#2783: Rey – Dark Side Vision

REY — DARK SIDE VISION

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“While searching for the Sith wayfinder, Rey envisions her turn to the dark side. Wielding a double-bladed Lightsaber, her rage and immense power is frightening.”

While I enjoyed the film a lot more than other people, I’m willing to admit that Rise of Skywalker is a film that has a lot of half-formed, unfinished, and unexplored ideas jammed into it.  Though featured in the trailers and taunted as a major turning point, the Dark Side-influenced version of Rey wound up as essentially just an easter egg, with no real plot-bearing, and effectively nothing that wasn’t already in the trailer, apart from the context of it just being a vision, and not a legitimate fall for Rey.  While I wasn’t as married to the dark Rey idea as some people, I’ll admit the concept could have at least gotten some more screen time, even if it were still as a vision of a potential future.  But, hey, it got a figure.  That’s cool, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dark Side Vision Rey is part of Phase IV of Star Wars: The Black Series, and was included in the line’s third assortment, alongside the three Mandalorian-inspired figures I looked at earlier in the week.  She’s figure 01 in the Rise sub-set of the line, which is, so far, made up only of this figure.  Sure, we can get a second Rey, but a proper Rise version of Poe?  That’s just too much to ask for, right?  Totally ridiculous! …Okay, sorry, I’m not bitter or anything.  I promise.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and she has 28 points of articulation…in theory.  Unfortunately, most of the figure’s leg articulation ends up more or less useless, due to the nature of how the figure’s skirt piece is designed.  For some reason, they opted to go for a more solid rubber construction for that piece, while using a cloth piece for her cape.  Why? Not a clue.  Personally, I’d have probably swapped those two.  But I’m not a toy designer, so maybe there are factors I’m not privy to.  Dark Rey’s sculpt is generally okay, but not really anything amazing.  The head’s got a strong Daisy Ridley likeness, and might be a re-use of the standard Rise version, but it’s hard to tell.  It’s good piece regardless.  The hood that sits on top of it’s not so great.  I mean, I guess the hood itself isn’t awful.  The shaping and the texturing are certainly nice.  However, much like the Rise Kylo, the hood floats above the head, which looks goofy.  It’s not as bad as Kylo, mind you, and changing the posing on her head can help, but generally it would look much better if it sat just a touch lower.  The rest of the sculpt isn’t bad.  Her proportions match with the standard Rey, and the texturing on the robes is consistent with the strong work on the hood.  Rey’s paint isn’t very involved, since it’s mostly just black plastic here.  The face printing does a nice job with the shadows on the eyes, so that’s cool.  The hair line’s not so great on my figure, but it’s at least harder to see that due to the hood.  Dark Rey’s only accessory is at least a good one: she gets the distinctive hinged double-bladed saber from the sequence.  It’s an odd piece, and she never really looks natural holding it, because the whole design is kind of awkward.  However, it’s certainly unique, and it’s about the only thing I can think of that it would make sense to give her, so kudos to Hasbro there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Rise has been the red-headed stepchild of the franchise when it comes to toys, so I’m always happy to see at least something more coming out of the movie, but I’d be lying a bit if I said I wasn’t disappointed with this being the first thing from the movie to be included in the Phase IV line-up.  It’s made even worse by the total lack of follow-up to her at this point.  Whatever the case, I guess it’s not really this figure’s fault that it’s not a different character, so it’s a little unfair to judge it by those standards.  On it’s own merits, it’s alright.  Not amazing or anything, but it could be worse.  Hopefully, she’ll be joined by some more figures from the movie, so that Rey and Rey aren’t the center piece of the display.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2782: Moff Gideon

MOFF GIDEON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Imperial Moff Gideon is fiercely determined to capture a specific quarry. Clever and formidable, Gideon values power and knowledge.”

Werner Hertzog’s un-named and mysterious “Client” serves as the main underlying antagonist of The Mandalorian‘s first season, but is dispatched in a rather spectacular fashion just before the season finale by the character who becomes the main antagonist moving forward, Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon.  Esposito does a pretty great job of playing a compelling villain, and he’s definitely been at the top of people’s want lists for the toys since the end of the first season.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s gotten around to delivering on that front, giving us a Gideon in each of their three styles, in rather close succession.  Today, I’m looking at his Black Series offering.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Moff Gideon is part of the Mandalorian sub-set of Black Series‘ Phase IV incarnation, where he’s figure 08.  He’s the last of the Mando figures in the third assortment since the relaunch.  Gideon is presented here in his custom Imperial attire, which has thus far been the only look he’s had.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  So, here’s my thing on this figure: he’s too tiny.  Like, not just too short, but actually too tiny.  Esposito isn’t the tallest guy, but his costume for Gideon has him wearing lifts, which the figure’s design includes.  It seems to me that somewhere along the line, the used Esposito’s listed height as the basis for the figure, not factoring in the costume design, and ultimately resulting in him just being actually too small all around.  It’s not super noticeable with a helmeted character like Mando, fortunately, but next to Kuiil and Karga, who he’s in the same assortment with, mind you, he looks a little bit like he’s supposed to be from a different line.  These size issues are most annoying for one major reason: the sculpt’s otherwise really good.  The likeness on the face is strong, the expression’s perfect for the character, and the detailing on his uniform is sharply handled.  It all looks really good.  They’ve even done well getting the cape to hang convincingly.  All in all, just a really nicely rendered sculpt.  Gideon’s paint work is nicely handled as well.  The printing on the face is nice and lifelike, and the variations in the various blacks of his uniform.  The red accenting is appropriately eye-catching, and the smaller details on his chest armor are cleanly applied.  Gideon is packed with two accessories: a small blaster and the Dark Saber.  The blaster’s standard, and can be kept in his holster.  The Dark Saber’s a great piece, and a large plot point in the show, making it a great extra.  Ultimately, I still think he feels a little light, but he’s in a better spot than the others so far.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Moff Gideon’s certainly a memorable, and definitely important character for the show, so I was definitely down for adding him to my collection.  He’s not a bad figure.  Honestly, he’s a pretty darn good figure.  But he’s also too small, and that just kinda bugs me.  I guess I’ll just stick him next to IG-11 all the time, so that it’s not so noticeable?

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.

#2781: Kuiil

KUIIL

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Kuiil came to seek peace in an out-of-the way world. He has worked a lifetime to be free of servitude and offers valuable skills for those willing to meet his price.”

One of the things The Mandalorian has excelled at is taking pieces of Star Wars left kind of unexplored (in mainstream media, anyway) and actually putting a decent amount of time and energy into making audiences care about those things.  Take, for instance, the Ugnaughts, the race of small, pig-faced, troll-men, who served as background filler for the Bespin scenes in Empire.  Did anyone really care about them?  Really?  Then The Mandalorian comes along and gives us Kuiil, and all of the sudden we’re sad when an Ugnaugh dies.  Feelings about Ugnaughts?  That doesn’t seem right.  Damn you, Nick Nolte-naught and your lovable speech quirks!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kuiil is a Phase IV Black Series release, as figure 07 in the Mandalorian sub-set of the line.  He’s part of the third assortment of this phase, alongside yesterday’s Greef Karga figure.  He too is based on his Season 1 appearance, because he kind of has to be, doesn’t he?  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Despite his slightly smaller stature, Kuiil is still more or less on par with most Black Series releases in terms of posability.  About the only area I might say could use some improvement is the elbows, which are a little restricted, thanks to how the sculpt works out.  Thry aren’t terrible, just not quite up to the latest standards, especially given the recent trooper updates.  Kuiil’s sculpt is generally a rather impressive one, and certainly a benefit of him not getting a figure for over a year past his original debut.  By far the most impressive part of the sculpt is the head, which is just the spitting image of his in-show design, and also features a impressively designed and scaled aviator’s cap and goggles.  I honestly wasn’t expecting them to be removable at first glance, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find out they were.  The rest of the sculpt does a quite nice job of capturing Kuiil’s attire from the show, varying up the textures for the various different pieces of clothing, and adding some nice depth to the sculpt where possible.  Kuiil’s paint work is, for the most part, pretty basic.  The head again gets the best work, with the face printing working well with the sculpted elements to really nail that likeness to the prosthetics.  The rest of him is really on the straight forward side, with just solid colors.  I do feel he might benefit from some more accenting, to really sell that used universe look, but at least the sculpt does its part to keep things going.  Kuiil’s only accessory is his rifle.  It’s a nicely detailed piece, which fits well in his hands, but, like Greef, it winds up feeling pretty light for the price.  I might have liked to get maybe some of his tools, or even a tea set to go along with our IG-11 figure.  Just something extra to sweeten the pot a little bit.  But, again, he does at least get bare minimum.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve pretty much been wanting a Kuiil figure since episode 1 of the show (before I even knew his name, mind you), because I really dug the character.  I had been sort of crossing my fingers for maybe a deluxe release packed in with a Blerg, but getting him on his own isn’t so bad either.  Lack of extras aside, there’s a lot I like about this figure, and at his core he’s just really solidly done.  He’s honestly my favorite figure from this assortment.  I have spoken.

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.

#2780: Greef Karga

GREEF KARGA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As an agent of the Bounty Hunters Guild, Greef Karga secures bounty hunters in pursuit of valuable and rare quarries in the galaxy.”

Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga begins The Mandalorian as a rather unassuming sort of character, just a guy that hands out the jobs to the bounty hunters.  He’s clearly a bit disreputable, but he doesn’t seem overly complex.  When Mando turns on him later in the season, he does the rather expected thing, and turns right back.  However, his return after that is what really changes things up, taking him from sci-fi middle-management to a character that’s actually got a pretty good hold on how to spin things to his advantage as they happen.  He becomes a man with a grasp on the bigger picture, and suddenly he’s very intriguing, and a definite highlight of the show.  It’s only fair that he get a Black Series release out of it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Greef Karga is part of Phase IV of The Black Series, a piece of the Mandalorian sub-set of the line, where he’s figure 06.  He’s part of the third post-relaunch assortment, which is generally pretty Mandalorian heavy in its character selection.  Greef is based on his Season 1 appearance (in contrast to the Season 2 appearance of his Vintage Collection and Retro Collection figures), which fits with most of the Mando stuff we’ve gotten so far.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Karga isn’t quite as agile as some of the line’s more recent releases, but he’s still got plenty of movement to him, and it’s certainly enough to cover the way the character is portrayed in the show.  His sculpt is an all-new piece of work, and it’s a pretty respectable one at that.  The head’s got a pretty solid likeness of Weathers from the first season, and his outfit does a respectable job of capturing the texturing and detailing on the various pieces of his outfit.  The coat/cape is a separate piece; it’s not designed to be removable, but can be with a little work if you are so inclined.  I wasn’t, personally.  Greef’s paint work is pretty heavy on the browns, as is appropriate for the character.  It matches pretty decently with what we see on screen, and the printing on the face is appropriately life-like.  Greef is packed with his two blaster pistols, which can be stowed in his holsters.  They’re nice pieces, but he does wind up feeling a little bit on the light side.  Maybe throwing in a few of the pucks, or even a piece of Beskar would have helped to alleviate it somewhat.  He’s got the basics, but that’s really it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was surprised by how much I liked Greef in the first season of the show, as I think a lot of people were.  I was definitely down for some toy treatment, and was pleased when he was shown off for the line.  He’s the sort of figure that doesn’t quite have the fancy flair of the other characters from the show, so I think he may wind up getting overlooked by a lot of collectors, but I see him definitely picking up in the long run.  It helps that he’s honestly a pretty solid figure, and a nice addition to the cast.

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.

#2779: Boba Fett

BOBA FETT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“During Luke Skywalker’s daring rescue of Han Solo above the Sarlacc, Boba Fett was sent careening into the side of Jabba’s sail barge before tumbling into the man-eating pit.”

Oh, man, Ethan’s reviewing a Boba Fett figure.  There’s always bound to be trouble with these posts.  Probably because I do like occasionally poking the bear that is Boba Fett fans.  I mean, it’s just so much fun.  Almost as much fun as making fun of Boba Fett, and how ineffective he is.  Okay, I actually have to retract that: Boba Fett is no longer useless, because after 40 years of existence, Boba finally got stuff the do in The Mandalorian last year.  And good for him.  I’m sure his fans are all universally happy about him actually getting to be a bad-ass, right on the screen and everything.  Oh?  They’re still conflicted and angry?  Sounds about right, I guess.  Well, whatever the case, I’m looking at another Boba Fett figure, and I feel like I should just get down to business on it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Boba Fett is a deluxe-sized offering, as part of Phase IV of Hasbro’s Black Series.  After seven years of re-releases of the Series 2 figure’s Empire-based sculpt, we have officially moved on, and are now, finally, getting Fett based on his adjusted appearance from Return of the Jedi.  I’m okay with this, because I actually kind of like the Jedi armor a little bit more than the Empire look.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  One of the biggest change-ups between this figure and the last (beyond just the differing source material, of course) is how the articulation works.  Hasbro’s gotten a fair bit better at implementing the articulation on their Black Series offerings, and Boba showcases this, in much the same way as the recent updated troopers we’ve gotten.  His range of motion on his elbows, knees, and neck is much improved, while also being better worked into the sculpt aesthetically.  Additionally, there have been some adjustments made to how some of the armor and hook ups work, so, for instance, his arm tubes are now far less at risk for breakage from regular posing.  Lastly, he also addresses the one notably missing joint from the last release: the range finder.  It can now be adjusted for proper use the way he never really does in the movies, but you always wished he would.  In terms of actual sculpt quality, this release is pretty top-notch.  Like the recent Troopers, his helmet is a separate piece, placed atop an actual sculpted head under neath.  Said head is unpainted, but fully detailed.  Likely future-proofing for the inevitable Mandalorian variant of the character.  The helmet came out of the box looking a touch misshapen, but after a few days, it’s taken its proper shape all on its own.  The torso armor is also a separately sculpted element, distinct from the underlying torso, again likely as part of a plan to re-use elsewhere.  This also helps to give Boba a little more depth to the detailing on the sculpt, which works in his favor.  While the last Boba had a cloth half-cape thing, this one’s got a sculpted done.  It’s a little stubborn, but does wind up looking a little bit better, at least comparing my two figures.  Boba’s paint work is up to modern Black Series standards, which is to say a bit better than the original.  The work on the silver weathering looks well-lived-in, and his small little insignias also look nice and crisp.  In order to justify him being a deluxe, Boba has been given a decent helping of accessories.  He gets his rocket-pack, now with a removable top-rocket, as well as articulated thrusters on the bottom.  He also gets two versions of his blaster rifle, standard, and split from after Luke slashes it with his lightsaber, as well as a flamethrower effect piece, two thrust effects for his rocket pack,  and a clip-on grapple line.  Ultimately, the grapple piece is a little goofy, and is limited in its application, but the rest of the parts are all definitely fun extras, and help to make him feel more worth the heftier price point.  It gets more back to Black Series’s original one-and-done philosophy on these designs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Joking about the character aside, I do like me a good Boba Fett toy, and as much as I like the original Black Series release of the character, I definitely was starting to see the sculpt’s flaws more and more, especially as other main characters got properly updated releases as the line progressed.  Fortunately, we had this secondary design in the pocket, making him an easy addition to the line.  I definitely liked how this one looked in the renders, and was eager to get it in hand.  My initial reaction was a little bit let-down, but after I opened him up and actually started messing around with him, I really found myself liking the figure.  Definitely Hasbro’s best take on the character, and I look forward to seeing them tackle his Mandalorian look.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2769: R5-D4

R5-D4

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A red astromech droid, R5-D4 thought he’d found a home when the Jawas sold him to Owen Lars, along with the protocol droid C-3PO. But R5’s motivator blew as he rolled away from the sandcrawler, forcing the Jawas to take him back in exchange for R2-D2.”

The Mandalorian has had a number of returning characters from elsewhere in the Star Wars mythos, some big returns, and some rather small.  On the small side was a character that’s easy to miss in both of his on-screen appearances.  A little less so in A New Hope, where R5-D4 is notably the astromech whose head blows up, prompting Owen and Luke to buy R2 instead, but it’s not like he gets name dropped there, or anything.  His reappearance in The Mandalorian almost feels like it could just be a similarly designed droid, until we see the back of him, revealing a small scorch mark where his motivator would have blown all those years prior.  It’s a nice little touch, and a welcome return for a character most people don’t even know exists.  As another astromech, R5 is prone to getting toys, since he can frequently make use of R2 parts.  That was the case for today’s offering, which is the Black Series version of the character.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R5-D4 was released in 2017, as part of the vintage-carded-styled A New Hope 40th Anniversary sub-set of Black Series figures.  R5 was a GameStop exclusive, but was also available through Think Geek, due to their partnership at the time.  It so far marks his only time getting a Black Series release.  The figure’s just over 4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  His movement set-up is the same as R2’s, which tracks, since he’s largely the same collection of pieces as R2.  Like I said, frequently makes use of R2 parts.  It’s film accurate, so it’s not like it’s a bad idea or anything.  The notable change-up here is on the head, which swaps out R2’s dome for the more cylindrical set-up that R5 had going on.  It melds well with the pre-existing parts, and is generally a pretty nice piece in its own right.  R5’s paint work was notably a bit better than the basic R2 we had at this point, since in addition to getting a pretty solid selection of base color work, he also got a little bit of accenting on the white sections of the body in order to make him look a little grimy from being on Tatooine all those years.  It’s actually pretty minor, and a very good sample of work from Hasbro, especially for this era.  The weirdest part is the one stripe of reflective coloring on the head, which is actually a decal.  I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t look bad, and it’s in a spot where it being a decal’s not going to be quite as detrimental.  Unlike the first two releases of R2, which had a ton of accessories, R5 is barebones, with nothing beyond just himself in the package.  It definitely feels light, but then again, I have no clue what exactly you would give R5.  The ’90s opted for missiles, but that’s out of place these days, I suppose.  What a shame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

R5 is a figure I came very close to buying new.  I saw him at the Think Geek in a mall in Seattle in the summer of 2017, and thought very seriously about buying him, since I’ve always liked him and all, but money was tight at the time, and I had already bought other stuff that day, so I wound up passing.  I never saw him again, and always kicked myself for not picking him up.  So, when this guy came into All Time a few months back, I jumped at the chance to get him, especially after his return appearance on The Mandalorian.  He’s not a figure that does a ton new, I suppose, but that’s just generally R5.  He’s still pretty darn nifty, and a little bit more unique than just another R2.  He’s a real sleeper figure for me.  You don’t expect to be all that impressed by him, but he’ll catch you off guard, in a rather subtle sort of way.

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.

#2768: Tusken Raider

TUSKEN RAIDER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“Fearsome desert savages, Tusken Raiders are the foremost reason Tatooine colonists do not wander far from their isolated communities.”

The Mandalorian gets a lot of credit for finally actually doing something worth while with Boba Fett and thereby making all the fuss around him finally worth it, but for me, it’s biggest tale of redemption lies not with Boba, but with Tatooine’s largely unexplored nomad populace, the Tusken Raiders.  The films portray them as little more than savages, generally a purely malevolent force.  The beat up Luke, shoot at Anakin, and murder Shmi….not exactly in that order.  Even when Anakin slaughters an entire camp of them, we’re largely meant to be concerned with the effect said killing has on Anakin, not looking into the horrific slaughtering of a camp that just occurred.  In The Mandalorian, we not only have our first non-antagonist interaction with the Raiders in the mainstream cannon, but also see our first “heroic” character that doesn’t immediately treat them as horrific monsters.  Din’s brief communication with them in Season 1 demonstrates that they do in fact have a language of their own (just a largely non-verbal one, which was a fascinating change), but also hints at something more complex to their culture than violent acts.  Season 2 delves even further, giving us a closer look at their true nature, and even allowing them to actually be good guys for a change.  Perfect time for a re-issue of their Black Series figure, I’d say!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Tusken Raider is part of the fourth assortment of The Black Series Archive.  This whole assortment is dedicated to reissuing army builders, specifically ones that have some new found prominence courtesy of The Mandalorian.  The Raider re-releases the one that showed up twice before, both in 2017, once as part of the main line, and once as part of the 40th Anniversary for A New Hope.  All three figures are effectively the same, especially with no need for updated face printing and the like.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme is definitely a product of it’s time; he’s pretty much got the same set-up as the ANH Obi-Wan, so the elbows are slightly restricted in movement, and the legs are kind of encased in the plastic skirt.  It’s not the end of the world, though, and it’s certainly not the worst the line had.  In fact, it’s pretty useful, once you kind of reset yourself back to how the articulation was earlier in the line.  Fortunately, though the sculpt may be older, the actual sculpting work is really top notch.  It definitely ranks very highly on the scale of Hasbro’s sculpts for this line, with the work on the head in particular being a fantastic example of realistic detailing at this scale.  It really does a spot-on job of capturing the Tusken’s head gear as seen in the movies.  The rest of the sculpt isn’t too bad itself, detailing the various layers to the clothing, as well as the smaller work on the bandoliers and belt.  It’s all topped off with a cloth robe piece, which melds well with the sculpted elements, and also adds a bit more flowiness to the design.  Technically, you can remove the robe, but I opted not to get into that, as it didn’t look very easy to get back in place properly.  The paint work on the Raider is pretty decent work.  The base work is generally pretty clean (although there’s a little slop on the edges of the bandoliers), and there’s a fair bit of accent work on the wraps, which does a nice job of bringing out the sculpted details.  Given Hasbro’s tendency to skimp on some of the painted details for this line, it’s nice that they went the extra mile here.  The Raider is packed with a selection of extras that’s definitely designed with optimal army building in mind.  He’s got a rifle, as well as a Gaderffii stick with three different attachments for the top, allowing for some customization.  Both pieces are easy for him to hold, and are nicely detailed items in their own right.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on the first two releases of this figure, since 2017 was kind of a lighter year for me in terms of income, and subsequently in terms of buying as well.  At the time, I didn’t really feel like I needed the Tusken Raider, so I didn’t feel terribly as if I’d missed out.  Their appearances on The Mandalorian gave me a new appreciation for them, so I was definitely glad to get another chance with this re-release.  The figure’s a very nice one, and was definitely one of 2017’s best sculpts.  Even now, it’s no slouch.  I didn’t know what I was missing, but now that I do, I’m very happy to have added this one to my collection.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2767: Mandalorian Loyalist

MANDALORIAN LOYALIST

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“When Darth Maul betrayed and defeated Pre Vizsla, Death Watch splintered into two groups. Those who wanted to embrace Mandalore’s warrior heritage remained loyal to Maul.”

Okay, so, I can’t help but feel that the bio above would actually be more appropriate for the *other* Mandalorian trooper from this particular set.  You know, the one that was a figure of one of the Mandos that actually was loyal to Maul?  Rather than this guy, who is clearly meant to be one of the Mandalorians who sticks with Bo-Katan and is on the “heroic” side of the Siege of Mandalore?  Oh, god, I’m critiquing bios again.  I gotta stop letting myself do that!  I’m probably really messing hardcore with some poor copy writer at Hasbro who’s just trying to do their best.  Why can’t I just leave them alone?  It’s just toys!  And it’s not even the part of toys that anyone really cares about, either!  …I mean, not that it’s not a very important part of the job.  You go, copy writer!  …Where was I?  Ah, yes, action figure review.  Yes.  Let’s do that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Mandalorian Loyalist is figure #04 in the Clone Wars sub-set of Star Wars: The Black Series Phase IV.  He’s part of the Walmart-exclusive four figure assortment based on the final arc of The Clone Wars.  The set hit shelves last fall, in theory at least, though in practice most people are still waiting.  As touched on above, this figure is based on the armor worn by the Mandos that remained loyal to Bo-Katan, and kept their slightly more heroic looking blues and greys.  It’s not as ornate as the Super Commando, but it’s about function over form, I’d imagine.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is virtually identical to his Maul-supporting equivalent.  That means he too is built from a lot of Jango’s parts.  It’s still a clunkier body than what we’re used to these days, but after now having two Mandos built on it, I’m warming a bit more to its overall look.  Perhaps it just works a little better for this particular design.  He doesn’t get the updated shoulders from the last one, instead keeping Jango’s less pointy ones.  He keeps the modified belt and upper legs of the Super Commando, which brings him more in line with the animation designs.  His only truly unique piece is his helmet, which is similar to the Super Commando one, but without all the horns.  Like I noted above, this new helmet’s not super showy or anything, but it gets the job done, and it does look nice.  The paint work on the Loyalist is what really separates him from the Super Commando.  He’s a lot bluer, and a lot more subdued, but it’s a good look.  There’s some solid work on the weathering for his armor, as well as the markings on each of his shoulders.  There are a lot of details on this one that are easy to miss.  The Loyalist is packed with the same accessories as the Super Commando: a jetpack borrowed from Jango and a pair of pistols borrowed from Sabine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t really have a ton of luck with this assortment at retail.  Max was able to set me up with the Super Commando, but I saw none of the others.  That certainly bummed me out, because, ideally, I kind of wanted the whole set.  This guy was probably my second most wanted figure of the bunch, so I was hoping for another shot.  Fortunately, he came in with the same trade that netted me the Clone Lieutenant I reviewed yesterday, making the whole “getting him” part that much easier!  This figure surprised me a little bit.  I wasn’t let down by the Super Commando or anything, but after getting him, I expected very little from this one.  I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely he turned out, and by how much work Hasbro put into this seemingly more basic design.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2766: Clone Trooper Lieutenant

CLONE TROOPER LIEUTENANT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Throughout the Clone Wars, Clone Troopers fought the Battle Droids of the Separatists across the galaxy. They were loyal to their Jedi generals and the Supreme Chancellor.”

When introduced in Attack of the Clones, the Clone Troopers originally made use of varying colored stripes in order to differentiate ranks amongst the many identical guys running around during the big battle on Geonosis.  Red were captains, yellow were commanders, green were sergeants, and blue were lieutenants.  Of course, then the final film came along, and pretty much everything of note was done by the all-white regular clones….but it was the thought that counted, right?  When The Black Series‘ first Clone Trooper body was introduced, Hasbro got to work doing the various ranks.  The basic, captain, and sergeant got main-line releases, and the commander was part of a boxed set…and then?  Nothing.  There was a break, and the line eventually got a new clone body.  But before entirely retiring the original body, Hasbro decided to throw some of the longer-term collectors a bone, and actually finish out the original set, with one last release, adding the lieutenant to the ranks after all these years.  That was awfully nice of them, wasn’t it?  And I bet it was super easy to get, too.  Right?  Yeah….

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Clone Trooper Lieutenant is officially the first figure in the Attack of the Clones sub-set of Phase IV of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He was released exclusively through Walgreens, and hit retail at the tail end of last year.  I mean, in theory, at least.  He wasn’t really super widespread or anything.  Granted, he also wasn’t quite as in demand as other Black Series exclusives at the same time, so it was a little hard to track.  It probably could have been worse.  The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s built on that original Clone body, which I reviewed first when I looked at the Sergeant.  It’s got some troubles with the articulation layout, especially on the elbows and shoulders, but it’s far from the worst thing that Hasbro put out.  On top of that, it’s still a pretty nice looking sculpt, so it’s certainly got that going for it.  I very much liked it when it was new, and I still do like it quite a bit, even now, when there’s technically a better option out there.  The main thing that differentiates this guy from the other clones on this body is, of course, the paint.  The lieutenants were blue, which is a very nice, and also very familiar look for clones.  The actual shade of blue here’s not really right; the lieutenants were a lighter shade of blue, in contrast to the darker shade of blue that became more common with the 501st troopers.  So, this one’s technically not quite right.  Of course, the Lieutenants are largely theoretical in the films anyway, so it’s not really the end of the world there, I suppose.  Just sort of odd.  I do like that they changed him up ever so slightly from the others in terms of how the paint was applied, giving him a little bit more wear on his paint.  He looks like he’s actually made it through a battle or two, which is cool.  Like all versions of this mold, he’s packed with the two different blaster rifles.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure was unveiled, I was excited, then not.  Partially, it was the reveal that he was an exclusive, and partially it was that he was on the old body.  I opted not to really go hunting for him, since I’m expecting he’ll probably get updated to the new body at some point.  However, when one of them came into All Time via a trade, I did find it a lot harder to say no, and ultimately didn’t.  That’s how I’m reviewing him, and all.  He’s not breaking molds, or doing anything new, and honestly, he’s actually a bit inaccurate, but he’s still a clone, and clones are just usually a lot of fun.  This one’s really not different, there.  He’s fun.  And he’s blue.  And that’s pretty cool.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2765: Jar Jar Binks

JAR JAR BINKS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As an outcast, Jar Jar spends much of his time in the Naboo swampland. It’s there that the hapless Gungan encounters a pair of Jedi as they elude enemy forces.”

In the over two decades since the Star Wars prequel trilogy began, the opinions on it have shifted somewhat.  In general, it does seem to at least owe to the fact that Star Wars fans just like to hate the newest thing, and there’s the new era of movies to hate on, so I guess that helps?  We’ve come so far from the hatred of the prequels, that even the most hated element of the prequels, Jar Jar friggin’ Binks, isn’t even all that hated any more.  I know.  I’m shocked too.  Even more shocking?  There’s an honest to god deluxe release Black Series Jar Jar, like, actually available to buy.  Like, from real stores.  I know.  And now I’m reviewing it.  Again, I know.  Weird, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jar Jar Binks is figure 01 in the Phantom Menace sub-set of Star Wars: The Black Series‘ fourth phase.  So far, we know of no more TPM figures, at least in the main line, but Jar Jar’s presence suggests there will probably be more.  It’s thus-far the least explored entry in terms of Black Series, so it makes sense to do some more.  Jar Jar is at the deluxe price point, which makes him the second such figure since the line’s re-branding under the new phase.  There’s been a little bit of discussion about whether it was wise to put him at the higher price, and if he truly warranted it.  Whatever the case, the figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Jar Jar’s articulation isn’t *quite* up to the standards of other Phase IV figures, but it’s certainly on par with a lot of the better Phase III figures, suggesting that he was possibly designed a little earlier and then held onto?  There’s certainly a lot of good posing to be had with the articulation he’s got, and he’s a far cry from the line’s earliest entries.  The sculpt is a pretty strong recreation of Jar Jar’s 1999 animation model.  The proportions are definitely there, and there’s plenty of smaller detail work that’s gone into him.  The head’s get the best work, which isn’t terribly surprising, I suppose, since his TPM design was largely pretty unimpressive apart from the design of the head.  The head sculpt gets all of the important details, and presents a far more reserved Jar Jar than we see for most of the movie.  It’s certainly a different choice.  Honestly, it’s probably the right choice.  The figure’s paint work is actually pretty solid for the most part.  The patterns on his skin are definitely impressive, as is the work on the face, which makes use of the printing technique.  There’s a lot of rather subtle work on the skin, and I definitely like to see that.  The only thing I’m not too crazy about is the wrist joints, which are molded in the off-white of his under arms, a color which is exposed when his hands are posed.  It’s kind of a necessary evil, and generally pretty minor, though.  Jar Jar’s accessory selection includes a staff, shield, and Atlatl weapon (the ball on a stick thing).  The shield and staff are pretty sizable, and are presumably meant to aid in justifying the cost.  Personally, I’d have liked to see some more character specific stuff, like maybe some extra heads with different expressions, or maybe even an extended tongue.  I mean, the Gungan battle stuff it cool too, and will certainly have more re-use potential if they decide to do other Gungans, but it feels sort of out of place with Jar Jar himself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Alright, time for my crazy, controversial opinion: I’ve never really hated Jar Jar.  In fact, when the movie first came out, I kinda liked him.  Don’t get me wrong, I get some of the complaints about the character, and there are certainly some discussions to be had about some of the potential stereotypes present and the negative connotations they might carry.  But, on his own, I don’t find him quite as monumentally bad as some people did.  I mostly went along with it, because it felt like a bit of an uphill battle.  Fortunately, time, as well as his appearances in The Clone Wars have at least quieted down the hatred a bit, so, hey, he’s gotten another toy.  Cool.  I knew this guy was coming before he was officially announced, and I knew he’d be deluxe, but I didn’t quite know what that would entail.  I wasn’t really expecting the extra weaponry, and I question whether it was the right choice.  Jar Jar is, even in these slightly more Jar Jar-tolerant times, a harder sell than other characters, so adding the extra $10 to his retail might be an iffy prospect.  That said, the core figure is pretty nice, and the extras aren’t the worst thing.  I’m overall happy with my purchase, and I think most people who are willing to pick him up will be, too.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.