Thursday, July 9, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,706: Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder, The Black Series 6-Inch)

LUKE SKYWALKER (Snowspeeder)
The Black Series 40th Anniversary 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7549 No. E9052
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Helmet, lightsaber blade, hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio:  During the Battle of Hoth, Luke Skywalker piloted a Snowspeeder and led the Rebel Alliance against the Empire’s ground forces.   (Taken from Hasbro's marketing copy.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!




Commentary: This Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) is a new and improved figure from Hasbro - and my only complaints about it are that it could have been only slightly more amazing with more accessories.  With the newer shoulder joints and smoother articulation overall, Luke has the same great sculpted detail but fixes a lot of the quibbles we've had on earlier figures.  I see no visible copyright markings.  The orange is uniform, there's no obvious mismatched orange paint vs. orange plastic.  The face is perfect.  The helmet is gorgeous.  The lightsaber hilt can hang on the belt hook.  Just about everything here works perfectly.

I'm not sure if he will fit in the 6-inch scale Snowspeeder coming down the road, mostly because the legs can't swing forward all that much.  It would have been enough to sit in the old Kenner vintage vehicles, though, so maybe it'll be just fine.  I love how the arms have so much ability to move so he can gesture or grab on to controls (in theory), but there's no blaster or grapple gun.  This is odd, because the retro one had a grapple gun and many other releases since the 1990s had some sort of pistol or blaster.  An alternate, un-capped head would have also been cool - so you could recreate his Dagobah landing.

If you get this figure - and you should, it's getting rereleased in a box later this year if you missed the carded release - it's a gem. The helmet has these perfectly printed symbols and scuffs.  The lens is wonderful.  The arms are perfectly textured, and the shoulders can swing forward a bit if you like.  The boots look great, the knees are very well-hidden, the gloved hands hide wrist joints very well, and there are all sorts  of painted buttons, rivets, dials, and switches.
With that great printed face, it seems obvious this Luke got a ton of love.   The earlier 6-inch figures were fine, but Hasbro has broken through "fine" and has now landed on "impressive."   I know it's tough to do things within budget, but seeing new figures like the Hoth Rebel Soldier and this Snowspeeder Luke, it's like we've just had years of advancement.  After years of no advancement.  Kudos, Hasbro - I assume we're going to see more repaints and reissues, but your new stuff doesn't disappoint.   More freshness please.  (Snowspeeder Wedge is also welcome.)

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,706: July 9, 2020

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,705: Lando Calrissian (The Black Series 6-Inch, 40th Anniversary Collection)

LANDO CALRISSIAN Redux
The Black Series 40th Anniversary 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7549 No. E8082
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Cape, pistol, microphone
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio:  After losing the Millennium Falcon to Han Solo, Lando Calrissian went semi-respectable as the administrator of Cloud City   (Taken from Hasbro's marketing copy.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: This Lando Calrissian is a redeco of a really good 2017 release.  The Lando Calrissian [FOTD #2,379] had the same gear, and the same better-than-average elbow articulation, however the face was just pretty good.  For the time I'd say it was a better example of what Hasbro could do pre-printed faces, and by comparison it's always amazing to see just how much better these things get over the years.

2020 Lando has the same 26 (I think) points of articulation, with the bend-and-swivel wrists, rocker ankles, black belt, and what must be a prototype iWatch on his right wrist.   He has no problems standing, and the cape is pretty much the same as last time too.   So why are you buying it?  The packaging, and the portrait.

While I very much liked the 2017 release of Lando Calrissian, I can't deny that his face has what appears to be an exaggerated pair of eyebrows to go with his mustache.  It's closer to a Groucho interpretation, and usually smaller faces need exaggerated details to show up.  The difference is night and day when you look at the 2020 version with thinner eyebrows, a more muted mustache, and eyes that don't "pop" quite so much.   At first glance it's a radical departure, but after a few moments this is the clear winner.  
This figure is almost good enough for the ages - unfortunately, that 2017 mid-torso joint looked bad then and worse now.  Waist joints at the belt always look great, even if it doesn't give the figure quite the same mobility.  A big cut in the middle of the shirt just looks dreadful.   Hasbro generally doesn't invest in new parts for a redeco wave, though, so you'll have to enjoy the blaster, cape, and torso that you got.  Maybe Hasbro will try again for the 50th anniversary - but for now, this is a worthwhile upgrade.  Even if you just leave it in the packaging, it's good.   Score one if you're so inclined!

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,705: July 7, 2020

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,704: Rebel Soldier (Hoth, The Black Series 6-Inch, 40th Anniversary Collection)

REBEL SOLDIER (Hoth)
The Black Series 40th Anniversary 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7549 No. E8078
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: 2 swappable faces, optional balaclava, pistol, rifle, backpack, backpack compartment cover, goggles, backpack
Action Feature: Backpack has open panel to store optional second trooper face
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Rebel troopers, also known as Rebel fleet troopers, Rebel soldiers or Alliance troopers, were the front-line soldiers of both the early rebel movement and later, the Rebel Alliance in the early war against the Galactic Empire and later the Galactic Civil War. Initially formed from loosely connected resistance cells, the leadership of Mon Mothma saw them become an impressively armed and trained galaxy-spanning infantry.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary: The Rebel Soldier (Hoth) is so good, Hasbro may have been holding out on us.  We've had a lot of great figures in this format, but given Marvel often gets figures with more accessories and 1/6 of another bonus figure for the same price we've been wondering "Well, where's ours?"  It's here.  It's this.  This may well be the best 6-inch figure so far in terms of what you get for your money - it might not be your favorite trooper, but look at it.  It's amazing.  With 29 well-hidden points of articulation, this is a new high benchmark for what I hope we see in the future.

The new added shoulder joints are hidden behind the vest, and all the other bits you want are here.  Double-neck joint, rocker ankles, bend-and-swivel wrists, and elbows with the added range of movement.  He can hold weapons with both hands easily, and look good doing it.  And if you don't like the look on his face, that's OK - a Zartan-like alternate bearded face is hidden in his backpack for safe storage.

The sculpting and deco are phenomenal - the level of detail on the sculpted cloth are amazing.  The "hyperreal" face paint  on both is marvelous.  The only place the figure comes up short is the "damage" or "dirt" deco, but I don't miss it - I prefer it clean so we can add paint or grime as needed to make even more varieties.   It takes the best that many of the existing 3 3/4-inch figures had to offer and improves it with more gear, a better range of motion, the best sculpted detail 2020 has to offer, and marvelous joints that make it easy to pose almost any way I want.  What more could I ask for?

The head is interesting - the top part comes off, and the face plate pops off easily.  The top cap part holds the whole head together, so don't lose it.  It's very important.

With the goggles, scarf, and faces, you can make 8 vaguely different-looking figures on a display with the parts at hand.   I doubt many of you are doing any sort of diorama making, but if you are, this is a good place to go.   Seeing how so many options were integrated here, I almost quiver with delight over what the Endor trooper may offer some day down the road.

This figure hits all the high marks - lots of options and on-figure storage so you may not have to lose anything.  Assuming he wears the scarf, of course - it would be nice to store that somewhere, but at least he can wear it.   Hasbro has very much outdone themselves here, and by including option parts you may want to be 2-4 of them just to display the various versions on your desk.  I'd say "get one," but why stop there?  Get at least two.   The figure will be in the new 2020-style The Black Series boxes again soon, so get one then if you miss this one.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,704: July 2, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,703: Artoo-Deetoo (R2-D2, Dagobah, The Black Series 6-Inch, 40th Anniversary Collection)

ARTOO-DEETOO (R2-D2) (Dagobah)
The Black Series 40th Anniversary 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7549 No. E9314
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: 3 removable dome panels, sensorscope
Action Feature: Pop-out arm tools, retractable third leg, wheels
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: R2-D2, pronounced Artoo-Deetoo and often referred to as R2 (Artoo), was an R2-series astromech droid manufactured by Industrial Automaton with masculine programming. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: It's different!  Artoo-deetoo (R2-D2) (Dagobah) is the start of Hasbro releasing retro Star Wars packaging with figures that didn't exist in that era.   While the 1978 R2-D2 and the 1982 Sensorcsope redux both appeared with this logo, the Dagobah photo was never used on the packaging and Dagobah swamp deco wasn't a thing back then.  It's different!

The figure itself looks good in the packaging, but due to the case configuration it's commonly crushed - mint bubbles are going to be a rare find.  Hasbro packed 5 figures into a case that could hold 6, so it would be easy for the cardboard to cave in a bit and this figure had no added support.  AFA-100-seekers, I do not envy you.
R2-D2 takes the mold from 2013, adds paint, and removes accessories.  It's a lateral move.  If you want the lightsaber hilt, the arm rockets, or the other scope, they're not here.  You can still pop off the 3 dome panels and 2 arm panels, but why?  The tabs on them weren't painted as well as previous releases, although you may not notice this thanks to the intense deco on the body.  While not quite as filthy as the photo, it's amazing - splattered mud on the body and limbs look great.  It wouldn't hurt to have had some paint on the third leg, but to recreate the two-leg pose on the photo?  It's fine. 

The mechanisms all work as well as before.  You've got rolling foot wheels.  There's a third leg that retracts when you twist the dome.   It's fine - it's just not as robust as that first release.  If you already have it, you probably don't  mind the accessories aren't here, and the different dirt deco isn't bad either.   Since it's cheaper than the previous single releases and different than the "damaged" Amazon-exclusive version, you'll probably find it interesting enough to add to your Dagobah diorama display.  With a little more mud, it would be even better - but as it is, it's more interesting than getting the same R2-D2 on a new cardback.  It's a pity they skipped the actual 1982 Kenner Sensorscope cardback art, though, even if it isn't as appealing.   Hasbro made a sensible series of choices here.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,703: June 30, 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,702: Leia (Hoth, The Retro Collection)

LEIA (Hoth) The Original, Reproduced
The Retro Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E9646  No. E9649
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Black pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.86
Availability: April 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Leia Organa was a Force-sensitive human female political and military leader who served in the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Imperial Era and the Resistance in the subsequent New Republic Era. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab. 

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: There are vintage, Retro, and 40th anniversary versions of Leia (Hoth) potentially floating around right now.  Hasbro has been surprisingly good at making sure the same character in the same outfit has been available in multiple expressions all at once since 2015, and in this case all of them are reissues - some with moderate changes.

The original 1980 figure has variants aplenty, with three different names appearing in the pillbox - "Leia" or "Leia Organa" or "Princess Leia Organa" in the old days.   Her rank badge could be smooth black or sculpted.  Her hair could be a lighter almost red color or darker brown.   There were two different head sculpts, too.   And weirdly, these were generally things fans didn't fawn over in the 1970s-1990s - you'd hear about red cloak Bib Fortuna, or maybe blue lightsaber Jedi Luke, or of course Vinyl Cape Jawas and the rocket-firing Boba Fett every third kid claimed to have as a child.  But the Leia variants?  These were rarely catalogued or discussed in the old days.

This figure seems to be similar to the one I have - but there were quite a few changes, too.   The 2020 one has a smooth rank badge, a black (and not blue) pistol, a less yellowy and more brown vest, and darker brown boots.   Much like Boba Fett and Bespin Luke, there are enough things different here that I think old-school Kenner completists would want these just to have every last little change they could get.   The changes don't in any way make her seem more true to the movie or realistic, but she is a bit less vibrant. 

Sculpted details like her quilted vest and pants aren't quite as sharp as the 1980 release, but they're still remarkably good.  Most notably, the wrinkles on her pants beneath her vest in between her legs have been completely smoothed out for 2020.  The wrinkles on the back of the legs are looser, and her pants are seemingly not quite as tight either.  I don't know if this was a result of how the replica was scanned or sculpted, or an intentional choice on the designer's part.  As I am not the biggest fan of remakes as a thing, seeing any kind of visual sculpted change to make it easy to spot a change from an original to a reissue is always welcome.

The figure has a slightly different feel, but it's excellent.  She's a bit more flexible and rubbery for 2020, but this means she can also grip her pistol much more easily.   The 2019 reissue Leia (the 1978 figure) couldn't hold her blaster to save her life, and this one seems to be a shining gem of how to grip an accessory well.  The blaster itself is a bit larger than the vintage counterpart, with essentially all the same details.  Which is to say, almost no sculpted details worth noting.

I much prefer the 1980 figure's head sculpt but this one is good too.    She feels like a real toy, if not a real 1980's toy, and that's perfectly fine with me.  The cardback photo is fine, the figure is good, and the accessory is different.  This ticks all the boxes of how to make me happy with a reissue of a collectible toy.   Applause all around.  And if Hasbro wants to remake this Kenner one again, there are plenty of fun variations to rerelease later!

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart through my pal Scott "ToyGuru" Neitlich!  Did you see his new Spector Creative YouTube channel yet? Click here.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,702: June 25, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,701: BB Unit (Color-Changing Droids, Droid Factory Line Look)

BB Unit Color-Changing Droids
Star Wars Disney Droid Depot
Item No.:
No. ???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 4 droids - RA-7 Protocol Droid, BB Unit, R2 Astromech, C1 Astromech
Action Feature: Pops apart, has weighted core, changes from black to red
Retail: $39.99
Availability: ca. July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: All different types of droids populate the galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.  These droids have the special ability to change color!  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary:  It's different!  This BB Unit is basically BB-9E with a twist.  When chilled, it looks a lot like the BB-9E figure Disney sold in a 4-pack in 2017 - you got that one, right?  You didn't forget it existed and you bought it already, right?  Anyway, it has the same swivel neck, splittable ball, and an interior weighted ball cast in black with blue "lights" painted on it.

As a cold figure in black, it looks fine.  However, it's summer, so all you have to do is look at this BB unit and it changes to its warm colors - and they're great!  The figure changed to a nice red, and you can even see it peek out from behind the silver vents.  This is one of the better color-changes on these figures, with no weird fuzzy paint or colors that you just don't buy.  It's a clean transition with solid colors, so kudos to team Disney for engineering this mold well, and then for following up to paint it right too.

Disney really knocked this one out of the park, with its wobbly weighted based and perfect color change.  Get it if you can find it - it's fun.  The only thing that surprises me more than how much I like it is that we didn't see this kind of paint used on Onell Design figures first.   Also you'll need to get this one online.

 





Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon. Thanks Shannon!  There are 2 droid 4-packs and 1 droid playset with a Gonk Droid at this time.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,701: June 23, 2020

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,700: Lando Calrissian (The Retro Collection)

LANDO CALRISSIAN The Original, Reproduced
The Retro Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E9646  No. E9656
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Black pistol, grey cape
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.86
Availability: April 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Landonis Balthazar Calrissian, simply known as "Lando," was a human male smuggler, gambler, and card player who became Baron Administrator of Cloud City and, later, a general in the Rebel Alliance. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab. 

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: After the original Kenner line ended, one of my first goals - when I was like six - was to go to flea markets and garage sales, hoping to find Lando Calrissian.  He was one of my favorite characters as a kid, and lucky me, I did indeed find a carded one for about fifty cents, which stayed carded for about fifty seconds.  (Star Wars was completely worthless in the mid 1980s, you see.)   That's not the one in the picture - this is one I got out of another collection in the 1990s, mine was the "bright smile" variant.   Hasbro elected to go with the first release, which lacks the white paint on the face.  When you're doing heads the size of a peanut, you sometimes have to exaggerate features for contrast - here, Lando's dark skin and black painted eyes and facial hair can be hard to see. Especially if you have bad eyes.

The 1980s original has sharper features, which are very apparent on the torso.  You can see the original wrinkles on the shirt and belt buckle pop, with the new 2020 figure looking like a copy of a copy.  Nowhere is the generation loss more apparent than on the face - Lando's smiling face and enlarged cheeks are completely smoothed out, while the 2020 head is also a different shape.   The head sort of skews into the neck this time, with Lando's sculpted teeth being smoothed out completely.  The hair is also a bit lumpier, but it could be my imagination.

Smoothed out features on the 2020 figure aren't the only big change, you'll also notice the 2020 cape is a much lighter grey and the blaster is not only bigger, but blacker.   It's unlikely anyone would mistake the 2020 figure for the 1980 original, loose samples of which are a paltry $20 these days.  While the new 2020 one is fine - if you're just going to mount him on a wall and leave him on the card, the excellent execution of his 5 points of articulation or the slightly-off features of the figure won't matter as much as the cardback - I would nudge you to go to eBay and buy the genuine article.  Or contact the people at Toy Anxiety in Phoenix, very nice folks, they could use the business.

I very much appreciate the different accessories on Lando. Reproductions are a sketchy thing, but if I can look at them and see that they're both good and different I'm all smiles.

While Hasbro's 2020 reissues of Bespin Luke and Hoth Han are softer and different, they're still pretty good.  Lando didn't turn out as nicely, but it's probably good enough given you may be able to find it while hunting COVID supplies in your masks and it's only $10.   I appreciate Hasbro and Lucasfilm getting religion about these kinds of figures, but the bulk of them just aren't the originals.  They're good, but the new releases are literally beyond comparison.  After all, Snowspeeder Luke and Grand Moff Tarkin have no real peers from 40 years ago.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart through my pal Scott "ToyGuru" Neitlich!  Did you see his new Spector Creative YouTube channel yet? Click here.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,700: June 18, 2020