#2694: Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi

BEN (OBI-WAN) KENOBI

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (HASBRO)

“Legendary among the heroes of the Rebel Alliance, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi is regarded as one of the greatest Jedi Knights ever to have lived. As a young Jedi who had just completed his own training, Obi-Wan made a solemn pledge to train young Anakin Skywalker in the ways of the Force. Anakin became a Jedi but then turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Many years later, destiny would have an older and wiser Obi-Wan guiding Anakin’s own son, Luke Skywalker, in the ways of the Force, and ultimately, in turning Vader back to the light side.”

Last week, I took my first dive into the Power of the Force Flashback Photo subset of figures, and rather poked fun at the concept and how far of a reach some of those figures were for the idea.  Well, in their defense, some of them did make at least some bit of sense.  Given that it was to tie-in with the first of the prequels, and there were actually some crossover characters, showing those characters from the original trilogy, and offering the flashback there?  Not the worst idea.  Among the cross over characters was Obi-Wan Kenobi, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, as he is so specifically named on the box, was part of the first set of “Flashback Photo” Power of the Force figures, hitting towards the end of 1998, just as we were getting prepped for the new movie.  He was our fourth Obi-Wan from the line, and only the second to be part of the regular line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  This would mark the first real move to improve the articulation on these figures, as Obi-Wan wound up with a whopping three joints in each of his arms.  Sure, they were all cut joints, and sure, the rest of his movement was majorly restricted by the robes, but it certainly was a step up.  Also of note was the fact that this was the first Obi-Wan not to be based on the first PotF figure’s molds, making him generally less oddly bulked up and weird looking.  He’s still a little more bulked up than Sir Alec Guinness actually was in the movie, but it’s not quite as insane.  Preposing is a bit more involved this time, with the figure being designed to directly interact with the “Flashback” Vader figure, in an effort to recreate their duel from A New Hope.  With the extra articulation, there’s a little more variety as to what you can do, though it’s still not a ton.  Honestly, the screen accurate thing wasn’t the worst concept, and it does at least make him a little more unique compared to others in the line.  It’s not a bad looking sculpt, either, and they were really starting to get the hang of making the clothes look fairly natural on the bodies.  The hood in particular doesn’t look too bad, and hoods are usually pretty darn tricky.  The only downside is that the hands have some difficulty holding the lightsaber, which does somewhat hinder his purpose.  In terms of paint work, Obi-Wan is about on par with the rest of the line, so he’s basic, but generally pretty well handled.  All of the important details are there, and they’re pretty cleanly applied.  Obi-Wan is packed with his lightsaber, which is about all he really needs.  Of course, he’s also got the Flashback Photo, which is about as intriguing here as it was with Beru.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

All of the Flashback Photo figures passed me by as a kid, just because there wasn’t actually much new coverage there.  This one in particular proved frustrating for me as a kid, because I just wanted a prequel Obi-Wan figure, and I kept finding this one, and he wasn’t really what I wanted.  Admittedly not really the figure’s fault, I suppose.  I wound up getting him this past fall when he was traded into All Time.  He’s not a bad little figure, and is probably this line’s best version of Obi-Wan.

#2690: Grand Admiral Thrawn

GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“Thrawn was a male Chiss, known for his brilliant strategic mind and ruthlessness, he was determined to ‘pull the Rebels apart piece by piece’ for the Empire.”

Late last year, I did my first review centered on Grand Admiral Thrawn, a rather notable character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and one of the first elements from the old EU to be officially canonized by Disney following their take-over of the franchise.  Thrawn’s inclusion in Rebels netted him a couple of new figures, a feature in Star Wars: The Black Series included.  Thrawn was originally an SDCC release, and then got a standard release alongside the first chunk of Last Jedi items in late 2017.  Both of them proved rather scarce even at the time, and in light of the rest of the Rebels figures getting re-released over the fall, Thrawn was in dire need of some sort of reissue.  Thankfully, Hasbro’s Archive series is here to the rescue on that one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Admiral Thrawn is part of the four figure line-up that makes the third series of The Black Series Archive.  Thrawn, like the rest of the Rebels figures, is designed to be a real world approximation of his animation model.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is, of course, identical to his original two releases.  Additionally, his articulation scheme follows the set-up of the other Imperial Officers we’ve gotten in the line.  Interestingly, however, he’s got no parts in common with any of those figures.  Presumably, it’s in order to make Thrawn a little taller than the other Officers.  Whatever the case, it’s a good sculpt, and matches the other officers well, while still adding a bit more variety to the Officer’s line-up.  Compared to some of the more recent figures in the line, his articulation is a little bit restrictive (the vast improvements really started to hit just after this guy was released), but it’s certainly enough for the sorts of poses you’ll be putting Thrawn into.  Thrawn’s head sculpt is a solid translation of his animated design into a more real world appearance.  Like with Hera, the more alien elements do seem to aid a bit in the transition, so he doesn’t wind up looking quite as wonky as Kanan or Ezra.  Thrawn’s paint work is generally pretty cleanly handled.  It’s mostly pretty basic work, but the application’s pretty sharp.  The one notable change-up for this release is the transition to the printing technique on the face.  It’s not as drastic a change on Thrawn as it is on other figures, but it’s a touch more lifelike and generally looks quite nice.  Thrawn’s only accessory is a small blaster, which he can hold, or stow in his holster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on Thrawn the first time around.  I don’t believe I ever actually saw him in person, and, admittedly, I wasn’t really looking, since I hadn’t really had any exposure to the character at the time.  I’ve subsequently read a bit of Timothy Zahn’s work with the character and watched through Rebels, which left me really wanting to have him in figure form.  Thankfully, the Archive release hit just at the right time for me, allowing me to finally put this updated version of the character on the shelf.

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.

#2687: Aunt Beru

AUNT BERU

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Beru Lars was the closest thing to a mother that Luke Skywalker ever knew. She and husband Owen lovingly raised Luke as their nephew, and trained him in the mundane ways of moisture farming on their arid Tatooine homestead.. All along, Aunt Beru understood that a larger destiny awaited Luke. Years before, on another part of Tatooine, the slave Shmi Skywalker raised the boy who would become Luke’s father-Anakin Skywalker. Like Aunt Beru, she sadly understood she could only love and nurture her boy for a relatively short period of time before she had to allow him the freedom to fly on his own wings.”

I know what you’re thinking: “Why does Shmi Skywalker get mentioned in Aunt Beru’s bio?  Isn’t that a weird reach?”  Yes.  Yes, it is.  But it’s okay, because weird reaches are something that defined this particular branch of the Power of the Force line.  In celebration of the upcoming Prequel Trilogy, Hasbro (who was once again putting their name on action figures, after deciding to shut down their Kenner division) decided to celebrate in the best possible way you can when you can’t actually release anything from the movie you’re promoting: awkward, forced tie-ins.  Instead of actual Episode 1 based product, they produced the “Flashback Photo” figures, a set of Original Trilogy figures that each had a tie to someone from the new movie.  Figures like Vader, Obi-Wan, R2, or 3PO all made sense, being in both sets of movies and all, but what of other characters?  Well, you get pairings like Beru and Shmi, who aren’t related, and don’t actually interact on-screen….but, I guess they’re sort of similar?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Aunt Beru was added to the Power of the Force line in 1999, as part of the second round of the “Flashback Photo” figures that were leading into the new film.  This was Beru’s first figure (not an exceptional shock, really), and remains the only OT Beru figure we’ve ever gotten.  Clearly she’s overdue for Black Series treatment, right?  Riiiiight.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  She’s rather limited on the mobility front, due to the harder plastic skirt, but it’s Beru; it’s not like she was exactly action oriented.  Her sculpt was an all-new thing, and it’s actually a rather nice offering.  The proportions are fairly balanced and realistic, and pre-posing is kept to a minimum.  Her outfit is fairly well detailed, and she’s even got a halfway decent likeness of actress Sheila Mary Fraser.  Generally, just pretty good sculpting for the time when you get down to it.  Additionally, the paint work’s not too bad either.  Mostly, it’s flat base color work, but there’s some decent work on the pattern of her collar, and the accenting on the hair also works quite well.  Beru’s real selling point is the accessories.  She gets the best ever accessories for an Aunt Beru figure: a pitch and cup of blue milk!  It’s kind of a signature thing, so it’s nice they put it in there.  Hasbro obviously knew that old woman in a sensible jacket and dress serving a good, calcium building beverage wasn’t going to fly off shelves, so they packed Beru with one of the Lars family Service Droids.  Though simply dubbed “Service Droid” on the package, this guy is actually a WED-15-77 Treadwell droid, which is a somewhat recurring type of droid from the films and expanded universe material.  Treadwell even has a single joint at the base of his treads, and a spot for keeping the milk, making him the perfect companion piece to Beru.  Lastly, there’s the “Flashback Photo” piece, which is really just an extra piece of packaging that you’d be forgiven for immediately throwing away.  It’s a picture of Beru on a set of shutters; pull the tab down, and they flip to show Shmi Skywalker.  Thrilling.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is one of those oddball releases that isn’t really ripe for buying as a kid…so I didn’t.  She got traded into All Time over the summer, and I snagged her then, as I continue my quest of getting all of Power of the Force.  Honestly, while she may not be the most thrilling character, Beru is a better figure than you might expect, and holds up surprisingly well for this line.  For me, though, Treadwell is the real star.  He’s just so nifty!

#2680: Dark Trooper

DARK TROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“It is a period of Civil War. The Rebel Alliance struggles to free the galaxy from the clutches of the evil Galactic Empire. Discovering that Imperial forces have begun developing a new type of stormtrooper, the Rebels call on mercenary Kyle Katarn. His mission: seek out and destroy the secret Imperial project called Dark Trooper. Known as phase III, this most powerful of the Dark Troopers is actually a figure known as General Mohc. Practically unstoppable, he represents the greatest threat to the success of the Rebel Alliance.”

Kenner’s Expanded Universe sub-set covered a few different EU tales, giving them each at minimum a pair of figures.  Though previously unexplored in the toys, that included some video game coverage, in the form of two figures based on the video game Dark Forces.  The first of those was the game’s protagonist, Kyle Katarn.  The second was today’s focus, the Dark Trooper, a concept that’s certainly moving up in the world, thanks to a proper canon appearance in the second season of The Mandalorian.  But, let’s jump to those humble beginnings, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Dark Trooper is the final single carded figure in the Expanded Universe sub-line of Kenner’s Power of the Force II.  He’s the other of the two later release figures I mentioned in last week’s Spacetrooper review.  Also of note is the fact that the Dark Trooper was the only of the nine single release figures not to be shown off on the cross sell on any of the packaging, for whatever reason.  The figure stands 4 1/4 inches tall (the second tallest in the set) and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s definitely one of the stiffer figures included in this line-up, only further highlighted after looking at the Spacetrooper last week, with his extra movement and all.  Given the bulked up design of this particular look, the slightly more restricted set-up isn’t totally shocking however.  This mold was new to this figure, but would later be re-used in its entirety for the Fan’s Choice rerelease in 2007, likely due to the combination of rarity and popularity of this particular release.  It’s an interesting sculpt, because it feels more dated than the rest of the assortment, but that’s actually because he’s going for a recreation of the game model, which means he really should be that bulked up and geometric.  Hard to take the ’90s out of a ’90s design,  I suppose.  There’s a fair deal of detail work going into this guy, which does a lot to make him a bit of a step up from a straight recreation of the game look.  I also appreciated that the jet pack is actually a separate piece, with full detailing on the figure beneath it.  In terms of paint work, the Dark Trooper’s actually got a bit more going on than it seems on the surface.  All of the silver is painted, rather than molded, and there are actually two distinct shades between the outer armor and the mechanics.  The Dark Trooper includes a rather goofy looking heavy blaster lifted straight from the game, as well as yet another fold out display.  This one’s definitely one of the most clever, being based on the game’s HUD, allowing you to simulate an in-game set up.  That’s pretty nifty!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Dark Trooper was a figure that was almost not mine, and was almost the cause of a real tussle between me and Max….okay, not really.  But, when we were pulling the figures out when they came in, he had called dibs on the Sentinel, and then also set this one to the side…only I didn’t realize he’d set this one to the side with the intent to buy it himself, so I grabbed it with the rest of my set and innocently sent him a shot of the whole set after I’d opened them and set them all up.  Then there was much discussion between the two of us, at which point Max very graciously let me keep the Trooper, because he’s nice like that.  It’s nice to have the whole set-up of these guys after all these years, and the Dark Trooper is certainly nifty, especially after their TV appearance!

 

#2673: Spacetrooper

SPACETROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. The ability of spacetroopers to operate exclusively in space made them a valuable asset to the warlord, Grand Admiral Thrawn. These heavily armed stormtroopers wear full-body armor and have equipment that enables them to function as personal space-capable assault vehicles.”

In the history of Stormtrooper variants, today’s focus, the Spacetrooper, is actually one of the very earliest.  They first appear in A New Hope, one of them being seen when the Falcon gets pulled into the Death Star. Admittedly pretty easy to miss, being a) rather small and b) not actually very removed from the regular Stormtrooper design.  He was also portrayed by concept designer and future director Joe Johnson, which is a nifty little bit of trivia.  The idea has stuck around since, gaining some slight changes over the years.  When it came time to adapt Heir to Empire into comic form, they were granted a unique armored appearance, which served as the inspiration for their very first action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Spacetrooper was part of Kenner’s Expanded Universe sub-line for Power of the Force.  He was one of two figures that shipped a little bit later than the rest, and were subsequently even harder to find at retail at the time.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has a whopping 8 points of articulation.  He’s notable for being the first use of a universal joint on the shoulders, in contrast to prior figures’ simple cut joints.  Why this particular figure was granted these is kind of a random guess, but I’d hazard it’s due to how the shoulders are designed.  It’s a little rudimentary in its implementation, but still quite cool, and certainly useful for a wider range of posing.  The sculpt was an all-new affair, reasonable given the all-new design.  He’s got the basic elements of a Stormtrooper, but a little more armored up, and a little more streamlined.  There are a few other movable elements worked in as well, with an adjustable jetpack, and a fold out blaster built into the left arm (but only the left, because two blasters is too many).  As with the articulation, it gives the figure a bit more variety for posing, and just gives him a better general feeling of value compared to some of the more basic troopers.  In terms of paint, the Spacetrooper is a little lax; mostly, he just relies on the molded white plastic.  It’s slightly pearlescent, which makes a touch hard to properly photograph when coupled with the lack of accenting.  Still, it’s not terribly far removed from the rest of the PotF stuff at the time, and it does hit all of the major elements.  The Spacetrooper doesn’t get any proper accessories, thanks to everything being built in.  He does still get the fold out back drop, though, which is still pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the full set of EU figures came through All Time Toys back in 2019, we didn’t actually know it was a full set at first.  Max had pulled out his Imperial Sentry, and told me I was welcome to the only other one we knew was in the lot, which was this guy.  Honestly, I was pretty happy just to get him, because I’ve always thought he looked pretty nifty, and I’d not gotten the chance to pick him up at that point.  Compared to some of the others, he fades into the background a little bit, but he does a lot of cool, innovative stuff for the time, and honestly holds up pretty well.

#2664: Padmé Amidala

PADMÉ AMIDALA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Padmé Amidala was a courageous, hopeful leader, serving as Queen and then Senator of Naboo — and was also handy with a blaster. Despite her ideals and all she did for the cause of peace, her secret, forbidden marriage to Anakin Skywalker would prove to have dire consequences for the galaxy.”

My last four Black Series reviews have all been very current products, but to wrap up this week of reviews, I’m actually jumping back and doing just a little bit of catching up, though staying down the path I started yesterday with an Attack of the Clones-inspired figure.  This time around, it’s Padmé Amidala, the one member of the Prequel Trilogy’s main trio that lost the will to be reviewed I have yet to look at in Black Series form.  In my defense, there’s just the one figure of her, so she was a little easier to miss.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Padmé was released in early 2019, as figure 81 of the Star Wars: The Black Series, and part of an assortment that included Admiral Holdo, Mud Trooper Han, Dryden Vos, Mace Windu, and a Battle Droid.  Kind of an odd-ball assortment of loose ends really.  This marked Padmé’s introduction into the line, our first of the three main characters in their Attack of the Clones attire, and also our first proper prequel figure since before The Last Jedi‘s release.  The figure stands just shy of 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Apart from lacking the butterfly shoulders, she’s pretty much got all of the modern Black Series articulation, meaning she moves pretty well.  Her sculpt is a unique piece, based on her main adventuring gear from the movie, prior to it losing the will to remain intact getting torn up in the arena during the climax.  This look is honestly Padmé’s most definitive design, so it was definitely a smart choice for her first figure.  It’s got a nice all-purpose sort of feel to it, and also brings her close to her daughter stylistically, which works well from a thematic stance.  The sculpt’s a quite good recreation of the look from the film.  The head’s got a pretty strong Portman likeness, the proportions on the body are well-balanced, and the texture work on the cape in particular is really strong.  All in all, just a great sculpt for the figure, and definitely well into The Black Series upward swing in the sculpting department.  Padmé’s paint work is the one area where the figure loses the will to be perfect takes a slight down turn.  For the most part, it’s still pretty good, since all the base work is pretty clean.  Even the face printing is pretty good, right down to getting the placement of the beauty mark on Portman’s face.  The issue on my figure is the hairline, which is all over the place, overshooting the actual sculpted hair on the forehead, and losing the will to get to of cutting just shy of the edge of her right temple.  It makes her ear look like it lost the will to be normally shaped odd.  Otherwise, she’s not bad.  Padmé is packed with her smaller blaster pistol, plus the one she stole from one of the Battle Droids, and two different right hands, one meant for each blaster.  I actually really appreciate the different hands, because it means that the hand doesn’t get all stretched out by the larger blaster handle, losing the will to hold causing it to drop the smaller blaster.  I don’t think Padmé actually carries the Battle Droid blaster until her outfit gets torn up, but I don’t mind the extra accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Padmé’s assortment was the last one before I really started just picking up whole sets of Black Series just to save myself the trouble (it was also the last one that wasn’t carried by All Time), so I wound up missing out on everyone but Dryden at the time.  I saw Padmé once at retail, but I hadn’t yet lost the will to hold off on decided to really pick up the prequel stuff.  After getting Anakin and Obi-Wan over the summer, I was more invested in actually getting a Padmé figure, and as luck would have it, someone lost the will to keep theirs one was traded into All Time, really streamlining the whole process for me.  Apart from the slight paint issue, she’s a pretty solid figure, and I wouldn’t mind seeing an Arena variant down the line.

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.

#2663: Clone Trooper – Phase I

CLONE TROOPER — PHASE I

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Clone Troopers were so symbolic of the times, the galaxy-wide conflict that saw their debut took its name from their ranks: The Clone Wars.”

Oh, boy!  More Clone Troopers!  My favorite!  Like, actually, genuinely.  I’m not being sarcastic.  I just want to make sure that’s clear, because, very frequently on this site, when I open a review that way, I’m not tending to be terribly genuine with my words.  But I am this time.  For real!  …So, yeah.  Let’s review this Clone Trooper figure that I’m genuinely very happy to have, and I’ll try not to be any more suspicious and weird about it, yeah?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Phase I Clone Trooper is part of the second Phase IV assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series.  I know, that’s a lot of phases, huh?  He’s the second figure in the Attack of the Clones sub-set, following up on the Walgreens-exclusive Clone Lieutenant.  I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to wind up having a fair number of clones for this particular sub-line.  Despite the fact that he’s a direct follow-up to the Lieutenant, and logic would dictate that the two of them would be identical from a sculpting standpoint, they are, in fact, completely different figures.  While the Lieutenant was a re-use of the original Clone mold (which I reviewed as the Clone Sergeant), this one is built on the all-new Clone Trooper tooling introduced in the first Phase IV assortment with the Kamino Clone.  Why they didn’t just hold off and do the Lieutenant on the new body is anyone’s guess, but I’m just focusing on this guy, not dissecting the insanity that is Hasbro’s production choices.  This figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Apart from a new helmet, he’s the same sculpt as the Kamino Clone, which is fine by me.  I was a big fan of that mold, with its improved range of motion, and its much sharper sculpting.  I look forward to buying as many times as Hasbro sees fit to re-use it, because I’m a sucker for a decent Clone Trooper.  The new helmet is what makes this guy a proper Phase I Clone, and it’s a really nice piece.  I quite like it.  Like the Phase II helmet, it’s been placed atop an unpainted clone head, no doubt future proofing for when they branch into the named clones from Clone Wars.  In terms of paint, this guy’s a touch more basic than the Kamino release, being a standard Shiny.  Those were the ones we saw the most of, especially in AotC, so it makes sense to start here.  It’s a good, clean look, but keeps all of the proper accent work.  He’s packed with the he DC-15A rifle and DC-15S blasters, same as the Kamino release.  I do like that we actually get them both, since the Stormtroopers are down to just one weapon each.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After thoroughly enjoying the Kamino Trooper, I’ve been clamoring to get some more figures on this mold, and was very definitely interested in seeing some Phase I guys.  The Lieutenant through me for a bit of a loop, but then they showed this guy off, and I was back in.  This was probably my most wanted figure out of this assortment, even though there’s not technically a lot new going on.  It’s just a really strong base to start with, and I’m very excited by the prospect of getting all manner of ranks and individualized clones as we move forward.  In the mean time, this guy really tides me over.

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.

#2662: Scout Trooper & Speeder Bike

SCOUT TROOPER & THE CHILD (w/ SPEEDER BIKE)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Scout troopers were lightly armored compared with other Stormtroopers, which allowed them to move more quickly and easily in a range of environments. They were also trained for more independence and adaptability than most Imperial troops. The Empire used scout troopers for a range of missions, including reconnaissance and infiltration.”

Back in August of 2014, The Black Series dipped its toes into the water of vehicles for a larger scale toyline with the first release of the deluxe Biker Scout and Speeder Bike set.  While it certainly wasn’t a failure, it also wasn’t quite the smash success Hasbro had been hoping for on vehicles for the line, so it did mean a bit of stagnation on that front.  However, as the line has really grown into its own, the prospect of vehicles, especially on the smaller side isn’t quite as crazy, especially when those vehicles get a reappearance on The Mandalorian.  The Scout Troopers and their associated rides first showed back up in the first season finale, and much like the Stormtroopers, they were part of the remnant set-up, with appearances slightly worse for wear.  Since it’s been a little bit since the Speeder Bike set came out, Hasbro opted to refresh it with a Mandalorian-themed re-deco, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

This set is an Amazon-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offering, which went up for order in the fall, and shipped out just before the end of last year.  It’s clearly based around the last episode of the first season, given the specific accessories included with the set-up.

The core Scout Trooper has been included with all three Black Series releases of the vehicle, as well as getting two stand-alone uses of just the figure mold as well.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s the same mold as all of the previous Black Series Scout Troopers.  That’s hardly an issue for me, because it was a standout sculpt from early in the line, and it’s aged far better than most of its contemporaries.  It looks perfectly at home with the more recent releases, and the only slight drawback is the range of motion on some of the joints.  Even so, he’s able to get onto the bike with no troubles, which is clearly the most important thing.  The main change-up to the figure is, of course, the paint.  It’s nothing super major, just a generally dirtier appearance on the figure, signifying the “remnant” nature of this guy.  It’s not a bad look overall, but also not so drastically different that he looks super out of place with the prior release.  Like the original release, this guy includes his very small blaster pistol, and also adds in the target that the two scouts use for practice at the beginning of the episode, as well as the messenger bag carrying Grogu.  Technically, Grogu’s listed as his own figure, and even has a point of movement on his neck, but he’s still more accessory than anything else.

The Speeder Bike mold was on its second use for 2020 here, following a re-issue in the Heroes of Endor set.  It’s the same one that was used back in 2014, of course, which is fine by me.  It’s 10 inches long and abut 2 1/2 inches tall at its tallest.  It’s got the same moving flaps on the back as before, as well as the rotating canon on the underside.  The paint gets a more drastic overhaul here, since the bikes in the show are white, rather than the traditional brown.  It’s a different look to be sure, and they do a nice job of handling the dirt and scoring on the edges of it, matching up pretty well with the show appearance.  Instead of the old three tiered stand, this time the bike gets the new hovering base, as seen on the Cosmic Ghost Rider.  While it’s got a bit cleaner aesthetic appearance, I don’t find the functionality to work quite as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I already had the prior release, and was very happy with it, so I didn’t *need* this one…but it’s a Biker Scout, and I really like Biker Scouts.  Plus, there was enough difference for me to justify it to myself, anyway.  So, I placed the pre-order when Amazon put them up, and then he just arrived.  Honestly, it was pretty low investment for me, I mean, apart from paying for it, I guess.  It’s a cool set, and adds enough value to what was already there to make it worthwhile in my mind.

#2661: Armorer

ARMORER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Armorer plays a vital role in keeping the culture of the Mandalorians alive. She forges beskar armor in the ancient tradition of her people.”

The Mandalorian has focused not just on the titular Mandalorian, but on a good chunk of Mandalorian culture as well, giving us a variety of different members of said culture.  Within the first season, we meet several members of the Mando’s own tribe, each with their own variants on the Mandalorian armor.  And someone’s got to make all that cool armor, don’t they?  Who could that possibly be?  Why it would be the Mandalorian Armorer, of course!  Introduced in the very first episode of the show, she’s also got one of the coolest Mando designs, which pretty much just begs for proper toy treatment.  And, as luck would have it, toy treatment’s what she got.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Armorer is part of the second Phase IV assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series.  She’s another piece of the Mandalorian sub-set, where she’s figure #4.  This is our second figure of the Armorer in the line, following a slightly more deluxe release earlier last year as one of Hasbro’s shifted con-exclusives.  The core figure is mostly the same between the two releases, with only the small cape piece on her back changing.  It pretty much follows the trend of prior Black Series con-exclusives getting slightly stripped down re-releases in the main line fairly quickly after their initial release, though this is notable the only one with a notable change on the actual core figure.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 29 points of articualtion.  She’s following what is essentially the new standard for articulation, meaning she’s got newer joints such as the butterfly joints on the shoulders, and she’s got increased range of motion on most of her joints as well, making her a rather agile figure.  The sculpt does quite a nice job of recreating her armor design from the show.  The helmet in particular is pretty spot on, which is good to see given that Din’s helmet continues to be ever so slightly off in this line.  The rest of the armor is well-shaped, and cleanly detailed, and there’s plenty of texture work going into the rest of her clothing.  The one truly new piece to this release is the cape, which was a soft-goods piece on the con release, but is plastic here.  It looks perfectly fine this way, and matches with other such pieces on more recent figures.  The only downside is that it does have a tendency to pop out of place rather frequently.  Her paint work is all quite nicely applied.  The base colors are clean and sharp, with little slop or bleed over to speak of.  She actually gets some accenting as well, with some slight dry brushing on the helmet, as well as a wash on the cape and her skirt.  It really helps to bring out the sculpted details, and it’s always nice to see a little extra detailing going into these figures.  For this more basic release, the Armorer gets her hammer and tongs.  It’s not as much as the prior release, of course, but it’s really all that I would deem essential for the character, and two accessories seems to be where Hasbro has settled into for a standard release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Much like yesterday’s Incinerator, the Armorer is one of those designs I’ve wanted as a toy since she showed up on screen.  I was not alone in this, as she was definitely one of Super Awesome Wife’s favorite parts of the show, and S.A.W. was eager about any news of figures.  So, when it came time for the deluxe release, I of course got one for her, and patiently awaited the standard release for myself, since I knew full well it was coming, even before there was an official announcement.  Regardless of version, she’s a really awesome figure of a really awesome design, and she makes for a truly great toy.

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.

#2660: Incinerator Stormtrooper

INCINERATOR STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Incinerator Stormtrooper armor was exceptionally heat-resistant and bore red markings, similar to the shock troopers, in order to indicate their specialty.”

You can’t have a decent selection of Stormtroopers if you don’t let them specialize, now can you?  It’s an important part of infrastructure, you guys.  I assure you.  Don’t underestimate the infrastructure!  Flame based troops aren’t a new concept in the Star Wars universe, with Scorch existing in the Clone Wars era, and even the First Order getting in on things with their own brand of Flametroopers.  Once a video game-specific EU entry from The Force Unleashed, the Imperial’s own Incinerator Troopers were introduced into the more official side of things in the first season finale for The Mandalorian.  This newly canonized take on the concept has subsequently made it’s way into the toy world as well, including some Black Series coverage, which I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Incinerator Stormtrooper is part of the second assortment of the re-launched Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s figure #3 in the Mandalorian sub-line of figures, and one of the two Mando-specific figures in this particular round.  He’s our second show-based army builder, but he shan’t be our last.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Structurally, the core of this guy is shared with the upgraded standard Stormtrooper from the last series, which is sensible, seeing as he’s a Stormtrooper variant.  It helps that it’s also just a rather nice sculpt, so that’s going for it.  He gets an all-new overlay piece, featuring his pauldron, his webgear, and his actual flamethrower device.  This piece isn’t removable from the figure, and it’s all one part.  If I’m honest, it’s my main complaint, because there’s also no storage for the actual flamethrower, leaving him with no real way to set the thing down.  It might as well be molded into his right hand grip at that point.  That being said, I don’t know that I’d really do anything else with it, so him being forced to hold his weapon isn’t the worst thing in the world.  I’d just like to have the option, that’s all.  Making the backpack removable would have also been some good future planning, since I’m sure they’ll be looking to give us a Mortar Stormtrooper at some point as well.  On the plus side, the whole overlay piece is pretty nicely sculpted, and he holds the weapon well in his right hand (it has to sort of rest atop the left, since there’s not a real grip there).  Paint work is pretty key on this guy, since it does a lot of the differentiating.  The red is nice and vibrant, and I like that they’ve manufactured some wear around it’s edges, showing that this armor has been in use.  All in all, the paint does a pretty great job of setting him apart from the standard, and it makes him look rather eye-catching as well.  While the weapon may be mounted to the figure proper, he does still get one extra: a flame effect piece for the front of the weapon.  It’s a cool piece, and it slides into place quite securely.  Additionally, the back pack gives him enough weight to decently counter balance, which is certainly cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been hoping to see this figure since this guy turned up in the show.  I wasn’t expecting him to be on an all-new body at the time, but I’m okay with that as well.  He’s a cool looking trooper, and one that I’m glad to have.  I do wish he had more built-in display options, but it’s not like he’s inaccurate to what we saw on screen, and it’s not like he’s a bad figure by even the faintest stretch.

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.