Thursday, April 18, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,126: The Mandalorian (The Book of Boba Fett, The Retro Collection)

THE MANDALORIAN Kenner Take Three
The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6874 No. F8563
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Darksaber, blaster, cape
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.99
Availability: December 2023
Appearances: Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection features design and detailing inspired by the original 1970s Star Wars figures and features original figure design and detailing! Continue your collection from a galaxy far, far away. (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! 

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: I was rewatching The Book of Boba Fett last year, and much like anything that came out after 1983 it's something of a guilty pleasure. Episode 5, "Return of The Mandalorian," remains a favorite and I caught myself smiling constantly while watching the unusual protagonist infiltrate a butcher shop, hang out on a ring planet, duel for his honor, build a new car with Jerri Blank, and outrun Appa driving an X-Wing. That's a spectacular hour of television, and to honor it, Hasbro brought back a figure and swapped out an accessory. This new figure has the Darksaber from 2021's Moff Gideon [FOTD #2,821] replacing the Amban rifle from The Mandalorian [FOTD #2,941] from 2022. Considering both figures sell for under retail price now, it will not surprise you that I consider Hasbro blowing one of its precious slots on this to be a massive waste of resources. We could have a Remnant Biker Scout or maybe R5-D4 or something we didn't already own. But I've never seen this wave of The Retro Collection The Book of Boba Fett figures in a store, so does it matter?

It's good. If you have the previous figure, it's the same figure. He's got the same basic detail, and he looks just as good. It would be great to see a shinier, lighter silver armor paint variant, or perhaps a vac-metal take on the figure. The coloring is a little drab, and had they thrown in the Beskar Spear or some other extra I would probably encourage absolutely everybody to buy it. I assume he'll sell if he makes it out to shelves in the wild. The figure's head swivels nicely, the cloth cape hangs a little awkwardly, and all four limbs swing forward nicely. He has the same SKU mark as the previous release, but such is life. Half of this wave is corner-cutting with a variant Tusken, Grogu with a backpack, and Luke with one less accessory.

While he doesn't have a holster loop for blaster storage, Mando does have a sculpted-on rocket pack. He also fits in The Vintage Collection N-1 Starfighter, but it's a tight squeeze.

I complain, but I assume the reuse of parts was done to get the line made. Reusing existing tooling saves money, and having a The Book of Boba Fett wave of Kenner figures - even if it's missing Pelli Moto or a Boba Fett with his post-Hammer pants phase - is still something of an unthinkable miracle. The sculpting is a little soft, but he still looks like something Kenner might have sold us in the late 1980s had Star Wars not burned out in a blaze of $1.00 Droids and Ewoks cartoon figures at Kay-Bee Toys. It pushes my nostalgia buttons, but it's also completely redundant if you've been collecting these as you probably swiped Gideon's Darksaber and handed it to Mando as soon as you had the figure.

While some nonbelievers may disagree, the original Kenner line is what brought most of us here. Hasbro can make fancier, more expensive figures, but they're not always as fun. This is fun. And if you don't already have Mando in a Kenner format, you really ought to snag one. But if you're a carded collector, go ahead and get 'em all.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  I have yet to see any of this wave in a store.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,126: April 18, 2024

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,125: Count Dooku (The Vintage Collection)

COUNT DOOKU
It's Been a While

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6878 No. F9973
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #307
Includes: Alternate lightning hand, hilt, full lightsaber
Action Feature: Swap left hand with Force lightning hand, plug lightsaber in belt
Retail: $16.99
Availability: March 2024
Appearances: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Bio: Once a Jedi trained by Yoda, Count DOoku became disillusioned with the Jedi Order and thirsted for greater power - ultimately leaving the light side and becoming Darth Sidious' disciple, Darth Tyranus. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

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!

Commentary:
Not every wave is a delight, as Count Dooku (a new figure and I believe the first new 3 3/4-inch one since 2010) came in a wave with Finn, Cassian Andor, and a Clone Trooper, which is the kind of mix that just feels sort of disrespectful given their low secondary market prices. But we'll get to them later - for now, let's focus on the good. When inspired, Hasbro still makes the very best figures money can buy, even when they could probably have gotten away shipping an old one again with minimal modifications. Since they started rethinking articulation and face deco, we've been getting a parade of excellent "classic" characters from the Pre-Disney era. New sculpts don't disappoint, and Hasbro has found some improvements in fabric and articulation too.

This figure is one of the best. While not a fun toy, anyone looking to add him to a carded figure collection or any sort of diorama display is going to be in love.

If you bought and are not triggered by my invoking Lando Calrissian from 2021 [FOTD #2,870], you may recall that is also a good figure that had one of Hasbro's greatest capes. It's a thin, one-layer affair with lining that makes you go "wow, how'd they do that?" Count Dooku also has the dark brown cape with a nice light tan lining, and it's thin. It hangs well too - it's possible to "pose" it a bit if you fold it just right, giving him a dynamic silhouette that seems to defy physics. A silver string holds it together, and its only shortcomings are a lack of the two round metal bits that hold the costume cape in place. I assume they'll figure out how to pull that off next time, and there's room for improvement around the neck - but at this scale, I think it's safe to say this is dang near perfect.

His accessories are sensible - you get a lightsaber hilt that plugs in his belt, and does so without a fight. The lightsaber fits in his hand easily, and you can swap the right hand for one that shoots out Sith blue Force Lightning. Other than including that "motion blade" from The Black Series Count Dooku [FOTD #2,678], which I would love to see more of at this scale, I can't really ask for much more in the way of gear.

The figure itself is also great, with an excellent tiny portrait that makes the most out of multi-color hair and teensy face paint. While his hair and beard are a smidgen grayer than whiter, at this scale, I think it's fine. His eyes are a little glossy, with subtle forehead wrinkles and a dour expression. We've had so much gradual improvements that I assume most fans will just dismiss it, but compared to the 2010 Count Dooku [FOTD #1,426] it's utterly amazing. Hasbro has come an incredibly long way in human head sculpts for movies that are not the original trilogy, but maybe we'll see some massive improvements as new ones start to ship. I don't know how anyone can look at this figure's head and not go "wow." It's remarkable, and of course, there are lots of reference materials from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings including 3D objects and probably a trove of Gentle Giant head scans. Whoever did the work here, they're awesome, and deserve a pat on the back.

Count Dooku's costume and body are great. Well, they're as great as modern figures can be, with a little hinge on the swivel wrist, rocker ankles, and lots of places to make little subtle movements. The elbows don't quite bend as much as I would like, but that's probably OK given how I will be posing him. He stands well, and while you can swing the legs forward it is worth noting his "skirt" does tend to get in the way a tiny bit. It will bend forward, but I am worried about bending any kind of plastic long-term like that lest it break some day. Cloth doesn't necessarily look better, so for now I would say that this figure was engineered as well as it can be if you want it to have the kind of ball-and-socket hip articulation everybody absolutely loves thees days.

I was very fond of the previous Count Dooku figures Hasbro did, which were generally either priced well and often included fun action figures or cool accessories. Heck, a lot of them were even shining examples of articulation and sculpting in their day - but it has been almost 14 years since the last new examples of the character in this size, so I'm glad to see Hasbro take another at-bat. I'd go as far as to say I'd like to see them try again on a number of prequel figures, but it looks we have to choke down the vegetables that are The Acolyte Jedi first. (Memo to future haters: the show hasn't even aired yet and the costumes are drab and boring. I hope I adore the show, I'll probably like it, but I digress.) If you get a shot at this figure, buy it. Yes, even for $17. It's a good figure and it's worth supporting Hasbro when they turn out exceptional work like this.

Collector's Notes: My copy got two identical upper arms - I'm seeking a replacement, but it's still quite good as a figure even with the defect. I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,125: April 16, 2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,124: Saw Gerrera (The Black Series)

SAW GERRERA
Really, Really Cheap Now

The Black Series 2020 Window Box Line Look Rogue One Packaging
Item No.:
No. F4065
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #10 - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Includes: Blaster, cane
Action Feature: Breathing mask, working holster
Retail: $33.99
Availability: October 2022
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Gererra is bunkered on the ancient world of Jedha, coordinating a prolonged insurgency against the Imperial occupations, his ailing health does little to wither his resolve to fight. (Taken from the box packaging.)

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!

Commentary:
Nobody cared about this Saw Gerrera figure. I've seen them at or below $3 - for a deluxe The Black Series figure. Mine sat at the floor of my desk since it arrived in 2022, I just never felt a need to crack the box open - heck, I'm only opening it now in 2024 because it's arguably the most interesting figure within reach. It's kind of amazing to take a step back on the last few years and see that nearly every deluxe price point figure hit a wall - fans said "nope!" and Hasbro made them in quantities big enough that distribution was, for once, not a problem. This figure was also released after what I would believe to be the peak in COVID toy hoarding, which seemed to be over by the end of Summer 2022. The excess builds of that era are still being felt at big box stores and deep discounters, with stuff that amazingly has still not sold. This has nothing to do with the quality of the product - there are a limited number of collectors (or "fans" as the biz keeps calling them, which I think means the eye is off the ball) because there aren't a lot of people clamoring for a figure from a then-six-year-old movie. And it's a nice figure.

At $33.99, fans have high expectations. Hasbro came close to meeting them! The figure doesn't have that much more going on in the way of parts and pieces, but there are straps, a breathing mask with tube, a working holster, a plastic cape, and a ot of paint. But it looks like "deluxe" now means "slightly beefy," "popular enough to break out of the assortment," or "this one probably costs a smidgen more to make than a typical bottom-of-the-budget figure." As of this figure's release, its price means it was a whopping nine dollars higher than a then-typical $25 base 6-inch figure. It's better than a typical figure, but that's a lot of money for things like his many colors of teal on his armor, his awesome retro silver rings on his arms, and a very nicely decorated and sculpted Forest Whitaker head. The little ridges on every strap, the tiny wrinkles and scars on the eyes, the vents and creases in the outfit, someone put their heart and soul into making sure that the sculpt was good, and also that the tooling in China represented that level of detail in the final product.

The paint masks, not so much - but the sculpting is incredible. The head has subtle scarring and really nice hair, proving the persons behind the figure ensured that there was a strong design for Hasbro to work with. The problem is that we didn't get $9 worth of paint on this guy. It's impossible to look at the sculpt and not be awed by the level of detail on his armor, with a robot foot, a sandal with exposed fleshy foot, a nicely sculpted cape, hoses, a mask with clear plastic, and a lot of nicely integrated articulation. If we were leaked an unpainted test shot I'm sure we'd all have just gone "Wow, this is going to be amazing!" plus or minus a level of indifference for Rogue One at the time of its release. Sure, Andor was getting a lot of praise but it did little to elevate the character or the movie on which it was based. As a group, we have no attention span, so fans just ignored this one and you didn't hear a lot of complaints about the lack of white or gray in his hair or beard, or the many unpainted buttons on his gauntlet or the greeblies on the canister on his belt. It's amazingly robust looking armor, round and seemingly like something that could survive quite the blast - but the light-up elements from the movie weren't painted. There are no little green lights or other details that would have brought this figure to life. It looks like an action figure - and it is an action figure! But there has definitely been an expectation for this 6-inch line to be Hasbro's best of the best, and as time went on we saw little details shaved off and the result being perfectly nice if you're not super picky.

Given the reduced price of all the 2021 fifth anniversary Rogue One figures and the Andor figures from 2022, Hasbro probably made the right move to not spend every last penny on deco here. Fans didn't come out for him in a big way (and may have just made too many) which means that you can get this figure with real presence for your shelves for less than what a fast food combo meal costs. Customizers will see a lot of details they can upgrade if they're so inclined, and people like me who are untalented hacks can just squint at this and go "hey, they missed a spot!" At a smaller size, this level of detail would be fantastic and at the current lower price, I don't think fans would be in any position to complain about having an amazing actor in a really creative costume. 

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,1243: April 11, 2024

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,123: Paz Vizsla (Epic Hero Series)

PAZ VIZSLA New Kids Line
Epic Hero Series Deluxe Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F9949 No. G0138
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Backpack, fire gauntlet, rocket, rocket launcher
Action Feature: Rocket actually fires spring-loaded projectile
Retail: $14.99
Availability: January 2024
Appearances: The Mandalorian

Bio: A descendant of the esteemed House Vizsla, brawny warrior Paz Vizsla is protected by the strongest Beskar armor. (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!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: While I'm not crazy about what you get for the deluxe price, I can't deny Paz Vizsla is a quality figure. At $15 he's a hair under the prices for current Vintage figures - some of which have 3-4 accessories, alternate hands, and a couple of dozen joints. This figure has four accessories and five joints - the math doesn't work out. But, I will say it's about half the price of Hasbro's excellent but also pricey deluxe Vintage Paz Vizsla. There has been a pattern of many of the best characters being pulled out from basic assortments and upgraded, which I would assume aligns with what they would expect the Amazon or eBay prices of quasi-scalped figures to be. But that's a wild hunch - and it makes for a higher price point with more features, something I'm told retailers want.

You're going to lose paint applications and accessories when you do a kid line at a lower price. I'm sure Hasbro is making bank on this, but other than a lot of missing silver deco it's pretty much what I would want. The caps of his backpack are plain yellow, there's no cable to connect to his rocket-launching weapon, but other than that? This is how he should look. You can make out all the key sculpted elements, like the extra padding under his shoulder armor (unpainted), the belt (painted), the differently colored gauntlets, the yellow armor on the lower legs... most of what you want is here. Even the kama is here to cover his butt, and it's a separately sculpted piece. I had no problems getting this figure to stand with all of his gear in hand, and that's something Vintage figures can't or won't do. This is a sturdy toy that's just as deserving of the "Kenner" branding due to how it feels. If you had old Kenner toys as a kid in the 1980s or 1990s, Paz's construction will immediately feel familiar.

 He's not too bulky, or wormie. He stands easily, he sits well, and he feels like something you probably should have owned in 1996. As to the figure, the colors are brighter and the battle damage is somehow still there. You can see a bunch of dents on his helmet and chest, meaning an aspiring future customizer might take a silver Sharpie to him to fill in the missing chest silver or add some roughing-up to the greaves. But not me - I like it as it is. It is the kind of figure that comes close to what I wish we got in the 1990s, in that he's not overly buffed up and he had a cool play feature. The lack of a cable to his backpack may be seen as a loss to some fans - and I can understand why - but sometimes those things hinder posing or require a lot of fuss to get positioned properly. If the cable is too stiff, the blaster sometimes "rights" itself out of his hand - that doesn't happen here. The big rocket launcher is held over his shoulder with no problems. Granted, it's not how it was on the show, but I'm just impressed he can hold it at all without flopping over.

 His accessories are uniformly good. The backpack plugs in the hole, and serves no real function otherwise. Hasbro could have cut costs by molding it to his back, and saving some tooling costs. The wrist gauntlet has a plugged-in flame, and the entire thing is cast in clear orange plastic. I had no problems plugging it in to his left wrist hole - there's one on the right, too. The aforementioned blaster has a firing projectile that feels like it's on a delay - when I press the big orange button, it doesn't immediately launch. But it works! And rocket launchers with Hasbro Star Wars figure are a surprisingly uncommon feature. Older fans do not enjoy fun.

Given that the super fancy The Vintage Collection Paz figure is marked down at some stores, and is shockingly well-executed with separately molded armor, and shields, and all sorts of elements, that one is your best bet as a collector. It's not a lot of fun to pose, though, but it looks incredible when you get it set up and looking just perfect - and that comes with the realization that you are unlikely to touch it again, because it was a pain to get it to stand up. 

Conversely, this Epic Hero Series Paz Vizsla stands, sits, holds his gear, and does anything a traditional toy figure should do without any fussiness. I love articulation, but more than that I love stability, durability, and the ability to fit in some vehicles. The Vintage Collection release is utterly gorgeous... but this is the one I'm going to play with. I doubt I'll convince many of you of the surprising reality of these toys as good, functional toys. You know what your needs are, and if this guy ever goes on sale cheaply I recommend picking him up immediately. Even at $15, it's a more satisfying toy than a lot of the stuff I've bought in the past few years. I hope Hasbro keeps this line going and includes some of the lesser characters from the shows, like those super cool Dark Troopers from the end of last season.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,123: April 9, 2024

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,122: 3PO Protocol Droid (Red, Droid Factory)

PROTOCOL DROID Dark Red with White Eyes
Star Tours Droid Factory Customizable Figure
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Disney?
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Removable limbs
Retail: $12.95
Availability: April 2017
Appearances: n/a
Bio: The 3PO-series protocol droid was a Human-cyborg relations protocol droid produced by Cybot Galactica. The model series had very similar aesthetic design in its casing to other Cybot Galactica droid model series such as the TC-series, 3PX-series, and 5YQ-series protocol droids. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Not the same figures.
Commentary: It's red! The Red Protocol Droid is an odd duck - because he may or may not be "somebody." The figure looks a lot like R-3PO, and I dare say looks more like the illustration on Disney's carded R-3PO figure than the figure in that packaging. This dark red figure with white optics looks a lot like some of the fuzzy stills from the movie too - although figures with that name tend to get yellow optics. Which is right, which is wrong? Thanks to a lot of incorrect or fudged reference material, it seems unnecessary to make the call. Teach the controversy, and get whichever figure you think fits your collection needs best. This figure is basically just diorama filler, regardless, and I would say the same as R-3PO as a character. You've got options!

The figure is very similar to Hasbro's build-a-droid Protocol Droid buck from about 2008-2009. As Hasbro has been stingy with new C-3PO sculpts, this may well be as good as it gets - we got a new C-3PO in 2010, but it was shorter, with removable panels. This one has removable limbs. You can pop off the head, shoulders, or hips, and swap with other parts in those bins. The figure is largely unpainted, and as the customer had to package it themselves it probably could have cost less. That's the theme park souvenir business for you. It has a nice glossy finish, plus a painted midriff with colorful wires inside. There's a little black paint in the mouth and eyes, plus white circles on the head. In short, it's a nice figure.

If we lived in an alternate timeline where the Disney Store existed beyond an outlet store, it would be amazing to be able to put these together and probably would have been a way to get kids at least a little interested in action figures. Making your own figure worked for LEGO - admittedly, there are more options - but it's arguably a fun thing to do if the end goal isn't "get one of every figure." At that point it just becomes work to track down these many parts and pieces, and if Disney is reading I bet it would be easy money to sell a bucket of droid parts online. I bet there are very interested customers.

The protocol droid bins weren't around nearly as long as the astromechs, with the program seemingly coming to an end after about three years thanks to COVID-19. Maybe they'll come back some day, but given the proclivity to business to push for higher price point items? I doubt it. Right now this once-$13 figure commands about $45 on eBay when you can find one, so try to get one for less than that. I think this was one of the more interesting "standard" builds you could make, because it really does look like something from more than one of the movies. If you have a chance, why not pick one up?

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Disney Hollywood Studios. Thanks Shannon!

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,122: April 4, 2024

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,121: Morgan Elsbeth (The Retro Collection)

MORGAN ELSBETH (Kenner Style)
The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6874 No. F7303
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/s
Retail: $11.99
Availability: October 2023
Appearances: Star Wars: Ahsoka

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection features design and detailing inspired by the original 1970s Star Wars figures and features original figure design and detailing! Continue your collection from a galaxy far, far away. (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!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: Good but a few rungs short of great - but still not something I see in the stores much. Morgan Elsbeth was a surprise choice for Ahsoka, given the rich slate of antagonists and her lack of nifty toyetic gear. I'm actually surprised we got her with Marok, and not Grand Admiral Thrawn or the two not-Jedi. It's not because she isn't an interesting character, but because Thrawn is a blank check for fan funds and the two Jedi have a specific play pattern. Hasbro opted to make this witch with no gear at all - no sword of Talzin, or "just because" Beskar Spear, or something. I assume the sword was considered a spoiler, and the spear wasn't even on this series, and I assume her accessory budget just got gobbled up by Sabine's retro arsenal of 3 weapons and a helmet. But I can't prove that.

So is what we got good? It's fine. I've heard some people say that Kenner's expertise was to boil down a figure to its most crucial elements while also making it the best sculpt they possibly could. Figures like 1983 Klaatu hold up quite well, and the level of detail on a lot of those later figures are particularly stunning for the time. Morgan Elsbeth is a bit simpler, and has one of the better poses for a modern Retro figure. She has a tiny hint of a slouch, which makes her look more human than 2023's impossibly stiff Mon Mothma figure. He elbows have a bit of a bend to them, and the arms stick out a tiny bit. Her pose shows more signs of personality than a lot of other new Kennery figures, which is great. Her hair looks like it was nicely-sculpted too, and her face looks more specific to the performer than a lot of the other figures. At some angles, it's obvious who she's supposed to be - I would wager the sculptor had better reference on this one. I love how the skirt flows, even as "pants," and the top looks sort of like a cross between Jedi robes and Asajj Ventress' Bride of Frankenstein-wrapped arms. Kudos to the sculptor.


 Articulation is typical - you get 5 Kenner joints, as always. The legs swing forward so she can fit in some vehicles, but as with some other "big pants" figures she may not be able to slide past the interior blockages of a MTV-7, or ships where the cockpit is too small. Also the area of her lower waist piece may get in the way of swinging the legs forward. The legs will move, but you may need to force it a bit.

The only place this figure falls short for me is the head deco. The body is colored precisely as it should be, with flesh-painted fingers, a belt, and a silver detail. Her face lacks the key make-up details from the show. Obviously you don't get her final appearance as that would be a spoiler, but leaving off the little forehead tattoo was an unfortunate choice. If someone sold a paint mask so I could apply it, I'd spring for it. The Funko figure has it, and that's the other line where I think you can point to simplified and missing details as a design choice, and they opted to do it. The Vintage Collection Morgan has it, and it looks great. There aren't a lot of Kenner-era face tats to compare to, but I think they would've made an exception and included one for Morgan.

I like this figure a lot - I wish she had some magic clip-on green bits for her hands, or any accessory, but such is life. Unless Hasbro cut the run on this wave, I assume a lot of fans may see her somewhere some day, at markdown. I have only seen a sprinkling of the wave pop up at Target stores since last October. This is one of the better overall retro figures, even if the detail is a little soft and she's missing a key painted detail. While arguably not as exciting as a droid or a blue Imperial guy, I can't deny the sculptors nailed it and this is one of those figures that I could just as easily see being rare and expensive in a few years. Assuming there are still Kenner kids left to want her, of course. If you can find her at a good price, and if you still love Kenner, I'd recommend this one.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,121: April 2, 2024

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,120: R5-D4 (The Mandalorian, The Vintage Collection)

R5-D4
It's Sort Of Like the 2011 One You Forgot You Bought

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6878 No. F7322
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #303
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Removable limbs and dome
Retail: $16.99
Availability: October 2023
Appearances: Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Bio: A battered astromech droid, R5-D4 has had a long operational span bouncing around various owners on Tatooine for decades. Now, he resides in Docking Bay 3-5 of Mos Eisley Spaceport in Peli Motto's employ. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

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!

Commentary:
This R5-D4 comes on a The Mandalorian cardback, but is probably better in our Lars Homesteads or Sandcrawlers from the original Star Wars. It's a bit of a pill to swallow at $16.99, as somewhat similar droids were made from build-a-figure parts as far back as 2008 and 2009, as a bonus on a $7.99 figure. You, like me, may have also forgot that R5-D4 [FOD #1,607] was released in The Vintage Collection way back in 2011 for just over half the price, but without the same paint job. It is, as I have been fond of saying, just different enough to make you mad. This 2023 release lacks The Mandalorian-specific deco, but does add the missing red panels on the back of the 2011 release. So it's better, but it's not the Mando edition you want yet. If you're expecting a more old-school version of the droid, I think you'll be happy with the quality.

Get this one to open, get the 2011 one to leave carded.

Much like The Black Series one we recently got, this figure doesn't have the streaming-specific scoring burn marks for the bad motivator on the dome or the restraining bolt on the body. But it does have more and better paint overall! The blue and silver vents are painted, but there are no silver stripes on the feet. No big loss, really. The deco is, otherwise, quite similar with painted silver eyes and greeblies, the red panels and boxes, plus a nice splash of painted dirt. It's not a match for what you saw on the show, but it's better than what we got for the 6-inch scale droid.

For those who have been here too long, this droid is the same basic scale of the astromechs we got starting around 2005 to now - it doesn't use the smaller R2-D2 bodies we saw in Saga Legends during their dalliance with 5-jointed figures, nor the bar R2-D2 we got a few times since 2010. Honestly I would have liked to have seen them play with that tooling, especially if it meant we could have a pop-up motivator play feature. Hasbro is not very big on play features any more, as it seems a small number of vocal collectors are ashamed of the fact that they collect toys and mustn't have fun with their playthings. At least this version has a head you can pop off, removable limbs, and a third leg - and there are rolling wheels, too. I don't find the wheels particularly functional, as they could never roll freely across a table, but they're there if you need them.

 For those of you who have been here forever, there have been other build-a-droids with red R5 parts - like Porkins' R5-D8 droid at Toys R Us, customizable droids at Disney theme park bins, The Saga Collection R5-D4 (which got tweaked barely and put in a 3-pack with a Power Droid and Death Star Droid for Target), and many others. Most of them share these proportions and build, so if you already have a build-a-droid that looks like R5-D4, R5-SK1, or the one with the remote control, you may have something similar. Expectations are everything, and this is a good figure in what I would say is the wrong packaging. It'll sell just fine as R5-D4 is a requirement for fans of the N-1 we got last year, but it's not quite right if you want his newest look. Hasbro is the company that got us to buy dozens of versions of Darth Vader, which are basically the same, because they paid attention to movie-specific details like red lenses, or different gloves, or changes in the cape or chest lights. They are less detail-oriented with the lack of changes to R5-D4 here, but at least they made a better build-a-droid version of Skippy for your 1977 dioramas. You are absolutely not going to feel like this figure is worth the money at the suggested retail price, but it's not like a 3 3/4-inch R5-D4 has been on shelves for years.

Releases like this really make you wonder about The Vintage Collection as a whole, sometimes we just get figures reissued with the same number and updated deco, and sometimes they make basically the same figure with the same tooling again and assign it a new number. And yet, somehow, there's still no Sim Aloo Imperial Dignitary, and our Bespin Guards were made out of Han and Lando parts. Like those, this is, for now, the best that you can get. Maybe we'll see another attempt later, perhaps in a gift set, or at a theme park. It is, as so many figures are in the last couple of years, OK. Newbies should love it, lifers will ask "don't I already have this?"

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,120: March 28, 2024

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,119: R5-D4 (The Mandalorian, The Black Series)

R5-D4 A New Chassis
The Black Series 2023 Window Box Line Look The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F7045
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #33 - Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Includes: Bad motivator, 5 other accessories
Action Feature: Telescoping neck, there's a hard-to-pry-open bad motivator panel on the dome, opening red panels on the front
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2023
Appearances: Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Bio: A battered astromech droid, R5-D4 has had a long operational span bouncing around various owners on Tatooine for decades. Now, he resides in Docking Bay 3-5 of Mos Eisley Spaceport in Pelli Motto's employ. (Taken from the box packaging.)

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!

Commentary:
One step forward, one step back? R5-D4 was sold as a figure in The Black Series previously, using the original 2013 R2-D2 mold body. This uses the 2023 body, which has more opening panels, plenty of tools, and a telescoping neck - it does a lot more than the last one, but somehow, the last one is now available pretty cheaply. It seems like there's a slow exodus away from The Black Series' older releases, even though some of them are quite good - but neither R5-D4 has the clear edge. Some elements of the older figure were left unpainted - and on the new figure, different areas are left unpainted. Neither has the edge, neither is superior, although this one has more fidgety parts. But the other one has really nice shiny silver bits on the neck, and that release's eyes are painted silver, while this one is oddly molded in silver that doesn't quite match the other greeblies. In short, a repaint of this figure would be the ultimate release. But it doesn't exist.

This droid is a super-clean R5-D4. Sadly, he could benefit from dirt - the circle from where the restraining bolt used to be would be nice to have, or the burned out areas around his "bad motivator" panel. Everything here is squeaky clean, including what seem to be some scrapings sculpted around his eyes - a customizer could turn this into something really amazing. The eyes being unpainted makes the figure look a little cheap, as silver paint - which is what we've had since the first rocket-firing POTF2 figure in 1996 - has been the norm. His central leg is now completely undecorated, as are some vents on the sides of the chassis. Looking at some photos of R5-D4 from the set, the actual prop was incredibly battered and we're missing out on all of that gorgeous weathering here. In a retro context or a kid's line, it would be no big deal - but this is Hasbro's flagship collector line, its highest-price basic figure. I would really have loved a few more pennies put in deco. I could go on about how I wish the neck had reflective silver, or that the blue on the legs had a metallic shine, but really, we're just bumping into what Hasbro will do in terms of making a premium figure. $25 gets you basic - and $33 also gets you basic deco. I'm curious what it would cost to pick up something that leaves you awe-struck these days.

The figure's body is more or less the same as last year's R2-D2 [FOTD #3,087], which was pretty good and had a lot of the same areas left unpainted. R5 has a dome panel you can pop off to put in a bad motivator, the two red panels under his neck open, and the long rectangle panels on the sides open to insert any of his five arm accessories. You get datalink ports and other tools - I assume diorama builders are going to love these. I would be much happier with them if I knew what they were, or if Hasbro called out their functions on the packaging rather than give us five paragraphs of bio. The detail is good, there are little painted black and gold bits that pop just right - it's better than we'd get in the old days.

The amount of accessories and opening panels here are impressive for a modern figure, especially since the bulk of figures we get these days exist only to be posed and placed on a shelf. I like the parts and pieces, but also, we've had so many R5 figures that I was really hoping to get one with some deco specific to The Mandalorian, instead of a squeaky-clean version. If you just want a 6-inch scale R5-D4 this one is perfectly good - and arguably more fun than the previous release on a Vintage-style cardback. But that other one is cheaper, and arguably looks a tiny bit better despite being smaller. I guess the important thing is you have choices, only neither one is a clear-cut victor.

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

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,119: March 26, 2024

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,118: The Mandalorian (Epic Hero Series)

THE MANDALORIAN
New Kids Line

Epic Hero Series Basic Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F9405 No. G0099
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, Darksaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: January 2024
Appearances: The Mandalorian
Bio: The Mandalorian is a formidable bounty hunter in an increasingly dangerous galaxy. (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!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary:
I think we can all just assume whenever Hasbro makes a new scale, we're getting The Mandalorian - it just makes sense. Since the show's 2019 debut, this is the first kid-line 3 3/4-inch action figure. There have been Kenner-style figures, vehicle pack-ins, super-articulated figures galore, and a 6-inch cheapo figure, but this is Hasbro's first toy basic carded version of him aimed at kids outside of the food/drug/discount channels. While some of the figures in the mostly-yellow-and-blue Epic Hero Series packaging look like they were close to old-school Kenner, so is this one - except he feels more like a 1990s Power of the Force POTF2 figure. I love that.

Standing at 4-inches tall, he seems to be pretty much the exact height of The Vintage Collection Mando I had on my desk (from the Razor Crest set.) He's shinier, and changes some key details - the wrists now are painted Beskar silver, and the silver is much brighter than on most of these figures. The blue knee pads and brown straps on the legs aren't painted, and some elements of the armor were left undecorated. The dark gray elements below his belt over his junk and his hips is left undecorated, and the belt and bandolier are now an incredibly bright and saturated reddish brown. His gloves are now all one color, without the uniquely colored fingers. It isn't a closer match to the show, but I think some of you old-school toy fiends might appreciate the Kenner-style inaccuracies.

The figure also has holes. There's one in his back for a jet pack (not included) and one in each gauntlet to add a shield or the slide-out blade (which comes with Sabine.) His cape is removable, and it took me a minute to realize there's a cut in the left side of his neck that opens to remove it - you'll want to remove it for him to sit in a vehicle. The joints move nicely and it feels like an honest-to-goodness toy, with hands that easily grip his accessories. Also like most classic figures, there are no holsters for his gear. He has to hold them all.

His pistol is molded in gray, and the Darksaber has a white-edged blade that looks just as good if not better than what we got in the collector lines. There's no crackle, but that's OK. He's lanky and looks like a gunslinger, with a visor on his shiny silver helmet that seems just the tiniest bit narrower than on other figures. The sculpted detail is sharp throughout, and I think this might appeal to some of the fans who also liked the Retro figures, but in a different way. If this exact figure came out in the 1990s, your head would explode and you would be waiting outside Kay-Bee waiting for them to open to cherry-pick it off the pegs. It's the real deal, and as luck would have it, it's an easy to get figure because it seems Walmart is getting him in solid cases and in the assortments.


I hesitate to say $10 is a steal for this figure. It's a good figure. $10 is on the lower-end of what Hasbro charges in 2024. I think another company could have delivered a figure of equal quality at a lower price (have you seen Playmates' figures?) but Kenner and Hasbro have typically been on the more expensive side of licensed action figures. I like this figure enough to recommend it if you like this format. The shiny silver is more in line with the Carbonized figures - and I liked that silver a lot - with articulation that easily fits in the vehicles you may have without fussing with weird hips or ankle joints. The only thing Hasbro did wrong was to wait four years to make this figure - it probably would have been the best-selling product of the year in 2019 or 2020. Or 2021. Or 2022. Now we've all got a ton of other Mando figures, so it remains to be seen if the populace will see this one and go "that's the one I gotta have!" after having a crack at bigger, more detailed releases several times over.

I would argue this is the superior toy, and Hasbro should consider skewing a line of diverse aliens, heroes, villains, droids, and others in this format rather than its collector formats. Hasbro doesn't make the crazy detailed figures that Hot Toys does - so if you want the very best, that's a whole completely different price point. If you're playing in the world of $10-$25 figures, this kind of release easily slips in the Razor Crest and squeezes in the N-1 pilot seat without much fuss and looks spectacular in there.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,118: March 21, 2024