#1770: Han Solo – Exogorth Escape

HAN SOLO — EXOGORTH ESCAPE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, was one of the great leaders of the Rebel Alliance. In the wake of the of the battle of Hoth, Solo fled with the rest of the RebelForces and evaded the pursuit of Imperial TIE Fighters as he expertly maneuvered the Falcon towards the perceived safety of a crater in the Hoth asteroid belt. Infamous for his bold plans that seemed to always defy the odds, Solo soon discovered that the unstable crater upon which he had landed the Falcon – and its crew made up of co-pilot Chewbacca, Princess Leia Organa, and C-3PO – was in fact the cavernous mouth of a giant space slug known as an Exogorth. In the belly of the beast, Solo and crew discovered an inhospitable environment of noxious fumes and parasitic, swooping Mynocks – bat-like creatures who ate through power cables and drained the energy from even the most impressive ships. With the life of his comrades and beloved Millennium Falcon threatened, Solo was called again to emergency action, and steered the Falcon to safety, barely escaping into space through the rapidly collapsing jaws of the ravenous Exogorth.”

Remember the Solo Han Solo Black Series figure that I liked so much?  And remember how I said at the end of that review when I said I’d be sincerely disappointed if there wasn’t a Bespin Han of a similar quality released within the next year?  Well, looks like I don’t have to be sincerely disappointed!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Exogorth Escape Han Solo was released as a SDCC 2018-exclusive offering for Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.  Like Thrawn, Jyn, and the First Order Stormtrooper before him, he serves as a sort of a preview for a mass-retail released figure, specifically Bespin Han Solo, who is hitting stores in the latest round of Black Series figures.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Han’s articulation scheme follows the trend established by the Solo versions of Han and Lando, which is to say he’s got some really great range on a lot of those joints, especially the neck joints.  I definitely appreciate this new style for the line, and it’s nice to have a Han can be more expressive than the rather stiff Smuggler version.  The sculpt for this Han is all-new, and overall one of the line’s strongest offerings.  The head sculpt is the main selling point, based largely on its improved Harrison Ford likeness.  While we got a pretty good older Ford likeness from the TFA version, the younger Han has always been a tough mark.  This figure has one of the best takes we’ve seen to date.  It’s still not 100% there.  The hair seems a little off, and the face goes a little bit more for caricature, but the overall appearance is very, very close.  The body is a fairly balanced sculpt, proportion-wise.  The shoulder’s could probably stand to be a little broader, but that’s a decidedly a minor issue.  The detail work, especially on his jacket, is clean and sharp, and there’s some solid texture work all throughout.  I’m also quite happy that they’ve changed up how they do the non-dominant hands, so that it’s a more sensible grip, rather than the weird claw grip we got with the last two Han releases.  Han’s sculpt is aided by some absolutely top-notch paint work.  He uses the printed face technique, which really further sells the likeness on the head.  The SDCC release gets a little extra shading on the face than the regular release, but it’s definitely a minor change.  The body paint is more basic, but he does get some nice weathering on his belt and holster.  Aside from the minor paint difference on the face, the main thing that separates this release from the regular retail offering is his accessory complement.  Both figures include Han’s blaster, which is mostly accurate to the Empire model of the blaster, apart from lacking silver paint on the barrel.  In an effort to make this figure live more appropriately up to his “Exogorth Escape” subtitle, this Han also includes one of the Mynock creatures that had affixed itself to the hull of the Falcon, as well as his breathing apparatus he wears while walking around the Exogorth’s innards, a hydrospanner, and an extra left hand.  The Mynock is a fun piece, and I really like the slightly transparent wings.  I do sort of wish it had a flight stand of some sort, though.  The rebreather fits nicely over Han’s face, though I would be careful about taking it off; those seams on the strap don’t look too durable.  The hydrospanner is a nice scene-specific piece, which looks good in his off-hand.  The left hand might actually be my favorite accessory in the whole set; there’s just so much Harrison Ford in how the hand is posed.  I can practically hear him telling off Threepio!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was unable to attend SDCC this year (or any year, really; living on the other side of the country has that affect on you), so I didn’t have the opportunity to pick this set up in-person.  Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I was going to get it, since the base figure’s getting a standard release and everything.  But, Super Awesome Fiancee wanted the Doctor Aphra set, so I had to log onto Hasbro Toy Shop anyway, and this guy was just sitting there in-stock.  I’m glad I splurged for the deluxe version.  Bespin Han is hands down my favorite look for the character, and I truly love the extras they’ve packed in with him.  By far, the very best version of Han in this line.  Or any line, really.

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#1752: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“A mighty Wookiee nearly two centuries old, Chewbacca has fallen upon hard times during this age of the expanding Empire.”

Let’s keep this extraneous Star Wars love going, I suppose…wait, that doesn’t sound quite right.  Never mind.

I broke my rule about the clones, but I also had this other rule with the Black Series, where I was going to avoid minor variations of the same characters.  Now, technically Vader was the first one I broke the rule for, but that was a slightly special case.  I stayed true with Chewbacca and didn’t buy the Force Awakens variant.  Well, Solo broke me, what can I say.  Was he worth it?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca was released right around the same time as the rest of the Solo product launch, but the comparatively soft roll-out of the Solo product compared to prior movies meant that he just started showing up in some places very recently.  He’s not part of the main line-up, but is instead a Target exclusive.  Chewbacca stands 8 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation. Unsurprisingly, given his generally consistent look over the course of the film’s, this Chewbacca figure shares a lot of parts with the original Black Series release, namely everything but the head, upper torso, and bandolier. I was rather critical of the sculpt back when it was new, and I still stand by those critiques.  There are just some issues that are inherent to the process of adapting a design like Chewbacca’s into a highly articulated plastic figure.  There are going to have to be some compromises, and they do have negative impact on this sculpt.  With all that said, I think this figure does a lot to salvage the sculpt.  The new head is really strong.  While it’s been reworked to allow for the goggles to sit better on his face, he actually still looks pretty good without the goggles in-place.  In fact, he makes a for a decent approximation of Chewbacca’s messier hair style from Empire and Jedi, which I’m definitely okay with.  The new torso’s really just a slight change, mostly done to help the new double-strapped bandolier sit better on his shoulders.  But it definitely helps, and as a result, this Chewbacca’s bandolier sits a lot flusher to the body than the first one’s did.  It’s a minor change, but one that does a lot to help the figure.  Minor changes to the sculpt aside, I think the biggest thing that helps this new release is the paintwork.  The first Chewbacca was released during the line’s worst period paint-wise.  While his paint wasn’t *bad*, it was definitely very basic, and lacking in any form of subtlety, which hit that figure pretty hard.  By contrast, this figure’s hitting while the line is at a very high point, and he definitely shows it.  The transitions between shades on the fur are less jarring, and work has been done to keep these changes from being right on the joints.  In addition, he’s far less glossy overall, which only helps in making him look a lot less goofy.  In Solo, Chewbacca hasn’t yet gotten his distinctive bowcaster, so he’s instead carrying a different heavy blaster rifle entirely.  This one’s patterned on the M-60 machine gun (thanks Tim!), which is certainly a fun one.  The piece is very well sculpted and an accurate recreation of the design from the movie.  And, not only does it avoid the usual lack of paint issue, but it’s even got moving parts!  A very impressive piece.  In addition, Chewbacca also includes his goggles from the train heist, which go on and off pretty easily.  Not as impressive as the gun, but fun nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw Chewbacca fairly early on, back in May, but decided to pass on him at that time.  Of course, then I didn’t see him for a couple of months, so when I came across him again (after having seen and quite enjoyed the movie), I didn’t feel like I could pass him up.  I’m glad I opted to get him the second time around, as he’s a pretty sizable improvement on the last one, and definitely my favorite Chewbacca to date.

#1731: 4-LOM

4-LOM

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“A rusty droid with insectile features, 4-LOM was originally a protocol droid, but logic glitches allowed him to escape his programming and become a bounty hunter. That proved a perfect occupation for the cold, calculating mechanical.”

Aw yeah, are you guys ready for a review featuring the absolute bestest, coolest Bounty Hunter in the whole Star Wars universe?  Okay, okay, you guys got me.  I’m not reviewing the “bestest, coolest bounty hunter in the whole Star Wars universe” today.  I already reviewed IG-88, back when his Black Series figure was released in 2015.  Guess I’ll just have to settle for the second bestest bounty hunter!  Oh, wait, darn it, I forgot, I already reviewed Bossk back in 2014.  Well, as luck would have it, the number three slot’s still gone un-reviewed.  Let’s look at 4-LOM!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

4-LOM is figure 67 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line.  He shipped to stores in the revision case that also gave us Solo‘s Qi’ra.  4-LOM is the fourth of the ESB bounty hunters we’ve gotten in this line, following Boba Fett, Bossk, and IG-88.  It’s interesting that 4-LOM hit before his partner Zuckuss, who’s usually the frontman of the two, but I’m hardly going to complain.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  As a protocol droid, it’s not a huge surprise the 4-LOM shares some pieces with the Black Series C-3PO, though perhaps not as many as you might expect.  It’s really just limited to the legs. This is for the best for a number of reasons.  First of all, though they are similar, 3PO and 4-LOM aren’t identical, so this allows 4-LOM to be more screen accurate.  Secondly, this gave Hasbro a chance to go back and fix the biggest problem with the 3PO figure: lack of elbow joints!  That’s right, 4-LOM can move his elbows!  How about that?  It’s not a whole lot of range, of course, but it’s certainly better than nothing, and it was definitely a pleasant surprise when I cracked this guy open.  4-LOM’s new pieces match well with the 3PO legs, and he once again shows just how great Hasbro is with the robot and alien sculpts for this line.  The detail work is superb, especially on the head, and I really appreciate how well they’ve captured the slightly different construction of his upper body when compared to 3PO. After some rather basic paint jobs in this line, Hasbro finally seems to be learning (for now, anyway), and 4-LOM definitely benefits from this.  The coolest bit is definitely the head, which was cast in translucent green plastic, allowing the eyes to have a slightly see-through appearance.  The brown wash on the figure’s body also does a nice job of accenting the smaller details of the sculpt, and keeps him from looking too clean in this grimy, broken-in universe.  4-LOM includes a larger blaster, which appears to be the same one that was used for the Sandtrooper, way back in Series 1.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have yet to see 4-LOM once at regular retail.  I’ve seen his case-mate Qi’ra quite a few times, but never the LOMster.  I had almost given up hope on finding him, when my friends at Cosmic Comix randomly got in a few cases of Black Series figures, 4-LOM included.  I’m quite happy to have found this guy, and he’s definitely a favorite of mine.  I look forward to the release of Zuckuss and Dengar to round out the set!

#1704: Grand Moff Tarkin

GRAND MOFF TARKIN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“An ambitious, ruthless proponent of military power, Wilhuff Tarkin became a favorite of Emperor Palpatine and rose rapidly through the Imperial ranks.”

Before the introduction of Emperor Palpatine in Empire, the original man behind the man that was Darth Vader was Wilhuff Tarkin, Grand Moff of the Empire, and really the central antagonist of A New Hope.  Yes, his name is really Wilhuff.  At least it’s better than Sheev, right?  Tarkin hasn’t always been the most prevalent figure when it comes to action figures, but he was fortunate enough to be one of the recent additions to The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Moff Tarkin is figure #63 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line.  He hit alongside the Solo product back in April, and has proved to be the most difficult to find of the set.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  As an Imperial officer, it’s not a huge surprise to find that Tarkin makes use of some of Krenic’s parts, namely the arms and legs.  He gets a unique torso and skirt piece, to denote his slightly differing rank and his lack of a sidearm.  The torso does a good job of capturing Peter Cushing’s more narrow-shouldered build.  He’s also got a new head, of course, which is definitely one of Hasbro’s best offerings from this line.  The likeness of Cushing is spot-on, right down to the slight little sneer he had in all of Tarkin’s scenes.  There are tons of subtle little details, which really help to make this sculpt incredibly lifelike, even more so than a lot of others in this line.  Tarkin makes use of the new face printing technique, just like the rest of his assortment.  Like with the sculpt, I think Tarkin is one of the best iterations of this technique we’ve seen in the line.  Between the sculpt and the paint, there’s a lifelike quality to Tarkin that just about rivals a Hot Toys offering.  The rest of the paint is more basic, but it’s still very clean, which is always a plus.  Tarkin is only packed with one accessory, but boy is it a good one.  He includes the Imperial Interrogation Droid (or, as he’s known to Robot Chicken fans, Dr. Ball, M.D.!).  It’s a pretty sizable piece, and almost counts as a figure in its own right.  It also highlights how lightly packed the Jawa from this same assortment was, but let’s just focus on the awesome that is this figure and his amazing accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Tarkin’s been a high-ranking want from this line for a good while, so I was super pumped when he was shown off last year.  The figure was also my main want when all of the Solo product was hitting, though it took me a little bit to finally track him down.  I ended up getting him at the same time as Lando and the Jawa.  He’s absolutely my favorite figure from this line, and he’s going to be very hard to top going forward.  This is a figure that no Star Wars fan should miss out on!

#1702: Qi’ra – Corellia

QI’RA — CORELLIA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

At 18 years of age, young Qi’ra is already enmeshed in a life of crime, working for a gang on Corellia.”

Well, I’ve already burned through the “confusing Emilia Clarke for her other roles” bit for the first Qi’ra figure I reviewed, so I’m out of obvious intro material.  Darn.  Here’s this action figure, I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Qi’ra is figure 66 in Star Wars: The Black Series.  She was part of the second round of post-Solo releases, packed alongside the bounty hunter 4-Lom.  As of right now, she’s by far the easier of the two to find of retail, and I kind of feel like that’ll stick.  Like her smaller figure, Qi’ra is based on her look from the film’s prologue.  It’s not her main look from the movie, nor is it a look that really interacts well with the other figures, but it’s a decent enough look nonetheless, and probably the one that has the easiest translation into toy form.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her articulation is a little more restricted than Han and Lando, but compared to your average Black Series release before them, Qi’ra is still pretty darn mobile.  Qi’ra gets an all-new sculpt, and it’s a pretty decent one.  Very similar to the smaller one, which makes sense, what with them being the same design and all.  I think the smaller one might actually have the slightly better Clarke likeness, but this one’s certainly not bad, and it’s definitely well-detailed.  Her paintwork is pretty good overall, but it does suffer a bit more than other recent offerings.  The biggest issue is definitely they eyes.  She’s using the printed face technique, but something seems off about this particular release, especially around the eyes.  It’s like the printing got misaligned.  Hopefully this is something that’s more or less confined to my figure.  Qi’ra is packed with her unique blaster pistol, just like her smaller counterpart.  It’s not much, but it’s pretty cool, especially since it even opens for re-loading.  That was an unexpected touch!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Qi’ra was a purchase of convenience, really.  I found her at Target, and I needed to spend another $20 for one of their get $25 off $100 deals, so home with me she came.  And she was essentially free at that!  After the tremendous Han and Lando (and even Rey, for that matter), Qi’ra’s a slight step down in quality.  That said, she’s still a pretty decent offering overall, and definitely a fun figure.  Now, here’s hoping we can get her in her heist outfit, because that one was the coolest.

#1701: Lando Calrissian

LANDO CALRISSIAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Smooth and sophisticated, Captain Lando Calrissian stands ready to retire from the life of a smuggler and instead become a full-time gambler (or “sportsman”, as he calls it), shuffling from card game to card game across the galaxy.”

For my second and third entries in this week of Black Series reviews, I’ll be moving over to the newest installment in the Star Wars franchise, Solo.  I’ve looked at the smaller figures, as well as the Black Series release of the main character, but now I’m going to look at one of the other major returning characters, and one of the highest-praised parts of the movie, Lando Calrissian!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lando is figure 65 in Star Wars: The Black Series, released in the assortment that arrived on shelves alongside the other Solo-themed product.  This is Lando’s second time as a Black Series figure, in rather quick succession, actually.  He’s based on his main Solo look, which is certainly dynamic, and makes for a solid figure design.  The figure stands just over 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  His articulation set-up is rather similar to Han’s, meaning he’s got quite a bit of range in most of those joints, and he’s a ton of fun to pose.  His sculpt is an all-new offering, and does a respectable job of translating Donald Glover’s version of Lando into figure form.  The likeness on the head isn’t quite as spot-on as Han or Rey; I think Glover might just have one of those difficult to capture faces.  On the plus side, the face is very expressive, and very in character for Lando, so it’s a nice change of pace from the blander expression seen on other figures in the line.  The cape and scarf are both separate, removable pieces, allowing you to mix and match looks, and give him a bit of variety.  The softer plastic isn’t too restricting of the figure’s articulation, and it still manages to hold the details pretty well.  Like Han and Rey, Lando makes use of the new face printing technique, to give his face more realism.  It’s not quite as convincing here as it was on the other two, in part due to the more cartoony expression.  Still, it looks pretty good, and it still avoids that lifeless look of the earlier figures.  The rest of the paint is really bright, and quite eye-catching, but there’s one small issue with my figure; the bottom half of his shirt is painted yellow rather than molded.  Not a huge deal, but on my figure the paint application is a little thin, so some of the underlying black plastic is bleeding through.  It’s not terrible, but a little annoying.  Lando is packed with his fancy blaster, which is the same model as included with his smaller figure, but this time it comes with a removable barrel attachment, and that’s pretty fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been on the look out for Lando ever since the figures first started hitting.  I saw the ESB version a few times, but the figure never really grabbed me, so I never got him.  So, this one carries some extra weight.  He was a little tough to come by initially, but I managed to track him down during a completely not-toy-related stop to my local Target.  He’s another strong figure, and like Han, I’d love to have a main Billy Dee Williams version of this quality down the road.

#1655: Guardians of Evil

SENATE GUARD, IMPERIAL ROYAL GUARD, EMPEROR’S SHADOW GUARD, & ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Hey, it’s May the 4th!  You guys know what that means…it’s the original Infinity War release date!  Nah, just kidding.  It’s obviously Star Wars Day.  In honor of the day, I’ll be taking a look at a Star Wars-themed item.  I have a few of those lying around here, I think. <Checks the mountains of un-reviewed figures>  Yeah, I think I can manage that.  So, let’s have a look at the “Guardians of Evil” boxed set!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Senate, Imperial Royal, Emperor’s Shadow, and Elite Praetrorian Guards were released as part of the Star Wars: The Black Series line, as the GameStop-exclusive “Guardians of Evil” boxed set, which hit just after last year’s Force Friday II event.

SENATE GUARD

“For centuries, the Senate Guards kept the galaxy’s legislators from harm while they went about the Republic’s business on the capital world of Coruscant.  With the decline of the Republic, the blue guards were phased out by the Imperial stormtrooper patrols and the red guard in the Emperor’s service.”

Though largely forgettable, the Senate Guards appear in both Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and were technically in Revenge of the Sith, I guess.  Their best showcase, however, came via the Clone Wars cartoon, where, admittedly, they had a slightly tweaked design.  Of course, the film design is essentially the same as the Royal Guard, thereby allowing for some serious parts re-use.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Senate Guard’s sculpt is a mixed-media affair.  The bulk of it is sculpted, though it’s largely hidden by a cloth cape.  A cape, which, by the way, is a lot better tailored than a lot of the cloth parts from this particular line.  Under the cape, there’s a fully detailed, fully armored body.  This armor design first showed up in toy form back during the Revenge of the Sith days, shared by the Senate and Royal Guards from that line.  The sculpt is top-notch, and the armor is nice and sharp.  The arms are just a touch on the long side, but that makes them look a bit better when the cape is pulled down.  The Senate Guard’s helmet is actually one of my favorite designs from the prequels.  It’s got this cool futuristic Spartan warrior flair to it, which is quite fun.  The paint work on the Senate Guard is quite subtle, with lots of variations of blue.  The armor is appropriately shiny, which looks nice.  The blue on the cape matches pretty well with the paint and molded plastic, which is definitely a plus.  The Senate Guard is packed with a blaster rifle, which he can hold in his hands, or sling over his shoulder, as well as a small blaster to keep in his hip holster.

IMPERIAL ROYAL GUARD

“Resplendent in crimson robes and armor, the Imperial Royal Guard protected the Emperor.  Secrecy shrouded the Guard, with rumors abounding about the sentinels’ backgrounds and combat capabilities.”

By far the best known of the four designs seen in this set.  The Royal Guard never does much in Jedi, but they sure look cool, and they’re one of the Empire’s most distinctive designs.  This figure’s actually a pretty straight re-release of the single-released Royal Guard from last year.  Of course, that one was pretty scarce, so the re-release was more than warranted.  Apart from the head, this figure’s sculpt is identical to the Senate Guard.  He had it first, so it’s fair.  The helmet is a pretty perfect recreation of the simplistic design from the movie, and sits perfectly on the body.  The paint work on this guy is the same as the Senate Guard’s but with shades of red instead of blue.  The differences between the reds are a bit more pronounced, though, which I think looks a little bit better.  The Royal Guard includes a staff, and the  same blaster pistol as the Senate Guard.

EMPEROR’S SHADOW GUARD

“Each one of these elite guards is specially chosen by Palpatine for his exceptional loyalty to the Empire, and for his ability to use the Force. Each of the Shadow Guard carries a pike that can be ignited to use as a lightsaber-like blade.”

The Royal Guard has taken the black!  Okay, I’m not actually familiar with this one.  My extensive research (read: I googled “Emperor’s Shadow Guard” and skimmed the link) tells me the concept comes from The Force Unleashed.  That makes this another video game-based figure, which is pretty cool, I guess.  Structurally, the figure’s 100% the same as the Royal Guard, which seems sensible, since they’re essentially the same design.  The main difference is that this one’s been done up in black, so he looks super edgy.  And also super slim, right?  Has he lost weight?  No, it’s just the black.  The Shadow Guard includes a new staff, with a removable laser blade, as well as the blaster pistol from the other two.

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD

“As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any threat.”

Last up, we’ve got the most recent, and most unique of the designs in the set, the Praetorian Guard.  I’ve already looked at one Black Series Praetorian Guard.  This one’s got a new hat different helmet.  Hasbro released all three styles of helmet in both scales; this one is the “hat-wearing” helmet that we also saw in the two-pack with Rey.  Probably my least favorite of the three designs, but a solid one nevertheless.  Anyway, this figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s largely the same figure as the other Praetorian Guard.  The big change is obviously the helmet, which it just as nicely detailed here as it was on the smaller figure.  The other, more subtle change is the skirt, which is now a cloth piece instead of sculpted.  It matches better with the rest of this set, but it means he’s not consistent with the other two Praetorian Guards, which is rather frustrating.  Also, while it improves posability, I don’t find it looks quite as good.  The Praetorian Guard is packed with his axes that snap together into a bladed staff, just like the smaller figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been eying this set up for a while, but it’s got a hefty price tag, so I was biding my time.  As luck would have it, the set went on clearance at Super Awesome Girlfriend’s GameStop, and she was nice enough to buy it for me.  I’m glad I was able to finally get my hands on a basic Royal Guard, and I’m actually thrilled to have the Senate Guard, since it’s one of my favorite designs.  Another Praetorian is never a bad thing either, and the Shadow Guard is fun in his own right.  Overall, quite a fun set, especially since I didn’t have to pay full price for it.

#1639: Han Solo

HAN SOLO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Han Solo reinvents himself after leaving behind his old life.  Now, Solo is growing increasingly comfortable traveling with law-benders and scoundrels.”

Yes, that’s right, the Solo product is finally here.  And it arrived…with a bit of a whimper, really.  Maybe I’ve just been more invested in the last three of these things, but the Solo product launch just kind of happened, low-key, with no announcements, no build-up, nothing.  Well, I spent some time tracking down a handful of items for myself, and I’ll be looking at the Black Series release of the main character today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han is part of the latest assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series figures, which officially started hitting stores last Friday.  He’s numbered 62 and is one of four figures in the first assortment to be specifically from Solo.  He’s the fourth Han in the line, and, of course, the first not to be based on Harrison Ford.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  Han’s articulation is some of the best we’ve seen in the line.  Range of motion on the elbows is almost equivalent to a double-joint, and the posabilty of the ball jointed neck is downright astounding.  Han gets an all-new sculpt, which at this point in the line is hardly a surprise.  It’s definitely up to the line’s increasing standard of quality when it comes to sculpts.  The details are all very crisp, and he looks quite a bit like Alden Ehrenreich.  If I have one complaint about the sculpt, it’s that I’m not a huge fan of the non-dominant hands on these figures having this weird empty grip they’ve been going with as of late.  Of course, that’s exceedingly minor.  A good sculpt can still be brought down by bad paint, but I’m happy to say that isn’t the case on this figure.  The Black Series figures have begun implementing the same face-printing technique that Marvel Legends has begun using on their MCU figures, an Han is my first figure from this line to feature it.  I’m very happy with the end result; he looks very lifelike, and definitely avoids that sort of dead-ness that some of the earlier Black Series figures possessed.  Moving past the face, they’ve even put some slight accenting on his hair (something that is far too often overlooked) and his jacket, thereby preventing him from being quite as bland as some of the figures in this line have ended up.  Han’s only accessory is his DL-44 blaster pistol; it’s still a good piece, and this isn’t a huge change of pace from prior figures, so I can’t really complain.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had plans for Friday morning when the Solo product hit, so I didn’t really have the chance to go out and look for it first thing.  I instead settled for stopping at a Target on the way back from said plans, which is where I found this guy and…pretty much nothing else.  So, this guy it was.  I gotta say, while I liked the look of the figure in the package, I had no idea what I was getting into here.  This is, hands down, the best Han Solo figure that Hasbro has produced to date.  It’s just a little sad that it’s not actually a Harrison Ford Han Solo.  If we don’t get a Bespin Han of equivalent quality to this one within the next year, I will be sincerely disappointed.

#1622: Darth Vader – Vantablack

VANTABLACK DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: THE VANTABLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Once a heroic Vantablack Jedi Knight, Vantablack Darth Vader was seduced by the Vantablack side of the Force, became a Sith Vantablack Lord, and led the Vantablack Empire’s eradication of the Vantablack Jedi Order. He remained in service of the Vantablack Emperor for decades, enforcing his Vantablack Master’s will and seeking to crush the fledgling Vantablack Rebel Alliance.  Vantablackly.”

Have you ever looked at something and thought it could use some more light devouring, piercing, soul-sucking absolute blackness?  No?  Well, that’s ’cause you’re silly.  The obvious answer was “vanta-yes!”  Enter Hasbro with their brand new product line, combining all of the coolness of their Star Wars: The Black Series line with the absolute blackness that is Vantablack.  Behold, Star Wars: The Vantablack Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Vantablack Darth Vader is the inaugural figure in Star Wars: The Vantablack Series‘s first assortment, alongside Vantablack TIE Pilot, Vantablack Death Trooper, and the ultra-secret-mega-chase-one-per-case-completely-theoretical Vantablack Panther.  Why’s there a Marvel figure in there?  Disney, that’s why.  All of those are all well and good, but today’s the main event, the main man, Vantablack Darth Vader, representing Darth Vader as he’d be if he were more Vantablack-y.  This figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has…points of articulation?  I think there’s like around 30?  I don’t know, it’s hard to tell.  Absolute blackness and all.  You try to get an accurate count on something you can’t see!  Vader’s sculpt is..uhh, well there’s…I mean, uhh, it’s new, I think?  It feels new.  Or maybe it’s old.  I suppose it could be the same as the last one.  I’m not used to reviewing my figures by touch.  The quality is good, though.  I think.  There’s probably tons of details there.  It sure feels like it.  I think it’s accurate to the movies, but having never touched any of the Vader suits from the movies, I can’t quite give an accurate reading.  If my fingers don’t deceive me, this is an ANH Vader.  Good choice, guys, that one’s the best feeling one.  The paint on this guy is all Vantablack all the time.  It’s obviously got consistent coverage, since I can’t see any reflection at all.  Vantablack Vader is packed with his usual lightsaber, but with the hilt also in Vantablack.  It’s cool, but I’ve already dropped it on the floor, and what with the Vantablack…I mean, do you know how hard it is to find an item that doesn’t reflect?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I stumbled on this guy at my Toys R Us.  I mean that literally.  The box is *also* in Vantablack, and, as I noted, that stuff doesn’t reflect, so it’s kind of hard to see, especially since TRU’s literally just stacking this stuff on the floors now.  Since I’d already left a sizable shoe-print on the box, I figured I should probably pay for it.  I greatly look forward to having more of these figures that I can’t really see.  Maybe I’ll put them in a dark corner of the room.

#1589: Cassian Andor, Imperial Deathtrooper Specialist, & Jyn Erso

CASSIAN ANDOR, IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER SPECIALIST, & JYN ERSO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

 

There was one major piece of Rogue One merchandise I haven’t yet gotten around to reviewing.  It was sitting there in the store, staring at me, waiting, watching, and….uh, waiting.  Sorry, didn’t have a third “w” word, there.  Anyway, I finally have said piece of merchandise, so, without further ado, here’s this set with Cassian, Jyn, and a Deathtrooper!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This three pack was a Target-exclusive, and started hitting shelves about a month after the main Rogue One product launch.  Of the three figures included, only Cassian is a truly unique figure.  The Deathtrooper has some minor tweaks as well, but Jyn is exactly the same as both her standard and SDCC-exclusive releases.

CASSIAN ANDOR

“An accomplished Alliance Intelligence officer with combat field experience, Captain Cassian Andor commands respect from his Rebel troops with his ability to keep a cool head under fire and complete his missions with minimal resources.”

Despite his placement in a big exclusive set, the Cassian seen here is the standard version of the character, seen most frequently throughout the movie.  It was oddly scarce in the initial product launch, but by the end of all the Rogue One product, it did end up fairly well represented.  It’s definitely the selling point of this release.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  His head is shared with the Eadu version, which admittedly wasn’t the best Cassian sculpt we got, but it looks a little bit better here than it did on that figure.  The rest of the figure is a unique sculpt, and it’s a definite improvement over the Eadu look.  The details are generally a lot sharper, especially on the jacket, and the overall aesthetics just seem to flow a bit better.  He’s still a little bulky for Luna, but not as bad as the Eadu figure.  The movement is a lot better as well, thanks to the slightly less restrictive design.  Just like the sculpt, the paint on this Cassian is a marked improvement on the last figure.  The face is still a bit off, especially the beard, but it’s definitely a step up.  The eyebrows are less caterpillar-like, and the scruff is a little more reserved, so that’s a plus.  The rest of the body is pretty solid overall.  There’s a little bit of fuzz in a few spots (like the tops of his boots), but generally it’s pretty sharp.  Like his oh-so-awesome small-scale counterpart, this Cassian is packed with his modular blaster rifle, which maintains the oh-so-awesome-ness.

IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER SPECIALIST

“The elite soldiers of Imperial Intelligence, Death Troopers are encased in specialized stormtrooper armor with a dark, ominous gleam.  These soldiers serve as bodyguards and enforcers for Director Krennic, a highly placed officer within the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Empire.”

For the most part, this is a figure I’ve looked at before, back when it was just the standard Deathtrooper.  But, apparently, as a “Specialist,” this guy is entitled to a whole web gear load out, with a shoulder pauldron, some ammo pouches, and a bunch of grenades.  It’s a cool piece, and totally removable, should you just want the standard Deathtrooper.  Beyond that, his sculpt, paint, and accessories load out is the same as the basic variant.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I passed on this set when it was new, because paying the cost of three figures and only getting one I actually wanted seemed a bit much.  Just after the new year, however, Target got around to marking the set down, to about the cost of a standard Black Series figure. That brought into a reasonable range for me, so I finally got it.  I’m glad I finally got this Cassian; he’s definitely my go-to figure of the character.  I’m also not unhappy about the Deathtrooper variant, though I can’t say it’s the sort of figure I would have paid full retail for.  Ultimately, I think bundling Cassian into this three-pack was a mistake, and I think the fact that the set ended up on such deep clearance speaks to that.  I get Hasbro’s desire to get as many Jyns as possible out there, but this exclusive really would have worked much better as a two-pack with Cassian and the Trooper.  Three times was just one time too many for the standard Jyn to get a straight re-release.