#2039: Speeder Bike (w/ Scout Trooper)

SPEEDER BIKE (w/ SCOUT TROOPER)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Just over a month ago, and then also two weeks before that, I took a look at the first and second releases of the Imperial Speeder Bike from Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  At this point, it can’t be too much of a surprise that I’m following those up with the final piece of the trio.  I’ve looked and both Luke and Leia with their stolen rides, but why not look at the proper rider of the ride, the Biker Scout?

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

As I noted in the Luke review, the speeder bikes in these sets were all identical, meaning this one is exactly the same as the one I looked at alongside Leia back in March.  I liked it then, I liked it the second time, and I still like it now.  It’s hard to go wrong on this one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This was our first Biker Scout since the vintage line, and, unlike that one, this one was designed specifically with riding the bike in mind.  To facilitate this, the figure’s articulation scheme is changed up a bit.  Rather than the standard 6 points, he’s got 7, which includes movement at the knees, as well as a a hinge-style neck, allowing for him to look up and down.  It’s the same articulation spread used for the Swoop Trooper, but I think it actually works a little bit better for this guy, since the configuration of the bike means he’s more likely to need to look upwards.  Despite the extra articulation, he still ends up being rather pre-posed, even moreso than the other two Speeder Bike figures.  He’s got a defined squat, and really deeply bent arms.  It’s the arms that I think are the worst bit of it, because they don’t quite work as well with the bike as you might hope.  It’s a shame they couldn’t also spring for elbow joints to match the knees.  Despite its awkward stance, the costume details on this guy are at least accurate, if perhaps a bit on the soft side.  His paintwork is limited to black detailing on a (very yellowed) white plastic, and it’s rather on the sloppy side.  Like, even for this line, it’s really quite sloppy.  While Luke and Leia both got accessories in addition to the bike, the Biker Scout was not so lucky.  No comically enlarged comically small Biker Scout blaster I’m afraid.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke was the one I got as a kid, and Leia was the most recent addition.  Where does this guy fit into it all?  Well, not that far ahead of Leia, actually.  I picked him up in the Farpoint 2018 Dealer’s Room, from one of the vendors I frequent.  I’d long wanted one, and this one was a case of right price at the right time.  Ultimately, he’s really the weakest of the three variants, though.  The main figure’s just not as strong as a proper figure as the other two, nor is he a particularly endearing Biker Scout variant.  It’s kind of a shame this was his only Power of the Force release, but there’s always the Power of the Jedi single-card.

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#2035: Imperial Jumptrooper

IMPERIAL JUMPTROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“An elite squadron within the Imperial ranks, jump troopers (also known as rocket troopers) were outfitted with jetpacks and utilized in tight spaces.  They were trained to act in unison, often swarming and overwhelming their targets.”

Since the standard Imperial Stormtroopers first graced the screen back in 1977, we’ve been getting a steady stream of variants on the concept, be they Sandtroopers, Snowtroopers, Scout Troopers, etc.  There have been a few recurring concepts among the non-movie variants.  A popular one is the Jumptrooper, which has found its way into comics, video games, and, most recently, Star Wars: Rebels.  And now, it’s gotten a new figure, courtesy of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Jumptrooper is a GameStop-exclusive offering from the Black Series line, released in the last couple of months.  The Jumptrooper is based on his Rebels appearance, specifically the commanding officer of the squad, as denoted by the colored shoulderpad.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The Jumptrooper re-uses a lot of parts from the standard Stormtrooper figure, which is pretty sensible, given that the designs are pretty similar.  It’s also a pretty solid sculpt in its own right, and certainly a nice starting point.  He has a new helmet, backpack, and shoulder pads, which match well with the pre-existing parts, and also match up well with his design from the show (albeit modified for a more real-world appearance).  Most importantly, though, they set him nicely apart from the standard trooper.  I really dig the changes they’ve made, because he’s just a super sleek looking figure.  The colorwork on the Jumptrooper is subtle, but pretty impressive.  The glossier finish of the armor looks nicer than the matte finish of the original, as do the additional accenting details that the original lacked on the belt and boots.  Throw in a little extra splash of color, and you’ve got a figure that pops nicely on the shelf.  The Jumptrooper is packed with a standard E-11 Stormtrooper blaster and a brand-new style of display stand.  The stand’s not quite as conventional as I’d hoped for, but it can make for some decent running poses once you get it properly seated.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as the Jumptrooper was unveiled, I knew I wanted one.  Something about the design just immediately jumped out at me (heh), so when I found out he was a GameStop exclusive, it was Super Awesome Fiancee to the rescue!  She was kind enough to pre-order this guy through her work for me, thereby making his acquisition fairly painless.  I’m very happy with the final figure.  He’s definitely one of my favorite troopers.

#2025: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS (KENNER)

On this May the Fourth, it’s with a heavy heart that we bid adieu to Peter Mayhew, the man behind Chewbacca for four decades.  The people behind these masks can sometimes easily be forgotten, but Peter was beloved by his fellow cast members.  And, fortunately, his legacy will live on through his replacement Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role from Peter in The Last Jedi.  In honor of Peter, today I’m going to look at the very first Chewbacca, which feels kinda right.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca was one of the first four figures offered in the original Star Wars line, initially shipping in early 1978 as part of the fulfillment for the Early Bird set, before finding his way to a standard carded release shortly thereafter.  Chewbacca was one of the few characters not to get a new version during the three-film run, and as such this figure was in production until the end of the line in the ’80s.  This one came from the ’78 release, a fact I know based on how I acquired him.  That said, there were no notable changes to the main figure during the vintage line.  The figure stands 4 inches tall (the largest of the initial figures) and has 4 points of articulation.  He loses out on the neck articulation due to the nature of his furry design.  Chewbacca’s sculpt was totally unique to him, and it’s certainly a product of its time.  Action figure sculpting wasn’t quite yet up to the level of being able to convincingly translate a walking furball into plastic form, so this guy ends up looking…surprisingly polished?  It’s like somebody really thoroughly shellacked him, or maybe like he’s Cousin It’s much taller brother.  He’s definitely not as intimidating as later versions of the character would be.  Of course, in its own way, perhaps that’s more appropriate to the character, who was generally pretty lovable in the film.  Maybe Kenner was onto something there.  The figure’s paint work is pretty simple.  Mostly, he’s just molded in brown plastic, with a little paint here and there for the eyes, mouth, and bandolier.  It gets the job done, but it’s certainly not extensive.  Chewbacca was originally packed with his bowcaster, which my figure no longer has.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve touched on a few times before here, my vintage Star Wars collection was kind of jump-started by my Dad giving me his old figures when I was growing up.  Chewbacca was amongst those figures, and, since I’ve established here on the site that my first Chewbacca wasn’t a default one, this guy was kind of my go-to Chewbacca for a good long while.  Like a lot of the vintage figures, he’s goofy and dated, but he’s also a really nifty little figure.

#2010: Senate Commandos

SENATE COMMANDO CAPTAIN & SENATE COMMANDO

STAR WARS: CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“A Senate Commando captain and his elite commando team confront suspicious arrivals to the Senate building. The captain and troopers rush to the platform where Cad Bane has landed without permission. They are prepared for a fight if necessary, but are taken by surprise when Bane springs his trap.”

In the break in movies between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise didn’t go on hiatus as it had between Jedi and Phantom Menace.  Instead, it was kept going by a multimedia affair, the two most obvious being, of course, the toys, and the animated series Clone Wars.  Clone Wars took a lot of concepts, designs, and characters from the prequels and put them to new use.  Or, honestly, just put them to use period.  One such example were the Senate Guards, precursors to the Imperial Royal Guard.  In the movies, they didn’t do much more than stand in the background of scenes and remind you that one day they’d be putting on all red attire and serving the forces of evil.  The show, on the other hand, reworked them into the Senate Commandos, and even gave them a few focus episodes.  They made their way into the toyline, of course, but they aren’t among the easiest items to track down.  I managed to snag a set, though, and I’m reviewing it today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Released as a Target-exclusive two-pack in 2010, the Senate Commandos paired off with a complimentary Cad Bane and IG-86 two-pack, both based on the first season episode “Hostage Crisis,” which was one of the focus episodes for the commandos.  While the other pack was straight re-releases, both figures in this pairing were only available here.  Following the 2010/2011 re-branding of the Clone Wars line, these figures were part of the “Galactic Battle Game” concept that Hasbro was attempting to introduce into the line.  To facilitate this, the set includes two stands, a card with stats for each character, and a die chance cube with various symbols on it, presumably meant for use in playing the game.

SENATE COMMANDO CAPTAIN

First up, the ranking officer, the Senate Commando Captain.  Though un-named here, if he is indeed meant to be the commanding officer from “Hostage Crisis”, that would make him the ill-fated Captain Jayfon.  Yes, he had a name, because this is Star Wars.  Everyone has a name, just ask Elan Sleazbaggeno.  I suppose Jayfon should count himself lucky that he wasn’t named “Guardo” or something.  Anyway, this figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  He’s based on the streamlined design of the guards from the show.  Because of the more limited nature of the animation early in the run, the Guards could not keep their usual flowing cloaks.  For the sake of making things easier, their distinctive helmets and color-scheme were moved onto the standard Clone Trooper model.  The figure follows suit, being built on the basic Clone Trooper body from the line.  Fortunately, that’s one of the best molds the line produced, meaning this guy’s already starting ahead.    The forearms, legs, and pelvis are from the original base Clone Trooper, and the upper torso is from Rex, allowing for use of the smaller neck-peg for their heads.  The upper arms first showed up on Captain Argus in 2009, and since it’s supposed to be the same armor, they were sensibly re-used here.  It’s all topped off with a new head, which is a definite improvement to the removable helmet on the Argus figure.  It’s accurate to the source material, and sits nicely on the body.  For the most part, Jayfon is just molded in the appropriate shade of blue (which, it should be noted, is a different shade than was used for Argus; this one is technically more accurate), with black accent work.  As the captain, though, he needs some appropriate denotation, which the white accenting provides.  It’s more extensive than what we saw on Argus, though this is true to the show in both characters’ cases.  Whatever the case, it adds a very nice little pop to the figure.  Jayfon is packed with a small Clone-style blaster rifle.

SENATE COMMANDO

Okay, the Captain may have had a name, but the basic grunts really didn’t get them.  I guess this guy’s just an army builder. Crazy concept.  Like Jayfon, he stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  For the most part, his construction is the same as the Captain’s, but he does get a unique head, this time with the shorter head-fin that the basic grunts sported.  It’s not a huge difference, but it’s true to the show and it makes it even easier to differentiate the two.  His paintwork is also a bit simpler, as he drops the white accent work.  It means he doesn’t pop as much as the Captain, but that’s appropriate for a rank and file trooper.  Lastly, the Commado swaps out the small blaster for a larger clone-style rifle, which is certainly nice for variety’s sake.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though not impossibly hard to find when released, the fact that this set shipped alongside a total re-pack set, and the two figures contained there-in never got re-issues meant that it never hung around anywhere for very long.  I was, rather foolishly, trying to convince myself I didn’t need to keep collecting Clone Wars figures at the time, and passed on them the one time I saw them.  I’ve regretted it ever since, especially after their price got pretty high on the after market.  Fortunately, I was able to get one when a very large collection of Star Wars figures was traded in to All Time Toys.  They still weren’t cheap, but they were a much better deal than they would have been elsewhere.  I really do like this set a lot.  The Captain’s the real star, but the basic commando is no slouch either.  It’s really criminal that the standard commando never got a single carded re-release, because I’d really love to have a whole squad.  Alas, that’s not financial feasible at the moment.

As noted above, I grabbed this set from my friends at All Time Toys.  While they only got one of these in, there was a whole lot more in that collection, and they can be found on their website and their eBay storefront.

#2004: Speeder Bike (w/ Luke Skywalker in Endor Gear)

SPEEDER BIKE (W/ LUKE SKYWALKER IN ENDOR GEAR)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the first of three versions of the Imperial Speeder Bike released by Kenner in their Power of the Force II line.  The vehicle’s mold was first introduced in the vintage Return of the Jedi line, and was then re-packaged in the ’90s, with one of three different pilots.  I’ve already looked at the one with Leia.  Today, I look at her brother Luke, alongside his own Speeder.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The speeder bikes in these sets were all identical, meaning this one is exactly the same as the one I looked at alongside Leia two weeks ago.  I liked it then, and I still like it now.  I imagine I’ll still like it when I get around to the third variant of this set.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like the Leia figure included with the last one, this one has an Endor variant of Luke Skywalker.  Luke spends a little bit less of his time in this gear, but it’s still a fairly distinctive appearance for the character.  Like Leia, it had previously appeared in the vintage line, but this was the first we saw of it in this re-launch.  It would also be our only Endor Luke for a little while, as figures of him from Jedi tended to go for his, well, Jedi appearance.  As such, this figure’s sculpt would remain completely unique to him.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.   Check out those sweet knee joints!  That was a pretty huge deal.  Luke’s head is rather similar to the Endor Rebel trooper, not only with the same helmet, but also a rather similar facial structure.  This Luke’s sculpt was notable for not including his outer vest; he was not the only version of Luke to omit it in this line, but he was the first one.  Like his sister, Luke has a removable rubber poncho piece.  This one’s not quite as nice.  It isn’t very well fitted to the figure, making him look really pudgy.  It also lacks the nice, subtle paintwork, meaning it’s just a lot of unpainted tan plastic.  This guy was packed with a variant of the green lightsaber included with the basic RotJ Luke, though this one was wider than that one so that his slightly enlarged grip can still hold it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I only had one Speeder Bike, and it was this one.  I was definitely a Luke kid, so I needed to have another version of him, and the Endor one was one of my favorites.  That being said, I remember the actual figure didn’t get a ton of use; instead he was robbed of his poncho and speeder, which I gave to my standard Jedi Luke.  Looking back at this figure, I kind of remember why that was the case.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s not as strong a figure as the Leia.

#2001: Dryden Vos

DRYDEN VOS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

The public face of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, Dryden Vos is a contradiction: a pitiless enforcer known as a gangster of wealth and taste.  His good manners shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness, though: he can change from generous host to ruthless killer in a moment.”

Solo‘s antagonist Dryden Vos had quite a time making it into toy form, largely due to the character having even more of a time making it to the big screen.  He was originally to be played by actor Micheal K. Williams, who filmed his scenes wearing motion-capture gear in order to facilitate the character being a CGI character of some sort.  When Ron Howard took over as the film’s director, Williams was unavailable for re-shoots, and the character was still without an actual final design.  Short on time and money, Howard cast his frequent collaborator Paul Bettany (whose text asking for a role is so perfectly in character) in the part, and changed his design from a CGI monster to…Paul Bettany, but with some scars.  Ultimately, it seems to have worked out pretty well, as Bettany’s turn as Vos was one of my favorite parts of the movie.  Of course, all of the shifting around with the character meant that he was almost completely absent from merchandise.  His first figure from Hasbro arrived on shelves almost a whole year after the initial Solo product launch, and I’ll be looking at it today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dryden Vos is figure 79 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s from the most recent assortment of figures, which just started showing up last month.  He’s one of two Solo figures in the line-up, the other being a Mudtrooper Han variant.  Dryden has two looks in the film, both following a fairly similar theme.  This figure is based on his initial appearance, when meeting with Han and Tobias after their botched heist.  Of the two designs, it’s the more visually striking, thus making it a solid choice for the figure.  He stands a little over 6 1/4 inches tall (Bettany’s a tall guy) and he has 29 points of articulation.  Dryden’s sculpt is an all-new affair, and it certainly captures Vos’ svelte nature pretty well.  As is common with Black Series sculpts, he can look a little off in some more extreme poses, but for the most part it works.  The head sports a pretty spot-on Bettany likeness, building on the already solid likeness we saw on last year’s Vision figure.  Dryden’s rather distinctive jacket/half-cape combo is rendered here through a separate overlay piece, which can be a little finicky when posing his left arm, but is otherwise a really sharp addition to the figure.  I’m glad they didn’t go the cloth route for this one and risk losing the visual sharpness of the design.  The piece *can* be removed from the figure, but it really doesn’t serve him well to do so, nor do we see him in this outfit without it, so on him it will stay.  There is one small inaccuracy to this figure’s sculpt: his thumbs.  One of the few “alien” aspects of the character’s design were his oddly pointy thumbs, a feature that this figure lacks.  That said, it’s a minor feature, and one that most people are likely to miss.  It hardly holds the figure back.  Dryden’s paintwork is full of nice, very subtle work, keeping all those darkly colored pieces of the costume distinct from each other.  The most impressive work is definitely on the face, though.  In the film, Dryden’s scars become redder and more visible when he gets angry, a feature replicated here through thermo-sensitive paint.  At room temperature, Dryden’s scars are faint, but when exposed to cold, they’ll flare up to a dark red.  It’s a really fun touch, and something that could be easily overlooked.  Dryden is packed with his pair of distinctive knives, which he uses to dispatch those who disappoint him in true Star Wars villain fashion.  Like Dryden himself, these are temperature sensitive, and will exhibit a bright orange hue at the ends when exposed to cold, simulating how they power up in the film.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dryden in the film, and I was definitely bummed when no figures of him were available.  It’s been a long wait, but this guy hit Amazon for retail, allowing me to snag him pretty quickly.  Though perhaps not the franchise’s most pivotal character, Dryden is high in the running for my favorite Star Wars villain, and his figure absolutely did not disappoint.  He rounds out an already pretty awesome set of Solo figures.  Now, is it too much to ask for a Qi’ra that actually matches him?

#1990: Speeder Bike (w/ Princess Leia Organa in Endor Gear)

SPEEDER BIKE (W/ PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA IN ENDOR GEAR)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

The Star Wars franchise has long placed a good deal of emphasis on the distinct vehicles utilized by its heroes and villains, with at least a few new designs for every film.  For Return of the Jedi the cool new vehicle was the speeder bike, a hovering cycle that was perfectly tailored for exciting chase scenes.  It of course got a release during the vintage line, and by extension, it found itself among the re-purposed vehicle molds for Power of the Force II in 1997.  Where the prior release had been sold on its own, for PotF2, it was available with one of three pilots: the Biker Scout, Luke Skywalker, and today’s focus, Princess Leia Organa.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The main focus of these sets was the Speeder Bike, seen here as it appears on the forest moon of Endor.  As I touched on in the intro, a lot of the vehicles for Power of the Force II re-used the molds of their vintage counterparts.  For the bikes in particular, there’s a definite feeling of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Measuring about 7 inches in length and standing about two inches off the ground, the Speeder Bike is a fairly decent replica of the on-screen version of the vehicle.  Some of the features have been simplified ever so slightly, and it still has the original mold’s adjustments to make seating the figure on it a little easier, so the controls are vertically oriented rather than horizontally, and there’s still that little plunger that held the original figures’ legs in place.  The plunger was no longer necessary thanks to the vehicle specific riders, but I can’t complain about it remaining, since that keeps it backwards compatible, and meant it could still be used with figures not specifically designed for this set.  The foot pedals have springs built in to maintain tension, allowing the bike to stay up straight even if not totally balanced in its weight distribution.  Later bikes would instead resort to flight stands and the like, but I actually like how this works, and it certainly makes it playable.  Speaking of playable, there’s a whole other spring-loaded feature designed with play in mind.  When you press the pack on the rear of the bike, it pops apart into several pieces, simulating the rather catastrophic damage the bikes tended to take in the movie.  In terms of coloring, the original bike was always a little on the pale side.  This one went a little more accurate, and also supplied some decals if you wanted to go even further with the accuracy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Included with this bike was a variant of Leia, seen here in her camo gear from Endor.  Since this is what she’s wearing when on the bike, it’s pretty sensible, don’t you think?  Leia’s Endor appearance had previously appeared in the vintage line, though this would be its debut here for Power of the Force.  It would, however, later be retooled and released alongside a Commemorative Coin.  But this one was first.  She stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  These pilot figures were the first to sport knee articulation, which was a definite plus for this Leia, though the articulation is perhaps a little rudimentary in their implementation.  The sculpt is about on par with the rest of the line.  The helmet is permanently attached to her head, which is honestly the best way of handling it.  Her poncho is a separate piece made of a somewhat rubbery material.  It’s a little bit bulky, but not terrible as a whole.  Under the poncho, Leia’s got a fully defined uniform, which is a respectable match for what she was wearing in the film.  Leia’s paintwork is actually pretty darn decent.  Most of it’s pretty basic, but the work on the helmet and poncho is subtle and quite nicely implemented.  Leia is packed with a blaster pistol which, while it may look really similar to Han’s, is actually a totally unique sculpt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, the only of these sets I had was the one with Luke.  Back last year I finally picked up the one with the Scout Trooper.  Leia here?  The last of the three to be added to my collection.  All Time got her in last winter, and I picked her up during my splurge of PotF2 purchases.  For the money and time it takes to acquire, this release of the speeder bike, regardless of which figure it comes with is really the best option.  It’s pretty accurate, the spring loaded features are fun, and it scales nicely with the other offerings.  Plus, the Leia figure that’s included is actually not a bad offering, and is probably the best of the three potential figures to go with.

#1980: Force Link 2.0 Starter Set (w/ Han Solo)

FORCE LINK 2.0 STARTER SET (W/ HAN SOLO)

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

When Hasbro launched their tie-in offerings for The Last Jedi, they launched alongside them a new play gimmick…well, an old play gimmick with a shiny new coat of paint, anyway.  Dubbed “Force Link,” it allowed for all compatible figures and vehicles to enhance their playablitity with sound effects and dialogue.  The whole thing required a reader to activate, and I reviewed that reader back when it was first made available. It was an amusing enough gimmick, but the whole thing ran into trouble just a few short months after its release, since Hasbro had failed to build in figures beyond the TLJ offerings planned when the reader debuted.  Not wanting to completely abandon the concept, but also not wanting to make all of the prior figures obsolete, they used the launch of Solo to offer up a “2.0” version, designed with updates in mind.  This, of course, meant another reader, and thereby another starter set, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE SET ITSELF

The Force Link 2.0 starter set was released alongside the rest of the Solo-themed product in April of last year.  Not quite the grand hurrah of prior toyline launches, but there it was.  The set includes the new version of the reader, as well as standard Han Solo figure.  Both of these items remained unique to this set throughout the line’s run, unlike the first starter set.  As with the first set, the three AAA batteries needed for the reader’s operation are not included.

FORCE LINK 2.0 READER

If you read my review of the first Force Link reader, then there’s not much new about the basics of this one.  It operates using the same NFC partnering between the reader and the figures.  The basic physical design is also the same, albeit with some slight cosmetic changes that better match it to Solo‘s aesthetics.  This mean’s it’s operation in conjunction with the figures is also the same, for good and for bad.  It’s still a tight fit on the wrist, and getting the figures to work as Hasbro intended doesn’t so much go; I again found holding the figures up to the reader directly to be more efficient.  There’s one new feature, which is kind of the selling point of the 2.0, but is also it’s biggest problem.  The new reader is tied-in with a Force Link app (which can be downloaded onto mobile devices), allowing for periodic updates.  This is supposed to fix the issue of the prior reader’s fixed selection of characters to interact with by allowing for new figures to be added via these updates.  So, what’s the problem?  Well, right out of the box, the reader is compatible with the Han Solo it comes packed with…and no one else.  No launch figures, no 1.0 figures, nothing.  Every figure beyond Han will simply give you a “Firmware Update Required” message.  You have to download and launch the app, pair the device to your phone and go through a rather frustrating interface process, all to start a very lengthy firmware update (Hasbro says it can take up to an hour, and mine stuck right to that).  The fact that they couldn’t even have the 1.0 and initial figures ready to go is a real problem, and it’s further hurt by the updates not actually being available when this thing hit shelves.

HAN SOLO

The second half of this set is a Han Solo.  But not just any Han Solo; it’s actually the standard Solo Han Solo.  Yes, unlike the first Force Link reader, which supplied us with a Kylo variant, this time Hasbro decided to make it a more worthwhile figure.  For those planning to buy the set, this is great, since they don’t have to worry about some extraneous offering.  For those not?  Well, it kind of means that Hasbro made a Solo line without a single-carded Han Solo, which, in retrospect, may not have been their finest move.  Moving past that, though, how is the line’s standard Han Solo?  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  He’s rather similar in design to the Han included with the Falcon, but obviously with the jacket added.  He uses the same head, legs, and hands, with a new torso and arms.  It’s a nice, sharp sculpt, and definitely my favorite of the various Hans available in the line.  His paintwork is clean, which is good, since you actually can’t see him in the box.  In fact, he’s probably the best of the Hans…again.  He’s packed with his usual blaster pistol, which he can hold or keep in his holster.  His Force Link sounds are:  “They call me Han Solo.”  “We’ve got company!”  “Blast ’em!” “This better be worth it.” “I don’t run from a fight.”  “Huh, I’ve got a really good feeling about this.” “Okay, stay sharp!” “Wa-hoo!” and then a blaster sound.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It took a $10 off coupon to get me to buy the first Force Link starter set, so it’s probably not a huge surprise to find out I wasn’t eager to drop full retail on a second one, especially so soon after the first.  So, I clearance-waited on this one, which paid off quite nicely for me, since I was able to snag it for $4 just after the holidays.  Not great for the prospects of the concept continuing, of course.  I can see Hasbro really trying with this set, with the potential for updates instead of having to buy a new reader with every movie, and the avoidance of double-dipping on Han figures like they had with Rey and Jyn.  Unfortunately, the need to update right out of the box, coupled with how mind-numbingly frustrating the update process can be really hinders the fun factor on the reader.  The Han’s a nice figure, but he was stuck in a $30 set, and that’s a real hard sell.  And, ultimately, the fact that you couldn’t get a Han Solo figure in his own toyline without dropping $30 minimum really shot the line as a whole in the foot, which is a real shame, since they weren’t bad figures at all.

#1976: Mon Mothma

MON MOTHMA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“The senior senator of the Old Republic went underground to form the Rebel Alliance following the rise of the evil Empire. She was instrumental in the Rebel’s struggle for freedom.”

Hey, look at that!  It’s Mon Mothma, better known as the only other woman in Star Wars…well, at least until 1999.  Okay, that’s not strictly accurate.  She’s not the only other woman; she’s just the only other one who actually spoke on screen.  She’s never been a super prominent character or anything, but the aforementioned lack of other speaking females outside of herself and Leia does make her rather memorable.  She’s also had no less than three film appearances, and none of them have been part of the same trilogy.  How about that.  She’s never been the most toyetic character, but she did find her way into the Power of the Force line in the ’90s, and I’m gonna be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mon Mothma was released in the 1998 assortment of Power of the Force figures, and made her action figure debut here.  Not a huge surprise, given she’s not the most action oriented character.  Mostly, she just stood there.  This figure depicts her in her official standing around robes, as seen in the film.  Nice.  She does this standing around at a height of 3 1/2 inches and she has 4 points of articulation; since she just stands, but does not walk, she does not have any joints at her hips.  Mon Mothma’s sculpt is actually pretty darn decent.  She’s not at all pre-posed, nor does she suffer from odd or exaggerated proportions.  Her head even sports a passable likeness of actress Caroline Blakiston, which is more than can be said for most of the human figures in this line.  Or any Star Wars line, for that matter.  Likenesses aren’t classically their strong suit.  Her robes are rendered via two separate pieces.  The underlying robes are sculpted as the figure’s body, with the upper robes being a separate overlay piece.  This not only allows her some extra mobility (since the upper robes are a softer plastic), but also adds some additional depth to a sculpt that could have been rather on the soft side.  Mon Mothma’s paintwork is reasonable.  It’s not thrilling or anything, but that’s kind of the nature of the beast, since she’s by design rather monochromatic.  Mon Mothma wasn’t running around blasting or slashing things, so she doesn’t get any sort of offensive armaments.  However, she does get a little pointing stick like she has in the movie, allowing her to dispense valuable knowledge.  And, as we all know, knowledge is power, so really, she doesn’t make out all that badly, now does she.  Bet she could take on the entire Imperial fleet with that bad boy there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mon Mothma was a slightly rarer figure when she was first released, so I didn’t have one growing up.  Nor do I really think I would have sought out one, because she’s not a very play-oriented sort of character.  But, in my mission to get a complete run of PotF2 figures, I was definitely going to need her.  Fortunately, my friends at All Time Toys were able to help me out on that front, and got me a loose one for my collection.  She’s hardly the most thrilling figure the line had to offer, but the more mature collector in me still rather appreciates her.

#1962: Bossk

BOSSK

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

When ranking the distinctive Executioner bounty hunters from Empire Strikes Back, the top spot is always, unquestionably going to go to IG-88.  There’s no contest there.  If I’m picking a number two, I think I’d have to go with Bossk, that shoe-less lizard guy in a Doctor Who costume.  Because, hey, lizards are cool!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bossk was released as part of the Power of the Force II collection in 1997.  He was one of three bounty hunters released that year, alongside 4-LOM and Dengar, all of whom were finally making sure the poor Mr. Fett wasn’t quite as lonely as he’d been since 1995.  This was Bossk’s second figure, following his original vintage release.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation, not surprising for this line. The sculpt was all-new to Bossk, and, amazingly, would remain unique to PotF; a couple of the other Bounty Hunters would keep their PotF sculpts in circulation for a little while, but Bossk was one and done.  Despite the willingness on Hasbro’s part to move past this sculpt, it’s really not a bad offering.  As an alien, Bossk benefits from being what this line excelled at.  The details are sharply defined, pre-posing is at a minimum, and he’s just a generally nice looking figure.  Even the paintwork on Bossk is pretty impressive.  Many of the PotF figures were more basic in their paint application, but Bossk has quite a bit going on.  There are one or two un-painted sculpted elements, but for the most part everything is painted up to properly match his on-screen counterpart.  Bossk is packed with a pair of blasters.  He has his rifle seen in the movie, which is decently sculpted, but there is unfortunately no way for him to actually hold it.  There’s a sling molded to it, so it can go over his shoulder, but it’s still a slight let-down.  He also includes a smaller blaster, which looks to have been made up for this figure.  Fortunately, this one can actually be held.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The only Bossk I had growing up was actually the vintage one, not this one.  This one proved a little trickier to track down than the other PotF bounty hunters.  Fortunately, I was able to get one from my friends at All Time Toys when a loose collection came in.  Bossk’s not without issue.  The inability to hold the gun is really frustrating.  Beyond that, though, he’s a really fun little figure.