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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,100: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels Mission Series The Ghost)

 EZRA BRIDGER Secret Exclusive Figure
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series The Ghost Toys R Us Exclusive
Item No.:
No. B0315
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, Kanan Jarrus figure, Obi-Wan Kenobi figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: September 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Born the day the Galactic Empire was founded, Ezra Bridger has been a lone rebel for his entire life.  That is, until he crosses path with Kanan Jarrus and discovers a mysterious hologram from a Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi.  What secret will be revealed? (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary: I do not anticipate I will have warm fuzzies for Ezra Bridger after watching the show.  The heroic young scamp isn't my favorite archetype, when I was a kid I was much more interested in the Lukes and Venkmans of the world, people my own age would not have been appealing role models to me.   I hope he turns out well - the character was intended to be the same age as Luke Skywalker, but I was surprised to read on the bio that he's the exact same age.   The fact that his weapon is a slingshot is, well, it's certainly cloying but it wasn't included here.  Instead, he has two hands ready for weapons, but only sports a helmet from an AT-DP pilot.  I absolutely adore the idea of a character that steals enemy hardware for a variety of reasons - because our collector ilk is represented, and because it makes toys interesting.   It's expensive to make new ships - so why not let the good guys steal TIE Fighters and paint on a symbol saying "My other starship is also stolen" on the bumper?  I like this line of thought.

He's wearing a suit that is, to say the least, piecemeal.  Let's say Punky Brewster meets Star Wars.  His right shin seems covered in McQuarrie-inspired Imperial armor, while his left leg seems like normal pants.  His orange suit recalls that of the future Rebel pilots, and the vest with sleeves... I have no idea if I should be reading into this one bit.  But the back of it has a swell bird-like symbol on it, and I'm surprised Hasbro is going through the trouble to make these figures look good from all angles.  We don't get a ton of detail due to the animation style, but it seems the important stuff is all here.  His left wrist has a communicator of some sort, with silver buttons and a brown cuff - it's nice.  It's real nice.

The helmet is a tight squeeze, but it fits.  Actually, it fits Obi-Wan and Kanan more easily, but it will fit over Ezra's ample and wide hair without too much of a fuss.  It looks similar to one of the Snowtrooper concept helmets, plus it has a fair amount of black deco and off-white plastic that should keep it looking good in the long term.

The head sculpt matches the TV show renderings I've seen so far, so I'm going to say it's good because I haven't seen it in motion much.   The dark black hair feels like it has hints of blue, and the face paint is pretty clean.  I couldn't find a bad one in the bunch - the entire case of these looks excellent at the store.   I am expecting this figure to be identical to the Saga Legends single-carded version, but we'll have to wait and see to know for sure.  Regardless, buy this one - you'll want the bonus Obi-Wan, and the Kanan, so just cave in now and call it a day.

Collector's Notes: As far as I can tell this is the first action figure release for Rebels and potentially the first "stealth" action figure exclusive to hit before a formal announcement in quite some time.  Kudos, Hasbro - well done sneaking this one past us.   Please consider more introductions like this - I'll buy any multi-pack of upcoming figures with a bonus exclusive figure without a single complaint if they keep coming out before the basic, non-exclusive versions.   And for the collectors - as this is the note section - keep in mind that Ezra and Kanan will be packaged individually in just a few weeks for about $6 each.  Kanan will also be bundled with the Phantom vehicle at Target.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,100: September 17, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,099: Kanan Jarrus (Star Wars Rebels Mission Series The Ghost)


KANAN JARRUS Secret Exclusive Figure
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series The Ghost Toys R Us Exclusive
Item No.:
No. B0315
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Ezra Bridger figure, Obi-Wan Kenobi figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: September 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Born the day the Galactic Empire was founded, Ezra Bridger has been a lone rebel for his entire life.  That is, until he crosses path with Kanan Jarrus and discovers a mysterious hologram from a Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi.  What secret will be revealed? (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary: I suspect that Kanan Jarrus will be identical when released again this year individually in Saga Legends, or in a Target-exclusive bundle with the Phantom vehicle.  For now, this is his retail debut and as such that's a cause for celebration!   It's been quite a while since we had brand-new Star Wars with an all-new cast and an all-new show.  Heck, even the prequels gave us mostly existing characters in younger forms, so this is something of a minor miracle.   I'm quite pleased with the results - seeing a few preview videos and nothing of the actual show, I love this figure.  It's well done for what it needs to be, and I can only assume the details are what I think they are.  Basically, what we have here is a mishmash of tributes of existing things.  His right arm looks like it's wearing stolen and repainted Stormtrooper armor.  The outfit looks a little bit like McQuarrie's Luke/Deak concepts.  His head - and much of his look - reminds me a lot of Rahm Kota, albeit much younger.   This figure just looks like a tribute to the now-excised Expanded Universe, which is kind of nice.  The look and feel is nice to keep around.

The figure's lightsaber is all new, and a single piece accessory - it doesn't pop together like on the cartoon.  There's a blaster sculpted in his holster that is non-removable, and the deco is solid.  Knee pads, boots, bandoliers, and all that jazz are black with grey, brown, more grey, and more brown covering the rest of his person.  The head paint on all the samples I saw looked very clean, moreso than most recent figures we've seen in the various other lines.  I couldn't find a single bad one in the batch, which makes me all happy.   I should also note he has a symbol on his right shoulder, and like much of the art in the show it resembles a bird and also the Rebel symbol that I guess (chronologically speaking) doesn't exist yet.

The joints work, and he stands well.  He passes the Landspeeder Test(TM) for articulation excellence, so I suspect he won't give us many problems with the vehicles which I actually do not have yet but am super eager to try out.  While it doesn't measure up to the collector standards of 2010, it does hold up to basic toy standards and as you know, that's what really matters to me.  It looks good, it stands, it fits in vehicles, and it can hold his accessory.  We're all good here.

Collector's Notes: As far as I can tell this is the first action figure release for Rebels and potentially the first "stealth" action figure exclusive to hit before a formal announcement in quite some time.  Kudos, Hasbro - well done sneaking this one past us.   Please consider more introductions like this - I'll buy any multi-pack of upcoming figures with a bonus exclusive figure without a single complaint if they keep coming out before the basic, non-exclusive versions.   And for the collectors - as this is the note section - keep in mind that Ezra and Kanan will be packaged individually in just a few weeks for about $6 each.  Kanan will also be bundled with the Phantom vehicle at Target.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,098: September 15, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,098: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars Rebels Secret Exclusive Figure 2014)

OBI-WAN KENOBI Secret Exclusive Figure
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series The Ghost Toys R Us Exclusive
Item No.:
No. B0315
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Ezra Bridger figure, Kanan Jarrus figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: September 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Born the day the Galactic Empire was founded, Ezra Bridger has been a lone rebel for his entire life.  That is, until he crosses path with Kanan Jarrus and discovers a mysterious hologram from a Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi.  What secret will be revealed? (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary: Secrets and Star Wars rarely go together.  It's a pretty safe bet that this item wasn't supposed to be seen until later, but it showed up on fan sites about a week ago and in stores just last week without any mention (that I recall) in any slide show or convention.  This of course means that we once again are growing complacent and Hasbro is probably testing out its infrastructure for leaks before we get to Episode VII - it isn't unreasonable to see Rebels as a dry run for the new movies just like Shadows of the Empire and the Special Editions served that purpose in the 1990s.   This is the time when you can afford to make mistakes.  Secrets are going to get out, like the blacked-out Obi-Wan Kenobi in this set with a black plastic window around the figure.  (I hope this means there's a variant with an actual window coming!)   It's a great idea conceptually - I brought this up a few times when I was nudging them to put an exclusive mystery figure in a boxed set as a bonus surprise.  (Spoiler alert: yes that figure was Vlix.  No it didn't happen.)

This figure is exclusive to the set and may be an exclusive mold.   He's a great holographic figure -  not the first Obi-Wan in this style, and probably not the last.  An Obi-Wan from Rebels is expected in Saga Legends in the next few months, and I assume the "salt shaker" mold will not be used - but if it is? It's pretty good. The articulated head is the only moving part on the figure, which has a wonderful pose and great texture.  The head sculpt is, to say the least, lovely.  You could use this in your The Clone Wars dioramas if you would like, and the figure feels light and hollow - a perfect texture for an ethereal communication figure.  It doesn't do much but look good and be skinny - you'll hate me, of course, for saying I totally dig it.  Hasbro did a real nice job here, and getting the mold as a holographic figure first makes me like it more.   The "prepaint" is a concept more companies need to exploit because, let's face it, we'll buy both if you give us the lesser version as a new mold first.  This creates demand for a "flesh" version, which we will also happily buy - while the reverse is not necessarily the case.



For a small statue, it's delightful - especially if you (like I) had a coupon that was about to expire for 20% off last weekend.  For $20, it's a stretch - a $10 "mission series" pack plus one bonus figure isn't worth $20, but $15-$18?  Yeah, that's pretty good!  Also, because I'm a sucker, I'd pay dang near anything to get some Rebels early and I am quite happy with the set for what it ultimately cost me (for the record, just under $12 - thank you, store credit.)   If you're just super-pumped for the new toy line (and ambivalent about the show itself) this is something you owe it to yourself to run out and get.  I did - I hit up a few stores in between a record store run because all aging collectors will at some point turn their focus back to vinyl.  Vinyl capes, vinyl music, it's just going to happen - but I digress.



Collector's Notes: As far as I can tell this is the first action figure release for Rebels and potentially the first "stealth" action figure exclusive to hit before a formal announcement in quite some time.  Kudos, Hasbro - well done sneaking this one past us.   Please consider more introductions like this - I'll buy any multi-pack of upcoming figures with a bonus exclusive figure without a single complaint if they keep coming out before the basic, non-exclusive versions.   And for the collectors - as this is the note section - keep in mind that Ezra and Kanan will be packaged individually in just a few weeks for about $6 each.  Kanan will also be bundled with the Phantom vehicle at Target.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,098: September 15, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,097: Ree-Yees (The Black Series 2014)

REE-YEES Drunk Thug Redux
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A6795
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #27
Includes: 2 pistols
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: One of the lowlife criminals in Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine, Ree-Yees is part of the excited crowd that eagerly watches Luke fight for his life in the rancor pit.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!



Commentary: My Ree-Yees popped apart in seconds after opening him, but that seems to be intentional.  It also popped right back together, just as easily. You see, the figure has a ball-jointed torso - but if you swing his legs forward as if to make him sit, it acts like a lever and *pop* goes the waist.  The belt and lower coat go flying, so be careful - it can be easily popped together, and won't fall apart unless you try to make him sit.  Because many collectors either a) leave figures carded or b) open them, shelf them, and let them collect dust this may not be a problem for you. It may not be as much of a problem as Darth Vader's recent neck woes given that - I assume - most collectors won't expect their action figures to sit as much as they would be likely to want to reposition their heads.  I daresay the Ree-Yees figure is quite good if you can get past the fact that the torso can pop apart if he sits, and that the hands do come off easily.  Below, that's about as far as he can sit without popping apart.


With 12 points of articulation, this is the second recent all-new sculpt after Yoda that confirms Hasbro is indeed reducing articulation on the collector line.  (Which to me raises the question, "why not just put them all into 'Saga Legends/Mission Series' and cut the price in half?")   The figure has no ankles, which is a mixed blessing - he certainly doesn't need them, but I know collectors demand them.   I don't feel ankles are necessary for this figure as he stands just fine without them.  Everything else is more or less normal, with swivel hips, ball-jointed shoulders and elbows, plus rotating wrists.  The sculpt of the outfit is a little more wrinkly than previous incarnations, and for this reason the figure feels almost unnecessary.  The 1983 original was good, and had a giant head.  The 1998 one was good, but had giant guns and a strange action-oriented pose.  This one has a slightly smaller head - I believe it's maybe 10% smaller than it should be - most shots from the film seem to make his ears about as wide as his shoulders.  The sculpted detail is good and the reddish wash over the grey plastic skin really does a nice job bringing out the detail, and doesn't look especially sloppy.  White teeth and black eyes complete the face which is aggressive, dumb, and generally what you want in a thug.



Accessories are smaller versions the same choices we saw on the 1998 Ree-Yees, sadly Hasbro elected not to use the giant rifle of the 1983 figure or the glass he carried in the movie.  He does not include the pike from the promo pictures.  The guns fit nicely into his meaty paws, each of which has a sculpted trigger finger.  They did a nice job here - it's not what I would have picked, but anyone can armchair quarterback this line and they frequently do.  The execution is what's important, and the accessory selection was engineered perfectly.  You can't ask for more than that.


Ree-Yees hasn't been high on many request lists due to the previous ones being pretty good, but here's a new one, and it's pretty good.  The lack of ankles means he completely skipped that super-articulated era of the line and now we're sort of downsizing.   I submit to you - and Hasbro - if we're going to see a reduction in articulation while still being asked to pay $11, why not go all the way and make it a $6 single or $11 2-pack next time?  If we're going to see reduced articulation, I certainly wouldn't mind saving a few dollars.

Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,097: August 21, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,096: Jabba's Skiff Guard (The Black Series 2014)

JABBA'S SKIFF GUARD Character Debut
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A7262
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #27
Includes: Pike, pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: This Skiff Guard works for Jabba the Hutt.  Skiff Guards are usually mercenaries or slaves whose duties include defending the skiff from attack and keeping prisoners in line.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Commentary: New characters are like gold - treasure them.   There is a bit of a question as to who Jabba's Skiff Guard is - the original intent was to make Sgt. Doallyn, but recent events say there are two guys with basically the same costume, the second of which is Brock Starsher.   I'm of two minds about this - as an aging fan my knee-jerk reaction is "who cares?"   I'm just happy to have a dude that looks like this at this point, so I'll worry about the details later and just be happy to have him right now.

I am unaware if any name trademarks are a problem at this time, so for all we know the generic name was deployed just as a butt-covering maneuver.  Regardless, it's a figure that more or less is what you are going to want.

With 14 points of articulation, it's a good replica of how this figure appears in behind-the-scenes shots.  There are a lot of characters in the movies that are more famous as trading cards - the character didn't even have a name until about 19 years ago.  There are also seemingly some arguments as to who is who, and what color their outfits are, but for the sake of keeping it simple I'm going to assume the guy in the off-white suit with this helmet is indeed the character we're looking at.  At one point, Bane Malar was confused for Doallyn, which is kind of funny when you think about it.  I'm sure no one involved with the movie's production or with Lucasfilm as a whole gave any of these guys real thought in the decade after Return of the Jedi was out there.

If you collected figures in the mid to late 2000s, this is just like the best of them.   There are lots of wrinkles, ball-jointed ankles, swivel wrists, and 14 more or less unobstructed points of articulation.  The fact that his hips are able to swing forward, allowing him to fit in vehicles, means that the sculptor deserves a gold star and a cookie.  I would offer the painter a juice box, but at least on my sample the brown stripes on the pants are askew a bit.    I guess you can twist the lower leg if you like - so it'll look good on a shelf or diorama, that's for certain.

For those keeping track, this is the first 100% new The Black Series Skiff Guard or denizen of Jabba's Palace character in this series - Vizam was a new sculpt of a figure from over 10 years ago.   We're lucky to get one new Skiff figure a year, so I'm glad that with the hoses and the swell helmet that this figure is about as good as we can expect with modern standards.  It wouldn't surprise me if this figure were sculpted and sat in Hasbro's vault for years before going to production based on the style of the figure - but hey, better late than never.   It's good, buy it, and Hasbro - please - don't make us wait years between new ones if you can help it.   We really dig this stuff!  Obviously, you should buy one if you're into the original trilogy and Jabba's goons.


Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,096: August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,095: Wedge Antilles (The Black Series 2014)

WEDGE ANTILLES Hoth Redux
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A5633
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #29
Includes: Helmet, blaster pistol, blaster rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: This Rebel pilot and friend of Luke Skywalker battles Imperial forces who are attaching Echo Base on the ice planet Hoth.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Commentary: A new Wedge Antilles, so soon?  Wonderful!  This one is pretty good too - Hasbro took the 2009 Legacy Luke Skywalker Snowspeeder Pilot body, and gave it a new head and Dak Ralter's accessories from 2010.  It's pretty great - the hands are more or less specific to Luke having a lightsaber or a grappling hook, but at least the deco is nice and again, more or less based on Dak's control chest buttons.

The sculpt is good, but it's nothing you haven't bought before minus the new head.  His helmet fits nicely, and he can hold his weapons.  The unique angles do make them look a little silly in his left hand, the small blaster looks especially ridiculous.  One problem I thin is unique to mine is a big square plastic peg jutting out from the lower leg - I'd cut it off, but it's grey plastic painted orange and that would look worse than leaving it there.  Once the paint goes, it's going to look terrible - did any of you have this problem?

The head sculpt is good - appropriately Wedge-y, and it's molded in flesh color with a painted flight cap.  As a carded figure, it's beautiful and the 14 points of articulation are about normal for this line these days.  Overall I'd say it's good - there's very little messy paint, just a bad dab around the eye I might try to scrape off.  The painted button on the glove is a nice touch.  I won't say this is the best Wedge figure ever... but let's face it, if it isn't, it's a close #2.  Get it if you can, and then get him a Snowspeeder to sit in.  He will fit.

Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,095: August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,094: Darth Vader (The Black Series 2014)

DARTH VADER Episode III
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A5630
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #26
Includes: Lightsaber, hilt, easily lost head
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: After undergoing life-saving cybernetic reconstruction, Darth Vader stands on the bridge of a Star Destroyer to watch the construction of a powerful new Battle Station.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Commentary: I never went through life thinking I needed another Darth Vader, let alone one form Revenge of the Sith.  At first I thought this was a mix of new and old parts, but it turns out I was wrong - it's actually the ultra-articulated Darth Vader you've always wanted.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that it also trips up an unforgivable feature, which is that if you turn his head it always will fall off.  The assembly is terrible and once you have a figure that can lose its head easily, that's a bad figure.  I don't even mean "it can pop off," I mean "I dare you to turn it and not have it fall off."  The head holds the cape in place, and under the cape are two ugly divets that look like they were meant to hold the cape in place.

The sculpt is good, with rocker ankles, bend-and-swivel wrists, a ball-jointed torso joint that's amazingly well-hidden, and the ball-and-socket hips you all love. The knee joints are well hidden and if this came out with a good neck joint and a slightly better helmet sculpt, I doubt anyone would balk at buying yet another Darth Vader.  Hasbro did a spectacular, wonderful job on the articulation here but "the head falls off if you look at it funny" is an unforgivable sin.  The hands can grip the lightsabers, the textures are all quite nice, and he's appropriately skinny.  The sculpted chain on the neck armor integrates nicely with the cape, and visually it's a nice figure - possibly the nicest looking Darth Vader ever if you never open it.

The inclusion of a newly-sculpted lightsaber hilt is baffling since it can't sit on the belt, and the belt is another part that irks me.  The codpiece has returned, meaning if you aren't careful it can stick up and he'll be quite happy to see you.

Some people will love this figure, and Hasbro should be commended at getting it about 95%.  But the problem is, that 5% is the wrong 5% to get wrong - no figure's head should fall off that easily, and we've had countless Darth Vaders since the introduction of ball-jointed necks that were all more or less OK.  Since the cape flies off when the head goes - and the head, without the cape, still won't stay put - I want to suggest Hasbro reissue this one with a retooled helmet/neck peg down the road.  And maybe a slightly larger, all-new helmet sculpt.  They should be proud of most of this... but man, that's the wrong part to get wrong.  In college I had teachers that auto-failed you if you did a report with someone's name spelled wrong, or if you left off certain citations.  That's how I feel about this figure - it's mostly well-done, but I can't get past the head foul-up and have to flunk it.

Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,094: August 18, 2014