Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Cara Dune by Hasbro

We’re four episodes (five if you count today!) into The Mandalorian, the┬ánew Star Wars series on Disney+, and I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it a whole hell of a lot. It’s refreshingly simple, well crafted, and the backdrop is rich with the Star Wars Universe. I already reviewed the Black Series figure of the titular character, and now I’m back to check out Cara Dune, a character that made her appearance the very same week that her figure was hitting my doorstep. Now that’s some pin-point timing on your distribution, Hasbro! Too bad you ain’t got none of them Baby Yoda’s to sell. What? Mattel is making that? WHAT?? It won’t be out until later next year? What the hell is going on over there, Disney? Don’t you and Hasbro like money anymore???

Setting aside the lack of Yoda Babies, we are introduced to Cara Dune in Chapter Four: Sanctuary, which plays out like an old episode of The A-Team. Or that episode of Enterprise where they have to defend a colony against Klingon raiders by teaching the locals how to fight. Here, The Mandalorian and his new associate, Cara, must defend a village from raiders who also happen to have a pet droidified AT-ST and they need to improvise. Despite an eye-rolling cliche clip of the villagers getting drilled with the use of quarter-staffs, it was most enjoyable and the script does a nice job fleshing out Cara’s character and actress, Gina Carano does an equally fine job bringing her to life. I’m presume we’ll be seeing more of her, but instead of speculating, let’s have a look at her figure.

As a former Rebel fighter and all around roughian, Cara comes sporting a set of armored fatigues that look right at home in the Star Wars Universe. The ensemble consists of a chest-plate, shoulder armor, grieves on her forearms, and a single right knee-guard, because to hell with the left knee, right? The outfit is all part of the body sculpt, which makes some nice use of texture for the chest and back pieces, as well as the outer portions of the legs. She’s got a couple of sculpted gear belts, one of which supports a working holster on her right hip. Her boots have sculpted wraps leading up to her knees as well as some code cylinders strapped to her lower right leg. The blue, gray, and black deco is certainly distinctive, and there are plenty of silver paint hits to the buckles and gear. There’s also some very nice weathering on her armor, which looks good and is used sparingly. Finally, a tattooed segmented band encircles her right bicep. The sculpt and paint here are both excellent, and I also dig how the figure’s build matches Carno’s powerful stature.

And speaking of matching, the portrait here is a pretty solid likeness for the actress, but I don’t think it’s among their best. I think it’s very good from certain angles, but from others it loses me a little. But hey, if we’re grading the Black Series on a curve because of some truly lackluster portraits, I think this one still ranks in around a B+. Not as good as what we’re seeing from Hasbro’s Marvel Cinematic Universe figures from down the hall, but I’m not going to quibble about it. The hair is particularly well done, sculpted separately from the head and covering part of her right face, while strands fall down the other side between her cheek and ear.

I’ve already mentioned the functional holster, which holds her blaster pistol, and includes a retaining strap that fastens with a peg and hole. We got to see this weapon up close and personal in her battle with The Mando and it features a lot of great detail in the sculpt as well as painted grips. The pistol strikes me as a little demure for her, but nevertheless it appears faithful to its on screen counterpart. She can hold it in either hand, but it works best in the right hand with the hooked trigger finger fitting through the trigger guard.

Next up, she comes with a little combat knife, which can be held in either hand. I struggled for a bit to figure out where this goes on her outfit before spotting a little slot on the side of her left boot. It’s a simple accessory, but still quite welcome.

And finally, Cara comes with a weapon that seems more suited to her stature and that’s this heavy blaster rifle. This big boom-stick features a cool over-under double-barrel design, not to mention two big drums of whatever passes for ammo in the Star Wars Universe these days. Like the pistol, there’s some excellent detail work on this weapon, brown paint on the grip and stock, and it includes a grab bar on the top so that Cara can wield it with both hands.

It also includes a shoulder strap, so she can carry it on her back. Nice!

At a time when I’ve been considering slowing down on the 6-inch Black Series, Cara comes along and rekindles my interest in this line. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that’s the case for The Mandalorian in general. I don’t see myself buying a lot of figures from Rise of Skywalker, because I just don’t think I’m going to end up liking the film all that much. Hopefully time will prove me wrong. But The Mandalorian is another story entirely and I sincerely hope that Hasbro starts pumping out figures from this line at a quick pace. There’s already quite a few that I’d like to see from the first handful of episodes.

Transformers Siege: Prowl and Barricade by Hasbro

It’s been a real struggle for me to get back to three reviews a week. I mean, you can see how well it’s been working out for me. So, until I get there again, In an effort to get caught up, I’m going to be trying to bundle reviews a bit more often, especially when it’s appropriate. And when I’ve got two Transformers police cars from the same mold waiting to be opened, this seems like one of those appropriate times. Let’s check out Prowl and Barricade!

If you comb back through FFZ, you will find evidence of my undying love for Prowl. The original G1 toy was one of my first Transformers, it was my favorite Autobot mold, and whenever I played with my convertorobots, he stood prominently as Optimus Prime’s first lieutenant and all around right-hand-bot. Hell, even when I watched the Sunbow cartoon I would lament and stew over the fact that Prowl wasn’t in it more often. I’ve been patiently waiting for my boy here to get a proper toy update. After all, the Classics version has aged horribly and the Combiner Wars version was really never more than a place-holder for me. As for Barricade, well I’m not someone who’s anxious to see a lot of Bayverse Transformers shoe-horned into my regular Transformers line, but I will admit that seeing Barricade turn up in Siege has intrigued me a bit. He was one of the cool things I liked about the original film and doing him as a repaint of Prowl seemed like a no-brainer. So let’s start with the alt modes!

Obviously, Siege is focused on Cybertronian alt modes, so my hopes for a proper Datsun are quickly dashed. What we get instead is a Cybertronian interpretation of the Datsun and it looks remarkably like its Earth counterpart. The only big difference is the atrophied cabin, after all these aren’t supposed to be vehicles for meat-bags, and the translucent wheels for cruising down alien roads. There are also some exaggerated contours to give the body more of a futuristic flavor. And hey, I can get behind all of this just fine. Prowl’s white body and black trim certainly looks familiar and while the Cybertronian script on the sides is unintelligible to me, it mimics the police markings just fine. There’s even a light-bar and an off-set Autobot emblem on the front of the hood. I dig it.

 

As for Barricade, he retains a good deal of his coloring from the first film and I’ll be the first to say this deco looks great. A black-and-gray body with white doors and the same alien “police” script on them gives us a perfect Cybertronian nod to the Bayverse Decepticon. The translucent purple used for the faux canopy is gorgeous and the same plastic is used for the wheels as well. The snappy new deco is tied together with a Decepticon emblem stamped on the front of the hood. It’s a great looking car!

Each figure comes with a weapon, which can be plugged into the light-bar for those rolling highway battles. Prowl’s actually resembles his G1 gun quite a bit, while Barricade’s is a double-barreled weapon which can split into two pistols. Transforming these guys is a pretty straight-forward variation of the original toy. Sure, it’s a bit more complicated, but not too much. I was able to get these guys to robot mode and back without any instructions, so you know it can’t be that hard. So how’s about them robot modes?

Yeah, what we have is very similar to the Prowl I know and love. His proportions aren’t quite perfect, as he strikes me as having extra broad shoulders. It’s a similar style to Siege Sideswipe and it is not by any means a deal-breaker for me. Quite the contrary, I think these guys look fantastic. The jutting hood chest remains my all-time favorite Autobot design, complimented by the door wings. Conspicuously absent is any sign of shoulder-mounted guns, giving all the third-party companies out there a chance to make some money. The lower legs still form out of the hatchback, but in this case heel-spurs are added to fold out and grant stability. These guys aren’t quite as well polished when viewed from the back, but I’ve certainly seen worse.

As for the decos, they remain pretty faithful to their respective car coloring. Prowl adds some yellow paint accents on his lower chest as well as the sergeant stripes on his biceps, which is just a lovely touch. Barricade adds a new color to the mix, which is like a pale gray-lavender for his arms, upper legs, and torso. As with all Siege figures, there’s a lot of detail to the sculpts by way of panel lining, and Barricade shows these off much better because of the lighter color plastic.

If you’re looking for a G1-faithful portrait, Prowl’s head sculpt is just about perfect. I don’t think I would change a thing about it. The “helmet” is well defined and includes the red horns jutting out from the center ridge. His noble Autobot face features some snappy silver paint. I’d go so far as to rate this portrait right up there with the Masterpiece version, it really is that good!

For Barricade, I’m happy to say that Hasbro designed a brand new face because the f’ugly Bayverse bug-faces just don’t belong in this line, and I really like what they did with it. His facial features aren’t quite as sharp as Prowl’s, but he does look appropriately grim. The brown face is an interesting choice and I suppose it goes well with his darker deco. The “helmet” is similar to Prowl’s as it shares the central crest with protruding horns, in this case purple, but there’s enough differences to set it apart and make it distinctive.

Obviously the guns we saw in their alt modes can be wielded in their hands. Once again, Prowl’s pays homage to the original G1 figure’s gun and is cast in white plastic. Barricade’s can be used as a single weapon or split into two pistols.

So far Siege has failed to truly disappoint me and that track record isn’t going to be upset today. Prowl and Barricade are excellent figures, and coming from me, that’s saying something because I hold my Prowl figures to high standards. Actually, I’m usually just happy enough to get them at all, but in this case Hasbro did the design proud in both robot and vehicle modes. These guys look great, are quick and easy to transform, and they are tons of fun to play around with. Of course, we haven’t seen the last of this mold, and Siege Smokescreen will be hitting my doorstep sometime next week. I probably could have waited and reviewed all three together, but I’ll just have to come back and give him his own look when I get the time.

Marvel Legends: Emma Frost (Walgreens Exclusive) by Hasbro

Folks, I’m really trying to get back to a regular three-post rotation for content each week, but it hasn’t been easy. I almost had it last week, but stuff came up and I just didn’t have the time. Maybe this week will be different. In the meantime, it’s another Monday, and that means time to open another Marvel Legends. And today I am once again forgoing random chance and taking a look at a figure that was just pitched at my porch by an Amazon delivery driver. It’s the Walgreens Exclusive Emma Frost!

No, that’s no mistake. I had to go to Amazon to get this figure, which is unusual because my Walgreens has been pretty good at getting their exclusives on the shelves. I’m not sure if I missed this one, or just didn’t get lucky, but when I saw her turn up on Amazon at a sort of reasonable price, I gave up on my luck changing and jumped at the chance. Hasbro’s last crack at Frost wasn’t exactly a 10 out of 10, but I still would have been happy to have found her at a price that wouldn’t have prohibited me eating for a week.

And yes, this new release is sort of a consolation prize, because she isn’t Emma in her traditional white costume. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Dark Reign, and I can’t deny the appeal of the black costume, but seeing as how this is currently my only Emma Frost on my Legends shelf, it’s not the iconic look I would have preferred. In terms of sculpting, this is one of those figures that relies heavily on paint to create the costume. Her black one-piece is all paint, with skin-tone recreating the split down the middle. Likewise, her sleeves are painted to be cropped short, and even her thigh-high stockings are painted with some gray lines running across them. She has high-heels, which I’m sure we’ve seen before, and there are separate pieces that hang around her wrists and ankles to create the illusion of the tops of her boots and gloves.

From the neck down the only other new stuff we get is a wide belt, a pair of shoulder armor, and her jacket-cape-thingy. I do really dig the slight billowing effect of her cape, and the sculpted stitch lines are a great touch. She also features red branded X’s on her shoulders, which I don’t really remember from the art, but I like them all the same. With that having been said, everything looks pretty good, although there’s fair amount of black paint spray around her chest. At least the silver buckle and eyelets on her belt are neatly painted.

The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. She’s very pretty and the paintwork is a heck of a lot more crisp and clean than some of those lines on her costume. The metallic blue lipstick is a nice touch too. The blonde hair is sculpted as a separate piece of plastic, which gives it that lovely degree of depth. It partially hides her right ear and the left side of her face.

The articulation here follows the usual Legends gal pattern. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows. The wrists are on rotating pins, allowing you to swap the hands between fists and the open magic-casting hands we’ve seen plenty of times before. The legs have ball jointed hips, double-hinges in the knees, swivels at the tops of her stockings, and ankles with both hinges and lateral rockers. And yes, it is a royal paint in the butt to get her to stand with those heels, but hey who needs practical when they look that good, eh? Finally, Emma has a ball joint under her chest and a hinged ball joint in her neck.

And in case you thought I forgot, Emma does come with a second head sculpt featuring her shorter cropped hair and metallic red lipstick. It’s every bit as good as the other head, possibly even a tad better, but you know what? It’s also like a big F*CK YOU to me, because now I have a perfectly iconic Emma Frost head without an iconic body to put it on.

Does it sound like I’m a little angry at this figure? Eh, I’m really not. It’s a great looking figure and certainly not a bad addition to my Legends line-up, but it isn’t the Emma Frost I wanted. Hell, I don’t even have any Dark X-Men to display her with on the shelf. Hey, Hasbro! There’s a great idea for an Amazon Exclusive. Do a Dark X-Men six-pack like you did with A-Force and Alpha-Flight to go along with this Emma. Hell, most of them would just be repaints anyway, and dopes like me will buy it. Anyway, Consolation Prize Emma set me back $28 on Amazon with that lovely free Prime shipping. So, yeah, I had to pay a premium for her, but at least I didn’t get too beaten up. Now if only Danni Moonstar would drop a couple of bucks, I’d bite the bullet and pick her up as well.