Friday, February 26, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,228: Shadow Stormtrooper

SHADOW STORMTROOPER and Emperor Palpatine
30th Anniversary Collection Wal-Mart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. 87576 No. 87578
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: September 2008
Appearances: The Force Unleashed

Bio: Among the Emperor's elite shock troopers, the Shadow Troopers utilize advanced cloaking technology to ambush enemies. They can remain completely undetectable until the moment they strike. With keen tactical awareness, the Shadow Troopers can cross Rebel lines undetected and use their stealth skills to gather intelligence that can be used to organize future Imperial attacks. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: Adam's yard.

Commentary: Low-hanging fruit. The second figure with the name Shadow Stormtrooper is from the popular video game, and rather than being pretty much entirely black, this one is a dark grey with little flecks of silver and blueish lenses. While some dismissed this and the other figures released around the time as "skittletroopers," I dug the fact that if we were going to get more repaints, at least it was something kind of fun. Were these cheaper I don't doubt I'd have bought several more, but I am a sucker for things from the early Empire. The articulation (and mold) are nearly identical to the 2004 "vintage" Stormtrooper, and in the set, you get two of these and the Emperor. For $15, it wasn't a bad deal, and I really enjoyed these despite being funky color Stormtroopers.

Collector's Notes: This set was rereleased as a Toys "R" Us exclusive early in 2009 in the white-and-blue Legacy Collection packaging, but at a higher price point.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,228: February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,227: Luminara Unduli

LUMINARA UNDULI Animated
The Clone Wars Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87638 No. 91272
Number: #CW30
Includes: Lightsaber, Hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7 .99
Availability: August 2009
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: Jedi Master Luminara Unduli encounters dangerous enemies while bringing a notorious Separatist leader to stannd trial. Battle droids attack the Jedi cruiser transporting Nute Gunray, and the assassin Asajj Ventress secretly boards the ship. Luminara faces battles and betrayals as she fights to retain custody of her important prisoner. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: Adam's TV tray.

Commentary: While the Revenge of the Sith version of this Jedi was great, this Luminara Unduli is even more likable. The sculpt is fantastic, her cloth robes remain, and the articulation is really excellent. Like most second-year animated figures she's pretty gorgeous, it's almost like they took the animated model and souped it up to be a nice toy. She's not perfect, but I can't imagine her being much better other than redesigning this one to have her lightsaber plug into her belt-- which it doesn't. She can fight, stand, and generally look good-- that's about all you can ask for. Jedi fans, get this one. Hasbro made some tweaks to the design but as the toy is concerned, they're all for the better.

Collector's Notes: Reasonably new, she's still a bit tough to get-- the new figures have been quite popular since the mass-dumping of several new waves in August of 2009.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,227: February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,226: Darth Maul

DARTH MAUL The Sith Return
Revenge of the Sith Evolutions
Item No.:
Asst. 85553 No. 85727
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Cloak, Sith Probe, Stand, Binoculars
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99-$29.99
Availability: Fall 2005
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: After thousands of years, the Sith reveal themselves to the Jedi. Witness their evolution with these Sith figures! Darth Maul attacks the Jedi, revealing that the Sith are still a threat to the galaxy. Then Count Dooku, a former Jedi, comes out of hiding as a Sith Lord to attack the Republic. Finally, the Emperor, who should be fighting to save the Republic, is revealed as the most powerful and menacing Sith of all! (Taken from the figure's Evolutions box.)

Image: Adam's front yard.

Commentary: To date, this is arguably the best Darth Maul money can buy. It is by no means perfect, but it's really good. This all-new sculpt debuted in 2005, and was the most poseable version of the character yet with 14 joints, although there were a few snags. For starters, his super-stiff robes prevent his hip joints from being much good, and his elbows were swivel joints at a time where that sort of thing was starting to be regularly frowned upon. He looks mean, he has a great sculpt, and he's not too tall-- so he looks right, and he comes in that reasonably neutral pose that most fans seem to enjoy. If you put this figure on a Vintage cardback, it would look about right. As a collectible, or desk decoration, this is a great figure but since he can't make much use of his vehicles, he's a bit of a wonky release. (To date, the 2007 Saga Legends Darth Maul is arguably the best "toy" version due to knee joints and extensive use of cloth parts to keep the knees unrestricted.)

His gear is really why you'll want to buy this figure. Want his binoculars? They're here. A Sith Probe on a clear stand? Also here. Plastic cloak? Here. Really, the figure is just barely touching perfection, as the lightsaber is the 1999 version (no flared blades), and there's no wrist droid caller either. It's rare that Hasbro manages to make a figure with everything it could possibly ever need, but this one came really close and should probably provide the basis of any other new Maul Hasbro does. Because, you know, being like how we are, we really do still expect some ball-jointed elbows someday soon, and since it's 2010 some lateral hip joints would be nice too. (And a new Lightsaber.)

Collector's Notes: This figure has been repackaged a few times, including a "30th Anniversary" Evolutions box exactly as he appears here, and in the 30th Anniversary Tins, but without some of his accessories. No other figures have been made with this as a base, yet anyway.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,226: February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,225: Obi-Wan Kenobi

OBI-WAN KENOBI Jedi Master
30th Anniversary Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87500 No. 87237
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #3005
Includes: Pistol, Electropole, Rebreather, Coin
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: March 2007
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Obi-Wan travels to Utapau to confront General Grievous. The general is a master with the lightsaber, as is Obi-Wan, so the duel between the tenacious Jedi and the ruthless cyborg is grueling. But in the end, a well-aimed blaster shot by Obi-Wan destroys Grievous’ organ jar, putting an end to the general's mission of destruction. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's front yard.

Commentary: Sometimes Hasbro really likes a mold, to the point where they realize they pretty much don't need to redo it. This Obi-Wan Kenobi is based on a 2005 figure, specifically the "Red Leader" Pilot version of the Jedi Master. Except for the head, it's pretty much the same toy-- same great 14 points of articulation, same good sculpt, same quality paint job. The main new addition is the head, which has a mouth sculpted so you can put a rebreather inside his chompers if you're so inclined. Hasbro doesn't get enough praise for how well this was pulled off, because the mouth is open without looking ridiculous or like some poor blow-up-doll, it actually turned out fairly well. Also, Obi-Wan's likeness is great, and his slicked-back hair makes him unique among the many, many version of the character that would use this body. He can stand, he can fight, really this is about as much as you can ask out of a swimming/fighting-specific version of the figure. It plays well and looks nice, and for a just-killed-a-cyborg action figure, I daresay Hasbro did a fine job. If you aren't all Kenobi-ed out, I suggest you snag this one. (Plus the coin is really nice.) The only thing Hasbro could've done to make this figure perfect, and I admit I'm nitpicking, would be to include a lightsaber or an alternate head.

...Hasbro would go on to make this figure more perfect in 2008 with a new head sculpt and lateral hip joints. You can see more here.

Collector's Notes: This figure has not yet been repackaged or repainted. Several figures use the same body, including the 2005 Pilot, the 2006 cloth robes Jedi Master, the 2007 comic pack version, this release, and the 2008 Mustafar Duel, to name a few.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,225: February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,224: Scout Trooper (Imperial Patrol, Clean)

SCOUT TROOPER Imperial Patrol, Clean
Power of the Jedi Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 84445 No. 84586
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Pistol, Force File
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99-$6.99
Availability: 2001
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Although lightly armored, Imperial scout troopers are essentially highly mobile stormtroopers. They patrol perimeters, perform reconnaissance missions, and scout enemy locations. They are equipped for high maneuverability and long periods without support. (Taken from the figure's Force File.)

Image: Adam's front yard.

Commentary: Not all improvements are huge, but many are big enough to get excited over. While this Scout Trooper (or "Biker Scout") didn't have scores of articulation, it did have a fantastic sculpt which looked leaps and bounds better than the 1996 version, with its awkward gait and oddly bent knees. Sure, it worked for the bike, but what if you wanted your troopers to look good away from the Speeder Bike? You were pretty much out of luck. Aside from being a little less beefy, this version's most notable advancement was the inclusion of a boot-based holster which has since been included on every other newly sculpted Imperial Scout Trooper out of Hasbro. It's a wonderful little touch, it functions properly, and it just shows that Hasbro was really trying to improve these figures during that brief time that articulation started to take a small step backward. (In 1999, Hasbro started using lots of swivel arms and knee joints, by 2000 and 2001 a lot of these features were temporarily dropped.)

So! How's the sculpt, you ask? Pretty fantastic. The proportions are very good, arguably as good or better than the super-articulated release which first hit the market in 2006 as a "Vintage" figure and has since been repackaged and redecorated numerous times. The 2001 release's pose is a little more action-oriented, as it looks like he's posed to communicate with his men or fire on the enemy, but he still looks great in a diorama setting. While not designed to sit on a vehicle well, he will look good in a diorama and it's worth snagging one or more of each deco variant to flesh out your shelves and armies. The armor is well-sculpted, black-and-white paint jobs are hard to mess up, and Hasbro had a real winner on their hands. This original clean white release proved extremely difficult to find at retail for months, and even the reissues were tricky to get. Hasbro cranked out more plain clean white ones in 2004 in pretty good numbers, and those sold through just as quickly. Even though it wasn't perfect, this was a great figure and proves that sometimes a fan just wants to buy a good figure.

Collector's Notes: This figure was repainted with dirt shortly after its release in the same SKU/package. Also notable, a version which is literally ass-backwards came out in 2002 as a Target exclusive. It's the same mold, but the crotch piece was assembled backward, which was the way each and every figure of that run ended up being produced. Anyway, this is the first release, and arguably one of the best-looking. The mold was also used for the AT-AT Scout Trooper figure released as a Toys "R" Us exclusive with the giant Imperial Walker in 2006, although that version had a flip-up helmet.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,224: February 22, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,223: Battle Droid Commander

BATTLE DROID COMMANDER vs. Mace Windu
The Legacy Collection Geonosis Arena Showdown
Item No.:
Asst. 91751 No. 91752
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #3 of 6
Includes: Blaster, Backpack, Mace Windu
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: October 2009
Appearances: Attack of the Clones

Bio: This Jedi Council member is respected for his great wisdom and discerning counsel. A diplomat by nature, he urges discussion and compromise over open conflict. Yet when he must raise his lightsaber in battle, he does so with the skill of a true Jedi Knight. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: Adam's Geonosis Arena playset.

Commentary: Deco means everything. Some fans argue with me on this, but it can make or break a figure, as is the case with the Battle Droid Commander. For example, the notion of getting another Battle Droid may not be the most exciting prospect, but Hasbro actually made a very uncommon yellow-marked commander on the red Attack of the Clones-style body. This is, in and of itself, quite unique and worth getting excited about. It's also made on a new body mold, which allows the figure to fold up better than ever before, plus he has the most articulation of any regular Battle Droid yet. Unfortunately, Hasbro made the eyes about twice as big as needed, so the figure comes off as looking ridiculous. (Of course, the regular Battle Droid from this assortment had it worse-- Hasbro forgot to give him eyes!) This kind of quality control problem is pretty uncommon, although Hasbro made more big gaffes than usual in its 2009 Legacy line. The giant eyes don't render the toy unplayable, or worthless, but it does prove how one little paint operation can ruin the look and feel of an otherwise fantastic toy.

As stated above, the articulation here is superb. You get ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, neck, and a bonus neck joint which allows the head to collapse into the body. Clearly, this is the finest engineering work Hasbro has ever done for a Battle Droid figure, plus it can generally stand OK on its own. (I would still suggest keeping stands handy.) The red plastic looks good, the subtle black wash is great, and the yellow stripe markings are superb. However, those eyes throw off the face entirely, and that's generally one of the areas where an action figure can go from great to awful in no time flat. Hasbro earned big points for a fantastic sculpt here, but there's no getting past that head.

Collector's Notes: This figure has not been reissued as of yet. The body mold was also used to make a Battle Droid in the same exclusive assortment-- notable for lacking eyes-- and the IG-97 droid in an as-of-yet unreleased comic pack. Because this pack comes with an existing Mace Windu figure and looks like something Hasbro may correct in the future, it may not be worth your while to buy this one unless you want the big goofy eyes or just want to cover your bets in the off chance Hasbro doesn't repackage it later.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,223: February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,222: Mace Windu (Animated)

MACE WINDU Swinging Lightsaber Action
The Clone Wars Basic Figure
Item No.:
Asst. 87638 No. 87961
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #CW06
Includes: Shoulder armor, chest armor, helmet, lightsaber,
Action Feature: Swinging body action
Retail: $7.99
Availability: August 2009
Appearances: Clone Wars

Bio: This Jedi Council member is respected for his great wisdom and discerning counsel. A diplomat by nature, he urges discussion and compromise over open conflict. Yet when he must raise his lightsaber in battle, he does so with the skill of a true Jedi Knight. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' back yard.

Commentary: It took about a year, but Hasbro did a nice job translating Mace Windu to a cartoon-style action figure. The movie figures have been all over the place, but like them, Hasbro seems to have nailed Mace the first time out when it comes to the cartoon look. The optional armor bits add a lot to the figure, although it is quite disturbing that to get the armor around his neck, one must remove Mace Windu's head. (Call me crazy, but I don't think decapitating a figure is the best way to dress him. It's a little disturbing.) The shoulder armor snaps on fairly well, but can be knocked off easily. Not surprisingly, the helmet stays on with no real problems. As it's based on the cartoon, it's a very clean sculpt with nice lines and little texture. There's really nothing to gripe about here, this figure is pretty close to what you probably would imagine an animated Mace Windu should look like, minus a few points of articulation. The figure has legs which move only at the hips, and the waist joint is a spring-loaded one so you can make him "slash" at other figures. It's fairly unobtrusive, so I don't think it's worth hating on-- it actually works. If you like Mace Windu and cartoon figures, this is a fun one-- armor and an action feature, combined with a good sculpt, make for a top-quality Jedi Master.

Collector's Notes: This figure was slightly redecorated and rereleased in a Target-exclusive Ryloth-themed battle pack. The exclusive release has whiter armor pieces, but lacks the purple helmet deco. As such, get whichever one you prefer, we'll look at the variant later as it qualifies as "just different enough to make me mad." A resculpt is in the works with-- apparently-- lateral hip joints, which should let him do more sitting on bikes and AT-RTs.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,222: February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,221: U-3PO

U-3PO Protocol Droid
The Legacy Collection Build-A-Droid Figure (Wave 6)
Item No.:
Asst. 87535
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: n/a
Availability: April 2009
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: U-3PO, also known as Yoo-Threepio, was a 3PO-series protocol droid created by Cybot Galactica prior to the Battle of Yavin. U-3PO served in the Diplomatic Corps of the Royal House of Alderaan during the Galactic Civil War. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' bathroom. The silver version is pictured.

Commentary: Behold, arguably the best new sculpt to come out of the build-a-droid program. The saddest thing about U-3PO is that Hasbro seemingly discontinued the build-a-droid gimmick before they could repaint it, because this would have made for the best C-3PO ever. Sadly, this was not meant to be-- yet at least-- and the resulting silvery figure will likely be remembered as the finest movie-based protocol droid mold money can buy. With the full 14 points of articulation, it's pretty much perfect. Short of giving him a ball-jointed head, really, what could you possibly do to make this figure better? The paint is gorgeous, the eyes are colored perfectly, the pose is fantastic, and the figure basically looks and feels like it may have stepped right out of a galaxy far, far away. Surely someone will find something to fault with this figure, but as far as I can tell Hasbro has yet to do this style of robot better. I dig it, and I'm sure you will too. Be sure to get one, it is absolutely worth the hassle (and I'd argue expense) of building.

Collector's Notes: This figure was released in two colors-- a silver paint job, and a champagne one. It's very difficult to tell which is which unless you know what to look for or can compare them side-by-side. The silver release was first, and was quickly corrected. His pieces were scattered across multiple figures, and his "wave" focused on The Empire Strikes Back. Take care if trying to assemble a silver figure by buying up pieces via the web, assume that the sellers don't know silver from champagne because odds are they won't. Cross your fingers that Hasbro reuses and repaints this mold.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,221: February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,220: Jedi Knight (Secret Apprentice)

JEDI KNIGHT Vader's Secret Apprentice
30th Anniversary Collection Evolutions
Item No.:
Asst. 87480 No. 87533
Number: n/a
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Includes: Lightsaber, hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: Early 2008
Appearances: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Bio: Set in the dark times between the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Rebellion, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game explores the aftermath of Order 66 and the continued evolution of Darth Vader. The son of a fallen Jedi is abducted by Vader to be his secret apprentice. As a young adult, the apprentice must choose his destiny: Join Lord Vader and wipe out the remaining Jedi, or become a noble Jedi and bring hope to the galaxy! (Taken from the figure's box.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' yard.

Commentary: Since the character's name was such a closely guarded secret that even Hasbro dare not put it on the box-- even long after the figure was repackaged and rereleased-- this figure is known only as Jedi Knight, although fans may call him Starkiller, or Galen Marek. The figure has a costume which comes from the "good ending," assuming you take the character and try to be a nice guy. (Naturally, things go better for you if you play The Force Unleashed as a baddie at the end, plus you get a freakier costume.) The figure has a green lightsaber, a hilt which fits in his belt rather than plugging into it, and an acceptable-- but not great-- level of articulation. The Jedi robes block some arm movement at the shoulders, plus the cut elbows are a step back from the other two figures in the set which sport ball-jointed elbows. The large amount of soft goods no doubt raised the cost of the figure some, and the detail in the plastic and cloth bits is worth noting for its detail. Some funky cloth strips hang from his wrists, which looks kind of dopey, but it is accurate to the game.

Not accurate to the game is the head sculpt, as word on the street has it that the game's toys were made before the role was cast and the decision was made to adapt Sam Witwer's likeness. (Although you have to admit that it's pretty gosh darn close and compared to some other human figures, may be one of the better matches.) It's a nice figure, but clearly the weakest of the set simply because it isn't evil or cool. It's good, sure, but almost too good-- the white plastic hood on his robes makes him feel less like a strong Jedi warrior and more of some sort of killer pacifist. Which, really, sounds off doesn't it? It's a quality figure and because you need to buy the Evolutions 3-pack with the Sith Lord and Secret Apprentice figures, you'll need to have this. He's just not as awesome as the other two.

Collector's Notes: First released in 2008, this set was repackaged shortly after its initial release. You can find it in both The Legacy Collection and 30th Anniversary Collection packaging, the latter of which was the first release, the cooler release, and the harder release to find. New Apprentice figures are expected at Toys "R" Us as exclusives nearly any day now.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,220: February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,219: AT-AT Commander

AT-AT COMMANDER with AT-AT
Power of the Force Vehicle Pack-In
Item No.:
No. 69733
Manufacturer: Kenner
Number: n/a
Includes: AT-AT, AT-AT Driver
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $79.99
Availability: Summer 1997
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The stern and polished General Maximillian Veers is completely loyal to the Empire. He launches an invasion to destroy the Rebels' shield generator protecting the base from attack. (Taken from his Assault on Hoth Bio.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' yard.

Commentary: For some reason, figures were really growing tall in the 1990s. This AT-AT Commander (later, General Veers) was huge, towering over other figures to the point of ridiculousness. On the bright side, he looked pretty good, and was primarily designed to sit inside the AT-AT. Since he was made before Hasbro started experimenting with skirts more, he has no trouble sitting in an AT-AT canopy and should be your go-to figure for all your pilot needs. After, of course, you use the drivers. The facial detail is nothing special, although it did look better than many other human figures released around the time. The armor and limbs are perfectly fine, and do look a lot like those of Grand Moff Tarkin and Piett.

13 years on it's not going to win any beauty pageants, but it gets the job done and it certainly holds together well. The 1997 release with vehicle has no blaster, but the 2005 release in the battle pack does include a chunky POTF2-era Stormtrooper rifle.

Collector's Notes: First released in 1997, the figure was packaged with the first modern release of the AT-AT. In 2005, he was repackaged in the Toys "R" Us exclusive Assault on Hoth Battle Pack. While he was essentially unchanged, it's notable that the diorama on the back of the box showed the 1982 AT-AT Commander rather than the modern figure-- a rare instance of Hasbro using a vintage Kenner figure in modern packaging photography. The 2006 General Veers figure has removable armor and more articulation, but is not capable of sitting quite so easily-- so get either, as each is better in different ways. Yet another AT-AT Commander figure is coming in or around August 2010.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,219: February 15, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,218: Rebel Trooper

REBEL TROOPER Facial Hair Edition, Battle of Endor
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85770 No. 86980
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: 046
Includes: Blaster, backpack, helmet, display stand
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: Fall 2006
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Hand picked by Han Solo for the mission to Endor, these troopers are the best and brightest of the Rebel Alliance. Survivors of some of the toughest battles of the Galactic Civil War, each one of them is a skilled marksman, expert in demolitions, and an easy match in hand to hand combat for any stormtrooper. Each of these men can survive in the wilderness for weeks at a time, remaining silent and unseen, until the command is given to strike. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' back yard.

Commentary: This Rebel Trooper is a pretty solid release. Unlike a lot of previous troopers, it genuinely looks like a specific person-- who, I don't know-- but it's not a generic army guy. As one of two figures sold under this SKU (the other is a pasty white dude with a headset), this one really looks sharp and has a darker costume. The figure was based on a 2002 Endor Rebel mold, but with new legs. The main improvements are the legs, which now sport knees and ankles, plus improved decoration and a new belt with a holster. The backpack still falls off easily, and the figure has limited arm movement due to the jacket, but it looks nice. And as you can see in the picture, you can still wrangle some good poses out of it, but it's hardly the ultimate final version of an Endor Rebel-- a super articulated version, I hope, is still in the wings. These are all good, but we can always do better. This figure is worth adding to any Endor strike team you assemble, of course, so be sure to get one especially if you can score it for a good price.

Collector's Notes: This excellent figure wasn't around too long, and it was used as the basis of the Rebel Vanguard Trooper in November of 2008. I prefer the Endor version.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,218: February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,217: Stormtrooper (Comic Pack)

STORMTROOPER Blue Shadow Virus (minus virus)
30th Anniversary Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87507
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #03
Includes: Blaster, reprint of Marvel's Star Wars #3
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: April 2007
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Governor Tarkin commands a personal contingent of elite stormtroopers aboard the Death Star, each one personally cleared and handpicked by the Governor himself. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' box insert.

Commentary: There's no such thing as having too big a Stormtrooper army. This one uses the 1999/2000 mold, but adds red lenses, blue shadows, aaaand that's pretty much it. Back when it was first released with movie deco, the notion of ball-jointed shoulders and knee joints was a pretty big deal. When first released in 2007, the comic edition was a bit of a drag in terms of sculpt-- but it looks nice. As part of a small subset of Marvel-deco figures, this is a figure I'd suggest buying to anyone wanting a small set of figures to keep on their desks. The Marvel coloring is pretty spectacular and in this age of urban vinyl toys that nobody buys but everybody likes to pretend are the biggest thing since McFarlane started a toy company, these little guys really do look like nifty, arty toys to keep on your desk or in a little shadow box. I wouldn't suggest these get bought by anyone who doesn't admire style over substance, because these are stylish. And kind of lame as toys, but man do they look nice for the asking price.

Collector's Notes: This is the first release. Subsequent releases lack the blue shadowing, and they're different enough that we consider them essentially different figures.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,217: February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,216: RA-7

RA-7 with Boba Fett
30th Anniversary Collection Wal-Mart Exclusive Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87557 No. 87560
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Boba Fett figure, comic book
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.87
Availability: January 2008
Appearances: Star Wars #81

Bio: Everyone believes Boba Fett is dead, eaten by the Sarlacc in the Pit of Carkoon. But the bounty hunter miraculously survives his ordeal and lies unconscious outside the pit, covered in mucus and sand. The Jawas and their RA-7 droid find him and, believing him to be a droid or cyborg, bring him onto their sandcrawler. Fett awakens with no memory, until Han arrives to rescue the stolen R2-D2 from the Jawas. Upon hearing Han's name, Fett's memory quickly returns...with a vengeance! (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' living room.

Commentary: If there's one thing you can be sure of, fans love droid repaints. From the same wave as the Hoth Leia we just looked at, this RA-7 is a repaint of a 1998 figure in purple. Purple! It looks great though, and has six points of articulation. It isn't particularly impressive from any technical standpoint, but it basically mimics the nameless comic droid nicely. He can stand or sit, and really, this is a must-buy set if you have the 2004 Sandcrawler. If there's one thing it needs, it's this set. Outside of that, it still looks pretty sharp and will go well pretty much anywhere you'd need a droid.

Collector's Notes: The original body mold was used in 1998 as an exclusive of sorts, as the last wave of Power of the Force Freeze Frame Kenner figures went to the Fan Club in the USA. Along with a very slick repaint of Boba Fett, this is one of my favorite comic packs of all time. It's just that great.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,216: February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,215: Princess Leia Organa (Comic, Mandalore)

PRINCESS LEIA with Tobbi Dala
The Legacy Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87698
Number: #7
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Includes: Tobbi Dala figure, Blaster, belt, Marvel Comics #69
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: August 2008
Appearances: Star Wars #69

Bio: Princess Leia is captured by slavers while searching for Dengar, a bounty hunter with information that can help her save Han Solo. It looks like all is lost for Leia, until her new Mandalorian friend Fenn Shysa launches a daring raid to rescue her and his boyhood friend Tobbi Dala, who is also a prisoner of the slavers. But before the day is done, there will be death and destruction in the city of bones. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' living room.

Commentary: Hasbro may be one of the more resourceful companies out there, making a "new" Princess Leia out of a 1998 sculpt by adding paint and a belt. Sharp! Naturally, the older Kenner figure has aged slightly over the years, but she's from the end of the era where all figures could generally sit and stand without falling apart. Unfortunately, Hasbro's 2008 painting left her looking a little pale. While it brings a lot of detail out in her suit, her head is strange as the face seems a little off and pieces of her hair look unpainted. This is not Leia at her finest, but you do get six points of articulation plus a holster. Which, by the way, you will need because her 1998 hands have difficulty holding a blaster made after the 2001 resculpting of the weapons of most figures. So she'll probably drop it a lot. While not the worst figure ever, I wouldn't suggest you pick this one up unless you just want the Tobbi Dala figure... which you totally do, as it's one of the finest Hasbro has done recently.

Collector's Notes: The original body mold was used in 1998 as an exclusive of sorts, as the last wave of Power of the Force Freeze Frame Kenner figures went to the Fan Club in the USA. Clearly, she's the lesser half of a two-pack.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,215: February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,214: Fenn Shysa

FENN SHYSA with Dengar
The Legacy Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87687
Number: #6
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Includes: Dengar figure, Blasters, Helmet, Rocket Pack, Marvel Comics #68
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: August 2008
Appearances: Star Wars Marvel Comics (Various)

Bio: Mandalorian supercommando Fenn Shysa struggles to free Mandalore from the grip of slavers. His close friend Tobbi Dala has been captured by the slavers, but Shysa has someone they want even more: the bounty hunter Dengar. Princess Leia needs Dengar for her own reasons: he can lead her to Boba Fett, who is holding the carbonite-frozen Han Solo. But Shysa's not about to let her stop a prisoner exchange that will free his friend. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' floor.

Commentary: Based out of what Boba Fett was said to be in the 1980s, Fenn Shysa appeared in one of many stories which gave us an origin for everybody's favorite bounty hunter. Bits and pieces of it have been retconned and ignored, but the one important thing about it is that it resulted in our getting this figure. Based on the Evolutions Jango Fett mold, this figure simply takes Jango's form and changes the head, and then applies a new coat of paint. (It's really amazing what difference a little paint can make.) Hasbro's decision to use metallic green, bright yellow, and a comic-friendly blue seemed a little odd at first but the figure just looks spectacular. Like Jango, he has twin pistols and holsters. This is, of course, not exactly how Fenn looked in the comic, but Hasbro has only so many Mandalorian bodies to repaint and reuse so it's probably for the best that we got a slightly wrong Fenn over no Fenn at all.

Collector's Notes: This figure was offered for a couple of cases, and then went away. With the demise of the comic pack line it seems unlikely Hasbro will reissue it again, which is a shame as it seems like this figure may do well as a single release by nature of it being a cool armored character. Fenn's armor had different colors as the comic series continued, so really, Hasbro could repaint this one a few times ago. (HINT, HINT. C'mon Hasbro.)

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,214: February 8, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,213: Battle Droid (with Mace Windu)

BLAST-APART BATTLE DROID (Tan Edition) with Mace Windu
Saga Deluxe Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 84859 No. 84876
Number: n/a
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Includes: Blaster, Mace Windu, Force pieces, lightsaber
Action Feature: Goes to pieces
Retail: $9.99
Availability: April 2002
Appearances: Attack of the Clones

Bio: A senior member of the Jedi Council, Mace Windu is a highly revered Jedi Master. He personally leads a battalion of Jedi to the red rock planet of Geonosis in an attempt to rescue Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' back yard.

Commentary: When it comes to some troopers, Hasbro isn't shy about the resculpts and variations-- like the Battle Droid. There were several molds made for the first prequel, and quite a few more for the second-- of which this is one of the first. His main feature is that he was designed to split apart at the waist on impact, which he does-- the problem is that it's really tough to get him to stay together without added support, like rubber bands or some sticky substance like, for example, glue. I hate to poo-poo this droid because the deco is really remarkable and very different than the dirt and damage painted on other droids, but it's worth noting that he's really hard to stand up and keep together without difficulty. He isn't as articulated as other figures, but as part of a larger "action" package he works well as one of Hasbro's many "victim" figures. Toy fans should get a kick out of him in that respect, although it's really hard to say that any figure that can't hold itself together is much of a success.

Collector's Notes: This figure was originally available in tan (pictured) and was later reissued in red. The tan one is seemingly the most common. The reason for this is that Hasbro found out late in the run that the Battle Droids of Attack of the Clones would be red, so their initial figures were all the wrong color.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,213: February 5, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,212: General Grievous

GENERAL GRIEVOUS Almighty Tallest Edition
The Legacy Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87535 No. 87823
Number: #BD25
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Includes: Droid parts, twin lightsabers, blaster
Action Feature: Splitting arms, removable chestplate
Retail: $7.99
Availability: Fall 2008
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: A cyborg composed of melded metal and flesh, Grievous is one of the most chillingly effective military leaders in the Separatist's army. He is a powerful and frightening presence in battle, exhibiting strategic ingenuity and flawless cunning. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' desk.

Commentary: One of the most anticipated remakes from the prequels turned out to be a fairly junky figure. General Grievous is a figure fans have been requesting a new version of for years, and in all fairness Hasbro actually did listen to pretty much every fan request for this one. Problem is, fans as a whole don't necessarily know what will make a good toy, and the sum of Grievous' parts sucks. I will say that the sculpt is strong, and it looks like Hasbro did a pretty good job making sure Grievous looks more or less correct despite cramming in tons of articulation and pieces here, which is nothing to sneeze at. The painters did a fairly good job, although he does look slightly off in ways I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps I've been looking at the cartoon models too much. For some reason or another, Hasbro left out the cape, which many considered a key area in which Grievous figures needed to be upgraded. Also, there's nothing really wrong with the gun or the blaster-- they're nothing new or special, just a trio of fine weapons.

The problems start once the figure is opened. The figure is made from very flexible ("gummy") plastic which is designed to prevent the figure's limbs from being too brittle and snapping since they're somewhat thin in places. The makes the figure a little harder to pose, and I've had problems getting him to stand up for a few minutes, let alone long periods of time. This soft figure feels like it's going to fall off a stand, so I've basically kept mine in a box most of the time. The arms split, but the fingers have difficulty holding on to weapons. The legs are quite thick, and feel prone to misshaping-- this guy went straight into a tackle box because I'm presently worried that if put in a bag or on a shelf, I'm going to come by one day and find his legs at some weird angle like I did quite a few Battle Droids.

Compared to The Clone Wars figure he feels fragile, and that's saying something, making this a great figure to leave in the packaging or wait on to see if Hasbro does a slightly more toy-friendly version. I don't know if they will at this stage, but seeing that they're still reissuing old 2005 Grievous molds for some exclusive sets it certainly seems that either the tooling was being used or Hasbro also gets that this was a fairly weak figure. Everything you could ask for is here, but it just doesn't feel right at all.

Collector's Notes: This figure was originally scheduled to be reissued in the 2009-style packaging, but wasn't. I don't blame Hasbro for pulling back on it.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,212: February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,211: Luke Skywalker (Hoth)

LUKE SKYWALKER in Hoth Gear with Tauntaun
Power of the Force Beast Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 69729 No. 69645
Manufacturer: Kenner
Number: #BD33
Includes: Blaster, bridle, Tauntaun
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: January 1998
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Quick and Powerful, Capable of Surviving in Frigid Temperatures (Taken from the figure's box. And yes, that was from the Tauntaun. Oh well.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' desk.

Commentary: In the early days of the modern line, the addition of a waist joint was a pretty big jump ahead. Seeing new moving parts like knees on this Luke Skywalker was huge, mainly because it meant the days of trapdoors on the back of creature toys-- which, while effective, would be over. The good news is that the creatures themselves tended to look a little better, the bad news is that the figures looked a little worse. Because of the fact he was made specifically for sitting, Luke has a very wide stance, but not so wide that you couldn't have him stand and look somewhat normal. The figure is based on the 1997 individually packaged Hoth Luke with a few changes, the most important of which are his legs and knees. He can sit-- which, at the time, was normal for most figures. Today, a new Hoth Luke figure would likely be sculpted with plastic around the legs to complete the look of the coat, and this may hamper his ability to ride his creature.

Being a 1998 figure based on a 1997 figure, there's not a lot here to write home about beyond the fact that he's great for riding Tauntauns. The 2003 Hoth Luke has a better overall sculpt, but has been rendered unable to sit on his steed. Due to Hasbro's reluctance to ape the G.I. Joe articulation style for creature-riding figures, it seems unlikely that a future Hoth Luke will be made in a manner which will be perfect for the Tauntaun, so this means only one thing: Hasbro needs to bring back the old-style Kenner trap doors of old.

This figure isn't bad, but it isn't necessarily worth tracking down unless you need a Luke for your Tauntaun. And if you have a Tauntaun, there's a good chance you already have a Luke or two. Snag it if it comes up in a set or a lot, and you probably won't be sorry.

Collector's Notes: This figure was reissued in a Toys "R" Us exclusive blue-boxed Saga gift set a few years later for $20, and for just $5 more you got a Chewie, a Leia, an astromech droid, and a retooled Tauntaun with guts that spill out of his belly. Is it any wonder some fans are concerned about price when you see this kind of drop in the middle of the range?

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,211: February 3, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,210: Hrchek Kal Fas

HRCHEK KAL FAS Cantina Saurin
The Legacy Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87535 No. 91422
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #BD33
Includes: Blaster, cup, droid piece
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99
Availability: October 2009
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Hrchek Kal Fas is a Saurin droid trader who frequents Chalmun's cantina when he’s on Tatooine. He saw a report about two "lost" droids and tried to follow C-3PO when the protocol droid left the cantina, but lost him in the busy streets. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' yard.

Commentary: Generally assumed to be a Bossk of a different color, Hrechek Kal Fas is one of many background aliens from the most famous space bar scene of all time-- and it's worth noting it's not a particularly accurate figure, not that most fans will notice. The feet are supposedly booted in the movie, the hands have the wrong number of fingers, and the movie mask's eyes were all black As such, while this is a nice figure in its own right, it's wrong in quite a few places. I'm not sure if I should get my feathers ruffled over this or not, on one hand it's nice to have the figure but it seems odd for Hasbro to miss this many details on a costume this old. Like most figures these days, this one has 14 points of articulation and there are lots of ball-joints-- take a look at the neck, elbows, ankles, and knees. Hasbro made this figure capable of doing virtually anything, when all it really needs to do is sit, stand, and hold a drink. I appreciate these extra details, but they come at a cost-- specifically, they're making these figures more expensive, which is a bit of a downer. I think I could handle slightly less articulation if it meant a lower price or improved deco, but that's me. (I know many of you disagree.)

Anyway, the detail is solid, the sculpt is good, it's just not particularly authentic. It's hard to fault a fairly well-made figure, but there, I did it. It's a top-notch effort that just missed perfection. It's a real downer we'll probably never see another redo on this one, but hey, at least we got one right? File this one under "good enough." If you're no stickler for detail, it's one of Hasbro's better Cantina figures.

Collector's Notes: Hasbro stated in an online Q&A that they planned a running change with all-black eyes. One is not currently scheduled to be produced, so don't go hunting for it just yet. Just get the one release-- which did appear in some buy-one-get-one packs in late 2009 and early 2010-- and be happy with it.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 1,210: February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,209: Bultar Swan (Purge)

BULTAR SWAN Purge
30th Anniversary Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87530
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #13
Includes: Lightsaber, removable chest armor
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Fall 2007
Appearances: Purge

Bio: The Jedi are on the run or in hiding after Order 66 wiped out most of the venerable order. Bultar Swan has a plan to crush the new Empire: destroy Darth Vader and thus weaken the Emperor and his fledgling rule. She brings together a handful of Jedi on the planet Kessel and leaks a false rumor that Obi-Wan Kenobi will be there, knowing Vader will take the bait... and the Jedi will be waiting for him. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' desk.

Commentary: Since 2002, fans have asked Hasbro for some form of Bultar Swan as a toy, as she was somewhat recognizable in the melee near the end of Attack of the Clones. While not super-articulated, if you consider the quality of the figure and the price, this set was quite a stunner. From the waist up, she's a modern figure in every sense of the word, but her legs are decidedly old-school. Aside from hip articulation, there are no leg joints, however Hasbro managed to give her legs a good range of motion and also posed them in a remarkable action-oriented way which gives them a little bend and lets her stand and sit without too much trouble. They did a good job here, as good as one can hope for without knees and ankles.

The head sculpt is good, and the face is painted rather than molded in her flesh color. This is mostly good-- I've seen a bunch of her and it looks like her face is better in its appearance than most figures, like she has a little make-up on and seems a little more lively than other human sculpts. However, since she has a painted face, that means you need to watch for dings on her nose and such-- odds are most will be in good shape due to how so many fans keep their toys in perfect shape, but be sure to get a look at her mug if you pick one up.

Collector's Notes: With the relative rarity of Purge as a single comic book, this set is arguably worth picking up just to have it-- it's been in numerous collections but the single original Dark Horse comic was a little tough to get. The figures are both excellent and exclusive to this set, so really, why not get this? It's a great story and the set is totally worth shelling out for. It's "worth" about $9-$12, but due to the quality of the products in here I'd say that I personally would go as high as $20 and not feel like I got taken. But be cheap if you can, because that is the way of our people. It's another great comic pack.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 1,209: February 1, 2010