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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,184: R4-D23 (D23 Exclusive)

R4-D23 D23 Disney Convention Exclusive
Star Wars   Droid Factory
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Head, 2 legs, torso, central third leg, Mickey Fantasia hat
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.95
Availability: August 2015
Appearances: n/a

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.  Living on the planet of Coruscant, this little Astromech droid frequently visits the local droid spa for oil baths and recharging.  Join R4-D23 on his adventures throughout the galaxy!   May the Force be with you... and your Droids! (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  While wildly unnecessary, the   R4-D23 figure is overwhelmingly different from things we have.  I've got a lot of droids - and by that, I mean all of them - and even though we've got two silver R2-D2s neither of them have this kind of marbley plastic.  I'm not sure if I should be worried or not for its future (I've got an Electro and mine is still OK), as even Hasbro has addressed this topic as of Comic-Con this year and mentioned their awareness of the issue not being a problem for their upcoming new version of Generation 2 Superion - a Transformers jet combiner robot with a penchant for shattering in spots.  Silver and gold swirly plastic are a thing many of us fear, is what I'm getting at.   It looks good, but it's possible nobody should touch this figure in 10-15 years.

Enough of the doom and gloom - as far as the now goes, this is a neat figure with a silly story.  Is the droid supposedly autonomous?   That seems unlikely as droids aren't exactly free citizens so much as a mechanical pre-The Matrix or pre-Judgement Day mechanized slave class ready to rise up and crush their oppressors.   I have proof.   This one mixes and matches stencils from other figures, giving us a rather rich paint job incorporating special stripes on the feet and legs, the unique "A" shape on the dome, and some (I believe) unique-to-this-figure blue greebles on the legs as opposed the usual silver.  Or unpainted, if the budget warranted that.   The blue and red don't exactly pop against the silver plastic, but rather sort of fade into it giving the figure a worn-in look despite being shiny and new.  It's nothing if not charming.

I should also note the back of the figure is extensively painted too blue borders on panels unpainted, white, and red all exist and look pretty great.   I also get why Hasbro left these out more and more now, because most fans probably won't flip the figure over to look.  The only real reason to look at the back of these figures is to ask yourself if they had added any detail there, and most people will never care.  Unless, of course, there's an action feature back there - and this toy's only real feature is its construction element.

His Sorcerer's Apprentice hat - complete with mouse ears - is actually a little different from the ones in the bins for the build-a-droid program.  It's a lot glossier in the blue segment, leading me to believe it may be painted.  The interior of the hat is still a dull blue, but the exterior may have a clear coat or blue paint job.  I'm not going to scrape it off to test, but if you put the little hats from the bins next to it, this one is clearly different.   I'll probably display it with the hat because it's part of the set, but it doesn't quite look so great.   I'm not quite sure where this would go in a diorama other than to put him with the rest of my droids,    And that's a perfectly reasonable place for him to go, really.  I got a lot of droids.  At this point what I really need is some sort of giant Sandcrawler-shaped shadowbox on my wall to display them all.

Collector's Notes: I got this from long-time reader Michael, and I thank you for your assistance good sir.  Also: eat, drink, and be merry.  For tomorrow, we buy.  Also you can get this one pretty cheaply between Amazon and eBay - $20-$25 shipped isn't all that unusual.  I know it's not cheap but $25 less 15% for whatever transaction fees and $5 or so shipping, well, it ain't terrible.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,184: September 3, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,183: R2-D2 (Holographic)

R2-D2 Holographic Disney Weekends Exclusive
Star Wars   Droid Factory
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Head, 2 legs, torso, central third leg
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.95
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: n/a

Bio: Whether he is delivering a secret message to Obi-Wan Kenobi or saving the classic heroes of the Rebel Alliance from the trash compactor on the Death Star, R2-D2 is always ready for any mission.   For the first time, R2-D2 is portrayed as his own holographic transmission action figure.  What secret information does R2 carry this time?  Join R2-D2 on his adventure throughout the galaxy! (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Clear blue figures (and before them, clear purple figures) have been part of this line for just over 15 years.   Holographic R2-D2 is the first-ever droid to get the unpainted distinction, this time taking the 2015 version of the build-a-droid mold with clear blue plastic.  When lit from behind, the figure looks great - almost like blueprints come to life.  THe toy itself is sort of silly, because I can't remember a single instance of the droid appearing as a blue light image in the movies.  Maybe he was in the cartoons, I certainly can't remember off the top of my head.  It didn't make an impact, but as the black repaint is to Transformers so is the clear blue repaint to Star Wars.

As a clear blue repaint, it highlights some of the things that work (and don't work) about the sculpt.  For example, the little dot under the eye and next to the holographic projector has been painted, rather than molded, on most R2 Astromech domes for some time.  As this figure is unpainted, this facial feature is now oddly absent.   Without paint, it's easy to notice the frosty texture on all the parts rather than a clear, smooth finish.  It works nicely.  It also lets you see the inner-workings of the figure, which is something you usually don't see unless you crack one open along the seam.

If you've always wanted a clear R2-D2, today's the day - go get one.   It's pricey, but unfortunately that tends to happen with event figures until people get sick of them and prices drop - which we saw happened with a lot of the silver figures from 2002-2005.   I don't know what the future holds for this one, but if you can get it cheap it's neat enough to be worthwhile.

Collector's Notes: I got this from eBay. It was a Star Wars Weekends Orlando item.  $20 shipped - admittedly not cheap, but if you don't feel like paying to park at a Disney thing it's a pretty decent price.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,183: September 2, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,182: R2-D60 (Disneyland Exclusive)


R2-D60 60th Anniversary Disneyland Figure
Star Wars   Droid Factory
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Head, 2 legs, torso, central third leg
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.95
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: n/a

Bio: R2-D60 is unlike any other Astromech droid in the galaxy. As a spy for the Rebel Alliance, R2-D60 lives on Coruscant and serves different members of the Imperial Senate. His droid build is similar to other classic R-series droids, but features a frosted R2-style dome and a silver metallic paint finish. Join R2-D60 on his adventure across the galaxy. May the Force be with you... and your droids! This Astromech Droid figure was created to commemorate 60 years of magic at the Disneyland Resort. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary:  You know you're reaching to write a bio when they just describe the figure's paint job.   R2-D60 is a souvenir more than a character, and his inclusion in the line means you've got one more obnoxious figure to track down.  There's no good reason for this figure to exist beyond there being a theme park anniversary and they want to sell you something Star Wars on top of the $99 one-day ticket (before tax).   It is for this reason that droid completists may want to take a deep breath and realize the endless stream of customizable and unique droids are sort of a no-win scenario.  If you want to be complete, it's going to set you back a lot - more if you don't live near a Disney park with an annual pass that you'd have bought anyway.  A friend of mine was kind enough to help me on this one, but Holographic R2-D2 (Florida exclusive) meant eBay.  I got one for $20 shipped, which is expensive but cheaper than going there and paying for parking would have been.   I'm not a big fan of toy scalping, but in this case I think I (and hopefully you) can live with the unfortunate reality of $20-$25 shipped droids from theme parks.  It's still cheaper than what it'd have cost from The Star Wars Fan Club 15 years ago.

The figure itself is a neat oddity - the dome is actually a clear frosted R2 dome, which is a different sculpt from the typical clear R3 dome.  Numerous blue and silver panels dot the head, complete with a big black eye in the middle.  It looks great, and matches the dark blue body nicely.  White panels and black markings do wonders to bring it to life, but depending on the nature of your collection this figure may be a huge waste of time.   He's homeless, a uniquely decorated robot based on the same mold you may have bought a few - or a few dozen - times by now.   Does carding it make it any better than the ones you can make yourself?  Maybe.  Maybe not.   I lie it enough as its own little thing, especially with generous paint applications on the feet.  Lots of silver and white make it a lot nicer to look at than his siblings, but there's no real story here.  If they threw in a nod to being Jorg Sacul's droid, or came up with some fun reason to stick one in a diorama other than "Imperial Senate Spy," I might be a tad more excited.  If you look at this figure as some sort of fun designer R2-D2 it's a worthwhile addition to your toy box, and to the never-ending pool of droids that people like me are generally happy to see on a regular basis.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,182: September 1, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,181: R5-Series Astromech Droid Black with Silver and Orange


R5-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID Black Dome with Orange Markings
Star Tours   Droid Factory Customizable Figure
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Head, 2 legs, torso, central third leg, optional hat
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: These figures do not have specific packaging or configurations.  As such, we will be treating each dome as a unique "figure" as that part is the most plentiful.   There were 25 domes in the 2012 series and 25 domes in the 2015 batch so far.  While Hasbro had said they didn't design the first batch, they included Hasbro copyrights.  This batch does not - markings read "© DISNEY" and "© LFL" as well as "China" on each leg.

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary:  This figure is essential, because it isn't.   If you're like me you love the idea of the Empire having vast troves of troopers and droids you never got to see, and the R5-Series Astromech Droid plays up the idea of another "off-camera" droid.  It's basically R2-Q5's body with a new dome - and there are quite a few changes from previous black R5 droids, including the 2012 Disney one and R5-J2.   The bodies are all totally different, but the dome is notable in that he has very bright silver eyes, orange panels on his "neck" and on the top of his dome, plus a wild silver border on top of his head.  I don't see this much - OK, ever - and it'll be hidden by the hats.  It's cool, though, and it gives our plastic pal a much brighter disposition.

The body of this configuration was retooled from the pre-2015 editions.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore. You'll note that the little boxes in the middle of the body are now painted with silver vents, rather than black with silver outlines.   The black matte plastic body has orange markings, plus a couple of silver boxes for good measure.   It works well with other domes in the collection, of which three.  By and large the paint applications mimic the Hasbro Power of the Jedi R2-Q5.   Other than those vents,  you won't see a difference.

Each leg is new - actually, it's only one leg.   Disney had issues keeping enough matching right and left legs during the 2012 run, so I'm sort of happy that they found a clever solution to the issue.  This pair of legs is black plastic with silver markings where the toe wires used to be present.

The central black foot for this (and all the other) colors is now unpainted, while the 2012 batch had silver markings around the bottom of the foot.

Because it's new enough - for droids, a new dome is enough to get me excited - I like this one.  There's really no reason to skip it unless you're experiencing droid rage.   It's different enough from previous models to be compelling, while also totally fitting in with the army you've built.  Get one, you're worth it.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,181: August 25, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,180: Captain Rex (The Clone Wars - Yoda Series)


CAPTAIN REX Gun Spins!
The Clone Wars Basic Animated Figures (Non-US Yoda Wave)
Item No.:
Asst. 37290 No. A0837
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #CW04
Includes: 2 pistols, "spinning" gatling gun
Action Feature: Gun spins
Retail: $12.99
Availability: March 2013
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: Captain Rex  fights beside Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars.  (Taken from the English section of the figure's multilingual packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  You probably don't have this figure.  In 2012, Hasbro pulled back on Star Wars in a big way - the last wave of Darth Maul-bedecked Movie Heroes never came out in the USA, and none of the 3 3/4-inch Yoda cardback figures got out in the USA.  We had to go to Europe, or do without.  Many were repacks and resculpts, so most people didn't notice or care.  Captain Rex looks a lot like a figure we did get, but it's not.  It's probably a textbook example of "just different enough to make you mad," with unique deco, retooled legs, and a unique weapon.   You won't even realize you skipped it, because when it was announced at Celebration VI amidst a pile of repacks and retools you - and by you I mean me - were probably vocalizing your displeasure at the presentation.  The final batches of Movie Heroes, The Clone Wars, and the first Legacy figures were largely populated by remakes of things we had, with newly tooled versions of figures we already had.   It was a pretty miserable show.

Anyway, this Rex is a redux of this figure.   Hasbro dropped the gorgeous weathering, changed the "kill marks" to black (and also dropped some of them), and changed the blue up a bit.  Some marks on the helmet were also changed, and the rangefinder is now unpainted instead of gunmetal silver.   In terms of looks, this is a step back overall.

The most notable change were that the legs were given knee joints.   The figure has no ankles or wrists, but Hasbro added knees - this is fine evidence that reduced articulation was not only a long time coming, but Hasbro started it in 2012/2013.   It's not new - costs and a supposed non-interest from American retailers were the reason why this wave didn't come out here, but there's probably a lot more to it than that.   It's a nice figure, but if you already had the last one, you probably didn't see a reason to upgrade.

His gun is one of the most interesting things.  It's partially painted with silver and copper markings.  The grip rotates, and another handle is articulated.   While the packaging boasts that it spins, the reality is that you can twist it if you get a good grip on it.  If you try spinning the barrel while the figure is holding it, you'll rip it out of his dainty hands.  It's not bad to look at, but let's be honest - it doesn't really spin.   It is, however, a nice display piece.

So let's say you skipped this one, which is likely, since it never came out here.  Should you get it now?  I'd say only if you're a completist or a die-hard Rex fan.  You've got numerous cheaper alternatives, many of which include spring-loaded rocket launchers or jet packs or weathering or more articulation or a removable helmet.  You've got every reason to not overpay for this one, although if it were here for $10 you'd probably have rolled your eyes without even realizing that it was new.   For the hardcore among us, this is one of the reasons a new movie is a blessing - nobody has a Finn or a Kylo Ren.  It's clearly new.   For fans of the cartoon series, though, these figures will probably get a little more expensive as they realize their collections are incomplete and they get full-time jobs to pursue toy collecting.  They might not get much higher than they are now, but it's one of about a dozen examples of Hasbro not releasing Star Wars action figures in their target market.  We'll get to the others eventually.

Collector's Notes: I ordered a case from Toy Palace to get mine.  Today it's $25-$40.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,180: August 21, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,179: R2-Series Astromech Droid Grey and White


R2-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID Grey Dome with White and Black Markings, a.k.a. R2-Q2
Star Tours   Droid Factory Customizable Figure
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Head, 2 legs, torso, central third leg, optional hat
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: These figures do not have specific packaging or configurations.  As such, we will be treating each dome as a unique "figure" as that part is the most plentiful.   There were 25 domes in the 2012 series and 25 domes in the 2015 batch so far.  While Hasbro had said they didn't design the first batch, they included Hasbro copyrights.  This batch does not - markings read "© DISNEY" and "© LFL" as well as "China" on each leg.

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary:  Back in 2005 I was working at another job and sketched out an idea for a Hasbro exclusive that, as it turned out, I would make happen a few weeks later.  This R2-Series Astromech Droid is a remake of one of the two core figures I had to have, R2-Q2.  I wrote up a proposal with some reference shots and gags about his being a double agent, and now here we are - version 2.0.  It's a sidegrade.   It's not better, it's not worse, but it's different enough to make me glad I bought one.   The droid was supposedly both an Imperial droid and Biggs' droid, or there were two of them.  So now you can have two of them, too.  The deco of the Disney version is largely identical to the 2006 Hasbro release, with the same basic color layout.  The main differences are on the dome, and at first glance you might not even realize there were changes.  The 2006 version has a silver ring on the top panels, the 2015 Disney one is unpainted.  The 2015 Disney one has a glossy big eye, while the previous version was matte.  The holo projectors are all slightly different, with a black tip on the 2015 versions.  The 2006 ones were each a little different.  The glossy eye does add significant life to the design, though, so I have to give a slight edge to the new one.


The body of this configuration was retooled from the pre-2015 editions.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore. The grey is a touch lighter than the last one, with slightly cleaner paint masks.  Since so much relies on black and white boxes with borders, in many respects the new one looks a little bit better.  Everything is placed in basically the same place, with minor changes on how some borders are painted on the black and silver bits on the front.  It's differentish, but not overwhelmingly so.

Each leg is new - actually, it's only one leg.   Disney had issues keeping enough matching right and left legs during the 2012 run, so I'm sort of happy that they found a clever solution to the issue.  This pair of legs is grey plastic with silver markings where the toe wires used to be present.  The sides are black and silver, with added silver paint on each foot - that's new for this release.   It's not bad.  It's not impressive either.

The central black foot for this (and all the other) colors is now unpainted, while the 2012 batch had silver markings around the bottom of the foot.

If you missed the Entertainment Earth exclusive set in 2006, this is a perfect substitution.  It's roughly the same quality and colors, so unless you need every last release (I do) or foot hoses, either one should suit you just fine.  The big question in terms of playability is if you want removable limbs or the retractable third leg.   Either way works for me, but this one has a slightly notable bonus asset.  The top of the dome is black - so the hole for the hat peg is largely invisible.  It looks so much nicer now that it's not an eyesore.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,179: August 20, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,178: Clone Commander Doom (The Black Seres)

CLONE COMMANDER DOOM The One, The Only
The Black Series   Basic Figure
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A9360
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #13
Includes: Helmet, staff, cape/harness, backpack
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: Serving Jedi Masters Tiplee and Tiplar, this Clone Trooper Commander leads his unit in an attack against separatist forces in the Battle of Ringo Vinda.   (Taken from the first release's packaging.  The second release had 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:  If Commander Thorn used the  Clone Commander Doom chest, I'd probably let a lot more slide.  Rank markings are actually sculpted on this Marvel homage, making it more than a tiny bit better than his companion.   Deco is all over the map, and the two I have each have unique problems.  One has big bold bright buttons on his forearm, but the also has some alignment problems with the grey stripes on his kama.  Maybe I can pop 'em apart and make a good one, but honestly neither one really hurts the figure.  What matters is you now have the Doctor Doom clone trooper you never knew you needed.

The build is similar to so many that have come before, with a few exceptions.  You do get bend-and-swivel wrists, but for some reason he only has a swivel waist.   The ankles are normal ball ankles, without the rocker motion.  Everything else is on par for a super-articulated clone figure, so it won't upset you if you're a reasonable person.  Due to the level of fancy on the paint job on the show, the figure can't match it.  Some of the grey markings on the chest are left off, as are some of the visually gorgeous wear and tear on the helmet.  Since most people won't compare the two, it won't be a problem - but it's another argument to just make a cheaper figure for six bucks and call it a day.  If my choices are a B/B- for $13 or a C/C+ for $6, just give me the $6 version.

It stands, it sits, and it serves as a great little warning as to the future of the toy line.   Over the past few decades we've had a lot of downtime where Hasbro could play in any movie, book, game, or TV show to bring us new stuff.  Now there's new stuff every year - and synergy.  There are still going to be old and new characters, but Doom's squad?  No figures yet.  Tiplar and Tiplee?  No figures yet.  He's a cool commander, and a great in-joke.  But he could end up being a one-off, depending on how Hasbro pursues The Clone Wars in the coming years.  He feels like a relic from the end of the pre-Disney era, which he really is.   We don't yet know what the next year is going to look like, but we've seen some leaks and previews that show legibility of names aren't a priority.   It's possible finishing squads and bringing the obscure to life may once again be a thing of the past, thanks to the fact you can only make so many figures in a year and Hasbro's resources will be taken up by new movies from now until the child you conceive this weekend turns about 6 years old.

With grey and green limbs and a striking deco, this is a fun figure - but one that could have been improved immensely from more and better paint.  Should Kotobukiya or Gentle Giant make a collectible of him, I bet it'll be gorgeous.  Hasbro's figure is very good - again, the wrist buttons are perfectly done, and the rank badge was well-executed - but his role is to stand around and look cool.  He has no friends, no boss, no mission.  The lack of themed waves is something I'm really beginning to miss.

Collector's Notes: I got this online - you can probably score one for $13-$15.   Depending on where you bought him, him was sold in assortments or via solid-packed cases of 12.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,178: August 19, 2015