Friday, August 26, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,266: Hassk Thug (The Force Awakens)

HASSK THUG or Varmik
The Force Awakens   Jungle and Space Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B3445 No. B5668
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: "Combine" backpack,  blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99  
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: Hassks are primitive aliens that prowl the shadowy alleys of spaceport towns. The Hassks were ill-prepared for the evils of advanced technology or off-world vices, and many travel with their littermates as roaming thugs, itching to make trouble.  (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 Hassk Thug is one of a few of this species in Maz Kanata's castle, although there's at least one named one - Varmik.   He's a triplet and they all look alike - an instant army builder, if you could find any.  Each of their outfits are a little different, and the actual creatures look a  bit different from the final toy.  Their eyes are way creepier, their teeth sharper.  Their bodies have full male-pattern baldness.  This guy looks a bit cleaner, like an ape werewolf.  The color is pretty good with trying to convey what we saw in the movies, but "thinning full body hair" isn't exactly something I think could easily be done.  As such, it ain't perfeft, but it's not like you've got options - and Funko's isn't disgusting either.

The movie design looks like a recently deceased creature whose hair is falling out and who, I assume, has a touch of vampirism or lycanthropy.   The figure itself is quite hairy, with grey and browns mingling in a way that doesn't quite match what we saw on screen.  It looks more like an aging and greying Wookiee, which I suppose 20 years ago would open the door to a new 3-pack of all 3 brothers with exposed skin and thinning hair as an exclusive.  Today, it wouldn't shock me if this were the only Hassk figure we ever see just because the figures-per-year are generally confined to  window of September to March and then naptime until the next movie, which will no doubt focus on the next movie.

His face look more like an ape to me, with rounder, hairless features and lacking fangs.  The deco is good - I love the wrinkles, the eyes, the individually sculpted teeth, and the pink interior to the mouth.  The factory did a bang-up job making the sculpt look good, but the sculpt doesn't look very good - and it wouldn't entirely surprise me if this was a result of the assets granted to Hasbro to develop the figure.  In many respects, the figure feels a lot like the 1979 Cantina aliens - they were kinda close, kinda wrong, and a lot of fun.   And we can do better.  But we love them anyway.

The bonus accessory is a backpack which you can plug guns on to make a backpack with guns.   Why you would want this, I do not know.  I know the reasoning is usually "kids like it," but most of the weird bonus accessories serve more of a purpose.  If a figure has a gun, a second gun isn't going to do much for anybody - but one that shoots?  OK, that's something.  A backpack can be used with other figures, and the green deco looks good.  It's clean.  I just don't need it, and the combined mode leaves me wondering what I should be doing with it as it's not very Star Warsy.  If or when Hasbro reissues this figure, they will no doubt leave this out and you won't miss it.

Because there are precious few aliens in this movie line, I'd consider this a required purchase.  The designs of The Force Awakens which made their way to the toy line are a mixed bag, but at least are different enough from previous toy lines that I can say it's different enough to be neat.  If you want to wait around for something more authentic I do not blame you one bit, but I assume you'll be waiting a long time.   For now, I'd say buy the Hassk Thug if you can find it for $10 or less - it's better than the alternative.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,266: August 26, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,265: Kylo Ren Unmasked (The Force Awakens)

KYLO REN Unmasked
The Force Awakens   Desert and Snow Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B3963 No. B6949
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: "Combine" scythe, hood, lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99  
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: A dark warrior strong with the Force, Kylo Ren commands First Order missions with a temper as fiery as his unconventional Lightsaber.(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: He's back! And so am I! Kylo Ren both granted and robbed us of something great upon the removal of his mask.  We got to see that the bad guy in the movie was Han and Leia's kid, a hardcore original trilogy fanboy, and not quite as strong as his ancestors.   While clearly no one at Hasbro was taken aback by the character's popularity, I don't think Poe, Finn, and Rey went exactly as planend - so fans did jump on a lot of the figures, eventually.  The unmasked 3 3/4-inch Kylo Ren came and went in a rush, and for all I know there are more out there waiting to ship.   Heck, I'm almost sure of it - the secondary market price of this one us oddly high.   He shipped along with Nien Nunb and a Stormtrooper Squad Leader, with weapons that combine and form a... I don't know what.  These things are ugly.

Kylo Ren isn't much of a fashionista, wearing effectively the same thing in every scene plus or minus a helmet and a small hood.   Hasbro could have saved some money by taking one of the two previous sculpts and just swapping out the head, but they didn't - this new Kylo Ren has a different pose, different torso, different head, and pretty much different everything.   I admire their taking no shortcuts, but if ever there was a time where it would be appropriate it was this.  New tooling is short and Hasbro repackaged a few figures with new gear in this line - including from older lines - so why not here?  Are we really going to notice the fact that the robes are moved so you can get a better look at his boots and pant legs?   Is it obvious that he's making a Force-gesture with his left hand?  Does anyone - and I mean anyone - notice that the robes around his crotch were spread apart a tiny bit to account the new pose?  Probably not - but I admire Hasbro's attention to detail when doing something different.

The figure has a head that seems a tiny bit larger than others - no doubt to not make it seem small on the figure's frame - and in real life he's an inch taller than Harrison Ford.  I have no doubt the scale was done in part because Movie Magic, but he is a bit on the large side.  If you don't collect them all this won't be a problem, he's consistent with other Kylo Ren figures, but he stands almost a head above Finn - and the height difference between actors there is about three inches.   Of course, size issues in movie years are pretty normal - it's when they get 'em wrong decades later that I get annoyed.  Those seeking a perfectly sized Kylo Ren may wish to wait for the next movie, because - let's be honest - he's gonna be back.  We love him too much.

His face is partially obscured by a hood, but you can pop that right off to see the Ken Doll take on Adam Driver.  The dude's got a distinctive head, to say the least - this downplays many of its more interesting features with clean, clear skin and hair that doesn't quite live up to the promises of a shampoo commercial like in the actual movie.  But that's totally his face, if a little paler than it could be.  The eyebrows are angry - a good fit for a villain, but when we see his face he's not always furious.  That's what the mask is for.   It's a good representation of Mr. Driver, but I have no doubt a few pennies could throw in a mole (or beauty mark or whatever) or two, perhaps a little more color on the face.  But it's not like his predecessors in this scale usually had such minor features, so what am I complaining about?  It's pretty good.   Also making this figure desirable, this is (to date) the only unmasked Adam Driver head in this scale - meaning if you want a Matt the Radar Tech figure, you're going to need to sacrifice one to the toy gods.  (An official one appears to be a licensing impossibility at the moment.  Plus the joke sorta ran its course, solid as it was.)

His bonus weapon stands alone nicely, but it's also completely ridiculous.  It's basically a cybernetic Grim Reaper scythe that shoots a missile.  Why?  I don't know.  But it does, and you can get it, I guess.  If you connect it to the other two weapons, you can build a big, ugly pile of weapons that shoots.   I assume someone was challenged by a manager to do this, and the end results are challenging indeed.   If you threw this in a parts drawer never to be seen again, you'd likely not miss it.  It's not a bad accessory, it's just something that adds to the cost of the figure and doesn't do the collector - and I would also argue the child - any favors.

You have every reason to buy this figure if you can find one - unless there's a better one coming for Episode 8, you will want to be sure you get this one when the chance comes.  At this point I would bet a small amount of money that Ross or TJ Maxx will get him.   I wouldn't necessarily pay the current secondary market asking rate, but then again I wouldn't want to go without him.   I can't wait until he has a vehicle!   This figure can stand and sit, but his wide stance will no doubt make vehicle compatibility an issue down the road.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,265: August 25, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,264: Tasu Leech (The Force Awakens)

TASU LEECH Kanjiklub Gang Leader
The Force Awakens   Jungle and Space Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B3445 No.  B6585
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: "Combine" rifle, Huttsplitter blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99  
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: Tasu Leech leads the notorious Kanjiklub gang, an intergalactic criminal organization. (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: He's short!  Tasu Leech is really tiny.   The figure is roughly a head shorter than most other figures, and the actor is 5 feet 2 inches.   That's more or less right, but he does seem unusually short especially when compared to Nien Nunb who's known for being short.  His likeness isn't terribly bad, getting his hair right in plastic seems to provide Hasbro a challenge and they did an acceptable job.  He's also got a mustache, which is pretty uncommon in Star Wars outside of Bespin.   The long hair makes it tougher to turn his head, but that's true of any figure with decent locks.
His costume is more or less spot-on, and Hasbro elected to bring back "skirt" pieces rather than cut them up like we saw in the 2013 Mission Series / Saga Legends figures from the prequels.  He can basically sit, but I'd rather see them go back to the old carved-up T-crotch look for the best mobility.  It's worth noting that his boots and chest armor have some splatter damage, but it's not like it stands out particularly well - if anything, the gold glittery effect comes off as distracting in some photographs.   The sculpting can't be beat for the scale, but I'd say the color may be a little light.  (It's generally common for toy companies to lighten colors as the size of the figure decreases.)


Overall, it's a nice figure but not one that's probably going to do much until later.  If Hasbro makes more of the gang, I assume we'll see this figure's popularity skyrocket.   Otherwise, it might just slowly get forgotten unless kids get into it.  The pose is a little weird for modern Hasbro, as the legs seem to be more action-oriented.  Not quite 1995 Power of the Force levels, but the figure does stand out as being a little different from his peers.  It wouldn't surprise me if another team worked on him, or if it was outsourced to other designers.   I would recommend this figure to you because new space gangster figures are far and few between, and I'm really hoping we'll hear more from his organization.  There's room for improvement on his facial hair and whatnot, which I assume we won't see unless we get a 6-inch version of Leech.  (Were I a betting man, I assume we wouldn't see that either.)   It's the best Tasu Leech action figure money can buy!   ...you don't have a lot of options.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,264: March 22, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,263: Nien Nunb (The Force Awakens)

NIEN NUNB The Years Have Been Kind
The Force Awakens   Desert and Snow Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B3963 No. B6951
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: "Combine" claw backpack, regular blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99  
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: A Sullustian pilot who was vital in bringing his people into the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War, Nien Nunb continues to loyally serve Princess Leia Organa as a member of the Resistance. (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: He's back!  Nien Nunb is a favorite to many of us since we got ours as the first year of Return of the Jedi figures from 1983.  This one is about as tall as the Kenner original - which is to say, he's tall - with a new blaster and a  backpack with claws on it that I flat-out do not understand.  

It seems that the Abrams camp borrowed heavily from the 1983 original, giving Nien Nunb the same high-waisted vest with a bluer tint and boots far more similar to that original Kenner toy.  He's also taller than the 2012 figure - I assume Hasbro's current team has lost some of the notes over the years as to things like scale, weapons, certain colors, and certain materials.  What we got is a perfectly charming 5-jointed update of the famous pilot, complete with a small silver gun that's very acceptable.  It's not exciting, but it's similar to other Resistance pilot guns and, of course, you could do worse.

His face is a little freaky - the eyes aren't quite as big and glossy as I would like, and they photograph like two soulless black holes.  This isn't a knock at the sculpt, more of how the materials played out when I photographed the figure.   This still looks like the alien we all know and love, but with a hint of being a version of him that haunts Lando's nightmares, rattling chains and telling him to change his ways.   Mr. Nunb has decent articulation, and I assume a pilot gear outfit could be made if Hasbro were so inclined.  (I'm currently banking heavily that Disney is calling the shots for most of the characters here.)   The extra backpack accessory is a tight fit, and has multiple moving claws.  Why?  I have no idea.   The more of these I get the more angry I am that they were no doubt included as a way of trying to get buyers to rationalize a higher retail price.   A display stand or a secondary movie weapon would be pretty cool, these are just a drag.

Since Nien Nunb was a favorite when I was a kid, I like this figure.   He hasn't gotten much play compared to the others, and to be honest I wish Hasbro kicked him down the road a bit just because his costume isn't really all that different when compared to Leia or Ackbar or C-3PO's red arm.  It takes resources to make a new figure, so seeing Nien Nunb right now just sort of feels shruggable.     There's nothing terrible about him other than the height issue, so much like that first Boss Nass I wish we could have just gotten him a year or two later.   But he's here now, and he's pretty good, I guess, but even if you're building the weapons it's a lackluster group - another Kylo Ren and another Stormtrooper?  If anything, this is probably the most desirable of the trio even though the Adam Driver head sculpt ain't half bad.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,263: March 18, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,262: First Mate Quiggold (The Force Awakens)

FIRST MATE QUIGGOLD and  Sidon Ithano
The Force Awakens 2-Packs
Item No.:
Asst. B3955 No.  B5896
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, cape, Sidon Ithano figure, rocket, launcher
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: The First Mate to the dashing Sidon Thano, Quiggold handles the pirate's business.  Often in need of fresh hands aboard his pirate vessel, Quiggold recruits those looking for work in spaceport cantinas and taverns. (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 space Smee! First Mate Quiggold comes to us a tiny bit taller than he probably needs to be, but it's still a solid figure with six points of articulation.  For some reason, Hasbro gave him a not-functional neck and a very functional waist joint!  How nice.   The creature's design is solid, effectively taking cues from early Jabba the Hutt concepts and the Vogons of the 2005 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie.   He's the first - also possibly only - Gabdorin we've ever seen, and for some reason he's wearing sandals.   I'm pretty sure this has got to be out of vogue by now.  He's got a peg leg - this means he's a legit pirate!  It's pretty clean and shiny too, with some nifty textures that are supposedly derived from a fuel filter.  The front looks almost padded, while the back looks like some sort of metal mesh with swell silver painted on top of a fantastic textured sheet.

His costume texturing is some of the line's best, with loads of cloth detail they didn't bother to smooth out like on some other figures.  The arms are posed to be about the least combat-ready a figure could be, and he's got a rocket launcher that may as well go straight to the trash can.  It's a nice launcher, sure, but it's too big for him to hold and look reasonable.   Hasbro includes these accessories to give the sets a little added value visually speaking, but the reality is they're crummy.  It's a well-engineered gun, sure, but if a figure can't hold it, what am I supposed to do with it?  There was a lot of this in the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra line as well.  Gorgeous guns, ideally sized for an action figure twice as tall.  The blaster has silver highlights and a red rocket.  The designers and engineers did a fine job with it, it's just one of those accessories that serve no real purpose.  I may not be crazy about the armor up figures, but at least those fit cleanly over the action figure.

I'd be a bad toy writer person if I didn't point out that Hasbro did a bang-up job on his face.  Not only is the sculpt good, but wipes and special paint applications bring out the dark brown of his head as well as the light pink snout.  On top of all of that, the figure can actually balance very well despite only having one legit foot. Given Hasbro and Kenner's history of keeping figures upright, this is amazing!   Paired with the captain Sidon Ithano, the set is pretty good for $15 or so.  I daresay it's totally worth your money - the 2-packs are basically a good deal, even if you junk the premium accessories in each one.   Besides, two new aliens from a space bar aren't things you're going to see a lot of, so this one is a worthwhile purchase if you ask me.  Quiggold also looks like he could fit right in with your Jabba's Palace dioramas, but right now it's not like our shelves aren't collectively overflowing.


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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,262: March 17, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,261: Han Solo (The Force Awakens)

HAN SOLO Old Man Han
The Force Awakens   Jungle and Space Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B3445 No. B5666
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: "Combine" blaster, regular blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99  
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: The exploits of Han Solo are legendary - he;s been a famed smuggler, captain of the Millennium Falcon, and a hero of the Rebel Alliance.  As the galaxy teeters twards war, Solo once again finds himself in the center of the action. (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: He's finally here! Oddly not part of the launch line-up, Han Solo finally makes it out to stores after most fair-weather fans have already moved on to not caring about Star Wars until it becomes fashionable again in about six months.   Of course, for the loyal, this is a big-deal must-get figure.  Its quality matters not - it's Han.   And there's nothing cooler in Star Wars than Han Solo, or so we say, the reality is that a lot of his classic figures over the previous decade have sold somewhat slowly.   At this time, this Han costume is available in this 3 3/4-inch format and as a 6-inch The Black Series figure - there's no super-articulated 3 3/4-inch one yet.  (That we know of, or, really, at all.)

Little Han and Big Han  both seem to be sourced from the same digital sculpting - you'll notice many folds, bulges, and creases are in the same place.  The 3 3/4-inch one has seemingly been kicked down to a lower resolution, as the textures don't seem to be there and numerous elements are smoothed out.  At the smaller size, it's less obvious but a few paint applications like code cylinders and the patina of time has been left off his jacket and shoes.   Other than that, the two are very similar with one of the best Harrison Ford likenesses we've ever seen on a Hasbro action figure.   I have no doubt this is making people very antsy for the inevitable Luke Skywalker as Old Dude that we'll be seeing sooner or later.   He's got 5 points of articulation and does the whole standing and sitting thing quite nicely.   His right hand could be a little tighter, but it doesn't have much trouble holding the included blaster pistol with brown painted grip.   It's a nice figure.

The bonus accessory is a fairly decent green and grey blaster which can plug into a backpack that comes with another figure I have yet to open.   It's no goofier than anything we saw Kenner create out of whole cloth in the late 1990s, and I'd say it's more Star Wars-y than some of the other stuff we've been sold since last year.  The silver button and red indicators on the side are a nice touch too - they're spending a little money on deco, but if we're being honest not a one of us would miss this if it were left out.   And I suspect it will be left out in the next one to two movies, with the cost staying pretty much the same, as that's typically what we saw happen in the 1990s to early 2000s.   Pricing is tumultuous, but the one thing that's consistent is that we will turn out to buy new figures.

If you're a fan of any strain, this is a must-buy figure.  If you hated the movie, you probably still love Han Solo and I have little doubt that you wouldn't buy this figure if you had a crack at him.   Get it if you can - the figure in and of itself isn't going to set the world on fire, but it's Han Solo!  I have no doubt that's part of why Disney bought this franchise, but hey, it's working ain't it?

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,261: March 16, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,260: Sidon Ithano (The Force Awakens)

SIDON ITHANO and  First Mate Quiggold
The Force Awakens 2-Packs
Item No.:
Asst. B3955 No.  B5896
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, cape, Quiggold figure, rocket, launcher
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: January 2016
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: The era of frontier lawlessness that followed the Galactic Civil War led to the rise of the colorful pirate Sidon Ithano, the subject of many an exaggerated cantina tale. (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 the Crimson Corsair! Sidon Ithano managed to carve a deep groove in fan imaginations after making appearances in the toy line, the movie, and an eBook you'll never read.   He's a Delphidian, a new species we've never actually seen without a mask - the helmet is modeled after that of General Grievous, so what you have here is a good pastiche of Star Wars-y elements.  He has gloves, a red shirt, grey boots, and dark red pants - it looks like a rough pirate as space pirates go, not too shabby but not particularly well-assembled either.   As space pirates go, this is a thrift store space pirate.  He's got a cool helmet but everything else probably came off the shelf.   Kylo Ren isn't much better when you get right down to it, it would seem that the sequel trilogy is mostly populated by fanboys and cosplayers.   Whatever Postnik Yakovlev analog the Empire had on retainer to come up with the Darth Vader suit on a moment's notice apparently stopped working.

Thanks to the cape, Sidon isn't going to be doing much.  The head doesn't easily pop off and the cape is quite stiff - so even though this figure can sit pretty well, there's little chance he will go piloting any of your toy vehicles.  (It doesn't hurt that there aren't really any new vehicles for him to pilot.)   There's an awesome blaster in a holster on his hip, which is sadly decorative.   His helmet is glossy, and his clothes are somewhat tattered - the textures are quite nice.   "Quite nice" actually might be an understatement - since (my assumption, anyway) Hasbro moved to digital sculpts, we're seeing more and exaggerated textures on textiles.  You'll see all sorts of fabrics rendered in plastic, with the pants and cape being striking to say the least.   Mr. Ithano has no problems holding his blaster, and the arms rotate nicely.  This figure doesn't have a lot to do other than stand and look cool, which it does, but it's also sort of obnoxious.  On one hand, Hasbro took a stellar design and gave us a perfectly adequate action figure.  It's not bad, it's not great.   It does the job and it meets the minimum requirements of what I personally need a Star Wars action figure to do.

I have no doubt some of you are sitting there reading this hoping for a 6-inch version, or a super-articulated 3 3/4-inch version to pop up at Walmart.  I'm there with you.  I do have a place in my heart for the 5-jointed figures and as far as most characters go, that's possibly all I need.  If it stands and sits and fits in a ship, I'm a happy collector - and this one comes close.  I don't assume we'll see a lot of upgrades in the short term so I'm going to recommend you buy this set anyway - I mean, it's even less likely we'll see another Quiggold.   I look forward to more weird aliens and pirates because of how valuable they are at poking at our collective imaginations, but I do fear that our collective ability to obsess over an alien in a background of a bar scene has been robbed from us thanks to overmerchandising in the publishing program and the fact that everybody has a backstory right out of the gate.   We've been robbed of our sense of wonder via commercial reasons, and while it doesn't mean we can't enjoy a nice action figure - and this is a nice action figure - it's not like when the kids of 1979 got Walrus Man and had to invent his life story out of whatever was creeping around in their heads.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,260: March 15, 2016