Thursday, June 1, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,034: Mon Mothma (Senator, The Black Series)


The Black Series 2023 Closed Box Line Look The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F5530
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #07 - Star Wars: Andor
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: April 2023
Appearances: Star Wars: Andor

Bio: In an era filled with danger, deception, and intrigue, Cassian Andor embarks on a path that will turn him into the rebel hero who will challenge the evil Galactic Empire. (Despite being a legacy character who has been around for 40 years, Lucasfilm did not deem it worth writing anything involving that this is a character with her own agency on the box.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Sometimes you just wonder if there's serious contempt for action figure fans in an office building out there somewhere. It's not that Senator Mon Mothma is a terrible figure. She has a great head sculpt, the costume has excellent detail, and her articulation shows a lot of work went into her. It's just that someone, somewhere, forgot to mention that Mon Mothma action figures usually don't do great business and a figure that sees no action, with no accessories, and whose costume prevents most of that articulation from being used is probably going to prove ultimately problematic for sales. Mere weeks after release, sold auction listings on eBay were about $21 shipped - that's a sign of a problem. New figures are generally desirable and in short supply, when there's instant abundance you know that a problem could be brewing for the line, and in this case I don't think you can blame the plastic-free packaging.

Waves like this make me want to advocate for reducing The Black Series to only the top-tier face-in-the-poster characters for new shows and movies, and the most popular stuff from older shows. Cad Bane? Makes sense, and I hope he sells. But even popular characters like Luthen Rael - well, allegedly popular - can be bought on eBay already for $28 shipped, or less. Nobody's making money with prices that low once eBay's fees are paid, especially after you take the shipping box and actual shipping fee into account. These are not bad figures, but they're not fun, and like Indiana Jones the drop-off from the main character to the rest of the cast is pretty severe. It's also very possible in a few years, these will be sought-after collectibles after they're dumped and collectors realize nobody bought them.

Let's start with the good. Be it Hasbro or Lucasfilm, some sculptor provided an amazingly good sculpt with one of Hasbro's better faces. From some angles she looks a little like Gillian Anderson, but generally she looks like Genevieve O'Reilly. I assume we'll see even better face printing some day, but by today's standards she's a winner The eyebrows and hair color may not be perfect, but you can tell who it is. You're not left going "Well I guess it looks like Han Solo but I don't know if it's Harrison Ford," it's clearly the actress from Andor. The texture on her outfit is great, and the wrist and elbow joints work very nicely. The collar on her shirt is jointed and everything seems pretty well-hidden by her dress. In many respects, you have got to give it to Hasbro for making a figure with minimal paint yet somehow evoking multiple layers of fabric with nifty metal jewelry to boot. Her brooch looks excellent, as do her earrings. It's subtle, and my sample seems to be painted well. That's incredibly important during this weird interim plastic-free packaging area.

From the waist up, this figure is expressive and emotes well with her arms and head. You can get subtle nods with her head, and the hands move without much of a fight in her massive sleeves. And then the problems start. The figure has no waist articulation, and I honestly think they may have been better off going full "salt shaker" or "chess piece" here. She has hip joints. It looks like she has a thigh swivel. There are bend-and-swivel knees and rocker ankles. And you can't move most of them. My sample looks like the leg was assembled rotated strangely, and it's difficult (or for me, impossible) to get my fingers to swivel the upper leg in position, which results in leaning. More importantly, each of those pieces requires tooling and assembly, despite the fact they're functionally useless. All she can do is stand - which is one of the reasons I've been increasingly disinterested in The Black Series. Getting them to balance right can be tricky, but with no vehicles or playsets their sole purpose tends to be merely to serve as a collectible. In the box or on the shelf, you buy it, look at it, put it down, and that is the extent of your interaction with the product. If you have alternate heads or accessories, at least you can fidget with them a bit - but they're never going to go on any adventures, they will not inspire you imagination, all you can do is say "wow, they did a great job painting her!" and then go about your day. And, of course, you can pick her up if she should fall over because the ankle joints are a little weird. She has fallen over at least twice while I write this review.

She has no gear, nor should she. She wields vast sums of money and conspiratorial whispers - neither of which are compelling toy accessories, and that's where this figure continues to struggle to find a reason to exist in this format. She doesn't interact with any of the other figures released from this line in their current outfits (yet, anyway.) She has no cool accessories, antiques, or other curiosities from the show which could pad out the box to make the mostly-empty container seem worth $25. Again, that's not really Hasbro's fault, but they could have put a second Luke Skywalker in the case and made a heck of a lot more money here while making a lot of fans happy. If this wave hits stores in a big way, I assume she's going to be languishing on pegs for a long time. (And don't say it's not a problem - I know a Walgreens that still has 2015 Finns on the pegs.)

Luke, Din, and maybe the HK-87 droid should sell just fine. The rest of the wave will most likely be selling for below cost this summer and next to impossible to give away later this year. (Cassian was previously sold with a droid last year, which didn't sell out and was offered through other outlets.) I think Hasbro did their absolute best with Mon Mothma, with a character who was played well and given a performance that was tense and impossible to look away from, but that doesn't matter when your audience wants helmeted bad guys and weird monsters and beeping robots. You can try to appeal to actual four-year-olds and inner-four-year-olds' sense of a more adult show, but it's not going to get you merchandise sales. Normally I would say "get her at full price," but looking at the market as it is today? I am confident you can wait for a sale unless Hasbro destroys a portion of its inventory. Whatever the market is for these, Hasbro will probably have made too many which is kind of a shame. (And while I would have preferred a Retro wave of these characters, I freely admit I don't think they would have sold well either.)

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,034: June 1, 2023

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