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.

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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 (Rebels): Hera Syndulla by Hasbro

I’m not bringing back regular Wednesday content. Honest! I’m not. But I’ve got about a month before things get crazy for me at work again, so I thought I’d take advantage of it and try to get caught up. As a result, I’m doing TWO Star Wars Black Series reviews today: Hera from Rebels this morning and the Stormtrooper Executioner from The Last Jedi later tonight.

Hasbro has been killing it with their realistically styled 6-inch Black Series figures from the Star Wars Rebels cartoon. These have been among my favorite Black Series releases, despite the fact that I’m forever woefully behind on watching the series. I think I’m just going to have to grab the Blu-Rays and binge that shit one of these weekends. Still, I’ve been hoping against hope that they will at least get around to completing the crew of the Ghost and now we’re one step closer. So far we’ve had Kanan and Sabine, and technically you could add Ahsoka to that mix. Today I’m checking out Hera!

The figure may be pulled from Rebels, but the packaging here is branded just like all the rest of the Black Series in full monochrome glory. I’m not a big fan of the character art they went with here, but that’s been a sticking point with me for most of these releases. Then again I toss the packaging anyway, so I’m not going to get upset over it. I actually wound up ordering Hera from an online retailer a few days before finding three of her on the pegs at a local Target. Then I saw the paint was all over the place and got worried, but turns out the one I got is pretty solid. Anyway… I love Hera, I love me some lady Twi’leks, so this was a hotly anticipated release for me!

I’ve always been a little perplexed by Hera’s outfit. At first, I thought it was just a typical flight suit with the top zipped down and worn down around her waist. But the more I watched, the more I realized it’s like some kind of flight-suit overalls. Whatever the case, I like it. It gives her the unmistakable look of a pilot in the Star Wars universe, while not over encumbering her upper half. The flight suit portion is cast in orange plastic and suitably baggie and includes the typical straps that come down off her belt and encircle her legs. Above the waist, she wears a tan-green long sleeve shirt with a reinforced armor vest and shoulders. There’s a nice bit of sculpted detail in the armor pieces, including some scratches from wear and tear. Otherwise, this is a fairly simple outfit, very close to the CG model in the show, and it looks great in this realistic format.

Hera features a functional holster on her right ankle, and as you all should know by now functional holsters make me happy. Also, while I’m down there I might as well mention that she has extremely tiny feet. These can make her a bit of a chore to stand, especially when attempting action poses.

I couldn’t be happier with the portrait here. Hera’s face is beautifully sculpted and features a fairly neutral expression with just a hint of a smirk on her lips. The paint applications on her eyes and lips are crisp and perfect, as are the patterns painted on her tendrils. The hood has some sculpted ribbing and the goggles are actually sculpted as a separate piece and include tinted clear lenses, but they cannot be lowered over her eyes.

The articulation here is solid, with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, double hinges in the knees, swiveils in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. She has a ball joint under her chest, and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck.

Hera comes with her little blaster pistol, which is a pretty unique design. It’s as ugly as sin, but it’s also discrete. I’d like to think she keeps it because it’s reliable and trustworthy and has gotten her out of more than a few scrapes. She can hold it in either hand, but her left hand is clearly sculpted with the trigger finger. I don’t remember her being left-handed in the show, and it wouldn’t make much sense to have the gun on her right ankle if she was, but I’m not about to get too worked up about it.

And here we are, another Rebels 6-inch Black Series release, and another excellent one at that! I could say I wish she came with some more stuff, like maybe a tool kit or an A-Wing helmet or something, but I’m still plenty happy with what we got. I’m also glad that Hasbro put the Stormtroopers back onto the pegs, because I picked up a couple more to go with her! It’s probably not a coincidence that two of the three Ghost crew left may be tough to do in the new style. I’m really curious to see what a realistically sculpted Ezra will look like, and I can’t even imagine what they’re going to do with Zeb. Hopefully we’ll get Chopper next.

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 “The Last Jedi:” Poe Dameron, Paige Tico, Rose Tico, and First Order Stormtrooper by Hasbro

Last weekend was Force Friday II, an event where retailers launch the new toys for the upcoming Episode 8: The Last Jedi, and my job requires that I partake, as a planner, coordinator, and executor. But as a buyer I was trying to sit most of this one out. I ordered the 6-inch Black Series figures that I wanted online, and I planned on abstaining from the 3 3/4-inch offerings completely. And after publicly boasting about my awesome willpower, I folded exactly one day later and bought four of these little buggers. Also, because I have even less willpower, I wound up opening them in the car while I was waiting for my order of Chinese Food to be ready, so I don’t even have any packaged shots. Jeez, I’m a real pathetic specimen. But that’s OK, let’s just borrow the official Hasbro pictures to have a look at the packaging…

The presentation here is white, clean, and snappy! The Star Wars logo is in red and you get a red swipe with the character’s name along with some great character art striping the card to the right of the bubble. The bubble shows off the figure and accessories quite nicely, and there’s an insert that calls out the Force Link gimmick, which uses a chip to identify the figure and play sound clips out of a glove-like accessory (sold separately!). Unfortunately, the back of the cards are a f’ugly multi-lingual soup with a mix of warnings and copyright information. I really miss the days of “Collect Them All.” Anyway, I dig what Hasbro has done here. The packages are fresh and original, and it’s a shame I already tore them to shreds. On a side note, just about every one of these cards came out of the cases all bent to hell. I’m not sure if that’s the norm, but it’s certainly enough to vex the MOSC collectors. Let’s start with Poe Dameron…

I wanted to start with Poe, because he’s the main reason I bought these. When I saw him on the peg and realized he was so much better than the garbage Happy Meal toy of a figure that we got for The Force Awakens, I decided to buy him to replace the old one. That quickly descended into, well, if I’m buying one I might as well buy a few more. So, this is essentially an apology do-over figure of Poe in his X-Wing Pilot outfit and from the neck down, it’s actually the exact same sculpt that we got last time. And that’s fine, because my issue with the previous figure was from the neck up.

Here’s a quick shot of them standing side by side and it’s easy to see what a monumental difference the better noggin makes, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. While the mold is clearly the same, the texturing on the flight suit looks a lot more pronounced on the new figure. Otherwise, there are just some minor variations in the coloring and the paint lines on the new figure are a lot cleaner. You still get the functional holster on the right hip and the teeny tiny blaster pistol, which he can hold in either hand.

And gone is the cartoonish blob of a head with the sculpted helmet and ugly painted yellow visor. In its place we get this fully sculpted head, which is not a bad likeness of Oscar Isaacs for this scale and price point. The facial features are really well defined and the paint is sharp and clean. The helmet is a little work of art by itself and includes a translucent yellow visor and crisply painted markings and insignia. What’s more the helmet fits perfectly and doesn’t look oversized at all. Jeepers, Hasbro, how did you manage to make a sculpted-on helmet look bigger than the one that comes off? That flies against all logic!

Poe features the standard five points of articulation, which includes a standard t-crotch, rotation in the shoulders, and a ball jointed neck. He also includes two additional points of rotation in his gauntlets. This is a great little figure and having it in hand just begs the question, why couldn’t Hasbro do this last time? Either way, I’m re-purposing the old Poe as a standard X-Wing Pilot, so he won’t go to waste. And hopefully I won’t lose the gun this time! Let’s move on to Paige Tico…

Paige and her sister Rose represent that magical time before a Star Wars film is released when you have action figures of characters that you know very little about. Case in point: When I was a kid, I proffered that Squid Head was a heroic Rebel spy integral to victory over the empire! Aaaaand then I saw Return of the Jedi and realized I may have overstepped a bit. We do know that Paige is a “Resistance Gunner” and seeing as she’s wearing a flight suit, I can surmise she’ll be manning a turret on some kind of fighter. I really dig the look of her flight suit, it’s similar to Poe’s, but has even more of a WWII flavor to me. You get lots of lovely little details like the rumples in the legs and the belts and buckles on the back of the ribbed vest. The paint is a little rough on the chest apparatus, but intentional or not, I think that gives it a nice weathered look.

As with Poe, Paige features a fully sculpted head with a wearable helmet. I’ve only seen a few stills of the actress, but I think the likeness is decent enough for the scale. The flight hood looks especially good, almost like you could take it off. The helmet features a translucent yellow visor and fits the figure perfectly. The markings on this one are fantastic, including a checkered pattern, blue stripe, and some insignia on the side.

Paige gets one more extra and that’s the breathing mask that hangs off her chest apparatus. This piece has pegs that fit into the sides of the helmet and it works surprisingly well for a figure in this smaller scale.  If and when Paige gets a 6-inch Black Series figure, I’m interested to see if they can really improve all that much on this one, beyond the articulation of course.

Paige has the same articulation as Poe, minus the gauntlet swivels. She also comes with a blaster pistol, which she can hold in either hand. The only downside is that she has no holster to store it in. How the hell am I not going to lose that? I might as well just give it to my cat right now. Moving on to Paige’s sister…

Rose Tico is another mystery character. Other than being Paige’s sibling we’re told that she is a Resistance Technician, I’m assuming means mechanic and I think has a lot of potential for a really cool character. With that having been said, Rose is not one of the more exciting figures in this wave, as she’s basically just wearing overalls. That’s not to say she isn’t a great looking figure. As with Poe and Paige, there’s a ton of great detail in this sculpt, from rumples and wrinkles to the sculpted pockets and the hood. She also has some sharp printing on the right of her chest and her sleeve.

The head sculpt seems like a fair likeness to what I’ve seen of the actress. They definitely got her hair looking close. Again, the printed Aurebesh lettering on her chest is a great touch.

Standard 5-POA applies, making Rose’s articulation identical to that of her sister. She comes with what I think is supposed to be some kind of spanner or diagnostic probe. It pegs into her belt and can be held in either hand. She also includes a rather large blaster rifle, so I’m assuming we’re going to get to see her do some fighting when Episode 8 hits. And that brings me to the last figure of the day, the First Order Stormtrooper.

I was expecting a repack of the exact same figure that was released in The Force Awakens line, but this Stormy appears to be all new. The biggest differences include a wider stance to the legs and a glossy sheen to the armor, where TFA version was more matte.

Here they are side by side, with the new release on the left. Overall, I’d say I prefer this one, although the new leg stance can make him a bit more difficult to stand, especially if you don’t have his feet planted in that one intended sweet spot. I’d also say that the details are a little sharper on the new one and the paint is a little cleaner.

The new version includes both the blaster rifle and pistol that came with the previous release and you can still peg either one into his leg.

The Last Jedi figures are retailing for $7.99 a pop in most places, and I think that’s a pretty good price for what you’re getting. In the past, Hasbro has touted these 5-POA figures as having the best possible sculpts, but this is the first wave in a while where I believe that’s true. Plus, I thought the days of decent action figures under $10 were a thing of the past, but even with the 5-POA standard, I really enjoy these a lot. I haven’t even touched on the gimmick that makes them talk, but I don’t think I’d pick up one of those gadgets unless they were discounted down to almost nothing. Oh, and yes, this means I’m back on the 3 3/4-inch Star Wars bandwagon and I’ll be checking out some more of these soon.

Star Wars Black (Rogue One): Sergeant Jyn Erso (Eadu) by Hasbro

Most of my backlog of stuff right now is Marvel related, which means I’m finally getting caught up on the other lines I collect. That also means I’m hitting the bottom of the piles and finding the stuff that I’ve been pushing off to the side for a number of weeks. Today, I decided to finally open up the Exclusive version of Jyn Erso in her Eadu outfit.

This figure is part of a series of Deluxe Exclusives from Kmart and as such it comes in a larger box to accommodate the base, but otherwise it’s the same branded Black Series packaging. There’s some terrible monochrome character art on the front that doesn’t look much like Felicity Jones to me, but I’m convinced that Hasbro is doing that so the figure’s portraits look better by comparison. Anyway, this presentation is very similar to the Exclusive Kylo Ren and Rey that Kmart had for The Force Awakens, hell it may even just be a repainted base. I don’t know, as I passed on those. In fact, the only reason I picked this one up was because it was so damn cheap, but I’ll come back to that at the end.

Eadu Jyn uses a lot of Jedha Jyn, but there’s also a fair bit of brand new sculpting here too. From the waist down, she’s the same, and I’m going to assume the torso is the same too, but it’s buried under her new rain parka, so it doesn’t matter. The arms have newly sculpted sleeves to match the parka and she has a breather mask that hangs around her neck and connects to a tank behind her left hip. The new sculpting for the outfit looks great, and seeing as how we got this version of Jyn in the 3 3/4-inch line, it’s cool to finally have it in the 6-inch line as well.

There’s some pretty good paint wash on the parka to give it a grungy, well-worn look and even a few holes here and there. We also get some silver paint on some of her gear. The sculpt and paint on the bodies are generally pretty solid on these figures and this version of Jyn is no different.

The head sculpt is very similar to the Jedha Jyn, but it’s definitely new, or at least reworked. Here she has her ears exposed through her hair. The quality of the sculpt is about the same, with very soft features and I think the likeness is only there if you know what you’re looking at, and even then that might be a reach. As usual, the paint is extremely basic giving Jyn that wonderful dead-inside look to her eyes and uneven paint on her lips. Hasbro has obviously shrugged off any credibility for making this a true “Collector’s” line when it comes to the paintwork on the heads.

She does come with a removable helmet, which is definitely a welcome feature. It fits really well and looks good on the figure. The paint on the helmet is a little rougher than the rest of the figure, but it kind of works because it makes it look worn and chipped. Jyn can also wear her breather mask, with the head strap designed to fit around the helmet. I sometimes question whether these 6-inch figures really use the scale to their advantage, and here’s probably one of the few good examples of that. The breather mask just looks and works a lot better here than it did on the 3 3/4-inch figure. Then again, that was a 5-POA figure and not something premium like the Vintage Collection. Maybe it’s not a fair comparison here.

As for other accessories, Jyn includes the same pistol that came with the Jedha version and she still has a functional holster to store it in. She also comes with an E-11 Blaster. You can never have too many of those! And finally, she has a little cylindrical device and I have absolutely no idea what the hell it’s supposed to be. It’s almost bizarre how prominently featured this thing is in the box. If I were to make a guess, it looks like it’s supposed to be a rope coiled tightly around something. I seem to recall there was a zip-line scene that was cut from the film. Maybe this has to do with it.

I saved articulation for last, because it happens to be the thing that comes damn close to breaking this figure for me. The points are all identical to Jedha Jyn, so that’s not the issue, but the legs are so loose and gummy on this figure, it makes her really hard to pose and stand up. I don’t know if it’s shoddy plastic, or because she was packaged in an action pose on the base, but this is the worst I’ve seen in a 6-inch Hasbro figure in a long time. It literally feels like the kind of cheap Chinese knock-off you might get loose off of Ebay for a couple of dollars.

Oh yeah, and how could I forget the base. It’s a decent sculpt and it has peg holes for her to stand on. This sort of thing isn’t a big draw for me, but I can imagine that some collectors will enjoy it and she does look pretty good posed on it.

There are no Kmarts in my area any longer, and even when there were, I rarely ventured into them as they tended to be like the Beirut version of Walmart. No offense to Beirut. The only reason I wound up with this figure was because Amazon was blowing them out at $11 a pop and I said, “well shit… why not?” If it weren’t for the wobbly legs, Jyn would be a decent figure, but I think she’s also an easy pass. Meanwhile, the Black Series continues to be such a roller coaster for me. There are still figures that I pick up that delight me and justify why I collect this line, and then there’s figures like this one, which are just so damn average that they make me wonder why do I still bother.