#1931: Han Solo

HAN SOLO

STAR WARS MIGHTY MUGGS (HASBRO)

Let it be known, I have *not* forgotten about Mighty Muggs!  Everybody else may have, but not me.  I’m stubborn like that.  Also, I haven’t forgotten about Solo.  Because, once again, stubborn.  What do you get when you put those two things together?  A total loss of faith in humanity’s ability to have nice things?  No, wait, that’s not quite right.  Solo-themed Mighty Muggs!  Yeah, that’s the one!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han is number 10 in the Star Wars Mighty Muggs line, making him numerically the first Mugg in the third assortment of the line.  The whole assortment was Solo-themed, and this guy follows suit, meaning he’s based on Alden Ehrenreich’s Han, rather than Harrison Ford.  That being said, the more cartoony nature of their designs means that, aside from the costume choice, he could theoretically pass for either actor.  The figure stands 3 1/2 inches tall and he’s articulated at the shoulders and the neck.  He’s built on the exact same body as all of the other modern Muggs l’ve looked at.  It’s kind of the line’s whole thing, so no surprises here.  Han does get a new hair piece, which is stylized to match the rest of the line, while still maintaining the proper look for Han’s usual fabulous hair.  As is the new standard for Muggs, Han has an expression-changing feature, with three expressions featured.  Han gets cocky grin, sheepish grin, and annoyed sideways glance.  He’s the first of the ones I’ve looked at to not have any sort of a raging expression, but that actually feels totally appropriate for Han.  The basic cocky grin is probably going to be my go-to, but I think there’s a lot more versatility to these expressions, which I definitely dig.  Han has no accessories, which isn’t a huge surprise, but is a slight let-down.  I would have liked to have gotten his blaster, especially since all of the Jedi characters have gotten their light sabers.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After the first assortment, at the beginning of last year, Mighty Muggs seemed to just spontaneously disappear from every retail store.  Han here is the only one of the later assortments I ever saw, found at the Walmart around the corner from All Time Toys.  I was happy to find him, but kind of got distracted by other things.  Remember how I mentioned yesterday that Ghost Rider and The Fallen had been sitting on my desk for five months waiting to get reviewed?  Well, this guy’s been sitting on my desk for even longer.  I literally just opened him up 10 minutes before writing my review, which is cutting it much closer than I usually do.  I’m glad I finally got around to opening him up, and I feel a little bad about letting him sit for so long.  Some researching I did for this review also led me to find that apparently this line has *not* been abandoned by Hasbro, as a new assortment quietly appeared on Amazon.  Hopefully they actually find their way out!

Advertisements

#1914: Rio Durant

RIO DURANT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Rio Durant has carried out dangerous operations alongside the scoundrel Tobias Beckett for years. The good-natured Ardennian pilot is up for any challenge, not unlike his young counterpart Han Solo.”

What do Rio Durant and head Mandolorian Pre Vizla have in common?  Well, in addition to both being characters from the prequel era of Star Wars, they’re also both voiced by director Jon Favreau, who will once more be returning to the world of  Star Wars for the TV-bound The Mandalorian.  But, let’s stay focused on the here and now!  It’s time to look at this here Rio Durant action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rio is figure 77 in the Black Series line-up, the final of the four Solo figures, and the final figure in general in the latest assortment of Black Series figures.  Rio’s seen here in his basic pilot’s gear, which is really the only prominent look he’s got.  Fortunately, it’s a good one.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 41 points of articulation.  All those extra arms sure do help him keep that articulation count high!  Rio’s sculpt is an all-new affair, and it’s a top-notch one, just like the rest of this assortment.  As with L3, the figure really benefits from having waited until all of the final designs were available, thus allowing him to be as screen-accurate as possible.  He’s pretty much a pitch-perfect recreation of the on-screen design, and there’s a lot of very sharp detail work going on here.  Additionally, the articulation has been very nicely implemented, so he’s really, really posable.  They’ve even wisely given his holster an easy to pop-out plug, thereby removing the potential of restricting his hip joint on that leg.  It’s simple, but one of the more inventive things I’ve seen Hasbro implement on these figures.  Rio’s paintwork is clean, bold, and eye-catching.  There’s some slight weathering on his belt and jumpsuit, plus some pretty subtle accent work on his exposed skin, giving him a nice real-world-quality.  Rio is packed with a blaster pistol, a larger blaster rifle, and a removable pair of goggles, making him one of the best accessorized figures in the assortment.  The rifle in particular is one of my favorites from the line, just because of how unique and different it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Rio was one of my favorite parts of Solo, and like L3, I was a little bummed that he wasn’t among any of the earlier offerings.  As a whole, this assortment had quite a few figures that were very high on my want list, and Rio still found himself near the top of the list.  A lot of great work went into this guy, and he continues the Solo sub-line’s trend of just being really darn good.  I’m happy to have finally rounded out Beckett’s crew, and even happier that it was with such a great figure.

#1913: Lando Calrissian – Skiff Guard

LANDO CALRISSIAN — SKIFF GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Once a smooth-talking smuggler, Lando Calrissian changed from a get-rich-quick schemer to a selfless leader in the fight against the Empire. When his old friend Han was held captive in the palace of Jabba the Hutt, Lando joined Princess Leia in a mission to rescue him from certain demise.”

Lando Calrissian may not have joined our heroes until their second outing, but he has maintained a notoriety amongst the fanbase, no doubt due to his suave scoundrel-y nature.  Despite this, he didn’t actually join the Black Series line-up until four years into its run, and with a figure that only saw moderate release at that.  Fortunately, his presence in 2018’s Solo brought him more into the spotlight, with two separate Black Series releases.  The first was based on his Solo appearance, but the follow-up gives us Lando’s Palace Guard disguise from Return of the Jedi‘s opening moments.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Skiff Guard Lando is figure 76 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s the second to last figure in the newest assortment, as well as the final of the OT figures this time around.  The costume is from Jedi, which makes it slightly out of place in a Solo/Empire split assortment, but it’s actually pretty well chosen, given the costume’s cameo appearance as Beckett’s heist disguise in Solo.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  This Lando is head-to-toe a new sculpt.  While prior Skiff Landos have been known to reuse previous heads, that is thankfully not the case here.  While the prior Black Series head wasn’t *bad*, the likeness definitely could have been better, as this one deftly illustrates.  It’s hands down the best Billy Dee Williams likeness we’ve ever gotten from Hasbro.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty strong in its own right, with nice balanced proportions and a ton of detail worked all throughout.  There’s no shortage of texturing on this guy, meaning he’ll fit right in with the other denizens of Jabba’s palace.  The paint work on this figure is in line with the current improved standards of the line.  The base work is all clean, and there’s some pretty substantial accent work, showcasing that Jabba’s palace really isn’t the cleanest place to hang out.  He also uses the face-print tech, which builds on the figure’s already very strong head sculpt to give us a very realistic looking Lando.  Lando is packed with his Skiff Guard helmet, as well as the standard guard armament, the vibro-axe.  He doesn’t include the blaster we usually see with Skiff variants of Lando, but his hand is molded with a trigger finger, should you wish to arm Lando yourself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The first Lando hit at a time when I wasn’t really able to buy many figures, so the one time I saw him, I had to pass on him.  While the Solo variant was certainly a strong offering, I was really hoping for a proper OT version.  While the Skiff Guard set-up isn’t necessarily my go-to look for Lando, there’s no denying that this is the best version of the character available.  I’m hopeful that Hasbro may give us a slightly udpated Bespin Lando down the line, maybe as part of the Archive line.  Until then, this guy will hold me over just fine.

#1912: Princess Leia Organa – Hoth

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA — HOTH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Princess Leia Organa was one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders, fearless on the battlefield and dedicated to ending the tyranny of the Empire. In the battle on Hoth, Leia helped evacuate rebel forces as Darth Vader and his fleet descended upon the rebel base.”

Empire Strikes Back is a lot of Star Wars fans’ favorite movie of the franchise.  While it’s not my personal favorite, there are certainly a lot of things I can appreciate about it.  The design work on the film is undoubtedly some of the best to come out of the franchise.  In particular, it’s more battle-ready takes on the power trio are really my favorite looks for all three of them, and they were the looks I wanted most when Hasbro launched The Black Series back in 2013.  We got Luke’s Rebel attire pretty quickly, but it’s been quite a wait for Han and Leia.  Han finally found his way into the line over the summer, and we got a teaser for Leia’s main look with the Bespin Escape release in November, but now we’ve finally gotten a proper release for Leia’s Hoth gear.  Is it worth the wait?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hoth Leia is figure 75 in the Black Series line-up, the second of this latest assortment’s OT-based figures.  If you want to get technical, this is actually the second release of this figure, as she was previewed in a con-exclusive two-pack this past fall.  Aside from this figure getting more accessories and not coming packed with a Han Solo, the two appear to be more or less the same.  This figure represents Leia from the first half or so of the film’s run time, prior to the Falcon‘s arrival on Bespin. By far her most prominent appearance from the movie, as well as one of her most remembered just in general.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  As I touched on in my review of the Bespin Escape figure, there is a fair bit of parts re-use between these two figures, given the fact that the two designs are pretty darn close and all.  This figure has a unique head, hands, left forearm, and boots, as well as a new vest piece.  They jibe pretty much perfectly with the prior parts, which makes a lot of sense, since I imagine they were actually designed for this figure first and then re-purposed for the exclusive offering later.  I do prefer this one’s boots, as it makes her a little easier to keep standing.  The new head is a decent piece, certainly one of Hasbro’s nicer offerings.  I think the exclusive figure has the superior Fisher likeness, but this one’s certainly not bad.  The paint on this figure isn’t much removed from the Bespin figure; there’s not a ton going on for most of the body, but I’m still okay with that, since accenting on white can go very bad very quickly.  The majority of the work is on the head, which is once again sporting a printed face.  Like the sculpt, the facial likeness isn’t quite as spot-on as the prior figure, but it’s still very good.  Like yesterday’s Dengar, Hoth Leia stands out in an assortment of rather lightly packed figures.  She gets her DH-17 rebel blaster rifle, which is a standard accessory for this version of the character.  In addition, she also has a welder and a pair of welding goggles, from when she was working on the Falcon.  While I might have liked to also get one of the breathing masks like we got with the SDCC Han, I think these are a solid selection of extras.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a figure I’ve been waiting a good long while for.  She was my #1 wanted Leia from the minute the line was announced, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting her release ever since she was finally shown off last year.  While the wait was long, it was most certainly worth it, especially since it means this version of Leia hit during the line at its strongest, and is therefore unlikely to need a replacement in the near future.  The same can’t be said of poor Empire Luke, who looks more and more out of place with each new figure we get.  There’s a lot to like about this figure, and I imagine she will be the go-to Leia for a good many collectors.  I myself am going to have a tough time choosing between this one and the Bespin Escape variant, because they both have a lot of points in their favor.

#1911: Dengar

DENGAR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Crude and slovenly, Dengar was nonetheless an effective bounty hunter. While some hunters prided themselves on finesse and style, Dengar preferred firepower and destruction.”

Every group has to have their weak link; the unfavorite; the guy on the receiving end of every pot-shot.  Well, in the case of Empire’s distinctive band of bounty hunters, that person is undoubtedly, without question today’s focus: Dengar.  Be it his less put-together appearance, his nature as a schlubby-looking middle-aged guy, or perhaps the fact that he appears to have wrapped himself in toilet paper, Dengar’s a character that doesn’t quite inspire the same cool factor as the rest of the group.  But, like so many weak links before him, he gets to ride along on everyone else’s coat tails, which means he has the same number of figures as all of the others.  And now, following the trend, he’s also got a Black Series figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dengar is figure 74 in the Black Series line-up, and is the first of the three OT-based figures in this latest assortment.  As I touched on in the intro, he completes our line-up of Executor Bounty Hunters, which is a pretty big deal for a large portion of the fanbase.  Dengar stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  His sculpt is unique, of course, and, as much as Dengar is a bit of mess design-wise, the sculpt is certainly a well-put-together mess…if that makes any sense.  The piecemeal nature of his design allows for Hasbro to put a good deal of smaller sculpted details.  The head wrappings and the actual head are separate from each other, which I believe is a first for this Dengar.  It certainly looks nice, and gives his face a slightly less lumpy quality than prior Dengars.  His face actually looks stern and determined, not goofy and schlubby, so he seems a little less out of place with the rest of the group in that regard.  Something that really impressed me about the sculpt was how little it interferes with his range of motion.  I had expected for him to be severely limited, as is usually the case with Dengar figures, but this guy can definitely get in some decent posing.  I mean, he won’t be pulling off any Spider-Man poses, but it’s certainly serviceable.  Dengar’s paintwork is a little cleaner than I’d expected, but upon comparing him to his on-screen counterpart, not too far off from the real thing.  He’s got enough wear and tear to make him believable and augment the sculpt well enough.  As will all the new human characters, he’s got a printed face, which includes the nasty scar running across it.  He lacks the burn scarring that he appears to have in the film, but it’s a relatively minor detail, so I can kind of forgive it.  In an assortment of somewhat lightly packed figures, Dengar is actually pretty darn well accessorized.  He has a larger blaster rifle, a blaster pistol, and a very detailed back pack.  It’s all stuff we see him with in the film’s one scene that features him, so obviously accurate, but that hasn’t stopped prior Dengars from lacking them, so it’s nice that nothing was cut.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I feel maybe I was a little harsh on Dengar up in the intro.  I’ve never had much of an affinity for the character, and I’d easily rank him as my least favorite of the Bounty Hunters from Empire.  With that said, I was still looking forward to this figure quite a bit, thanks to Hasbro’s accelerated efforts to complete the line-up in the last year.  The high of 4-LOM and Zuckuss and how awesome they were did a lot to give me some extra excitement for a character that might not have otherwise been too keen to pick up.  Despite my misgivings about his whole design, Hasbro’s definitely put in the effort to make him a good figure, and the end result is a fun toy that will no doubt please any Dengar fans out there.  Because there has to be someone *somewhere* right?

#1910: L3-37

L3-37

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A “self-made droid” built from astromech and protocol parts, L3-37 is an enlightened navigator who cares deeply about droid rights.”

If there’s one thing that Star Wars has been consistently good at, it’s making up robots that viewers feel compelled to go out and own.  Since R2 and 3PO first strutted across the screen, there’s been an un-ending stream of new wacky, zany robots, all vying for our attention.  The new movies have followed suit.  Previous Star Wars Story offering K-2SO is definitely a favorite of mine, but last year’s Solo certainly gave us another fun one in Lando’s co-pilot, L3-37.  She was absent from early product shipments, but has finally started showing up in all of her plastic-y glory.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

L3-37 is figure 73 in the ongoing Black Series line-up.  She’s the third of the four Solo-based figures in this latest assortment, and the final piece of our main heist team from the film.  She stands about 6 inches tall and has 21 points of articulation…I think.  Getting an accurate count is a little difficult due to the nature of her design, which has a number of the joints obscured by various wires and plating.  There’s some definite restriction going on with the movement, especially on the elbows, where you’ll be lucky to get even 90 degrees of motion, and even then, the stress on the joint will slowly reset its position over time.  Obviously, this is largely to do with L3’s design, which at a full-scale wouldn’t be contending with nearly as much resistance from those wires.  On the plus side, mobility throughout the rest of the figure is surprisingly good.  I was happy to find that my figure doesn’t have nearly as much trouble standing as I’d expected.  You’ll still need to place her feet carefully to keep her upright, but she does seem to be pretty well balanced.  I would imagine that L3’s late arrival to the toy line is an attempt on Hasbro’s part to keep her as accurate to her final design as possible.  I’m happy to say it was a worthy effort, as her sculpt is pretty much spot-on to L3’s appearance in the film.  I’m not seeing any of the slight proportional changes like we saw on the BS K2 figure, and she certainly doesn’t skimp on the specific details of the model.  The wires may be a little clunky, but apart from making them smaller and potentially much easier to damage, I don’t know that you can do a whole lot about that at this scale.  L3’s paintwork is decent for the line.  Prior droids have had a tendency to be little lacking in painted detail, but L3 not only gets her base colorwork, but also some simulated wear and tear.  In some spots, the damage is a little heavy handed, especially when compared to the movie.  That being said, at this price point and scale, Hasbro has done an admirable job.  The one area where this figure really lacks are the accessories.  L3 is completely without any sort of extras.  I know that options for her are slightly limited, but some extra hands in different poses, or at the very least the communicator she uses during the raid on the refinery would have been appreciated.  As it stands, she’s yet another very light offering in this assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

L3, like the rest of her assortment mates, is a joint gift from my parents and my Super Awesome Fiancee. As I’ve said many times before, and I’ll no doubt say again, I’m a sucker for cool robots, and L3 definitely falls into that category.  I loved the character in the movie, and I’m happy she’s finally made the transition into action figure.  I wish she had some extras to offer, and the articulation in the arms is somewhat limiting, but on a whole, I’m very happy with this figure, and I’m thrilled to round out my crew from the movie.

#1909: Imperial Patrol Trooper

IMPERIAL PATROL TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As the Empire reinforces its hold on worlds across the galaxy, local defense forces are being supplemented – and eventually completely replaced – with Imperial Stormtroopers. To cover distances across sprawling settlements and cities, Patrol Stormtroopers police the streets and alleys aboard swift interceptor speeder bikes.”

Hands down my favorite Trooper design in all of Star Wars is Return of the Jedi’s Scout Trooper.  I’m not alone in this, and the designers behind the various movies and cartoons and the like have made a pretty steady go at calling back to that particular design as we’ve trekked on through the franchise.  Oh, wait, wrong “Star” franchise.  As we’ve warred on through the franchise.  There, that’s better.  Anyway, the latest call back to the Scout Trooper is Solo’s Imperial Patrol Trooper, who is essentially the galaxy far, far away’s equivalent of a motorcycle patrol cop.  The design found its way into the Titan Heroes line pretty quickly, but there’s been more of a wait for the two more conventional styles.  I snagged the big trooper boxed set from the smaller line a few months back, and now I’ve got the Black Series release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial Patrol Trooper is figure 72 in the Black Series line-up, placing him right after Val from yesterday.  He is, unsurprisingly, from the same assortment, and started showing up at retail in the last month or so.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The articulation on this guy is some of the best we’ve seen in the line, and I’d certainly say it’s the best we’ve seen on any of the troopers.  What’s most impressive about the articulation and its mobility is just how little compromising they’ve done with the integrity of the sculpt.  At first glance, I was really expecting this figure’s posabilty to be another First Order Trooper situation, where he looked quite nice, but struggled with anything but basic poses.  I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.  Like his basic line counterpart, the Patrol Trooper’s sculpt is a very strong offering.  It’s clean, the details are sharply defined, and it matches up very well with the movie design.  The figure really emphasizes how slick this design really looks, just as a whole.  If there’s one slight down tick on this figure, it’s the paintwork.  There are some fuzzy edges on the transitions from white to black, which were giving me some flashbacks to the First Order Trooper.  That being said, those issues are rather minor in the grand scheme of the figure, and it’s hardly the worst we’ve seen in this line.  Just not quite as good as recent offerings.  There are still plenty of touches that really help the figure, such as the very dark, metallic green for the visor.  Like his smaller counterpart, the Patrol Trooper includes a small Biker Scout-esque blaster pistol, as well as a removable police baton on his belt.  Both pieces can be easily held by the figure or safely stowed on his belt, by which I was very impressed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of all the upcoming Black Series figures, this one was very near the top of my want list.  I’ve loved this design since the moment I saw it, and I’ve been patiently awaiting his release.  I actually saw him at retail twice before getting him as a Christmas gift (Super Awesome Fiancee played the fact that she was getting him for me very close to the vest), but I managed to hold out.  Yay for me.  While there are some quite minor flaws, I am very, very happy with this figure.  Of course, now I kinda want a Patrol Bike to go with him.  Damn you Hasbro!

#1908: Val

VAL — VANDOR 1

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A no-nonsense and occasionally prickly woman who is a crack shot with a blaster rifle, Val may be the most even-headed and capable member of Tobias Beckett’s ragtag crew of scoundrels.”

One week into my Post Christmas reviews, I’m going to be kicking off a theme week.  There was one large subset of gifts this year, and that subset was Star Wars: The Black Series.  So, for the first of my slew of Black Series reviews is going to be based on last year’s Solo.  I looked at Tobias Beckett back at the beginning of December, and now I’ll be moving onto his crew of bandits.  First up, the Zoe to his Mal, Val!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Val was released in the latest assortment of Black Series figures.  She’s figure 71, thereby making her the first figure in the line-up numerically.  Val is dubbed as being her “Vandor 1” appearance, which is the location of the ill-fated train heist that starts out the movie.  She’s got this look and the Imperial disguise, and this one’s the more character specific, as well as being the one that matches up with the prior Beckett figure.  Val stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Val’s sculpt is a unique offering, which is to be expected, seeing this is her only figure, with no prior variants or anything.  It’s a pretty solid offering.  The head’s likeness to Thandie Newton is very close, certainly closer than I’d expected based on early production shots.  The body does a good job of matching her proportions and appearance in the movie.  Unlike Beckett, who had some weird articulation worked awkwardly into the sculpt, Val’s is actually pretty cleanly worked in.  The movement on the arms is somewhat restricted by the tube thingies, but that’s not really the fault of the figure, so much as it is the character’s sort of odd design aesthetic.  That being said, the amount of movement they *do* have actually did surprise me somewhat.  Val’s paintwork is pretty standard for the line at this point.  She’s got the printed face, which continues to impress, and the application on her costume is clean and pretty eye-catching.  The use of clear plastic for the tubes and her goggles adds some nice dimension.  Val is packed with her blaster, which is a unique piece.  It’s a decent enough piece, though I’m a little saddened that she doesn’t have anywhere to keep it when not using it.  It also seems a little on the light side, especially given the slightly smaller stature of the figure. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Val was a combined gift given to me by my parents and my Super Awesome Fiancee.  There was sort of a bit of concern about her and her assortment-mates showing up in time for Christmas morning, but they were there waiting for me, so it worked out for me.  Val is a more minor character in Solo, but one I enjoyed nonetheless, and I’m pretty happy with her turn as a Black Series release, even if she is a little light on the accessory front.

#1902: Sohei Darth Maul

SOHEI DARTH MAUL

MEISHO MOVIE REALIZATION (BANDAI)

Post-Christmas reviews, begin!

Yes, it’s that time of year when I’ve gotten so many new toys from all the people that love me so much, and I always feel the best way of handling a large influx of new toys is to just jump headlong into the reviews.  No turning back!  Today, I kick things off with a theme that I assure you will be sticking with us for a good portion of the reviews to come: Star Wars.  That said, today’s focus item is a slight variation on the theme.  He may be from Star Wars, but it’s definitely a more conceptual version of the story.  I’m taking my second look at Bandai’s reimagining of the Star Wars movies as Samurai films, Sohei Darth Maul!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sohei Darth Maul is one of the 2018 releases from the Meaisho Movie Realization line, which re-envisions Sith Lord Darth Maul as Sohei, or a warrior monk.  Admittedly, “warrior monk” isn’t much of a stretch from the basic Jedi thing.  It’s *almost* as if the Star Wars characters naturally lend themselves to this sort of thing!  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 43 points of articulation.  As with the Royal Guard, there’s something of a learning curve on posing these guys, though I had a much easier time with Maul, largely do to already having experience with the line.  Maul’s sculpt appears to be totally unique to him, which is sensible, given that as a prequel character, he would be of a slightly vintage than the Vader and troopers we’ve gotten so far.  It’s certainly a very nice sculpt, with lots of detail work worked throughout all of its various pieces.  The texturing on his tunic is very realistic, and keeps it from being too bland, and the armored pieces are all quite intricately designed.  The head is rather demonic, even for Maul, indicating that he’s actually some form of spirit or demon in this reimagined version of the tale, which is certainly a cool concept.  It gives Bandai free reign to have a bit of fun with it, and the end result is a very expressive piece.  The paint work on Maul is quite impressive, especially given the fact that the character is typically quite monochromatic.  While his basic clothing is still straight black, the overlying armor has all sorts of subtle color work going on.  It makes for a very interesting looking figure, and he’s got plenty of elements to help him pop off of the shelf.  Darth Maul is packed with a pair of swords, which can be attached at the hilt to simulate his signature double-bladed saber from the movie.  The actual blades can also be removed simulation them being turned off.  Also included are a face mask  (furthering the demonic experience), and beads, which can be removed to mix up the appearance.  Finally, he includes three sets of hands in fists, gripping, and open gesture poses.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the Royal Guard before him, Sohei Darth Maul was a Christmas gift from my boy Tim.  I had actually just been looking at this figure about a week prior to receiving it from him, so it was a rather well-timed gift.  Again, like the Royal Guard, there’s just a lot to like about this figure.  He’s got a cool look, has a great selection of alternate appearances, and is just generally a lot of fun.  I really look forward to seeing what else this line tackles (I’d kill for a scout trooper, let me tell you).

#1900: Luke Skywalker: Rebel Commander – Bespin

LUKE SKYWALKER: REBEL COMMANDER — BESPIN

STAR WARS: HEROES OF THE REBELLION (SIDESHOW)

“The only son of Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker is the Jedi Order’s last remaining hope in restoring balance to the galaxy. Unaware of his own true potential or parentage, Luke has sworn himself to the rebel cause and fights valiantly alongside his compatriots in the Battle of Hoth. It is there that Luke has a vision of his fallen friend and mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs Luke to travel to the Dagobah system and seek the great and powerful Jedi Master Yoda.”

When Sideshow was really just starting to get their foot in the door with their Star Wars line, the initially focussed more on getting out suitable variants of the franchise’s main characters, especially Luke, Han, and Leia.  Luke was definitely a favorite of theirs at the start, with his Jedi Knight variant kicking off the line, and versions from A New Hope and Empire following in short succession.  My personal favorite Luke look has always been his rebellion-issued fatigues from Empire, and I’ll be looking at Sideshow’s take on that design today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Rebel Commander — Bespin) was released in 2007 as part of Sideshow’s Heroes of the Rebellion line, which, of course, placed its focus on the Original Trilogy-era heroes of the Star Wars saga.  As with a lot of Sideshow offerings, there were two versions of this figure available: the regular release, and the Sideshow exclusive.  The figures proper are the same, but there were some extra accessories with the exclusive.  Luke stands just under 12 inches tall and he has 30+ points of articulation (whatever the proper count should be, he’s down two, due to this body being notorious for one half of the double jointed elbows being frozen in place).

The headsculpts for this line were, perhaps, not its strongest suit, but given what we were getting from Hasbro not long before, they were a breath of fresh air at the time.  Nevertheless, Luke was one of the slightly weaker offerings, though I think the biggest issue may have been a manufacturing issue of some sort.  For whatever reason, Luke’s head looks kind of flattened from certain angles; the left side of his face is sunken in too far compared to the right.  It strikes me as an issue with the molding process, but it afflicts the whole run of this figure.  It’s not terrible, though, and you can hide it with some careful posing.  Moving past that, it’s a fairly respectable ESB-era Hamill likeness.  The detail may not be 100% lifelike, but it’s certainly clean, and he’s recognizable.  The paintwork is a little primitive, and very thickly applied, but it looks passable.  The eyes on my figure are slightly goofy, and not quite as realistic as other figures from the line, but they’re still serviceable.

As you’d expect, Luke’s costume is a mixed media offering.  His shirt, jacket, and pants are all tailored cloth pieces, and they’re alright for the time.  The stitching is a little on the large side, and his shirt ends up having a much more involved collar than in the movie, due to needing to cover up his neck joint.  The pants suffer from being on the old Sideshow Buck, which was really starting to show its age at this point, and didn’t really look natural wearing much of anything.  The jacket is actually more accurate than it may appear in these photos, due to me being a dingus.  See, the collar is flipped down in the box, but it should be flipped up.  When it is, it looks a lot more like it should.  As seen here?  Well, it’s close, but looks slightly weird.  Luke’s belt is itself a mixed media affair, with a mostly pleather construction as the base, and plastic for the buckle and pouches.  His holster is quite impressive; the strap is magnetic, allowing for easy removal of the gun.  I always really liked that touch.  The boots are just a straight sculpted piece, but they’re still actually boots, as Sideshow hadn’t started doing molded feet at this point.

Luke was build on a modified version of the Sideshow Buck body, which had shortened arms and legs to reflect Hamill’s smaller stature.  The arms were a big deal for this release, as the Jedi Luke figure’s arms were standard length, making him look like a bit of a monkey.  The Buck body is the aspect of these figures that has aged by far the worst, and it was almost a decade old by the time it was used here.  Another decade hasn’t helped things.  It’s stiff and awkward, and just doesn’t look great with the clothes on it.  Or off it, I suppose.  It just doesn’t look great.

Luke was pretty well accessorized, with his lightsaber in two configurations (ignited and not), his blaster pistol, two pairs of hands (gripping R and L, trigger finger R, and open palm L), a stump for recreating the film’s most famous scene, and a display stand.  That was a solid offering for the main figure, but the exclusive upped the anti, adding in the auto-tourniquet he uses for his hand after the battle.  Sadly, mine’s just the basic release.  Guess my Luke’s stump won’t be getting proper treatment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke is one of the figures that actually got me into the Sideshow Star Wars line.  I had attempted to jump on the Hot Toys bandwagon by asking for a Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker for Christmas in 2008.  However, delay after delay after delay meant that wasn’t to be that year (it’s okay, things worked out better the following year), so my parents let me trade in the value of that figure for something else.  It ended up being enough for three of these guys, so I got a Luke, Han, and Leia right out of the gate.  In addition to being my favorite Luke design, this figure was also the cheapest version of the character on the market at the time, so he was an easy choice for me.  Ultimately, he’s far from a perfect figure, but he’s looked pretty nifty on my shelf for the decade I’ve had him, so I really can’t complain.