Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,629: Vedain (Skiff Pilot, The Vintage Collection)

VEDAIN (Skiff Pilot)
The Vintage Collection Return of the Jedi Special 3 Action Figures
Item No.:
  No. E6136
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #152
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Blaster, hat, Brock Starsher and Vizam figures
Retail: $39.99
Availability: July 2019
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Vedain was a Kajain'sa'Nikto slave owned by the Hutt crime lord Jabba the Hutt during the Galactic Civil War.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: I'm surprised we got this one - and so many flavors of Nikto!  In the 1980s we just had one of these guys, but now we've got at least four distinct versions of the species, almost all of which wear the same rubber mask - or close to the same.  Vedain has a claim to fame fighting Lando Calrissian for control of one of the skiffs during the battle in the desert, which means he's going to get fed to the giant tooth hole.

We've had precious few new Return of the Jedi aliens in recent years.   What makes this figure amazing is that it's not entirely new - the head seems to be adapted from a previous release.  The arms are from Nikto (Skiff Guard), the legs are from a Weequay, but the torso is seemingly new.  Hasbro managed to give us a repaint with a minimum of new pieces to scratch the itch of "new figure," which would be impressive if it weren't forced with two other existing figures in a set.  A lot of fans will want all three, but as a group it's not terribly exciting and stands as proof we'll shell out for one good new figure, even if it isn't all that new.
 Complete with 2011 copyright stamps, this is a nice figure - but not as nice as 2019 releases like Klaatu and Yak Face.  You don't get the swivel thigh joints or lateral leg joints, it's standard 2010-ish fare with 22 points of articulation mostly cleverly hidden in clothing creases.  It's remarkable from a product development standpoint, as we got what we wanted - a new Skiff Guard - and Hasbro got what it wanted - a repaint.  It's a good compromise.  It's halfway happy.
The figure has no problems holding the blaster or wearing what appears to be a new hat.  My sample stands just fine.  I'd love to say something catty about the figure itself, but can't - the hands are painted well, the outfit is a good use of existing parts, and it's a new Jabba thug.  These are all things I like.  I hope we can see more between now and when the line becomes completely unprofitable.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,629: October 15, 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,628: R2-D2 (Galaxy of Adventures 5-Inch)

R2-D2 with BB-8 and D-0
Galaxy of Adventures   5-Inch Droid 3-Pack
Item No.:
No. E3118
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 figures
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: The Rise of Skywalker

Bio: R2-D2, pronounced Artoo-Detoo and often referred to as R2 (Artoo), was an R2 series astromech droid manufactured by Industrial Automaton with masculine programming. A smart, spunky droid serving a multitude of masters over its lifetime, R2 never had a full memory wipe (apart from a partial mind-wipe by Cad Bane during the buildup to the senate hostage crisis) nor has he received new programming, with these factors resulting in an adventurous and independent attitude. Oftentimes finding himself in pivotal moments in galactic history, his bravery and ingenuity saved the galaxy time and time again. (Stolen from Wookieepedia. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Once again, I am infuriated by how good this is - and by a common, repeated error.   This R2-D2 figure would be a killer introduction to Star Wars toys for kids and even for collectors.   It's a simplified, cuter animated design with Hasbro's most commonly repeated problem - the circle on the top of his head is silver here, rather than blue like in the films.  Once or twice is a mistake, but Hasbro is doing it consistently enough that I am unsure how or why it keeps happening.

Once you get beyond that, the figure is pretty awesome.  While probably a bit overpriced in a 3-pack, you're probably going to want it.  It's solid.  The dome spins, the arms rotate, and you can pull the central leg out manually without a clicking mechanism - I think this makes it about as good (albeit different) from the Black Series release.   Detailing on the body is a bit simplified, as you'll notice details missing on the arms - but everything else is pretty darned close.  Most shocking of all are the droid feet.  For the first time ever, R2-D2 has ball-jointed ankles with some very nice black wheels on the bottom. He's even got the gold cables.  I would argue that means that this R2-D2 has the best articulation to date, as you could pose him better on sandy mountains, snowy wastes, or outside a swamp house so he can be a peeping Tom.

He's packed with two more droids and we'll look at those individually because we can.   R2-D2 is a redeco away from perfection - I hope Hasbro does another take with "battle damage" or a chrome/metallic silver-painted top with the blue panel filled in.  The silver plastic shows a lot of swirls, which may not be good for longevity - time will tell.  A painted dome might look incredible, as would one in Droids animation colors - hey, I can dream!    If you just want a good, chunky, and surprisingly solid R2-D2 toy I'd recommend this one.   I don't assume Galaxy of Adventures will last forever, so just go ahead and pick them up as you find them because they're good so far.  (The other droids are simple, but you wouldn't chuck them in the garbage.)

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,628: October 10, 2019

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,627: First Order Driver (Galaxy of Adventures 5-Inch)

FIRST ORDER DRIVER with Treadspeeder
Galaxy of Adventures   5-Inch Vehicle Pack-in
Item No.:
No. E3030
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, projectile, Treadspeeder with pop-off panels
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: The Rise of Skywalker

Bio: No bio on the box - that must be why it looks so good. Let's say The First Order Drivers are pretty good at their job.  They start learning their craft at an early age, as a baby driver.  Unfortunately that has been used as a name for a movie already, so we will not see a Star Wars Baby Driver movie.

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Behold, the lost promise of the 1990s.  When I first saw this upsized Galaxy of Adventures line-up, I saw things that seemingly didn't make it out - but the First Order Driver and this new 5-inch scale is pretty fantastic.  The only thing it has going against it is that you've already got dozens, hundreds, or maybe thousands of figures in other formats.  If Hasbro sticks to its guns and makes this a new "kid format," I think it has a lot of potential - but we've also seen limited tenacity with most new toy expressions.

Since and including 2005, Hasbro has had tons of formats in circulation.  Unleashed (7-inch), Unleashed (2-inch), 3 3/4-inch (basic, vintage, Titanium, and so forth), 12-inch Titan Hero Series, Galactic Heroes, Jedi Force, the new line called Galactic Heroes that used to be called Jedi Force, MicroMachines, 6-inch Black Series, 6-inch basic/value, and more - plus more from other manufacturers.  Any new format probably results in collectors clenching their backsides, squinting, untrusting of a new format.  And rightly so - even The Black Series was greeted with derision before achieving significant popularity around wave 3, at which point the old guard hated it.  You can't succeed for winning, I guess.

At press time I managed to get my mitts on this 5-inch not-a-Stormtrooper early... and I hate myself for liking it.  Back in the 1990s, action figure fans generally loved Kenner's 4 1/2-inch-ish  Batman and other lines as well as Playmates' then-transcendent 4 1/2-inch Star Trek lines.  For $5-$6 you got a good figure with a gaggle of accessories, possibly a display stand, and maybe a trading card on nice packaging.   Kenner went with a smaller format, which seemed disappointing given other companies gave you more plastic for less money.   Hasbro has been giving you less plastic for more money ever since, with 3 3/4-inch figures seemingly selling at a premium mark-up.  These new guys are about $10 with 10 or more points of articulation - this trooper has 23 points of articulation, and a vehicle.  I can't help but feeling I was hornswaggled in the other formats.  Hasbro gives you a figure with decent deco and frankly superb articulation at a price I can't complain about.

The mostly white figure has a few markings, and is basically a sort of Scout and Trooper hybrid. There's a double-neck joint barbell piece, so there's superb range of movement there.  You have wrist joints, rocker ankles, a waist joint, elbows, knees, lateral hip movement... it's dang near perfect and better than most 3 3/4-inch figures we've had over the last 41 years.  You might not like the stylized proportions, but I don't notice them on this trooper.  The only things I didn't love on the figure itself were the quick-draw mechanism (it works, but there's no way to lock it or turn it off) and the fact the blaster can't plug into the figure's hip. An extra groove in a thigh and an extra tab on the gun don't cost more money - Hasbro could've done this easily and at no added cost.

The bike itself is perfectly fine, large and goofy with big treads and no on-board weapon storage.  (Yes, this is an issue for me.)  It's simple and looks like something Kenner would've come up with if its Mini-Rigs line continued another 2-3 years in The Power of the Force lines - either one, really.   The packaging is attractive with lots of dots, bright colors, and minimal plastic - it's impressive.  I wanted to hate this toy, and even not write about it.  But once I got it in my hands and played with it, I can only say that it's really good and I wish we lived in some miracle era where this could be a new standard for kids and collectors, rather than splitting the line, or that it were the line we got in the 1990s instead of POTF2.  It's good, it's priced fairly, and my only real complaint about the line as a whole is that it lacks cohesion so far.  I hope Hasbro sticks with it long enough to give us 100 or so of the best characters.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,627: October 8, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,626: Sith Trooper (SDCC Debut, The Black Series 6-Inch)

SITH TROOPER Convention Debut
The Black Series 6-Inch Figure - San Diego Comic-Con International
Item No.:
No. E4073
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blasters and added gear
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $32.00
Availability: July 2019
Appearances: The Rise of Skywalker

Bio:  Sith troopers were a stormtrooper variant that served the First Order during its war against the Resistance. Named after the Sith, an ancient order of Force-users devoted to the dark side of the Force, these troopers were the next evolution of Imperial/First Order stormtroopers. They wore red-colored stormtrooper armor and wielded a type of black and red blaster rifle.[ (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability:  Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary:  Combining elements of various Stormtroopers and the Elite Praetorian Guard, this Sith Trooper came out as an SDCC-exclusive preview figure, as many have before it.   With no context, it's also only vaguely interesting, just like the others that come before it.  I and many others come to (and stay with) this hobby because we love Star Wars - and this isn't quite Star Wars yet.  It will be, but right now it's just another figure in a box that I don't have much emotional attachment with beyond "hey, new toy."   "New toy" wears pretty thin after a while, so it's good that hasbro made a worthwhile figure - even if it is somewhat packed with riddles.

It's not far off from the ridiculous goodie bag that was Amazon's First Order Stormtrooper a few years ago, as this one has two blaster rifles, a grabber of some sort, a sword, and what I assume is a grenade launcher or flame thrower.  I don't know weapons, and while it looks more or less like the released photographs there's not much we can say about its overall personality beyond "yup, it's a trooper, and it's pretty cool."  There's a camera-like dongle on the right shoulder, the helmet has a ton of grooves - as does the chest, and you can see influences from previous troopers everywhere.  The belt looks a bit like the First Order troopers and so does the "OII" on the back.  Heck the "O" looks a bit like a Death Star now, and for all I know that's significant to the plot as we know a crashed Death Star works into the new movie.  He also has asymmetrical knee armor, not unlike the original trooper.  There also seem to be more greeblies than usual, which reminds me of the Scout Trooper.  There isn't a ton of precedent for red Stormtroopers, but the Crimson Stormtrooepr [FOTD #2,249] comes to mind.
The engineering of this figure is great.  The elbows have a wonderful range of motion, and the hands can grip the weapons.  The knees are double-jointed, and Hasbro put in each point of articulation in an inconspicuous location.  The chest cut works.  The shoulders have added rubbery pads to hide the joints on the black body glove.  Hasbro even improved the hip joints, allowing the figure's limbs to swing forward without looking like the t-crotch vintage Kenner toys.

The accessories are a bit of a mystery - the two blasters are great, with black and silver highlights. They can plug into the trooper's thigh as with previous releases.  The blade doesn't seem to plug in anywhere, and it looks pretty sharp with a silver element to it.  This weapon looks cool, maybe it's significant to the movie like the riot baton was.   The grabber claw is also an oddity - the claws open, but why is it here?  To reach canned items on the top shelf?   To grab something burning with Sith magic?  Is it a discarded concept, a red herring?  That remains to be seen!   The big gun is a bit awkward, but he can get his hands on it and look like he's not a complete goofus carrying it around.  I think.  It really is a bit large.

The bonus accessories make for some added fun, probably, but I am unsure what role they play in the film yet.  I wouldn't say it's worth the $12 bonus cost - or more on the secondary market - but I'm glad to have them as I'm obsessive about such things.  I would recommend getting yourself a 6-inch Sith Trooper, even if it isn't the comic-con version.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Hasbro's San Diego Comic-Con 2019 booth shop.  One lighter on accessories should be in stores near you today if not tomorrow.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,626: October 3, 2019

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,625: Captain Phasma (Quicksilver Baton, The Black Series 6-Inch)

CAPTAIN PHASMA Quicksilver Baton
Galaxy's Edge The Black Series 6-Inch Figure Disney Store (later Entertainment Earth) Exclusive
Item No.:
No. E2808
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, cape, extended baton, contracted baton
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: Novemberish 2018
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio:  Captain Phasma and a squad of elite First Order troopers capture Resistance heroes Finn and Rose, who have infiltrated Snoke's flagship, the Supremacy. Before Phasma can eliminate them, a series of unforeseen events leads to a dramatic battle between Phasma and Finn.  (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 an upgrade!  Captain Phasma (Quicksilver Baton) is an upgrade of the Captain Phasma [FOTD #2,254] from 2015 - if you have it and like it, this one is a lot like it.   The core body of the figure is the same, except there's a new head, a cloth cape replaces the plastic one, and the helmet is new.  Also you get two batons.  If you only have to get one Phasma figure I would argue this is the more interesting of the two, but the first release is much cheaper.  This Quicksilver Baton version may also be on clearance at a Disney Store near you - you'll have to go check.

In terms of deco, Phasma now has awesome armor burns from the end of The Last Jedi, which I assume will forever be known as "the controversial one (without Ewoks)" to older fans.  I like the burns - Hasbro did a wonderful job printing them on the armor, and what really sizzles is the new helmet with the crack revealing the face of Gwendoline Christie.  The carefully fried-out lens has this amazing paint job around the edges, burned and shattered all at once.  You can see a new-style-printing eye under there as part of the human flesh (plastic) head, but the helmet itself is glued down.  You can't see anything outside the eye area without carving or prying it off, and I'm not about to do that.  Even though it's basically "a new hat" figure, it's extremely impressive.  Short of doing some silver vac-metal chrome on the figure, I'd have a hard time imagining something cooler you could have done to the existing mold to make it a worthwhile upgrade.  This is fantastic.
To fight Finn, Phasma whips out a silver thing which magically blows up to a big ol' staff.  Rather than try to make some fragile, telescoping accessory Hasbro opted to wisely just include two one-piece weapons. Each has little indentations in it and are painted silver. There's nothing particularly fancy in terms of deco here, and you could probably fudge these with toothpicks and silver paint from the Michael's down the street.  I appreciate Hasbro included two of them, because I am lazy.  Phasma has no problems holding these.  She also includes the same blaster pistol from the 2015 release, which similarly plugs into her hip or can be held in her fists.   The downer here is there's nowhere to safely stow the small or large baton, so you'll need to keep close tabs on those.

If you've had enough of the First Order and variations on armored people, you obviously have no need of this figure.  However, if you want the very best Phasma at this size and price point, this may well be it - it's a nice counterpoint to the disguised Finn and the cloth cape is a lovely bonus.  As I get older I wouldn't necessarily recommend you buy absolutely everything in all styles, but if you want a good Phasma this is a decent one.  It's just not the cheapest one.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,625: October 1, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,624: Princess Leia Organa (The Retro Collection)

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA With Buns, Hun
The Retro Collection Target / Entertainment Earth Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E6255  No. E6269
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: May 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Leia Organa, a Force-sensitive human female, was a princess of Alderaan, a member of the Imperial Senate, a leader of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, a member of the Galactic Senate, and general of the Resistance.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

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 is a mixed bag from The Retro Collection - but it just might be my sample.  My Princess Leia Organa replicates a figure that became notoriously hard to find by Return of the Jedi and who hasn't been reissued since.  Complete with cape and blaster, the figure looks very close to the original - and yours may or may not have some new flaws, too.

The packaged presentation is perfect with a tray cradling the figure in place with the blaster in her hand - with tape to ensure it doesn't move.  Once you open it, the figure is prone to dropping the gun.  My sample's eyes and eyebrows are off-center, and the usual strange hand paint issues remain.  Her cape seems a smidgen too long and much thinner than the originals, so you shouldn't have issues identifying the originals by touch.  The hair seems painted perfectly and the belt is good, too.

Mint original figures have been steadily - but somewhat slowly - rising in price, so maybe you'd be better off getting the genuine article if you want an unopened figure.  She looks fine from a slight distance, if you just need a figure to hang out in a playset or vehicle she might be perfect - but like with the others, those who grew up with the originals will find certain textures just a tiny bit off.  It's absolutely good enough given the retail asking price, plus it's a clean, un-yellowed figure.  I recommend it on the cheap, but once you start paying secondary market prices I'd advise you to get the real deal.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,624: September 26, 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,623: Han Solo (The Retro Collection)

HAN SOLO Big Head
The Retro Collection Target / Entertainment Earth Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E6255  No. E6601
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: May 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Han Solo hailed from Corellia and became a smuggler in the employ of Jabba the Hutt, even completing the Kessel Run in just twelve parsecs with his prized ship, the Millennium Falcon.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab. 

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: I don't love this one.  It's close though. The Retro Collection gets it close to right, and the figure's look is one of the better, true-to-my-memory releases.  Sadly Han Solo seems to have gun grip problems, although your mileage may vary - mine holds the gun for about 5-20 seconds before it starts moving and falls on the ground.  It's a tight grip - perhaps a softer plastic on the hand would have helped?

Hasbro went with the big head variant, which was particularly tough to find on the original 12-back cards.  Since this doesn't have that nifty price tag square, it's possible Hasbro wasn't going for that look anyway.  Han is one of few Kenner figures with a bent elbow, the right arm allows him to stand or sit while casually aiming his gun from under the table at a cantina.  That's pretty nifty, and along with an open left hand it gives the figure a distinct personality.  His hair is more "Beatles" than "Han Solo," but it's distinctive enough that it got a lot of us through the 1970s and 1980s.  And 1990s.  Han heads have always been just a little bit off.

The figure does retain a lot of the costume's signature elements like the collared long-sleeve shirt, the black vest, the holster, and even the stripes on the pants.  His plastic isn't as glossy as some of the originals, but the colors are basically all there - it's a simple figure with only five total colors across the whole darn thing.     Presumably as a nod to the original, the figure's flesh hands are painted with part of the wrist left black - this was a recurring issue on old Kenner toys.  During The Empire Strikes Back, a number of figures were made with flesh paint spilling over on the sleeves!

Han has no problems standing or sitting, and will be right at home inside any of your 1970s and 1980s (and 1990s) vehicles.   I wish he could hold the gun better - but it might just be my sample.  Perhaps boiling water or clear rubber bands will solve my problem - it remains to be seen how yours will turn out.  It's a good remake of a classic figure, although I kind of which teams Lucasfilm and Hasbro would have made new, vintage-style figures.  Luke could have a "snap-on" lightsaber.  Han could have two straight arms.  If you're going to make all-new molds, changing the figures in some way so nobody gets confused would be a nice benefit given the high price of molds, but such is life.  If you can find Han at a price you can live with, I'd recommend him.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,623: September 24, 2019