#2769: R5-D4

R5-D4

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A red astromech droid, R5-D4 thought he’d found a home when the Jawas sold him to Owen Lars, along with the protocol droid C-3PO. But R5’s motivator blew as he rolled away from the sandcrawler, forcing the Jawas to take him back in exchange for R2-D2.”

The Mandalorian has had a number of returning characters from elsewhere in the Star Wars mythos, some big returns, and some rather small.  On the small side was a character that’s easy to miss in both of his on-screen appearances.  A little less so in A New Hope, where R5-D4 is notably the astromech whose head blows up, prompting Owen and Luke to buy R2 instead, but it’s not like he gets name dropped there, or anything.  His reappearance in The Mandalorian almost feels like it could just be a similarly designed droid, until we see the back of him, revealing a small scorch mark where his motivator would have blown all those years prior.  It’s a nice little touch, and a welcome return for a character most people don’t even know exists.  As another astromech, R5 is prone to getting toys, since he can frequently make use of R2 parts.  That was the case for today’s offering, which is the Black Series version of the character.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R5-D4 was released in 2017, as part of the vintage-carded-styled A New Hope 40th Anniversary sub-set of Black Series figures.  R5 was a GameStop exclusive, but was also available through Think Geek, due to their partnership at the time.  It so far marks his only time getting a Black Series release.  The figure’s just over 4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  His movement set-up is the same as R2’s, which tracks, since he’s largely the same collection of pieces as R2.  Like I said, frequently makes use of R2 parts.  It’s film accurate, so it’s not like it’s a bad idea or anything.  The notable change-up here is on the head, which swaps out R2’s dome for the more cylindrical set-up that R5 had going on.  It melds well with the pre-existing parts, and is generally a pretty nice piece in its own right.  R5’s paint work was notably a bit better than the basic R2 we had at this point, since in addition to getting a pretty solid selection of base color work, he also got a little bit of accenting on the white sections of the body in order to make him look a little grimy from being on Tatooine all those years.  It’s actually pretty minor, and a very good sample of work from Hasbro, especially for this era.  The weirdest part is the one stripe of reflective coloring on the head, which is actually a decal.  I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t look bad, and it’s in a spot where it being a decal’s not going to be quite as detrimental.  Unlike the first two releases of R2, which had a ton of accessories, R5 is barebones, with nothing beyond just himself in the package.  It definitely feels light, but then again, I have no clue what exactly you would give R5.  The ’90s opted for missiles, but that’s out of place these days, I suppose.  What a shame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

R5 is a figure I came very close to buying new.  I saw him at the Think Geek in a mall in Seattle in the summer of 2017, and thought very seriously about buying him, since I’ve always liked him and all, but money was tight at the time, and I had already bought other stuff that day, so I wound up passing.  I never saw him again, and always kicked myself for not picking him up.  So, when this guy came into All Time a few months back, I jumped at the chance to get him, especially after his return appearance on The Mandalorian.  He’s not a figure that does a ton new, I suppose, but that’s just generally R5.  He’s still pretty darn nifty, and a little bit more unique than just another R2.  He’s a real sleeper figure for me.  You don’t expect to be all that impressed by him, but he’ll catch you off guard, in a rather subtle sort of way.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#2768: Tusken Raider

TUSKEN RAIDER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“Fearsome desert savages, Tusken Raiders are the foremost reason Tatooine colonists do not wander far from their isolated communities.”

The Mandalorian gets a lot of credit for finally actually doing something worth while with Boba Fett and thereby making all the fuss around him finally worth it, but for me, it’s biggest tale of redemption lies not with Boba, but with Tatooine’s largely unexplored nomad populace, the Tusken Raiders.  The films portray them as little more than savages, generally a purely malevolent force.  The beat up Luke, shoot at Anakin, and murder Shmi….not exactly in that order.  Even when Anakin slaughters an entire camp of them, we’re largely meant to be concerned with the effect said killing has on Anakin, not looking into the horrific slaughtering of a camp that just occurred.  In The Mandalorian, we not only have our first non-antagonist interaction with the Raiders in the mainstream cannon, but also see our first “heroic” character that doesn’t immediately treat them as horrific monsters.  Din’s brief communication with them in Season 1 demonstrates that they do in fact have a language of their own (just a largely non-verbal one, which was a fascinating change), but also hints at something more complex to their culture than violent acts.  Season 2 delves even further, giving us a closer look at their true nature, and even allowing them to actually be good guys for a change.  Perfect time for a re-issue of their Black Series figure, I’d say!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Tusken Raider is part of the fourth assortment of The Black Series Archive.  This whole assortment is dedicated to reissuing army builders, specifically ones that have some new found prominence courtesy of The Mandalorian.  The Raider re-releases the one that showed up twice before, both in 2017, once as part of the main line, and once as part of the 40th Anniversary for A New Hope.  All three figures are effectively the same, especially with no need for updated face printing and the like.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme is definitely a product of it’s time; he’s pretty much got the same set-up as the ANH Obi-Wan, so the elbows are slightly restricted in movement, and the legs are kind of encased in the plastic skirt.  It’s not the end of the world, though, and it’s certainly not the worst the line had.  In fact, it’s pretty useful, once you kind of reset yourself back to how the articulation was earlier in the line.  Fortunately, though the sculpt may be older, the actual sculpting work is really top notch.  It definitely ranks very highly on the scale of Hasbro’s sculpts for this line, with the work on the head in particular being a fantastic example of realistic detailing at this scale.  It really does a spot-on job of capturing the Tusken’s head gear as seen in the movies.  The rest of the sculpt isn’t too bad itself, detailing the various layers to the clothing, as well as the smaller work on the bandoliers and belt.  It’s all topped off with a cloth robe piece, which melds well with the sculpted elements, and also adds a bit more flowiness to the design.  Technically, you can remove the robe, but I opted not to get into that, as it didn’t look very easy to get back in place properly.  The paint work on the Raider is pretty decent work.  The base work is generally pretty clean (although there’s a little slop on the edges of the bandoliers), and there’s a fair bit of accent work on the wraps, which does a nice job of bringing out the sculpted details.  Given Hasbro’s tendency to skimp on some of the painted details for this line, it’s nice that they went the extra mile here.  The Raider is packed with a selection of extras that’s definitely designed with optimal army building in mind.  He’s got a rifle, as well as a Gaderffii stick with three different attachments for the top, allowing for some customization.  Both pieces are easy for him to hold, and are nicely detailed items in their own right.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on the first two releases of this figure, since 2017 was kind of a lighter year for me in terms of income, and subsequently in terms of buying as well.  At the time, I didn’t really feel like I needed the Tusken Raider, so I didn’t feel terribly as if I’d missed out.  Their appearances on The Mandalorian gave me a new appreciation for them, so I was definitely glad to get another chance with this re-release.  The figure’s a very nice one, and was definitely one of 2017’s best sculpts.  Even now, it’s no slouch.  I didn’t know what I was missing, but now that I do, I’m very happy to have added this one to my collection.

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.

#2767: Mandalorian Loyalist

MANDALORIAN LOYALIST

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“When Darth Maul betrayed and defeated Pre Vizsla, Death Watch splintered into two groups. Those who wanted to embrace Mandalore’s warrior heritage remained loyal to Maul.”

Okay, so, I can’t help but feel that the bio above would actually be more appropriate for the *other* Mandalorian trooper from this particular set.  You know, the one that was a figure of one of the Mandos that actually was loyal to Maul?  Rather than this guy, who is clearly meant to be one of the Mandalorians who sticks with Bo-Katan and is on the “heroic” side of the Siege of Mandalore?  Oh, god, I’m critiquing bios again.  I gotta stop letting myself do that!  I’m probably really messing hardcore with some poor copy writer at Hasbro who’s just trying to do their best.  Why can’t I just leave them alone?  It’s just toys!  And it’s not even the part of toys that anyone really cares about, either!  …I mean, not that it’s not a very important part of the job.  You go, copy writer!  …Where was I?  Ah, yes, action figure review.  Yes.  Let’s do that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Mandalorian Loyalist is figure #04 in the Clone Wars sub-set of Star Wars: The Black Series Phase IV.  He’s part of the Walmart-exclusive four figure assortment based on the final arc of The Clone Wars.  The set hit shelves last fall, in theory at least, though in practice most people are still waiting.  As touched on above, this figure is based on the armor worn by the Mandos that remained loyal to Bo-Katan, and kept their slightly more heroic looking blues and greys.  It’s not as ornate as the Super Commando, but it’s about function over form, I’d imagine.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is virtually identical to his Maul-supporting equivalent.  That means he too is built from a lot of Jango’s parts.  It’s still a clunkier body than what we’re used to these days, but after now having two Mandos built on it, I’m warming a bit more to its overall look.  Perhaps it just works a little better for this particular design.  He doesn’t get the updated shoulders from the last one, instead keeping Jango’s less pointy ones.  He keeps the modified belt and upper legs of the Super Commando, which brings him more in line with the animation designs.  His only truly unique piece is his helmet, which is similar to the Super Commando one, but without all the horns.  Like I noted above, this new helmet’s not super showy or anything, but it gets the job done, and it does look nice.  The paint work on the Loyalist is what really separates him from the Super Commando.  He’s a lot bluer, and a lot more subdued, but it’s a good look.  There’s some solid work on the weathering for his armor, as well as the markings on each of his shoulders.  There are a lot of details on this one that are easy to miss.  The Loyalist is packed with the same accessories as the Super Commando: a jetpack borrowed from Jango and a pair of pistols borrowed from Sabine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t really have a ton of luck with this assortment at retail.  Max was able to set me up with the Super Commando, but I saw none of the others.  That certainly bummed me out, because, ideally, I kind of wanted the whole set.  This guy was probably my second most wanted figure of the bunch, so I was hoping for another shot.  Fortunately, he came in with the same trade that netted me the Clone Lieutenant I reviewed yesterday, making the whole “getting him” part that much easier!  This figure surprised me a little bit.  I wasn’t let down by the Super Commando or anything, but after getting him, I expected very little from this one.  I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely he turned out, and by how much work Hasbro put into this seemingly more basic design.

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.

#2766: Clone Trooper Lieutenant

CLONE TROOPER LIEUTENANT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Throughout the Clone Wars, Clone Troopers fought the Battle Droids of the Separatists across the galaxy. They were loyal to their Jedi generals and the Supreme Chancellor.”

When introduced in Attack of the Clones, the Clone Troopers originally made use of varying colored stripes in order to differentiate ranks amongst the many identical guys running around during the big battle on Geonosis.  Red were captains, yellow were commanders, green were sergeants, and blue were lieutenants.  Of course, then the final film came along, and pretty much everything of note was done by the all-white regular clones….but it was the thought that counted, right?  When The Black Series‘ first Clone Trooper body was introduced, Hasbro got to work doing the various ranks.  The basic, captain, and sergeant got main-line releases, and the commander was part of a boxed set…and then?  Nothing.  There was a break, and the line eventually got a new clone body.  But before entirely retiring the original body, Hasbro decided to throw some of the longer-term collectors a bone, and actually finish out the original set, with one last release, adding the lieutenant to the ranks after all these years.  That was awfully nice of them, wasn’t it?  And I bet it was super easy to get, too.  Right?  Yeah….

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Clone Trooper Lieutenant is officially the first figure in the Attack of the Clones sub-set of Phase IV of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He was released exclusively through Walgreens, and hit retail at the tail end of last year.  I mean, in theory, at least.  He wasn’t really super widespread or anything.  Granted, he also wasn’t quite as in demand as other Black Series exclusives at the same time, so it was a little hard to track.  It probably could have been worse.  The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s built on that original Clone body, which I reviewed first when I looked at the Sergeant.  It’s got some troubles with the articulation layout, especially on the elbows and shoulders, but it’s far from the worst thing that Hasbro put out.  On top of that, it’s still a pretty nice looking sculpt, so it’s certainly got that going for it.  I very much liked it when it was new, and I still do like it quite a bit, even now, when there’s technically a better option out there.  The main thing that differentiates this guy from the other clones on this body is, of course, the paint.  The lieutenants were blue, which is a very nice, and also very familiar look for clones.  The actual shade of blue here’s not really right; the lieutenants were a lighter shade of blue, in contrast to the darker shade of blue that became more common with the 501st troopers.  So, this one’s technically not quite right.  Of course, the Lieutenants are largely theoretical in the films anyway, so it’s not really the end of the world there, I suppose.  Just sort of odd.  I do like that they changed him up ever so slightly from the others in terms of how the paint was applied, giving him a little bit more wear on his paint.  He looks like he’s actually made it through a battle or two, which is cool.  Like all versions of this mold, he’s packed with the two different blaster rifles.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure was unveiled, I was excited, then not.  Partially, it was the reveal that he was an exclusive, and partially it was that he was on the old body.  I opted not to really go hunting for him, since I’m expecting he’ll probably get updated to the new body at some point.  However, when one of them came into All Time via a trade, I did find it a lot harder to say no, and ultimately didn’t.  That’s how I’m reviewing him, and all.  He’s not breaking molds, or doing anything new, and honestly, he’s actually a bit inaccurate, but he’s still a clone, and clones are just usually a lot of fun.  This one’s really not different, there.  He’s fun.  And he’s blue.  And that’s pretty cool.

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.

#2765: Jar Jar Binks

JAR JAR BINKS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As an outcast, Jar Jar spends much of his time in the Naboo swampland. It’s there that the hapless Gungan encounters a pair of Jedi as they elude enemy forces.”

In the over two decades since the Star Wars prequel trilogy began, the opinions on it have shifted somewhat.  In general, it does seem to at least owe to the fact that Star Wars fans just like to hate the newest thing, and there’s the new era of movies to hate on, so I guess that helps?  We’ve come so far from the hatred of the prequels, that even the most hated element of the prequels, Jar Jar friggin’ Binks, isn’t even all that hated any more.  I know.  I’m shocked too.  Even more shocking?  There’s an honest to god deluxe release Black Series Jar Jar, like, actually available to buy.  Like, from real stores.  I know.  And now I’m reviewing it.  Again, I know.  Weird, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jar Jar Binks is figure 01 in the Phantom Menace sub-set of Star Wars: The Black Series‘ fourth phase.  So far, we know of no more TPM figures, at least in the main line, but Jar Jar’s presence suggests there will probably be more.  It’s thus-far the least explored entry in terms of Black Series, so it makes sense to do some more.  Jar Jar is at the deluxe price point, which makes him the second such figure since the line’s re-branding under the new phase.  There’s been a little bit of discussion about whether it was wise to put him at the higher price, and if he truly warranted it.  Whatever the case, the figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Jar Jar’s articulation isn’t *quite* up to the standards of other Phase IV figures, but it’s certainly on par with a lot of the better Phase III figures, suggesting that he was possibly designed a little earlier and then held onto?  There’s certainly a lot of good posing to be had with the articulation he’s got, and he’s a far cry from the line’s earliest entries.  The sculpt is a pretty strong recreation of Jar Jar’s 1999 animation model.  The proportions are definitely there, and there’s plenty of smaller detail work that’s gone into him.  The head’s get the best work, which isn’t terribly surprising, I suppose, since his TPM design was largely pretty unimpressive apart from the design of the head.  The head sculpt gets all of the important details, and presents a far more reserved Jar Jar than we see for most of the movie.  It’s certainly a different choice.  Honestly, it’s probably the right choice.  The figure’s paint work is actually pretty solid for the most part.  The patterns on his skin are definitely impressive, as is the work on the face, which makes use of the printing technique.  There’s a lot of rather subtle work on the skin, and I definitely like to see that.  The only thing I’m not too crazy about is the wrist joints, which are molded in the off-white of his under arms, a color which is exposed when his hands are posed.  It’s kind of a necessary evil, and generally pretty minor, though.  Jar Jar’s accessory selection includes a staff, shield, and Atlatl weapon (the ball on a stick thing).  The shield and staff are pretty sizable, and are presumably meant to aid in justifying the cost.  Personally, I’d have liked to see some more character specific stuff, like maybe some extra heads with different expressions, or maybe even an extended tongue.  I mean, the Gungan battle stuff it cool too, and will certainly have more re-use potential if they decide to do other Gungans, but it feels sort of out of place with Jar Jar himself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Alright, time for my crazy, controversial opinion: I’ve never really hated Jar Jar.  In fact, when the movie first came out, I kinda liked him.  Don’t get me wrong, I get some of the complaints about the character, and there are certainly some discussions to be had about some of the potential stereotypes present and the negative connotations they might carry.  But, on his own, I don’t find him quite as monumentally bad as some people did.  I mostly went along with it, because it felt like a bit of an uphill battle.  Fortunately, time, as well as his appearances in The Clone Wars have at least quieted down the hatred a bit, so, hey, he’s gotten another toy.  Cool.  I knew this guy was coming before he was officially announced, and I knew he’d be deluxe, but I didn’t quite know what that would entail.  I wasn’t really expecting the extra weaponry, and I question whether it was the right choice.  Jar Jar is, even in these slightly more Jar Jar-tolerant times, a harder sell than other characters, so adding the extra $10 to his retail might be an iffy prospect.  That said, the core figure is pretty nice, and the extras aren’t the worst thing.  I’m overall happy with my purchase, and I think most people who are willing to pick him up will be, too.

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.

#2759: K-2SO

K-2SO

STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION (HASBRO)

Back when Rogue One was first released, the more articulated Star Wars stuff was largely on hiatus.  They were just doing the Walmart-exclusive Black Series figures, and Rogue One only got a small four figure assortment.  We only got two of the film’s three leads in that way, which left poor K-2SO out of all the extra articulated goodness.  Fortunately, with the relaunch of the Vintage Collection, Hasbro is going back to some earlier projects and filling in some holes.  K-2 was fortunate enough to be part of that set-up, and is finally getting his due…in this very particular sub-set of figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

K-2SO is figure VC170 in Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Vintage Collection.  He was released in mid-2020, as part of an assortment that also contained Clone Commander Wolffe, Stormtrooper Luke, and the GNK Droid.  A rather diverse line-up to say the least.  The figure stands 4 1/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  K-2’s articulation is pretty nicely implemented, and pretty much on par with his larger figure.  It’s one of the better articulation set ups for the line.  The sculpt is an all-new offering, and is to date Hasbro’s most screen accurate rendition of K-2.  The proportions are good, the articulation is worked in well, and the head in particular is a real match for the on-screen design.  This is definitely one of the best VC sculpts of the current batch.  The paint work on K-2 is pretty solid work.  It’s easy to let him be rather basic, but Hasbro’s at least gone the extra mile and added in some wear and tear throughout his outer plating.  It’s all rather nicely laid out, and gives him that proper unique appearance.  It might be interesting to see a more generic security droid re-deco, at some point, should Hasbro be interested in such a thing.  In contrast to his larger figure, this K-2 is not without accessories; he actually gets the small blaster pistol he’s given by Cassian during the climax.  It’s a small extra, but a nice character-specific piece, and one that was overlooked on earlier figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve largely given up collecting the VC stuff, just because it exists in a weird middle ground between the 5POA and the Black Series figures, and I usually find myself kind of let down.  That being said, I’ve always really liked the more articulated Jyn and Cassian, and wanted a K-2 to match, so this guy was the only recent VC figure I actually made an effort to pick up.  He’s a nifty figure, and probably the best version of the character on the market.  He’s certainly my favorite VC figure.

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

#2755: Bo-Katan Kryze

BO-KATAN KRYZE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A gifted warrior, Bo-Katan Kryze is a legendary Mandalorian. She refused to align with the Empire’s occupation of Mandalore.”

One of the very short list of characters who have pulled the trifecta of Clone WarsRebels, and The Mandalorian appearances (while still remaining absent from the movies proper), is Katee Sackoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze.  Despite being a rather prominent character across three different Star Wars series, Bo-Katan has, up until recently, been without any action figure coverage.  I suppose an argument could be made that it’s because she’s just the worst, but that’s, admittedly, not a universal opinion.  Also, not my opinion, really, though I do get the argument.  Whatever the case, it’s her appearance on The Mandalorian that finally got her the toy coverage, going straight for the Black Series offering, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bo-Katan Kryze is Figure 10 in the Mandalorian sub-line of Star Wars: The Black Series.  She’s the final figure in the latest assortment of the line, as well as the only Mandalorian figure included.  She’s patterned specifically on her appearance on the show (or at the very least a very close to final version of the show’s design), but it’s worth noting that her other appearances aren’t terribly far removed from this one, so she can sort of pull triple duty, if you’re looking for her to fill out your Clone Wars or Rebels shelves as well.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her articulation is pretty well standard for a modern Star Wars release, which is to say it’s quite good.  In particular, I was quite impressed by the range of motion on her hips, especially with that belt and holster set-up there.  Her sculpt is an all-new affair, which isn’t too surprising.  As I touched on up above, she’s definitely based on her appearance in The Mandalorian‘s second season, but there are some minor design elements that point to her being based the designs for her outfit for the show, rather than the physical prop suit.  It’s still very close, though. and it’s more of how the parts all fit together than it is the actual individual parts.  Underneath of her removable helmet (complete with articulated range finder; I’m glad that’s become standard) is a fully-formed head sculpt, which sports a rather decent likeness of Katee Sackoff, on the face, at least.  The hair’s a different story; it’s styling is slightly off for the show, though it’s possible that owes more to making the helmet sit a bit better than it is an actual misinterpretation of the design from the show.  It means that she works better with the helmet on than off, but it’s not a terrible look either way.  More so than the sculpt, the paint work on this figure shows some of that not-quite-final source material it was working from; she winds up with generally a more muted color scheme than she had in the show.  Her blues should definitely be brighter, and some of the accents should be a little darker.  But, as with the sculpt, it’s not like it’s incredibly far off.  The base coloring is still there, and she’s even got some decent accenting on the armor, to wear it in a bit.  Bo-Katan is packed with her aforementioned helmet, her jetpack, and a pair of matching blaster pistols (borrowed from Sabine).  It’s not a ton, but it’s a good match for the character and what she needs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My re-watch of The Clone Wars and Rebels definitely left me hoping to see Bo-Katan show up in figure form at some juncture.  Her re-appearance on The Mandalorian, as frustrating a character as she may have been to some of the viewership, just really pushed it for me.  She’s definitely prominent enough to deserve figure treatment, and I definitely dig the character’s design enough to want that figure.  The end result is a pretty strong one.  She’s not without flaws, but she’s still pretty solid, and I’m glad to have her.

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.

#2754: Elite Squad Trooper

ELITE SQUAD TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“After the formation of the Galactic Empire, a small group of highly skilled enlisted recruits is tasked with neutralizing anti-Imperial insurgents throughout the galaxy.”

I see a Trooper and I want to paint it black! No colors anymore, I want them to turn black!

It’s a pretty well-established thing that you can make anything in Star Wars better by, as The Who said, painting it black.  Well, it mostly applies to troopers, I guess, but there’s a lot of those, so that’s a high percentage of Star Wars things.  While mostly an excuse to sell some more toys, the concept of painting a trooper black has also found its way into the Star Wars ‘verse proper, with all sorts of different rationales behind it.  In the case of the Clone Troopers, the latest excuse for them being all dark and monochromatic comes in the form of the Elite Squad Troopers, who will be playing some sort of role in the upcoming Bad Batch show, though specifically what, we don’t know quite yet.  It does mean we’ve got the toy, though, which is good an excuse as any to trot out the Clone Trooper molds in swanky all-black.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Squad Trooper is figure 03 in the Bad Batch sub-set of Black Series, and is the third and final of the three Bad Batch-related figure in the most recent assortment of the line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This guy is completely built out of re-used parts, though, in contrast to how things may look at first glance, they’re not all from the new Kamino Trooper mold.  He uses that figure’s upper half, combined with the legs of the previous Clone Trooper body.  It’s…different?  I’m admittedly not sure why exactly they’ve made the change here.  The range of motion was certainly better on the newer legs; the old ones are rather restricted in the ankles and hips.  The only thing I can think of is that there were concerns of long-term durability with the construction of the new knee pads.  I suppose there’s also potentially some aesthetic benefits to the older legs, but I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the trade-off, if I’m honest.  I mean, it’s still generally better than just using the whole older Clone Trooper body; at least this one can more properly hold his weapons.  In another instance of looks being deceiving, the paint work isn’t just a straight all-black set-up.  In addition to the green visor, it’s also worth noting that the armor proper isn’t straight black, but rather more of a slate color, while the body suit is a straight black.  It’s a subtle, but well done contrast, which also keeps him from being too visually bland.  This guy’s packed with one single accessory, the DC-15A blaster.  It’s a shame he just gets the one, since prior clones have gotten both the 15A and 15S versions.  I’m guessing this might be a show-accuracy sort of thing, but it still makes the figure feel a little light, especially since he’s all repaint.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

An all-black repaint of any new trooper mold is effectively a given, so I was sort of expecting this one to crop up at some point, though I wasn’t expecting it quite this quickly.  The mixed mold is a little weird, especially this soon after establishing the new body, and I wish they weren’t cutting accessories, but I will admit this figure is really slick looking.  Sometimes, I’m just very easy to please, and this is one of those times.

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.

#2753: Crosshair

CROSSHAIR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Bad Batch, technically known as Clone Force 99, is the result of Kaminoan experiments to create specialist clone commandos. Crosshair is the team sniper who displays superior accuracy.”

The Bad Batch is, admittedly, a team primarily built out of action movie team archetypes.  Hunter’s the team’s leader guy, specializing in…uhh…leading?  So, he’s got that role covered.  But where would the team be without some sort of of dark loner guy who keeps to himself and snipes from afar?  Fear not, they’ve got Crosshair for this role.  He’s dark!  He’s a loner!  He snipes!  What more could you want?  Hopefully it’s action figures, because that’s what we’ve got here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Crosshair is the second figure in the Bad Batch-sub-line of Star Wars: The Black Series‘s Phase IV run.  He’s another figure in the fourth assortment of the line, and the second of the three Bad Batch figures included therein.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Crosshair’s articulation scheme is the same as Hunter’s, largely because he’s built from a bunch of the same parts.  It’s sensible, since they do have a lot of the same elements in the show, and, unsurprisingly, have the same build.  He does get a new head, helmet, shoulder pads, upper torso, and bandolier/belt overlay pieces in order to set him apart, as well as ditching Hunter’s more character-specific under-arm knife (though there’s still a hole in his forearm where the sheath plugged in on Hunter).  Hunter’s sculpt was pretty decent, but I like Crosshair’s even more; I think it’s partially just that his design translates to toy form a little bit better, but it also feels like they had just a little more fun putting him together.  His new upper torso gets its own slightly tweaked wear and tear, and his un-helmeted head has that slightly Clint Eastwood-ian look that goes well with the character.  His hair’s been slightly changed up in the transition to a more real-world set up, presumably because his animation style hair just looked a bit too silly on a real face.  The helmet again sits nicely atop the head, but unlike with Hunter, I do find myself actively preferring the helmeted appearance on this one.  His helmet’s even got a moving range-finder, which is definitely cool.  Crosshair’s paint work is pretty much on par with Hunter’s.  It’s not bad from a basic stand point (although he’s missing his little painted crosshair over his helmet’s visor, which is a shame), but it does lack in the way of weathering or any major accenting.  It would definitely help these sculpts to stand out a little bit more.  As it stands, he still looks okay, but it’s not much to write home about.  Crosshair’s accessory selection is pretty solid, as he gets his own back pack, his sniper rifle, and a small blaster pistol.  Unlike Hunter, he’s actually got storage for all of his weaponry, with the rifle breaking into two pieces for stowage on his back, and the blaster fitting into the holster on his belt.  Definitely a nice set-up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hunter’s kind of the blandest member of the Batch, so while he was pretty cool, he lacks a lot of that flair that the others have.  Crosshair is our first real taste of that more individualized set-up, and I think it does the figure a lot of favors.  From a purely technical standpoint, both figures are well executed, but Crosshair’s definitely a little more fun, and certainly my favorite of the two.  I look forward to seeing the show, and I certainly look forward to getting the rest of the Batch.

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.

#2752: Hunter

HUNTER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The Bad Batch, technically known as Clone Force 99, is the result of Kaminoan experiments to create specialist clone commandos. Hunter, their leader, is a strong and stoic soldier.”

The Bad Batch, an elite squat of slightly defective clones, made their first appearance in what was originally one of a handful of unfinished episodes of The Clone Wars following its <second> cancellation.  When Disney+ renewed the show for one last season, the Batch’s introductory episode was expanded into the full planned arc, and the characters were well received enough to gain a further follow-up, this time in the form of their own dedicated series, which will be premiering next week for May 4th.  In an effort to tie-in, Hasbro’s doing the whole squad in Black Series form.  I’m starting things off, appropriately, with the team’s leader, Dutch Hunter!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hunter is the first figure in the Bad Batch-based sub-set of Black Series Phase IV, and is part of the fourth Black Series assortment since the re-work.  He’s the first of the three Bad Batch figures in this particular round.  The figure stands just over 6 inches all and he has 27 points of articulation.  Hunter’s articulation scheme is very much the same as that of the recently re-vamped Clone Trooper figure, which is rather fitting, and also a solid basis for articulation, since that figure moved pretty well.  His sculpt is largely a new piece (though a fair bit of it is shared with his assortment-mate Crosshair), but he does share his feet with the standard Clone trooper.  Otherwise, it’s new, and it’s pretty strong.  I did notice that his armor design does stay a little closer to the animation styling that other Clone Wars clones, but with no real-word-equivalent armor design for him, I guess that’s kind of a little more expected.  There are at least some extra smaller details added throughout the armor, in order to make it a little more lived-in, so he’s got some scratches and such worked in.  The design is a little stubborn in figure form in a few spots, especially on the shoulders, I found.  That said, I do think it’s generally a nice piece, and I was impressed by how the removable helmet worked out in particular.  Given Hunter’s longer hair, I was expecting it to be a much tighter fit, and for the helmet to end up making him look a lot more bobble-headed than it does.  I think I do still slightly prefer him un-helmeted, but both ways work out alright.  Hunter’s paint work isn’t bad, but it’s a bit of a mix, really.  The underlying face has the printing technique, which looks good, and the customized look on his helmet is impressive, but it does feel like he’d be a little more impressive with some additional accenting to bring out the sculpted details.  As it is, it still looks okay, but it could be better.  Hunter is packed with his customized larger blaster, as well as one of the standard smaller blasters, a knife, and a back pack.  It’s a shame that there’s no storage for either blaster, but it’s a minor complaint.  Getting extras is always cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Bad Batch are a cool enough concept, and certainly one that seemed to be begging for toys.  I’m glad they finally got something, and Hunter’s a good starting point for the line.  He pretty much gives a slight taste of all of the elements we’ll see with the others from the squad.  The paint detailing could maybe stepped up a notch, but otherwise he’s a pretty solid offering, and on par with the new Troopers they’ve been putting out recently.

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.