Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,553: Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot, Archive, The Black Series 6-Inch)

LUKE SKYWALKER X-Wing Pilot Redux
The Black Series Archive 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E3253 No. E4038
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Pistol, helmet, lightsaber blade, lightsaber hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: December 2018
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Luke Skywalker uses the power of the Force and his piloting skills to destroy the Death Star.  (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: We didn't review the original 2013 release of Luke Skywalker (Pilot) (yet), so let's look at this one.  Reissued in 2017 for Star Wars Celebration with no changes, the original release of this figure - and indeed the first wave - was a dud, blown out on Amazon for significantly below retail after the first holiday season. It was typical wave 1 syndrome, but thanks to collectors hopping on board after Darth Vader came out, these guys eventually received significant demand and then people started to care.  For $13? Nobody cares. As soon as someone says "No you can't have it?" It shot up.

This 2018 release is pretty much the same as 2013, but with a couple of changes that may be enough to make you care.  The helmet deco is a little sharper and straighter.  The orange is a little more vibrant.  The boots are a tiny bit shinier.  The ankles were retooled, a seemingly different "click" positions (for the worse) on the new version reduces the precision of how you can pose it compared to the 2013 release.   A "CE" has been added to the back of the left boot, which is actually the front of the left boot, Hasbro just tooled and assembled it wrong for the 2018 version.  The blue hue of the lightsaber blade has changed.  Most important of all, the portrait has the new "photo real" deco on it, adding a lot of definition to his eyes and lips, giving him a look that's a little bit Holiday Special, a little bit ca. 1969 Iggy Stooge.

With roughly 29 points of articulation, this is (and was) a good figure. The blaster has a nice painted muzzle, the lightsaber hilt was good enough to reuse a few times, and if other pilots were this short I'm sure we'd have Biggs or Wedge by now.  Hasbro was given a great sculpt, but getting Luke's skin right has always been a challenge.  Thanks to the pink lips and glossy eyes, the skin being just a shade darker really makes this figure look a lot more lively to the naked eye.  Photos studios and macro lenses seem to goth him up a bit, but in almost any normal environment he looks about as good as he ever could.  I'm not saying you couldn't paint it better, but I certainly couldn't.

Given the letters added to the back (actually front) of the boot and difficulty posing the ankles, you might want to keep the old 2013 body and swap heads.  Of the two I prefer the 2018 look overall, but the stability and range of motion in the 2013 ankles is tough to beat.  Also the head is better in 2018, so really, who am I kidding? Just get this new one.  It's the most changed of the first wave of Archive figures, and given the secondary market prices will no doubt be the one anyone late to the party will want to add to their stash. I should note, the packaging adhesive is fantastic and it sticks without added tape - that's a big deal, as Hasbro has had steady tape problems since 2013.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,553: January 22, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,552: Tobias Beckett (Solo: A Star Wars Story line look)

TOBIAS BECKETT Woody with a Buzz
Solo: A Star Wars Story Force Link 2.0 Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. E0323  No. E2530
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 2 blasters
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99
Availability: September 2018
Appearances: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Tobias Beckett was a human male professional thief who worked for the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate during the era of the Galactic Empire. A native of Glee Anselm, Beckett organized a crew to help with his heist missions. (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:  I drew the short straw with Tobias Beckett, as his left hand had fingers fused together.  Based on pictures I've seen, I assume I just got lucky - I had to separate them with a blade.  Once the surgery was complete, I'd say this is a good figure.   The 6-inch one is better, but I like what we got here.  Unlike the real Woody Harrelson, his hair is molded to his head. The facial hair looks good, and the gunslinger motif comes off well with the space duster and space guns.  They fit in his holsters, and also his hands provided your fingers aren't stuck together.

Woody has 9 joints, thanks to the swiveling wrists and boots augmenting the neck, shoulders, and hips.  The holsters do a good job of hindering leg movement, but this isn't a figure you're likely to have sit in something anyway.  It's not like the Millennium Falcon was generous with chairs in its 2018 incarnation.  The swivel boots are great for getting the figure's stance right, allowing him to have a little adjustment in terms of how you can pose him when finding his center of gravity.

I can't say the deco is overwhelmingly memorable, or bad.  A few dots are painted here and there, there's paint on the boots, the gloves are nice, the holster has a painted buckle, and the textures aren't anything special.  The folds in the coat are nice, but I wouldn't say any one element stands out as being particularly impressive.  It's just generally good, decidedly average, the kind of figure you'll get, nod approvingly, place on a shelf, and then forget about.

My main reason for recommending this figure is because of the actor, less than the perfectly fine character.  I've enjoyed seeing various character actors and big stars salted in to the Star Wars films, and it's weird to think that my one big chance at a John C. Reilly toy will be if Marvel or Lucasfilm give him a big enough role to warrant getting some sort of toy.  But hey, here we are, it'd Woody Harrelson as a space cowboy!  I'm glad he got made as he was one of Solo: A Star Wars Story's big guns.  If you have a shot at him, be sure to get yourself one.

Force Link 2.0 Notes: "I have one rule.  Do not improvise."  "You gotta learn to think five moves ahead."  "Assume everyone will betray you.  You'll never be disappointed."  "There's a lesson to be learned here."  "Stick to the plan."  "Great shot."  Blaster sounds.  If it's a soundalike on most of these, it's a very good one.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,552: January 17, 2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,551: Val (The Black Series 6-Inch)

VAL Vandor-1
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E1208
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #71
Includes: Rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2018
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: A no-nonsense and occasionally prickly woman who is a crack shot with a blaster rifle, Val may be the most even-headed and capable member of Tobias Beckett's ragtag crew of scoundrels.  (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: Hey it's Thandie Newton!   The short-lived Val managed to sneak a 6-inch and 3 3/4-inch figure out before Solo got put back into the theoretical vault as these selling seasons tend to be short.  I'm surprised to see so many characters come out, and it's cool to see Val in her cold weather gear with all the various bells and whistles - and cords and belts.  There are clear conduits over her jacket, a scarf, and other little design elements that make this look like it could have been out of the 1970s.  Heck, the hair does that too.  There's a power pack on the back, and a lot of subtle detail sculpted in the fabric/plastic.  The face printing has improved significantly since the first figures about a year ago,  with bright glossy eyes and lips with eyebrows that look a little more realistic.  The cheeks and other detail really brings out the life in her face, making this one of the better faces in the line.

Goggles with clear lenses around her neck are a better-than-expected detail, but aren't an actual working accessory. They're just there to look cool, as are the metal coverings on her fingers on her gloves.   There's not a heck of a lot new going on here, but the detailing is excellent given that this $20 figure comes from a movie a lot of fans didn't bother to go see.  Hasbro didn't cut corners here, and I'm glad they seem to be ticking the boxes of most of the major players from each of the Disney-era movies.   I'm hoping we see more figures with this level of detail and the better-than-average portraits as time goes on, as that seems to be a great way to distinguish these figures from other brands and other manufacturers.

Get yourself a Val. I don't assume we'll see another one any time soon, even if that Trooper costume would be awesome to have, too.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,551: January 15, 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,550: Quay Tolsite (Solo: A Star Wars Story line look)

QUAY TOLSITE The Keymaster
Solo: A Star Wars Story Force Link 2.0 Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. E0323  No. E1680
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Keys
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99
Availability: September 2018
Appearances: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Quay Tolsite was a male Pyke capo who administered the Pyke Syndicate's operations on Kessel. He was a ruthless individual who enslaved several sentient beings, including Wookiees, to work as miners at the spice mines of Kessel in order to acquire spice for the Pykes. In 10 BBY, Tolsite participated during the raid on Kessel, where he was murdered by Qi'ra.   (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:  I live for weird aliens and I love alien gangsters and crooks.  Quay Tolsite delivers us our very first member of the Pyke Syndicate, a group of thugs that have been kicking around for a while but haven't made the transition to toys until now.  Along with Black Sun, the Fromm Gang, the Hutts, and so many others we're not left wanting for space crime organizations.  For toys, sure.  But we've certainly got a lot of families out there.

As figures go, this is a wonderful and infuriating collectible.   Normally I judge these things based on certain low-level requirements - can it stand, can it hold its accessories, should it sit, and can the joints work?   In this case - yes, yes, no, and... kinda.   Hasbro did a marvelous job translating the design to a collectible statue that has all of the range of movement of a bowling pin.   The head can move, the arms can be nudged a but, but thanks to the keys and the robes you won't be moving the arms or legs very much. The pose in the packaging is very much the figure, so what you see is what you get. There are separate legs and extra layers of molded robes, but why?  It looks nice, but they aren't functionally useful.  The sculptor did a marvelous job.   It's just that none of those points of articulation are worth anything.   I've made the argument in the past that sometimes 5 points of articulation are enough - in this case, you've got a figure where a "Vintage" release would have probably been a miserable waste of effort.  This is good enough, and as movement goes it's not all that good.  He stands and looks cool - so at least, as a collector, you've got that.

I love the deco. We don't get the glowing eyes on the mask, but we do get an ashy robe with hints of flame from the minerals gathering on his robes and boots.  If you part the legs, you'll see painted grime and molded orange boots.   I love that the robe lining is painted as well, as the textures and detail give us a beautiful figure of a bad guy who gets murdered pretty darned quickly.  All he can do is stand there and hold his keys, in the open, so anyone could take them.  He's practically asking to be taken down.  I like this one a lot - it's goofy, alien, and different enough from my thousands of other figures that I can say it was a most worthwhile acquisition.

Let's also take this opportunity to remind anyone reading that there might be real value in introducing a simpler, lower-cost assortment.  Figures like this one don't really benefit from most of their articulation - there are opportunities to cut costs right there.  Keep the neck and maybe the shoulders, but lose the legs.   Similarly we could probably see some awesome Jawas without jointed legs, or Battle Droids with limited paint, or any of a number of reductions that - along with the lack of a Force Link chip - could probably knock a buck or two off the retail price of these figures.   This is a collector figure in a kid line, and I'm grateful for it - but I can also see room for Hasbro to make these friendlier to kids while probably also courting the ire of those who demand ankles on a figure that will ultimately have the range of motion you get from a salt shaker.  

Buy Quay Toslite. You'll be impressed by the amazing pleather texture of his robes, the wonderful coloring, and even the cool helmet.  Heck, the rope on his accessory is surprisingly nice in terms of its sculpting.    The back of his robes have signs of scarring and damage.  It's a good design that made a cool collectible, but I do believe young Adam would have been very disappointed by its lack of vehicle compatibility.   This is an action figure without action, standing perfectly while looking awesome.  And not much else.

Force Link 2.0 Notes: One sounds like Darth Vader dying. One sounds like walking.  Another might be voices.  Some others sound like him losing a fight.  It's a weird one, I'll give you that.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,550: January 10, 2019

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,549: Rio Durant (Solo: A Star Wars Story line look)

RIO DURANT Inka Dinka Doo, a Dinka Dee
Solo: A Star Wars Story Force Link 2.0 Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. E0323  No. E1192
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99
Availability: September 2018
Appearances: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Rio Durant was a four-armed Ardennian pilot who lived during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Durant carried out dangerous missions alongside the scoundrel Tobias Beckett for years and was good-natured and up for any challenge.  (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:  As time goes on, I increasingly feel that the fourth (and possibly final) wave of Solo: A Star Wars Story action figures is a minor miracle.  Ticking off most of the movie's major faces, we get Han's first crewmates like Rio Durant.  He appeared in Funko's line early on, which is becoming the de facto line of record for collectors as no one line in particular seems inclined to be the definitive scale.  The 3 3/4-inch line is and always will be my favorite, and with just a little work it could be complete.  (Hasbro's new Star Wars team lead: call me. I can help. Or better yet, you can make me the team lead.  I have been experienced. I have. I have. Let me prove it to you.)

This is the kind of thing dorks like me dream of - blue-suited four-armed space monkey, voiced by Jon Favreau, in the era of the early Empire.  It's like something out of a Droids cartoon fever dream, and it's real. It's totally real, and it's on my desk as I write this.  This is the kind of thing I hoped we'd see more of in the prequels.  And then in the Clone Wars and Rebels series.  And then the new movies.  It didn't happen - stuff was largely coloring in the lines with a lot of similar droid types (who didn't get toys), nifty new flight suits (that also didn't get toys), and that one girl that totally looks a bit like like Olivia Neutron-John.  Trust me, that reference was on point and relevant.

The short figure stands about 2 3/4-inches tall, so he'll see eye to eye with things like Prime Masters, Pheyden, and Imaginext toys.  He has four arms jointed at the shoulders and wrists - that's eight points of articulation right there - plus a jointed neck and hips.  11 joints help make up for the fact that it's not a big guy, and his only accessory is a small blaster that slides in his holster.

I love the creature's flight suit.  Little coiled areas, multiple colors, bands, ape feet, the vest, everything just screams retro Star Wars minus the fact it isn't totally filthy. I love the goggles and the dynamic pose, as the wide toes seem to help the little guy keep upright. I appreciate stability somewhere in my life, even if it's just on a space monkey on my desk.  The eyes are smidgen off-center on my sample, but that's life.  I still love it.  The arms move nicely and I really wish I had some more ships for him to steal.

This figure is the thing out of a child of the 1970s' or 1980s' dreams.  You wish you had this as a kid - it would go great with your space faring Adventure People or mini-rigs.  It is wonderful and imaginative, something wholly different than the other thousands of figures Hasbro has given us over the last two decades and change. I hope it becomes easy for everybody to find, because it's just fun.  More of this please, Lucasfilm and Hasbro.  This is why I'm here.  This is why you're here.

Force Link 2.0 Notes: "Are we sure about this?"  "Remember, it could always be worse.  And usually is." "You can count on me." "I am not backing down." "Here they come!" Blaster bolts.  It's a soundalike, but I'll give them points for good quotes and a good accent.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,549: January 8, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,548: Dengar (The Black Series 6-Inch)

DENGAR Debut
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E1215
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #74
Includes: Pistol, rifle, backpack
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2018
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Crude and slovenly, Dengar was nonetheless an effective bounty hunter.  While some hunters prided themselves on finesse and style, Dengar preferred firepower and destruction.  (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 Bounty Hunters are kind of amazing.  The exquisitely designed Boba Fett was joined by characters made of cast-off bits and leftover costumes from Doctor Who with a few new elements, and they became legends.   Dengar was identified as "Zuckass" (with that spelling) in the early comics of the 1980s, before what would eventually be corrected names shook out.  Thanks to confusion in the role-playing game, Kenner figures, and other materials, a lot of fans didn't know who was really who until the 1990s.  Thankfully, as merchandising goes Dengar was always Dengar.

With origins ranging from a hired gun to a swoop racer to a guy with a hot dancer wife.  The new continuity hasn't done much with him yet, but he's still a scarred bodybuilder with bits of Stormtrooper, Sandtrooper, Snowtrooper, and other costumes stapled to the flight suit of superstitious mummys.  The backpack is loaded with detail and pegs in the figure's spine, which is awesome and allows for possible future customization to the variant Return of the Jedi configuration with other armor stapled to his back.  The sculpting is really good, with dingy shoes and wrinkly "cloth" bits.  The head wrapping looks good, which is no small feat - if you get it wrong, it looks even worse.  The wrappings are molded separately from his fleshy face, so customizers might be able to pry it off and augment it with other accessories in the future.  But why would you want to?  This impressively scarred scoundrel has shiny eyes and slightly moist-looking lips.  The printed facial detail continues to look amazing, especially given that it's on a figure that is not exactly extensively documented. 
Little details like the holster with a blaster are generally left out, but it's here.  He's loaded with articulation and has no problems holding his weaponry in several poses.   It's remarkable to see Hasbro has engineered an impressive figure with lots of moving parts and armor that doesn't get in the way of you displaying the figure in a variety of interesting ways, while remaining upright with solid feet to keep him standing.

Dengar may not be a robot or a cool alien, but he's a fantastic action figure once again.  If you see it, get it.  If you think it looks good, you're right.  Hasbro did a pretty amazing job replicating arguably the least interesting costume from that scene, so get one and then be angry that it's fantastic.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,548: January 3, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,547: Han Solo (Mimban, Solo: A Star Wars Story line look)

HAN SOLO Mimban
Solo: A Star Wars Story Force Link 2.0 6-Figure Gift Set - Target Exclusive
Item No.:
  No. E2827 (also sold later individually as Asst. E0323 No. E2772
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, cape, mask, 5 more figures
Action Feature: Most of Han's head gear is removable. Don't lose it.
Retail: $44.99
Availability: September 2018
Appearances: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Bio: From gleaming cities to the muddy terrain of Mimban, Imperial forces protect and serve the Empire.  Their versatile training and equipment allows for them to be employed in a wide variety of environments against Rebel forces and others disloyal to the aims of the Empire.   (Taken from the set's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  While the single-carded figure is shortpacked, Han Solo (Mimban) hit Target stores as part of a 6-pack first.  Unless you are a packaging completist, this might save you some hassle.   The figure is pretty much the same as the Mudtrooper [FOTD #2,532] with some different deco and less glue.  This version of Han has 7 points of articulation, as Hasbro gave him wrists to best use his blaster.  The blaster is also slightly different - there's an added grip on the front of it.  It's a different mold!

With the same armor as before, let's pay attention to the head.  Those goggles can be moved up or removed, and you can pull down the breathing mask.   This lets you see Han underneath, or you can keep him wrapped up to use as a generic trooper - it's nice to have options.    Han has a red band on his arm to indicate his rank, but is otherwise visually very similar to the unnamed Mimban Stormtrooper from the boxed set.   He stands, he can hold his gun, and he looks pretty good.  For fans of Imperial stuff, you're going to want this.

While he doesn't look much like Alden, he looks a lot like a trooper.  That has to count for something. I assume he'll be in decent demand since the single figure is shortpacked, and the boxed set is in pretty ample supply thanks to it not being cheap.   I'd recommend this one if you liked the movie or Imperial stuff, or you could just get the Glyos DSG STS Commando.  Heck, get one of those too.


Force Link 2.0 Notes: "Han Solo reporting for duty!"   "Weapons locked and loaded."  "Let's give these guys some blaster fire!"  "C'mon, let's get moving!"  "Aaaaagh!"  Blaster sounds. The voice is a pretty bad soundalike.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Target.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,547: January 1, 2019