Thursday, July 11, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,15: TC-14 (Droid Factory)

TC-14 Disney Edition
Star Wars Droid Factory
Item No.:
???
Manufacturer: Disney
Number: n/a
Includes: Tray, drink container
Action Feature: Comes apart
Retail: $14.99
Availability: May 2024
Appearances: The Phantom Menace   

Bio: All different types of droids populate the Star Wars galaxy. Each droid is different and has their own unique personalitty and colors. TC-14 is a protocol droid that was in the employ of the Trade Federation on their Profiteer-class droid control ship, Saak'ak. May the Force be with your... and your Droids! (Taken from the packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: Given that it's the 25th anniversary of Episode I, it makes since that Disney would make a new TC-14 action figure. The first one came out in 2000, and had an accessory complete with flared base that inspired giggles in the young adult collectors and the fans who tolerated them. Back then, Hasbro made an all-new mold for what could have been a repaint. It had a shiny vac-metal finish and still looks gorgeous 24 years later. This new one hits the "just different enough to make you mad" button.

This one uses the build-a-droid mold you know, but has newly tooled changes and unique deco. When Hasbro made U-3PO, the figure had three sculpted dots on the chest - Disney's silver protocol droid had these as well when it was sold in the bins. The new 2024 TC-14 has a smoothed-out chest, plus a retooled pair of hands to better hold the tray. There are enough details that are changed or sharper that make me think this could be a mostly new mold, which isn't nothing. The "CHINA" and "LFL" on the feet are a little different, the details on the back of the head are sharper, and given it's completely coated in silver paint it's worth noting nothing seems washed-out. If it's not a new mold based on the existing sculpt, at the very least, they went in and remastered it to get a lot more out of it. If this retooled/new tool version has been released previously, let me know in the comments, because it doesn't quite line up with the ones I've got handy. The range of motion is similar, and you can swap parts between this new figure and your older ones. However, I should note the pegs and sockets do not feel exactly the same as before when you connect them.

The big question with any new upgrade is "Do I need it?" and in this case, the answer is a "no but maybe?" Because it doesn't match Disney's unpainted (but molded in silver with blue eyes) build-a-droid, and because it has different parts from Hasbro's hard-to-get silver version of U-3PO, and because Hasbro's own TC-14 was vac metal, to me, it's an easy buy. It looks sufficiently different from figures I have - but if I just wanted one of every character, the existing TC-14 would be good enough for my needs. I am a filthy figure collector, though, so I had to get this one too. For $15, she can hold the tray and look just fine. If she were on store shelves nationwide, or had literally any new-ish figures from the movie to go with her, it would be part of an exciting capsule program. Alas, she may be the only 3 3/4-inch figure from The Phantom Menace you see this year that isn't retro, so your enjoyment of this figure will be relying on your own droid mania or your existing cast of Jedi and dubiously-accented aliens in wacky hats from the end of the 20th century. (I can't imagine we'll ever get new and improved Nute Gunray or Rune Haako figures.)

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Shop Disney.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,153: July 11, 2024

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,152: Kanan Jarrus (The Vintage Collection)

KANAN JARRUS
Season 1 Look

The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6878 No. F9977
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #318
Includes: Lightsaber, Hilt, Blaster
Action Feature: Working holster, lightsaber plugs in belt
Retail: $16.99
Availability: May 2024
Appearances: Star Wars Rebels

Bio: Once known by the name Caleb Dume, Kanan Jarrus survived the Emperor's purge, going underground for years. Leading up to the Galactic Civil War, he was a leader among the Ghost crew. (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:
Because I'm old, I sometimes wonder "why don't I feel as excited about this stuff?" And looking at the wave that came with Kanan Jarrus, it got to be pretty obvious - the assortment comes with a Cal Kestis, a Mandalorian Judge, and an Ezra Bridger. None of the figures look bad, but they're all Disney-era stuff - any connections to the original six movies are diminished, and none are characters that existed when I was a kid, or a teen, or even in my 20s. Hopefully there's a rabid market of new fans for this stuff, but I assume it's probably not as much as it would be for the big movies, and because we're so far away from the original movies, those might not be as big, either. As such Kanan is a pretty good choice - a major player, with lots of recognition, and the figure is pretty good too.

From the neck down, this figure is 100% what you want. From the neck up, it's up to interpretation - the figure's head is a tiny bit rounder, while the cartoon character is a bit taller and longer. You want exaggeration in animation, but that sort of look may not necessarily translate to a real person or a toy. Hasbro seems to have done a good job taking Ezra's Adventures in McQuarrieland and translating them to something realistic, and that's a tough thing to do with floating knee pads and a very specific kind of upper chest accoutrements. The contrast isn't as cartoony, and while it isn't as natural as some of the original trilogy costumes it does look like it could be something you might see off-camera in a movie. The costume retains all of the animation model's important landmarks like the vertical ribs in the shirt, the shoulder pad, the gloves, and the boots. The colors all look right, and all of the joints move nicely. The holster only gets in the way a tiny bit, and the legs have a good enough range of motion to fit in the Ghost which we're all still expecting to receive this fall.

I don't think the head looks like any one specific person, and depending on the angle it's absolutely perfect or just a little weird. The beard is right, the nose is pretty good, the hair is pulled back, and who can argue about the sideburns? The eyes are good and the hair is painted nicely, making this a pretty good portrait for a person that does not actually exist. I assume Hasbro created it, and they deserve a pat on the back for cranking out something that doesn't seem too cartoony and doesn't seem too grounded in reality. I couldn't hit that target if I were trying to create something like this.

He has three accessories - a hilt, a lit lightsaber, and a blaster. The hilt plugs in the holster easily, and the blaster fits in just as well. A lit lightsaber also can be held in his hands, making this a figure that does a pretty good job delivering exactly what you need with only a tiny bit of excess. (I would prefer a removable blade lightsaber, but hey, this is the same kind of thing.) I don't feel Hasbro shorted us anything, which is important at $16.99 - there's nothing that feels like a slight or a cost-cutting move. The ankles tilt, the wrists swivel and bend, and the bandolier is sculpted to the chest (and I prefer it that way.)

From where I sit, Rebels was a good show and was basically the connective tissue between the Disney era and the Lucas era - it had some problems, but it was mostly good. This figure is entirely good, and I hope we can get other characters from the show's first season in this style over time. Heck, given shared tooling with the Ghost crew figures, it might be inevitable. If you have a crack at this figure for a fair price, I recommend it if you like the character. The detail and personality are great, and it's weird to think I have a Caleb Dune figure that's probably better than any Han, Luke, or Leia in my collection right now. Hopefully, that will change.

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

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,152: July 9, 2024

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,151: Doikk Na'ts (Dorenian Beshniquel, The Vintage Collection)

DOIKK NA'TS (Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes)
The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Hasbro Pulse Shared Exclusive Action Figure Set
Item No.:
No. F6984
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 7 band members with 2 Kloo Horns, 1 Fanfar, 1 Fizzz, 1 Ommni Box with pedals and stand, 2 drum sticks, 1 drum, 1 Bandfill,
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $89.99
Availability: March 2023
Appearances: Star Wars   

Bio: This 7-piece ensemble of Bith musicians was a common sight at the Mos Eisley Cantina, playing swinging instrumentals for the watering hole’s staggering patrons. (Taken from marketing copy. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: Crowdfunding for the Cantina ends next week. Pledge early, don't forget, because we want to put Arleil Schous in there with a Chinese menu in his hand. That's why we're looking at another band member - go support the Cantina and then come back to read about Doikk Na'ts! If you remember the 1990s, there was a Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina [that's an Amazon ad link too] he was a major player in "We Don't Do Weddings: The Band's Tale." This book had short stories about most of the major Cantina band patrons, ranging from the silly to the perfectly fine. This book - and others like it, but definitely this one - is part of what gives the saga the reputation of every minor character having some elaborate backstory. By the end of the 1990s, every corner of those original films was fleshed out by games, RPGs, comics, prose, action figures, you name it. This one came out in 1995, exactly the same time Kenner started making new action figures again.

Taking a cue from real life, Doikk was a bit smarter than his bandmates in that he actually owned his instrument. He could leave and take another gig if he wanted, Firgrin D'an owned everybody else's gear - in the book. Obviously, these guys have yet to get any on-screen stories and are largely absent from the modern publishing game. The figure includes this instrument, which is a simpler reed instrument called the fizzz (or Dorenian Beshniquel) and doesn't look particularly fancy compared to some of the other stuff. It's no ommni box, at any rate - it just looks like a clarinet. Sort of, ay any rate. It has some painted details - not much, but it doesn't need much and it's not like you're going to get up in there to see it anyway. He has no problems holding it thanks to his excellent articulation. It's worth noting that this figure came from that awkward period before Hasbro did ball-and-socket jointed hips, so while they are extremely posable they're also closer to the shoulders. It's kind of hard to get them just-so, but you can, and once you do they're pretty good about staying put. The figure also has a cut joint mid-torso, which I don't care for, as I prefer articulation to be at the belt or below the shirt - you know, so it doesn't mar the design of the figure. Since the shirt is black, and behind his arms, you're probably not going to notice and I assume this could be the final 3 3/4-inch Vintage band member sculpt that we ever get.

Since it's the same figure seven times over, the different accessories make it something of an army builder. If you own a playset, you probably want multiples - but not necessarily. I bought it because I had a hunch we would, some day, be offered a bigger Cantina and apparently that day is now. If you back the HasLab, it ends and cards are charged on July 8. As such, I'd recommend grabbing your wallet and doing so now if you're going to - just so you don't forget, and so I can hopefully get my other wolfman. If you do support the Cantina, I'd also recommend setting up an eBay alert to monitor the band prices and if it's under $100 shipped (or thereabouts) pounce on it. You'll be glad you have it later, the original going rate was $90 so about $100 is pretty darned fair for seven sold-out action figures.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Hasbro Pulse. Within a week, it went up for sale at other fan outlets.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,151: July 4, 2024

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,150: Krrsantan (The Retro Collection)

KRRSANTAN Meet the Newbacca
The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6874 No. F8568
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Heavy Blaster
Action Feature: Removable armor
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'm very slowly opening the 2023 retro Kenner figures like Krrsantan, mostly because I don't have high hopes for a lot more of these. I wrote the bulk of this a couple of months ago. Seeing 2022 figures dumped at Ollie's and Ross, with new old-style Kenner original trilogy figures in generally short supply, the Retro format seems to have the product development deck stacked against it. At least it's interesting while it lasts, however long it lasts. This particular figure seems to riff on the original 1978 Chewbacca, but with some elements that move forward in time a bit. He's a little wider, a little taler, and a lot beefier... and thanks to his removable armor, he may serve as the basis for a lot of custom figures in the future.

Sometimes simple is best, and in this case I think it works. It's worth noting that The Black Series and The Vintage Collection Krrsantan figures based on The Book of Boba Fett were each "deluxe" releases. I would argue there's nothing at all deluxe about the 6-inch one, but at least both The Vintage Collection figures have a lot of gear in the box - not enough to make it worth 50-100% more, but it's something. This one is just a basic figure. I like basic if it means basic prices.

The fur sculpting is a lot like the original Chewbacca, with a wider stance and arms that spread out a little more. He won't easily fit in an original Millennium Falcon cockpit or a standard slot in a Kenner carry case, or an AST-5 or MLC-3. He's barely taller than the original Kenner Chewie, closer in height to Yak Face and about 50% wider. It's very clearly a riff on the 1978 sculpting with this fur pattern, rather than going for a post-Return of the Jedi look like the Ewoks. Love them or hate them, they had a lot more detail and a v-crotch that may or may not have worked better here. He will, however, stand around and look cool. I plopped him near my Jabba's Palace stuff and he looks like he belongs, thanks to a nice angry mouth and knuckle dusters.

This is a figure where we're probably being overcharged a bit, but at least it's fair relative to other figures. Sabine got four accessories and tons of paint. Krrsantan got armor, a blaster, and very little paint. You can see some on his knuckles, nose, eyes, belt, and beard. As I write this he's standing next to Yak Face and Sabine on my desk, and is the simplest by far. I would have liked to have seem slightly better eye paint and improved fur texture, but I can't argue he doesn't match Chewbacca.

He fits in with the general aesthetic of the old Kenner figure line, but much like the Obi-Wan Kenobi line it's plain to see it doesn't match a specific time period. The figure itself feels like 1978, the removable armor feels like 1982's Zuckuss harness (or Dagobah backpack), and the hands seem more modern in that one of them isn't useless. I think it's good to have hands that can hold weapons, but I would have loved one of them to be a fist - like the original Gamorrean Guard - so he could punch other guys with his knuckle dusters. His pose is also pretty basic. It would be nice to have a little flair in his arms or maybe a bit of a bend to his knees, but I can't say I don't appreciate the jointed neck. That's something I wish Kenner did back in the day, and Hasbro achieved Krrsantan as a pretty good figure that does what Retro tends to shine at - the bare minimum. There's no white highlights in the fur, there's no extraneous parts. It's a Wookiee, a blaster, and a shirt. That's all you needed to have fun in the 1980s, and considering he's the only Hasbro Krrsantan under $27.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth. At press time I have still not seen him sold at any major retailer brick-and-mortar locations.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,150: July 2, 2024

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,149: RG-G1 (The Vintage Collection)

RG-G1
Escape from Order 66

The Vintage Collection Amazon Exclusive 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
No. G0266
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #324
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: Removable limbs and dome
Retail: $69.99
Availability: May 2024
Appearances: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Bio: RG-G1 was one of the brave astromech droids who assisted Ahsoka Tano in apprehending Clone Captain Rex when his inhibitor chip was compromised. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary:
It's nice to get something that feels new, even if it isn't. So many new releases are similar to things we already own that it's weird to get a repaint that feels different, and RG-G1 is one of them. The dome is new! I just thought it was an R4 dome on the old body, but it's not. The dark gray body has a black dome and black limbs with black feet, plus a dull gold. It's amazing that between Hasbro and Disney I've got close to a couple dozen of these conehead guys and I'm delighted that I have one that actually feels distinctive.

You've seen so many of these I don't need to tell you that the dome rotates and pops off, and the legs pop off, and you can remove the third leg if you want. You've seen this exact mold (or variations on it) in and out of circulation since 2008 when it was a build-a-droid figure, which makes the price tag of 25% of $69.99 sting a little bit - we got a new dome, but it's still the same toy with no new features or gadgets. Since most people aren't going to open it, that probably doesn't matter - what matters is that it looks good. The pinstriping really pops nicely, those fine lines look superb and the big orange box around the eye really stands out. He even had a big red light on the back of his dome which is what tipped me off to this not being Yet Another R4. You can see new panels, including two big orange ones for his "ears." There's a silver sensor of some sort on the back as well, and I'm impressed that they didn't just reuse an old mold and call it a day. For any cartoon droid coming to live action, I think you've got a license to fudge it and Hasbro didn't. Kudos.

The unique layout and new dome make this one just a bit more exciting and I'm glad to see that they did a good job making it right the first time, or at least, right enough that we're not going to ask for a do-over. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the set at full price, but if it goes on sale it's worth it and from the look of things, they're pretty good figures. I'm still opening them, slowly, so stay tuned for more on these. And get this one if someone broke up the set for some reason.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Amazon.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,149: June 27, 2024

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,148: Nalan Cheel (Fanfar, The Vintage Collection)

NALAN CHEEL (Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes)
The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-Inch Hasbro Pulse Shared Exclusive Action Figure Set
Item No.:
No. F6984
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: 7 band members with 2 Kloo Horns, 1 Fanfar, 1 Fizzz, 1 Ommni Box with pedals and stand, 2 drum sticks, 1 drum, 1 Bandfill,
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $89.99
Availability: March 2023
Appearances: Star Wars   

Bio: This 7-piece ensemble of Bith musicians was a common sight at the Mos Eisley Cantina, playing swinging instrumentals for the watering hole’s staggering patrons. (Taken from marketing copy. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: We haven't looked at one of these guys in almost a year, and a lot has happened! Back then, this was a shared exclusive that didn't sell through so it got opened to other partners, and it took a while but it finally sold through. And now it's expensive on the secondary market - and will no doubt continue to get pricey unless Hasbro reruns it (and maybe they should.) Heck, this set would've been a great stretch goal for the current HasLab Cantina, because Hasbro could tool one figure and sell you (and charge you) for seven. And you'd smile. As I write this - Amazon is sold out, and the cheapest set on eBay is a hair under $200. Sold listings are closer to SRP, though, so if you want one of these sets and can get it for $90 before shipping? You should do it now, before people get their Cantinas in-hand and decide to start filling it out. If history is any indication that won't happen before they get their playsets mailed to them, so you've got a while. But don't wait too long.

Where was I? Right, Nalan Cheel, complete with bandfill. The figure itself is the same as Figrin D'an and all of the others, which certainly saves on tooling costs and gives Hasbro a good incentive to make one really, really good figure. A figure like this needs incredible articulation in order to stand, sit, suck, blow, beat, tinkle, and do whatever else is necessary to these instruments. A figure like this has incredible articulation and would serve as a great basis for numerous customs - but you want him because he can play the bandfill like was was ringing a bell, or whatever. I have no idea how it's supposed to work - but he can easily hold it and look like he was designed to do so. Previous versions also could hold it just fine, but this one can emote thanks to all of the articulation. He can really look like he's swinging - and he can really get his, erm, lips around his instrument. Hasbro made sure the hands look great with lots of sculpted detail too, which is good because you're going to be seeing them a lot.

I hope Hasbro is considering Kenner 1970s-style band members for the 50th anniversary of the movie - it struck me as odd we never got them in the old days, and I was so excited in the 1990 when the Fan Club got one exclusive figure with five instruments. I ordered extras. I like this figure a lot because he can pose, he can stand around and look good, and they did an excellent job bringing him to life with modern standards. I keep forgetting Hasbro made these because I already had a band - but I shouldn't, because they're such a massive improvement.

It's worth noting that the carded Figrin D'an may be cheaper than the box set, so if you come across a bunch of those cheap you could buy the 1990s figures, steal their instruments, and fudge it. But I'd recommend this set - there were no drums in the old days, so this is a more complete experience. Get this set if you can, and I would anticipate there to be a lull in interest between the time the Cantina funds (if it funds) and the release of the playset. As your attorney, I recommend that you set up eBay alerts and keep an eye on prices.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Hasbro Pulse. Within a week, it went up for sale at other fan outlets.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,148: June 25, 2024

Friday, June 21, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,147: Bespin (Silhouette II)

BESPIN (Silhouette II)
Star Wars Classics Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. DJK03 No. DJL05
Manufacturer: Mattel
Number: 6/8
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: About $1
Availability: 2016
Appearances: n/a   

Bio: This series of intergalactic Hot Wheels celebrates the many diverse worlds of the STAR WARS universe. Race from the icy reaches of Hoth, to the fiery lava flows of Mustafar. Zoom from the parched desert world of Tatooine, to the lush forest moon of Endor. Collect all eight and speed to a galaxy far, far away! (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: And Wheels Week is over! I got Bespin (Silhouette II) way back when it came out, and it's a perfect $1 collectible car. The axles aren't as janky as the Han Solo Twinduction, but they're not as smooth as many other cars either - that means when it flies out of a launcher on the tracks, it doesn't go terribly far. But sometimes you buy a car because it's gorgeous, and this is. The Silhouette II is an updated version of one of the first year of Hot Wheels cars, and it's been in and out of circulation since the 1960s. The II model has some tweaks and different engines - if you had your druthers, you'd probably want the original, but those aren't as cheap. I saw this one at Bookman's for $2 over Memorial Day weekend,so you can get it without spending real money if you have time to look around.

The futurism of the 1960s, retooled in the 1990s, and painted orange seems like a perfect fit for the Twin-Pod Cloud Car. Obviously, this is only one pod - but it looks sort of close to the concept sketches, what with the dome and the long nose. The chrome engine looks great, there's a nicely detailed interior, and the shiny orange finish looks superb. The cart art is no slouch either - and if you dare open it, you'll be treated to a Star Wars logo over where the trunk isn't. The vehicle has a metal top and a plastic bottom, which means it's not going to win any races.

The reason to get excited about this car - indeed, this entire set - is the great artwork on each car. It's Burger King glass-style simple, with clouds, Cloud City, the Millennium Falcon, and presumably as a gag silhouettes of a Cloud Car to go on a Cloud Car-colored Silhouette. Clever. It's really nicely designed and they didn't mirror-flip the Falcon to make the art fit either.

Walmart did multiple series of these $1 cars since Mattel got the license - themes included Movies/TV Series, in-universe factions, planets, masters & apprentices, and finally, characters. As far as I know they haven't done any more cheap cars nor planned to do them, which is probably smart, because I completely ignored their $4+ products and focused solely on the $1 ones. This may well be the best of them. If you see any version of the Silhouette or Silhouette II on the cheap it's worth a gander, but this Bespin version is a no-brainer. Get it if the price is right.


Collector's Notes: I got mine from Walmart. If you need another car to chase down, let me recommend the Tusken Raider-themed Tatooine deco on The Vanster. It's also worth noting that there are 51 state cars (plus DC) from around 2009 if you like this sort of "destination car." I don't believe I actually ever saw those - so if you're sitting on any, especially an Arizona-themed Hotbird, fax one my way. I hope Mattel does more of those for real-world destinations, because they'd be wonderful pick-ups in touristy gift shops at Presidential Museum and Libraries, or shops near national parks.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 3,147: June 21, 2024

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,146: Luke Skywalker (RacerVerse)

LUKE SKYWALKER on X-Wing Go-Kart
Hot Wheels Racerverse Basic Car
Item No.:
Asst. HKB86 No. HKC07
Manufacturer: Mattel
Number: n/a
Includes: Fake paper orange track
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: 2023
Appearances: Star Wars   

Bio: Luke Skywalker, a Force-sensitive human male, was a legendary Jedi Master who fought in the Galactic Civil War during the reign of the Galactic Empire. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

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 of the things as you get older - and it most likely will happen to you - is your favorite franchise expands beyond the scope of what brought you to it in the first place. Since Disney took over we saw a hard shift to non-classic stuff (I'll say original trilogy and prequels are left out a bit usually) so I find something like Luke Skywalker exciting, despite being beyond my focus as a toy collector. A $6 Hot Wheels car that looks sort of like a McDonald's or Burger King toy? And I can race it on a track? Sure, why not? It's a small line, and I was getting bored writing about super-articulated figures.

This toy is a toy. It's not a toy pretending to be a collectible, so far Mattel hasn't put out any $30 collector versions for Star Wars - it's just a basic toy you throw at a kid and collectors will ignore. Exciting. Dropping all pretense, they managed to deliver a toy X-Wing with an action figure at a low price point - sure it's non-removable, but it'd fall out if it were. Luke has a helmet with a translucent visor - but no eyes underneath - and a determined look on his mouth. The helmet is painted roughly as well as any typical Hasbro version at this size, with an orange flight suit and two hands molded to some controls stuck on the vehicle. The exaggerated noggin is not unlike a Bobble Head or any of a number of Happy Meal toys, just big enough to show a little detail and sized similarly to that which you see on a typical 3 3/4-inch action figure. It's not movie-perfect, it's not a real actor's likeness, but it's a good toy head.

This feels like something I would've liked to have as a kid - but it's not quite as good as the Blockade Runner in terms of design. Red 5 is brought as an X-Wing with no X.... and really, no wings. To be able to fly through tracks, Mattel truncated the design to have cannons above the engines - so you get two - with pylons that look sort of like vestigial wings. It's a sensible design, and if it were a Tomy toy from 1982 from Japan I'd have paid a ridiculous amount of money to get myself one. Instead it's $6, with a plastic top and a metal bottom with four rolling wheels. There are yellow and red paint stripes, a black block for a fake cockpit, and nothing too out of the ordinary. It seems like a good recreation for its size class, and while I wish R2-D2 was in some way represented maybe that's coming with something else later. It's a fun little design and it looks like the kind of thing a neighborhood kid might get in a Power Wheels car. It's a fun thing to mess with on my desk.

As a Hot Wheels car, it's pretty good - I've been trying out cars on launchers and tracks lately, and it goes about as well as Leia. (Chewbacca is, surprisingly, the big winner of the three I got so far.) If you put him on your launcher he glides perfectly nicely along the orange track for a bit, but not super duper far. I'm not sure if it's materials, weight, design, or something else - I'm not an engineer. But he rolls merrily along and Mattel does a good job making sure their toys actually function as toys, which is always welcome.

I don't yet know if I'm going to buy the prequels, sequels, or spin-offs - but Mattel, I'm in for a few more original trilogy go-karts. I'd love to see a few more of these - and at the rate Mattel is pumping them out, I already know I can't (and won't) collect everything in all the brands. For those who pick and choose these could be really fun pick-ups, so check the store and grab one if you see something that looks interesting. Even if you just play around with it for a day, it's six bucks, and you don't have to worry about losing accessories or anything. It's just a car.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Target.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,146: June 20, 2024

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,145: Millennium Falcon (Hot Wheels Carships)

MILLENNIUM FALCON Debut Release
Hot Wheels Carships Basic Car
Item No.:
Asst. DPV24 No. DPV25
Manufacturer: Mattel
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: 2016-2018
Appearances: Star Wars?   

Bio: Earning a legendary status under their ownership, the Millennium Falcon was most famously used by the smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca before, during, and following the Galactic Civil War. (Adapted from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: A few years ago I picked up a lot of cheap die-cast metal Hot Wheels at various dollar stores - I wasn't keen on dropping $5 for a car, but $1 I can do. I kind of wish I got more - the Millennium Falcon sat carded in a box with other cars until a few weeks ago. It's kind of a silly design, but it's an interesting design challenge. We've seen The H-Wing (sadly not yet immortalized as a toy), but that's a real car with space ship flair. This is a space ship scaled down, distorted, given a racing stripe, and slapped on a plastic sled with wheels. And yet, it works.

At the time I couldn't wrap my head around these for $4.99, and I still can't, but at today's market rates of $3 or under it's quite excellent. If you can get them for less than that, I'd recommend it - it's a classic trilogy collectible that works as a toy, it's not pretentious, and nothing about it is "adult." You put it on some orange track and it rolls nicely. It's a real toy that delivers on the promise of car-shaped fun.

Not only did it work, fellow eye-rollers, but Mattel's weird little gambit paid off. Some of its Carships were on the market for two whole years, which is something you just don't see in the action figure world. Some of its Character Cars are still in production ten years later, albeit with some action features or other tweaks added. That's some old-school toymaking, unlike Hasbro's current strategy of "retire things immediately." It would seem successful, as Hot Wheels has thrived on repaints and selling to kids (and scalpers and collectors and fans and adults) for years with a low-cost low-entry line. In the case of the Falcon, there's even a battle-damaged version from a playset. This was just the base carded version I picked up because I figured, why not?

The toy is a simplified and elongated version of Han's ship with added racing stripes on the top and on the side. A Rebel Alliance logo and the red and blue stripes were no doubt added to give it a little more color - it's a pretty blah ship in terms of "pop" - in addition to the six circles on the back and a shiny black canopy. You can see the cannons on top too, giving this toy a look similar to Kenner's 1978 die-cast metal toy. Except this has wheels, and more color - heck the wheels even have a nice blue ring around them. Most collectors didn't seem to be too excited, but it seems like a ton of kids bought these and they came back in new assortments and new packaging - and of course some of the first year's run got blown out, because everybody manufactured entirely too much Star Wars in 2015 and 2016.

I have no fancy tracks, but I picked up a launcher a few years ago and connected it to some $1.25 straight Dollar Tree track - about 20 feet worth. I started goofing around launching cars across my house, and as it was not one of the super-snappy-cause-internal-bleeding launchers that they sell today, not many cars made it beyond the tracks. This one and a handful of others, though, finished the tracks - it was an impressive showing, which makes this a better-than-average car. I don't know how it races, but it certainly is an efficient traveler on minimal launch power.

If your kid has one, ask him to let you see it. The entire series is quite charming and I kind of wish I bought a few more of them back when they were in stores. I find the RacerVerse Go-Karts to provide a better product for the price - especially considering inflation - but this is a solid performer and frankly I'm amazed that Mattel managed to squeeze much more juice out of its toy molds than Hasbro over the past decade. Give their stuff a look if you're feeling some figure ennui right now, it's a cheap thrill and I don't think that you'll be sorry.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from the now-defunct 99 Cents Only chain of stores for 99 cents. You will most likely not see any of these outside of the secondary market.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,145: June 19, 2024

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,144: Princess Leia (RacerVerse Blockade Runner Tantive IV)

PRINCESS LEIA on Blockade Runner / Tantive IV Go-Kart
Hot Wheels Racerverse Basic Car
Item No.:
Asst. HKB86 No. G0102
Manufacturer: Mattel
Number: n/a
Includes: Fake paper orange track
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: 2023
Appearances: Star Wars   

Bio: Leia Skywalker Organa Solo was a Force-sensitive human Alderaanian female politician, Jedi, and military leader who served in the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Imperial Era and the New Republic and Resistance in the subsequent New Republic Era. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

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: The collectible paradigm is, mildly, stale. If you're old-school, it took a while to get things like LEGO sets and statues and busts, 6-inch figures and other collectibles weren't even on our radar. Hot Wheels cars seemed like a stretch, but it happened, and after the success of Mario Kart figures-with-vehicles Mattel expanded the lineup to Racerverse with licenses like Marvel, DC, Trolls, soon to include Star Trek and Gremlins and DuckTales. But we're here for Star Wars Princess Leia, which gives you a little kid-size cart thing that recalls Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's Rat Fink as much as it does Mario Kart and a bevy of McDonald's Happy Meal toys. As far as I know there's no video game coming for this, but it sure as heck looks like something you should be able to steer around on Rainbow Road or Cheep Cheep Beach.

Toys have gotten a lot more expensive - if you want to get something for under ten bucks for Star Wars it's downright difficult, so a $6 Leia in a Blockade Runner has some appeal in an era where action figures are creeping up to $20 and even Funko's cheap Pop! Vinyl Figures are around $12. And sure, a typical Hot Wheels or Matchbox car is $1.25 in 2024, so $5.99 isn't nothing - but there are some more complicated cuts and more parts needed to make a tiny figure to go in your tiny vehicle. These cost about the same as the Character Cars, and they make a heck of a lot more sense. $5 for a car with a shape vaguely recalling Leia's character seems high when you can spend $6 on a ship with a tiny Leia figure instead. And perhaps both are expensive when you can just buy any old car for a buck and a quarter on those famous blue cardbacks.

The toy itself is more or less typical Hot Wheels-sized, as you can put it on tracks or a car launcher with no problems. The super-deformed proportions of the vehicle look good and they don't skimp on the greeblies - you can see the many engines, hatches, escape pods, and other odds and ends plus the window up front (without the visible centerfold) to boot. They added red stripes as well as more than one flavor of gray to enhance the ship details, and if some company out of Japan were selling just the squat vehicle with wheels for ten bucks I'd probably happily buy it.

Leia's head as a Spock-esque raised eyebrow and a determined expression on her face, like she's ready to ram someone in the walls. The figure isn't exceedingly detailed, but she does have an oversized noodle not unlike a Funko Pop!, bobble head, or more likely, Rat Fink-adjacent Hot Rod cartoon character of some sort. Her small hands are on a steering wheel, and the figure isn't removable.

As luck would have it I dropped six bucks at the Dollar Tree before getting this on some orange track, to see which of some of my cars really book it. Some cleared the full 22 feet of track, but most petered out after 8-10, and Leia was one of those. It's by no means poor performance, but it's not as impressive as a Sharkcruiser, a Millennium Falcon Carships, or - oddly - Transformers: Robots in Disguise R.E.V.


 While doing some research I was surprised that there aren't many collections being sold of these guys on eBay in 2024, and even more surprised that most of the little karts go for a premium on Amazon or eBay right now. You can find some in stores, but most remain elusive as what you're likely to find are unsold Disney girl characters and Super Mario Shy Guys. You might also find Darth Vader in his TIE Advanced, which is a shame, because it would be way cooler to have him in a Star Destroyer to chase down Leia and the stolen Death Star plans. But hey, this is a neat toy, if expensive, and a welcome diversion from the increasingly dull world of figures with minimal (or no) vehicles or playsets. Given that they're making Uncle Scrooge, Gizmo, and Captain Kirk, I would advise you all to give this line a look - you may not buy any, but at least you can go "Oh I remember Adam talking about that" when today's kids are overpaying on the secondary market for these 20-30 years down the road. These might actually turn into something really good, and this is a worthwhile pick-up if you have a few bucks to burn.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Target. She's shipping in current assortments along with other characters like Ahsoka, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,144: June 18, 2024

Monday, June 17, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,143: Han Solo (Twinduction)

HAN SOLO (Twinduction)
Star Wars Classics Walmart Exclusive
Item No.:
Asst. FKD57 No. FKD58
Manufacturer: Mattel
Number: 1/8
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: About $1
Availability: 2018
Appearances: n/a

Bio: Han Solo rose from an impoverished childhood to become captain of the Millennium Falcon, a leader in the Alliance to Restore the Republic and an instrumental figure in the Galactic Civil War during the reign of the Galactic Empire.. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Commentary: It's Wheels Week! Here and at 16bit.com, I'm looking at some Hot Wheels and 1:64-compatible scale toys - they're cheap, why not. Stay tuned for collectible cars and RacerVerse here, while 16bit.com will look at Transformers Spy Changers, cars you can find at the grocery store with LEGO and MEGA-compatible studs, and other goodies. I'm still writing these, so you'll have to come back for more.

This Han Solo Twinduction was something I skipped in 2018 - I picked up all the "cheap" $1 Walmart exclusive cars, but for some reason this series, I didn't get at the time. I just got the series on eBay for about $3 percar shipped, which is arguably cheaper than gas & tax & driving around. A lot of people collect and flip these things, and some cars are pricey - but most of them aren't, and you can find a lot for $1-$4 (plus or minus shipping) at online and brick and mortar shops. The mark-up is probably more of the service of their holding on to it for a few years or the gas to the post office - this is not a piece that's in demand. If you are considering buying it, let me just say to buy it in a lot or small collection because the shipping is going to kill you on eight individual tiny cars. Don't blame the seller, blame math.

I started this week because I wanted an excuse to write about the RacerVerse go-kart toys (come back tomorrow!) and wound up diving lot of unopened toys, and remembered to look into this set. Was it worth my waiting six years to track down and open this car? ...no. I had a few cars as a kid (mostly from the 1983 McDonald's collection, all but one sadly sold at a garage sale) and I have picked up a few odds and ends as an adult. There's a pattern - it's usually when Star Wars collecting is particularly dire (so 2013 and 2024 were upswings) and when Mattel announces an interesting licensed car from TV or a movie that I want to track down. I'm also fascinated with people wo race these things as a sport. There are amazing features and fun things to do with these toys - usually. This one is top-tier "nothing special." I'd go as far as to say it's pretty bad, and you're buying it for the card art.

Mattel has gorgeous card art that is similar to - but not the same pose as - the art on the car itself. It reminds me a lot of collectible fast food glassware, in that it's flat and almost looks like it could have been traced. This one has a dull blue finish, it feels light and has some silver vac metal around the engine. A Star Wars logo sits on the roof of the car, and Han's last name "Solo" is written on Aurebesh on the sides. It's very blah - I don't necessarily expect Spectraflame paint, or metalflake paint, but a little shine goes a long way on these things. This is a car that sold for about $1 and looks like it should have sold for about $1.

As something you leave on the card, it's great. I love the big portrait, and the car art is actually quite nice. The tampos are incredibly crisp, with some nice striping and a Rebel Alliance logo. I am a little surprised that, in 2018, Mattel gave us an old-school Harrison Ford portrait and not something stylized or based specifically on Solo: A Star Wars Story. Maybe they were short on assets given the prequel's production, or the licensees were all given some "pivot to classic" directive because it was easier - and arguably safer - to do. The car itself more or less matches Han's Corellian jeans, complete with bloodstripes on the spokes of the wheels. It's a nice touch. It rolls a little rough, unlike a lot of other cars you can hear a hint of a rattle or a scrape while it moves on your mousepad. It glides along just fine, but there's a difference in the sound - compared to other Hot Wheels, it's not quite as clean of a gliding sound. But you're probably not buying this toy for track, this is a collectible, a souvenir, a way to spend $1 to tell the world "this is a thing I like." (See also: Hot Wheels cars based on states and various highways, and a Matchbox based on the 1986 arrival of Halley's Comet.)

I am not a car guy despite being descended from a Chrysler engineer, but I know what I like when it comes to toys. Functionally this particular Twinduction is a little disappointing but I really do appreciate that they made something that looks sort of like a goofy 1970s retro collectible. You can probably find this one at a second-hand shop of some sort on the cheap, and if you can't, there are a bunch of other licensed cars and go-karts in a store near you right now. Having said that, it is unlikely that a Han Solo may be among them at mass retail.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from eBay. I should also note that this series has a wild Jabba the Hutt-themed Deora II car, where the card art is based on Return of the Jedi while the car art is based on an unflattering angle of the Special Edition digital Jabba. I have no idea why they didn't just go double duty on the card art there - but take a look, it's worth it for the laughs.

--Adam Pawlus



Day 3,143: June 17, 2024