#2354: Zorii Bliss

ZORII BLISS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“It is difficult for scoundrels to remain neutral in the war between First Order and Resistance, and Zorii Bliss and the Spice Runners of Kijimi must soon take a side.”

Though her screen time was a little more on the brief side, I was nevertheless quite a fan of Zorii Bliss’s appearance in The Rise of Skywalker.  She had a cool look, served a designated purpose in the plot, gave us a little more development for Poe, and was just a rather intriguing character.  Prior to the film, I had purchased her Vintage Collection figure on something of an impulse, but after opening I wasn’t wowed.  So, after the movie, I was definitely jonesing for a slightly better version of the character. Black Series to the rescue!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zorii Bliss is figure 103 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line-up, making her numerically the first of the most recent assortment of figures (and placing her directly after the last assortment’s Wedge Antilles figure).  She’s one of three Rise figures in the latest assortment, and the only actually named character of those three.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and she has 31 points of articulation.  The smaller Zorii’s articulation was one of my biggest issues with the figure.  There was a lot of it, but not much of it was very practical.  This figure’s articulation works out far better, and is on par with the best of the more recent Black Series offerings in terms of poseability.  In particular, there’s a ton of range on the neck and the arms, which makes her a lot of fun to get into various action poses.  The joints are well-toleranced, so she can hold stances well.  She’s also a good deal more stable on her feet than the smaller figure.  While the figure still does fall over in more extreme poses, I had a lot less trouble keeping her up for the photos for this review.  The sculpt was really the one thing the smaller Zorii had going for her, but this figure nevertheless builds on that further, taking advantage of the larger canvas to add even more detail, and to also sharpen up the details.  The helmet in particular really turns out much nicer on this version, with a more film-accurate design, cleaner lines, and the one feature missing from the smaller figure: a removable visor!  In the film, Zorii never removes her helmet outright, but she does slide the visor back a few times, giving us a glimpse of her eyes and some of the helmet’s internal structure.  The visor on this figure can be popped out, revealing a fully detailed pair of eyes, as well as some more of the helmet.  It’s a really cool feature, and I was happy it didn’t get overlooked here.  Paintwork is again an area where the smaller figure did okay, but again this one does better.  The base detailing is all clean, and the metal sections get some decent weathering to match the real world items.  The eyes use the face printing tech, so they look nice and realistic as well.  Zorii is only packed with her two blaster pistols, which is slightly light, bt the removable visor does at least off set that a bit.  It probably would have made more sense to include Babu here, but then they wouldn’t have the hook for that 3PO figure, so it’s really a catch-22.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was hopeful for this figure when it was shown off, because it looked a bit better than the smaller one, but I was a little apprehensive.  That lessened a bit when Hasbro confirmed the removable visor, and after getting the figure in hand she’s just genuinely a really nice figure.  She’s got one really good figure giving her a run for her money on best figure of her assortment, but it’s neck and neck, let me tell you.  Definitely the best Sequel Trilogy figure in the line, though.

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

#2239: Stormtrooper

STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Within the Death Star, a group of Imperial stormtroopers are in hot pursuit of Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, as they attempt to return to the impounded Millennium Falcon. But the heroic escapees blast away before the shock troops have a chance to return fire.”

Throughout the entirety of the vintage Star Wars line, we got exactly one basic Stormtrooper.  Just one take on a design that was present across all three of the original films (in the line’s defense, the same can be said of Darth Vader and Chewbacca; if the design didn’t drastically change, Kenner didn’t do a new figure.  Only R2 and 3PO got by, largely do to new gimmicks introduced in the later films).  For Power of the Force II, the same was almost true.  We got the standard Stormtrooper in ’95, and that steroid abusing fiend was it for four years.  But, just as the line was winding down, we managed to get an honest to god update, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Stormtrooper was released in 1999 as part of the Power of the Force II Commlink assortment which was at stores alongside the Phantom Menace product.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that articulation count correctly; this guy’s probably the most articulated standard release figure that the PotF2 line ever put out.  Not only does this guy get actual, proper knees, he also gets cut joints at the elbows, and even a universal joint on his neck.  He can look up!  It’s a long way from the vintage Stormtroopers and their complete lack of neck articulation, I’ll tell you that much.  This sculpt would end up re-used more than a few times going forward, including for the Marvel Comics-styled trooper I looked at a little while back.  While I was a little down on that figure (due largely to it being released 7 years after this one), in the context of the line that spawned it, it’s actually quite a nice sculpt, and it’s understandable why Hasbro clung to it for so long.  The paintwork for the figure is pretty solid, and like the sculpt is generally an improvement over the Stormtrooper that preceded it.  It’s also an early example of Hasbro experimenting with thermodynamic paint, allowing the figure to take some damage to his armor when dipped in cold water.  The Stormtrooper is packed with a long blaster (which, like the Marvel-styled figure, he can’t quite hold right) and a weapons rack to store it on as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The last assortment of PotF2 figures wasn’t one I recall seeing much of (although I did get the Han figure as a kid), so this guy isn’t one I had growing up.  He was added to my collection during one of my big buying sprees of PotF2 figures in late 2018.  He’s sort of an odd figure for the line, because he’s objectively one of the best, but on the flip side, it means that when later versions replaced him, he didn’t have that same nostalgic bend to fall back on.  That being said, he’s still a cool figure.

#2331: Captain Phasma – Quicksilver Baton

CAPTAIN PHASMA — QUICKSILVER BATON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Captain Phasma and a squad of elite First Order troopers capture Resistance heroes Finn and Rose, who have infiltrated Snoke’s flagship, the Supremacy. Before Phasma can eliminate them, a series of unforeseen events leads to a dramatic battle between Phasma and Finn.”

Poor Captain Phasma.  She had everybody on her side in the hype for the new movies and then it all just sort of fell by the wayside.  She’s not that bad a character, but I guess it’s hard to live up to those lofty fan expectations.  Lessened fan interest in the character, coupled with keeping more or less the same design from one film to the next meant that Phasma’s toy presence for The Last Jedi was seriously reduced.  She got one Black Series offering, offering a more scene specific look, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Quicksilver Baton Captain Phasma was originally intended as a Toys R Us-exclusive Black Series offering, set for release in mid-2018.  Guess what happened in mid-2018.  Yeah, there was a distinct lack of TRU to give the exclusive to (in the US at least; Canadian TRUs still carried this figure as their exclusive), so like the Zuckuss figure, Phasma was salvaged by Disney Stores for her US release.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and she has 24 points of articulation.  Given how her design didn’t actually change between the films, it not a huge surprise that this figure is largely a re-use of the previous figure.  She gets a new head, and swaps out the plastic cape for a cloth one.  I also got a slightly better range of motion out of the hips and shoulders on this figure, but that might be a figure to figure sort of thing.  The new head is designed to replicate the damage Phasma takes to her helmet at the end of her battle with Finn, so we get to see just a little bit of Gwedolyn Christie’s eye peering through.  It’s a pretty cool effect, as is the sculpted damage.  I also really like that they sculpted her head and helmet as separate pieces, further adding to the effect.  The cloth cape doesn’t quite have the same impressive appearance of the sculpted one, but it does make the figure a bit less of a statue.  Phasma’s paint remains similar to the last release, but she of course gets the added detailing on the eye (which is printed), as well as the scorch damage on her helmet and torso.  In addition to the gold blaster rifle included with the last figure, this one also includes the Quicksilver baton in both long and short forms.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I looked at this figure when it was new, but given the choice between Phasma and Zuckuss, there was really no contest, given the scene-specific nature of this particular figure.  I was evidently far from the only fan to make such a choice, and Phasma ended up getting clearanced, at which point she was cheap enough to get me interested.  She’s a nice figure, and honestly a better figure than the standard.  It’s a shame they didn’t do more with the character, but at least we got her from her best sequence.

#2330: Clone Commander Obi-Wan Kenobi

CLONE COMMANDER OBI-WAN KENOBI

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A legendary Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a noble man and gifted in the ways of the Force. He trained Anakin Skywalker, served as a general in the Republic Army during the Clone Wars, and guided Luke Skywalker as a mentor.”

Between Episodes II and III of the prequel trilogy, the Clone Wars got their first cartoon treatment in a 2D series led by animator Genndy Tartakovsky.  While it’s place in the cannon proper has been taken by the later 3D series, the broad strokes from it do still crop up from time to time.  One of the most recurring elements for re-appearance is the show’s distinctive design for Obi-Wan, which placed the Jedi in a suit of clone armor so that he could do battle with the bounty hunter Durge.  It’s a really cool look, and its gotten surprisingly little toy love.   Fortunately, though, it’s gotten a spot in The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Commander Obi-Wan is a late 2019 Walgreens-exclusive Black Series release (and, fun fact, Walgreens’ second time getting Obi-Wan as an exclusive).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Obi-Wan’s largely made from re-used parts, as pretty much everyone was expecting when this figure was announced.  He’s built on the standard Clone Trooper that Hasbro’s been using since early in the line, and I’m sort of mixed emotions about that.  It’s a nice looking body, and it was one of the best in terms of poseability when it was new, but it’s got some definite issues compared to more recent stuff, most notably those really restricted shoulders.  Hasbro created a totally new clone body for Captain Rex, but as of yet haven’t used for anyone but him.  This feels like it would have been a good place to start, but maybe Hasbro’s got a specific reason for sticking with the old mold for now.  Obi-Wan gets a new head, belt, clasps for his cape, and a slightly retooled upper torso to work with the clasps.  The head’s really the star piece here, with a really strong McGreggor likeness.  Technically, for true accuracy to the source he should still have his Attack of the Clones hair, in contrast to this one’s Revenge of the Sith appearance, but given that the 3D show seems to have firmly decided that Obi-Wan had the short hair for the Clone Wars, and the fact that I honestly think it looks better this way, I can’t really complain.  He’s also got a cloth goods robe, which isn’t terribly impressive, but also isn’t terribly terrible (which some of the Black Series cloth stuff really has), so I again can’t complain.  Obi-Wan’s is largely pretty basic, apart from the head, which gets the nice printed face technique, which looks really nice on this particular figure.  Obi-Wan is packed with his lightsaber (which an be stashed on his brand new belt) and one of the stands they’ve been packing in with the exclusives.  It’s a shame he didn’t also get the standard clone helmet, since he wore it with the armor, but he’s at least got the bare minimum.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy is probably the most excited I’ve been for a Walgreens-exclusive Black Series, which is honestly a little funny given my prior “no prequels” rule, but I’ve always really liked this design, and this is the first time The Black Series has done anything 2D Clone Wars-related.  I lucked into this guy at the Walgreens between two of my day job’s sites, which made for a nice mid-day pick-me-up.  While the older body does hold him back a little in terms of posing, he’s still a really, really awesome figure, and I’m glad I was able to track one down.  Here’s hoping for a Durge to face off against him!

#2329: Heavy Infantry Mandalorian

HEAVY INFANTRY MANDALORIAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A brawny warrior encased in the strongest beskar armor, the mysterious Heavy Infantry Mandalorian is part of a secretive enclave of his people. A born survivor, he guards a precious armory and helps to keep the flames of Mandalorian heritage flickering in this time of galactic chaos.”

By far the breakaway merchandising hit of the three Star Wars franchise entries that had to share last year’s product, The Mandalorian has gotten most of its product from Hasbro in the form of their more collector oriented Black Series line.  The main line has gotten three show-related figures so far, plus there have been two exclusives through Best Buy to fill out the cast a bit more.  The first was IG-11, but the second is Jon Favreau’s unnamed (on screen anyway; his credited name is “Paz Vizla”) heavy infantry Mandalorian, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Heavy Infantry Mandalorian is Best Buy’s second exclusive Black Series item.  For the first time on an exclusive item, he’s actually a numbered entry in the line, being numbered D2, signifying him as the second entry in the Deluxe sub-line, following General Grievous last year.  He’s based on the character’s appearance in “The Sin.”  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Despite his bulked up design, Paz is never the less poseable on par with the rest of the more recent figures in the line, meaning he has a pretty easy time getting into all of the necessary poses for the character.  His sculpt is all-new, and it’s quite impressive.  He’s definitely got some serious heft to him, which is appropriate for a character with “Heavy” in his name.  The armored elements all match up with the design as seen on screen pretty well, and the detailing is all pretty sharply defined.  He definitely manages to be a bit more screen accurate than the standard Mando, and it’s not like that particular figure was all that far off.  The paintwork captures the slightly unique color scheme of the character nicely and cleanly.  I really dig the shade of blue they used here, and the flatter colors actually make him stand out pretty well from the rest of the line.  I also quit like the few spots of wear visible throughout the armor.  It gives it that appropriate lived-in feel.  The Heavy Mando only has one accessory, but it’s a really good, pretty darn sizable one, since it’s his heavy blaster.  It’s connected to his jetpack, and features a moving handle and spinning barrels.  Plus, it can also be stored on his back, as seen in the show, and it stays on there nice and securely.  Definitely a very nice piece for an already very nice figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this guy was shown off (prior to the character’s appearance on the show), I was already on board, because man is that a cool design.  I was a little bummed when I found out he’d be a Best Buy exclusive, but fortunately for me, Max let me know as soon as he went up for preorder on their site, so I was able to get one with no fuss.  Like all of the Mandalorian-centric figures, he’s a really, really solid figure, and just really one of the Black Series‘ best.

#2325: Boba Fett vs IG-88

BOBA FETT VS IG-88

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

Boba Fett, infamous bounty hunter and weapons master, vanished from sight after Darth Vader turned over the frozen body of Han Solo. Boba Fett was expected to deliver his bounty to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on the planet Tatooine some time ago. Knowing the value of his shipment and the various hunters determined to take it from him, Fett disappeared into the mists of the galaxy’s Outer Rim to bide his time. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Princess Leia search the galaxy for his ship, Slave I, with the hopes of freeing Solo from his carboinite prison, Fearless, clever, and always full of surprises, even the Empire cannot pinpoint this master hunter’s whereabouts./em>

The battered war droid IG-88 was among the bounty hunters commissioned by Darth Vader to hunt down and capture the Millennium Falcon after the Battle of Hoth. IG-88 is one of five droids created by Holowan scientists, who deliberately programmed the units to maximize their freedom of action in combat. This experiment proved tragic when, upon activiation, the new IG prototypes eliminated their programmers and escaped to fulfill whatever mission lie within their distorted metallic intellects. IG-88’s programming has caused it to value Imperial credits over organic life, making it a devastatingly efficient hunting machine. It is loaded down with a mass of heavy weaponry such as a heavy blaster and blaster rifle as well as a flamethrower, sonic stunner and grenade launcher.

It has been rumored that IG-88 is one of the many bounty hunters seeking Boba Fett and his prisoner. Though bounty hunters rarely break their vocational code by stealing or eliminating one another, the capture of Han Solo promises enough credits to cause most hunters to forget this formality. This is especially true for IG-88, who has little regard for laws, especially unwritten ones. The droid is literally a killing machine and one of the most dangerous hunters in the galaxy. Many consider it the equal of Boba Fett, who is generally known as the most effective bounty hunter anywhere. Upon entering the Tatooine system, Boba Fett was ambushed by the droid in its ship, IG-2000. Certain of his ability to destroy the droid, Boba Fett soon discovered that IG-88 had a few tricks of his own…”

Man, those Kenner cards sure were wordy, huh?  Guess they really wanted to fill this pack’s extra card back space.  Not much else I can add here that wasn’t already said, I guess.  So, uh, let’s look at Boba Fett and IG-88, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

There were two comic packs released as part of the Shadows of the Empire subline of Power of the Force in 1996.  While the other was just slight re-poses of Vader and Xizor, this one paired off a valid variant of Boba Fett with the as of yet un-produced for the modern line IG-88.

BOBA FETT

One of the earliest Power of the Force figures, Boba Fett was also one of the most sought after.  This pack was one of the handful of attempts to alleviate that issue.  He’s really not all that different from the single carded figure overall.  The construction is essentially the same, with the figure standing 3 3/4 inches tall and having 6 points of articulation.  His sculpt keeps the same general aesthetic as both the single card and deluxe releases, but with a slightly different pose.  This one’s got more of a basic “just standing around” pose.  The main change that occurs for this figure is a paint one; while both the single and deluxe releases used the slightly more colorful Return of the Jedi color scheme for Fett, this guy goes with the original, green-heavy Empire design, making this actually the first truly Empire accurate Fett in figure form.  Fett is packed with his rocket pack, scarf/braid, and his blaster rifle.

 

IG-88

IG-88 is the only of the Executor Bounty Hunters not to be released in PotF2 proper, with this being the only way to get him until he got another figure in Power of the Jedi.  I guess getting an IG-88 is worth getting saddled with another Boba Fett.  This figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Unlike most Power of the Force figures (but, by contrast, like a lot the PotF vehicles), IG’s sculpt is actually just slightly retooled from his vintage release.  Given that was one of the very best vintage sculpts, it’s an understandable choice, and also somehow makes IG one of the least dated looking ’90s era figure.  The sculpt has been slightly reworked in order to add a mid-torso joint, bringing him in line with the rest of the figures of the era.  IG-88’s paintwork is pretty decent; it’s more involved than either of the vintage offerings, with a lot of variance to the actual finish of his metal parts.  It looks a little more movie accurate than the prior versions.  The figure is packed with two blasters, one long, one short, both modified to make them easier for IG to hold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I wasn’t quite on the IG bandwagon when this set was new, I recall my cousin Noah having it, and it stuck in my memory for a while.  When it came time to fill in the holes in my PotF collection, I knew I needed an IG for sure, and was lucky enough for this pack to be traded into All Time early last year, so I was able to grab one.  IG’s definitely cool, and honestly, this Boba’s better than the single carded release, so I’d consider this pair a win.

#2311: IG-88

IG-88

STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (KENNER)

Everybody’s got their own personal favorite bounty hunter from the Star Wars verse.  Well, okay, maybe not everybody.  That seems a little presumptuous.  Some people don’t like Star Wars.  I know, I know, that’s a hard pill to swallow, guys, but lets be real.  Now, for the Star Wars fans out there, we can at least all take solace in knowing that we all agree that the best bounty hunter, bar none is IG-88.  We all agree on that, right?  Right?  Come on guys, Star Wars fans are always a really agreeable bunch, right?  Anyone?  Anyone?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

IG-88 was released in the first assortment of Kenner’s The Empire Strikes Back line, debuting alongside the movie in 1980.  There were two notable variations of IG-88, most easily identified by the finish of the plastic.  Early IGs were a more metallic silver, while later in the run he was shifted over to a duller grey.  The one up top is the silver, but there’s a comparison shot of the two at the end of the review. No matter the variation you have, the figure stands about 4 inches tall (he was a tall boy) and he has 5 points of articulation.  The two versions of the figure actually had slightly different molds, although they were more or less the same sculpt, just with some minor manufacturing tweaks.  The initial sculpt is actually really strong, quite possibly the best sculpt to come out of the vintage line.  While he fits right in with the rest of the figures stylistically, he’s incredibly sharply detailed, and sports pretty much all of the elements he should for a proper screen accurate IG.  The sculpt was so good, that Kenner actually ended up re-using it with just one tweak when it came time for the PotF IG-88, but that’s a discussion for a later review.  For the later run IGs, the sculpt is slightly downgraded.  It’s still one of the best of the vintage line, mind you, and all of the important elements remain, but some of the smaller details are lost and the overall crispness of the sculpt is also gone.  There’s also one piece completely mission on the right leg, and protrusions from the head are generally cut shorter.  If you don’t compare the two, you wouldn’t really know what you were missing.  For the paint work, IG-88 was kind of light, with molded plastic making up most of it.  The bandolier is painted black on both figures, and the lights on the head are red on the silver figure and orange on the grey.  The application on the silver is a little more precise, lending to more of that sharpness like we saw with the sculpt.  Both versions of IG-88 were packed with two blaster rifles, one short, one long, molded in a dark blue, which is probably the thing that most gives away this figure as vintage.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always had a soft spot for IG-88.  Since he wasn’t in the original movie (and therefore one of the figures I inherited from my Dad’s childhood collection), he wound up being one of the earlier vintage figures I tracked down for myself, picked up from an antique school sometime during my high school years. That was the grey version, and was just on his own without the accessories.  I picked up a complete silver when it was traded into All Time a couple of months ago.  Silver is the superior release, but grey has his own charm.  I appreciate them both for what they are: two more pieces for my awesome IG-88 collection!

#2302: Wedge Antilles

WEDGE ANTILLES

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A talented young Rebel pilot from Corellia, Wedge Antilles survived the attack on the first Death Star to become a respected veteran of Rogue Squadron.”

Though he may be on the short list of characters to appear in all three of the original Star Wars films, poor Wedge Antilles has always had to play the waiting game when it comes to action figures.  He was completely absent from the vintage line, and while he’s subsequently gotten a decent selection, it took well over a hundred figures to finally get him in added to The Black Series.  Better late than never, right?  And, as luck would have it, his inclusion in the line just so happens to nicely coincide with the character’s long-awaited return to the franchise in The Rise of Skywalker.  How about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wedge Antilles is figure 102 in the Black Series line-up, the last figure of this assortment numerically.  He’s also the second of the two OT-based figures in the set.  And, believe it or not, he’s only our second OT X-Wing pilot in the line, which seems almost baffling.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  In contrast to the rest of the line-up from this assortment, Wedge is predominantly built out of re-used parts, namely the body of the X-Wing Pilot Luke figure from way back in the very first assortment.  The two wore the same uniform in the movie, and the actors are within an inch of each other in height and pretty similar in build, so it’s hard to blame them for going for the re-use.  That said, I think some collectors were hoping they might take this opportunity to finally give us someone in the padded pilot gear from Empire, thereby keeping Wedge as a totally unique figure.  Of course, then he wouldn’t match the Luke we have, or the inevitable Biggs figure, and wouldn’t have the added benefit of giving Hasbro an easy way of filling out the line-up with some easy re-use.  Plus, it’s not like Wedge figures have a history of getting new parts, so it’s really not much of a shock.  On the plus side, the X-Wing Luke body is honestly one of the best of the earliest entries in the line, and while some of the articulation isn’t quite as well worked in as more recent figures, it still holds up.  Wedge definitely doesn’t look out of place with the rest of his assortment at all.  He does get a new head, of course, which sports a pretty decent likeness of Dennis Lawson.  The hair’s a little weird, because it doesn’t match any of the un-helmeted shots of Wedge we get in the movies.  It’s not totally off base, though, and honestly I imagine a lot of people will be keeping the helmet on him anyway.  With the helmet on, the likeness is pretty much dead on.  The paintwork on Wedge is essentially the same as on the X-Wing Luke figures, but it’s worth noting that there are a few small, easy to miss changes between the two figures, which really don’t amount to much.  Beyond that, he’s got the expected changes to the head, which is again using the face print tech.  Wedge is packed with his helmet, which is a re-decoed version of the one included with Luke, as well as a DH-17 blaster rifle, which is something we don’t see Wedge carrying in the film, but is standard issue for the Rebels, so it makes sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wedge is a prominent figure for me because Wedge is honestly my favorite Star Wars character.  He was at the top of my wishlist for this line from the very start of it, ever since I got that first X-Wing Pilot Luke back in 2013.  It’s been a long wait for him, and he’s a pretty straight forward figure, but he was never the less worth the long wait.  He’s not overly flashy or anything, and perhaps doesn’t have the flair of the others in this assortment, but he’s still my personal favorite.  Now, how about that Empire variant.  And maybe a Rise version as well.  And a TIE pilot version.  Heck, let’s just reinstate the Evolutions packs, and get them all at once.  It’s the only way to be sure.

I picked up this Wedge from my friends All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2301: Cara Dune

CARA DUNE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A veteran of the Galactic Civil War who fought under the banner of the Rebellion, Cara Dune is a seasoned warrior.”

The first round of Black Series figures for this past Force Friday gave us two Mandalorian-themed figures, and the two Best Buy exclusive offerings have added two more, but there was one fairly prominent character who had as of yet not seen any coverage. Well, one fairly prominent character whose presence in a toy line wouldn’t have spoiled the show’s big reveal at the end of the first episode, anyway.  Introduced in Chapter 4, Cara Dune is fairly quickly established as a well-crafted foil to the Mando, and though she wouldn’t end up quite as prominent in the show’s first season as early promotional material might have suggested, she still has quite a role.  And now let’s look at the action figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cara Dune is figure 101 in the Black Series line-up.  She’s the only Mandalorian-based figure in this particular five figure assortment.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation.  In terms of motion, Cara is on par with the rest of her assortment, being a nice half-way point of mobility and sanctity of sculpt.  There are definitely spots on this figure that I assumed would be restricted (namely the shoulders and the neck), which ended up a lot less restricted than I’d expected, and that’s a definite plus.  As it stands, she can comfortably wield her rifle with both arms, and even manage some pretty decent action poses.  She also doesn’t have too much trouble remaining standing, at least with my figure.  The sculpt here is definitely a nice one, and possibly the nicest of this current assortment.  The face is undeniably Gina Carano, and is easily one of the best likenesses we’ve gotten from a Black Series figure, right up there with Tarkin and Dryden in terms of accuracy.  I definitely dig it.  The body sculpt’s proportions are a good match for Carano’s build, and her outfit is quite nicely recreated at the smaller scale.  The multi-tiered construction of the armor adds a nice bit of depth to the figure, and makes the whole thing look nicely put together.  Cara’s paint work is definitely the most impressive affair from this assortment.  On its surface, it’s a little monochromatic, as is true to the show.  However, there’s actually quite a bit going on.  The face is again using the printed styling, which looks incredibly lifelike here.  It also includes her very small little Rebel tattoo on her cheek bone, which is quite an impressive touch.  Her shocktrooper stripes on her arm are also impressive, as are the wear and tear marks on her armor, which give it a suitably lived-in feel.  Much like Jannah, Cara is a quite well-accessorized figure, including her large blaster rifle, a pistol, and a knife.  The rifle includes a removable sling, and the pistol and knife both have spots on Cara’s person, allowing for everything to be stowed somewhere on the figure, which is always cool to see.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cara’s figure had good timing, first arriving at retail right on top of her appearance on the show, which made her a pretty easy purchase for me.  Though, continuing the overall trend of this assortment, I wasn’t expecting to like her quite as much as I do.  There’s a lot of cool stuff going on with this figure, and it results in one of the most solid standard Black Series releases I’ve messed with in a while.  Now, here’s to getting a Mando that actually matches this figure.

Cara 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.

#2300: Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony

LUKE SKWALKER — YAVIN CEREMONY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

On Yavin 4, the Rebels hold a ceremony to award the heroes who bravely fought to destroy the Death Star.  Luke Skywalker receives his medal for bravery from Princess Leia.”

Do you ever have that moment where you have something really monumental and important in front of you, and you think to yourself really hard about how this is the absolute worst time to screw up, and you focus so hard on that only to inadvertently screw up terribly on something that you’ve managed to do correctly hundreds of times previously, to the point where it should be second nature to you?  Because we know Hasbro had that moment.  And today we’re looking at that moment.  Behold, Luke Skywalkwer—crap, I mean Skwalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony is figure 100 in the Black Series line-up.  Of course, thanks to re-numberings and exclusives, there are far more than 100 figures in the line, but getting to the number is a momentous occasion nevertheless.  And before we get any further, yes, you read all those instances of Luke’s surname above correctly; on the packaging for the momentous number 100 figure, Hasbro somehow managed to misspell poor Luke’s last name, the name of a whole saga, three times in two different ways.  As someone who’s worked in publication design, my heart goes out to the poor designer who let that slip through.  They’re probably never going to live it down.  The truth is, if this had been any other numbered release, I don’t know that it would have caught quite as much flack, but unfortunately it’s the big 100, the one that people who very well may have never bought another Black Series will hold onto, and the one that people are far more likely to keep in package.  Heck, I’m a loose collector, and even I’m hanging onto the box for this one.  Admittedly, in my case it’s purely for the typos, but the point still stands.  This one’s probably going to be well-remembered.  Well, enough about the box, let’s talk about the actual Luke Skwalker figure inside!  As the properly written section of his name denotes, he’s wearing his slightly more uniform-esque get-up from the ceremony on Yavin IV that ends the first film.  Though only seen in one scene in the main films, the look served as Luke’s primary attire for his portion of the Holiday Special (I know) and recently saw a resurgence when it was used prominently in Marvel’s Star Wars comics.  This figure was actually released a little earlier last year as a con-exclusive with several additional accessories and a Marvel-inspired box.  As has become the trend with such exclusives and their inevitable re-releases, the core figures in the two packages are essentially identical.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Apart from being shared with the exclusive release, this Luke has a unique sculpt.  It’s our first truly new OT Luke since figure 21, and the line’s come a long way since then.  The result is definitely the most technically impressive Luke we’ve gotten in The Black Series.  The articulation is definitely one area of notable improvement for the most part, although the hip joints on this guy have a weird set up which places a definite learning curve on using them.  I’m not much of a fan.  Like the Jabba’s Palace figure, this Luke uses the new style of head construction with separate pieces for the hair and face, which makes for slightly more depth in the sculpt.  On my figure the hair and head don’t line up 100% perfectly, but it’s close enough to work.  It’s honestly Hasbro’s best Hamill, displacing the Jabba’s Palace figure’s very brief moment with that title.  The body construction is in a lot of ways very similar to Bespin Han, which is fine by me, because that was a good lay out for a figure, and the designs of the two costumes are also pretty similar.  His paintwork is fairly standard for the line at this point.  The base color is all pretty clean, and he’s got the printed face which looks plenty realistic.  The con-exclusive release had a lot of extras, where as this one is comparatively pretty light.  Both figures include the blaster, and this figure also includes the medal, making him specific to the ceremony.  That’s all he gets, which leaves the rather glaring omission of a lightsaber.  He doesn’t have it during the scene in the movie, so I guess there’s that reasoning, but that didn’t stop them from including both a saber and a helmet with the pilot Luke.  It’s also not a new piece, so it feels like it should have been an easy inclusion.  I’ve got a few of my own, so I can loan him one, but it’s a little annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, Cermony Luke wound up as my default Luke for a good while, and as such I’ve always had something of a soft spot for this particular look.  I like that the comics brought the design back, and I was very happy to see this figure unveiled.  He’s a proper choice for the big 100 number, and even with the goofiness surrounding the packaging and its many errors, this is a really nifty figure, and probably the best Black Series Luke.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.