacca has fallen upon hard times during this age of the expanding Empire.”

Let’s keep this extraneous Star Wars love going, I suppose…wait, that doesn’t sound quite right.  Never mind.

I broke my rule about the clones, but I also had this other rule with the Black Series, where I was going to avoid minor variations of the same characters.  Now, technically Vader was the first one I broke the rule for, but that was a slightly special case.  I stayed true with Chewbacca and didn’t buy the Force Awakens variant.  Well, Solo broke me, what can I say.  Was he worth it?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca was released right around the same time as the rest of the Solo product launch, but the comparatively soft roll-out of the Solo product compared to prior movies meant that he just started showing up in some places very recently.  He’s not part of the main line-up, but is instead a Target exclusive.  Chewbacca stands 8 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation. Unsurprisingly, given his generally consistent look over the course of the film’s, this Chewbacca figure shares a lot of parts with the original Black Series release, namely everything but the head, upper torso, and bandolier. I was rather critical of the sculpt back when it was new, and I still stand by those critiques.  There are just some issues that are inherent to the process of adapting a design like Chewbacca’s into a highly articulated plastic figure.  There are going to have to be some compromises, and they do have negative impact on this sculpt.  With all that said, I think this figure does a lot to salvage the sculpt.  The new head is really strong.  While it’s been reworked to allow for the goggles to sit better on his face, he actually still looks pretty good without the goggles in-place.  In fact, he makes a for a decent approximation of Chewbacca’s messier hair style from Empire and Jedi, which I’m definitely okay with.  The new torso’s really just a slight change, mostly done to help the new double-strapped bandolier sit better on his shoulders.  But it definitely helps, and as a result, this Chewbacca’s bandolier sits a lot flusher to the body than the first one’s did.  It’s a minor change, but one that does a lot to help the figure.  Minor changes to the sculpt aside, I think the biggest thing that helps this new release is the paintwork.  The first Chewbacca was released during the line’s worst period paint-wise.  While his paint wasn’t *bad*, it was definitely very basic, and lacking in any form of subtlety, which hit that figure pretty hard.  By contrast, this figure’s hitting while the line is at a very high point, and he definitely shows it.  The transitions between shades on the fur are less jarring, and work has been done to keep these changes from being right on the joints.  In addition, he’s far less glossy overall, which only helps in making him look a lot less goofy.  In Solo, Chewbacca hasn’t yet gotten his distinctive bowcaster, so he’s instead carrying a different heavy blaster rifle entirely.  This one’s patterned on the M-60 machine gun (thanks Tim!), which is certainly a fun one.  The piece is very well sculpted and an accurate recreation of the design from the movie.  And, not only does it avoid the usual lack of paint issue, but it’s even got moving parts!  A very impressive piece.  In addition, Chewbacca also includes his goggles from the train heist, which go on and off pretty easily.  Not as impressive as the gun, but fun nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw Chewbacca fairly early on, back in May, but decided to pass on him at that time.  Of course, then I didn’t see him for a couple of months, so when I came across him again (after having seen and quite enjoyed the movie), I didn’t feel like I could pass him up.  I’m glad I opted to get him the second time around, as he’s a pretty sizable improvement on the last one, and definitely my favorite Chewbacca to date.

#1721: Millennium Falcon — Kessel

MILLENNIUM FALCON — KESSEL RUN

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

Well, poor Solo’s kind of come and gone.  You can still find it playing in a few theaters, but not nearly as many as you might expect.  And that’s really a shame, since it wasn’t a bad movie at all.  But, it had the misfortune of being the last in a string of summer blockbusters, being too close to the last Star Wars flick’s release, and being the Star Wars film that was in theaters when parts of the fanbase decided to…do…something?  I haven’t gotten that piece figured out quite yet.  Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Solo, and have picked up a slew of the toys, including the newest (but technically oldest) incarnation of the Millennium Falcon.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The Kessel Run variant of the Falcon hit stores alongside the rest of the Solo product in April of this year.It’s by far the biggest of the items offered this time.On the flipside, it’s also the smallest version of the Falcon we’ve ever gotten that was still intended for use with the standard figures.This size has certainly upset large parts of the fandom, who have become accustomed to more robust offerings for the Falcon, and weren’t pleased to see it scaled down quite so far.  I’m of two minds on this.  While I appreciate the play set approach of earlier versions of the vehicle (the POTF2 version is my jam), but they could certainly be a little unwieldy for actual use as a space ship.  This slightly streamlined and smaller model, on the other hand, allows for more use for flying around and such.  It’s not a move that’s going to please longer term collectors, but there’s definitely a rationale behind it.  As it stands, this version of the Falcon is still noticeably bigger than most other recent ships, and upon opening it, it actually wasn’t quite as small as I’d expected. I’d say it’s about 80% of the size of
the POTF2 version, which is respectable.  Obviously, the sculpt on this thing is all-new, given not only the new size, but also the cleaner, sleeker design of the Falcon in Solo. It’s a nice looking ship,to be sure. There are three main areas where the figures can interact.  The most obvious, of course, is the cockpit.  It’s somewhat negatively impacted by the scale.  Getting two figures into the cockpit of even the vintage Falcon mold was difficult enough, but this one throws the concept out all together.  There is one single seat in the cockpit, and one person’s going in there.  If you really try, you can kind of get Han and Qi’ra both in there, but it’s far from natural looking. Of course, once the cockpit’s canopy is shut, it’s not like you can really see who’s in there anyway, so the point is kind of moot anyway.  There are two panels towards the back of the ship which can also be popped off.  Unlike earlier versions, there’s not a ton you can really do with either of these areas. I mean, it’s still nifty to see them there, though.  The details seen there look pretty nifty, and it’s a nice little bonus. The last area of interaction is the escape pod between the mandibles.  It’s really just a simple hatched piece, with space for another figure, albeit laying down. The interior matches the other sections, and is better than just smooth grey plastic.  The pod is, of course, removable, and features further detailing for the thrusters and such, allowing it to fully function as it’s own separate piece.  Personally, I prefer the ship without it, but the option is much appreciated.  The paintwork is a little sparse on the Falcon, being limited mostly to the blue detailing.  The Falcon is supposed to be cleaner, so it works alright.  Smaller details and the like are done with decals, which have to be applied after you get the ship out of the box.  The Falcon has a few action features built in.  It’s compatible with Force Link 2.0, but that’s thankfully limited to the escape pod.  The other features are native to the toy proper.  There’s flight sounds, activated by a “takeoff” (theres a spring-loaded piece of landing gear that senses when the ship is picked up).  There are then some lights and sounds determined by the gyroscope within the ship sensing motion.  Pressing the buttons on the sides intensifies the lights and sounds which each subsequent push, with the third push enacting the “hyperdrive”, which has some rumbling, and pops off two panels on the back and two on the front, thus simulating the damage the Falcon takes during the Kessel Run.  It takes a little bit of work to learn the rhythms of the mechanics.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Included with the Falcon is a variant of the title character, Han Solo himself.  It’s a unique version of the character, based on his appearance from the very end of the movie (and not the Kessel Run as the figure’s name suggests).  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  This Han gets the coveted wrist articulation, which is pretty cool. The sculpt is, surprisingly, totally new.  Not even the head is shared with the other two Hans.  I think I like this one more than the one from the speeder.  It’s certainly a sharper sculpt.  Even the paint is a bit cleaner, which is a plus.  Han includes his blaster, as well as a canister of cargo to go in the ship.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I realized at the time of this set’s release that I hadn’t actually gotten a Millennium Falcon since the ‘99s, which didn’t seem right.  However, the higher price tag on this boy meant I was definitely waiting for a sale.  And find a decent sale I did, so now I have it.  Yay! It’s got its issues, and it’s not going to be for everyone, but I found myself quite liking it, a fair bit more than I’d expected to.

#1702: Qi’ra – Corellia

QI’RA — CORELLIA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

At 18 years of age, young Qi’ra is already enmeshed in a life of crime, working for a gang on Corellia.”

Well, I’ve already burned through the “confusing Emilia Clarke for her other roles” bit for the first Qi’ra figure I reviewed, so I’m out of obvious intro material.  Darn.  Here’s this action figure, I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Qi’ra is figure 66 in Star Wars: The Black Series.  She was part of the second round of post-Solo releases, packed alongside the bounty hunter 4-Lom.  As of right now, she’s by far the easier of the two to find of retail, and I kind of feel like that’ll stick.  Like her smaller figure, Qi’ra is based on her look from the film’s prologue.  It’s not her main look from the movie, nor is it a look that really interacts well with the other figures, but it’s a decent enough look nonetheless, and probably the one that has the easiest translation into toy form.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her articulation is a little more restricted than Han and Lando, but compared to your average Black Series release before them, Qi’ra is still pretty darn mobile.  Qi’ra gets an all-new sculpt, and it’s a pretty decent one.  Very similar to the smaller one, which makes sense, what with them being the same design and all.  I think the smaller one might actually have the slightly better Clarke likeness, but this one’s certainly not bad, and it’s definitely well-detailed.  Her paintwork is pretty good overall, but it does suffer a bit more than other recent offerings.  The biggest issue is definitely they eyes.  She’s using the printed face technique, but something seems off about this particular release, especially around the eyes.  It’s like the printing got misaligned.  Hopefully this is something that’s more or less confined to my figure.  Qi’ra is packed with her unique blaster pistol, just like her smaller counterpart.  It’s not much, but it’s pretty cool, especially since it even opens for re-loading.  That was an unexpected touch!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Qi’ra was a purchase of convenience, really.  I found her at Target, and I needed to spend another $20 for one of their get $25 off $100 deals, so home with me she came.  And she was essentially free at that!  After the tremendous Han and Lando (and even Rey, for that matter), Qi’ra’s a slight step down in quality.  That said, she’s still a pretty decent offering overall, and definitely a fun figure.  Now, here’s hoping we can get her in her heist outfit, because that one was the coolest.

#1701: Lando Calrissian

LANDO CALRISSIAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Smooth and sophisticated, Captain Lando Calrissian stands ready to retire from the life of a smuggler and instead become a full-time gambler (or “sportsman”, as he calls it), shuffling from card game to card game across the galaxy.”

For my second and third entries in this week of Black Series reviews, I’ll be moving over to the newest installment in the Star Wars franchise, Solo.  I’ve looked at the smaller figures, as well as the Black Series release of the main character, but now I’m going to look at one of the other major returning characters, and one of the highest-praised parts of the movie, Lando Calrissian!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lando is figure 65 in Star Wars: The Black Series, released in the assortment that arrived on shelves alongside the other Solo-themed product.  This is Lando’s second time as a Black Series figure, in rather quick succession, actually.  He’s based on his main Solo look, which is certainly dynamic, and makes for a solid figure design.  The figure stands just over 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  His articulation set-up is rather similar to Han’s, meaning he’s got quite a bit of range in most of those joints, and he’s a ton of fun to pose.  His sculpt is an all-new offering, and does a respectable job of translating Donald Glover’s version of Lando into figure form.  The likeness on the head isn’t quite as spot-on as Han or Rey; I think Glover might just have one of those difficult to capture faces.  On the plus side, the face is very expressive, and very in character for Lando, so it’s a nice change of pace from the blander expression seen on other figures in the line.  The cape and scarf are both separate, removable pieces, allowing you to mix and match looks, and give him a bit of variety.  The softer plastic isn’t too restricting of the figure’s articulation, and it still manages to hold the details pretty well.  Like Han and Rey, Lando makes use of the new face printing technique, to give his face more realism.  It’s not quite as convincing here as it was on the other two, in part due to the more cartoony expression.  Still, it looks pretty good, and it still avoids that lifeless look of the earlier figures.  The rest of the paint is really bright, and quite eye-catching, but there’s one small issue with my figure; the bottom half of his shirt is painted yellow rather than molded.  Not a huge deal, but on my figure the paint application is a little thin, so some of the underlying black plastic is bleeding through.  It’s not terrible, but a little annoying.  Lando is packed with his fancy blaster, which is the same model as included with his smaller figure, but this time it comes with a removable barrel attachment, and that’s pretty fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been on the look out for Lando ever since the figures first started hitting.  I saw the ESB version a few times, but the figure never really grabbed me, so I never got him.  So, this one carries some extra weight.  He was a little tough to come by initially, but I managed to track him down during a completely not-toy-related stop to my local Target.  He’s another strong figure, and like Han, I’d love to have a main Billy Dee Williams version of this quality down the road.

Solo: A Movie Review

Ahhh, I almost got you there, didn’t I?  You were probably thinking I wasn’t going to do this one.  Solo would be the first of the new era Star Wars flicks I’d skip reviewing, right?  Wrong.  I’m a creature of habit, dammit!  I can’t break the streak!  As I’ve noted several times before, Star Wars is a franchise deeply connected to its accompanying toys, so it’s a natural fit for an action figure review site. Do pardon the slight delay on this particular review; circumstances prevented me from seeing Solo on its opening weekend, and then circumstances prevented me from having any time to sit down and write about it until now.  So, how does the movie hold up?  Let’s find out!

THE ACTUAL REVIEW

Solo is an interesting beast.  In a franchise made up of epic after epic, Solo is decidedly *not*.  Quite frankly, that’s possibly the best thing its got going for it.  There are only so many times you can see a universe rocked to its core before you just need a few minutes to breath.

Set in the self-proclaimed “lawless time” of 10 years after Revenge of the Sith’s end and 10 years before A New Hope‘s beginning, Solo gives us the Star Wars universe at the most stable point we’ve seen it, at least in the movies.  The Empire has taken hold, but are still sewing the seeds of their totalitarian regime.  Obviously, we know where this ultimately leads, but it’s not there yet.  The Empire’s presence in this film is largely set-dressing, reminding us of where and when this all happens.  They are not the looming big bad of the original trilogy yet.  Moreover, the film doesn’t have a looming big bad at, really.  There are a few rival clans, each driven by their own agendas, but they don’t exactly have the organization or the numbers to muster the threat of the Imperials, the First Order, or even the Trade Federation.

In contrast to the somewhat frantically paced Rogue One, which gives us a myriad of planets to jump between, introduces an entire team, and places a very hard time limit on all operations, Solo takes its time.  Planets are introduced in a slower fashion, and the story follows them linearly, with no real jumping back and forth.  Unlike prior films, there aren’t multiple stories we’re jumping between.  Instead, we the audience take things in as the occur to Han, following his progression from street rat, to Imperial Infantryman, and finally to smuggler.

Alden Ehrenreich’s casting as young Han was met with a lot of uncertainty, as many felt he would be unable to live up to Harrison Ford’s legendary take on the role.  Ehrenrich plays a different Han, one who is more naive, and not yet the scoundrel we meet in the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Nevertheless, he is undoubtedly the same person at the core.  Ehrenreich captures the spirit of Ford’s Solo, without simply treading down the same path, or playing a caricature.  While perhaps he doesn’t look or sound the same, he certainly gets Han’s demeanor right, and it’s intriguing to watch as he takes on more of the classic Solo traits as the movie progresses.

Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra is Han’s counterpoint; the other struggling street rat from Corellia.  Like Han, she has to take a slight detour on her plans in order to escape from her home world.  As a love interest for Han, she’s in dubious waters, since it’s destiny for their relationship to fail, and she’s inevitably going to be compared to Leia.  She’s a decidedly different character, though, and the movie gives her own, intriguing arc, as we make our way to the ultimately tragic ending of her and Han’s relationship.

Also serving as a counterpoint to Han is his mentor-figure, Tobias Becket, played by Woody Harrelson.  Becket allows Harrelson to do what he does best, playing a snarky hard-love mentor, with his own self-serving agenda.  Becket’s a vision of what Han might have become, had he not become involved with the Rebellion.  He’s a career smuggler, distrustful of everyone, and perpetually looking for that mythical “last job” that can get him away from it all.

Donald Glover’s turn as Lando Calrissian rounds out the major players, and is certainly a highlight of the film.  Ehrenreich’s Han is still on his way to being the character we know, but by contrast, Glover gives us a Lando that is unmistakably the same guy from Empire.  He’s clearly having a blast in the role, and he’s so much fun to watch.  His screen time is a little bit less than I’d initially been expecting, but Glover absolutely makes the most of it.

Supporting those four are a fun collection of smaller players.  Joonas Suotamo takes over the role of Chewbacca completely with this film, and gets one of the more action-oriented Chewbacca parts.  His backstory is expanded on from what we’ve seen before (and appears to be ignoring the Holiday Special.  I know, we’re all really broken up about it), but he’s still very much Chewy.  The recurring rivalry between him and Qi’ra for Han’s attention is quite amusing.  Phoebe-Bridge Waller’s L3-37 fulfills our requisite droid role, and takes the sassy droid archetype put in place by 3P0 and K2 and dials it up to 11.  She and Glover had great chemistry, and I’d love to see more of the pairs adventures.  Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau play the Zoe and Wash to Becket’s Mal, and, as with L3, I’d love to see more of their stories.

The role of antagonist gets passed around a few times over the course of the film, but the character holding it the longest is Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos.  His a delightfully charming villain, and the scenes containing him are a particular joy to watch.  After getting used to Bettany as Vision/Jarvis, the villainous turn allows him to show off some definite range.

Ultimately, nothing about Solo is revolutionary or game changing.  It’s not a movie about shifting the narrative or delivering new pieces of previously unknown lore.  Solo‘s purpose is merely to be a fun, small-scale adventure through a universe we all love, that offers up some fun nods here and there.  It’s meant to be a fun movie-going experience.  And at that, it definitely succeeds.

#1677: Wampa & Luke Skywalker (Hoth)

WAMPA & LUKE SKYWALKER (HOTH)

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

“Wampas are powerful furred bipeds that dwell in the snowy wastes of the ice world Hoth. These hulking predators have razor-sharp fangs and claws, yet move with surprising stealth, relying on their white fur for camouflage while hunting prey such as tauntauns.”

As with any good Star Wars line, Solo isn’t afraid to pepper in a few things from prior movies to keep the older fans happy.  A running sub-theme since TFA has been figures based on Empire.  Today’s offering, Luke and the deadly Wampa, continues that trend.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Wampa and Luke are part of the first assortment of deluxe sets from the Solo line.  They fulfill the same purpose as Last Jedi‘s Creature Sets (and, in fact, this is just a re-purposed Creature set, and one of the other two in the assortment is a straight re-release of one; only Enfys Nest’s Swoop Bike doesn’t fit that descriptor).

WAMPA

The Wampa’s a rather straightforward monster, really.  It’s just a space-yeti.  A simple adventure story trope with a sci-fi bend, perfectly emblematic of Star Wars at its best.  As a fairly humanoid monster, it’s also an easy choice for toys.  This is the third Wampa we’ve gotten at this scale.  The Wampa stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  If the articulation were perfectly mirrored as it is on most figures, that count would be 1 higher, but as it stands, this Wampa, like other Wampas, sacrifices a little articulation in the name of spectacle.  A more simple peg/swivel joint makes for a more easily removed right arm, thus allowing you to give the Wampa the “battle damage” inflicted upon him by Luke’s light saber slash.  The figure’s sporting an all-new sculpt; it’s somewhat aesthetically similar to the Black Series release, but this one’s more accurate to the movie design by my eye.  The level of detailing on the sculpt is definitely impressive.  He possesses some of the same issues of joints breaking up the fur that the Black Series Chewbacca had, but at this scale, and with the bulkier nature of his design, it’s less noticeable.  The paintwork on the Wampa is actually a fair bit better than the photos attached to this review might lead you to believe.  In person, the yellowish accenting on the fur is subtler, and not quite as garish.  It could perhaps be a little better, but I don’t hate it, and it’s certainly better than no detail at all.

LUKE SKYWALKER (HOTH)

Luke in his cold-weather gear is kind of a natural companion piece for the Wampa, since they spend their scenes on Hoth together.  Luke’s Hoth gear is a popular variant, from the vintage line onward.  It’s actually been released as recently as the Star Wars: Saga Legends Mission Packs, but despite that, this figure is an all-new one.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation, if you count the moving scarf on his head.  The sculpt is pretty solid.  He’s based on his appearance post-Wampa attack, which seems sensible. That means no goggles and with some facial scarring.  It does a nice job of capturing the design, with some cool detailing on the quilting and such on the outfit.  The facial likeness is a good match for Hamill as seen in the movie, and the scarring even appears to have been sculpted, rather than being just painted on.  The pose is pretty nice as well, being a fairly basic standing pose that also looks nice dangling upside down from the ceiling.  The paint on this figure is pretty decent.  It’s fairly basic, and kind of subdued, but it matches the movie well.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber and his blaster pistol (which is technically inaccurate for the post-Wampa attack look, but the empty holster would be sort of silly).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking forward to this set ever since it was shown off during the initial Last Jedi showings.  The old Hoth Luke was a favorite of mine, and I’ve never had a Wampa figure.  Despite not being a “new” offering, it was near the top of my list of wants.  It’s one of the last items I found, as it would appear it’s the shortpack of the case, at least initially.  I really like this set.  The Wampa is one of the best small-scale Star Wars figures that Hasbro’s put out recently, and Luke’s nothing to slouch at either.

#1676: Enfys Nest’s Swoop Bike (w/ Enfys Nest)

ENFYS NEST’S SWOOP BIKE (w/ ENFYS NEST)

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

“The Cloud-Rider gang led by Enfys Nest terrorizes the skies atop their mean-looking swoop bikes.  Little more than engines with seats, swoops are hard to control but capable of incredible speed.”

Alright, Solo is officially out today!  …I haven’t actually had a chance to see it yet, and probably won’t be able to until after the weekend, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep right on reviewing the toys!  I’ve taken a look at some of the “heroes” (a loose term, given it’s a heist film) from the movie, but how about looking at one of the film’s villains, the mysterious Enfys Nest, leader of the Cloud-Rider gang (a gang who, fun fact, originated in a comic from 1977; pretty nifty, right?).  Next to nothing is known about Nest, including gender, so this will certainly be an interesting review.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

Though Enfys Nest is very much the title-part of this set, the actual main focus is Enfys’s swoop bike.  Now, this is actually not the first swoop bike I’ve looked at on this site.  The first came from the Shadows of the Empire line in ’96, and it’s been a little while since then.  That one was definitely more on the conservative side as well, which can’t so much be said about this one.  The bike measures 9 inches in length, and is 3 3/4 inches tall and it’s highest point.  There aren’t any moving pieces on the bike, but as a hover bike, that’s not a huge shock.  The all-new sculpt on this bike is pretty impressive.  There’s quite a bit of detail work, especially on the main body.  I was impressed by how small and intricate a lot of the work was, and the fins and such don’t feel too heavy or clunky.  There’s a nice flow to this vehicle.  My only concern is one of construction; it’s a very frail design, and in some spots, especially the front half, it can feel like it’s going to fold in half if you look at it funny.  I’ve had no issues with it as of yet, though.  The paint work on the bike is pretty decent stuff, and it’s certainly a step up from the last swoop I looked at.  While it’s not exactly real-world level detailing, there’s some definite effort that’s been placed into making it look pretty convincing, and it’s not as bland as some vehicles can be.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obviously Enfys Nest’s Swoop Bike is going to include an Enfys Nest figure, right?  It’d be a little odd if it didn’t, right?  I mean, that’s what I think.  Anyway, Enfys here is so far exclusive to this particular pack.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall measuring to the top of the head (it’s a more even 4 if you count the horns), and it has 7 points of articulation.  Like Qi’ra, Enfys has wrist articulation, presumably to make piloting the bike a bit more manageable.  Enfys is another new sculpt.  I was surprised by how slight of frame he/she is, but after double checking against some shots from the movie, this is actually pretty accurate.  Overall, I like the sculpt, but it’s ever so slightly hindered by being designed to go in the bike. The limbs are all angled out a bit, and the feet are somewhat pigeon-toed.  Just standing around, Enfys looks a little bit awkward.  On the plus side, the armor and such has been translated quite well.  Enfys has a unique look, and that’s been captured here.  The mixed medium on the cape with the sculpted shoulders is an interesting way of handling it, and probably the most sensible, since the figure is meant to be able to sit, and I can’t really see a plastic cape accommodating that.  Enfys’ paintwork is decent enough, though this is certainly a figure that would benefit from a little bit more work in the accenting department; that armor really should be a bit grimier than it ends up here.  Still, it’s far from bad.  Enfys is packed with a staff, which is pretty sensible, since the character is seen carrying it in pretty much all of the promotional stuff we’ve seen.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was procured at the same time as the Range Trooper, during my third round of Solo purchases.  It was one of the items I was most looking forward to, since I rather like Enfys’s design.  The bike is fine for what it is (I’ve got a lot of speeder bikes, so one more isn’t really going to blow my mind or anything), and the figure’s certainly passable.  I can’t say this is my favorite of the items I’ve gotten for the movie (that would probably be Han’s Land Speeder), but for the price and the scale, I’m happy with it.

#1675: Range Trooper

RANGE TROOPER

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

“The Imperial expansion requires the settlement of vital operations on remote outpost worlds. These frontier Stormtroopers form a backbone of stubborn defense against would-be thieves and pirates.”

Ah, Hasbro and Stormtrooper variants.  They go together like…well, like a successful toy company and a successful franchise’s totally reasonable way to keep producing new toys of with hardcore fans are almost guaranteed to buy multiples.  One of the classic pairs, really.  Though I am perhaps not as committed to building an army as some fans are, I will admit to being drawn in by just about every new trooper that Hasbro puts out, today’s focus, the Range Trooper, included.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Range Trooper is part of the first series of basic Solo figures.  He’s one of two trooper based army builders in the set, and so far he’s been the easier of the two to find at retail.  This new trooper design is meant for more extreme environments, and from the looks of this figure, he specializes in cold areas.  Why do we get the Range Trooper instead of just seeing the Snowtrooper again?  Well, the best answer in-universe is that this movie’s set more than a decade before the Snowtroopers appear in Empire, and it’s probably fair to assume the Imperials have changed up their gear at least a little bit.  The best answer out-of-universe is that this way they can sell more toys.  Works for me.  Anyway, the figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The Range Trooper’s sporting an all-new sculpt, which seems unlikely to see any re-use going forward.  It’s pretty well crafted, depicting him a reasonably bulked up from the additional padding, and handling the actual details of his clothes and armor quite nicely.  He’s definitely on-par with Qi’ra in that regard.  I like that there are some common design elements from other films, with the chestplate being quite similar to the Snowtrooper piece, and the helmet having a few similarities to the Shoretrooper helmets we saw in Rogue One.  It definitely lends some credence to them being an earlier iteration of the Snowtrooper, and also helps solidify that the Shoretrooper helmets were an older environment-based design that was just slowly worked out.  He’s also got those big honking boots, which we learned from the trailers are some sort of magnetic/gravity boots.  They’re a neat design.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty solid work as well.  It’s a lot of off-white, of course, but there’s some pretty decent accent work on the boots.  I just wish it extended to the fur collar, but alas, he’ll just have to be a little cleaner looking than I wanted.  The Range Trooper is packed with a blaster.  At first glance, I thought it was just the standard E-11, but it’s actually slightly tweaked to have a longer barrel and a further forwards scope.  I guess that helps with the range?  That would make sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Lando, this guy proved a little more difficult to acquire, at least at first.  I was fortunate enough to find him the following weekend, at a Target near my brother’s college.  I wasn’t 100% sure about this design when I first saw it, but I find myself really liking it in figure form.  Perhaps I’ll have to track down the Black Series figure at some point down the line.