Thursday, July 23, 2020

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,710: Dak Ralter (The Black Series 6-Inch)

DAK RALTER (Snowspeeder)
The Black Series Snowspeeder Pack-In 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
No. E7551
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Helmet, charges, grapple gun, vehicle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $119.99
Availability: July 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio:  During the Battle of Hoth, Luke Skywalker piloted a Snowspeeder and led the Rebel Alliance against the Empire’s ground forces.   (Taken from Hasbro's marketing copy.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: This Dak Ralter (Snowspeeder) makes sense in a production context, and seems baffling in the grand scheme of the line.  To date, The Black Series has been a mix of core characters and obligatory releases to promote new Star Wars media.  So  you'll get the dude from the new video game, and you'll get an obscure character if it shares tooling with another major figure.   This is why we have Wedge and Dak, but why we haven't  yet received a second alien for the cantina after Greedo, and it's been seven years.  It's why we have several Stormtrooper repaints, but no Bib Fortuna.   It's why we have most of the main cast of Solo, but not a lot from the comic books.  Right now, we're dealing with a line that is focused on adult fan - not necessarily long-haul collectors, many of which would be pushing 50 or above now if they were old enough to remember seeing the 1977 original in theaters.

What's important is Dak isn't just Luke with new helmet deco.  Hasbro gave us a new head sculpt, new helmet deco, and new accessories - plus a new body part!   (Oh, and a giant Snowspeeder.)   New Dak has traded the lower belt segment for a new piece - this doesn't have Luke's belt with the lightsaber hook.  Instead, you get a plain grey belt with no fancy buckles, and this might be ideal for future releases of other pilots like Zev or Wedge or Hobbie.  The articulation is excellent, just like Snowspeeder Pilot Luke, thanks to sharing so much engineering with him.  The joints aren't nearly as stiff as the previous years' worth of figures, and posing him just feels more natural and like it's much less of a fight.   There are lots of great wrinkles and quilted fabric sculpted elements, which may be true to the movie.  I don't know, because all I ever really saw of Dak are illustrations and his head.   As such, we can say Hasbro did a marvelous job given the reference we know to be available.   For all we know actor John Morton wore British Knights and jams shorts - in which case, Hasbro even improved on the original design.

The helmet and head sculpt are perfectly fine, as are the charges that can fit in loops inside the seating area of the snowspeeder vehicle.  It may well be the most ornate interior I've seen yet, with lots of buttons, painted elements, seat belts, and grips for our pilots. It doesn't seem to have a storage place for the grapple gun, though, and the ship itself could have used some more time in the oven.  The cockpit glass is the same horrible, waxy clear plastic used for The Force Awakens X-Wings, and some of the compartments are tough to open - also there are no instructions.  The fold-out landing gear must be opened in a certain order or one of the two doors will be blocked, there's a blast-off panel, there are air brakes... there's a lot here to enjoy, but no effort was made on-pack or in-pack to explain any of it.

Dak is secured to a plain brown box insert inside, so if you want to display every last figure in a window box, you can't.   Maybe Hasbro will reissue him in a fancy package some day, but for now there's no typical retail-style box for this one.  The figure is absolutely worth getting at a fair price, but you might not love the overall quality of the snowspeeder - the 1980s toys felt sturdier, and this one feels a little more hollow.   It's still super impressive, and I can see why fans had a reaction of "so when do we get an AT-AT?" after getting one.   It looks like Hasbro did a marvelous job delivering an impressive vehicle with pilot for the asking price, but it's still expensive during a period of economic insecurity.  I hope it does well - other than the functionality of the rear landing skid doors and the cockpit glass, I think they nailed this package.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,710: July 23, 2020

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