#2035: Imperial Jumptrooper

IMPERIAL JUMPTROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“An elite squadron within the Imperial ranks, jump troopers (also known as rocket troopers) were outfitted with jetpacks and utilized in tight spaces.  They were trained to act in unison, often swarming and overwhelming their targets.”

Since the standard Imperial Stormtroopers first graced the screen back in 1977, we’ve been getting a steady stream of variants on the concept, be they Sandtroopers, Snowtroopers, Scout Troopers, etc.  There have been a few recurring concepts among the non-movie variants.  A popular one is the Jumptrooper, which has found its way into comics, video games, and, most recently, Star Wars: Rebels.  And now, it’s gotten a new figure, courtesy of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Jumptrooper is a GameStop-exclusive offering from the Black Series line, released in the last couple of months.  The Jumptrooper is based on his Rebels appearance, specifically the commanding officer of the squad, as denoted by the colored shoulderpad.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The Jumptrooper re-uses a lot of parts from the standard Stormtrooper figure, which is pretty sensible, given that the designs are pretty similar.  It’s also a pretty solid sculpt in its own right, and certainly a nice starting point.  He has a new helmet, backpack, and shoulder pads, which match well with the pre-existing parts, and also match up well with his design from the show (albeit modified for a more real-world appearance).  Most importantly, though, they set him nicely apart from the standard trooper.  I really dig the changes they’ve made, because he’s just a super sleek looking figure.  The colorwork on the Jumptrooper is subtle, but pretty impressive.  The glossier finish of the armor looks nicer than the matte finish of the original, as do the additional accenting details that the original lacked on the belt and boots.  Throw in a little extra splash of color, and you’ve got a figure that pops nicely on the shelf.  The Jumptrooper is packed with a standard E-11 Stormtrooper blaster and a brand-new style of display stand.  The stand’s not quite as conventional as I’d hoped for, but it can make for some decent running poses once you get it properly seated.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as the Jumptrooper was unveiled, I knew I wanted one.  Something about the design just immediately jumped out at me (heh), so when I found out he was a GameStop exclusive, it was Super Awesome Fiancee to the rescue!  She was kind enough to pre-order this guy through her work for me, thereby making his acquisition fairly painless.  I’m very happy with the final figure.  He’s definitely one of my favorite troopers.

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#2001: Dryden Vos

DRYDEN VOS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

The public face of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, Dryden Vos is a contradiction: a pitiless enforcer known as a gangster of wealth and taste.  His good manners shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness, though: he can change from generous host to ruthless killer in a moment.”

Solo‘s antagonist Dryden Vos had quite a time making it into toy form, largely due to the character having even more of a time making it to the big screen.  He was originally to be played by actor Micheal K. Williams, who filmed his scenes wearing motion-capture gear in order to facilitate the character being a CGI character of some sort.  When Ron Howard took over as the film’s director, Williams was unavailable for re-shoots, and the character was still without an actual final design.  Short on time and money, Howard cast his frequent collaborator Paul Bettany (whose text asking for a role is so perfectly in character) in the part, and changed his design from a CGI monster to…Paul Bettany, but with some scars.  Ultimately, it seems to have worked out pretty well, as Bettany’s turn as Vos was one of my favorite parts of the movie.  Of course, all of the shifting around with the character meant that he was almost completely absent from merchandise.  His first figure from Hasbro arrived on shelves almost a whole year after the initial Solo product launch, and I’ll be looking at it today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dryden Vos is figure 79 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s from the most recent assortment of figures, which just started showing up last month.  He’s one of two Solo figures in the line-up, the other being a Mudtrooper Han variant.  Dryden has two looks in the film, both following a fairly similar theme.  This figure is based on his initial appearance, when meeting with Han and Tobias after their botched heist.  Of the two designs, it’s the more visually striking, thus making it a solid choice for the figure.  He stands a little over 6 1/4 inches tall (Bettany’s a tall guy) and he has 29 points of articulation.  Dryden’s sculpt is an all-new affair, and it certainly captures Vos’ svelte nature pretty well.  As is common with Black Series sculpts, he can look a little off in some more extreme poses, but for the most part it works.  The head sports a pretty spot-on Bettany likeness, building on the already solid likeness we saw on last year’s Vision figure.  Dryden’s rather distinctive jacket/half-cape combo is rendered here through a separate overlay piece, which can be a little finicky when posing his left arm, but is otherwise a really sharp addition to the figure.  I’m glad they didn’t go the cloth route for this one and risk losing the visual sharpness of the design.  The piece *can* be removed from the figure, but it really doesn’t serve him well to do so, nor do we see him in this outfit without it, so on him it will stay.  There is one small inaccuracy to this figure’s sculpt: his thumbs.  One of the few “alien” aspects of the character’s design were his oddly pointy thumbs, a feature that this figure lacks.  That said, it’s a minor feature, and one that most people are likely to miss.  It hardly holds the figure back.  Dryden’s paintwork is full of nice, very subtle work, keeping all those darkly colored pieces of the costume distinct from each other.  The most impressive work is definitely on the face, though.  In the film, Dryden’s scars become redder and more visible when he gets angry, a feature replicated here through thermo-sensitive paint.  At room temperature, Dryden’s scars are faint, but when exposed to cold, they’ll flare up to a dark red.  It’s a really fun touch, and something that could be easily overlooked.  Dryden is packed with his pair of distinctive knives, which he uses to dispatch those who disappoint him in true Star Wars villain fashion.  Like Dryden himself, these are temperature sensitive, and will exhibit a bright orange hue at the ends when exposed to cold, simulating how they power up in the film.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dryden in the film, and I was definitely bummed when no figures of him were available.  It’s been a long wait, but this guy hit Amazon for retail, allowing me to snag him pretty quickly.  Though perhaps not the franchise’s most pivotal character, Dryden is high in the running for my favorite Star Wars villain, and his figure absolutely did not disappoint.  He rounds out an already pretty awesome set of Solo figures.  Now, is it too much to ask for a Qi’ra that actually matches him?

#1914: Rio Durant

RIO DURANT

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Rio Durant has carried out dangerous operations alongside the scoundrel Tobias Beckett for years. The good-natured Ardennian pilot is up for any challenge, not unlike his young counterpart Han Solo.”

What do Rio Durant and head Mandolorian Pre Vizla have in common?  Well, in addition to both being characters from the prequel era of Star Wars, they’re also both voiced by director Jon Favreau, who will once more be returning to the world of  Star Wars for the TV-bound The Mandalorian.  But, let’s stay focused on the here and now!  It’s time to look at this here Rio Durant action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rio is figure 77 in the Black Series line-up, the final of the four Solo figures, and the final figure in general in the latest assortment of Black Series figures.  Rio’s seen here in his basic pilot’s gear, which is really the only prominent look he’s got.  Fortunately, it’s a good one.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 41 points of articulation.  All those extra arms sure do help him keep that articulation count high!  Rio’s sculpt is an all-new affair, and it’s a top-notch one, just like the rest of this assortment.  As with L3, the figure really benefits from having waited until all of the final designs were available, thus allowing him to be as screen-accurate as possible.  He’s pretty much a pitch-perfect recreation of the on-screen design, and there’s a lot of very sharp detail work going on here.  Additionally, the articulation has been very nicely implemented, so he’s really, really posable.  They’ve even wisely given his holster an easy to pop-out plug, thereby removing the potential of restricting his hip joint on that leg.  It’s simple, but one of the more inventive things I’ve seen Hasbro implement on these figures.  Rio’s paintwork is clean, bold, and eye-catching.  There’s some slight weathering on his belt and jumpsuit, plus some pretty subtle accent work on his exposed skin, giving him a nice real-world-quality.  Rio is packed with a blaster pistol, a larger blaster rifle, and a removable pair of goggles, making him one of the best accessorized figures in the assortment.  The rifle in particular is one of my favorites from the line, just because of how unique and different it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Rio was one of my favorite parts of Solo, and like L3, I was a little bummed that he wasn’t among any of the earlier offerings.  As a whole, this assortment had quite a few figures that were very high on my want list, and Rio still found himself near the top of the list.  A lot of great work went into this guy, and he continues the Solo sub-line’s trend of just being really darn good.  I’m happy to have finally rounded out Beckett’s crew, and even happier that it was with such a great figure.

#1913: Lando Calrissian – Skiff Guard

LANDO CALRISSIAN — SKIFF GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Once a smooth-talking smuggler, Lando Calrissian changed from a get-rich-quick schemer to a selfless leader in the fight against the Empire. When his old friend Han was held captive in the palace of Jabba the Hutt, Lando joined Princess Leia in a mission to rescue him from certain demise.”

Lando Calrissian may not have joined our heroes until their second outing, but he has maintained a notoriety amongst the fanbase, no doubt due to his suave scoundrel-y nature.  Despite this, he didn’t actually join the Black Series line-up until four years into its run, and with a figure that only saw moderate release at that.  Fortunately, his presence in 2018’s Solo brought him more into the spotlight, with two separate Black Series releases.  The first was based on his Solo appearance, but the follow-up gives us Lando’s Palace Guard disguise from Return of the Jedi‘s opening moments.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Skiff Guard Lando is figure 76 in the Black Series line-up.  He’s the second to last figure in the newest assortment, as well as the final of the OT figures this time around.  The costume is from Jedi, which makes it slightly out of place in a Solo/Empire split assortment, but it’s actually pretty well chosen, given the costume’s cameo appearance as Beckett’s heist disguise in Solo.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  This Lando is head-to-toe a new sculpt.  While prior Skiff Landos have been known to reuse previous heads, that is thankfully not the case here.  While the prior Black Series head wasn’t *bad*, the likeness definitely could have been better, as this one deftly illustrates.  It’s hands down the best Billy Dee Williams likeness we’ve ever gotten from Hasbro.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty strong in its own right, with nice balanced proportions and a ton of detail worked all throughout.  There’s no shortage of texturing on this guy, meaning he’ll fit right in with the other denizens of Jabba’s palace.  The paint work on this figure is in line with the current improved standards of the line.  The base work is all clean, and there’s some pretty substantial accent work, showcasing that Jabba’s palace really isn’t the cleanest place to hang out.  He also uses the face-print tech, which builds on the figure’s already very strong head sculpt to give us a very realistic looking Lando.  Lando is packed with his Skiff Guard helmet, as well as the standard guard armament, the vibro-axe.  He doesn’t include the blaster we usually see with Skiff variants of Lando, but his hand is molded with a trigger finger, should you wish to arm Lando yourself.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The first Lando hit at a time when I wasn’t really able to buy many figures, so the one time I saw him, I had to pass on him.  While the Solo variant was certainly a strong offering, I was really hoping for a proper OT version.  While the Skiff Guard set-up isn’t necessarily my go-to look for Lando, there’s no denying that this is the best version of the character available.  I’m hopeful that Hasbro may give us a slightly udpated Bespin Lando down the line, maybe as part of the Archive line.  Until then, this guy will hold me over just fine.

#1912: Princess Leia Organa – Hoth

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA — HOTH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Princess Leia Organa was one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders, fearless on the battlefield and dedicated to ending the tyranny of the Empire. In the battle on Hoth, Leia helped evacuate rebel forces as Darth Vader and his fleet descended upon the rebel base.”

Empire Strikes Back is a lot of Star Wars fans’ favorite movie of the franchise.  While it’s not my personal favorite, there are certainly a lot of things I can appreciate about it.  The design work on the film is undoubtedly some of the best to come out of the franchise.  In particular, it’s more battle-ready takes on the power trio are really my favorite looks for all three of them, and they were the looks I wanted most when Hasbro launched The Black Series back in 2013.  We got Luke’s Rebel attire pretty quickly, but it’s been quite a wait for Han and Leia.  Han finally found his way into the line over the summer, and we got a teaser for Leia’s main look with the Bespin Escape release in November, but now we’ve finally gotten a proper release for Leia’s Hoth gear.  Is it worth the wait?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hoth Leia is figure 75 in the Black Series line-up, the second of this latest assortment’s OT-based figures.  If you want to get technical, this is actually the second release of this figure, as she was previewed in a con-exclusive two-pack this past fall.  Aside from this figure getting more accessories and not coming packed with a Han Solo, the two appear to be more or less the same.  This figure represents Leia from the first half or so of the film’s run time, prior to the Falcon‘s arrival on Bespin. By far her most prominent appearance from the movie, as well as one of her most remembered just in general.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  As I touched on in my review of the Bespin Escape figure, there is a fair bit of parts re-use between these two figures, given the fact that the two designs are pretty darn close and all.  This figure has a unique head, hands, left forearm, and boots, as well as a new vest piece.  They jibe pretty much perfectly with the prior parts, which makes a lot of sense, since I imagine they were actually designed for this figure first and then re-purposed for the exclusive offering later.  I do prefer this one’s boots, as it makes her a little easier to keep standing.  The new head is a decent piece, certainly one of Hasbro’s nicer offerings.  I think the exclusive figure has the superior Fisher likeness, but this one’s certainly not bad.  The paint on this figure isn’t much removed from the Bespin figure; there’s not a ton going on for most of the body, but I’m still okay with that, since accenting on white can go very bad very quickly.  The majority of the work is on the head, which is once again sporting a printed face.  Like the sculpt, the facial likeness isn’t quite as spot-on as the prior figure, but it’s still very good.  Like yesterday’s Dengar, Hoth Leia stands out in an assortment of rather lightly packed figures.  She gets her DH-17 rebel blaster rifle, which is a standard accessory for this version of the character.  In addition, she also has a welder and a pair of welding goggles, from when she was working on the Falcon.  While I might have liked to also get one of the breathing masks like we got with the SDCC Han, I think these are a solid selection of extras.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a figure I’ve been waiting a good long while for.  She was my #1 wanted Leia from the minute the line was announced, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting her release ever since she was finally shown off last year.  While the wait was long, it was most certainly worth it, especially since it means this version of Leia hit during the line at its strongest, and is therefore unlikely to need a replacement in the near future.  The same can’t be said of poor Empire Luke, who looks more and more out of place with each new figure we get.  There’s a lot to like about this figure, and I imagine she will be the go-to Leia for a good many collectors.  I myself am going to have a tough time choosing between this one and the Bespin Escape variant, because they both have a lot of points in their favor.

#1911: Dengar

DENGAR

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Crude and slovenly, Dengar was nonetheless an effective bounty hunter. While some hunters prided themselves on finesse and style, Dengar preferred firepower and destruction.”

Every group has to have their weak link; the unfavorite; the guy on the receiving end of every pot-shot.  Well, in the case of Empire’s distinctive band of bounty hunters, that person is undoubtedly, without question today’s focus: Dengar.  Be it his less put-together appearance, his nature as a schlubby-looking middle-aged guy, or perhaps the fact that he appears to have wrapped himself in toilet paper, Dengar’s a character that doesn’t quite inspire the same cool factor as the rest of the group.  But, like so many weak links before him, he gets to ride along on everyone else’s coat tails, which means he has the same number of figures as all of the others.  And now, following the trend, he’s also got a Black Series figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dengar is figure 74 in the Black Series line-up, and is the first of the three OT-based figures in this latest assortment.  As I touched on in the intro, he completes our line-up of Executor Bounty Hunters, which is a pretty big deal for a large portion of the fanbase.  Dengar stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  His sculpt is unique, of course, and, as much as Dengar is a bit of mess design-wise, the sculpt is certainly a well-put-together mess…if that makes any sense.  The piecemeal nature of his design allows for Hasbro to put a good deal of smaller sculpted details.  The head wrappings and the actual head are separate from each other, which I believe is a first for this Dengar.  It certainly looks nice, and gives his face a slightly less lumpy quality than prior Dengars.  His face actually looks stern and determined, not goofy and schlubby, so he seems a little less out of place with the rest of the group in that regard.  Something that really impressed me about the sculpt was how little it interferes with his range of motion.  I had expected for him to be severely limited, as is usually the case with Dengar figures, but this guy can definitely get in some decent posing.  I mean, he won’t be pulling off any Spider-Man poses, but it’s certainly serviceable.  Dengar’s paintwork is a little cleaner than I’d expected, but upon comparing him to his on-screen counterpart, not too far off from the real thing.  He’s got enough wear and tear to make him believable and augment the sculpt well enough.  As will all the new human characters, he’s got a printed face, which includes the nasty scar running across it.  He lacks the burn scarring that he appears to have in the film, but it’s a relatively minor detail, so I can kind of forgive it.  In an assortment of somewhat lightly packed figures, Dengar is actually pretty darn well accessorized.  He has a larger blaster rifle, a blaster pistol, and a very detailed back pack.  It’s all stuff we see him with in the film’s one scene that features him, so obviously accurate, but that hasn’t stopped prior Dengars from lacking them, so it’s nice that nothing was cut.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I feel maybe I was a little harsh on Dengar up in the intro.  I’ve never had much of an affinity for the character, and I’d easily rank him as my least favorite of the Bounty Hunters from Empire.  With that said, I was still looking forward to this figure quite a bit, thanks to Hasbro’s accelerated efforts to complete the line-up in the last year.  The high of 4-LOM and Zuckuss and how awesome they were did a lot to give me some extra excitement for a character that might not have otherwise been too keen to pick up.  Despite my misgivings about his whole design, Hasbro’s definitely put in the effort to make him a good figure, and the end result is a fun toy that will no doubt please any Dengar fans out there.  Because there has to be someone *somewhere* right?

#1910: L3-37

L3-37

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A “self-made droid” built from astromech and protocol parts, L3-37 is an enlightened navigator who cares deeply about droid rights.”

If there’s one thing that Star Wars has been consistently good at, it’s making up robots that viewers feel compelled to go out and own.  Since R2 and 3PO first strutted across the screen, there’s been an un-ending stream of new wacky, zany robots, all vying for our attention.  The new movies have followed suit.  Previous Star Wars Story offering K-2SO is definitely a favorite of mine, but last year’s Solo certainly gave us another fun one in Lando’s co-pilot, L3-37.  She was absent from early product shipments, but has finally started showing up in all of her plastic-y glory.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

L3-37 is figure 73 in the ongoing Black Series line-up.  She’s the third of the four Solo-based figures in this latest assortment, and the final piece of our main heist team from the film.  She stands about 6 inches tall and has 21 points of articulation…I think.  Getting an accurate count is a little difficult due to the nature of her design, which has a number of the joints obscured by various wires and plating.  There’s some definite restriction going on with the movement, especially on the elbows, where you’ll be lucky to get even 90 degrees of motion, and even then, the stress on the joint will slowly reset its position over time.  Obviously, this is largely to do with L3’s design, which at a full-scale wouldn’t be contending with nearly as much resistance from those wires.  On the plus side, mobility throughout the rest of the figure is surprisingly good.  I was happy to find that my figure doesn’t have nearly as much trouble standing as I’d expected.  You’ll still need to place her feet carefully to keep her upright, but she does seem to be pretty well balanced.  I would imagine that L3’s late arrival to the toy line is an attempt on Hasbro’s part to keep her as accurate to her final design as possible.  I’m happy to say it was a worthy effort, as her sculpt is pretty much spot-on to L3’s appearance in the film.  I’m not seeing any of the slight proportional changes like we saw on the BS K2 figure, and she certainly doesn’t skimp on the specific details of the model.  The wires may be a little clunky, but apart from making them smaller and potentially much easier to damage, I don’t know that you can do a whole lot about that at this scale.  L3’s paintwork is decent for the line.  Prior droids have had a tendency to be little lacking in painted detail, but L3 not only gets her base colorwork, but also some simulated wear and tear.  In some spots, the damage is a little heavy handed, especially when compared to the movie.  That being said, at this price point and scale, Hasbro has done an admirable job.  The one area where this figure really lacks are the accessories.  L3 is completely without any sort of extras.  I know that options for her are slightly limited, but some extra hands in different poses, or at the very least the communicator she uses during the raid on the refinery would have been appreciated.  As it stands, she’s yet another very light offering in this assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

L3, like the rest of her assortment mates, is a joint gift from my parents and my Super Awesome Fiancee. As I’ve said many times before, and I’ll no doubt say again, I’m a sucker for cool robots, and L3 definitely falls into that category.  I loved the character in the movie, and I’m happy she’s finally made the transition into action figure.  I wish she had some extras to offer, and the articulation in the arms is somewhat limiting, but on a whole, I’m very happy with this figure, and I’m thrilled to round out my crew from the movie.

#1909: Imperial Patrol Trooper

IMPERIAL PATROL TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As the Empire reinforces its hold on worlds across the galaxy, local defense forces are being supplemented – and eventually completely replaced – with Imperial Stormtroopers. To cover distances across sprawling settlements and cities, Patrol Stormtroopers police the streets and alleys aboard swift interceptor speeder bikes.”

Hands down my favorite Trooper design in all of Star Wars is Return of the Jedi’s Scout Trooper.  I’m not alone in this, and the designers behind the various movies and cartoons and the like have made a pretty steady go at calling back to that particular design as we’ve trekked on through the franchise.  Oh, wait, wrong “Star” franchise.  As we’ve warred on through the franchise.  There, that’s better.  Anyway, the latest call back to the Scout Trooper is Solo’s Imperial Patrol Trooper, who is essentially the galaxy far, far away’s equivalent of a motorcycle patrol cop.  The design found its way into the Titan Heroes line pretty quickly, but there’s been more of a wait for the two more conventional styles.  I snagged the big trooper boxed set from the smaller line a few months back, and now I’ve got the Black Series release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial Patrol Trooper is figure 72 in the Black Series line-up, placing him right after Val from yesterday.  He is, unsurprisingly, from the same assortment, and started showing up at retail in the last month or so.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The articulation on this guy is some of the best we’ve seen in the line, and I’d certainly say it’s the best we’ve seen on any of the troopers.  What’s most impressive about the articulation and its mobility is just how little compromising they’ve done with the integrity of the sculpt.  At first glance, I was really expecting this figure’s posabilty to be another First Order Trooper situation, where he looked quite nice, but struggled with anything but basic poses.  I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.  Like his basic line counterpart, the Patrol Trooper’s sculpt is a very strong offering.  It’s clean, the details are sharply defined, and it matches up very well with the movie design.  The figure really emphasizes how slick this design really looks, just as a whole.  If there’s one slight down tick on this figure, it’s the paintwork.  There are some fuzzy edges on the transitions from white to black, which were giving me some flashbacks to the First Order Trooper.  That being said, those issues are rather minor in the grand scheme of the figure, and it’s hardly the worst we’ve seen in this line.  Just not quite as good as recent offerings.  There are still plenty of touches that really help the figure, such as the very dark, metallic green for the visor.  Like his smaller counterpart, the Patrol Trooper includes a small Biker Scout-esque blaster pistol, as well as a removable police baton on his belt.  Both pieces can be easily held by the figure or safely stowed on his belt, by which I was very impressed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of all the upcoming Black Series figures, this one was very near the top of my want list.  I’ve loved this design since the moment I saw it, and I’ve been patiently awaiting his release.  I actually saw him at retail twice before getting him as a Christmas gift (Super Awesome Fiancee played the fact that she was getting him for me very close to the vest), but I managed to hold out.  Yay for me.  While there are some quite minor flaws, I am very, very happy with this figure.  Of course, now I kinda want a Patrol Bike to go with him.  Damn you Hasbro!

#1908: Val

VAL — VANDOR 1

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A no-nonsense and occasionally prickly woman who is a crack shot with a blaster rifle, Val may be the most even-headed and capable member of Tobias Beckett’s ragtag crew of scoundrels.”

One week into my Post Christmas reviews, I’m going to be kicking off a theme week.  There was one large subset of gifts this year, and that subset was Star Wars: The Black Series.  So, for the first of my slew of Black Series reviews is going to be based on last year’s Solo.  I looked at Tobias Beckett back at the beginning of December, and now I’ll be moving onto his crew of bandits.  First up, the Zoe to his Mal, Val!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Val was released in the latest assortment of Black Series figures.  She’s figure 71, thereby making her the first figure in the line-up numerically.  Val is dubbed as being her “Vandor 1” appearance, which is the location of the ill-fated train heist that starts out the movie.  She’s got this look and the Imperial disguise, and this one’s the more character specific, as well as being the one that matches up with the prior Beckett figure.  Val stands 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Val’s sculpt is a unique offering, which is to be expected, seeing this is her only figure, with no prior variants or anything.  It’s a pretty solid offering.  The head’s likeness to Thandie Newton is very close, certainly closer than I’d expected based on early production shots.  The body does a good job of matching her proportions and appearance in the movie.  Unlike Beckett, who had some weird articulation worked awkwardly into the sculpt, Val’s is actually pretty cleanly worked in.  The movement on the arms is somewhat restricted by the tube thingies, but that’s not really the fault of the figure, so much as it is the character’s sort of odd design aesthetic.  That being said, the amount of movement they *do* have actually did surprise me somewhat.  Val’s paintwork is pretty standard for the line at this point.  She’s got the printed face, which continues to impress, and the application on her costume is clean and pretty eye-catching.  The use of clear plastic for the tubes and her goggles adds some nice dimension.  Val is packed with her blaster, which is a unique piece.  It’s a decent enough piece, though I’m a little saddened that she doesn’t have anywhere to keep it when not using it.  It also seems a little on the light side, especially given the slightly smaller stature of the figure. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Val was a combined gift given to me by my parents and my Super Awesome Fiancee.  There was sort of a bit of concern about her and her assortment-mates showing up in time for Christmas morning, but they were there waiting for me, so it worked out for me.  Val is a more minor character in Solo, but one I enjoyed nonetheless, and I’m pretty happy with her turn as a Black Series release, even if she is a little light on the accessory front.

#1894: Princess Leia – Bespin Escape

PRINCESS LEIA — BESPIN ESCAPE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Princess Leia Organa was one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders, fearless on the battlefield and dedicated to ending the tyranny of the Empire. With her quick-thinking and inspired leadership, Leia ranks among the the galaxy’s great heroes.”

For a number of reasons, December has a tendency to put me in a rather Star Wars-y sort of mood.  Be it the fact that three of the last four films have hit this month, or how I tend to make watching the Original Trilogy an annual occurrence, or perhaps just the fact that I have a tendency to get a lot of Star Wars stuff around the holiday season, whatever the case, I’m certainly in a Star Wars-y mood today.  So, in a vaguely holiday spirit, I’m taking a look at this Leia figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia — Bespin Escape is a Target-exclusive entry in The Black Series.  She first started showing up intermittently in the early fall, but seems to have been arriving in full force in the last couple of weeks.  This version of Leia is an oft-overlooked variant from the climax of Empire, during her, Lando, and Chewie’s chase to re-claim the frozen Han Solo.  It’s really just a dressing down of her main Hoth gear that she wears for the majority of the film.  It’s the similarity between those two that generally causes this one to be overlooked.  Nevertheless, its presence during a fairly important section of the film makes it a reasonable choice for a figure, especially an exclusive one.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Her scaling matches perfectly with the ANH figure, which is a nice bit of internal consistency that we don’t always see in this line.  Her sculpt is totally new, but hasn’t remained unique to her, thanks to the almost concurrent release of the proper Hoth Leia.  Regardless of origin and uniqueness, it’s a strong sculpt.  The head sculpt has the strongest Carrie Fisher likeness we’ve seen to date for this line (or any of the smaller ones, for that matter), and they’ve even nicely translated her hair braids.  I imagine this head will be seeing a re-use at some point for a Bespin Gown variant, or at least I sure hope it will.  Mine has an unfortunate error on her left ear, with a small chunk missing out of the lobe, but it’s fortunately not super noticeable.  The jumpsuit’s sculpt is nice and crisply detailed, and looks appropriately like a garment she’s been running around in for a substantial amount of time.  The paintwork on Leia is largely pretty basic; the jumpsuit’s just molded white plastic, and they’ve let the sculpt do all the lifting.  This is one of those times I don’t mind the lack of accenting, as accenting on white can go very badly very quickly.  She does get the printed face; she’s the first Leia to get this treatment, and it works very well for her.  I especially like how they handled the hairline, which is a frequent slip-up on such figures.  Leia is somewhat sparsely packed, with just a stolen Stormtrooper blaster alongside her.  It’s scene-accurate, of course, but something else would have maybe added some extra excitement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Leia sort of just started showing up, without too much fanfare.  I wasn’t initially sure I was going to grab her, what with the Hoth Leia on the horizon.  However, I was at Target looking for something else, which I was unable to find, and when I came across Leia.  Determined not to let the trip be a waste and impressed by how the figure looked in person, I was swayed into getting her.  She’s a decent enough figure, but I will curious to see how she performs once the Hoth Leia is more readily available.  She’s really the sort of figure that is really aimed at the more hardcore collector.  Which, of course, is me.  So, hey, how about that.