Thursday, May 6, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,810: The Mandalorian (6-Inch Value Figure, Black Logo Line Look)

THE MANDALORIAN
Value Channel Mando

The Mandalorian "Dollar Store" 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3946 No. F1627
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cape
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.96
Availability: April 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: The Mandalorian is a formidable bounty hunter in an increasingly dangerous galaxy. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
Some fans hate the cheap figures - I can understand it, but I am impressed with The Mandalorian as a thing. In 2021, you can't buy a lot of cheap toys anymore - and it's rare you ever see this character on the shelf in any plastic format. To put one out for pennies under five dollars is somewhat mind-blowing - it's 6-inches tall-ish, just barely shorter than The Black Series figure and 75% cheaper. And like 90% less articulated, with a simpler paint job. You get what you pay for, and it's pretty good. In the current toy industry it's a shame these are hidden on checklanes or in grocery stores - kids would probably gobble these up if they saw them.

If this figure were the only one of the character, you'd buy it. You'd complain, but it's not a bad one - there are some things it does surprisingly well. The cape is a separate piece, but not easily removed. The blaster is molded in the hand, but you can't remove it - and there's no Amban Phase Pulse blaster either. It's just a figure with no real removable accessories, and articulated shoulders. The neck and waist also swivel, with a somewhat hollow figure standing easily without futzing with it. It's a good desk toy.

Mando's sculpting is good, with all the armor elements you would expect. If someone painted this figure up like a pro, I bet it would look amazing - it would be great custom fodder, too. I love the silver on the Beskar parts looks brighter than the standard releases, gleaming almost as brightly as the Carbonized figure. It also appears that the brown plastic body has brown painted bandoliers and belts, which is something of a waste of resources - painting the other armor pads would have certainly made for a better looking figure. If it's brown, the specific shade of brown is immaterial. He looks like the figure from the show, but has different knee armor - this sets him apart from The Black Series figures. His suit changes a bit from episode to episode (albeit not every episode), so this figure is different enough and cheap enough to be interesting. If they tossed in a Beskar Spear I'd be all set to give it extremely high marks.

If you have The Black Series figure, you don't need this one. It's neat, I like it, and it's different (and scaled to those figures) - but it's hardly essential. If you can't find it, or need a gift for a fan or a kid, it's a wonderful and cheap figure. I've been collecting action figures for decades, and seeing things at or under $5 was unusual by the year 2000 - seeing something below it today genuinely surprising, particularly given that some of these have good sculpts and nice paint jobs. Less so the human faces. Those need work - applying the fancy face paint would do wonders on these and the 12-inch figures.

It is unlikely most fans will be converted to this format. It's a Disney-era addition, cheap, with some rarities that you may never have a chance to buy. I'd nudge anyone reading this to consider taking a good look at the current wave, because figures like the fully-painted C-3PO [FOTD #2,418] show that a good sculpt and good paint can get you a pretty great figure. Hasbro could make a fortune doing Imperial Stormtroopers for $5 in this format so 6-inch fans could build armies and dioramas. Unfortunately this line tends to get a couple of new releases per year, so I assume this is going to be it for quite some time.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart, near the registers. I suggest going at night to look at the checklanes when they're not populated by angry customers and their kids.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,810: May 6, 2021

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,809: R5-M4 (Droid Factory Line Look)

 R5-M4 Disney Parks Exclusive

Star Wars Droid Factory
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Disney?
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 4, 2016
Appearances: n/a


Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy. Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors. Living on the small planet of Mustafar in the Outer Rim Territories, this little Astromech helps with the local mining operations. Join R5-M4 on his adventure throughout the galaxy. 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: When I was still living in Los Angeles, "May the Fourth be with you" was a dumb joke fans told each other - after a couple of years, Lucasfilm tried making it a thing, and Disney really tried making it a thing. This year we're going to get a new TV show for it with The Bad Batch, but on most years we got a sale on stale product sitting around from last year's movie, and maybe a freebie. Action figure fans have had precious little to "celebrate" this clearly most sacred of marketing days, which makes R5-M4 interesting - it's a physical manifestation of a sales pitch, as a toy.

It's the basic Disney BB droid design, again, which was already sold in black and orange with an R5 dome in the bins in 2015 [FOTD #2,181]. So how is this one special? More paint. The black plastic is still blast plastic. The reddish orange is a lot more faded, which I don't like as much, but there's more of it - and lots more silver. The dome is fairly similar to the bin release, minus the faded color, but there are a lot of other changes. The third leg adds orange accents. The silver accents on the feet are different - as are the orange bits on the legs. THere's a lot more silver on each leg, and I count at least a dozen added silver panels on the body. This is the deluxe version, more or less.

The packaging copy places this robot at Mustafar, which means he's clearly Imperial. I mean, black, silver, red. It's lava, but cooled off a bit. The number of outlines and paint applications show someone at Disney really made the most out of their paint budget, with silver outlines on orange panels and tons of filled-in boxes on the backside of the figure that carded collectors will never see. There's a good, even coat of silver on top of the dome too - there were no corners cut to bring you this robot.

If you bought one Disney droid (after the redesign) you know that they're all basically the same mold with new paint. The legs and dome are removable, there are wheels under the feet, and there are over 100 of them. It's a lot of droids - nobody should have this many toy robots. But I do, and I'll probably buy some more. This one got a little expensive since its debut, but that's what happens when people get bored during a pandemic and start filling the holes in their collections. Since fans have a lot of options for black R5 units there's no real reason to get this one over any other, because they're all good for different reasons. The little variations make for a lot of variety on an obsessive droid completist's shelf, so I don't regret getting this one. I expect I will pick it up in a year and forget which ones were the bin robots and which one was R5-M4, but I blame age. And having several thousand action figures. I'm allowed to do that.

Collector's Notes: I got this from ShopDisney.com.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,809: May 4, 2021

Monday, May 3, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,808: The Child (6-Inch Value Figure, Black Logo Line Look)

THE CHILD Value Channel Grogu
The Mandalorian "Dollar Store" 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3946 No. F2832
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 2-piece hover pram
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.96
Availability: April 2021 

Appearances: The Mandalorian  

Bio: A mysterious alien pursued by bounty hunters on behalf of Imperial interests. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: I am semi-enamored with the slow-drip "value channel" line since it showed up overseas in 2015. (That Darth Vader has been in circulation ever since!) As far as I know there are three figures which never got released in the USA - the Death Trooper from Rogue One, the Alden Han Solo from Solo, and a Chewbacca also from Solo but sold around The Last Jedi in Europe. The line has been quiet since then, but now you can find The Mandalorian and The Child at a Walmart near you for the mind-bogglingly low price of about $4.96.

While some of you are rolling your eyes at these, I would ask you to reconsider - the first The Black Series C-3PO was $20 and extremely stiff, and the discount value one was $7 and just a little stiffer. Sometimes you want the best, and sometimes you may just want to feel like you got your money's worth - and these figures do that well. This take on The Child is similar to - but larger than - Target's exclusive The Child [FOTD #2,797] is about one inch tall, this one is 1 1/2-inches tall. The articulation is the same - and it's arguably much cheaper, given there's no $15 upcharge on Mando here.

The figure's detailing and sculpting is about as good as the rest we got from Hasbro, with articulation that is arguably The Black Series quality because Hasbro really dropped the ball on that Target exclusive one. The $5 kid has wrists and neck - and that's it. The body is unpainted, the feet are unpainted (but you don't see them anyway), and the head is painted pretty adequately with black eyes, pink inner ears. The cheap figure's neck has a better range of motion than The Black Series releases too. Given that The Black Series The Child figures are fairly difficult to find, even at a slightly larger size, this will probably serve as a perfectly fine substitute for a lot of fans - particularly ones that just see it and buy it. He doesn't do much, but neither does that last The Black Series figure.

Our terrible green child comes with a good - but not great - hover pram, too. It's also much larger than the previous version, and also comes from the season 1 finale version of the prop. This means it's dark grey, with a painted padding inside. There's no retractable dome part, so you can just place him in there if you want. There's no hover stand, and he just stands or lays in there. The detail is sculpted nicely, and it's a perfectly nice desk toy or something for kids.

I assume most collectors won't look at this, but it's a startlingly great product for kids and fans. This sort of thing is stuck at the Walmart checklane (and potentially food and drug and value stores like Dollar General, Big Lots, or whoever stocks them in the USA anymore) but would sell like crazy on the toy aisle by virtue of the fact that there really aren't many action figures to be had at stores these days. It is arguably better (and bigger) than The Black Series figure and sold at a discount, but you do lose a couple of paint operations. If you're happy with your The Child purchases, you probably neither need nor want this one too. However, there are millions of fans who have seen this show and have still never seen either of the series leads as toys in stores since they sell so fast. Also this is a reminder that Hasbro can make really good figures at rock-bottom prices... they just usually won't.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.  


--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,808: May 3, 2021

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,807: Battle Droid (2021, The Vintage Collection)

BATTLE DROID
(Redeco, 2021 reissue)

The Vintage Collection
Item No.:
Asst. E5912 No. F1886
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #78 (reissue)
Includes: Blaster, backpack, antenna
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: February 2021
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Battle droids, also known as combat droids, clankers, droid soldiers, or battle bots, were a type of droid designed for combat. Over the years, many different models of battle droid were being utilized by various factions throughout the galaxy. One such faction was the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which used a number of different models of battle droid during the Clone Wars to make up the Separatist Droid Army. (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:
Since you're going to have to get used to more reruns, you're also going to have to know a good one when you see it. This Battle Droid is on the fence - an expensive army builder should be brought back! But it should also be improved. It's certainly good enough, with all-new deco and what feels like slightly more rubbery plastic. (At press time, I was unable to track down the 2012 original release in my collection. This is what not getting everything organized gets you.)

The sculpt is nearly perfect with wonderful details matching the films. For safety reasons - and to avoid breakage - these figures are a tiny bit rubbery sometimes. This one is very rubbery - I assume gravity, heat, and time will send them toppling over, even on a figure stand. (You'll need a small doll stand, something with upper-body support, to prevent falling over after a few days/weeks/months.) Having incredibly tight joints might help, but I've seen the actual leg bend of various thin-limbed droids over the years even when placed on a figure stand. There's no fighting the forces of physics, so you have to work around them and spring for tiny doll stands. While it's true this figure has better proportions, more authentic detailing, and improved articulation over the droids of 1999, the 1999 class was better at standing. You can't have everything - they have to fudge something in order to make these figures work. Packaged collectors should have no problems with this one, but hoarders troop builders may want to use other molds to build up their army.

The deco is new - and almost glittery. There's a silver scrape print finish over the bony "metal" coloration, and it reads as more sparkly than battle-worn. One of the eyes on mine was a smidgen off, but that's not the end of the world - if anything, a slightly off-model droid works well in an army situation. I prefer the original 2012 deco, but I'd still say you should get one of the new ones to build out dioramas. It's the kind of different that makes buying all the flavors worthwhile, because any time you can make a "different" trooper it's effectively a new figure.

Much like the original, you can swap out the backpack for an antenna pack, or have him crouch down in a ball to fit in the giant Hasbro MTT that got expensive when you weren't looking. This, friends, is why you can't always wait for clearances. If Hasbro experiments with materials I have no doubt they could make a better Battle Droid, but I don't know if - oh, he fell over while I was writing this. Well, that's why you need to get some sort of support under the arms. It's not great for openers, unless you want him crouched down, or have him supported, or have him in a vehicle. He's just not stable. ...he fell over again.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,807: April 29, 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,806: Cad Bane (The Black Series 6-Inch)

CAD BANE
(without, or with Todo 360 as a Hasbro Pulse Exclusive)

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Yellow Star Wars: The Clone Wars Packaging Deluxe Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. E9359, or the exclusive is No. E9634
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #06
Includes: 2 blasters, bag, and hat; exclusive version includes Todo 360
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99 or $29.99 for the exclusive version
Availability: October 2020
Appearances: The Clone Wars
Bio: A ruthless bounty hunter from the planet Duro, Cad Bane was the preeminent blaster-for-hire in the galaxy during the Clone Wars. No quarry was too dangerous for Bane, if the price was right. (Taken from the figure's 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 put off reviewing a lot of exclusives, but this one was also a standard release. Cad Bane can be bought with or without Todo 360 - I got both, because I'm nuts. The Clone Wars has gone from a thing old fans ignored to a thing young adults adore, which is one of the reasons you're getting so much The Clone Wars stuff in this format. Kids liked it! And old fans are dying off, quitting, or just not spending money as freely. There are now over 40 years of fans, and to put things in perspective my fellow olds should look at Star Trek in the 1990s when Playmates Toys took a couple of years to do Kirk and Spock and friends, instead focusing on the then-hugely-popular new syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation. It doesn't mean the original thing isn't cool anymore - but you can kind of get why you want to milk the new thing when it's hot.

This is a good 7-inch scale figure. The likenesses of cartoon figures are hard to pin down, but thankfully a rubber mask is a rubber mask, and a skinny alien is a skinny alien. Other than some more painted and sculpted detail, Cad Bane looks pretty much exactly like his animated model counterpart. If anything, Hasbro filled him out a little here - he was more gaunt on the cartoon, with bigger eyes. Aside from that he looks pretty much exactly like you would have imagined with his wide-brimmed hat, working holsters, Boba Fett-like gauntlets, and boot rockets.

The blue skin if vibrant and the costume is a bit less saturate than the animation model, which is what you want in your scum and/or villainy. He has the kind of articulation typical to the later 2020-and-beyond figures with thigh cuts hidden by his boots, rocker ankles, jointed rockets, and he just serves as a shining beacon of how to hide articulation in your character design. Nearly every joint is hidden in a fold in his costume, which makes this seem like it could have been designed as a toy first. Hasbro did a magnificent job translating it to a sneering plastic figure, with faux leather deco on the plastic and some worn bits on the pants. It's really quite incredible, but I assume there's a certain kind of fan who is absolutely adoring this figure while a lot of fans are going to eventually realize that they missed it. They will not be happy. This is a great release.

Since the character doesn't seem to be dead - at least, not yet - it would not entirely surprise me to see him show up in a streaming show or a new animated program. This is a figure that stands out as one of Hasbro's very best aliens, and serves as a reminder of why they should make more of them. They do such a good job! It's a shame we don't see more, but it always helps when it's a regular recurring popular bad guy. If you have the chance, get one.

Collector's Notes: I got the exclusive one from Hasbro Pulse. I got the regular one from Entertainment Earth. I literally cannot tell the difference.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,806: April 27, 2021


Monday, April 26, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,805: Zutton (The Vintage Collection)

ZUTTON 2021 Rerelease/Repaint of 2012 Snaggletooth
The Vintage Collection
Item No.:
Asst. E5912 No. F2325
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #189
Includes: Blaster pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: February 2021
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Zutton was a Snivvian male was an artist who spent time in Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina on the planet Tatooine. (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:
Originally part of a Target-exclusive 3-pack under the name "Snaggletooth" from 2012, this Zutton figure is the first wide-release of this mold. In recent years we've been seeing a lot of nomenclature issues, from administrative errors (Kir Kanos/Carnor Jax) to questions of if any of the original resources were right. A lot of the Cantina aliens didn't have "real" names in the 1970s, leading to apocryphal preproduction names, Kenner names, card games, RPG supplements, fan club magazines, and other resources all fighting for some level of definitive-ness. 

A very similar alien was made as a figure in the late 1990s was named Takeel. I couldn't even tell you what is right or wrong these days given the fact that we don't know if there is a definitive document somewhere inside Lucasfilm, or if people are just screwing up, or if nobody knows and they're just making up and changing things as we go. There was a Holiday Special Snivvian during Power of the Jedi named Zutton - but now some sources say that's Zutmore, and the figure was wrong. But all I know is that it's 2021 and there's still no Geezum figure, so life has no meaning.

If you got the 2012 Snaggletooth [FOTD #1,966] you probably don't think you need this update. And I would agree with you - while the two have numerous minor differences, it looks like the 2021 figure was an attempt to recreate the 2012 release - the changes are so minor, it would be easy to dismiss the new release as a variation in the batches of plastic or paint. Since I can see numerous differences in addition to the awkward tampo of the new figure's SKU on the back thigh, I have to treat this as a unique release. It's the law.

The new figure's hair is darker and glossier. The black paint on the eyes doesn't completely fill the eyeball - comparing it to reference photos, this makes the new one a smidgen more accurate. The red tunic is a bit more saturated and darker, with the sleeves appearing darker than the torso fo rthe 2021 figure. There's more dark paint wash on the tunic as well, and it's darker this time. The boots are a little more saturated, the pants are a bit less saturated.

The blaster fits in the holster or in his hand, and the sculpt remains good. It's standard super-articulated fare, and one of depressingly few Cantina aliens within the past decade - and as mentioned above, he's arguably not a new character given the similarity to Takeel [FOTD #337] from late 1998. I wish he came with a tumbler of some sort, but a blaster isn't inconsistent with the other figures from Mos Eisley.

Packed at just one per case, I don't expect to see him around much - Cantina aliens tend to sell well, even the reissues sell quickly these days. Hasbro did a marvelous job with the sculpt and I'm glad they cranked out more for new fans who weren't around for the original release. I would also be happier with some actual new Cantina aliens - unless I'm forgetting someone, the last all-new release was Mosep Bineed from 2015. I would strongly recommend this Zutton to anyone that missed the previous releases - but if you're happy with your red tunic Snivvian collection, you can probably skip this one.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,805: April 26, 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,804: CB-23 (Droid Factory Line Look / Droid Depot)

CB-23 Disney Parks Exclusive
Star Wars Droid Depot
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Disney?
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $12.99
Availability: October 2020
Appearances: Star Wars: Ressitance

 
Bio: All different types of droids populate the Star Wars galaxy. Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors. A maroon and turquoise BB Astromech unit, CB-23 serves the resistance as Poe Dameron's co-pilot. 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: With the parks largely closed and my pals unable to go places, I got CB-23 when a damaged cardback showed up on eBay. The price was right. This uses Disney's BB tooling, but gives us a new head and the first and perhaps only release the robot will ever see. It would not stun me if this is the last time we ever get a figure from Star Wars: Resistance either.

By 2021 nobody needs nor do they want another BB droid. I think everybody got over the sequels for a while, and right now want to wallow in the post-Return of the Jedi splendor of The Mandalorian. For those of us who just need everything, this little robot is a nice addition to the droid pool since he got a new head. The red head now has a flat silver top with a few wires, lights, and panels I didn't notice when watching the show. It looks like someone customized it. The dome is missing a little yellow box on his left side, but other than that matches the packaging rendering quite nicely with the cheery colors. The unique dome makes this an easy choice to pick up, provided you aren't yet over countless repaints and retools of robots.

The body is largely the same as BB-8 other than the colors, and it looks fantastic. If you pop it open, there's a weighted engine ball inside molded in red with silver highlights. Why did Disney bother to paint something you may never even know you can see? I have no idea. I assume to make you think you got your $13 worth, especially since Hasbro did a series of 2-packs last fall for a mere $9.99 each. There's no weighted ball or removable head, but on the other hand, you got two for ten bucks.

There's not a lot new here other than head and colors, but that's what tends to serve as a good redeco in Transformers. Normally you don't even get a new noggin. I don't assume we'll get a lot from Disney's largely ignored second animated child, despite it being jam-packed with awesome alien designs and some really cool periphery characters. Also, some of the most boring heroes and villains. But we got a handful of neat figures, and this droid is one of the few I was left wanting once the line ended. Now where's Jim Rash: Bird Man, and Neeku?

Collector's Notes: I got this from eBay.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,804: April 22, 2021