Monday, February 19, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,456: Poe Dameron (Resistance Pilot, The Last Jedi Line Look)

POE DAMERON (Resistance Pilot) with Force Link
The Last Jedi Toys R Us Poe's Boosted X-Wing Pack-In Figure
Item No.:
   No. C1507
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, blaster
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $49.99
Availability: October 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: To give ace pilot Poe Dameron an edg in combat, Resistance engineers have fitted a boosted accelerator pod onto the tail of his T-70 X-Wing.  This gives him the extra speed he needs to outrun and outmaneuver the First Order.  (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  I'm getting a lot of mileage out of "Just different enough to make you mad." Poe Dameron returns (again) in his pilot outfit.  This figure was sold at Toys R Us in 2017 as a pack-in for the "Boosted X-Wing" vehicle.  The figure is the same tooling as the 2015 pack-in figure, with deco like the 2017 carded figure, and a unique sound chip with unique voice quotes.  If you're a completist you probably have at least five Poes in pilot outfits, and they're all basically the same.   Thanks, Hasbro.

The figure has five points of articulation with a stamped Force Link symbol on the foot - like the TIE Pilot, the figure tooling is the same.   (Other figures got retooled legs, or are perhaps completely new tools based on the same digital sculpt seemingly created by/provided by Disney and Lucasfilm.)     He has no problems standing or sitting, and the removable helmet is light on deco when compared to The Black Series counterparts.

This figure is so similar to the single-carded release that, while testing it for Force Link quotes, I didn't realize I grabbed the wrong figure and was surprised that one figure was making the sounds of two figures.  Obviously, it wasn't - I just couldn't easily tell them apart.  That's how essential the figure is.   It's a fine pilot slug you cram in the vehicle and forget, but if you do the ship may knock the blaster out of the holster and you're in for a hassle getting the tiny thing out again.  The overall product isn't great, and a figure with a better holster, or a ship with a better interior, could've done wonders.  But that's not what this is.

The only real visual difference between this and the carded The Last Jedi Poe is the blaster - pack-in Poe has light grey, single Poe has black/dark grey.  So you're looking at that, wrist joints, and a new sound chip.   If you're a completist like me you're going to get them anyway, but prepare to be disappointed.  A little scruff, a different helmet deco, literally anything that could make this figure distinctive would have been nice.

Force Link Notes: "You need a pilot." "Stay sharp."  "Give it everything you got!"  Also a smattering of blaster sounds.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Toys R Us.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,456: February 19, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,455: Canto Bight Police (The Last Jedi Line Look)

CANTO BIGHT POLICE with Canto Bight Police Speeder
The Last Jedi Class B Vehicle Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. C1248  No. C1250
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, vehicle, projectiles, figure
Action Feature: Force Link sounds
Retail: $29.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio:  Anyone attempting to escape the law on Cantonica had best move fast, as the police force of Canto Bight has at its disposal these swift, lightweight pursuit craft.  (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:  It's kind of remarkable to see how many analogs to The Empire Strikes Back there were in The Last Jedi.  The Canto Bight Police figure occupies a position not unlike the Twin Pod Cloud Car Pilot of old, with a vaguely similar appearance and a vehicle that inspires about as much actual love.  Nostalgia can do wonders for a toy, but it took forever for collectors to warm  up to the orange vehicle or its peculiarly pastel pilot.   This new ship looks a lot like a jumbo version of Kenner's Security Scout Body Rig / Mini-Rig Vehicle, a hovering, standing room vehicle that doesn't really have an exciting form.  The Canto Bight speeder is bigger, more colorful, and has firing rockets - but it's basically a big bare skeleton of a vehicle with a couple of pointy bits.

We saw a few cops walking around Canto Bight, including some with capes, some with gambling problems, but none that really made an impact.  The pilot looks a lot like Bespin guard concept art, or like a cop out of an old movie in Monte Carlo.  It does carry over some of that fancy Cloud City look, which feels like it came out of a sci-fi movie of old rather than the Lucas "used" Universe.   This is a clean figure with a fancy white belt, a hip holster for his gun, and matching gloves.  The hat has a band reading "CBPD" on it, and it's fairly well painted.  There's a nice stripe on the shoulders, and it's sharp.  It's just not true to the movie photos I'm examining.

The movie shots - and I'll need to see the movie with a pause button to compare - looks like the hands are white, but the wrist part is a dark blue.   It looks like there could be more gear on the belts, and the jacket doesn't open up below the belt either.   Admittedly I'm nitpicking - but as I assume this will be the only version we ever get of the costume in toy form, it's always a little disappointing.  It's also disappointing a troop builder is packed with a vehicle, but as an unpopular vehicle it's not beyond question that you can get the whole vehicle for cheap soon and shuck the rest of it to a thrift store.

With the Force Link you get some great vehicle and blaster sounds, and some less great human clips.  "Drop you weapons!"  Eh.   It's a good choice, but for Star Wars, it's all a little bland.  The pistol fits nicely in his hand or holster, and the figure sits easily in the vehicle.  It's functionally great, but this faceless figure is a bit forgettable.   I'm sure Hasbro made it with the designs handed to them by Lucasfilm as perfectly as possible at the time, but I'm just kind of shrugging.  With tons of aliens, droids, and funky troopers, a faceless human that's lawful neutral is a waste of a slot on a short-run toy line with figures that barely made it to the finish line.  As I wrote this in advance I have no idea what - if anything - we saw for Solo last weekend, but I sincerely hope it's more fun than this figure and vehicle set.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,455: February 14, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,454 Kylo Ren (The Last Jedi, The Black Series 6-Inch)

KYLO REN Now with Cape and Scar
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. C1773
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #45
Includes: Cape, Lightsaber, hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio:  Growing more powerful in dark side of the Force, Kylo Ren pursues his enemies with sinister determination. He will prove to Supreme Leader Snoke what he is truly capable of and will hunt down those who caused his defeat at Starkiller base.  (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:  With The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren gets a new costume - this is interesting because The Force Awakens takes place a day before, and he goes from a robe and a hood and a helmet to a cape and no mask.   We even see him with some sort of bandage on his face briefly, but so far that hasn't made the transition to toys.   While a new mold, this Kylo Ren looked a lot like the unmasked one from 2016.   This shows us that the character has a personal sense of style, but that unmasked figure was something already on markdown.  This unmasked version has at least two flavors so far, and the price dropped quickly.  This is a shame - I really like this figure!

He has a good Adam Driver portrait with a slightly healed scar.   Seeing that only days pass between the fight with Rey and this look, he's doing pretty well.    The horizontal bands on his arm remain, and his clothing is a lot shorter so it's less like a dress.  You can see is boots, and the figure can make the most out of its 24 points of articulation.   For better or worse, the figure as the same as many that have come before with great sculpting and good articulation.   It's a wonderful format, but it doesn't get to  break any new ground.  Sure, the hilt can plug on to his belt, and yes you get a cape, but it's a lot like the existing figures.   I love the range of motion given to the figure with the shorter coat, and I was able to get some pretty nifty poses out of the figure.   I'd also like to see what could be done if Hasbro tried a new kind of articulation, just to keep it interesting.
There's not a lot of paint here, but what's here works well.  Glossy black boots really shiny, and the face has clean hair and great eyes.  The eyebrows are solid, and it's one of the better figure faces in the format.  The only shortcoming is Adam Driver is, to say the least, a unique face.   Converted to a plastic head, he loses some detail like his moles and a bit of his personality.  That's no knock against Hasbro, that's just the reality of a $19.99 action figure.  The SH Figuarts one is a bit fancier, and pictures of the actual man have little lines under the eyes that you can't do on a mass-produced head that's the size of a grape.   Hasbro did paint the lips, and they did a great job here too.

I like what Hasbro did here and I'm really curious to see if they'll up the game for the next one.  If you compare this figure to the unmasked figure from 2016, this one is amazing.  The 2016 one is good, but the kind of plastic used here is so much better, and so is the paint.   This figure got down to a couple of bucks on an online toy seller over the holidays, and he's a necessity in a new movie's toy line.  The market seemed to have a mixed reaction to it, but as The Black Series goes I really dig it.  If we can see a more plussed-up and more detailed portrait later I'd be eager to check it out.   If you're happy with the Kylo Ren figures you have, you may not need this one too.  But you might want to go ahead and get it, particularly if it's in a set or is available on the cheap.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,454: February 12, 2018

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,453: First Order TIE Fighter Pilot (The Last Jedi Line Look)

FIRST ORDER TIE FIGHTER PILOT With Force Link
The Last Jedi Vehicle Pack-In Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. C3224
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, helmet, TIE Fighter
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $39.96
Availability: October 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: The elite of the First Order Starfighter Pilots have access t specialized craft, such as this two-seater TIE craft outfitted with enhanced weapons and sensor systems.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Sometimes I see an exclusive vehicle and I get excited.  New Jedi Starfighters gave us new colors, new X-Wings often had new squad marks or exclusive pilot figures.   The Empire's standby craft often got into the area of just different enough to make you mad, and the First Order TIE Fighter Pilot comes with a ship that certainly meets that standard.   Like the 2015 pilots, this one has a removable helmet.   The figure has 5 joints and no visible sculpted copyright markings.  Unlike the other Force Link figures, this one has no sign of sculpting changes to the foot for the Force Link symbol - they just painted it on there.

The main reason to buy this is the sound effects - because that's what's new here.  The figure makes a few quotes that don't seem to be from the movie or a Lucasfilm resource, most likely the result of Hasbro employees improvising.  The vehicle has some really awesome TIE Fighter noises, and unless I'm mistaken is Hasbro's first electronic TIE vehicle to have the iconic engine roar.  It features the same functions as the original ship otherwise, for good and for ill.  I still love the canopy lid's gun storage. The firing rockets are superb.  And the wings are still awful.  I opened this and left it alone for a few months, and the wings just warp and bend when left alone on a shelf.  This is the exact opposite of what we should be seeing now, as Hasbro had the same problems with the newer, bigger X-Wing mold used from 1998-2012.   Kenner had the TIE Fighter wings right for nearly 38 years, so the problem starting now is a little baffling.   The wings pop off when you push the buttons - now under the pylons, the opposite of what we've been trained with since 1978.

The figure itself is nothing new - were it not for the sounds or the change on the foot, you could skip it.  For the added benefit of the sounds, I would say this is the better TIE to get.   He has First Order symbols on his shoulders, and the buttons on the computers are basically unchanged.  I was hoping the color of one of them might be a tiny bit different, but it was not meant to be.   I admire Hasbro's clever way to fit a new functionality in a vehicle with no added costs, but would it have killed them to give the figure or vehicle some notable change?  Battle damage!  Meteor impacts?   Different colored lights?   The era of buying two of everything has long passed.   One of everything is even a stretch for fans who splintered off from the prequels, or TV shows, or the Disney era.  The number of unsold TIEs around after Christmas said that there wasn't much demand in general, and I don't know that a lot of collectors bought this just yet.  If you're waiting for clearance, I don't blame you.  It's a lower-end-of-decent piece and if I never bought it, I'd not miss it.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,453: February 7, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,452: First Order Stormtrooper Executioner (The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch)

FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER EXECUTIONER With Articulation
The Force Awakens The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Figure Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. B4054 No. C3783
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Laser Axe
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.92
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: The Last Jedi

Bio: The First Order can only operate efficiently with the absolute loyalty of its followers.  Should any soldier be found guilty of treason, it is up to this special branch of stormtroopers to dispense final justice.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  I have to say that the First Order Stormtrooper Executioner is a nifty example of why good packaging copy can stir the imagination or result in disappointment.     The brief bio almost makes it sound like these guys were the First Order's own Bounty Hunter squad.   The reality was more of a cameo - a couple of this trooper showed up to not really do much other than menace our heroes for a moment.   The figures were on a lot of signs and were sold as multiple exclusive action figures, some of which were a little too widely available for the needs or demands of the market.

The core figure is very similar to The Force Awakens Stormtrooper, which had the holster slot on the thigh for a blaster that wasn't included.  The figure has no problems holding the nifty Laser Axe, which we really didn't see do any damage on-screen.  Maybe we'll see it again next time.   Deco is similar to the basic Stormtrooper, including the slightly sloppy application around the mouth.  New black stripes on teh helmet and shoulders really bring out some personality, but other than that there's not too much new here  A little black detail around the ankle, a First Order symbol on the shoulders, and a general specialized feel make this a nifty figure, if not thoroughly essential.  
If you're a one-of-everything completist, a second Executioner may be in your collection from Toys R Us' Force Link starter pack - which also includes a unique Praetorian Guard.  I much prefer this one, and I rarely see it in my toy travels.  These super-articulated figures come and go quickly, showing just how popular the format is despite limited distribution and wonky packaging.  If Hasbro makes a good figure with 26 points of articulation, fans will show up and will buy them in droves.  Hopefully more are in the hopper for future distribution as demand is far from satisfied.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,452: February 5, 2018