Thursday, January 19, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,996: Grand Inquisitor (The Black Series)

Nobody Expects the Imperial Inquisition

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Blue Obi-Wan Kenobi Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F4361
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #09 - Obi-Wan Kenobi
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2022
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Bio: Obi-Wan Kenobi is set years after the dramatic events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where Kenobi faced the corruption of his friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker turned Sith Lord Darth Vader. (Taken from the packaging. About 25% of the package back is wasted on translating this nothing burger in six languages.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

I increasingly feel that the line is on something of an auto-pilot. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's both. With figures like this Grand Inquisitor, you get a surprisingly good figure of a surprisingly bad character (and poor live action redesign.) Hasbro did a boffo job painting his costume to look like the TV show, mostly, but what you're getting is triple generation loss. The Star Wars Rebels design lost a bit jumping to live-action in Obi-Wan Kenobi, and then Hasbro probably was working from an earlier design when translating the make-up to a toy. The end result is a nicely engineered figure with some exquisite design choices and very good joints that leaves me ice cold.

I'm sure this sounds hypocritical - after all, I like a good Kenner-style figure and those are frequently off-model and off-base. But that's the charm - they're meant to look like half-baked toys done on a budget with little to no reference, while a collector-aimed $25+ 6-inch action figure should be a near-perfect translation of what we saw on the screen - and it should be a good choice, given how scattered character choices are these days. Many of the costume elements come straight from the cartoon - and that's what you want. In a very superficial sense, you get some severe eye make-up, black armor, a gray body suit, a double-bladed lightsaber, and a vibe that reads as The Star Wars-era previsualization artwork. It's hard to not see this as something that could have been an alternate suit for a non-masked Darth Vader - the black armor looks cool, the gloves are nice. There's no gloss on the figure, but you do get some silver highlights and that Grand Inquisitor rank pin. The thigh armor is sculpted in a way that doesn't hinder leg movement - gold star to Hasbro for that - and all the joints seem to move freely. It's not stiff like so many 6-inch figures, and everything seems to have a smooth - but not loose - movement. When you pose the legs, the knees are buttery-smooth and everything just seems to work easily without a weird fight where a piece is a millimeter in the wrong direction due to parts tolerances. You can get some good poses out of this guy thanks to an abundance of well-disguised joints and nicely jointed shoulders. Hasbro took what I assume was an official Disney 3D model and sliced it up like a champ.

Unfortunately for Hasbro, Lucasfilm redesigned a familiar face and did so poorly. The long Utapauan heads have been reduced to standard human length, and it is not flattering. The Rupert Friend costume shoulders have lost the Imperial cogs, which I admit do look a little silly, but I'm OK with silly sometimes. The character's eye makeup has been greatly desaturated and there's barely any evidence of the more vibrant red on the animation model's forehead and around his eyes. His "tears" were greatly toned down, and the cartoon's piercing yellow eyes are absent, with a less-exaggerated neck and collar. Much like the character's role on the TV show, Lucasfilm sucked the coolness right out of the character - and added a goofy cape to boot. But it's an interesting cape, with a red lining, and it hangs of the shoulders in an unusual way. I don't know if it translated perfectly well to a figure, but it's distinctive. It's interesting to look at.

Hasbro didn't do a great job translating the head. The color seems off, the eye make-up looks more like German theatrical stage make-up - much more severe than the live-action look. The plastic color absorbed the ridges in the skull, making a weak design look weaker. I don't doubt Hasbro could've been working from a pixel-perfect 3D scan, but the plastic color absorbs some of the texture and it's just a very white bald man with off-color skin. If you saw this at Comic-Con you'd gush over the armor, and maybe just trail off about the face. It's just not great, and since it's a rotten interpretation of a character in the story, I assume this guy will be marked down online pretty quickly if he isn't already.

The lightsaber is weird - the double-bladed one is molded in gray and not painted silver, which is a weird strike. The pegs do help you position his hand in the right place to hold it, but there are no places to mount it on the figure body so they are more annoying than helpful in getting his hand around the weapon.

It's a frustrating figure. I won't lie to you, I wanted to hate it because the character on the show was a twerp. Hasbro did an A+ job making a costume that looks good and is jointed well, and probably gave us a C- head and a B- lightsaber. Were Hasbro to reissue this figure with better paint down the road, I bet it could be an easy A- or A overall. Hasbro and their factories did a largely good job translating what they were given, but when you have a character return with a worse performance there's only so much you can do. If we see Grand Admiral Thrawn show up on live-action Star Wars but he's played by Wallace Shawn, that would be... actually I think I would quite enjoy that. Disney, get on it.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,996: January 19, 2023


seb said...

You can mount the lightsaber hilt! There are peg holes in the box on his upper back :)

MisterPL said...

I know this character gets a lot of grief because his species doesn't look like the Pau'ans we saw in AOTC. However, my Uncle Mike is no Denzel Washington either. If humans can vary from Seth Green to Shaquille O'Neal, I'll give this inquisitor a pass.