#2265: Luke Skywalker – Jabba’s Palace

LUKE SKYWALKER — JABBA’S PALACE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Luke Skywalker was a Tatooine farmboy who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known.”

And lo, the Post-Christmas reviews begin!

There were a few years running where my first post-Christmas review was invariably an Alien Queen, but after my friends and family ran out of Alien Queens to buy me, I’ve moved onto another theme, it would seem: Star Wars.  Honestly, it’s not all that new a concept, me getting Star Wars figures over the holidays, going all the way back to the Millenium Falcon I received for Christmas of ’96.  So, I guess I can dig it being the new trend.  So, let’s kick things off with a Luke Skywalker figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jabba’s Palace Luke Skywalker is a Walmart-exclusive Black Series offering.  Much like the two Captain Americas that they got last year, they also got two versions of Jedi Luke back to back.  Sometimes, I think Walmart’s toy buyer might be a little limited in their sights.  Whatever the case, this figure theoretically started showing up alongside the Triple Force Friday stuff back in October, though realistically, he started showing up shortly before the holidays.  This Luke is the second Return of the Jedi Luke we’ve gotten in the Black Series line-up, following the more end of the movie inspired version released back in 2014.  This one, as the name denotes, is based on Luke as he first appears in Jabba’s Palace, prior to ditching his vest and getting his robotic hand damaged. The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  For the most part, he’s fairly reliant on parts from the previous Jedi Luke figure.  He uses the body of that figure, along with a new head, the right hand from Bespin Luke, and an all-new vest overlay piece. The new head is the real star attraction.  While I always felt that sculpt on the original Jedi Luke head was far better than the sub-par paint job allowed to show through, it’s never the less a little bit of an artifact of an older way of doing things, since the separate face/hair pieces have become the new way of doing things, and allow for a more realistic recreation.  This new sculpt follows that new styling, and is honestly one of Hasbro best attempts at a young Hamill likeness, at least as far as the face is concerned.  The hair I’m still a little iffy about, but it’s certainly not terrible.  The new vest piece is a decent overlay; it’s not too bulky.  Of course, it’s also not designed to be removed, which I was a little let down by, but if you don’t want it on the figure, it’s easy enough to remove, keeping in mind it’s not really going back on.  And, on top of that, after removing it, you’ll also discover that he’s missing the previous figure’s belt (which would have no doubt affected the look of the vest at this scale, so I get why it’s gone).  The figure is also privy to the improvements in paint since the last Jedi Luke.  That previous figure was honestly one of my worst experiences with iffy paint in the line, but this guy gets the new face print tech, which works very well for him.  There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing this paint on the old sculpt, just to see how the two pair off, but as is, this one looks very good.  This Luke ends up being a little better accessorized than the last one.  While he no longer has the swapable flap for the front of his uniform, he still gets his lightsaber (with a more accurately painted hilt this time), a cloth-goods cloak, and the blaster he steals from one of Jabba’s guards (re-used from Kanan Jarrus).  Not a bad assortment of extras, and certainly enough to make him worthwhile even if you have the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking for this guy pretty much since Force Friday.  As a kid, I went as Jedi Luke for Halloween, so I’ve always had a soft spot for this costume design, and felt the old figure wasn’t doing it justice on the shelf.  I found this figure just before Christmas and actually bought him with some money I got from my Grandmother for the holiday.  He’s solid improvement without being a straight replacement.  I just kind of wish Hasbro would stop giving their best figures to Walmart as exclusives…

#2258: Crackshot

CRACKSHOT

FORTNITE: LEGENDARY SERIES (JAZWARES)

Remember when I was reviewing all of those Fortnite toys…wait, I did this yesterday, didn’t I?  Sorry, I got confused in all of the holiday chaos.  Did I say holiday chaos?  Obviously, I must mean holiday joy, for these holidays are a joyous time, are they not?  Where am I going with this?  Truth be told, I don’t really know.  I’m gonna level with you guys, this is actually the second review I wrote for today, because I just decided that the last one wasn’t good enough…for this year.  Odds are good on it being good enough for next year, because I foresee future Ethan being really down for not having to write another review.  To celebrate Christmas this year, I’m taking a look at something of an old-standing Christmas tradition.  No, not Fortnite; we’re not there quite yet.  No, I’m talking about Nutcrackers, a German symbol of goodluck originating in Germany in the 17th Century, and popularized by ETA Hoffman’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and its subsequent Tchaikovsky-composed ballet adaptation “The Nutcracker.”  They have now become quite the American tradition, but we Americans managed to do our comically missing the point thing, which is why most nutcrackers nowadays don’t actually function as nutcrackers.  Today’s offering really isn’t much different.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Crackshot is his own solo release in the Fortnite: Legendary Series line-up, available exclusively at Walmart.  He started hitting shelves just before Black Friday, which seems pretty timely.  I imagine he won’t stick around for long past December, but time will tell.  The figure is based on the similarly holiday-themed skin from the game, which was available during the Christmas season in 2017.  Like the two prior Legendary Series figures I’ve looked at, Crackshot was also added to the smaller scale line around the same time as his larger figure, however, somewhat amusingly, this figure is actually the cheaper option of the two.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and has 40 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme is pretty much the same as the other two, which is a definite plus.  Keeping the positives of the Toy Biz Legends without the laundry list of negatives is alright by me.  Crackshot’s sculpt appears to be a fairly accurate recreation of his game model, for better or for worse.  That means that he ends up sharing a number of parts with this line’s version of Jonesy, upon whom most of the skins are built.  This means that he’s got the plates on his shins, plus some of the wrappings, and the patch on the pants, which do take you out of the nutcracker appearance a little bit.  That said, I was surprised to see that he actually got uniquely sculpted elements for his shoulders, given that they really are just painted on the skin in the game.  It gives him a nice extra bit of pop.  The star piece of this figure, of course, is the head, which manages to get that classic nutcracker design down pretty darn nicely.  Like the others in the line, has has multiple faceplates, three of them in this case, each displaying a different expression.  There’s angry, happy, and neutral.  Neutral’s destined to get the most use, but all three are fun, and I appreciate that they actually sculpted three different expressions for the eyebrows.  I got a lot more fun out of the angry one than I expected to.  The paintwork on Crackshot is pretty respectable.  He’s colorful and eye-catching, and gets those proper holiday colors down right.  Everything is applied cleanly, and he’s even got those signature rosy cheeks airbrushed on, consistently across the three faces, no less.  In addition to those three faces, Crackshot also includes the Hunting Rifle, the Bird Shot back bling, the Candy Axe pick axe, a bundle of dynamite, and a balloon.  It’s a pretty fun selection of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I fully intended to run a different review today.  I really did.  I took the photos, and wrote it, and everything.  Then I found this guy at Walmart, and he jumped the queue.  I’ve always had something of a soft spot for nutcrackers, so the idea of actually making a proper action figure based on one is right up my alley.  This guy’s a great seasonal piece, and it definitely getting added to my holiday decorations, no doubt.

#2249: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

Oooooh, I bet you *really* thought I was done with the Galaxy of Adventures stuff, didn’t you.  Well, I mean, I was for a while…like almost a month…so I guess I kinda was.  I did get this guy before finishing the prior round of GoA reviews, and I did very much consider throwing him at the tail end of them, but ultimately thought that it might be a little much.  Would have made this intro funnier, though.  But that’s okay, I don’t like to be funny anyway.  As I noted in those reviews, the overwhelming focus of the first series of the line was on the newest trilogy, but the Original Trilogy isn’t getting overlooked entirely, and is in fact getting more focus in the next assortment.  It’s also getting more focus via the line’s very first exclusive offering, Luke Skywalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker is a Walmart-exclusive Galaxy of Adventures figure.  He’s shipping in solid cases and started showing up about a month after the first round of product hit.  He’s not marked in any way as an exclusive, so it’s possible he may not remain so, but for the time being, that’s where he is.  There are a few versions of Luke to choose from, but for this release Hasbro’s opted for the Jedi Knight appearance, which pairs well with the Vader from Series 1.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall (he’s shorter than everyone but Rey) and he has 25 points of articulation.  Luke is an all-new sculpt, and matches stylistically with the rest of the line.  Like the others, his articulation is quite well implemented, allowing for a surprising amount of range, and the figure is also very sturdy on his feet.  In terms of level of stylization, Luke’s not quite as cartoony as Rey was, being more in-line with Finn’s sculpt.  There’s some definite changes made, but there slightly more restrained.  Similar to the others, there’s not really a Hamill likeness, but he still has a proper character likeness.  I will say, the eyes seem a touch wide for my taste, which is the only real complaint I have.  I was initially going to complain about his torso being a little bulky, but that was before I took him out and realized that the vest is actually a removable piece.  This allows for both major looks he sports from the movie, since there’s a fully detailed torso beneath.  I’m okay with the slightly bulky torso if it means having the extra option, and it certainly works a bit better here than on a more realistically styled figure.  The paintwork on Luke is overall pretty decent.  It’s certainly sharp and clean in its application.  Again, the larger eyes seem a little off to me, and I feel like he’s got a bit too much color in his face, but I can’t fault Hasbro for their attempts to keep him from looking under-painted.  Luke is packed with his second lightsaber, which is a fairly decent piece, but unlike all of the other sabers I’ve gotten from this line, the silver of the hilt from this one chips off really easily.  I don’t know why it’s different, but it’s my only true complaint about the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting and loving the whole Series 1 run of figures, I was definitely down for this guy, but wasn’t having a ton of luck finding him at first.  Fortunately, Max was able to point me in the right direction, and I boy were there a lot of this guy to choose from.  There are some slightly minor issues that I feel hold Luke back ever so slightly, but admittedly, Luke’s the one character in the line-up I really had any expectations about going in.  He’s still a really solid release in his own right.  I look forward to filling out more of the OT cast.

#2243: Megatron

CLASSIC ANIMATION MEGATRON

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

See, we’re kind of doing this one and one deal with me and Super Awesome Wife reviewing the Transformers now.  Why?  Well, because as she’s pointed out to me, legally the site is half hers now, so there’s not a lot I can do to stop it.  Guess this is just my life now.

At the beginning of me falling down the Transformers rabbit-hole, there was one major obstacle to overcome to get me really into that Transformers mind-set: owning an Optimus Prime.  Well now I have four of those.  You know who I still didn’t own a single figure of, though?  Optimus’s opposite number from the Decepticon side, Megatron.  Well, that changes today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like yesterday’s Optimus figure, plus the Soundblaster and Silverstreak  Bluestreak from last week, this guy is part of the Walmart exclusive “35th Anniversary Commemorative Series” sub-line of Siege figures, which started showing up on shelves towards the end of October.  While Silversteak Bluestreak and Soundblaster were more conventional re-decos, Prime and Megatron are based on the cel-animated appearances from the G1 cartoon, which gives them a fairly distinctive flair.  Like Prime, Megatron is a re-deco of his Voyager Series 1 release from the beginning of the year.  Unlike Prime, that makes him totally new to me, since that’s one of the few Siege items I never got around to picking up.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 26 practical points of articulation.  Much like his counterpart Optimus, Megatron’s sculpt aims to be an idealized version of the G1 toy…more or less.  As with any modern update of Megatron, there are some needed changes, which I’ll touch on more when I get to his alt-mode.  The robot mode is pretty posable, though compared to Prime, it’s a little more restricted.  Not terribly so, and a lot of it owes more to his actual character design than to any design choices on the toy itself.  Compared to Prime, Megatron doesn’t have quite a clean and polished look, with slightly more deviation from that G1 animation design.  All of the important notes, are there, of course, but he’s more prone to some creative liberties, such as the far more obtrusive “backpack” that houses the alt-mode parts when he a robot.  It’s not a terrible way of handling things, but it’s also not as clean as the way Optimus does things.  Additionally, there are a couple of hollow spots on this figure, which Optimus mostly avoided.  That being said, Megatron still makes for a pretty solid robot.  The new paint scheme here is a major departure from the standard.  As a whole, he’s brighter, more eye-catching, and cleaner than the prior release.  He’s also got a cool, very artistic look, which simulates the cel-shading of animation.  While I felt that both Optimus figures were of a similar quality, seeing the updated Megatron really did a lot to salvage this particular figure in my eyes.  Now, about that alt-mode.  Megatron joins many others in losing his original G1 alt-mode, which was an accurate recreation of a Walther P-38 pistol.  With current safety laws, there’s absolutely no way that would fly, so this figure’s alt-mode is a tank, which has more or less become his accepted modern-day alt-mode.  The shift to tank from gun obviously requires some changing of the robot mode, but the figure manages to balance both alright.  The tank transformation is actually pretty straight forward, and I was able to get it most of the way without the instructions, so that’s good.  It’s a fairly cool looking design, and feels imposing enough to associate with a character like Megatron.  Megatron is packed with his usual arm cannon, as well as a large sword that calls back to the original Takara release, both of which are worked into the transformation.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as Optimus impressed me, I just never could bring myself to drop the money for the standard Siege Megatron.  I wasn’t trying to avoid the character on purpose, though, and I wanted a good one for my collection, so I was looking at other options.  I even considered picking up the Combat Megatron, but that seemed too drastrically different for me.  When I first spotted the 35th Anniversary figures, I did think this guy looked pretty slick, but ultimately held off.  But guess who didn’t.  Did you guess Max?  Yeah.  He bought one, and brought it into the store and let me mess around with it, at which point I pretty much knew I wanted one for myself.  And here we are.  Honestly, he’s a lot better than I’d expected, and he feels like he sort of completes a very important piece of my collection, so I’m glad I decided to give Megatron another try.

#2242: Optimus Prime

CLASSIC ANIMATION OPTIMUS PRIME

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

What up my diddly dudes, it’s Chey’s and Jess’s ultimate toy review part 2 with optimus prime. This ones for you Jasonn , i dont know who you are, but here go my dude. congrats! So here we are back it again with the transformers, that series the two of us know so much about. This week is Optisium prime, leader of the…. oh god… not decepticons…. just ask ethan autobot vibes, cool. The truthamal about this figures is that is cool, ish. I don’t know this history of optismus prime

Bur I do, i think. So optimusy comes from planet Cybertoner. He’s the leader of the the autobot vibers and i think he dies a few time. he also has a brother, that might not be his brother, but by nming conventions it makes sense. his brother is ultra magnus, totally the brother of optimus primus. is transformia actually a thing? who da figly knows.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This figgu comes from this line that did the transformers as cartoons (Ethan: that would be the 35th anniversay line). He has the same body as the live colored Optimpusy  but he’s colored like the original cartoon, which is why we get to review him becaus he jus a repaint of a figga that Ethan already reviewed some times ago. Octopus Slime is bigger than my hand by a quaterish of an inch…so maybe six some inches. He’s got 420 points of articulation. HA blaze. idk hoq mNY HE ACTUALLY HAS. He’s fourth in line to the throne of Cybertoner, and his bitty brother who is also possible multiple people passed thru a family thru generations is after him in line to the throne. He’s got these flappy dos that you find when trying to transform him that Tim says protects the royal nuts and bolts. What else about this figure?

While CChey’s trying to race tim in trying to turn the autobot viber into a semitruck without a load, I talk about the truck. SURPRISE HE TURNS INTO A SEMI TRUCK WITHOUT A PAYLOAD. the bed is the blue bit and the cab where a trucker would normally drive, sleep and play is reeeeeed. If yous drunk then it probably gonna be hard to turn him inta a semi uck. if ya sober yee still may have trouba getting this figure to turn into a duck truck. Chey says IT’S NOT USER FRIENDLY. WARNING Must use magick and sacrifice an atual caaarl to get it to transform properly. Hey, show runners that have no more ideas, you should do a show based purely on drunk peple trying to turn transformeders into cars and visversa.

The colors are meant to mimic the tv show which is the 80s which the colors are flat as hell. boom i said  it. the kia optima from this line is you and the one from the transformers line is the guy she told not worry about. before i get into the color i just want say that this stuff, i cant say bad words, is not user friendly, its a rubiks cube that makes zero sense, so read the instructions friends, because that what every kid wants to do on christmas morning, follow rules. alright, so the cell shading gets nicer the more i look at it, but its too light to notice on first glance, bear with me im actually trying to write a review worth reading even drunk. the red WHACK the bleu WHACK the white WHACK, it doesnt got much demension compared to transformers line toy. Though like i said last time the silver “battle damage” as ethan calls it looks like a last minute disicion and i am not a fan. however, the more i look at the cartoon toy, the more i enjoy, so maybe get over the first glance and youll feel the same. Optima Prius is a cool cat.

Theres a lot of points of articulation, I lost count and gave up… so if youre interested, im sure ehtan did a better job because it took me 15 minutes and maybe more to figure out how it actually worked so yeah.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If you like kia optima, buy ittttt that what matter treat yourself and maybe you can figure out HOW IT WORKS because if im honest, tim had to finish it for me

I, Jessho, have no real connection to Octopussy Primussy. i didn;t really watch the cartoons. i think i watched a movie once at the drive thru threther in my bummby duck no where town . i rememember we couldn;t use the radio for movie audio becuase the car was too old or something and we had to try and follow aong to the outside audio which was really bad. i dunno what happned. i thin there wasa  pyramid and a reallt old transformer with weird gonad chins. I almost transformed this duck hinter into a truck all by myself, without instructiosn, but ethan had to help me in the end. I got to review this firgure cuz it’s a repaint of one that ethan already review, which is where you cn find more accurate infor BTDubes. But ultimately i get to review these guys because Jason gave Ethan a job at All Time, which exposed him to all dem transformers that he started buying when he started working at your cool store! It’s been a great spark in Ethan’s week and imma so happy that he’s found you and this store. So in summation, it’s you’re fault we now have so many transformers and I get to write drunk reviews on them and that Ethan ets to end hs week on a high note.

PS ETHAN YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FIX YOUR PHOTOS or imma be real sad like baby yoda without his MAndo Dad.


#2239: Soundblaster

SOUNDBLASTER

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Who doesn’t love a good re-deco? Well, Super Awesome Wife probably doesn’t love this one quite so much because I told her she couldn’t review it.  I know, I’m mean like that. Much as I am ever tempted to just let her take over the reviews of Transformers as a whole for this site (or at the very least, all of the many re-decos), I’ve lain claim to today’s particular figure because it’s a variant of my boy Soundwave, and I just couldn’t not review a Soundwave.  It feels wrong.  So, what’s the deal with this one?  Well, the original Soundwave was released in 1985, alongside the other first round Transformers.  In 1987, Hasbro’s Japanese equivalent Takara, whose Transformers line had generally followed the same structure as the American, introduced the “Headmasters” line, which would tie-in with the Japan-exclusive “Headmasters” cartoon.  Soundwave wound up with an upgrade, now dubbed Soundblaster.  Though his initial figure wasn’t released in America, Soundblaster has become a go-to variant for Soundwave figures ever since, and Hasbro opted to add him to their celebration of the 35th anniversary of Transformers.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundblaster is one of the four figures in the “35th Anniversary Commemorative Edition” line-up of Siege.  The assortment is a Walmart-exclusive, and started showing up around the end of October.  All four figures included are re-decos, with Soundblaster being, unsurprisingly, a re-deco of the Voyager Class Siege Soundwave from earlier this year.  That figure’s fairly G1 faithful roots make it a solid choice for re-use here, and pretty much everyone was expecting to see it at some point.  It’s worth noting that he’s not actually a straight repaint; to be a proper representation of Soundblaster, he does get the appropriate re-tooled cassette door, which now can hold two cassettes instead of just one at a time.  Additionally, some of the tolerances on this release’s joints seem a little better, and the shoulder cannon seems to sit better this time around.  Other than that, he’s the same figure, and minor issues with the mold aside, I’m okay with that.  The new color scheme actually really does pop on this mold.  The black is slick looking, and boy do I love those new red eyes.  The new deco on the tape deck is also really eye-catching.  Soundblaster’s alt-mode is the same as the previous figure.  Honestly, it’s the one part of the Soundwave figure I wasn’t that big on.  As nice as he is in robot mode, this just feels a little…tacked on?  I don’t know.  I’ve had six months to get used to it, and I still don’t really care for it.  It’s not the end of the world, and you can still form the pseudo-boombox fan-mode.  Plus, I just don’t see myself ever displaying him any way but as a robot.  Soundblaster is packed with the same assortment of weapons as the first release, but done up to match his new deco.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Going into the 35th Anniversary line-up, Soundblaster was really the only one I was interested in.  At this point, you know I didn’t stick to that, but hey, I tried.  He was the second of them I found, and I was honestly pretty darn thrilled about it.  He’s not all that different from the Soundwave figure, but I wasn’t expecting that to be the case.  Plus, I did really love the first figure, so I’m still a real fan of the second one too.  He’s a good pick for this line-up.

#2238: Bluestreak

BLUESTREAK

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Whad up my diddly-does and my homefries. Tonight, today, this afternoon this whateva is another special treat brought to you by the drunken mind of Ethan’s wondaful wifu! On this occasiona we’re gonna talk about Bluestreak, who will no longer be refered to by that name because HE’S NOT BLUE.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bluesteak is made by the brothers of Has. He’s from wave #, along with Well-done and Raw. He has 42 points of articulation or something–it’s hard to count when drunk, also Ethan is too busy working on models to help so that’s okay. Do you know what’s a good show so far? Mandalorian on Disney+. I never knew I wanted a show about a bounty hunter babysitter. Anyways, Medium-rare isn’t from Star Wars because he’s a transformer, but he’s technically in the same universe as Doctor WHo and Marvel because of Death’s Head. According to the wiki he talks a lot, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never seen hhimk  in a transformer show. I deviate a lot, don’t I? On with the figure!

Bluesteak is about 5-51/2 inches tall, but we tell him he’s 6 inches so that he doesn’t feel inferior ito the other transformers. *Whispers* he’s very sensitive about his size! He’s a repaint of somebody, at least I think because theat’s the only reason why I can review some of these metal bois. Actually, yes, he’s a repaint of Prowl *gggrrrrrrr*. 

Speaking of paint. Let’s talk about his paint! Do you know what this boi ain’t? He ain’t blue that’s fo shore. He’s like a red-based grey with red and black accents. BUT NO BLUE! So the main colors though are red and this weird grey, and they look rather nice together. Then it’s accented with black, and there’s hints of silver on his faces and the rims of the wheels. He also has some clear plasstoc bits, specifically on his shins and on his back behind his head between his door wings. The clear plastic is kinda cool, like leeting you see the inner workings of the transformer-car guy. You ever want to see the inside of a steak? Well now you can with this figure! Thw detaling of the fihure is pretty cool too; I like the detailing on the inside of the doors and legs the best. I also really like waht ever joint piece the hips are because of the ratcheting, there’s something satisfying about it.

Medium-rare can turn into a car, but not just any car, a cool sports car for sleek see through flim-flam. It’s actually pretty easy to turn him into his car state, even when intoxicated. The trick, for me is turning him back intp his non-car self.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have no personal attachment to this figure. I got to review him because he was the first transformer I was able to trasnform into their alteernate self by myself. ETHAN DIDN’T HELP ME AND HE WAS PROUD. Also I made a stink about him not being blue and how it was false advertising, and I wanted to wirte a review dedicated to making fun of him BECAUSE HE’S NOT BLUE. But yea, that’s aout it. Thanks for coming to my TED talk and I hipe we can drinkg and review again to your entertainent.

PS: Because I promised Max…Silversteak would’ve been a better name because this mofo is SILVER AND NOT BLUE. But I like Medium-Rare better because it has nothing to do with the figure, like his original name. There now I’m done.

#2191: Cantina Showdown

OBI-WAN KENOBI, DR. EVAZAN, & PONDA BABA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“On the run from Imperial stormtroopers, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker enter the seedy Mos Eisley Cantina in hopes of finding swift passage to the planet Alderaan. Inside, among the gallery of criminals are the murderous Dr. Evazan and the brutal Ponda Baba–both of whom are thirsty for a fight with Skywalker. Reaching for their blasters, the villains are suddenly cut off from Luke by the pulsating blaze of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber! Will Obi-Wan triumph and save the Rebellion’s only hope?”

So, believe it or not, the original purpose of the Cinema Scenes sub-line of Power of the Force II was to, you know, recreate scenes directly from the movies.  By the end of the line, it had transitioned into “let’s throw three figures into a set”, but there was far more focus with the early stuff, where it was a merging of previously released figures with new in order to create a specific scene.  This was the case for today’s set, the “Cantina Showdown”, which showcased Obi-Wan in his brief face-off with Mos Eisley Cantina denizens Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cantina Showdown was one of the four sets released in 1997, the first year of Cinema Scenes.  This set was a Walmart-exclusive upon release, and would prove to be a less than stellar performer at retailer, for a few likely reasons I’ll touch on as I review the figures proper.

OBI-WAN KENOBI

Patterned on his single-carded release from ’95, this figure aimed to inject a little more dynamism into the previous figure.  Like that one, he stands roughly 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  It feels sort of odd and recursive for a figure to add more pre-posing to one of the ’95 releases, but this was far from the only time the line did it, so I guess it was a bit of a thing.  To be fair, Obi-Wan was one of the least stylized of the earliest figures, so I suppose Kenner just wanted him to get in on the ’90s pre-posed, super-roided fun.  So, here he is, I guess?  Despite looking similar, the only parts actually shared with the single are the head and torso, with everything else, including the robe, being retooled for his sick action pose.  I’m…I’m not entirely what the pose is going for, if I’m honest.  It’s not like Alec Guinness was breaking out the kung-fu moves when he whips out the saber at the bar, and even with the dramatically bent elbows, he still doesn’t have the ability to hold his saber two-handed, making the non-holding hand look even more awkward than the single-release, if I’m honest.  The paint on this figure is pretty much the same as the standard, and he’s also got his lightsaber, albeit the shortened version.   Shrinkage!

PONDA BABA

Like Obi-Wan, Ponda Baba also had a single carded release, which this one draws much of its stylistic inspiration from.  Unlike Obi-Wan, Ponda’s prior figure hit shelves just months before this one, making him feel a little bit more redundant.  Again, it’s the pose that really differentiates them, and again, the only real overlap is the head and torso.  Even the jacket gets re-sculpted in the name of dynamics.  It’s admittedly not a bad sculpt; all of the creatures stood out as the best of the earlier figures in this line.  That said, this version, due to the preposing, has a lot of troubles staying standing, which can get more than a little bit annoying.  For me, the most criminal piece of this release is that he doesn’t take advantage of the newly-sculpted parts to add the one important feature that the sing-card lacked: a removable arm!  It’s kind of key to the scene, so for it to be left out of this supposedly scene-specific release is just odd.  Also, this figure cuts the original’s accessory count from two to one, only including the smaller blaster pistol.

DR. EVAZAN

As the set’s one truly unique piece, Dr. Evazan seems like the natural fit for the set’s star, doesn’t he?  I mean, the character had never gotten a toy release before, so this one had to be a big deal, right?  Well, in a word, no.  The thing about Evazan is that he’s got the far less distinctive of the two creature looks here, which is why Ponda was always first for toys.  The thing about this particular Evazan figure is that it doesn’t even really capture that already less distinctive look, making him look even more average than he does in the film.  Removed from the other two figures in this set, it’s a little hard to place him, and that’s probably why his value also drops pretty drastically when it’s just him.  Kenner was right to think this guy couldn’t move as a single-carded figure, but that’s at least in part because he’s the worst of three figures included, made worse by there not being another option to get him.  I will say, they did at least try on the paint, giving him some more subdued work than we saw a lot of his contemporaries, especially on his vest.  He also included a unique blaster pistol, which I suppose would be cool if I had it, but I don’t.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When you go completist on a line, there are the items that really test you.  This is one of those for me with Power of the Force II.  I mostly have them because All Time Toys had all three of them loose, with only the one missing piece between them, and they were super cheap, and I was already buying a bunch of other PotF figures.  It’s not hard to pin-point why this set performed so poorly.  Obi-Wan and Ponda Baba had a lot of work to do to prove their worth, and they don’t succeed.  Evazan didn’t, and yet somehow he also doesn’t succeed.  How does one manage that?

#2133: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“As World War II unfolds, and super-powered beings emerge across the world, the patriotic hero Captain America is revealed, ushering in a new age of Marvels.”

It seems like not too long ago, in a review of another Captain America figure no less, I discussed the ramifications of making a good figure into a store exclusive.  Really, when your get down to it, it’s not really about being exclusive to any store at all, but more one store in particular, who seems to be getting a lot of exclusives at the moment, and doesn’t have the greatest history of backing toy exclusives.  The store, of course, it Walmart, who for some inexplicable reason have managed to net their second Captain America exclusive of the year in a year when Captain America hype is about as high as its ever been.  Seems like poor planning if you ask me, but no one did, so I guess I’ll stop rambling about it.  How about I ramble about something I’m a little more qualified to ramble on about: actual toy reviews!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is part of the Marvel: 80 Years sub-line of Marvel Legends.  The 80 Years line is effectively just taking the place of last years Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years line, but with comic figures thrown into the mix as well.  Alongside Iron Man and Thor, Cap is part of a trio of figures inspired by the work of famed comics painter Alex Ross.  While those two are standard releases showing up pretty much everywhere, he’s only at Walmart.  Since there’s no markings of him being an exclusive, there are rumors that he may be offered up to other retailers at a later time, but as of right now they’re just unfounded rumors.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  The last couple of comic-based Caps were based on the Reaper body, and this figure is at the very least Reaper adjacent.  He shares his forearms, legs beneath the hips, and his belt with the Red Onslaught Cap (and by extension Red Guardian and Secret War Cap).  Those are the good parts of the Reaper body, so that’s all well and good.  He then gets a new head, torso, upper arms, pelvis, and hips, which make him look sufficiently new.  After years of the thug face (which hit critical mass with the Red Onslaught Cap), we finally get a new set of features for the comic book Steve Rogers.  There’s some definite Ross-influence occurring here, and that’s certainly a plus, since it plays true to the classic version of the character.  It’s a nice sculpt, and more than just the face, I also really like the texturing and stitching on his mask.  The new torso and shoulders give us a detail we haven’t seen on Cap since the early Hasbro days: sculpted scale-mail.  The lack of the scales was one of the major prevailing complaints about the RO Cap (well, after that hideous head), and Hasbro had even addressed it somewhat with the paint change-up on the Vintage reissue of the figure, but this time around they’ve gone all out and actually sculpted them properly.  As someone who runs hot and cold on the scales, I have to say, they really add a lot to this figure, as goes that three dimensional star.  There’s just a lot of pop.  Cap’s paintwork continues the Ross inspiration, going for a slightly darker palette than we usually see for a comics Cap.  It’s not a bad look, but I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a repaint in slightly brighter colors.  As it is, there’s plenty of very strong work on this figure, and I definitely dig the metallic accents on the scales.  Cap is packed with two sets of hands, his trusty shield, a throwing effect with hand attached, and a second head.  The usual gripping hands are included here, but in addition, we *finally* get some fists for a Reaper-based release, which was majorly overdue, and is low-key one of my favorite things about this guy.  The shield is the same one Hasbro’s been using for a few years for the comic figures.  It’s a little undersized, and the star is off-center on mine, but it’s a serviceable piece.  It can be mounted on the throwing effect, which is the same one first introduced on the Secret War Cap, and is definitely a fun extra.  The second head gives Cap a slightly more stern expression.  I’m not certain if it’s based on a specific take on the character, but I don’t like it quite as much as the standard.  I honestly would have preferred an unmasked head, but I can see this one getting some play if you’re really jonesing for a John Walker Cap.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since being disappointed by the Red Onslaught Cap, I’ve been waiting for Hasbro to do a more proper Classic Cap, and when this figure was shown off at Toy Fair, I was psyched.  I was less psyched when he was confirmed as a Walmart-exclusive.  While this one ended up being much easier for me to find than the Endgame version, it was still a little bit of a hassle tracking him down, and I can foresee him being one that a chunk of people miss.  Hopefully Hasbro will have another release of this mold in their back pocket for those who can’t track him down.  In the meantime, this is the best comic-styled Cap we’ve ever gotten, and I really dig him.

#2122: Robin

ROBIN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Tim Drake is the third youngster to serve as Robin, partner to Batman. Through rigorous and constant training, Robin keeps his physical edge, which, along with his knowledge of computers, makes him a formidable foe of Gotham City’s villainous population. Tim balances his activities as Robin with his school and friends… but he is always ready to answer the call to action.”

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line was rife with distribution issues, pretty much for its entirety, but especially at its start.  This meant that key characters had figures that were virtually impossible to find, which was a major barrier for entry.  To offset this, Mattel tried to at the very least offer up repaints of prior molds.  Series 3’s Robin figure had a direct rerelease in their World’s Greatest Super Heroes sub-line, but even still was hard to find, and to top it off, he wasn’t in the costume most collectors hoped for.  Mattel attempted to kill two birds with one stone with today’s figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was one half of a Walmart-exclusive “Dynamic Duo” two-pack, released in 2010 under the DC Universe Classics banner.  No points for guess who the other half was.  This Robin makes use of the exact same tooling as the Series 3 version of the character.  That figure was not without its flaws, but one of the most stand-out issues was one of scaling.  He was pretty darn tiny when compared to the rest of the line, especially when you remember he was supposed to be the older Tim Drake of “One Year Later.”  It was a major blow to a figure who might have been pretty nice otherwise.  This figure changes up the entire paint scheme, going for something that more closely resembles Tim’s original costume.  While the sculpted details don’t all exactly match up with his older design (the scallops on the gloves and cape, and the pouches on the belt being the main errors), it still works surprisingly well, and in fact the head sculpt with its short and spiky hair actually makes more sense for this color scheme.  Additionally, the traditional Robin colors are just more appealing to my eye, and on top of that, the fact that it’s supposed to be a younger version of Tim means that the scale issues are a lot less pressing on this release.  The only drawback to this figure was that he lacks the original’s combat staff, since the set only included a single batarang for the duo to share.  Ah, classic Matty.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, you know those crappy distribution issues that prevented me from easily acquiring the original Robin release?  Well, they reared their ugly head again when it came time for the repaints that were supposed to address the issue…which didn’t really fix things, did it?  Whatever the case, I didn’t get the set new, but I was able to get ahold of Robin on his own thanks to one being traded into All Time Toys last December.  I’m glad I finally got my hands on this one, as he really manages to salvage the sculpt of the original, without being held back by scaling or overly-time-specific costumes.