Thursday, April 28, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,920: The Emperor (PulseCon/Throne, The Vintage Collection)

THE EMPEROR
Emperor's Throne Room

The Vintage Collection PulseCon Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F1267
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #n/a
Includes: Throne, backdrop, lightning, cane
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $31.99
Availability: October 2021
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Rising from the north pole of the second Death Star is a 100-story isolation tower reserved for the Emperor, from which he oversees the battle station's operations. The tower's four spokes house a throne room, Palpatines private chambers, and a vault reserved for Sith artifacts. This throne room was the site of a climactic showdown between Jedi and Sith at the Battle of Endor. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
The "just different enough to make you mad" mantra fit for figures based on this mold for a while. This PulseCon deluxe box throne room The Emperor is basically the same as the single-carded The Emperor [FOTD #2,885], but this version has a throne, a backdrop, and a new head. A better head! The superior head. But it also costs more than twice as much as the basic figure, because you're going to pay it, and it sold out, so you did. Samples on eBay go for over double the initial asking price.

For fans who buy boxed toys, I assume there's eventually a point where you just realize you're buying a box and the contents are probably irrelevant. If it looks cool, that's probably what counts - and this box looks cool. The wonderful package photography looks great with Luke and Vader (not included) dueling in front of the Emperor, and it's enough to distract you from the fact that the body for this figure has been used at least half a dozen times since its debut as an Evolution figure in 2005. The new cloth robes hide the very old (but good for the time) articulation, but they're bulky when he sits down and it doesn't look as clean as the all-plastic seated figure from a Cinema Scene from way back in 1998.

The head sculpt looks great, much more like what I imagine the character's make-up to look like. He's sitting, so there's no gnashing of teeth or snarl. He's just hanging out and making phone calls. It's what you want in a despot. The throne looks great with purple upholstery, silver and red highlights, and a rotating base. Why does it rotate? I don't know. But it does, and that's nice. The figure also includes Sith lightning and a cane in a tray under the throne.

What makes the figure set arguably worth it is a giant cardboard and plastic Death Star window plus a fold-out "diorama" in the box. It's not bad - but you're basically paying $32 for a $14 figure with a plush box. Is it worth it? Since it's a limited exclusive item, you may feel that it is. Since the head sculpt is good - and cheaper than paying someone to custom-sculpt one for your own - it's potentially worth paying for the very best. I don't grasp why they wouldn't just throw this head in the normal carded figure to get it out to as many people as possible and properly replicate the less furious face of the 1983-1985 Kenner figure, but that's me.

I wouldn't recommend him for the current secondary market prices, but if you ever see this sculpt reissued or used in a gift set at a price you can stomach? Buy it, it's a good head. The body is pretty blah, though, so perhaps Hasbro will make an all-new body some day. But it's been 17 years, so perhaps they won't.

Collector's Notes: I got mine on Hasbro Pulse.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,920: April 28, 2022

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,919: Clone Captain Grey (The Vintage Collection)

CLONE CAPTAIN GREY
Green on TV, Red in Comics

The Vintage Collection Amazon Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F2886
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #209
Includes: 3 more clones, helmet, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $62.99
Availability: January 2022
Appearances: The Bad Batch

Bio: CC-10/994, who also went by the nickname "Grey," was a Clone Captain who served in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. Assigned to Jedi General Depa Billaba, he was a Clone Commander in the general's battalion. Surviving the decimation of Depa Billaba's battalion, Grey was reassigned to a new battalion, also commanded by Billaba, along with Clone Captain "Styles." (Taken from Wookieepedia. There is no bio on the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
Over 10 years ago, back when Figure of the Day really was every day, I had a month where I basically trolled readers by doing a Clone every day. We got so many Clone Troopers that the line was basically all clones - and readership really took a dive a couple of weeks in. And today Hasbro gives us Clone Commander Grey, the TV version of the character as the trooper who made Kanan Jarrus's life awful during Order 66 was red in the comics. So maybe we'll get another one down the road. It's a good figure, but is it exciting? No, of course not. But it has a stellar face under that helmet.

A realistic interpretation of the CG-animated The Bad Batch trooper, has a darker green and less battle damage than on TV. The patterns are quite similar, though, so you'll get the stripes on the arms, the green shoulders, and the pad. The helmet does a good job replicating the pattern (but not color) from the s how, with a body that's teh same one we've been getting for about a decade. It's not bad, but it's out of date. The figure's chief highlight is the head. It's great! The hair looks good, the face paint is exceptional, and there's a decent resemblance to Temuera Morrison. I particularly love the wrinkles in the forehead and the signs of weariness around the face. I bet this would make a good Boba Fett face with less hair and more scars. It's really easy to like, and I think you'll be impressed if or when you see it up close for yourself.

Hasbro has made over 275 - probably over 300, I haven't reviewed them all - Clone Troopers since 2002. It's kind of draining. "We made the same guy again but the colors are a bit different and maybe he has different hair" is sort of soul-crushing, especially when you have a character like this who amounted to little more than a cameo in the rich tapestry of hundreds of episodes of Star Wars (with more time on comic pages... but he looked different.) In and of itself, this is a nice looking figure with cool armor and a stellar head sculpt. I just can't say that I feel much of anything now that I own it, especially after all the pre-order drama on Amazon not allowing people to place orders for several months after it launched. (Also, it got a price increase after being in stock for a few weeks and not selling out - as I write this, it shot up to $66.99 from $62.99.) It's not like this figure is bad - it's just hard to say it's worth 25% of $66.99 if you already have a healthy Clone collection. But if you don't already have dozens or hundreds of Clones, this is a good one, and one to display with the helmet off since the face is so good.

Collector's Notes: I got mine on Amazon.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,919: April 26, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,918: Baze Malbus (Photoreal Redux, The Black Series)

BAZE MALBUS
Second Edition

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Green Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Packaging
Item No.:
No. F2898
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #05 - Rogue One: A Star War Story
Includes: Belt plug-in gizmo, backpack, blaster/cape, cable
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $22.99
Availability: December 2021
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star War Story

Bio: The harsh reality of his Imperial-occupied home world has hardened Baze Malbus into a pragmatic soldier and a crack shot with his heavy repeater cannon. (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:
When it comes to reissues with improved portraits, I'm always a bit torn - on one hand, this Baze Malbus has a stunningly good portrait and it's one of Hasbro's best. On the other, Hasbro is asking you to spend another $23-$25 on more or less the same Baze Malbus from 2017 [FOTD #2,349] that offers little beyond giving you a head that actually has some life to it. His previous release had a head that was good for 2016 and 2017 - nice sculpt, everything is where it should be. You couldn't begrudge it for being pretty much as good as Hasbro could do at the time.

The new version comes to life with much more painting and shaded detail. The eyes seem to be gazing with purpose, the facial hair seems a bit more realistic, and the skin tone is much more like that of a person. If Hasbro had a bit more time in 2016, I bet they could've done a much better job the first time, but not quite as good as this one. If you're looking to buy a 6-inch Baze and you don't know which one to get, this is the one you should get. The other one? Not worth keeping around unless it's valuable to you for some reason, because the new aesthetics are what you really want.

Accessories are more or less the same, except I noticed the grey on the blaster is a bit darker and the body suit is more saturated. (More accurately, some of the parts of the 2017 Baze are more saturated - the 2021 model seems more uniform.) Articulation is the same as before, but mine did have issues getting him to pose standing up. He kept wanting to flop over.

If you simply must have the best, this is it. If you bought the original version and never gave him a second thought, consider that with the realistic face repaints, Carbonized figures, Credit Collection, and so forth, you've potentially paid several hundred dollars to re-buy different versions of characters you already own. It's inevitable with long-running properties, but even though I can't stop singing the praises of Hasbro's Rogue One rereleases in terms of realism and life, it's also about a hundred bucks to re-buy figures that I didn't really have any reason to buy again until Hasbro said "here's take two, check this out." And that makes me feel bad. But at least I now have something in my hands that I can look at and say this is so good, I have no reason to buy another Hasbro 6-inch Baze Malbus figure for as long as I live. Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,918: April 21, 2022

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,917: Elite Squad Trooper (The Vintage Collection)

ELITE SQUAD TROOPER
Not quite black, not quite clone

The Vintage Collection Hasbro Pulse / Shop Disney Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F2886
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #211
Includes: 3 more clones, 2 blasters
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $62.99
Availability: January 2022
Appearances: The Bad Batch

Bio: Elite Squad Troopers were special forces troopers who served the early Galactic Empire prior to the termination of cloning production on Kamino. (Taken from Wookieepedia. There is no bio on the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
One of very few unpunched carded vintage figures, this Elite Squad Trooper is part of an Amazon-exclusive The Bad Batch 4-pack loosely modeled after an old German exclusive package. You get a big box with 4 carded guys inside, all of which are effectively repaints/tweaks of existing figures. Since it has Rex in it, it's going to be a hit. This figure is technically not a clone, but it does wear clone armor, thus making it easy/fast to manufacture with no new tooling. That's a real time- and money-saver in this business.

Complete with glued-down helmet, this black repaint has a green visor, plus accessories. Firearms fans will enjoy a small DC-17 pistol, and a standard DC-15A blaster rifle. As always, they fit the hands just fine.

The base figure is the Clone Trooper mold we first got around 2011 with a Phase 2/Revenge of the Sith-style helmet. This is kind of funny, because that means the base mold is 11 years old. To put that in perspective, Kenner's original Star Wars figure line ran from 1978-1985, so what we consider to be the newest and best mold is, in toy industry years, positively ancient. It's still pretty good - the hip joints are a little antiquated given what we've seen as of late, and neck and shoulders are a little stiff, but he's generally thinner and looks better than his forebears. Despite not having rocker ankles, he looks pretty good! Unfortunately figures from that era weren't designed with balancing well in mind, so he may look a little awkward and stand a little funky if removed from the packaging.

Given what I assume was Hasbro's mandate - use existing tooling to make The Bad Batch action figures in a hurry - they did a good job. (Why we got 6-inch molds of the actual batch and not 3 3/4-inch, I can only speculate.) From a development perspective, this is a good figure. But it's also an army-builder, which means putting one of them in a gift set is just irritating to anyone wanting a second or third black trooper. Hopefully Hasbro will either release singles or a multi-pack of black troopers later, but given how The Vintage Collection has gone and we've only had a couple of Imperial Stormtrooper multi-packs for army builders over the course of 44 years, I wouldn't hold your breath. Just get this one now, or the 6-inch one if you prefer, because it'll probably be a long wait before they put out something else in this size. (Also the set is kind of expensive for what you get - about $15.75 per figure before tax.)

Collector's Notes: I got mine on Amazon.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,917: April 19, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,916: Imperial Stormtrooper with Pauldron (The Vintage Collection)

STORMTROOPER
with Pauldron (4-pack)

The Vintage Collection Hasbro Pulse / Shop Disney Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F5321
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 more Stormtroopers, 2 blasters
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $44.99
Availability: January 2022
Appearances: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Mandalorian

Bio: Stormtroopers are elite shock troops fanatically loyal to the Empire and impossible to sway from the Imperial cause. They wear imposing white armor. (Taken from Hasbro Pulse. There is no bio on the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
I went ahead and ordered this box of four Stormtroopers because this one was different than the other ones I had. You see, this one has an orange pauldron - but otherwise it's the same as the 2019 Imperial Stormtrooper [FOTD #2,598]. This is to say, it's more production of the best version of the trooper we've seen released thus far, but what may be a slightly better one is up for Walmart's future exclusivity. But for now? This is good.

Four of this figure is packed in a box - one has a pauldron, three do not. This one has iffy mouth paint on my sample, but it's otherwise a pretty great trooper. Check out the articulation - it's good! He can move well. The wrists have extra joints, he can hold his blasters, the soles of his shoes are painted, and you pretty much get everything you could want on a clean white Stormtrooper other than a holster or even more gear. It meets all requirements, and it's nice to have a slightly different trooper to add to your Disney-era armies.

The classic Stormtrooper blaster has the added extra scope thing on all the Disney-era blasters, but lacks the painted silver element of the previous single-carded trooper. It's just black. The longer rifle is just a longer rifle - perfectly good, and a nice bonus.

If you want more Stormtroopers, and they become available again, you should buy this set. Even if you don't like the pauldron, you can pop it off - but I like it. Back in the 1990s, Kenner customizers would make Sandtroopers with just the pad - usually they have more ammo pouches and backpacks in the films, but in the era of VHS and little to know reference materials, most fans didn't think to build them out. As such, this is sort of retro, but more accurately, this is how some troopers looked on Rebels and subsequent OT-era movies. Minus the lenses, which tend to be known to be green now, and this one is black. As such, if you're looking for the best version of the Stormtrooper as you may remember it, this is probably it. But if you have that recent The Vintage Collection figure and don't care if you missed a shoulder pad, then you can skip it. I just assume everyone wants more troopers so I'd nudge you to get it if life permits.

Collector's Notes: I got mine at Hasbro Pulse. As of my writing this, it's sold out, but it's been available and not available several times over the past year.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,916: April 14, 2022

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,915: R6-D3

R6-D3
Surprise, New Dome

Droid Factory The Mandalorian Boxed Set
Item No.:
No. n/a
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: 3 more droid figures
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $44.99
Availability: December 2021
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy. Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors. These four are featured in Star Wars: The Mandalorian. This is the way... for you and your Droids! (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:
This one is a bit of a mystery - I held off opening it last because R6-D3 looks like nothing special at first glance. I assumed it was a white R2 dome with gold highlights. Then just an R6- but it turns out it's a new sculpt! The shape is different. The "pie slices" are gone at the top, instead you'll see a blank canvas except for a motivator and some grime. Neat. The head itself is closer to that of R2-D2, with a big eye and panels much more in line with classic movie astromechs than the new model. It's easy to see how some could mistake this for a rehash of the same R6 droids we have seen for nearly a decade, but it's a new head. Rejoice! There are also a lot of silver patterns around the dome, giving it an unquestionably distinctive look.

The silver and gold coloring look good, and the deco extends to the body. While the dome is new, the body and legs are pretty much what you've seen for years and may have one or two of. Or three, or four. Or 200. You know the drill - no foot wires, limited leg deco, but surprisingly ornate body paint. Nearly all the gold panels on the back are filled in, while the front is largely gold-filled with some dirt and grime for good measure. My sample has some paint alignment issues, but the design they tried to do is, in theory, good. You should probably make it a point to seek this one out in person if health/safety/personal preference allows just to be sure yours is a bit more aligned than mine. Or maybe you can just pretend that the entire marketing department of Industrial Automaton was first against the wall when the revolution came, and has already been punished for their paint crimes.

You may have noticed we made it this far with no mention of where he appears on the show. I have no idea. Sadly I did a rewatch just before it showed up and I'm not inclined to re-rewatch two seasons to find him, and neither Wookieepedia nor a basic web search point to the specific on-screen appearance of this one. As such, I can say it matches the photo on the box, and is a neat design in its own right. I really do like the pattern/lettering, new dome, and color choices - if this was just a new droid for the sake of a new droid, I'd say it's a good one. Is it truly authentic? Who knows. Was it memorable enough to deserve a figuer? Clearly not - but sometimes you just buy something because it looks cool, and this one certainly qualifies.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from my pal Shannon. Thanks, Shannon!

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,915: April 12, 2022

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,914: RC-1138 Boss (Gaming Greats, The Black Series)

RC-1138 (Boss, Gaming Greats)
The Black Series 2020 Line Look Blue Star Wars: Gaming Greats GameStop Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F2869
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #07
Includes: Backpack, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: June 2021
Appearances: Republic Commando

Bio: Republic Commando introduced the elite Delta Squad, a team of clone commandos dispatched to handle the most dangerous missions for the Republic. (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: I feel that now - especially now - the high amount of repaints, reissues, and slightly retooled figures just leaves me complaining to you guys. And that's not what I want. I got into this hobby because I like toys, and while this one isn't exactly a wild kid's toy RC-1138 (Boss) is a pretty solid action figure. As I predicted - heck, any of you predicted - when Hunter came out, this figure borrows a lot of parts from Clone Force 99, the bad Batch. You can look at Hunter [FOTD #2,787] and it's easy to see just how much of the figure can be reused - and indeed it was.

Boss is effectively Hunter with no knife sheath anew a new head, and of course new deco. All the great sculpted cracks and dents are there, you get a whole mess of new dirt and damage, and the orange-on-white armor is pretty much what you picture in your head from the game, toys, and other appearance. The metallic blue visor is there, there's no human head under the helmet, the backpack is great, and the blaster is a smidgen on the small side. But it looks good. Articulation is still fairly excellent, and he has little problems standing or being posed - but the knees do click a bit.

I particularly like the battle-damage, in that it seems slightly different in size and placement on the two figures I compared side-by-side. The little splotches and scuffs seem unique, possibly hand-painted in spots, which means it's worth your while to eyeball him if you luck into seeing one in stores. (I assume/hope this one just sold out to pre-orders, it's too good to warm pegs.)

While it's easy to dislike a repaint, it's just as easy to like it when it's exactly what you want. And this is what I want! I ordered Fixer and look forward to Sev and Scorch. The bulky design clearly takes a nod from the then-new Halo Master Chief character, and is a pretty swell example of Star Wars taking at least some of its design influence from contemporary popular culture. If you like the game, you should get this figure. I have barely played the game, I just like the designs so much that I couldn't pass this up. No real notes. Hasbro nailed it. May they reissue him until demand is met.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from GameStop.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,914: April 7, 2022

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,913: Battle Droid (The Vintage Collection)


BATTLE DROID
Red Redux

The Vintage Collection Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F5865
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #216
Includes: Antenna, backpack, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $13.47
Availability: March 2022
Appearances: Clone Wars
Bio: Battle droids are dim-witted and no match for clone troopers or Jedi, but they weren’t designed to be smart – they were designed to overwhelm through sheer numbers (Taken from the web site. There is no packaging copy.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: When fans clamored for more The Vintage Collection in 2017 before its reintroduction in 2018, I don't think this Battle Droid was what they had in mind. We've previously had this mold in a few colors - including a Battlefront red edition - so bringing it back in a slightly more saturated red with minimal paint and no battle damage is less of a "finally!" and more of a "eh."

The figure itself is nothing new - it can crouch down to be loaded in that MTT you forgot to buy when it was on clearance. The ankles are jointed, you've got your choice of antenna pack or backpack with antenna, but thanks to the thin limbs he's going to fall over without added upper-body support. The elbows bend, the shoulders have a little give to them, but if you want to mount the blaster to the backpack, you're out of luck.

With the only paint on the figure being its black eyes, it's not a stretch to be able to applaud Hasbro for accurately recreating Genndy Tartakovsky's excellent cartoon styling. The droids in the cartoon are clean and red - and this figure applies that deco to the 2012 The Vintage Collection Battle Droid mold with no thought for improvements or enhancements. A little silver on the antenna would be nice, but it's just bare plastic. Conversely, the blaster barrel has some extra silver on the tip which wasn't on the cartoon. Why? I have no idea. But it does look nice.

Over the last 23 years, we've seen lots of new changes made to the Battle Droid mold, but the 1999 originals seem to be sturdiest and offer quite a bit of playability. Sure, you can't pivot the shoulders or move the ankles, but they were a bit easier to keep standing and it was nice to plug the blasters in the backpack. I applaud Hasbro's cleverness in squeezing another line of repaints out, but it's also kind of hard to get excited about a second red Vintage Battle Droid in less than a year when there are reissues that are still in demand like Revan or the like. But hey, it's still a nice batch of figures and they'll go great with the 2008 The Legacy Collection wave 2 what with its Quarren Soldiers and Quad Cannon Clone Troopers. Hasbro certainly seems to be putting together a line for fans who are with it for the long haul, but given the last emphasis on this micro-series was around 2008... that's more patience than most fans should be expected to have. I'd say get this droid if you're in need of more robots, but I'm guessing mine is about 30 minutes from winding up on a shelf I won't touch for years.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 2,913: April 5, 2022