#2918: Gamorrean Guard

GAMORREAN GUARD

STAR WAR: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“The brutish nature of Gamorreans, along with their great strength and violent tendencies, made them excellent mercenaries and guardsmen in Jabba’s desert palace.”

Jabba’s green pig-man guards make for a rather distinctive introduction back into the world of Star Wars during Return of the Jedi‘s opening scenes.  They’re a great merging of puppetry and prosthetics, making for a generally pretty unique design, and one that’s not quickly forgotten.  It’s hard to imagine the whole Jabba’s palace sequence without them present in some fashion, so when Kenner turned their sights on building up that particular locale for Power of the Force in the ’90s, the Gamorrean Guards were right there, along for the ride!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Gamorrean Guard was added to Power of the Force II in 1997, a year that, as I noted last time, is quite packed with Jabba-related characters.  This marked their first time in toy treatment since the vintage line, as was the case for most of these guys in the ’90s.  The figure stands just shy of 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  The vintage Gamorrean sculpt was definitely not bad for the time, so this one had a slightly higher bar to clear than other offerings.  That being said, creatures are certainly where the ’90s line excelled, especially early on, so they were in pretty safe hands here.  The sculpt’s a pretty strong one.  It’s a little bit more pre-posed, but that’s largely just to allow the arms to be bent for holding the weapon just a bit better.  Otherwise, it’s nothing too crazy, just a generally looser stance, I suppose.  The detail work is generally pretty good.  Perhaps a little softer than a modern figure, but very good for the time.  It does a good job of capturing the design of the creatures as we see them in the movie, and it also maintains a generic enough appearance that you could pick up multiples for the purposes of army building, and it would still work pretty well.  The Guard’s paint is pretty basic and overall pretty drab, but that’s as expected, and it does a perfectly adequate job of recreating the base colors as seen in the movie.  I suppose some accenting would do a bit to help the sculpt pop a bit more, but that wasn’t really what this era of the line was about.  There is at least a little accenting on the face, and it does look quite nice.  The Gamorrean was packed with a single vibro axe, which is pretty standard issue for these guys.  It fits nicely in the left hand, and generally looks appropriately menacing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Gamorrean has never been an essential piece of my collection, as much as I do enjoy their presence at the palace.  As such, I was never in much of a hurry to get this one, especially with it not being particularly rare, either.  I wound up snagging this one a little over a year ago, when one with a less than stellar box got traded into All Time.  He’s a pretty cool little figure, and he does what he needs to, which is always nice to see.

#2911: Bib Fortuna

BIB FORTUNA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Behold the biggest surprise return Star Wars character of 2020, Bib Fortuna.  Sure, Boba Fett gets all that fuss around him, but we all knew that would happen anyway.  And I’m still not entirely convinced it was Boba anyway.  I mean, did you see how he actually had an impact on the plot and like a character arc, and like dialogue, and like something to do other than just suck?  I feel like that’s not very Boba Fett.  What if he’s another clone?  What if that’s the real twist of Book of Boba Fett?  What if he was really Rex the whole time?  Yeah, that’d be cool.  Wait, I’ve gotten too far off track ragging on Boba Fett.  What was I doing?  Right, Bib Fortuna review.  Of course.  How could I possibly get distracted from that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bib Fortuna was added to the Power of the Force II line in 1997, a year with quite a solid helping of Jabba’s Palace related characters.  Guess they really wanted to have them all ready for the playset the next year.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has the usual 6 points of articulation.  Bib is rather restricted on the articulation front, thanks to a handful of his design cues.  The tendrils on the head negate most of the neck movement, and the robes negate most of the leg and waist movement.  So, while all that articulation is present, he’s not really much more posable than, say, the Royal Guard.  His sculpt is still kind of from the transitional period of the line, so he’s kind of got some of that lingering bulkiness, which makes him not terribly far removed from his Mandalorian appearance, I guess.  The head’s kind of light on detailing for an alien from the line, and while there’s a fully detailed body beneath the rubber robes, there’s also no easy way to see it, since the robes can’t make it over his head.  In general, the detailing on him does seem to be a little softer than other entries from the line, which is too bad.  It’s not terrible, but not great either.  In terms of paint, he’s likewise not bad, but also not terribly inspiring.  The base work is alright, but it’s really just bare minimum.  Also, the blues seem a little too bright to me, but that might just be personal perception.  Bib was packed with a small blaster pistol, you know, for all that cool action stuff he gets into.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Bib is an alright character, I guess, and it was cool seeing him show back up after three decades, but I’m not sure he makes for the most exciting action figure.  This one’s really only good for standing there, which, admittedly, is all the character really does anyway, so I can’t fault them there.  This one wasn’t one I had as a kid, nor was he one I wanted as a kid.  I got his rather recently, as part of a batch of PotF figures I picked up from All Time in the fall of 2019.  He’s okay.  Not super exciting, but he stands behind Jabba well enough.

#2876: Jedi Spirits

ANAKIN, YODA, & OBI-WAN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda — three individuals with lives intricately intertwined. Before Obi-Wan Kenobi was forced into a life of hiding, before Anakin Skywalker gave in to the dark side and became Darth Vader, even before Yoda was known as the last Jedi Master, a young Anakin was presented to the Jedi Council for permission to train the boy in the ways of the Force. Many years later, the Galactic Republic crumbled and the evil Empire rose in its place. Only after the defeat of the Empire, at the hands of Anakin’s son Luke Skywalker, would the three great Jedi be reunited after death as spiritual guides for Luke and the New Republic.”

First hinted at during A New Hope’s climactic battle, when Luke hears the voice of the recently killed Obi-Wan during his run on the Death Star, the force ghost concept fully appears during Empire, when Obi-Wan fully manifests in spirit form.  He shows up again during Return of the Jedi, and is ultimately joined by both Yoda and Anakin in the film’s final moments.  They don’t really do much other than stand there, but it’s a distinctive visual, and one that stuck with fans.  So, toys, of course.  The first one we got was an Anakin, during the original Power of the Force run, though it was handled slightly differently than now.  A more conventional take on the concept in toy form hit the ’90s line as a mail-away figure, the Spirit of Obi-Wan.  Not content to let Obi-Wan have all the fun, Kenner put him out again, this time alongside the other two, as one of their Cinema Scenes, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Jedi Spirits set was part of the 1998 Cinema Scenes line-up for Power of the Force II.  They were one of two Jedi sets released that year, as the line began to be more focused on the final film.  They included a stand, based on the edge of one of the Ewok structures from Endor, where they are seen in the film.  Interestingly, they were all three screwed into the base in addition to the usual foot pegs.  Not entirely sure why that was the case; maybe there was some concern about potentially damaging them by twisty tying them in like the others?

ANAKIN

He’s been subsequently replaced by Hayden Christian in more recent editions of the film, but the original version of Jedi gave us a look at an Anakin from a potential version of events where he never fell to the dark side to become Darth Vader.  It’s honestly sort of sensible, since it also means he would, you know, look vaguely like the guy whose face Luke actually saw earlier that day, so he might be able to know it was his father, and all.  But that’s probably all very silly, I suppose.  The elder Anakin got a sort of force ghost-y figure in the vintage line, designed to sort of be the best of both worlds.  Power of the Force II split it into two figures, with this being the more overt ghost one.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches all and he has three points of articulation…technically.  The neck definitely moves…a little.  The arms also move, but as you can see from the photo, they tend to just fall out of the socket more often than not.  Not sure why, but that’s how it is.  He was an all new sculpt, based on Sebastian Shaw’s brief appearance as Anakin from the movie.  It’s distinctly different from Obi-Wan, so that’s certainly a nice touch.  There’s some nice texture work going on as well.  While the mail-away Obi-Wan was just translucent blue with no paint, they mixed things up a little bit for this set, adding some dry brushed white, to give him a little more depth.

YODA

Yoda was totally without any force ghost figures at this point, so him finally getting one was certainly an accomplishment.  While there were a few Yoda molds to chose from, this one was a new one entirely.  He stands about 2 1/4 inches tall.  You can sort of get some motion at the neck and shoulders, but nothing much, and it feels like it doesn’t want to really move.  Beyond that, it’s a nice enough sculpt.  It’s good for just standing there, which is all he really needs to do.  It’s more accurate than other molds from the same line, and the stance in particular is a little closer to the actual puppet, since he doesn’t have to contend with needing to move.  Also, the arms stay on him, so that’s a plus over Anakin.  Good for him.  His paint works pretty much the same way, although it’s not quite as intense in its application.

OBI-WAN

Obi-Wan is, of course, the figure in this set that was the least new, especially at the time of his release, with the prior version having hit just the previous year at the time.  That being said, Kenner did at least make him a little different, even if it was just for the sake of being different.  The figure is 3 3/4 inches tall.  He’s sort of got the same articulation as Yoda, where it’s *technically* there, but very limited and not really ideal for any proper use.  His sculpt is largely the same as the mail-away version, but he changes out the right arm for one with a different pose.  So there’s that, I guess.  It’s not a bad sculpt, so I can get behind it, especially without the one arm just kind of sticking out like on the prior version.  His paint matches the other two in the set, which looks a fair bit better than the unpainted version.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Cinema Scenes sets as a kid, so obviously that’s not where this one came from.  It is, however, one of the earlier ones I picked up once I actually started doing such things.  I snagged this one when it was traded into All Time, almost exactly two years ago, at this point.  I know, I’ve got quite a PotF2 backlog, don’t I?  It’s not a terribly playable set, but at the same time, it really seems to get the feel of Cinema Scenes down the best, because it’s a distinct visual, and these figures are always gonna be a tough sell by themselves.

#2862: Jabba’s Dancers

RYSTALL, GREEATA, & LYN ME

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Deep within the dimly lit halls of Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine, the musical combo, the Max Rebo Band, entertains some of the galaxy’s most notorious smugglers, mercenaries, and bounty hunters. Besides offering great music, the multispecies band has three of the galaxy’s best back-up singers and dancers. Greeata, a Rodian who is also a capable kloo horn player, joined the band at the same time as its lead singer, Sy Snootles. Rystáll, an exotic near-human raised by a pair of Ortolan musicians, was a slave under the crime lord Xizor until Lando Calrissian won her by defeating the lord in a sabacc tournament. Lando freed her and Rystáll’s travels eventually brought her to Tatooine. The third singer is a Twi’lek named Lyn Me, recognized by her people as the greatest dancer out of all the Twi’lek clans. Together the trio of singers/dancers helped the band secure a lucrative, extended contract playing in Jabba’s court until a visit from the Jedi Luke Skywalker cause the Hutt’s criminal empire to come crashing down.”

As I discussed last week, in its second year, the “Cinema Scenes” Power of the Force II sub-line shifted from purely scene-accurate recreations to a way to get out three figures that otherwise might not see release.  In light of the release of the Original Trilogy’s special editions in theaters, Kenner added a handful of the newly added characters to the line.  Included in that second year were Rystall, Greeata, and Lyn Me, three dancers from the extended musical number in Jabba’s Palace from Return of the Jedi‘s special edition release.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“Jabba’s Dancers” was one of the Cinema Scenes sets added to Power of the Force in 1998.  It was one of two Jedi-themed sets from that year, and the only explicitly special edition-based set in the line.  Like the rest of the line, this set featured a display base for the three figures, though for some reason, this one places all three of them at the far end, which makes them look quite off balance.

RYSTALL

Rystáll Sant, as is her full name, is a human-Theelin hybrid.  What’s a Theelin?  Apparently a race that got a fair bit of use in animation, it would seem.  How about that?  Anyway, Rystáll stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is more on the pre-posed side, since she’s in the midst of a dance, though it’s admittedly a more reserved sort of a dance.  Mostly, it’s just the shoulders that really have that sort of strut to them.  It’s not ideal for a lot of variety in actual posing, but it looks decent enough when compared to the shot of her from the film.  In general, it’s a pretty nice sculpt.  It’s fairly basic, but all of the important details are present.  She also stands alright on her own, which is always a plus.  Her paint work is also rather basic.  There’s some slight shifting of colors from piece to piece, which is a little distracting, but otherwise, things work.

GREEATA

Greeata Jendowanian is a female Rodian (aka the race of Greedos), who’s fairly distinctive, so that’s going for her.  Yay, more Rodians.  The figure is the same height as Rystáll, and keeps effectively the same articulation scheme.  Her legs are a touch more restricted, thanks to that skirt piece, but overall, you get okay poses out of her.  She’s also posed mid-dance, and it’s again very much carried in the shoulders.  In her case, the posing winds up making her a little more off-balance, so she tends to topple quite a bit.  But, if you can keep her standing, she does look pretty nice.  The detail work on the texturing of the skin in particular is quite impressive.  Greeta’s paint work is slightly more involved, but generally works out a little better than Rystáll’s.  There are no drastic shifts in color between pieces, and there are a few spots of accenting that work quite nicely.

LYN ME

Not to be confused with Oola, Lyn Me is the *other* Twi’lek dancer from Jabba’s palace.  See, she’s not green, she’s white.  But, you know, actually white.  Chalky white.  Alabaster.  Real pale.  That’s her.  Apparently, she’s an even better dancer than Oola?  That feels a bit ret-con-y to me, but that’s kind of Lyn Me in a nutshell.  Lyn Me is yet another unique sculpt.  Like the others, she’s also in a dance pose, though hers is a little more intense than the other two.  Not incredibly so, but she’s still a little more pre-posed.  It works out okay, though, and I think makes her look a bit more interesting on her own than the other two.  Generally, it’s a pretty nice sculpt, and probably the best of the three included here.  Her paintwork is decent enough, though some of her black wrappings are a little messy on the application front.  Overall, though, not a terrible piece of work.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this pack up from All Time at the same time as the Cantina Aliens set last summer.  I wasn’t quite as immediately familiar with this set, at least as a kid.  I became aware of it later, but I don’t really remember seeing like I did the others.  Whatever the case, I picked it up mostly for completion’s sake, but I do ultimately like the three of them a fair bit, even if they are Special Edition characters.  They add some nice variety to the Jabba’s palace display, and there really are worse things.

#2855: Cantina Aliens

LABRIA, NABRUN LEIDS, & TAKEEL

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Their remote location makes the spaceports of Tatooine havens for many suspicious travelers from across the galaxy. At the Mos Eisley spaceport, Chalmun’s Cantina is a popular hangout for the rough crowd and deadly violence breaks out on a daily basis. Takeel, a Snivvian, is known to dabble in bounty hunting and smuggling. The horned Devaronian Labria calls himself an ‘information broker,’ though his information is questionable at best. No one knows for sure what the Morseerian known as Nabrun Leids looks like underneath his breath mask, which he must wear in all non-methane environments. The former fighter pilot will fly anyone or anything anywhere, if the price is suitable. These kinds of patrons have helped make Tatooine’s spaceports famous as a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Initially more focused on actually replicating scenes from the movies with maybe one new figure, and a few retooled ones to better fit the set-up, Power of the Force‘s “Cinema Scenes” line fairly quickly became a way for Kenner to quickly drop three whole new figures, very frequently of quite obscure characters, all in one shot, loosely connected by the theme of all being present in a given scene or locale.  We got two sets dedicated to the Mos Eisly Cantina.  The first was more plot relevant, depicting Obi-Wan facing off against Ponda Baba and Dr Evazan, but the second stuck to the background a bit, and gave us some obscure alien patrons.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The “Cantina Aliens” Cinema Scenes set was added to the Power of the Force line in 1998, as part of the middle year of this particular sub-set.  After quite a bit of focus the first year, this set was the only one in 1998 to be based on A New Hope, and would likewise be the last of the ANH Cinema Scenes.

LABRIA

Officially named “Kardue’sai’Malloc”, this guy’s a weird looking devil dude with a sort of unfortunate name here.  So, you know, there’s that, I suppose.  He’s about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He has some trouble balancing, at least on my copy, made even more difficult by the cape, which also cuts down on his shoulder articulation a little bit.  His sculpt is totally unique, and it does a respectable job of capturing the design from the film.  He’s in line with the rest of the mid-run PotF figures, with a slighlty bulked up build, and a bit of preposing (which also contributes to the difficulty standing).  The cape is removable, and has a rather nice draping effect which keeps it over the shoulders.  Honestly, one of the better capes from the line.  His paint work is pretty basic, and fairly monochromatic, but it gets the job done, and there’s more to it than it could be, so kudos to Kenner there.  He’s packed with a small blaster pistol.

NABRUN LEIDS

That freak!  In the gas mask!  …no, wait, that’s a different guy.  Sorry.  Nabrun Leids is another of the Cantina denizens, characterized by his face obscuring gas mask.  Slightly less obvious are the extra arms, but they’re there too.  The figure stands a little under 3 3/4 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  He’s granted two extra joints, thanks to the two extra arms.  His sculpt is another unique one (though it did get a repaint early in the ’00s as well), and it’s honestly not bad for the era.  It pretty much follows the design, at least what we can see of it, from the movie.  The paint work is again pretty basic, even more so than on Labria.  I do dig the pearlescent white plastic for the jumpsuit, though.  Nabrun is packed with a larger blaster rifle.  He has a little trouble holding it, but it’s a cool design.

TAKEEL

Last up is Takeel, a character that kind of already had a figure before this one, depending on how you look at things.  Takeel is part of the race commonly referred to as “Snaggletooth.”  There were two different Snaggletooths in the vintage line, one from a Cantina set, so arguably he’s technically a remake, I guess?  But the name’s unique to this one, so it gets murky.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  His sculpt is pretty decently rendered.  It’s certainly a better take on a Snivvian than the original, and one that doesn’t look too bad in a modern light.  I suppose there are some areas that could benefit from maybe some additional texture work, but it’s still a solid offering. The paint’s again on the basic side, and he’s probably the one figure in this set that could benefit from some extra accenting on the paint work, but the basics work out alright.  Takeel is packed with a smaller blaster rifle.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I snagged this set when it was traded into All Time last summer, as part of a larger collection of figures.  I recall seeing this set, but it never much spoke to me as a kid.  None of these particular designs really jumped out at me, I guess.  I wasn’t expecting much from it when I cracked it open, but I honestly was pretty pleasantly surprised.  They’re all pretty solid aliens, and fill out the scene really nicely.

#2848: Wedge Anitlles

WEDGE ANTILLES

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Poor Wedge, he gets no respect.  Despite being in all three original trilogy films, and being the only person to survive both Death Star runs, he was completely absent from Kenner’s vintage toyline.  When he did finally get his due as a toy, it furthered the whole “no respect” thing just a bit more.  Packed with a Millennium Falcon-shaped carrying case (because, he’s just clearly the most logical choice for such a thing), initial shipments of the very first Wedge Antilles figure were actually produced with an incorrect color scheme.  While I’ve looked at the corrected Wedge figure, I’ve yet to look at the original release.  I’ll amend that today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wedge was released as the pack-in figure with the Millennium Falcon carrying case, which was added to the Power of the Force line in 1997.  This figure was only available in initial shipments, before being replaced by the corrected version shortly after.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Like the corrected version, this figure was built using the same body as the Luke Skywalker in X-Wing Pilot Gear, which is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s actually Snowspeeder Pilot gear.  Again, like that figure, he also gets a different head from Luke.  It still doesn’t look much like Dennis Lawson, but it does at least look distinctly different from Luke, so at least it’s clear it’s a different guy.  The only difference between this figure and the corrected version from later is the paint work, specifically on the helmet and the arms.  The helmet, rather than showcasing Wedge’s correct paint scheme, actually has somewhat of a merging of Wedge and Luke’s helmet designs, leaning a little more heavily into the Luke side.  It’s not a bad design, honestly, but it’s inaccurate.  The arms feature extra white detailing on the raised ribbing on the sleeves.  Again inaccurate, but it’s at least a cool extra detail.  Like the regular release, Wedge was packed with a small blaster pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After I got the regular version of this guy, this one was certainly on my list, but mostly just for the novelty.  I didn’t really put much effort into tracking him down, or anything, but I was keeping a look out for him while working at the store.  As luck would have it, he came through in a big collection of loose figures I got to process last spring.  He’s a weird oddity to be sure, and makes you wonder about the process that led to these errors making it to production.  Still, he’s a pretty fun novelty to have in my collection.

#2846: Luke Skywalker & Ysalamiri – Heir to the Empire

LUKE SKYWALKER & YSALAMIRI — HEIR TO THE EMPIRE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Five years after the destruction of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker fears there is no hope as the remnants of the Imperial fleet are readied for war under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn.  Using ysalamiri to sever a developing Jedi clone’s connection to the Force allowed mentally stable Jedi clones to be created—a discovery Thrawn would use in his war against Luke Skywalker and the New Republic”

Timothy Zhan’s Heir to the Empire made itself into a rather stable corner stone of the Star Wars Expanded Universe when it debuted in its original prose form in 1991, and became even more cemented when it was further adapted into comics form in 1995, giving a visual narrative to that post-Return of the Jedi world.  Heir would also introduced two of the EU’s most prominent and popular characters, Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade.  If you’re going to be doing a more EU-centered set of Star Wars figures, it’s a totally logical choice.  I mean, sure, we’ve already gotten a Thrawn, but there’s still a chance to do the *other* major character introduced, right?  That’s who you did, right?  Oh, no, we’re just doing a Luke Skywalker variant then, aren’t we?  Yep.  Well, let’s just do that, I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker & Ysalamiri is the third offering in the comics-based Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s one of two non-comics original characters featured in the set, the other being Darth Maul.  He’s based on his appearance from the cover of the comic’s first issue, which also serves as the front of his box.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s identical in sculpt to the Dagobah Luke from last year.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt, and, as I noted, it’s the most articulated Luke body Hasbro’s got in their parts catalogue.  While the outfits are certainly similar, though, it’s worth noting that it’s definitely an Empire Luke, and Heir is very much a post Return story.  At the very least, it feels like they should have used one of the Jedi Luke heads.  He’s also missing the belt he’s sporting on the cover, which is a shame, and really misses the one chance they would have had to give him a new piece.  The paint’s a bit tweaked, but not majorly so.  His outfit’s all black now, and that’s really it.  I guess it’s a little more striking, but it also means he loses a lot of the cool accenting and dirt that the prior release had.  In terms of accessories, Luke is decidedly pretty light.  He’s got his lightsaber, and the Ysalamiri that’s listed on the box.  The lightsaber is his Jedi version, complete with a green blade that’s not accurate to the comic, but is accurate to what Luke’s saber *should* be, so it shakes out.  Giving him both blade colors might not have been a terrible option, though.  The Ysalamiri is an all-new piece, but isn’t really designed for use with Luke himself, instead being designed to fit over the Thrawn figure’s shoulders.  Obviously, it’s nice that it fits him, since he’s most classically remembered with it on his shoulders, but it just makes Luke feel even lighter when one of his two accessories isn’t even for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dagobah Luke when he was released, so I certainly wasn’t opposed to a re-use.  That said, I never really warmed up to this figure that much pre-release.  Doing an Heir to the Empire Luke when we still don’t have any version of Mara Jade, the character he spends much of the story interacting with, in this scale at all, feels a bit backwards.  Not helping things is that he doesn’t really do much to give himself much reason to exist.  While this design’s the one on the cover, it’s not overly distinctive or exciting.  The pulled down jumpsuit look that the comic pack 3 3/4 inch version did might have honestly been a better choice, but barring that, just giving him a slightly more enticing accessory selection might have helped a bit.  As it stands, he’s alright, but not much to write home about.

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

#2845: Jaxxon

JAXXON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Jaxxon is a nearly 6-foot tall, green-furred, Lepi smuggler and captain of the Rabbit’s Foot. Known for his wise cracks and high kicks, Jaxxon has helped Han Solo and Chewbacca out on more than one occasion.”

For some reason, this review has been very hard for me to start.  Well, I say “for some reason,” but I suppose it’s a bit more transparent than that.  There’s a rather big reason that anything is difficult for me these days.  I guess the “for some reason” comment more relates to how difficult this one review has been for me to actually sit down and write.  I’ve even written other reviews around working on this one, so it’s apparently just this particular green space bunny that’s giving me trouble.  Said “green space bunny” is Jaxxon, a big green bunny man created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin for Marvel Comics’ Star Wars #8.  He’s one of the earliest full-fledged EU creations, and is rumored to have been removed from the comics on Lucas’ request, although this rumor remains unsubstantiated.  Though an early player, Jaxxon was removed from the franchise just as early, and has up to this point been completely without a toy in a very toy-driven franchise.  Seems like a shame.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s on top of it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jaxxon is another of the four comics-based Star Wars: The Black Series line-up, alongside the previously reviewed Carnor Jax Kir Kanos.  Jaxxon is notably the only figure in the set without any prior toy treatment, as I noted in the intro.  There was just no love for the bunny before this.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall counting the ears (closer to 6 without them) and he has 27 points of articulation.  Though he looks very unique and different, Jaxxon actually has a fair bit of re-use going on.  His upper half is X-Wing Pilot Luke, and his lower half is ANH Luke.  He’s a lot of Luke, I guess.  It’s a combo that works pretty decently, though I’m admittedly a little surprised he’s not just a straight up Pilot Luke re-use.  I guess this keeps him a little more diverse.  Aiding in making him look sufficiently different is a new head, chest plate, and belt with holsters.  The new head is certainly a more realistic looking design than he usually gets, in keeping with how the line has handled other more cartoony characters, I suppose.  This is really Jaxxon viewed through the lens of actually being in one of the OT movies, where he’d have just been another guy in a rubber mask.  It’s a departure from the artwork on the box, but it’s not bad at all.  The new overlay pieces for the armor and belt sit well on the figure and do a strong job of selling him as having more new parts than he does.  Generally, the result of this mix of parts is a pretty good one.  His paint work suits the design.  It’s not many colors that you tend to really associate with Star Wars, but that helps him feel more unique, and certainly true to the character’s nature.  Application is pretty clean, and the head even gets some accenting to keep it from just being a basic green.  Jaxxon is packed with two blaster pistols, re-used from Jaina Solo.  Unfortunately, we once again have a figure with two blasters, but only one hand with a trigger finger.  Come on guys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Disclosure: I’m talking about Jess a lot today.

I could give you the exact road map to how exactly “Green Space Bunny Pilot” invariably leads me to dwelling on Jess’s final days over and over again, but I can’t say that knowing the how really truly explains the why.  I suppose, technically, you could say it’s because this was the first item added to my collection that she never saw (since he came into the store before she passed, but I didn’t actually get him until after), and I suppose it could also be linked to him being another Star Wars piece, and how much we both enjoyed the franchise.  I suppose it could even be because he’s a Black Series figure, and that the figures I was photographing on the day that she asked me what I was doing and I answered “just taking a few photos of some action figures,” were the first series of Black Series. Or it could even be because he’s the first of the comic figures I’ve reviewed since Kir Kanos, who was the figure I was reviewing the last day I sat with Jess before we knew it was the end.  There’s a lot of supposing in there, huh?  That’s because I really don’t know any of it for sure.  I just know that, for some reason, every time I sat down to write this, it got very hard to do so.  I think it’s because Jess probably would have gotten a real kick out of the Green Space Bunny.  Seems like something that might be up her alley, honestly.  This feels like something I very much would have gotten to show her, and to experience with her, but it’s one of the first things I didn’t.  That sucks.  Plain and simple, it just sucks.  The figure doesn’t, for what it’s worth.  I actually quite like him, and look forward to more deep cuts like this for the line.  And perhaps those ones won’t be quite as hard for me to write about.  Time will tell.

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.

#2844: ARC Trooper Echo

ARC TROOPER ECHO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

First introduced in the first season episode “Rookies,” Domino Squad is a group that The Clone Wars uses to really showcase the general progression of the clones throughout the wars, as well as also hitting home just how bad war can be, seeing as the Squad has a tendency to fall like, well, dominos.  Central to the squad’s early stories are Fives and Echo, the two that have the most advancement of any clones in the show, starting off as mere cadets, and eventually becoming full-fledged ARC Troopers.  Echo himself has gone even further, becoming one of the few Regs to continue his story post-Order 66 as part of Clone Force 99, aka the titular team from The Bad Batch.  This kid’s got some range, let me tell you.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ARC Trooper Echo is another of the four figures in the Target-exclusive Clone Wars-retro assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s the first figure of Echo in the line, though it would be an incredible shock if he were the last, given the incredible prominence of Echo’s updated Bad Batch gear.  As the name signifies, this figure is based on Echo’s ARC Trooper look, which he sported in the “Citadel” arc of the show, which is notably the story that “killed” him, before the final season brought him back.  It’s the look that had the most appearances within the show (prior to The Bad Batch, of course), and it’s his coolest look as a Reg.  Plus, they haven’t done any actual ARC troopers in this scale, so he’s a good reason to introduce the tooling.  It does mean that he doesn’t actually go with any other figures in the line, of course, since he doesn’t match up with the Batch, and he also doesn’t match up with Rex, since Rex was in his Phase I armor still when Echo died, but there are worse things to have to deal with.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Remember how I mentioned the weird mix-up of Hawk retooling Rex’s body into a more basic clone body, rather than using the newly introduced basic clone?  So, you might assume that Echo, with his ARC Trooper gear, would naturally be using the Rex body as well, right?  Nope.  Echo’s on the new basic clone body, with a bunch of stuff tacked onto it.  I know.  It’s weird.  I mean, it’s still a nice body, so I’m not complaining.  I’m just confused, that’s all.  In order to update that standard clone armor into a full ARC Trooper set-up, Echo gets a new set of forearms and lower legs, as well as new add-on pieces for his additional torso gear, as well as his belt, kama, and holsters.  He’s also got a brand new head and helmet to complete the whole set-up.  It’s interesting that he’s got a rubber kama, as opposed to the cloth we’ve gotten for the commanders thus far, but I don’t hate the look, and it doesn’t hold back the articulation too badly.  The unmasked head continues the trend of the unmasked clones not looking all that much like Temuera Morrison, though this one does at least seem to be heading a bit more in the right direction, I suppose.  The helmet sits well on the head, though, which is a definite plus, as some of the others have had a little bit of trouble with that fit.  The rest of the new parts mesh well with the old, and the end result is a quite nicely put together ARC Trooper set-up.  The paint work on Echo is generally pretty decent.  There’s a good deal of variety to it, but the application is generally pretty cleanly handled.  There are some fuzzier edges on a few of the blue lines, but it can be written off to a little bit of wear, to be honest.  He’s got the face printing on the unmasked head, which definitely helps with the likeness, at least a little bit.  And, just to make him properly Echo, he’s got the hand print graffiti, which is always a fun touch.  Echo is pretty well accessorized, getting a long blaster rifle, a short blaster rifle, and two blaster pistols.  He still can’t properly hold both pistols at once, of course, since only the right hand has a trigger finger, but at least you have some options.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Rookies” was the first episode of Clone Wars that really spoke to me, and I’ve long since had a soft spot for Domino Squad, and Echo in particular.  I always liked his story, and I was sad when he was killed off in the “Citadel” arc.  I was very glad to see him brought back in Season 7, and he’s thus far been one of my favorite parts of The Bad Batch.  I hope to get a Batch version of him soon, but I’m also glad to have gotten him in his peak form here.  Sure, he doesn’t match up with anyone at the moment, but hopefully we can at the very least get a Fives to go with him.  Once again, thanks to Max for setting me up with this one.  I wasn’t expecting him to be quite as easily acquired, but I’m happy he was.

#2843: Clone Pilot Hawk

CLONE PILOT HAWK

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Store exclusives have been the bane of pretty much every collector’s existence for the last year, because not only has the number of things that are exclusive jumped, but so has the number of people trying to scalp them in order to make a quick buck.  Not helping matters is the general lack of quality distribution when it comes to actually getting them out there, making for an all around just unpleasant experience.  So, there’s definitely a little twinge of anxiety that hits every time a new item is announced, and then also confirmed as an exclusive.  In the case of Star Wars: The Black Series, there’s a whole sub-set of throwback Clone Wars figures, which seemed poised to be the worst thing ever to get, but which now seem to be significantly less so, which I suppose is a good thing.  For me personally, I was most invested in getting the clones, which I have.  I’m starting things off today, with a look at Clone Pilot Hawk.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Pilot Hawk is one of the four figures in Target’s exclusive assortment of Clone Wars-retro carded Black Series figures.  He’s the most obscure character in the bunch, to be sure, notably being the only one included who has never had a figure, even in the days of Hasbro’s far more expansive Clone Wars toy line.  Not only did we not get Hawk, we never even got one of the pilots with this specific helmet design, which does feel kind of baffling when you get right down to it.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Now, the fact that Hasbro very recently introduced an all-new basic clone body into the line might lead you to believe that Hawk might, you know, be built on it, what with being kind of a basic clone and all.  However, you’d in fact be a fool to think that, because he’s absolutely not built on that body.  Neither is he built on the old clone body, though, so don’t think that either.  Instead, he’s actually built on the Captain Rex body, for some reason.  I mean, I’m not knocking it.  It’s a good body in its own right, and certainly an improvement on the old clone body, meaning his movement isn’t really restricted like it would have been on that older body.  In fact, his movement’s pretty darn great, so that’s cool.  He gets an all-new head for his unique helmet, as well as a connected breathing device, to signify his pilot nature.  Also, in a far more minor touch, he also gets a new belt, sans the kama and the holsters.  The new parts are nicely crafted, with the helmet in particular being the real star piece here.  It does a quite respectable job of walking the line between animated faithfulness and merging with the realistic style of the line.  I definitely like it a lot.  Hawk’s paintwork is generally pretty nicely handled.  There’s a little bit of slop on the hands on my figure, but he otherwise turned out pretty nicely.  I like the extra markings on the armor, as well as how they’ve weathered them a bit to show that his armor’s been in use.  Hawk is packed with a standard small Clone Trooper blaster.  It’s a little light, but it’s also fairly standard set-up for a pilot figure in this line, so it’s hard to say it’s a surprise.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hawk was my only “must have” figure in this set, largely because I’ve just always liked this particular pilot design and it’s literally never gotten a figure before.  I was happy he got a figure, but not so happy that it wound up as an exclusive.  Fortunately, Max was able to help me out with this one, as it wound up being literally the first of the four he saw at retail.  He turned out really nicely, and I’m curious to see if we might actually get some of the other Clone Pilots in the main line now.  Time will tell.

There’s also a bit of a post-Jess segment to this one as well.  This figure is the last figure added to my collection before Jess died.  Max brought him to me during her last week in the hospital, and I had him with me those last few days.  He’s the last new figure I got to show her, and the last figure she got to be excited about me adding to my collection.  I didn’t know that when I got him, but those are the sorts of things you never do know, I guess.  I do know that showing off my new figures to her was one of my very favorite things about collecting in the last eight years, and the items I gotten since all feel a little different, since something’s very definitely missing.  He gets to be my last contact to that feeling, and the last true part of that collection.  My collection post-Jess will be a different one, and I’ll have to figure out how as I move forward.  But this guy’s not going anywhere, I can tell you that much.