Star Wars Black Series: Figrin D’an by Hasbro

I know, I just checked out Jazwares Millennium Falcon a couple days ago, but I guess I’m in a Star Wars mood this week, so let’s return to A Galaxy Far, Far Away one more time before heading into the weekend. As someone who has been frequently complaining that we still don’t have Black Series Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, or a number of other Cantina Aliens yet, I was a little bitter to see Figrin D’an jump to the head of the line and make an appearance. But then I reasoned it out that Hasbro knew they could make collectors buy the same figure six or seven times and it all made perfect sense.

I was actually thinking about skipping this figure, because it’s not terribly exciting for a $20+ purchase, and I knew I wasn’t going to buy the whole band. But then Figgy started turning up at a few online retailers for $9.99 and I decided to go for it. Luckily, the retailer I bought it from had a three-figure limit, so they stepped in where my better sense would have failed me. So, yes the figure in the package is billed as the lead performer of the Modal Nodes, Figrin D’an, but he comes with three different instruments, and apparently all Bith look alike, so you can use him as several different members if you buy more than one.

Here’s Fiery Figgy out of the box, and while he look pretty good, he’s still a pretty bland figure with just a black tunic, black boots, and gray trousers to make up his costume. The only thing really distinctive here are his big Bith hands and his bulbous Bith head. But, hey, that’s not the figure’s fault as it’s still a pretty good representation of the character. A lot of the Cantina aliens were just about giving people monster heads and monster hands. It was pretty casual. Hell, even Greedo was wearing high heels most of the time. You get some sculpted rumples and wrinkles in the tunic and pants and some seams, but not a lot else noteworthy… heh, see what I did there?

The head sculpt is decent enough, albeit maybe a little soft. When we were kids, my brother and I used to call these guys Hiney Heads and that made us giggle because their heads looked like butts. It kinda still makes me giggle. Keep in mind, it was quite a bit later until any of us knew that these guys had names and that their race had a name. We sure as hell didn’t know their music was called Jizz, which is a shame because that would have made us giggle too. I do think the paint job for the portrait could have been better. Maybe a little bit of a wash or some shading? I mean, the costume was simple enough, they could have done something special with the head, but like the rest of the figure, it’s perfectly passable. It even has a little hole in its maw to stick the various instruments into.

The articulation is solid enough. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with hinged pegs in the hands. The legs have ball joints in the hips, rotating hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint under the chest and the neck is ball jointed as well. All they did was stand there and sway in the movie, so this level of articulation has them more than well covered. Except for the elbows, which definitely could have used better than a 90-degree bend to work better with their instruments.

As mentioned earlier, you get three different instruments, the first of which is the kloo horn, which I believe is what Figrin D’ar played…

Next up is the fanfar…

And finally, the fizzz. Each of these instruments vary in detail with the fanfar and kloo horn having the most and the fizzz having the least, but they all seem to be good representations of the on screen versions. Each has its own challenge when it comes to getting the Bith to hold it so that the mouth piece is actually sticking into the tiny mouth hole, which should be evident in some of the pictures. Double hinged elbows would have sure helped in this department, as well as maybe getting a set of hands specifically made for each instrument. Considering the simplicity of the figure, I don’t think one of those two improvements would be asking too much.

I’m happy to have some Bith musicians, but the cynical side of me says that these are just more evidence of Hasbro trying to stretch figure molds to the max. Yes, it’s a new sculpt, but it’s basically a musical troop builder, which is just one step better than the endless carbonized and credit series repaints that Hasbro has been pouring into this line. Now, if you want to get the remaining instruments to complete your band, you have to buy the Deluxe Nalan Cheel figure, which is a Hasbro Pulse exclusive and comes with the three larger instruments but runs close to $40. You will then need to buy at least two more Figrins in order to display one band member with each instrument, BUT… I believe there were two kloo horn players, and a little research tells me that there was an eighth member that wasn’t playing, but I think he was dressed different so I won’t count him. So, by my reckoning that would be a total of six Figins and one Nalan to complete the band. I haven’t decided to take that plunge yet, especially since Figgy is back up to $20 at most retailers. Maybe, if he drops to ten again, I’d consider it, but until then my Cantina band will remain a trio.

Star Wars Black: Grand Moff Tarkin by Hasbro

The 6-inch Black Series is perpetually in danger of getting dropped by your’s truly. It seems like for every great figure, there are a handful of mediocre ones. It also seems like Hasbro continually squanders the opportunity to make use of the larger scale and produce figures that are genuinely better than what could be done in the 4-inch scale. But just as I’m about ready to call it quits, Hasbro goes and teases a new release that gets me all hot and bothered again. And yep, Tarkin is just that kind of figure. I pre-ordered him, which is something I rarely ever do with this line, and it felt like it took forever for him to finally arrive.

I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, so let me gush over Peter Cushing for a bit. There’s no doubt Star Wars introduced him to me, but as I got a little older, I would discover the films of his horror career and I became smitten with him as an actor. Darth Vader may have had the spotlight in merchandising, but let’s not forget that Tarken was holding his leash, making him one of the greatest bad asses of the entire Original Trilogy. When he featured prominently (and posthumously) in Rogue One, I was so delighted, it was easy for me to look past the blemishes in the CG. Yup, I really dig him and here he is in all his 6-inch action figure glory. Hopefully there isn’t any foul stench!

OK, I’ll concede that this is not the most exciting action figure around. It’s an old man in a uniform. Indeed, for as much as I adore having this figure in my collection, I have surprisingly little that I can actually say about it. The uniform has some nice texturing and stitch lines. I was expecting heavy reuse from the Director Krennic figure, and there’s definitely some here. The legs appear to be the same, as do the arms, albeit with new hands. The tunic looks like a re-sculpt, as there’s some added wrinkles to the area below the belt, among other minor differences. The belts are different too, and of course Krennic wears a blaster, whereas Tarkin does not.

The head sculpt is pretty solid, but I will admit that it looks better in hand than it does in photos. I also think it loses a little something when viewed from straight on, but give that head a little quarter turn and I think it’s a pretty impressive likeness. The paint is also much improved over what we’ve been seeing in this line in the past. In terms of human portraits, I’d say this is definitely a step in the right direction. On the downside, the tunic area on my figure has some paint inconsistencies with some splotches that make it look perpetually wet in some areas. It’s not a disaster, but it is noticeable enough that I may pick up a second Tarkin if I can find him for a good price.

The articulation here is pretty standard stuff for the Black Series. You get rotating hinges in his shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips. He’s got double hinges in his knees, and his ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in his waist and both a hinge and ball joint in his neck. The joints feel good and all have a fairly decent range of motion. But hey, this is Tarkin. You pretty much just need him to stand somewhere and gesture while he commands the people around him. Conveniently, Hasbro used a gun holding right hand for him, and while he doesn’t need it to hold a gun, the trigger finger works nicely for pointing. Normally, I would have liked it if Hasbro threw in a gun, but instead we got something a lot cooler.

Yup, Tarkin comes with the Interrogation Droid! This black plastic ball of pain comes mounted on a clear flight stand with a ball joint so you can adjust it’s positioning a bit. It features a great amount of sculpted detail and some silver and red paint apps. It also has its various instruments of torture deployed, including a rather chunky version of the syringe it was going to use on Princess Leia. As far as accessories go, this one is fantastic!

It’s possible not everyone is going to be as excited to get Tarkin as I am. There’s a fair amount of reuse and resculpt here, he’s a simple design, and he doesn’t exactly put the action in action figure. But as much as I love the character and the actor, I’d say this one was pretty high on my 6-inch Black Series Want List. Hasbro did a nice job on him and even stepped up the game by bundling him with the Interrogation Droid, and all in all he was well worth the wait. And yeah, I’m also pretty excited about the releases of General Veers and Admiral Piet. I’ll take as many top Imperial brass as I can get!

Star Wars Black: Jawa by Hasbro

I’m still trying to push through some extra content on Wednesdays for fear that I’ll be AWOL toward for the last week of the month when the crazy times arrive. Today I’m doubling up on some long overdue business with Hasbro’s Black Series. Now, if you’ve haven’t been keeping up, you should know that I’ve been peppering my last few Star Wars Black Series reviews with some of my vitriol about today’s figure, so let’s recap! 1) The Jawa never should have debuted on the 40th Anniversary vintage-style card. It made the demand too great and the distribution of that series seemed far worse than the regular boxed releases, at least in my area. 2) This should have been a two-pack, because I couldn’t see what Hasbro could possibly do to make a Jawa worth $20. That’s the reason I skipped Black Series Yoda. With that out of the way, here’s hoping the actual figure will be good enough to make up for it all. Spoiler… It isn’t.

Here he is on the card and it is a beautiful presentation! These over-sized vintage-style cards are fantastic sights to behold. If they were more readily available, if I was a focused Star Wars collector, and if I had the wall space, I could have seen myself relenting and buying a set to display in package. But that’s not me, and I’m in this for the loose figures themselves, so as pretty as it is, this package is going to be torn apart… right now.

Out of the box and standing on the shelf, this Jawa looks pretty good. The robes are sculpted quite nicely, complete with a fabric texture and frayed edges around the sleeves and bottoms. Even the bandoleer straps look great and he has the holster for his ion rifle, which I’ll come back to in a bit. On the downside, the sculpted robes negate his leg articulation. There are little slits up the sides, but they do nothing to help matters. There’s a sculpted seam running up the middle, which if sliced, might give him some better range of motion, but I’m not going to attempt that until I get another one of these little bastards. Also, I’m not a big fan of the sandy paint spray on the bottoms of the robes.

So, an obvious quibble here is that there are no softgoods and I think that was a big missed opportunity. Granted, they might not have looked as good as the sculpted robes, but considering this little guy is already way overpriced, put it in there and let us decide whether or not to use it. The Kenner cloth robed Jawa could be displayed with it or without it, and I’d argue it looked pretty good with its tiny cloak. If it works in that scale, there are no excuses for not trying it in this scale. You’re charging $20 for this little figure, Hasbro, you should have been throwing everything you could in here to give us a sense of value for the dollar. Hell, when you released these little fellas in the 3.75-inch scale, you usually tossed in a droid with them or released them as a two-pack.

Counting out the leg articulation (I’m not even going to bother, because it’s pointless), this little fellow still has rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, as well as a ball joint in the waist and neck. So at least everything above the waist is useful. But even coming up with enough different poses for pictures was difficult. There just isn’t a lot you can do with him.

The Jawa comes with two weapons, I believe both are considered ion blasters: One is a blunderbuss design and the other is attached to a battery pack. I’ve always loved these weapons and Hasbro did a particularly nice job recreating them here. The one with the battery pack resembles a chibi Lee-Enfield Rifle right down to the little integral magazine and wood stock. It’s permanently attached to the battery pack with a cord and fits into the holster on the back of the belt. Unfortunately, the Jawa’s hands are not really sculpted to work well with either of these weapons. There’s no trigger finger to get through the trigger guard of the battery powered blaster and he can barely even hold them across his chest because the robes limit his arm movement.

For about five bucks less, I’d consider this Jawa a passable figure, but even then he’s got a lot working against him. Half the articulation is useless, no softgoods, and he can’t even really hold his weapons properly. I really like how Hasbro handled the smaller scale Jawas in the Legacy Collection. We actually got a couple different sculpts, and they knew enough to pack them either together or with a droid to make it worth the money. I’m still hoping Hasbro will do something similar with these guys, but as it stands now, I’m afraid this figure was ultimately an overpriced disappointment. And with that, I’m finally finished with my Black Series versions of Kenner’s “Original Twelve.” Unless you count the A New Hope version of Darth Vader, and since I don’t have anything up my sleeve for DC Friday this week, I’ll come back then and check him out, along with the Black Series version of the Kenner “Early Bird Kit” display.

Star Wars Black: Tusken Raider by Hasbro

I’m finally counting down to a complete set of the Black Series versions of the “Original Twelve” Kenner figures, with only three left to review. These have been ridiculously tough for me to get at reasonable prices as they were each originally released on the 40th Anniversary Vintage Style cardbacks and I’m still plenty sore at Hasbro for going this route. The only 40th Figures I ever saw in my neck of the woods were the repacks of Obi-Wan, Tattooine Luke, and Princess Leia, which clogged the pegs everywhere. Fortunately, I’ve since been able to hunt down the Jawa and Death Squad Commander without getting too badly beaten up on the price.

And thankfully today’s figure, The Tusken Raider, was re-issued in the traditional boxed package so he’s finally easier to come by at his regular retail price. Oh, I still haven’t been able to find him locally, but I was able to grab him online. I’ve got some great memories of this figure from the Kenner line and he’s remained a favorite, which is surprising because that goddamn ambush scene jump-scare scared the living shit out of me when I was a kid. I was like 7 years old when my parents took me to see Star Wars and that one scene is the only thing I remember from that day. The only reason I was able to get my shit back together was because I didn’t want to be the reason the family had to leave and miss the rest of the movie.

And holy crap, does this guy look amazing! Ain’t no vinyl cape here! This is easily some of the best use of softgoods Hasbro has done in this line. And yes, I realize that’s not much of a compliment, but nonetheless I really like it. I don’t know what this stuff is, but it looks like they actually dug up mummies and used the gnarled and nasty mummy bandages to make the Tusken Raider’s cloak. If so, I got to say, that’s some dedication and I approve! It fits the figure pretty well over his plastic sculpted robes, all of which are textured quite nicely. Now, I just have to keep myself from pulling on any of those random threads.

Additional detail to the outfit includes the brace of ammo pouches that run across his waist and the crisscrossed bandoleer straps across his chest. The paintwork on the pouches feature a nice watch to make them look like warn brown leather and both the pouches and the straps have individually painted fixtures to make them look like bronze or brass. The head sculpt is excellent too. From the protruding eye cylinders and head spikes, to the roller around his neck, and that creepy orifice he calls a mouth. The paint is overall solid too, except for a little brown slop on his silver nose thing.

The articulation is pretty typical for a robed Black Series figure, which means all the points are there, but the range of motion could have been better. You basically get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the waist and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck. My biggest issue is that even with the slits up both sides of the soft plastic robes, posing his legs can get frustrating. If you have the Obi-Wan figure, than you know what I’m talking about. It makes me really wish they had gone with softgoods below the belt. The other problem is that the lower hinges in the knees have limited range of movement because of the way the lower leg is sculpted. It’s a bit of a bummer. but comes nowhere near ruining the figure for me.

The Tusken Raider comes with three different mace heads for his gaffi stick, which was a really nice surprise. I haven’t read any reviews of this guy prior to opening him, so I wasn’t expecting that. These pieces just peg and unpeg from the base of the stick and they all look great. I was already hoping to find a couple more of these guys and now that magic number will likely be three so I can have one with each style of stick.

He also comes with his musket, which is beautifully detailed. It has a rather 19th Century Moroccan flavor to it and features a scope, a reinforced stock, and various paint hits to the bits and bobs. Now, his right hand is sculpted with a trigger finger, but because of the limitations in the elbow joint, it’s really tough to get him to draw his weapon up to his cheek like he’s firing it, but I was able to get it close enough.

I’m more than a little surprised to say that the Tusken Raider now ranks among my favorite figures in the Black Series. Some minor articulation gripes aside, this figure feels closer to that impressive first wave than most of what I’ve picked up since. He features a fantastic use of softgoods, a solid sculpt, and it feels like they really made an effort with the paint. Toss in all those extra gaffi stick parts, and you can count me very pleased with the way this fellow came out. Had they gone with softgoods for the lower skirt, I think he would have been damn near perfect.

Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker’s X-34 Landspeeder by Hasbro

I usually take Wednesdays off from toy bloggery, but I’ve got a dicey weekend ahead of me what with Death Storm Irma targeting my city. At this point FFZ could very well go dark at any time, so I figured I might as well post while I can. And so today I’m dropping by to check out another piece of fallout from Force Friday II, this time coming at us from the 6-inch Black Series. And it’s another vehicle! After how many of those Tie Fighters lingered around at deep discounts, I’m a little surprised that Hasbro is releasing more 6-inch scale vehicles, and yet we not only got this one, but also Rey’s Jakku Speeder from The Force Awakens. Let’s have a look!

The box is pretty big and features the artsy-fartsy monochrome look that Hasbro has been doing with their Black Series boxed items for some time now. It’s not terribly flashy, but I like it. You get some schematic-like drawings of the vehicle as well as some photos on the back. There’s a little window to let you look at the included Luke Skywalker figure. If you’re looking for something with a little more premium presentation, you can always try to hunt down the SDCC Exclusive version, but be prepared to pay a chunk of change for it. Everything here seems pretty collector friendly, but my box was shipped with next to no packing from Amazon and beaten to hell by the US Post Office, so I won’t be keeping this box. There’s a little bit of simple assembly required: The top engine needs to be plugged into the back, the windshield needs to be clipped on, and the stand has to be pegged in underneath.

And here she is all ready to go, and I have to say that I like what Hasbro did here a lot. The Speeder seems to be fairly accurately scaled for the 6-inch Black Series figures. It’s possibly just a smidge on the small side, but I’ll get more into that when I get to the figures interacting with it. It’s not terribly hefty, but it is an extremely solid toy. The sculpt looks pretty spot on, although I’ll confess that I probably have the original vintage Kenner toy more firmly etched into my memory, rather than the actual prop from the film. Either way, even after all this time, I consider this to be a great looking vehicle. The design is fairly practical and beautifully retro-futuristic, and above all it has that “used future” look that makes the Star Wars Universe such a visually interesting place.

The stand is a simple clear piece that pegs in under the vehicle and gives it that hovering effect while still offering stability. The Speeder is actually rock solid when resting on the stand, which is great, although I’m surprised how much I do miss the bouncy effect of the old Kenner toy and it’s concealed springy wheels.

The vehicle’s deco gets by with a lot of bare brown plastic, but also features some solid paintwork. Now, to be fair, this is one of those pieces that really straddles the line between toy and collectible. With the size and price point, I don’t feel this is aimed at kids. On the other hand, the paintwork is firmly planted in the toy camp. The weathering, for example, looks neat and gives the Speeder some character, but it’s very deliberate and somewhat heavy handed, so people looking for a high end replica style piece are probably going to be disappointed. On the other hand, I have a feeling we’re going to see some truly spectacular custom paint jobs on this vehicle. And so, with first impressions out of the way, let’s take a closer look at some of the points of interest.

The passenger side engine is missing it’s cover, so you can see all the wires and inner mechanisms. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen Star Wars and I still can’t remember whether this was always like that or was it inflicted by the Sand People’s scavenging after ambushing Luke. Either way, it’s a great distinctive feature that was overlooked on pretty much every version I’ve ever owned of this vehicle.

There’s some pretty nice sculpted detailing on the back of the vehicle. You practically have to pick the thing up or get down to eye level to even really see these things. I hunted for my Visual Dictionary to see what these things are, but I had no luck.

The back features two opening hatches, one is a storage locker, which can hold Luke’s binoculars or his lightsaber hilt, but not much else. The other hatch reveals part of the Speeder’s inner workings.

This exposed section of engine on the hood is particularly well done and the paint apps for the different wires are very well done. Here you can also get a close up look at the weathering on the side. Yeah, it’s just splotches of silver paint to make it look like the finish has worn off. Not bad, but not terribly convincing either.

The dented front end, on the other hand, is extremely well done. Even the silver dry brushing here is much better than the rest of the weathering on the Speeder. It actually looks like Luke struck a Ronto while driving home after a night of coiffing a dozen Blue Russians at the Cantina. Dude lives on a desert planet. How many things are there to collide with?

One of the most impressive details on the Speeder lies under the hood. The detailing on this engine is absolutely superb. Here is also one of the differences between this retail release and the SDCC Exclusive. The Con release had a button that would spin the turbine inside, this one does not. I’ve got to be honest, as far as exclusive features go, that’s pretty weak. I can’t say as I feel cheated out of anything for going with the retail version.

And finally, as we come around to the passenger side, you can see a clip that holds the rifle included with Luke. And speaking of which, let’s have a look at that figure.

So, this is basically a slightly better version of the single release of “Farmboy Luke” figure, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on him. The figures are identical from the neck down, or close enough if you allow for some minor natural paint variations. The tunic is supposed to be crafted in better quality material, but I can’t see a big difference. I kind of like the old one a bit more because it has a little more yellowing to it to signify some wear.

The portrait is the biggest difference. The new one is loads better, but still not good. I like that the waxy skin tone is gone and the hair sculpt is tons better, but the caterpillar eyebrows and fish lips don’t are not welcome here. It’s arguably a little closer in likeness, but still not there yet. With that having been said, I’m ready to retire the old one in favor of this one.

The accessories include the same belt, binoculars, and lightsaber that we got with the last figure. New accessories include the hat with sculpted goggles, the aforementioned rifle, and the poncho. The poncho works about as well as I could expect from a garment in this scale that’s supposed to hang loose. It’s a good try and it actually looks and feels like a well tailored piece, but this has never been my “go to” look for Farmboy Luke. And with that out of the way, let’s see how the figure interacts with the vehicle…

Luke fits into the Landspeeder perfectly. He’s got plenty of room and he’s pretty easy to pose either gripping the wheel or putting one hand on the shifter. Even though the first version of this figure came out well before the vehicle was released, it looks like he was made to drive it. And that’s going to be the case for most Black Series figures that aren’t unnaturally bulked up. I’ve got no complaints here at all. So, how about using figures to create other movie scenes?

Much to my surprise, 3PO fits in the passenger seat almost perfectly. Seriously, the only issue here is that he has no elbow joints, so he’s going to be fighting Luke for control of the armrest. He’s not even difficult to get in there. What about R2?

So, R2 is a bit of a compromise. There’s a peg hole on the back that is supposed to fit the sensor in the back of his head and hold him in place. It doesn’t work at all. Not only is it too loose a fit, but it’s not even in the right place. As far as the intended design goes, this feature is a total fail. However, R2 can rest pretty well on the back without it, especially if you position his legs down a bit to stabilize him and keep him from rolling around. How about Obi-Wan?

Well, technically he fits, but you really have to work it to get him in there because of his molded robes, and even then, he doesn’t fit well at all. He pops up a lot higher than Luke and he looks awkward and uncomfortable. I’ve already ordered a second Obi-Wan figure and I’m going to cut off his lower robes, which should make him fit perfectly, but I’ll report back on that with an update to this review when it happens. How about 3PO riding on the back.

To the contrary of what a lot of people have said, this actually works. It’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad either. The trick is angling his legs down into the compartment behind the seats and then turning him at the waist to face forward.

While there’s some room for improvement here, I’m overall very pleased with the way the Landspeeder turned out. The biggest flaw to me is the incompatibility with Obi-Wan. He’s a figure that everyone is going to want to stick in there, so the fact that he doesn’t fit well is disappointing. I shouldn’t have to buy another one and modify it, but I’m glad that it’s an option, as I plan on displaying this vehicle with the extra Luke driving, Obi-Wan in the passenger seat, the droids in the back, and a Sandtrooper off to the side. Now, as happy as I am with it, I’m not quite as happy with the $60 price tag, but a lot of that has to do with the included figure. With SWB figures going for about $20 these days, that brings the vehicle price down to $40, which isn’t all that bad. I just wish they had done Luke right the first time, rather than bundling him with this vehicle to try to beef up the value. With that having been said, I’m satisfied enough that I’ll likely be picking up Rey’s Speeder eventually, although I may wait to see if it price drops.

Star Wars Black: R5-D4 (Gamestop Exclusive) by Hasbro

Once again, I must disappoint all you Convertorobot fans, as it is Thursday and I have no new Transformers to look at. Maybe next week. We’ll see. In the meantime, let’s check out a robot that does not turn into anything!

I was mighty peeved to find out that the infamous droid with the bad motivator was coming to the 6-inch Black Series as a Gamestop Exclusive. There’s only one of these stores in my area and going in that place subjects me to a vortex of screaming kids, punks trying to sell games for drug money, and pushy salespeople trying to get me to opt in to some membership card or magazine. I hate the place. Besides, they’re closing stores left and right, so maybe giving them an Exclusive isn’t the best idea, Hasbro. Next you’ll be giving exclusives to other sinking retail ships like K-mart… oh, riiiight. Well, it turns out my anger was all for naught, because I was able to pre-order this guy on their website pretty easily and he showed up on my doorstep yesterday.

Hasbro is doing over-sized vintage cardbacks for the 40th Anniversary. A lot of these have been re-issues of “The Original Twelve” and I think these look terrific and I really dig how they will stand for easy display. So far, I’ve managed to keep myself from buying a set to keep carded, but that resolve may buckle if retailers start doing sales on these.. R5, however, is currently only available in this packaging, so I had no choice this time. Oh yeah… and thanks Gamestop for putting your obnoxious sticker on the card. It probably comes off, but it’s a shitty thing to do to an item that is being sold in collectible packaging. Good thing I bought this droid to open.

The back of the card is pretty damn cool too. It shows the twelve figures that are getting this carded treatment. All are re-issues, with the exception of the Sand Person, Jawa, Death Squad Commander, and I suppose Darth Vader, since he’s supposed to at least have a new head sculpt. There’s also a shot of the Early Bird-inspired display set that Vader comes with. Yup, I pre-ordered that thing. I have no willpower. And speaking of no willpower, as you can probably guess, these carded figures are not collector friendly and as good as it looks, I’m about to tear this one open.

Here he is, and as expected from the neck down he’s a straight repaint of R2-D2, and that’s not a bad thing, because this is a pretty damn good Astromech body. All of the familiar panel lines are sculpted in, and I really dig the hoses on his feet. Besides the red accents, R5’s deco also includes some light weathering, whereas I had to do my own on R2 with a mechanical pencil. I think they distressed him just the right amount. It doesn’t look heavy handed at all.

The head is also a very good sculpt and escapes the big fault of the R2 figure by not having those eyesore seams running up the sides. R5’s head still has seams, but they’re very well hidden. The antenna is made of bendy plastic, but it doesn’t seem like it will be prone to warping. You get a little bit of weathering on the head, but maybe here it could have used a smidgen more. The paint on the eyes is sharp and clean and the hologram sticker strip that runs around his neck looks nice, although I already had to stick the end of it back on, so I’m not sure how long that sticker is going to last.

As with R2, the third leg still retracts by turning the head. I wasn’t a big fan of this feature when I first saw it, but I’ve cooled on it a bit. It just seemed rather gimmicky for a collector line, but then the Black Series’ collector line credentials have been pretty shaky. I should also note that R5 doesn’t share any of the opening panels in his head that R2 had. It seems like they could have given us a swap-out panel with a bad motivator, but nope!

The two vertical side panels, on his front, however, do still open and he does have his little arms that swing out. It probably would have been easy for Hasbro to just glue these shut and not worry about them, so I’m pretty happy to see they survived.

In every way, R5-D4 is a great little figure. in fact, the only issues here for me are price and availability. At $22, you’re paying an awful lot for very little. R2 came with a bunch of extras and R5 comes with squat. It makes me wonder if he was made an exclusive release just to justify the price tag. Why not R5 and a couple of Jawas in a window box for $50? That would have been a nice deal. Plus, making him exclusive to Gamestop is just bewildering to me. I’ve never even seen Star Wars figures in a Gamestop outside of maybe Funko Pop! Vinyls. Luckily, I didn’t have to actually go in a Gamestop to get him. I pre-ordered mine when it first went up on the website and it became “Unavailable” not long after that. Disappointing collectors by making a deal with a dying game retailer? Not cool, Hasbro. The better way to go would have been to put him in a window box for wide distribution and let the vintage carded packaging be your exclusive. Ah, but what do I know?

Star Wars Black: Princess Leia (A New Hope) by Hasbro

One of the things that’s had me most excited about the 6-inch Black Series was getting all of the original 12 vintage figures in this new format. Well, Hasbro showed off the remaining releases at Toy Fair last week and collectors who are willing to double dip will even be able to get them on vintage style cardbacks. They look great, but I don’t have the money or space to buy all these figures again just so I can tear them open or hang them on the wall. As it is, I already have totes full of the carded Vintage Collection 3 3/4-inch figures that I hardly ever see. Anywho, with the original version of Princess Leia now in my collection, my 6-inch heroes from A New Hope are complete and all I’m waiting on is the Jawa, Death Squad Commander, and Tusken Raider to complete the Twelve… pretty cool!


This figure has had its share of controversy as many Princess Leia figures have had to suffer ever since the day Power of the Force 2 unleashed the dreaded “Monkey-Face Leia” on our collections. It’s safe to say that some of the early shots of this one didn’t look so good. I made a decision that, once in hand, if I thought this this one sucked really bad, I wasn’t going to review it out of respect to the late Carrie Fisher. The fact that you’re reading this means that wasn’t the case. Now, I’m not going to tell you she’s fantastic, but… well, let’s just go ahead and dive in.


For starters, there’s very little sculpted detail visible on this figure, and that’s because of her softgoods outfit. Gown? Is that the right word? Maybe? I’m going to call it a gown. From the neck down all you can really see are her hands and boots, and the belt which cinches the gown to the figure. And yes, the belt and gown are both removable and she has a fully painted white outfit and boots underneath. The gown is easily my favorite part of this figure. I’m glad they didn’t go for a complete sculpt here. The fabric fits the figure very well, the stitching is pretty good with just a few stray threads here and there, and there are some areas, like the neck collar, where it’s actually quite impressive. The material is very thin and it’s slit a bit up the sides to not interfere with articulation too badly.



They also included the hood, which is another check I’ll add to this figure’s plus column. It doesn’t fit flush with her back when it’s down, but that’s to be expected with the lack of weight that an outfit in this scale exhibits. Overall, I think it looks better down than Obi-Wan’s hood does.


And then there’s the portrait. So, I was expecting the worst and I don’t think that’s what I got. No, it’s not very good either. At some point I’m sure there was some Carrie Fisher in there, but I think most of it got lost in the transition from prototype to final product. And the fact that it got the bare bones minimum effort when it came to the paint doesn’t help either. My guess is this will be another Black Series figure that someone paints up really nice and shows that it could have worked in the right hands, but clearly those hands aren’t working in Hasbro’s factories. I’d say that this portrait might have been acceptable on a 3 3/4-inch figure, but not so much in a 6-inch “collector’s line.” I seem to say that a lot when reviewing these figures. On a more positive note, I think the hair sculpt is pretty good.


The underlying articulation is right in line with what we’ve seen from many 6-inch Black Series figures. I couldn’t quite get her to hunch down to R2’s level to feed him the Death Star Plans, but I was able to fake it by getting her down on one knee.





Leia comes with two accessories and they’re both guns! And why not? Princess Leia is an ass kicker. The first thing we see her do is take out a Stormtrooper with this first weapon. Yes, it’s her “Defender” sporting blaster, which she carried on the Tantive IV right before getting captured. This design is one of my favorite weapons in the film.


Hasbro also threw in an E-11 Stormtrooper blaster, which she used later on during the escape from The Death Star. We’ve seen plenty of these guns released in the Black Series, but I’m always happy to get another! Now, before wrapping up there’s just one more thing to look at, and that’s scale. Consistency of scale has been a challenge with this line, and Princess Leia is one of the biggest (literally) examples of that.


Here are all the 6-inch Black Series Leias together. Back when I looked at Leia in the Boushh disguise I was notably irked about how badly they flubbed the scale on that figure. She’s a giant compared to the original Slave Leia release. Here we can see that they reined things in a bit and scaled this figure almost perfectly with her bikini-clad counterpart. Sure it just makes Boushh Leia look all the more freakishly tall, but at least they didn’t compound the error by doing it again. Which likeness do you think is the best? Granted, none of them are ideal, but I think I’d go with Slave Leia followed by this one.




It’s never a ringing endorsement to have to say a figure could have been worse, but that’s what I’m thinking here. The truth is, given my ever deflating expectations for the 6-inch Black Series, I found this version of Princess Leia to be perfectly passable, and yes that’s intended as a left-handed compliment. From the neck down, I’m extremely happy with the way she turned out and I think this is some of the best use of softgoods that the line has seen to date. And while the portrait is far from being on point, I don’t think it’s all that much worse than some of the other likenesses we’ve had here. Indeed, comparing it to some of the larger and far more expensive Princess Leia releases in the past sort of puts things in a better perspective. Word is that the re-issue in the vintage-style packaging got a face lift, both in paint and sculpt, and the prospect of that might tempt me to try my luck with another.

Star Wars Black: Obi-Wan Kenobi (A New Hope) by Hasbro

Sorry, folks. No DC Friday this week. I’ve still got a whole case of 6-inch Star Wars Black figures to go through and I need to start chipping away at them before more arrive. So today I’m opening a figure that I am pretty excited about finally getting. It’s Obi-Wan Kenobi from Episode IV: A New Hope!


Obi-Wan got something of a pre-release back at last year’s SDCC with some snazzy packaging and exclusive extra bits. The regular retail packaging offers no surprises, it’s just the same old stuff. It’s collector friendly and the side panel features the figure’s name and number. I have only saved the boxes for a handful of these figures and alas, Obi-Wan’s box is destined for the bin. You’ll note that the figure comes packaged with his cloak on, but I’m going to start with it off.


Sculpted robes often pose problems in terms of a figure’s overlook and articulation, but here I think Hasbro did a reasonably nice job on both counts. There’s a good amount of detail in the outfit itself including lots of folds and wrinkles. There’s also a very subtle texturing to drive home the appearance of cloth. The belt sculpted belt features the pouch on his right hip and a hook to hang his lightsaber hilt. Unfortunately, the blade doesn’t seem to want to come out of my lightsaber hilt, so that hook isn’t doing me a lot of good.


Loose sleeves like these are particularly tricky for sculptors because they should look considerably different whether the character has his arms at his sides or raised in an action pose. Here, Hasbro went for a compromise by putting the wrists right in the middle. They look fine with the arms down, but rather unnatural with the arms up. I guess I’m OK with this, as I doubt I’ll be displaying him in an action pose. I do really like how the wrists are set fairly deep into the sleeve, as it makes the plastic garment more convincing.


I think the portrait here is passable in general and maybe better than average for this line. It really varies wildly based on the angle, distance and lighting. And yes, that’s a left-handed compliment. I would have liked the detail to be a little sharper and the paint is the same sub-par stuff we’ve been seeing for the bulk of these releases. I’d argue that the likeness is certainly there, but is this really much better than they could do in a 3 3/4-inch figure? I don’t think so. In the case of this figure, let’s just say the closer in you get, the less it works, but I guess I’m fairly satisfied.


As for articulation, there’s certainly a good amount of it here. By Episode IV, Obi-Wan’s days of somersaulting ridiculously all over the place were over (thank God!), so I’m not requiring a whole lot from this figure. His arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the waist and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Below the belt, the plastic robes are slit up the sides so as not to completely hinder the leg movement.



The softgoods cloak fits the figure very well and it looks great on him with the exception of the hood, which doesn’t fit close to the back when its down. That’s understandable, as at this scale there’s no weight to the fabric to let gravity do its job. If I futz with it enough, I can get it to look acceptable. I may look into using a small pin to keep it under control. It does, however,  look pretty great with the hood up over his head. You can also pull it further down over his head to hide his face for when he needs to scare off Tusken Raiders. The stitching is neat and I can’t imagine that I’ll be displaying the figure without this on most of the time. This is exactly the sort of thing that was sorely missing from the Jedi Knight Luke figure a few waves back.




I’ve already mentioned the lightsaber accessory and how my blade doesn’t want to detach. Otherwise, this is a pretty great little piece and the sculpt and paintwork on the hilt are both exceptionally good. In fact, I’d say this is arguably the best looking lightsaber hilt this line has produced.





In the end, Obi-Wan turned out to be a pretty solid figure. He represents the usual ups and downs that characterize most of these 6-inch Black Series releases. The sculpt is overall pretty good, the cloth robe is a great, albeit in this case essential, addition, and if Hasbro could just invest a little more in the paint quality on these figures, they could really raise the bar a couple of notches.

Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker (Tatooine) by Hasbro

It seems like a while since I had some new 6-inch Black Series figures in hand. I think a part of the problem has been distribution problems in the last wave. I’ve still yet to see a General Hux or X-Wing Pilot Asty, and seeing as they go for $50+ on Amazon right now, I’m guessing that I’m not alone. I was only able to get the Flametrooper all by his lonesome. But now I finally received my case of 2016, Wave 2 figures and while the breakdown wasn’t what I was promised (I got two Lukes and no Ahsoka Tano and I’m still working on rectifying that) I’m happy to finally have some new figures in this line to look at. Let’s start with Luke…


Luke comes in the same style of package that was revamped for The Force Awakens. I like this presentation a lot. It augments the othewise dull black box by adding a red backdrop to the tray and a red side panel. On the downside the front features some of the worst character art I’ve seen in a while. I mean, holy shit, is that really supposed to be Luke? The figures are also numbered and Luke here is #21, which seems like a lot. I’m going to have to consult a checklist and see if I’m missing any that I don’t know about. Anyway, if I had one complaint about the Black Series is that I wish it had focused more on A New Hope way back when it first launched and it seems like “Farmboy” Luke here is a long overdue release.


Straightaway, the most noticeable thing here is the use of soft goods for Luke’s tunic. Fabric costuming seemed like a no-brainer for this larger scale line, and yet Hasbro has been avoiding it left and right. We got little bits of fabric to accentuate Boba Fett, Obi-Wan, and Slave Leia, but it’s been very little. They even omitted a fabric cloak for Jedi Knight Luke, which was something even Kenner gave us in the vintage 3 3/4-inch original. Well they went balls out with it here and I think that’s going to be a polarizing point for collectors.


Now, I get it, it’s hard to make fabric costumes work in this scale. The garments don’t have enough weight to sit properly on the figure so you need to do some really deft tailoring or use very special fabric. It succeeded brilliantly on the Kylo Ren figure and while I don’t think it’s that successful here, I’m still happy with the results. I was not a fan of the sculpted robes on the Prequel Obi-Wan figure in this line and I think this looks better. It’s a bit more billowy than it should be, particularly around the arms, but it’s a nicely tailored piece and with the right futzing, I was able to get some decent results.


The base figure is just bare from the waist up. The sculpting on the pants and boots is decent enough. Articulation is right about what we’ve been getting all along. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, and double hinged elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the torso and a hinge and ball joint in the neck.



The portrait is passable. I’ve been arguing that the Luke likenesses have been getting worse as this line moves on, but this might be the first one to buck that trend. Or at least it might if not for the waxy plastic that’s used, which doesn’t hold the details all that well. Mine also has a splotch of yellow paint on his cheek. Granted, I have to get in pretty close to find these things bothersome. The expression is a little too dour for me, but then Luke on Tatooine was a sulky little sot, so maybe it actually fits.



The belt clips pegs around the waist and is easily removable. It features some particularly nice paint hits on the buckle and the brass fixtures. You also get two accessories here: His binoculars and his lightsaber. We’ve seen this lightsaber over and over, so there’s nothing new to say about it. The blade is removable and the hilt can hang on the belt. The binoculars are a pretty nice sculpt and he can hold them fairly convincingly. They can also clip to the belt. I would have liked to see one more accessory in here, preferably his rifle.



While I’m happy with the soft goods, there’s certainly room for improvement, so I soaked the tunic and let it dry on the figure overnight. It’s a trick that sometimes works for iffy looking 1:6 scale outfits…


It’s still a little damp in the above picture and to be honest, there isn’t a dramatic improvement, other than it fits a little closer to the chest now.





All in all, I’m rather pleased with this figure, but I suppose I could understand if it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea… or in this case blue milk. I’m rather anxious for Hasbro to cover the original twelve from A New Hope and this brings us one step closer. We know Leia is coming, but I’m really excited to get a couple of Sandpeople for Luke to fight. It’s a fun figure and I’m in the camp that is very glad they went with the soft goods tunic over a sculpted one. I think the biggest room for improvement here would have been a few more accessories. Considering we got the desert hat and rifle in previous 3 3/4-inch releases, their absence here feels rather stingy.

Star Wars Black: Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise by Hasbro

Last week I checked out Bossk from Hasbro’s most recent wave of 6-inch Star Wars Black. It was one of those annoying half-waves that was bogged down by two repacks from the previous wave, in this case Chewbacca and the Tie Pilot. Both of those were excellent figures, but I’ve already got them, and if I decide I want another Tie Pilot there’s been one languishing on the shelf of the Walgreens around the corner for weeks now. Nope, all that’s left for me here is the Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise, and I suspect that’s barely even a new figure. Let’s take a look.


Han comes packaged with his helmet off, which is no big surprise as it allows you to tell the difference between Han and the real Stormtroopers. This figure was a no brainer for Hasbro as it allowed them to kitbash a release on the cheap and in all honesty, it’s not a bad score for us collectors. Yeah, I was one of those idiots who immediately tried to do a head swap between the Stormy and Han when I first got them only to find Hasbro was too smart for me and that the ball joints weren’t the same size, thus preventing fans from easily making this figure on their own and now having to shell out an extra Andy Jackson.




And yes, as expected, this is a straight repack of the Stormtrooper body with the head from the Han Solo release. The only modification Hasbro had to do was make the heads fit by adding a longer neck post with a smaller ball joint and putting a “turtleneck” ring around it. I’m not throwing that up as a criticism, there was no reason for any changes as the Stormtrooper body is excellent. It’s easily one of my favorite things to come out of this line. So, yeah, Hasbro… milk that puppy for all its worth! The only differences I can see on my figure come from the paint. The soles of Han’s boots aren’t painted gray like the regular Stormy’s, but they are still painted around the edges. Also, the bottom of Han’s crotch is left white, where it’s painted black on the Stomtrooper. I know, riveting stuff, right?



While the head is the same sculpt as the regular Han Solo release, this one looks a little better and I mostly attribute that to normal variations in paint. Some people have had issue with the likeness here, but I really don’t. It’s certainly not spot on, but if Hot Toys can’t get Harrison Ford right on their $250 12-inch figure Indiana Jones figure, I think this is pretty solid for a $20 6-incher. As for the helmet, I expected it to be a trainwreck because it’s sculpted out of softer plastic, but it holds its own compared to the regular Stormy head. There are a few issues with the paint, like the black on his chin is a little off to the side, but I would imagine that’s not exemplary of all figures, some may do better and some worse. It fits on the figure beautifully, which is no small feat considering Han’s copious 70’s coif, and it won’t come off unless you pull it off.




Obviously, the articulation here is identical to the regular Stormtrooper, so rather than go through it all again, I’ll just refer you back to that review.



In addition to his Stormy helmet, Han comes with the same E-11 Blaster that came with the regular Stormtrooper. It’s still an amazing sculpt, fits into the holster, and this time around Hasbro actually painted the chamber on the receiver. Why is that even there? Is that where you load more lasers into it? Maybe it’s where the battery goes? Or, maybe it’s because the prop was made out of a Sterling machine gun.




So, some may cry foul at this release being a quick and easy cash grab on Hasbro’s part, but I think it’s a worthwhile addition. The “Stormtrooper Disguise” figure is almost as old as the Star Wars action figure line itself, first appearing in the Power of the Force rebranding that came after Return of the Jedi. Although if my memory is serving me well, I think Luke was the only one that got the figure treatment back then. Besides, if you don’t want the Han, just slap that helmet on him and you’ve got yourself another Stormtrooper! I do think Hasbro did us collectors a diservice by including this one in a wave that was already half full of repacks, but that’s only because I rely on buying the case packs in order to get all the figures at a reasonable price. When I need to buy partial packs or individual releases, I usually get hit for more money and that was certainly the case with Bossk and Han here.