Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,279: Han Solo (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

HAN SOLO The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B7759
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.96
Availability: May 2016
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: Though Han Solo has seen much in his long, checkered career, nothing compares to the abominable threat of the First Order's latest weapon.  In a foolhardy mission to save the galaxy, Solo races to the heavily fortified Starkiller Base. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: This is another weird choice.  Han Solo in his new snow parka - not Hoth Gear, but certainly very blue - and Hasbro did a great job making it.   Why you'd make a super-articulated Han and not have it be in his primary costume that fans saw in the marketing and in the majority of the movie is beyond me, but Hasbro did a pretty good job providing a decent Harrison Ford likeness on a body with excellent hip articulation.   The paint job is acceptable, the eyes and smirk are decorated in a way that says "this whole is stupid, are you dumb kids done yet?" with hair that shows a bit of a struggle to replicate the color in the movie.  It's not greying - it's more snowed-on.  Mr. Ford's new toy looks more like a redhead who got hit with artificial snow.   On the bright side, when looked at under the right lighting and angles, it captures his likeness better than most figures from the past four decades.  That's a tough thing to do.

Articulation is really good - bend-and-swivel wrists let him hold his gun at all sorts of angles, or fish it out of the working holster.   The parka is nicely wrinkly, as are the pants, and so are the gloves.   Everything looks lived-in, but not too much.   He has some visible silver detailing, but on the whole the costume part doesn't need a heck of a lot of paint to look good as much of it is molded in color.   Painted elements are coated evenly and thick enough so that you can't see a lot of bare plastic shining through, and I appreciate that a great deal.   This is a figure capable of assuming some great poses, and in many respects may be one of Hasbro's better overall Han Solo toys.

His blaster is black, painted with silver scuffing via dots and a brown grip. It's gorgeous.  It goes in a brown rubbery holster, as is the style at the time.   While the Leia from this set is an argument to go back to 5-jointed figures permanently, this Han Solo's creation makes me wish we'd see more super-articulated guys.  I guess no mater what nothing will be perfect - but this is one of the better figures from The Force Awakens in any Hasbro scale.   I hope they carry forward with more like this, even the regular Han outfit and hopefully Luke and vested Leia, because they're good.   Maybe you won't be wowed - frankly, I don't think Hasbro is going to do anything to knock your socks off since we've seen thousands of figures and the price point has restrictions - but this is a figure you should buy when you see it.  He seems to be hanging around more lately, which is a shame as it's one of the better ones.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from a pal.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,279: September 27, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,278: Princess Leia Organa (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B7760
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.96
Availability: May 2016
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: Despite all that she has endured and lost in a lifetime of war, Princess Leia Organa continues to shine as a beacon of hope for the loyal soldiers of the Resistance under her command. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: While not the most memorable outfit she wore in The Force Awakens, this Princess Leia Organa figure retains her rank of royalty and is dressed accordingly.   Sadly, the figure was an exclusive and a late release in the line instead of something you could get at launch.  Seriously, Han, Luke, and Leia would probably have brought more people into the fold faster.   This movie-ending outfit wasn't where Leia did most of her memorable stuff, so I'm hoping we'll get the vested Leia later, but I am guessing it might be a little while.  I hope I'm wrong.

The figure isn't bad, but it's a strong argument for the figure appearing in the main line.  Why do her as a $13 exclusive when her legs and waist are almost completely restricted?  The long plastic gown looks nice, but isn't a great looking toy.  Why include cloth soft goods when their use is completely restricted?   The super-articulated knees and ankles serve no real purpose, nor do the swivel hip joints, nor does the ab joint.  The ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, and swivel wrists are nice - but there's no accessory, either.  Hasbro clearly put a lot of work into a figure that could have been made more cheaply and you wouldn't notice the difference.  Back in the 1990s, fans would refer to a design such as this as a "salt and pepper shaker" figure.

Thankfully, the sculpt is good - the head is nice, the hair is good, the dress is decent enough, but the eyebrow deco doesn't do her any favors and at this size, the face is a little lumpier than it should be.  She looks better on screen than the figure makes her out to be, but the figure does one thing well that most Leia toys can't do.  She can stand!  The gown does wonders to keep her upright.    Since she can't sit, I'm not sure what to say here.  She meets the criteria of what most collectors of this size consider necessary, but the design prevents you from enjoying those benefits - it merely allows you to pay for them.   I hope Hasbro does a super-articulated version of the "General" outfit (or any at all), as this one was decent enough.  I look forward to something even more awesome.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from a pal.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,278: September 22, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,277: First Order Stormtrooper (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER Super Articulated
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B4056
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 2 blasters
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.96
Availability: December 2015
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: Equipped with sleek armor and powerful weapons, the Stormtroopers enforce the will of the First Order. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: A later release for The Force Awakens, this First Order Stormtrooper adds all the articulation you'd expect with a paint job that would be wonky for the 1990s.   The sculpt and articulation are fantastic, and the paint is as sloppy as it gets.  I've bought a lot of figures, and I can say without a doubt that this has the worst paint job of any trooper figure.   The band on the forehead doesn't quite seem to be placed right above the lenses, there are numerous black smudges and streaks, the white paint on the belt isn't thick enough, and yet people continue to tell me this was the superior figure.  I don't get it.  I would like to agree with those who love it, but really, you're just being apologists.  Maybe you lucked into a good one, but even the best ones are still not as great as they could be.

Another 26 joint wonder, this Stormtrooper can do things like stand, sit, put both hands on his blaster, and plug his two blasters into his thigh - just not at the same time.   The figure has more paint than the 3 3/4-inch counterpart in the main line, as he has a little more detail on the chest armor and the more accurate hands with white on the fingers.  The black horizontal line across the back of the hand doesn't seem to be true to the movie, though, so if anything Hasbro could probably reissues this figure with better paint - and a few fixes - and it'd be the best one.  As it is, it's just OK.

Some of the white plastic already feels to be slightly discolored, but that might depend on the light in your room.   Some more black paint on the helmet would help, as the eyes and mouth should be connected with more black paint.   Hasbro also gave this release black soles on his boots, which the regular cheaper version lacks.  In short, neither version is truly superior.  Each has its pros and cons, and I'd say we should all hope Hasbro has an opportunity to redo it for the next sequel.  

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from a pal.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,277: September 21, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,276: Rey (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

REY (Jakku)
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B5006
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Staff, backpack, wrapped head
Action Feature: Switch out heads to change her appearance
Retail: $12.96
Availability: December 2015
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: Rey is a resilient survivor, a scavenger toughened by a lifetime of dealing with the cutthroats of the harsh desert world of Jakku.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Since this figure came out at about the same time as The Force Awakens, it would be a while before many fans saw this Rey on store shelves.   I lucked into her more than a few times, but probably not enough to feel she's common - well, OK, I've seen her a few dozen times.  But I get out a lot.   This one is a bit different from the other 3 3/4-inch figures in that she has both heads, gloved hands, and more articulation than you can shake a stick at.  Actually, that's a lie - she has a lot of articulation and a stick at which to shake toward her person.

Once more with 26 joints, Rey fits the typical template for The Black Series, which is either really exciting or really boring.  No new ground has been broken here, she meets the standards with exacting precision and minimal surprises - save for one.  The alternate head is pretty great, it wraps around her torso and the left arm slides through to hold it in place.    The figure is about as good as any other super-articulated figure in the past decade, and the detail on her face is incredible.  The problem is that the macro lens setting shows too much about how they made it great - I had no idea it was halftone red dots that gave her cheeks color with the naked eye.   In person, it's perfect with eyes and eyebrows that seem totes on fleek.  For a figure of this size, this may be one of Hasbro's best face executions.  Is it perfect?  Not necessarily, but it's very close given the materials and printing techniques.

In addition to her head, she has a staff - this time with painted details - and a backpack - also with painted details.  They look better than the normal version to the point where I'm almost irritated that Hasbro bothered to make the normal version.   For $13 we got a near-perfect super-articulated Rey with a really good bonus accessory in the wrapped head, extra deco, and a superior paint job.  For $9, we get a pretty good Rey, with a (frankly) unnecessary bonus accessory, plus deco that's OK.  It's not amazing - it's not as good as this - and the price difference is close enough that I would assume Hasbro should either do what it can to shave off a dollar from the cheap figure, or see if the economy of scale can be used to encheapen the Black Series figures and give them a wider audience.  As soon as we hit $10, $13 isn't a stretch anymore.

As Reys go, this is the best 3 3/4-inch one on the market today.  I hope you bought one - she's got gloves, she's got small boots, and she has desert-friendly capri pants?  It works, it's nice, go get one.  I am no longer at a point where I believe Hasbro will necessarily do more super articulated figures for the next movie in the trilogy, so get her if you see her.   She probably won't have this outfit again, at the very least.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from an awesome toy blogger.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,276: September 20, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,275: Kylo Ren (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

KYLO REN Ready to Fight the Light
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B4055
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.96
Availability: December 2015
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: A dark warrior strong with the Force, Kylo Ren commands First Order missions with a temper as fiery as his unconventional Lightsaber.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: When it started to look like the basic line for The Force Awakens would take a step back in articulation, fans were sort of glad to see Walmart got The Black Series again.  It just took months for the new characters to hit, and even longer for Kylo Ren and the non-reissued figures to make the rounds at America's biggest and generally most crowded retail chain.    Being the bad guy, he was also one of the immediately most popular - but with a Stormtrooper and Rey hitting around the same time, there was a lot of success to go around in the wake of one of the biggest movies of all time.   Rightly so - this is more or less the figure you were hoping for prior to seeing the movie.  There's no unmasked alternate head, but you do get the accessories that would make sense for the bad guy.   Or at least, who we're all assuming is the bad guy.

26 points of articulation means he can stand and hold his weapons fairly well, but thick plastic robes under his nice cloth robes means sitting can be difficult.  If and when he gets a vehicle to pilot, this isn't the figure you're going to fit in the cockpit.  Heck, neither are the other ones - none of them are particularly vehicle-friendly.   He has no problems double-gripping his broadsword lightsaber with both bend-and-swivel wrists, so that's a big plus - and the design recalls the original Darth Vader figures with its horizontal lines around the arms and hands.   The sculpted hood around his helmet is a mixed blessing - it looks great, but it removes the option of letting you see just a helmet.  The neck peg doesn't match the regular 3 3/4-inch line, so straight-up swapping may not be in your future.  As is, though, he's pretty fantastic - and the texture on the fabric is next-level stuff for a Hasbro figure of this or any size.

He has a lightsaber hilt and a lightsaber, each of which has some nice painted details.     Obviously the genuine article looks more cobbled together, but you can see some stray parts and wires on this one.  Neither has the attributes to connect to a belt, unfortunately, but other than that the figure looks good.  It seems Hasbro was aiming for the boxed collector or perhaps the shelf fiend, so those seeking a toy aren't going to find it here.  This is a great display piece, and easily your best-possible Kylo Ren for the average adult collector with the average adult collector standards.   He stands, he poses, and he stays put.  You could do worse.   I'd love to see what a Kylo Ren with some toy features might do, though.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from an awesome toy blogger.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,275: September 15, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,274: Finn (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

FINN Ex-Stormtrooper
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B5007
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.96
Availability: December 2015
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: A trained warrior desperate to escape his past, Finn is plunged into adventure as his conscience drives him down a heroic, but dangerous, path.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Sometimes Hasbro delivers the goods that fans didn't want.  With The Black Series it was no surprise that Hasbro focused on the main important characters, but Finn was the last of the main characters to sell.   Most stores sold the other Finn toys by now, but it's not uncommon to find this one hanging out with Poe on markdown.  I have theories as to why this is, but one would hope those reasons might help a wider audience to embrace the figure.   Everybody loves Kylo Ren and Rey, but Poe and Finn don't seem to have quite the love as of yet.  It's a pity, but having multiple Finn figures in this exact outfit can't help things.   Poe benefits from being more or less unique with a good, clear-visor helmet otherwise unavailable without a vehicle.  Finn's main improvement is articulation.

The lovable goofball has 26 points of articulation - the same as Poe with added bend-and-swivel wrists, and he can get more out of them thanks to a lack of straps or other restrictions.   He can stand - and has stood on my desk for months.  He can sit, but it's awkward - the hips splay out so it's obvious Hasbro assumed (correctly) that most people buying this figure would either leave him in the package or just have him standing on a shelf, which is sadly the fate for many collected action figures these days.   All of that articulation, largely wasted.  At least he can double-grip a lightsaber, which no other Finn can do.   The sculpt is basically the same as other Finns, which means he has a top-notch head sculpt and a decent all around costume.  Lots of wrinkles, lots of folds, and a mid-torso ball joint for plus posings.

Deco has been improved!  The blaster has black scoring and burn marks, plus some blue energy markings.  It's a huge improvement.  His shoes have some more dirt, as do his pants.   Even the zipper gets a dot of silver, making this the best 3 3/4-inch Finn your toy display money can buy.  The regular ones are perfectly nice and good for vehicles, but if you want a figure to stand around on a shelf this is probably your best bet.  It's a shame they didn't toss him a lightsaber, but whatever.  You've got lightsabers.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from an awesome toy blogger.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,274: September 14, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,273: Poe Dameron (The Black Series, 3 3/4-Inch)

POE DAMERON Pilot
The Force Awakens   The Black Series - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. B5008
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.96
Availability: December 2015
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bio: An ace pilot, Poe Dameron is a leader in the Resistance's fight against the First Order.  He soars into battle behind the controls of a modern X-Wing Fighter.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Walmart's 3 3/4-inch line of exclusive The Black Series figures has been a source of immense frustration.   Waves hit and take a long while to saturate - in which time people lose their damn minds, myself included.   Poe Dameron was one of last Fall's two batches of figures from the then-new movie, and the one (along with Finn) most likely to sit.   Fans were agitated because pulling the highly popular - but unvaried in character - line from mass retail to an exclusive at the highest trafficked store in the country left something to be desired.  Would you ever see these figures???  The answer turned out to be "yes, eventually" which was true of pretty much the entire line to date.  It's not as bonkers as it used to be, but the wait is miserable, long, and if you're outside a city with more than one or two Walmarts, seemingly eternal.

The internet's boyfriend  seems to be challenged in translating himself to plastic.  The skin is never quite right, the expression's not always perfect, and Oscar Isaac's a decent looking dude.  He's peachier and paler than he should be, but the eyes and eyebrows are good on this particular head sculpt. S subtle hint of scruff appears, but it's so faint you might not miss it if they left it out.  I'm glad it's there.  His costume is simply painted, with plenty of orange and white to replicate the Resistance costume form the movie.  He's (as of yet) the only super articulated pilot, and boy howdy did they do a nice job here.

24 points of articulation - for the record, I'm counting a point of articulation as any place two piece of figure are joined and can move - are nothing to sneeze at.  Ball-jointed hips!  Swivel wrists!  This is the kind of figure fans have been wanting, and so far it looks like they aren't getting (immediately, if at all) for Rogue One.     On the bright side, you can find Poe on clearance at a Walmart for around ten bones now if you're lucky.

His accessories are simple.  In addition to the non-removable straps and hoses, he has a removable black helmet with clear lenses and a blaster which fits in his hand or his holster.  It's not gratuitous, nor is it innovative, but it delivers the goods in a way that is consistent with collector expectations.

While Finn has a lot of figures, Poe's are more varied.  Do yourself a favor and get this one, even though you probably already have this outfit in this size.  It's just a nicer figure, with better gear, and it's not like your other ones have elbow joints.  It doesn't amaze - the figures rarely exceed their mandate when toy features are ignored - but at least he looks cool.  Also thank your lucky stars simpler figures exist, he's a hassle to try to cram in an X-wing.  Poe (along with the Rey, Kylo Ren, and Finn from this line) occupies a place on my desk since I got them, which is probably the highest praise I can give a Star Wars toy lately - usually stuff gets shuffled off shortly after purchase so I can make room for the next thing.  These ones are pretty great.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to help from an awesome toy blogger.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,273: September 13, 2016