Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,525: R2-X2 (Red Squadron, The Black Series 6-Inch)

R2-X2 Red Squadron
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Exclusive Red Squadron Figure Set
Item No.:
  No. E2311
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 droids
Action Feature: Compartments open to reveal arms, retractable third leg when dome spins, opening dome panels
Retail: $59.99
Availability: September 2018
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Astromech droids are a series of versatile utility robots generally used for the maintenance and repair of starships and related technology.  R2-X2 was Red 10 Theron Nett's droid and served in the Battle of Yavin. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary: I wanted to say R2-X2 is the best version of the droid yet, but it's not.  It's close, but I'm having issues with weird, new errors being introduced to these droids.  R5-D8 is largely excusable because there's no good reference and previous figures were based, in part, on imagination.   R2-X2 is a droid done multiple times since 2006, and each version has had errors - some of which are easily overlooked.  This one got the green part right, got the color right for the body, and got the box around the "mouth" dot unpainted - correctly!   That's great.  It also totally missed the color of the dome, which is a kind of a big deal.   Kotobukiya got it right on all fronts last year.

In the movie, R2-X2 has a dirty white dome.  This 6-inch scale toy has a silver dome, which I don't believe it's ever done before.  LEGO got it right.  Funko got it right.  It's right on the cards.  Even the black R2-X2 Hasbro did got this part right.   It seemed that, to date, the one thing consistent in every single R2-X2 figure, LEGO set, or bobble head was the white dome.  But no, in 2018 Hasbro, Lucasfilm, and/or Disney found a new glitch to introduce to the low-hanging-fruit that is a droid repaint.

It's a fine looking robot in and of itself, but it's not a robot that appeared in the movie.  It's not even an understandable goof either - the black R2-X2 did indeed look black in some reference shots, and some droids we know only as a dome, so the body is easy to make up.  But not R2-X2.  We've seen mistakes, and we've learned from so many of them.  Props to Hasbro for getting the general panel layout and stripes correct, but I cringe at paying $60 for 3 de-accessorized droids where one of them definitely has a glaring error and another probably has several glaring errors.  I hope against hope that Lucasfilm approvals starts requiring anyone approving figural products to, at the very least, compare the new item being approved to previous releases and to find a still from the movie.  Or, in my dreams, show it off to fans if you're making a toy based on a 4 decade old movie - let us chime in.  Feel free to ignore us, but when something is totally wrong it would be nice to have the opportunity to correct it when we're talking about an exclusive in a line that's generally pitched as being specifically for the adult collector that wanted a clean, fresh start from 3 3/4-inch.  This is amateur hour error stuff.   Yes, the dirt splats are wonderful - but i don't see those in the reference material, either.  Is it possible that this figure isn't meant to represent R2-X2 but some other, similar robot they found in the archives and made by accident? I hope so. Because then I can understand why this figure doesn't match anything we've seen from 41 years of stills and movie history.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Amazon

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,525: October 16, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,524: R2-D2 (Red Squadron, The Black Series 6-Inch)

R2-D2 Red Squadron
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Exclusive Red Squadron Figure Set
Item No.:
  No. E2311
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 droids
Action Feature: Compartments open to reveal arms, retractable third leg when dome spins, opening dome panels
Retail: $59.99
Availability: May 2018
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio:A resourceful astromech droid, R2-D2 showed great bravery in rescuing his masters and their friends from many perils.  A skilled pilot's assistant, he served Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Yavin alongside Red Squadron. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Thanks to environmental residue, Hasbro could easily give us grassy, snowy, muddy, and other versions of this droid.  In the 6-inch line, other than the first catch-all version, R2-D2 gets only his second flavor five years later as a "blasted" version.  This is the one that they pulled out of Luke's X-wing, and one that had more bashed-up panels and blasted-up bits in the 3 3/4-inch line.  The battle-worn grit looks better here, though.

The original 6-inch R2-D2 was a rare instance of Hasbro making a figure that feels a little small, but had just about every necessary accessory up front.  We got two panels with pop-out arms - still here - and three dome panels that could be removed to add other accessories.  Also still here.  Hasbro removed the two scopes and lightsaber from this release, also the prequel booster rockets in the arms.  The removable arm panels remain - you can pop them off if you like.   Because of all the accessories and features, you should track down the 2013 original or the 2017 40th Anniversary repack.   It's the best.  This is good for different reasons.

This is a figure you buy for deco.  The white and brown blast marks with energy damage and oil leaking looks really spectacular.  It's kind of funny because it's a white glossy brand-new figure with what looks like years of leaky oil and war damage on parts of it - but from a distance, it looks great.  The eye is big and glossy, the red light looks good, and the blue is blue where it should be. It's not exact, but it's pretty close - that red light is nice, but it should be turned off.  R2-D2 is "dead" in this look.  The white blast on the side closely matches the movie, and some of the brown is close, but not identical, to the prop.  He could also stand to have even more dirt paint, but it gives a close enough impression of what we saw on the big screen at the end of the original film.  Clearly, I'm picking nits here.

If you want an R2-D2, this is a good one.  You don't get the pop-up lightsaber or the extra scopes, but you get a lot more paint and a paint job that could just as easily do duty on Dagobah.   I don't see this figure as a selling point for the set, but I don't see the set as one of the best either - two of the three robots are very close to droids you likely already own.  Sure they're different - but it can be difficult to get excited about more of the same without a little something extra in there to make the figure even more exciting and compelling, or at least different.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Amazon.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,524: October 11, 2018

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,523: Qi'ra (Corellia, The Black Series 6-Inch)

QI'RA (Corellia)
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E1203
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #66
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2018
Appearances: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Bio: At 18 years of age, young Qi'Ra is already enmeshed in a life of crime, working for a gang on Corellia.  (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: I like this Qi'Ra figure, and it makes me grouchy because she doesn't have a lot of pals.   It's proficient, a superior example of a figure well-executed with all the trappings you can hope for on a 6-inch scale plastic figure with a level of detail consistent with the best of your expectations from an unreleased but troubled movie.  What I hate is that she's alone - Lucasfilm gave Hasbro reference for a Qi'Ra minus the corresponding time period of Han.  Non-collectors will shrug, but generally speaking I don't want to display a figure with no contemporaries - Forces of Destiny is mostly like this.  Disparate figures from disparate time periods, lacking the coherent focus of most Kenner-era waves giving us at least a couple of buddies to hang out together.   Granted, Qi'Ra doesn't have many friends because her pals aren't figures yet other than Han Solo.  And he's in the wrong costume.  Harrumph.  (Perhaps a Han's Speeder was planned that never made it out - I don't know.)

If you can get beyond the loner nature of this one - she's great.  Hasbro, pat yourselves on the back. Or Gentle Giant, or the sculptors inside Anaheim's Empire of the Mouse.  This figure looks great, with various textures coming to life in plastic.  Her collar looks sort of like wool. Her skirt is dirty leather, and her boots more or less match - complete with dusting of grit, or worm skin, or something. The bracelets mask the wrist joints, and are painted quite nicely.  The ab joint is well-hidden, with no weird crunch or bizarre cut breaking up the clean lines of the shirt meeting the skirt.   I love the wrinkled jacket, the dynamite hair, and the glossy eyes and lips - the shine doesn't look as good on the eyebrows.  (Hasbro: stop doing that.)

With about 26 points of articulation, this is a wonderful showing of how to hide articulation in a costume.  She has a tremendous range of movement, and looks fantastic too - I love the black, white, and red all over costume with superior posture and body language thanks to the jointing.  She can also hold her spiffy blaster with no problems.

Collectors have shunned many of the women in the new movie era, possibly in part thanks to their being produced in a lot of waves - so we're seeing top-billed women figures drop in price pretty quickly.  This is pretty backward from how things used to be - Leias came out, were in short supply, we got cranky, repeat.  At least each movie gets us one (or more) new women, as opposed to the Smurfette-flavored original casting.   I like this figure a bunch - thankfully Moloch is coming to join her in the prologue, I'd love to see Vest Han and maybe the Imperial officers Drawd Munbrin or Falthina Sharest.  (Seriously what is up with these names?)

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,523: October 9, 2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,522: Clone Commander Wolffe (The Black Series 6-Inch)

CLONE COMMANDER WOLFFE 6-Inch Debut
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure Shared Exclusive
Item No.:
  No. E2259
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Helmet, 2 blasters
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: July 2018
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: Clone Commander Wolffe (clone designation CC-3636) served in the Clone Wars as commander of the tight-knit unit known as the Wolfpack. A seasoned and battered combatant, Wolffe has witnessed some of the worst the war has to offer. Despite tragedy, he fights on bravely, proudly brandishing his battle scars and instilling loyalty among his men.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: It's sort of a miracle that Clone Commander Wolffe exists, but it makes sense for Hasbro as The Clone Wars has some fan legs and Wolffe is Rex with new paint, a new helmet, and a new head.   The body itself was originally sold as the Attack of the Clones Clone Trooper, so you might have a half dozen or so figures with this body.  Hasbro designed this one when double-jointed elbows were still on the table, we've had very few of those as of late.

The figure has slightly dirty armor, which is kind of odd.   The boots are glossy grey, but there are occasional smudges of fudge on the chest, arms, and helmet with flecks of white baked in some grey bits.   Plo Koon's Clone General is good, but it's hard to reconcile the shiny parts with the dirty parts.   I'd love to see the grey be all matte or all glossy, as the shoulders and helmet aren't quite as lustrous as the hands and lower legs.   At least everything looks like it should - you get the wolf detail on the helmet and shoulders, and it looks good from a distance. 

The figure's best feature is hidden under a helmet - the portrait looks like a scarred and enhanced Temuera Morrison.  The skin tone isn't perfect - Hasbro has had issues getting it just-so, and at this size it's probably impossible to exaggerate it to the proper levels so it looks exact - but it's good.  The facel ooks right, the expression is good, he's got a little bit of a lumpy, scarred, seen-it-all sense about him and that messed-up right eye.   I'm torn when it comes to how to display it - I love the helmet, but the human head is so dang good

My hunch is you'll skip this figure and regret it, because you don't go where it's sold.  It's really good, and one of Hasbro's better portraits in recent memory.  Get it if you see it, especially since your collection of The Clone Wars 6-inch figures is going to be pretty small right now.  Almost as small as your The Phantom Menace collection.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from GameStop.  It was also sold at Barnes & Noble and Disney Stores.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,522: October 4, 2018

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,521: Admiral Piett (The Black Series 6-Inch)

ADMIRAL PIETT 6-Inch Debut
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure Shared Exclusive
Item No.:
  No. E2813
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Hat, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $21.99
Availability: August 2018
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: An ambitious Imperial officer, Piett rose through the ranks to captain and was assigned to the Super Star Destroyer Executor, Darth Vader's flagship.  When Vader strangled Admiral Ozzel, Piett was granted a battlefield promotion to admiral - and given a grisly warning of the penalty for failure.  (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: Hasbro's character selection for The Black Series has been rather fascinating, light on aliens and droids but heavy on  humans.  Since there's a lot of tooling to share with Thrawn and Tarkin, Admiral Piett exists.  The arms and legs and lower jacket are similar to Tarkin, with a new cap, new head, and new hands.  And a new blaster.

The 6-inch figure is on par with previous efforts - you get a stiff jacket, so sitting isn't much of an option. The figure has a good range of articulation, much of which is nicely stowed in the seams.  Bend-and-swivel wrists allow you to give him a weapon, which he doesn't use, which is kind of a shame as it's new tooling and I'd just as soon have a slug figure of a Mouse Droid or some other armament for another figure in my collection.  (Or, heaven forbid, a build-a-figure piece.)   The texture throughout is great, and I can see how and indeed why Hasbro wants to make the most out of its figures like this - why not give the older fan the fascist thugs we crave?   The grey-suited toady has a removable cap and a clean outfit complete with black gloves.  The face looks good, with an excellent sculpt and printed, mostly glossy features.   There are bags under his eyes and a little bit of color in there, perhaps too much - I feel like we're looking at the first phase of a new manufacturing technique which is going to get a lot better as time goes on.
This figure exists to look good boxed or stand on a shelf with your bounty hunters and/or Imperials.  There's not a lot of fun action to have, and while the blaster is appreciated, it's of little use.   It is a fan-requested character, and seeing things like this gives me hope for the line's longevity.  We haven't even gotten the second Cantina alien yet, but we're on Imperial Dude #3.   Things are moving along at a strange clip - Hasbro has put out more Expanded Universe and non-vintage Original Trilogy figures than I might have expected 5 years in to the line.   I hope they keep dropping fun little surprises like Piett out there, and if we get a Ponda Baba, Momaw Nadon, or Snaggletooth, that'd be swell.  (Red for main line, blue for the interwebs.  Do it Hasbro.)

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,521: October 2, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,520: R5-D8 (The Black Series 6-Inch)

R5-D8 Red Squadron
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Exclusive Red Squadron Figure Set
Item No.:
  No. E2311
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 droids
Action Feature: Compartments open to reveal arms, retractable third leg when dome spins.
Retail: $59.99
Availability: May 2018
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: A red astromech droid used by Jek Tono Porkins - Red Six - during the Battle of Yavin, R5-D8 saw time on both Y-wing and X-wing starfighters during his service to the alliance.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: The more merchandise we see of R5-D8, the more questions I have.  We have precious little reference, most of which is either over Porkins' shoulder - and could just be the R5-D4 dome - and a small amount of merchandise.  We've seen this droid in LEGO, Galactic Heroes, 3 3/4-inch, and now 6-inch formats.  The coloring is rarely consistent.  The game card is filthy, almost tan but largely looks like R5-D4 from what we can see.   The LEGO figure looks a lot like R5-D4.   The Galactic Heroes figure is the most visually interesting, adding yellow stripes in the columns on the sides of the droid's body.   This 6-inch figure is interesting because it's basically just "vintage 1979" R5-D4 - it most closely matches the original Kenner action figure.

R5-D4 has no accessories and is basically a redeco of last year's vintage 40th Anniversary R5-D4.   The figure replaces all the blue R2-D2 panels with red ones - R5-D4 has a few blue panels on his person, and Lucasfilm apparently has made zero effort to keep them all consistent.  It's a department that needs a bunch of annoyingly fastidious little dorks (why don't I have this job?) comparing any and all products to previous reference material and products, and that doesn't seem to happen.  Someone said "good enough" and called it a day, meaning that most likely this figure is not accurate to the closest thing we have to a body reference photo - the trading card game.   That figure has blue directly below the dome, on the top of the body where the "chest" would be.  This one is red.  Everything else is kind of a toss-up - from that trading card to R5-D4, there's minimal if any discernible difference.  The comics don't always get it right either, so I don't blame everybody - but it'd be nice to see more effort to getting it consistent if it can't be correct.  And again, I don't know for sure what "correct" is.

If you compare it to that old Kenner figure, this is pretty darned close.  It's also pretty close to previous releases of the mold, I'm surprised Hasbro didn't glue down the arm panels as that functionality isn't important to this figure, and Hasbro was fond of gluing down panels on the smaller figures.     This figure more or less serves as a "vintage" R5-D4, but with added dirty splatter in spots.  It's neat - it's a fine substitute for last year's R5-D4 if you missed it.  However, the boxed set isn't a great value.  It's expensive - $60 for 3 short figures - with fewer accessories than the Toys R Us 3-pack which was $55.99.   I'm sure this one will get marked down with time, and while I would normally be an annoying advocate for paying full price for things you want to support... well, OK, let's not change that.  But having six Red Squadron droids and only one pilot kind of irks me.  I'd like a second pilot before we see another set of droids, or any Death Star-adjacent Rebel robots.  We know it's inaccurate, but not how inaccurate.   If you are interested in a robot that's good in and of itself, go ahead and snag it.  It has the opening compartments with the claws, the retractable third leg, and the same articulation.


Collector's Notes: I got mine from Amazon.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,520: September 27, 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,519: 4-LOM (The Black Series 6-Inch)

4-LOM Bounty Hunter
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. C1207
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #67
Includes: Rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: May 2018
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: A rusty droid with insectile features, 4-LOM was originally a protocol droid, but logic glitches allowed him to escape his programming and become a bounty hunter. That proved a perfect occupation for the cold, calculating mechanical bounty hunter.  (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: Historically 4-LOM is an afterthought - but for Hasbro's 6-inch line, the droid bounty hunter is the fourth in the squad of six!  That ain't bad.  (Also the first three are getting reissues.)   This droid has been in short supply since its debut, in part because it was only in one wave and in part because it seems there's a lack of Original Trilogy stuff in general - so people buy it.  It includes a familiar blaster rifle, and the legs incorporate C-3PO bits, but the deco and new elements are great.

The biggest improvement is in the arms, with elbow joints allowing for the pylon to move and not freeze the elbows in place.  The hands can hold up the rifle, and the shoulders can rotate and swing in and out.  The wrists bend and swivel, with a newly sculpted chest and head to boot.   The head is cast in clear green so you might see trances of green light come from the big eyes, and the chest is the chest.  It has the red swipe, and a hint of the rusty paint we've seen on some of the figures from over the years.   It's a little light on rust, though.  It's also excellent.  The figure can't exactly sit, but that hasn't been a priority for this line - especially not in droids, even when you have some like C-3PO that can indeed have a reason to sit in certain vehicles.

Also notable is the smell - this smells a lot like the vintage Kenner Darth Vader I had as a kid. The plastic smell is very distinctive, maybe you'll get flashbacks too.  I like this figure, but it could have used a tiny bit more paint. Other than that, it's great - and greatly improved from C-3PO.  Get yours now, obviously.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,519: September 25, 2018