Friday, September 23, 2011

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,638: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA Bowcaster Fires Projectile
The Clone Wars Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 94736 No. 32843
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #CW63
Includes: Stand, firing bowcaster, non-firing bowcaster, projectile, Trandoshan blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $8.99
Availability: August 2011
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: Chewbacca is captured by Trandoshan hunters, who kidnap victims and hunt them as part of a deadly game. The Wookiee comes across a group of Padawans who have been kidnapped, including Ahsoka, Anakin's Padawan, Chewbacca joins them to find a way to escape from the planet. His immense strength and his technological skills give the group much-needed support. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' kitchen.

Commentary: Since 2008 Hasbro has managed to sneak a number of The Clone Wars cameos and guests from the original trilogy into the cartoon toy line, to varying degrees of awesomeness. Boba Fett? Multiple outfits. Bossk? Arguably the best toy of the character ever produced. But Chewbacca? Chewie is one of the figures that makes you not believe Hasbro that this is a kid's line, simply because the figure itself feels like it needs some work, specifically in the legs and head. Overall? B, mostly due to sitting problems and face deco, the latter of which could be fixed by a running change or rerelease.

This may surprise you to hear, but this is actually the first completely new Chewbacca mold since 2005. The last new sculpt was for Revenge of the Sith, and before that was the original Vintage 2004 release. Since then the figure has been redressed several times, but not completely resculpted until now when the animation aesthetics pretty much demanded it. This time around, the figure was given a great sculpt and-- at least on my sample-- poor deco. The fur looks just like the CG model, with big strands and shaggy patches being neatly trimmed down in spots so the toy wouldn't have overly shaggy arms, which does make this look like a better toy than a direct translation of the animation model would have. With 13 ponts of articulation, his range of movement should be excellent. Sure, there's no ankle articulation, but you get swiveling wrists and two waist joints, plus with the lack of overly shaggy fur it won't look as iffy when you rotate his hands. I have to give Hasbro major points there for cleaning up the design so it makes a better toy, but he still can't sit. The reason it gets a harumph from me is because the deco fell short in a way that could have been easily (and cheaply) improved, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is how you'll feel too.

Chewbacca cannot sit, without surgery. His lower fur "skirt" gets in the way of leg movement, and you can bend them slightly but not at an angle which would allow him to pilot most vehicles. If you pop him apart at the waist-- which is easy courtesy of a ball joint-- you can pop the "skirt" off and he can sit easily. Granted, this is likely not a thing kids would do, nor a thing you would try to do on your own-- but if you must get him inside a spacecraft, that's how you're going to have to do it since Hasbro has an allergy to figures sitting down. It wouldn't be fair for me to dump on the hip articulation without praising the neck movement-- most Chewbaccas are jointed at the neck but cannot turn their heads. This one can actually look left and right. Good job, Hasbro!

Chewie's head looks like a different sculpt at first glance when you compare it to the packaging shots. The released toy has a significantly darker face with overly enhanced reddish pink lips, and the contrast between the light and dark fur repeats constantly and does not appear nearly as subtle as the deco on the packaging. Admittedly, the body fur deco could be attributed to Hasbro's famous photography skills, but the head has clearly been ruined by the altered paint scheme. It's a great head! This happens once in a while at Hasbro, the sculptor does a magnificent, beautiful portrait and the factory goofs it up or the guy in charge of the deco layout made an error. Or maybe it's just taste and I have none-- but I refuse to believe this, the contrast on the head between the dark fur and the bright mouth just look awful. (It is, though, entirely possible that it's only my sample.) Aside from this the deco is pretty nice-- the hands and feet have dark grey for his "skin" which contrasts nicely against the "fur." His claws were not given a unique color, but he does sport the black rings around his eyes, just like the make-up Peter Meyhew had under the original mask in the movies.

Finally, there's accessories-- many of them-- and they're all really good. Not being content to merely give him a gun and call it a day, Hasbro supplied three guns-- two bowcasters and a captured rifle. The Trandoshan rifle has two grips on it and he has no problems carrying the weapon. Both bowcasters are much more durable in feel and were designed to be held in his hands with much less fuss, which is a huge plus in my book. Hasbro gave him a bright green projectile rather than the red one shown in stock photography, and this is the one weapon that falls short-- he can hold it just fine, but the scope and the firing mechanism are going to cause problems. If you push the missile with your finger, it smashes into the scope, and the darned green blast won't even go that far. There are good "marble shooter"-style projectiles out there, this just isn't one of them. (Although I will say that it's easier to shoot than the Savage Opress Axe Cannon.)

If Hasbro lightens up the face and maybe tones down the pink on the mouth a tiny bit-- which they may have, I've only got the one sample-- this is a figure I would suggest all animated fans buy. It's also one of the better overall Chewbaccas in recent memory, mostly because sitting is less and less of a key concern at Hasbro HQ with the character. For his purposes in The Clone Wars, which is mostly shooting, fixing, and fighting, it works well enough.

Collector's Notes: A reasonably new figure, you probably haven't seen him yet. But he is shipping from Hasbro, because mine came from an online retailer!

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,638: September 23, 2011

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