Monday, March 8, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,784: Captain Cardinal (The Black Series 6-Inch)

CAPTAIN CARDINAL
(Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Trading Outpost)

The Black Series Galaxy's Edge Trading Outpost Exclusive Action Figure
Item No.:
No. E9700
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Pistol, rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: August 2020
Appearances: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and some novels
Bio: Served as Armitage Hux's personal guard, as he was among the orphans that Brendol Hux took in to create the First Order from. (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
Timing is everything. The rapid-pace drop of new films in the sequel trilogy plus the endless barrage of new publishing, theme park attractions, and the declaration of everything being canon to the point where it could well be sarcastic made the debut of a lot of things - like Captain Cardinal kind of underwhelming. Then again, maybe it's me - if we got a red Stormtrooper with a cape in 1992 I'd probably be doing cartwheels. A $5 upcharge for a flimsy cape on a trooper mold I've been sold a dozen times after Hasbro got its investment back is, to say the least, underwhelming in an era where other aspects of the franchise are quite popular. This isn't to say it is a bad figure - it's just a curious choice to release this as part of a theme park line, when I have no idea if the character appeared at the theme park, but I do know I haven't read any of the novels featuring him. It's a curious thing of which to make a figure, but also an exclusive Hasbro helmet for a hundred bucks.

There were no visible improvements on the figure over its source material from 2015. Having been released in an individual box multiple times with varying accessories, pauldrons, or other elements, the First Order Stormtrooper is a proven seller. The articulation here is the same as what you got for The Force Awakens with a pointy mouth from The Last Jedi redesign. It has the vent on the helmet. You can plug the blasters in the thigh slot, which is a cool feature. I even rather like the shade of red they used here.

Cardinal has no problems holding his blaster, and he stands well. The cloth cape is supremely thin, but hangs nicely. The flimsy black sheet has a painted silver stripe, and if you don't look at it too closely you could say it's one of the better ones. At a bit of distance, it hangs nicely and is a decent enough thickness where you can understand why they opted to go this route rather than a more expensive solution, like retooling Phasma's plastic cape. (They could have probably also just sold us a red Phasma.) The figure lacks the shoulder enhancements we saw for The Rise of Skywalker's newer toys, but hey, it's a trooper. It looks cool. Unless you're a fan of the "canon" outside the stuff that appears on the screen, this character probably means nothing to you. It's just a nifty addition to your First Order ranks that will probably be best known as a Target exclusive. It's on-brand, after all, being red and everything.

For the completist or hardcore collector, it's a pretty decent figure. But $25 could also get you The Horrors records, or Walmart's much more interesting 2020 The Clone Wars redeco and retooled exclusives. It's almost a shame that Hasbro has completely dropped the retailer branding on exclusive products in the wake of the death of Toys R Us - a Target logo on the box would arguably make this a much more fun figure, just as a store mascot. Well, there's always hope for more - maybe we can get Red Bumblebee or something to go with Red Wing and presumably some sort of Crimson Guard at some point.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Target.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,784: March 8, 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,783: See-Threepio (C-3PO 2020 Redux, The Vintage Collection)

SEE-THREEPIO
(C-3PO, 2020 reissue)

The Vintage Collection
Item No.:
Asst. E5912 No. E9572
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #04 (reissue)
Includes: Four removable panels
Action Feature: Silver leg detaches at knee, face panel, right thigh panel, back panel, chest panel can be removed
Retail: $12.99
Availability: April 2020
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: C-3PO, sometimes spelled See-Threepio and often referred to simply as Threepio, was a 3PO-series protocol droid designed to interact with organics, programmed primarily for etiquette and protocol. He was fluent in over six million forms of communication, and developed a fussy and worry-prone personality throughout his many decades of operation. (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:
When hasbro decided to do reruns, I wasn't terribly happy - but I do appreciate some of the figures that came out got a fresh coat of paint and were things a wide audience might want. Around here, it seems very few reissues sat around - and See-Threepio (C-3PO) actually has less paint than the 2010 See-Threepio [FOTD #1,515]. His interior is cleaner, his exterior lacks the darker gold detailing, and his features remain undocumented. At the time, I had no idea the 2010 version had a removable let - heck, I didn't even know about all the panels coming off. It wasn't necessarily obvious.

At the time, Hasbro was telling us that this was an all-digital sculpt. This was kind of a big deal at the time, because when you went to Star Wars Celebration Hasbro often had somebody out there with his tools working on heads or other little elements to show us how things were done. It's sort of like seeing a darkroom. Now that we're 11 years out from the original release - and almost a year from the reissue - this C-3PO is still pretty great. While the legs sadly can't swing forward too much at the hips to occupy your Millennium Falcon's Dejarik table, it's still great. You get 22 points of articulation and if you really want, you can pop off the head. It's more articulation than C-3PO needs (I'd say the Solo: A Star Wars Story 2-pack with R2-D2 may be the best for most display needs) but if you want Threeps standing around missing half a leg, this is the one to get.

Like many figures from 2006-2011, they integrated prequel designs in original trilogy figures. Many of them were Imperial troopers with Clone heads, but C-3PO integrated the under-the-chassis wires and such from The Phantom Menace. The wires are painted similarly to the 2010 release, although the colors seem a bit brighter and the paint applications are a little less sloppy. The thing that makes this figure arguably the most interesting is that the 2010 version had a subtle, almost copper gold highlight of dirty shading on it. The 2020 model drops this, and looks all the better for it.

If you buy a version of this C-3PO on the secondary market, be sure to get a picture of the front and back first to know which version you'll get. The 2010 version is all English and only shows figures from 2010 wave 1. The 2020 has no marketing copy - just disclaimers in multiple languages as well as newer characters like Mando. The 2010 front has a grey circle "4+" in the top-left corner to indicate the age range, while the US 2010 release has it written out "Ages 4 and up" like we saw in the old days, and a "Free Boba Fett" offer sticker on most examples. Also the 2020 version ahs the SKU listed at the very top of this review. I'd say get whatever is cheaper, but the 2020 one is a bit nicer off the card. The 2010 cardback is more pleasing to look at... unless you have actual vintage Kenner figure money.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,783: March 4, 2021

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,782: Ahsoka Tano (The Black Series 6-Inch)

AHSOKA TANO
Finale of the Clone Wars

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Yellow Star Wars: The Clone Wars Packaging - Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F0001
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #02
Includes: 2 lightsabers
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: November 2020
Appearances: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Bio: Ahsoka Tano, a Togruta female, was the Padawan learner to Anakin Skywalker and a hero of the Clone Wars. Alongside Anakin, she grew from a headstrong student into a mature leader. (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
Never let it be said a prequel can't surprise you. I was a bit surprised to see Ahsoka Tano involved in the events of Order 66 after leaving the Jedi Order - and seemingly the series - in one of the best non-finale exits I've ever seen on a TV show. While I was glad she came back - as she had a great arc in the final season - watching her walk off was probably one of the best moments in the entire Star Wars saga. Nobody got shot, nobody got their head cut off... she's just out there somewhere. And by the time we saw her battle with her former Clone comrades, we already knew she survived - but boy howdy was that intense.

This Ahsoka Tano build on the 2016 model, which was also reissued in 2020 with new deco. The head is aged down to look like her younger appearance, with the shoulders, torso, and skirt being revised while the forearms and legs seem more or less the same. I can get her to stand, but the ankles aren't great and getting her to balance in an action pose is tough without assistance. This figure makes a compelling case for doll stands.

Articulation is about what you expect from a mix of new and old parts. The arms are great. The double-knees of old and the ankles, less so. You can get her to stand but it's fiddly - newer releases are less of a hassle to get standing, or to put in interesting poses. It can be a challenge to find her center of gravity, so I would advise she have a good stand or lean against something when going on display. I would mention deco, but it's hard to say much because they nailed it. What could you improve here? Maybe the boot deco? That'd be about it. I like it as is, though.

I really like how her skirt piece was redesigned to incorporate two small holes to plug in the lightsaber hilts. They have removable blue blades - true to the series finale! - and she can carry them around if she likes. I struggle to imagine much room for improvement here, as accessory interaction has been one of the rougher spots for Hasbro's Star Wars figures. I'm glad this one works well. The lightsaber blades are also a vibrant blue color.

I like this Ahsoka figure a bunch - it's a bit more dynamic than the Rebels costume, even if it isn't quite as accurate thanks to the reused elements. I assume this is the best Ahsoka we'll get... until Hasbro makes earlier appearances in this line to appeal the growing fan base for this character. Regardless, get this one if you have a chance, it's excellent. But if you want perfection, the 3 3/4-inch The Vintage Colletion release appears to be a completely new sculpt and as such does not have recycled legs - and may be more to your liking.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.com.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,782: March 2, 2021

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,781: Rey (Dark Side Vision, The Black Series 6-Inch)

REY
Dark Side Vision

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Blue Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F1307
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #01 - Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: January 2021
Appearances: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Bio: While searching for the Sith wayfinder, Rey envisions her turn to the dark side. Wielding a double-bladed lightsaber, her rage and immense power is frightening. (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:
If you liked The Rise of Skywalker, or if you have taste, you can probably agree that Rey (Dark Side Vision) represented a tantalizing taste of a story we didn't get. Hasbro has mentioned on a few occasions that they knew they had to make her as soon as they could once she showed up in the trailer - and that wasn't much different from her appearance in the actual film. The vision was basically just Rey in one of very few significant costume changes, a mix of Palpatine's robes and Kylo Ren's outfit, with a nice hood and some dark make-up. She doesn't look super-evil, but she does look pretty cool. Also this figure has proven to be insanely popular, which makes sense, because Hasbro put a lot of love into this design.

The 6-inch scale figure has two key landmarks that are likely to grab your attention. The hood is black plastic affixed to the figure. You can turn her head inside it, but the hood won't move. It sits on top of her shoulders which have a cloth cape that is one of the better executions of robes, capes, and the like in this scale. Her double-lightsaber is hinged, with hilts designed to look like a warped take on the classic Graflex Skywalker Saber look. You can see Vader's black cap in the design, a mutant version of the Luke/Anakin tip, and some coloring that reminds me of Palpatine. It articulates nicely, and is one of the better (and more fun) accessories in this scale.

The figure herself is excellent. The hands can grip the weapon. She can stand without a hitch. The elbows can bend more than 90 degrees - that's a huge plus. You can see a little ring on her hand, and her outfit is sculpted with horizontal bands all over. This reminds me a lot of the 1977 Darth Vader suit's gloves... and Dark Empire Luke's outfit in the comics, and Kylo Ren's costume. Getting her to stand or posing her is an effortless affair, and she has great knee joints, rocker ankles, and thigh swivels. Anything below the waist is largely worthless thanks to the plastic dress clamshell, but it's nice to see they put the work into it since they were going to charge you the same regardless of the number of joints. There are about 29, by my count.

While this figure doesn't really do much to expand thee galaxy, it's good. The only suggestions for improvement I would make are ridiculous, as the portrait's printed face is wonderful, the articulation is as good as any Hasbro figure on the "better" end of the spectrum, and she just plain looks cool for a cameo costume. If you can see her for $20ish, buy her if you like her costume! This is a lovely figure and I can't see much reason for them to make more figures of this costume. Also, as I write this I do not have Asajj Ventress... I am curious if she will share leg tooling with this Rey. It would be hyperbolic to say that The Rise of Skywalker would all be worth it for this figure, but I would go as far as to say this may well be the best thing to come out of Hasbro's toys for that film. Their offerings since the new line look have been consistently superior.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,781: February 25, 2021

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,780: Incinerator Trooper (The Vintage Collection)

INCINERATOR TROOPER
(The Mandalorian)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F0879
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #177
Includes: Fire blast, flamethrower attached to backpack
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: January 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian
Bio: Incinerator Trooper armor was exceptionally heat-resistant and bore red markings in order to indicate their specialty. (Stolen from Walmart.com. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
The new Stormtrooper body has proven to be a good investment for Hasbro. The latest edition is this Incinerator Trooper, which drops the blaster pistol but adds a pauldrone, harness, backpack, flamethrower, and a flame piece. You're trading up here - it's a lot more toy for the money than previous releases.

Based on the trooper's appearance late in the first season of The Mandalorian, the nicely-articulated trooper added red stripes on nearly every armor element - just not the shoes, lower waist, or belt. There's no Imperial cog on the backpack, but it's not like it was easy to see on the larger figure - the color blends right in if the room is a little dark. Hasbro opted to make the red armor stripes clean, so there's no scuffing or weathering like on the packaging photo. It's still pretty solid - at this size, it's easy to be forgiving of deco that's good. It doesn't have to be perfect, especially if your vision is fuzzy. You can always add your own scuffs should it come to that.

The accessories are remarkably similar to the 6-inch one - there's even two protrusions on the thrower to grip the flame to ensure it doesn't flop out. The backpack, cables, and torch are connected and are going to take some effort to come off. I'm fine leaving it - it's a decent looking figure and a good accessory. It also amazes me that a plain Stormtrooper with less gear costs exactly the same as this deluxe model, but presumably, this is the world from here on out.

The packaging is sharp because it's one of very few figures to lack a "Small Parts Warning" box on the front. This makes it look more legit vintage, because none of the original toys sported choke hazard logos just yet. The 4+ circle is not quite how the old ones looked... but it still looks better than most recent releases. That mustardy yellow background and pillbox behind the name is magnificent, and the trooper portrait looks sharp. I really like this one. (It almost pained me to tear it open.)

As of my writing this, The Mandalorian has a rather small 3 3/4-inch action figure line. It's pretty easy to be a completist, especially given that most of the figures range from "good" to "excellent." The Carbonized guys are arguably skippable, but everything else is worthwhile. This one in particular is a great addition to the relatively tiny sub-collection, and I have to hand it to Hasbro that I'm glad to see them crank out some repaints and smart retools. I'd also be willing to buy every last alien and trooper they were inclined to sell me. And some vehicles. But until then, this is one of the better entries and one you should buy if you see it. Buy two, keep one in the package - it's pretty.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.com. Unlike most figures they have sent me, it shipped in a weird white box inside another box.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,780: February 23, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,779: Din Djarin (with The Child, The Vintage Collection)

DIN DJARIN
(The Mandalorian)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F0880
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #177
Includes: The Child, an ice cream maker, Beskar ingot, Beskar ingot stack, alternate head, blaster pistol, rifle, cape, jetpack
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $17.68
Availability: January 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian
Bio: The Mandalorian is a formidable bounty hunter protecting a mysterious alien pursued by bounty hunters on behalf of Imperial interests. (Stolen from Walmart.com. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
Making figures like this Walmart-exclusive version of Din Djarin (The Mandalorian) raises a lot of questions about costs. A normal 3 3/4-inch Mando is $13. A metallic repaint? $18. This $18 figure includes the most extensive deco I've seen on Mando yet, but also includes a bonus unmasked head - and those are expensive. And the Child. And an ice cream maker, and Beskar ingots. If a normal figure is $13, you get a lot more than $5 worth of extras in this set by most recent measurements. It may or may not be worth it to you, but I can't deny that you actually see something of value for the extra money here.

Mando is the same mold as the "full Beskar" version from last year, but with extensive "photoreal" paint applications. The head has a really good Pedro Pascal sculpt with a pretty good mustache on it, glossy eyes, visible lip color, and quasi-greasy hair. It's very good - back in the day Hasbro told me a new head sculpt with good paint could make about 1/3 of the cost of an entire figure, and if that's true, you get your money's worth here.

His Amban phase-pulse blaster is not very different from the previous release, but the pistol is a darker color. Of course, compared to the armor, it's almost not worth bringing up. The shoulders have excellent scuffing, as do the thighs, chest, and the now-dirty back of the armor too. Hasbro didn't skimp here - this is a gorgeous paint job on a figure that I would've suggested you track down anyway. The helmet also has painted signs of wear that really look wonderful. The back is pretty clean, but that's typical. I don't think anyone buying this will be upset.

The ice cream maker full of Beskar is pretty slick, but the lid is tough to pop off thanks to a soft plastic ring around the bucket part. You can also pop open the side of the bucket, Mr. Potato Head butt-style. The grey Beskar block and single slip fit in easily, making this a nice place to store pieces so you won't lose them. Because they're so small, you will lose them.

I normally am not a fan of higher-priced plussed-up repaints, but this is a good one. The standard issue Mando is so scarce, this is a superior replacement if you can find it. You'll love the gritty armor, you'll adore the Child, and all the extra gear is icing on the cake. It shows just how nice a figure can be when Hasbro puts a little extra effort into it, and I would have loved to see the paint jobs on other recent The Vintage Collection rereleases lavished with such love as this release. I hope Walmart runs more of these and it's kept in circulation for a while - this is a must-buy for fans of the series. Unless, of course, Hasbro comes up with something even better.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.com but no pins were included with my order as later advertised on their site. If you got a spare pin for sale, hit me up. (I'll trade you for the Galactic Hunter pin, a limited edition with even more limited interest.)

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,779: February 18, 2021

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,778: Kuiil (The Black Series 6-Inch)

KUIIL
I Have Spoken

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Orange The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F1306
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #07 - Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Includes: Blaster, helmet with goggles
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: January 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A vapor farmer on Arvala-8, Kuiil came to seek peace in an out-of-the-way world, which is now being trespassed upon by criminals and mercenaries. He has worked a lifetime to be free of servitude, and offers valuable skills for those willing to meet his price. (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:
Season one of The Mandalorian is an amazing parade of awesome weirdness. The ugnaughts were famously poor sellers in the 1990s, lingering on some drug store and Kmart pegs for nearly a decade, but Kuiil gave the species a voice and a catchphrase - and that's valuable. I never would have expected to see the little porcine people as a figure in The Black Series unless we got into a playset/diorama phase - but if you give one of them a name, that's a whole different thing.

This is a good - if small - figure at 5-inches tall. It doesn't make you wince like a $20 Yoda - or Maz Kanata - because at least it's taller than most of the 3 3/4-inch scale line, and it has more parts. As always the sculpting is top-notch with wonderful textures on the skin, hair, and fabrics... all of which are plastic. The vest and belt buckle look great. The pouches? Awesome. And are those cargo pockets? Kuiil - you, me. The same. The colors don't bleed and I don't see a lot of slop here. It's a great clean design, but the trademark "used universe" weathering of Star Wars is completely absent. This is a squeaky-clean rural farmer and greasy repairman. I would have liked to see some more weathering, and while his face sculpt is perfect that could probably have also used a little more paint around the eyes. The personality is in there, but it's a lot brighter than the show looked - the eyebrows don't feel as wily or bushy. Or white.

Articulation is acceptable - but not impressive. While Hasbro has done a bang-up job improving elbows and knees to have a greater range of motion and no visible pins on many figures, Kuiil's elbows barely bend. The knees are great though, and it seems the hips have a full range of motion that would be perfect for riding a Blurrg. (Have I mentioned I've been nagging Hasbro to make one of those on and off for years? You should too. They were good enough to fight Ewoks and Separatists.) Kuiil stands well, and oh yes - his hat is removable. His backpack is connected to his scarf, though. Kuiil's hands also have no problems holding his blaster once you pry the fingers open.

You will not be amazed by this figure - but it's good, and a sign that things have gotten to a point where Hasbro feels comfortable giving us some unusual characters that work nicely. I worry that the saturation of Mando figures is still too low that a figure like this could hang around - like how you wouldn't buy Killer Moth before buying a Batman - but perhaps it will show there's still demand for deep cuts (as well as casual selections) from shows like this as time goes on.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,778: February 16, 2021