Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,428: Shoretrooper Captain (Rogue One Line Look)

SHORETROOPER CAPTAIN vs. Bistan
Rogue One   Two Pack Action Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B7073 No. C0928
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 2 figures, 2 rifles, 1 backpack rocket launcher, 2 projectiles
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $17.99
Availability: October 2017
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio:  Relishing the thrill of action, Bistan fights to ensure the freedom of fellow Iakaru, taking on enemies like Imperial stormtroopers. Specialist stormtroopers stationed at the top secret Imperial military headquarters on Scarif, Shoretroopers patrol the beaches and bunkers of the planetary facility. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Also a "lost" figure, the Shoretrooper Captain  was the third of three varieties of Scarif Stormtrooper from Rogue One.  Hasbro even teased that three versions would be coming, but it looked like it was not to be briefly - mercifully this barely-new mold with very new deco slipped out by mercy of an online store chasing it down.   This is, to date, the only Hasbro figure of the Shoretrooper Captain in any scale.  I assume this might change some day, because it looks like an easy 6-inch or 3 3/4-inch The Black Series redeco down the road.

If you bought a Wave 3 Shoretrooper [FOTD #2,343], you might recognize the core figure as being basically identical.  It's notable that the original plain trooper was made in China and this Captain was made in Vietnam, so there are some very minor changes between the molds - but they're functionally identical  with the Captain having a more rubbery "skirt."   Aside from copyright markings, the other changes are crisper details.  The texture on the thighs are just a little more detailed, and the helmet looks a lot sharper.   The other big difference of course, is a smattering of blue and yellow - the Captain has a lot more color than the rank and file troop.

It's also worth noting that the blasters changed.  The single-carded plain Shoretrooper is blacker and has more detail - certain dongles are missing from the Captain's blaster, which is also a little more brown.   So far it seems that Vietnam tends to make better figures, with China having the better accessories, so if you want the best of everything you'll need to be a completist.   Unless you squint, though, I doubt you'd even realize there was a difference between them.
As an unabashed fan of troopers, droids, and aliens - not necessarily in that order - it really stung when it looked like this set may not have made it out.   The deco on this trooper is really top-notch, with a yellow band on his forearm and blue stripes on the body and shoulder.   It would be awesome to have had a chance to buy a lot more of these, but a short-run online release beats no release at all!   Snag it if it's still available, and weep 5 years from now when it costs more.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth where it is a de facto exclusive shared with its EE Distribution wholesale wing.   I work there, so you know how biased I can be.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,428: November 22, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,427: Bistan (Rogue One Line Look)

BISTAN vs. Shoretrooper Captain
Rogue One   Two Pack Action Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B7073 No. C0928
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 2 figures, 2 rifles, 1 backpack rocket launcher, 2 projectiles
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $17.99
Availability: October 2017
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio:  Relishing the thrill of action, Bistan fights to ensure the freedom of fellow Iakaru, taking on enemies like Imperial stormtroopers. Specialist stormtroopers stationed at the top secret Imperial military headquarters on Scarif, Shoretroopers patrol the beaches and bunkers of the planetary facility. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Initially debuted at Toy Fair, the Bistan  figure was shown alongside then-unreleased Galen Erso, Admiral Raddus, a Shoretrooper Captain, Fenn Rau, and Lt. Sefla.  Fan communication with Hasbro is a lot less complete than it has been, so it wasn't really obvious that the Captain and Bistan weren't going to be made until it suddenly became obvious the line was ending and there was no final wave of 2-packs coming.  I was heartbroken - a new trooper, and an awesome alien never to see the light of day?   Enter Entertainment Earth, where this item eventually arrived.  You can tell by the date stamp on the box that it was manufactured long after the rest of the line was over, and while it's not a proper "exclusive" you won't find it anywhere else - currently I believe all units manufactured on the planet came through Entertainment Earth as it was not released overseas.  (For all I know it might, but for now, it's not an exclusive... but it's pretty exclusive.)  Surely some handsome devil was thinking you might want this.

I picked up one of the big Rogue One guide books and was irritated by how wonderful it was - dozens of Original Trilogy-ish aliens, rebels, Imperials, and other characters were all sitting there.   And because Hasbro figured Rogue One would be less popular, the line was over before we saw the movie and could say "I want that!"  Mercifully Bistan got pulled from the garbage chute and cranked out - so you should order one.   This is the last figure from that line - Fenn Rau made it out overseas (and a startlingly limited number were made of the US assortment which technically never hit - but that's another story) so for those of you who want to be all-in, get this.  It's cool.

Bistan is about 3 1/2-inches tall, a full head shorter than his trooper companion.   The figure itself has a ball-jointed neck that gives him a really good range of motion, with a head tilt that you don't normally see in these guys.  The bulky suit allowed for more movement, and I appreciate it.  He wears a drab costume that's in line with the whole recycled costume aesthetic we saw in the original trilogy, complete with a ring around his neck that implies a matching space helmet could have been out of view of the camera.  While he lacks patterned texture on his costume, he's loaded with wrinkles and stitched details. Pockets, patches, and what may well be a parachute pack add a lot to a costume that seems simple at first glance.  A few of the cables and straps on his suit were left unpainted, but most of them do get some level of decoration - like the connectors on his wrists, the silver buckles, even a codpiece.   The limbs all move freely, and he could sit if he didn't have a corner of cloth hanging off his backside.   The eyes match the movie and the head sculpt is good, but it's impossible to match the wispy eyebrows and mustache of the film design at this scale.  The Hasbro designers came close, though.

The level of contrast in the face is a little higher than it probably should be, but it does help it from looking too samey.  It's also t he only Bistan you're likely to get, and he has a rocket pack that shoots fairly well.  A Rebel blaster fits in his hand snuggly, making this a pretty decked-out figure.   As most things Rogue One are being shoved under the proverbial table right now, you should probably snag this and also bug Hasbro to make some of the other characters from the film like Blue Squadron, Caitken, Killi Gimm, or other designs that only appeal to men in their 20s-40s.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth where it is a de facto exclusive shared with its EE Distribution wholesale wing.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,427: November 20, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,426: Inferno Squad Agent (The Black Series, 6-Inch)

INFERNO SQUAD AGENT Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch GameStop Exclusive
Item No.:
  No. E2260
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $21.99
Availability: October 2017
Appearances: Battlefront II

Bio: In the wake of the Death Star's destruction, the Empire created the Inferno Squad to ensure that Imperial secrets would remain safe.  Their fierce loyalty to the Empire and exceptional skills in both aerial and ground combat set this squad apart from the rank and file troopers. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  After hearing about the quality of the first Battlefront game and the miserable slog through Walmarts I took to find that game's figure, I'm just fine sticking to the toys now.  The Inferno Squad Agent is slightly more than just a redeco - the belt was replaced by a black Stormtrooper's belt.   How about that?   At least it's something.   The blaster is heavily weathered, and the figure has red stripes and red lenses on his helmet, plus a new Inferno Squad symbol on the shoulder and helmet.  It's interesting - but you can't help but smell the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing's legacy of red stripes on this "new" addition to the Expanded Universe.  (I don't care if they say it's canon, they'll trample it the second they can make a movie or TV show.)

The chest box has newly colored buttons setting it apart from the previously released TIE Fighter Pilot and Lt. Oxixo, but only barely - you wouldn't notice without a side-by-side comparison. Mercifully the overall figure's red stripes and unique helmet markings set it apart from any and all TIE Pilots released to date, also frustratingly making it unique to the 6-inch size.  I doubt Hasbro  has any intention of making sure the 3 3/4-inch line is the main, complete one with all figures in it these days, but at least this pilot turned out well.     With about 26 points of articulation, it's a well-made figure with good, sturdy joints that are nice and stiff.  He's unlikely to collapse under his own weight, but finding the center of gravity may prove challenging.

It's a fine pilot - if you're buying troops, a little variety is nice and I enjoy the weird trooper exclusives.  I'd also like to see 3 3/4-inch ones, but I have a feeling the current regime is not thoroughly understanding that the collectors of that scale are being bored into exile.  Ah well.   Get this one if you can score it for a fair price.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from GameStop.  The nice lady at the store had a damaged box one and I got it for 10% off.  That's a good day right there.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,426: November 15, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,425: BB-8 (Droid Factory Line Look)

BB-8 New, Bigger, Hat Compatible
Droid Factory The Last Jedi Boxed Set
Item No.:
  No. 23185
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 more droid figures
Action Feature: Breaks down into 4 separate pieces
Retail: $29.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.   These four BB units are featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.   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:  He stole the first movie('s marketing), so it makes sense we should get more BB-8 figures.  Hasbro has not been able to offer all that many, really.  So far he's never been sold as a basic Hasbro figure, always appearing in a bigger multi-pack which I have to wonder may be influence by the licensor - Disney, after all, sells him at theme parks individually or in this set.  Curious.

Anyway, this 3 3/4-inch BB-8 from Disney is larger than Hasbro's offerings from The Force Awakens, with a heavier build and a 4-piece thing that's basically a Weeble.  The figure is basically a two-piece shell that plugs in to a weighted  ball that's loaded with detail - and it's painted, too.    The silver and grey ball is not only stable, but it has little red lights painted on the inside that you may never actually see.  It's a nice detail, but also sort of a waste to put this level of painted detail inside when the outside needs some work.

The figure is painted about as well as Hasbro's models, with some more refined detail in some spots on the body ball, with a less impressive head.  The eye and holographic projector are lacking the outer rings of detail, plus some panel lines are missing.   The black eye juts out in a strange way, but that might just be an illusion due to the big eye being painted entirely black - and not with a grey or silver ring on the border.  The antenna are all white, which isn't quite right - the tips should be grey.  THe light under the central eye is left unlit, but it looks like BB-8 overall.  I figure if Disney spent the deco budget outside the figure rather than on the inside, we'd have the best BB-8 ever made.  Instead, it's just pretty good.
The big surprise to me was BB-8 has a little hole in his head for hats.  You can pop in the magical hat from other sets or anything with clearance for his antenna, and you can even pop his head right off and put it on an Astromech body.  It's a pretty good use of the existing system, even if it is a bit silly.  It can sit upright despite having a round bottom thanks to the weight, but you might need to nudge it to be perfectly upright.  His head can spin, but it can't leer forward like the Hasbro figures could.   It's different - not better, not worse, just a different take on a popular droid.

The same mold was used for a carded BB-8 a few months ago at about $13 - and this one has some wear and dirt painted on it, which makes it a little bit better and a little bit cheaper.  If you're on a budget, skip the carded one and just get this set - the individual figure doesn't look all that different, plus you get 3 more droids.   Maybe they'll be in the movie - we don't know for sure yet, but at least they all look cool.  As of right now we don't know how Hasbro's will turn out for The Last Jedi, but maybe it'll be awesome!  For now, this is pretty great.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Disneyland via my pal Zac.  Thank you Zac!

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,425: November 13, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,424: 2BB-2 (Droid Factory Line Look)

2BB-2 New, Blue, True
Droid Factory The Last Jedi Boxed Set
Item No.:
  No. 23185
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 more droid figures
Action Feature: Breaks down into 4 separate pieces
Retail: $29.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.   These four BB units are featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.   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:  Droids have been a sneak preview figure staple since 2002.   Now that Disney manufactures the droids, their track record on giving us significant or recognizable figures is pretty mixed.  I don't yet know if 2BB-2 will appear in the new movie, but it looks cool. While made from the same silhouette as BB-8, this one actually has a new chassis - that blue ball doesn't match BB-8 or BB-9E in terms of its sculpt, but it's functionally similar.  The figure splits at the middle, with a weighted ball inside to give it the power of Weebles.  It wobbles, but won't fall down.   Unsurprisingly, this makes it better and more interesting than Hasbro's existing BB-8 figures... of which there are surprisingly few at the 3 3/4-inch scale.

The figure is simple - the head turns, and you can split apart the body and mix parts with other BB droids.  This leaves the door open for Droid Factory BB part bins, and I hope this never happens.   It's too much, and so far these droids are sort of an unknown.  Everybody loved BB-8, but the figures are functionally dubious - we have no vehicles with droid slots, no playsets, and no arms to interact with other figures.  It just sits there and looks cool, and sports dark green rings, white markings, and some lettering which seems was poorly printed.  The letters are backwards Aurebesh.   Oops.

I like the head - it's incomplete, with an eye and lots of empty space. The antenna and copious horizontal vents feel very 1980s, sort of like an old car or an incomplete remote control toy.     The coloring looks almost like a globe of the Earth.   I have a lot of action figures, and other than Globey I haven't seen many that look like this.  It's neat, it's cute.   If you're getting the set anyway - which doesn't feel like much of a bargain given the figures' tiny size - this is one of the reasons to buy it.  To date, 2 of the 4 droids are not known to be upcoming Hasbro releases.

Aurebesh Notes: The white lettering reads "KNC" in one spot, and seemingly "BZM" on another - but it's mirror-flopped.  A big red "H" appears on the bottom too.   The black lettering on the top is also flipped - "KEEPCLEAR." I assume it was not intended to be reversed, but there you go.
Collector's Notes: I got mine from Disneyland via my pal Zac.  Thank you Zac!
--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,424: November 8, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,423: Darth Vader (The Black Series, 6-Inch, Centerpiece)

 DARTH VADER with display base
The Black Series Centerpiece
Item No.:
Asst. C1503  No. C1554
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cape, lightsaber, base
Action Feature: Lights up
Retail: $49.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Imagine Darth Vader storming aboard the Tantive IV in Star Wars: A New Hope with this Star Wars The Black Series Centerpiece Darth Vader, featuring Darth Vader wielding his lightsaber among the ruin of the besieged Rebel ship. With a premium base featuring lights that invite building out the iconic scene with more figures, vehicles, and accessories, Star Wars The Black Series Centerpiece Darth Vader truly serves as the centerpiece of any fan’s treasured display. (Stolen from Hasbro's marketing copy.  Packaging has 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:  When I first saw the concepts for the Centerpiece series, my reaction was "uh oh."  On one hand, you have an update of the Unleashed series of figures - which were amazing $15 statues made by Hasbro in a fit of experimentation in 2002, and collectors initially hated them despite being pretty good at a decent price.   The line had a lot of ups and downs before basically being dead by 2015, with repacks and repaints to follow as exclusives while the line dragged along until its end around 2008 with a nifty retooled Clone Trooper.  This Darth Vader is one of two figures released so far under The Black Series banner for a whopping $49.99, powered by two "AAA" batteries for some lights.  This would have been great 10 years ago, now it's obvious that Hasbro is throwing a bunch of $50 ideas at the wall of The Black Series to see what sticks in an effort to expand the offerings without focusing on the complicated core of the basic 6-inch figure segment.  (Basically, stuff sells really well, or not at all.)   This is a well-executed, nicely-engineered, poorly-timed product.


The basic concept is admirable - this is a diorama centerpiece.  You buy it and add a couple of other figures to it, and the end result is a nifty tableaux of figures.   But, as they say, timing is everything - this Vader from the original Star Wars follows a $39.99 set with a super-articulated Vader with a diorama that holds 12 figures, and comes out at the same time as a single-boxed version of that figure.  And also a movie line, and another statue, and two  higher-dollar 6-inch vehicles.   As a 40th anniversary item in the spring, this would have been a modest hit, probably - today, it's feeling like a nifty idea that is going to get overlooked.  In September it seemed slow to sell, despite the impressive amount of deco and detail, as they piled up in big cardboard displays at Walmarts across the country.  They seemed to sell elsewhere, though, and the true test is going to be if they're $30 on Amazon before Christmas.

Some assembly is required, and it's a decent fit.  Getting the door placed right was tricky, and the batteries should probably be inserted prior to assembly - I see this as a bad move, mostly because  long-term fans will no doubt leave batteries in for years and not necessarily remember to replace them or remove them, so even though you get an awesome "the door was cut open" glowing effect you may want to leave them out after seeing it once or twice.    I'd almost rather it be a USB-powered base (two batteries? In 2017?), and maybe even bundled with a figure rather than a non-articulated statue.  Since Gentle Giant, Sideshow, Kotobukiya, and others are all competing in the statue space I doubt fans are going to be super pumped to spend $50 on something that was $15-$20 during the prequel trilogy with added lights and a nicer box.

The figure itself is decent, with the Dark Lord of the Sith carved in multiple pieces.  His outer cape, his inner skirt cape, his helmet, his legs and lower waist, and his arms and upper torso.   They fit together more or less well, with a lightsaber blade plugging in the hilt embedded in his fist.  The figure looks about as good as the old Unleashed guys, in that there is detail but not an abundance of it.   I looked at my older Unleashed Darth Vaders and this is comparable in wrinkles in fabric, glove detail, and paint.  I like that the chin is silver to give it some more definition, but does it make it a better item?   This figure exists in a strange valley between being too much and not enough figure - its massive footprint gives it the "value," while coming in a fancy box that makes it look like it might be worth the price.  But it's not - if it could talk, or if Vader's weapon lit up, or even if it used the Force Link for power, I would probably heartily recommend this item to you.  If you're not a hardcore collector and just want a nice figure for your desk, I'll recommend it to you - it's a great one-off.  Long-term collectors and people who have plenty of Vaders in this size, it's another one and you know what to expect.  It's nice.  It's not bad.  It's just not $50 worth of impressive, despite gorgeous painting in the fallen door department and the brilliance of a glowing red-hot cut-out door frame.

Where the figure works well is its expandable nature.  Under the base are six foot pegs, and they fit in there tight.  You can pop them out - provided they don't launch across your house and under furniture like a rocket - but you can use them to add Stormtroopers or other figures to the base.   It's handy and a good idea, but it also results in some rather unsightly holes in the floor.  I like  how Hasbro is thinking, though, because Ultarama used the same concept decades ago and I still love that thing.

I wrote this in September and had to rewrite this ending part, because I was writing about how there were plans for the future of this line.  But here's the thing - Walmarts got them in droves, and sold them in drips.   They were marked down at most Arizona Walmarts to the tune of $24-$25 around the start of October, and I have no doubt this is because someone looked at the weekly sales numbers and said "nope, we need the space for pickle jars and pre-assembled bicycles for Christmas."   This would've been cool at a lower price, but for 2x-2.5x a super-articulated figure?  It's a nice base, but it's difficult to argue with the shifting sands of retail pricing.   While I love a good deal, I kind of despise a brand-new product being slashed in price this quickly - not on its own merits, but because it will likely doom the product at other stores and kill what future this line had.  Granted, I'd rather see Hasbro try those resources on other products.  Statues aren't a big box store product.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,423: November 6, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,422: Kylo Ren (The Last Jedi Line Look)


KYLO REN with Force Link
The Last Jedi Basic Figure Orange Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. C1503  No. C1506
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cape, lightsaber
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $8.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: Kylo Ren, a human male, was a Force warrior and a former Jedi trainee under his uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, before Ren destroyed Skywalker's attempt to restore the Jedi Order and became an apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has 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 you're making a new movie, you're going to get more of Kylo Ren.  I got a few emails lamenting this - even though the figure is in a new costume with a new head, some thought we had enough by getting him in the last movie line a few times.   Kylo Ren is kind of like Darth Vader, in that you're going to get more of him.   He's a major player, and even though the figure may look like The Force Awakens  he's new for this movie.  But - three figures share this sculpt so far.

If you're collecting them all, each figure is slightly different.  The other unmasked Kylo Ren with the TIE Silencer has a different Force Link logo position on his foot, and the head is decorated differently.  (Let's be honest - this one is better.)  What makes this figure unique is the cape, often rumored to be an artifact from Darth Vader.  It might merely look like Vader's cape but I don't know.  It's black, it flows, it's plastic.  You can take it off, and the legs are jointed to fit in a vehicle with no problems.  The robes are shorter like that of a Jedi, giving us a better look at his legs and boots.   His arms have that horizontal banding, bringing to mind the original Darth Vader costume.

His head has a swell scowl and decent paint on most samples, plus a painted scar that looks great.  His hair is painted far better than his pack-in counterpart, and mine stands without any fuss despite hanging out on my desk for nearly a month.   I would've loved to have a cloth cape, super-articulated version but this is nice too.   Hasbro did a good enough job, and the lightsaber fits in his hand because that's the least any figure should do.  You won't be amazed by this one, but it might be worth picking up. 

If you want Kylo Ren in this costume with a helmet, he's currently sold with a Force Link band.   We'll look at that version soon.

Force Link Notes: "I feel the power of the Force."  "I know what I have to do." "We're not done yet."  Lightsaber hums... and an engine?  "Traitor!"

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,422: November 1, 2017