The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures Fan's Choice Winner
Item No.: Asst. A5077 No. A5165
Number: Black Series #14
Includes: Blaster, hilt, lightsaber, pop-off holster
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: September 2013
Appearances: Expanded Universe
Bio: An assassin for Emperor Palpatine, Mara's life changes when she meets - and eventually marries - Luke Skywalker. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)
Image: Adam's photo lab.
Availability: Click here to buy her at Entertainment Earth now!
Commentary: I'm somewhat pleased that I was on record of disapproving of Mara Jade before we even saw her - at Toy Fair 2012, during Hasbro's panel, you may have heard a smirking "boooo" from the back when Hasbro announced the Fan's Choice winner. I was not mad at Hasbro, but you people - with all the stuff you bug me to ask Hasbro to make for you, given the chance, as a community, you all decided what you wanted the most was another Mara Jade? Well, I guess we get what we deserve as a group. This could've been a new character, and instead what we have is a figure that's decent but clearly suffering from factory communication problems. Official photos of Mara show this hair piece fitting well enough to conceal that (as the kids call it) fivehead, which I have found is slang for what happens when someone like that one girl in my high school German class has too much forehead. And now you know.
Were this figure released in or before 2010, I think people would be more accepting. Hasbro has been trying to say Vintage and now Black Series are "premium" expressions of the characters, but all we're seeing are head-swaps and higher price tags. Mara Jade is one of precious few 100% newly-tooled figures in the assortment, which would be fine if we were dealing with a budget-conscious kid's line. For eleven bucks, I want something good. I admit I'm being unfair, but once a figure's head is poor the entire figure is skippable. We've found out that you can give her various Black Widow (Marvel) heads to improve her, but should we have to? The 1990s hair is more or less an acceptable color, but the eyebrows aren't quite right and probably should be darker. Her expression isn't much to look at, and at best the head is just OK. In some respects, the figure compares unfavorably to her 1998 ancestor. If you look at the official Hasbro shot on Amazon (see above for link), Mara 2013 actually looks quite pretty.
The figure body is largely good - the one thing I actively dislike about it is how her blaster holster falls off if you look at it funny. The sculpt is nice, the torso joint is perfect, and the proportions are better than usual for a Hasbro lady figure. What we have here feels like a missing link, or at least something that Hasbro probably had perfected in-house and got mucked up by China. But that's all I can complain about - the arms are nice, the legs are nice, and she can actually sit down. That's a big deal with me, and her gloves don't look like monster hands either. It's clear to me that Hasbro designed the perfect Heir to the Empire Mara Jade, and got very close to giving it to us - maybe we'll see a tweak when she shows up in a later wave, because the existing figure's 14 points of articulation are so wonderfully integrated into her design that I'd be lying if I said Hasbro didn't deserve a pat on the back. They did their job - they really tried!
I would be a bad toy complainer if I didn't mention how good her accessories were - the detail on the lightsaber hilts is quite good, with lots of little finely sculpted bits. The unlit saber in particular is a joy to squint at, and the blaster is well worthy of your eyeballs. Given the high prices of third-party accessories in some toy lines I feel silly suggesting you buy a figure for the parts but this is one of those times I believe a customizer would get a lot more out of this figure than a collector. Overall this is a good figure with two significant flaws. The body is nearly perfect. The accessories are good, and fit in her hands and belt holes nicely (minus the holster). It's rare to see a figure with a tight outfit that doesn't have exceptionally large assets. I'm not saying they aren't big, but hey, they held back a bit here. Also, Mara may have the tightest pants in the line. She's going to make Meryl Silverburgh blush.
Collector's Notes: Early packaged sample photos have her hair set correctly and a red (rather than purple) lightsaber blade. I got this figure online from Entertainment Earth, and so should you. I have not seen her in stores yet. And yes, I'm still irate she won a Fan's Choice slot over something new... and also that fans expected Mara Jade Skywalker. Heck, so did Hasbro - the UPC for this figure actually reads "Mara Jade Skywalker" so it's clear someone changed their minds during development. Ah well! So close. I anticipate seeing her with a better head as an exclusive later. Throw in Sim Aloo and a couple of Stormtroopers, and you've got a deal.
Oh, and I loathe the unimaginative packaging. If I look at a shelf of these, I can't tell who's there easily - the grey doesn't pop, and it's not obvious. I just intensely dislike it and can't wait to see Hasbro change it.
Day 2,041: October 23, 2013