Star Wars Black (Rebels): Ezra and Chopper by Hasbro

No, I’m not back to my regular schedule yet, but I am happy to be back with a second update this week. Progress! And I decided to do two figures today to make up for the fewer updates. While I still have a pretty big backlog of Star Wars figures to open and review, today I’m going with a pair of more recent acquisitions. It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of the 6-inch Black Series Rebels figures and with the release of Ezra and Chopper, we’re getting ever so close to having a full set of The Ghost crew! Let’s take a look!

It’s the same old packaging! It would have been cool if they did a little something fresh for the Rebels figures, but then I don’t keep these boxes anyway, so do I really care? Nah! They are, however, collector friendly, so if you are in a mind to keep being able to take them out and return them to the box, well there’s nothing stopping you. You get the usual black box with red inserts, monochrome character art on the front, and multi-lingual bio on the back. I had to go online for these since the stores in my area have had the same DJ and Solo figures clogging their pegs forever. Let’s go ahead and start with Ezra.

I’m not usually a big fan of what passes for fashion in the Star Wars universe. A lot of the casual attire comes off to me as boring and flat. That’s not the case with Ezra here. He wears what appears to be a flight jumpsuit, with the lower left leg torn away above the knee, revealing a brown pants leg and piece of knee armor. The right lower leg is covered with a piece of white armor. He lacks the usual control box and straps commonly found on the flight suits, but he does have a waist belt with a holster and pouch, each of which secure to his legs with thigh straps. The outfit is rounded out by a pair of green, fingerless gloves, and his familiar vest with short sleeves and logo on the back. I think Hasbro did a fine job recreating all the little details here, both in terms of sculpt and paintwork. The suit has sculpted rumples, stitch lines and pocket, while the texturing on the jacket looks great. The yellow fringe could have been sharper. Or maybe it was applied intentionally rough to give it a weathered look. At least the logo on the back is nice and crisp.

The holster on his right hip is really just a hook with a flat flap for his lightsaber to rest against. It was a little tough to get it looped in there the first few times, but I got it to work eventually.

Of course, these figures are more realistic takes on the very stylized character designs from the show, and I’m always intrigued to see how they are going to turn out. I was a little worried about Ezra since he always struck me as having one of the odder looks in the series. There was something about his nose that looked really bizarre to me. Nonetheless, the portrait that Hasbro came up with here looks really good. The finish on the skin is a bit too waxy, making him look like he’s sweating, but as for the face sculpt, they definitely managed to make him easily recognizable while casting off the stylized look. The hair is sculpted as a separate piece to give it some depth and it falls around the face in a very convincing manner. It also features some nice purple highlights.

Of course, Ezra comes with his trusty lightsaber-blaster combo, which fits comfortably into either of his hands. I was not a big fan of this weapon early on in the series, I thought it was gimmicky, but I’ve grown to dig it quite a bit. This version looks good for what is a pretty small accessory. It even has multiple paint apps. Obviously, the lightsaber blade is removable, but it was really hard to get out the first time I tried. I was afraid to twist it and have the peg twist off of the blade so I just had to keep pulling on it until it finally gave way.

He also comes with his Imperial cadet helmet. It’s a great looking piece, exhibiting that lovely McQuarrie flavor, and fits over the figure’s head perfectly.The black and red paint apps are overall pretty sharp and crisp.

The articulation here is pretty standard stuff for a 6-inch Black Series figure. Ezra’s arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a ball joint under the chest, and the neck has both a hinge and a ball joint. Ezra is lots of fun to play around with and I am absolutely delighted with how he turned out. Let’s move on to Chopper!

Chopper would have been an easy figure to cheap-out on since he’s so small, but I’m happy to say that Hasbro went the opposite route and instead poured the love into this grumpy little rust-bucket. Indeed, the most surprising thing for me after getting Chopper out of the box is that he feels so substantial. A lot of that has to do with the crazy depth in some of the sculpted details. Besides the panel lining and bolts, you get some components that have been sculpted separately and inserted into the open compartments. I particularly love the yellow square plate that’s just bolted haphazardly on the front. Granted, there’s a lot more detail on the front of Chopper’s body than the back, but I think that’s more a characteristic of the droid’s design than it is a cop-out on Hasbro’s part. Even the tiny eyes and the radar dish are wonderfully realized. And the sculpt can’t take all the credit, because the paint features some nice rust-weathering, in addition to the orange and yellow bits.

Chopper includes a retractable third leg with the beefy little tire on it. There’s no gimmick connecting it to the head rotation, like we saw in the Black Series Astromechs. The column is just held in there by friction so you can rotate it as well as push it in and pull it out. Naturally the side legs rotate back to put him in an ambulatory position and he looks great doing it.

Chopper comes with a replacement left leg, which was a plot point in one of the episodes. It’s definitely a cool bonus and I haven’t decided which way I’m going to display him yet. I am leaning toward the different one because it gives Chopper even more of a junky asymmetrical look.

Of course, you can’t have Chopper without what I like to call his tantrum arms. These pull out from the sides of his head and are remarkably sturdy and easy to manipulate. He also has a utility arm that can fold out from the horizontal panel just under his head. These three appendages even feature some articulation at about the midpoints.

Chopper’s final surprise is a rocket jet, which can replace his third leg, and has a thrust effect part. And since he can’t stand with this piece in, Hasbro included a larger effect part that serves as a stand for when Chopper is in flight mode. Yup, Hasbro really went all out on this little guy. In many ways I think this figure is executed way better than their original Black Series R2-D2. He’s chunky and fun, and he has so many extras that I would have never expected. I think the best thing I can say about this little fella is that he feels like a decent value even at the regular twenty dollar price tag.

And so Hasbro continues to hit these Black Series Rebel figures out of the park. I’ve loved them all, and I think Ezra and Chopper may even be the best ones yet. Indeed, I think I’d be comfortable saying that I think these are some of the best Black Series figures, period! Surely, they can’t stop now and I’m hoping to see Zeb revealed in the next couple of days. He may be a little tougher to do in this realistic style, but I have faith that Hasbro will be able to pull it off. And hell, I’d also like to see them continue and give us some of the baddies from the series as well. And that’s a wrap for this week. Slowly but surely I’m trying to come back. I should be on track for Marvel Monday and then we’ll see how much time I have for the week’s content after that. Thanks for your patience!

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Marvel Legends (Caliban Wave): Blink by Hasbro

I’m here to try to get Marvel Mondays back on track and this makes two in a row, which is a nice start. I actually began writing this review weeks ago and the original intro is no longer relevant, so let’s just scrap it. Blink is a recent addition to my Marvel Legends pile of shame, and I didn’t feel like digging through the pile for the sake of randomness, so let’s just jump right in and check her out!

It’s an interesting time to be an X-Men fan. The movie rights are now solidified with the MCU. Marvel is shaking up the X-Men comics and it sounds like they’re handing the reigns to Jonathan Hickman. And the X-Men are rapidly catching up to Spider-Man as the new darlings of the Marvel Legends line. There have been more than a few great waves of Marvel’s Mutants hitting the pegs, offering up some great Triple-A classic characters, as well as some of the lower tier ones, like Blink here. I guess it didn’t hurt that Blink appeared in live action X-Men spin-off series, The Gifted, but I can’t say as I watched it.

And here she is out of the box and looking like she just rode cross-country on a Bison. Yeah, before even getting into the figure, I have to mention that Blink came off the tray with her legs warped all to hell. I knew this would be the case before I even opened her. It’s easy to tell by the way she’s packaged, and oh boy is this a pet peeve of mine. Why would you knowingly damage a figure by posing it a certain way in the box? I’m sure I will have some luck straightening out those gams, but I’m not going to do Hasbro the favor of fixing the figure before reviewing it. This shit is just adding more misery to my life. But setting aside her bow-legged-ness, Blink feels a lot like the recent release of Mystique. I don’t think the body is a total reuse, but it’s close enough and when you couple that with the sculpted belt and sash, and the similarities in painted costume, it’s hard to shake that flavor of sameness. I’m not complaining, the figure is definitely faithful to the character design and I appreciate the extra touches like the sculpting on the tops of her buccaneer boots and the studded choker that matches her belt. Plus, the sash on the belt is pretty convincing as the lower extension of her painted dress. Although I do find the way it’s pinched almost the same on the front and back to be a little odd looking. The coloring here is also fine. I like the mauve they used for her skin and the green for the dress, sleeves, and boots. The studs on the belt and choker are also neatly painted.

And I certainly have no complaints regarding the head sculpt. She’s definitely a Mutant hottie, with well defined features, her ears have points, and I love the way they sculpted her hair, giving the portrait a great sense of dimension and character.The markings on her face are sharp, and the thick eye-liner around her squinting yellow eyes looks great. Bravo on the portrait, Hasbro!

Blink comes with three effect parts, all showcasing her teleport capabilities. First up is this portal effect. It’s cast in semi-translucent hot pink plastic and it’s pretty fun to play around with. By now y’all should know that I’m never too enamored with effect parts, especially not the ones that Hasbro tends to churn out, but this one is easy to incorporate onto the shelf for display and I think it truly adds something to the figure.

Next up, you get two teleport spikes, for lack of a better word. She flings these at people and objects to teleport them. There isn’t a lot more to say about them, other than she can hold them in each of her hands.

As I’ve said many times over, Marvel Legends has been great for universe building, and that means getting characters like Blink right alongside heavier hitters like Beast, Jubilee, and Gambit. Maybe she wasn’t all that high up on my list, but she was definitely on it, and I’m happy to be able to cross her off of it. And from sculpt to paint, they did a fine job with her. No, I’m not happy about the warped legs, andI should be able to fix that with a little hot water or a blow dryer, but come on, Hasbro. You’ve been in this game long enough that you shouldn’t be making mistakes like that.

Kitties!

Sorry, folks. I did have more content planned for this week. I was soooo close to completing a review for yesterday but, if you follow me on Twitter than you already know that I got caught up in adopting some kitties!

I went to the shelter on Thursday to turn in an application and meet with the cats. There were so many great kitties that needed homes, and I probably spent an hour and a half going into the Cat Pods and petting and playing with them. I narrowed it down to a handful and told the people at the shelter that I would be back on Friday to choose. I was aiming for a chill cat around 4 or 5 years old. But in the end, I came away with a two-year-old bonded brother and sister. Meet Jade and Lilly!

When I met these kitties I didn’t even know they were siblings, but Lilly was rubbing on my leg and Jade was rolling over in his bed soliciting belly rubs. When I found out that they were a bonded pair, I realized that I had to adopt them. Once I got them home, I knew I made the right choice. They explored a bit, ate their dinners, and then proceeded to stretch out on the floor and go to sleep like they had lived here their whole lives. I fell asleep on the sofa and when I woke up, they were both sleeping on top of me.

Yeah, they really do love each other. I can’t believe how sweet, gentle, and well-mannered they are, moreover how quickly I fell in love with them. Soooo… thank you for allowing me this indulgence. New content is coming. I have a Marvel Monday almost ready to go for next week and I’ve got another two reviews in the pipe for later in the week. Thanks for your patience!

Marvel Legends (Spider-Man Homecoming): Spider-Man and MJ by Hasbro

As promised, I’m back today, after a long and painful hiatus, serving up a new Marvel Monday review. I’m going to skip a lengthy preamble about coming back, and just jump right in. Hopefully I won’t be too rusty… So, I haven’t purchased many new toys in my absence, but I have plenty on the stack to get through, and my Marvel Legends backlog is as big as ever. I thought I’d bump today’s set to the top of the list, since I just saw Spider-Man: Far From Home last week and I’m still riding that Web-Head High. Wow, what a fun movie that was!

I want to say this set was a Target Exclusive, but there’s nothing on the package that calls it out, so don’t quote me on that. I just know that it showed up on my doorstep from Target, and up until that point I had completely forgotten that I pre-ordered it. And yes, it’s based on Homecoming, despite the fact that it shipped closer to the new movie than the former one. Included in the box is a variant of Spider-Man as well as a figure that I never thought we’d get… it’s the MCU version of MJ! The figures come in a standard two-pack Legends window box with some stills from the movie on the side panels and a great look at the goodies from the front. All in all, the package makes for an attractive display piece, but since available space continues to be at a premium around here, I’m gonna shred this box all to hell. Let’s start with Spider-Man!

So, this is Spidey in his original Stark-made Homecoming suit, while wearing both a hoodie and his school blazer over it. I expected this figure to borrow heavily from the last Homecoming Spidey, but there’s actually quite a bit of new work here. The legs appear to be the same sculpts, but these are painted much better than what I got on the previous figure. The blue and red looks a bit more vibrant, but the most notable difference is how much clearer the panel lining is on the blue parts. It can barely be seen on the original version, but here it’s just so much more prominent. The torso looks similar to the other figure, but it’s actually new as it doesn’t include the lateral shoulder crunches. The hit to articulation is a bummer, but it makes sense that these had to be omitted to accommodate the jacket and blazer.

The jacket and blazer are each cast from separate pieces of soft plastic and layered onto each other, which looks great. If you peel aside the blazer, you can see that the jacket under it is really just a frame made up of the exposed zipper edges and the hood. I’m guessing they went this route so it wouldn’t look too puffy and I think it was a good decision. The bright yellow blazer pops against the blue and red of the costume, includes some sculpted stitch lines, pockets, and even has the crest of the Midtown School of Science & Technology printed on it. As always the sleeves are sculpted as part of the arms, and apart from the absent shoulder crunches, the articulation is identical to the previous Spider-Man figure.

Alas, my big gripe with this figure is the head, which isn’t nearly as well done as the predecessor. The big issue here is that the white paint used for the eyes is badly misaligned. Also, I think the shading around the eyes looks weird. I’m not sure if this was supposed to convey shadow or if it’s just a sloppy job printing the web lines, but I don’t care for how it came out at all. Luckily the heads are swappable, but that doesn’t help when I plan on displaying both figures together.

Spidey comes with two sets of hands. You get the regular fists and the usual thwippy hands. Nothing new here, but I’m glad to see they packed in some options. All in all, this isn’t a bad figure, I just wish the head was painted better. I don’t know if I would call it essential, but I think him wearing the blazer is pretty iconic to this film, so I’m certainly happy to have it. Moving on to MJ…

So yeah, this was the figure I thought we’d never get. At least not from the first film, where her identity wasn’t even revealed until the end. Although thanks to casting leaks, most of us had gotten wind of it by the time the film premiered. MJ’s wardrobe didn’t really stand out for me, but I recall she sported something of a grunge look for most of the film, and this figure definitely reflects that. You get a black top, gray and black jacket, gray pants and black boots. It’s not the flashy stuff I’m used to comic book MJ wearing, but it reflects the new character pretty well. A number of the parts here look familiar, but it also looks like Hasbro invested in some new tooling. The jacket features the usual soft plastic vest with the sleeves sculpted on the arms and it looks fine. If this isn’t what I would call a stand-out figure, it’s more because of the design of the wardrobe than it is any failing on Hasbro’s part. In short, it’s perfectly fine.

What’s better than perfectly fine are the two head-sculpts. Hasbro did a beautiful job capturing Zendaya’s likeness, and I’d even go so far as to say this is some of their best work. The first head features her hair down and a rather perturbed expression. Lets not forget that MJ spent most of her time in the film looking skeptical or just plain scowling. Either way, I think they did a wonderful job with this one. If I had to throw out a gripe it would be that the hinge in the neck stands out quite a bit. But I’m really looking for nits to pick.

The alternate head features MJ’s hair tied back with a number of strands falling down the right side of her face and covering her cheek. This head also features a smiling expression, which is a nice contrast to the glowering alternative. Both sculpts capture her likeness perfectly, but I’m probably going to be partial to displaying my figure with the second head.

Like Spider-Man, MJ comes with two sets of hands. One pair feature splayed fingers, the other pair features a right fist and a left accessory holding hand. Nope, she doesn’t come with any accessories to hold, but I’m sure I could dig something out for her. As for the articulation, this is pretty standard stuff for the female Legends figures. The legs have ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The torso features a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

As I mentioned earlier, I was interested in this set enough that I pre-ordered it. That’s something I don’t often do with Legends figures these days, because there are just so many of them coming out in any given month. And as it turns out I like these figures a lot, even if the Spider-Man head has room for improvement. I’m not sure I would call this a must-have, although with MJ playing a much bigger part in Far From Home, I wonder if she’ll get another figure in the near future. If not, I suppose she’s the real draw of this set. I dig the school blazer Spidey well enough, but I wouldn’t consider it essential. And that’s a wrap for my first review back. I do hope to be back again before the end of the week with something else, but it will all depend on how much time I get to spend at home in the next few days!

Almost there…

With about a month and a half since my last review, this has been the longest hiatus that this stupid toy blog has seen in all it’s 8+ years. And believe me, my absence has not been fueled by any lack of interest or failings of motivation. Writing about toys has always been therapeutic for me. It’s gotten me through some bad times, but this year has been the darkest time in my life and while fiddling with this blog would have helped, the fact is I literally have not been home long enough in the past couple months to churn anything out of any meaning or quality.

I am still down from my father passing away in April. My mother’s mental condition has gone off the cliff to the point where she cannot be left alone for more than an hour or so. My cat and best friend of 11 years passed away earlier this month, and I don’t have a lot keeping me going. If you follow me on Twitter, this is old news, but I thought I’d throw it out here for those that don’t. Nearly all my waking hours have been spent either at work or at my Mom’s house, watching over her, playing my Nintendo Switch, and engaging in some crazy retail therapy of the comic book variety. I’ve sworn off buying any new toys until I start going through the massive pile in my closet.

So when is that all going to happen? Well, I honestly had hoped that I would have been back in action by today, which is the whole reason I’m stopping by. I’m not there yet, but I feel as if I’m almost there. I’m making a commitment to myself to have a Marvel Monday up for next week, and then I’ll see where I go from here. If you’ve been checking back, I’m grateful for your patience, and hope maybe you’ve found some entertainment in the archives. If you’ve wandered off, I hope you’ll one day come back. And for all of you who sent out sympathies and words of encouragement, be it through emails here or DMs on Twitter, I can’t tell you how much it has all meant to me.

Hope to see you next Monday.

It’s only now some four weeks later that I can even bear to go through my pictures and post one of you in memory and tribute, and still even now I find myself tearing up. Baron, I have missed you every day since your passing and I feel as if I always will. You and I fell in together strictly by chance and while it’s true I saved your life by adopting you, you saved mine many times since, when your companionship was the only thing that kept me going. And while I will be looking to adopt another cat in the near future, it’s only to fill the hole left in my heart. Rest easy, knowing that yours was a friendship I could never, nor would ever seek, to replace. Rest in Peace, my friend.