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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,106: Luke Skywalker (Hoth - The Black Series 2014)

LUKE SKYWALKER Hoth Redux
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A8056
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #02
Includes: Lightsaber, hilt, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: While on patrol on Hoth, Luke is attacked by a carnivorous Wampa that drags young Skywalker back to its icy lair. Although wounded, Luke is not ready to become the Wampa's next meal.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: The second new figure in the newest batch of The Black Series is Luke Skywalker. The packaging makes no specific mention of outfit, but the bio indicates this is a post-Wampa-attack figure and... well, we've had a few.  Basically this is the Vintage 2012 Hoth Luke that was perfectly fine, with a new head and basically the same articulation - so Hasbro put new development dollars into packaging ($) and a new head ($$) to make a figure that we can loosely accept as new.  It's not bad at all - but it's one of those things where a droid repaint or even carrying forward another, more popular figure from recent years might have been a more exciting move.  After all, Darth Revan still has many fans.


If you like what you see, it's well made.  If you are sitting there going "Don't I basically have that?" let me assure you that yes, you pretty much do.  You'll like this figure, it's just as good as it was when you bought it two years ago with an extra accessory on better packaging at a lower price.  He can sit on a Tauntaun fairly well, can stand adequately, but on my sample the torso is a little twisted and won't stand up straight. 

Also, the puffy collar piece isn't glued down, and this is starting to bother me - especially as I doubt there will be much alternate use for this spot with other figures.  Luke still has the same off-color elbow rings that are something of an eyesore, and this figure basically has all the same flaws and benefits of its predecessor minus a couple of paint applications, notably on the shoulder and wrist. 

If you want to know if it's better or worse, it's about 8% worse - it's basically the same, except for the head and those couple of points of decoration.  The head is no better or worse, but if you want a scarf posed more like the Kenner Hoth Lukes this is a good one.  The 2003 one with the Wampa cave ceiling and articulated scarf is a better overall design (coloration aside) as far as play and display goes, but if your definition of a good figure is one you can sort of pose and will ultimately just stand around on a shelf after you open it, this is perfection incarnate.  Just don't look at his shoulder from the side.

Some more blood, some snow on the boots, a little something would have made this figure a lot more exciting.  As it is, it's one you'll open and if you missed the Vintage one, you'll probably really love it.  If you needed another one for some reason, it's quite nice.  If you've got almost every figure Hasbro made, and you bought this one to keep your set complete, you'll probably just hate yourself a tiny bit more unless you had a specific reason for wanting this figure.  I suspect this one will probably go down as being the quintessential update to the 1982 Kenner original - which is good - but getting it so soon and in such a drag of a year as new 3 3/4-inch The Black Series goes, it's more than a little anticlimactic.  

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This wave is starting to show up at retail stores as of early November.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,114: November 18, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,113: Chopper C1-10P (Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends)


C1-10P "Chopper"
Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends
Item No.:
Asst. A3857 No. A8649
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #SL06
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Chopper, otherwise known as C1-10P, is an Astromech Droid on board the Ghost freighter.  Chopper assists the freedom fighters at ship repair, navigation, and computer access. An older model Droid patched together with various parts, Chopper is often cranky and grumpy.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: I assume you aren't reading this because you're trying to find one of your own.  Chopper is the second droid to carry the name, and the third action figure (don't forget the clone). He's a tiny little guy and the first (only?) C1 droid we've ever seen.  The figure looks pretty good, highlighting how this cheaper format works while also reminding us of what happens when a shortcut takes place.  The little fellow has three joints - the neck and arms - and that's it.  His bizarre shopping cart third wheel isn't included, nor are the arms that pop out the side of his head which were inspired by early McQuarrie R2-D2 concepts.  If you're gaga for robots, you need this. No question.

It feels more than a little cartoony - just like the rest of the line - thanks to his bright colors and lack of battle damage.  He's clean and largely undecorated - the left side of his body doesn't have the murky paint of the animation model, and some of the panel lines on the dome are left unpainted.  If anything, he looks like he might've been more at home in the Droids line, although I do seem to be saying that a little too much lately.  Since he has no accessories or figures, he's the biggest lightweight of the batch and his charm will be the main selling point. Granted, I was doing cartwheels once i saw the design just because he looks like some freakish cobbled-together Star Wars reject, which is sort of the exact kind of thing I'd like to buy.  On the cartoon, he's also an abusive little jerk - and how can you not love that?

The bottoms of his feet have little faux treads and he has no problems standing.  He's too short to be of much use in most Astromech Droid sockets in vehicles, and he won't fit in the Jedi Turbo Speeder at all - but he'll fit in the Y-Wing, post-FX X-Wings, Starspeeder 1000, and many others.  He doesn't fit perfectly in the little compartment in the Phantom sadly, but he can still be stored in the cargo hold.

Chopper is hardly a perfect figure - like R2-D2, there are lots of gimmicks left out that could make for a compelling second bite at the apple or a deluxe figure down the road.  (Dare I say "Black Series"?)   This is, of course, assuming there will be a road to go down later - I don't have high hopes for the long-term success of Rebels as 3 3/4-inch action figures (if it tops 50, I'll be impressed) but that means you can probably afford to collect the whole thing.  Chopper is a pretty good place to start - if you were a kid in the 1980s, he's going to make you happy.  It's just a fun, cool little toy for six bucks - there's no gee-wiz here, so if you like what you see it's worth the asking price.  Let's be honest, we've all paid more for less.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This wave is starting to show up at Target, Toys R Us, and reportedly elsewhere.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,113: November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,112: Agent Kallus (Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends)

AGENT KALLUS Figure Debut
Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends
Item No.:
Asst. A3857 No. A8648
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #SL05
Includes: Rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Agent Kallus is a member of the Imperial Security Bureau, a secret police force that hunts down and crushes any rebellion in the galaxy.  Intelligent and ruthless, Kallus is a skilled pilot who makes it his mission to stop troublesome freedom fighters. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Agent Kallus will never be the Admiral Screed figure I'll never get, but it's one of the better figures from this wave in terms of overall quality.   It ain't perfect but it's a worthwhile design upgrade to the long-running Imperial Officer.  Heck, it's basically an armored-up version of the original Kenner figure from the 1980s.  He has glossy black gloves and boots - this is what earns him a lot of extra praise - and trades the Navy cap with a helmet which is a distant cousin of the Naval Trooper/Death Squad Commando bucket.  Interestingly, it looks like the head is a two-piece ordeal - the helmet isn't removable, but it's molded in a separate color of plastic than the head.  We've seen this before with figures' hair (see Mara Jade) and Playmobil has been doing things like this for years, even with the horns of its dinosaurs.

This feels like a descendant of the Droids cartoon line.  Kallus has straight arms and no subtext - it's a bad guy, named accordingly and dressed in black. He stands or sits just fine, and should fit in most vehicles.  Actually, I kind of wish he had his own vehicle right now.  He has no problems holding his weapon - a bo-rifle, but not the same one that Zeb has.  It's unpainted and features no articulated parts, plus it's a wee bit skinnier.   Kallus' deco is pretty good - a black plastic figure has grey shoulders and some body armor not unlike that of General Veers, and a rank badge that to this day I don't understand.

There's a little triangle on the collar of his uniform, and the deco doesn't match the show exactly - but it makes for a good action figure.  My only real gripe are his eyebrows are the wrong color, and if I could add a fake complaint it would be that the figure lacks the character's greatest gag - the helmet-shaped sideburns.  Maybe they could show up in the future somewhere, because as an easy-to-grasp metaphor - the helmet really never comes off - it seems like it would be a good feature to deliver to the tiny tots.

The back of the figure has  a couple of little slats, and you can sort of cram his rifle in there for storage if you like.  I like this - it's a neat spin on the holster thing, which is a feature I can't get enough of.  On-figure storage? Yes please.

Since the deco is basically on the mark, deco isn't sloppy, and the shiny bits are shiny I can't complain with what I got for the money.  In an era where super-articulated figures cost $11-$13, a decent $5 figure that feels like an honest-to-goodness toy is pretty welcome.  I don't begrudge the articulation of the fancier figures, but I do find it nice to see a figure at mid-1990s prices again.   That sort of thing matters to me as a collector, mostly because when you realize you have over 2,000 of these things and a lot of them cost you $10 (or more, in some cases) you want to get those prices back down to $5 or $6.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This wave is starting to show up at Target, Toys R Us, and reportedly elsewhere.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,112: November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,111: Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios (Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)


GARAZEB "ZEB" ORRELIOS and Stormtrooper
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. A8658
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS01
Includes: Bo-Rifle, Stormtrooper figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios and the crew of the Ghost go on a rescue mission that entangles them with the Galactic Empire's Stormtroopers. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: If you've been reading this series of articles, you know I'm a big fan of changes in figures that make for better toys - and I find many of the figures with five points of articulation to be charming, durable, and priced right to serve a function as a toy.  Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios falls a little short here.  While this two-pack with a Stormtrooper does bring an adequate bang for the buck, Zeb has shortcomings that weren't present on previous releases like Kanan, Ezra, and the previous Saga Legends/Mission Series figures over the past year and change.

Creating a consistent, solid program of action figures is tough - not impossible, but a challenge.  Star Wars is, at its heart, a figure-and-vehicle line so compatibility between the two is very important.  Unfortunately, Zeb's a big guy and is too wide to fit in the Phantom as pilot or as cargo - unless you cram him in there on his side.  He also won't fit in most of the recent TIE Fighters like we saw in "Fighter Flight."  This is a common problem since 1995, while Kenner's designers made sure the original Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca could play together in 1978, we're not seeing enough of that kind of foresight today.  And as you know from the movies, people get upset when there's a lack of vision.   His legs are a little more wobbly than his peers, and may require some bending to get him to stand upright.

Zeb's 5 joints move freely and taken as a stand-alone collectible, he's fantastic.  He's pretty big, pretty beefy, colorful, and seemingly a fine sibling to the likes of Kez Iban.  As a figure unto itself, it's neat - the green eyes, white shoulder design, black stripes, and yellow body suit all look pretty nice and are quite close to the character design, but close is sometimes not enough.  Kanan and Ezra are pretty simple designs, and Zeb's lack of paint reveals how much budget cutting we're getting here. His eyes are a tad too green and lack the shading around the eye sockets.


Animated Zeb's amazingly expressive mouth is completely lacking in the action figure, so we miss out on those great teeth and big black maw.  It's not wildly inaccurate, but the figure suffers because Hasbro is looking to save a few pennies - which I suppose opens the door to future, higher-dollar Zebs and that's probably what some people would ask for anyway.

His hands easily hold his somewhat awkward weapon - a Bo-Rifle.  It looks like it was designed to be a roleplay weapon, and Hasbro took a few shortcuts to make it at this price point - you'd pretty much have to.   There are articulated elements near the grip on the show, but for the toy they're fused.  One is open, one is closed.  A red laser sight above one of the barrels is the only paint you'll get, as the wrappings are left undecorated along with the rest of the plastic.  It's primitive, but so is the entire package - Zeb feels like a Kenner figure from the very late 1980s or early 1990s, minus the action features.  It's for the best, really. 

This is the best Zeb you can buy, and I believe Hasbro could make it very nice if they decide to repaint it in a gift set or another package down the road.  The sculpt is good, but if Hasbro gave it a more expressive head and a little more deco it'd be very good.  And if they did a version for The Black Series I think a lot of fans would be pretty happy.   Since Zeb has some problems standing and can't fit in vehicles, the figure comes up short for me and I'd like to see another attempt soon.  Given the budgeting on these things it ain't bad, but as this segment's biggest cheerleader I'd be doing you a disservice by saying that this is a fantastic figure.  It's OK - if this is the only Zeb we get, it's acceptable.  For the asking price, this set is certainly worth it.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This wave is starting to show up at Target, Toys R Us, and reportedly elsewhere.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,111: November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,110: The Inquisitor (Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends)

THE INQUISITOR  has no actual name yet
Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends
Item No.:
Asst. A3857 No. A8646
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #SL03
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio:The Inquisitor is a Force-sensitive spy and interrogator for the Galactic Empire who uses a ring-hilted Lightsaber that he spins and throws in combat.  He tracks down Jedi who escaped Order 66 and citizens who exhibit Force abilities. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: Saga Legends are here - and so are the first single-carded characters from a completely new piece of Star Wars media in North America since 2012.  The last wave was Canada-only with Jedi Luke, a Snowtrooper, Darth Maul, and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Clone Wars).  Darth Maul isn't carried in this wave, but the other three make their US debut alongside The Inquisitor, as do repacks of Jango Fett (previously Mission Series), Darth Vader (also previously Mission Series), and the Clone Trooper (Saga Legends 2013).

This case is better than The Black Series waves on the whole, given that (to most of you) 9 of the figures are new.  Although I do find it baffling that they didn't make a case with 2 each of the 6 Rebels guys, or some mix of just the new characters, at least they're taking into account that there are likely some kids out there who are going to want some movie dudes.

Thankfully Hasbro at least decided to put The Inquisitor in an exclusive boxed set with his TIE Fighter at Target (hitting stores nowish), because he ain't in Wave 5 for some reason.  From where I sit it appears that Hasbro may have exceptionally low expectations for this segment of the franchise, because with no launch, main characters in short supply, and what feels like little or no promotion to fan sites or in general, this entire segment could be swept under the rug pretty easily.  This is a shame, because this is a decent figure.  There are limitations in the "cheap" format, but our nameless villain here makes the most of what the budget allows.  As the third Pau'an action figure that I can name, the figure has relatively shallow grooves on his head unlike previous members of his race.  He has Sith eyes which just confuses me - we've seen them on Anakin/Vader, Darth Maul, and nobody else so far - so what do they mean, really?  The yellow eyes have a black dot in the center and black eyeliner, plus red markings that seem like something Alice Cooper may have found kind of tame.  Overall, it's a good look for him.

The overall feel of the action figure is very 1990s.  It reminds me of some of the later animated Batman toys with skinny limbs, but a very stable build and enough bulk that it feels he could do some damage.  His gauntlets look vaguely like repurposed Clone Trooper gear, and his shoulders each have an Empire symbol on them.  I love this.  The black armor is largely evenly painted, although my sample had a significant gash in it, exposing the grey plastic underneath.

A black marker swipe actually fixed it, and while it's not a perfect match you really have to know where to look to see the problem.  His belt and buckle are painted, as are his black matte boots.  I assume a larger budget would have allowed for shinier shoes, but that's just a hunch - at least we get his cool ring Lightsaber.  It's red clear plastic with a black hilt that fits well in either hand.

I find the Inquisitor to be more than satisfactory.  I bet a more expensive one would be better - a few pennies on deco, a multi-piece weapon, and a mouth with exposed teeth could have made for a much more menacing threat.  This pale, tattooed guy is clearly evil but the animation model's skin is a little more ashen, and his grimace more pronounced.  Plus there's something unsettling about those grooves in the skin that, in this lighter colored plastic, is lost.  If you can get behind a figure that feels like an older toy - and boy howdy, can I - this is one of the good ones.   For the new figures as of this wave (Stormtrooper, Kallus, Chopper, and the Inquisitor) I'd probably rank Inquisitor near the top in terms of just looking like he's worth the asking price the most.  Heck, at $7, he'd still be pretty good.  Don't get me wrong, I love Chopper, but Chopper doesn't impress in quite the same way.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  This wave is starting to show up at Target, Toys R Us, and reportedly elsewhere.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,110: November 11, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,109: R2-D2 (Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

R2-D2  and C-3PO
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. A8657
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS02
Includes: C-3PO figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: C-3PO and R2-D2 unknowingly play a part in helping the Rebels intercept a shipment of Imperial weapons. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: This R2-D2 is kind of unnecessary - not only did we just get a movie one in a two-pack last year, but the Rebels design is incredibly close to the movie.  The Clone Wars' take on R2-D2 had some altered colors and rejiggered the shapes on his person, but if you put the Rebels R2-D2 next to the movie ones, the differences are minimal.  For example, the eye bulges out a bit out of the blue square, the wheels on the feet are now a non-moving tread, and the shoulder detail is minimized - but other than that?  It's pretty gosh darn close.  The differences are apparent and obvious when put side-by-side, but when I first saw the Rebels R2-D2 in a picture I didn't even realize it was a new mold at first glance.


Overall, I like it more than the last movie two-pack R2-D2. The blue is richer, the silver looks better, and a few more areas on his body are painted this time around.   But it's still just a two-legged R2-D2 with no features, so fundamentally there's not a lot going on here.  The top panel on the head is still silver and not blue like it probably should be, and the detail is a smidgen sharper overall.  It's good, but you've got dozens of R2-D2s.  I'm not a big fan of shortcuts, but in this case I think Hasbro could have just repackaged the last one and we'd be none the wiser. 

There's not a lot you can do to R2-D2 other than action features or some sort of dirt or deco change, so figures like this - while new - are sort of a painful reminder of how Hasbro uses its production slots to make all-new versions of figures with perfectly new, perfectly recent molds in circulation rather than cranking out something new.  (For example, we could've had Sabine or Hera earlier.)  It's not a bad figure... it just leaves you asking "why is this here?  Do we need this now?"

Of course, that's the bitter collector perspective.  If you're buying this for a kid for a birthday or just want a cheap droid set for yourself, they're quite good, quite stable, and nicely designed.  It's just not new.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen these figures show up in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,109: November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,108: Stormtrooper (Star Wars Rebels Mission Series)

STORMTROOPER and Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios
Star Wars Rebels Mission Series
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. A8658
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS01
Includes: Bo-Rifle, Zeb figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: October 2014
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios and the crew of the Ghost go on a rescue mission that entangles them with the Galactic Empire's Stormtroopers. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: Back in the early 1990s, my hope was that Star Wars would come back as action figure two-packs.  It just made sense - you could bundle a winner, say Darth Vader, with a harder-to-sell figure and presto - you've started a collection even if you didn't want to.  And here we are!   Hasbro is putting in Stormtrooper figures individually and with Zeb (like this sample) and Sabine Wren, and that's just good business.  Well, it's pretty good business - history tells us Ahsoka and female Jedi tend to sell well when marketed to kids, and while I personally would be delighted to pay $10 for one if it meant getting more Stormtroopers I wonder how little girls and some little boys will react to compulsory troop building.  It fits my needs, though, so I'm not going to complain.  I've got Imperial Troop Transports to fill out!


This Stormtrooper is fundamentally similar to the one from Saga Legends - 5 joints.  The neck, arms, and legs move and he's got a gun for his hand.  He'll fit in your AT-DP and stand without much of a problem.  His smile is stuck, he won't go back to your frownland.   He's figure is made up of white plastic, and the arms which don't quite match, and all my eye can see is that it might not be a big issue.  I suggest keeping him out of the sun and in a dark place, and depending on the lighting conditions you may not notice the problem as much.  On the normal light in my home office, he seems just fine.  Under the cruel lights of a photo studio, it's a little different.

He has more deco than I would expect, with grey on his mouth and a whole bunch of black.  He gets more paint than the Titan Series figure, but looks like he could be from the same digital sculpt, or at least comes very close.  I like the look and I plan to buy more - my goal is at least 6, but we'll see how that works out.  If they keep putting him in two-packs, I'm all set.  I like it, and much like Zeb it feels like a distant cousin of the Droids action figure line from the 1980s.  Also like Droids, I assume most of you won't be interested in it until the figures start getting expensive, but of Zeb and the trooper, the trooper is the bigger winner right now.  Which is good, because it seems for once Hasbro is interested in selling you a lot of Stormtroopers.

Collector's Notes: I got this from Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen these figures show up in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,108: November 6, 2014