#2846: Luke Skywalker & Ysalamiri – Heir to the Empire

LUKE SKYWALKER & YSALAMIRI — HEIR TO THE EMPIRE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Five years after the destruction of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker fears there is no hope as the remnants of the Imperial fleet are readied for war under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn.  Using ysalamiri to sever a developing Jedi clone’s connection to the Force allowed mentally stable Jedi clones to be created—a discovery Thrawn would use in his war against Luke Skywalker and the New Republic”

Timothy Zhan’s Heir to the Empire made itself into a rather stable corner stone of the Star Wars Expanded Universe when it debuted in its original prose form in 1991, and became even more cemented when it was further adapted into comics form in 1995, giving a visual narrative to that post-Return of the Jedi world.  Heir would also introduced two of the EU’s most prominent and popular characters, Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade.  If you’re going to be doing a more EU-centered set of Star Wars figures, it’s a totally logical choice.  I mean, sure, we’ve already gotten a Thrawn, but there’s still a chance to do the *other* major character introduced, right?  That’s who you did, right?  Oh, no, we’re just doing a Luke Skywalker variant then, aren’t we?  Yep.  Well, let’s just do that, I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker & Ysalamiri is the third offering in the comics-based Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s one of two non-comics original characters featured in the set, the other being Darth Maul.  He’s based on his appearance from the cover of the comic’s first issue, which also serves as the front of his box.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s identical in sculpt to the Dagobah Luke from last year.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt, and, as I noted, it’s the most articulated Luke body Hasbro’s got in their parts catalogue.  While the outfits are certainly similar, though, it’s worth noting that it’s definitely an Empire Luke, and Heir is very much a post Return story.  At the very least, it feels like they should have used one of the Jedi Luke heads.  He’s also missing the belt he’s sporting on the cover, which is a shame, and really misses the one chance they would have had to give him a new piece.  The paint’s a bit tweaked, but not majorly so.  His outfit’s all black now, and that’s really it.  I guess it’s a little more striking, but it also means he loses a lot of the cool accenting and dirt that the prior release had.  In terms of accessories, Luke is decidedly pretty light.  He’s got his lightsaber, and the Ysalamiri that’s listed on the box.  The lightsaber is his Jedi version, complete with a green blade that’s not accurate to the comic, but is accurate to what Luke’s saber *should* be, so it shakes out.  Giving him both blade colors might not have been a terrible option, though.  The Ysalamiri is an all-new piece, but isn’t really designed for use with Luke himself, instead being designed to fit over the Thrawn figure’s shoulders.  Obviously, it’s nice that it fits him, since he’s most classically remembered with it on his shoulders, but it just makes Luke feel even lighter when one of his two accessories isn’t even for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dagobah Luke when he was released, so I certainly wasn’t opposed to a re-use.  That said, I never really warmed up to this figure that much pre-release.  Doing an Heir to the Empire Luke when we still don’t have any version of Mara Jade, the character he spends much of the story interacting with, in this scale at all, feels a bit backwards.  Not helping things is that he doesn’t really do much to give himself much reason to exist.  While this design’s the one on the cover, it’s not overly distinctive or exciting.  The pulled down jumpsuit look that the comic pack 3 3/4 inch version did might have honestly been a better choice, but barring that, just giving him a slightly more enticing accessory selection might have helped a bit.  As it stands, he’s alright, but not much to write home about.

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.

#2845: Jaxxon

JAXXON

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Jaxxon is a nearly 6-foot tall, green-furred, Lepi smuggler and captain of the Rabbit’s Foot. Known for his wise cracks and high kicks, Jaxxon has helped Han Solo and Chewbacca out on more than one occasion.”

For some reason, this review has been very hard for me to start.  Well, I say “for some reason,” but I suppose it’s a bit more transparent than that.  There’s a rather big reason that anything is difficult for me these days.  I guess the “for some reason” comment more relates to how difficult this one review has been for me to actually sit down and write.  I’ve even written other reviews around working on this one, so it’s apparently just this particular green space bunny that’s giving me trouble.  Said “green space bunny” is Jaxxon, a big green bunny man created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin for Marvel Comics’ Star Wars #8.  He’s one of the earliest full-fledged EU creations, and is rumored to have been removed from the comics on Lucas’ request, although this rumor remains unsubstantiated.  Though an early player, Jaxxon was removed from the franchise just as early, and has up to this point been completely without a toy in a very toy-driven franchise.  Seems like a shame.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s on top of it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jaxxon is another of the four comics-based Star Wars: The Black Series line-up, alongside the previously reviewed Carnor Jax Kir Kanos.  Jaxxon is notably the only figure in the set without any prior toy treatment, as I noted in the intro.  There was just no love for the bunny before this.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall counting the ears (closer to 6 without them) and he has 27 points of articulation.  Though he looks very unique and different, Jaxxon actually has a fair bit of re-use going on.  His upper half is X-Wing Pilot Luke, and his lower half is ANH Luke.  He’s a lot of Luke, I guess.  It’s a combo that works pretty decently, though I’m admittedly a little surprised he’s not just a straight up Pilot Luke re-use.  I guess this keeps him a little more diverse.  Aiding in making him look sufficiently different is a new head, chest plate, and belt with holsters.  The new head is certainly a more realistic looking design than he usually gets, in keeping with how the line has handled other more cartoony characters, I suppose.  This is really Jaxxon viewed through the lens of actually being in one of the OT movies, where he’d have just been another guy in a rubber mask.  It’s a departure from the artwork on the box, but it’s not bad at all.  The new overlay pieces for the armor and belt sit well on the figure and do a strong job of selling him as having more new parts than he does.  Generally, the result of this mix of parts is a pretty good one.  His paint work suits the design.  It’s not many colors that you tend to really associate with Star Wars, but that helps him feel more unique, and certainly true to the character’s nature.  Application is pretty clean, and the head even gets some accenting to keep it from just being a basic green.  Jaxxon is packed with two blaster pistols, re-used from Jaina Solo.  Unfortunately, we once again have a figure with two blasters, but only one hand with a trigger finger.  Come on guys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Disclosure: I’m talking about Jess a lot today.

I could give you the exact road map to how exactly “Green Space Bunny Pilot” invariably leads me to dwelling on Jess’s final days over and over again, but I can’t say that knowing the how really truly explains the why.  I suppose, technically, you could say it’s because this was the first item added to my collection that she never saw (since he came into the store before she passed, but I didn’t actually get him until after), and I suppose it could also be linked to him being another Star Wars piece, and how much we both enjoyed the franchise.  I suppose it could even be because he’s a Black Series figure, and that the figures I was photographing on the day that she asked me what I was doing and I answered “just taking a few photos of some action figures,” were the first series of Black Series. Or it could even be because he’s the first of the comic figures I’ve reviewed since Kir Kanos, who was the figure I was reviewing the last day I sat with Jess before we knew it was the end.  There’s a lot of supposing in there, huh?  That’s because I really don’t know any of it for sure.  I just know that, for some reason, every time I sat down to write this, it got very hard to do so.  I think it’s because Jess probably would have gotten a real kick out of the Green Space Bunny.  Seems like something that might be up her alley, honestly.  This feels like something I very much would have gotten to show her, and to experience with her, but it’s one of the first things I didn’t.  That sucks.  Plain and simple, it just sucks.  The figure doesn’t, for what it’s worth.  I actually quite like him, and look forward to more deep cuts like this for the line.  And perhaps those ones won’t be quite as hard for me to write about.  Time will tell.

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

#2844: ARC Trooper Echo

ARC TROOPER ECHO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

First introduced in the first season episode “Rookies,” Domino Squad is a group that The Clone Wars uses to really showcase the general progression of the clones throughout the wars, as well as also hitting home just how bad war can be, seeing as the Squad has a tendency to fall like, well, dominos.  Central to the squad’s early stories are Fives and Echo, the two that have the most advancement of any clones in the show, starting off as mere cadets, and eventually becoming full-fledged ARC Troopers.  Echo himself has gone even further, becoming one of the few Regs to continue his story post-Order 66 as part of Clone Force 99, aka the titular team from The Bad Batch.  This kid’s got some range, let me tell you.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ARC Trooper Echo is another of the four figures in the Target-exclusive Clone Wars-retro assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s the first figure of Echo in the line, though it would be an incredible shock if he were the last, given the incredible prominence of Echo’s updated Bad Batch gear.  As the name signifies, this figure is based on Echo’s ARC Trooper look, which he sported in the “Citadel” arc of the show, which is notably the story that “killed” him, before the final season brought him back.  It’s the look that had the most appearances within the show (prior to The Bad Batch, of course), and it’s his coolest look as a Reg.  Plus, they haven’t done any actual ARC troopers in this scale, so he’s a good reason to introduce the tooling.  It does mean that he doesn’t actually go with any other figures in the line, of course, since he doesn’t match up with the Batch, and he also doesn’t match up with Rex, since Rex was in his Phase I armor still when Echo died, but there are worse things to have to deal with.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Remember how I mentioned the weird mix-up of Hawk retooling Rex’s body into a more basic clone body, rather than using the newly introduced basic clone?  So, you might assume that Echo, with his ARC Trooper gear, would naturally be using the Rex body as well, right?  Nope.  Echo’s on the new basic clone body, with a bunch of stuff tacked onto it.  I know.  It’s weird.  I mean, it’s still a nice body, so I’m not complaining.  I’m just confused, that’s all.  In order to update that standard clone armor into a full ARC Trooper set-up, Echo gets a new set of forearms and lower legs, as well as new add-on pieces for his additional torso gear, as well as his belt, kama, and holsters.  He’s also got a brand new head and helmet to complete the whole set-up.  It’s interesting that he’s got a rubber kama, as opposed to the cloth we’ve gotten for the commanders thus far, but I don’t hate the look, and it doesn’t hold back the articulation too badly.  The unmasked head continues the trend of the unmasked clones not looking all that much like Temuera Morrison, though this one does at least seem to be heading a bit more in the right direction, I suppose.  The helmet sits well on the head, though, which is a definite plus, as some of the others have had a little bit of trouble with that fit.  The rest of the new parts mesh well with the old, and the end result is a quite nicely put together ARC Trooper set-up.  The paint work on Echo is generally pretty decent.  There’s a good deal of variety to it, but the application is generally pretty cleanly handled.  There are some fuzzier edges on a few of the blue lines, but it can be written off to a little bit of wear, to be honest.  He’s got the face printing on the unmasked head, which definitely helps with the likeness, at least a little bit.  And, just to make him properly Echo, he’s got the hand print graffiti, which is always a fun touch.  Echo is pretty well accessorized, getting a long blaster rifle, a short blaster rifle, and two blaster pistols.  He still can’t properly hold both pistols at once, of course, since only the right hand has a trigger finger, but at least you have some options.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Rookies” was the first episode of Clone Wars that really spoke to me, and I’ve long since had a soft spot for Domino Squad, and Echo in particular.  I always liked his story, and I was sad when he was killed off in the “Citadel” arc.  I was very glad to see him brought back in Season 7, and he’s thus far been one of my favorite parts of The Bad Batch.  I hope to get a Batch version of him soon, but I’m also glad to have gotten him in his peak form here.  Sure, he doesn’t match up with anyone at the moment, but hopefully we can at the very least get a Fives to go with him.  Once again, thanks to Max for setting me up with this one.  I wasn’t expecting him to be quite as easily acquired, but I’m happy he was.

#2843: Clone Pilot Hawk

CLONE PILOT HAWK

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Store exclusives have been the bane of pretty much every collector’s existence for the last year, because not only has the number of things that are exclusive jumped, but so has the number of people trying to scalp them in order to make a quick buck.  Not helping matters is the general lack of quality distribution when it comes to actually getting them out there, making for an all around just unpleasant experience.  So, there’s definitely a little twinge of anxiety that hits every time a new item is announced, and then also confirmed as an exclusive.  In the case of Star Wars: The Black Series, there’s a whole sub-set of throwback Clone Wars figures, which seemed poised to be the worst thing ever to get, but which now seem to be significantly less so, which I suppose is a good thing.  For me personally, I was most invested in getting the clones, which I have.  I’m starting things off today, with a look at Clone Pilot Hawk.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Pilot Hawk is one of the four figures in Target’s exclusive assortment of Clone Wars-retro carded Black Series figures.  He’s the most obscure character in the bunch, to be sure, notably being the only one included who has never had a figure, even in the days of Hasbro’s far more expansive Clone Wars toy line.  Not only did we not get Hawk, we never even got one of the pilots with this specific helmet design, which does feel kind of baffling when you get right down to it.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Now, the fact that Hasbro very recently introduced an all-new basic clone body into the line might lead you to believe that Hawk might, you know, be built on it, what with being kind of a basic clone and all.  However, you’d in fact be a fool to think that, because he’s absolutely not built on that body.  Neither is he built on the old clone body, though, so don’t think that either.  Instead, he’s actually built on the Captain Rex body, for some reason.  I mean, I’m not knocking it.  It’s a good body in its own right, and certainly an improvement on the old clone body, meaning his movement isn’t really restricted like it would have been on that older body.  In fact, his movement’s pretty darn great, so that’s cool.  He gets an all-new head for his unique helmet, as well as a connected breathing device, to signify his pilot nature.  Also, in a far more minor touch, he also gets a new belt, sans the kama and the holsters.  The new parts are nicely crafted, with the helmet in particular being the real star piece here.  It does a quite respectable job of walking the line between animated faithfulness and merging with the realistic style of the line.  I definitely like it a lot.  Hawk’s paintwork is generally pretty nicely handled.  There’s a little bit of slop on the hands on my figure, but he otherwise turned out pretty nicely.  I like the extra markings on the armor, as well as how they’ve weathered them a bit to show that his armor’s been in use.  Hawk is packed with a standard small Clone Trooper blaster.  It’s a little light, but it’s also fairly standard set-up for a pilot figure in this line, so it’s hard to say it’s a surprise.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hawk was my only “must have” figure in this set, largely because I’ve just always liked this particular pilot design and it’s literally never gotten a figure before.  I was happy he got a figure, but not so happy that it wound up as an exclusive.  Fortunately, Max was able to help me out with this one, as it wound up being literally the first of the four he saw at retail.  He turned out really nicely, and I’m curious to see if we might actually get some of the other Clone Pilots in the main line now.  Time will tell.

There’s also a bit of a post-Jess segment to this one as well.  This figure is the last figure added to my collection before Jess died.  Max brought him to me during her last week in the hospital, and I had him with me those last few days.  He’s the last new figure I got to show her, and the last figure she got to be excited about me adding to my collection.  I didn’t know that when I got him, but those are the sorts of things you never do know, I guess.  I do know that showing off my new figures to her was one of my very favorite things about collecting in the last eight years, and the items I gotten since all feel a little different, since something’s very definitely missing.  He gets to be my last contact to that feeling, and the last true part of that collection.  My collection post-Jess will be a different one, and I’ll have to figure out how as I move forward.  But this guy’s not going anywhere, I can tell you that much.

#2818: Elite Praetorian Guard with Heavy Blade

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD with HEAVY BLADE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

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

The Last Jedi‘s Praetorian Guards may not be on the screen for long, but they make the most of their time, and participate in the very coolest fight scene in the whole sequel trilogy.  Plus, they’ve just got a very cool look.  Actually, they have three slightly different, but all very cool looks, due to their three differing helmet designs mixed in amongst them.  Hasbro opted for completely separate figures for each of these three helmets, something they delivered through a few different avenues.  For The Black Series, I had two of the three, but was waiting on the last one.  I wait no more.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Praetorian Guard with Heavy Blade was an Amazon-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offering, which they placed up for order in the fall of 2017, in anticipation of the movie.  It was the third of the three figures to be released.  This one is the “underbite” helmet, which is the only one I haven’t looked at in any style here on the site (largely due to him being an exclusive in every case).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  From the neck down, this figure is identical to the #50 Guard, which makes sense, since they were all the same.  It’s interesting, of course, because it makes the one from the Guardians of Evil pack the outlier on exactly how he handled the skirt, since this one is sculpted, not cloth.  The posability’s not there as much, but it does look better.  This guy gets a new head sculpt in order to replicate the third helmet design.  It meshes just as well with the body as the other two, and fits the styling of the rest of the armor quite well.  It’s fairly easy to tell it’s a new piece, so that’s good.  The paint work on this figure truly is just identical to the standard release figure, which is to say it’s basic, but it looks good.  Apart from the helmet change-up, the other new piece for this guy was the weapon selection.  He gets the larger Heavy Blade weapon, which is mentioned in his name. It’s a larger, and certainly impressive piece.  He also gets a second weapon, which is more of a sword thing.  Not my preferred of the two, but it’s nice to get the options.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The slightly higher base retail on this release was enough for me to hold off on buying him right away.  Unfortunately, he wound up selling out through Amazon, and that meant I missed out on him entirely.  It always bummed me out, because this was my favorite of the three helmets, and I had missed out on both his Hasbro figures.  Fortunately for me, Max had picked one up a while back, and while downsizing his Star Wars collection, he was kind enough to set me up with the one I was missing.  I’ve reviewed the majority of this guy before, so it’s not like he’s doing a whole lot new for me, but it is nice to finish the set, and he really is the best of the three, so I’m glad to have him.

#2817: Qui-Gon Jinn

QUI-GON JINN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A venerable if maverick Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn was a student of the living Force. Qui-Gon lived for the moment, espousing a philosophy of ‘feel, don’t think, use your instincts.'”

Though opinions have changed a bit on the prequel trilogy in the two decades since it began, the movies, especially The Phantom Menace, have been the slowest to find their way into The Black Series, with really just a trickle of items, every so often.  In the case of TPM, we aren’t even averaging one figure a year, and don’t have much of the core cast yet.  I’d gotten all but one of the ones released up to this point, and now, I finally got that one.  So, today, I’m looking at arguably the film’s lead character (even if he’s not part of any of the films that follow), Qui-Gon Jinn.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Qui-Gon Jinn was figure 40 in the Phase III Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He was released in the spring of May 2017, as part of the assortment that also included the Royal Guard, Lando Calrissian, and the Tusken Raider.  It was one of those sets that showed up more in theory than anything else, since it was the last assortment before the change-over for Last Jedi product, and earlier Rogue One launch product was still lingering.  Qui-Gon was only our second TPM figure, following up on the Darth Maul from the very first assortment.  The figure stands a little over 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Compared to more recent figures, Qui-Gon is definitely more restricted on the movement front, but it’s still pretty workable.  Additionally, given that Neeson’s portrayal of Qui-Gon had him generally being more reserved in his movements, it works alright for the character.  His sculpt was a wholly unique one, and has only been shared with the recent re-issue of the same character.  It’s a pretty good one, honestly.  Neeson’s tall and lanky build is captured well, and the details on his clothes are fairly impressive.  The head sculpt also does look quite a bit like him.  It’s a little bit harder to see it with the older style paint work, but the likeness is very definitely there (something that the recent re-issue with the new paint only further pushed).  The hair does get in the way of the neck movement a little bit, but that’s really hard to avoid, unless you’re going to try rooted hair or some other nonsense, and that’s just not gonna work at this scale.  The paint work definitely does mark this figure’s biggest short comings, but, honestly, it’s not quite as bad as you might expect.  The face is definitely not as life-like as later releases, but nor is it quite as lifeless as some of the figures that closely preceded it.  It’s an okay middle ground.  Additionally, they’ve actually gone to the trouble of giving him some accenting on his robes, so that they aren’t just all flat molded plastic colors.  It certainly looks much better that way.  Qui-Gon was packed with his lightaber, as well as two alternate left hands, one for gripping, and the other in open pose.  While it’s too bad we couldn’t at least get a robe for him, the alternate hand was still kind of a big deal at the time, and even now, that’s more than we get with a lot of the Jedi figures.  Heck, it’s more than we got with TPM Obi-Wan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Full disclosure: this section’s about to get a little sad and sentimental.  This is the first review I’ve written since my wife’s passing, which will have been almost a full month ago as you read this, but is, for me, four very long days behind me.  Obviously, this soon after, I am still finding my footing and my new normal, but Jess did not want me to stop writing, and she was quite adamant about that.  So, I am going to try to keep writing, at least a little bit.  Qui-Gon being the subject of this review, is a bit serendipitous, I suppose.  I already had him on the schedule a month ago, but it feels appropriate, since one of our earliest conversations was about The Phantom Menace and how Qui-Gon was always her favorite character in the prequels.  I remember her being frustrated that I never found this figure when it was new.  When I did finally pick it up just this year, she was quite excited when I showed him to her.  It’s an excitement I’m going to miss as my collection continues, but one I’m going to try to keep in my own mind moving forward.

#2816: Carnor Jax

CARNOR JAX (AKA KIR KANOS)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Training himself in the ways of the dark side of the Force, Carnor Jax became one of the most formidable members of the Imperial Guard. He betrayed this brotherhood by usurping the Imperial throne.”

Remember back on Sunday, when I was talking about how all the Royal Guards do in the movies is just stand around?  Well, I wasn’t the only one who noticed that, which is good, what with it having been a rather obvious thing that was happening right there on the screen.  In an effort to remedy things somewhat, the Expanded Universe came into play, with Crimson Empire, a six issue comic which explored the background of a few members of the Royal Guard, and then followed them through to just past Palpatine’s demise in Jedi.  Central to the story are Carnor Jax and Kir Kanos, two guards who fall on opposite sides of a rather vicious power struggle.  The two of them have been privy to a few figures over the years, but The Black Series is finally taking a real stab at some comics-based material, and one of them got to be the first one up to bat.  But which one?  Oh, I’ll get to that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Carnor Jax is one of four figures in a special assortment of comics-inspired Black Series figures, each based off of a different story, and in nice, fancy boxes, patterned on the covers of the books they hail from.  Or, at least, that’s what I’d be saying if there were actually a Carnor Jax Black Series figure.  Trouble is, there’s actually not.  Despite the name on the box and the bio that accompanies it, the figure in today’s review isn’t actually Carnor Jax; it’s Kir Kanos.  Somewhere along the way, Hasbro mixed up the names for the two characters, and without any time to fix it after the reveal, they can pretty much only say “sorry” and move one.  It does make more sense for Kir to be the debut figure, of course, since he’s kind of the story’s main character anyway.  But it’s another amusing mix-up.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation. Kir is structurally a re-use of the molds from the standard Royal Guard, which I suppose is fitting, since the armor under the robes was patterned on what we saw in Crimson Empire anyway, and therefore matches Kir’s design pretty well.  It’s not a bad sculpt, though it does still have the slightly too long arms.  It’s too bad they didn’t retool him to give him a removable helmet, like the 3 3/4 inch version.  As it stands, there’s very little to actually differentiate him.  He does swap the full cloak of the other one for a more straight-forward cape, which does at least make it easier to see the armor on this one.  The cape’s also got a nice purple lining, which is again a bit more different.  Other than that, the changes are all to do with paint.  Again, not major changes, but the jumpsuit’s black now, some of the reds are shifted around a bit, and the visor’s more of a maroon.  It’s mostly changes that you might not even notice if you didn’t have the two figures side by side.  Kir gets the small pistol from the last release, as well as a new double-bladed axe thing.  It’s a cool design, but he does have a little trouble holding it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never read Crimson Empire, but I’m familiar with the concepts, and I do generally like the looks of the two main guys.  I missed out on their smaller scale figures, so new ones aren’t a problem for me.  What is a problem, though, is how phoned in this whole thing feels.  Starting with getting the names mixed up, and ending with not actually investing in any new tooling beyond the one weapon, this figure’s a bit of a let-down.  I wanted to like him a lot more, but I struggle to.  Maybe if they do Carnor for real, and possibly throw in an unmasked head for Kir or something, my opinion might change, but this figure’s a bit lackluster, at least as a new offering.  If you never got the Royal Guard, I imagine you might have a differing opinion, since he is, in a vacuum, at least, a decent toy.

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

#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.