Flashback Friday Figure Addendum #0015: Kanan Jarrus

KANAN JARRUS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Oh boy, it’s a FiQ Flashback Friday Figure Addendum!  Man, it sure has been a long time since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it?  Well, don’t get too attached; it’s not likely to become a regular feature again or anything like that.  As I discussed in my review of Hera earlier today, Hasbro’s doing a set of reissues on their Rebels figures from The Black Series.  I snagged Hera, because I missed the prior release, and I’ve skipped Ezra and Chopper, since they’re indistinguishable from the original releases.  I did, however, snag the Kanan re-issue, despite purchasing and reviewing the original release.

So, when The Black Series was launched, the focus was most prominently on the Original Trilogy characters (with one or two Prequel characters here and there, but definitely secondary).  As the line has continued, it’s become a bit more inclusive, adding The Force Awakens, of course, but also some Clone Wars and Rebels characters (and in the most recent series, even a proper EU character).  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those Rebels figures, namely Kanan Jarrus!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kanan was released in the sixth series of the third round of Star Wars: The Black Series (i.e. the sixth series of Force Awakens Black Series).  He’s figure #19 in the line, which I believe makes him the first Rebels figure numerically.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  This figure takes Kanan’s animated design and sort of real-world-izes it.  It’s a good plan on Hasbro’s part; with the smaller scale figures, you’re guaranteed to get a larger quantity of them, so the stylized look won’t stand out as much, but for the larger figures, where animated releases will be far more spaced out, it’s far better to have them fit with the rest of the established line.  This way Kanan can get right to mowing through Stormtroopers without waiting for a proper Rebels Trooper release.  Overall, I think Kanan’s sculpt does a reasonable job of taking Kanan’s animated design and translating into how he might look in a live action film.  It’s not perfect, and I do really think Hasbro would have been smart to base Kanan on his voice actor Freddie Prinze, Jr in terms of likeness and build.  While it certainly looks like Kanan, he still ends up being a little more cartoony than a real person; his eyes (and head in general, really) are rather large, and his torso and arms seem very scrawny.  They’re certainly not as exaggerated as his animated counterpart, but when compared to some of the other figures from the line, he does look ever so slightly famished.  On the plus side, the texture work on the figure’s clothes is pretty outstanding, even better than a few of the other Black Series figures.  I like that each article of clothing has its own texture.  As far as the paint work goes, Kanan matches up with most of the more recent Black Series releases.  He’s a notable improvement over some of the prior figures, and most of the work is pretty sharp.  He could probably stand to have a little more accent work in a few spots, but what’s there works.  There is this weird clump scratched paint on his neck thing, almost like he was scratched before the paint had completely dried, but that’s the only real nit.  Kanan is packed with sidearm blaster, as well as his lightsaber, the hilt of which is designed got separate into two pieces that clip onto his belt, just like on the show.  It’s not the world’s largest accessory complement, but it’s better than several other figures in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, Kanan was released prior to me getting into Rebels, which means I saw him a number of times and passed him up, since I didn’t know the character (yes, I know I bought all of the Rogue One and Force Awakens stuff before seeing the movies and “knowing the characters.”  You’re very smart.  Now shut up).  By the time I got into the show and actually wanted this guy, he had pretty much disappeared from shelves.  Fortunately for me, there are still some cases of series 6 making their way out there, and one such case had hit the Target where I found the second series of Rogue One figures, allowing me to grab this guy at the same time.  Karan has his flaws, but so did a lot of figures in this particular series, and at least his don’t prevent him from being a fun action figure.

That review was from December of 2016, and actually isn’t that bad.  Hey, my writing actually holds up; good for me, right?  In my original review, I was overall pretty positive on this figure.  I did remark that the Kanan seemed a little bit on the scrawny side in terms of build, and that I wasn’t all that big on the way the head looked.  I definitely was hoping for more of a Freddie Prinze Jr likeness on that head.  All of the Rebels figures barring Ezra predated the addition of the face-printing to the line, but Kanan in particular hit during one of Black Series‘ low points on the paint front.  A major appeal of this latest release of the figure is updating Kanan to this new style.  While the figure is effectively identical to the original release from the neck down, the face is an incredible change-up for the figure.  Simply put, he just looks better.  Like, so much better.  Better enough for me to feel totally okay with dropping the price of a standard figure so that I could get this update.  I liked Kanan’s original figure well enough, but this update makes me like him way more, and he feels much more at home with the rest of the line as its evolved.

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

#2551: Hera Syndulla

HERA SYNDULLA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“The captain and heart of the Ghost crew, Hera Syndulla was a gifted pilot and leader. The Twi’lek could bring out the best in her team, making them believe in themselves.”

Star Wars: Rebels hit at a rough spot for merchandising on Star Wars.  The 3D re-release of Phantom Menace and its ensuing tie-ins practically killed Star Wars at retail in its entirety, necessitating a major re-work and as major scaling back.  Rebels was treated to a line of basic figures at the smaller scale, just as The Black Series was launching at the 6-inch scale.  Black Series was very OT focused at itself, so the Ghost crew had to make due with slowly being added to the line one-by-one.  Of course, having them mixed in with a bunch of other product launches didn’t exactly make them the easiest figures to get ahold of.  I myself missed my first shot at Hera, who originally dropped during the Last Jedi launch.  Fortunately for me (and the many other fans who missed out on her initial release), Hasbro’s decided to just go ahead and reissue the whole crew in one shot.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hera Syndulla is part of Hasbro’s latest relaunch of Star Wars: The Black Series figures.  Gone is the red packaging and the line-wide numbering, replaced by mural-building subgroups of figures.  The seven figure Rebels subgroup’s packaging can be lined up for a full cast shot.  Hera’s fifth in that line-up, but there seems to not be any correlation between placement and release, as she and Kanan are in the second “batch” to show up at retail, at least around here.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Hera was fortunate to hit right as Hasbro was really getting a handle on articulating these figures, so she winds up with a pretty solid range of motion.  The elbows get more than 90 degrees, and I dig the ball jointed waist.  The only part I’m not super crazy about is the neck, but even that’s not terrible.  Hera’s sculpt is by far my favorite of the humanoid Rebels characters in this line (Chopper still takes the top overall, though), as they really found their footing on that line between cartoon and reality, and made a sculpt that really captures the main essence of her show design, while also managing to look properly at home with the figures from the live-action films.  I also really love how much detail work they’ve managed to inject into her costume.  The paint work on the figure is mostly pretty basic, but seems to stick pretty close to how Hera’s supposed to look.  It’s worth noting that this figure adds the face-printing, which the initial release just narrowly missed.  It’s not quite as essential for her, but it still adds a nice touch to the overall look of the figure, and certainly looks more lifelike.  Hera’s only accessory is a rather small, but also rather well-detailed blaster pistol, which can be held, or stashed in her ankle holster.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw Hera’s original release one time, and just didn’t have the money for it at the time.  Given how scarce she wound up being, I definitely regretted that, especially as the rest of the crew started to show up.  As soon as this re-issue was confirmed, I was totally on board.  She’s a really solid figure in-hand, and honestly my favorite of this little subset.  I’m very glad to finally have one.

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

#2550: DJ R3X

DJ R3X

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“RX-24, more commonly known as Rex, has given up the pilot’s life and has reimagined himself as DJ R3X.   Behind his DJ table, he spins and plays upbeat music as he watches over the crowd of the cantina.”

Back before Disney owned Star Wars outright, they licensed the property out for Star Tours, a simulator attraction that took riders on a tour of the Galaxy Far Far Away.  When it launched 1987, the ride’s central character was the StarSpeeder 3000’s Paul Reubens-voiced bumbling pilot, RX-24, aka Captain Rex (back before that name was more widely associated with an entirely different character).  Rex was removed from the ride with the Adventure Continues update in 2011, but with the larger Galaxy’s Edge attraction, he’s made his way back, this time repurposed as a DJ.  And wouldn’t you know it, there’s also an action figure.  That’s just how these things roll.  I certainly can’t complain.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DJ R3X was originally packed alongside C-3PO, R2, and BB-8 in the “Droid Depot” boxed set, one of the Black Series sets originally available exclusively through Disney’s Galaxy Edge attraction.  However, with the parks being shut down for a good portion of this year and people trying to refrain from unnecessary travel, Hasbro’s partnered with Target to split off a few of the single figures from the park sets as part of an exclusive “Trading Outpost” subline of figures, and R3X found himself in that line-up.  He stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation.  For his reappearance in Galaxy’s Edge, R3X’s design was tweaked a bit to match his new speciality.  His eyes now have a set of lenses over the optics, simulating some stylish shades, his mouthpiece looks like a microphone, and his ear pieces have been tweaked to look like headphones.  Minor enough tweaks, each of them, but they give him a nice little flair.  The sculpt on this guy does a pretty solid job of replicating the design of the actual prop from the attraction, and I really dig how all of his limbs and the spinning sections of his torso work.  His neck also has a periscopic action to it, allowing for more emoting, I suppose?  That’s pretty neat.  As a DJ, R3X’s paint scheme has also changed up a bit, to be something slightly more eye-catching and worthy of the party.  Now he’s predominately orange, with a little bit of blue accenting.  It’s a good look, and the figure adds in a bit of weathering to it, which suits that used future look of Star Wars well.  R3X gets no accessories, but I can’t say I can think of anything to give him off the top of my head.  It’s worth noting that he comes in a larger than standard package, so it still feels like a good deal even if it’s just him by himself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always really liked R3X as the captain of the StarSpeeder, and he was my favorite thing about the ride the two times I did it.  I was bummed when he was removed from the main ride in 2011, so I was happy to see him find a new profession, and even happier about the figure.  When he was only part of the three pack, I was planning to have my brother snag one for me on his planned trip this year.  That, sadly, got cancelled, but then Max was able to hook me up with the single release of this guy, so it doesn’t feel like a total loss.  This figure’s a ton of fun, and I’d love to see him get retooled into a classic Rex at some point.

#2523: Kit Fisto

KIT FISTO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Two days ago, I was discussing the Prequel Trilogy’s background Jedi, and the fact that they were always received pretty well.  Don’t fear, my thesis still stands with today’s offering, but the turn around on cool stuff being done with him was actually way quicker than just about any other Prequel Jedi (barring the main guys, of course).  Yes, Kit Fisto’s propensity for being cool goes back to 2003, when he got a focus episode of the Genndy Tartakovky-helmed 2D Clone Wars cartoon, showing him as an underwater bad-ass.  It kind of stuck with the fanbase a bit, and Kit has subsequently remained a definite fan favorite.  Fitting, then, that he finally gets The Black Series treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kit Fisto is figure 112 in the Black Series line-up.  He is the final figure to grace the red-striped packaging that’s been running since 2015, which is honestly a pretty big deal.  After the handful of false starts with the orange and blue line packaging, I don’t think any of us thought this one would stick around past number 100, but Hasbro managed to prove us wrong.  And we get to go out with a real cool guy, which is really just the best.  This version of Kit is based on his Attack of the Clones appearance, which makes sense, given the rest of the assortment.  It’s also a pretty standard look for the character, so it’s pretty multi-purpose.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Unsurprisingly, you aren’t getting much range of motion out of the neck, due to the tendrils, but he’s otherwise very impressively articulated, mostly due to being another re-use of the TMP Obi-Wan body.  I like the body a lot, so I don’t hate its re-use here.  It’s not totally accurate to Fisto’s garb in the movie, of course, with the lack of his more distinctive collar and the fact that he’s just got Obi-Wan’s belt and boots being the primary issues.  That being said, it’s a much closer match than what we saw on Plo Koon, and ultimately works in a pinch.  He gets a new head and hands to differentiate him a bit further, and those pieces are really great.  The head’s definitely a good match for Kit’s appearance, or at least what it should be, since his AotC head is a little bit unfinished under close inspection.  This seems to go for what that was *supposed* to look like, and that works better in the long-run.  Kit’s paintwork is generally pretty decent.  There’s some rather basic work on the robes, but they seem to be the right colors for the character, and the head and hands gets some really impressive accenting, which helps them to look quite lifelike.  In my mind’s eye, I feel like he should be a touch more green, but that might just be the old Saga figure influencing my opinion.  Kit is packed with his lightsaber, and that’s it.  It’s a nice piece, but unfortunately the hilt isn’t able to be hung from the belt like Obi-Wan, which makes it a touch less impressive.  And, again, he feels a bit light.  A cloak would have been nice to help fill things out a bit more.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a Kit Fisto fan since Attack of the Clones, when I was determined to get his figure because I thought he was the coolest of the new Jedi introduced.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him on the first shot, which is what ultimately led to me getting Plo Koon.  Hey, it worked out, because I also love Plo Koon.  I’ve definitely been wanting a Kit Fisto for Black Series, and I’m thrilled to have gotten both him and Plo in one fell swoop.  This guy’s a really strong figure.  I don’t know that he’s quite as solid as the Obi-Wan, but after the slight let-down on Plo, he made me feel a lot better.

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

#2522: Obi-Wan Kenobi – Jedi Knight

OBI-WAN KENOBI — JEDI KNIGHT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Obi-Wan Kenobi became a general in the Army of the Republic as the Clone Wars continued, having many adventures with Anakin Skywalker.”

Obi-Wan’s definitely been the best treated of the Prequel characters when it comes to The Black Series.  It’s fair, because he’s probably the best of the core prequel characters, anyway, so I can’t argue with it.  But it’s certainly still noteworthy, because he’s so far the only character to get his primary look from all three of the films, as well as getting one from Clone Wars.  That’s certainly something of an accomplishment, don’t you think?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Obi-Wan is figure 111 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s the penultimate figure in the final red-box assortment, and unlike yesterday’s figure, he’s unquestionably Attack of the Clones based.  Yes, we finally have a Black Series release that can confuse your very religious Grandmother!  Unexpected bonus!  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The vast majority of this figure’s sculpt is shared with the Phantom Menace version of the character.  I was a pretty big fan of the sculpt the first time around, and I think it’s honestly one of the best Jedi sculpts the line’s put out.  I know others have issues with how the hip joints work, but I personally think they have a solid range, and in general, the figure’s posability is top-not.  He gets an all-new head sculpt to adjust him to his Episode 2 appearance, and it sports another really strong McGreggor likeness, matching both the Ep 1 and Clone Wars versions in terms of quality.  The only slight nit to the quality is the somewhat obvious join between the hair piece and the head.  It’s not terrible, and it’s better on some figures than others.  Ultimately, it’s just the price of doing business this way.  It’s probably better than a solid head would have turned out.  Overall, definitely a strong offering.  In terms of paint work, Obi-Wan is about what you’d expect from the line at this point.  He’s got the face print, the base color work on the robes, and a little bit of accent work on the hair to bring out the details.  Not a bad set-up.  Obi-Wan’s only accessory this time around is his lightsaber.  It’s not a bad piece, but it’s a shame they couldn’t also give him a robe, or maybe an alternate soaked head from Kamino, possibly even his pilot head gear.  It does feel rather light as-is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t initially on-board for any Obi-Wan apart from the Episode 1 version, but the unexpected Clone Wars variant kind of broke that dam down.  While I didn’t outright want this figure, after snagging the rest of the assortment, I wasn’t exactly going to pass on him.  While he’s maybe not my favorite Obi-Wan design, he’s the best Obi-Wan figure to come out of The Black Series so far.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the RotS version get a re-do using this set-up as well.

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

#2521: Plo Koon

PLO KOON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A Kel Dor from Dorin, Plo Koon was among the wisest members of the Jedi Order, respected for his level-headed analysis of events and unflappable calm.”

One of the consistently agreed upon not terrible things of the prequel trilogy, even back when they were new and fans were rabid about hating them, were the background Jedi characters.  Sure, they didn’t get to do much, and they weren’t all the best, but there were some really cool concepts and designs there.  The creators of Clone Wars, who were charged with actually injecting some likability into the prequel concepts and characters agreed, and those background guys got some serious love.  Chief among them was today’s focus, Plo Koon, who got quite a few prominent appearances during the run of the series, and has subsequently become quite a fan favorite.  And now he’s got a Black Series figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Plo Koon is figure 109 in the Black Series line-up.  He joins the previously reviewed Anakin and Battle Droid in what is the final assortment of the red-boxed Black Series incarnation, which is *kind of* Attack of the Clones-themed.  I say “kind of” because, well, this guy is the figure that sort of breaks the rule, for reasons I’ll get into as I go through the review.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This assortment is heavy on the re-used parts, and Plo is no exception.  He gets a new head, neck, and hands, but is otherwise a re-use of the Mace Windu figure from early 2019.  I didn’t get that figure personally, so I hadn’t yet gotten to mess with it.  It’s a strong sculpt, and is a good early sign of the improved articulation that came into The Black Series in the last year.  The new head and hands are really nice pieces, which do a fantastic job of capturing how the character looks in the films.  The head in particular is a really wonderful piece of work with so much detailing and depth to the sculpt.  Ultimately, the details on Plo’s robes aren’t quite a perfect match to what he’s wearing in the films, since Plo was sporting a few less layers than Mace, but it’s not terribly far off from a sculpt perspective, and it’s at least a pretty nice starting point.  Also, the average consumer is less likely to notice the re-use/inaccuracies anyway, since the cloth cloak that the figure comes wearing isn’t really designed for removal, being sewn shut at the top.  Of course, if you’re a bit adventurous, you can remove it by popping off Plo’s head and taking it off that way, which I’d call a plus, because I don’t really think it’s one of Hasbro’s better cloth pieces.  The downside of taking it off is that it reveals something that I’ll touch on in the paint section.   Here we are in the paint section.  So, the head and hands look great, and Hasbro’s done some awesome work there.  Kudos and all that.  The problem with the paint/coloring?  The upper robes.  Plo has been seen a number of times without this cloak, and he’s pretty much always seen with a very dark brown set of robes.  That’s what he’s got in AotCRotS, and Clone Wars.  This figure goes down the path set by the Power of the Jedi and Sideshow figures, depicting Plo in a lighter set of robes, which are presumably the ones under his long robe in Phantom Menace.  It’s not awful, but it doesn’t seem to read the right way for the character, and only further emphasizes the inaccuracies of the sculpt.  It also doesn’t match up with the otherwise AotC-theming of the rest of the assortment.  Definitely an odd choice.  Plo is packed with his lightsaber, which seems a sensible choice.  It’s a pretty solid recreation of his blade from the movies.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really like Plo Koon as a character, and have dug him ever since getting the old Saga figure.  I was definitely on board with him getting a Black Series release, and I was happy to see him shown off.  Getting him in-hand was something of an experience, because I was really excited, then rather let-down, and then built back up to enjoying him again.  He’s ultimately a good figure, but certainly a flawed one.  I wish that Hasbro would have at least given him the proper coloring, if they couldn’t actually afford the new sculpting needed.  As it stands, he’s fun, but in the back of my mind I’m sort of waiting to see another release.

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

#2520: Luke Skywalker & Yoda – Jedi Training

LUKE SKYWALKER & YODA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“At the urging of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda agreed to instruct Luke Skywalker, developing his Jedi abilities.”

Since introducing the concept of a Deluxe line of figures into The Black Series, it’s felt to a degree that each release has sort of reinvented the wheel to work within this new price point.  Greivous was a slightly larger and more intricate figure, the Heavy Mando has one really large accessory, and the probe droid was just an entirely different style of figure.  Now, we’re just going for some sort of a two-pack set-up.  Really, I can’t complain too much, because it means I’m getting one of my favorite set-ups, Jedi Training Luke and Yoda!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jedi Training Luke and Yoda are entry D4 in the Black Series line-up, signifying that their the fourth non-exclusive Deluxe item.  They mark the second deluxe this year, following up the Imperial Probe, and effectively close off the 40th Anniversary sub-set that figure kicked off.

LUKE

Luke’s Dagobah training gear is really just a dressed-down version of his main gear from Empire, but is still a pretty notable look.  It didn’t come to the toy world until the ’90s, but its had a few releases since then, including this one.  This figure is actually available two ways right out of the gate.  There’s this deluxe release, and then there’s a vintage carded one with just Luke and some paired down accessories.  It’s kind of an odd choice on Hasbro’s part, and feels like it’s splitting demand right off the bat, but time will tell how it does.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  To date, he’s Hasbro’s most posable version of Luke in the Black Series line-up, and I can definitely get behind that.  It puts him far more on par with the likes of Bespin Han than his prior, slightly stiffer variants were.  Really, the differences between this and Bespin Luke are pretty much night and day.  This Luke does seem a bit smaller when compared to prior versions, but he actually fits in better with some of the more recent figures than those older ones.  Hamill’s not a huge guy, and the build on this figure really feels about right.  The quality of the sculpt is pretty top notch, with a very realistic set of proportions, well-worked in articulation, and probably the best Hamill likeness we’ve gotten from Black Series.  It’s worth noting, however, that the hair placement seems to be rather off on a lot of copies of the figure, which can rather hinder the likeness. I picked myself the best out of a sample size of four, which worked out pretty well for me, but your mileage may vary.  The paint work on Luke is pretty solidly handled.  He’s got the now standard printed face, which works out quite nicely for the sculpt, and he’s also got some great accent work on both the hair and on the clothes, which offer up some additional depth to the sculpted details.  Both releases of Luke get his lightsaber and blaster (which are the same as previous releases), but the deluxe release also adds in a spare set of hands and the bag for carrying Yoda.  The hands are cool in theory, as they’re meant to let him do his handstand, but the arms are just a touch too loose on my figure to actually keep him standing up.  Oh well.

YODA

Yoda’s gotten four prior releases in The Black Series, including one just this year in the first series of the 40th Anniversary carded figures, all of which were built on the same body as the very first Black Series figure.  That’s a figure that is, at best, a less than stellar offering, and while some of that can be attributed to paint (because boy was that a mess), there’s a heck of a lot of it that was linked to it just having a poor underlying body underneath of that cloth robe.  So, for this latest take on Yoda, Hasbro’s opted to throw everything out and just sort of start from scratch.  Best call, really.  The figure stands just over two inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Pretty much, the first thing that you’ll notice when comparing this figure to his predecessor is how much smaller he is…well, overall.  The heads are pretty much the same size, and honestly pretty much identical in terms of sculpting.  It’s the body that’s much smaller, and much like Luke, that’s ultimately more accurate to the source material.  He also actually gets proper articulation in his legs this time, which is a huge plus in my book, and keeps the single joints in the arms instead of double, meaning his arms aren’t nearly as long this time.  Unlike the last time around, the robe’s not really designed for removal, since the belt is all one solid piece with no clasp on it.  I suppose you could take the robe off if you were really determined, but I’m really not.  Another area of major improvement between Yoda releases is on the paint front.  The original figure hit during one of the worst periods for the line in terms of paint quality, and as such looked pretty bad, with only the bare minimum of detailing, and some really poor quality application at that.  The Archive and 40th re-issues fixed the paint, but this all new version takes it even further, and gives us by far the most “life-like” (as much as a toy of a puppet can be that) version yet.  I also appreciate that they actually painted his flute this time around, as it makes the whole package look just a bit better.  The last Yoda got an okay selection of accessories, and this one’s technically got less, but they work a bit better.  He still has the cane, but he loses the snake and the light saber for a second head with his eyes closed, like when he’s lifting the X-Wing out of the water.  I really don’t miss the lightsaber, since it’s not OT anyway, and the snake was a pretty minor vintage throwback.  The new head is actually a pretty useful piece, so I’m glad to have it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Power of the Force Dagobah Luke was my first Star Wars figure, so I’ve got a soft spot for the design.  I was absolutely thrilled when this set was shown off, and I’ve been patiently awaiting its release.  I even held off grabbing the single carded Luke, because I knew this one was coming, and I wanted the whole deluxe set-up.  Luke’s not a standard design, but he’s the best Luke Hasbro’s released in this line.  The Yoda is also the best Yoda, but it’s really not even a close race on that.  He’s just demonstrably better than the prior release on every front.  This is definitely one of my favorite releases from The Black Series this year, and that’s saying a lot, because it’s been a really good year.

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

#2519: Snowspeeder (w/ Dak Ralter)

SNOWSPEEDER (w/ DAK RALTER)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“While stationed on Hoth, the Rebel Alliance modified T-47 airspeeders to become snowspeeders. The snowspeeder was a two-man vessel, with a pilot and rear-facing tailgunner.”

The larger scale of Star Wars: The Black Series may be good for the quality of the actual figures, but the one slight downside of it is the relative difficulties of getting accompanying vehicles on the market.  Hasbro first dipped their toes in the pool of vehicles with the smaller-scale speeder bike, which went pretty well.  They then jumped all-in with the Force Awakens TIE Fighter, which went maybe not quite as well.  The then returned to smaller vehicles with a Landspeeder, which seemed to okay again.  Now they’re trying that slightly larger vehicle thing again, this time with a Snowspeeder, just in time to tie in with Empire‘s 40th Anniversary celebration.  And I’m taking a look at that bad boy today!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The Snowspeeder is part of Hasbro’s Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary subset of The Black Series.  As of right now, it’s the only vehicle of the year.  It also seems to have ditched the numbering scheme that was started with the TIE Fighter in 2015, which I suppose is appropriate given that the whole line is ditching the numbering set-up.  While the last few Star Wars vehicles I’ve grabbed from Hasbro have had some necessary assembly right out of the box, the Snowspeeder just needs the front guns clipped into place, making it a much simpler set-up.  The Snowspeeder measures 18 by 15, and while it doesn’t have quite the footprint and height of the TIE Fighter, it’s still quite a sizable piece, and appears to be properly scaled to the figures to boot (a big deal, since that almost never happens with anything larger than the smaller speeders).  You’ve got an easy time getting both figures into the cockpit, which is really the most important thing.  The detailing on the sculpt is all pretty darn solid.  The aforementioned cockpit is fully detailed inside, with fully formed seating, seat belts, and controls for the two occupants.  The exterior’s about what you expect for a Star Wars ship, with a lot of clean plates and such.  The drag fins can be lifted and extended, as seen in the film, and I really like how they work, so as to not cause any accidental damage when used.  There are additional fins on the lower rear of the ship, obviously for steering purposes.  There is also a removable panel on the ship’s right wing, exposing some of the inner workings beneath it, I guess for maintenance purposes?  Or perhaps even a bit of battle-damage in a pinch.  It’s a cool touch regardless.  There are a few other details hiding in the ship’s standard mode.  It’s got some landing gear, which works in pretty much the same way as the gear on the Vintage Collection X-Wing.  Also hiding is the ship’s tow-line, which they use to take down the AT-ATs.  It can be pulled from the back, and then you pop open a hatch on the underside of the ship to pull it back in.  It’s not very mechanically impressive or anything, but it also won’t be prone to breakage over time, so I can kind of see Hasbro’s angle on this one.  The paint work on the speeder is pretty solidly handled, with not only the base level details, but also simulated wear and tear, as well as smaller insignias and the like.  It looks quite cool.  The accent color scheme feels off in my mind, because I always think of those stripes being orange, but that’s prior toys coloring my view, I guess.  The Snowspeeder is packed with the grapple that Luke uses to get up to the AT-AT he takes down, as well as what I can only assume is supposed to be a grenade or something.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

“Dak Ralter, an eager young rebel pilot assigned to Hoth’s Echo Base, Dak served as Luke Skywalker’s tailgunner during the Battle of Hoth but was killed by Imperial fire that struck the back of the snowspeeder”

Luke’s ill-fated gunner Dak hasn’t been quite as privy to action figures as other characters, but is nevertheless an essential piece of any proper Snowspeeder set-up.  Without Dak, who’s gonna get shot in the face and get stepped on by a big robot camel take on the whole Empire himself?  Dak stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Dak’s largely a re-use of the Snowspeeder gear Luke that was just single released.  It’s a sensible option, given that it’s a uniform, and Luke and Dak are supposed to be roughly the same height and build.  It also means that Dak makes use of a really solid sculpt that’s a lot of fun.  The one main change-up is, unsurprisingly, the new headsculpt.  He’s still got the insulating cap like Luke, though I feel it makes a bit more sense here.  The face looks to be a respectable recreation of Jon Morton’s likeness as seen in the film.  The paintwork for Dak is pretty much the same as Luke’s, albeit with the expected change to the face and to the insignias on the helmet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Snowspeeders are one of my favorite OT vehicles, and I’m always down for a good toy version.  After the soft performance of the TIE fighter, I wasn’t really expecting to see the Snowspeeder show up in Black Series form.  I was definitely happy to see it crop up with this year’s Toy Fair showings, and was even more excited when Dak was shown alongside it.  Definitely one of the items from this anniversary collection that I was most anticipating.  It’s a fun piece to be sure, and I think has a little more intrigue to it that the TIE Fighter.  Hopefully others feel the same way.  Is it wrong for me to want an alternate color scheme speeder with a Wedge and Janson?  That’s not entirely crazy, right?

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

#2495: Battle Droid – Geonosis

BATTLE DROID — GEONOSIS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Rather than use flesh-and-blood warriors, the Separatists prefer mindlessly loyal soldiers that are easily controlled. Battle droids are dim-witted and no match for clone troopers or Jedi, but they weren’t designed to be smart – they were designed to overwhelm Republic civilians through sheer numbers, something they do very effectively.”

Since the Stormtroopers were off limits due to timelines and continuity and all that jazz, the Prequel Trilogy had to come up with its own form of armies of troops for the bad guys to throw our heroes’ way.  Taking advantage of being able to do designs and concepts not as easily allowed by the technology of filmmaking in the early ’80s, Lucas and company introduced the Trade Federation’s Battle Droid army, who became the backbone of the separatist forces for the next three films (and Clone Wars, of course), all while some how becoming more comically slapstick in their mannerisms with each subsequent appearance.  At this point, it really wouldn’t be that far-fetched for them to come out with a rendition of “who’s on first?”  Whatever the case, they were absent from The Black Series for a good bit, but finally joined the line early last year.  Of course, the assortment they were a part of was kind of unbalanced in its distribution, so Hasbro opted to give us another chance at the mold, this time with a tweaked color scheme.  Yay for me!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Battle Droid (Geonosis) is figure 108 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s the third Battle Droid we’ve gotten, following the tan Episode 1 version and the Gaming Greats heavy gunner.  All three of them are the same mold, which is sensible, since the core droid design didn’t change throughout the three prequel films.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Battle Droid figures historically have a lot of trouble matching the movement of the droids in the films.  Given that the joints are right there in the design, it’s a shame that they almost never articulate them.  However, this figure addresses that, and actually manages to articulate most of the built-in joints, making this by far the most Battle Droid put out by Hasbro.  The hip joints are slightly limited, and a few of the smaller joints were stuck on mine right out of the box, but he’s overall really posable, and a lot more steady on his feet than prior Battle Droids I’ve messed with.  Most impressively, he can actually properly fold up like the droids do in the movie, which is pretty cool.  The sculpt is also a pretty spot-on recreation of the designs seen in the movie, with all of the detail work being nice and crisp, sharp, and clean.  He’s quite a sleek-looking figure.  The colors are where this figure differentiates himself from the prior releases.  This one uses the Geonosis coloring, so he’s all red to match the rather amber terrain of the planet.  I’ve always been kind of partial to this coloring, so I’m happy to see it represented here.  The paint work gives him some wear and tear, so that he looks like a proper “battle” Droid.  He’s armed with the standard E-5 blaster, and also includes both a backpack, and the streamlined antenna pack, to allow for some distinction of ranks within the set-up.  It would have been cool to also get a C-3PO head to swap out, but perhaps they’ll just make the heads swappable when they make the inevitable AotC 3PO.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was tempted by the tan release of this figure last year, but never saw him in person, and didn’t feel majorly inclined to track him down after the fact.  Once I knew this one was coming, I officially switched over to just wanting him, because I like this color set better.  Now that I’ve finally gotten to mess with this mold, I can definitely see why people like it so much.  I’m sure Hasbro’s already planning to do a few more rank variants with it, and I can see myself picking some of those up to be sure.

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

#2493: Anakin Skywalker – Padawan

ANAKIN SKYWALKER — PADAWAN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A hero of the Clone Wars, Anakin was caring and compassionate, but also had a fear of loss that would prove to be his downfall”

Okay, so we were looking at some figures from Empire, the second installment in the Original Trilogy, which everyone loves.  Now, let’s jump forward (or is it backward?) to Attack of the Clones, the second installment of the Prequel Trilogy that most people don’t love.  I’m with most people on this one.  Delving back into my archive of old reviews tells me that the only other Anakin Skywalker figure I’ve reviewed here was back in May of 2014, and was another version of him from Attack of the Clones.  So, let’s do more of that, I guess?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Anakin Skywalker (Padawan) is figure 110 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s from the latest assortment of the main line, which is an entirely AotC-based line-up.  It’s also the last line-up before the line ditches the overall numbering scheme and goes to more themed subsets starting in the fall.  Gotta say, ending the longest running incarnation of this line with an all Attack of the Clones assortment is a pretty baller move.  Go for it, Hasbro.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  A lot of this figure’s parts are shared with the Revenge of the Sith version of the character, released way back in Series 4 of the original Black Series incarnation.  Remember in my Luke review on Tuesday, when I mentioned how nice it was to get an all-new sculpt for the Snowspeeder gear, even though they might have been able to try for some re-use?  Well, that feels somewhat relevant here.  Anakin’s look in the two films isn’t terribly different, so on one hand, some re-use is sensible.  However, it has the side effect of putting this guy on a base body that’s from 2014, which, from both a sculpting and an articulation stand point, puts him rather behind the times.  The torso in particular is rather boxy, and the movement on the elbows, waist, and knees is quite limited, especially when compared to more recent offerings.  He does at least get a new head, right forearm, and belt, which help to change him up a bit from the prior release.  The head is probably the strongest piece, and manages to give us a solid rendition of Hayden Christiansen.  It’s certainly an amazing improvement over any of the prior versions of him we’ve gotten, especially when it comes to his AotC appearance.  They definitely got that broody facial expression down.  The only slight issue with mine is that he’s got a bit of flashing on the right side of his jaw.  The new forearm is really just meant to mirror the left side, since this is a pre-robo arm Anakin.  It’s a real shame they didn’t take the opportunity to make it more easily removed at the elbow, to simulate some battle damage.  Of course, they also left Bespin Luke without an easily removed hand, so maybe they’re just really banking for potential variants down the line.  In terms of paint, this figure tries, but has one major issue, which is that his neck and face just don’t match.  Sadly, this is the potential problem you face when you’re painting one and molding the other in the appropriate color.  More recent figures have been using the double ball joint set up so that the neck is separate from the torso, allowing it to also be molded in the appropriate color, but no such luck here with this older mold.  At least the face printing looks pretty good.  In terms of extras, Anakin’s pretty light.  He gets his lightsaber…and that’s it.  It’s not even a really great mold, since the hilt feels somewhat oversized.  I’d really liked to have seen an alternate arm with his robot hand, or a robe, or even his green loaner saber from the end of the movie, so that we could properly set up the duel with Dooku (I had to steal one from Grievous to set up the shot at the end of the review).  Given that the figure whose mold he’s using most of included an extra head in addition to the lightsaber, this feels like a real missed opportunity.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I feel the need at this point to say that not only has my “no prequels” rule with this line been broken, it’s been poisoned, shot, stabbed, clubbed and finally drowned.  Very Rasputinian, if I do say so myself.  I’m really just all in at this point, honestly.  It helps a little that I already had Dooku, and also that I’m becoming increasingly in touch with the nostalgic twinge I have for Attack of the Clones, especially when it comes to toys.  This guy’s got his flaws, and in some ways feels a touch phoned in, but as a whole, he’s still a very enjoyable figure, and I’m hoping I can manage to snag Obi-Wan to go with him soon.

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