Thursday, October 21, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,866: Koska Reeves (The Black Series)

KOSKA REEVES
6-Inch Debut

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Orange Star Wars: The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F1878
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #12 - Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Includes: 2 blasters, helmet
Action Feature: Blaster fits in holster, helmet is removable, rangefinder is articulated
Retail: $22.99
Availability: October 2021
Appearances: Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Bio: A master of hand-to-hand combat, Koska Reeves is loyal to Bo-Katan and is a member of a band of Clan Kryze Mandalorians striking back at the Imperial remnant. (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:
This is a good one. Koska Reeves is a redeco of Bo-Katan Kryze [FOTD #2,785] with a new head, but that's what she should be - Hasbro gets to save a few bucks, and we get a figure wearing basically the same armor. Articulation is exactly as good as it was before - which is to say, pretty dang good - and the only molding changes I've noticed are a new belt (one holster) and a new Sasha Banks head that will allow action figure fanatics to argue the merits of Hasbro's version versus Mattel's WWE edition of the performer. Koska the Hasbro figure is great, and if you see her, you should get one. This is the kind of thing you'd start a fistfight in the toy aisles over in the 1990s if they made her.

Much like Bo-Katan she's a good - but not perfect - representation of the figure. Hasbro's increased figure budget apparently hadn't trickled down for this one, as you can see her armor has none of the silver scuffing, but a lot of the dark black scuffing on it. The blue is wonderfully vibrant and really stands out on the mostly earthtone brown sludge that is most of Star Wars' costuming. The owl symbol on her shoulder pops nicely, the straps on her shoulders look great, plus she has nifty brown boots. The sculpting is sharp, and the head totally looks like the her - but the figure's eyes could be a smidgen darker. The hair looks like the on-screen hair too, and it's notable that it is a separately molded brown piece so there's no weird "doll hair" paint job. She also has a sharp little ponytail and hair dangling in front of her ears. Given Star Wars penchant for distinctive hair, it's rare you get something that seems so hard to translate to an action figure yet turned out so well. It's good.

Ms. Reeves also passes the Landspeeder Test in that she can actually swing her legs forward and sit in a Landspeeder. She stands, she sits, she can hold her blasters, and the helmet fits like a glove. (Or helmet!) It's funny, and sad, but things we took for granted as kids are now genuine concerns. Back when I got old Kenner figures, pretty much every figure would fit in every seat (minus a few like Ewoks, Anakin Skywalker or Amanaman.) Figures could hold their guns, or their helmets would fit - and in the modern era we've had a lot of figures incapable of things like fitting in their own vehicles. (Looking at you, Zam Wesell's Speeder from 2002.) It's no secret that Lucasfilm has been trying to figure out how to increase its audience with women, both as audience members and toy fans, and they seem to have finally nailed it with The Mandalorian - which is arguably also the show that tries the hardest to meet the exacting standards of the original generation of young boy fans who are now 40 or older. Heck, this very wave of figures included a repack of Bo-Katan along with Aurra Sing, which is kind of remarkable when you look at the old Kenner line which had preposterously few woman-presenting figures. Leia, Sy Snootles, Kea Moll, and that's pretty much it. It's great to give fans more awesome options for stories, which in turn brings in more collectors, more convention cosplay, and more future generations of kids into this kind of stuff so we can hopefully keep collecting.

Confidential to Hasbro: I got this figure the same day Metroid Dread came out, so Samus is on the brain a bit. Should Jakks Pacific abdicate the Nintendo license, please put whoever engineered this figure on a Samus Aran figure of your choosing. Please, and also thank you.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,866: October 21, 2021

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,865: Stormtrooper (Prototype Edition - Yellow Head, The Retro Collection)

STORMTROOPER
(Prototype Edition, Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F5318
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $13.99
Availability: October 2021
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: This stormtrooper figure is inspired by the colorful prototypes that enable the development team to look past the deco and focus on the sculpt, analyze mold alignment, and adjust for quality. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
"Hey Rocky, watch me pull a Stormtrooper (Prototype Edition) outta my hat." "Again?"

It's new! Ish! There are six flavors, and the blaster pistol comes in one of six colors. Like many other retro Kenner Stormtroopers from the 21st century, these don't grip their blasters too well either. I'm particularly fond of this one because the yellow reminds me of Droids C-3PO - one of my all-time favorite weird repaints! This figure has 4 joints, just like the old Kenner figure, and the colors are nice and garish.

While prototype figures do exist in a wide variety of weird colorways, I don't know that I saw any or heard of many in this many random colors - it's a bit of a fiction that this is likely to match an actual prototype, but whatever. It looks cool, and when it comes to any and all toys aimed at collectors, the story behind it can be as important as how cool it looks. If this figure just popped up as "exclusive Stormtrooper" in random colors, you'd be angry. But at $14, on a shiny foil package, with interesting and repurposed faux-comic art, it's actually quite cool and seeing an unpainted Stormtrooper really does give you an appreciation for the sculpt. (Heck, I've written so much about my armies of The Outer Space Men repaints.) Even though there's no story, the idea of a prototype figure that you can buy yourself is quite appealing. (I'd love to see some 6-inch ones.)

In an alternate, better timeline you probably would have seen this figure debut at New York Comic Con at the Target booth - or through their partner there - and then a few would trickle out online or to stores. In this timeline, said partner bypassed the convention - heck, most companies with exclusive toys did - so you're on your own online or in brick and mortar. I'd say it's a good figure, but these things do feel a whole lot less special when you get two within a couple of months. I still like it, but I hope Hasbro waits 1-2 years for the next one. Get it if you can find it.

Collector's Notes: I got mine at Target.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,865: October 19, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,864: Elite Squad Trooper (The Black Series 6-Inch)

ELITE SQUAD TROOPER
6-Inch Debut

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Dark Red Star Wars: The Bad Batch Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F2960
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #03 - Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: February 2021
Appearances: Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Bio: After the formation of the Galactic Empire, a small group of highly skilled enlisted recruits is tasked with neutralizing anti-Imperial insurgents throughout the galaxy as a means to prove the effectiveness of conscripted soldiers. (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:
Back in the 90s and early 00s, I complained Hasbro didn't do enough repaints - for when they made sense. This Elite Squad Trooper does a great job proving that times have changed. In the 1990s, Hasbro never repainted its earliest R2-D2 or C-3PO molds to give us other robots, and many of their Stormtrooper variants used a lot of new parts - heck, it took a while for them to really get the swing of Clone Trooper repaints too! Of course, now they have no such hang-ups. The Bad Batch Trooper is a "kitbash" of the Clone Trooper (Kamino) [FOTD #2,749] - so it's a bit more than a repaint. The torso and arms were used for numerous Clones from 2020 to today, but the legs are the ones from the earlier releases - you'll notice the older copyright markings on the feet and the double-jointed knees, plus a lack of the floating patella-covering armor piece that was on some of the other releases. I think the build is sturdier as a result.

In some respects the figure is perfect, in others it's a letdown. It costs more than the original release of the molds. It has less paint. It has one of the two blasters. You don't feel like you're getting a good deal here, but you are getting a good representation of one of the Empire's first expendable troopers - in the show, they're brought on to prove (for some reason) made-to-order clones are no longer necessary. Of course, they're very necessary for budgeting reasons - these things aren't cheap to make, so being able to sell fans the same molds a dozen or more times really helps finance other projects and keep these things coming when there are no movies. And they sell! This guy came out in February and I haven't seen a single one in a store. The dark grey, shiny armor looks great and the green visor is excellent.

Hasbro found a great way to cut corners and provide fans an authentic experience - I'm impressed! The leg swap choice is a surprise, but it also looks good and I assume freed up the leg tools for some other figure(s.) I don't need to go into the details of this mold too much, but I will say it's largely free of paint and has no visible battle damage I can see. If you're collecting The Bad Batch 6-inch figures, you should get it - but like so many of you I'd rather have these as 3 3/4-inch figures. I am not going to build any 6-inch armies. But I totally like the generic trooper, and I assume some day they may decide to make them with the alternate, unmasked heads we briefly saw in the show. Or not. Hasbro has been kind of erratic on "completing" any sets anymore, with increasingly haphazard character selections making it difficult for fans to get an entire shelf of similar toys without having to call in favors or pay eBay prices for at least a few figures. So if you can get it for a fair price, you totally should - heck, buy a few, if you can luck into that Imperial deco of Crosshair. (And if you do, call me, I got cartjacked out of quite a few pre-orders this year.)

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,864: October 14, 2021

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,863: Kylo Ren (The Black Series / Titanium Series / 40th Anniversary)

KYLO REN
40th Anniversary

The Black Series Titanium Series 3 3/4-inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. C1857 No. C2574
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #03
Includes: 1 stand, hood helmet, unhooded helmet, 2 lightsabers, 4 footpegs
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: August 2017
Appearances: The Force Awakens

Bio: A dark warrior storng in the Force, Kylo Ren commands First Order missions with a temper as fiery as his unconventional lightsaber. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo dump.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
I've been meaning to open this one for a while! This Kylo Ren came out millions of years ago, back in 2017. Remember 2017? At that point Disney had spearheaded only two movies - which at the time were largely loved - and Rebels, at which point fans were more or less on board. Hasbro was riding high before overproduced items started to back up at retail, and before fans started to bristle at the idea of lining up all day to buy some toys. We got some neat stuff - these guys were a riff on Titanium Series figures from nearly a decade before, which came in giant Sea Monkeys aquariums, cost about the same, and were also pretty cool. The 2017 ones riffed a bit more on the collectible statue angle.

Kylo Ren was arguably better than the basic figures, as he has ball-jointed shoulders and swivel wrists. The legs and torso are metal, and there's no leg articulation to speak of - you can swivel the waist. What I love about the figure is that he draws inspiration from a moment in the 2015 film that absolutely riveted me the first time I saw it, when Kylo Ren used the Force to freeze a blaster bolt in place while giving Poe Dameron the business. (This has since been swiped in Star Wars Visions.) A bigger The Black Series monument/statue would also replicate this moment, debuting at $50 but dropping to an oh-so-fair $24 these days. But I digress - this little version lacks the bolt and scenery, but you get an awesome weighted figure that stands freely and has a genuinely lovely "swooshing" lightsaber in addition to a normal one. And a second helmeted head, meaning no Adam Driver, a pensive bison who may sneeze in your McFlurry.

The figure part has the cape and general look and feel if 2015, but has some silver paint highlights. I assume this is to remind you he's metal, if the weight wasn't enough to do it. The figure stands nicely but includes four tiny foot pegs you can plug in his base, which features a reversible backdrop.

With the endless products and increasingly tired fans getting pulled in multiple directions it's no shock this - and almost everything from the first few Disney movies - came out in abundance and sat a bit. Which is a pity - it's good! It's a bad toy, but it's an excellent little statue for your desk and you can connect them together to form a bigger diorama. The photo backdrop is nice, but so is the etched foil portrait on the back that reminds me a bit of 1990s Topps foil chase cards. I think it was a mistake to brand these as "The Black Series" - Hasbro branded everything aimed at adults with that name - because these were secretly very nice figures. Compared to the then-$8 plastic guys on shelves, you got some nice extras that would've probably done better if given better packaging and maybe a better display environment. This is also one of the few figures in the format that's not arguably worthless, so clearly the free market agrees with me that it's pretty good. The sculpting is sharp, the pose is nice, and I'd say you should track one down on the cheap if opportunity permits.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,863: October 12, 2021

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,861: R/-Series Astromech Droid White with Purple Panels (2015 Edition)

R9-SERIES ASTROMECH DROID White Dome with Purple Markings
Star Tours Droid Factory Customizable Figure
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Head, 2 legs, torso, central third leg, optional hat
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2015
Appearances: n/a

Bio: These figures do not have specific packaging or configurations. As such, we will be treating each dome as a unique "figure" as that part is the most plentiful. There were 25 domes in the first 2012 series and 11 domes in the 2015 batch. While Hasbro had said they didn't design the first batch, they included Hasbro copyrights. This batch does not - markings read "© DISNEY" and "© LFL" as well as "China" on each leg.

Image: Adam's photo dump.

Commentary:
Not every figure can be amazing, but at least they can be neat. This white and purple R9-Series Astromech Droid takes a droid that may or may not qualify as canonical - I don't believe this style of dome has made any appearances outside guide books, novels, or other pre-Disney reference materials - but at least it stands out.

The is the same purple body you've seen here before - purple plastic with silver and purple trim! It looks perfectly nice, but not nearly as ornate as what we've had since its release a whopping six years ago. The colors go nicely with one another and it's a perfectly good base for a souvenir robot. I particularly like some off the added purple metallic paint near the dome, which serves no purpose other than looking cool.


The dome is what makes it interesting - it's white, with some purple panels. There are little painted purple staple-like markings around the dome, plus a black eye and some silver and red elements. There's not much too it. Back in 2015 (and earlier) droids like this felt like they may provide us a glimpse into the future of the moves, but after Lucasfilm redid the droid numbering and Disney stopped making new domes after R7 and R0, it's unknown if this design is still out there somewhere or may appear in a future story someday. I hope so - it's nothing if not pleasingly squished and weird.

From what I hear second-hand, it sounds like droid bins aren't really available at Disney parks any more so you may have to go to eBay to get one like this. I saw one close recently for $10 for just the dome, with complete droids generally commanding $20 or more. This exact configuration recently sold for $60. It's kind of ridiculous - but so is the idea of putting out droids piece-by-piece instead of just letting people buy an overpriced sack of parts. It's not an essential buy, but as a cute little purple robot I rather like it. Get it if you can and the price doesn't make your skin crawl.

Collector's Notes: I got this from my pal Shannon who was cool enough to get me a set from Disneyland. These buggers are on eBay and I would advise you to wait until parks reopen and hopefully people start flipping/building more of them so you can get them at a lower price.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,861: October 7, 2021

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,861: Death Star Droid (The Vintage Collection)

DEATH STAR DROID
Now with Better Paint

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F3116
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #197
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.93
Availability: August 2021
Appearances: Star Wars
Bio: The gleaming silver Death Star Droid was captured by the Jawas and transported across the Tatooine desert in the dungeon of a sandcrawler. (Taken from the web site. There is no packaging copy.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
There's seemingly no mold too old to behold, and the Death Star Droid had been brought around at least twice - once as part of a 3-pack at Target, and way back in late 2008, MB-RA-7 [FOTD #921] was sold as a build-a-droid. That makes this Death Star Droid mold 13 years old, which is positively ancient in the action figure world. When I was a kid in the mid-1980s, you rarely - possibly never - saw figures hanging around from the 1970s, unless it was a reissue on new packaging. By 1990, most of the 1980s stuff was long gone unless it was a closeout. Nobody was thinking of bringing back Micronoauts or Mego, He-Man's day had come and gone, it's just sort of mind-boggling to see the exact same tooling still being used so much later. Even for Power of the Force vehicles in 1995, the tooling was changed - or, according to legend, redone entirely - and those were at most 12 years old.


This one shows signs of its age - the mold came out after the very first Super Articulated figures. For that reason, the droid only having 14 joints made him seem stiffer than his plastic pal brethren, but no less fun to be with. The droids of 1977 were very stiff on-screen, so the swivel shoulders and hips combined with the lack of wrists and ankles did a lot to make this figure seem as awkward as its on-screen counterpart. Many figures with ankle joints are hard to balance, so I'm actually happy his don't move - you can just plop him down and he stands. I would have liked different arm jointing, but this is fine overall - and you can pop them all off, too. It's a good toy design, and undoubtedly very cheap to make. (In my dreams, Hasbro would make cheap figures like this one - 12 joints or so, $8 retail or so, rather than $13 and up. I don't need ankles.)

The reason you want this figure is the deco. Previous releases have been clean silver, this one has dirty printing on it. Grime on the various limbs really make the various panels and sculpted bits pop, with wonderful muck on the head. The shins and forearms - and back - are clean, but that's not the end of the world. It looks like it belongs in one of your sandcrawlers. Sadly he isn't vac-metal silver, but this tooling wasn't optimized for ABS, so you get no chrome. Maybe in the future.

If you can find this figure, it's a good upgrade from the previous release and superior if you don't have it. Get this one if the opportunity arises, even though it costs more, it's probably better than any customization you have the skill to do on an existing figure. (It's certainly better than what I can do.) Best of luck finding this one.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,860: October 5, 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,860: Tusken Raider (2.0, The Vintage Collection)

TUSKEN RAIDER
Now with Better Elbows

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F3118
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #199
Includes: Gaffi stick, blaster rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.93
Availability: August 2021
Appearances: Star Wars
Bio: Fearsome desert savages inhabiting the Jundland Wastes, Tusken Raiders are the foremost reason Tatooine colonists do not wander far from their isolated communities. (Taken from the web site. There is no packaging copy.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
At first glance it seemed as if the Tusken Raider offered at Walmart this year was little more than a repaint - thankfully, this was not the case. The partial retool of The Saga Collection Vintage figure from 2006 is a big improvement, and fixes a couple of the complaints we all had about the original figure - and some we didn't think to ask about! If you can get a few of this one, you should, it's a decent army-builder. It's not perfect, but it's much improved.

If you have the original release, this one improves on it with a new head, new arms - with better non-swivel elbows! - new soft goods, and coloring which seems to be more in line with the original 1977 film. (The bad news is that most of the other appearances of the Tuskens seem more in line with the lighter, cream-colored figures.) There was a lot more contrast on the original Kenner toy and subsequent movie appearances - this one is darker, greyer, more Earthy. It's a dirtier, more lived-in costume that even has silver caps on the rebreather. The "face" looks truer to the cardback photo minus some missing brown paint around the mouth mask, and the soft goods are much less bulky. The most exciting improvement are the aforementioned elbows - now they can bend and swivel. The 2006 ones just swiveled, and were prone to falling apart inside the sleeves. The one thing about the new figure I disliked were the "frozen" wrists, which may be fixed by heat and the boiling water trick at your own risk.

The legs and torso are more or less the same, with improved deco. Since he has old-fashioned hips the figure can't sit on a Bantha very well, so a wholly new 100% sculpt would still be welcome - be it from a classic film or their The Mandalorian appearances. With the different colors, it's like a whole new clan of these guys - and since it's truer to the first film, you've arguably got a reason to buy one or two. I might recommend waiting for a rerelease to troop build due to the aforementioned mask issue, but if you don't notice it being off, just stock up now if you can. I mean, you're not going to find them on pegs anyway, but if you did you could potentially stock up.

Collector's Notes: I got mine form Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,860: September 30, 2021