#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.

Advertisements

#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.

#1575: Admiral Ackbar & First Order Officer

ADMIRAL ACKBAR & FIRST ORDER OFFICER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Star Wars fandom has a tendency to latch onto certain characters, and blow there contributions way out of proportion.  The biggest example of this is, of course, Boba Fett, but coming up close behind has got to be Admiral Ackbar.  Ackbar’s big claim to fame is a unique design and one highly memorable line.  Pretty much the only difference between him and Nien Numb (introduced in the same movie, and with about the same amount of screen time) is that Ackbar actually spoke English.  Despite all of this, there was a sizable chunk of people who were genuinely angry that Ackbar’s role in The Last Jedi was that of a background character….just like he has been for his entire existence.  I personally was happy to see him again in whatever role they could give him, and even happier to see him get a new action figure out of the whole thing.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Admiral Ackbar and his pack mate, a generic First Order Officer, were released in a Toys R Us-exclusive two-pack as part of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.

ADMIRAL ACKBAR

“Ackbar became a Grand Admiral in the New Republic, winning many victories, including the pivotal Battle of Jakku.  He retired to Mon Cala but was coaxed back into service with the Resistance by Leia Organa.”

Ackbar is no stranger to action figures, but this is his first time in the 6-inch scale.  He’s seen here in his uniform from The Last Jedi, which is different from his TFA uniform, which was in turn different from his RotJ uniform.  Each time, it seems his uniform’s gotten a bit less unique.  I don’t dislike his Last Jedi design, but Ackbar is really just wearing the same togs as everyone else.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation, which includes an articulated jaw.  Pretty swanky.  Ackbar’s sculpt is new to him, and it’s certainly impressive.  The best work is definitely on his head and forearms, which capture the prosthetics from the film quite nicely.  The head in particular does a great job of working in the jaw movement without disrupting the sculpt too much.  The rest of the figure is decently handled.  The uniform features the appropriate texturing and such, and the proportions match up well with the head and hands.  Because of the way the waist articulation is implemented, the overhanging flap on his jacket is cut off at the belt, which looks a little goofy and is hard to get properly aligned when posing him.  The paint on this figure follows the example of the sculpt.  The most impressive work is on the head and hands, which get a decent amount of accent work and the like.  The body is certainly passable, but there’s no accenting on any of the uniform, which looks a bit goofy and cheap.  Ackbar is packed with a standard rebel blaster, which he can hold in his right hand.

FIRST ORDER OFFICER

“The officers of the First Order military forces show unwavering allegiance to Supreme Leader Snoke, leading his massive armies and fleet in a relentless drive to dominate the galaxy.”

This is a figure we’ve seen most of before.  With the exception of the head, he’s identical to the First Order Disguise Finn figure.  Obviously, it’s a sensible re-use, and a great way of justifying the totally unique tooling for Ackbar.  Anyway, I liked Finn, so I like this figure.  His new head is suitably generic, so if you wanted to get a few of these, it wouldn’t look too terrible.  It’s got a slight resemblance to Vinnie Jones in my eyes, but I hardly mind that (even if it is a bit goofy to see such a head on such a scrawny body).  The paint on this guy is pretty much comparable to Finn’s, with the obvious changes to the head.  The face is a little sloppy, but the faded hair actually looks pretty decent.  Like Finn, this guy includes the small blaster pistol and removable hat.  He loses the riot baton, but I’m guessing those aren’t standard issue for officers.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this set once before the movie’s release.  I’d just dropped a bunch of money on figures the day before, so I decided to hold off.  Then I didn’t see the set anywhere for a month, and I started to worry a bit.  Fortunately, it showed back up, and I was able to snag one last month while on a trip out and about.  Ackbar’s the definite draw, and he’s a solid figure.  Not 100% sold on this particular costume, but it certainly could be worse.  The Officer’s not really anything special, but he’s a decent figure nonetheless and a welcome addition to my First Order ranks.

#1549: Resistance Tech Rose

RESISTANCE TECH ROSE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Part of the support crew that keeps the Resistance star fighters flying, Rose has hated the First Order since she was a child.  Now able to fight back against the enemy, Rose keeps her focus on her mission.”

Introducing a new main character to an established franchise is always tricky business.  Our new heroes from The Force Awakens sort of got away with it, thanks to the narrative effectively rebooting, and giving the new characters more of a clean slate to work with.  For The Last Jedi, things have been re-established, and become more rigid.  Nevertheless, our newest hero Rose Tico made herself feel right at home with the rest of the cast, and is one of my favorite parts of the movie.  I’ve looked at her basic figure back during the Force Friday reviews, but now I’ll be taking a look at her Black Series release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rose (who is officially called “Resistance Tech Rose” on the box.  Are we not supposed to know her last name?) is part of the third assortment of TLJ-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, numbered at 55.  She’s seen here in her Resistance Tech jumpsuit, which was her main look in the movie, and the one used for her smaller-scale figure as well.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is all-new to this figure, though it definitely shares some origins with the two smaller scale figures, as a lot of the details line up with each other.  Given it’s the same character and all, it’s kind of sensible, though.  As much as I liked the smaller Rose’s sculpt, I must admit, I find this figure to be a slight downgrade.  A lot of it’s changes that had to be made for the sake of adding in extra articulation, but there were also a few changes in proportions, so for instance her neck seems a bit longer than it should be.  There are also some areas where the details seem a little simpler than I’d expect for a figure of this scale, namely her hair, which looks almost animated in nature.  Still, there’s plenty of solid detail work on the jumpsuit, so it’s not a total downgrade.  Honestly, it’s really just the head that’s throwing things off.  Even the likeness to Kelly Tran seems a little off the mark, which is especially surprising, since the smaller figure was spot-on in that regard.  In terms of paint, Rose is generally pretty good.  The application is clean, and the small details, such as the information printed on her pocket, are all really sharp.  Her eyes seem to have been painted slightly wider than how they were sculpted, which I think is likely contributing to the likeness being a little bit off.  I do appreciate that she actually gets extra detailing on her belt that the smaller figure didn’t have, since it could have easily been left one solid color.  The larger Rose comes with the same accessory compliment as her smaller counterpart: a standard Resistance blaster rifle in gold, and her small taser device, which can once again be clipped onto her belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

You know the last three figures I looked at?  The ones I saw once and passed on at first before ultimately picking them up again after seeing the movie?  Yeah, I found all of them because I was actually looking for Rose, because I really wanted her in this scale.  I did actually find one that I passed on, because I found her two days before Christmas and had better things to do with my money.  By the time I went back, she was gone.  Not to worry, though, because I found her at the same Target where I ultimately ended up getting Rey.  Despite some of my complaining here, Rose is actually a really good figure.  I was just spoiled a bit by her exceptionally good basic figure, so the fact that this one doesn’t completely out place that one is slightly frustrating.  Still, I’m very happy to have found her.  She’s really great.

#1548: Finn – First Order Disguise

FINN – FIRST ORDER DISGUISE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“To carry out a mission crucial to the Resistance, Finn adopts a First Order officer’s uniform, going undercover and doing his best to blend in among his former ranks.”

Toy companies seem to have a hard time making toys of Finn exciting.  When the product for The Force Awakens first hit, all of the Finns were in his jacketed civilian style look.  While that’s certainly his main design from the movie, it was perhaps not the most thrilling, especially to a customer base that wasn’t yet familiar with the character.  For The Last Jedi, where Finn is sporting a look very similar to the one from the last film, toy makers wisely chose to use Finn’s disguised look from later in the film as his initial go-to for the figures.  While Hasbro gave us the standard Finn for their smaller basic line, they did the Officer’s uniform for his Black Series release, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

First Order Disguise Finn is part of the second assortment of TLJ-themed Star Wars: The Black Series figures, hitting just after Force Friday II, alongside Leia, Poe, Maz, and the Guard.  He’s figure 51 in the line, placing him between the Guard and Leia numerically.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  His sculpt was technically new to him, but all but his head was almost immediately re-used for the First Order Officer included in a TRU-exclusive two-pack with Ackbar.  Given that it’s largely just a standard Officer’s uniform, that’s a rather sensible re-use, and I have no doubt it was part of what made this particular look appealing to Hasbro.  It’s a solid sculpt, and also makes for a very easy to pose, very playable figure.  The only truly unique piece is the head.  They could have just re-used the first Finn head, but they didn’t.  I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t, since that was a pretty solid sculpt and had a decent Boyega likeness.  While I certainly don’t dislike this sculpt, I do feel it’s resemblance isn’t quite as strong.  From a purely technical standpoint, though, it’s the better piece, with sharper detailing and better relative scaling to the body, though, so it’s not a total loss.  The paint on this guy is generally pretty decent work, with pretty clean detailing and a palette that’s a good match for what’s seen in the film.  I wish the pupils on my figure were a little better centered, but they aren’t as bad as some figures I’ve gotten.  Finn’s packed with a removable helmet, a pistol, and a riot-control baton.  The hat’s a good fit to the head, and isn’t overly bulky like some removable pieces, so that’s good.  The pistol’s pretty basic, but a good match for the material.  It’s a little hard for him to hold it, since his hands aren’t really designed for it, but it’s still a welcome addition.  The best piece is definitely the baton, which, rather than being a simple re-use of the one from TFA, has been totally re-tooled, so that it now can be properly extended into attack mode.  It’s a really fun piece, and I hope it sees re-use elsewhere.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with Rey and Kylo, Finn is a figure I passed on when I first saw him (sensing a theme to this week’s reviews?), since I already had the TFA Finn and this was a non-standard variant.  I ended up grabbing him at the same time as Kylo, while I was actually on my way back from seeing the film for the second time.  Despite not being the standard version of the character, I really like this figure, and I think he’s an improvement on the standard Finn from TFA.  I’m hopeful that Hasbro will find a way to release his standard look from TLJ somewhere down the line, though, because I’d like to have it in this quality.

#1547: Kylo Ren

KYLO REN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Growing more powerful in the dark side of the Force, Kylo Ren pursues his enemies with sinister determination.  He will prove to Supreme Leader Snoke that he is truly capable and will hunt down those who caused his defeat at Starkiller Base.”

There was a lot I liked in The Last Jedi, but I think perhaps my favorite character arc contained there-in was that of Kylo Ren.  He goes from a character that could have been a rather one-note retread of Darth Vader, to something much more fully formed and unique.  Certainly the similarities still persist, but I don’t find his arc quite as predictable as it was at the end of TFA.  Just like the last movie, he was a prominent fixture of the associated toys, including the fan-favorite Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kylo is figure 45 in Star Wars: The Black Series.  He was originally released with the seven-figure assortment that hit on Force Friday II, and was then immediately re-released with the next assortment, alongside Leia, Poe, the Guard, and Maz.  This had the unintended side-effect of making Kylo look like a particularly slow seller for a little while, but it appears things have mostly evened out now.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  As with yesterday’s Rey figure, this is a figure that shares more than a few design elements with its TFA predecessor (and even more with the unmasked variant of that from the Rogue One product), but there are no shared pieces between them.  This Kylo is an entirely unique sculpt, and it’s quite a good one at that.  The likeness is definitely one of Hasbro’s best attempts at Adam Driver, and is closer than the last unmasked Black Series Kylo.  The rest of the body does a pretty great job of capturing all of the texturing and patterns of Kylo’s costume from the movie, thankfully unencumbered by ill-fitting cloth pieces this time around.  He’s perhaps a little scrawnier than I’d like, but beyond that, this sculpt is a pretty fantastic translation of his look from the film.  This Ren figure marks the third time we’ve gotten a sculpted plastic cape in the larger Black Series line.  It’s a much better look, especially when you’re doing the over the shoulders draped look as seen here.  It’s actually a little odd that they did Kylo this way, but still went with the cloth set-up for Luke, who was released in the very same series.  I definitely prefer how it was handed here.  In terms of paint work, Ren is admittedly pretty straight forward, mostly being a lot of flat black.  They did put some effort into making his pants a slightly different temperature of black, as well as adding a gloss finish to the boots, which certainly makes for a nice look.  Unlike the smaller figure, Ren’s scar goes unpainted here.  I’m actually not sure which way I prefer it.  While it was a little too obvious on the smaller figure, here the scar gets rather lost.  Maybe a slightly less jarring paint app?  Beyond that, the paint on the face is pretty great, and I’m happy to see he has a healthier skin-tone when compared to the very pale unmasked Kylo from TFA.  Kylo is packed with his distinctive cross-guarded lightsaber in both ignited and non-ignited forms, which, combined with the removable cape, makes for a pretty solid selection of extras.  For those that are so inclined, there’s also a deluxe version of Kylo, just released in the last few weeks, which adds a die cast helmet and a display stand based on Snoke’s throne room to the mix, though that one does swap out the nice plastic cape for a rather standard cloth one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kylo was certainly the easiest to find of the initial TLJ Black Series figures, but, as with Rey, I passed on him due to how similar he was to the previous figure.  And, just like with Rey, I regretted having passed on him as soon as I saw the movie.  Whilst on vacation the week after Christmas, I found this guy at a nearby Walmart, marked down to $15 no less.  I guess it was a good thing I waited.  This is definitely Hasbro’s best Kylo so far, and I’m glad I finally grabbed him.

#1546: Rey – Jedi Training

REY – JEDI TRAINING

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“At long last, Rey has found Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master in the galaxy.  Hoping to find a hero of legend, she must unlearn what she has learned as Skywalker challenges her expectations.”

Oh boy, this might offend some people, but you know what?  I really liked The Last Jedi.  It was a solid, thoroughly enjoyable film.  Most importantly for any entry in the Star Wars franchise, it made me want to go out and buy some toys.  And buy some toys I did.  So, I’m gonna do a bit of a Star Wars week, because why not?  Let’s start this whole thing off with a look at the new trilogy’s central figure, Rey!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rey is figure 44 in the latest iteration of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.  There are actually a few different releases of the figure.  The first was in the SDCC 2017 two-pack with Luke. She was then released solo during the Force Friday II product launch.  All of the initial TLJ Black Series figures were rather scarce, so she was given another release as part of the latest assortment (the one that includes Rose and Snoke).  While the first two are identical, the last release (which is the one I have) has one minor detail that differentiates her: the small cut on her right shoulder, which she earned during her battle in Snoke’s throne room.  The figure stands about 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Though there are some slight design similarities between this figure and the Force Awakens release, this figure is a wholly unique sculpt.  I was actually a pretty big fan of the last Rey when she was released, but in the two years since then, there’s no denying that The Black Series has definitely made some leaps and bounds in quality.  So, that older figure was looking a little out of date.  This one, on the other hand, is an incredibly strong sculpt.  The proportions on the body feel more realistic, her outfit now consists of several overlays to convey the proper depth, and there’s just a tremendous amount of detail and texture work all throughout.  The likeness on the head still isn’t quite as spot-on as the Titan Heroes figure (my favorite Rey head sculpt to date), but it’s certainly a marked improvement over the TFA release, and there’s still a lot of Daisy Ridley in there.  This figure is also an improvement when it comes to paint.  The painted skin is gone, replaced by molded plastic, but unlike some of the later TFA Black Series offerings, the sheen isn’t too shiny or lifeless.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors match well with the source material.  There’s still some room for improvement, of course.  There’s some slop on the hairline and on the wrapping around her waist.  I also feel like the eyebrows are a bit too which, which is likely contributing to the slightly off likeness.  But, for a mass-produced figure, she’s not bad.  Rey is packed with her staff (which is a brand-new mold, and a definite upgrade to the last one), the blaster she got from Han, and Luke’s lightsaber.  I miss BB-8, but it’s still a nice assortment of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Black Series offerings for Force Friday II were amongst the most difficult to find, so I didn’t come across any of them in my first week or so of hunting back in September.  I did eventually find a Rey, but ultimately passed on her, feeling she was rather similar to the one I already had.  After seeing the movie, I somewhat regretted this decision.  Fortunately, Hasbro did the re-pack, and I was able to score that one just last week.  While I’m sort of kicking myself for waiting so long on this figure (given how big an improvement she is over the last one), it’s one of those times where I’m ultimately grateful I waited, since I do kind of prefer the running change with the scar on her arm.  This is probably my favorite Rey in my collection.  Of course, there’s that Island Journey Rey looming on the horizon which may unseat her, but we’ll see.

#1535: Inferno Squad Agent

INFERNO SQUAD AGENT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“In the wake of the Death Star’s destruction, the Empire created the Inferno Squad to ensure that Imperial secrets would remain safe.  Their fierce loyalty to the Empire and exceptional skills in both aerial and ground combat set this squad apart from the rank and file troopers.”

It’s Day 4 of my post-Christmas reviews.  Today, I’ll be turning my sites on that galaxy far, far away, and looking at a figure based on the *other* highly divisive Star Wars sequel released this year, Star Wars: Battlefront II.  I myself haven’t yet played Battlefront II, but that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t partake in any of the cool figures that have come out of it, right?  The game has reintroduced an actual campaign to the gameplay, but rather than playing as the 501st (like in the original Battlefront II), you now play as members of the Inferno Squad.  Which apparently translates to TIE Fighter pilots with a little bit of extra detailing.  Cool by me.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Inferno Squad Agent is one of three GameStop-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offerings from 2017.  This one was released to somewhat coincide with the release of the game he’s based on, which seems sensible enough.  This figure stands 6 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  There’s not actually anything new to his sculpt.  For the most part, he’s a pretty straight re-hash of the first Black Series TIE Pilot.  That was an incredibly strong sculpt the first time around, and it still holds up very well three years later.  In place of the original belt, this figure has the spare Stormtrooper belt from Han.  It’s a nice, yet simple, way of differentiating him a little bit more from the original release, and matches up with at least a few of the Agents from the game.  Paint marks where most of the changes are from the original TIE Pilot.  He’s still not crazy different or anything, but different enough to matter.  He’s got the same basic detail work as his predecessor, but now he’s also got some extra red accent work to help denote his Inferno Squad status.  I found the edges of said accenting to be a little fuzzy on my figure, but I was otherwise pretty happy with them.  The bright red contrasts well with the rest of the figure, and helps him stand out when placed next to the original.  The Inferno Squad Agent is packed with the standard E-11 blaster.  Thankfully, this one continues Hasbro’s trend of including accent work on the accessories, which is a pleasant change from the last TIE Pilot’s straight black blaster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy came to me courtesy of Super Awesome Girlfriend.  She’s been working at GameStop for the last couple of months, and was able to score this exclusive for me for Christmas.  He’s not wildly different from the standard TIE Pilot, but I dig the red accents a lot, and I was enough of a fan of the first one that I don’t mind getting a lot of that figure again.  A good toy is a good toy.

#1515: First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter

FIRST ORDER SPECIAL FORCES TIE FIGHTER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The elite of the First Order straighter pilots have access to specialized craft, such as the two-seater TIE craft outfitted with enhanced weapons and sensor systems. The skilled pilots of the First Order launch into combat aboard advanced fighter craft, hunting down enemy vessels and protecting space around installations and warships.”

There’s no denying that vehicles are a defining piece of the Star Wars mythos.  They’re so important, that the scale of the vintage line was largely chosen to facilitate the inclusion of these vehicles.  They’ve been an important part of the line for the past 40 some years, and its part of why the 3 3/4 inch scale has never fully died out.  When Hasbro introduced the 6-inch Black Series, it was kind of assumed by the fanbase that this line would be without any vehicles.  Fairly early on, there were a few smaller items (such as the speeder bike), but full scale vehicles seemed more than a little cost-prohibitive.  Imagine the fanbase’s surprise at SDCC 2015 when Hasbro unveiled a 6-inch scaled TIE Fighter, as part of the products tying into The Force Awakens.  I’ll be looking at that vehicle today!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter (gosh, that’s a long name) was released as a special deluxe item in Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series, which hit in the winter of 2015.  The TIE has a pretty large footprint, at a whopping 18 by 18 inches.  It’s sizable enough that I was half tempted to just put a flat surface on the top of it and just use it as a coffee table.  It has an articulated antennae, a rotating lower cannon, and an opening hatch at the top.  Like the smaller scale TIE, this vehicle is based on the slightly updated TIE Fighter design seen in TFA, which isn’t too far removed from the classic TIE design.  The sculpt is, understandably, unique to this particular item.  It’s a pretty solid piece of work.  Hasbro took advantage of the larger scale, and has filled every inch of this rather sizable piece with tons of detail work.  Speaking of scale, this TIE is a fair bit closer to proper scale with its respective figures than the smaller TIE was.  It’s still not 100% spot-on, but you can get two people in the cockpit sitting back to back as seen in the film, which is a step up indeed.  Said cockpit is definitely the coolest part of the Fighter for me; it’s got two full seats, plus all of the various instruments and panels seen in the movie.  There are clips in each seat, to help hold the figures in place.  They can make it a little difficult to get the figures in there, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad.  A definite plus, though, is that you don’t have to be quite as picky about the figures that go into this Fighter, unlike the smaller one.  I was able to get Poe and Finn in there without too much trouble at all.  The paintwork on the Fighter is decent enough.  It’s pretty clean overall, and there’s some sharp work on the interior of the cockpit.  There’s also some pretty sweet accent work on the red Special Forces stripe.  The TIE Fighter’s only real accessory was an exclusive TIE Fighter Pilot figure, which I didn’t get with my fighter.  It’s the same as the single-release First Order TIE Fighter Pilot, just with some extra red detailing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As cool as the novelty of this item was, when it was originally released with a $180 price tag, I passed.  That’s a lot of money and it takes up a lot of space.  And then I was out to dinner with my family, and there was a wait for our table, so Christian, Tim, and I walked over to the Goodwill across the parking lot.  At said Goodwill, they had this behind the counter, marked at $20.  So, for the price of a single Black Series figure, I got this huge freaking thing.  It’s pretty awesome, I gotta say.  Sure, I don’t have either pilot for it, but Poe and Finn look pretty at home in there, and I can’t stress enough how awesome it was to get this thing for 11% of its original retail price.