Thursday, June 13, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,594: 41st Elite Corps Clone Trooper (The Vintage Collection)

41ST ELITE CORPS CLONE TROOPER Third Time Is the Charm
The Vintage Collection Action Figures Online Exclusive
Item No.:
No. E5156
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: VC #145
Includes: Blaster, helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $13.99
Availability: May 2019
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Han Solo, known only as Han until being given the surname Solo by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin, and also known as Cadet 124-329 when serving as an Imperial cadet, was a human male smuggler who became a leader in the Alliance to Restore the Republic and an instrumental figure in the defeat of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil 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: Since this mold debuted with this deco in The Black Series, the 41st Elite Corps Clone Trooper has now been sold in at least three significant paint variations all over the world.   The 2013 US release was off-model, missing mot of the grey markings on the figure's shoulders, shins, and forearms.  The international release added black battle-damage, and the shoulders and shins.  The 2019 release adds more forearm markings, but removes the battle damage.  It adds a grey belt, but also incorrectly adds a grey belly paint application.  The 2019 version also has a "hyper real" face painted under the helmet, arguably making it the most accurate (but still incorrect) release.

What impresses me the most are how the 2019 release handles weathering.  Instead of black streaks, there are very subtle worn-off spots on the shins and shoulders that look like production defects at first glance.   The backs of the hands have similarly subtle markings.  The human head has more paint, with a more lively skin tone, painted lips, and glossy eyes.  The hairline is a smidgen off, you can see the borders of the hair were left flesh color.  Ew.    Thankfully you've got a Phase II helmet to throw over the head to hide the bad hair plugs.  Hasbro also painted the soles of the boots and added a little dirt to their sides - a nice touch, and very much appreciated given the price.

Articulation is the same as it ever was - good for the time.  The original from 2013 predates Hasbro's thigh-swivel joints, so you'll have to settle for acceptable ball-hinged hips that still allow for pretty good range.

Is this figure essential?  To me, yes - it's distinctive from the previous versions, including the international deco variant of the 2013 trooper you most likely didn't even realize that you missed.   I like the bend-and-swivel wrists as well as the not-bad-but-no-big-deal black blaster. Some silver would have been nice to bring out the detailing in the weapon.   All in all, it's a sought-after reissue fans have wanted with improvements on a The Vintage Collection cardback.  Hasbro ticked all the boxes here - nicely done, sirs and madams and gender non-conforming individuals.   This is a worthwhile upgrade and currently the definitive take on this particular trooper at this scale.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,594: June 13, 2019

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,593: Han Solo (Carbonite, The Vintage Collection)

HAN SOLO (Carbonite)
The Vintage Collection Action Figures Walmart Exclusive Playset Pack-In
Item No.:
No. E5150
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: VC #136
Includes: Arm binders, manacles, carbonite block, playset
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $49.67
Availability: May 2019
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Han Solo, known only as Han until being given the surname Solo by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin, and also known as Cadet 124-329 when serving as an Imperial cadet, was a human male smuggler who became a leader in the Alliance to Restore the Republic and an instrumental figure in the defeat of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: This is a rerun barely worth mentioning.  Han Solo (Carbonite) gives fans the demanded token rerelease of the figure on a Vintage-style cardback, which makes it a required purchase for old-school fans who didn't get a carded one from 1984-1985 back when they were affordable.  It's not on a tri-logo or Power of the Force package, so this is sort of its own thing - not a real remake, but something else. Much like the tri-logo release, the block is packaged behind the figure and just like 2015's Black Series release [FOTD #2,168] with a couple of minor changes.  You should probably read that review and come back here for changes.

Han is notable in how he's not changed in any significant way.  Other contemporaries of this figure were rereleased with that "hyper real" paint job - amazing, intricate face painting that's generally a big improvement over their last release in the previous 10-15 years.  Han had no such changes, at least not yet.  It's the same plain face we got in 2015, with the same middling handcuffs and arm bars.  He has the same articulation, the same sculpt, and despite being from Return of the Jedi, his hair looks a lot more like his pre-freeze self.  A new head would've been really cool here, but Hasbro wants reissues so you get reissues.  It's acceptable, but if you just want this Han figure the previous release may do you just fine.

The Carbonite Block is changed, barely.  The back of the toy has been retooled to include a magnet that you can hang under the arch of Jabba's Palace Adventure Set, which is almost cool.  Almost.  the playset itself is the kind of thing collectors generally like, but repackaging Ree-Yees is another snore and for $50, more meat in the box would be nice - like a "melted" block accessory. That would have been most helpful.  The block's interaction with the magnet is tolerable, but the lever to raise and lower it is a little sticky.  This may catapult the block off the back, thus negating the value of the feature in the first place.  I'm glad they tried it, but a modification may be necessary to improve its function with the playset.

The block itself? It's pretty good.  It can't stand on its own at all, but it does have good sculpting and an excellent paint job.  Some of the lights, buttons, and switches on its left-hand side are decorated as is the silver on the front.  It's not just molded all in one color.  It sticks to my metal desk incredibly well, so there's nothing wrong with the block itself or the magnet inside it - it's just the one on the playset is kind of subpar.   As such I would consider this a pretty good upgrade, although I would appreciate seeing it improved with things like lights or sounds or the ability to shove Han Solo inside it.

With a repainted head (or Power of the Force cardback) I'd give this an A+ for effort.  As it is?  B+.  I appreciate the magnet functionality quite a bit, and returning the figure to the market during a time when the Sail Barge just hit was a great gesture to fans that may not have been great at keeping up in 2015 when things were a little slow.  Because you will want the playset and probably the cardback, you should go ahead and get this set.  However, you might just want to leave it carded if you have the 2015 release - you can always tape a magnet to your old block and keep this one pristine.  Hasbro was positively brilliant to put Walmart's exclusive vintage figures in a protective box (with a playset) to keep them nice and mint.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.com.   It's a de facto online exclusive at press time, as most stores have largely excised new Star Wars from the shelves.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,593: June 11, 2019

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,592: Han Solo (Stormtrooper, The Vintage Collection)

HAN SOLO (Stormtrooper)
The Vintage Collection Action Figures Target Exclusive
Item No.:
No. E5153
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #143
Includes: Blaster, helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: April 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Han Solo, known only as Han until being given the surname Solo by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin, and also known as Cadet 124-329 when serving as an Imperial cadet, was a human male smuggler who became a leader in the Alliance to Restore the Republic and an instrumental figure in the defeat of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: This is a big improvement.  Han Solo (Stormtrooper) gets his first-ever Kenner-branded release as one of the real shining upgrades of exclusives.  The helmet is shiny and the proportions seem better - the forehead band isn't touching the eyes. It's shiny.  It's wider.  Han's head may be a new sculpt - the hair is a separately molded piece glued down, and the face has that wonderful printing tech on it.  This is one of the best Han Solo heads I've seen at the size.  You probably need this figure.

The body is a mishmash of existing parts.  Compared to The Legacy Collection Han Solo - the last movie super-articulated figure from 2009 - there are a bunch of changes.   The stomach dots are now painted.  The grenade on the back of the belt is non-removable.  The hips are the Sandtrooper joints with lateral movements.  The rest of the articulation is par for the course, complete with 2009 copyrights on the shoes. Oh, and that holster? Still trash. You can't get the gun in there despite it being molded in the shape of the gun. I assume it's the paint.  The blaster  has a lot of paint on it though, and that's a big improvement.

Normally I gripe about a $7.99 figure returning as a $12.99 figure.  Hell, I'll still complain about it - but after 10 years of inflation and massive improvements in the Harrison Ford portrait, I'll endorse your spending $13 on this.  It's a premium over inflation, and I'm sure some of that is because Hasbro knows you will pay a premium for black and silver packaging, but it's good. Hasbro knows it's good.  You know it's good.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Target.   It's in the men's clothing area.  Because Target hates collectors.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,592: June 6, 2019

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,601: BB-8 (Resistance line look)

BB-8 and Poe Dameron
Star Wars Resistance  3 3/4-Inch 2-Pack Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E5034 No. E5360
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/
Includes: Helmet, blaster, Poe figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: January 2019
Appearances: Star Wars Resistance

Bio: A hotshot X-wing pilot for the Resistance, Poe Dameron is a natural leader who keeps an eye on the crew of the Colossus. When Poe sets out on his own missions, he leaves behind BB-8, a rolling BB unit whose spherical shell is packed with useful tools and computer interface equipment, to work alongside Kaz and the rest of the crew. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Infuriating.  Back in 2015 BB-8 in a set with Poe Dameron would have flown off the shelves at $15, but in 2019 the value proposition doesn't meet the hype.  That first BB-8 was packaged with two cool new alien figures for the same price, thus softening the blow of having to pay $15 for the breakout star of the new movie's trailer.  By now people are over BB-8 a bit, so the mere hint at the cybernetic marble being a toy isn't enough to make it an exciting purchase.  While improved, this is not an exciting purchase.

His companion Poe figure is a gem - the slim, redesigned pilot fits better in toy X-Wings than the movie ones!   This new animated BB-8 is cleaner and rounder, with better paint, but there's a smaller flat base that's a bit harder to find. The only thing that moves is the head, so really all the figure delivers is a clean, stylized design with orange and silver paint within the lines, clearly, on a white chassis.  It's very good - but if this set were $9.99, given how little is in it, you might still huff and puff about not getting enough toy for your money.  And this is $15.

Since the line is probably already over for good, I assume any of this is moot - fans in the future will probably want this set because it's a great example of Hasbro releasing a wonderful set of figures, regardless of price, that look good and behave better as toys than nearly anything they've done since the 1995 relaunch. No other line better captures the ease of play as Resistance, unfortunately you'll have to borrow all the vehicles from previous series as Hasbro has elected not to release any at this or probably any other time.  If you see it on clearance for $10, get this set.  If you want a really good Poe figure, get this set. If you have no other BB-8 toys, get this set.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,601: July 4, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,591: Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper, The Black Series 6-Inch)

LUKE SKYWALKER (Death Star Escape)
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure Target Exclusive
Item No.:
No. E5152
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Helmet, commlink, blaster, display stand
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: In a brave attempt to rescue Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker disguises himself as an Imperial Stormtrooper and infiltrates the detention center of the Death Star.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability:  Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary:  2019 seems to  be the year of the rerun.  Hasbro has done well to enhance previous releases, but Luke Skywalker (Death Star Escape) is a figure from a few years ago with an all-new head sculpt and some added paint, plus a clear display stand.   If you missed him before, there's a lot to like about this one.  And if you didn't, well, you can get this one and just leave the helmet on the old one - and pretend he's a basic Stormtrooper.  Target's exclusive - displayed in the men's clothing department at some stores - is a worthwhile upgrade.

Also, this figure was teased a while ago - the slicked-back hair was previewed in a diorama at HasCon 2017 and never really discussed again.  You can see it in our Galactic Hunter coverage.  The armor lacked the dirt, but the face was painted really well and now in 2019, the new realistic face paint is trotted out for mass-production.  While the lips may be a little dark, it largely does a good job capturing the look of the prototype.  At certain angles, it looks just like Mark Hamill.  In others, less so.  It still looks a bit better than the bushier hair of the previous release.

Like the previous release, Luke is indeed a little short for a stormtrooper.  The torso is smaller, with the chest armor hanging over a smaller lower torso piece.  You still get the belt with the commlink clip and blaster holster, complete with the retooled backside showing the changed gear compared to the normal troopers.   The arms and legs are pretty much standard trooper fare, but the entire figure is molded in a brighter, glossier white plastic than before.  It looks like a better figure, and has added grime from the Death Star compactor.  As just plain troopers go, it would be different enough to warrant your attention.  With an all-new Luke head underneath, it's impossible for me to ignore it.

It's different enough to be of value.  I appreciate changes to troopers - especially improvements - when you can just keep your previous release as an army-builder if you're so inclined.  It's a worthwhile upgrade that takes advantages of the need for new figures and improvements, while not completely negating the value of the figure you may have already bought.  Of the two, I would say this is the clear winner.  If you can score it at a fair price, you should.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Target.  

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,591: June 4, 2019

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,590: Han Solo (Echo Base, The Vintage Collection)

HAN SOLO (Echo Base, 2019 Rerelease/Redeco)
The Vintage Collection Action Figures
Item No.:
Asst. E0370  No. E5185
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #03
Includes: Blaster, mask, torch
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: April 2019
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Han Solo, known only as Han until being given the surname Solo by chief recruitment officer Drawd Munbrin, and also known as Cadet 124-329 when serving as an Imperial cadet, was a human male smuggler who became a leader in the Alliance to Restore the Republic and an instrumental figure in the defeat of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil 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: The last time we saw this figure was in 2010.  Han Solo (Echo Base) looks quite similar for the 2019 refresh, and it's repeatedly amazing to me that we got this one nine years ago.  To put that in perspective, that's like if the 1978 Han Solo figure showed up again in 1987 - when Star Wars as dead as Avatar is right now.   The main, big difference is the figure's head.  Harrison Ford's head has always been tough to get right, and they softened his features here with a high-resolution portrait printed on the exact same head sculpt we got before.  As I've been fond of saying, deco matters - the best sculpt in the world lives or dies by the paint masks.  Hasbro nailed it here, giving one of its better Han heads to one of its least essential outifts.  If there's only one Han Solo figure from the original movies to skip, I'd say it was this one - not because it's bad, but because it doesn't have a lot of places to go in your displays or dioramas.

The figure ticks most of the boxes, with a working holster and cool accessories.  The holster is a separate piece, but it's a little big and loose over his waist and leg.   Just sculpting it right to the body generally gives better results, but at least you've going swivel wrists and ball ankles and a bunch of other joints you will most likely never ever use for this figure in this costume.  It's nice to have the options, though.  Han's Hoth jacket is wide open, once again showing a white lining behind the figure.

For variation hunters and those seeking the very best of every possible release, this is a figure you should have already purchased.  If you missed him the first time, you simply must get this better version.   If you're happy with your 2010 Echo Base Han just keep scrolling - you're basically shelling out a 50% premium for an admittedly very good head upgrade.

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


Day 2,590: May 30, 2019

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,589: Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot (The Vintage Collection)

IMPERIAL TIE FIGHTER PILOT (TIE Fighter pack-in)
The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive Vehicle
Item No.:
No. E2826
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, TIE Fighter, ejector seat
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $79.86
Availability: Fall 2018
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: TIE fighter pilots, also known as Imperial Starfighter Pilots, were an elite class within the military of the Galactic Empire. They piloted the TIE/ln space superiority starfighters, one of the Empire's most recognizable symbols of power.  (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: This one is frustrating.  The Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot (and his vehicle) have been upgraded bit by bit over years to the extent where I think Theseus would be proud.   The TIE Fighter has evolved since 1978, with Kenner (later Hasbro) slowly upgrading the wings, cockpit, interior, windows, laser cannons, and each and every piece to the point where this TIE Fighter may share the wing eject mechanism from the 1978 original, but noting else.   Similarly, this TIE Fighter Pilot builds on the 2004 Saga figure, which has been given upgrades like a removable helmet, blaster holster, ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, and wrists as time went on.  This one changes the formula by leaving the "clone" head unpainted and gluing the helmet down to it.  For whatever reason, Hasbro has elected to not give this figure ankles over the past four decades.

What makes this figure unique are the glued-on helmet on the human head, the distinctive silver stripe on the helmet, and it matches the Decipher CCG "Reserve Pilot" card.  I'm not sure if he got a name later.  So this guy is distinctive and all, so if you need every flavor of Imperial TIE Pilot this should be added to your list.  At $80 it's kind of pricey, especially when compared to the Sail Barge or Skiff or even the recent Rogue One tank.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,589: May 28, 2019