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.

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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.

Star Wars Black: Princess Leia in Boushh Disguise by Hasbro

I’m working to get caught up on a lot of figures lying around here before new stuff starts piling up on top of it and I need to call in an archaeologist to dig my way out. And so, today I’m jumping back to the last wave of Hasbro’s 6-inch Black series. I started this wave a week or so ago with a look at Commander Cody, today we’ll check out the second Princess Leia figure in this series and it’s her in the Boushh disguise from Return of the Jedi.

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There’s the packaging and I’ve got nothing new to say about it, so let me take this time to ponder what the hell is going through Hasbro’s collective head with character selection these days. OK, maybe not character selection per say, but rather the versions they’re choosing for Princess Leia. She’s cropped up twice now in this series and both are from the beginning of Return of the Jedi. The fact that we haven’t seen a New Hope version of her yet is just criminal. Not only is that version of the character the most iconic to me, but I also think it’s some of her best moments in the saga: All on her own, fighting against Vader to safeguard the plans that she knows will put an end to the Empire. All I want is her white outfit, a couple of hair buns and that bitchin’ long barreled pistol, is that so wrong? Hot Toys gets it. That’s why that’s the first version their doing of Leia. And have you seen that figure? It’s gorgeous! What? Oh yeah, back to Hasbro’s Boushh Leia…

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By now you all should know my take on this line. I have a litmus test that begs the question, is this figure better served by being in the larger scale? I’ll come back to that in a bit, but let me start out by saying that I think this is a very solid figure. All the regular points that I touch upon in my features, like the sculpt and paint look fine. Indeed, there’s some lovely little touches like the gold paint on the cartridges on her shoulder strap, the Ubese lettering on her backpack and the softgoods half cape that hangs down her back, which both Ubese and Mandalorians seem to love so much. These are all solid efforts.

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I’m torn on the portrait. On the one hand, Leia sports a pretty face and some well sculpted hair. On the other hand, I don’t see any Carrie Fisher in there at all. The Slave Leia figure’s likeness wasn’t a hit either, but I think there was a bit more resemblance there than here. The paint is also rather off. The brown from her hair line splotches unevenly on her skin, the lipstick doesn’t really match her lips at all and the eyes, while not totally wonky, aren’t terribly precise either. None of this is a huge deal for me as I will likely keep the helmet on her all the time, just like I did with my Kenner figure when I was a kid.

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And the helmet is indeed a nice piece of work. Not only do you get a lot of great sculpted detail, which is not always the case on these softer plastic removable helmet pieces, but some really nice weathering paint. It fits on the figure very well too. It’s also perfect for that Breen custom I’ve always wanted to do.

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The articulation features a nice range of points, only slightly marred by the sculpted robes. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the thighs. The ankles have rotating hinges as well as lateral rockers. The rockers are nice, but with the restrictive plastic skirt, it’s tough to get a wide stance to use them. There’s a waist swivel hidden under her belt, a ball joint in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

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Boushh-Leia comes with four accessories. You get her removable helmet, a removable backpack, a thermal detonator and her staff-gun thingy. Seriously, what is this thing? If it’s a rifle how the hell does she hold it with no stock or trigger? Is it some kind of staff weapon cattle prod? I’ve been pondering this question since I was a kid. The detonator is a tiny ball of plastic that can peg onto her belt or be held in her hand. Yes, Vader couldn’t get a peg for his lightsaber hilt, but goddammit if we’re not going to let Boushh put her bomb on her belt! As tiny as the detonator is, Hasbro still managed to get some silver paint onto it.

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Scale continues to be an issue with this line. Just look at the difference between these two Leias. It’s even worse than the discrepancy we saw between regular Han and Hoth Han. This is a $20 collector line, why is it so hard to get the scale right on these figures from wave to wave?

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But, getting back to my original point, because here’s an instance where Hasbro has released this version of the character in both the 6-inch and 3 3/4-inch Black lines almost at the exact same time. I don’t own the smaller scale version, although I may pick it up for the purposes of comparison, but the pictures that I’ve seen tell me that the smaller scale version is every bit as good. Softgoods cape? Check. Removable helmet? Pleeeease… the original Kenner figure had that! Articulation? A few changes there, like the smaller figure appears to have rotating hinges in the knees as opposed to double hinges, but let’s just say comparable articulation.

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And so once again I ask myself, is the point of this line just to sell us up-scaled versions of these characters? Or is it to deliver us versions better than what we could get in the smaller scale? It’s increasingly obvious that the answer is the former. Now, you could argue that’s a credit to how good Hasbro has become at making the smaller scale figures, but I would argue it just devalues these 6-inch figures as a collector line. And yet here I am… still buying them. And maybe it’s not fair to unload all of this on this particular figure. It’s been the case all along and I’ll reiterate that I think this is a solid figure. Maybe It’s time to just accept that these are more or less up-scaled figures and not dwell on this stuff so much in the future.

Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight) by Hasbro

We all know that Luke Skywalker is an important character in the Star Wars Universe. Hell, he was certainly arguably the most important character until Lucas retconned Vader into that position. But it still feels like Hasbro is really over-pimping the hell out of Luke in the 6-inch Black line. The series of figures is still relatively young and yet here I am looking at the third version of the character and we’ve already seen pictures of the fourth (Hoth) Luke arriving soon in the next Deluxe Wave. I get it, Hasbro, but how about spacing out the Lukes and getting us a Lando? Or maybe a Princess Leia with her clothes on? The glut of Lukes is kind of getting out of hand, especially in the absense of so many other important characters, or even not so important characters that I’d still like to get figures of. Now, with all that having been said, I do have to admit that this version of “Jedi Luke” makes for a nice companion figure to the “Return of the Jedi” Vader that also shipped in this wave. Let’s take a look at Luke #3…

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The package is a little worse for wear because I left it on the floor and the cat tried to open it. Actually it turned out that he just wanted the box to play with and not the figure inside. Well, there’s no accounting for taste. Anyway, the window box is exactly what we’ve seen for the last couple of figures in the wave. It’s a black box with a black tray and a mostly black figure inside and it’s called Black… that’s a lot of black!

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So speaking of black, that’s really one of the few things worth mentioning about the figure. His Jedi Knight outfit is almost void of any notable detail apart from some sculpted wrinkles and seams. Seriously, this is one of the most nondescript figures I’ve seen in a while. To help things along, Hasbro included a removable piece for his tunic, which can be replaced with another piece that makes it look as if his flap is folded down.

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I call it the Captain Kirk “Wrath of Khan” look. All it’s missing is a bloody handprint. I guess the extra tunic part is a nice touch, but you know what would have also been a nice touch? A FREAKING SOFT GOODS JEDI ROBE!!! Even the god damn original Kenner 3 3/4” version of this figure came with that! Seriously, there’s no excuse for leaving it out this time. I’m beginning to think we may not even see one with the “A New Hope” Obi-Wan when he comes out.

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The head sculpt is OK, but it’s not great. It’s very gaunt and sickly looking, so maybe this is supposed to be Luke after he got the shit zapped out of him by Palpatine. The likeness is sort of there, they certainly got the chin dimple right, but it strikes me more as a caricature than anything else. It’s definitely my least favorite of all three Luke portraits in this line. In fact, I think the X-Wing Luke is the best, so I’d argue they’ve been getting progressively worse. Seems like it should be the other way around.

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Anyway, the only other thing worth mentioning about Luke’s outfit is it has a separate belt with a hook that you can hang the lightsaber hilt on. Hey, at least that’s better than Darth Vader got. In fact, all the Luke figures in this line so far have had ways to carry the hilts on their belts, so that’s cool. Naturally the blade can come out of the hilt and Luke’s articulation allows him to wield the saber in both hands.

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Speaking of articulation, Luke’s poseability is right in line with what we’ve been seeing all along. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the thighs. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There is also a ball joint just above the waist and the neck has both a ball joint and a hinge. Luke is a pretty fun figure to pose and I’m happy to report no soft or mushy joints.

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So, how does Jedi Luke fare against my 6-inch Black Litmus Test? He fails, because there’s virtually nothing about this figure that couldn’t have or hasn’t been done better in the smaller 3 3/4” scale. The lack of a soft goods Jedi robe is frankly inexcusable, especially for a figure that required so little sculpting and paintwork. Plus, I don’t see why Luke’s head sculpts are getting worse and not better. Both Luke and Vader are both similar in that they are not bad figures, just decidedly average. They strike me as missed opportunities and fine examples of how this 6-inch Black series continues to be wildly inconsistent.

Star Wars Black: Darth Vader (Return of the Jedi) by Hasbro

Alrighty, It’s Saturday and I’m running into overtime, but I promised to end this week with another Star Wars Black figure and so here we are to take a look at Darth Vader. Obviously, the Dark Lord of the Sith was on a lot of collectors’ 6-inch scale want lists and Hasbro didn’t take too long to deliver him. However, they did go the somewhat controversial route of giving us a Return of the Jedi version with a removable mask. Was it a good call or will I be crying for a do-over? Let’s find out together!

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There’s Vader in his box. As noted last time, Hasbro has done some tweaking to the SWB packaging, but it’s mostly just cosmetic. You still get a collector friendly window box that is happy standing on the shelf or hanging on the peg. To be honest, Vader doesn’t look all that impressive in his box, but I think that’s because he’s kind of all smooshed in there.

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With Lord Vader out of the box and properly fluffed, I’m digging him a little more. The first thing that strikes me about the figure is how well the soft goods are executed. I remember back when the line was first announced the use of soft goods was one of the selling points for me. How’s that been working out so far? Not so great. We didn’t even get proper Jedi cloaks with Obi-Wan or Anakin… just skirts. Vader here, features a cloth inner garment, which wraps around his torso, flows under his belt and forms a skirt plus a nice flowing cape. The cape secured around the neck with an actual chain and also secured to the shoulder armor. The soft goods are far from perfect, but it is pretty much the selling point for me with this figure. Maybe it’s just because I’m so desperate to see mixed media used in this line to some advantage.

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The sculpted detail on the rest of the figure’s body is fairly good. The suit has that great quilted leather texture and I dig the way the shoulder piece looks. Plus… oh, hell… I can’t do this anymore. How many Darth Vader figures have I owned over the years? I don’t even have a large Star Wars collection any longer and I’d still bet I have two dozen. The body sculpt here is passable, but is it better than some of the better 3 3/4” Vader’s. Not really. Regular readers should know my litmus test with the 6-inch Black line by now. Is the figure improved by the larger scale? Again, not really. The truth is there’s nothing here about the sculpt that really stands out as anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s certainly good work. Let’s move on to the portrait.

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So, when I heard Hasbro was going with a removable helmet, I expected a soft and squishy train wreck of a sculpt. We did not get that, but there’s still something seriously off about it and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Granted, I’m not a Vader helmet expert and I can’t tell you all the little differences between the costumes. The red eyes are certainly off putting, because whatever the truth is about the costume, they always looked black on screen to me. Overall, I was expecting worse, but that doesn’t make it particularly great either.

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Pop off the helmet and you get Anakin unmasked. Here again, I’m going to throw out a “meh.” It’s not bad, it’s not great, it just is. I think the sculpt on the face is actually pretty decent but it’s let down by the paint job. I’m particularly put off by the cartoony look of his eyes. What I do think is fairly impressive is the work they put into the little controls and doo-dads on the tray in front of his mouth.

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Generally speaking, I don’t require a lot of articulation out of my Vader figures, but this guy features some competent poseability. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but alas no bicep swivels. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, hinges in the ankles and we even get some lateral rockers in those ankles too! There’s a ball joint in the waist and a ball joint in the neck. On the downside, those hip joints are pretty loose and sometimes Vader can’t support his own weight when doing those wider stances.

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Vader comes with his lightsaber and the blade is detachable so you can go for a lit or unlit look. The problem? There’s no way to attach the hilt to his belt. Seriously, Hasbro? How hard is it to put a peg and a peg hole on the figure? This kind of oversight really pisses me off, especially when they’ve released three Luke figures and all of them have had a lightsaber hilt that could attach to the belt. Grrr…

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Armed with the knowledge that Hasbro went for the removable mask, I was expecting this figure to be pretty damn terrible. Now that it’s in hand, I wouldn’t call it terrible, but rather pretty average. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that going for the removable helmet on the first Vader in the line shows poor judgement on Hasbro’s part. Granted, I’m not sure if my issues with the helmet are caused by the fact that it’s removable or if this is the sculpt Hasbro would have went with otherwise, but either way it isn’t all it could have been and that really sums up the figure as a whole. It’s far from the worst figure we’ve got in the line, but a character as important as Vader deserved better than this. Still, it certainly won’t be the last Vader we get in this line, so better luck next time, Hasbro!

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Speeder Bike with Biker Scout by Hasbro

Back when Hasbro first unveiled their Star Wars Black 6-inch line, there was a lot of speculation as to whether or not there would ever be any vehicles. Now that speculation can end because we got one! Even if it may be the only one (that still remains to be seen), the Speeder Bike seems like the perfect way to get a vehicle into the line and bundle it with a figure too! I’ve been particularly excited to get this set in hand to see how it turned out, mainly because I bought a case and got two of these along with the Deluxe Jabba the Hutt.

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The packaging is a very simple, no frills window box. Like the boxes for the individual figures, the presentation here is as minimalist as you can get. There isn’t even any writing or art or anything on the side panels or the top. Yup, pretty boring. On the other hand, it’s a confident move to let your toy speak for itself, and that’s exactly what the huge window is doing here. I do find it interesting that the set is called “Speeder Bike with Biker Scout” as if it’s the figure that’s the accessory. I think most would have figured it to be the other way around. Either way, both pieces come on a clear plastic tray with the Scout seated on his ride and held in by rubber bands. I’m a little worried about the dreaded Pre-Posed Warping Syndrome. I can’t wait to bust this thing open and get them out! Oh yeah, the box is totally collector friendly so long as you’re careful clipping all those rubber bands and don’t mangle the tray. Let’s start with the figure…

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My rule of thumb when evaluating the 6-inch Black figures can be summed up with, “is it an improvement over the best of the 3 3/4” versions and thereby does it take advantage of the upscale?” In the case of the Biker Scout I would have to say… yeah, sort of. It’s not a huge leap forward, but it I think it does take advantage of the larger size to deliver a marginally better sculpt then what we’ve had in the past and definitely better articulation. Most of the improvements in the sculpt can be found on the back of the belt and the armor for the arms. The underlying body suit also has a more intricate texture. I also like how the shoulder hinges are no longer visible through the shoulder armor. The treads on his boots are particularly impressive. I’ll confess you have to scrutinize this guy quite a bit to find the stand out differences between him and his smaller cousin, but there are some there to be found.

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Obviously the bulk of the deco here consists of white armor on a black body suit. The figure does make some use of weathering and panel lining. The weathering mostly consists of some dirt on his boots and a little more of the same color on his chest. I’m kind of torn on whether or not I would have preferred him clean, but what we got certainly looks fine. The rest of the paint hits are used to pick out detail in his armor and it’s all executed with precision. I think my only quibble would be that I wish the black used for his visor was glossy instead of matte.

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As for that articulation, I’m happy to report that my Biker Scout doesn’t suffer from any mushy joint syndrome, nor did any of his joints get warped or deformed from being packaged seated on the bike. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. The shoulder armor does inhibit the movement there a bit, but it’s not terribly restrictive. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs and tops of the boots, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint just below the chest armor and the neck is both ball jointed and hinged.

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On the downside, his gun is a little piece of shit. I think it’s undersized, but that could be just me. The first time I put it into his hand the trigger guard snapped because it’s just weak soft rubber. It still looks alright in his hand, but paying good money for something from a “collector’s line” only to have a part break right out of the box is not my idea of fun. I’ll have to be more careful with the second one when I open it.

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Moving on to the Speeder Bike, I’d say this piece is a bigger departure from the 3 3/4” version but mainly because it’s a far more static piece. There are some small improvements to the mold, but this piece also takes a few steps back. There are hinges on the air brakes, but they only allow for a little movement. The undercarriage blaster can still swivel, but those two examples are the extent of the articulation on this thing. The pedals are fixed into place (although they will pull out as they are just tabbed into the bottom) as are the handlebars. On the plus side, I expected this thing to be really soft and bendy and I’m happy to report that’s not really the case. Only the handlebars suffer from soft plastic and it’s not really an issue when the figure is holding them, only when the bike is unoccupied. The deco gets by mostly with colored plastic, although there are some silver dry brushed weathering effects here and there, which are only moderately convincing.

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I’m not sure if this will make sense, but this Bike feels more like a prop than a proper 6-scale replica of the Bike. Upscaling the Speeder Bike to the 6-inch range offered lots of opportunities for more intricate moving parts and better defined instruments and such and sadly those opportunities are missed here. That’s not to say, however, that it doesn’t look good because it certainly does. What’s more, the Biker Scout looks fantastic when riding it, thanks to his excellent articulation and the addition of foot pegs on the pedals.

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The stand is a frosted translucent cheap piece of rubbery plastic, but damn if it isn’t clever. When I first set it up I was pissed because it seemed like the only way to display the bike was in elevated flight. It took me a few minutes to realize that the other two ball joints work as well. You can plug any of the three into the bottom of the bike and the irregular triangular shape of the stand makes it so that you can display the bike at different heights depending on what side you flip it onto. I was happy to see I could achieve the parked levitating look with the Scout standing beside it.

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Both the Speeder Bike and the Biker Scout are very nice pieces and I’m very happy to have them in my growing 6-inch Black collection. They are not, however, toys that take full advantage of the collector’s grade potential of the larger scale and higher price point. At about $40 for the set, I’d say this box is definitely worth the money. The 6-inch Black figures generally retail for twenty and it’s easy to see where another twenty bucks went into the bike for plastic, tooling and paint. I’ll admit to having lowered my expectations of this line a bit since the initial wave came out, but that’s not to say that I’m not appreciating and enjoying these figures.

Star Wars Black: Vizam (3 ¾” Scale) by Hasbro

I love Skiff Guards. If you haven’t read my chronicles of love for these delightful alien desert pirates then I will direct you to HERE and HERE and even HERE. These characters got some great attention in the Vintage Collection line and it’s nice to see that they’re still getting some love in the Star Wars Black series. Today we’re looking at Vizam who I presume is the guy firing the gun from Jabba’s Sail Barge and I’m pretty sure this is the first time he’s being released as a figure. While I have a number of figures in the 3 ¾” scale Black series, most of them I picked up on the cheap. Vizam here is the first one that I actually sought out to purchase simply because I cannot resist the Skiff Guards.

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There’s the packaging. Last Friday I said my piece about the abysmal art design on Hasbro’s current packages and I don’t want to dwell on it any more. I suppose the bland, black cardbacks are more appropriate for Star Wars than they are Marvel. Even the copy about the character on the back is so bland and sterile that it feels like Hasbro just doesn’t care about presentation anymore. They might as well just print, “this is some dude from Star Wars. Buy it.” Either way, the package here is nothing more than a purely utilitarian vehicle to get the figure to the collector. The only real redeeming feature here is that the unobscured bubble does indeed give you a great look at the figure you’re buying.

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Vizam is a Nikto, which I always used to think was a name and not a race mainly because the more familiar Skiff Guard figure that appeared first in the Kenner line was called Nikto and still was right up to his Vintage Collection release from a year or so ago. As a result, Vizam uses a repaint of the same head used on Vintage Collection Nikto. It’s a great head sculpt and the fresh paint makes it work as a different character, so I’ve got no gripes about the recycled noggin. The headgear is brand new and it’s still removable too!

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The rest of the figure represents the usual ragtag style of outfit that is all the fashion amongst the Skiff Guards these days. I kind of get the feeling that on their day off, these dudes walk around the Sarlacc Pit to scavenge for clothes that the beast has coughed up. Vizam has a little bit more color than most of his cohorts thanks to his blue sleeves, which contrast rather sharply with his brown tunic and his quilted tan chest armor. There are some nicely detailed pouches on his belt and he has a functional holster for his little holdout blaster. Both the sculpt and paintwork are excellent here. Sure, the hinges in the shoulders and knees aren’t painted, but other than that the figure looks so good that I’m inclined to believe Vizam started life as a Vintage Collection release before getting bumped to be repackaged into the Black Series.

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Articulation here is right in line with what we got on the Vintage Collection guards. There are ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. There is a swivel in the waist and again at the wrists. The only real disappointment here is the antiquated T-crotch, which prevents any kind of wide stances.

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In addition to his pistol and headgear, Vizam comes with the cannon that he mounted to the rail of Jabba’s Sail Barge to take pot shots at our heroes. It’s a really nice sculpt, but it’s cast in some very unfortunately soft plastic. Also, the mounting arm connects to the gun with a ball joint that wants to pop out every time you work the articulation. The arm does have a clip, which is compatible with the railings on the Vintage/POTF2 Skiff vehicle, which is an incredible nice touch.

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It’s a little big, but then the Skiff is a tad undersized for the figures anyway. I still think it works well enough.

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And so, the 3 ¾” Black Series continues to be all over the map in terms of quality. I’ve been disappointed by more than my share of these figures, but just when I’m about to quit on the line altogether I get a figure like Padme Amidala or Vizam here, which gives me renewed hope and makes me hang on a little longer. Granted, I’m totally biased in favor of this guy because I do love me my Skiff Guards so damn much, but I still think Vizam is a fantastic all around figure and a great addition to my the crew of my Tattooine Skiff.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 3: Jabba’s Dancers!

Today I’m going to wrap up the weekend with a look at Jabba’s Dancers, but before we get to the ladies, there’s one more Special Edition band member to cover… Introducing, Rappertunie on the growdi!

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Unlike the rest of the figures in these features, Rappertunie was released later on in Hasbro’s Saga line and he was single carded with his instrument. While far more cartoony than Barquin and Doda, I still like this guy a lot. I think he fits the overall Star Wars creature aesthetic a lot more than Joh Yowza does. That may be because he was an actual puppet and not an awkward CGI model. At at a time when Hasbro was dishing out a lot of sub-par figures, this guy and his elaborate instrument felt like an amazing value. He’s also pretty benign to the whole “Jedi Rocks” scene. In fact, he’s probably the lowest profile member of the band. I’d say he needs a better agent, but his career was no doubt better off not being associated with that train wreck of a performance.

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The figure features the standard 5-points of articulation, although Rappertunie is designed with pretty much one thing in mind and that’s sitting on his instrument and playing it. Unless you happen to have a 3 3/4’” scale bean bag chair and rack of ribs. You could probably make something happen with that. Hasbro went all out on this Rappertunie’s sculpt and the paintwork is superb as well. The instrument looks like a glorious kind of steampunk invention and there’s a detachable hose running from the instrument to the base.

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And now we can move on to the dancing girls: Rystall, Greeata, and Lyn Me. These ladies were released as part of the Power of the Force 2 line in what was commonly referred to as a Cinema Scene pack. It was window boxed with the three figures standing against an illustrated backdrop from the film. I loved these packs and I’ve owned probably three or four of this one over the years. It’s just one of those items that come and go out of my collection over and over again because it’s so damn common and cheap. Let’s look at them each in turn.

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With bright red hair, purple spots, and elephant feet, Rystall is one crazy looking chick. Nonetheless, Rule 34 tells me that there is someone, somewhere whacking it to an image of her. And judging by the way Boba Fett was flirting with her in the movie, I’m guessing I just found that someone. Rystall features nice coloring and a decent sculpt. The spotting on her skin is neat and reminds me of the markings of a Trill. Wiki nonsense tells me that Rystall’s entire family was a slave owned by an official in the Black Sun organization until Lando set them free in a game of cards. Because no matter how big the Universe is and how insignificant the character, everyone in Star Wars has to be connected to another in some way, right?

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Next up is Greeata, the Rodian dancer. She easily has the best and most complex sculpt of the three dancers. Not only did Hasbro give her a really cool head sculpt, but they textured her entire body with creepy Rodian skin. They also did a particularly nice job with her outfit, or at least what little there is of it. In addition to the sash and bikini top, you get her bracelets, anklets, and necklace all impressively recreated for a figure from this time. You also have to love that mohawk that runs all the way down her back. Having read her backstory, I’m genuinely surprised to find that Greeata was not Greedo’s sister. That sounds like something the Expanded Universe couldn’t help itself from doing.

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Last of is Lyn Me who is the Twi’lek. This figure should have been my favorite of the bunch, because I have a thing for Twi’lek slave dancers. See above Rule 34. Unfortunately, she comes out at the bottom of the trio for me. She looks rather stocky and it’s really hard to get her to stand without bending her over a bit. I appreciate that the wraps that make up her costume are all part of the sculpt, but the paint is a little sloppy. The head sculpt is Ok, but I think it could have been better. Lyn Me had some sort of crush on Boba Fett and followed him to Tatooine. I wonder what she thought of him macking on Rystall?

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All in all, these dancers are pretty cool figures, although they’re fun factor is curtailed by the fact that their all a bit pre-posed. With their arms held straight and each one tossing their hip, there’s little you can do with them other than stand them in a line in your Jabba display in the manner in which they were packaged. Even the standard 5-points of articulation and added waist swivels don’t help that much. Still they serve as some decent window dressing.

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Of course, even after three days and ten figures, I’m still not done yet. Jabba was quite the patron of the arts and there are more musicians to cover. Rest assured I’ll be revisiting this series in the future, as I’ve yet to touch on the percussion section of Jabba’s orchestra and I’ll probably throw in the POTF2 Oola for good measure. I should be getting a couple of boxes of my old stuff shipped from my brother in a few weeks that may or may not contain a cornucopia of Star Wars figures. It’ll be kind of nice to see more Star Wars features around here.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 2: The Rest of the Band!

Yesterday, I got swept away in nostalgia looking at the POTF2 versions of The Max Rebo band. Today, I spit in the face of nostalgia with a look at the extended members of the band from that dreaded Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. A lot of people will tell you that Greedo shooting first is the worst change Lucas made to these movies. Now, I agree that change profoundly altered a scene that commented deeply on Han Solo’s character. But to be honest, I didn’t even notice the change when I first saw it. What I couldn’t help but notice was a shitty cartoon character shoved in my face in the new song and dance number added to the Jabba’s Palace scene in Jedi. The whole thing felt like an out of place gag in what was originally an incredibly tense and scary act of the movie. Nevertheless, today I present you with… Barquin D’an, Doda Bodonawieedo, and Joh Yowza.

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As we saw yesterday, in the late 90’s Hasbro took a cue from The Blues Brothers and embarked on a mission to get the band back together. But rather than do it in one clean and simple three-pack like Kenner did back in the day, they split them up into three separate 2-packs. If you wanted the Rebo Band, you had to buy the Special Edition band members as well. Why? Because, f’ck you! And because money. Yes, they were also available much later as a big box set Walmart exclusive, but we’re talking POTF2 here, peeps! Star Wars figures were making a huge comeback and dammit, collectors wanted their Rebo Band even if it meant sucking down the Special Edition dudes too. The breakdown of the two-packs went like this: Max Rebo came with the Bith, Barquin D’an; Droopy McCool came with the Rodian, Doda Bodonawieedo, and Sy Snoodles came with that insufferable piece of CGI’d shit, Joh Yowza. God, I hate that I know his name. Let’s take them in order…

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First off is Baquin D’an. I’ve got no problem with this guy. He’s just a Bith musician blowing on his kloo horn. I once had the entire set of Creature Cantina Bith figures from the Modal Nodes that came in a really cool collector’s tin. I often wish I still had those, so getting this figure in my collection makes me happy. Sure, he’s partly responsible for playing the intro to the shameless spectacle “Jedi Rocks” but I’m not going to blame him for that because I like him. Did you know that Bith music is called Jizz? Now you do. You’re welcome.

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Baquin is a pretty simple figure but I love him because he can fit in all sorts of displays. He has the usual 5-points of articulation, plus a waist swivel, and while he is pre-posed to be playing his horn, if you remove it you can make it look like he’s just holding a drink and socializing after the gig. He just makes for great alien rabble filler in any display you want to set up. The kloo horn is a pretty cool accessory and the mouth piece fits right into Baquin’s tiny little mouth hole. Did I mention their music is called Jizz? Once again, you’re welcome!

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Next up is Doda Bodonawieedo, Baquin’s co-conspirator. I ain’t gonna lie, I dig this figure a lot too. He’s a demure Rodian wearing an orange tunic and for the time, he’s a pretty good sculpt. Doda shares the same articulation as Baquin right down to the waist swivel, although his tunic prevents his hip joints from doing him any good. Also, like Baquin, Doda is pre-posed to play his instrument, the sliterhorn, and if you take it away he also looks like he could be mingling at a party with a drink in his hand. I wish I still had those Cantina sets, they came with drink glasses. God, somebody keep me off of Ebay!

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And then there’s Joh Yowza. F’ck this guy. I really liked the original “Lepti Nek” tune that the Rebo band played before Lucas butchered the scene. I actually had it on vinyl. It was a forty-five and I think I recall it having the original Ewok Celebration song on the flipside. I’m not joking! I used to get all hopped up on Pixie Sticks and rock out to that. Ahh… the 80’s! And then this guy came along, pushed Sy Snoodles out of the limelight and took a shit right in our ears. Even the figure is a travesty. This guy looks out of place even in a room of puppets and freaks. Did you know that his race is called Yuzzum, they are indigenous to Endor, and they were supposed to be featured in the movie alongside the Ewoks? At least we were spared that. I guess things could have been worse.

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Joh Yowza is going right into the deepest depths of one of my darkest action figure totes and then possibly buried in the back yard. He’s a crappy looking figure based on an abomination of an idea. Better yet, when I get a new Rancor, I’m going to put Yowza in its mouth. The other two, Baquin and Doda, are actually pretty cool figures and I have no problem with them chilling in the back of my Rebo Band display providing some tasteful back up for the Club Remix of Lepti Nek that will most assuredly be playing in my Jabba Palace display.

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Tomorrow, I’ve got one more Special Edition band member to look at and then we’ll wrap things up with a peek at Jabba’s Dancers.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 1: The Max Rebo Band!

I realize that I have a lot of new stuff that I should be getting to. I’ve got Marvel Legends and Kotobukiya and even a Hot Toys figure I’ve yet to feature. But I felt like going off the reservation for the rest of the week. I promise next week will be all new releases. In the meantime, join me for a three-parter weekend that will  take us through (almost) all the players in the Musical Extravaganza Show that occurs in Jabba the Hutt’s palace on any given night. These features are sponsored by a fellow collector who was giving up a lot of ten figures at a price I just couldn’t refuse. Let’s kick it off today with The Max Rebo Band.

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Max Rebo, Sy Snoodles, and Droopy McCool! These are not the Kenner originals, but rather from the late 90’s Power of the Force 2 two-packs that were associated with the dreaded Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi. Nonetheless, I can still remember that day as a kid when I first saw the originals. I think it was at a Sears, but I clearly remember skittering off to the toy aisle to see what I could find on the pegs when I was confronted with one of the most a-typical Star Wars figure sets that I had ever set my little kid eyes upon. It was a window box with the entire Max Rebo band laid out inside. I couldn’t believe that there were actually figures of these guys, complete with microphones and everything. I immediately entered full-on pleading and begging mode and after promising to mow the lawn for the next three weeks straight and engage in all manners of other menial child labor, my Dad agreed to get them for me. Of course, those figures are long gone. Max Rebo was one the most prized targets of my kleptomaniac dog, and who the hell knows what become of the others. So let’s check out these POTF2 versions.

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Max Rebo! How many keyboard players get the whole band named after them? Rebo does! He’s just that good! Did you know his real name is Siiruulian Phantele and that he eventually joined the Rebel Alliance because they have the best food? Wiki says it so it must be true. What difference does it make? He’s a blue elephant wearing diapers that plays keyboard for an intergalactic crime boss. This figure appears to be quite close to the original Kenner mold, but the hands are a bit different and he’s got a large ring molded onto his belt to keep his diaper up. The paint is also a lot better here. Not only is that diaper painted, but the tips of his fingers are as well. He’s a really vibrant shade of blue and he has two little beady black eyes.

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I can remember how cool I thought it was that the figure came out of his keyboard, partly because you got to see what the rest of him looked like, and partly because I had him going on all sorts of adventures with my other Star Wars figures. On more than one occasion the Han Solo and The Millennium Falcon was hired to get Rebo and his band to their next gig and The Empire was determined to stop them because The Empire is evil and hates music. Amazingly enough, Rebo features the standard 5-points of articulation as most vintage Star Wars figures, although he’s definitely pre-posed with one thing in mind… jamming on that keyboard… or waving hello to people.

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Speaking of the keyboard, it’s one of the coolest Star Wars figure accessories ever. I can’t believe all the work that Kenner put into this thing. There’s never been anything else quite like it and this one appears to be pretty damn close to the Kenner original right down to the individual keys that can actually be pressed in. I think the paint apps on this new one are better. I don’t remember the silver fringe being painted on the original toy, but then it’s been a long time since I owned one.

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Moving on to Droopy McCool, this figure also strikes me as a nice compromise between the original Kenner release and something new and improved. He still features that same pre-pose mold for playing his chidinkalu horn. The horn is a removable accessory, but if you take it away from him, he just looks like he’s miming playing it, so there isn’t much point. I suppose you could put a rifle in his hands and make it look like he’s going to blow his own head off. Musicians sometimes do that. But that would be sad, let’s not do that to Droopy.

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Despite the pre-pose, the figure also features a sixth point of articulation, which is a swivel in the waist. It comes in handy for putting him in a half turn, depending on which side of Rebo’s organ you want him standing on. The biggest departure from the original Kenner figure is Droopy’s rather heavy handed paint wash to bring out all the creases in his flesh. At first I wasn’t too keen on it, but it’s grown on me, even if it isn’t terribly screen accurate.

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Last up is the lead vocalist Sy Snoodles. I like to think of her as the Debbie Harry of the Star Wars Universe. Her figure definitely got the biggest facelift from the original Kenner version and that results in some good and some bad. On the good side, her legs are more stable. I can still remember having trouble getting the Kenner figure to stand. This Sy has legit action figure legs and she stands just fine. Like Droopy, she also features the standard 5-points of articulation, plus an added waist swivel, which was a lot more than the original figure had. On the downside, she’s clearly based on the Special Edition CGI model, which gives her a more stylized and cartoony look and she’s also missing the feather from the original puppet. All in all, I still like the figure a lot, but the omission of her microphone really confuses me and pisses me off. And damn, those loose microphones go for crazy money on the Ebays. I really need someone to 3D print me one of those damn things.

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As far as action figures go, this is definitely an odd bunch. Clearly my love for this trio is fueled by nothing but hardcore nostalgia, but I don’t care because it’s so damn cool to have these characters in my collection again. The Rebo Band just may have been that first step where the Universe decided… Yup, every single damn character in the Star Wars movies is going ot get a figure. There was no turning back and that long journey has culminated in getting Bespin Ice Cream Maker Guy. But that’s a Feature for another day. A little while ago, I decided to start rebuilding my Jabba display with figures from all different series and this trio will certainly be a cornerstone of that display. The last release of Jabba and his throne is one of the few Star Wars figure sets that has been on display since the day I got it, and now I can finally start adding to it. Of course, it’s important to note that each of the Max Rebo band was bundled with one of the band’s extended members from the Special Edition and those are the figures that I’m going to look at tomorrow.