Star Wars Black (Solo): Moloch by Hasbro

Solo may have had disappointing returns at the Box Office, but I enjoyed the hell out of it, and Hasbro is still supporting it with their 6-inch Black Series. Not only are we getting a second wave of figures hitting soon, and not long around the film’s home release, but Target is offering a Deluxe Exclusive of Moloch, the Grindalid Enforcer of the White Worms!

Like Target’s other Black Series Exclusive, Moloch comes in a larger, bulkier version of the standard Black Series box. As this is an exclusive, there’s no number on the side, but you do get a little bio blurb on the back and the package is totally collector friendly. The wider box allows this larger figure to be viewed through the window beside his accessories and I think he displays great in the package. I may actually keep this box!

And he’s not too shabby out of the box either! I thought this Moloch had a cool design in the film and Hasbro has translated it to action figure form quite nicely. He has sculpted plastic robes with a an additional layer cast in a sleeveless soft plastic with the sleeves sculpted onto the arms. It gives the figure’s outfit a lot of depth and the robes themselves feature some texturing as well as sculpted stitch lines. You can even see his sleeves protruding from the shorter sleeves of the robe. He’s also wearing sculpted gloves with reinforced leather-like patches on the backs of his hands.

Moloch looks like a humanoid, but looks can be deceiving. He’s apparently the same species as Lady Proxima, and that means that he’s really just a big worm with arms. If you peek under the robes, you won’t see legs, but just a big, bloated worm body and I really dig that. The stubby worm legs actually run all the way up his body. Here’s a case where I really wish Hasbro had gone for softgoods for this Moloch’s robes. It would have allowed me to get a much better look at the worm body under there, but I suppose you could argue that the costume wouldn’t have looked as good. Either way, being a worm means that there aren’t a lot of points of articulation on this fellow. The arms have the usual rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but apart from a ball joint in the waist, that’s all you get.

The figure comes unmasked in the package, but I started out with his face all closed up. The covered worm body protrudes out of the robes and hunches over to have the “head” encased in a giant ring and mask with breathing apparatus. There’s some particularly nice attention to detail here in the sculpt. The surface of the mask looks pitted and old in some areas, there’s further detailing on the flat “nose” piece, and the segmented tubes that come out the sides are a nice touch. The bulk of the mask is not removable, but the face plate can be taken off to get a look at Moloch’s real mug inside.

And it turns out he’s a blue-eyed slug. Hasbro did a fantastic job with the sculpting and paint on the worm head. He’s got some cool wrinkling around his eyes and a pair of slits for nostrils. The skin tone has some different shades and there’s a slightly glossy finish, which makes the plastic look like honest-to-god alien worm skin. Obviously, the removable mask isn’t a surprise, since the figure comes packaged with it off, but this feature still delighted me to no end and goes a long way to make this figure feel like it’s worth the Deluxe price tag.

In addition to the removable mask, Moloch comes with two more accessories. The first is this staff. I’m not sure if this is meant to be a weapon, like a mace, or just some kind of badge of office, and I’m not even sure what the disgusting mass is supposed to be at the end. He may just run around threatening to touch people with it. Either way, he can hold it well in his left hand.

The second accessory is his blaster pistol, which can be worn on the holster on his belt. I’ve been a big fan of the blaster designs in some of the new Star Wars movies in general, but definitely in Rogue One and Solo in particular, and this little gun is a good example of why. It’s not what I would consider a conventional Star Wars design, but it has that same sense of a realistic looking firearm modified with sci-fi bits. I also really dig that they actually painted the wood grips.

Unlike the other Deluxe Target Exclusive in this line, Moloch was really easy for me to find. My Target had three of him on the shelf and he’s still been there the last few times I’ve been through the toy aisle. Granted, he’s not an army builder and maybe not as iconic a character as that Green Space Pig, but he is in excellent figure and I’m very glad I picked him up. The extra $10 he runs is somewhat justified by the larger size of the figure, although I can’t help but think that if this was a Marvel Legends he would have been the same price as a regular figure. I think the biggest missed opportunity is not giving him a Corellian Hound. I would have happily ponied up a little extra to get one of them!

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Star Wars Black: Gamorrean Guard by Hasbro

Indulge me folks, for a moment, as I preface today’s review with a heartfelt thanks to @Grip_86 on Twitter for hooking me up with today’s review. He’s a fellow Floridian, fellow toy collector, and an all around great guy! If you’re reading this, thanks again, man! Ok, on with the review…

Boy do I love the Gamorrean Guards, and boy do they not love me. When this fellow was released as part of the Vintage Collection, I went back to toy hunting for the first time in a while to try to find some. I never did. And I was never willing to pay the crazy prices that he was selling for online. In the end, I got shut out, and was forced to be content with the handful of Gamorreans from the Power of the Force 2 line and my old Kenner originals. And now when Hasbro finally gets around to releasing these Space Pigs in the 6-inch Black Series, it was the same thing all over again. Of course, I lucked out this time (see above) and I’m super excited to get this guy opened up and check him out!

The presentation here is the same thing we’ve been seeing all along: Black box, red interior, monochrome character art, although there’s no number on the side panel, because this release is a Target Exclusive. Of course, the box is also bigger to contain the corpulence of the figure. It’s also what I would consider a Deluxe release, because he comes with more stuff than your average Black Series figure, along with a heftier price tag of $30. All in all, the presentation here isn’t as snazzy as the Amazon Exclusive First Order Stormtrooper, but it’s nice enough to make me want to keep this figure in the box when I’m not playing with him.

And I have to say, out of the box this guy does not disappoint as it is a tremendous sculpt! As expected, he’s a figure with a big presence. Either Jabba feeds these fellas well or I’d imagine a lot of prisoners go missing. His leather tunic is sculpted with a patchwork of stitching as well as the circular embossed medallion on the front and the whole thing is painted with a sumptuous brown and black wash that makes it look like the finest of supple Bantha hide. The short sleeves are sculpted with ragged edges and covered with two pieces of silver armor on each shoulder, each sporting some ornate studs. The shoulder armor is matched by his silver arm bracers and down below he has sandals sculpted into his feet and legs.

When it came to the Gamorrean’s fuzzy diaper, Hasbro did the right thing and splurged for soft-goods. This was an absolute must as far as I’m concerned, as they did the same for the smaller Vintage Collection version. The brown fur looks and feels great and underneath it, the Guard has a sculpted and textured brown plastic diaper. I also really dig that the belt and shoulder strap are sculpted separately from the buck. Sure, it’s a little thing, but not having it sculpted onto the buck adds some nice additional depth to the costume.

The head sculpt is also well worthy of praise. Generally speaking, Hasbro has done a fine job with most of the aliens and creatures in this line, but even having said that, I think they went above and beyond here and the results are porcine perfection. They captured all the nuances in the shape of the face from the prominent brow and puffed out jowls to the pronounced piggy nose. I also dig that they lathered a load of glossy paint on his lips and nose to simulate space pig snot. The helmet is permanently attached to the head, but side flaps are soft plastic to make it look like it could be removed. Also, I never noticed what haunting blue eyes these Gamorreans have! And if all this wasn’t good enough…

GAHHHH! You get an articulated jaw! Oh boy is this great. The Gamorrean has a maw like a large mouthed bass and a beautifully sculpted tongue in there to boot. It’s perfect for putting him in a squealing pose for when Hasbro inevitably releases a two-foot tall Black Series Rancor.

I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of poseability on this figure, and it’s true that his girth does limit some of the range of motion, but all the points are there and he’s still surprisingly fun to play around with. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and you get a surprisingly tight bend on those elbows, all the way to 90-degrees. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the waist, and another in the neck.

As for accessories, the Gamorrean Guard comes with three different weapons. First off, you get the rather distinctive looking axe that came with the original Kenner figure. It has a handle sculpted to look like wood a nice pitted texture to the blade, along with some paint for weathering. This design is so iconic to me that it’s going to be my weapon of choice, providing I only end up with the one. If I get more, I’ll probably mix up the weapons for a little variety.

And just to show Hasbro isn’t playing favorites, they also included the axe that came with the Power of the Force 2 version. This weapon is more of a straight on hatchet. It doesn’t look anything like a space weapon, but I appreciate it for it’s simplicity.

And finally, he comes with this staff weapon, which I assume is some sort of vibro-axe. This is a nice sculpt, and it’s a design that I don’t recognize from any of my previous figures. I’m always a sucker for these staff weapons among Jabba’s crew so I’m really glad they threw this in the box.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the Gamorrean Guard is quite possibly one of the best figures Hasbro has released in this entire line. Yeah, that sounds crazy because he’s such a bit character, seen only briefly in a few scenes at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. Nonetheless, it’s a design that gave the sculptors a lot to work with and they certainly rose to the challenge. The only shame here is that the figure is tough to find, at least for me, because I’d love to pick up at least one or two more of these guys. Hell, now that I know how great he is, I may even just plunk down a premium online to ensure I get one more. Having this figure in hand is also reminding me how badly I want Hasbro to start turning out more of Jabba’s denizens in the 6-inch Black Series. I need Skiff Guards and Bib Fortuna, and why not a Max Reebo band? Hasbro needs to start playing to their strengths with this line and clearly their strengths lie with the aliens and creatures.

Star Wars Black (The Force Awakens): Admiral Ackbar and First Order Officer by Hasbro

It’s weird to still have Toys R Us exclusives in play, what with the company folding this year. I didn’t get all emotional about TRU closing, because visiting the nearest one was a two-hour round trip and it was so poorly maintained that it was never worth the effort. Obviously, I’d rather they stayed open so people didn’t have to lose their jobs, but what can you do, eh? In any event, a few weeks back, I picked up this TRU Exclusive 2-pack on the cheap from Amazon, and I’m finally getting around to opening it up today. Let’s check out Admiral Ackbar and the First Order Officer!

The figures come in a window box that’s pretty typical of the Star Wars Black Series from the red backdrop behind the tray right down to the monochrome character art. You also get the silver foil TRU Exclusive sticker on the window, which may very well be the last one of these we see here at FFZ. I’ll also note that my box looks like it’s been punted around the backroom a couple of dozen times by disgruntled soon-to-be-ex-TRU employees. But that’s OK, I don’t save these packages and at the price I paid for this set, they could have just wrapped the figures in old newspapers for all I care. Let’s start with mah-boy Ackbar!

It’s kind of weird that we’re getting Ackbar from The Force Awakens before a Return of the Jedi version, but I’m sure that one will be coming down the pike soon enough. In this case we get the Mon Calamari Admiral in his Resistance uniform and while it’s kind of drab compared to the duds he was sporting in Jedi, it’s still a good look for him. His costume consists of a pea-soup colored tunic, which has a sculpted rank or ID badge on the left side of his chest. The plastic garment looks like it’s made to secure behind a sculpted front flap, which spills over his belt, concealing where the belt buckle would be. The rest of the outfit is rounded out with a pair of blue trousers and brown boots. I always thought it was weird that the Mon Calamari have giant fish heads and flipper arms, but normal feet. Indeed, Ackbar’s feet are kind of tiny, but he still stands just fine. There’s some really nice sculpted detail and texturing on his forearms and hands too.

But it’s the head sculpt that really sells this figure, as Hasbro did a beautiful job on him. That probably shouldn’t come as any surprise, because as much as I rag on the mediocrity and poor likenesses of the 6-inch Black Series, they almost always do a fine job on the alien portraits. Ackbar here is certainly no exception. They recaptured Ackbar’s fishy noggin in every little detail. I’m especially impressed by the ribbed area round his lower face and those tendril-like whiskers that hang down from his nose. And as fantastic as the sculpt is, the paintwork elevates it even more. The glossy finish on the red gives him a bit of a wet look and the gradient shades of red make for a pleasingly complex finish. The eyes are also perfect.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Ackbar even features an articulated jaw. I was not expecting this, but what a pleasant surprise! The hinge is really well hidden and I’m happy to say that adding this gimmick doesn’t take away from the head sculpt at all.

I’d like to think Ackbar was some kind of badass action hero in his younger days, but this is older Ackbar and as an Admiral, he doesn’t need to do much besides sit in a chair and bark orders. Still, he has decent articulation if you want to give him something more to do. Rotating hinges in his shoulders, elbows, and wrists allow him to do the standard, arms behind back pose that suits these officer-types so well. The legs are ball jointed in the hips, have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles are both hinged and have lateral rockers. You get a ball joint in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed, but I don’t think there’s a hinge in there. As a matter of fact, I can’t get much movement out of his neck at all.

Ackbar does actually come with a blaster, and I’m always down with that. This one looks like it’s supposed to be an offshoot of the DH-17. I don’t know what happened to Ackbar’s little swagger stick. Maybe he just doesn’t use it anymore. Or maybe the Resistance is more of a rough-and-tumble kind of outfit that requires even the Admirals to be armed. Either way, I really dig the design of this little pistol and while Ackbar doesn’t really have a trigger finger on that flipper hand, he can hold the gun quite well. Alas, there’s nowhere to store it on his person. I would have liked a loop on the back of his belt to tuck it in there, so he could pull it out and repel boarders on the bridge of his Capital Ship. Whatever the case, Ackbar is a fantastic figure, and I would have been perfectly happy getting him as a single boxed figure. And that brings us to the First Order Officer…

Don’t ask me why, but I love getting figures of Imperial, or in this case First Order, Officers. Maybe I have a delusion that someday Hasbro will release an Imperial bridge as a playset and I can populate it with all sorts of top brass. I doubt that’s going to ever happen, but it won’t stop me from snapping up these officers every time I see them. I have no idea what this fellow’s actual rank is, but he’s wearing a sharp-looking uniform that looks like it’s a very dark charcoal in color with shiny black boots. I really love the sculpted tunic on this guy. It has flared shoulders and it’s belted with one of those wide belts with a big slab of belt buckle, which hasn’t changed much from the Imperial days. He has two sets of rods on his chest, which I’ve been told are some kind of security keys, and he has a sculpted band around his forearm with white edges. The outfit is rounded out by a holster on his right side.

For the head sculpt, Hasbro did a pretty decent job giving us Generic Officer Man. I actually think the sculpt itself is actually quite good. He’s got more than a bit of personality in there, from his pouty bottom lip to the little cleft mark in his chin. As usual the very basic paint lets the sculpt down. His eyebrows look extra cartoony and while his eyes are fairly neat and straight, they don’t lend a lot of realism to the portrait. My only other complaint would be that the skin tone is really pale.

Much like Ackbar’s jaw, the First Order Officer also hides a pleasant surprise and that’s his removable cap! Under the cap, he’s just got a buzz cut painted on with no actual sculpted detail on the hair. But that’s fine, because it means the cap fits the head so well that I didn’t even think it was removable. Besides, the military style cut suits him.

The articulation here is identical to what we saw with Ackbar, minus the hinged jaw of course! He can take some solid poses, but like Ackbar, I don’t anticipate these fellows seeing a lot of action, unless their ship gets boarded or Poe makes an attack run and they have to scuttle off to their escape pods.

The First Order Officer comes with a pistol, which fits nicely into his holster, and can be held in either hand. As with a lot of weapons in The Force Awakens, this one is a pretty unique and interesting design.

Originally I was going to pass on this two-pack, because I had no chance of finding it at a Toys R Us and other places online were selling it for around $45 and that was just more than I wanted to spend. I was ultimately able to pick it up on Amazon for $18 and even at that price I found myself really thinking over whether I actually needed it. In the end, I’m really glad I picked it up. It’s definitely worth it for Ackbar alone. He’s a fantastic figure, but the First Order Officer is no slouch either. And yes, I’ll happily buy another Ackbar when Hasbro gets around to doing a Return of the Jedi version!

Star Wars Black: Grand Moff Tarkin by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black: 4-LOM by Hasbro

I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say the Bounty Hunters from The Empire Strikes Back are one of the sub-groups that I’m the most excited to see completed in the 6-inch Black Series. Hasbro started out of the gate with a Boba Fett in the very first wave, but after that it took us a little while to get Bossk and IG-88. I wouldn’t have bet money on the next release being 4-LOM and yet here he is, the fourth Bounty Hunter from The Empire Strikes Back to hit this line.

4-LOM, or Zuckuss if you’re Kenner old school, comes in the typical Black Series packaging. Yeah, it’s kind of boring, but the black and red deco has grown on me over time. Like all the bit characters from Star Wars, 4-LOM has been retroactively credited with a backstory. In this case the package says a glitch allowed him to break out of his protocol droid programming and become a Bounty Hunter. Back in the day, I always just assumed he was a droid owned by Zuckuss to help him hunt bounties, and I tend to stick with that idea in my head canon.

Whatever the case, I always thought 4-LOM was a bad-ass looking droid. Sure, he’s sporting a design that is very close to the standard protocol droid, but there are some key differences. Plus, Hasbro really stepped up to the plate to point them out and even toss in some improvements over the two 6-inch Black Series C-3PO figures they have released so far. The legs look identical to me, as does the pelvis, but that’s where the parts recycling seems to end.

For starters, the arms are new and actually feature elbow articulation this time around. Yup, that was a pretty big sticking point with me on the previous 3PO body. Now, granted, there isn’t a huge range of motion in those joints, but the fact that it’s there, complete with little tracks for those hydraulics to slide on, really impresses the hell out of me. At the same time it makes me wonder why they invested the extra work into 4-LOM and not into a main character like 3PO. Sure, the hydraulic on my figure’s right arm seems to prefer bending instead of sliding in the track, but I still appreciate the effort. Apart from the added articulation, the arms look mostly the same, although there is new sculpting in the shoulders and the hands are now designed to hold a weapon. The rest of 4-LOM’s articulation is identical to the C-3PO figure and I’ll refer you back to that review for the details.

Also new are both the torso and the exposed midriff circuit area. 4-LOM still features the familiar protocol droid concentric circles design in the middle of his tummy, but he looks like he has two sets of chests. The coloring on the body is very simple, as it’s all done in a matte black with a lighter gray used for the midriff, and an orange rust wash to pick out the details. He also has a red stripe of paint slashed over the left side of his chest.

The head sculpt is quite a little masterpiece. I’ve always loved the idea that Industrial Automoton would just tweak a standard protocol droid body and slap a Gand head on it to make it more familiar to that species of clientele. The detail in the facial sculpt is absolutely superb and I love the translucent green plastic they used for the giant compound eyes. It’s still amazing to me that a line that still struggles with producing basic human likenesses can turn out something so good when it comes to the aliens and masked figures.

4-LOM comes with his rather distinctive, and rather long, blaster rifle. It has a very thin profile and features a folded bi-pod under the barrel, which cannot be articulated. I really dig how well 4-LOM can hold this thing and even the stock is a perfect fit to get him into a firing position where he’s aiming right down the barrel.

I don’t think I was expecting to enjoy 4-LOM nearly as much as I do, and yet I’ve been messing around with him ever since I opened him up. The extra articulation is certainly a welcome surprise, but beyond that everything about this figure just comes together so perfectly. That’s the thing with the 6-inch Black Series. There are so many figures that could be done better and mediocrity often rules the day, but when this line is good, it’s really really good! Now bring on Zuckuss and Dengar!

Star Wars Black (Solo): Lando Calrissian by Hasbro

As promised, I’m back for a Solo double feature. This morning I checked out the Alden Ehrenreich version of young Han Solo and this afternoon I’m looking at the Donald Glover version of young Lando Calrissian. I’ve already proferred my general feelings about the movie in the previous review (I liked it!) so let’s just dive right in and talk about Lando…

There were a few times in the movie where I had to remind myself that Ehrenreich was Han Solo, but that was never the case for Glover as Lando. I don’t think I’ve seen a re-cast this effective since Karl Urban stepped into the role of Dr. McCoy in the 2009 Star Trek film. His mannerisms were a little more fleshed out, but they still felt right and I have to say Glover’s was the standout performance for me in this flick. So how did his action figure turn out?

Pretty damn good! For starters, Hasbro did a fine job recreating young Lando’s flashy duds. He comes out of the package wearing a scupted plastic black cape, which clips around his neck, rests on his shoulders, and hangs down just a bit past his waist. The interior of the cape is painted blue, which hints a bit at the cape he wore in Empire. Yes, apparently Lando has a bit of a cape fetish and the movie took a few opportunities to point it out and have fun with it. The trousers are unremarkable, and he has a serviceable pair of glossy black boots. He also has a gun belt with a silver buckle and an open holster for his gun.

The flashiest thing about the outfit is the bright yellow high-collared shirt, which features a sculpted chest-flap that’s partially folded down to reveal the black interior. I suspected this shirt might be a reuse of Han’s, because both have a similar flap designs, but they appear to each be unique. There’s also a black bar on the left side of Lando’s chest, which I thought was a flap for a pocket, but it just seems to be there for ornamental purposes. Contrasting this yellow shirt is his long black scarf with a diagonal white pattern. This is the kind of outfit that I would see at The Gap when I was a teenager, but wouldn’t have the chops to wear it to school.

I’m a tad mixed on the head sculpt. It’s certainly not bad, but I think it leans a bit more toward caricature than a straight on likeness. It might be because of the expression in the brow. Also, I didn’t notice it in the film, but the dent in Lando’s coif is channeling a little Moss from The IT Crowd. Like the Han figure, Lando features the halftone printing for the facial features, and it looks good around the eyes, but I think the beard and mustache could have been a bit sharper.

Lando comes with a rather unique blaster and holster. The holster is open with three bands to secure it. The top two bands are open on one end and the bottom is a loop to stick the barrel through. It can be a bit tricky to get it seated right without the barrel looking like it’s bent and sometimes when I remove the blaster from the holster, the barrel will stay in, because…

The muzzle is detachable. We’ve seen a few modular weapons in Rogue One and even in Solo, Han’s DL-44 Blaster gets broken down from a larger gun before Beckett tosses it to him. I’m just not sure if this particular blaster was meant to come apart, or if Hasbro just designed the accessory that way. And if its meant to come apart, what does the longer barrel do for it? Is it a silencer? Does it make it more accurate? Honestly, I can’t even remember seeing this gun in the film, but I assume it’s the one he was using while escaping a certain mining facility. Whatever the case, I like this gun a lot. The sculpted detail is excellent and the silver paint job makes it look very snappy.

I’ll note here that Lando’s articulation here is identical to what we saw with Han Solo and since I just reviewed that figure this morning, I’ll take the lazy way out and refer you back to that review. The cloak does impede shoulder articulation, although the right side is billowed out a bit so he can draw and raise his blaster with the cape on.

No doubt about it, young Lando is a worthy addition to my SWB Collection. It’s a great representation of Lando from the film and I’m really glad I picked him up. The only thing I’ll really nitpick is, I wish he came with some Sabacc cards. They could have sculpted a hand of cards as a single accessory, or even included an extra hand with the cards as part of the hand sculpt. Oh well. Before seeing the movie, I was pretty sure I was going to be happy with just getting Han, Lando, and the Range Trooper, but now that I”ve seen it I’m going to go ahead and pick up Q’ira to finish out this assortment. I’m also happy to see that Hasbro has shown off pictures of a second Solo-themed wave and I’ll be all over that like stink on a Wookie.

Star Wars Black (Solo): Han Solo by Hasbro

Solo, the latest Star Wars Story hit theaters last week and I have to say that while I was pretty apprehensive about this one going in, I ended up enjoying it very much. There were a few things here and there that I felt were a little off, but overall the movie generated enough goodwill to allow me to overlook those things. Yeah, there was one cameo that I think was a terrible idea and left a bad taste in my mouth, but I won’t go into anything spoilery just yet. But ultimately, Solo (in conjunction with Rogue One) gave me a well-needed shot of assurance, that if the proper episode-whataver saga movies don’t right themselves, I’ll have these Star Wars Story films to fall back on for my Star Wars fix. In the meantime, I’m doubling up on Star Wars Black reviews today, with a look at Han Solo right now, and Lando Calrissian later on tonight.

And here we have my first Han Solo figure based on someone else playing the character. Let me confess, I didn’t know who Alden Ehrenreich was before he was cast in this film, and I was pretty dubious about how this was going to play out. My main concern was that I’d go through the movie and my brain wouldn’t allow this person to click as Han Solo. Thankfully, that fear wasn’t entirely realized and I think Ehrenreich did a pretty damn good job. Let’s face it, he had some huge space boots to fill, and if I was an actor, that kind of pressure would have killed me. In most scenes I think he sold it entirely, while there were a few (very few) times where I had to remind myself in the back of my head that this was indeed supposed to be Han Solo. But this film was a fun and gripping adventure and I was willing to go along for the ride, and I would not at all be opposed to seeing Ehrenreich take on the role again.

And I’m happy to report that Hasbro did a fantastic job on this figure! Young Han wore a number of outfits throughout the movie, from Imperal uniforms, to disguises, to a big furry jacket, but this figure is based on the one he settled on for most of it and clearly this is supposed to be iconic young Han Solo. The outfit has plenty of nods to the Han Solo that we all know and love. Indeed from the waist down, the similarities are striking. He has the familiar blue trousers with the red striping running up the tops, the high boots, and even his iconic gun belt with the large silver belt buckle, low slung holster with leg strap.

From the waist up, the costume mixes things up a bit. He still wears a jacket, like he did in Empire Strikes Back, but this one is a deep brown with black shoulder patches and a badge or some kind of ID shingle on his left side of his chest. Besides the usual sculpted rumples and wrinkles, Hasbro did some nice work with the sculpted seams and stitching, as well as a pleated effect on the flaps. The coloring on the jacket is also particularly nice, with a glossy finish making it look like well worn leather. Of course, the jacket is the usual soft plastic vest with sleeves sculpted on the arms, and it works quite well here. Under the jacket, Han wears a black t-shirt, with a sculpted flap on the front, somewhat similar to the one Luke wore in Return of the Jedi. 

It’s no secret that Hasbro hasn’t always been on point with their likenesses in the Black Series. Most would argue that the sculpts are there, but the basic paint the portraits get is where things go pear-shaped. Whatever the case, Hasbro did a bang-up job on this one. I think the likeness to Ehrenreich is pretty solid, and I particularly like the way they sculpted his coif. The facial detail uses the halftone printing that we’ve seen with many of the recent MCU figures in Hasbro’s own Marvel Legends line and the improvement is certainly there. It’s not perfect, but it’s come a long way from what Hasbro was doing for this line in the past. And don’t think it’s lost on me, the fact that this Han Solo figure features a much better likeness of Solo as played by Ehrenreich than any of the previous figures based on Harrison Ford.

As expected, Han features a functional holster on his gun belt and he comes with his trusty DL-44 Blaster, although I guess it’s a little too early to refer to it as his trusty weapon in this film since it was newly acquired. Nonetheless, the sculpt on this Broom-handled Space-Mauser is excellent and Hasbro spared a lick of brown paint for the handle.

While the movie may have had a few surprises about Han, the figure’s articulation comes out right where I expected. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso features a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

I haven’t always been terribly kind to the 6-inch Black Series, and it’s track record of hits and misses has really made me lose some of my enthusiasm for this line. Hell, almost all my SWB figures from The Last Jedi still sit unopened, but that could be blamed more on the film than the figures. But would I really be interested in buying a figure of Han Solo not played by Harrison Ford? Apparently, yes. Because, after seeing Solo the film, and getting this figure in hand, I’ve been pulled back in. Indeed, I was a little surprised at how excited I was to grab this figure off the peg, along with Lando and toss them into my cart. Both the movie and the figure turned out great, and I’m ready for more. So, come back later on tonight, and I’ll have a look at Lando Calrissian!

Star Wars Black (Solo): Range Trooper by Hasbro

It’s been something like two months since I last visited with the Star Wars 6-inch Black Series. I have a lot of the figures from The Last Jedi still waiting to be opened, but my third viewing of that flick really left me cold and not really in a mood to celebrate it with figures. Maybe one day when I’m really hurting for something to review, I’ll revisit those. In the meantime, the trailers have got me really excited to see Solo and I’ve started to pick up some of the Black Series figures that have preceded its coming. Let’s start off with the Range Trooper!

I confess, I tore this guy open in the car, so I had to go with Hasbro’s official packaged shot. And it’s worth noting that the figure in their promo shot is colored a bit differently than the actual figure we got, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Just who are the Range Troopers and what function do they serve in the Empire? Well, after a bit of speculation, we finally got to see a glimpse of these guys in action in the trailer, and it seems like they’ll be guarding an Imperial train on a planet called Vandor! It’s not a whole lot to go on, but it is significant as it explains a bit about the rather distinctive gear these guys are wearing. This is going to be one of those reviews where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on not only the figure itself, but the character design as well. So, let’s get started.

Straightaway, let me say that I really love this design and the figure carries it off brilliantly. I called him distinctive, and he is that, but he’s also a hodge-podge of ideas taken from a number of other Imperial troopers, and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. It’s only natural that Imperial armor should have a certain flavor to it, so it’s nice to see some of that connective tissue on display here. Pretty much all we know about Vandor right now is that it looks to have a rather cold and inhospitable climate, and I suppose we can assume that’s characteristic of the entire planet because… STAR WARS! Whatever the case, the Range Trooper is all bundled up, even more so than the Imperial Snowtroopers.

And this guy definitely has a Snowtrooper vibe about him. The chest armor is very similar to the Snowy, as is his backpack, albeit it’s a lot more recessed. The Range Trooper also has a similar kama, although it appears to be part of a larger and bulkier jacket that’s worn under the chest armor. The sculpting on the jacket is particularly well done and I like the look of the fringe that lines the edges. He also has a pair of rather large pouches flanking either side of his belt buckle. As I mentioned earlier, the promo shots make him look mostly white all over, but in hand the production figure has a couple of different colors going on. The helmet, the chest armor and the backpack are all pretty white, but the jacket has more of a yellow tinge to it and the boots and leg armor are gray. There’s also some pretty nice weathering, which consists of some scrapes and scratches on the armor.

The head sculpt definitely reminds me of some of the new helmet designs we saw in Rogue One, particularly the Scarif Troopers and the Hover Tank Pilot. And I guess that more or less fits the timeline, although Solo takes place a decade or so earlier. Like his chest armor, the helmet shows off some pretty nice weathering and I really dig the gold paint the used for the visor. Another thing I really dig is the furry collar he’s got on. It’s more of a yellowish white to match the coat, which presume it’s supposed to be part of. It looks very distinctive and I think this is some of the better use of softgoods I’ve seen in this line in a while.

And that brings us to the boots, and this guy has quite a pair of clodhoppers. These babies are heavily reinforced with a framework and even what looks like some kind of pressurized control tanks in the back. Having seen the trailer, we now know that one of the purposes these serve are to magnetize to the body of the train their guarding, so the troops can stay attached as it rotates on the track. I would presume these same boots could be used by Space Troopers who need to go out and walk on the hull of a spaceship. Whatever the case, these are some cool boots!

The articulation looks good on paper, but in practice, there’s a lot holding it back, at least from the waist down. The hips are ball jointed and there are what I believe to be rotating hinges in the knees and the ankles. But between the bulky boots, the sculpted plastic kama, and those big pouches, his legs just don’t have a lot of range of motion. He also has a pair of those thigh loops that we often see on the pilot figures. Above the waist he fares better, with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, all of which are relatively unhindered.

The Range Trooper comes with one weapon and it’s basically a variant of the E-11 Blaster.  It’s a much sturdier sculpt than we’ve seen in the past and not so prone to warping. On the downside, it doesn’t have any of the silver paint apps. Still, it’s a pretty cool gun. Unfortunately, there’s no holster or anything for him to put it when he’s not shooting.

In the end, the Range Trooper is a damn cool looking figure. I love the design and I think Hasbro did a great job with this figure. Yeah, the articulation is lacking a decent range of movement in some areas, but with how bundled up these fellas are, I don’t know how nimble they would be anyway. You’ve just got to love this time, when you’re getting Star Wars figures from a movie you haven’t seen yet, and it’s still all about speculation. You work up ideas about what the characters are going to be like, and whether they’re going to be major players or just bit parts. From the looks of the trailer, we will most definitely get to see the Range Troopers in action, and I hope they make a good account of themselves, because I want to pick up a few more of these guys.

Star Wars Black: Imperial AT-ST and Driver (Walmart Exclusive) by Hasbro

It’s hard to believe that it was five years ago that I reviewed the Vintage Collection AT-ST from Hasbro. FIVE YEARS AGO!?! While that toy had a number of good points, like the expanded driver cabin, I came away without being terribly impressed with it, mainly because it didn’t stand on its own very well at all, and the deco leaved something to be desired. When Hasbro re-released it as a Walmart Exclusive as part of the Star Wars Black Series, it was an easy pass because of the crazy price. I seem to recall they were asking sixty dollars for this thing! But when it later hit a certain online toy e-tailer for $25, well I couldn’t resist giving it another go. Oh, and keep in mind, while I’m referring back to the Vintage Collection release a lot, this toy first saw release way back in 2009 as part of the Legacy Collection.

It’s hard to beat the Vintage Collection packaging of the K-Mart Exclusive AT-ST, and this one doesn’t even try. It comes in a window box, so you do get a good look at the toy itself, but the minimalist black and red Black Series deco does nothing for me. There’s some monochrome art on the front and the cardboard behind the tray has some faint background scenes, but it just feels like lazy package design. Thanks to the high price point, these must have been a retail disaster for Walmart. They even had an entire endcap of them at my local Wally World, and that place almost never has any Hasbro Exclusives. They were on clearance too, but nowhere near as low as the price I got mine for. Unlike the VC version, there’s no assembly required here and the toy comes right out of the box and ready to go. I rarely ever start out reviews with comparisons, but lets just go for it.

Here they are side by side, with the new Black Series version on the left and good old Shitty-feet from the Vintage Collection on the right. Does that nickname refer to the fact that it can’t stand on his own or the fact that it actually looks like it’s been standing in feces? You decide, there is no wrong answer. I had planned to take more pictures for comparison, but I literally could not get the VC version to stand for more than a couple shots before getting really frustrated and tossing it aside. They are identical molds as far as I can tell and the only real differences are in the decos. The new one is cast in a much paler gray plastic and has what looks like a sandy spray on its feet, legs, and head. There’s also no battle damage on the SWB version, and it has a completely black butt.

Which deco do I like better? Well, it can’t be that easy can it? To be honest, I prefer the darker gray plastic of the earlier release, and I do like the scorch mark on the head. The old deco would have been a slam dunk as the favorite if it weren’t for the heavy mud on the feet, which I think looks really bad. The paler gray plastic on the new one looks a little cheaper and the weathering spray isn’t all that convincing to me. In the end, neither is perfect and ideally, I would have liked a compromise between the two. Each AT-ST definitely looks like its been hanging out in a different environment, so the VC release could clearly be from Endor and the newer release looks like it has seen action on a barren planet. Maybe even Jedha? That’s kind of cool. On the other hand, if you plan on picking this one up to beef up your Imperial ranks, I don’t think they display well together because of the obvious differences in weathering. OK, so let’s get to the Star Wars Black version all by itself…

Straightaway, I have to say the stability on this toy is a hundred times better than what I got on my VC version. I don’t know if they just tightened up the joints or redesigned the ratchets, but this baby will stand and even pose with very little difficulty and that fix alone makes it a very welcome re-release. The detail on the sculpt is great in some areas, but feels a little wanting in others. I said it back when I reviewed the previous release, and I’ll reiterate here that I’m still amazed at how well the original Kenner toy holds up in that regard. As a result the detail here doesn’t feel like a huge leap forward over the original vintage toy. I don’t think that’s a slight against this toy, but rather just shows that the original was so well done. With that having been said, you get some nice detailing on the sides of the legs and the back of the head.

That’s not to say there isn’t improvement. Gone is the hokey Kenner walking gimmick and in its place is a pretty cool and complex network of articulation for the legs. The tops of the legs don’t connect directly to the body, but rather to articulated struts that can move away from the body. This adds a cool element of stabilization that would probably have to be present for this fictional vehicle to work well. In addition to that, you get ratcheting joints in the tops of the legs, at the first bend, again down near the ankles, and again at the ankles. I’ll admit, the toy could have really used some swivels or rockers at the ankles to make it able to stand in more extreme poses, but it gets by pretty well as it is.

The head design features two different cheek weapons. On the right hand side, there’s a grenade launcher and a cluster of blasters on the left. Both of these can rotate. The windows also have hinged armor plates that can be left open or buttoned up for combat. The stock chin gun can rotate left and right and raise and lower to target enemies ahead or below. You also have the ability to swap out this gun with a dual missile launcher. Yup, this is the same option that the Vintage Collection version featured. I think the original idea was to make it more kid friendly by giving it missiles and a firing gimmick. but I actually think this works well as just a different weapons load out. The missiles are kind of fun, but I prefer the one that comes attached to the vehicle in the package.

The top of the head is hinged so the entire plate can be opened to allow easy access to the drivers’ cabin. Apart from the added articulation, the biggest draw of this modern AT-ST over the old Kenner one is the expanded cockpit that can seat two drivers very comfortably. The cockpit itself features some great detail, including seats, controls, and foot pedals. The sides of the cockpit feature some pre-applied stickers with more instruments and screens.

The smaller hatch on the roof will also open to allow one driver to pop his head out and there’s a railing around the roof to prevent careless accidents at the Imperial workplace. Wait, the Imperial engineers put railings on this thing but not on those two-foot wide elevated walkways on the Death Star?

Unlike the Vintage Collection release, this AT-ST does include a driver figure and that’s certainly a nice bonus, but for the original price of this thing, they should have thrown in two. I’m pretty sure this guy is a repack of the Vintage Collection AT-ST Crew two-pack, released sometime around 2012. It’s a decent figure, albeit a tad generic looking.  He’s wearing pale gray jumpsuit with some nice sculpted rumples and pockets, black boots and gloves, a standard issue Imperial belt, and he has a chest harness with shoulder straps. The helmet is removable and he has a pretty good head sculpt hiding under it. He also comes with a standard E-11 Blaster, but no holster to store it. The articulation is kind of a mixed bag, in that he has full on rotating hinges in the limbs and a ball joint in the chest, but the t-crotch feels like a bit of a throwback. Still, he gets the job done, and I may have to hunt down one more of these guys.

Overall, I like this toy a lot. It’s a great sculpt and it’s loads of fun now that the crappy legs from the Vintage Collection release have been fixed. Unfortunately, the bland colored plastic and unconvincing weathering do tend to put a damper on things. Either way, I don’t know what they were smoking when they slapped the original $60 MSRP on this thing, but I can’t come close to justifying that kind of money, even if it is a pretty good toy. At $35 or $40, these might have actually found their way off Walmart’s shelves and into collectors’ shopping carts. But at $25, I’m overall satisfied with the purchase. The deco might be a step back, but at least I don’t have to prop a doll stand up under it if I want to keep it on display.

Star Wars Black: Imperial Royal Guard by Hasbro

Oh, Star Wars Black Series, why can’t I quit you? You are a line of figures I really want to walk away from, because you’re all over the place when it comes to sculpts and paint and actor likenesses. But whenever I try to leave you, I keep getting pulled back in by some figure that turned out pretty damn good. And even if I did quit today, I’d still have a good half-dozen or so figures waiting to be reviewed, so let’s get to it. Today I’m looking at a figure that I was really looking forward to, even if he really doesn’t have a place on my display shelf. The Emperor’s Royal Guard!

Or, apparently he goes by Imperial Royal Guard these days, at least according to the box. There was something about the magic of Star Wars that could capture our imaginations with just a cool costume design flashed on a couple of frames of film. Thanks to the old Kenner action figures, I could spend countless hours speculating on a background character, just because I had an action figure of him and needed to invent a backstory. Nowadays the crushing weight of the Expanded Universe canon spoon fed to us by the InterWebs does that for us, but back in the day it was all up to our imaginations. Case in point, these Royal Guards remain one of my favorite troop designs in the whole series. I find these guys to be intimidating and badass. But that’s all based on mystery spiced by my own whimsical extrapolations, because the Royal Guards were merely window dressing in Return of the Jedi. Or more accurately, elevator dressing? Either way, I’ve owned every version of these guys that Kenner or Hasbro have put out and I’ve loved all of them. Suffice it to say, I was eager to see how the Black Series version would turn out.

Softgoods! The Black Series hasn’t always taken advantage of this scale to incorporate softgoods, but I think it was a no-brainer for this figure. The Royal Guard’s majestic cloak is fashioned from a nice soft and brilliant red fabric that falls pretty naturally around the figure. It can bunch up at the shoulders a bit, but all in all I think it looks really good. The only sculpted plastic this guy is showing is his very distinctive helmet. The sculpt for the helmet matches all of the sexy and sinister curves I remember, but the paint used for the black visor could have been a little crisper. It doesn’t even fill out the entire area that’s supposed to be black. Come on, Hasbro. There is literally one paint application showing on this entire figure and it turned out a bit dodgy. Eh, the truth is it’s only really noticeable if you get in close, so let’s give him a pass. As for what’s under the cloak? My guess would be they cheaped out with just a blank buck, but let’s take a peek…

OH MY GOD!!! You’re just going to have to believe me on this one, folks. I haven’t read or watched any reviews of this guy, so taking him out of the box and lifting his robe is the first time I saw what was going on under there and I am in awe. Not only does he have a fully detailed and sculpted suit of armor under there, it is absolutely beautiful in both its design and execution. It’s not quite the Imperial Guard from the Shadow of the Empire, but it’s close enough for me to use as a stand in. Hell, we’re going to have to get rid of those robes and take a closer look at his business!

Removing the robes is as simple as popping off the head and popping it back on and I’m actually surprised that the figure looks as good as it does with the robes off and the regular head reattached. I will, however, throw it out there that Hasbro should have included the Shadows of the Empire Imperial Guard helmet as a swap out because that would have been amazing. But I digress. Getting the cloak off this guy is like I’m seeing him for the first time, and I really dig what I see. He’s wearing a sculpted dark maroon suit with bright crimson armor pieces sculpted onto it. Little touches include the painted buckles on the straps holding on his shin guards, pouches on his belt, and a holster for a pistol that I did not even realize these guys carried. I really am impressed and yet also supremely disappointed that we never got to see these guys cast off their robes and show off their fighting skills like the Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi did.

The Royal Guard comes with two accessories, the blaster pistol and a force pike. The pistol looks identical to the one carried by the Biker Scouts, but I don’t have that one handy to do a comparison. Either way, the Guard’s left hand is sculpted to hold it pretty well, but I had no luck getting it into his right hand. The cross draw required for the holster on the right hip isn’t unheard of, but as we’ll see in a bit, the cloak makes wielding the pistol in that hand a little problematic. The force pike, on the other hand, is a new weapon and Hasbro put a lot of effort into the sculpt. I’ve only really seen this accessory before in the 3 3/4-inch scale, so it’s cool to see it fleshed out with some of the finer details.

The articulation includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the chest and the neck is ball jointed, but the helmet doesn’t offer a whole lot of range of motion. So my big question is, how well does the articulation and accessories work with the cloaked figure. Let’s put it back on and find out.

Most of the time, these guys tend to stand there with their force pike in hand and flank The Emperor. Let’s face it, how many times do you think some random Joe takes a pop at Papa Palpatine? Probably not often. So I tend to think of these guards as mostly for show. Anyway, thanks to a slit running down the right side of the robes, the right arm is accessible for him to hold the weapon in his most iconic of poses. I’m not sure why they went with the pointy index finger in his right hand, but maybe it was so you can get a bit of an angle on the way he’s holding the weapon.

Of course, if you want him to start busting out the action poses, it helps to roll the cloak back over his shoulders. I didn’t think this would work that well, but it’s actually not too bad. However, the left arm with the gun can still be a little awkward. If I can grab another one of these, I may try out slitting the robe up the left side as well to offer a little more easy access. I’d like to think that the Royal Guards just drop the cloaks when the occasion for combat presents itself.

I started out by saying this was a figure that has no real place on my display shelves, and that’s kind of true. I skipped the Black Series Emperor, because I honestly didn’t think it looked very good and now I’ve got an Emperor’s Guard with no Emperor for him to guard. It’s something that I can’t easily remedy because Palpy is now going for a shit ton of Republic Credits on the secondary market, and if I wasn’t going to buy him for $20, I sure as hell am not going to pay more. That having been said, this figure has both surprised and delighted me by all the work Hasbro did on the body under those robes. I expected him to look good standing there at attention with his force pike, but not much else. Who would have thought that a simple figure like this could have just possibly rekindled my love for this line.