#2149: Cantina Band Member

CANTINA BAND MEMBER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Mos Eisley may be home to scum and villainy, but it’s not without its entertainment value.  There’s plenty of peppy tunes to be had in the Mos Eisley Cantina, home to the Cantina Band, known more specifically as Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes.  The Cantina Band is definitely a distinctive element in the first film, even if they do boil down to just six identical guys with rubber masks.  The band was absent from the vintage line, but Power of the Force put a lot of effort into filling out the Cantina, with both patrons and employees.  Rather than releasing the Band’s individual members, Kenner took advantage of the shared basic design and released one figure with a bunch of instruments, allowing fans to buy how ever many they wanted…provided it wasn’t more than five.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cantina Band Member was offered up exclusively through Star Wars Insider Magazine and the official fan club in 1997.  The figure was limited to five per person…which actually means no one was able to get a complete band, since there are six members in the movie (two of them played the same instrument).  Whoops.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  In order to facilitate holding all of the instruments, the Band Member was given both elbow and wrist joints, thereby making him one of the most articulated figures in the line.  Such as it is, he still has some trouble holding the instruments, but it was a nice idea.  The sculpt on this guy isn’t a bad one; the aliens always made out the best in this line, and he’s no exception.  The head’s definitely the best piece, and does a quite respectable job of capturing the mask from the movie.  The body falls a little bit victim to PotF‘s penchant for pre-posing.  It’s not terrible, and is really just limited to the slight forward step of the legs.  It does make him slightly tricky to keep standing, though.  The paintwork on him is fairly basic, but there’s definitely some nice accenting on the head and hands, which gives him a little bit of pop.  Accessories are really the main game here, as the figure includes five different instruments.  Included are the Kloo Horn (played by band leader Figrin D’an), the Dorenian Beshniquel (played by Doikk Na’ts), the Fanfar (played by Ickabel G’ont and Tedn Dahai), the Omni Box (played by Tech Mo’r), and the Bandfill (played by Nalan Cheel).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t so much up on the fan club stuff in the ’90s, so I didn’t get one of these as a kid.  Instead, he’s one of the perks of working with All Time Toys, as I literally had this guy thrown at me by the owner when he was informed I didn’t own one yet.  He’s not quite as good a figure as Kenner was aiming for, but he’s still a pretty solid offering, and at some point I’ll need to track down a few more of them.

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#2132: Chopper (C1-10P)

CHOPPER (C1-10P)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Chopper is the resident droid of the Ghost, assisting the crew in everything from ship maintenance to combat, even though he doesn’t always want to. After many years of repairs and patch jobs, Chopper has a beat-up, worn look that sometimes matches his cranky personality.”

No Star Wars story is really complete without a stubborn droid or two.  And while most of the main-series uses R2 and 3PO for that role, there are occasionally times where they’re not available, due to continuity stuff.  Rebels was one of those times (well, apart from a cameo appearance early on), so we got an all-new droid, C1-10P, better known as Chopper.  Chopper takes the usual stubborn droid traits and amps them up to 11, which has made him quite the fan-favorite.  With that in mind, the only thing that’s truly surprising about him getting a Black Series figure is how long it took for him to finally make it into the line-up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chopper is figure 84 in the Black Series line-up, part of the most recent assortment of figures, where he shares the Rebels spotlight with the Ezra figure from yesterday and the astromech spotlight with BT-1.  The figure stands roughly 2 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation, which is pretty darn impressive by astromech standards.  As a droid, Chopper is the member of the Ghost crew who required the least changes to make him workable in a more realistic line, so he actually stays pretty close to the show’s design for him.  Many of the recent Star Wars offerings have made use of Ralph McQuarrie’s design work for the original film, and Rebels had that in spades.  Chopper himself makes use of a lot of elements from McQuarrie’s R2 design, being more squat and utilitarian than the final R2 design.  This makes Chopper more divergent from the other on-screen astromechs, which honestly isn’t that out of place given his characterization.  The figure follows the lead of the main Black Series R2 and his various attachments.  However, unlike R2, who had lots of clip-on parts, most of Chopper’s parts are internal and can fold out.  By far the most impressive example of this is the arms on the head, which are completely articulated and fold back into the head totally flat.  It’s actually so convincing that I myself almost missed them when opening my figure.  There’s another arm at the front, which is pretty cool too, if slightly more simplistic in its implementation.  Chopper’s paintwork is true to this design on the show, so he’s plenty colorful, and all of the small details are there. Of course, Chopper’s hardly a brand-new model, so the figure is sporting a fair bit of muck and grime, which is handled via the same technique they’ve been using on the faces recently.  In addition to everything packed into the main figure, Chopper’s got a few add-on parts as well.  His third leg can be swapped out for a rocket booster, which also includes a rocket blast effect piece to keep him elevated.  He’s also got an extra left leg, which is paired with his right, so as to allow him to match, as seen in “The Forgotten Droid.”

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I was already picking Ezra, it wasn’t too hard to convince myself to pick up Chopper too.  Honestly, he’s probably the strongest figure in this line-up.  The fold up arms are fun, and his animation-true design is a very clean look.  It’s a nice change-up from the more formulaic figures of the line.  He’s just a lot of fun, and I’m happy to have added him to the collection.

Chopper was purchased from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Star Wars, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2131: Ezra Bridger

EZRA BRIDGER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Growing up, Ezra learned to trust no one and to rely on his street smarts – and subconcious Force abilities – to survive. This all changes with his introduction to the crew of the Ghost, a small band of rebels fighting back against the Empire. Ezra comes to believe in their cause, and sees that he can help change the galaxy for the better.”

Cartoons have been a part of the Star Wars universe since the mid-point of the much maligned Holiday Special, and they’ve been a part of the toyline since Droids and Ewoks, but it wasn’t until 2003’s The Clone Wars that we really faced the dilemma of how to handle animation-based figures in terms of integrating them with the rest of the line.  Clone Wars set the precedent of “why not both?” and that’s pretty much been the standard since.  The cast of Star Wars: Rebels were initially  only released in their animation accurate forms, but Hasbro has subsequently worked them into The Black Series one by one.  The latest is the character that’s ostensibly the main character of the show, Ezra Bridger.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ezra Bridger is figure 86 in the Black Series line-up and is part of the latest assortment of figures.  He’s packed alongside fellow Ghost crew-member Chopper, plus Obi-Wan, and Aphra and her companion droids.   The figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Ezra’s based on his Season 1/2 appearance, though like the prior animation figures, it’s a real-world take on his design.  I find that his translation to a real-world look was slightly more successful than Kanan, though I’d say it’s partially due to Ezra being younger, and therefore being slightly more excusable with an ever so slightly cartoony appearance.  I feel like his eyes could stand to be just a touch lower on the head, but beyond that, he’s fairly realistic, and his sculpt handles things nicely.  His articulation is fairly well integrated and for the most part has a solid range, but it’s worth noting that his hips are rather on the restricted side, due to the belt straps and their placement.  It’s not awful, and it’s not like we haven’t seen issues like this before in the line, but it’s a shame there’s not an easy fix for it.  Ezra’s paintwork is all pretty decent.  It’s mostly just base color work, but it gets it all down correctly and none of the sculpted details have been overlooked.  He also uses the printed face technique, which works pretty well for this particular figure.  Ezra is packed with his unique lightsaber, as well as his stolen Imperial Cadet helmet, which sits surprisingly well on his head.  Not a ton of extras, but its one more than the usual single lightsaber we get with Jedi characters, so I’m certainly not going to knock it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ezra is a good example of my herd mentality when it comes to collecting.  On his own, I’m not certain I would have bought him, but he came out alongside the Obi-Wan figure I knew I wanted and the Doctor Aphra figures I was picking up for Super Awesome Fiancee, and I figured that, since I already have most of the Rebels crew anyway, I might as well grab him, too.  Honestly, he’s a pretty solid figure, and I’m glad I picked him up.

I grabbed Ezra from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Star Wars, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2130: Darth Maul

DARTH MAUL

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“The evil Sith apprentice Darth Maul engages in a fierce lightsaber duel with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Star Wars: The Black Series‘ debut line-up was an interesting assortment.  Though everything included was instantly recognizable and a distinctive Star Wars element, everything was sort of adjacent to top tier.  The Luke included wasn’t his main look from any of the movies, the trooper included wasn’t a standard Stormtrooper, and the Sith lord included wasn’t Darth Vader.  It was Hasbro’s bid at trying out the line without potentially sacrificing any truly pivotal figures to possible early-line production issues.  Given the slightly more middling line-up, the first series was a much smaller run compared to later in the line, and some of its figures became quite tricky to track down as the line progressed.  In order to give new fans a chance to catch up, Hasbro instituted a new sub-line, dubbed “Archive” as an easy way to re-pop in-demand figures from older assortments.  While the first series was completely focussed on the Original Trilogy, the second line-up adds in some of the Prequel characters, including by far the most marketable character to come out of the Prequels, Darth Maul!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Maul is one of the four figures in the second Archive line-up, and the second of the original Black Series figures to be featured (the third to get a re-release, counting the 35th R2; only the Sandtrooper remains without a reissue).  Rather fittingly, this assortment arrived at roughly the same time as the latest series of the main line, so Maul and Obi-Wan hit shelves together.  Maul stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Compared to more recent releases, Maul’s articulation is slightly more rudimentary, and a little less fluid; essentially it’s just the Legends articulation of 2013 applied to another line.  It’s most noticeable on the neck joint, as that’s an area where the two lines have most clearly diverged.  At the very least he has the ball-jointed torso to mix things up, which ends up being a pretty major saving grace of the figure’s articulation.  That said, it’s entirely workable even in its current state, and honestly a little better than some of the mid-line figures that would follow it.  Maul’s sculpt was always really the star offering of the initial line-up, being a solid recreation of his on-screen appearance with well-integrated articulation, and a decent level of detailing.  While it’s not all quite as sharp, it’s still a solid selection of work.  Maul’s paintwork isn’t too involved for the most part, with the body just being variants of matte and shiny black.  The real star work is on the face, and it’s also the only place where there’s a change from the original release, since he uses the new face printing for his eyes.  It’s not a super noticeable difference, but it helps him fit in better with the more recent figures.  The original pitch for the line was as close to one-and-done as possible, and Maul’s accessories were designed with that in mind.  He’s got an extra head with robes attached, his binoculars, and his double-bladed lightsaber, which has removable blades and can be split in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like a fool, I passed on the original release of Maul when the first assortment was out, because I was trying to stick to the “no prequels” rule, which I hadn’t yet abandoned.  By the time I’d rethought it, he had jumped considerably in price, and so I had to play the waiting game.  While the Archive line-ups so far haven’t been for me, Maul was on my list as soon as his name was floated for the line.  He’s definitely a strong figure, and probably one of the best from early in the line.  He also pairs really nicely with Obi-Wan, which is a huge plus.

Maul was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Star Wars, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2121: Rebel Alliance Pilot

REBEL ALLIANCE PILOT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In my review of the Power of the Force II A-Wing Pilot back in June, I discussed how the Rebel Pilots gained unique uniforms in Return of the Jedi after they’d all shared the same basic look for A New Hope‘s trench run.  But, they *did* all share a uniform originally, which means that toy makers will find themselves with a need to fill a few spots with generic guys in that same uniform.  That’s where today’s figure comes into play!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rebel Alliance Pilot was available exclusively with the Target-exclusive Y-Wing Bomber, released in 2000 as an exclusive part of the Power of the Force II line.  Exclusively.  Lot of excluding going on there.  He was officially billed as “Unique Rebel Alliance Pilot,” which is rather amusing, because…well, he’s not.  He’s just definitively a generic place holder figure for all of the various unnamed pilots seen in the movie, meaning he’s exactly the sort of figure you would have every right to own multiples of, and who would therefore not be unique in the collection.  What’s more, even his molds aren’t really unique.  From the neck down, he’s identical to the 1998 Biggs Darklighter figure, which is fair, since he was our first proper New Hope-styled pilot.  The head is a new piece, at least in theory, though I myself remain unconvinced that it’s not just Biggs’ head without the mustache painted.  I’d have to actually see the Biggs head sans paint to confirm this, of course, which is a bit much for me.  Whatever the case, the two heads are certainly very similar, and this figure possess the same undersized helmet issue that Biggs had, which is consistent at the very least.  May the Rebel Pilots are just pin-headed?  For the most part, his paintwork matches Biggs, at least as far as the body is concerned, barring one color change-up on his chest monitor.  The head is different, with the skintone being molded rather than painted, and his helmet having a more generic selection of details.  Everything about the paint says “designed to fade into the crowd.”  The Pilot included no accessories, really being an accessory himself and all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s not a lot noteworthy about this figure, and that kind of extends to how I got him.  I picked him up alongside the carrying-case version of Wedge, back in December when I was on a PotF2 binge.  He’s fine.  That’s the best I can say about him.  I’m sure if I had the vehicle he was originally packed with, he’d look nice piloting it.  As it stands, he’s just one of those figures I have because I’m looking to get a full run.

#2119: Assault on Ryloth

WAXER, BOIL, CLONE COMMANDER CODY, & MACE WINDU

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“Jedi generals and clone troopers battle the Separatists who have taken control of the planet Ryloth, homeworld of the Twi’leks. Mace Windu coordinates battle plans as he prepares to bring gunships onto the planet. Clone Troopers Waxer and Boil, who are eager for combat, join Clone Commander Cody on a mission to free Twi’lek prisoners being used as shields to protect a deadly proton cannon.”

Fairly early on in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the show runners realized that a show with “Clone” in the title was going to have to lean pretty heavily on clones as characters.  With that taken into consideration, the previous depictions of clones literally just being whole squadrons of the same guy a couple dozen times over wasn’t going to work.  Over the course of the show’s first season, they began introducing the audience to lots of troopers, all with individual names and personalities, many of them even getting their own small arcs.  There were a few clone-centered early on, which included my personal favorite episode, “Innocents of Ryloth,” the middle entry of Season 1’s Ryloth trilogy.  “Innocents” brought in troopers Waxer and Boil, and bickering pair that would crop up a couple more times over the course of the show.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Waxer, Boil, Clone Commander Cody, and Mace Windu make up the “Assualt on Ryloth” Battle Pack, which was available exclusively at Target in 2009.  The set is based primarily on “Innocents,” though Mace’s presence brings in the follow-up, “Liberty on Ryloth.”

WAXER

Technically, Waxer appeared prior to “Innocents,” as part of the tie-in comic “Slaves of the Republic.”  Of course, the timing is close enough that Waxer was likely created for the show first and dropped into the comic later, given production cycles and all.  Whatever the case, Waxer’s appearance in “Innocents” is certainly the better showcase.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  All of the figures in this set were built from pre-existing molds, which really isn’t too surprising for Waxer, what with him being a clone and all.  Nevertheless, there’s a surprising amount of frankenstiening going on here.  Waxer uses the body of Clone Trooper Denal (meaning he’s got a spot for a backpack…not that he includes one, of course), with Commander Thire’s dual holster-sporting belt, and the original Captain Rex head, all topped off with the upgraded removable helmet first seen on Gree.  The holsters on the belt on show accurate, and I’m not entirely sure why they went with the torso with the peghole, but beyond that Waxer’s as good as any figure built from the basic clone parts, which is to say he’s very good.  He poses well, and his helmet sits properly and tightly on the head, and he’s fairly accurate to the animation models.  His paintwork is solid stuff, though it’s worth noting this set was released in a period when Hasbro was going for cleaned up clones.  He still gets his proper 212th markings, as well as his personalized helmet, with tally marks and all.  Waxer is packed with a pair of DC-17 Blaster pistols, as well as a DC-15A rifle.  Technically, he’s carrying the 15C in the episode, but it’s not like I don’t have a bunch of those I can give him, including one of the two in this very set.

BOIL

Though he never seemed to get the same prominence as Waxer, Boil ended up as the more fortunate of the two, since he was one of the few prominent clones still alive at the end of the show’s run…at least as far as we knew.  Boil and Waxer’s designs were very similar, but Boil ended up sticking with the Rex/Basic Trooper hybrid body that was first introduced with Matchstick, with the head of Commander Cody.  No extra holsters or spots for back packs on him.  He does *technically* still have Cody’s molded scars on his forehead, but there’s enough else going on that you really don’t notice them.  Beyond that, he’s another pretty solid clone figure.  His paint does change up things ever so slightly from Waxer.  Obviously the head’s different, what with the mustache and all, as is the helmet, which has Boil’s specific markings and graffiti.  There’s one more rather minor change between the two: Boil has solid colors on the shoulders, while Waxer had stripes.  In the show, they actually both had stripes, but when they they got their ARF armor in their second appearance, Boil had one solid shoulder to further distinguish.  This figure just carries that forward symmetrically.  It’s not technically show accurate, but I really don’t mind the slight change for the sake of a slightly more unique figure.  Boil isn’t quite as heavily armed as Waxer, with only a DC-15C blaster rifle.

CLONE COMMANDER CODY

As the clone in charge of Waxer and Boil’s battalion, Cody’s definitely a sensible choice for inclusion.  He’s essentially just a reissue of his single release figure from the main line.  Cody shared his legs and lower arms with the standard early line clones, but had his own head, torso, pelvis, and upper arms.  The head is the same one I just looked at for Boil, but the scarring now makes sense.  The other parts incorporate Cody’s unique armor elements.  Curiously, his torso, and especially his waist, is really skinny when compared to all of the other Clones released around the same time.  Was Cody just more conscious of his figure?  Whatever the case, Cody’s sculpt is just as strong as the other two clones, making him another really solid figure offering.  For the most part, Cody’s paint is identical to his single release, though the orange on his armor was dulled down a bit to better match Waxer and Boil, and he also loses the painted aspect of his facial scar.  Cody included his removable helmet, as well as a DC-15C blaster rifle.

MACE WINDU

Windu is honestly the weirdest choice in this set, since he only has a small role at the beginning and end of “Innocents,” with the primary Jedi being Obi-Wan.  While Windu wraps up the Ryloth Trilogy in the next episode, it’s without Waxer, Boil, and Cody.  I’d wager that the main reason he was chosen over Kenobi is that he was the rarer figure at the time, and Hasbro wanted collectors to get another shot.  Worked out for me, since I didn’t have a Windu.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, the initial Jedi for this line weren’t given full articulation, so Mace lacks any sort of knee or ankle movement.  It definitely cuts down on the crazy action poses.  Despite the reduced articulation, his sculpt is actually pretty solid.  It’s a decent translation of the animation model, and fits in well with the rest of the line.  His paintwork is pretty minimal, with just a lot of browns for the most part.  For whatever reason, his eyebrows went from dark brown on the single to an orange here, which looks a little off, but really only if you closely examine him.  It honestly reads as him just not having eyebrows most of the time.  Windu included his lightsaber, plus a helmet, collar, and shoulder pads to give him some clone armor.  He also includes a spring-loaded waist joint, which gives him a sort of a slashing feature when you pull it back.  Yay?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With “Innocents” being my favorite episode of the show, you’d think that this set would have been on my list from day one, right?  I mean, I got the high-end Sideshow set, right?  Yeah, well this pack wasn’t anywhere near as easily gotten as the Sideshow figures, so I actually didn’t have them.  In fact, for the longest time, I just passed off my generic 212th trooper as one of them.  It wasn’t until the set got traded into All Time a couple of weeks ago that I finally had my chance, and while they may have been a little pricey, I kind of counted them as a birthday present to myself.  Expensive as they may be, I really like the Waxer and Boil included here, and I’m happy to have finally gotten them.  It’s just too bad we never got a Numa to go with them.

#2118: Captain Rex – Jet Propulsion Pack

CAPTAIN REX — JET PROPULSION PACK

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“Captain Rex takes the battle to new heights. When the clone captain needs to reach high elevations, he boosts his rocket pack with a space combat propulsion pack. With this additional gear, Rex can take on battle droids even in space, increasing his chances of stopping even more of the droid army.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars had the good fortune of hitting pretty much at the height of the 3 3/4 inch line’s quality and popularity, but even with a strong start, Hasbro wasn’t content to sit back and just tread water.  This meant that there were improvements to how they were making the figures with each successive year of the line.  In order to keep things relatively balanced, the show’s main characters all found themselves getting an update every so often.  Given “Clone” was in the title, it’s no surprise that the series’ main clone, Captain Rex, found himself with some of the most figures of any one in the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jet Propulsion Pack Rex was released in 2011, as figure 62 in that year’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars Basic Series line-up.  He was the line’s third version of the character, following the initial release and his cold-weather variant.  This one used a fancy new accessory as an excuse to give us an all-new take on the character’s already in the toyline design, lest he be the only main character not to get an update following the Season 3 model changes.  Rex’s model didn’t change, but the upgrades to the way the figures were made meant his 2008 figure looked a bit out of place with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka’s new figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation.  Despite most of the clones being built from a common pool of parts, Rex was instead an all-new sculpt.  With that all-new sculpt was a new articulation scheme, which has a bit of give and take.  While he lost the hinges at the wrists, as well as the entire joint at the ankles and mid-torso, the figure gains a set of ball-jointed hips, which were quite a bit deal.  For the longest time, it didn’t matter how well-articulated a Star Wars figure may be, they’d always be saddled with a t-crotch.  This line’s ARF Trooper had experimented in a slightly different style of hips, which had some side to side, but again there was some give and take, and a definite learning curve on how those joints worked.  This Rex just had pretty straight forward ball-jointed hips, giving him the best possible range of movement.  It’s too bad that other joints had to be cut to facilitate this, but I think they managed a reasonable balance given the circumstances.  Rex’s sculpt is certainly the most show-accurate version of the character we got in the line, and probably one of the most show-accurate clone sculpts that the line produced period.  The armor’s details are for the most part very crisp, the removeable helmet manages to retain its accuracy even when being made from a softer plastic, and the underlying unmasked head isn’t as undersized as others in the line.  It also doesn’t have that issue of looking far older than it should, which a lot of the earlier clones (including the prior Rex) did.  His kama is cloth this time, aiding in the articulation, and also more appropriately simulating the improved movement among the show’s models from the same time.  Lastly, it’s a minor thing, but this Rex has both of his hands sculpted with trigger fingers, meaning for one of the very few times, he is able to properly dual wield.  That’s kind of amazing.  Rex’s paintwork is pretty solid.  The line went back and forth on if they wanted to do weathering on the clones, and Rex sort of catches some of that.  He lacks the dark wash of his earliest figures, but still has wavy edges to the colored sections of his armor, showing that he painted those sections on himself, and that they’re starting to wear a bit.  About the only thing that really bugs me on this guy’s paint is that his viewfinder was left all-white, but that’s pretty minor.  Rex has a pretty extensive selection of extras.  There’s the removable helmet, of course, as well as his dual blaster pistols, so that you can have a proper basic Rex.  On top of that, he also gets a larger blaster pistol and the titular Jet Propulsion pack.  The pack has a little removable Mandolorian-styled jetpack attached to the back as well, which can be directly plugged into Rex’s back.  Rex was seen sporting just the smaller pack from time to time on the show, so it’s nice that they included that option.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure was released, I was still very much collecting this line, but I was sort of in and out on it.  I don’t know if I saw this guy in the wild, but I may have assumed he wasn’t all that different from the original release, which I was pretty happy with.  It wasn’t until years later that I actually found out how different he was, and at that point tracking one down was more of an endeavor.  My chance at getting one arrived a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of All Time Toys, who just got in a Clone Wars collection.  While piecing them together, I picked out a few for myself, which did *not* include Rex here.  However, in addition to yesterday’s Minimate set, Max had also given me $20 in store credit, which was just enough to net me this guy.  For the record?  That makes this his fault again.

#2110: Obi-Wan Kenobi

OBI-WAN KENOBI

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

So, since the last time I discussed The Phantom Menace on this here site (just shy of 1800 reviews ago), public perceptions of the film have slightly shifted.  To be fair, last time around, the film’s 3D re-release had reinvigorated the fanbase’s hatred.  Now, it’s cool to like it, since the hate has shifted either to the new films, or to the portion of the fanbase who hates the new films.  Whatever the case, I’ve always liked Phantom Menace the most of the prequels, and that’s not changed.  As a kid, my favorite part of the movie was Ewan McGreggor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The Black Series has placed the majority of its focus on the original trilogy and the new trilogy, so the prequels have been sort of pushed to the side, and Obi-Wan’s “debut” appearance had a little bit of a wait.  Fortunately, it’s finally here, and now I’m gonna review it!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obi-Wan is figure 85 in the Black Series line-up.  He arrived in stores in a mostly non-movie assortment, making him the a bit of an odd-man out.  It’s our fourth version of Obi-Wan in the line, and he’s the final of the three main Phantom Menace Jedi to be added to the line.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Obi-Wan’s sculpt is all-new, and it’s another strong piece.  It’s another step forward in working the articulation into the sculpt without things looking too weird.  The arms are a touch long and seem to bend a little too far down, but beyond that the joints are well-implemented and he has an impressive range of mobility.  The head is sporting a solid likeness of Ewan McGreggor, certainly an improvement over the head from the Revenge of the Sith Obi-Wan.  The torso is constructed via layering, which has done a nice job of creating depth on the figure, as well as preserving the articulation.  His robes are nicely textured, and do a suitable job of looking lifelike.  Obi-Wan’s paintwork is pretty solid.  He’s the first of the Phantom Menace figures to released post-face-printing, and it does him a lot of favors.  He’s definitely a really lively looking guy, and it does the sculpt all sorts of favors.  The more basic paintwork isn’t quite as strong, with some noticeable slop on the edges of the boots in particular.  That said, it’s not as bad as some of the others we’ve seen in this line.  Obi-Wan’s only accessory is his lightsaber, which, following the trend of others in the line, has a removable blade and can be hung from his belt.  It’s a shame they couldn’t throw anything else in with him; even a cloth robe would have been nice.  As it stands, he does feel a tad light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Black Series first launched, I had one firm rule: no prequel figures.  Even before I broke it to get in on some Clone Trooper goodness, this guy was the one exception to that self-imposed rule.  I was definitely playing a mean waiting game with both Maul and Qui-Gon out already, so I was very excited when this guy was finally shown off.  He was at the top of my list for this assortment, and I gotta say, he’s a really satisfying figure.

I picked up Obi-Wan from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

 

#2107: Kyle Katarn

KYLE KATARN

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. A rogue mercenary loyal to no one, Kyle Katarn has accepted a near-impossible mission to destroy the Empire’s ability to develop an army of unstoppable stormtroopers known as Dark Troopers.”

Remember two years ago when I looked at two figures from the Expanded Universe sub-line of Power of the Force?  Well, would you look at that? I’ve finally made my way back to the rest of them.  For their first real go at Expanded Universe offerings, Kenner aimed to diversify, focusing on several different EU tales.  Included among those was the 1996 video game Dark Forces, which covers the (original version of the) acquisition of the Death Star plans, before delving a bit into its own lore.  The player plays as Kyle Katarn, a Rebellion-hired mercenary, who would make his action figure debut in the EU line.  I’ll be looking at said figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kyle Katarn is the first of the two Dark Forces-themed figures released in the Expanded Universe sub-line.  He hit shelves in 1998 and, like all of the EU figures, was a little bit scarce.  Though his bio is definitely referencing Dark Forces, and all reference material points to him being based on that game, Kyle’s design is actually a fair bit closer to the game’s sequel, Jedi Knight.  There are definitely some merged elements, and you can be a little bit forgiving with the ’90s graphics, the biggest giveaway is Kyle’s beard, since he didn’t have that in the first game.  They’ve even edited the illustration of him from the first game in order to make him closer to the figure.  Why did they decide to go with the second game’s look?  Well, there are a few possible reasons, but my main guess is that giving him the beard made him more immediately distinguishable from Han, as well as the other EU Han-stand-in Dash Rendar.  You wouldn’t want to confuse the fans, would you?  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He sports a unique sculpt, which, while pre-posed, is still fairly manageable.  By this point, the proportions issues of the PotF2 were essentially gone.  Kyle’s still definitely a product of his time, but that’s more because Kyle, the character, is a product of his time.  The face on this figure does seem a little friendlier than I’d expect from a supposed mercenary, but it’s still quite a nice offering.  I also like some of the liberties they’ve taken with some of the costume elements; in particular, I really dig his chest armor.  Kyle’s colors are a little bit brighter than the usual Star Wars fair, which works pretty well for him.  The application is pretty clean, and there’s even a little bit of weathering on the boots.  Kyle was packed with two different styles of blaster, allowing him to swap between them as he would in the game.  And, since I got him still in-package, he also has a 3D-fold-out display base, which places him in front of an Imperial Shuttle.  I really love these things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back in the day, the only EU figures I had were Luke and the Emporer, due to how hard the line-up was to find at retail.  When I started filling in holes in my PotF collection, these guys were all very near the top of my list, but they don’t show up super often, and I was insistent that they still be packaged.  I ended up getting fairly lucky with these, as a complete set was traded into All Time Toys a few months back, and they let me take (most) of them, for a pretty good deal at that.  Having not played the Dark Forces games personally, my interaction with Kyle is peripheral at best, but I still have fond memories of staring at his prototype all those years ago in a Star War fan magazine.  The figure’s pretty typical for the line, which is to say he’s pretty fun.

*Kyle is also notable for another reason: he’s the 5000th unique figure to be added to my collection!  That’s way too many, right?  Or is it not enough?

#2094: Biggs Darklighter

BIGGS DARKLIGHTER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Tatooine native and childhood buddy of Luke Skywalker, Biggs Darklighter holds off quickly advancing TIE fighters in the Death Star trench.”

There’s actually a decent chunk of material that was left on the cutting room floor when Star Wars made it to theaters.  Perhaps the most pivotal blow is to the role of Biggs Darklighter.  Luke’s best friend has a handful of scenes focusing on his journey from Imperial to Rebel pilot, but the final cut of the film just leaves him as one of Luke’s two wingmen (the other being Wedge Antilles) as he begins his trench run on the Death Star.  His demise at the hands of Vader isn’t even dwelled on all that much, so the audience could be forgiven for not realizing he and Luke had any connection at all.  Because he’s ultimately pretty minor, he was left out of the toy side of things until some of his scenes were reinserted for the Special Edition release in the ’90s.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Biggs was released in the 1998 assortment of Power of the Force II figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s depicted in his X-Wing pilot garb, which was, at the time, the only thing we’d seen him in, so I guess it was sensible.  Biggs is actually the first proper X-Wing pilot we got in PotF2, as both Luke and Wedge had been done in their insulated suits from Hoth.  Biggs is comparatively a lot less bulky, and a little more in line with later offerings, though he still gets the permanently affixed helmet, which ends up looking a little bit under-scaled compared to some of the later offerings.  What we can see of the face doesn’t really look much like Biggs’ actor Garrickk Hagon, but I guess it doesn’t look unlike him either.  He’s got the mustache, which is really the most distinctive element.  The paint work on Biggs is pretty decent, and sticks to the script for the pilots.  The best work is definitely on the helmet, which has his unique patterning, which is pretty nifty.  Biggs is packed with two differently styled blasters, you know, from all those times he used blasters.  There’s a big one and a small one.  Also, as a ’98 figure, he also includes a Freeze Frame slide, showing Biggs from the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite collecting the line in ’98, I don’t actually have many memories of seeing that many of the new figures at retail at the time.  This included Biggs, though I’ve subsequently seen him *a lot* over the years.  This one came to me fairly recently, though its resided in the same house as me for some time.  About a decade ago, my brother went through a Star Wars phase, and this is one the handful of figures he still had on-hand, which he gave to me a few months back to aid me in my mission to get a full run.  I can’t really say there’s much special about Biggs.  He’s just sort of there, but I guess he’s not awful.