Thursday, August 22, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,614: Boba Fett (The Black Series / The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Collection)

BOBA FETT Comic-Con 2019 Exclusive
The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
No. E7459
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, Boba blaster, Stormtrooper blaster
Action Feature: Hilt connects to belt holster or blade
Retail: $24.99
Availability: July 2019 (convention), September 10 (Hasbro Pulse)
Appearances: Arguably Kenner's 1979 action figure

Bio: In 1979, Kenner created a Boba Fett figure based on photos taken of early costume tests, before the character appeared on screen in The Empire Strikes  Back.  The entire line was refreshed in 1980, and Boba Fett's coloring and package art were updated to match the rest of the movie's line.  The character became a fan favorite.  Now, Hasbro brings back Kenner-inspired coloring and art with Black Series detailing for a premium figure that embraces the legacy of the Star Wars saga. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  I am both excited and annoyed by this Boba Fett because I pitched it as an exclusive a few years ago.  Well, here it is! And it's great!  The 2013 figure is back with detailing specifically done to match the action figure with a little more paint to make it look slightly better.  It's that 2013 figure - itself a San Diego Comic-Con debut - with a little less paint.  You get the silver and red gauntlets, the blue gloves, the red rocket, the yellow knee pads, and the blue body glove.  Long gone are the special paint apps on the gloves, with a few odds and ends you saw on the 12-inch Kenner figure.  It's  not a perfect recreation of anything in particular, but it draws inspiration from the old and the new to give you something that's probably worth your while if you're old.

As accessories go, you get the blaster pistol and rifle from the original 2013 figure, plus a bonus Stormtrooper gun as a nod to the 1979 action figure. This is mostly good - Hasbro painted it with a silver flourish, but it would've been more exciting for the gun to be an all-blue blaster.  (Or an all-black blaster, either way is fine.)   It's also worth noting Hasbro left off the cape for this release - you can see the empty socket on the shoulder where it would have gone.

While the entire figure's look is inarguably Kenner-ish, the weathering is inconsistent.  The gauntlets and shoulder pads may show sculpted dents, but have no signs of painted weathering.  The helmet and knee pads have some signs of silver wear, as does the green armor.  It's a wonderfully colorful figure and thanks to the lack of media of the 1970s, looks more authentic than the real costumes.  Boba Fett was largely experienced through books, comics, and toys, so off-color interpretations were the "real" Boba Fett in the days before VHS.

As a weird side figure, it's a good one.  We've also had the all-white concept armor in addition to a figure modeled after The Empire Strikes Back suit, leaving - for those of you keeping track of the kinds of things I ask for - the Nelvana Holiday Special/Droids look, the Return of the Jedi look, and the 12-inch Kenner/prototype armor look (brown gloves, more green, basically this figure's package photo.)  There's a lot of potential to make more repaints of Boba Fett, but I'm glad they stopped by this one first - maybe we'll get an even more amazing Boba Fett 2.0 mold some day with clip-on flames, jet pack fire, or other awesome extras.   Hasbro has been pretty good about pushing the nostalgia buttons in 2019, and this one leans pretty hard on what has come before - I think you'll enjoy it if you can get one for yourself.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,614: August 22, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,613: Darth Vader (Prototype Edition, The Retro Collection)

DARTH VADER Prototype Edition
The Retro Collection Target Exclusive
Item No.:
   No. E6271
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, cape
Action Feature: Lightsaber slides in and out of arm
Retail: $12.99
Availability: July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: Once a heroic Jedi Knight, Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, became a Sith Lord, and led the Empire's eradication of the Jedi Order.

Inspired by 1970s action figures, the Star Wars Retro Collection features original Kenner figure design and detailing!  Imagine the excitement of the 70s when the Star Wars original trilogy had just begun , and Kenner began releasing classic Star Wars figures for avid fans of the space saga.  Continue your collection from the galaxy far, far away! (Each sold separately. Subject to availability.)

Experience the excitement of engineers and designers seeing the first product samples of their designs with this Darth Vader figure!  Inspired by prototypes that are often produced with whatever extra resin is in the machine at the time, colorful prototypes enable the development team to look past the deco and focus on the sculpt, analyze mold alignment, and make adjustments for quality. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability:  Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: The Darth Vader (Prototype Edition) was, at one point, theoretically an infinite quantity of variations.  So far about 18 flavors have surfaced, but the directive could have allowed for thousands of different versions.  I've got this one.

The figure is slightly modified from the 1978 original design in a few interesting ways.  The cape is posed and folded just-so, around the shoulders, tucked in under the sides, with the "hood" folded back.  Mine as a child was mostly an unfolded taco shell.   The lightsaber can still slide up and down in the arm, and there are minor tooling tweaks like new copyright dates molded in the back of the legs.

This Darth Vader feels like the original, but doesn't smell like it. The arms, legs, and neck all swivel just like those original figures but this is more of a collector piece or weird art item than anything else.  The colors pop nicely against the prismatic cardback, itself a glorious mash-up of vintage Marvel-era comic book art - complete with dots! - and old Kenner style.  Most unusual about it, it's all in English.  You get a real, full bio and there's no other languages on it.  It's legit - and it does remind me how much I miss things like upsells, bios, and one package for the US market.  It's weird, it's pretty, and it's entirely possible each one is potentially one of a kind.

The "fake prototype" gambit is nothing new - heck, even I pushed to make a fake prototype of The Monarch for The Venture Bros. action figure line - but this level of randomness is certainly not one I can say I've seen before.   With no deco and lots of color, Hasbro did something really neat - the question is, will they have the foresight to do it again and if so, will it be easier to get next time?  I hope so.  Everybody should snag a couple of these if they can swing it.

Hasbro, if you're reading - I'd love to see an all-gold version as a nod to the prototype Darth Vader carry case and the cover of Steve Sansweet's From Concept to Screen to Collectible book.   Maybe 2027?

Collector's Notes: I got mine Entertainment Earth's booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,613: August 20, 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,612: Artoo-Deetoo (R2-D2, The Vintage Collection)

ARTOO-DEETOO (Vintage)
The Vintage Collection R2-D2 Figures
Item No.:
Asst. E0370  No. E5189
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #149
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Removable dome, legs, middle third leg
Retail: $12.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: The Last Jedi

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. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)(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: There are times Hasbro gives us something great, and there are times where we get something that's somewhat insulting.  This R2-D2 is not one of Hasbro's finest hours.  What's particularly interesting is that this is the same mold (but not deco) as the R2-D2 in the Force Link 2.0 2-pack with C-3PO... and it costs more. And comes with less.  And hasn't corrected the major decoration problems.  What's funny is I opened this figure and was immediately disappointed, then I went to look at Amazon for the link above... and their reviews were disappointed, but mostly due to how it shipped and not the figure itself.

The body is effectively the "build-a-droid" body we've been getting over the last decade.  R2-D2's dome once more has the "bald spot" on top of his dome - it should be blue, this one is silver.  The figure is on the vintage cardback - the selling point, and Hasbro knows it, given that they've not released this retro-style package over the whopping fifteen years run of The Vintage Collection.   R2-D2 also is missing some blue detail at the bottom of his left-hand side of his can, a few dome details are left undecorated, and the central eye is matte instead of glossy.  It should be - and usually is - glossy.
Over the years Hasbro has often released a figure on both vintage and non-vintage packaging at the same time, giving the vintage one a premium price with fewer accessories.  (Qui-Gon Jinn in 2012 is an egregious example, as were a few Saga Legends repacks with stands and a big box of bonus guns at a discounted price in 2010-2012.)  Hasbro knows fans will pay extra for vintage packaging, regardless of the fact of the figure warranting the higher price or even being a good match for the photo.  By dropping the dirt deco and adding that one blue cap on the dome, I'd say this would be adequate.  As it stands I don't exactly feel like I got my money's worth here.  Packaging fans, I think you'll like this - it's fine if you don't open it.  If you've got over 40 different R2-D2s by now, you're probably not exactly thrilled that this new one is more expensive, does less, and hasn't made any real improvements.  I don't recommend this unless you're a packaging fiend or a completist.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,612: August 15, 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,611: Luke Skywalker (Crait, The Vintage Collection)

LUKE SKYWALKER (Crait)
The Vintage Collection Action Figures
Item No.:
Asst. E0370  No. E4057
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #146
Includes: Lightsaber hilt, full lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Luke Skywalker, a Force-sensitive human male, was a legendary Jedi Master who fought in the Galactic Civil War during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Along with his companions, Princess Leia Organa and Captain Han Solo, Skywalker served on the side of the Alliance to Restore the Republic—an organization committed to the downfall of Emperor Palpatine and the restoration of democracy. Following the war, Skywalker became a living legend, and was remembered as one of the greatest Jedi in galactic history.   (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 heck of a neat figure. Luke Skywalker (Crait) is utterly bizarre when you think about it.  Luke Skywalker projects himself across the galaxy with better hair, a darker beard, and probably a few less pounds too.   Kylo Ren and the Rebels saw him like this once - so maybe what they're seeing is in their own memories - but I think it's funnier if Luke decided to make himself just a little bit better-looking before he spiritually spanks his former student.  It's also kind of funny to think this is the Luke fans wanted to see - an active adventurer, lightsaber swinging, kicking butt and not particularly being bothered to take the names.  He's busy.

This Luke figure seems to be from a different era - it has some of the older problems we thought went away.  The robe is plastic, and the lower part of his tunic doesn't have a slit or any give in it.  Luke's legs aren't going to be doing much swinging forward. The ankles are normal, non-tilt ankles and the wrists are swivel, not bending wrists.  The neck joint is fine, and the ankles are set in a way where gravity might get the best of Luke like Kylo Ren never could.

The hands aren't great at gripping the lightsaber - it doesn't take much to knock it loose.  I'm glad the lightsaber hilt has the ring on the back, and it can hang on the belt albeit a bit awkwardly.  It doesn't quite sit flush.  Still, they're both painted nicely and that's not something we get very often.  As an added bonus, the blue blade is black light reactive if such things excite you.

The sculpt on the outfit is good, with the shirt texture astonishing and the robe seems acceptable.  I like the gloves, boots, and pants - and the head is acceptable.  The reason for this is the realistic face printing makes the good sculpt look great, but the face printing has not been added to the hair.  Each Luke looks a little bit different, so keep an eye out when you buy yours.

I'd recommend this figure, in part because I don't assume the future holds a lot of 3 3/4-inch Mark Hamill-based Luke figures.  Maybe we'll get a ghost or something, but that's hard to know for sure.  Until then, this strange astral projection look is a heck of a cool way to celebrate our hero's last stand on Crait.   Hopefully we'll see him again soon.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,611: August 13, 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,610: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Padawan, The Black Series 6-Inch)

OBI-WAN KENOBI Padawan
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E4075
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #85
Includes: Lightsaber hilt, blade
Action Feature: Hilt connects to belt holster or blade
Retail: $19.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Like all Jedi of his era, Obi-Wan Kenobi was raised in the Jedi Temple from a very young age.  He first underwent training with Yoda, before being assigned to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in his teens. (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:  "But is it really Star Wars?" has been something echoing around my head as of late - and the answer is, of course, yes.  Having grown up mostly in a world when there were 5 Star Wars movies and everybody hated Ewoks, I did not have the reaction of horror when we saw the movie in which Ewan McGregor portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi for the first time.  I'd already been in a world where Wilford Brimley yelled at a small blonde girl and a magic Ewok knocked out a spider with magic.   A little boy in a race car and the bizarre salamander didn't immediately send me into convulsions, although I will say it was really hard to live through a Q&A column where most of the submissions were less of love and fandom and more about return on investment for some of the most-collected toys in history.  But I digress.   Hasbro's sense memory of the blowback to The Phantom Menace have kept Episode I figures in short supply over most of the past 18 years, primarily keeping it down to droids, a couple Jedi, and Darth Maul.  I get it.  The good news is that the kids of that era are old now, and as such they're into 6-inch figures aimed at the nostalgic impulse.

Darth Maul came out in this size in 2013, nearly perfect.   Qui-Gon came out not too long ago and he was great - and Hasbro seems to find new, small improvements in deco every few years.  Obi-Wan Kenobi takes full advantage of the 2018 advancement of "hyper real face paint," which digitally squirts the 2D portrait over a 3D face.  The results are usually very good, changing what could have been a rich man's 3 3/4-inch figure into a poor man's Hot Toys 1:6 figure.  Obviously these are not the same as a $200 figure, but it's definitely a massive generational improvement over what many of us had as kids.   Obi-Ewan has glossy lips, bight eyes, wonderful eyebrows, and a playful hint of a smirk on his face.  The padawan braid rat tail hangs off his head nicely, thin but not fragile, able to bend slightly for pose purposes.  Other than a little excess dark paint in the grooves of his hair, the head is perfect and the costume is very good.

Obi-Wan sadly lacks the alternate left hand of the prototype or any Jedi robes, and there's also no communicator to be had here.  The costume itself doesn't seem to leave anything on the table, with rich fabric sculpting in the plastic that's gorgeous.  The "skirt" is slit in three places, allowing the semi-pliable plastic a little more give when it comes to posing him in your desk-based Jedi battles.  It also shows just how much room for improvement there is over the first Obi-Wan figure from The Black Series, sadly having a portrait that could use some improvements.  I would also have liked Hasbro to have painted the soles of Obi-Wan's boots a different color, but I can't imagine most fans will either notice or care.  It's just that I'd like a little more in the box, particularly given how little paint is on his body and how little gear comes with this figure.

Obi-Wan does what he does well.  I don't feel there's much room to do better here, and Hasbro deserves all the pats on the back for spending 20 years to get all the little details more or less just right.  Get this one unless you're allergic to prequels.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,610: August 8, 2019

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,609: Ezra Bridger (The Black Series 6-Inch)

EZRA BRIDGER Realistic
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E4507
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #86
Includes: Lightsaber hilt, blade, and a helmet
Action Feature: Hilt connects to belt holster or blade
Retail: $19.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: Star Wars: Rebels

Bio: Growing up, Ezra learned to trust no one and to rely on his street smarts - and subconscious Force abilities - to survive.  The all changes with his introduction to the crew of the Ghost, a small band of rebels fighting back against the Empire.  Ezra comes to believe in their cause, and sees that he can help change the galaxy for the better. (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:  Really good!  I was surprised by how much I liked Ezra Bridger as a "realistic" figure.  The face looks a little cartoony, but that's due to the character's design.  He strikes me as a mix of Punky Brewster, Elizabeth Taylor, and 1992 Aladdin.  What's great about figures like this one is that Hasbro has some wiggle room to get creative.  At least I assume it's Hasbro, I don't know who specifically sculpted this one.  By departing from Disney's pre-approved 3D model for pretty much all of the merchandise, we get something that's different, more or less on-model, yet stylized in a new way that allows we the fans to wave away any concerns about it being a bit off.   As long as the general strokes of the costume are correct, everything else is going to be fine.

Ezra is appropriately a smidgen shorter, with very dark black with a hint of purple hair.   The costume is orange with a brown vest and yellow trim, complete with a very McQuarrie-ish bit of armor to match his trooper helmet.  The belts are more pronounced than the CG TV model, and his right leg has a hook for his staple-gun lightsaber.  While the gloves lack the white triangle from the TV show, it's not like I even noticed until I compared them.  Toning down some of those details helps the figure fit in with the movie-ish other releases a bit, too.

Articulation is on par for this line, as there's really not a lot of room nor call for improvement at this point.  You get bend-and-swivel wrists, double knee joints, and the usual.  The only thing missing from this figure would've been that weird little slingshot he's too old to be using, or possibly his backpack or another spare helmet.   You're getting your money's worth with this one if you're a fan of the show, and Hasbro has largely done an excellent job with its "realistic" takes on those animated figures.

Would be nice to have a Vlix to go with them, I'd say.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,609: August 6, 2019

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,608: Chewbacca (Batuu, The Black Series 6-Inch)

CHEWBACCA (Batuu, Smuggler's Run)
Galaxy's Edge The Black Series 6-Inch Figure Disney Park Exclusive
Item No.:
No. E5159
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Bowcaster, Rey with Blaster and Staff and Lightsaber, Hondo Ohnaka with Blaster, 2 Porgs
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $69.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: Galaxy's Edge

Bio: A legendary Wookiee warrior and Han Solo's co-pilot aboard the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca was part of a core group of rebels who restored freedom to the galaxy. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability:  Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary:  Celebrating 24 years of me writing about Star Wars toys on the internet as of today!  I've wasted my life! Let's get started.

Chewbacca has less new to offer than Rey in this Galaxy's Edge set.   This is a redeco of The Black Series Chewbacca from 2015, and odds are you won't even recognize it as different.  The body was originally used for the previous Chewbacca figure, and it's not like Chewies are all that different.  If you have the 2015 red box figure, you've basically got this one.  The head on that figure was unique - so if you don't have that figure, this version is slightly better.

Our Wookiee pal has a black two-piece bowcaster which is basically the same as the previous 2015 figure.  The bandolier is basically the same as that previous release - the dark brown is a smidgen different, but it could just be batch variation.   So whichever version you have, it's not significantly different.

The figure itself is still very tall and nicely detailed, with a wonderful shaggy head and hair hanging off the body.  Chewbacca has about 24 joints, depending on how you feel like counting.  The added torso segments aren't super useful joints, and I didn't count the ankle joints since the hair prevents their movement.  The large Wookiee has no problems standing, but that hair isn't going to let him sit in any hypothetical future playsets or vehicles without modification.

The fur deco is where the figure is barely different.  The 2015 release has dark brown paint around the eyes, while this one has darker brown paint and barely lighter brown plastic. The paint is largely where it was before, but the head is where you'll notice distinctive changes - just check out the photo.  Other than that, this is basically a repack of no real consequence.  If you want a Chewbacca, it's good.  If you're a variant nut, it's "different."  But at least Rey gave you an amazing new paint job on the face - this just changes where the dark splotches go.  Skip it unless you're a completist and bought the set for the other figures, or if you're someone that just needs a Chewbacca.  It's fine, just redundant if you're complete already.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon who went to Disneyland's Galaxy's Edge last month.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,608: August 1, 2019