Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,011: Mara Jade (The Black Series)

So is she coming to Disney+ now?

The Black Series Publishing - Shared Exclusive
Item No.:
No. F7001
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, lightsaber
Action Feature: Blaster fits in holster, lightsaber hangs on belt
Retail: $27.99
Availability: February 2023
Appearances: Dark Horse Comics

Bio: Mara Jade was once Emperor Palpatine's hand, his most trusted assassin. Five years later and now a successful smuggler, the last thing Mara expected was to stumble on her former arch-eneemy, Luke Skywalker.. (Taken from the box flap.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Pretty good, but there were some shortcuts taken here. When Hasbro put out Jaina Solo and a previous version of Doctor Aphra, I said to a friend of mine "they're totally going to make a Mara Jade from this eventually." It took a few years, but here we are! You can see the molded SKU for Jaina on Mara's foot, and she's basically the same figure with a new head and different arms. (And those lower arms are probably the same as the original Doctor Aphra.) While the higher price tag on the figure is insulting - being charged a $3 premium for a retool is increasingly insulting - the decision to make this figure in this manner makes all the sense in the world.

For those just wanting the very best Mara Jade figure, this is a lateral move. Hasbro can reuse Expanded Universe bodies even when it's not a perfect fit, because there's plenty of wiggle-room in artistic interpretation of a lot of these costumes. The dark blue suit, the tall black boots, the sleeveless top, the holster... they're all here. The ribbing on the thighs of the pants are gone, as are frequent depictions of unique knee pads, but this is a figure where Hasbro threw in a newly-tooled harness and a scarf/goggle combo platter and said "close enough?" and starved fans that haven't seen a new Mara Jade figure in nearly ten years will unite with one voice and shrug, saying "Sure, why not." The dated double-jointed knees are showing their age and the spindly legs don't help keeping her upright terribly easily, but they certainly look close enough. The reused Doctor Aphra gloved hands work fine. The reused holster is arguably more Mara-y than expected, so that's good too. Her costume is a perfectly acceptable interpretation of what we've seen before in Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising and other Zahn-derived works.

The head seems to be new - I think. The hairstyle is a massive improvement over Hasbro's last attempt, with decent face paint and a look on her face that isn't goofy. I think Hasbro did a really nice job here. The hair may be a little too dynamic, a little too perfectly flowing, but they're basing her on comics and not a real person. So why not? It's striking, at least.

Ms. Jade's accessories are phoned in - the lightsaber hilt is reused from Jaina Solo, and so is the blaster. Previous releases of 3 3/4-inch Mara figures tended to have more specific blasters and some had more distinctive lightsaber hilts. If this were a 3 3/4-inch figure in a repaint/retool wave for under $10, I wouldn't be complaining - but Hasbro used to make a big fuss over how The Black Series were premium, collector-grade, definitive takes on these guys so shortcuts like these are upsetting. Especially at $28. Hasbro can (and does!) make 100% new figures for $28 so better weapons aren't exactly a lot to ask for here.

Having said that, this is the best/only Mara Jade you can buy, and $28 isn't that much more than you've been spending on basic figures. Heck, repaints of figures you already have as exclusives cost this much, so from that perspective this is one of the better overpriced repaints/retools on the market today for Star Wars fans to buy. If you don't compare her to reference materials, she's great - she looks like you remember, her articulation is good, the colors feel right, the head is nice, and the accessories aren't bad. But is she the best Hasbro can make with current technologies? Are her accessories perfect? No. If this is the only one Hasbro ever makes, I'd say grab it and be happy. If a better version comes along, I hope at least they really knock it out of the park because the only thing worse than a $3 premium for a retool is asking us to buy a complete second upgraded figure again later.

In terms of "wild speculation," I also assumed this meant (or may mean) Mara Jade will show up on a TV show this year. I heard about Krrsantan early and went "hunh what an odd choice" before he showed up on The Book of Boba Fett. The Disney era of Star Wars seems to rely on using existing tools and existing characters a lot, deploying a "retro" version of a beloved character around the time a new one hits your screens so they can capitalize on existing demand while creating more for a newer, more accurate version. And for full disclosure I am present unaware of any confirmed appearances or rumors of Mara showing up on cartoons or live action series.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,011: March 14, 2023

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