Thursday, January 13, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,890: Crosshair (Imperial, The Black Series)

CROSSHAIR
(Imperial)

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Dark Red Star Wars: The Bad Batch Packaging
Item No.:
No. F2933
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #09 - Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Includes: Helmet, blaster, sniper rifle, backpack
Action Feature: Blaster fits in holster, helmet covers head, backpack is removable and can store rifle
Retail: $24.99
Availability: September 2021
Appearances: Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Bio: Formerly a member of the Bad Batch, Crosshair’s loyalties shift after his team defects from Imperial service. Committed to the Empire, Crosshair leads a new squad of enlisted recruits. (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
When initially launched, I got a preorder in for Vice-Admiral Rampart but Crosshair (Imperial) sold out immediately. I was surprised to see him return, in stock, in December - so I went ahead and grabbed him with a Mando exclusive to qualify for free shipping at Walmart. The figure is the same tooling as the previous release, but with a $5 upcharge. Why? I assume a PopCopy employee has an answer.

Despite the upcharge, there's not a lot new here other than deco and a helmet. back in the 2005-2008 period of the 3 3/4-inch line, we frequently got repaint waves - often developed very quickly - with no new tooling to get troopers out. At that scale and price ($5-$7) "close enough" was acceptable for all these clones and droids and troopers. The Black Series is supposed to be a premium collector format, so seeing the wrong pauldrons (there's no 99 on the show, nor is there a spike) and no battle-damage deco at all make me assume either Walmart jacked up the price because they know they can get it, or Hasbro increased the price because they know they can get it. A newly-tooled helmet isn't enough to warrant that kind of price increase, and exclusive prices at Walmart (and elsewhere, but especially Walmart) have been all over the map lately.

If it wasn't for the show accuracy, I would say this is a spectacularly cool figure. A version 2.0 seems possible, because Crosshair's unmasked head gets messed up as the season goes and they could justify an all-new figure later. (This is not without precedent.) He stands well, holds his weapons well. The holster works great. The backpack can stow the rifle. I love the new helmet with its green visor, revised face, and articulated rangefinder. This is an awesome action figure, no doubt - even without painted silver scuffing, the sculpted scratches and dents look pretty great. I doubt most fans who watched the show won't even realize it's not completely accurate, and I assume Lucasfilm and Hasbro know this too given the character was largely seen in dark places. It's cool. It looks neat. If you never saw the show you'll just love it to pieces.

The unmasked helmet has Crosshair's trademark crosshair over his eye, and the figure's mutations make him look less and less like the prime clone. I hate that I both love and dislike the figure. If this were from some video game I never played, I'd say "this is awesome! Go get it! Treat yourself!" without a thought about accuracy. As a major character from a TV show, it's disappointing - not bad, not awful, just not as good as it should be for a figure like this. And I bought it anyway, and I really like it. If a newer version comes out I'd say skip this one - heck, the previous one's paint was lacking, so hopefully some day we'll just see a very fancy, very premium Evolution of Crosshair 2-pack where they smooth out the rough parts of both releases and trick us into spending another $50-$60. Until then, at $25, I can't deny that this is one awesome looking chunk of plastic.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,890: January 13, 2022

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,889: Jyn Erso (The Black Series)

JYN ERSO
Fourth Edition

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Green Rogue One: A Star War Story Packaging
Item No.:
No. F2889
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #01 - Rogue One: A Star War Story
Includes: Blaster, scarf
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $22.99
Availability: December 2021
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star War Story

Bio: Putting behind a checkered past by lending her skills to a greater cause, Jyn Erso is impetuous, defiant, and eager to bring the battle to the Empire. Used to operating alone, she finds higher purpose by taking on a desperate mission for the Rebel Alliance. (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:
Sometimes low expectations can bring a good surprise! After three releases - the regular individual figure, the SDCC exclusive variant package debut, and another release in a Target-exclusive 3-pack with a unique Death Trooper and Cassian Andor - I did not expect nor did I want another Jyn Erso. For the fifth anniversary of Rogue One, Hasbro did an online exclusive series of figures to celebrate with the photoreal face paint - and it's good. It's breathtakingly good. And when you pick up the 2016 releases and compare them, you will learn just how precious and sentimental you are about your old toys. I'd never toss out an old 3 3/4-inch Luke figure from the 80s or 90s (or I assume 00s.) But the 2016 Jyn Erso, I got no reason to ever look at her again. This new one is remarkable.

I've got a few figures to open still, but this one I opened within minutes of the box arriving from work. And I ran back to get my 2016 Erso to compare - and it's amazing. Old Jyn Erso figures were pumped out due to a large demand for Rey being unmet during the movie launch, and they sold well - and I assume long-term collectors will get rid of them after seeing the new release.

If you have the old figure, this one is virtually the same with a new head and some tiny improvements. First, there's the face - printing her face on here completely changes the figure's entire personality. I'm know giving side-eye to all my original trilogy humans because I assume this means upcoming Leia reissues are going to look amazing, and maybe it means we'll get some really good Han Solo and Luke figures at some point. The picture says it all. Less obvious are minor improvements on her outfit - the zippers and buckles are now a shinier silver rather than a dull grey. The brown boots are a little richer. The badge on her vest near the waist is a bit cleaner, but still not perfect ias far as I can tell.

I used to think The Black Series was a line where latecomers got screwed out of awesome things as the line goes as Hasbro seemed very hesitant to bring anything back as new fans discovered the line - and lately we've seen them reissue the Carbonite Block and Salacious Crumb from SDCC (Amazon and Disney parks, respectively) as well as some other great things. Now that we're seeing good figures improved to the nth degree, I'd almost say it's worth skipping any main character that looks like it could use some help. We've seen photo real upgrades on so many main characters that it's hard to say no to some of them once you see it in person. Get her if you're so inclined, just prepare by selling your old ones while you still can. And you probably can't. They'll just want the new one.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,889: January 11, 2022

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,888: Hevy Battle Droid (The Vintage Collection)

HEAVY BATTLE DROID
Star Wars Battlefront II

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F2711
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #193
Includes: Rifle, smaller rifle, backpack, antenna
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: June 2021
Appearances: Star Wars Battlefront II
Bio: The Heavy Battle Droid was a modified version of the B1-series battle droid,[3] being equipped with firing programs to help in combat. (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:
One of the good thing about droids, they're easy to do as retailer exclusives with variant deco. GameStop had this guy as a 6-inch figure, but the 3 3/4-inch Heavy Battle Droid was a shared "fan" exclusive at most online retailers (and not big box stores.) It takes a good Battle Droid mold from 2012 and adds a lot of metallic red paint plus a bonus blaster for a small upcharge. Is it worth it? For one, sure. For army building... that depends on how much you love games.

The package isn't as robust as what you get in the 6-inch line, and it seems like the 3 3/4-inch scale is increasingly meant to be for a niche audience. The paint job on this one looks better than his bigger companion, as he's molded in a black plastic and slathered in a metallic red that really pops. There are some silver scuffed bits in there too, and it's subtle. It's hard to explain just how much better it looks - a droid molded in red plastic looks nice, but one painted red on top of that looks like it's the real thing. A movie prop (or CG model) usually has paint over whatever raw materials are used, and this isn't a benefit just for action figures - if you collected Transformers or die-cast cars, fans typically put a premium on die-cast construction. A lost art it may be, but it's really all about paint and weight, and the weight is not all that important. If you take a plastic toy car and completely coat it with paint, the eye can't tell the difference. (A scale, of course, can.) A few extra pennies turns a cheap toy into a premium collectible, plus it has other fringe benefits. For example, white paint doesn't yellow like white plastic does. If Hasbro spent a few extra cents in manufacturing, yellowed Stormtroopers wouldn't be an issue. That's why the extra paint on this Battle Droid looks superb - it's more than color. It's texture. It's an amazing form of visual trickery, and I am all for it.

The mold itself is The Vintage Collection mold we've seen in other colors before, and it's fine. It's not a huge improvement over the 1999 mold except for two things - one, there's a bit of a ball joint in the shoulders and hips so they can pivot in addition to swivel. Two, it can curl up into the ball pose so you can deploy it in that MTT you regret skipping 10 years ago. There are no wrist or forearm swivels, no waist joints, and it's not quite as fancy as the 6-inch armature. You can probably still squeeze some good poses out of him with the small and larger blasters, but it's worth noting that the spindly limbs won't hold up to gravity forever and you will want a display stand with upper body support. A disc with a peg will only be good for a short period of time before he sags and warps. That's not a knock on Hasbro's design - if they used stiffer plastic, there's a good chance the limbs would snap. If they had no articulation below the hip, it might stand up, but fans wouldn't like that. The 1999 models seemed to be the most durable, but at a cost of mobility and accuracy in the sculpt. It's a design that wasn't made with the very best 3 3/4-inch toys in mind, but it's still a good translation of the concept. Sadly I don't think swivel wrists and forearms will work at this size... but maybe someday they'll skip the joints entirely and just give us swappable arms for a future Battle Droid toy. (Despite collectors' requests, articulation is overrated in some figures - 2004 Dagobah Luke's swappable arms were definitely the right move, for example.)

I like the gear - the extra Stormtrooper-style rifle is nice, the default Battle Droid blaster is obligatory, plus you get the backpacks and the antenna to plug in the back. The extra gear has nowhere to stow, so keep track of it carefully.

Having not played the game, I can only say I like the figure. (If I knew a small one was coming, I'd probably have skipped the 6-inch one.) I doubt this is going to be an essential addition to any collection, but it's one I like a lot because it builds out the galaxy with something I don't already own. We get so many reruns, updates, and remakes of existing toys that sometimes a repaint of a new battalion or model of droid can be exciting, and the vintage packaging doesn't hurt either. If the mood strikes you, get it. (If it's on sale, get that army started.) Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,888: January 6, 2022

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,887: Stormtrooper (Skywalker Saga, Gold)

STORMTROOPER
with Darth Vader

Skywalker Saga Commemorative Collection Walmart Exclusive 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure 2-Pack
Item No.:
Asst. E8177 No. E8183
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, blaster
Action Feature: n/
Retail: $14.92
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: Star Wars
Bio: Stormtroopers are elite shock troops fanatically loyal to the Empire and impossible to sway from the Imperial cause. (Taken from marketing copy. 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:
I initially passed on this set - and that was probably the right move. I opened the set and the Stormtrooper figure slowly started to turn its helmet... and then sheared the neck off at the peg. Well. It's a gold repaint of the Solo: A Star Wars Story mold which was reused in the quickly-forgotten tube-packed Galaxy of Adventures line in 2019. It has a blaster and limited articulation. It is gold. The hands are loose on the blaster. And, again, the neck twisted off... so i don't like this figure.

If left carded it's pretty nice. The gold paint reflects all the nice sculpted detail and highlights just how hard they work on making a nice looking figure. Like Vader, I'd recommend it for carded collectors or for fans needing a shelf of gold figures that they'll never, ever touch. This one didn't have the paint stickiness issues I saw on Vader, but there were enough problems between the two that I can't really fathom why anyone would buy and enjoy these figures as toys. I'd say just got get the previous releases, and use this as a trophy/display item. Or better yet, don't bother buying it. Your mileage may vary but "head breaks off" is probably the only thing worse beyond "head falls off" as far as an item's construction quality goes.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth. These sets were initially Walmart exclusives.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,887: January 4, 2022

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,886: Darth Vader (Skywalker Saga, Gold)

DARTH VADER
with Stormtrooper

Skywalker Saga Commemorative Collection Walmart Exclusive 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure 2-Pack
Item No.:
Asst. E8177 No. E8183
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, blaster
Action Feature: n/
Retail: $14.92
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: Star Wars
Bio: Once a heroic Jedi Knight, Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, became a Sith Lord, and led the Empire’s eradication of the Jedi Order. (Taken from marketing copy. 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:
When I first saw The Rise of Skywalker line, I knew things were going south. This Darth Vader figure is evidence of what's more or less wrong with the series over the last few years - on one hand, it's an easy-to-make gold repaint of a 2016 Rogue One mold. But Hasbro did a whopping nine of these packs, some of which are better than others. There were a handful of silver figures from about 2002-2006 too, but I think that grand total was maybe six figures. Walmart sold 19 golden figures in a couple of months, and if you like the whole gold thing, they're neat. Otherwise you can add them to the pile of Carbonized Metallic figures, Holiday Edition figures, Prototype Edition figures, and other things that are more in line with typical collector's edition fare - things Hasbro largely eschewed for the bulk of the toy line's history. Kenner did as well - repaints for the sake of repaints were rare, usually there was prior art or a story purpose for those droids, clones, or other repaints. (Even the 2002-2010ish holiday edition figures largely had precedent in existing holiday cards.)

This is a good set to leave in the package. (The Stormtrooper's neck peg immediately sheared off. More on that when that review comes.) Vader's joints are nice and smooth, but the gold paint is already sticking to itself. Limbs are sticking to the cape, and I assume the lightsaber's gold paint will stick to the hands over time - matte silver paint does not typically age well. I do love how it highlights just how much work went into the figure's sculpt, but curiously the gold also highlights the problems. Darth Vader's nose has an indentation that is pushed in too far, and it's made painfully obvious now that the black, shadowed area is brightly colored. You'll love seeing the folds and wrinkles in the costume, though - but I assume this figure is going to look terrible with any sort of touch as the cape flexes and joints move over time. I already see parts on the figure where the cape stuck to the body, and you can see pock marks of where they got stuck together.

I generally don't have a big problem with weird figures, but this one came out at a time when we were being told "kid line figures" weren't viable and it seemed Hasbro was intent on producing lines that were redundant, repetitive, and generally lacking in important things like the title character of a movie. Along with the Celebrate the Saga multipacks, these gold figures were the end of what should have been a much better cap on a mountain of toys. Hasbro doing hundreds of dollars worth of "just like the figure you have, but splattered/shinier" figures at once has made the hunt less and less enjoyable. It's one thing to drive around to get a figure you really wanted, but it's even worse when it is most likely something you didn't want in the first place - but recognize that if you don't have it, your collection may forever be incomplete, and then you're staring down if this matters to you or not. And who wants to have that level of introspection while shopping for toys? Not me, that's for sure.

For the die-hard fan who never opens a figure, I think this is a good set to leave packaged. I would emphatically advice against getting it to open unless your entire design on this collection is to open them, place them on a shelf, and never, ever touch them again. The gold paint looks cool but it's just not going to age well. It is, however, interesting in that it's one of very few Hasbro figures completely coated in paint - typically there are elements with exposed bare plastic. The only non-silver, non-gold 2-pack exceptions might be the various vac-metal C-3PO figures we've had over the years and those by and large held up better than Vader has after a mere fifty seconds out of the package.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth. These sets were initially Walmart exclusives.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,886: December 30, 2021

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,885: The Emperor (The Vintage Collection)

THE EMPEROR
Old Sculpt

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7763 No. F1902
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #200
Includes: Energy bolts, cane, hood, robe
Action Feature: n/
Retail: $13.99
Availability: October 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
Bio: Scheming, powerful, and evil to the core, Emperor Palpatine restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi Order. (Taken from marketing copy. 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:
I feel like I say "this is a weird one" a lot. This The Emperor figure is meant to be an update of the 1984 figure... and the funny thing, it's an update of a 2005 figure. This is the Revenge of the Sith Evolution figure with a new robe. The head is pretty much the same (PulseCon got a really nice new sculpt for the throne version), but you get some hands with short lightning and a cane too. So Hasbro gets to cash in on 16-year-old tooling, and because the robes are a bit improved (I think) most fans will not recognize the body sculpt is a reissue.

I didn't like the head sculpt before. Slicked-back hair and visible teeth were very, shall we say, extreme? Even for the time this was a stylized choice, and on a vintage cardback it just looks sort of like someone did a swap-out. The hood is nice, the face paint is fine, but the face says "I am from one shot of the movie and not a good all-purpose Emperor figure." The make-up is exceptionally well-painted, given that the figure has very little paint elsewhere I assume they could put the entire budget into the head - including painted hair you may never actually see. They did a nice job with the task at hand.

The joints are tight, and it's very good for a figure of that (ha ha) vintage - ball-jointed knees and elbows were all the rage, so he can sit on a throne if you got one. Also keep in mind, way back in 2005 the idea of getting super-articulated Star Wars figures was a new thing - our first one was a late-2003 Clone Trooper, followed by three waves of the very first Vintage Original Trilogy Collection in 2004 and 2005. (And some of them had only swivel joints, with C-3PO having 5 total - one fewer than his 1995 figure!) These "Evolutions" figures were the Vintage follow-up and were the standard collectors expected from then on (and did not get, by and large, for quite some time.) It just goes to show you that you can use really good designs for a long time, but I also went back in my old toy vault and was very happy with the 1997 Jedi Final Duel Emperor Palpatine (on the throne, no moving legs) and the 1997 carded Emperor Palpatine (basically a salt shaker with arms.) This is nice too, but getting the robes to look perfect is kind of tricky - that's cloth for you. The molded plastic ones limit your options, but look good. Which is better? Well, you decide. (Plastic. The answer is plastic.)

Carded fans may like this figure, as it looks good in this presentation. Openers may prefer the PulseCon version, which I will post here shortly. But it's a nice Emperor if you don't have one, and certainly not any worse than the many, many previous releases to use this mold. It may well be the best figure that uses this tooling, but after 16 years, it really ought to be. I'm just unexcited due to its "more of the same"-ness.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,885: December 28, 2021

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,884: AT-ST Driver (The Vintage Collection)

AT-ST DRIVER
Photoreal Richard Marquand Edition

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive Action Figures
Item No.:
No. F3115
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #190
Includes: Blaster, harness, helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.93
Availability: July 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: AT-ST Drivers control the two-legged transports used by Imperials in both the Battle of Hoth and the Battle of Endor. (Stolen from Walmart's ordering page. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
This AT-ST Driver sat next to my desk for months before opening it - I just wasn't in a rush, and since Walmart didn't sell out if it, apparently you weren't either. This figure is a redeco of a retool - the mold is over 10 years old, but this particular version uses a Richard Marquand head - which debuted later as a Kmart exclusive - and gives it photoreal paint. It's pretty essential as the only "vintage" carded AT-ST Driver, and if you take the helmet off it's a really nice Richard Marquand head you can use for your Jagged Edge making-of dioramas.

For a modified figure that's over 10 years old, this is excellent. It's a super-articulated body (pre-weird hip joints) so you get 22 points of articulation. The sculpt is nice and clean, but what I love about this one is that even though the legs are sculpted apart when he's standing, they swing forward and get closer together. He just slides right in the AT-ST's seat with zero fuss. That's a perfect pilot figure right there! It helps that he also has swivel wrists and jointed elbows, so you can get some pretty good poses out of somebody whose sole purpose is to occupy a seat in a small box on stilts. This is a well-made toy figure that is also a nice figure for collectors.

As mentioned before you could buy him at Kmart in a 2-pack, but this one is an upgrade - the head has pretty good photoreal paint that seems to shave a few years off the director of the third movie. He looks good! Not much else to say - but if you disagree, you can leave the helmet on. It slides off and on easily with the chin strap not getting in the way, which is in and of itself a notable feat. Sometimes it's a nuisance, here it's a joy.

Considering that this is an older figure brought back to market, it holds up remarkably well. It does everything I want a pilot figure to do, plus it has a secret cameo by the film's director. There's even an Imperial cog on the shoulder. What more could you ask for? Vintage packaging - and you got that too. If for some reason you missed this one, and he's still available, he's worth the $13. There's probably little chance of them making a more perfect and easy-to-use pilot for your vehicles, and it's a great example of them looking in their tooling library and saying "this is as good as it's going to get."

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,884: December 23, 2021