Thursday, September 16, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,856: Boba Fett (Prototype Edition - Green Head, The Retro Collection)

BOBA FETT
(Prototype Edition, Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F2025
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $13.99
Availability: August 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: With his customized Mandalorian armor, deadly weaponry, and silent demeanor, Boba Fett was one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy. Experience excitement like that of the engineers and designers seeing the first product samples of their designs with this Boba Fett figure! Inspired by prototypes that are often produced with whatever extra plastic is in the machine at the time, colorful prototypes enable the development team to look past the deco and focus on the sculpt, analyze mold alignment, and adjust for quality. (Stolen from Target.com.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
There are multiple versions of Boba Fett (Prototype Edition) - at least six that I've seen come up for sale, all the ones I've seen on eBay with green helmets are this exact configuration. Admittedly when old-school collectors hear "retro vintage Boba Fett prototype" this is not what they envision. I assume most older fans expected a solid-blue figure with a firing rocket. Also 1970s Kenner figure test shots haven't surfaced in these multi-color looks, as far as I know - it's a whimsical collectible figure either way. It has gorgeous package art and should be rerun because it's neat - mine in particular looks like a box of crayons.

If you got Boba Fett [FOTD #2,692] it's a lot like that - it's a new mold, it seems like an old mold, but it's not the old molds from decades ago. This is the kind of item I see as the perfect exclusive - it's weird, but not essential for your inner child. Strangely-colored action figures like this feel like they're optional - and that is nice when you probably will never ever see one in the wild. I fell into an opportunity to buy one from a fellow collector, who got me this one with a green helmet, orange and blue arms, orange rocket, yellow torso, and red and purple legs. I really like it because it's weird (and why isn't Pheyden doing this yet, Matt?) The sculpting is good, and with absolutely no paint it's kind of criminal Hasbro is charging a premium for this figure - but that's how the collector market works. A smaller audience is more willing to pay higher prices for some unusual stuff, and some manufacturers are happy to do it. (See also, Mattel, Playmobil, Funko, etc. etc. etc.) It's a smart way to keep business booming and further subsidize some of their offerings, because if you can sell a single collector two - or thirty - of the same guy, it'll help pay for tooling on the obscure figures that they hopefully also manufacture. Of course, Hasbro gave up doing weird aliens and droids (my reason for collecting) years ago, so. Yeah. Anyway, at least we got a pretty awesome and colorful Boba Fett out of all of the cost-cutting.

I like this figure and if I saw more at retail in other colorways, I'd probably buy them. (I did buy a couple Vaders.) It's not for everybody, and is absolutely skippable as something that exists outside the diegesis of the saga. It's a weird figure for the sake of weird figures, and while I would probably groan about a The Black Series release like this I won't complain when it comes to Kenner. This is sort of a perfect expression of a goofy idea, and I'm pretty happy to have this color configuration, too. Get one if you can find it.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Ken, who was kind enough to sell me one at cost.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,856: September 16, 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,855: Luke Skywalker (Endor, The Vintage Collection)

LUKE SKYWALKER
(Endor)

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F3117
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #198
Includes: Lightsaber, hilt, poncho/belt, helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.93
Availability: August 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
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. (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
I like this one a lot. When I was a kid in the 1980s and 1990s, there was no internet like we have today - if you wanted vintage Star Wars figures, you had to network and hit garage sales or flea markets. One of the very last figures I had to track down as a kid - back when things were cheap - was the original version of Luke Skywalker (Endor), which this 2021 release tries to mimic. It's an unusual mishmash of new and old parts, capturing some elements perfectly and others... less so. The big question of if you should make the best replica of the movie character, or the old action figure, is something that Hasbro seems to be struggling with - and this time they said "let's do both."

The core body is the 2010 Death Star Luke figure which has been released and rereleased and you've probably got one. This means it doesn't have the vest on the chest under the poncho - which Luke is probably wearing under the poncho. Or maybe he carries a change of clothes - if you look at the scene where Luke and Leia talk about their mother, and lighten it in Photoshop or whatever, it seems Luke has the vest from Jabba's Palace on. Most if not all Hasbro action figures (and Kenner's 1985 figure) opt to leave the vest off and usually have Luke with his Death Star shirt underneath. Either way, what matters is Luke has the lateral hip movement and bend-and-swivel wrists which were in style back in 2010 when this body was first released. If Hasbro were still in the vehicle business, you would be happy to put this one on a Speeder Bike. Or Playmobil horse, if you've got one on your desk. Luke has no problem holding his weapons, and you can plug the hilt right on the figure's torso. Hasbro was probably right to reuse the same body again. It's very good, and the poncho covers most of it anyway.

Hasbro gave Luke a new head, and like the 1985 original the helmet is molded to he head. The paint job is great, and it looks like his helmet is a separately-molded piece so both it and the face are molded in color. And they look great! The helmet has the markings and scuffing similar to the movie, and the face is appropriately Luke-y. The photoreal paint looks great to my eyes, but nothing digital holds up to perfect scrutiny under the harsh lights and macro lens of our photo studios. Of course, your eyes aren't that good so he should look good to you in most situation. I really like how the head turned out, especially since a lot of Return of the Jedi Luke heads have looked off-model, weird, or just awful. And of course, some are good - Hasbro was right to make a new sculpt here. It turned out nicely, and hopefully they're going to make more of this figure so you can get one.

Accessories include the blaster from Jabba's palace - which Kenner's figure included - but sadly, there's no holster to carry it. That makes this a nice nod to the Kenner original that didn't include a lightsaber, sadly. But that's OK - this one has two. You've got a hilt and a fully-lit blade, both of which are painted nicely. The blaster is similarly well-painted with a copper grip and silver other parts, and given that the figure has glossy boots and an all-new poncho with elastic belt, everything more or less looks right. Elastic as a belt can only look so good - someone may make a better aftermarket replacement - but ht poncho is excellent and hangs nicely, with a good pattern printed on it. The hood is a little bulky, but so were almost all releases of Endor Luke. It's fine. It could be better, and it's probably the best we'll get for years.

With Hasbro's continued reliance on older molds, it can be understandable why they'd bring one back - like C-3PO - and vexing on some others, like Endor Han or Admiral Ackbar. This Luke could have swivel thighs, but the articulation is dang near perfect for vehicle riding and the poncho is a gem. I love the helmet and the nods to the Kenner original, but optional holster belts would be nice too. But why am I complaining? This is a nice upgrade at $13, and as long as you can get one for about that price you'll be a happy camper. As long as the Ewoks don't eat you.

Collector's Notes: I got mine form Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,855: September 14, 2021

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,854: Luke Skywalker (Hoth, The Vintage Collection)

LUKE SKYWALKER
(Hoth, Reissue of 2012 release)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7763 No. F1896
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #95
Includes: Scarf with goggles, blaster, lightsaber with blade, hilt of lightsaber
Action Feature: Blaster fits in holster, hilt hangs on belt, scarf fits around head
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2021
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back
Bio: Luke Skywalker led the Rebel defense against the Empire’s ground forces, including massive AT-AT walkers, giving the Alliance time to evacuate the planet Hoth. (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:
It's back! Why? It was pretty expensive from the 2012 release. The Luke Skywalker (Hoth) release from 2021 is very close to the 2021 original, seemingly with the same colors and paint masks - at first glance. There are some subtle differences, and it may be so subtle you don't even need to bother unless skin tone means a lot to you.

If you have and are happy with the Luke Skywalker (Hoth Outfit) from 2012 [FOTD #1,830], this is mostly an improvement. There are surprisingly few deco changes - the head and the boots are the most obviously changed. The main selling point is photoreal face deco, but there's more to it than usual. The 2012 release has the flesh color painted over a plastic head - the 2021 version is molded in the flesh color, so it looks a lot better to begin with. The lips are now painted, with slightly more subtle eyebrows and more realistic - less doll-like - eyes. Without a doubt, it's the better head. The straps on his boots are now off-white rather than white, and the rivets on the holster for the 2021 releases seem a tiny bit sloppier than the 2012 release - but it varies from figure to figure.
Unlike some other rereleases, this was already a good figure - while there were no thigh swivels in 2012, he did have improvements like lateral hip movement to straddle a Tauntaun. (Which, I should say, Hasbro needs to consider reissuing as well.) The joints are much more nicely integrated into the body than some of his contemporaries, with great shoulder movement and a subtle cut on the gloves for wrist movement. It's very nice. The accessories fit where they belong quite nicely, and everything is kind of perfect. It makes sense to reissue this figure, because other than maybe a variant head there's not much room for improvement. Unless they wanted to go off-model and give us the 1982 deco, but that's probably a few years off.

If you have the 2012 reissue - especially if you keep the goggles on - there's absolutely no reason to upgrade. If you want the mold with the best possible human head, rendered in plastic that much better brings the unique cleft in Mark Hamill's chin to life, you've just got to get this one. There's a reason it disappears quickly from store shelves - it's very good. An all-new mold could be a little better, but I can see why they just decided to improve the one that was already manufactured. Get it if you have the inclination!

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,854: September 9, 2021

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,853: Admiral Ackbar 2021 Redux, The Vintage Collection)

ADMIRAL ACKBAR
(Reissue of 2010 release)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7763 No. F1897
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #22
Includes: Communications panel, baton
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
Bio: Admiral Ackbar oversaw the Rebel attack on the second Death Star, coordinating with starfighter operations led by Lando Calrissian and Wedge Antilles. (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:
It's back! Why? The Admiral Ackbar release from 2010 was pretty good. It also was, for a very short time, kind of expensive on the secondary market - the 2010 release, that is. After a spike, it stayed at around $30ish, which is - as much as I hate to say it - not unreasonable for a recent $10 action figure. Along with fixing some of the best figures of all time, getting stuff out for fans at a more affordable price has been part of The Vintage Collection reissues' reason for being. Having said that, I thought the first release looked fine and its price was low enough to not warrant a rerun - I guess they must have had the tooling in good working order?

If you have and are happy with the Admiral Ackbar from 2010 [FOTD #1,416], I don't think you need this one. The eyes seemed brighter than the darker gold of 2021, but the costume is more or less the same color and the skin on the figure (and packaging) in 2010 were a much lighter red - which is how I remember the figure. After all, Admiral Ackbar was one of my absolute favorite Kenner toys as a kid. 

There are subtle differences in shading between the two figures, and if you put them side-by-side you'll notice the paint mask for the yellow stripe on his pants was changed, but does it matter? It will to some of you - but even completists may not see a reason to upgrade.


While this was a pretty great figure in 2010, in 2021 it really does feel dated. He has only 18 points of articulation, which is amazing compared to what we had in the 1990s but there isn't much articulation in the hips - and no ankles. The forearms swivel, but there's no movement at the actual wrist. There's no way for him to sit in a chair (if Hasbro ever made one), so he can't have his console device across his lap. While there is hip movement, the legs are blocked by the tunic's stiff rubbery plastic. It probably doesn't matter since these figures - sadly - were not designed with playsets in mind. Also there will likely never be a deluxe Admiral Ackbar with a chair, nor a playset for him.

In short, it's basically the 2010 release with darker skin. The mottling is different, but not significantly so - it's like they took the old molds and gave you new paint masks and possibly truer-to-the-movie coloring. I'm unsure just how red the mask was in real life, so to me this seems like it's probably too dark. I don't have access to the Lucasfilm archives or 4K film transfers though, so I don't know what to tell you. I am happy with the previous version, but this one is an excellent substitute - and cheaper - if you can't get the original for yourself.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,853: September 7, 2021


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,852: Han Solo (Endor, The Vintage Collection)

HAN SOLO
(Endor, reissue of 2006 and 2011 releases)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. E7763 No. F1899
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #62
Includes: Trenchcoat, blaster pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: May 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
Bio: Han Solo and his strike team landed on the forest moon of Endor, where they encountered Scout Troopers and were captured by Ewoks. (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: Good coat, bad face paint, unpainted blaster.

Hasbro told fans that the reason they were rerunning older figures for The Vintage Collection were to bring us back very expensive figures to make them affordable, and to bring back the very best because there's not a heck of a lot of room for improvement. This does not explain Han Solo (Endor), a figure that was, let's be generous, pretty good for 2006 [FOTD #410] but pretty bad in 2011 and downright awful in 2021. Back in 2006, we were only 2 years into super-articulated figures being something of a normal happening and Hasbro was still struggling with making a really good Harrison Ford face. (Heck, they still are.) The figure's proportions are a little strange with oddly-posed legs hidden by a big cloth coat. The head was fine before when unpainted, but with the added photoreal deco looks something like a blobfish removed from the pressures of the deep. The face looks like it's melting. It's not good. Hasbro was seemingly aware of this from the official photography, which tends to show the figure at very specific angles which flatter the sculpt and hide the flaws - I mean, that's what you're supposed to do. The product photographers at Hasbro are absolute artists, because you probably had no idea just how bad this figure looks until you got it in your hands.

Hasbro shouldn't have brought this one back, and I would assume there may have been better alternatives - like adding a holster to TVC136 Han Solo in Carbonite, and seeing how the photoreal paint worked on that may have proven a cost-effective solution that didn't make you look at the figure with pity. It's also worth noting this figure doesn't have a silver muzzle on the blaster, but the 2006 release does. I applaud Hasbro for trying, but this should've been axed before it left the production stage. I'm sure it may scratch some itches for fans wanting to fill up their Kenner collections, but the genuine article - a real Kenner figure from 1984 - is around $54, and the superior figure (but inferior coat) from the 2006 release sells on eBay for as little as $13. I'm not telling you anything you don't know here - this is just a bad reissue of a figure that didn't age well.

The main reason to buy this figure is for the coat. You can apply it to another Han figure you like better, because it does look pretty good. It's a little bulky - it's impossible to perfectly scale down real-life fabrics to fit these guys - so it doesn't hang perfectly. Sculpted plastic tends to look better at this size, but Hasbro's artisans picked a good fabric that mimics the unique fabric pattern from the film quite nicely. The stitching is also downplayed, not looking as obvious as on the previous releases. This feels like where the budget for the figure went, and Hasbro has been consistently good about improving its patterns and fabrics at this size. Whoever did this, my I tip my hat to you - you did great.

This is a very old figure they reissued. To put it in perspective, it's 15 years old. It would be like if they put out The Power of the Force 1985 figures in the year 2000. It would be like if they put out more original 12-inch G.I. Joes in 1979. It would be like if we saw The Power of the Force 1995 figures in 2010. This is now a very old figure.

I assume the figure deco artist did their very best too, but sometimes you can't polish Bantha poodoo. The head is the same as the 2006 and 2011 releases, which wasn't great - but in its unpainted flesh-colored state, it looked acceptable at best. I didn't have a reason to dunk on it because it's not like they did anything to draw attention to the lips. For the 2021 release Hasbro used its fancy paint printing to give us more lifelike eyes - and I like those! - and a melty smile. It's not unique to my figure, and it seems to be a result of the printing aligning with the existing sculpt - every sample I've seen looked bad, and I don't think any level of paint could make it look better. I was surprised, though, to see it could make it worse. At certain angles it does look pretty good - but deviate from that position, and you lose it.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,852: September 2, 2021

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,851: Flametrooper (Gaming Greats, The Black Series)

FLAMETROOPER
Gaming Greats

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Blue Star Wars: Gaming Greats GameStop Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F2844
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #03
Includes: Backpack, flame thrower
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: June 2021
Appearances: Jedi: Fallen Order
Bio:Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order features Flametroopers, specialized commandos that support the war machine of the Galactic Empire, highly proficient in the use of incendiary weapons. (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
I always feel weird when I point out I skipped a game (like this one) and have started skipping some figures from the line that don't sing to me - but this one I really liked. The Flametrooper doesn't look exactly like the in-game model, but it does sort of look like a McQuarrie Concept Snowtrooper. And that was enough for me! The more-expensive-than-it-should-be retool has new forearms, new lower legs, a new backpack, a new blaster, and a new helmet. I would like to think it would cost the same as an entirely new figure, but it's more.

If you bought the Snowtrooper a few years ago, it's functionally similar, with the same kinds of joints and basic silhouette. The new helmet looks like a Snowtrooper with new goggles, a painted stripe on the back, and a couple of things to let air out of the mask which don't seem to be present in the renders I saw from the game. (Which, hey, I like how the figure looks better.) They also rotate the shoulder pads around so the lines are on top, rather than the bottom - just like in the game. It's a much cleaner trooper with no ashes or soot, as opposed to the somewhat muddy Snowtrooper. Early photos of the figure do have darker grey boots and a higher level of contrast in the mask, which the final product does not share.

You can plug the torch into the backpack, which is a retooled Snowtrooper backpack. It all fits together nicely and he has no problems holding the weapon, which has a subtle red glow around the tip. It doesn't have a giant clear flame piece like the one from The Mandalorian, but the newly-tooled weapon is big, threatening, and most importantly looks like something from the early 1980s. The boots, in particular, look like something someone bought at a gardening shop and painted white. It's great. The new wrist armor also looks really good, adding new glove pieces to what looks like typical Stormtrooper armor. It feels legit. If this showed up in a new Disney+ streaming show, it seems like it belongs in that whole McQuarrie-esque early Empire look we've seen since Star Wars Rebels.

If you like what you see in the pictures, I can recommend this figure. It looks like a concept design, it fits the aesthetic of the 1980s, and you can probably find lots of reasons to like it if you like Imperial troopers. I'm finding I miss what I got in this line for in the first place - robots, aliens, and vehicles - but this is one of the best troopers we've had in the last year. This is, admittedly, somewhat light praise as we've had weird holiday troopers and carbonized troopers and other stuff that doesn't feel like it's doing much to reward long-haul fans... but we're not the market that we were in the 1990s.
I wish I had more to say, but part of what makes me feel like the world is passing me by is they're doing a smattering of toys from new stories, quickly moving on, and mostly all I can do is say "this is a nice-looking action figure" since there's no long-term desire. All kids of the 1970s and 1980s probably had figures that, upon release in the 1990s, felt like they achieved a life's goal merely by plunking down $6 for Ishi Tib or Pote Snitkin. I still get excited by new prequel guys or anyone from The Mandalorian since it's such a rich well of characters and designs. For this reason, it's a little tough to be genuinely amazed by a Snowtrooper retool, but I can't fault it. They did a great job making an action figure out of it, but there's no collection to be built around the game, no vehicle to pilot. Those with a relationship with the game may feel differently, but I don't feel particularly inspired to actually play around with a lot of these guys after the review is done - they're good, but they exist in a playtime vacuum. Also I am old.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from GameStop.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,851: August 31, 2021


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,850: Shadow Stormtrooper (The Vintage Collection)

SHADOW STORMTROOPER
(The Force Unleashed redux)

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F2710
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #194
Includes: Blaster, rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: June 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian
Bio: Shadow Troopers were a branch of Imperial shock troopers deployed during the Rise of the Empire era. These units were often either under the command of stormtrooper commanders, or the Emperor's Shadow Guard. They had many encounters with Galen Marek. (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:
Thanks to a churn of new fans and a taste for endless repaints, the non-canon status of the Shadow Stormtrooper from The Force Awakens games is an easy redeco that delights fans over and over. The two games from the series were rendered unnecessary by Rogue One, but they're still neat - and thanks to a massive marketing initiative with tons of merchandise, fans really stuck with it. Few games before - and none since - have enjoyed this level of Hasbro action figure tie-in product.

The excellent trooper redesign from The Mandalorian and Rogue One is used yet again - there are some minor sculpt differences from the classic movie designs, such as the pistol - and molded in clear blue and sparkly grey colors. This is unlike the other Shadow Stormtrooper, which is a black figure. For those keeping track at home, there are at least three classes of Stormtrooper that fit the "Shadow Stormtrooper" bill - the silver lensed black ones from the Russ Manning comics, the black lensed ones from Crimson Empire, and also these blue ones.

Using the best Stormtrooper sculpt and a very good paint job puts this ahead of the Toys R Us one from about a decade ago [FOTD #1,371]. This brings the figure more in line with the figure's art and representation on the packaging, while the previous one - which used a different, older mold - was better about keeping the "cloaked trooper" gimmick at the forefront. They're each good for different reasons, but this one seems to borrow on the then-popular Tron: Legacy look with the blue striping and the dark armor.

The packaging is great, but it's best to open it - with two blasters and the best articulation of any Stormtrooper mold at this size, it would be great if these were easier to get so you could grab an army. They're online exclusives, so they may be in relatively short supply for a while. If and when Hasbro ever makes a new Galen Marek - a "Starkiller" with a better likeness from the first game would likely sell preposterously good numbers - but for now, you can pre-build or augment your armies. You know, for the Imperial playsets we all hope to someday get but haven't for a couple of decades.

For (at least) the fifth release of this mold in slightly different colors, it's nice to have something that's a real departure from previous versions. The paint is clear, the blue lenses are sharp, and there's no better trooper at this size for pretty much any pose you might want. Sure, there's no holster, but it's not like they're particularly fantastic on older 3 3/4-inch Stormtroopers. Given what a departure the deco is on this trooper from previous releases, I'd say get one or two. It's not like you're going to see a whole heck of a lot from The Force Unleashed any time soon - so horde what you can.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,850: August 26, 2021

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,849: BT-1 (Beetee, The Black Series 6-Inch)

BT-1
(Beetee)

The Black Series The Force Awakens-Era Line Look, 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E4079
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #88
Includes: 2 dome panels, 2 dome guns, 2 leg covers, 2 leg blasters
Action Feature: Opening chest compartments, rotating dome lowers third leg, dome panels pop off so you can place guns, leg panels come off for even more guns
Retail: $19.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: Comics
Bio: A hostile astromech droid, BT-1 (Beetee) works with Doctor Aphra alongside the protocol droid 0-0-0 on destructive missions. The black metal-plated droid is heavily armed with flamethrowers and other destructive weapons. (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:
A retool, but not a bad one. BT-1 builds on the R2-D2 mold and adds a new dome and lots of extra accessories, making it feel like a pretty good deal in its day. R2-D2 was always on the smaller side, so it's nice when Hasbro bulks up the figure with other stuff to make it a better toy. This particular model is based on the Marvel comics series from the new 2015-era comic books, but also draws a lot of inspiration from classic Kenner "Battle Droids" prototypes that never came to fruition. A number of robot mock-ups with extra firepower represented a lost line from about 1986, so it's nice to see that drawn on for more recent efforts.

Essentially R2-D2 painted in the dark grey - almost black - colors like a lot of Imperial droids, Beetee stands apart with a new, R5-esque dome. A giant eye has a gradient paint job for his eye, with a bright orange dot in the center that fades out toward the edges - it's very retro. The panels are largely silver, with an extra dongle on top of the head. On each side are removable panels, and you can plug in some massive firepower in there - and then put the panels on the guns so you don't lose them. (The 3 3/4-inch figure does not have that feature.) This is a really impressive remold.


What's more, R2-D2's prequel arm rockets are left out but the hooks are still there. Now you can add extra weapons in there, although you'll need to find somewhere to store the extra panels. If that weren't enough, the retractable third leg is present, as are the opening chest panels with the claw arm and datalink arm accessories.

Deco is good - there's nothing exceptional here, but you'll like the blue light on the dome, the silver panels, and the few pained highlights on the weapons. The copper panel cover on the torso is a nice touch, but the legs are sadly more or less molded in color. The center leg has a little bit of paint on it, which is better than nothing and certainly nothing to sneeze at.

As a resculpt of a resculpt, I particularly enjoyed the unpainted, outer R5-style eyes on the dome on the split panels and I always got a kick out of giving an R2-style robot a complete arsenal at his disposal. As a kid, I often played with R2-D2 as a cannon - just flip the body up, and it looks like it could shoot projectiles. This takes that idea and pushes it to an almost ridiculous level, resulting in a striking and admirably goofy concept that looks like it could have been made in the 1980s or 1990s. Since it came out in 2019, it shows there's still an appetite for fun in the world for those who get lucky enough to pre-order it online, otherwise it costs too much. If you can get it at a fair price, snap one up immediately - even if you don't like the comics, it's a great little bit of worldbuilding and a distinctive personality from the publishing program.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth in 2019.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,849: August 24, 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,848: Doctor Aphra (The Black Series 6-Inch)

DOCTOR APHRA
Marvelous

The Black Series The Force Awakens-Era Line Look, 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. E6052
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #87
Includes: Helmet, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: June 2019
Appearances: Comics
Bio: On a mission gone wrong, Doctor Aphra finds herself at the hands of a formidable Sith Lord, Darth Vader. A rare survivor of such meetings, Aphra is recruited by Vader for her skills in reprogramming droids and her apparent lack of remorse for breaking the law to get what she wants. (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:
You never know for sure what will be a big deal or not, but non-movie figures with short runs tend to get expensive in short order. Doctor Aphra was part of a later wave, right before the assortment got a new SKU, so she wasn't around terribly long and now commands over $100. (I am against this. You should be able to get one.) The character was an early breakout star of Marvel's Star Wars comics reboot, starting as Darth Vader's sidekick/assistant/collaborator and eventually getting her own book. Being first has benefits, and her popularity endures to this day.

While the figure does share elements of tooling with Jaina Solo, Chelli Lona Aphra recreates her character design from the comics quite well. A departure from some other breakout comic stars like Amaiza, the Zeltrons, and Darth Talon, Aphra gets such rare accoutrements as pants and a complete shirt. But does she get pockets that actually work? We may never know. The figure uses the photo-real deco on her face - fun, as he never had a real-life model - but it looks good. Her eyes have a little sparkle, but there's a little color bleed around her eye shadow areas. This was sort of common with some of the earlier photo-real printed figures, and later toys are a lot better. The brown vest has a hint of weathering on it, and it looks superb - the same is true of her shirt. The pants are also nicely textured, and the fingerless gloves... OK, those could be better. There's a little slop there.

Due to her release in 2019, Hasbro was still noodling around with articulation, making her a mix of amazingly good joints and some notions that have since been phased out. The double-jointed knees bend all the way back, plus she has an ab-crunch joint as well as a chest swivel. Sadly, her elbows can only bend to about 90-degrees - we've better figures in 2018, so it's a pity that they weren't improved here. Her hands have no problems holding her blaster, which fits well in a holster.

Because it's the 21st century, modern design aesthetics have crept in to stories timed around the original Star Wars film - I've got mixed feelings about this. Her ensemble seems to evoke Han Solo and other smugglers, and that's perfect - I love her flight cap with goggles, too. She also has circuitry tattoos, and ink in the 1970s was mostly reserved for sailors, bikers, and rockstars - it was a rarer thing. Obviously it's a big galaxy, but in the entire original trilogy tattoos are far and few between, so it always struck me as a little odd if you're trying to capture the design philosophy of the Carter era. (They weren't, obviously, this is my hang-up.) They're only on one arm, and everything else about this figure is pretty amazing.

If she gets reissued for a lower price, you should pick her up. It's an amazing figure - her droid pals 0-0-0 and BT-1 are no slouch either - so I'd recommend picking one up if your budget allows. Fairly few modern Marvel-era characters have been made as figures, but the series continues to pick up new readers and is likely to keep doing well - meaning more figures can't be far behind.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth in 2019.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,848: August 19, 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,847: Princess Leia Organa (Endor, The Black Series 6-Inch)

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA
(Endor)

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Green Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Packaging - Also PulseCon Boxed Set
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. E9363 also No. EXXXX
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #05
Includes: Helmet, belt, poncho, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2020
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
Bio: Princess Leia Organa rendezvoused with the Rebel fleet and helped organize a plan to destroy the Empire's new Death Star: they would head to Endor and knock out the space station's shield generator. (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:
My favorite movie for toys is Return of the Jedi, so I'm happy when Hasbro does something really well - like Princess Leia Organa (Endor) from last year. Kenner and Hasbro have both done several versions of this figure, and in various sizes. And with vehicles. But this time, she's 6-inches tall and for the first chronological time, she also has the photo-real face printing that everybody wishes they did years earlier.

The figure is a new one, with 2020-style elbow and knee articulation. This means they're like the 3 3/4-inch figure joints, although with a slightly deeper cut so they can bend more than 90-degrees. The costume is designed to look just like the movie, with blue-grey pants (complete with yellow stripes), the boots have painted soles, and she even has her blaster complete with a painted barrel. The helmet has the appropriate coloration and damage markings, plus the poncho looks closer to what you remember from the movie or the 1984 Kenner figure - a lot of Hasbro-era ponchos were a little on the dark side.

Having a figure with great leg articulation, a good costume, and top-notch accessories for about $20 should seem like a big deal, or at least enough to make a sale. However, I would nudge you to consider just how good the head is - not only did Hasbro do a dynamite job sculpting the figure, but a perfectly painted face makes it look like a 1983 Carrie Fisher was somehow shrunk and put on the head of a 1:12 scale replica. The eyes are dark, shiny, and intense. The lips and cheeks have just enough color. The skin isn't terribly waxy like some releases, with a hint of shine and great eyebrows. I'm impressed! We've seen lots of ups and downs when it comes to the faces of original trilogy leads as 3 3/4-inch action figures, and it's great to see that Hasbro continues to find ways to refine old figures or just make something wholly new that is extremely impressive. The various 12-inch figures over the year and Forces of Destiny figures were also quite good, but typically the boy's action figure line doesn't tend to get the very best Leia toys.

While one could imagine slight tweaks to improve Endor Han, Endor Leia may be as good as we'll ever see from Hasbro for quite some time. For a 38-year-old movie, near-perfection should be a lot easier to achieve since we've got lots of reference photos and numerous previous attempts to make this costume as a toy. Hasbro didn't disappoint, and even though the figure lacks any sort of action features, the poncho, holster, and helmet give you meaningful ways to interact with the figure beyond merely opening her, posing her, and then never having to think about her again. Sure it's dress-up play, but I'll take any sort of interactive features on these toys that we can get. You know, beyond the classic "face-plant" action.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth for the single release, and my 4-pack came from Hasbro Pulse.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,847: August 17, 2021