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Friday, May 29, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,161: Darth Vader (Dagobah Test - The Black Series 2015)

DARTH VADER Dagobah Test
The Black Series   Basic Figure
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A8058
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #07
Includes: Mask piece, lightsaber, cape, removable head
Action Feature: Removable mask
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: During his training on Dagobah, Luke duels an apparition of Darth Vader, but is shocked to see his own face inside the helmet, not Vader's. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary:  This figure I'm going to take two perspectives - one as "Is this a good item?" and one as "does this item need to exist?"   Darth Vader figures are an important part of the Star Wars marketing machine - my feeling is that, on the whole, your success is entirely based on if you have one for sale.  No Vader?  People don't care.  He must be in rotation, and 3 3/4-inch Darth Vader figures are being updated on a regular basis. 

The last The Black Series release was based on the 2005 Evolutions Darth Vader, and so is this one - except as far as I can tell, this one has fewer new parts.  The hands and body all seem to be basically the original figure, and now there's a new cape and a new head.  The chest deco is improved, still being basically the same as the 2013 The Black Series torso.   With 14 points of articulation, there's really no getting past the fact that Hasbro is saying "We basically got it right 10 years ago, so here it is again with a new head sporting an action feature."  The helmet sculpt unto itself is pretty good - the mask fits over fairly well, but you can see a glimmer of the flesh paint through a crack in the helmet.  The form fit is very obvious - you can see the cracks in the helmet - but I'm pretty sure the intent of the figure is to pop off the figure's head at the neck peg and leave it on the ground. 

It pops out without too much fuss, and in my case the figure decapitated itself while removing it from the bubble.  His left hand has no problems holding his lightsaber, but when fully assembled this Darth Vader looks a little wonky - my sample tilts to his left a bit, plus the neck seems overly long compared to other Darth Vader figures I own (all of them).  The cape design is different from most, in that the silver fake "chain" holds the neck in place rather than a piece of black elastic.   Overall Hasbro made a decent remold of one of their greatest achievements for the character, but by now you may have as many as a half dozen (slightly) different takes on Dagobah Vader including the variations.  It's a very decent figure and if you don't already own a blown-off-head-Luke-faced-Vader, this is a perfectly good one.   I would probably steer you toward the Dagobah Battle Packs, or the pretty slick 2001 original.   If you got the 2013 figure which also used this body, you should be all set.

Having said that, I don't need it.  At all.   It's not really a big improvement, and I think Hasbro probably wasted resources adding the new head when they could repackage a previous release and it'd sell to the carded crowd.  It would also sell to the "I just want a Darth Vader" crowd.   For a company that reminds us regularly of their need to conserve resources on a collector's line, I get annoyed when I see them spend money here - and come up with something that isn't very good - when they could just as easily do nothing and sell a ton of them in a new package.   Hasbro had great success repackaging the 2013 Mission Series Darth Vader a few times, and you never see it hang - the same would be true here.   They're just flushing money down the toilet on a figure that I don't think collectors will appreciate upon removal from the packaging.  You've basically got this one, and the Evolution set versions cost about the same and come with 2 or 3 more figures.  That long streak of complaints is basically me shaking my fist at a cloud, though, because we all know Hasbro cannot make a Darth Vader figure on an individual card that will not sell very well and probably outsell every other figure in the wave.

With that in mind, I put it to you like this - if you have every Darth Vader, why stop now? Get this one.  If you just want one, keep in mind that the body for this release has been used as the basis for a few others.  I strongly suggest you get those first, mostly because they offer more for your money.  If you're at a store and you want a figure for your desk at work, and this is the only Vader you see, you can do worse.  But don't by it for a kid if you can get the Evolution pack online for $17-$20 instead, and honestly you should just buy that for yourself too.  This is great if you need to buy something because you have to buy something, but it does show that Hasbro may need prodding with how it allocates its development resources during a drought.

Collector's Notes: I got this one from Entertainment Earth, and I saw some case residue last weekend - unsold Stormtroopers were at Toys R Us already.   Good hunting!

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,161: May 29, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,160: R2-Series Astromech Droid Blue and Yellow (not R8-B7)

R2-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID Blue Dome with Yellow Markings, a.k.a. R8-B7
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: April 2015
Appearances: The Clone 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 first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch.  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 dump.

Commentary:  This is a "realistic" version of R8-B7, sold as an R2-Series Astromech Droid at Disney parks.   It's cheaper than the original animated release on the secondary market - although not by a lot - plus it's effectively a make-good on an unproduced Astromech that Hasbro showed us back in 2012 as part of the aborted The Legacy Collection redux.    With a drk blue dome, the yellow plastic needs to be applied a little more thickly than usual to show up well - it more or less works.  There's a little slop and some areas where the blue comes through, but other than that it all turned out pretty nicely.  It's not the cleanest paint job - you can see some more overspray here than on others, thanks to the bright color of paint - but at least you can easily tell who this is supposed to be.

The body of this configuration was retooled.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore.  The grey plastic body has blue and yellow markings, most of which are painted well - light colors of paint on a black or dark plastic tend to show flaws more easily, and this is no exception.  The back of the body is virtually undecorated save for one blue and silver design near the bottom of the body - there's not much there.   All of the action is on the front of this one.

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.  Each foot has been redesigned so it's the same on the front and the back.  It combines elements from both the front and the back of the feet of the first ones, while retaining the wheels and dropping the wires.  As such it isn't perfect, but it's pretty good.  This pair of legs is grey plastic with yellow and blue highlights.  I should also note that the arm was retooled so that the "rod" and "dots" on each arm have been removed and the "shoulder" has been smoothed out.   It's worth noting that the foot adds an extra swipe of silver, and this wasn't present on the original version of the figure that Hasbro showed us back in 2012.

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

The figure very closely resembles Hasbro's unreleased figure, save for the fact that it uses these newer molds instead - the yellows, reds, and blues are mostly exactly where they were originally.  (Some flourishes were added to the legs.)   So if you are a fan of "lost figures," this one is certainly close enough to that missing astromech to fit the bill.  This figure should go great with the Mace Windu in The Clone Wars armor released around the same time, and I'm pretty pleased to see more figures from the cartoons done up in the "realistic" style.  I'm sure we'll never see everybody done that way - you can thank the cool clones and aliens for that - but at least we have one more to add to the stash.  I'd suggest trying to examine these in person to see if you can find the best paint job, but for all I know this is as good as they get. And that rounds out the first wave of Droid Factory 2015!

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.   The "partner" from the unreleased 2012 wave of figures remains unproduced - that's R5-X2, if anyone is keeping track.  That droid was made by Tomy as an RC figure, but not as a traditional Hasbro action figure just yet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,160: May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,159: R2-Series Astromech Droid White and Yellow


R2-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID White Dome with Yellow 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: April 2015
Appearances: n/a

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 first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch.  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 dump.

Commentary:  You might think you don't need another R2-Series Astromech Droid - you'd be right - but this one looks really different.   White domes on the rounded R2 model are pretty uncommon, so this one really stands out with its shiny, egg-like form.   (And it looks like more white ones are coming.)   The two-tone black and silver projector pops nicely, as does the red dot under the black eye.   There's really nothing too stand-out-ish here, other than the fact that this is a color combination we've never seen as a toy and unless I'm mistaken, we've never seen this color combo anywhere.   I really appreciate seeing more new dome colors out there, particularly when they really stand out as distinctive takes on popular breakfast foods.   It blends in on a shelf of astromech droids, but alone it stands out as something visually distinctive.  It also doesn't match many of the other bodies too well.

The body of this configuration was retooled.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore.  The white plastic body has silver and yellow markings, most of which are painted well.  The back of the body is similarly decorated with a ton of yellow panels highlighted with silver paint - few of the other figures have quite this much deco.   It's one of the best of the batch.   I'd love to see this pattern done in other colors as well.

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.  Each foot has been redesigned so it's the same on the front and the back.  It combines elements from both the front and the back of the feet of the first ones, while retaining the wheels and dropping the wires.  As such it isn't perfect, but it's pretty good.  This pair of legs is white plastic with yellow and silver highlights.  I should also note that the arm was retooled so that the "rod" and "dots" on each arm have been removed and the "shoulder" has been smoothed out.

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

I really like this one because it's so clearly different than the other 100+ droids I've already bought.   I don't have any white droids with round domes that I can recall white droids with the R2-D2 template on a white dome that I can recall, and now I do - so I look forward to seeing what's next, and I hope that these little buggers don't get into the hundreds of varieties.  Because from the look of things, we're getting pretty close.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,159: May 27, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,158: R8-Series Astromech Droid White and Blue


R8-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID White Dome with Blue 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: April 2015
Appearances: n/a

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 first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch.  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 dump.

Commentary:  Since Disney teased that these 11 figures are the first part of the next wave, I can only assume that the R8-Series Astromech Droid dome here was meant to go with some other, unreleased body.  As of right now there's no torso in circulation that matches it particularly well.   I stuck it with a blue R7 torso for no good reason.   The white plastic dome marks the third time it has been rendered in this color, but the pale blue panels are new.   It's basically a find-and-replace update of a previous release, but with one fairly nifty departure on the back of the dome - the little projector is blue with a black interior, as opposed to a single color.  Obviously this will mean nothing to anyone, but it does make the figure look a little bit different.



This torso is a retooled R7 body, complete with the filled-in holes.  At first glance that's the only change, but there are enough minor changes where it's clear they did some hefty work or possibly even made an all-new torso here.   Some of the little details are spaced apart differently, and the little silver greebley bit on the front left hand side is completely different.  The "vent" on the right hand side seems to be a slightly different design, but it's also possible some of the differences could be explained by the extensive (and in my sample's case, sloppy) use of paint.  A similarly colored R2 body was used last time, so I expect you might look at it and say "Don't I have that?"  It really is that close - but it's a new body type, so it's different, and different is new around here.

Like the other legs, the new "universal leg" returns here without the wires to make it obvious where the front or the back is.  Silver "toe" panels on the front give it a little personality, but it still lacks the dots and rods on the upper part of the limb and features retooled copyright information to excise any indication of these being Hasbro products.  As such, I say it's debatable if these are Hasbro, Hasbro-compatible, or what.

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

Without an obvious "face" with an eye, the R8 droids feel a little less personable as it is - given the mismatched nature of this figure due to the part selection, it's pretty ugly.  As much as I'd like to say "and I love ugly!" the truth is I'm sitting here hoping that some new colors of body parts drop in a future wave so I can put this dome on a better body.  The dome itself is fine, the body is perfectly nice, but together it's just not pleasant.   I'm guessing this dome may be left over a lot at the parks.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.  This is the only R8 droid in the first 2015 assortment.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,158: May 26, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,157: R6-Series Astromech Droid White, Black, and Red


R6-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID White Dome with Black and Red 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: April 2015
Appearances: n/a

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 first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch.  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 dump.

Commentary:  My favorite shape of the new, post-movie domes is the R6-Series Astromech Droid and this is a colorful new one.   I'm not sure that the red body is the best possible match for him that could ever be, but as far as the second wave goes there's really no more appropriate fit than this one, so let's go with it.   The dome is the same mold as last year's round, except now the panels are slightly different - now you've got a mix of red and black markings rather than purple or yellow.   If you don't have an R6 mold, this is as good as any thanks to its unique blending of the trapezoidal cake that is an R5 dome with some of the "facial" details of R2-D2.  This makes it cuter, with a big eye and the little "face" bits but with some tweaking and new colors.   As a new droid, it doesn't have a lot of weight behind it and its appeal to you will largely come from if you think it looks cool.  I do.
The body of this configuration was retooled from previous astromech torso pieces.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore.  The body color is very similar (if not identical) to R5-K6, who is in a box somewhere.   The black and white boxes are pretty much the same, although a small detail on the back and bottom of the droid is now absent.  (No huge loss.)   There are a few minor changes given the time difference and the mold, but they did a fine job of trying to replicate that hard-to-find design in this format.

Like the other legs, the new "universal leg" returns here without the wires to make it obvious where the front or the back is.  Black "toe" panels on the front give it a little personality, but it still lacks the dots and rods on the upper part of the limb and features retooled copyright information to excise any indication of these being Hasbro products.  As such, I say it's debatable if these are Hasbro, Hasbro-compatible, or what.  The white "band" above the ankle is now silver, so it's a little more subtle than before and of course the wires are now absent.

The central red foot for this (and all the other) colors is now unpainted, while the R5-K6 figure had some black markings on the foot.  Unless you read or write columns like this one, I assume you wouldn't notice or care.

Since we know R6 droids will appear in The Force Awakens - but which ones, we are less clear - this figure might be worth getting as a tangent for that series.  We don't know which droids (if any) will get figures before Hasbro focuses on the next next movie, so getting an R6 droid of any flavor is, at worst, an off-camera purchase.   I love droids so I'll buy them all, and this one is a perfectly decent sum of its parts - but if you have any from the last round, this is hardly essential.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.  This is the only R6 droid in the first 2015 assortment.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,157: May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,156: R5-Series Astromech Droid Red and Black (not R5-K6)

R5-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID Red Dome with Black and Silver Markings, a.k.a. R5-K6
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: April 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 first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch.  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 dump.

Commentary:  This R5-Series Astromech Droid is, for all intents and purposes, a make-good on the hard-to-find R5-K6 from a few years ago.  The gift set was very expensive thanks to it getting short distribution at some odd venues, including electronics stores and gift shops.  (I actually stumbled on quite a few.)  Point is, he's hard to get - and now Disney has a new version of him you can cobble together using parts out of their bins.  The dome is different than the 2009 figure but it's certainly a close enough replacement given the asking price of the gift set these days.  The red dome has the same black "U" pattern on the face, with the various silver bits being in basically the same place.  The antennae are now missing, but the little white trapezoids are there in a slightly different form.   The mechanism is gone in favor of the hat hole, but overall this is pretty close to the original.

The body of this configuration was retooled from previous astromech torso pieces.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore.  The body color is very similar (if not identical) to R5-K6, who is in a box somewhere.   The black and white boxes are pretty much the same, although a small detail on the back and bottom of the droid is now absent.  (No huge loss.)   There are a few minor changes given the time difference and the mold, but they did a fine job of trying to replicate that hard-to-find design in this format.

Like the other legs, the new "universal leg" returns here without the wires to make it obvious where the front or the back is.  Black "toe" panels on the front give it a little personality, but it still lacks the dots and rods on the upper part of the limb and features retooled copyright information to excise any indication of these being Hasbro products.  As such, I say it's debatable if these are Hasbro, Hasbro-compatible, or what.  The white "band" above the ankle is now silver, so it's a little more subtle than before and of course the wires are now absent.

The central red foot for this (and all the other) colors is now unpainted, while the R5-K6 figure had some black markings on the foot.  Unless you read or write columns like this one, I assume you wouldn't notice or care.

If you missed R5-K6, this is a much cheaper alternative.  Which is kind of disgusting, as the last version got you 2 Rebels and a small vehicle for $25.   If you love your droids, and I hope you do, here's another chance to get one of the scarcer robots in the line at a price that, while not great, is certainly better than fifty bucks.  There's really no other way to configure these parts into something pleasing (other than the R6 dome, which we'll examine shortly) so go ahead and get this one.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland.  This is the only R5 droid in the first 2015 assortment.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,156: May 21, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,155: R2-Series Astromech Droid Silver and Blue MK II (not R2-D2)


R2-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID Silver Dome with Blue Panels MK II, a.k.a. R2-D2
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: April 2015
Appearances: Many

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 first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch.  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 dump.

Commentary:  This R2-Series Astromech Droid is why you're probably here - you wouldn't care about R2-D2 repaints if you didn't love R2-D2, and for all intents and purposes this figure is R2-D2.  It's not even the first R2-D2 on the build-a-droid chassis - by my count there are at least 3 now - but this one has a slightly different shade of blue and some newly tooled parts.  The dome is the same form we're used to (or the changes are minor enough), with a bunch of subtle deco changes.  The blue is now more metallic, the red dot is moved a bit, the little boxes on the front are now outlined in blue, but it really gets interesting on the back.  Compared to the previous Disney model (pictured here) you'll see the 2015 version has a red dot on the back as opposed to the 2012 one's yellow, plus a little detail on the side is boxed around rather than filled in.  Minor stuff - but it is worth noting as yet another minor difference for the dome for those of you who really do want everything.  And now let's recycle more of a previous review.


The body of this configuration was retooled.  The lower holes on the R2 body were removed, so you can't make a four-armed droid anymore.  The body color is roughly the same as R2-D2, but the various panels are decorated differently now.   The side of the body under the arms now has blue stripes.  The hexagon on his left side is now just silver, while the previous version was blue.  A similar change was made to the back of the figure.  The "ladder" on the front of the droid is now silver, having previously been blue.  Also, the panels are sculpted slightly differently - if you put them side-by-side, you'll notice the large rectangles on the sides of the front of the body are different depths than the previous release.


Like the other legs, the new "universal leg" returns here without the wires to make it obvious where the front or the back is.  Silver "toe" panels on the front give it a little personality, but it still lacks the dots and rods on the upper part of the limb and features retooled copyright information to excise any indication of these being Hasbro products.  As such, I say it's debatable if these are Hasbro, Hasbro-compatible, or what.

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

You don't need this figure.   You do not need this figure.  But maybe you love droids, and like me you're going to buy any new build-a-droid parts just because.   It's not different enough to warrant your attention in most cases, but if you see every droid change as a worthwhile addition to your stable you know you need it - which is sort of frustrating.   I see droids like clones - a difference is worthy of another purchase - but unless you see unique lights or changes to the blue as "different" you can probably just be happy with the 2012 Walmart gift set version or the 2012 Disney release.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,155: May 20, 2015