Thursday, September 22, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,962: Fifth Brother (The Retro Collection)

FIFTH BROTHER
(Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F4200 No. F5775
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.99
Availability: July 2022
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection features design and detailing inspired by the original 1970s Star Wars figures. (Stolen from the marketing copy. 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:
This is a good one. First (or last) seen on Star Wars Rebels, Inquisitors like the Fifth Brother got toys as 5-jointed figures a few years ago. The first Fifth Brother [FOTD #2,271] was in 2016, and this new one is somewhat similar. What's weird, though, is how this figure adopts aspects of that cartoon-style figure, and also how that figure seems to have worse paint than this 2022 faux Kenner one.

The figure is dynamite, giving us something that feels old with two exceptions. Well, maybe three. There are red lights on the back of the hat which I feel Kenner would have left off, as Hasbro had no such details on the animated Fifth Brother. The Imperial cogs on the shoulders are perfect, as we've seen on modern figures since the TIE Fighter Pilot in 1996. But the 1980s figures had an ugly weird little cog that wasn't quite on-model, which would have been preferred here. And third, arguably, the chest lights on the armor are too good and plentiful - I feel Kenner would've not bothered to paint them so well. But those are nitpicks - this is a good figure. If Kenner did it, the figure might be entirely black with no gray areas on his limbs or torso.

He has no problems standing or sitting, the limbs swivel nicely, and the hand can wrap around the big red lightsaber. Like old Kenner lightsabers, it's unpainted. What's hokey - and I kind of love it - is that it's rounded and has hints of being detailed like the prop on one side, but is completely flat and almost unfinished on the other. I admit, I laughed when I saw this. The design on the grip has the three buttons on either side we've seen since 1980, and I appreciate the attention to that specific detail. They could do something new, but keeping the same basic look grounds the accessory. And I hope you like it too, because the Grand Inquisitor has one and Reva's is pretty close to identical. (Kenner would've cheaped out and reused the same one three times. Just sayin'.)

The figure departs slightly from the show's costume, which is what makes this figure go from "fine" to "fun." From the Cantina aliens in 1979 to Lando's wrong-colored uniform and cape in The Power of the Force, Kenner would sometimes pick their own color schemes. The Fifth Brother's isn't weird, but most photos of his live-action costume are black while the cartoon is black and grey. The Kenner-style figure seems to use the cartoon coloring with slightly more gray on his outfit. The figure's got gray upper arms, and I'm here for it. He's also missing some of the lights from the belt and chest armor, as he should - Kenner wouldn't have budgeted for it. Depending on the reference it's hard to tell the precise finish of the armor and hat on the TV show, but the figure goes for glossy black - and it's not glossy black on the big screen. I have him standing near a smattering of old toys, and he really does seem to fit in with the nifty coloring... even if Kenner wouldn't have made it glossy. This figure looks cool.

I also like the face. It The head swivels nicely, the black eyes and eyelid were painted cleanly, and the pale gray skin is great. When combined with the hat, you have a figure that has a distinctive silhouette that somehow reads instantly as being of the Empire and adds to their legion of distinctive headwear. While the rank and file hats have always been fun, some of the Inquisitors have fun ones and the Imperial Dignitaries win the prize.

The Fifth Brother would go great on any vintage Star Destroyer or Death Star you may have, or maybe a new one, some day, in our dreams. I think this is the strongest overall figure in the Kenobi wave, and this is the first one you should buy if you're an old guy with old Kenner figures in a box in the closet. He just feels more like an awesome toy you should have owned as a kid, rather than something trying to recapture the glory days. He also looks like he was born to play in your old Kenner Mini-Rigs. Great job, Hasbro, thanks for giving us a cool new figure where everything just works and there's no offensive vinyl cape. I guess we'll get into those next month.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,962: September 22, 2022

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,961: Darth Vader (Dark Times, The Retro Collection)

DARTH VADER
(Dark Times, Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F4200 No. F5771
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.99
Availability: July 2022
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection features design and detailing inspired by the original 1970s Star Wars figures. (Stolen from the marketing copy. 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:
I have been playing with my original Dark Lord of the Sith toy I've had for a very long time, so I was ready to examine this Darth Vader (Dark Times). In trying to make a figure look like the simplified 1970s toys, it over-smoothed the details and gave him an open left hand (rare on the original figures if they only include 1 accessory.) The funny thing is that the most "Kenner" thing you could do would be to rerelease the 1978 figure on a cardback with no changes. The second most "Kenner" thing you could do would be to take the original figure and update it in one or two spots - say, replace the telescoping lightsaber arm with a standard grip hand, and maybe give him a cloth cape, and then call it a day. This is a new sculpt, and he looks undercooked in spots.

The engineering is very much what I wish I had as a kid, because the telescoping lightsaber and vinyl cape got in the way when it came time to play with vehicles. In this case, you can just easily remove the weapon and the cloth cape tucks under his legs nicely. The basic form is similar to Darth Vader 1978 with a slightly meatier build. OG Darth Vader had thinner shoulders (hidden by the plastic cape) and skinny legs, while this one adds the "skirt" that beefs up the legs pretty well. Unfortunately it also completely saps the toy of sculpted detail, as the plastic "skirt hides where the stitches in his leather legs would go. The shallow grooves are still there, but mostly hidden by that skirt - and on the arms and chest, he's similarly shallow. The glove sculpts are smoothed out too, making the figure look like it was made from a copy of a copy of the mold. The area around the chest was left flat, ignoring the stitching of the 1978 original, plus Hasbro added a codpiece that was missing from 1978 - which causes the figure to have less texture down there. It's unmistakably Darth Vader, but even the helmet has a smoothed-out level of detail that almost looks like a flea market bootleg. The old Kenner toys were surprisingly crisp - if you pick up an old Hammerhead or Walrus Man on the cheap, even those rounded, organic forms have pretty nicely defined veins, wrinkles, or other sculpted details. If you told me that someone at the factory was sent an early .STL file before the final details were approved, I'd believe you - and I would consider elbowing Hasbro to sculpt these retro guys using retro techniques, like wax or wood first. The poses tend to be less sterile.

The new Darth Vader uses a non-telescoping Kenner lightsaber for the first time. Fans have made unlicensed reproductions of Luke's lightsaber in red for years for a couple of bucks, so this being the first official Darth Vader lightsaber in this color is kind of neat. Similarly, the cape - which is a little much around the neck - is cool to have in this form. I was expecting something a little more like Lando Calrissian (General) with a meatier weight, but this is good too. It also has a much more complex cut than what I was expecting, which would have been a simple piece of cloth. As accessories go, this set is what you expect of a figure made during The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi eras.

I love the build quality. The joints are nice and tight, and he has a good center of gravity and won't easily topple over. His arms swing perfectly well, the red lenses of his helmet look great as you twist the helmet around, and he has no problems holding his blade or sitting in the vehicles I have around my desk. The paint on his chest is slightly better than the 1978 original, and I do have a soft spot for "wrong" when it comes to details on 1970-style toys. The toy has a much better silhouette than most Vader figures, and he's skinny enough to read as "Kenner" on a shelf of toys.

While I prefer the depth of details on the original 1978 mold (and his remakes), this Darth Vader is likely a better toy. Having both hands able to grip an accessory means he can "use the Force" and steal blasters. He's ready for action in vehicles or playsets without having to consider the vinyl cape creasing or needing to be removed. Hasbro did a nice job with every aspect other than the too-smoothed-out sculpted details and blank spots - and for fans who never open figures, they won't notice. I nitpick because I love, and I wish Hasbro would call up fans for details like this to take them from "good" to "spectacular" with minimal differences. I just wish they aesthetically matched the original toys a tiny bit more - but they got the form factor down! For $12 I'd even consider buying another one. He's hanging out in my MTV-7 with a very old Firestar-I pilot on my desk right now, and everything looks like it more or less comes from the same era. That's high praise.

Confidential to Hasbro - I would buy a reissue/variant of this one in slightly different deco. Use the 1978 Kenner-style white and red chest paint, leave the red off the helmet, and maybe make the gloves a little more consistent, retool the chest, and I'm in for another one.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,961: September 20, 2022

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,960: Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise (Custom)

HAN SOLO in Stormtrooper Disguise
Fan-Produced Custom Figure
Item No.:
No. n/a
Manufacturer: Smith Lord Creations
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $35-$45
Availability: ca. March 2019
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Han Solo in Stormtrooper Outfit custom figure. The blaster and helmet are reproductions. (Stolen from an eBay listing. There is no bio. Figure was sold on reproduction packaging or loose)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary: As a kid I had a custom Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise, and back then you could either get one made of a decapitated Power of the Force Stormtrooper Luke, or one made from 2-3 figures - a Stormtrooper would get cut up for the body (and helmet), and a Han figure of your choosing for the head. None of these were great options - the helmets didn't quite fit, and the work was clearly the work of a craftsman doing their best. Enter Smith Lord Creations in 2019 - someone said "hey let's just mold our own (and also make reproductions of real Kenner figures)" rather than hack up rare figures from the 1980s. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of straight-up reproductions, but I do appreciate it when you can easily tell they're fakes. Since this one never existed in the old days, determining a forgery isn't a lot of hard work.

Han looks like the real article, and feels like the real deal, but doesn't quite play perfectly. The figure seems born from a tweaked 1985 Stormtrooper Luke figure, with a new smaller Han Solo head. (Mine had misaligned facial paint - it's a bit ugly.) The arms and legs move just like a real Kenner figure, with details that are nearly perfect copies of original figures - but are not as crisp. There are no copyright markings, and the legs are spread out a lot, but this figure absolutely looks like a lost Kenner release. The head won't turn, but the hair looks like something Kenner would do and the head is small enough to fit under the helmet. If you put this in a faked old toy catalog or in a figure display, it passes for a genuine Kenner product with minimal black paint. The eyes and hair are painted too, and even off-center it looks like something I had as a kid. While he is a little short for a Stormtrooper, he's standing next to my 1983 Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker figure, an old Bossk, and 2022 Kenner-style Ahsoka and Bo-Katan and he belongs.

The figure is good - the accessories are notably different. The clip on the Stormtrooper blaster has an indentation on the side, so it doesn't look exactly like an original. The grip has a slightly different pattern on it, and the plastic's look and feel differs slightly from Kenner originals - but if you don't have any, you probably wouldn't realize it. It would have been nice to have an "R" molded on it somewhere. Due to Han's hands, the figure has difficulty holding the blaster. You might be able to wedge it in his hand and rest it against the bowed-out legs, though, so it makes a good display piece.

The helmet isn't fooling anybody, because the paint is a little weird and it doesn't quite fit. It feels like an old Kenner helmet, but the paint is pretty dreadful. The details are soft and paint is glossy and outside the lines, giving it the feel of a knock-off Ben Cooper mask. It's a Stormtrooper, and all the elements are there, but it's ugly. It also doesn't fit straight on his head - he can wear it at an angle, but it doesn't fit if you want him looking forward. It either tips up a bit, or looks off to the side - but it looks fine in his hand, or at his feet. Again, as a display piece, you can probably make it work.

This was one of the first figures from the team that broke up that was once Smith Lord Creations (who still makes stuff without Stan Solo) and the effort to make one of those figures Kenner left out is amazing. This is a stellar fan-made release, but it's still an unlicensed figure that doesn't have the best interaction with accessories. It's a neat bootleg you'd probably want because there's no better official alternative. If Hasbro ever made their own, it would probably put this "custom" in the curiosity bin or junk drawer. Maybe. There are also "custom" Grand Moff Tarkin figures and while I prefer Hasbro's, somebody is buying the fan-made ones. It seems absolutely silly to have paid $40 for this guy, but I did, and I'm happy with it. It looks decent - it's just not a great toy. I would love to see Hasbro make their own 1980s-style Kenner-carded Power of the Force Han Solo Stormtrooper figures, and I for one would happily pay $16 if it means they threw a coin in there. And of course, if they could ensure the helmet actually fits.

Custom figures like this aren't toys for kids, and we don't really know what kind of testing they went through. As far as we know they're not authorized unless there's some wink-wink in the background, and I have no idea if they came out of a factory in China that also makes other companies' officially licensed stuff - but the look and feel is excellent. If you stumble on one, and if you're finding yourself to be over 6-inch figures or the endless torrent of stuff in the original trilogy timeline but not from any of your favorite old movies, give this a shot.

Collector's Notes: I got mine off of a guy on eBay.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,960: September 15, 2022

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,959: Amaulman (Custom)

AMAULMAN Amanaman in Darth Maul Colors
Fan-Produced Custom Figure
Item No.:
No. n/a
Manufacturer: Stan Solo
Number: n/a
Includes: Staff
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $45
Availability: ca. December 2020
Appearances: n/a

Bio: The figures are moulded colour plastic, they are factory made and professionally painted, these are not 3D printed. (Stolen from Stan Solo's web page. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary: Back in the 1990s, Kenner was weirdly OK with talking to random young fans (cough) and I remember one employee look at some Galoob stuff - specifically a green A-Wing Fighter Action Fleet ship - and turn to me and say "If we did something like that, the fans would kill us." The implication being action figure people hate weird repaints, but with Amaulman I went from "that's dumb" to "give it to me" in short order. The figure's mold is copied from the 1984ish Amanaman from Kenner, with minimal changes. The arms still swing up and out, and the legs still roll forward just like the original. He stands, he can't sit because of his tail, and he's very wrinkly. Figures like this were superbly awesome, showing a tantalizing departure from the norm of that era with true-to-the-movie sculpting that looks significantly better than most of the human counterparts of the era. When Hasbro did another Amanaman in 2001 for Power of the Jedi, I appreciated the improvements but I was still quite happy with the old Kenner mold. (I dare say Hasbro should just reissue all of these with minor alterations.)

What makes this figure interesting - and a custom - was the decision to change yellow to red, green to black, and added yellow Sith eyes and tons of tattoos. The figure itself feels just like my old Kenner one (but the staff doesn't - more later) and the new colors easily obfuscate any mold changes. I couldn't find any identification markings on it, so it's obviously not an original, repainted figure. But I was taken by the goofy tats, the beady yellow eyes, and the mouth - now painted in black, looking vaguely like a duck beak. If Hasbro made this exact figure I bet a lot of fans would be upset by it, but it's a heck of a lot more interesting than carbonized or credit collection figures - it's weird, it's colorful, and it's striking. And it's not out of place with the old figures other than maybe, just maybe, the original figures wouldn't have this many painted tattoos on them.

The staff, at first glance, looks like an original. That's good! When comparing it to an original, it doesn't - that's better! If you don't have an original you may not ever realize this is different. Some of the painted skull detail isn't quite as precise, but it's good - comparable to other figures from that era. The skull detail is a little softer or a tiny bit off, and the various detailed grooves are a tiny bit different. The brown plastic is a bit more flexible, but not rubbery, with a finish that's less glossy. It would be nice if it was marked as a new one, just so it was obvious, but that's arguably a pro - it's so good, you probably won't care it's a) a tiny bit different and b) not an original. I would have appreciated deco changes to distinguish it from Amanaman's staff, but hey, it's here. He holds it awkwardly, but the original figure barely gripped his accessory too. It's every bit as good as the original, which is to say, it could have been engineered a little bit better back then.

It's expensive for a copy, but it's a very good and very weird copy. I assume a few dollars goes from every purchase goes into a rainy day fund just in case someone tells the producers to stop making these. It's not worth the current asking price of $45... unless you really love this kind of figure. I was thinking it was absurd to pay, then it hit me - I was paying $30-$40 for Carbonized repaints I didn't like of figures I didn't want, so shouldn't I just put the money toward something I actually like? And I have to say, doing this has been a lot more fun than just absorbing yet another (but sparkly) figure from the Disney era. No hate against the Disney era - but I'm old, and I vastly prefer toys I can play with over tiny statues or maquettes I can pose on a shelf and then pray don't fall over.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from a seller on Etsy.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,959: September 13, 2022

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,958: B0-B4 (Custom)

B0-B4 Boba Fett's Astromech Droid
Fan-Produced Custom Figure
Item No.:
No. n/a
Manufacturer: Stan Solo
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $30-$40
Availability: 2021?
Appearances: n/a   

Bio: This is a complete made up custom. The figures are moulded colour plastic, they are factory made and professionally painted, these are not 3D printed. The figure has SS stamped on the inside as this is a complete custom figure. (Stolen from Wookieepedia. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Commentary: I never thought I was going to review a "bootleg" here, but the lack of any written reviews about them (and my general disdain of being asked to watch a YouTube video for a simple "is it good?") changed my mind. If you like Kenner-style figures, you're going to like this one. You might not like the price for B0-B4, but it absolutely looks like something Kenner should have sold you in the years between trilogies if they kept making toys.

I picked up a few of these Stan Solo figures recently after generally ignoring the third party/unlicensed world, and since I heard they were good I wanted to try them out. By and large, this was not an exaggeration - they're not exactly like the ones you had as a kid, but they look and feel as good as the reissues we've been getting from Hasbro. I got a kick out of B0-B4 because I love droids, I love toys painted to look like old Kenner Star Wars figures (specifically ones from 1978-1979.) In terms of ridiculousness, this thing is great. Sure we know Boba Fett employed BL-17 in "A Race to the Finish," an episode of Droids that has all the best things in it. An Imperial Shuttle, Boba Fett, Vlix, the White Witch... but we never saw Boba Fett actively pal around with a robot friend. Figures like B0-B4 feel a lot like something Kenner would have pitched to Lucasfilm to give the toys a Robin to Boba Fett's Batman, but would probably never approve. This makes it a perfect - as these are often billed - "custom action figure," and this particular figure would likely never be something Hasbro made and sold.

It's molded in blue like Kenner Boba Fett, with a molded green dome and a sticker. The legs move just like the old Kenner figure, and have a little give to them. The body is the R2-D2 Pop-Up Lightsaber format (used in The Power of the Force and Droids) with a 1978-style clicking, gimmick-free dome. There's a unique sticker that replicates the basic form of the R2-D2 label. The back of the figure has panels painted to wink to Boba Fett's rocket pack - you can see a red box standing in for the rocket and some blue panels that match the backpack. The figure has a lot more deco that R2-D2 - added red panels on the arms are joined by yellow "pauldrons," plus the dome has some added yellow markings to match the movie prop helmet. I can't find any markings indicating its origins on mine.

He doesn't do much - the dome clicks and rotates, and there's an optional $13 third leg you can buy. The clicky dome doesn't sound exactly like an original R2-D2, but it's close - and considering this guy did it during a period where Hasbro seemed like they would never get to R2-D2, I have to give him points for trying something weird. The B0-B4 concept is not unlike what Disney did with its Ahsoka-ish R7 droid, or Hasbro's Darth Vader and Mace Windu-inspired droids from around 2006 and 2007. I assume that Hasbro is unlikely to do anything this whimsical with its Kenner-style figures, but if they do, I'd buy.

I can't say this is worth the asking price. It might be a very good deal, I don't know what factories were used, or how the heck they can make something that looks and feels so close to the genuine article. If Hasbro made this exact figure for $40 I'm not sure if I'd begrudgingly admire their bold insanity and buy it, or rage quit. As a bootleg, it's very expensive. But as a "custom figure," it's very cheap. If you're not collecting modern Hasbro figures and only want vintage - and I mean real vintage - this is something you'll want to dip a toe in and try. If you're happy with The Vintage Collection and Black Series, you have no real reason to play in these waters. I generally prefer figures that are toys over figures that are collectible - so I'd love to see a lot more just like this, and will review more here for an all-retro themed September.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from a seller on eBay.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,958: September 8, 2022

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,957: Chewbacca (Prototype Edition - Orange Head, The Retro Collection)

CHEWBACCA
(Prototype Edition, Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F5568
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Bowcaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $13.99
Availability: July 2022
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: This Chewbacca figure is inspired by the colorful prototypes that enable the development team to look past the deco and focus on the sculpt, analyze mold alignment, and adjust for quality. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
While not essential, few would argue that the Chewbacca (Prototype Edition) isn't an amusing idea. Personally I'd rather they just keep regular plain brown Chewie in circulation at stores for people to just impulse buy it and start collecting, but these sold-out-almost-immediately fake prototype figures do well. With no paint and no new tooling costs, I'm sure it's a profitable endeavor for Hasbro and Target, too. (Although why the next one is a 2020 Snowspeeder Luke, I have no idea. I'd bounce out of bed to get a shot at a Luke or a Leia.)

There are six flavors of this figure, and mine is the orange body version with a yellow bowcaster - I got a second on in another color, but it's remaining carded for now. I like this one a lot - the bright orange really highlights the grooves used to make fur for kids back in 1978. The unpainted face certainly tones the fangs down, and the striking blue and white eyes are absent. On the other hand, it showed the bandolier with the raised "straps" lacking in paint to distract you from the simple pattern, and the hair on the arms and legs of your now literally green-limbed Chewbacca look great too. His pouch and everything looks more or less like you remember it, were it molded out of a box of Crayola crayons.

What makes these figures particularly intriguing is the accessories - a yellow bowcaster is an amusing new thing, just like being able to get new colors of official lightsabers to go with your other figures. If you want a green one, it exists now - or purple, or blue. I like the bright yellow because I can see the sculpted detail on the sides I took for granted since I got mine a million years ago. It is much easier to see the scope on top, plus some greebles on the side. As the fourth character in this series, each with six or more colorways, I am surprised Hasbro has not done solid color re-reissues, and that Diamond/Gentle Giant never did multi-color figures like this. I wouldn't want one of these for every single figure, but if Hasbro continued to do 1-2 per year, and/or finish the original 12, I'd be pretty pleased.

Hasbro, if you're reading, an unsolicited request for 2023 - rerelease regular Chewbacca (and all the rest that you can) as store exclusives or main line items on Return of the Jedi cardbacks. A lot of people will buy these if they see them in person. I dare say they're impossible to resist when you see them in person, plus impulse buys are how collections begin. Chewbacca was sold at the Entertainment Earth/Target booth at San Diego Comic-Con, and followed in Target stores a few days later (after a long online pre-order gestation.) According to my store trackers, he sold out almost immediately in my area - but if I want to drive an hour, I could've found more. I think the runs are too low, but this kind of figure probably should be low-run - the wacky colors are a fun item for collectors who already have it all. I'd love for the masses to just be able to waltz into Target and grab a Chewbacca - and hopefully be inspired to pick up The Black Series or Hasbro's new Disney+-specific The Retro Collection figures. Or some new Original Trilogy The Retro Collection figures. (If Hasbro made more of those I'd probably give up collecting most if not all non-Star Wars toys.) (Except maybe other 3 3/4-inch figures that fit in with them, lookin' at you Healey Made and select ReAction figures from Super7.)

Collector's Notes: I got mine at Target.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,957: September 6, 2021

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,956: NED-B (The Retro Collection)

NED-B
Kenner Style

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F4200 No. F5774
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Hammer
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.99
Availability: July 2022
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection features design and detailing inspired by the original 1970s Star Wars figures. (Stolen from the marketing copy. 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:
I love droids! Back in the 1980s, most movie droid figures were extremely simple - the bulk of them had little to no paint on the limbs, and any sort of painted details were frequently dropped. That means NED-B is a little better than most, given he has a painted blue arm (unlike C-3PO who was just one color) and has a lot of painted gray area around the joints (unlike, well, everybody.) He may be closer in deco to the 1990s, but parts are just off-model enough that he feels more or less at home near old Kenner figures. If he was standing in the background of a Droids episode, I think he'd fit right in. Overall the Obi-Wan Kenobi wave of The Retro Collection is neat, but a lot of it looks just a bit off to the side of actual Kenner figures - unlike the second The Mandalorian wave, which mostly felt pretty spectacular.

This load lifter is big - really big. He's a bit taller than Darth Vader, roughly as tall as a Vlix, and generally diverts from the skinny look of most Kenner figures. But he's sturdy - he stands, he sits, the joints move well, and the neck turns without a fuss. There's not too much color on him, and they dropped the Aurebesh lettering and that probably keeps it looking "older." They could have also dropped the gray knee and shoulder joint paint as far as I'm concerned, and it would have been great. The figure's closest vintage design analog is probably EV-9D9, who was tall, skinny, and had no paint on the limbs - but does have a "mask" around the eyes, which is replicated well on NED-B here. It's weird to say "Hasbro could have left off the blue paint entirely," but I really believe they could have - it still would look great, and may fit in better with real old Kenner figures.

Unlike most Kenner droids, this one has hands that were designed to grip things - putting him in good company with Zuckuss, 2-1B, and arguably IG-88 (and IG-11.) NED grips his hammer just fine, and you can probably hand him a blaster too - it works, it fits. I handed him a Stormtrooper rifle and he holds it better than an actual Stormtrooper's hand. The hammer itself is nothing special, but it shouldn't be. It's a fun and funny choice of accessory given the impression it left on the show, especially compared to its lack of practicality. But as a kid I think I would have a lot more fun hitting Stormtroopers with a hammer than I would pretending to go "pew pew pew" with a gun.

For what it is, and for what it costs, this is a pretty fun little figure. I wish it was somehow less detailed and more detailed - like I wish his chest lights were painted (like Darth Vader), but Hasbro could drop the blue and some of the gray and I wouldn't miss it at all. For fans of 1980s-style robot toys, I think you will enjoy this one. If anything, he's probably the most interesting figure of the wave simply because there's really not much else that's close to him these days. Get it if you see it, and if it's on clearance, buy two. But be aware, it is a little too big to fit some Kenner vehicles.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,956: September 1, 2022

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,955: Grogu (& Ahsoka Tano, The Vintage Collection Deluxe)

GROGU & Ahsoka Tano
The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Deluxe Walmart Exclusive Action Figure
Item No.:
No. F5576
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Two lightsabers, cloak, rock, shifter knob, Grogu, Morai, lantern
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $20.97
Availability: May 2022
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: Now a wandering Jedi, Ahsoka Tano forges her own path in the galaxy, righting injustices that she discovers. Grogu, a mysterious alien, is being pursued by bounty hunters. (Taken from marketing copy. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: At maybe 3/5 of an inch tall, Grogu is tiny. This one seems particularly small, and he has but one joint - at the neck. The body has uniquely posed figure that may share tooling with the Incinerator Trooper's Grogu, but as Walmart has still not shipped me mine I can't be sure. I can say this is different than the other ones just because there's less articulation. One joint is not really great, and Hasbro's decision to charge a lot for him in packs as a bonus accessory (or as a figure on his own) is kind of troubling in spots. But, he sells. He sells as collectible figures with multiple series, he sells as plush, as dolls, as statues, as action figures, as magnets, Grogu is this century's E.T. - but successful.

It's funny that I have at least two unopened 3 3/4-inch The Vintage Collection Grogu figures in my house (Spiders, the Razor Crest one) and at least two on pre-order. The Kenner-style one scratched the itch - but these are more accurately scaled. This figure has pink ear interiors, black eyes, and not much else. It's kind of criminally expensive for a slug accessory that's slightly better than what you'd get out of a gumball machine for fifty cents. There are no sculpted feet, the hands are outstretched but not jointed, and the head pops right out if you touch it funny. I see the collar and hands/sleeves are separately molded, no doubt to allow for future use of the tooling with cookies, shifter knobs, or other accessories.

The sculpt is perfect, the deco is very good, it just doesn't do much of anything - it's a teeny-tiny collectible figure. I'm a little surprised Hasbro didn't embrace Grogu as a value-add, much like a coin or a Freeze Frame. If they gave you every last variation of a 3 3/4-inch scale Grogu on a Vintage cardback with another figure for $20 - say Dr. Pershing, or The Client, or the aliens who kidnapped him in the first place - it'd sell. They could charge more for it, and it'd be a fun gimmick - especially for little green man completionists. It's a perfectly nice little figure - and I am glad they're all selling - but it would also be nice to see tooling devoted to Q9-0, or any of the dozens of awesome new major and minor aliens and droids appearing in recent shows.

I'd say this set is worth it if you missed out on Ahaoka or a previous Grogu, especially because of the included Morai. For $20, it's neat enough. But if you've already got a Grogu, you might not see the need to have this one too - despite the grabby hands, and the Force-levitated shifter knob. It's something. It's not bad. It's just that we keep circling a lot of the same characters over and over, and a little diversity never hurt nobody.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,955: August 30, 2022

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,954: Bo-Katan Kryze (6-Inch Value Figure, Black Logo Line Look)

BO-KATAN KRYZE She watch channel value
Star Wars "Dollar Store" 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F5823 No. F5828
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.00
Availability: July 2022 

Appearances: The Mandalorian  

Bio: Plastic-free packaging! (Taken from the figure's packaging. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: Not a bad figure! The sculpting for Bo-Katan Kryze appears to be derived from the same digital source as her The Black Series figure, with some changes. Many of the pockets, seams, and folds are identical. You'll notice less paint and some simplifications, like the belt is molded to the figure, the "Night Owls" symbols are molded and raised instead of painted, and that there's a lot of unpainted gray, just like The Retro Series figure. I think that was a misstep in both cases - it needs something to break it up - but other than that, this is a pretty nice example of what Hasbro can do for $5 when a super-articulated figure is $25.

If you could only pick one Bo-Katan, The Black Series does it better. The working holsters, removable helmet, silver chestplate, painted belt buckle, painted knee and shin armor, and added articulation make it a much better figure - but it also costs five times as much. For $5, this figure has swivel arms, a swivel neck, and a swivel waist - and that's it. She stands well, she looks good, and if you feel like painting her I'm sure she'd look just as good as Hasbro's higher-priced figure.

To see Hasbro make a toy at a price that seems absurdly low given the rest of their catalog is always a joy, but she does fall short in terms of functionality. She can stand with no problems - mostly. If you swing an arm forward to aim her gun, she's fine, but if both arms swing forward my sample tips forward and face-plants. A few extra minutes in the oven could probably fix the soles of her boots to not do this, but again, it's $5. This is a low-cost toy for people who will never pay $20 or $25 for an action figure, which is probably another reason why action figure collecting has resulted in fancier, higher-priced items at the expense of active kid impulse-buys. She's good enough, but not great. The helmet paint is good, the sculpt is impressive, and this might be phenomenally good custom fodder for people looking to electroplate a figure, or do a Sofubi-style custom, or to throw it at a kid to keep them away from the good stuff.

Since she has limited paint, it's easy to dismiss her - but a lot of old figures did well without a lot of paint. Kenner's 1983 Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker had a painted hand, painted face, and painted eyes - and that's it. Some of the Ewoks were unpainted save for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Hammerhead's only paint appear on his eyes. The Power Droid had painted feet, and some stickers. It's really amazing to see what they do to keep costs down, particularly when compared against to the generally colorful Kenner guys of old.

This is a nice figure for the price, but mostly I love what she represents. Could you imagine how cool it would be to have access to 3 3/4-inch Stormtroopers of a similar build for $5? There's a 6-inch Imperial Stormtrooper hitting stores now, for $5, and I haven't found any yet. I'm not saying I want all figures to be cheap, but when filling out dioramas or army-builder scenarios, sometimes a 3-5-jointed figure can fill a slot just as well as one for $25. Got $5 and nothing else to buy this week? Check her - or Mando, or one of the other ones - out. You probably won't be a convert, but this is one of the few formats I'm trying to be "complete" on and I've got everybody except Chewbacca (who I am fairly sure has never come out in the USA.) I sincerely hope they throw Boba Fett and R2-D2 in this assortment soon.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Five Below. This figure comes in a new assortment (F5823 started with plastic-free packaging in 2022, B3946 was the previous assortment form 2015-2022, which sometimes had an open window and sometimes had a plastic sheet.)

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,954: August 25, 2022

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,953: Boba Fett (Throne Room, The Black Series)

BOBA FETT
(Throne Room)

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Green Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett Packaging
Item No.:
No. F4064
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #02 - Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett
Includes: Helmet, backpack, pistol, rifle, rocket
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $31.99
Availability: July 2022
Appearances: Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Bio: One of the most fearsome and capable bounty hunters in the galaxy, Boba Fett seemingly met his demise in the Sarlacc pit. A survivor, Fett lived to fight another day. (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:
We're in a weird era for toys, where we have a figure like this Boba Fett (Throne Room) in The Book of Boba Fett packaging despite it being based on his armor appearance in The Mandalorian. This sort of thing isn't uncommon - Kenner gave us our first TIE Fighter Pilot in The Empire Strikes Back packaging, for example - but it is a little weird given there are multiple trade dress color schemes so each figure can be as specific as possible. The Book version of Boba has different boots, different pants, different damage, and other small details - but that's OK, they're going to make that one too. This figure is closest to how he looks on Tatooine in the post-credits scene, which is also pretty much how he looks when he shows up in "The Believer." It's a good figure.

It's worth noting the outfit isn't necessarily consistent from shot to shot. He has visible ammo on his belt when he's piloting Slave I on those episodes, which could mean there are other minor costume variations depending on each shot. When I compare this figure to most shots on the show, he looks great - the armor dents are more or less painted as they should be, the dents are where they should be, it's colorful in nice ways, and all that jazz. One inconsistency I small - admittedly minor - is on his helmet's left-hand side, where the tip of the rounded part over his ear doesn't have the lighter color at the top. But it does have the marks, the articulated rangefinder, and other colors where you might want them. Similarly, the head under the helmet looks beaten and weathered, although not quite as much as the man on TV. I think it's for the best.

The armor itself is pretty good and probably why this figure has an upcharge. The yellow shoulders are separately molded pieces glued into the arms, and the red gauntlets seem to be molded in red plastic as well. I am unsure if this means they have some sort of gated tooling so they can pick which color(s) are which parts, or if they have to make extra steel molds for each color - either way, there's some added production and materials expense. Deco doesn't seem any fancier than your typical $20-$25 figure, and the boots are a little bland. Some dirt or painted soles would be nice. The textures are excellent throughout, with the black bits poking out from his armor , the pants' quasi-fabric, and the painted (well, unpainted) seemingly surplus Scarif Trooper gloves. I love the fake leather belt with its gold buckle, the holster fits the pistol perfectly, and the rifle... well, it was a fight to get it in his hand. I didn't like that. I also don't like that they skipped painting the tiny metal buckles on his shoulders. Given they painted paint flecks, it would've been nice.

What I'm not crazy about is that even with the improved elbow and arm articulation, and that awesome Hammer pants joint in the knees, the figure is a bit of a challenge to hand a rifle and pose with two hands. He can do it, but it's not simple. I realize some people really do enjoy the process of fussing with a figure to get that perfect center of gravity to ensure their miniature replica from a movie is absolutely perfect, but I came into Star Wars as a child and love picking a guy up, handing him an accessory, putting him down, and having a little fun. But, this is a collector figure - kids don't get a lot of figures anymore. I assume kids might dig this one because it is incredibly cool, and had Hasbro put out a ship or a throne or some other add-on for display or play, I bet people would be very motivated to buy some more toys for Boba the Fett here.

I've been starting to trim back on my 6-inch purchases not because I don't like them, but because there's just not a lot of action to have with these figures. (Vehicles, playsets.) I'm having a great time with the 3 3/4-inch guys, but as a figure to pose on your desk and generally fuss with, if you can swallow the premium pricing, Boba Fett has a lot of fun to offer. You can take off his helmet, the rocket comes out and you can pretend to "shoot" it, the alternate sidearm is a nice bonus, and if you had a throne you could have him throw Bib Fortuna's corpse out of it. I really like the whole "I'm going to throw the armor over my Tusken pants" look, and of the many revised Boba Fett costumes we saw used in 2020 and 2021, this is my favorite. I am unsure it's going to be worth the upcharge, but it's Boba Fett, so it will likely sell well and it definitely looks cool. Get it if you like the price.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,953: August 23, 2022