Thursday, May 28, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,694: Anakin Skywalker (The Black Series 6-Inch, Archive)

ANAKIN SKYWALKER Redux
The Black Series Archive 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E3253 No. E4042
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Alternate head, lightsaber hilt, blade
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Anakin - now Darth Vader - turns to the Dark sde and battles Obi-Wan Kenobi in a lightsaber duel on the lava planet Mustafar. (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: I don't believe I got to review Anakin Skywalker on his debut 6-inch release - but this one is better.   If you see it (and you probably won't at this point), get it - unless Hasbro redoes the whole thing.   The initial release was good for the time, but his articulation hasn't aged especially well.  It's still good, but Hasbro has made such magnificent improvements that I'd be lying to you if I said this was as good as Hasbro could ever do.  It was certainly among their best for the time, and you can see just how good the original sculpted heads were with the new paint jobs given to them today.  The "bones" were always there - now you're getting the figure as the factory couldn't quite get it to you during its original release.

There's a normal head that looks a little sweaty and worn - and it's great! You get glossy eyes, a scar, subtle coloring on the lips, great eyebrows, and perfectly fine hair.  Hair is hard to do well - it's gotten a lot better lately, but it remains a challenge.   Anakin's heads come from before when hasbro did a lot more separately-molded plastic "wigs" for figures, so everything is painted remarkably well given that limitation.  He's got a real smoldering intensity with both heads, especially the second Sith head - which is even sweatier.  The hair on that head is more messed up, the cheeks are puffy with rage, and he's got glossy yellow Sith eyes.  You can also tell Anakin ugly-cries.   This head is why you want to buy this release of this figure - it's excellent.
The figure itself is also good, but some new arms would also be nice.  The arms can bend about 90 degrees, which was considered average for the time as few Star Wars figures had double-elbows (unlike Marvel) and Hasbro didn't start getting deeper elbow cuts on most of its Star Wars releases until 2018.  The fabric sculpt was great, and the actual cloth elements to the lower parts of the costume do a great job fleshing out the figure without hindering mobility.  This was one of the better early releases in the line, as he had a lot of great poseability below the waist for duels and fun.  Above the waist, he needs some work - those shoulders could be improved, and especially those elbows.  You get bend-and-swivel wrists, though, and those are always great.  You can also slap the lightsaber hilt on his belt.   All in all, it works well - but I wouldn't say no to a partial resculpt, and neither should you.  It's tough to get a cool dueling pose with the arms, but you can tell all the elements are there to make this into a great figure if they're so inclined to make some changes for the (I assume) eventual third release of the character in this scale.

It's the best Anakin from the final prequel so far, and as the prequel kids warm up to collecting these get tougher to find.  Get it when you see it cheap next time.  Hasbro's repaint and reissue strategy can sometimes be a bore, but in this case you can see some real improvement.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,694: May 28, 2020

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,693: Han Solo (Hoth, The Retro Collection)

HAN SOLO Hoth
The Retro Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E9646  No. E9650
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.86
Availability: April 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: After the Battle of Hoth, Han Solo sought refuge with Organa—with whom he had fallen in love—Chewbacca, and C-3PO on Cloud City, which was operated by his old friend Lando Calrissian. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab. 

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Hasbro's Han Solo (Hoth) is a lot closer to Kenner's old figure, but it's clearly a copy of a copy.  The ammo clip is rounded off on the blaster, the whites are whiter, the tan is lighter, the blue is a little less rich, and all the sculpted details are quite soft.   You probably won't notice any of these things at first glance, because the figure certainly looks like how you remember him enough that you likely would never question that a single detail is off.  

Kenner's original design still looks good - Han's jacket is blue, the holster has the sculpted loop at the top, and everything is where it should be.  It just all looks a bit different.  Wrinkles aren't quite right, but they're present.  The grooves and ridges on the original toy are a lot more pronounced, but one detail Hasbro tends to miss is the general wonkiness of the originals.  In Han's case, the gloves and boots are all painted cleanly while Kenner's originals frequently have wrists unpainted (or overpainted) and pants that overspray on the underside of the figure's legs aren't entirely uncommon.  The flesh tone is a bit better on the new release too, so from a distance I would go as far as to say the 2020 rerelease may be the one you want.  Particularly if your eyes aren't perfect.
 

Much like the figure, the blaster seems to be a copy of a copy - some of the details around the scope don't look quite right.  Everything is more or less close to where it should be, but you can tell they made it a bit different either on purpose or because it was overlooked.   Han has zero problems holding his blaster, and the joints are very tight.  I'd say the hip joints seem exceedingly tight, but hey, we'll see how it holds up over time.  May his crotch not explode.  Get one if you can find him!  And a split belly Tauntaun from 1982.
Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to my pal Scott "ToyGuru" Neitlich!  Did you see his new Spector Creative YouTube channel yet? Click here.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,693: May 26, 2020

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,692: Boba Fett (The Retro Collection)

BOBA FETT Old Is the New New
The Retro Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E9646  No. E9653
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.86
Availability: April 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Trained in combat and martial skills from a young age, Boba Fett became a legend over the course of his career which included contracts for the Empire and the criminal underworld.  (Stolen from Wookieepedia.  Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab. 

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Happy 40th Birthday The Empire Strikes Back!   The original Kenner Boba Fett is a big deal.  It's based on a suit not used in the movies, the figure's colors are - like a lot of the Class of 1979 - a little off, and of course there's the infamy of the firing rocket that saw release as a mail-in Boba Fett [FOTD #1,429] in 2010.   Each figure has pros and cons, plus there are some running changes and tweaks in the run of millions of original 1970s and 1980s Bobas Fett.

I am unsure exactly where the sculpt comes from.   I compared it to Gentle Giant's 12-inch Boba Fett, Kenner's 1979 Boba Fett, and Hasbro's 2010 Rocket-Firing Mail-In Boba Fett.  Each has distinctive elements and deco applications that are a little different, with things like the figure's helmet, rocket, and red right gauntlet being good "tells."   The 2020 figure does have the distinctive down-the-helmet seam in the front, but it's thinner and more restrained than the other figures that also have it.  The red gauntlet has two little blue tubules on the other releases, but they're completely missing on the 2020 figure.  The 2020 figure's proportions are also a little different - it seems the torso is a little longer than the 1989 original, but stands a hair shorter.  Strange.  The rocket's sculpted grooves are also a little different, with some fans reporting theirs isn't glued in for the 2020 release.  The red rocket is also incredibly bright this time.
Boba's colors are exceptionally different for 2020.  (2020 is in the center, 1979 on the left, 2010 on the right.)  The pale blue/grey plastic is much more of a saturated blue, and I'd say the same for all the colors - the reds and yellows are richer, the browns are darker, and even the green is a big greener on the chest armor.   The blaster is black and a tiny bit smaller than the 1979 original (and much larger than the 2010 rocket-firing edition.) A lot of details and shapes on the blaster are a little different, like the ammo clip being less squared-off.   Overall it seems to steer closer to the 1979 figure's sculpt than the 2010 (if memory serves) totally new sculpt based on the original Kenner figure.

The 2020 figure stands well - the 2010 tends to fall over backward, and the 1979 figure also stands well.  The 2020 figure also seems to grip the blaster best, and has incredibly tight joints.   He's a bit smoother, a bit shinier, and for anyone that has handled, dealed in, or played with the original toys you can tell there's something a bit off with the 2020 version.  And there are new date stamps on the legs!  To the average fan, I doubt they'll notice it's different - but for $10, it's good enough and significantly cheaper than getting real, actual Kenner toys that are 40 or so  years old.

If you're a completist, just get whatever.  I would recommend you be happy with the previous releases you already have, but if you don't have any of those $10 is a deal for this figure.  It's different enough to be interesting, and a nice thing to have.  But it's not the best.

Packaging Notes: The packaging is bad.  Lucasfilm and Hasbro went out of their way to make sure you couldn't possibly mistake it for the original - there's a distinctive fake wear pattern.  The coffin bubble now is significantly enlarged and has a tray (and a paper disclaimer) inside.  There's a "4+" sticker on it, and a WARNING box.   And the big RETRO COLLECTION sticker in several languages, which, let's be frank, that multi-language look is garbage on retro figures unless you're making Tri-Logo packaging.  The back is much worse. There are no co-sells pictured, but there's a tiny red box with the characters named.  There are tons of disclaimers and logos you can't avoid - but the yellow text explaining this collection is a total waste of space that could have gone to photography or an illustration.   Don't get me wrong, it's good enough for fans who never had a crack at the originals - but of all The Vintage Collection-esque packaging over the years, I think I can safely say this is the ugliest.   They kept the 1978-1979 Luke and Leia art on the back with the original Star Wars logo too, not even bothering to make something more appropriate to the sequel.   There's no reason for something like this to be or look rushed, and I hope we see some more love put into whatever we get for Return of the Jedi someday.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart thanks to my pal Scott "ToyGuru" Neitlich!  Did you see his new Spector Creative YouTube channel yet? Click here.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,692: May 21, 2020

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,691: RA-7 Protocol Droid (Color-Changing Droids, Droid Factory Line Look)

RA-7 PROTOCOL DROID Color-Changing Droids
Star Wars Disney Droid Depot
Item No.:
No. ???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 4 droids - RA-7 Protocol Droid, BB Unit, R2 Astromech, C1 Astromech
Action Feature: Pops apart, changes from black to blue
Retail: $39.99
Availability: ca. July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.  These droids have the special ability to change color!  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  I like to be impressed.  With the RA-7 Protocol Droid
I'm not too impressed.  The same great super-articulated build-a-droid construction is here.  You may have bought a few droids just like this one from the Droid Factory bins, 20 points of articulation but no color-change deco features.   The sculpting is still just as good as it was when the same basic molds hit in 2008 from Hasbro, the paint applications in the belly wires and the big silver eyes are sharp as ever, but there's a weird problem with the color change paint.

This is the first one of these color-changers I've found to be a little disappointing.  The cold color - black - is fine.  You look at it, and it's a perfectly nice shade of black with a mild texture on it for the color-change coating.   When heated, the blue looks frosty and worn - it's kind of gross.  I've seen this weird fuzz grow on some 1970s vintage figures, and it's a lot like that.  Only it's not mold, it's the paint.   For whatever reason the torso comes across just fine, but the head and limbs all have this odd white frost on them.


While these sets are mostly great, I would not recommend this specific figure as a shining example of how these things work well.  At best it's OK - for the 21st century I expect better out of my color-change paint.  At least it doesn't smell funky.  I've got some color-change indie toys that could melt the wallpaper off your kitchen.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon. Thanks Shannon!  There are 2 droid 4-packs and 1 droid playset with a Gonk Droid at this time.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,691: May 19, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,690: R2 Astromech (Color-Changing Droids, Droid Factory Line Look)

R2 ASTROMECH Color-Changing Droids
Star Wars Disney Droid Depot
Item No.:
No. ???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 4 droids - RA-7 Protocol Droid, BB Unit, R2 Astromech, C1 Astromech
Action Feature: Pops apart, changes from white to blue
Retail: $39.99
Availability: ca. July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.  These droids have the special ability to change color!  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Time to get back to the color-change droids!  This R2 Astromech is, clearly, R2-D2.  Or is close enough.   You've seen this mold oh so many times, and there are no obvious tooling changes here.  You've got the wheeled feet, the articulated dome and ankles, the swivel arms, and of course the removable third leg.   The proportions are pretty consistent for this and almost every major droid since 2005, with the same advantages and shortcomings we've been getting from Disney since they produced their own droids.  The detail is similar to Hasbro's figures, but softer and you don't get the wires on the feet.   It's a downer, but I'm betting most fans won't miss it.  The fact that the dome is right on the money for most of us is going to be enough.


The core figure is great, but you're buying this one for the color-change paint.  With a body molded in white plastic, the figure is coated in a unique red pigment that either turns white or clear - I am not sure which - with heat.  Put the figure in the freezer for a pinkish red R2-D2, hold it in your hand for a plain white robot.  The color sticks quite nicely if you don't handle it, as it seems to require somewhat extreme temperatures to change.  Your hands or fridge should do the trick.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon. Thanks Shannon!  There are 2 droid 4-packs and 1 droid playset with a Gonk Droid at this time.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,690: May 14, 2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,689: The Child (The Black Series 6-Inch)

THE CHILD The Mandalorian
The Black Series Mini 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
No. F1203
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Storage box, frog, knob, bowl
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: April 2019
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A male Force-sensitive Mandalorian foundling that belonged to the same species as Jedi Grand Master Yoda and Jedi Master Yaddle. (Stolen from Wookieepedia - box has no bio, is bite-sized.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Let's just get this out of the way - The Child is not worth the ten bucks, but you're going to buy it anyway.  It's not disappointing, there's just not much there and there are clear limitations due to the size and costume design.

At 1.2 inches tall, this is a small figure.  Roughly the same size as the Porgs, smaller than a M.U.S.C.L.E. man, and even tinier than Hasbro's own blind-bagged figures that usually sell for $3, this is a situation - like the Vintage line - where you're probably being charged a smidgen more because it'll sell.  

If you put this exact figure in a 3 3/4-inch package aimed at kids I'm sure it would cost less, but it's not, so it isn't.   Costs aside, Hasbro did a pretty good job with it - ball-jointed shoulders, swivel wrists, ball-jointed feet, and a ball-jointed neck add up to 7 points of articulation.
 The articulation is not all useful. The neck joint is great - the ball goes into the chest, giving him a greater range of motion which adds to the figure's personality.  The wrists swivel, which is handy when trying to get him to hold a shifter knob.

On the other hand, the shoulders can only go up and out - there's no way to get both hands on the bone broth bowl.  The swivel feet just make it harder to make him level, having no articulation down there would certainly have made for a better product.   This isn't a great figure for interacting with accessories, but given Hasbro (and friends) had a couple of weeks to design it and managed to deliver the secret character to fans in under 6 months, it's amazing.   I'd go as far as to say they should've pared down the features to get it here faster and cheaper, but that's me.   At the very least, he can stand and look cute. That's mostly why you're buying this.

What's funny is I almost wish Hasbro went in the other direction - how could this be a $20 figure?  Maybe include a floating carriage, multiple Babies Yoda in various poses, perhaps with no articulation to get around the bulky outfit's restrictions, and any other accessory.  Or, make a new assortment of $25-$30 The Black Series figures, each of which come with a uniquely posed non-articulated The Child.   Or just bundle him as an accessory with a dud figure - which I think they should still try doing, as demand for this little guy might not be met for a while.


For those of you wanting a 3 3/4-inch figure, this might do in a pinch.  If you look at the shot of the Porgs, note that the 3 3/4-inch scale one is only a smidgen shorter than the 6-inch scale one.  At this size, a 30% reduction in size is not terribly significant.  As such, if you can live with it (and I can), this might be a good stand-in for you 3 3/4-inch figure fans too.

With Funko's Pop! Vinyl figures at $10-$11, there's just no way I can pretend that this is a good deal.  It's not.  Hasbro's "Baby Bounties" are about $7 each, and larger.   But if you want a little tiny The Child, a fan-made 3-d printed one would cost about the same and probably not be of a similar quality.  Mattel gave us Jurassic World humans with more articulation and more gear at a lower price, and Hasbro made surprisingly excellent kid-focused 6-inch Marvel figures with more articulation for $9.99.  But, as I said, you're going to buy it anyway.  That's the power of good storytelling and the best toy license in the galaxy.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,689: May 12, 2020