Star Wars Black: 40th Anniversary Legacy Pack with Darth Vader by Hasbro

In case you missed it, 2017 is the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope, and Hasbro did the bulk of its celebrating through the 6-inch Black Series. Not only did we finally the last of Kenner’s “Original Twelve” figures in the 6-inch format, but Hasbro also released all of them on vintage-style cards. The entire thing culminated in the release of a new Darth Vader bundled with a recreation of the Kenner Early Bird Kit display stage. Let’s start off with the packaging and the figure, and then we’ll take a look at the stage.

The set comes in an elongated box with some artwork similar to that old Kenner kit. There’s also a window that shows the carded Darth Vader figure inside. The stage itself is pictured on the front along with a silver foil 40th Anniversary shield, and the Kenner logo in the bottom right hand corner. It’s kind of an oddball presentation that borders on ugly, but it’s all part of recreating the charm of one of the craziest ideas in action figure history. But more on that in a bit. Let’s look at Vader first…

The carded figure is right in line with the rest of the 40th Anniversary releases, so if you are keeping these mint-on-card, he’ll display with the rest of them perfectly. Then again, if you’re doing that, you really don’t need the stage. Hasbro really just wants you to buy two of each of these, only not really, because they did a piss-poor job of distributing them. If you’re area is like mine, you’d be lucky to find one complete set, let alone two. But I’ll settle down now, because I can fell the anger flowing through me.

When I first heard about this figure, I assumed it was going to be a quick-and-dirty apology figure for the Return of the Jedi version we got boxed a little while back. I figured they’d slap on a new head and he’d be done. I was surprised to learn that a lot of new work went into him. Now, I’m not one of those *air quotes* “Vader Experts,” but I do know that there were some significant changes to the suit between ANH and RotJ. The most obvious was the inner robe running over the shoulder armor in the original suit and it does here as well. The rest of the changes include a fully re-sculpted upper torso, with a bigger chest box, and a new belt with bigger and different control boxes there as well. The legs appear to be the same, but the boots on this one are more of a matte finish.  One point where this version takes a step back is in the cape. The RotJ release is an all around nicer tailored garment. This one is is thinner and it came out of the package a little wrinkled. Also, the cape’s chain is gone. So, from the neck down, I wouldn’t say this figure is better, but just different, and appropriately so.

Now, the helmet sculpt is a huge improvement over the previous release, and I’m not talking about changes to the costume. The RotJ version made obvious sacrifices to have a removable helmet, resulting in that giant, sad-eyed Vader look. This new helmet sculpt is pretty damn tight and also features more of a matte finish. I don’t know that I would say it’s perfect, but it’s a good looking sculpt and I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

Another big change is the new left hand, which features Vader doing the force choke throat pinch. It can also be used as a pointing finger. I love it.

The last notable difference that I can see is the inclusion of a belt hook for his light saber. It irked me to no end that the RotJ version didn’t have a way for Vader to wear his saber. This feature also required a brand new saber hilt sculpt with the ring on it. Sadly, this one doesn’t work so well. I can’t really get it to stay in place and even in the above picture he’s really holding it there.

I don’t have much else to say, except this is the Vader figure we should have had first. It’s fantastic, and when you consider how many goddamn Darth Vader figures I’ve had over the years in all different scales and price points, I’m surprised at how much fun I’ve had playing around with this one.  Let’s move on to the stage…

The stage requires assembly, and the parts come in four baggies, and includes a folded cardboard backdrop and a sticker for the top of the frame. Assembly is quick and easy and I was happy to see that the set can easily be broken down again for storage. Before I cobble this thing together, a little explanation of what this thing is may be in order for you younger folk out there. In Christmas of 1977, Kenner was unprepared for the popularity of Star Wars and the demand for the action figures. Their rather creative solution was to offer an Early Bird Kit, which included vouchers, which could be mailed in for four figures, to be delivered when supply could catch up to demand.  The kit also included membership in the Star Wars Fan Club, and a cardboard display stand. This set mimics that general idea, while also making it a little more substantial by adding a plastic frame to the backdrop, and a plastic stage to put the figures on.

There are two backdrop graphics to choose from. One has the vintage-style artwork of each of the characters, suggesting where to place the figures on the stand. The flip-side has some nice vintage-style art of an X-Wing and Tie-Fighter battling it out in orbit of The Death Star. Overall, this is a pretty nice stage, but I wish they had added more pieces to help lock the cardboard into place. As it is, there are just two little swing down pieces in the corners. There are, however, clearly holes in the frame for two more in the sides, and possibly two at the top, but those pieces aren’t in the box. I guess Hasbro cheaped out on those. It also would have been nice if they could have packaged it so the cardboard didn’t need to be folded, although the creases really aren’t that bad. I suppose some of these nitpicks give the piece a certain vintage charm that reflects back to the original Early Bird release, but I’m sure that wasn’t intentional.

Here it is loaded up with the Black Series “Original Twelve,” and using the character art backdrop as a guide. I expected it to be a lot more cramped than it is, but with three figures on each of the four sections, it’s not too bad, so long as you’re going for fairly static 5-POA style poses. I’m not a huge fan of the way the characters are laid out. For example, I would rather have R2 and 3PO together, but I still think that this is the way I’ll go for display purposes. It is worth mentioning that I had mixed results with the foot pegs. Most of them work OK, but 3PO’s would not go in at all and the Tusken Raider’s doesn’t hold him up too well.

If you’re willing to use a little shelf real estate in front of the stand, you can also fit everyone together in more dynamic poses, and I think this looks pretty good too. This set originally retailed for $40, so you figure twenty for Vader and twenty for the stage. The Vader figure is worth it, no question. The stage is worth having, but I’m not sure I can see twenty dollars in there. With that having been said, this set was deeply discounted at some Walmarts, but of course the ones in my area weren’t among them. I picked up my set off Amazon for $25 and it’s price continues to fluctuate. I could definitely see myself picking up one more at the same price to display some more figures. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Hasbro to release packs of just the base pieces, maybe as an exclusive to their website. Just toss four or five of them in a bag. I’d be all over that.

Just a heads up, Marvel content is taking over FFZ all of next week. So if that’s not your cup of tea, I’ll apologize in advance, but I’ve got some stuff on my pile that I’d like to get to sooner rather than later. Things will return to normal the following week, and I’m trying to get some time to bring back Anime Saturday at least once in November.

Advertisements

Star Wars Black: Jawa by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black: Death Squad Commander by Hasbro

Hooray for more bonus Wednesday content! Unless five days in a row is more than you can take of my inane toy banter, in which case… Boo! More bonus Wednesday content! The truth is, I really want to get through the last few Black Series versions of the original “Kenner Twelve.” Especially now, because getting the last two have been rather problematic. Again, the Jawa and Death Squad Commander have so far only been released on the 40th Anniversary vintage-style packaging and they never turned up in my area. Eventually, I bit the bullet, paid a couple of bucks extra, and picked up today’s figure online.

As much as I grumble about it, these figures sure do look amazing on the vintage cards. Believe me, if Star Wars was my one and only collecting focus, I would have picked up a set to hang on the wall. And I’m sure it will even gave me a slight pang of regret when I tear this baby open in a few seconds.  Although, I do think Hasbro missed a huge opportunity to release a vintage-style green uniformed version on the 40th Anniversary vintage card and release the black one in a regular box, but what do I knew, eh? Let’s get with the ripping!

Now, I may be biased because I do love me some Imperial figures, but I think this guy turned out great. Granted, there’s nothing terribly complex about him. He’s just a dude with a badass sounding name in a black uniform that pushes buttons all day. I mean, what does the Empire call its accountants? Murder Force Commandos? What’s that? These guys carry out the orders to blow up entire planets and kill billions? OK, fair enough. I guess their name is earned after all.

The sculpted uniform is very well done, complete with the front flap detailed on the tunic, and just a little bit of texturing to show off the material. I particularly love the use of matte black for the uniform and gloss black for the boots and gauntlets. There’s also a crisp silver Imperial emblem stamped on his left shoulder. The wide belt features the large silver plates on the front, which helps to break up all that black, and it includes a functional holster on his right hip. The proportions on the figure are perfect, and he looks very smart and trim in the uniform.

I’ve always thought that this helmet design was pretty cool, although as a kid I somehow never made the connection between this helmet design and Vader’s helmet. I can’t remember when I had that epiphany, but ever since I tend to look at these guys with a sense of wonder. Did they design the helmets as a tribute to Vader? If so, that’s odd, because Vader seemed more like just a right-hand man to Tarkin in the original Star Wars. Were they just both cribbed off of an old Samurai design and there is no in-universe explanation? Am I overthinking this way too much? Whatever the case, they did a really nice job with this helmet, although it does look like it would be really heavy and awkward to wear all day, especially when you spend most of your time at a computer terminal.

The helmet is removable, which I’ll admit I did not see that as a given, so it was a really nice surprise when I got him in hand. It fits the head well and the chin strap does it’s job. The generic head sculpt is also pretty well done, although he still suffers from the same extremely basic paintwork as most of these Black Series portraits. The paint isn’t bad, the eyes are fairly straight and the eyebrows and hairline are clean, but it’s nothing special either. And do I detect a little bit of guilt in that expression for having pushed the button that vaporized Alderaan? Nah, probably not.

The articulation here is pretty good. He features rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, along with swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, with double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. The portion of the tunic that goes below his belt is fairly soft and I was pleased to see that he can easily go into a kneeling position. Alas, he does not have an articulated murder button finger, although the trigger finger on his right hand can work for gesturing or pressing buttons.

Death Squad Commander comes with a BlasTech DH-17 Blaster Pistol, or at least I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. This point confuses me because I generally associate this design with Rebel weapons and I think I would have preferred getting the more Imperial-looking E-11 Blaster with this guy. I seem to recall that’s what the vintage figure came with. I guess they were both made by BlasTech and there’s no reason why Rebels and Imperials wouldn’t use the same model. A friend and I bandied this about a little via texting while I was playing with this guy and he swears Imperials were seen using the weapon in the movies. That’s good enough for me. Either way, it’s a great sculpt of a cool design, and I appreciate the silver paint on the muzzle.

Obviously, I dig this figure a lot and I seriously hope that Hasbro gets around to putting him in a box as a regular release, because I’d definitely pick up a few more. That’s the other thing that pisses me off about the 40th Anniversary line. The only three figures that were new (Tusken Raider, Jawa, and this guy) are all potential troop builders and all very tough to find here. Thankfully, Hasbro has since rectified that with a boxed release of the Tusken Raider and his price has come down quite a lot since, so I’ll likely pick up a few more of those. If the same thing happens here, I’d grab two more of these as well. The Jawa? Well, that’s a whole different story, and I hope to get to checking him out next week.

Star Wars Black: Tusken Raider by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black (The Last Jedi): Stormtrooper Executioner by Hasbro

As promised, I’m doubling up on content today to try to get caught up on some of the Star Wars figures that have been piling up. Today I’m checking out the First Order Stormtrooper Executioner! I haven’t had any luck finding this guy in my neck of the woods, but a friend of mine decided to troop build these and then thought better of it, so I took one off his hands at a good price. The downside? He shipped it to me loose, so I have no packaged shot. That’s OK, though, it’s the same old style window box and besides, this will be a quick review since I don’t have a lot to say about this guy.

What we have here is one of them there Stormtrooper variants, aka a repaint to sell more toys. But before I get too cynical about it, I should point out that he does have a unique function. The Executioners are specifically tasked with hunting down other Stormtroopers who have deserted. Sound familiar? I’m guessing that Finn isn’t an isolated incident and maybe after getting their Starkiller Base all blowed up, there’s been an epidemic of Stormtroopers breaking ranks and spliting. We’ll find out in a few months, but to me it seems likely that we may see a squad of these turn up in the new movie to hunt down Finn.

The sculpt appears to be identical to the vanilla flavored First Order Stormies, and that’s a good thing because these were great figures and I’d like to see them return to the pegs so I can get a few more of the regular ones. I really dig the glossy finish on these guys. Shiny Stormtrooper armor is love!

The Executioner is distinguished by his black shoulder armor with First Order logos, and a black stripe on his helmet. There are a few other minor paint differences between him and the regular trooper. For example, the satchel on his left hip is all black on the standard Stormy, but has a white front panel on this guy.

The Executioner is also characterized by a rather distinctive laser axe weapon. This is a short staff with articulated appendages on the head. These swing out and generate laser arcs when it is activated, thus creating a double-edged laser cutting blade.

The accessory includes two laser effect parts, which can be removed to display it activated or deactivated. In theory, I like the idea of following through with the executioner theme and giving him an axe, but in practice it’s pretty silly. It would be much more practical to just shoot the traitorous bastards. Unfortunately, that’s not an option, because mine didn’t come with a blaster. I texted my friend and asked if he forgot something, but I was surprised to learn that Hasbro didn’t bother to included it in the package with these guys. Bummer. I’ll probably give him one of the pistols from another Stormtrooper.

All in all, this is a cool looking variant, but I’m really not keen on his weapon at all and that puts a damper on the deal. If he came with a blaster, I would have tossed the axe into the Tote of Forgotten Accessories, but since that would leave him totally unarmed, I guess I’ll let him keep it. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to love it. Originally, I had planned on picking up a pair of these, but now that he’s in hand, I think one will be enough unless he turns up for cheap on the aftermarket.

Star Wars Black: Grand Admiral Thrawn by Hasbro

I’ll be honest, when Disney announced that they were wiping the slate clean when it came to the bulk of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I didn’t shed many tears. I read a lot of those books in my teenage years and early 20’s, but I only ever really took to certain parts of it. Nevertheless, I was certainly happy to see that Grand Admiral Thrawn survived the purge and was forever cemented into canon with his appearances on Star Wars Rebels. Did Heir to the Empire ever happen? Who cares… Thrawn is alive and kicking and he got a 6-inch Black Series figure!

Indeed, in that sense I suppose we can consider this figure a continuation of the realistically-styled versions of the Rebels crew that we’ve been getting peppered throughout the Black Series. Whatever the case, Thrawn was first released as an SDCC Exclusive with a whole bunch of extras and some spiffy packaging. That stuff was neat and all, but I’m perfectly happy having picked up his vanilla retail release… well, mostly perfectly happy. Let’s check him out!

Here he is and don’t he look damn spiffy! The special white version of the Imperial uniform was finally seen on the big screen in Rogue One, and boy did it look grand. Yes, pun intended! Here Thrawn is sporting the form fitting white tunic with with gold epaulets, the rank insignia on the left of his chest, and what are those, pens? tucked into his tunic one either side. He has some additional adornment on his collar, the puffed out military-style pants, and black matte boots. The wide belt includes a functional holster for his sidearm. All that is great, but here’s where I’ve got to give some serious props to Hasbro…

This figure appears to share next to no parts with Director Krennic, and that’s a big deal to me. While Hasbro is able to share parts in their 6-inch Marvel Legends line all the time, the Black Series affords a lot fewer opportunities. If there was ever a figure (besides Astromech droids) where it would have been understandable to share a buck, it would have been here. And yet, apart from maybe the boots (but I don’t think so), these are two totally unique figures. Just putting the two figures beside each other shows that Krennic is built on a shorter buck, none of the sculpted wrinkles in the pants line up, and there are significant differences all around the uniform. That’s pretty damn cool!

Overall, I think the portrait here is pretty good, although the paint does tend to break down a bit the closer you get. There are some excellent details in the sculpted facial features, particularly in the angular cheeks and around the nose. The hairline is also painted very neatly and overall, he has an appropriately stern look on his face. The eyebrows are a bit overstated for my taste, the eyes look fine, but the purple paint on the lips is sloppy and I could have done without it entirely. It looks a bit like he’s been hitting the Spice too hard. Oh wait, wrong franchise. Still, all in all, not bad.

Thrawn’s articulation is right in line with what I’ve come to expect from the Black Series. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, swivels up under the tunic, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the chest and both a ball joint and swivel in the neck. Not bad for an Imperial Officer.

While the SDCC Exclusive release was flush with extra goodies, this retail release includes only one, and that’s his sidearm. This is a really cool and unique blaster design and it fits perfectly in his holster. But come on, Hasbro? Not even a Ysalamiri to keep The Force at bay? I’m perfectly fine without the entirety of his art collection, but there was certainly room in that package for something else.

Well, lack of accessories no withstanding, I really do love this figure. Thrawn looks great, and the fact that he’s an all new figure was a welcome surprise. I’m all about getting as many Imperials as I can, so I’m hoping that some Imperial Officers can’t be far behind. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye open every now and then for the SDCC version. I doubt it’ll ever turn up for what I’d be willing to pay, but it never hurts to look around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black (Rebels): Sabine Wren by Hasbro

For me, one of the high points of the Black Series 6-inch line has been the Rebels figures. Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano are among my favorite figures the line has produced so far. Needless to say I was excited when Sabine was announced. I’ve actually had this figure for quite a while now and the fact that it took this long for me to get around to reviewing her just shows that I wanted to make sure I had the time to give her the proper attention she deserves.

There’s not much new or noteworthy about the packaging, although this is one instance where I actually really like the monochrome character art. I think they did a lovely job with Sabine’s portrait. I should also take this time to admit that I’ve been a bad Rebels fan. I went into Season 3 with good intentions, but I quickly fell out of watching it. Rebels is a show I like to binge watch, so I’ll likely just hold off until it gets a release on Blu-Ray. I will say that it’s hard for me to come up with a show that has matured as well as Rebels has. It started out on shaky ground and gradually grew into its own. Sabine has been a great character and one that really demanded an action figure from the very beginning. I’ve already reviewed two versions of her in the 3 3/4-inch line, so let’s check her out in the 6-inch scale.

Putting a Mandalorian in the show could have gone horribly wrong, but Rebels makes the character work and that goes double for Sabine’s character design. Rather than just put her in Femme Fett armor, she has a distinctive look, made even more unique by her personal artistic touches to her armor. All of that is wonderfully recreated in this figure. The personalized paint on her chest and shoulder armor looks fantastic and served up with a pretty realistic looking weathering, which sets it apart from the more brightly colored markings on the 3 3/4-inch figure. I can’t say the same for the speckling on her boots and gauntlets, which looks really overdone here, but it’s not something that ruins the figure for me, so I can get over it. Suffice it to say, sometimes less is more.

Of course, this version of Sabine has also been given a realistic make over, shying away from the super stylized look of the series. So far, Hasbro has had great success with this conversion, both with Kanan and Ahsoka and they’ve pulled it off here once again. Added detail, like the stitching and slight rumpling in her clothes help add to the realism of the sculpt, and Sabine even sports two functional holsters, one on each hip.

The head sculpt is decent, but it isn’t quite the slam dunk we got with Kanan or Ahsoka. It’s very soft, which admittedly works for Sabine, but it’s also let down by the paint. Imagine that? A Black Series figure let down by paint! In this case, my Sabine has a bad case of the wonky lizard eyes. I’ve actually been hunting for a better one, and while I’ve come across a surprising number of Sabines on the pegs, I’ve yet to find one that’s much of an improvement and I’ve even seen at least one which was a lot worse. I think they could have also done a better job with the gradient colors in her hair, but then I remember that I’m really overestimating the efforts of Hasbro’s painters in this line.

Sabine also comes with a helmet, which fits over her head. It’s a snug fit, but I’m actually very pleased that they were able to pull this off without making the helmet look too big or the head look too small. I’d be a little concerned about rubbing paint off the face if I take it off and on too many times, but that’s part of the reason why I’d like to bag another Sabine one of these days. The range finder is articulated and it’s stout enough so as not to warp too badly.

The articulation here holds no surprises. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips. The legs have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a ball joint under the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. I would have liked a swivel in the waist, but I’m guessing that might have been nixed because of the gun belt.

Sabine comes with her paint sprayer, which is a simple, but very welcome accessory. Ironically, there aren’t any paint apps on it, but it does have some sculpted detail, including the buttons and the nozzle.

And you also get her twin blasters, which fit into the holsters as well as both of her hands.  Like the paint sprayer, these are really simple accessories with no additional paint apps, but they get the job done.

While there is certainly room for improvement regarding the wonky eye paint, Sabine turned out to be another fantastic figure from the Rebels series. And that’s a good thing, because let’s face it, the only other options we have are the 5-POA 3 3/4-inch figures. They’re decent in their own way, but they’re nowhere near as fun as having a fully articulated figure like this one. Next up for this little sub-line should be Hera Syndulla, and I am most definitely looking forward to that release! My only fear is that they’ll abandon these releases before completing the crew, and that would be a shame because once assembled these are going to make for one hell of a great display.

Star Wars Black (Rogue One): Director Krennic by Hasbro

I’m really pressed for time today (and that may be the case for the rest of the week), so I decided to dig into my stack of unopened 6-inch Black Series figures and find one that I could do justice to in fairly a brief amount of time. I ended up with Director Krennic! Did I mention I’m pressed for time? So, let’s go!

Now, to be clear, picking Krennic for a quick-and-dirty review isn’t meant as any slight against the character. Truth be told I was captivated by this guy from his very first scenery-chewing appearance. Part of my love for Krennic has to do with the way his character was written, but a lot of credit has to go to Ben Mendelsohn, who was absolutely fantastic in the role. As great as it is, Star Wars has not been a saga I look to for deep and complex villains, but Krennic actually felt more like a fleshed out character as opposed to just a foreboding guy in a suit. GO AHEAD, FIGHT ME!! In fact, of all the characters in Rogue One, I’d say that I enjoyed Krennic and Bodhi Rook the most, because they felt the most like real people to me.

Hot damn, do I love the Imperial uniforms! Krennic dons his very smart looking, and rather uncommonly seen, white Imperial officer’s tunic and jodhpur-style trousers. It’s a fairly simple sculpt, but it looks absolutely fantastic. The insignia on his chest is sharp and there are some subtle rumples on the tunic to replicate the look of cloth. But if we’re talking great looking plastic cloth, kudos has to go to this cape.

At first, I’ll confess to being a little disappointed that Krennic didn’t come with a cloth cape, but the sculptors did a really fine job on this plastic one. Between the wrinkles and the tailored seams, I’d be hard pressed to tell that it wasn’t actually made of cloth if all I had to go on was some pictures. It’s also very easy to take off the figure, as it just rests on his shoulders.

As for the portrait, it’s pretty damn great. Wow, did I just say that about a 6-inch Black figure? I did! Of course, it’s still a fairly soft sculpt with some very basic paint, but the likeness is undoubtedly there.

Removing the cape allows for a better look at the functional holster on his belt, which holds his rather unique looking gun. Both of his hands are sculpted to hold it fairly well.

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. I really wish we could get some bicep swivels on these figures, although in the case of Krennic here, I guess he doesn’t need to be super-pose-able.

And there we have Krennic, a great character and a great figure! I love this guy so much that I picked up three extra Death Troopers (before I even had Krennic), just so that I could set him up on the shelf behind him. The only sad thing is that Krennic is probably the last of the 6-inch Black Series figures from Rogue One I have to look at. It still kills me that we didn’t get Bodhi or Saw, but then I’m still trying to hunt those down in the 3 3/4-inch versions. In the wake of Krennic’s release, we’ve already seen images of the up and coming 6-inch Black Admiral Thrawn. I’m hoping that these releases have broken the seal and we’re going to start getting some more Imperial Officers, because I’ll army build the hell out of some of them once Hasbro starts releasing them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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