I’ve never been a big fan of The Clone Wars. I’ve tried watching it a few times, but it just never clicked. I think a lot of it has to do with the goofy stylized look of the characters and the fact that it builds off the Prequels. Nonetheless, I became familiar with a lot of the new characters through osmosis and toy marketing, and it’s cool to see some of them bleeding over into other Star Wars media.
One of those characters is Cad Bane, although the figure I’m looking at today was released before his live action appearance on The Mandalorian. Cad tickles my fancy, because I’m a fan of Westerns in general and Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films in particular. It’s only natural that a character that marries The Old West and Star Wars would be right up my ally!
And boy did Hasbro do justice to this guy! The figure perfectly captures the essence of the intergalactic high plains drifter, with some excellent layering and wonderful attention to detail in the sculpt. For starters, the form-fitting trench coat is cast in soft plastic and has the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. It cuts off at the waist in the front, but trails down to his ankles in the back. It’s a great design, as it not only seems practical in the way it gives him easy access to his guns, but it also doesn’t inhibit the figure’s hip movement. The jacket has a little texturing sculpted in, and I really dig the silver corners on the lapels and lower flaps, which look like reinforced steel tips. My only real complaint about the coat is that the arm holes are too large. At certain angles, it can ruin the effect that the arms are supposed to be sleeves.
As for the rest of the figure, Cad has a sculpted vest under his jacket with two rows of what I presume are power cartridges for his pistols, a satchel hanging on a shoulder strap, two low-slung pistol holsters, and some cool electro gauntlets on his forearms, which have assorted controls on them to access his flamethrower and all sorts of other fun gadgets. Finally, he has a pair of jets attached to the sides of his boots for when he has to skedaddle in a hurry, or head someone off at the pass! That’s western talk!!!
One look at the portrait, and there’s no mistaking that Cad is from Duros, with his bright blue skin, large red eyes, and absence of a nose. His squint and snarl are textbook Clint Eastwood, right off the poster for The Outlaw Josey Wales! He also has two breathing tubes attached to his cheeks, which connect to a control box behind his neck. His distinctive mug is topped off with a wide-brimmed hat, which is removable.
Bane comes with his trusty pair of LL-30 blaster pistols. These are great looking little accessories, especially if you like the smooth and simplified design of the older period Star Wars weapons. They fit perfectly in the holsters, and he has gun-toting hands so he can dual wield them. It would have been great to get his carbine too, but I could always find him something.
I tend to limit myself to only buying characters in the Star Wars shows and movies that I enjoy. These days, that’s The Original Trilogy, The Mandalorian, and Rogue One, but every now and then I have to make an exception. In this case, Cad Bane is not only a cool looking character, but Hasbro nailed this figure so well, that I couldn’t resist having him on the shelf. And now that he’s made an appearance in The Mandalorian, I do believe I’ll have him on display with that collection!
The Mandalorian may be in hiatus, but that’s not stopping us from getting some great figures from the series. I’ve checked out a few figures from Hot Toys offerings, but I’ve also got a small stack from Hasbro’s 6-inch Black Series and 3 3/4-inch Vintage Collection. And some of them are Stormtroopers! I LOVE STORMTROOPERS!!! I don’t open the Vintage Collection stuff, but I’ll get around to showing it off one day when I’m short on time, but the Black Series is all fair game to tear into!
At the beginning of the year, I took a look at Hasbro’s excellent new Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper from The Mandalorian. These new recruits are basically variants built off of that updated figure. The Remnant Stormtrooper has been out for a little while, but the Artillery Stormtrooper just arrived and as far as I know is an Amazon Exclusive! I’m going to start with the Remnant Trooper since I don’t have a whole lot to say about him.
As expected, The Remnant is just a dirtied up repaint of the updated Stormtrooper, and that’s fine! I’ll refer you to that earlier review for all the improvements on articulation and tweaks to the sculpt that this Stormtrooper body introduced. Here, the once pristine white armor is now marred with chipping and some very light brownish-orange spray. Everything just looks delightfully flatter and grungier than the regular Stormy, and shows off what happens when you can’t hop on The Empire’s website and order fresh replacement armor for your goons. The chipping is heaviest on the helmet and left shoulder, as well as the upper thigh pieces. There’s also a smattering of it elsewhere. I think the chipping looks great, but I thought it odd how little there is on the back. Indeed, apart from the heavy chipping on the back of the left thigh piece, the back of the armor is almost totally clean. It kind of looks like Hasbro just forgot to do the back, except for that one piece.
The newer helmet sculpt still looks great, although I’ve spoken to a few people who preferred the older one. To be honest, I don’t really have a preference, and I’m fine intermingling my Black Series troopers with each other. The painted details are pretty sharp, and as for accuracy, I’m not enough of a Star Wars gearhead to notice a lot of the subtle differences. Not to mention, I would imagine there were lots of variations in the screen used props over the years.
Hasbro has been pretty good about making The Mandalorian Stormtroopers accessible. And I was able to pick up three of these guys without any difficulty. It’s not nearly as many of the regular Stormies I got when they released, but this was a rare case where my good senses told me to be happy with three. It would have been cool if they varied up the distress to the armor, but I can appreciate how that would be costly for a mass-produced action figure, and the fact that these three suits just happened to chip in all the exact same spots doesn’t really phase me. I still wish they had kept the holster for the E-11 Blasters from the original Black Series Stormies, but otherwise I love these guy a lot! OK, let’s move on to the star of the show… The Artillery Stormtrooper!
This guy made his appearance in Episode 14, The Tragedy, and as his name suggests, he’s basically a mortar specialist. Once again, we get the new Stormtrooper with improved articulation and the lack of an E-11 holster, and distinguished by both the yellow markings on his armor and the yellow officer’s pauldron on his right shoulder. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I am not a fan of carrying the specialized armor markings from The Clone Wars over to the Imperial Stormtroopers. It felt like a cheap excuse to sell toys back then, and it still does. It’s the kind of thing I expect to see in a video game so the player can tell what kind of enemy they’re dealing with. And it’s especially weird to see it just appearing now in The Mandalorian after never turning up in The Original Trilogy. I think the yellow pauldron would have been enough, and it’s the main reason I’m skipping the Hot Toys releases of this guy and the Incinerator Trooper. And yet with all that being said, I still dig this guy well enough.
There are no notable changes to the helmet, apart from the added yellow markings, which looks like he’s dipped his face in a bucket of mustard. I do really like the sculpt and coloring on the pauldron! The subtle creases where the strap is pulling at it is a really nice touch.
His specialist equipment consists of a backpack and the mortar. The pack holds four “mortar shells,” which I think are just supposed to be the thermal detonators that the regular Stormtroopers wear on the back of their belts. Three of these are sculpted into the pack, but the one on the far right can be removed and loaded into the mortar. The horizontal yellow cylinder looks like it could be some kind of specialty shell, but I’m not sure. The pack plugs into the “O I” on the backpack and it stays put pretty well. There are some fixtures on the sides, which look like brackets, but it doesn’t appear to be designed to hold the mortar, which is a shame.
The mortar is pretty big and features a ball joint at the base and a hinged bi-pod. It stands pretty well and I love the fact that you can load it. “Fire in the hole!!!” Normally, I would have preferred to be manning the WEB Blaster, but after seeing how that thing can be taken out with one well placed shot to the power source, I’m thinking these mortars might be the better way to go. Your far from the action, and accuracy doesn’t really count as much. You really just have to worry about one of those filthy space wizards using The Force to toss the shell back at you. But what are the odds of running into one of those these days, right?
In addition to all the mortar gear, this fellow also comes with a standard E-11 Blaster, which is the same one issued to the Stormtroopers, both Remnant and otherwise. But seriously, is there a petition somewhere to bring back the holsters?
For someone who ran out of space a long time ago, I sure love to troop build! It’s totally irrational, but I just can’t help myself. I think it stems from back when I was a kid and the biggest pie-in-the-sky dream I could have was to have a dozen Stormtroopers for my Rebels to fight. And here i am now with no one to stop me! I’m content with just the one Artillery Stormtrooper, but I can’t say I wouldn’t pick up a couple more Remnant Troopers if they cross my path. Either way, these are great figures and a fine addition to anyone’s Imperial Forces!
A few days ago I reviewed a trifecta of action figures from The Mandalorian, and as promised I’m back to end the week with a couple more. And while last time was all about supporting characters, this time we’re going straight for the Dynamic Duo themselves: The Mandalorian and The Child! Yeah, Yeah, these are long overdue. I have a huge backlog. Get over it!
I don’t have much to say about Mando’s packaging, as it’s pretty standard Black Series fare. So let’s check out The Child! This box is so tiny! And it’s actually kind of bloated compared to the size of the figure itself! And here’s where I’m going to go off on a rant over WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? Why, Hasbro, would you not include the Hover Pram and a stand in this set and beef it up to $15 or $20? Ten dollars isn’t a lot of money to me. I’ve blown more than that on questionable plastic purchases in the past. But even I was put off by plunking down ten bucks for the contents of this box. Was it all part of your evil scheme to make people buy another Beskar Armor Mando and another Child figure to get the Pram? Was it also your plan to make that version so hard to get that it’s selling for over $100 on the scalper market? Honestly, I don’t understand any of this! Let’s look at Mando.
So, this is the second version of Mando to be released in this format (I reviewed the first back in 2019), and as indicated it represents the character after getting his hands on some of that tasty Beskar and decks himself out with some new armor. I have to admit, I was disappointed that they changed his look so early in the series. I liked raggedy Mando. It really played into the whole Mando With No Name Spaghetti Space Western vibe that the series was going for. If it were up to me, I would have held off on the armor upgrade until the second season. But what do I know? Now with all that having been said, I still dig his Beskar look, and I absolutely love the way this figure turned out! Yes, it does reuse some parts from the first figure, but only where appropriate.
And to be fair, he does still have a bit of a rag-tag look to him. He upgraded his cuirass, shoulders, gauntlets, and added a few nice pieces of thigh armor. The rest of his costume is still pretty low-rent and I like that. With how costly Beskar is presented as being, it makes sense that he couldn’t afford an entire suit of it. Actually, I’m not even sure both of the thigh pieces are supposed to be Beskar. It looks like the left one is, but he ran out and so he just painted the right one to match, and the paint is already half worn off. If that’s meant to be the case it’s a wonderful little touch. I also like his newly earned signet, which is sculpted onto his shoulder. The lower legs are recycled, as is the shoulder strap and gun belt. The cape is also the same one we got with the previous figure, but the gauntlets are new sculpts, with the Whistling Birds launcher clearly present on the left gauntlet.
In addition to getting the Beskar upgrade, he obviously sprung for the wash and wax on his helmet. The head is recycled from the previous figure, which makes sense, as it’s the same helmet. But all the brown grime has been cleaned off and it looks nice and shiny to match the Beskar armor. A few smudges have been added here and there to the armor and helmet, but I really do love the metallic paint they used for these pieces. The finish is so rich and luxurious!
In terms of accessories, most of what we get here is a trip down memory lane from the first release. His trusty pistol is once again included and fits nicely into the holster on his right hip. The pistol is the same accessory, but it’s been given a brighter silver coat of paint. Hey, you’re throwing down some credits to get your gear improved, might as well detail your gun too! Now with that having been said, I actually prefer the pistol from the first figure. The duller finish brought out the details in the sculpt a lot better.
Mando also comes with his Disintegration Rifle. It can still be tabbed into his back when not in use, and the figure’s articulation works really well with it, allowing him to hold it pretty close to his cheek and sight his target through the scope.
The new accessory here is the jetpack. It’s certainly a necessary item, but it’s kind of bland and dull. The sculpt is kind of soft and there’s no paint applications at all. There’s some weathering sculpted into it, but it kind of looks more like a one of my cats got at it and chewed it for a while. The jetpack plugs right into the back of the figure, and while you can kind of put it on with the cape, it’s best to take the cape off entirely. Maybe this would have been a good opportunity for softgoods, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to be wearing a cape with a jetpack. It seems like a good way to set yourself on fire.
Any nitpicks I have with this figure are pretty minor, and I come away actually liking it as much, if not more, as the first release. Yes, I still like that more weary High Plains Drifter kind of vibe earlier Mando had, but this one has actually become more iconic to me. The figure itself is a great mix of old and new, it looks fantastic, and it’s loads of fun to play with. Let’s move on to The Child!
So, I really have very little to say about The Child. Yes, this figure is tiny, but overall I think Hasbro did a great job with what they had to work with. Indeed, the sculpt and paint executed for the portrait are rather outstanding for a figure this size. The body is just a solid piece of sculpted plastic robes, although his feet are visible from the bottom. I’m surprised they got ball joints into the shoulders, neck, and hands, although the arms do pull out rather easily and have to be snapped back in.
He does come with a clear plastic case with three accessories: A bowl, a delicious froggy, and the control knob from the Razor Crest. These accessories are so tiny that I haven’t even bothered to remove them from the case, and I’m not going to do it now either. I sure as hell don’t want to drop one and wind up making a 2am run to the Pet ER because one of my cats has a Baby Yoda soup bowl in his or her throat.
And there you have it! Besker Armor Mandalorian is a superb figure and one that I’ll likely have on my desk for a while. The Child is impressive for how small it is, but it still galls me that Hasbro put this tiny figure out as a solo release. I think the proper way to go would have been to bundle him with Beskar Mando as a regular retail release in the first place. Or, at the very least they should have given him his Hover Pram as a solo release. There’s no way I’m paying $100 just to get that Pram, but if that set does get a re-release, I’d probably go so far as to pick it up for $30. And oddly enough, just as I was writing today’s review, I got shipping notice for the Hot Toys Deluxe Mando and Child. It should be arriving early next week, and I’ll likely bump that set to the head of the line, as it’s been a while since I’ve done a Hot Toys review!
Last week I doubled down on Transformers reviews, and I’ve decided that this week I’m going to do the same with the Star Wars Black Series. Hell, I’m going to do better than that. I’m going to knock out three figures today, and at least one more on Friday. I’ve just got so many of these SWB packages piled up and waiting to be opened, it’s starting to get frustrating! So let’s go crazy and check out some figures from The Mandalorian! And yeah, these will be somewhat brief because I’m tackling three figures.
Hasbro hasn’t gone all that deep with the figures from this series, but they at least gave us a good sampling of the main and side characters from the first season. It feels like an eternity ago that I last watched this series, but that’s probably because I deep-sixed my Disney+ after the end of WandaVision. As much as I loved the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, I think it had closure enough to move on, using Boba Fett as a spring board to move on to something else. Especially since I’m bummed we won’t be getting the Rangers series with Cara Dune. Either way, I’ll likely pick up my subscription again after The Book of Boba Fett premiers, but for now, I’m just not that interested in what Disney is selling. I am, however, still excited about most of these figures. Let’s start with Kuill!
If I were to go back in time about 20 years and tell Past Me that we were going to have a Star Wars TV Series with Nick Nolte playing an Ugnaught, Past Me would have punched me in the balls for being a lying sack of shit. And who could blame me? The idea is crazy! Who could have foreseen any of this stuff? Anyway, I loved Kuill and I was very sad to see him die. OH, COME ON. THAT’S NOT A SPOILER. IT HAPPENED FOREVER AGO!!! Well, at least Hasbro immortalized him in plastic, and did a damn fine job at that! I really dig the complexity of the outfit here, as it feels rather layered. The orange tunic is sleeveless, showing the rumpled sleeves of the brown shirt under it and has a belt piece with an extension of the tunic below it. He’s got some puffy brown trousers, which are tucked into his Blurrg riding boots. The belt has hip pouches, he’s got a worn, rugged backpack, and the outfit is tied together with a scarf around his neck and shoulders, which is sculpted separately from the figure.
And man, what a great head sculpt! Hasbro usually does a bang up job on the aliens in the SWB Series, but I still think this one is especially nice. His deep set eyes are surprisingly expressive, and they did a particularly great job sculpting his whiskers. His goggles are sculpted in place, so you cannot move them down over his eyes, but you know what?
I had no idea that the helmet was removable! It really does fit the figure so well, that I thought it was either part of the head sculpt, or it was secured on with glue. This was just a wonderful little surprise. Did I know that Ugnaughts have tiny pointed ears? Feels like I’m discovering that for the first time right now!
In addition to the removable helmet, Kuiil comes with his little blaster rifle. This highly detailed piece of kit has some brown paint for the wood on the stock, and a sling that looks like it’s probably removable. He can sling it over his shoulder, or ready it for action. Honestly, the only downside I can come up with for this figure is that they didn’t make him a Deluxe and bundle him with a Blurrg to ride. Either way, Kuiil gets an A+ in my book! Moving on to Greef!
Greef Karga, played by the always charming Carl Weathers, is a cool character and I was happy to see him get carried over into the second season and right his wrongs toward Mando. I was pretty damn sure that he was going to be a major baddie in the series, and certainly never expected to see them team up! The figure is a very solid effort, but nothing about Karga’s character design is terribly interesting to me. Sure, you could argue the same about a lot of characters from the Original Trilogy, but their outfits have long since become iconic. Greef’s hasn’t, so it’s really just a brown suit. But don’t get me wrong, the texturing on this figure is excellent, and there’s some nice detail to be found, like the quilted pattern on his gauntlets, the wraps on his boots, and the double-holstered gun belt. I also like the cape, which only hangs over his right shoulder and is secured with a belt that runs across his chest and under his left arm.
Alas, I don’t think the head sculpt is one of Hasbro’s better likenesses. It’s not terrible, but it’s just kind of soft. Also, there’s a weird glossy finish to his face, which makes him look like he’s wet. It’s probably sounding like I don’t dig this figure, but that’s not the case. I actually dig him a lot and he’s going to look great on the shelf with Mando and Dune.
Karga comes with twin pistols, which look like someone took the grips and backs of .45’s and gave them sci-fi fronts. I don’t know if it was intentional, but this reminds me a lot of how most of the guns in Star Wars were just modified versions of real firearms, so I’m a big fan of these. Ok, that’s two down and one more to go!
The last figure I’m looking at today is The Armorer, and if I’m being honest, I probably would have been fine skipping this figure entirely. She’s OK. There’s nothing specifically wrong with her, but with storage and display space at an all time premium around my place, I’m not sure I really needed her. She kind of strikes me as being like an upscaled 3 3/4-inch figure, although I can’t really put my finger on why. There’s certainly enough detail in her outfit, like the quilted pattern on her gauntlets and shoulders, or the stitching on her apron. I also find that I like the look of the sculpted half cape a lot more than the softgoods one that came with the Pulse Exclusive version. Although it does drop off of her with the slightest bit of encouragement, to the point where I may just glue it on.
The helmet sculpt is nothing special, as the visor isn’t terribly convincing. It just looks like that part of the helmet is painted over. Maybe gloss finish would have helped. The gold finish does have a decent worn patina to it, and I do like the metallic paint they used for her cuirass. Even still, this figure is doing much for me.
The Pulse Exclusive came with a few extra accessories, whereas this retail release just comes with her hammer and tongs. These are decent enough pieces, and she can hold them pretty well. Obviously, I would have liked to get the extra stuff, but even with them, I wouldn’t have been any happier paying an extra ten bucks for the Exclusive.
I didn’t mean to end this trio of reviews on a downer, and honestly, The Armorer is not a bad figure at all. Maybe she just doesn’t stack up as well to Kuill and Greef, both of which are quite excellent. And with three more figures opened and up on the shelf, I feel like I’ve made a tiny bit of progress with my backlog of Black Series figures, but there’s still a lot more to come. I haven’t yet decided what figure (or figures?) I’ll be checking out on Friday, but it will definitely be more from the 6-inch Black Series, and I’ll probably stick to The Mandalorian. So come on back at the end of the week!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.