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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,097: Ree-Yees (The Black Series 2014)

REE-YEES Drunk Thug Redux
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A6795
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #27
Includes: 2 pistols
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: One of the lowlife criminals in Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine, Ree-Yees is part of the excited crowd that eagerly watches Luke fight for his life in the rancor pit.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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



Commentary: My Ree-Yees popped apart in seconds after opening him, but that seems to be intentional.  It also popped right back together, just as easily. You see, the figure has a ball-jointed torso - but if you swing his legs forward as if to make him sit, it acts like a lever and *pop* goes the waist.  The belt and lower coat go flying, so be careful - it can be easily popped together, and won't fall apart unless you try to make him sit.  Because many collectors either a) leave figures carded or b) open them, shelf them, and let them collect dust this may not be a problem for you. It may not be as much of a problem as Darth Vader's recent neck woes given that - I assume - most collectors won't expect their action figures to sit as much as they would be likely to want to reposition their heads.  I daresay the Ree-Yees figure is quite good if you can get past the fact that the torso can pop apart if he sits, and that the hands do come off easily.  Below, that's about as far as he can sit without popping apart.


With 12 points of articulation, this is the second recent all-new sculpt after Yoda that confirms Hasbro is indeed reducing articulation on the collector line.  (Which to me raises the question, "why not just put them all into 'Saga Legends/Mission Series' and cut the price in half?")   The figure has no ankles, which is a mixed blessing - he certainly doesn't need them, but I know collectors demand them.   I don't feel ankles are necessary for this figure as he stands just fine without them.  Everything else is more or less normal, with swivel hips, ball-jointed shoulders and elbows, plus rotating wrists.  The sculpt of the outfit is a little more wrinkly than previous incarnations, and for this reason the figure feels almost unnecessary.  The 1983 original was good, and had a giant head.  The 1998 one was good, but had giant guns and a strange action-oriented pose.  This one has a slightly smaller head - I believe it's maybe 10% smaller than it should be - most shots from the film seem to make his ears about as wide as his shoulders.  The sculpted detail is good and the reddish wash over the grey plastic skin really does a nice job bringing out the detail, and doesn't look especially sloppy.  White teeth and black eyes complete the face which is aggressive, dumb, and generally what you want in a thug.



Accessories are smaller versions the same choices we saw on the 1998 Ree-Yees, sadly Hasbro elected not to use the giant rifle of the 1983 figure or the glass he carried in the movie.  He does not include the pike from the promo pictures.  The guns fit nicely into his meaty paws, each of which has a sculpted trigger finger.  They did a nice job here - it's not what I would have picked, but anyone can armchair quarterback this line and they frequently do.  The execution is what's important, and the accessory selection was engineered perfectly.  You can't ask for more than that.


Ree-Yees hasn't been high on many request lists due to the previous ones being pretty good, but here's a new one, and it's pretty good.  The lack of ankles means he completely skipped that super-articulated era of the line and now we're sort of downsizing.   I submit to you - and Hasbro - if we're going to see a reduction in articulation while still being asked to pay $11, why not go all the way and make it a $6 single or $11 2-pack next time?  If we're going to see reduced articulation, I certainly wouldn't mind saving a few dollars.

Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,097: August 21, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,096: Jabba's Skiff Guard (The Black Series 2014)

JABBA'S SKIFF GUARD Character Debut
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A7262
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #27
Includes: Pike, pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: This Skiff Guard works for Jabba the Hutt.  Skiff Guards are usually mercenaries or slaves whose duties include defending the skiff from attack and keeping prisoners in line.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: New characters are like gold - treasure them.   There is a bit of a question as to who Jabba's Skiff Guard is - the original intent was to make Sgt. Doallyn, but recent events say there are two guys with basically the same costume, the second of which is Brock Starsher.   I'm of two minds about this - as an aging fan my knee-jerk reaction is "who cares?"   I'm just happy to have a dude that looks like this at this point, so I'll worry about the details later and just be happy to have him right now.

I am unaware if any name trademarks are a problem at this time, so for all we know the generic name was deployed just as a butt-covering maneuver.  Regardless, it's a figure that more or less is what you are going to want.

With 14 points of articulation, it's a good replica of how this figure appears in behind-the-scenes shots.  There are a lot of characters in the movies that are more famous as trading cards - the character didn't even have a name until about 19 years ago.  There are also seemingly some arguments as to who is who, and what color their outfits are, but for the sake of keeping it simple I'm going to assume the guy in the off-white suit with this helmet is indeed the character we're looking at.  At one point, Bane Malar was confused for Doallyn, which is kind of funny when you think about it.  I'm sure no one involved with the movie's production or with Lucasfilm as a whole gave any of these guys real thought in the decade after Return of the Jedi was out there.

If you collected figures in the mid to late 2000s, this is just like the best of them.   There are lots of wrinkles, ball-jointed ankles, swivel wrists, and 14 more or less unobstructed points of articulation.  The fact that his hips are able to swing forward, allowing him to fit in vehicles, means that the sculptor deserves a gold star and a cookie.  I would offer the painter a juice box, but at least on my sample the brown stripes on the pants are askew a bit.    I guess you can twist the lower leg if you like - so it'll look good on a shelf or diorama, that's for certain.

For those keeping track, this is the first 100% new The Black Series Skiff Guard or denizen of Jabba's Palace character in this series - Vizam was a new sculpt of a figure from over 10 years ago.   We're lucky to get one new Skiff figure a year, so I'm glad that with the hoses and the swell helmet that this figure is about as good as we can expect with modern standards.  It wouldn't surprise me if this figure were sculpted and sat in Hasbro's vault for years before going to production based on the style of the figure - but hey, better late than never.   It's good, buy it, and Hasbro - please - don't make us wait years between new ones if you can help it.   We really dig this stuff!  Obviously, you should buy one if you're into the original trilogy and Jabba's goons.


Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,096: August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,095: Wedge Antilles (The Black Series 2014)

WEDGE ANTILLES Hoth Redux
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A5633
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #29
Includes: Helmet, blaster pistol, blaster rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: This Rebel pilot and friend of Luke Skywalker battles Imperial forces who are attaching Echo Base on the ice planet Hoth.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: A new Wedge Antilles, so soon?  Wonderful!  This one is pretty good too - Hasbro took the 2009 Legacy Luke Skywalker Snowspeeder Pilot body, and gave it a new head and Dak Ralter's accessories from 2010.  It's pretty great - the hands are more or less specific to Luke having a lightsaber or a grappling hook, but at least the deco is nice and again, more or less based on Dak's control chest buttons.

The sculpt is good, but it's nothing you haven't bought before minus the new head.  His helmet fits nicely, and he can hold his weapons.  The unique angles do make them look a little silly in his left hand, the small blaster looks especially ridiculous.  One problem I thin is unique to mine is a big square plastic peg jutting out from the lower leg - I'd cut it off, but it's grey plastic painted orange and that would look worse than leaving it there.  Once the paint goes, it's going to look terrible - did any of you have this problem?

The head sculpt is good - appropriately Wedge-y, and it's molded in flesh color with a painted flight cap.  As a carded figure, it's beautiful and the 14 points of articulation are about normal for this line these days.  Overall I'd say it's good - there's very little messy paint, just a bad dab around the eye I might try to scrape off.  The painted button on the glove is a nice touch.  I won't say this is the best Wedge figure ever... but let's face it, if it isn't, it's a close #2.  Get it if you can, and then get him a Snowspeeder to sit in.  He will fit.

Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,095: August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,094: Darth Vader (The Black Series 2014)

DARTH VADER Episode III
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A5630
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #26
Includes: Lightsaber, hilt, easily lost head
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: August 2014
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: After undergoing life-saving cybernetic reconstruction, Darth Vader stands on the bridge of a Star Destroyer to watch the construction of a powerful new Battle Station.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: I never went through life thinking I needed another Darth Vader, let alone one form Revenge of the Sith.  At first I thought this was a mix of new and old parts, but it turns out I was wrong - it's actually the ultra-articulated Darth Vader you've always wanted.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that it also trips up an unforgivable feature, which is that if you turn his head it always will fall off.  The assembly is terrible and once you have a figure that can lose its head easily, that's a bad figure.  I don't even mean "it can pop off," I mean "I dare you to turn it and not have it fall off."  The head holds the cape in place, and under the cape are two ugly divets that look like they were meant to hold the cape in place.

The sculpt is good, with rocker ankles, bend-and-swivel wrists, a ball-jointed torso joint that's amazingly well-hidden, and the ball-and-socket hips you all love. The knee joints are well hidden and if this came out with a good neck joint and a slightly better helmet sculpt, I doubt anyone would balk at buying yet another Darth Vader.  Hasbro did a spectacular, wonderful job on the articulation here but "the head falls off if you look at it funny" is an unforgivable sin.  The hands can grip the lightsabers, the textures are all quite nice, and he's appropriately skinny.  The sculpted chain on the neck armor integrates nicely with the cape, and visually it's a nice figure - possibly the nicest looking Darth Vader ever if you never open it.

The inclusion of a newly-sculpted lightsaber hilt is baffling since it can't sit on the belt, and the belt is another part that irks me.  The codpiece has returned, meaning if you aren't careful it can stick up and he'll be quite happy to see you.

Some people will love this figure, and Hasbro should be commended at getting it about 95%.  But the problem is, that 5% is the wrong 5% to get wrong - no figure's head should fall off that easily, and we've had countless Darth Vaders since the introduction of ball-jointed necks that were all more or less OK.  Since the cape flies off when the head goes - and the head, without the cape, still won't stay put - I want to suggest Hasbro reissue this one with a retooled helmet/neck peg down the road.  And maybe a slightly larger, all-new helmet sculpt.  They should be proud of most of this... but man, that's the wrong part to get wrong.  In college I had teachers that auto-failed you if you did a report with someone's name spelled wrong, or if you left off certain citations.  That's how I feel about this figure - it's mostly well-done, but I can't get past the head foul-up and have to flunk it.

Collector's Notes: These are available online right now and I got mine at Entertainment Earth.  I have not seen it in stores yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,094: August 18, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,093: General Grievous (Mission Series 2014)


GENERAL GRIEVOUS Movie-Style
2013 Darth Vader Lava Line Look Mission Series Utapau
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. A5919
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS08
Includes: Lightsabers, Obi-Wan Kenobi figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: July 2014
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous face off in an explosive duel on Utapau.  Their Lightsabers clash together again and again as they battle.  Grievous flees, fearing he may lose the fight, but Obi-Wan pursues him, determined to stop this powerful enemy once and for all. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: As someone who died almost immediately, General Grievous gets a lot of love.  Hasbro refuses to stop milking Revenge of the Sith's principal characters as they seem to get redone nearly every couple of years, plus Grievous had a lot of screen time in the last animated series.  As such, it makes sense a cheaper, kid-friendly but still very tall version of the cyborg general would get made eventually. At about 4 1/2-inches tall he's easily one of the biggest and most imposing figures in the line, towering over even Darth Vader.   He has 5 joints and no special features like splitting hands or anything like that.  Even more shocking, he doesn't have holes for foot pegs on display stands.   And this figure needs a display stand unless you keep him in his "sweet spot," and even then it seems it's only a matter of time before gravity causes his ankles to sag under his own weight and flop over.


The sculpt is good, and the deco is acceptable.   I have seen 4 samples up close and personal, most of which had wonky black eye paint.  The greys and ceramic colors on the body look good, as do the greens, yellows, and reds.   Unlike the perpetually wobbly super-articulated Grievous in 2008, this one seems more likely to stay standing in part due to the design and reduction in articulation.  Stiffer plastic for the legs would be helpful, but probably more fragile.  Even a display stand wouldn't help as the problem isn't the feet so much as it is the plastic sagging under his own weight - this can be reduced if his arms are at his sides and not forward.   I should note he's great at sitting, I got him to fit in the Hasbro 2008 General Grievous' Starfighter vehicle with no real problems.  Hasbro did a great job overall, but if you plan on displaying him on a shelf I suggest buying a small doll stand to prevent gravity from doing its dirty sinful business.

I would not say this is the best, or worst, or even most average Grievous.  In terms of pose and personality it's pretty decent - he towers over my other figures and his two lightsabers fit in his hands fairly well, although the right one is a little loose.  Since there is little in the way of articulation Hasbro can instead focus on sculpt, and they did a bang-up job.  I just wish they put a few extra bucks in improving the head paint masks, because a bad head on this figure looks positively silly.  When it's good, though, it's quite nice and the 2-pack looks wonderful when it's all sealed up too.

Collector's Notes: Target got these pretty early, so the good news is that they're out and about.  True story, someone at work once was on the phone and slipped and said "Genital Grievous." Hilarious.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,093: August 8, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,092: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Mission Series 2014)

OBI-WAN KENOBI Movie-Style
2013 Darth Vader Lava Line Look Mission Series Utapau
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. A5919
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS08
Includes: Lightsaber, General Grievous figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: July 2014
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous face off in an explosive duel on Utapau.  Their Lightsabers clash together again and again as they battle.  Grievous flees, fearing he may lose the fight, but Obi-Wan pursues him, determined to stop this powerful enemy once and for all. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: It's strange to see, in 2014, that Obi-Wan Kenobi is getting more toys than just about anybody else in the "kid" line.  Including repacks he's had 4 figures, including 2 Expanded Universe costumes with uniquely sculpted elements.  This is not one of them - at best the 2014 Mission Series figure is a redeco of the 2013 Saga Legends version.  To most mortals, it's just a repack - and as such, I would start off by saying you don't need both versions unless you already bought 2013 Obi-Wan and need the companion Grievous in this 2-pack.

Obi-Wan has 5 joints and a great sculpt, as always. His shirt is well-textured and he has no problems standing or sitting, but it can be tricky to cram him in some vehicles.  He has no problems holding is lightsaber, especially when compared to the previous release of this mold.  On my sample, the hair of the 2014 release is glossier, slightly redder, and the skin tone and eye paint seems sharper.  His boots are a bit more saturated with color, but the biggest and most obvious change is his lightsaber.  The blade is a much deeper blue, not quite as "faded" as the original.  If you only get one version of this mold, lean toward the Mission Series version with Grievous as seen here.  I like it more.

Collector's Notes: Target got these pretty early, so the good news is that they're out and about. 

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,092: August 7, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,091: Luke Skywalker (Mission Series 2014)

LUKE SKYWALKER Movie-Style
2013 Darth Vader Lava Line Look Mission Series Bespin
Item No.:
Asst. A5228 No. A5920
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #MS09
Includes: Lightsaber, Blaster, Darth Vader figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: July 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader engage in a Lightsaber duel in Cloud City, which floats above the gas giant planet Bespin.  Luke fights bravely but cannot defeat the highly skilled Vader.  Luke is dealt two blows: the loss of his hand, and the shocking truth about Vader's identity. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: This Luke Skywalker is totally new - Hasbro put out a really good one in 2012 with 5 joints and yellow hair which I like slightly more, but this one is new and can hold his weapons a little bit better.   The costume coloring is quite different with darker boots and a redder holster.  The more static, arms-down pose looks more like an older action figure plus his costume is smoother and lighter without any of the tears, rips, or sweat over other releases.  It is a significantly different take on the costume, and due to the lighting and copious amount of dirt on Luke's person in The Empire Strikes Back I'm actually not sure which one is the most correct.  The costume is best known as a toy, with many of the most famous publicity shots cropping out his boots.

The last new sculpt for Bespin Luke had hyper-realistic texture on his outfit and detail more becoming of a toy.  This one has smoother textures, but more wrinkles and deco that looks more realistic overall.  His hair is darker, almost wet.  His eyes are still blue, and while not perfect they're painted better than some other recent releases.  Luke still looks a little spaced-out, but is largely sculpted better than many of Hasbro's previous heads - I like what they're doing here.   He has no problems standing, sitting, having a gun in his holster, or generally being pretty good.  I'd suggest comparing the faces on these if you have the chance before buying yours.

His blaster has a silver barrel, and his lightsaber has a silver hilt plus a loop at the end.  It doesn't go anywhere, and looks like a nod to the 12-inch figure Kenner made in the late 1990s - it was a neat gimmick to hang it on the belt, accurate or not.   As toys go this is a fine Luke and I'm happy to see Hasbro putting out new, weird versions of classics in a non-movie year but the figure is hardly essential after the 2010 "vintage" version blew us all away.  It's fun and charming, and I daresay the flight suit may be the most correct deco we've seen yet, but it's tough to know for sure.  As such get this set if you're sitting on ten bucks, as you'd likely waste it on booze and women anyway.  Hasbro needs to work on the eye deco a bit, but otherwise they did a great job here.

Collector's Notes: Target got these pretty early, so the good news is that they're out and about.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,091: August 6, 2014