Thursday, August 5, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,834: Paploo (The Vintage Collection)

PAPLOO
Take 4

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive Action Figures
Item No.:
No. F3113
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #190
Includes: Hood, knife, spear
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.93
Availability: July 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Paploo was a male Ewok of the Bright Tree tribe on the forest moon of Endor. During the Battle of Endor, Paploo aided the Rebel strike team that was led by Han Solo in destroying the generator powering the Death Star II's deflector shield. (Stolen from Wookieepedia. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
I admit, I did not expect we would ever see a new Paploo but as Hasbro seems intent on remaking as much of The Vintage Collection as possible to ensure an analog with the original Kenner line, it makes sense. Many of thse figures are reruns with new heads or fixed paint jobs, but this is a weird one - we've had pretty good Paploo figures over the years. The 1984 figure - which was common as dirt here in Arizona in the late 1980s toy shows - provided some of the inspiration. The costume on the cardback doesn't really match the figure, and the headdress seems closer to what he wore in the movie. What surprised me is that despite tooling new parts, the head was just the 2012 Lumat head again... which means it's an improvement, with room for improvement.

This very same body has a ton of articulation and was previously used to make the likes of Logray and Teebo figures, to name a few. He stands, he has lateral hip joints, he even has elbows and wrists - which is amazing, considering most Ewoks had to be content with five points of articulation until the early 21st century. His staff appears to be new, and the headdress is also new - the big feather sticking up is a huge improvement, and the feathers are all painted quite nicely. There's a lot of color in the movie costume, and the hood here seems to capture that quasi-handmade feel that you want.

The fur color is mostly pretty good, but the face is a little dark and this seems like it could be a stopgap figure before another release comes later. The head has some lighter fur on it, some lighter skin on the lips and nose, plus visible teeth in the movie - this figure has incredibly dark eyes almost hidden by the dark fur, and the skin seems largely unpainted. I genuinely don't expect there to be another Paploo any time soon, and each modern version offers unique features that make it a compelling figure. With Ewoks as toys, the variant rereleases with different hoods or accessories are secretly fantastic for those of us who really like buying Ewoks so we can populate a shelf with lots of different-looking figures.

The staff seems to be entirely new with a very fluffy grip, and the knife slides nicely in the sheath on the belt. Hasbro did an excellent job picking good accessories (and making new ones) for their various Ewoks, and this Paploo is no exception. I just wish I liked the face more. For most fans it's going to be good enough - the hood overpowers the head inside the garment. On a shelf of figures, it'll never "pop." Being an older fan, I remember how the face of the original toy always seemed striking and even how some of the subsequent ones really had distinctive and often cute faces - even the weirdly worried 2009 The Legacy Collection figure is unforgettable. The costume is arguably more important than the face, but you get so much personality in these little furry faces that it's a shame they couldn't have given us a new head here. Especially given that the body is from 9 years ago.

This brings us to it still being the best Paploo in over a decade, with the best costume we've seen probably ever, and it's a good figure in its own right. If it was just sold as "Ewok" you'd go "Oh, that looks kind of like Paploo, neat, I want that." On its own merits as a little plastic man I totally love it and recommend it to the others who can't get enough of Endor's most popular non-Dulok citizens, but those wanting the absolute definitive Paploo-to-end-all-Paploos are still going to need to wait longer. If you can find one for $13, I'd say just grab it. I wouldn't count on interest in this kind of product to last long enough to necessarily warrant another lap around the Ewok track so this might be as good as it gets. (But if you have the 2009 figure and are happy with it - it being one-half of a two-pack of figures for $8 - you may not need to upgrade.)

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,844: August 5, 2021

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,843: Scout Trooper (Electropole, The Vintage Collection)

SCOUT TROOPER
(Jedi: Fallen Order with Electrostaff)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F2708
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #196
Includes: Pole, energy crackle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: June 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian
Bio: Scout troopers, also known as biker scouts and Imperial sharpshooters, were specially trained stormtroopers of the Imperial Army's Stormtrooper Corps. (Stolen from Wookieepedia. There is 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:
In 1996, fans online were really upset and annoyed that the IG-88 figure Kenner put out was very similar to the 1980 toy, just with new deco, a waist joint, and a couple of minor tweaks. And that was about 16 years apart. The latest edition is this Scout Trooper, a trooper of Theseus, started live in 2007 as a super-articulated figure and this one is effectively a somewhat upgraded version of that figure (its 2012 rerelease, to be precise.) Now in 2021, that's only 14 years apart, but that's still kind of amazing. How many toys are kept in circulation with minimal changes for so long?

This is a pretty good super-articulated figure. The neck is jointed for maximum improvement riding his speeder bike, and the hips were upgraded in 2012 to allow for lateral movement for improved piloting of said vehicle. The arms, hands, and everything else are basically the same as the 2007 release in terms of functionality. You get about 25 points of articulation, plus a holster - but I should note, no blaster was included in this particular 2021 release.

Deco is slightly different than other releases, as the forehead lines were dropped, the shoulders are white (not black) rings, and the soft belly portion is white rather than the dirty off-white color. Hasbro painted the soles of the boots too, which is a nice feature. The straps of the bags hanging off the belt are white this time, and you also get a whole new harness over the figure's chest. It's a lot like what Hasbro did to the 6-inch The Black Series figure - and since you can re-sell the same figure again, you can completely understand why they'd want to repeat the upgrade with the 3 3/4-inch figure line.

The packaging is great, but the main reason to buy this figure is the electropole with the energy effect. He has no problems carrying the weapon, and with the harness it almost looks like a new trooper. My standards for "new" are pretty low when it comes to army-builders, so something like a recolored shoulder or a dirt-free paint job just add to the fact they actually sculpted some new parts here.

This item was developed to be a shared exclusive, so you'll probably find it at some online stores and distributors - but it won't be showing up at big box stores. I'd recommend getting it if you can find one at the right price. Is it worth $15? It's a bit of a pill to swallow at that price, but it's pretty well-done and it's not like there's a lot else to pick up in this scale right now. Maybe some day we'll get Cal Kestis in this scale too, but for now at least we have a couple of troopers. It's a start!

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,843: August 3, 2021

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,842: Princess Leia (Endor, The Vintage Collection)

PRINCESS LEIA
(Endor)

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive Action Figures
Item No.:
No. F3114
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #191
Includes: Helmet, blaster, belt, poncho
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.93
Availability: July 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Leia Organa was a Force-sensitive human female political and military leader who served in the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Imperial Era and the New Republic and Resistance in the subsequent New Republic Era. (Stolen from Wookieepedia. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
As The Vintage Collection marches on, the line has outlived its inpiration. Princess Leia (Endor) is a revision of a figure from 2007, and while some fans bemoan her release 14 years after the debut, it's important to put it in context. The original Kenner Leia Endor Combat Poncho figure came out in 1984, and Kenner's POTF2 (or, the 1990s The Power of the Force series) hit stores in 1997 - 13 years later. In 1997, she didn't seem like it was a "too soon" thing and 13 years was considered an eternity as a generation of kids grew up with the movies in VHS and the toys in garage sales or flea markets. While a new mold would have been nice, it was absolutely time to bring her back.

The packaging is similar to the 1984 original (and 2007 The Vintage Collection release, with the figure's colors looking like a bit more of how you remember her in the movie. The 2021 package is in the somewhat ugly global packaging, where "4+" replaces "Ages 4 and up" and the SKU is replaced by a "50 Lucasfilm Ltd." graphic which I think you're supposed to like. On any modern design I think it would be a great flourish, but on something meant to mimic a 1984 release - one that has the helmet separated in a separate compartment, to boot - it seems like a misfire. The fact that they changed her name from "Princess Leia Organa in Combat Poncho" to "Princess Leia (Endor)" also is sort of a shrug. The photo was composited differently as well, and the faux chrome doesn't quite match the original. But that's to be expected.

The figure is repainted, with things like her sleeves in a greener color and her head getting that photoreal makeover all the cool toys are getting. It's not bad - she looks a little less waxy and more lifelike, with more believable eyes and a hairline that's.... well, it's just as good. Some of the reissues got all-new heads with separately molded hair elements, but this was not one of them.

Her belt and holster is recolored in black (instead of brown) and her new helmet is smaller and fits her much better than the oversized reused piece from a few years ago. The blaster fits in her holster nicely, and the articulation is pretty good for 2007 but unremarkable for 2021. 20 points of articulation sounds like a lot, but other than her ankles, she's about as poseable as the Spin Master Batman and Jurassic Park humans in the same scale. And those are about eight bucks, and brand-new molds, often with more and bigger accessories.

While the helmet is a necessary improvement, the real reason to buy her is the poncho. It's brighter and greener, less muddy than the 2007 release. It looks more like how you remember her from the movie, and is a bit closer to the 1984 action figure. Even though Hasbro didn't make you an all-new head, this is a figure that's mostly about the helmet and poncho - and those are absolutely brought up to modern standards. If the opportunity presents itself, get this one. Especially if it's still $13 when you find it. Adjusted for inflation, if the figure were $4 in 1984 it would be about $11 today. The 2007 release was about $10 if memory serves, which puts it at $13.10. Granted, there's no tooling to pay off this time so it could be cheaper, but that's a whole different rant and I want to bid you good day.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,842: July 29, 2021

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,841: Grand Admiral Thrawn (The Black Series 6-Inch)

GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN
2017 Mainline Release

The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. C1774
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #47
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: September 2017
Appearances: Star Wars: Rebels

Bio: When Governor Pryce of Lothal wanted a stronger commander to dismantle the rebellion, the Empire answered with Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn was a male Chiss, with striking blue skin, red eyes, and an angular face, known for his brilliant strategic mind and ruthlessness. (Taken from the 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:
Variant hunters will be cranky to know three flavors of Grand Admiral Thrawn exist. The first was a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive that left off the silver paint around his rank badge - but it comes with all kinds of accessories, making it unique. There's also an Archive version with different face paint. This is probably the least essential of the three, but it's the one that the most people are likely to have.

As a realistic interpretation of an animated design inspired by a character from a novel, the bar for success is incredibly low. Thankfully, there's not much to gripe about - Hasbro picked a good reference for the head sculpt (whoever it was), the hair looks great, and sharing the same general Imperial Officer parts and pieces means you can't really screw this one up. Thrawn is a gift to toy manufacturers because perfection isn't actually necessary to provide a good figure. All he has to do is be engineered well, colored properly, and stand - and he does all of these things nicely. Old-school fans may be annoyed by the slight differences in appearance from the previous action figures or the comics, but for a character that survived oblivion-by-retcon, he's marvelous. I still recommend it for any Gen Xer fans who are still here, or anyone who dug those early relaunch novels. It's not like Doctor Who or Star Trek showers this kind of love on the fans of their expanded universe materials!

Sharing parts with Grand Moff Tarkin, Admiral Motti, Admiral Rampart, and General Veers, Thrawn is one of those figures that got to exist thanks to his appearances on Star Wars: Rebels after debuting in the decanonized Heir to the Empire novel and its sequels. That's why the uniform looks different - while it is still white, the epaulets have been replaced by gold bands on his shoulders. You also got a variant skirt with a holster for his blaster, which his a nice touch. Sadly no ysalamiri was included, but one just came out in 2021 with a Luke figure. Unsurprisingly, Thrawn sold incredibly well and like most new figures of characters over 25 years old, proved to be tough to find during his initial offering. (And 2021 reissue.)

Typical of 2017 figures, Thrawn has double-jointed knees, a skirt that blocks hip movement, and elbows that bend just a little better than 90 degrees. In other words, he's good! The pistol fits in his hand or holster without any fuss, and the uniform looks great. You get the Rebels series-inspired flourishes on the neck and shoulders, but aside from that he's the same blue-skinned, red-eyed Thrawn we've come to know and love since 1991.

If you can get a Thrawn - this one, or one of the other editions - I recommend it highly. He's also kind of expensive these days, so keep that in mind if you spot one at a toy show, garage sale, or dusty shelf in an old comic shop.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,841: July 27, 2021

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,840: Luke Skywalker (Heir to the Empire, The Black Series 6-Inch)

LUKE SKYWALKER
& Ysalamiri

The Black Series Publishing - Shared Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F3006
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Ysalamiri (for Thrawn)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: May 2021
Appearances: Dark Horse Comics

Bio: Five years after the destruction of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker fears there is no hope as the remnants of the Imperial fleet are readied for war under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Using ysalamiri to sever a developing Jedi clone's connection to the Force allowed mentally stable Jedi clones to be created - a discovery Thrawn would use in his war against Luke Skywalker and the New Republic. (Taken from the 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 was expecting to dump on Luke Skywalker & Ysamiri but it turns out it's good! Sure it's a repaint of last year's Dagobah Training figure with a different lightsaber and one new accessory. But it does closely mimic the reference material (Dark Horse Comics' cover of Heir to the Empire which used The Empire Strikes Back stills as a model) and it's engineered well. I'd have preferred they either match the cover exactly (blue blade) or update things to what Luke looked like canonically (ROTJ-ish head), but this is pretty good.

Luke is, as I said, the same as last year - which is good. Now black instead of brown, the Jedi master-to-be can still stand perfectly with arms that look great and can be easily posed to grip his lightsaber. The legs hide the joints nicely, and can swing forward with no fuss. There's very little paint to speak of - this was a very cheap figure to produce, so I'm not crazy about the mark-up - but it's perfect. Everything about him just works - the legs bend nicely, there are no belts or cloaks in the way, and I immediately got him balanced and standing on my desk without a fight. It's almost nothing like Hasbro's other super-articulated figures which generally had fussy joints and would typically fall over if not leaned against something.

The lightsaber is his green-bladed Return of the Jedi rebuild - he holds it well, and the silver hilt has cleanly painted gold and black trim. Short of actually making it light up through some alchemy, I don't know how they could have done much to improve it. It's great. It's also very amusing because this is, for all intents and purposes, Luke from an alternate timeline to his appearance in The Mandalorian. (It's been seven months, spoiler gloves were off around February.) The one thing the old Expanded Universe and Disney agree on is that Luke was clearly in a goth phase after he burned his dad's corpse and helped take down the space government.

Also included is the Force-bubble-pushing ysalamiri, and this is his debut in this size. Of note, he was not sculpted to fit Luke - rather, this figure was designed to rest on Grand Admiral Thrawn's shoulders. (Since he shares parts with Motti, Piett, and Tarkin, he'll fit them just fine as well.) Luke's frame is a little too small. Our lizard alien pal has four eyes and no articulation, with Hasbro painting him lightly so the sculpted detail pops out a little bit. It's a nice extra, and since Hasbro rarely releases a figure with an accessory specifically for another, older figure, this is something I'm happy to commend. Luke's good, but if you already bought Thrawn you're going to want this set just for the lizard. He just curls around the neck and hangs out nicely, copying the look Oliver Vatine drew in the comic books a few decades ago.

While Luke does look young, and the comic look of these characters aren't everybody's favorites, you can't deny Hasbro did a staggeringly competent job with these figures. Usually I have something to nitpick - and I guess I kind of do with Luke's head - but it's still excellent. Hasbro picked one of its best molds to repaint, and engineered the accessory to perfectly fit an existing figure. It's a fun toy. Everything works. I'm happy. Get this one if you have a crack at it.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,840: July 22, 2021

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,839: C2-B9 (Droid Depot Line Look)

C2-B9
Disney Parks Exclusive

Droid Depot Droid Depot Droids boxed set
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Disney?
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $49.99
Availability: ??? 2020
Appearances: Galaxy's Edge
Bio: C2-B9 was an R-series astromech droid manufactured by Industrial Automaton. It at some point served in the palace of Jabba Desilijic Tiure on the planet Tatooine. (Taken from Wookieepedia. Box has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
Not a member of D-Squad - but he has the upgrade markings! C2-B9 is another fixture at Galaxy's Edge, and he got a figure for reasons I need to find out. It's a good figure! It's not one I would have selected to exist, but I love the coloring and it's pretty close to the prop minus a few tweaks. The somewhat weathered deco comes across pretty well, and the quasi-Creamsicle orange with oranger bits and the caution tape all add up to a distinctive robot. It also looks a bit like Hasbro's R5-A2 droid, one of the build-a-droid figures.

Molded in orange, the head has white and silver trim around the neck and special weathering painted running down the three eyes. There are hints of flaking-off paint added around the head, and it translated nicely to plastic. There's even a dark orange ring circling the head. The top of the dome has white panel lines and dark orange pie slices, giving it a look of a 1980s plastic orange juice container. I like it.

The body is molded in white with abundant painted detail. There's a big orange swipe on the back that looks bizarre, but cool - I've not seen anything else like it on a droid. On top of that is some weathering, which is some of the absolute best weathering deco I've seen out of Disney. The front has some as well, but the back is absolutely stunning - it's better than any other droid I've had. The front is no slouch, with grimy orange paint also covered in dirt. I think the dirty deco is more impressive on the figure than on the prop photos, and the caution box is a little smaller than on the actual prop - but it's remarkably good. I would've expected Disney to trim some of the deco, but it's easy to see a bunch of opportunities for detail to show off just how far figure paint has come.

On the body, I mean. The legs aren't quite as good - you can see white panels missing on the feet, with white panels on the center of each prop foot completely missing on the toy. Some orange is also missing on the middle part of the legs, the sides of the figure are white rather than orange. There's less weathering on the toy than on the prop, but it's not like it's a huge deal. The colors match nicely, and it certainly is good enough to make the figure look better-than-average because the body and head do much of the heavy lifting here. There are no wires on the feet, and there's some nice weathering over the orange spots that don't show up particularly well unless you're looking at them under bright light.

If you don't have an orange R5-style droid, this is the one for you. Get the set, you'll like it. Unless you have too many figures, in which case there's not much to say other than this is one of Disney's better droids. I think it helps that we get fewer robot floods, so Disney does a better job on the ones we do get. Now where the heck can I buy a R2-RNBW dagnabbit?

Collector's Notes: I got this from eBay for about $63 delivered. I was not happy to overpay by $13, but after tax and shipping, it wasn't too bad. It's still cheaper than paying the theme park parking rate were I still relatively local.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,839: July 20, 2021

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,838: Remnant Stormtrooper (The Retro Collection)

REMNANT STORMTROOPER
Kenner Style

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F2845
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, board game you can sell
Action Feature: Drops blaster
Retail: $49.99
Availability: December 2020
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A remnant of the fallen Galactic Empire led by Moff Gideon was active in the galaxy's Outer Rim Territories during the time of the New Republic. (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:
The Remnant Stormtrooper is a completely brilliant idea for a retail release! But it wasn't one - this awesome army builder was originally shared between Hasbro Pulse and Shop Disney as an exclusive pack-in to a more expensive Monopoly game. Later, it was opened up to Entertainment Earth and other stores which do not pay my salary.

If you got the Stormtrooper [FOTD #2,621] from Target or Entertainment Earth a few years ago, it's the same basic figure, but it looks like it has some mildew on it. This is probably not how Kenner would have done battle damage in the 1980s, but there's also no precedent. Ships of that era just had stickers you applied, and figures were largely just clean. Jabba the Hutt had some spray on him, and this figure's damage is sort of like that. Is it worth $50 for a $10 figure and some paint (and a game?) Probably not. But I really like the Kenner style and wanted the official release, so I bought it.

Articulation is same as the 2019 (and 1978-1985) release, with arms you can swivel forward and legs you can swing forward. He can stand fairly well and sit just fine. He has some difficulty gripping his blaster, but some of the older Kenner figures do. (I just pulled out my Thall Joben and Kea Moll and they can't hold theirs to save their lives.) The Stormtrooper can hold it somewhat acceptably, but I may boil some water to see if I can make the fingers better than they presently are.

If you wanted a retro Stormtrooper, this is one. This is probably a "completists only" release given its high original price and somewhat absurd secondary market price (people were paying $90 for the figure when the game with the figure still sold for $50), and I hope Hasbro considers releasing it alone or in a multi-pack. I'd love to buy a few of this guy, but at $50 a whack I'm just not interested in owning more than one. For the Kenner loyalist, you owe it to yourself to get this one. But if you're not crazy, save your money.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Hasbro Pulse (sold out as of my writing this) but supposedly still orderable at Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,838: July 15, 2021