What’s that? You didn’t get enough Star Wars content over the weekend. 30 figures and a handful of vehicles just didn’t cut it? Well, your wish is my command and I’m about to slather some more Star Wars content all over your morning muffin. Let’s check out not one, but two versions of The Elite Praetorian Guards from the 6-inch Black Series!
The packaging holds few surprises, as these guys come in your run of the mill Black Series window boxes. The only thing out of the ordinary here is that the one with the Heavy Blade is an Amazon Exclusive and thus not a numbered figure. It also features red character art on the front and comes in a plain cardboard mailer box. The regular release is #50, and I really think that Hasbro could have come up with a more interesting character to take the fifty slot. While these fellas are being billed as the successors to the Emperor’s Royal Guard from Return of the Jedi, I think we’re going to actually get to see these guys fight, so that’ll be cool. But are the figures cool?
Eh, kinda? I’m actually a little lukewarm (HA! That’s a Star Wars pun!) on these guys and part of that is due to the costume design and part is due to the execution of the actual figure. The first thing worth noting is that from the neck down, these guys are identical. That’s good if you want to skip one, but it’s also good if you want to pick up the Exclusive and have a pair to flank your Snoke. And yes, I just realized that “flank your Snoke” sounds like a dirty euphemism.
The bad thing here is that by design, these guys are pretty bland. The upper body armor and sleeves are cast in shiny red plastic, and the skirts are cast in a soft matte plastic textured to look like leather. There’s a similar matte leather textured area sculpted around the neck. Lifting their skirts reveals some textured black plastic for their legs, more glossy red plastic for their boots and black paint on the soles of their boots. It’s tough for me to tell from the screen grabs, but I’m pretty sure the skirts on the movie costumes are fabric, and if that’s the case, I think softgoods would have been the way to go for the figures. It looks really good on the Emperor’s Royal Guard robes and I think it would have looked better here. At least it would have helped to break up the monotony of red plastic.
The helmets are the same basic idea, but the configurations are different. The regular release has ribbed face guard that looks almost like a fencing mask to me. The exclusive version has one that’s peaked and looks more like a classical knight helmet. The exclusive version’s helmet also peaks at the back, whereas the regular release is flat. These variations seem to match the pair that was shown in the trailer. To complicate things further, the Big Fig version by Jakks Pacific has a completely different helmet configuration, which is also reflected in the Hasbro 3 3/4-inch version that’s packed with Rey.
One thing I really don’t care for are the segmented sleeves. These just look weird to me and remind me of the segmented hoses that they used to use for robots arms and legs in the 60’s. Kind of cheesy. They also make it tough to find the elbow joint buried in there, and they don’t have a lot of range of motion anyway. And as long as we’re touching on the subject of articulation, here’s what we’re looking at. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The splits in the skirts mean that they don’t effect articulation much at all. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There’s swivel in the waist, a ball joint in the chest, and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Other than those elbows the articulation is overall excellent. My only other issue is that the soft plastic skirt looks awkward at really low crouches. Another reason softgoods would have been welcome here.
Besides the helmets, the big difference between these guys is their gear. The regular release comes with red and silver glaive. It’s a good looking weapon with nice texturing on the shaft. The blade is painted silver and has a long, sweeping blade, which resembles a falchion. It’s an elegant looking weapon to be sure, and he looks damn good holding it.
The exclusive version has the heavy bladed glaive with a shorter, broader blade and a longer shaft. This one looks a lot less elegant and a little unwieldy. I actually prefer the one that comes with the regular release.
The exclusive version also comes with a Force Pike, somewhat similar to the ones carried by the Emperor’s Royal Guard, but with a red hilt. I should note that I’m assuming the other weapons are vibro-axes and not regular edged weapons.
Each of these figures are running around $20 right now on Amazon. If you’re only going to get one, the Elite seems to be a bit of a better value as he comes with the extra weapon, but I suppose in the end it should come down to helmet preference. I actually like them both about the same. As for the overall figures, they’re OK. I think we’re going to see them in action in the movie and that may buoy my opinion of them after, but for now, I definitely prefer the designs of the old Royal Guards over these. Speaking of which, if I’m not too busy tonight, I may come back later with a look at the Black Series Royal Guard.