Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,001: Axe Woves (The Black Series)

AXE WOVES is big and cool
The Black Series 2020 Line Look The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F5524
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: 25 - The Mandalorian
Includes: Blaster, helmet, jet pack
Action Feature: Removable helmet, blaster goes in holster
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A skilled warrior, Axe Woves 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:
Good, but no surprises! Axe Woves is Death Watch Mandalorian [FOTD #2,988] with new deco, a new head, and a new belt piece. TV shows have to reuse armor designs, props, and costumes to save money. As luck would have it, toy lines do too - so you've got basically the same figure with some changes, and now it's a new character! This is exactly how this figure should be made.

Axe Woves has a new head that looks a lot like the character on the show, complete with pretty good painted scruff. His eyes are decent, the skin is good, the scars aren't bad, and they did a nice job in making sure he looks exactly like how he should look. This figure would've blown your minds ten years ago, and today it's merely just another regular release. It's sort of mind-blowing how much better he is than those first The Black Series figures.

The costume is mostly the same. There's a new leather plate attached to the belt to give the torso a slightly different look, and it slightly alters the figure's appearance. This is good, because it's what they did on the show. The boots are the same, the armor is the same with new paint - some panels are now dark gray, and there are new and different battle damage marks. The backpack is pretty much the same, the helmet is repainted, and you still get the articulated rangefinder. The stripe on the helmet looks good, too.

With decent articulation, my only knock on the figure is I wish he had more gear. His mold-mate has two blasters, and he has one - no doubt the pennies went to the helmet and painted head, but for $25 I would love to feel I'm getting a little more value. Our Marvel brothers get 1/6 of a figure as a bonus at the same price, and G.I. Joe might get six or seven accessories plus an alternate head. There's nothing wrong with the figure itself, but it would be neat if it came with literally anything. Even just a part of a 6-jointed "trooper" display accessory statue figure or something to make these figures a little more enticing.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,001: February 7, 2023

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,000: Aayla Secura (The Black Series)

AAYLA SECURA
is a milestone

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Red Attack of the Clones Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F4355
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #03 - Attack of the Clones
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: Removable blade, hilt plugs in belt
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: Attack of the Clones

Bio: A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought on many battlefields. A master of the emotional detachment necessary in the Jedi Order, she tried to pass on what she learned. (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:
Day #3,000! Why? Somehow we're still going and I blame the last three years. As much as I wish I was saving something special for the occasion, I just grabbed the next figure in a case by my desk and it's a good one. Aayla Secura brings the prequel character - who started as a comic character - to 6-inch plastic life. Sure you've got a bunch of 3 3/4-inch ones, but now you can buy her again! I am unsure if she uses old parts - I couldn't match her pants to any of the figures I had out, but the double-jointed knees have been phased out over the last few years. I assume that means this design may have been sitting on deck at Hasbro for a while before finally making it out late in 2022.

After hearing fans say "well at least the sequels aren't the prequels," I think I'm pretty comfortable in saying that the last three outings with George Lucas at the helm were better movies with better designs. (Granted, this wasn't one of his - check out those comics!) Ms. Secura was cast in brown and blue, with parts of her headgear molded in brown rather than settling on being merely painted parts. I dig it. Her sleeve and top are also molded in brown, her boots are a different shade of brown, plus they swivel! I love that they made use of her outfit when determining articulation, as she has a mid-torso joint that looks like it belongs there. Most of her hip joints are masked by the clothing, and many of the arm joints are integrated nicely. Her head sculpt is expressive with a good amount of paint to bring her to life. This means the outfit is mostly flat brown paint with sculpted texture, and while a little more paint could bring out that detail nobody is probably ready to pay for it. With shifting budgets, we've seen figures range from pretty good to pretty adequate. What Hasbro gave us here is good - but it would've been nice to have some robes or a little something more here. It's just the figure and a lightsaber - and it's a good figure, with a nice lightsaber, and everything fits together nicely. At $25 you won't be too disappointed, but we're probably one price increase from people throwing up their arms and bailing on anyone who isn't a personal favorite. While I would love alternate hands or some gear to make me think I got my $25 worth, I don't think I can stomach another price hike.

I assume this is going to be the finest overall Aayla Secura figure we may ever get under $50. I'd recommend her for Twi'lek fans and anyone wanting more prequel-era Jedi Knights, but you won't get a lot of gear here and I doubt you'll be thrilled. You'll be happy - the execution here is excellent as the best Aayla Secura Hasbro was likely to give us. I assume she won't linger on shelves too much, so snag her if you see her.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,000: February 2, 2023

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,999: Grogu (The Black Series)

GROGU
at full price

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Orange The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F4357
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #26 - The Mandalorian
Includes: Storage box, frog, knob, bowl, Beskar mythosaur skull necklace, cookie tube, floating pram
Action Feature: Connecting lightsaber parts
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A mysterious alien pursued by bounty hunters on behalf of Imperial interests. (Taken from the packaging, which occupies a fair amount of space in six languages.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
You should be insulted. Hasbro and Disney and Lucasfilm and everybody have been milking the popularity of The Child to the point of the absurd, but you also get to see so many riffs on the idea. Baby dolls, Pop! vinyl figures, 1980s-style collectible figures, games, clothes, and just about everything. With The Black Series (and to a lesser extent, The Vintage Collection) Hasbro elected to push for premium pricing. Just a Grogu by himself with some gear was once $10. Target's exclusive Grogu was $35 - but it also included a lot of accessories and Mando with him. Retro and Vintage Grogu were $10 and $15, and some were packed in as accessories with other figures. But this is $25 - and that's absurd. Hasbro has a 6-inch scale "toy" one with pram for $5, a 9-inch scale one for $10, and so many other toys that offer more for less. If Hasbro put all of this on a Vintage cardback for $18, you'd complain about the value. It's basically an accessory pack with no action figure, but priced as a full-blown action figure. And it'll sell, because it's Grogu, but it's just one more figure that people who are still collecting-them-all will begrudgingly buy in the name of completeness. It is not a bad product - it is just a wildly poorly priced one.

The Retro Collection Grogu gave you a similarly sized figure minus a couple of accessories for about $10. You could buy that figure, plus the first The Black Series Grogu (which features the same accessory box in this set), and it'd only be $20. Not included in the overlap are the cookies or necklace, which at best would be around $1 or $2 - and both of those other Grogu figures were also overpriced for what you got. I'm being repetitive now. My expectations for this one were low, and that turned out to be appropriate.

The figure itself has your little green buddy sitting down with jointed arms. Each hand has open fingers, and the right hand can hold his cookies. The head and each hand are jointed, and some brown paint over the brown garment is barely visible. His black eyes have a little pink around them, as do his ears. You wouldn't miss it if it were left out, and it's good that they did something with the deco to make it not seem like the most cynical product in the line.

Accessory interactivity is not fantastic. The clear box of gear is good to not lose the tiny accessories, but no such love was given to the other stuff. He can't wear the necklace without popping off his head, and I am hesitant to do that. The cookies can be held just fine, and the hands are not posed properly to make use of the bowl or the shifter knob really. Alternate arms or a bonus alternate figure would have helped. He can sit in his pram just fine, but getting the pieces on it to align and shut properly has proven difficult. It won't fully close - the form fit is awful on mine. The deco is nice, I appreciate the weathering and orange tripes, but it seems poorly manufactured. Having said that, the interior is nicely painted and sculpted.

What I wish Hasbro would've done was to include more than one Grogu in the set - there's so little going on here that they could toss two or three uniquely posed figures, with different expressions, and it would still feel like something of a bad value. But not this bad. If this were the only way to get the character, I would say hold your nose and buy it. But it's not - you have a lot of options and almost all of which can be had at a better price. (Surprising no one, my favorite is the "Kenner" one.) Making money is important but I think Hasbro really whiffed this one. Including a Grogu with a lesser character (say, the Client) to boost sales as an "accessory" would have made sense. Throw in other accessories as bonuses with other slower-selling figures to encourage collecting, or alternate Grogus, also makes sense. If this figure included droid parts or extra gear for Mando or just something that would make this seem like you got more plastic than a 3 3/4-inch scale figure for $10 cheaper, I wouldn't complain. But this did not happen. And it won't matter, because this will fly off the shelves as a 1-per-case figure during the weeks before season three of The Mandalorian premieres. The character's popularity will probably make this a critic-proof product unless people are over The Mandalorian or season three of the show winds up turning people off. I expect they'll be confused given how many people skipped The Book of Boba Fett, but such is life.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,999: January 31, 2023

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,998: Darth Maul (The Black Series)

DARTH MAUL
Cyborg

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Yellow The Clone Wars Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F4356
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #11 - The Clone Wars
Includes: Two-piece lightsaber hilt with two removable blades
Action Feature: Connecting lightsaber parts
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: A deadly, agile Sith Lord, Darth Maul was a formidable warrior and scheming mastermind. He wielded an intimidating double-bladed lightsaber and fought with a menacing ferocity (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 real good 6-inch figure too. Darth Maul has no nomenclature on-pack to identify him as "Cyborg" or "Mandalore" or other outfit-specifc wording, but it's good. With this line in particular I get cranky if anything is under a pretty high bar lately, and Maul hits the high marks. The character made the jump from live-action character to reborn animated cyborg to live-action-ish action figure surprisingly well! There were plenty of places Hasbro could have cheaped out, and they didn't seem to here. It's the rare $25 figure where you can fuss with it and go "OK yeah this is worth it." This is a figure with personality to spare!

The lightsaber is made of his old weapon and new parts, and you can pop the halves together. He has no problems holding it, and the design is much like the character - part of it is what you remember, and part of it was cobbled together parts from his Jedi-related on-the-job injuries. There are some nice painted details on the silver hilt, and while there could be more it's not like I'd notice at that size. I got some black grip spots and red buttons, I'm happy. The "old half" has a little peg on it that fits in a slot on his belt quite nicely. The other half has a protrusion but I don't think it goes anywhere in particular.

Maul turned out great, starting with a new head with pointier spikes and a fantastic sneer on his mug! The eyes and horns are mostly painted very well, and his squint is just dynamite. I'd probably have been happy re-rebuying a regular Maul again if it had this much personality in his face, and thankfully, I was not asked to do this. He has a bare, partially painted chest set inside a plastic vest covering up the unpainted spots. Economical! He's ripped and the costume is no slouch either, with cyborg buttons on his belt painted in blue and yellow, evoking the look of Darth Vader. The shoulder armor is connected to the arms, so he has no problems moving and looking pretty good in any pose, with an easy-to-find center of gravity.

I love the gloves and their silver painted straps, I dig the robot legs, and the dangling part of his vest just looks awesome and won't get in the way of most poses. The elbows and wrists have a great range of movement, and much like the 3 3/4-inch version of this same outfit it's an exceptionally nicely-sculpted figure. I should also note that the multi-part neck is great, jointed in just the right places to let you change his mood based on how he tilts his head. Now I have to sit back and wait and hope they do Old Man Maul from Rebels in this format down the road, but if they never do? I'm happy with this figure. This is the best Maul in this size and one of the best Maul toys period. Snag it if you see it at retail... maybe even a few bucks higher.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,998: January 26, 2023

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,997: Migs Mayfeld (The Black Series)

MIGS MAYFELD
Ex-Imperial Criminal Disguise

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Orange The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F4360
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #27 - The Mandalorian
Includes: Backpack with blaster, four additional blasters
Action Feature: Removable backpack with extending blaster arm, four working holsters
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A hot-headed ex-Imperial sharpshooter, Migs Mayfeld was once a smart-mouthed leader of a gang of criminals. (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 real good 6-inch figure. Migs Mayfeld gives you everything you want and does it well. Not only do you get Bill Burr, but you get four working holsters, four identical blasters, and a bonus backpack-mounted blaster. It has pretty much everything he needs, and no extra fluff you need to figure out where to store later/lose later. Articulation is good if not exceptional, and in many respects, you could probably paint him green and put him on your G.I. Joe shelf without looking out of place. Hasbro did good here, and I'd say Mando fans should pick him up.

After Q9-0, Migs is the second (and hopefully not last) figure from the gang in season one. Spreading them out far apart probably results in diminished enthusiasm, but it's another good figure with a lot going for him. A dark, dark blue costume is augmented by a brown shirt and a number of holsters that look like he stitched them together himself. There are a total of five blasters - four in holsters, one on a mechanical arm in his backpack - and everything fits in pretty nicely. (One of mine had a slightly bent scope, so it goes in the chest holsters.) The costume looks just like the show, with some light leather bits, some dark leather bits, and some painted metal elements.

Hasbro also wisely molded much of the figure in color. He doesn't have nor does he need painted detail, thanks to the simple costume design, so you can just pick him up and marvel at the subtle fabric patterns sculpted on his shirt plus the detailed pockets. The gloves have tiny ribs on the fingers and padding on the knuckles, making this look like a great replica of the costume. While he isn't an exciting alien or a cool robot, he is an excellent translation of what we saw on TV down to the photoreal head with an acceptable amount of painted scruff. I assume the technology will improve with time, but it's better than anything we got five or ten years ago.

It's great when Hasbro can do a great figure of a fun character. Migs' body seems like it could be reused for other figures down the road, which could be great. He doesn't have the fancy shoulders with the extra swing-forward motion, but other than that every joint works well with the kind of standard complaints you might expect. The legs can move, but the holsters block them from moving too much - that is the price of carrying a lot of heat. The elbows and knees have a good range of motion and he doesn't tend to flop over with the tight - but not necessarily super smooth - joints. I'd recommend this figure because I love seeing my favorite character actors and stand-up comics appear in Star Wars, but you'll want it because it's a quality interpretation of the costume. I hope they make Burg and Xi'an too at some point, especially if they can be prodded to do a Kenner-style wave with the whole crew.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,997: January 24, 2023

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,996: Grand Inquisitor (The Black Series)

GRAND INQUISITOR
Nobody Expects the Imperial Inquisition

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Blue Obi-Wan Kenobi Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F4361
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #09 - Obi-Wan Kenobi
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Bio: Obi-Wan Kenobi is set years after the dramatic events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where Kenobi faced the corruption of his friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker turned Sith Lord Darth Vader. (Taken from the packaging. About 25% of the package back is wasted on translating this nothing burger in six languages.)

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 increasingly feel that the line is on something of an auto-pilot. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's both. With figures like this Grand Inquisitor, you get a surprisingly good figure of a surprisingly bad character (and poor live action redesign.) Hasbro did a boffo job painting his costume to look like the TV show, mostly, but what you're getting is triple generation loss. The Star Wars Rebels design lost a bit jumping to live-action in Obi-Wan Kenobi, and then Hasbro probably was working from an earlier design when translating the make-up to a toy. The end result is a nicely engineered figure with some exquisite design choices and very good joints that leaves me ice cold.

I'm sure this sounds hypocritical - after all, I like a good Kenner-style figure and those are frequently off-model and off-base. But that's the charm - they're meant to look like half-baked toys done on a budget with little to no reference, while a collector-aimed $25+ 6-inch action figure should be a near-perfect translation of what we saw on the screen - and it should be a good choice, given how scattered character choices are these days. Many of the costume elements come straight from the cartoon - and that's what you want. In a very superficial sense, you get some severe eye make-up, black armor, a gray body suit, a double-bladed lightsaber, and a vibe that reads as The Star Wars-era previsualization artwork. It's hard to not see this as something that could have been an alternate suit for a non-masked Darth Vader - the black armor looks cool, the gloves are nice. There's no gloss on the figure, but you do get some silver highlights and that Grand Inquisitor rank pin. The thigh armor is sculpted in a way that doesn't hinder leg movement - gold star to Hasbro for that - and all the joints seem to move freely. It's not stiff like so many 6-inch figures, and everything seems to have a smooth - but not loose - movement. When you pose the legs, the knees are buttery-smooth and everything just seems to work easily without a weird fight where a piece is a millimeter in the wrong direction due to parts tolerances. You can get some good poses out of this guy thanks to an abundance of well-disguised joints and nicely jointed shoulders. Hasbro took what I assume was an official Disney 3D model and sliced it up like a champ.

Unfortunately for Hasbro, Lucasfilm redesigned a familiar face and did so poorly. The long Utapauan heads have been reduced to standard human length, and it is not flattering. The Rupert Friend costume shoulders have lost the Imperial cogs, which I admit do look a little silly, but I'm OK with silly sometimes. The character's eye makeup has been greatly desaturated and there's barely any evidence of the more vibrant red on the animation model's forehead and around his eyes. His "tears" were greatly toned down, and the cartoon's piercing yellow eyes are absent, with a less-exaggerated neck and collar. Much like the character's role on the TV show, Lucasfilm sucked the coolness right out of the character - and added a goofy cape to boot. But it's an interesting cape, with a red lining, and it hangs of the shoulders in an unusual way. I don't know if it translated perfectly well to a figure, but it's distinctive. It's interesting to look at.

Hasbro didn't do a great job translating the head. The color seems off, the eye make-up looks more like German theatrical stage make-up - much more severe than the live-action look. The plastic color absorbed the ridges in the skull, making a weak design look weaker. I don't doubt Hasbro could've been working from a pixel-perfect 3D scan, but the plastic color absorbs some of the texture and it's just a very white bald man with off-color skin. If you saw this at Comic-Con you'd gush over the armor, and maybe just trail off about the face. It's just not great, and since it's a rotten interpretation of a character in the story, I assume this guy will be marked down online pretty quickly if he isn't already.

The lightsaber is weird - the double-bladed one is molded in gray and not painted silver, which is a weird strike. The pegs do help you position his hand in the right place to hold it, but there are no places to mount it on the figure body so they are more annoying than helpful in getting his hand around the weapon.

It's a frustrating figure. I won't lie to you, I wanted to hate it because the character on the show was a twerp. Hasbro did an A+ job making a costume that looks good and is jointed well, and probably gave us a C- head and a B- lightsaber. Were Hasbro to reissue this figure with better paint down the road, I bet it could be an easy A- or A overall. Hasbro and their factories did a largely good job translating what they were given, but when you have a character return with a worse performance there's only so much you can do. If we see Grand Admiral Thrawn show up on live-action Star Wars but he's played by Wallace Shawn, that would be... actually I think I would quite enjoy that. Disney, get on it.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,996: January 19, 2023

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,995: B2EMO (Droid Factory / Disney)

B2EMO Disney Exclusive
Star Wars Droid Factory
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $14.99
Availability: September 2022
Appearances: Andor   

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy. Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors. This droid is a very old and weary groundmech salvage assist unit that's been towing scrap for the Andor family for years. Join B2EMO on their adventures throughout the galaxy! May the Force be with you... and your Droids! (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: If you're an older fan and you like toy robots, you probably want B2EMO. The cynic in me sees this as the token cute merchandise character nearly every show or movie gets - and given this is one of every few Andor products you can by right now, I don't think it's unfounded - it is surprisingly hard to get. Hasbro's 6-inch scale B2EMO was meant as a "convention" exclusive, and this is the only other action toy so far. Funko also has one, which was also an exclusive. Weird, right?

The boxy (but good) robot seems like a predecessor to the astromech droid. He can grow taller if you pull him out of his crumpled-up mode, and he has a rotating dome and articulated feet with wheels. The design looks a lot like it does on TV, with the exposed panel on the side of the body and the uniquely shaped head. The wheels roll, the feet are a little wobbly - including one mismatched foot in school bus yellow - standard. The scuffing and rusted-out chassis tells droid thieves "not worth the trouble."

At $12.99 or less, I would say they nailed it as a Disney park souvenir - it's expensive, but it's a weird design with a short selling season. But it's $14.99, so it's overpriced. He's missing the green rectangles on his head, and the figure could have been served by more black "dirty" paint given the price increase over previous, similar droids. The telescoping body is nice and frankly necessary, but it's still a little guy at a price of a larger figure. He's too big to be a "sidekick" accessory, but it's definitely the kind of thing that would have benefited from being in a boxed set at a better per-figure price.

But naturally, none of this matter. What you care about is that a 3 3/4-inch scale B2EMO exists, it's official, it looks good, and it costs too stinking much on the secondary market thus rendering any of my misgivings moot. It sold out - so Disney won't care that some goofy fan thinks it isn't fancy enough to justify the asking price. At standard pricing I'd recommend it enough to get one, and if Hasbro makes a "Kenner" Andor series I would hope a weird B2EMO with a clicky dome and an awkward sticker or two can't be left out. It's weird that the most toyetic design on a decidedly toy-unfriendly series be given such a short run, but Disney shorted its first Pride Droid and that sort of thing really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

None of this is the fault of the designers, who I assume designed this to meet a $12.99 price point that inflation kicked up. To have this toy on-shelf before the series aired, I would argue it's a pretty good feat in 2022 and they're deserving of praise. But if Hasbro (or Disney) want to try a version 2.0 that has a tilting dome - rather than this one which only swivels - I'd like to see that too.

Collector's Notes: I got this through my pal Shannon. (Shop Disney sold out quickly.) Thanks Shannon!

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,995: January 17, 2023