Monday, January 22, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,448: BB-8 (The Last Jedi Line Look)

BB-8 with Rose (First Order Disguise) and BB-9E
The Last Jedi Deluxe Action Figure 2-Packs
Item No.:
Asst. C1242 No. C3530
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3-piece rifle, blaster, 2 extra figures
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $14.99
Availability: November 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: BB-8, sometimes spelled Beebee-Ate, was a BB-series astromech droid who operated approximately thirty years after the Battle of Endor. It had a dome head, similar to that of R2 series astromech droids, with the bulk of its body made up of a ball on which the droid's head rolled.   (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Hasbro's treatment of BB-8 is kind of odd - they basically make the figure hard to get.   To date the figure only appears with vehicles or in multi-packs, making it difficult to get one for Hasbro for less than $15.  (Disney sold a carded one for $13 at its theme parks.)   I could go on about the increasingly strange decisions in Hasbro's current lines, but that's not why we're here - let's instead look at a decent figure in a good set.

This take on the droid is weird.   Like many figures in this line, it's derived from the same sculpt as The Force Awakens, but it's a different figure.  The details are different, it's hollow, and it's much glossier.  The figure lacks some of the dirt from the last version, and has a few more details.   An added silver ring was painted around a blue sensor, his antenna have more sculpted details, and his paint job seems cleaner and more precise.   From a decent distance, it's Hasbro's best version yet.  It has to compete with the Disney version, which may be more to your liking due to its size and different details.

Functionally, it's a mixed bag.  The figure has the same flat base as last time, but the factory forgot to make the figure more weighted - so it falls over easily.   A little extra junk in the trunk keeps the droid from falling over, as a flat base can only do so much to help.   It's a perfectly nice BB-8, but Hasbro can do better.  If you already have a BB-8 figure, this should be considered an optional purchase unless you want BB-9E and First Order Rose.  

I would be very curious to see how Hasbro would plus up a BB-8 on a single card - a droid buddy?  More gear?  Porgs?  A super-deluxe version of the robot would be wonderful, and hopefully we'll see one in 2019.

Collector's Notes:  I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,448: January 22, 2017

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,447: Admiral Ackbar (The Black Series 6-Inch)

ADMIRAL ACKBAR with First Order Officer
The Black Series 6-Inch Toys R Us Exclusive
Item No.:
   No. C3225
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, second figure, second blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $39.99
Availability: November 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Ackbar became a Grand Admiral in the New Republic, winning many victories, including the pivotal Battle of Jakku.   He retired to Mon Cala, but was coaxed back into service with the Resistance by Leia Organa. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  The new movie was full of surprises, including a bevy of costume changes when none were necessary.   Admiral Ackbar was in a vest with a light short-sleeved shirt last time, and now he's in this one-color tunic.  The designs are different - meaning he apparently has a few uniforms... or the Resistance issued new ones in the day or two between his appearances.   His The Force Awakens figure was made as a 3 3/4-inch figure, and the 6-inch figure is his only The Last Jedi uniform toy.   Hasbro (and other licenses) have been pretty bad about picking any one line as a "definitive" collector line, which has made it hard to get really excited about any toy format in the current generation.  Some things exist as a big figure, or only as a small.  Or a LEGO man.  Or a Pop! bobble head.   The 3 3/4-inch line was generally close to the Format of Record - most (but not all) figures would be made in that scale eventually.   It appears Lucasfilm, Hasbro, or Disney is no longer interested in telegraphing any one format as the go-to for the collector who wants everybody as part of their collection.

Having said that, it's a good figure.  Why we got him and his generic companion as an exclusive and not as main-line figures is a bit of a head-scratcher, particularly since the bulk of other exclusives are redeco figures with new accessories or plussed-up via soft goods.   Considering that fancy Rey is $35, it's almost unbelievable that you can get not one but two new-to-this-format characters for $40.  Admiral Ackbar has a more or less typical Rebel blaster, complete with silver accents.  He has no holster, and I don't recall him using it in the movie.

The costume itself is more interesting than its cinematic counterpart.  On screen, it's pretty flat and smooth.  The toy has a lot of wrinkles, hints of a belly, and numerous folds giving it a little more dimension.  It's lacking in dynamic color, but that's true of the entire Resistance's wardrobe.  It either feels like leftover pilot garb from the original trilogy or nondescript earthtones.   The 1983 costume was odd and striking - this looks like something I could've bought at Eddie Bauer in the late 1990s.   Of course, the actual execution is superb.  Hasbro knocked the design out of the park, there's just not much to play with here.

Articulation is good, and so are the fishy bits.  Articulated elbows, bend-and-swivel wrists, and everything you might expect from the very best of this line are present.   His opening mouth is really cool, the eyes are big and expressive, and the skin is covered in subtle shading.  The wrinkles and fishy bits are superbly sculpted, complete with painted elements that give hints of his lobster origins.  Little spines and spikes bring a lot of life to this classic creature, and the sculpting and decoration on his dome were really well-done.   While it would be difficult to capture all of the detail and retain this price, Hasbro did a great job of bringing home the important elements.   This is easily one of the best 6-inch scale action figures, and to see it sit on shelves given that it's a decent item at a fair price is a little heartbreaking - especially since we just sat through Ackbar's last adventure.   (original voice actor Erik Bauersfeld passed in 2016, and the character was just blown out in space.)   I'll miss him, but I'd also  like to say that I really hope Hasbro considers producing a Return of the Jedi version of the character since they showed us just what an awesome job they can do.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Toys R Us.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,447: January 17, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,446: BB-9E (The Last Jedi Line Look)

BB-9E with Rose (First Order Disguise) and BB-8
The Last Jedi Deluxe Action Figure 2-Packs
Item No.:
Asst. C1242 No. C3530
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3-piece rifle, blaster, 2 extra figures
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $14.99
Availability: November 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: BB-9E was a black-plated BB-series astromech droid in the service of the First Order. Unlike BB-8, a BB unit in the service of the Resistance, the droid featured a squarer domed head and red-colored sensor  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Teased early and mysterious, it turned out BB-9E was a super-cool non-entity in the movie.  Its eye moved menacingly, and that's about it.  The toy makes pretty standard BB-8 noises when used with a Force Link band, and it's a bit smaller than the Disney Droid Factory BB-9E [FOTD #2,437].   Each version does different things well - the Hasbro one is smaller, a single figure, and has better neck articulation.  The Disney one is bigger, a little brighter, and arguably looks a bit more like the photo - but some elements just aren't perfect.

The small droid is hollow, a little light, and has two joints.  The head and the body are connected by a bar piece, so it can move at either place.  You can get a little personality out of the figure with head tilts, but the droid on-screen was pretty mechanical.    The dark grey "hub caps" around the silver "vents" is presented here nicely, but it also highlights some of the limitations of the 3 3/4-inch scale figure - at this budget - when the actual prop has lights coming from within.  I doubt Hasbro would want to sell a $8 figure with a light, but for all I know it would have done fine.   The silver and grey markings on the head are significantly darker than the movie, as are the eye and blue lights, which is a pity because you'd want to exaggerate those kinds of details at a smaller size.   Most action figures have brighter skin and eyes, bigger hands and heads, and other slight enhancements to counter the diminutive scale of these things.   Humans tend to be a little paler, although there are exceptions.

Given the darker deco and smaller build than the Disney counterpart, I'm currently torn on what to suggest.  As of today, Disney's Droid Factory line offers more BB-series droids making that the definitive scale to collect - but if you want First Order Rose, you'll wind up with this figure.  If you just want the droids, Disney's 4-pack for The Last Jedi should be more than sufficient - but Hasbro completists are going to want this one, particularly if you own one or more of the Force Link band accessories.   I would be very interested to see if either maker does a better, more feature-laden version some day but I am assuming the 3 3/4-inch action figure format has peaked and we're just watching it slide into obscurity.  Unless it has a weird, high-end comeback with fancy $30 figures in 10 years.  Hey, that's basically what happened with 1:6 scale figures, so don't knock it.

Collector's Notes:  I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,446: January 15, 2017

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,445: Rey (Jedi Training, The Last Jedi Line Look)

REY (Jedi Training) with Force Link
The Last Jedi Basic Figure Orange Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. C1503  No. C1504
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, staff, lightsaber
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $8.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Rey was a human female Jedi and scavenger who discovered her latent Force-sensitivity while on a journey to find the legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and bring a new hope to a galaxy on the brink of war.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  In 2015 Hasbro underestimated the popularity of one character, mostly because nobody knew that Rey was the new lead.  Finn had the lightsaber on the poster, so the day after The Force Awakens' release the modestly moving Rey figures were gone.   Hasbro did their best to respond, but since most figures were produced in equally weighted quantities in each case that meant Darth Vader being repackaged or a Stormtrooper would be as popular as Rey.   It's a gamble - and at the time, it was a sensible one to keep the secret.  And then after the movie, there was a lot of demand for more Reys and Hasbro has clearly heard the fans with multiple variations in many sizes.  This specific Rey is made in two barely different versions - which I find to be very irritating.   One was made in China and the other in Vietnam, so each figure is just a little bit different and required a completely new mold to produce.  We could've had yet another figure instead.  Such is life.

This is a good figure - the detailing is a little softer than Rey [FOTD #2,415] from the 2-pack with the Praetorian Guard - but her accessories are more detailed on this single-carded release.  The single-carded figure's legs are hindered slightly by her robes, while the 2-pack has a cut to allow for better movement.  She stands just fine, but this figure doesn't offer a lot unique to this release.  Perhaps that's why she's a little easier to find at retail.  I love that they kept the blaster and the holster, and as individually carded figures go Rey is the champ of accessories.    Three weapons in this day and age is an astounding feat, although she can't wield them all at once.

For those who are truly nuts and have great eyesight, take a good look at her lightsaber.  There are tiny details and grooves on the single card release that are clearer and sharper than the Vietnamese 2-pack counterpart, and I would say that's true of the entire line.  Poe pilot redux has more texture on his costume, for example.   It's such a minor thing that nobody but someone who has to have everything would notice or care, but I ask that you not judge me.

If you can only get one Rey, get the 2-pack since you'll want her Guard companion anyway.  The only reason to also buy the single version is completism and a love for the Force Link chips as each figure has different sounds.

Force Link Notes:  "Get out of here!"  "I feel the Force."  "I’m not giving you anything!"  "I’m not leaving without you!"  "WeYou will release me."  Also a smattering of blaster and lightsaber sounds, mostly from The Force Awakens.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,445: January 10, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,444: First Order Stormtrooper (The Last Jedi Line Look)

FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER with Force Link
The Last Jedi Basic Figure Orange Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. C1503  No. C1508
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blasters
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $8.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Stormtroopers, also referred to as First Order stormtroopers, were the military infantry units of the First Order.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  I like troopers, but First Order Stormtrooper figures changing in any way was a surprise.   Given that episodes 7 and 8 are, narratively, back-to-back there's really no reason most characters should change clothes in any significant way other than To Sell Toys. For movies with multi-million dollar budgets, I'm a little surprised some line producer didn't just roll up a script, thwack Rian Johnson with it, and say "We've got helmets, we're using them, no you don't get new helmets."   But apparently they have more dollars than sense so here we are, another helmet variation so the figure doesn't quite fit in with any existing army you may have built.   To date, this is the only plain 3 3/4-inch The Last Jedi First Order Stormtrooper - but there's an Officer in a Kohl's set.  There are also Executioners at Toys R Us (Force Link set) and Walmart (The Black Series)... which, given their role in the movie, kind of works out perfectly if you're a one-of-everything collector.

It's not the exact same figure - tiny differences in the armor detail are present, and the legs are posed a little differently.  It's not a significant difference - the helmet is the main one, with a new mouth.   He also has a more useful second accessory, and is one of very few figures in this line to have an extra of value.   A small pistol was previously only available in Walmart's The Black Series figure, but you can get it here.  Much like the rifle, it plugs in to his thigh for storage.   As accessories go, I think this is great - had Hasbro included an optional pauldron it would be even better, but, as you saw, why give it away when you can charge us $49.99 for it at Kohl's?

The Stormtrooper can sit and stand, and speak.  If you already have an army you may not wish to introduce a new element to the squad, because you may wind up buying tons more of the new flavor.   It's a perfectly nice figure, but it has less stuff than last time and it costs more.   I'd say "for completists only" but really anybody wanting an excuse to buy more Stormtroopers should buy this one.

Force Link Notes:  "Blast them."  "Sir, we’re searching the area."  "Surrender!"  "Trooper reporting for duty!"  "We have targets in custody."  Also a smattering of blaster sounds.  It's obviously not from the  movies.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,444: January 8, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,443: Rose (First Order Disguise, The Last Jedi Line Look)

ROSE (First Order Disguise) with BB-8 and BB-9E
The Last Jedi Deluxe Action Figure 2-Packs
Item No.:
Asst. C1242 No. C3530
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3-piece rifle, blaster, 2 extra figures
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $14.99
Availability: November 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Rose Tico was a female human who served in the Resistance as a maintenance worker during their conflict with the First Order, whom Tico had hated since she was a child. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  The second costume for Rose hit late, after the basic version sat for a while.   She comes with two small droids - one of which is Hasbro's only 3 3/4-inch scale BB-8 on the market - making this an extra-desirable set.  BB-9E is available from Disney too, but this is Hasbro's only version.  This is the only woman First Order figure, even if it's really just a Resistance person in disguise.  In short, it's a good set.

When I first saw Rose, I thought "Wow, her uniform is super duper blue."  Then I saw the movie - it was also super duper blue.   She has 5 joints and her "skirt" is stiff enough to restrict hip joints from swinging forward.  The hat is cool, I like the First Order symbol on it.  The face looks determined, and her hair matches the other costumes pretty nicely.  The boots and gloves are glossy, and there's a cut in her skirt on the back side - this might actually help with movement if her legs swing backward.  They don't.    She stands well and looks decent - Hasbro could probably make an army builder out of the body if they had more heads to use.

A bonus accessory is a big blaster cannon.  It's not bad, but it's not useful - she really can't hunker down over it and grab on due to the limited articulation.  If you have super-articulated Stormtroopers, they may get more out of this accessory.  You may disagree but I don't find it to be useful.  It's neat as a decoration, but after thousands of figures I don't need decoration - an accessory that serves no real use is just a waste of plastic and resources.  Hasbro could've made a few more pennies on this figure and left it out, or perhaps gave us something a bit more  useful.

Due to what you get in the set, I would argue you get your money's worth.   You get a normal 3 3/4-inch scale human plus two small droids for $15.   All three have sound chips, so it's a decent suite of stuff for the price.  You may not necessarily want another BB-8, but that seems to be a recurring theme in the line - to get some really cool stuff, you're going to make a purchase or two that feels a little punitive.

Collector's Notes:  I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,443: January 3, 2017

Monday, January 1, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,442: Finn (Resistance Fighter, The Last Jedi Line Look)

FINN (Resistance Fighter) with Force Link
The Last Jedi Basic Figure Orange Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. C1503  No. C1505
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $8.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Finn was a human male who fought for the Resistance during their war against the First Order, which he previously served in as a stormtrooper prior to defecting.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Much like Poe, I find Finn (Resistance Fighter) figures to be irritating.  Finn is one of my favorite characters - a lovable goof, with a good heart who's a bit of a coward.   As an audience surrogate, he's one of the best - of course he'd get his butt handed to him.  He's a janitor.  He even had some pretty cool costumes, but Hasbro once again didn't lead with the one that would be the biggest seller.  For The Force Awakens they leaned heavily on Poe-jacket Finn - which, hey, why not.  Fans began shipping him and thanks to many toys in the same outfit, sales slumped.  And for this new movie?  Same figure, new pants and shirt.   Bah!  I would've been excited for his medi-suit, but that wouldn't sell.   His First Order Officer uniform figure is coming later supposedly, but Hasbro (or Disney) decided to launch with this figure instead.

It's a good figure - the jacket matches the lighter tan of the China-made figures, rather than the slightly darker brown of the one from Vietnam from Rogue One.   The detail is good, he has 5 points of articulation, and the blaster is pretty much the same giant gun Han handed him.  Thanks to the same jacket and accessory, it's easy to confuse the figure for a repack despite wearing a new shirt and pants not unlike what Han Solo had on in 1977.  His jacket details are crisp, and the likeness is good - the eyes have a little less white in them this time.  Overall it's probably a better figure than the last mainline Finn, but if you just want a good Finn you've probably already got one.   If you need something specific to the new movie - and I do - this is currently the best and only 3 3/4-inch option.
Thanks to the sound effects being recycled from The Force Awakens there's not a lot of freshness here.  It's good.  It's improved.   It's just not the massive difference we saw with figures from previous sequels - I'm both surprised and somewhat delighted Disney didn't lean on the creative team more to change stuff up just to sell toys.   It's good, because it's not like any of the designs should change that significantly given no time had passed between movies.  On the other hand, Finn somehow has new pants and Poe has a new engine upgrade that just got slapped on in a few hours.   Sure, I guess.  Whatever.   It's a decent figure, and if you're collecting it's probably already on your shopping list.


Force Link Notes:  "My name is Finn. I'm in charge."  "Do exactly as I say. I can get you out of here."  "Stay low. It confuses their tracking."  Also a smattering of blaster sounds.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,442: January 1, 2018