Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,645: Clone Commander Obi-Wan Kenobi (The Black Series 6-Inch)

CLONE COMMANDER OBI-WAN KENOBI (General of The Republic Army)
The Black Series 6-Inch Figure Walgreens Exclusive
Item No.:
No. E5157
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber with removable blade, display base
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: Clone Wars

Bio:  A legendary Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a noble man and gifted in the ways of the Force.  He trained Anakin Skywalker, served as a general in the Republic Army during the Clone Wars, and guided Luke Skywalker as a mentor.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability:  Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  A mix of new and old parts, Clone Commander Obi-Wan Kenobi is gem.  I'm a big fan of this costume, and it makes sense Hasbro would want to reuse some existing parts.  The Clone Trooper body from a few years ago is once more put through its paces, changing torso, head, and belt.  The same double-jointed knees and elbows are here, and they're still pretty great.  If you have a Clone army, odds are you've got a figure very close to this one already - but a new head and accessories go a long way.

The most strange thing about this figure is that it exists - this is probably Hasbro's best Ewan McGregor head, yet it doesn't come from a movie and it's a costume he never actually wore.   The hair is a separate molded piece and the face is a bit more flush than usual - it's a little much. That's really the only criticism I have of the figure itself, in a dark room it looks fine but it seems this figure-and-costume are kind of cursed.  Remember that Gentle Giant statue a few years ago?  Well, it's not that bad.  Obi-Wan looks a bit younger than his Revenge of the Sith counterpart and doesn't have the gray in his hair or beard either.  It's a good interim figure between movies, and is one of the most exciting figures based on that whole prequel era if you ask me.

Obi-Wan's lightsaber has a pointier tip to it, with a much bluer blade than some of the other releases.   The hilt is molded in grey but not painted silver like the previous Revenge of the Sith release - a figure that looked weak at the time and could really benefit from a rerelease with a fresh coat of paint.  Thankfully this clone armor Kenobi is pretty much perfect, and he has a display stand that I would say is acceptable.  Early The Black Series figures didn't have a consistent foot peg size, so this base clamps down on the foot rather than the old peg/hole system.  It seems to work, but it's kind of awkward and isn't good for long-term displaying.   Joints tend to sag over time, especially with big, heavy figures with lots of articulation - it should be fine for a few weeks or months, but if you have a display case expect disaster down the road.  We need waist clips, people. Gravity is real.

Get it. What else do you want me to say? It's Obi-Wan Kenobi in a cape and clone armor.  It's about as exciting as you can get out of a figure like this, so go run out to Walgreens or where ever and get yourself one.   This is one of my absolute favorite costume/character combo platters and I'm glad we got it in this size.   If you're unfamiliar with this particular suit, this is what Obi-Wan Kenobi wore on the Tartakovsky animated Clone Wars cartoon, which is a mostly silent and highly stylized series of shorts.  They really should have kept it for the 2008 CG series.  Their loss.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walgreens.

--Adam Pawlus

Figure of the Day

Day 2,645: December 10, 2019

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,644: Shadow Trooper (The Vintage Collection)

SHADOW TROOPER Or, the Blackhole Stormtrooper?
The Vintage Collection
Item No.:
Asst. E5912 No. E5194
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #163
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Pistol, rifle,
Retail: $12.96
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: Star Wars (Russ Manning strips), Battlefront

Bio: Shadow troopers were elite and highly trained stormtroopers that served the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War against the Rebel Alliance. They wore distinguishing black suits of experimental armor coupled with portable cloaking devices, rendering them almost completely invisible and highly suited for stealth missions.  (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: For you old people, you'll recognize the Shadow Trooper as a Blackhole Stormtrooper - a silver-lensed black-armored trooper from Russ Manning's old comic strips.  I am a cranky fan, and this scratches my Old Guy Fan itches like nobody's business.  Hasbro had done a few black Stormtroopers before, but they were close-but-not-perfect when it came to replicating the unique shiny black armor with silver eyes look.   I guess these appeared in games - which is why we get it with the pauldron and the extra-ornate blaster pistol - but this is unmistakably that Russ Manning art as a figure.  If you're an old Expanded Universe fan, you already know you want and indeed need this.

If you got the Rogue One Imperial Stormtrooper [FOTD #2,598] a few months ago, the core body is exactly the same.  You get the same amazing articulation, and the same construction, and many similar paint applications - just with more gear.  If you want a black pauldron, and a rifle, you get them here.  It's gorgeous, and something I've wanted them to do (correctly) for years.  The black Crimson Empire trooper figures didn't have the silver lenses, and neither did the Russ Manning-specific comic pack Blackhole Stormtrooper [FOTD #1,491] from 2011.  It took decades, but Hasbro nailed it this time.  Next time, I hope they can do it in red.
When you get one, take note - the black plastic absorbs a lot of visible flaws.  On my sample there were some strange molding defects, including dimples in the thighs and a strange mark on the back of the leg. There was no way I could have seen this before opening the package.  Also one of the knees on mine is stuck, and hopefully I can do something with boiling water to fix that - even if I can't, I'm pretty darned happy this figure exists in this deco.  Nice job pleasing the olds and the new fans, Hasbro/Disney/Lucas.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,644: December 5, 2019

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,643: Darth Vader (Galaxy of Adventures 5-Inch)

DARTH VADER New Is the New New Too
Galaxy of Adventures   5-Inch
Item No.:
Asst. E3016 No. E6265
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: Star Wars?

Bio: As a Sith Lord, Darth Vader turned against his former comrades and hunted the surviving Jedi into near extinction. He became an enforcer of the Galactic Empire, who worked to crush the Alliance to Restore the Republic for opposing his Sith Master's will.  (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: Given there was a 5-jointed 3 3/4-inch action figure and a 5-inch super-articulated Darth Vader for $9.99 this year... something seems wrong.  This larger-than-usual Sith lord doesn't seem to necessarily be fro a specific film.  The asymmetrical helmet says it's not the prequels.  The red lenses would make me assume it's from the original film - but the gloves and robes match the sequels a bit more closely.  Since key art from Lucasfilm recently shows Darth Vader with elements from multiple suits mashed together, I think the answer is "Lucasfilm Licensing does not care, so why should we?"  Because that's what we do, dagnabbit.

The lightsaber is thicker than usual, with a big handle.  It feels more substantial than the larger 6-inch action figure lightsabers but it has a non-removable blade.  It's good - Hasbro did well here.  Vader's cape is non-removable, but it's flexible enough that it doesn't get in the way of action posing the figure.  Hasbro did a good job engineering this one.

The sculpt is interesting, but messy.  The chest has gone from a rectangle to a trapezoid, and the buttons are warped to match.  This is kind of interesting, btu it's also kind of annoying.  The helmet is also exaggerated a bit, with other elements like the boots, gloves, and belt buckle being enlarged too.  The texture of the black body suit is still there, and there are wrinkles all over to make it look a little more alive.  They did a nice job making a very stylized figure that's in no way authentic.  There are some similarities to the Galaxy of Adventures cartoon design, but that version is beefy like nobody's business and the helmet looks a bit different.  I would argue the figure is the better of the two designs.

Thanks to the big boots, wide-ranging hip joints, and rocker ankles, you'll have no problems getting cool poses out of this one.  I would give this as gifts to fair-weather fans that just want a toy Darth Vader for their desks.  The vinyl cape hangs better than the cloth one, and he seems to be a bit more balanced than the 6-inch The Black Series action figure line.  The spring-loaded waist gives a decent and unobtrusive slashing action, but the codpiece is wide enough to prevent the figure from seating, even though the capes are cut in a way that doesn't hinder movement.  As such, Hasbro will have to make a new one if we ever see a TIE fighter in this scale.

As its own animal, I'd strongly recommend this figure.  It's sturdy, $10, and more or less all the Darth Vader you need as a fan.  Collectors are already covered - but I would like to see Hasbro apply this articulation (and frankly, price point) to 6-inch or 3 3/4-inch figures to see if we can get something even better.  By trying something new, Hasbro escaped the bounds of comparisons to previous toys too much - this is its own thing. It's a new collection.  Your kids will probably like it, until they realize all the weird characters are in another scale.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,643: December 3, 2019

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,642: Darth Vader (The Retro Collection)

DARTH VADER Old Is the New New
The Retro Collection Target / Entertainment Earth Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. E6255  No. E6265
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: May 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: As a Sith Lord, Darth Vader turned against his former comrades and hunted the surviving Jedi into near extinction. He became an enforcer of the Galactic Empire, who worked to crush the Alliance to Restore the Republic for opposing his Sith Master's will.  (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: And - for now - this is the end of The Retro Collection.  The classic Darth Vader brings back one of the more popular figures in the 1980s, warts and all, with some upgrades and some things that seem a little worse.  It's different.

My original Vader's lightsaber is a little pinker or oranger - the 2019 remake is a deeper red.  The cape from 2019 seems about the same thickness but with a slightly finer texture, and I would probably having a hard time telling one from another by feel and weight were it not on a marked "new" or "old" figure.  It's close.

What's particularly interesting is that Hasbro changed the figure itself a bit.  The original 1978 Darth Vader had red and white buttons and markings on the chest.  The 2019 version replaces white with silver - it's also much glossier, which is a visual improvement. Some of the sculpting seems a bit more wobbly, the ribbing on the arms is wavy in spots that were straight on previous releases.  With the changes to the lightsaber color and chest paint, this figure becomes what I want out of a reissue - something different.  I could (and indeed have!) bought these figures for years, especially back when they were cheap.   The reissue of a figure is ultimately a copy, a forgery, a pretender to toy history - so why not make it more interesting or better?   The silver chest markings look great, and it's different enough where I as an old person appreciate the change.  I don't necessarily need more of the same, so doing something new is fun and welcome.  Hasbro also tinted the cardback photo's lightsaber to a more accurate red (rather than pink) color.

I think if Hasbro takes more cue from this figure - better photographs, better colors, better color plastic - further reissues could be really exciting.   I don't need reissues of figures Kenner sold in the millions, but if you can do something interesting like correct Han Solo's carbonite block color or maybe even Hammerhead's jerkin?  I would be interested in that.  If they can keep the ribbing on the suit right, that would be fantastic, but what Hasbro ultimately delivered was good enough.

..and yes I've been nagging Hasbro for more of these guys.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,642: November 28, 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,641: Luke Skywalker (Yavin, The Vintage Collection)

LUKE SKYWALKER (Yavin)
The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
  No. E6130
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #151
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Blaster, medal, lightsaber hilt
Retail: $12.96
Availability: October 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Luke Skywalker, a Force-sensitive human male, was a legendary Jedi Master who fought in the Galactic Civil War during the reign of the Galactic Empire. (Stolen from Wookieepedia. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: I buy a lot of figures online and a lot of figures in store, but the winner for worst condition arrival from an online store goes to Luke Skywalker (Yavin) here.  Mine came in a plastic bag with no packing material - it was more beat up than a lot of bad Vintage-era Kenner 1980s figures I've seen and bought for peanuts over the years.  I know "free shipping" is a race to the bottom, but maybe you'll want to make sure you get this one in stores or in an order that will require a box of some sort.  I'd be upset were I not opening it to write this very review.

The figure itself should look familiar - Hasbro took its 2007 30th Anniversary Collection body (which was also retooled in 2013 for The Black Series) and gave him new accessories, new deco, and a much-needed new head.  This means the articulation is good, but not great - back in 2007, "super articulated" wasn't yet standard.  Some figures lacked ankle joints or other points of articulation to keep down costs, which made a lot of sense. The 2007 Ceremonial Luke came with just as many accessories, plus a metal coin, all for $6.99.  While there are improvements, you're paying nearly twice as much for less stuff this time around.   18 points of articulation are no slouch, and the boots look better and are more sturdy than he would have been with joints in there.  It limits your pose options, but since most people are going to have him stand there and get a medal, that's fine.

The deco is improved a bit, but the main draw is the new head.  The "real face printing" has Luke looking off to the side and looking a whole lot less dead.  The 2007 release of this and a few other figures were oddly pale, with dark brown hair that only exaggerated the effect.  2019 Luke has more than one tone to his hair, which is a separately molded piece.  It's a pretty remarkable head for the size of a peanut.  The arms are also new and less bulky, giving him a more streamlined look.

The blaster is from the aforementioned The Black Series, the lightsaber is correct - 2007 gave Luke a Vader hilt - and the medal is from 2013 and more detailed.  Hasbro really did a nice job improving everything, even giving you a new holster and more muted colors throughout.  It's kind of weird that the 30th Anniversary Collection release was so wonky, but I guess now they're taking the time to do definitive releases since they know it's a good way to get you to pay twice as much for a figure you forgot you bought 12 (or 7) years ago.   Given how much of the figure is really old, the improvements are staggeringly great.  The lightsaber plugs in the  belt, the blaster fits in the holster, and the figure really does look like it got more than 10 years of improvements.  The 1978 white Luke looked a bit sillier than the also silly 1995 Luke, but this 2019 Luke looks like a high-end collectible when compared to the good-for-the-time 2007 Medal Ceremony release.   If you're only in for trilogy toys, you have to buy this one.  You must.  It's just that much better.  Hasbro did a good job redoing almost all Lukes this year - maybe we'll get the last few in the next few months.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.com.   I'd recommend getting it from Walmart.brickandmortar.  The packaging was not pretty.

 



--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,641: November 26, 2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,640: R4 Astromech (Color-Changing Droids, Droid Factory, Galaxy's Edge)

R4 ASTROMECH Color-Changing Droids
Star Wars Disney Droid Depot
Item No.:
No. ???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 4 droids - CZ, 3PO, R4, BB
Action Feature: Pops apart, changes from white to orange
Retail: $39.99
Availability: ca. July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.  These droids have the special ability to change color!  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: More indie than indie toys, the R4 Astromech droid is a marvel.  Really!  I had it in the fridge before opening it, a few days later I took it out of the box.  When cold, the same-as-it-ever-was droid mold is black and silver like R4-I9 or similar creations.  When heated, it's green with a white body not unlike R4-J1.  Neither is an exact match, but you get the rough idea as to the flavors of the two modes.  The dome and legs all pop off, the articulation is fine as always.  You know what to expect here.

What really struck me is how the heat from my fingers made the once-black droid look like the paint was dripping off of it. Parts of it looked like it was soaked in oil or covered in sludge, too.  The gradual and random patina my hands put on this figure is positively stunning, giving fans a sort of "damage" or "worn look" that's unique every time you play with it.  I am not unimpressed here - this could've been $20 and while you would likely have turned your nose up at it, it is 100% worth it.  The contrast is so great that you can't ignore what a dramatic transition takes place between the "cold" and "hot" elements.
Either mode looks good, but that gritty in-between one if the best.  Fight me.   I still love the green trim around the bottom of the feet, the silver bands and box around the eye look great, but that transitionary state between black and silver plus green and white is just the best.   It's not based on any specific movie thing, but as toys go this is one of the more fun figures I've bought in a while.  I like futzing with it, and if you dig color-change I bet you will too.



Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon. Thanks Shannon!  There are 2 droid 4-packs and 1 droid playset with a Gonk Droid at this time.  "Warm" colors on the droids are their movie-like state.  "Cold" colors tend to be a lot stranger.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,640: November 21, 2019

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,639: CZ Protocol Droid (Color-Changing Droids, Droid Factory, Galaxy's Edge)

CZ PROTOCOL DROID Color-Changing Droids
Star Wars Disney Droid Depot
Item No.:
No. ???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 4 droids - CZ, 3PO, R4, BB
Action Feature: Pops apart, changes from white to orange
Retail: $39.99
Availability: ca. July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the galaxy.  Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors.  These droids have the special ability to change color!  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  I have no idea when this color-changing CZ Protocol Droid came out - I didn't see an announcement and had no idea it existed until it popped up on eBay.  I am rather amazed Disney found a way to make these interesting after so many recolors - the build-a-droid gimmick and super articulation seemed like the endgame, but no.  These guys change colors - the CZ droid is orange when it's cold, and white when it's hot. It seems to easily hold the "cold" color at room temperature, until you start to handle it - so freeze it before you display it if you want an orange droid.

The base figure has dirt on it, which is very visible in "white" mode but vanishes in the "orange" mode.  Sculpted detail is the same as it's been - good - with decent paint on top of it.  You're being charged for this extra deco, but it does give you more than you can do with the toy other than pose, display, or cram in a ship.   I really like what they've done here and I'm impressed how well the colors change.
Molded in white with color-change orange, what delighted me the most was when I handled it after it was left at room temperature for a few days.  It looked like some sort of crab coloring.   It's silly, it's non-canonical, but I think these may be my favorite (non-glow in the dark) droid figures out of the House of Mouse yet.  Kudos to them - maybe we'll get UV-reactive ones next.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon. Thanks Shannon!  There are 2 droid 4-packs and 1 droid playset with a Gonk Droid at this time.  "Warm" colors on the droids are their movie-like state.  "Cold" colors tend to be a lot stranger.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,639: November 19, 2019