Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Imperial Stormtrooper by Hasbro

When we were introduced to the Remnant Stormtroopers in the first episodes of The Mandalorian, I assumed they were going to all look like that: Dirty and with armor in a state of disrepair. Nope! We later got to see that there are still plenty of fresh Imperial Stormtroopers left in the Galaxy. Naturally, Hasbro jumped at the opportunity to not only get us some Black Series Stormies back on the pegs, but also give them a much needed makeover. Make no mistake, it may look like just another Stormtrooper, but this is an entirely new figure!

There’s the packaging, and it’s worth noting that these are not identified as the Remnant Stormtroopers, but rather Imperial Stormtroopers. This distinguishes them from the dirty boys that we also got in the Black Series as part of The Mandalorian sub-line. And yup, I’ll be getting around to checking those out in the near future. I did review the older Black Series Stormtroopers, but it was so long ago, I might as well just make this mostly a comparison review. Some of the differences are readily apparent and deliberate, while others are more subtle and may just be variances in the molding process.

And here they are side by side, with the new release on the left. The thing I noticed first was the belt. The old figure’s belt was sculpted separately and attached to the figure. It also had a holster for the E-11 Blaster. The new one’s belt is part of the body sculpt, has a slightly different design, doesn’t stick out as much, and has smaller flaps hanging down over the hips. It’s a shame about the holster being omitted, because it’s the only gripe I have about this whole figure. I’m guessing the Stormtroopers in the series didn’t have them, but I’d have to re-watch some episodes to see for sure. The armor on the new figure has an overall shinier finish. Other cosmetic changes include a less angular chest, the “OII” backpack being smaller on the new version and also lacking the peg hole. The armor in the midsection is a little different, and the fanny pack is more prominent on the new version.

The helmet sculpt has been fully revised, and again the new figure is pictured on the left. The old figure had a prominent brow ridge over the eyes, a rounder dome, and larger plugs in the breather apparatus. The eyes are also smaller and set slightly wider apart. Frankly, I like both helmets well enough. The newer one looks tighter and a little more polished to me, but I think this change comes down to a question of personal preference.

Articulation plays a big part in the differences as well, as Hasbro has improved the overall poseability on the new version and many of the joints have been completely redesigned. The arms on the old Stormies could only move outward by about 30-degrees, whereas the new ones can go a full 90-degrees, The range of movement in the elbows has been increased a bit, as has the ability for the legs to more forward and backwards at the hips, allowing for a seated position and a deeper squat. It also feels like there’s a little more range in the torso’s ball joint. The exposed pins in the elbows and knees are also gone in the new figure.

The new Stormtrooper comes with a brand new E-11 Blaster, which is a much more detailed sculpt. And thanks to his improved arm articulation, he’s more capable of wielding it than his predecessor. Hell, he’s even better equipped to brandish the rifle that came with the older Stormies, but is not included with this new release.

With the exception of the holster being nixed, I think everything about this new version is an improvement. It’s a great looking figure, and I really appreciate the added shine to the armor and the all around better articulation. At the same time, I don’t mind mixing my old Stormies with the new ones. It’s reasonable to assume that there would be variances in the armor, either because of changes over time or because of manufacture in different factories across the Galaxy. Either way, they look fine together, and I’m thrilled to be able to expand my 6-inch Imperial army a bit more. Hasbro really did a fantastic job on this one, and I”m pleased to say that I was able to find them easily online and build up a squad of six without having to pay over retail.

Star Wars Black Series: Endor Luke and Leia by Hasbro

If you’ve been reading my Black Series reviews for a while, you may know that I’ve been back and forth on whether to keep collecting this line. Some of the figures are great, but a lot of them have felt somewhat flat and average. Well, based on the figures that have been showing up this week, I think Hasbro may be turning things around. That’s good news for the line, bad news for my wallet. Just as I was about to quit… they pull me back in! Let’s check out Luke and Leia in their Endor fatigues! Both of these figures were offered recently in a Pulse Exclusive boxed set, but I sat that one out and went for picking them up individually. These figures follow an Endor trend with Han Solo, Teebo, and Admiral Ackbar also released in similar packages.

And here’s the new packaging! Goodbye boring black and red boxes and hello new hotness! OK, so they’re still mostly black with monochrome character art, but the splash of color makes all the difference. Also, it looks like they abandoned the numbering on the package. The boxes adopt an angled side panel to showcase the new character art and if you put these two together, the art actually connects, which I have to admit is cool, even though I’m still not keeping the boxes. So let me shred these open and check out the figures. Ladies first!

Princess Leia comes out of the package wearing her camouflage poncho and looking fabulous! One of my ongoing gripes with the SWBS is how infrequently it makes use of softgoods, so it’s nice to see this figure get a cloth costume. Although it would have been embarrassing if they didn’t since even the original Kenner figure gave Leia a cloth poncho. The tailoring is absolutely superb and I really dig the cloth they used. It just looks and feels like quality. The front of the poncho is belted with a black plastic utility belt, which includes a working holster and a sculpted pouch, as well as a little silver paint on the buckle. The back of the poncho is left to hang free like a cape. It also has a hood, which is stitched in the down position. It looks like you could probably pull the stitch so she can wear it up, but I’m not going to mess with it.

The likeness here is excellent! Not perfect, but pretty on point. Boy, we’ve come a long way in a short time, since that first release of Leia from A New Hope! The sculptors have often not been kind to Carrie’s likeness, but this one is pretty damn solid. The printed facial features look great and they did a wonderful job on her hair. The removable helmet fits great and features a chin strap, which pegs into the side.

The belt pegs together behind the pouch, so it’s pretty easy to take the poncho off the figure without too much fuss. You can then re-attach the belt once the poncho is off. Under the cloth, Leia has a sculpted tunic with the sleeves rolled up and a lot of detail, including pockets on the sleeves and what I presume is a rank or ID badge on her chest. She’s got high boots and yellow stripes running up the sides of her blue-gray trousers. The included pistol features the rather distinctive long barrel, a design that The Princess seems to favor. Her right hand is sculpted with a trigger finger, but she can hold the gun in either hand.

Articulation holds a few surprises. The princess has rotating hinges in her shoulders, elbows, knees, and wrists. Ball joints in her hips, swivels in her thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in her ankles. There’s a ball joint in her waist, and most interesting is the two ball joints in her neck, one at the base and one at the top. I’d like to think the added neck articulation is there if you want her to mount a speeder bike, but I might be giving Hasbro too much credit there. Let’s move on to Luke!

Everything I said about Leia’s poncho remains true for Luke’s. The camo is a bit more brown and the green is a lot less vibrant than his sister’s, but the tailoring is still top notch and it fits well. It too is belted in the front and the back is left to hang like a cape, and the hood is stitched in the down position. The quality and texture of the fabric is the same as Leia’s and absolutely top notch. Once again, Hasbro did a fine job here.

The portrait here is not bad. Maybe not a home run, but pretty solid. It’s definitely a whole lot better than what we got with the last Return of the Jedi Luke. The helmet sculpt is almost identical to Leia’s, just a bit bigger and it has a little more weathering brushed on it. Once again, it has a chin strap that pegs into the side.

Luke’s sculpted black belt is simpler than Leia’s as it has no pouch or holster, but then Luke doesn’t come with a blaster anyway. He does come with his lightsaber, which is the standard hilt with translucent blade that pegs into it. The sculpt and paintwork on the hilt look great, but there’s no hook to hang it on the belt. , You can kind of thrust it up through the bottom of the belt and it stays put.

Remove the belt and you can take off the poncho to reveal Luke wearing his black Jedi outfit. It’s not as impressive as what’s under Leia’s softgoods, but it looks fine and is an easy favorite to replace that last Return of the Jedi Luke. Indeed, I may pick up a second one of these for that purpose. I’m also curious to see if the head will swap with that figure, but I haven’t dug it out to give it a go yet.

The figures fit great on the Black Series speeder bike. Hasbro even had the forethought to put the peg holes at the front of Leia’s feet to better work with the pegs on the bike’s foot pedals. I’m glad that I picked up a couple of these, but I think it’s well past time that they reissued the Scout Trooper/Speeder Bike pack. Yeah, I know we’re getting one from The Mandalorian, but I’d like a couple more of the Return of the Jedi versions now. Maybe I should have just bought that PulseCon set because it included one.

It’s nice to see Endor finally getting some love beyond the Scout Troopers and speeder bikes, and that goes double for how great these figures turned out. These are easily some of my favorite Black Series releases in a while. Or at least my favorites from The Original Trilogy. I’ll be checking out Endor Han and Teebo soon, and hopefully we’ll see some more Ewoks, because this Leia really needs a Wicket to go with her. And some Rebel Commandos? That would be nice.

Star Wars Black Series: Boba Fett Helmet by Hasbro

One of my favorite new things out of Hasbro lately has been their stab at bringing out helmets and roleplay items for collectors of their Marvel and Star Wars licenses. These strike a nice balance between being better than what’s usually found on the shelves in the toy aisles, and yet not so pricey as the higher end ones for the serious high rollers. As a kid, I would have killed for some of these, and now instead of commiting homicide, I just have to lay down a Benji. A while back I checked out the Stormtrooper helmet and was very impressed, now it’s time to tackle the Mandalorian helmet of Boba Fett!

These come in big cube-shaped boxes, fully enclosed, and covered with pictures of the item inside as well as some of the features. Inside the helmet comes wrapped in plastic and just about ready for display. Here you do have to attach the range finder, which makes a terrifyingly loud click when it’s attached. And if you want to make use of the electronics, you’ll need a small screwdriver and some batteries. Let’s have a look!

Straightaway, I think this helmet looks really nice. It was a far more challenging piece than the Stormtrooper helmet because it involved a more complex paint job, weathering, as well as some articulation. All of these things are a lot tougher to do on a limited budget, and as such I think Hasbro did a fine job. First, let’s talk about the visor. The initial solicitation pictures made me think the vertical part of the visor was too wide, but after looking at screenshots, I’m thinking it’s not too far off. The visor itself is made of smoked translucent plastic, which I feel should have been a bit darker on that vertical bit. I am displaying mine on a stand and it did tend to allow too much visibility through the visor. I’m sure Hasbro was worried about people being able to see out of it. I mean all they need is one drunken Cosplayer at a convention to go tumble down a flight of stairs in one of these and they’ve got a lawsuit on their hands. But, really you only need to see out of the horizontal part and some reinforced plastic behind the rest would have been welcome. It’s something that I fixed by attaching some black cloth behind it. Problem solved.

The base colors look quite good. It has a satiny matte finish, which doesn’t look too plastic. The QC on my helmet is also excellent. Granted, it’s supposed to look old and beaten up, but there aren’t any blemishes, scratches, or flubs that aren’t supposed to be there. At least I can’t see any. The construction also feels very solid. The helmet has a nice heft to it and while I wouldn’t want to drop it on a hard floor, it does feel quite durable and well put together. I’m sure this thing could take a beating if you are inclined to play rough with it.

Some nice details include the motion and sound sensors that run up the middle of each side, the cooling vents in the back, and the helmet diagnostic port, which is that little button on the right cheek.

 

The weathering was where this helmet was going to succeed or fail in winning me over and for the most part it succeeds. The helmet is littered with areas where the paint is meant to be chipped, worn, or just rubbed off completely. And of course, that iconic dent is present as well. Some of the weathering looks great, other areas look very fabricated. This is especially the case when you get in real close and examine it under studio lights. Again, at the price point we’re dealing with here, I wasn’t expecting a hand-painted masterpiece, but I’m sure that there are people out there with the skills to elevate the paint here into something truly spectacular. I’m not one of those people, but then I’m still pretty satisfied with how it turned out.

The interior of the helmet is also very detailed. The Stormtrooper helmet was basically unfinished inside, but here Hasbro has made an effort to keep the illusion of realism going by recreating what the actual helmet might look like inside. The sides are sculpted with all sorts of devices and instruments and there are padded cubes. There’s are adjustable straps so you can make it fit higher or lower, just like in Hasbro’s other helmets. As for wearing it? This one is actually very snug on me, which was surprising because the Stormtrooper helmet fit fine, as did most of the Marvel helmets I own. I’m not sure if it’s because I have a big head or because it isn’t compatible with my glasses. Either way, I bought this for display, not for wearing, so the fact that it isn’t terribly comfortable isn’t a big drawback for me.

And then there’s the rangefinder. I think that the stalk is probably a bit chunkier than it should be, but clearly Hasbro was looking for stability here, and that was probably a good decision. The arm is spring-loaded, so when you touch the side of the helmet it will cause the rangefinder to deploy and the LED lights on the holographic targeting display to activate and flash. The interior of the rangefinder also lights up, although I have a hard time seeing through it when I’m wearing the helmet. Too deactivate the lights, you just have to manually return the rangefinder to the up position.

With the rangefinder in the down position, you have to slide off the plsatic cover to reveal it. The clear plastic lense is sculpted with some detail and illuminates quite well. On the downside, this thing is positioned way too far to the side for me to comfortably look through it when I’m wearing the helmet. All in all, I think the electronics here are a cool extra, but they’re certainly not a selling point for me, and I would have been just as happy if they had left them out and dropped that price point a little bit.

I think Hasbro has carved out a pretty cool niche here, as I would often see those cheap plastic roleplay masks in the toy aisles and wish there was something better available without having to drop $300-500. If you’re of the same mind as me, these may be something you want to check out. At a little over $100, this helmet straddles the price point between toy and collectible quite nicely and the result is something that’s a whole lot of fun and looks pretty damn cool up on my shelf. Ultimately, my biggest nitpick is the opacity of the visor in the areas not needed for visibility and as I said, that was something that’s pretty easy to fix. I’m hoping that these are successful, although I rarely ever see them in stores, so I think they are still something of a specialty item. It would be cool to see Hasbro produce something like Sabine’s helmet from Rebels. In the meantime, I’ll eventually get around to looking at Luke’s X-Wing Pilot Helmet, as that one is sitting on the shelf just above this one!

Star Wars Black (ESB 40th Anniversary): Rebel Hoth Soldier by Hasbro

Hasbro has rolled out some vintage style carded packaging for the 6-inch Black Series to celebrate Empire Strikes Back‘s 40th Anniverary. Most of these seem to be repacks, and I’m not double-dipping on any of these just because of the packages, but I sure as hell wanted some Hoth Troopers. Since I never find these on the shelves, and since I really don’t care about the package, I went ahead and pre-ordered this one on Amazon a while back, accepting the fact that it would arrive a crumpled mess, and I’ll just have to try my luck at the pegs to pick up a couple more.

All I see are horror story pictures on Twitter of collectors receiving these all mangled. Imagine my surprise when mine showed up in a simple padded mailer and yet still managed to arrive unscathed. Now don’t get me wrong, I do really dig the presentation here. The card looks great! It tickles me in the nostalgia zone and I like the foil 40th Anniversary box at the top. And as wonderful as it all looks, the figure looks every bit as good! But I got no room for keeping 6-inch carded figures, and this ain’t collector friendly, so let’s rip this baby open and have a look.

These fellas sure have gotten a lot more screen accurate since the Kenner days! Indeed, I’m beside myself with how much detail Hasbro packed into this guy. The arms and legs feature that familiar quilting that turns up on pretty much all of the Hoth Rebels, and I dig the crisscrossing straps on his boots. He has a sculpted pouch on his right bicep, just under what I’m going to guess is a unit designation. He also has his comm panel sculpted into his left gauntlet so he can all back to Echo Base and report Wampa sightings! The vest and lower part of his tunic are cast in soft plastic and attached to the figure to give the costume some nice depth. Dress in layers, it’s cold outside! There’s a sculpted military-style belt with a pouch and six grenades sculpted into the front right side of the tunic, as well as his rank insignia on the left side of his chest. He also has a functional holster for his pistol, and the kerchief around his neck is removable, but it’s cold on Hoth so I can’t imagine why he would want to take it off.

The backpack is an impressive piece of kit. It has a sculpted covering with all the little buttons and stitch marks and exposed sections of the packs instruments, along with cables feeding out of them and an antenna. The pack is removable, it simply pegs in the figure’s back and there are also two clips coming off the sides of the vest that tab into slots in the pack. The pack also has a hidden compartment, which houses a second face plate, just like that first Destro figure back in the old GI JOE: Real American Hero line!

The figure is packaged with the clean shaven face that I’ve been showing all along. It looks like this was Hasbro’s attempt to reproduce the soldier depicted on the card, and it does a pretty good job of it. He does look really young to me, but then Hoth wouldn’t be the first battle that sent kids off to fight. I also like that he’s got some rosy cheeks because it’s so cold! The helmet has a quilted hood with a comm device sculpted onto the side, a plastic scarf flap hanging off the other, and a pair of goggles on elastic that can be worn up or over the eyes. I think the goggles look better worn up than they do on over the eyes.

Hasbro took a page from the Figma/Figuarts book when it comes to the face plate. Pop off the top of the head and you can peel off one face and replace it with the other. The alternate face is bearded and looks more age appropriate for the horrors of ice trench warfare. I actually like this portrait a lot and until I can get a second one of these guys, I’m going to go with this face for regular display.

There are no surprises to be had in the articulation. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint hidden up under the vest, and the neck is ball jointed. The lower part of the tunic does get in the way of leg movement a bit, but the sides are slit and that helps a lot. I still prefer the double-hinged elbows and rotating hinges of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line, especially when dealing with rifles, but what we get here certainly isn’t bad.

The Rebel Soldier comes with two weapons, a standard DH-17 pistol and an A280 rifle. Both of these are highly detailed sculpts and I even took a moment to admire how well the rifle matches the one seen in the film. My only nitpicks here are that they didn’t spare a little silver paint for the muzzle of the pistol and I would have liked a sling on the rifle. Hell, even the rifles that came with some of the Kenner Hoth figures had slings! The Rebel’s right hand is sculpted with a trigger finger that works well with both weapons and he can cradle the rifle in his off hand. The pistol fits very well in the holster.

I know I say this a lot, but I’m constantly teetering on whether or not to keep collecting this line. Too often, it feels like Hasbro is just phoning in the figures and not taking advantage of the larger scale. But then, just when I’m at that precipice and ready to jump off, Hasbro produces an amazing figure like this one. It’s kind of sad that they have released more than a few main characters in the line that don’t have the care and attention to detail that this nameless soldier does, but that doesn’t make me appreciate him any less. Quite the contrary. It’s releases like this that realize the potential of the line’s scale and status as “collector” figures, and keep me hanging around a little while longer. Now hopefully he’ll get a regular boxed release so I can get a couple more!

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Imperial Probe Droid by Hasbro

If anyone was expecting me to do a Star Wars review on May the 4th, well then you shouldn’t underestimate the power of Marvel Monday. Bump Marvel Legends? In its moment of triumph? I think you overestimate my backlog! That was just never going to happen. I was actually trying to push for getting today’s review out on Wednesday, but this has been one those hell weeks at work, so it turned out to be a two-review kind of week. Plus, and to be quite honest, it’s been so hard for me to summon up a lot of enthusiasm for Star Wars these days. I’m not throwing in the towel, I’m still buying some of the toys, but after The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker I think I need to give it some time to replenish my batteries. I think that’s best illustrated in the lack of Star Wars content lately, and the giant stack of unopened Black Series figures in the Toy Closet. Maybe I need to get to work on some Star Wars Hot Toys reviews to get my excitement up again. Either way, the Black Series Deluxe Probe Droid wound up on my doorstep this week and I decided I would push it to the head of the line.

This is indeed one of the line’s Deluxe offerings, which means it comes in a bigger box and retails for around thirty bucks. Hasbro is tying this release into their 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and I have to say I love the addition of the old school logo on the box. Otherwise, the packaging gives you a good look at the figure and it is collector friendly. And that’s good, because I may actually keep this box. In addition to the figure, you get a stand which consists of a Hoth-style base and a clear plastic rod.

Free of his packaging and on the prowl, the Probe Droid looks quite spectacular! It’s crazy to think how iconic this droid has become considering what a tiny part he played in the film. He flew around on Hoth a bit, he fired off some shots at our heroes, and then he got toasted. He wasn’t very consequential and yet he’s become something of a droid star. It’s hard for me to come up with something equivalent in the new films, but I guess we’d have to wait a few decades to see whether any of the new designs take root and enjoy this kind of a legacy. And when I say we, I mean y’all because I don’t know that I have a few decades left in me. Nonetheless, over the decades I’ve had at least a couple of figures of this droid, most notably the original Kenner release that came in the Turret and Probot playset and the Power of the Force 2 version. Both were great figures. I can remember playing with the Kenner version long after the family dog had chewed it’s arms down to misshapen nubs. I used to just pretend he got mauled by the Wampa and barely escaped with his central processor intact.

I think it’s safe to say that Hasbro outdid themselves with this sculpt. There are plenty of panel lines, compartments, tanks, and little bits and bobs incorporated into the droid’s body. Look closely and you can see tiny sculpted rivets and pock marks, which suggest that these guys are collected by their Imperial masters, or they return to base on their own after their hunt so they could be re-used over and over again. I especially love all the spider-like eyes that litter it’s head. These shiny black soul-less orbs come in all shapes and sizes and are obviously designed to gather all sorts of information in a 360-degree spread as the droid makes its way across its hunting grounds. Between the head and body there’s a boxy blaster, which can swivel left and right to target interlopers. The dual antenna on the head can also raise and lower, although they don’t retract as far as they did in the film.

I wasn’t expecting a lot in terms of paint on this fellow. The droid is mostly just a gun-metal gray achieved through the color of the plastic. Still, Hasbro surprised me with some nice flourishes of paint. Most notably there’s a copious amount of silver dry brushing to give the droid a weathered look. Scuffs are scattered about the body and head and I feel it’s not overdone. There’s also some red paint here and there to pick out some of the panels and tubes on the body. Finally, there’s a fair amount of brown, which looks like it could be a combination of rust and dirty oil smeared in patches here and there. I think Hasbro could have gotten away with a much flatter deco on this toy, but they stepped up and did some fine work. It has a real used look to it.

In addition to the rotating head, the five mismatched legs feature quite a bit of articulation. Each leg can rotate where it connects to the body and some have as many as five hinges to them. These hinges are pretty sturdy and keep the legs in place no matter what configuration I put them in. The sculpts are good with sculpted hydraulics and an array of different types of claws and utensils, probably designed to take samplings of minerals, pick through ship wreckage, or whatever the droid happens to be investigating. The full articulation in the legs allow for a seemingly endless variety of display options for posing. I particularly like how they can be swept back as if he’s traveling quickly.

The figure stand is both simple and elegant. It’s just a clear rod and a base, but it works perfectly. I certainly don’t need anything more complicated than that. Although if I am going to gripe a bit. I think for the $30 price tag, Hasbro should have put a sound chip in this guy. The probe transmissions are so iconic and sound so cool, it’s a shame they couldn’t have made that work. I mean, I’ve had novelty key chains with sound effects that cost me next to nothing.

It’s funny. I began this review lamenting my bad case of Star Wars fatigue, but clearly it can’t be all that bad if I can drone on with affection over a Probe Droid that had about five minutes of screen time. But then this fellow is just another great example of how some of those robot and ship designs captured my imagination as a child. Not to mention why I’m still spending money on this shit when I’m pushing fifty. Either way, I think Hasbro did a fine job with this one and I’ll happily put him on the Hoth corner of my Black Series shelves. He looks great, he’s got a lot of articulation, and he’s just loads of fun to play with. I was actually going to wait on this one for a sale, and I did manage to grab it at a bit of a discount, but ultimately I’m pleased I didn’t wait.

Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Heavy Infantry Mandalorian by Hasbro

Six episodes in and I am still enjoying the hell out of The Mandalorian. And I’m overjoyed that Hasbro has released at least a few action figures from these episodes. Sure, there’s opportunity for plenty more. Sure, I’m hoping Hasbro goes full guns on this series. But whatever happens, I’m still plenty happy with what we’ve got. Today I’m having a look at the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian who turned up in Chapter 3: The Sin.

I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, other than this box is a little wider than most Black Series packages, and that’s to accommodate the extra gear. And in keeping with tradition, we don’t know a hell of a lot about this character. Well, other than he seems like a real prick at first. He even picks a fight with the titular Mando, to the point where the vibro-blades come out, all in what seems to be mostly a case of misplaced jealousy. But in the end Mr Heavy proves that Mandalorians stick together when he jumps in to support Mando as he breaks bad with his employers.

What we do know is that this guy is an absolute bruiser and that his armor and gear (at least to me) step just a little bit closer to Boba Fett’s familiar armor. I think a lot of that comes from the helmet and the forearm armor. Unlike most of the other Mandos, this guy is armored up from head to toe with the sculpted under-suit really only showing in his upper thighs and his elbows. This guy has obviously proven himself, because his armor is so complete and in relatively good condition. Not to mention that with his heft, it must have taken a lot of that precious besker steel to outfit him. The armor itself is pretty smooth and simple with a mostly blue deco. The exception is in the brown kneepads, lower right leg, and left leg cuff. It gives him that slightly ragtag look, like maybe those are the last pieces he needs to upgrade when he gets his next big score. The forearms feature some nice detailing in the way of panel lines and gizmos, and he’s got a hefty belt with a number of brown pouches, each with painted snaps. The armor is rounded out with some sparing and effective silver brushed weathering, some of which is emphasized in the sculpt with pockmarks and dents. This is a great looking figure!

Of course, one of the big draws in this design is the weaponized jetpack, which looks passingly familiar to the one worn by Boba. This one lacks the central missile and seems to have beefier thrusters, but makes up for it by powering two pretty impressive weapons via two cables. The heavier segmented cable coming out of the right side attaches to his big gatling laser, somewhat reminiscent to the one worn by Baze Malbus in Rogue One. And I’ll come back to the gatling laser in a bit.

The smaller gray cable attaches to the weapon mounted on the left gauntlet. I haven’t re-watched the episode recently, but I don’t remember him actually using the gauntlet weapon, so I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. Maybe just a big-ass flame thrower? That would be cool.

The helmet also strikes me as more reminiscent of Boba’s than the one worn by The Mando, but I think that has to do with the pock marks and the range finder. The helmet is mostly blue to match the rest of the armor, and features lighter blue paint apps for the “cheeks” and more of that silver brushed weathering. The range finder is on the left side of the helmet, is sculpted in place, and a lot beefier than the one on Boba’s helmet. I dig it!

And how about that big-ass blaster! That’s how you make a statement! This beast of a weapon looks like the kind of thing that would be mounted on a tripod, but they don’t call this guy Heavy Infantry Mando for nothing. He’s up to the task to wield this thing like a champ. The weapon can be pegged into the side of the jetpack for storage, and I’m impressed that even with all this gear on his back, the figure has no problems standing up. The giant death stick is just packed with sculpted detail, has some beautiful silver and blue paintwork near the muzzle and barrels, and even features a swiveling hand grip on the top allowing him to hold the weapon perfectly in a number of firing positions.

 

Oh boy, do I love this figure! Naturally, it would be great to get figures of all the Mandalorians in the series, but if we only get one, I’m glad they went with this one. He’s an absolutely gorgeous figure from sculpt to paint, and his giant weapon and near perfect balance makes him loads of fun to pose and play with. And I’m kind of glad that he didn’t turn out to be a total asshole by the end of the episode. Will we be seeing more of him? Well, we don’t have many episodes left, so who knows? I can’t imagine how the writers will spend the last two episodes they have wrapping things up, but I’m excited to find out.

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

We’re four episodes (five if you count today!) into The Mandalorian, the new 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.

Star Wars Black (Solo): Han Solo (Mimban) and Chewbacca by Hasbro

So, the other night I re-watched Solo on Disney+ and about half way through it I got up, dug out all the Black Series figures from the movie that were on my Pile of Shame© and had a hell of a time ripping them open while finishing the movie. And since I did that, I thought I’d go ahead and start reviewing them in pairs. I’ve already looked at quite a few figures from the film, and today I’m pressing on with Han Solo in his Mudtrooper uniform and his new found friend, Chewbacca.

Of all the Star Wars films, both good and bad, Solo feels like the one that just kind of came and went. The lead up to its release seemed to be dominated by talks of messy production and re-shoots, but once it hit the theaters I don’t recall hearing much about it, other than it was a disappointment for Disney at the Box Office and it resulted in them tabling any future plans for the Star Wars Story films. Me? I enjoyed it quite a bit in the theater and I’ve probably watched it two or three more times since it hit Blu-Ray. And now that I find myself casually viewing it again on Disney’s streaming service, I have to say that it’s held up just fine each time and other than a certain shoe-horned cameo at the end, I’ve got no complaints. Let’s start out by looking at Han.

Serving with the 224th Imperial Armored Division, Corporal Han Solo in his Imperial Mudtrooper outfit is a figure that I was anxious to get my hands on. I loved the whole sequence in the film and I really dig this particular uniform. It’s a nice blend of familiar Imperial fashion call-outs with some new stuff thrown in, and Hasbro put an exceptional amount of work into making this figure something special. Here it is stripped down to the basics with the familiar cuirass previously seen worn by the AT-AT Commanders. The backside of the armor features a sculpted backpack sort of thing with some detailed panels. The cuirass is not removable and is sculpted over what looks like a fairly typical Imperial Officer’s uniform tunic, but with added shoulder armor and bicep armor, with the right bicep painted red. The high boots feature a liberal dusting of what is probably supposed to be mud, but it actually looks like it would work well for snow or ash. In addition to the dirtied up boots, there’s some absolutely lovely weathering applied to the cuirass. Even if this was all there was to the figure, I’d have been happy, but there’s plenty of gear to add on to him. But before getting to that…

Let’s talk about the portrait! Hasbro has had some troubles in the past getting Harrison Ford’s likeness as Solo quite right, but I Think they’ve had a lot more luck with Alden Ehrenreich. Their first figure from the film looked great, and I think the likeness on this one is another direct hit. The hair and contours of the face are right on the money, as are pretty much all the facial features. And the printing used for the face is also excellent. OK, let’s start loading him up!

The extra uniform pieces consist of a cape, a helmet, goggles, and a breather mask. The cape features some particularly great sculpting and weathering, and I like that it’s not too cumbersome, because even as it is, it seems like the most impractical thing to include on an infantry uniform. [OK, that was only true until I realized it’s probably a rain poncho and not a cape.] It’s designed to tab into two notches on his shoulders, but mine doesn’t like to do that, which isn’t a big problem because it stays on just fine by hugging his shoulders.

The helmet fits perfectly and includes a chin-strap. The breather mask has two partially sculpted straps that hold it on simply by friction and the tubes run behind the head and plug into the holes on the top of the backpack. Finally, the goggles can be worn up on the helmet or down over the eyes. One of my frequent complaints about the Black Series is that it doesn’t often make use of the larger scale, but here’s a figure that really does. I’m sure all of this could have been done in the smaller 3 3/4-inch scale, but I don’t think it could have been quite as well executed as it is here. I mean, it would have been much easier to just sculpt the goggles, helmet, and mask all as one piece, but I’m happy to see Hasbro rose to the challenge here.

The final accessory in the box is Han’s E-10 blaster rifle. It’s a nice change-up form the usual Imperial small arms and features some great detail in the sculpt. The forearm grip is even folded down so it can be held in both hands. And since I’m looking at two figures today, I’m just going to skip the usual run-down of articulation. There’s nothing new here, and I’ll just say how I wish Black Series made use of double-hinged elbows like Marvel Legends does. The rotating hinges are OK, but I would really like a better range of motion in those elbows. Moving on to Chewbacca…

I actually don’t have a whole heck of a lot to say about Chewie here. I was actually going to pass on this figure, but I found it on sale and I decided I needed him to stand beside young Han Solo. It seems to borrow the same body sculpt as the original Black Series Chewie, but with a very different paint job. Gone is the more uniform brown and in its place is a mix of dark brown and light tan. Unfortunately, I don’t think the new paint does the sculpt any favors. It looks very basic and the radical differences in color shades makes this look more like an animated version of Chewie to me. Maybe a wash would have helped. Of course, Chewie’s more familiar bandoleer strap is replaced here with the Y-shaped baldric and satchel.

We do get an entirely new head sculpt, which I think is a fairly solid and I dig the goggles, which have an elastic strap and can be worn up on his forehead or down over his eyes. Once again, I’m going to take the lazy way out and not run down the articulation. I’ll just refer you to my review of the original Black Series Chewbacca review from many years ago.

Chewbacca comes with the blaster rifle he wielded in the film. I’m not sure what this one is called, but it’s a formidable weapon for a formidable Wookie. The sculpt features loads of detail, the forearm grip is painted brown, and there’s a small side grip that’s actually articulated and can fold in or out. It’s a great looking gun, I just wish they had re-sculpted Chewie’s left hand so that he could hold it by the forearm.

In the end I couldn’t be happier with the way Mimban Han turned out. It’s rare that I can give the Black Series the nod for going above and beyond, but Hasbro did just that on this figure. All the removable gear makes him lots of fun, and he’s just a great looking figure. Chewie isn’t quite as big a success story. There’s a lot of recycling here and the paint just doesn’t do the sculpt any favors. It’s not a terrible figure by any means, and I’m ultimately glad I got him, but I’m also glad I didn’t have to pay full price for him. And I have to say, it’s been fun going back and checking out figures from Solo. So much so that I may try to squeeze a couple more into the mix next week.

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Emperor Palpatine by Hasbro

The first time Hasbro released The Emperor as part of the 6-inch Black Series, I took a pass. I think I was on the outs with collecting Star Wars at the time. or maybe I had too many other things on my wish list that month, but for whatever reason I didn’t pick him up. It was a decision I learned to regret because he started going for a good amount of money on the second hand market, so when I finally decided I wanted him, I was shit out of luck. But to my surprise, this was a case where hesitancy ultimately paid off, and Hasbro released this new Palpatine figure with an extra pair of heads and his almighty throne. Truly, the Sith Lords had smiled upon me.

Submitted for your approval, the terrible mock up package used by Amazon as their official image. Mine arrived with the package smashed to smithereens, so I’m forced to use this one. You get the idea. The window box follows the usual deco for this series with a black box, red interior, and red right panel. You get some monochrome character art in the lower right hand corner, a multi-lingual blurb about the character on the back, and as usual everything is collector friendly. The only difference between this box and the regular releases is the size, as this one is thicker than normal to contain the throne piece. Also, this release is an Amazon Exclusive, so there’s no number on the right side panel.

And here’s Papa Palpy out of the box and overall I am very pleased with him. One of my unending gripes with the Black Series is Hasbro’s reluctance to use soft-goods when it’s called for. Hell, it took a do-over from The Mandalorian to give us a proper robe on a Jawa! Well, if there was ever a figure that needed soft-goods, Palpatine was it. The figure features sculpted robes covered with a black cloth skirt, and finally a hooded and sleeved robe on top of that. There’s a plastic sash around his waist and a plastic catch holding the robe together just under his neck. Does it look perfect? Nah, not really. But I am willing to grant some leeway because of how difficult it is to get tailored clothing to look right at this scale. Hell, even at the bigger one-sixth scale, it can be tough. But in this case, I think the robe falls about the figure quite naturally and the sleeves are tailored to give him the hanging wizard sleeve effect. I do find that it’s necessary to futz around with the cloth a bit to get it to look right, but that’s to be expected too.

The only area where the cloth gives me trouble is in the hood. The sides of the hood are supposed to fold out a bit on his shoulders, and the garment is tailored to make that happen, but they tend to hover a bit higher. Also, the fold on the left side tends to ride higher. It sometimes gives him a Sally Field Flying Nun look to him. That’s a reference to an old TV show, kids. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, and honestly, it may not be an issue on all figures. My guess is that a lot of these will have their own individual quirks, so your mileage may vary.

I’m not going to run down the articulation here, but it feels like the figure makes use of all the standard points. He is definitely a lot more agile than I need my Emperor figure to be. Seriously, in terms of posing him, he can do most anything, but all I need him to do is stand there looking haggard and menacing. Palpatine comes with his rustic black cane, which he can hold in his right hand, and his left hand is sculpted so as to be pointing. The cane feels a little short. I don’t remember The Emperor hunching over quite that much when walking. But I can live with it.

You get three different heads and all of them are spectacular sculpts. The figure comes out of the box with a neutral expression or, in The Emperor’s case, slightly dour. You also get a smiling face and an angry “Imma Gonna Force Zap You” face. All of these are excellent sculpts with some solid paint to back them up. Unfortunately, all the years of Robot Chicken have made it difficult for me to take The Emperor seriously. Especially when he’s pulling that smiling face.

Of course, the big draw of this set is the inclusion of his throne. It’s likely to get collectors to double-dip on the character, so how is it? Pretty damn good, actually. It’s solid and sturdy and features some great detail, particularly in the control panels on the arm rests. It’s a shame they couldn’t have included a cardboard backdrop showing the window behind him, but then I guess I’m asking for a lot.

The figure fits in the throne quite well. At first, I thought there wasn’t enough head clearance, but it looks like that was the case on the actual film prop. I think my only gripe here is that his feet don’t quite touch the floor when he’s sitting in it, and that looks a bit silly.

The last accessories in the box are a pair of Force lightening hands. I’m really glad, Hasbro went this route, rather than just give us blue energy tendrils to attach to his arms. It works very well and I think the effect looks great.

I pre-ordered this figure ages ago, and had completely forgotten that it was even coming. At close to $40, it was a bit of an indulgence, since I try to be finicky about how much I spend on my Black Series collecting these days. I’m at that point in collecting where space is running out and something’s got to give. Black Series is often close to hitting the chopping block, but then it releases a figure like this and I’m sold on it all over again. With that having been said, if some third-party out there wants to produce a display base for this set with the illustrated cardboard backdrop, I would probably pony up the cash for that.

Star Wars Black: The Mandalorian by Hasbro

This week was Triple Force Friday where Disney launched merchandise for the upcoming Rise of Skywalker film, as well as a Star Wars video game and TV series. Now, sadly I have almost zero interest in the upcoming movie, Yeah I’m at a weird crossroads with Star Wars. I’ve got a case of franchise fatigue, but buying the toys is a tough habit to break when I’ve been doing it all my life. Fortunately, there is still one spark that may re-kindle my love for this franchise, and that’s The Mandalorian series coming to Disney+ next month. And today I’m checking out the 6-inch Black Series version of the titular character.

It’s safe to say that I was completely blown away by The Mandalorian trailer. I was expecting something flat. stuffy, and dire like Game of Thrones with Star Wars characters. What we got was exciting, explosive, and downright cool. To me it looked more like a Star Wars movie than, well… the last Star Wars movie. If they can make the story and characters work, I think this thing is going to be hugely enjoyable. But all of that is still wrapped in mystery. Even the blurb on the back of this box doesn’t betray any of the main character’s secrets. So let’s open him up and check him out. I’ll note here that this figure was also released with a metallic paint job as a Target Exclusive, and I’ll also be taking a look at that one in the near future.

Yup, this is basically a show built around a guy in a cool-looking set of space armor, and Mando here definitely fits the bill. And while the similarities are certainly there, I was pleased at just how different this armor is from that of our friend Boba Fett. Mando’s ensemble looks more rustic and patchwork, and Hasbro did a beautiful job sculpting in all of those details. I am particularly pleased with the sense of depth here, and although nearly everything is just sculpted as part of the figure, it really does look like we’re getting layers of plate armor and belts worn on top of an underlying suit. For example, the mismatched upper leg plates actually protrude up and away from the hips as they cross those thigh swivels. That’s cool. There are sculpted straps over the halves on the lower right leg armor, and the strap of whatever those little canisters are is neatly painted.

The shoulder armor are separate pieces and cast in soft plastic to help the shoulder articulation along. The cross strap and pistol belt are also separately sculpted and worn by the figure, as is the cape, which hangs around his neck and on his right shoulder.

The head sculpt looks more similar to Jango’s than Boba’s, but maybe that’s just me. As many have pointed out, it’s missing the iconic range-finder, and I find this helmet to be more form fitting than Fett’s. It’s also sporting an all silver paint job, with some blemishes of dirt, which interestingly is at odds from what we’ve seen int he trailer where his helmet is clean and shiny. Of course, the T-shaped visor is painted black, further shrouding the man in mystery. While on the subject, all the paint on this figure is well done. From the silver on the buckles and clips, to the weathering on the armor plates.

The articulation here is fairly straightforward for a Black Series figure. I think the only big surprise for me was the lack of swivels in the biceps. Instead, Mando is sporting rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint hidden up under the torso, and the neck is ball jointed. Yup, he’s pretty fun to play around with, although he does seem to be a little back-heavy.

The Mandalorian comes with a pistol, which is not dissimilar to the one usually included with Boba Fett. This one strikes me as having more of a 19th Century American West quality to it, which suits the outlaw frontier flavor of the series trailer. The pistol fits nicely into the figure’s right hand and the trigger finger threads through the guard comfortably. It can also be kept in the holster on his right hip.

He also comes with his rifle, and I am both in love with, and very curious about, this distinctive weapon. It looks like a composite between an antique Moroccan firing piece, a Winchester, and a… tuning fork? Yeah, that last bit was immediately identified by fans as a homage to Boba Fett’s weapon in the Star Wars Holiday Special. It looks like it’s some kind of plug bayonet, but in reality, I’m thinking that the energy blast produced by the rifle is emitted from these prongs. Either way, I dig it, and Hasbro did a wonderful job on this little plastic version. The stock and furniture is painted brown, the receiver is gun metal gray, and the prongs are silver. It’s a lot of detail and color variation on an accessory in this scale. I also appreciate that the figure can hold it well and even assume a firing position, by drawing it up to his face.

There’s a tab on the side of the gun that looks like it’s intended to be a magazine, but it doubles as a tab that fits into a slot on his back, passing through a slot on his shoulder strap, so he can wear the rifle on his back. Now, I say “fits” but that may be pushing it. Mine barely goes in at all. I can make it work, but it doesn’t take much to knock it off.

If you’ve been around FFZ long enough, you may know that I love getting Star Wars figures of characters before they appear on the big screen. It’s a great way to first experience all the nuances of their look, and get familiar with them before seeing them in action. It also let’s me enjoy them as a blank slate for a little while. I fill my mind with all sorts of assumptions and imaginings of what they are going to be like, and it really brings back the magic of being a kid again. I’ll only have about a month left until more about this character is revealed, but in the meantime, he’s a very exciting figure to add to my collection.