Monday, April 30, 2018

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,477: Dewback with Sandtrooper (The Black Series 6-Inch)

SANDTROOPER with Dewback
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Deluxe Figures
Item No.:
No. E0333
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #04
Includes: Lizard, trooper, prod, saddle, rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $59.99
Availability: April 2018
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Sandtroopers dispatched to desert worlds wear specialized gear and are nicknamed sandtroopers.  Sandtroopers ewar standard stormtrooper armor augmented with cooling units, a helmet sand filter, and a survival backpack with extra rations and water.  While hunting for the Death Star plans on Tatooine, sandtroopers used native dewbacks as mounts.  Rugged reptiles with thick hides, dewbacks are plodding but reliable mounts.   When prodded by their riders, they are capable of brief bursts of surprising speed.  (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: The Dewback with Sandtrooper is a must-have.  The trooper itself isn't the best thing you've ever seen, but it's good enough.  The Dewback seems like someone realized Hasbro was charging too much for the toy and decided to take full advantage of the price point with far more moving parts than you need.  The Han/Tauntaun and Luke/Wampa sets were $40 but you could see where Hasbro cut a few corners to deliver at the price - and they did a great job, too.   With the Dewback you can tell they just went for it, and we are all winners as a result.

The Sandtrooper is a new or changed mold, built on the design from the previous troopers.  This time it has a grey, dirty pauldron that matches the kinda weirdly dark brown stains on the armor.  The armor itself doesn't match the others - they're white, this is an off-white, almost pre-yellowed look.  The older Sandtroopers were stark, opaque things while this has a hint of transparency to it.  On a shelf together, this one looks like it doesn't quite fit - its joints are a little smoother and easier to manipulate, and the legs spread out a bit wider to fit on the saddle.  The fingers are incredibly tight, difficult to wrap around the bridle or a rifle.

The torso is sculpted a little differently here, with some elements being relocated or in different shapes.  Little circles are bigger, boxes are a bit more bulky.  It's not the same piece - but it's close.  The belt also looks a bit different, making this a surprisingly altered mold for some reason.  I don't know why they'd do it - it's better than the old one as range of motion goes, but only barely.     The decals on the helmet are changed a bit, with the cheek grey symbols having vents this time.  The black outline on the "ear" grey bits have been dropped.   I doubt you'd notice unless you live and breathe trooper variations, but this sort of thing and missing button deco on the ammo pouches are the kinds of things that stick out in a side-by-side comparison.

The Dewback itself is a bizarre triumph, mixing new and old versions of the creature.  There are jointed claws.  There are rocker ankles.  The front legs have lateral joints.  The tail moves.  The mouth opens, and there's an articulated tongue.  It's good.  The sculpted detail seems to lean heavily on the old Kenner toy with feet that don't quite seem to be the chicken legs of the special editions, but they don't match any existing incarnation perfectly.  It's a new thing, and it works - the head and the mouth are so close to the original Kenner toy and movie puppet that most fans are going to just love it in spite of the stubby tail and possibly truncated proportions.   It sort of hews close to Sideshow's design, but there's more going on here than that. 

The "hair" on the back isn't particularly convincing, but the overall design is good and I like it.   If you look at it as an interpretation of the movie creature rather than a perfect replica, it's a great display piece.  In an era that calls for extreme authenticity, I can see some may find this upsetting.  I dig it.  We're probably only going to get the one Dewback, and it's nice Hasbro worked with Lucasfilm to give us all something that tries to incorporate multiple designs in a single piece.   It's a weird creature, so it only makes sense that the toys continue to be a little strange too.  I like this bunches, and the sculpted scales are some of my favorite work on any Kenner or Hasbro toy.  And I've got a lot of Kenner and Hasbro toys.
It's cooler than the Speeders and meatier than the Wampa and Tauntaun.   When you get this in your hands, you can't help but be impressed by the abundance of scales and the  classic head design.  It's one of those toys that I could see being ran short and fans paying $100 for in a few years, happily, just because it's a substantially nice piece that you can play around with more than your average big creature.  Also: what wouldn't I give for a Bantha in this scale.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,477: April 30, 2018

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