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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,149: Han Solo Stormtrooper Disguise (The Black Series 6-Inch)

HAN SOLO (Stormtrooper Disguise)
The Black Series 6-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A4301 No. A9389
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #09
Includes: Rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Han Solo disguises himself in Stormtrooper armor after the Millennium Falcon is forced to land on the Death Star battle station. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: Worth it. Han SOlo (Stormtrooper Disguise) gives you more or less what you expect in a tooling-saving figure.  So far Hasbro hasn't done much in the way of repaints outside of Clones and Stormtroopers (and yes Sandtroopers) so they have to make up the difference somewhere.   This release is indeed the 2013 Stormtrooper body right down to the original copyrights, but with a couple of deco tweaks.  This means Han is a little short for a Han, but not for a Stormtrooper.

Standing a fraction of an inch under his vested counterpart, this version has slightly lighter head and slightly paler skin.  The eyes seem more correct in terms of color, as they are no longer blue.  The head more or less works with the body, but it also feels a little small without the helmet - which is probably how it should look.  The neck peg is longer than the Stormtrooper's, and there's a collar around his neck that covers some of the joint and adds that ribbed look we've gotten used to since the 1995 Froot Loops mail-away.  The most significant deco change is a dash of silver to the side of his blaster, as you won't find that on the other releases so far.

With a working holster (yay) and no long rifle or manacles for Chewie (boo) this is a figure that ticks off all the requirements for the least amount of work to make this figure.  Well, that's not fair - we got a new collar piece, which is easily popped off (don't lose it) and is probably the same piece we'll see on Luke in the next month or two.  



I dig this figure because it's a solid Stormtrooper with slightly different helmet paint, and really, we can all use another Stormtrooper or two.   My figure was mostly clean and free of slop, but more on that below.   It's good enough to get, and if it goes on clearance somewhere I will buy many of them.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.   I have not seen any in stores yet.

Cleaning Notes: Before I opened the box, I noticed that there was some black paint splattered on the helmet with a straight line going from the "mouth" to the "chin."  Oh no!  Thankfully there's a cheap way to remove it - the magical Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I've used these to clean up a lot of old soft plastic figures like Battle Beasts and Remco's vinyl Extraterrestrial figures, and about 45 seconds of scrubbing took it right off.  It's great for removing dirt - and paint - from various toys.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,149: April 21, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,148: Bossk (The Black Series 6-Inch)

BOSSK 6-Inch Debut
The Black Series 6-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A4301 No. A9815
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #10
Includes: Rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Bossk is one of the bounty hunters hired by Darth Vader to search for the Millennium Falcon and its rebel crew. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: You will not be disappointed by Bossk and I do not believe you will be pleasantly surprised, either.   This figure has a special feature that really sets it apart from his peers with the first-ever articulated jaw!  My sample may be dislocated, as it moves but it feels like it was assembled strangely - the it takes some doing to shut it.   But other than that, this figure is everything that his Mission Series counterpart isn't.  At a hair under 6 1/2-inches tall, he's a big enough figure with loads of articulation and paint, plus separately sculpted straps.  They did a nice job here.



While light on deco, his gun deserves special notice.  You may notice that the gun has a brown strap with silver bands around it, but what's really stunning is that the strap is a separate piece.   You can actually remove the strap if you really want to - I don't, but as design elements go this is an extremely impressive level of detail for a Hasbro product.     The ability to pose the strap is something I've never seen on any of my figures of this size before, so just let me say I am easily impressed.

Finding good reference on the patches on his shoulders is tough, but it looks like most shots would indicate this one is off a bit.  The blue is a little thick, the red was left off, and compared with the Unleashed figure in roughly the same size the detail seems a bit off.  At this scale it's easier to see the colors are a little too faded and the blue design in the corner isn't quite right, but odds are you won't notice this too much.  Hopefully they'll tweak this detail on a future release.  These kinds of things are easier to gloss over on smaller figures thanks to the amount of detail you can get in there, but starting around this size you really start to notice.

His head is great, as is the rest of the figure.  You get all the scaly detail you would hope for, plus a bit of a wash to bring them out.  His wrinkled flight suit is nice and yellow, with a few painted bits and pieces under the grey plastic straps.   All of his claws are painted, so in many respects this is like a slightly better upsized Vintage figure.   Depending on how you feel like counting, his 23 points of articulation are stupendous and the double-jointed knees are always a nice touch.  The elbow articulation is no better than what we had in his smaller counterparts, but the bend-and-swivel wrists are nice and the straight, arguably useless right hand is a nod to similar manual appendages on the many other Bossk toys from over the years.   The ability to get both hands on his gun changes his personality when you pose him, plus the fact that he's taller than Boba Fett (but just a hair shorter than Darth Vader) makes him a good addition to your toy shelf.

For $20 you're a putz to not buy it.  With $50+ Figmas and similar figures from Mattel at or around $30, Bossk is the kind of figure you would probably want to get unless you hate Bossk.  If you're trying to keep your 6-inch collection light, this figure does a very good job of getting the job done - for that reason, he's interesting.  On the other hand, Unleashed Bossk is a tad larger and the same price - but isn't articulated.      I'd suggest examining both and grab the one that fits your needs the best, whatever they may be.   I assume for most of you, though, articulation trumps pretty much everything else and the opening jaw, while a bit stiff, is a hard feature to resist.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.   I have not seen any in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,148: April 20, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,147: Stormtrooper Commander (Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

STORMTROOPER COMMANDER and Hera Syndulla
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. B1385
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS19
Includes: Stormtrooper blaster, Hera Syndulla blaster with figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Hera is the ace pilot aboard the Ghost starship and supports any mission that undermines the authority of the Empire's Stormtrooper Commanders. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: The funny thing about this Stormtrooper Commander is that it's basically just a Stormtrooper with an orange shoulder pad, which puts it in line with how the fandom generally saw Sandtroopers in the early 1990s.  A lot of the customs in the early Internet and pre-Internet days didn't feature things like backpacks or dirt - you just got a Stormtrooper, you added a shoulder pad to it, and you called it a day.  The notions of variant lenses in the helmets and the diamond-shaped knee armor never even came up in most discussions I've had and certainly never showed up on customized figures.  For that reason, this is sort of a perfect fit for that whole nostalgia bomb that is most of Rebels.  This figure really feels like it might have been a Kenner design for a Sandtrooper in the 1980s, had the line continued - if Walrus Man can have swim fins and no jacket, a Sandtrooper can be a Stormtrooper with one new part.  That's just good science.

The figure is part of an unusual directive in this line, in that Hasbro is actually making a lot of Stormtroopers.  This rarely happens - usually they're made at a rate similar to the other figures, but this time around you can get a plain white Stormtrooper as a basic figure or in at least two different Mission Series packs, plus this one.  They all have the same basic sculpt with rotating necks, shoulders, and hips.  He has no problems fitting in any of the vehicles or handling his blaster rifle, which is the same one you'll see with the other Stormtroopers in this line. 

The detailing is pretty good, and on par for action figures of this era.  The armor in the cartoons has this wonderfully shiny white metallic look that seems impossible to replicate on a toy of this price point, but perhaps someone will let Funko's Hikari factory take a crack at it in the future and come up with something superb.   For the money, this is a set that's worth picking up because you get one new figure and one new enough figure for ten bucks.  And if you hate the pauldron, you can clip it off and get another plain Stormtrooper.  You've got options.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This set started appearing in stores late in March.   You may find it in a store today.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,147: April 17, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,146: Ezra Bridger (Cadet, Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

EZRA BRIDGER (Cadet) and Kanan Jarrus
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. B1384
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS18
Includes: Helmet, repck of Kanan Jarrus with lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Ezra impersonates a cadet to get inside an Imperial academy, as Kanan seeks more opportunities to disrupt the Empire's control. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: While the Kanan in this set is one of no less than four ways to buy pretty much the same exact figure, Ezra Bridger is new.   And not just a little new - a lot new.  The figure is almost a half of a head shorter than the previous release for reasons I do not understand, making this a bit of a surprise.  The outfit was worn by several academy students in the cartoon, including several who never took off their helmets - making this an ideal body to use and reuse for several new figures, provided Hasbro elects to make new heads.

The helmet is similar to the last one, but is cast in a whiter plastic with new, unique red markings. I have no idea what any of these markings mean - I assume it's just something each cadet adds for fun, but perhaps there's a rank or honor system here.  He has no blaster or weapon, but press photos show him carrying Kanan's lightsaber for some reason.   The deco is pretty clean on the figure, with boots, gloves, and various jacket details painted in within the lines.

I realize this doesn't sound exciting, but I've seen (and bought) a lot of sloppy toys over the years.  Seeing rows of figures that all look good is a nice change of pace.

If you've been following the new, simplified figures you know what to expect out of this one.  He stands fine, sits fine, and doesn't offer a lot new other than being a good representation of something you probably didn't buy yet.  If you don't have Kanan, you're basically paying $10 for the first (and so far only) new costume figure for any of the main cast of this show.


I don't assume we'll see a lot more given that the line seems to be crawling along slowly, and things like new movies will no doubt quickly distract Hasbro from supporting the TV line.  (See: 3-D movie reissues decimating new The Clone Wars product.)  I assume you have Kanan by now, as to be "complete" for this line you're going to have to buy at least two of him just to get this Ezra and the holographic Obi-Wan.  And should Hasbro make any other gift sets, you'll probably need to get those, too.  I'd say get this figure because it's a unique costume, a unique sculpt, and if The Clone Wars is any indication you're going to be really, really sorry if you skip anything from this show in the long run.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This set started appearing in stores late in March.   You may find it in a store today.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,146: April 16, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,145: Luke Skywalker (Hoth, Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

LUKE SKYWALKER and Han Solo
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. B0129
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS15
Includes: Lightsaber, blaster, Han Solo figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Luke and Han face life-threatening dangers on the ice planet Hoth. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: I suggest getting this set, because Hoth is awesome and these guys stand up well.  But between the two, Luke Skywalker is the lesser figure.  Not only has it been released on the heels of a super-articulated new head/redeco figure from The Black Series, but that original The Vintage Collection Hoth Luke from 2012 was even better with fancier paint apps and less blood.  I guess if you get the vintage figure and the Mission Series figure, you can skip The Black Series one - it's really the middle child.   The funny thing is there are quite a few differences between this release and the previous ones in terms of deco, and when I'm looking at reference photography you can make a case for it being "correct."

Overall, this figure owes a lot to the original Kenner figure (mostly unpainted arms) and the previous Black Series figure in terms of plastic color.  But there are a lot of strange differences, like the fact that the shoulders and boot straps are now unpainted, or that the gloves are now all one color.  The funny thing is I see some reference shots of one-color gloves, and others where they're clearly two-tone.  Based on some of what I'm seeing, I don't think it's out of the question that there may well be two different sets of gloves and as such, this figure may as well be labeled authentic.  The facial scarring is different from the movie stills, with the previous release getting higher marks for having... higher marks.  The orientation seems more accurate there, even if this newer figure seems proportioned a little more weakly in the torso zone.   Also, the pockets on the sleeves are missing, plus the pants are now brown instead of grey.  For all I know this might be another reference issue, because there's a costume labeled Luke's Hoth Gear at the National Air and Space Museum that, from the photos, could be the source of some of the differences.

The figure is about as good as Han in terms of engineering.  He can't quite sit, he makes you wish you had a trapdoor Tauntaun with a modern sculpt, and he has no problems holding the lightsaber.   Some of the minor paint apps are gone, as are some of the pouches on his belt. The bottom of his parka is also a little more tattered.

What we have here is an unquestionably different figure, and determining the design reference should be a fun thing to do when I have time to sit down and do it.  Which will be never.  So for now, I like this figure because it looks different enough from the last two to really qualify as being different, and at this point "different" is arguably the most I can hope for.  Get this set if you see it, it's worth the ten bucks.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This set started appearing in stores late in March.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,145: April 15, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,144: Han Solo (Hoth, Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

HAN SOLO and Luke Skywalker
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. B0129
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS15
Includes: Blaster, lightsaber, Luke figure
Action Feature: Blaster fits in holster
Retail: $9.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Luke and Han face life-threatening dangers on the ice planet Hoth. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: Get this set.  I can't imagine whey they didn't single-card these two, as Hoth Han Solo is pretty fantastic.  In terms of sculpt and deco, it's very similar to the 6-inch figure we just looked at last week - it just lacks a few key details, a little silver and some markings on the gloves.  Oh, and there's only five joints and no removable parts, but other than that?   Basically the same look and feel.

For you old farts, this figure is the real deal.  The jacket is more of a brownish color, but the sculpt is pure 1980.  Han's goggles are on his head, his arms are straight, and he looks like he needs a new Tauntaun with a trap door.  This is exactly what I pictured the future of Star Wars figures to be in the early 1990s.  And you might be saying "Adam, you really thought that the action figures of the future would have slightly better paint and significantly better sculpting?"  Well, pretty much yeah.  

I was originally expecting Star Trek-style 4 1/2-inch figures for five bucks, but clearly Kenner didn't want to go that route - so when I heard 3 3/4-inch, this is more or less what I figure we'd get.  The figure holds his gun just fine, and he can hold Luke's lightsaber.  The silver barrel on his gun is a real surprise, but the lack of painted straps on his boots is not.

His leg joints are a little weak - he can't sit in most vehicles due to the range of movement, and he can't fit in any modern-era Tauntaun thanks to the lack of trapdoors or lateral hip movement.  I need to unpack my 1980 Tauntaun to check the legs, which I have not been able to find the time to do just yet.  I really hope Hasbro keeps going down this road of quasi-Kenner remakes and goes whole hog to give us a $15-$20 simplified Tauntaun, but given that the 6-inch one is $40 and has a great 6-inch Han figure maybe we don't need them to do that.  

This is a great little set for the money, and given the similarity between the big and small figures that just hit I can't necessarily say you need both.  I need both - each one does different things for me.   But on a shelf, side by side, the similarities are oddly striking.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This set started appearing in stores late in March.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,144: April 14, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,143: Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper Disguise, Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

LUKE SKYWALKER (Stormtrooper Disguise) and Princess Leia
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. B1386
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS20
Includes: Helmet, blaster, Leia figure
Action Feature: Removable helmet
Retail: $9.99
Availability: March 2015
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Luke disguises himself as a Stormtrooper on the Death Star to rescue the imprisoned Princess Leia. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: It's a proud tradition.  Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper Disguise) comes up every few years and surprisingly, he often gets a new body sculpt for many of the releases.  This one trades on the existing Stormtrooper's design, meaning Luke is not at all short this time around.  He's the same size as the other troopers and his helmet is so snug, it might rub his nose down.   It's a shame, as these figures tend to have better interaction with their accessories.  For that reason, this figure doesn't make a great stand-in Stormtrooper, or a great Luke in disguise - it's sort of in a weird middle place.  Technically it doesn't even have his own gun as it's given in-pack to Leia, but he has no problems holding it if you want to give it to him.

The head sculpt is on par with other recent Luke figures, with  hair that's a little too brown for my liking.  Luke also has the copyright information sculpted in his upper thigh, clearly visible when looking at the figure head-on or even in the package.  This is kind of sloppy.   His eyes look pretty good in person, but under the harsh lights of a digital camera's macro functionality things don't look quite as good.  Even when I squint, in person, he looks OK.  I blame technology.  He could still use a gun, maybe better hair color, and a better-fitting helmet, but at least the eyes look OK here in the basement.

Still, there's a novelty to getting yet another Stormtrooper and Luke in his disguise is a figure I'm always pleased to see, even if it isn't great.  (It isn't great.)   It's a fine sculpt overall, but the execution - specifically the too-tight helmet - places him at the bottom of the list for me.  It's a good display piece, and if you leave his helmet off it's perfectly good, it's just that accessory interaction is far weaker than it should be in 2015.  If it basically worked in 1984, in 1996, and every version since, it should really work here too - and an extra gun wouldn't have hurt them.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This set started appearing in stores late in March.   Interestingly, since they started making Luke in Mission Series and Saga Legends we've received updates of all of the 1970s and 1980s Lukes except the original farm Luke and, if you want to get technical, 1983 Jedi Knight Luke.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,143: April 13, 2015