Star Wars “The Mandalorian” Remnant Stormtrooper Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

It’s well known that Hot Toys are pricey, so it’s not a line of figures that I tend to look at for picking up multiple variants or repaints. So, when I picked up the Stormtrooper a little while ago, I hadn’t planned on picking up any more. But it only took one drunken night of browsing Sideshow’s website along with some Reward Points and a Gift Card burning a hole in my pocket to get me to pull the trigger on this variant Stormtrooper. Drunk or no, I reasoned that I was already all in for the other Hot Toys figures from The Mandalorian, so there was no point in stopping now.

I make it no secret that Hot Toys packaging doesn’t impress me and nowhere is that more feeling stronger than when it comes to their Star Wars line. These boring boxes feature no flare of presentation or craftsmanship. It’s just a receptacle to get the figure to me. OK, so they splurged and added a colorful, illustrated wraparound band to this one, but it feels like a cheap afterthought. But hey, I should be thankful because I don’t have the space to keep all these boxes anyway, so I only keep the ones that feel like something special, and those are few and far between. Inside the box, the Remnant Stormtrooper lays on a tray with his extra hands and accessories around him.

To some, this may just be a dirty Stormtrooper, but I really dig what these guys represent. I can’t believe anyone bothering to read this review hasn’t watched at least the first season of The Mandalorian yet, but just in case… The series takes place after the events of The Return of the Jedi and recognizes that Galactic Empires, even defeated ones, don’t go away overnight. And that’s a pretty insightful concept for Star Wars. The galaxy is replete with planets where the local remnants of Imperial rule grasp desperately for a hold on their now baseless power. The Stormtroopers may still be at their posts, but as evidenced by their degraded armor, they’ve seen better days. As a result we have the Remnant Stormtrooper! After the unexplained, magical appearance of The First Order in the Sequel Trilogy, I found the world of The Mandalorian a lot more believable and interesting. And I just love the idea of a splintered Empire with Moffs and their Stormtroopers going it alone. The Empire ain’t sending any more replacement armor and the pomp and circumstance of inspections are a thing of the past. Hot Toys did a beautiful job taking their bright and shining galactic enforcers and making them slum it.

A good deal of this review will be making comparisons to the previous Hot Toys Stormtrooper, which I reviewed early last year, and I’ll have some comparison photos at the end. To be honest, I was expecting a straight repaint, but instead Hot Toys gave us what is practically a brand new figure. The biggest differences can be found in the abdominal armor, which is completely new, and the belt, which is now made entirely of plastic, where the previous one was plastic and cloth. Overall, the armor detail on this figure is a lot sharper in places, particularly on the detail in the back plate, but I think it would be safe to say that the majority of this armor is different, subtle in some ways and obvious in others. Is one better than the other? I guess it’s a matter of preference. The previous one looks more classic to me, and while I haven’t scrutinized any screen shots, I’m guessing these changes are made to reflect actual changes in the costumes for The Mandalorian series.

As has been the case with Hot Toys troopers, the underlying body is wearing a black body suit and the armor pieces are worn on top of that, rather than being sculpted as part of the body. Exceptions include the boots and helmet. Even the body suit is different, with the previous release being mostly plain cloth and this one having more of a quilted texture, which feels more in tune with the sharper detail on the armor. Either way, I’m always happy to see cloth as opposed to vinyl used for the suit, but unfortunately it only opens up the range of articulation a little bit. There is a nice range of motion in the arms, but not so much in the legs, and it’s hard to tell what exactly is holding it back.

The helmet also varies a bit from the previous Stormy, particularly around the chin and the vents on the cheeks. The helmet also feels like it sits a little higher off the shoulder, which would probably make it compatible with a pauldron if you happen to have one and want to make him an officer. Another notable difference is in the goggles, which were tinted green on the previous figure and here appear to be just black. And now is as good a time as any to discuss the weathering, which is really well done. All of it is achieved through paint, despite the fact that many of the chips look convincing enough that I thought I would be able to actually feel them on the armor. The chipping is particularly heavy on the helmet, perhaps because it gets thrown around a lot, and on the left shoulder. There’s also some yellowing around the edges of most of the armor pieces, and some splotches of general dirt and what looks like pitting from rust. It all looks great, but I’d be curious to see if the weathering is identical from figure to figure. Not that I’m planning on picking up a second, but that would probably be a deal breaker to have two or more with the exact same chipping patterns.

The last Stormtrooper was pretty light on the accessories, so I wasn’t disappointed to see this one is too. You do get the usual passel of extra hands, including fists, relaxed hands, weapon holding hands, and the like. These are very easy to swap out, which is always welcome, although positioning the arms can sometimes cause the forearm armor to shift forward and knock the hands off their pegs. It’s not a big deal and I’m happier to have them pop off now and then as opposed to being so hard to pop off that I’m afraid I’ll snap something.

And of course, you can’t have a Stormtrooper without his trusty E-11 Blaster. This looks like it’s borrowed directly from the previous Stormtrooper, and that’s fine because it’s an absolutely beautiful little blaster. The attention to detail is fantastic as always, and the folding stock is articulated, albeit rather fragile. Unfortunately, the Remnant Stormy does not come with a holster for the weapon, like the regular release did. I’m not sure if this was omitted for canonical reasons or just because Hot Toys didn’t want to toss it in, but seeing as how they don’t usually cheap out, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Much to my surprise, this box did contain one additional weapon, and that’s the SE-14 Light Repeating Blaster Pistol. This was a great little bonus, as I’ve never had a nice version of it for any of my figures. The sculpt lacks the complexity of the E-11 Blaster, but it’s still an excellent little piece, which he may wind up sharing with the other Stormtrooper. And not to sound ungrateful, but the inclusion of the pistol makes me wish even more that they had given him a holster so that he could carry both.

As always, our last stop on these reviews is the figure stand, and this one is both generic and functional. They did actually print Remnant Stormtrooper on the name plate, which I was happy to see, although I was surprised that they did not brand it with the series name.

The Remnant Stormtrooper probably isn’t a must-have, even for people who are going to be collecting other Hot Toys from The Mandalorian. Once again, if I wasn’t made extra impulsive by a bottle of Jameson, I probably wouldn’t have made this purchase. But ultimately, I’m very glad that I did. While this could have been a cheap-and-quick cash grab, Hot Toys put a lot of work into this release and the result makes for a distinctive looking figure, even when he’s standing right next to the vanilla Stormtrooper. And as I mentioned at the outset of this review, the whole concept of the fragmentation of the Remnant Empire is easily one of my favorite concepts introduced in the franchise and this fellow represents it well. I think this figure retails for just a tad over $200, but by the time I was done throwing coupon codes and reward points at him, I stole him for about $90. Well worth it if you ask me!

Star Wars: The Mandalorian “Vintage Collection” Imperial Troop Transport by Hasbro

Feels like it’s been a while since I checked out a Star Wars vehicle, and I’ve got quite a stack of them from the Vintage Collection, piling up in the corner and waiting to be opened. One of the ones that had me the most excited was the Imperial Troop Transport from The Mandalorian. Of all the fan service that Disney could have packed into that series, who would have guessed that one of the biggest would be a nod back to an old Kenner toy? And this is after the Troop Transport got a previous nod (and toy) in the Rebels 3 3/4-inch line. The ITT has become one popular little vehicle. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid, but my best friend did and I loved playing with it, despite it’s boxy and impractical design it somehow quickly became iconic to me.

And boy does this thing look great in the vintage packaging! Mine arrived a little rough around the corners, but hey… IT’S VINTAGE!!! Getting beaten up in shipping gives it character! You get shots of the toy in action on the front and back panels as well as some close up shots on the side panels. The ITT comes nearly fully assembled, so you can get a pretty good idea of the vehicle’s size before you even open the box. And yes, that means it can go back into the box for storage, which is always a HUGE plus for me with these Vintage Collection releases. It’s also worth noting that there are no electronic features, so if you like pretty lights and sounds, you’re out of luck. On the other hand it also means you don’t have to have any batteries handy, either. I really think they missed an opportunity at packing in a Remnant Stormtrooper with this vehicle, but I’ll have more to say on that later. For now, let’s open this baby up and check her out!

Based on its appearance toward the end of The Mandalorian Season One, the Imperial Troop Transport takes the old Kenner design and peppers it with realism. And rather than beat around the bush, let me just toss out the best and worst things about the ITT right away: It’s got some amazing detail and it’s too small. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is quite as nice a piece as the Rogue One Hover Tank, but that vehicle is damn hard to beat when it comes to its weathered paint scheme and its great attention to even the tiniest details. The Transport comes pretty damn close, though. For starters, the sculpt is packed with all sorts of little hatches, panel lines, vents, piping, and everything the design needed to make it look like a real vehicle. Coupled with the greasy and grimy paint weathering, this cool deco goes a long way to convince me that this is a relic of the old Empire that’s been dragged back into service by the locals to try to maintain a scrap of power and bully the population. Much like the grubby Stormtrooper armor worn by the Remnant, this thing has seen better days, and it seems like the days of Imperial disciplined maintenance are a thing of the past.

There aren’t a ton of features on the outside. There are a pair of blaster cannon protruding from slits in the cheeks of the cab, and there’s a turret on the top that can rotate. That’s pretty much it. The vehicle does have some concealed wheels on the bottom, so it will roll, even though it’s intended to hover. It’s a shame they couldn’t have done something similar to the old Kenner Landspeeder and made them a little springy to improve the hover effect, as the simple engineering on that toy still impresses me and I think that would have been a cool feature here. If you flip the vehicle over you can check out all the amazing detail packed into an area you that you are likely never going to actually see, and that’s pretty cool! There are a series of vents, which I presume are repulse engines of some kind and a bunch of other bits and bobs.

The back of the vehicle opens up to reveal the interior and allow the Stromtroopers to burst out with E-11’s blazing. It seems like it would have made more sense to have the back drop down like a tailgate, giving the troops a ramp to descend, but I guess this design affords the disembarking troops some protection from strafing fighters.

The interior is also accessible from the top, which lifts off to reveal more amazing detail. The deck plates are fully sculpted and there’s a section over the cab that reveals some of the inner machinations of the vehicle. I suppose this could serve as a service hatch. There are some other features inside that we’ll check out in a bit. As a stand alone model of the Troop Transport seen in the series, I have no complaints at all, as this thing is absolutely gorgeous. But at this point, I’m going to grab a bunch of Stormies and we’re going to see how things go down hill once we start playing with it.

The cockpit opens up via the two side doors and… Wow is it cramped in here! It took some doing just to get the Stormtroopers seated in a reasonably convincing manner. There’s a ton of great detail in the cabin, but it’s tough to appreciate it because of the crazy tight quarters. I really wish the top piece that came off included the top of the cab as well. That way I could position the drivers better and maybe even get their hands on the steering yokes. I could also get to see all the work that went into sculpting this area. Such a simple change would have made a huge difference. I do like how there’s a window between the cab and the back compartment, and they did a great job detailing the interior of the doors.

The ITT is most known for the human pockets on the sides, which betrayed the true purpose of the toy being to hold figures. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone owning SIX Stormtroopers to fill it up! I mean, holy smokes were some parents made of money??? But now I’m all grown up and I can buy as many Stormtroopers as I want. Who thought it was a good idea to have troops exposed in these side-pockets, rather than ride inside the armored transport is beyond me. I imagine this thing pulling up to deploy with six corpses slumped in the compartments. But I do like how they incorporated it into the show and had the troops pouring out of it. I think I actually said out loud, “Cool! So that’s how that works!” My cats were confused and unimpressed. Only two of these compartments open up, which is INCREDIBLY cheap for a toy that costs this much. How does seventy dollars buy me only two opening hatches? The doorways leading inside from each side pocket are also very small, which would be forgivable if you climbed up some stairs to get out through it, but the way it is you really have to use your imagination to make it work. And I’ll tell ya… imagination is made for $20 Troop Transports. Not ones that cost this much, Dammit!

There’s a hatch on the top that opens so you can have a Stormtrooper poke his head out, maybe as a spotter or something.  Unfortunately, doing so really shows off the limitations of that turret. The opened hatch blocks its line of fire, and while we’re on the subject notice how if they started firing that thing it would head-shot all the Stormtroopers on the sides of the vehicle! It all harkens back to the running theme of this review… the ITT is too damn small.

As we saw, the back opens up to allow troops to disembark, but the hatch is so low they can’t even stand up under it. It’s hard to believe stumbling out of this thing at a low crouch is an ideal way to enter the heat of battle. And what you’re seeing is also the same clearance as exists inside the vehicle with the top closed. That means the Stormies can’t even stand up in this thing when it’s buttoned up. So let’s go inside and have a better look.

There are some cool ideas going on in here. Firstly, there’s a weapons rack for your Stormy’s guns. I wasn’t really able to make it work very well. Also, the toy is $70, could you not fill the rack with some guns to pad out the value??? There are folding seats inside, which is a neat, but it’s so tight inside that there’s barely room for two occupants to sit opposite each other. It works better if you stagger. The seats are also so low that they have to sit awkwardly or with their legs all the way out. Needless to say, a Stormtrooper can’t stand in here with the top on and so the whole thing just feels very limiting and not a lot of fun. Now, I understand that Hasbro frequently down scales ships to make them work, but the ITT isn’t an example where that should have been necessary. I feel like if this thing were 10% bigger it would have made all the difference in the world. And considering that it has no electronics, no pack in figures, and not a lot of play features, it seems like they should have been able to make it bigger within the price point.

I suppose the Imperial Troop Transport makes a worthy display piece if you want to throw some troops on it and display it on your shelf. But if you’re hoping to have any fun playing around with it, you may want to keep those hopes in check. It’s clear Hasbro put a lot of love and craftsmanship into the sculpt and paint, but then they stumbled at the finish line by under scaling it so much. And I honestly can’t see where all the money went with this toy. Hell, the Rogue One Tank was overpriced too, but at least it had a lot more complexity to it. Keep in mind, I only paid $50 for my Troop Transport, and it still feels like too much. When I had a hankering to review a Star Wars vehicle today, I probably should have gone for the Black Series 6-inch Scale Snowspeeder. It was a much more impressive toy, and I kind of feel bad that I bumped this one ahead of the line.

Star Wars “The Empire Strikes Back” 40th Anniversary Boba Fett Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

It surprises even me that I’ve been able to go this long without adding a Hot Toys Boba Fett to my collection. Sure, I do have a Sideshow Fett, but that’s a review for another time. Truth be told, I try to be very selective about which Original Trilogy characters I pick up as Hot Toys, because otherwise it can be a damned slippery (and expensive) slope to fall down. Up until now I’ve been able to resist the parade of pricey Bobas that have been released, but then this fellow came out of left field and I found him to be totally irresistible. So what’s different about him? Well for one he’s got a bright, beautiful, and totally inaccurate Kenner-inspired deco. And secondly, the packaging is absolutely killer! And hell, it’s goddamn Boba Fett!!! Even with his mug plastered on every kind of conceivable merchandising over the decades, even with countless action figure releases, I’ve never once had a case of The Fett Fatigue. It seemed only right that he should be honored in my collection by Hot Toys. At least until I get up enough of the crazies to get a Life Size one!

And here’s that delectable packaging, and boy is that rare for Hot Toys these days. Every now and then they produce some nice packaging for a Deluxe, like they did for Doctor Strange or for Jyn Erso, but for the most part the figures ship in glorified flimsy window boxes with even flimsier sleeves over them. The artwork is usually nice, but that’s about it. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even justify keeping most of the boxes any longer. Fett here does come in a window box, but it’s made of sturdier stuff and is designed to be reminiscent of the kind of packaging Kenner used for their old 12-inch figures. Of course, this spectacular presentation is in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The artwork of Fett on the front looks like it was ripped right off the old Kenner box and everything else falls in line too. It’s got the starfield, the silver borders, everything that used to get me excited when I tore off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning and saw it peeking out. Not only am I keeping this box, but it’s very likely that I will display the figure in it.

Boba doesn’t require too much set up to get him ready for display. You do have to attach his jetpack, which is a little challenging, as it hooks onto the tiny clips on his back. MAGNETS, HOT TOYS! You’ve used them before, why not now? You also have to insert his little tools into his leg pouches, but that’s really it. I am assuming this figure is a straight repaint of Hot Toys’ previous Boba from The Empire Strikes Back, but I don’t have that figure to compare, so I’ll just have to stick with that assumption. And so despite being a mere recolored variant, he’s an entirely new figure to me! And boy does he look great! The brighter intensified colors really invoke that old vintage Kenner magic and it looks quite stunning on a figure this realistically detailed. The jumpsuit has all the usual immaculate tailoring that I’ve come to expect from Hot Toys, and I’m particularly in love with how the chest armor is actually made up of separate pieces of plastic and independently attached to the vest. It may seem like a small touch, but it makes these pieces shift realistically in a way that I’ve yet to really see on a Fett figure before. The weathering on the armor has taken a step back in exchange for this color scheme. You still get some pock marks and dents, but even these are painted in a brighter silver to make the figure pop. Interestingly, they went for a more subdued paint job for the body of the jetpack, instead of the deco on Kenner’s old 12-inch figure, but I do like how the silver thrusters and the bright red rocket makes it pop.

Some beautiful touches include the tattered cape that cascades off the back of his left shoulder, the Wookie braids coiled on his right shoulder, the leather pouches on his belt, a hard-shell pistol holster positioned just behind his right hip, and I already mentioned the little tools that fit into the pockets on his lower legs. There’s also some wonderful detail on his gauntlets. If I’m nitpicking, my only real gripe would be that his arms seem a little too thin and it feels like they could have wrapped them to fill out the sleeves a little better, but even that is only something I tend to notice when I’m posing him in certain ways. Beefing out the arms a little bit would also make the bracers more snug. The right gauntlet has a piece of tubing tha ttucks up into the sleeve of his jumpsuit, and the left one has the flamethrower, rocket, and other bits and bobs.

By now Hot Toys must know their way around Fett’s helmet backwards and forwards, so it doesn’t surprise me that it looks this good. The vintage coloring gives the helmet a gray finish with no weathering on the red paint around the high gloss visor. Despite the giant dent in the dome, and some traces of light weathering on the cheeks, the deco gives the helmet something approaching a new look, that we seldom get to see. Although the stripes on the left side of the dome are still painted in a faded manner. The range finder is articulated, and the post is made of firm plastic so it won’t bend or warp. It will, however, no doubt break pretty easily so a modicum of care is needed when positioning it.

The jumpsuit isn’t terribly restrictive, making Fett a little more fun to play around with than a lot of other Hot Toys. The arms have a great range of motion, although those elbow joints feel a little loose. The codpiece does inhibit his hip movement a bit, but not terribly so, allowing for some action poses. And speaking of action, Boba isn’t exactly laden down with accessories, but he does come with everything he should, and that includes a number of sets of hands. The hands are very easy to work with, although there are some very fragile bits on those gauntlets, so again care is recommended when changing these out. You get relaxed hands, fists, a right gun hand, and a left hand designed for cradling his carbine. And speaking of which, he comes with both his pistol and his iconic carbine.

The pistol is very simple with a maroon grip, trigger guard, and frame, and the rest painted silver. Most of the fine detail is seen in the muzzle. He can hold it pretty well, but it’s clear that the gun hand was intended more for the carbine than this little guy, so it isn’t a perfect fit. Still, I never associate this pistol with The Fett, but it’s cool that he has a little bit of insurance in case he needs it.

Ah, now this is a lot more like it! The EE-3 carbine is a little work of art, with loads of detail. It’s got glyphs laid into the stock, a scope suspended above the barrel with two brackets, and a carry strap. I love how convincing this weapon is, which isn’t surprising as it’s infamously based off of an old Webley & Scott flare gun. It’s not fancy or flashy, it’s just a great utilitarian design. Just the kind of trusty tool that a bounty hunter would carry. The finish has some light weathering on it, presumably because Fett takes good care of his weapons! It takes a little effort to get his gun hand wrapped around it, but once it’s on it’s a perfect fit.

Our last stop on these Hot Toys review is inevitably the stand, and Boba comes with a pretty standard one. The gray base is meant to look like the deck of a spaceship and he has a nameplate on the front. Because it’s not like people aren’t going to know who he is, right? I’m guessing this base is recycled from the regular release. It would have been cool to get something special for this Vintage Color release, but it looks fine and it certainly does the job of holding him up.

Hot Toys figures aren’t usually impulse buys for me, but when I saw this guy go up for pre-order, there was nothing that was going to stop me from slamming on that button. I do try to go a little easier when it comes to Star Wars Hot Toys, because with so many iconic characters, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. But with that having been said, it seemed like sacrilege to have a Hot Toys collection without a character as iconic as Boba Fett represented. And this release allowed me to add him to the collection in a truly special manner. In many ways, these colors actually feel more accurate to me, because I’ve had them engraved in my brain from such a young age. I’m not sure that this figure is for everybody, but I think he’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something nostalgic and special!

Star Wars Black Series: Boba Fett Helmet by Hasbro

One of my favorite new things out of Hasbro lately has been their stab at bringing out helmets and roleplay items for collectors of their Marvel and Star Wars licenses. These strike a nice balance between being better than what’s usually found on the shelves in the toy aisles, and yet not so pricey as the higher end ones for the serious high rollers. As a kid, I would have killed for some of these, and now instead of commiting homicide, I just have to lay down a Benji. A while back I checked out the Stormtrooper helmet and was very impressed, now it’s time to tackle the Mandalorian helmet of Boba Fett!

These come in big cube-shaped boxes, fully enclosed, and covered with pictures of the item inside as well as some of the features. Inside the helmet comes wrapped in plastic and just about ready for display. Here you do have to attach the range finder, which makes a terrifyingly loud click when it’s attached. And if you want to make use of the electronics, you’ll need a small screwdriver and some batteries. Let’s have a look!

Straightaway, I think this helmet looks really nice. It was a far more challenging piece than the Stormtrooper helmet because it involved a more complex paint job, weathering, as well as some articulation. All of these things are a lot tougher to do on a limited budget, and as such I think Hasbro did a fine job. First, let’s talk about the visor. The initial solicitation pictures made me think the vertical part of the visor was too wide, but after looking at screenshots, I’m thinking it’s not too far off. The visor itself is made of smoked translucent plastic, which I feel should have been a bit darker on that vertical bit. I am displaying mine on a stand and it did tend to allow too much visibility through the visor. I’m sure Hasbro was worried about people being able to see out of it. I mean all they need is one drunken Cosplayer at a convention to go tumble down a flight of stairs in one of these and they’ve got a lawsuit on their hands. But, really you only need to see out of the horizontal part and some reinforced plastic behind the rest would have been welcome. It’s something that I fixed by attaching some black cloth behind it. Problem solved.

The base colors look quite good. It has a satiny matte finish, which doesn’t look too plastic. The QC on my helmet is also excellent. Granted, it’s supposed to look old and beaten up, but there aren’t any blemishes, scratches, or flubs that aren’t supposed to be there. At least I can’t see any. The construction also feels very solid. The helmet has a nice heft to it and while I wouldn’t want to drop it on a hard floor, it does feel quite durable and well put together. I’m sure this thing could take a beating if you are inclined to play rough with it.

Some nice details include the motion and sound sensors that run up the middle of each side, the cooling vents in the back, and the helmet diagnostic port, which is that little button on the right cheek.

 

The weathering was where this helmet was going to succeed or fail in winning me over and for the most part it succeeds. The helmet is littered with areas where the paint is meant to be chipped, worn, or just rubbed off completely. And of course, that iconic dent is present as well. Some of the weathering looks great, other areas look very fabricated. This is especially the case when you get in real close and examine it under studio lights. Again, at the price point we’re dealing with here, I wasn’t expecting a hand-painted masterpiece, but I’m sure that there are people out there with the skills to elevate the paint here into something truly spectacular. I’m not one of those people, but then I’m still pretty satisfied with how it turned out.

The interior of the helmet is also very detailed. The Stormtrooper helmet was basically unfinished inside, but here Hasbro has made an effort to keep the illusion of realism going by recreating what the actual helmet might look like inside. The sides are sculpted with all sorts of devices and instruments and there are padded cubes. There’s are adjustable straps so you can make it fit higher or lower, just like in Hasbro’s other helmets. As for wearing it? This one is actually very snug on me, which was surprising because the Stormtrooper helmet fit fine, as did most of the Marvel helmets I own. I’m not sure if it’s because I have a big head or because it isn’t compatible with my glasses. Either way, I bought this for display, not for wearing, so the fact that it isn’t terribly comfortable isn’t a big drawback for me.

And then there’s the rangefinder. I think that the stalk is probably a bit chunkier than it should be, but clearly Hasbro was looking for stability here, and that was probably a good decision. The arm is spring-loaded, so when you touch the side of the helmet it will cause the rangefinder to deploy and the LED lights on the holographic targeting display to activate and flash. The interior of the rangefinder also lights up, although I have a hard time seeing through it when I’m wearing the helmet. Too deactivate the lights, you just have to manually return the rangefinder to the up position.

With the rangefinder in the down position, you have to slide off the plsatic cover to reveal it. The clear plastic lense is sculpted with some detail and illuminates quite well. On the downside, this thing is positioned way too far to the side for me to comfortably look through it when I’m wearing the helmet. All in all, I think the electronics here are a cool extra, but they’re certainly not a selling point for me, and I would have been just as happy if they had left them out and dropped that price point a little bit.

I think Hasbro has carved out a pretty cool niche here, as I would often see those cheap plastic roleplay masks in the toy aisles and wish there was something better available without having to drop $300-500. If you’re of the same mind as me, these may be something you want to check out. At a little over $100, this helmet straddles the price point between toy and collectible quite nicely and the result is something that’s a whole lot of fun and looks pretty damn cool up on my shelf. Ultimately, my biggest nitpick is the opacity of the visor in the areas not needed for visibility and as I said, that was something that’s pretty easy to fix. I’m hoping that these are successful, although I rarely ever see them in stores, so I think they are still something of a specialty item. It would be cool to see Hasbro produce something like Sabine’s helmet from Rebels. In the meantime, I’ll eventually get around to looking at Luke’s X-Wing Pilot Helmet, as that one is sitting on the shelf just above this one!

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Imperial Probe Droid by Hasbro

If anyone was expecting me to do a Star Wars review on May the 4th, well then you shouldn’t underestimate the power of Marvel Monday. Bump Marvel Legends? In its moment of triumph? I think you overestimate my backlog! That was just never going to happen. I was actually trying to push for getting today’s review out on Wednesday, but this has been one those hell weeks at work, so it turned out to be a two-review kind of week. Plus, and to be quite honest, it’s been so hard for me to summon up a lot of enthusiasm for Star Wars these days. I’m not throwing in the towel, I’m still buying some of the toys, but after The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker I think I need to give it some time to replenish my batteries. I think that’s best illustrated in the lack of Star Wars content lately, and the giant stack of unopened Black Series figures in the Toy Closet. Maybe I need to get to work on some Star Wars Hot Toys reviews to get my excitement up again. Either way, the Black Series Deluxe Probe Droid wound up on my doorstep this week and I decided I would push it to the head of the line.

This is indeed one of the line’s Deluxe offerings, which means it comes in a bigger box and retails for around thirty bucks. Hasbro is tying this release into their 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and I have to say I love the addition of the old school logo on the box. Otherwise, the packaging gives you a good look at the figure and it is collector friendly. And that’s good, because I may actually keep this box. In addition to the figure, you get a stand which consists of a Hoth-style base and a clear plastic rod.

Free of his packaging and on the prowl, the Probe Droid looks quite spectacular! It’s crazy to think how iconic this droid has become considering what a tiny part he played in the film. He flew around on Hoth a bit, he fired off some shots at our heroes, and then he got toasted. He wasn’t very consequential and yet he’s become something of a droid star. It’s hard for me to come up with something equivalent in the new films, but I guess we’d have to wait a few decades to see whether any of the new designs take root and enjoy this kind of a legacy. And when I say we, I mean y’all because I don’t know that I have a few decades left in me. Nonetheless, over the decades I’ve had at least a couple of figures of this droid, most notably the original Kenner release that came in the Turret and Probot playset and the Power of the Force 2 version. Both were great figures. I can remember playing with the Kenner version long after the family dog had chewed it’s arms down to misshapen nubs. I used to just pretend he got mauled by the Wampa and barely escaped with his central processor intact.

I think it’s safe to say that Hasbro outdid themselves with this sculpt. There are plenty of panel lines, compartments, tanks, and little bits and bobs incorporated into the droid’s body. Look closely and you can see tiny sculpted rivets and pock marks, which suggest that these guys are collected by their Imperial masters, or they return to base on their own after their hunt so they could be re-used over and over again. I especially love all the spider-like eyes that litter it’s head. These shiny black soul-less orbs come in all shapes and sizes and are obviously designed to gather all sorts of information in a 360-degree spread as the droid makes its way across its hunting grounds. Between the head and body there’s a boxy blaster, which can swivel left and right to target interlopers. The dual antenna on the head can also raise and lower, although they don’t retract as far as they did in the film.

I wasn’t expecting a lot in terms of paint on this fellow. The droid is mostly just a gun-metal gray achieved through the color of the plastic. Still, Hasbro surprised me with some nice flourishes of paint. Most notably there’s a copious amount of silver dry brushing to give the droid a weathered look. Scuffs are scattered about the body and head and I feel it’s not overdone. There’s also some red paint here and there to pick out some of the panels and tubes on the body. Finally, there’s a fair amount of brown, which looks like it could be a combination of rust and dirty oil smeared in patches here and there. I think Hasbro could have gotten away with a much flatter deco on this toy, but they stepped up and did some fine work. It has a real used look to it.

In addition to the rotating head, the five mismatched legs feature quite a bit of articulation. Each leg can rotate where it connects to the body and some have as many as five hinges to them. These hinges are pretty sturdy and keep the legs in place no matter what configuration I put them in. The sculpts are good with sculpted hydraulics and an array of different types of claws and utensils, probably designed to take samplings of minerals, pick through ship wreckage, or whatever the droid happens to be investigating. The full articulation in the legs allow for a seemingly endless variety of display options for posing. I particularly like how they can be swept back as if he’s traveling quickly.

The figure stand is both simple and elegant. It’s just a clear rod and a base, but it works perfectly. I certainly don’t need anything more complicated than that. Although if I am going to gripe a bit. I think for the $30 price tag, Hasbro should have put a sound chip in this guy. The probe transmissions are so iconic and sound so cool, it’s a shame they couldn’t have made that work. I mean, I’ve had novelty key chains with sound effects that cost me next to nothing.

It’s funny. I began this review lamenting my bad case of Star Wars fatigue, but clearly it can’t be all that bad if I can drone on with affection over a Probe Droid that had about five minutes of screen time. But then this fellow is just another great example of how some of those robot and ship designs captured my imagination as a child. Not to mention why I’m still spending money on this shit when I’m pushing fifty. Either way, I think Hasbro did a fine job with this one and I’ll happily put him on the Hoth corner of my Black Series shelves. He looks great, he’s got a lot of articulation, and he’s just loads of fun to play with. I was actually going to wait on this one for a sale, and I did manage to grab it at a bit of a discount, but ultimately I’m pleased I didn’t wait.

Star Wars: Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer by Hasbro

Merry Christmas, everyone! For the last bunch of Christmas morning content, I stuck to reviewing bigger items that invoked nostalgic feelings of childhood Christmases when giant playsets or vehicles would be discovered under the tree. This year, I’m coming at it a lot simpler, but with the same amount of feels. Some of my earliest and most memorable Christmas mornings involved Star Wars toys. Indeed, I’d be hard pressed to remember many Christmas mornings that didn’t involve opening some kind of Star Wars figure, toy, book, video game, etc. I remember my parents used to wrap several Star Wars figures together so I couldn’t figure out what they were until I opened them. And that one year I got the AT-AT and Snowspeeder and took them out into the snow to play was pure magic. And it was probably only magic that saved me losing my fingers to frostbite. I also have very fond memories of one Christmas and a certain rubber Yoda puppet that probably stayed on my hand until I went to bed that night. This year, with the final installment of The Skywalker Saga out in theaters, I thought it would be only fitting to turn to a Star Wars toy for my Christmas review. And pardon me if I ramble a bit, but I’ve got quite a few Jamesons in me to get me through this holiday.

I enjoyed Rise of Skywalker quite a bit. Granted, it’s not what I would have envisioned for the end of the saga. It also steps on the events of Return of the Jedi a little too much for my liking. But it was still a fun and enjoyable film. And unlike it’s predecessor I look forward to seeing it again. Today’s toy isn’t actually from Rise of Skywalker, but Kylo Ren and his TIE Silencer have been in all three of the Sequel Trilogy films, and if I remember right I think he actually had two of them in this one, because one of them got crashed and burned up. Either way, I’ve had this one for a couple of years now and it’s long past time I opened this baby up. The ship comes in an enclosed box with just a small window to show off the included figure. It doesn’t actually state the film it’s tied to, but based on the art, it seems to be branded for The Last Jedi. There’s some assembly required, and once it’s done this thing isn’t going back in the box. So let’s rip it open and see what we got!

Straightaway, I have to say how much I love this design. It consists of a strong nod to the old school TIE Interceptor, but with plenty of new stuff to make it fresh and original. The squat profile places it at odds with the usual verticality of the regular TIE Fighter design, giving it a sleek profile, which is probably a tactical advantage as well. It also makes it perfect for spinning, which made for a particularly great looking attack run in The Last Jedi when he made his approach toward General Leia’s Command Ship. The wing panels have the same textured design as regular TIEs and features extended guns at the tip of each of the wings to give it a rather aggressive look. And while on the subject of the wings, I have to say that the build on this ship is much better than some of Hasbro’s recent efforts. The plastic used for the wings is flexible, but the panels were not all warped right out of the box, and it doesn’t look like that will be a problem. What’s more, the guns on the tips are attached as part of the build, and that probably spared them from getting all warped and messed up in the box.

The body on this thing is larger than your average TIE Fighter, reminding me a bit of Darth Vader’s Advanced TIE. There’s a ton of great detail in the sculpt, including panel lines and vents, and a bunch of other bits and bobs that I would probably need the Visual Dictionary to identify. The bulk of the toy is cast in black plastic, but there is a fair amount of dark and light gray to bring out the detail. You can probably also make out the little blue paint app on the bottom, that’s the Force Link gimmick, which is used to activate the toy’s electronics. It claims to have lights and sound, but because I never bothered picking up the Force Link, those functions of the toy aren’t accessible to me. Yeah, that rally sucks, but to be fair the toy stands just fine on its own without the bells and whistles.

One of the biggest departures from traditional TIE design is the lack of the circular segmented cockpit window that’s been such an iconic part of TIE design since the beginning. Yeah, it’s kind of there, but not really. Instead, the front of the pilot cabin looks more like a traditional cockpit. It definitely makes this ship look distinctive and sets it apart from the older ships a lot more than the new X-Wing designs. At least in my opinion. Either way, this thing looks pretty vicious when viewed from the front.

While this ship happily escaped the grafting of Nerf darts onto it, the TIE Silencer does feature a weapon gimmick (Force Link not required), and that’s the pop out torpedo launchers on the sides. These are activated with a button on the back of the ship, which causes the spring-loaded weapon pods to deploy in an instant, and I really dig it a lot. The torpedoes are neon green colored missiles that are extremely bright and do a pretty good job of mimicking some kind of energy weapon. These can be retracted simply by pressing them in.

And as advertised, the ship comes with a Kylo Ren (TIE Pilot) action figure, which as near as I can tell is the same as the regular 5-POA Kylo Ren from The Last Jedi. He doesn’t come with a helmet, but the head sculpt is pretty good and even includes the scar. I’m on record as actually liking these 5-POA figures quite a bit. They scratch a certain nostalgic itch and the sculpts are actually quite good on most of them. Here you get a lot of nice texturing from Kylo’s suit and details in his wide belt. He also comes with his now iconic lightsaber.

As expected, the figure does fit inside the vehicle. The hatch on top opens to reveal a very detailed cockpit, complete with texturing on the seat and the deck plates, and even all the control panels are fully fleshed out in the sculpt. And unlike some of Hasbro’s recent vehicles, the figure fits in there quite comfortably and with plenty of room to spare.

I can’t deny that a lot of Hasbro’s 3 3/4-inch scale vehicles and ships have been really hit-or-miss lately. The first release of Poe’s X-Wing was a travesty (thankfully remedied by a new Vintage Collection release) and even the First Order TIE Fighter was plagued with wing panels that were warped right out of the box. I actually returned one of those, and I almost never do that! So, taking all that into account, I’m quite pleased with how this ship turned out. The build quality is excellent, the detail in the sculpt is remarkable, and the weapon gimmick adds to the toy without defacing it. I suppose the only real complaint I have is that the electronics require the Force Link to work, but then I’ve never really cared much for electronics in toys anyway. I guess, there’s one more sticking point with this toy, and that’s the original price tag. I seem to recall this thing retailing at around $59.99, and there is no way in hell it’s worth anywhere near that. I picked up mine on clearance a while ago for $25, and I thought that was a pretty fair price. And with my Star Wars vehicle purchases few and far between these days, I have to say opening this wonderful ship on Christmas Eve brought back a little bit of that magic for me.

And with that, I’ll wish you all a Merry Christmas and I’ll catch you again at the end of the week.

Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Cara Dune by Hasbro

We’re four episodes (five if you count today!) into The Mandalorian, the new Star Wars series on Disney+, and I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it a whole hell of a lot. It’s refreshingly simple, well crafted, and the backdrop is rich with the Star Wars Universe. I already reviewed the Black Series figure of the titular character, and now I’m back to check out Cara Dune, a character that made her appearance the very same week that her figure was hitting my doorstep. Now that’s some pin-point timing on your distribution, Hasbro! Too bad you ain’t got none of them Baby Yoda’s to sell. What? Mattel is making that? WHAT?? It won’t be out until later next year? What the hell is going on over there, Disney? Don’t you and Hasbro like money anymore???

Setting aside the lack of Yoda Babies, we are introduced to Cara Dune in Chapter Four: Sanctuary, which plays out like an old episode of The A-Team. Or that episode of Enterprise where they have to defend a colony against Klingon raiders by teaching the locals how to fight. Here, The Mandalorian and his new associate, Cara, must defend a village from raiders who also happen to have a pet droidified AT-ST and they need to improvise. Despite an eye-rolling cliche clip of the villagers getting drilled with the use of quarter-staffs, it was most enjoyable and the script does a nice job fleshing out Cara’s character and actress, Gina Carano does an equally fine job bringing her to life. I’m presume we’ll be seeing more of her, but instead of speculating, let’s have a look at her figure.

As a former Rebel fighter and all around roughian, Cara comes sporting a set of armored fatigues that look right at home in the Star Wars Universe. The ensemble consists of a chest-plate, shoulder armor, grieves on her forearms, and a single right knee-guard, because to hell with the left knee, right? The outfit is all part of the body sculpt, which makes some nice use of texture for the chest and back pieces, as well as the outer portions of the legs. She’s got a couple of sculpted gear belts, one of which supports a working holster on her right hip. Her boots have sculpted wraps leading up to her knees as well as some code cylinders strapped to her lower right leg. The blue, gray, and black deco is certainly distinctive, and there are plenty of silver paint hits to the buckles and gear. There’s also some very nice weathering on her armor, which looks good and is used sparingly. Finally, a tattooed segmented band encircles her right bicep. The sculpt and paint here are both excellent, and I also dig how the figure’s build matches Carno’s powerful stature.

And speaking of matching, the portrait here is a pretty solid likeness for the actress, but I don’t think it’s among their best. I think it’s very good from certain angles, but from others it loses me a little. But hey, if we’re grading the Black Series on a curve because of some truly lackluster portraits, I think this one still ranks in around a B+. Not as good as what we’re seeing from Hasbro’s Marvel Cinematic Universe figures from down the hall, but I’m not going to quibble about it. The hair is particularly well done, sculpted separately from the head and covering part of her right face, while strands fall down the other side between her cheek and ear.

I’ve already mentioned the functional holster, which holds her blaster pistol, and includes a retaining strap that fastens with a peg and hole. We got to see this weapon up close and personal in her battle with The Mando and it features a lot of great detail in the sculpt as well as painted grips. The pistol strikes me as a little demure for her, but nevertheless it appears faithful to its on screen counterpart. She can hold it in either hand, but it works best in the right hand with the hooked trigger finger fitting through the trigger guard.

Next up, she comes with a little combat knife, which can be held in either hand. I struggled for a bit to figure out where this goes on her outfit before spotting a little slot on the side of her left boot. It’s a simple accessory, but still quite welcome.

And finally, Cara comes with a weapon that seems more suited to her stature and that’s this heavy blaster rifle. This big boom-stick features a cool over-under double-barrel design, not to mention two big drums of whatever passes for ammo in the Star Wars Universe these days. Like the pistol, there’s some excellent detail work on this weapon, brown paint on the grip and stock, and it includes a grab bar on the top so that Cara can wield it with both hands.

It also includes a shoulder strap, so she can carry it on her back. Nice!

At a time when I’ve been considering slowing down on the 6-inch Black Series, Cara comes along and rekindles my interest in this line. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that’s the case for The Mandalorian in general. I don’t see myself buying a lot of figures from Rise of Skywalker, because I just don’t think I’m going to end up liking the film all that much. Hopefully time will prove me wrong. But The Mandalorian is another story entirely and I sincerely hope that Hasbro starts pumping out figures from this line at a quick pace. There’s already quite a few that I’d like to see from the first handful of episodes.

Star Wars Black (Solo): Han Solo (Mimban) and Chewbacca by Hasbro

So, the other night I re-watched Solo on Disney+ and about half way through it I got up, dug out all the Black Series figures from the movie that were on my Pile of Shame© and had a hell of a time ripping them open while finishing the movie. And since I did that, I thought I’d go ahead and start reviewing them in pairs. I’ve already looked at quite a few figures from the film, and today I’m pressing on with Han Solo in his Mudtrooper uniform and his new found friend, Chewbacca.

Of all the Star Wars films, both good and bad, Solo feels like the one that just kind of came and went. The lead up to its release seemed to be dominated by talks of messy production and re-shoots, but once it hit the theaters I don’t recall hearing much about it, other than it was a disappointment for Disney at the Box Office and it resulted in them tabling any future plans for the Star Wars Story films. Me? I enjoyed it quite a bit in the theater and I’ve probably watched it two or three more times since it hit Blu-Ray. And now that I find myself casually viewing it again on Disney’s streaming service, I have to say that it’s held up just fine each time and other than a certain shoe-horned cameo at the end, I’ve got no complaints. Let’s start out by looking at Han.

Serving with the 224th Imperial Armored Division, Corporal Han Solo in his Imperial Mudtrooper outfit is a figure that I was anxious to get my hands on. I loved the whole sequence in the film and I really dig this particular uniform. It’s a nice blend of familiar Imperial fashion call-outs with some new stuff thrown in, and Hasbro put an exceptional amount of work into making this figure something special. Here it is stripped down to the basics with the familiar cuirass previously seen worn by the AT-AT Commanders. The backside of the armor features a sculpted backpack sort of thing with some detailed panels. The cuirass is not removable and is sculpted over what looks like a fairly typical Imperial Officer’s uniform tunic, but with added shoulder armor and bicep armor, with the right bicep painted red. The high boots feature a liberal dusting of what is probably supposed to be mud, but it actually looks like it would work well for snow or ash. In addition to the dirtied up boots, there’s some absolutely lovely weathering applied to the cuirass. Even if this was all there was to the figure, I’d have been happy, but there’s plenty of gear to add on to him. But before getting to that…

Let’s talk about the portrait! Hasbro has had some troubles in the past getting Harrison Ford’s likeness as Solo quite right, but I Think they’ve had a lot more luck with Alden Ehrenreich. Their first figure from the film looked great, and I think the likeness on this one is another direct hit. The hair and contours of the face are right on the money, as are pretty much all the facial features. And the printing used for the face is also excellent. OK, let’s start loading him up!

The extra uniform pieces consist of a cape, a helmet, goggles, and a breather mask. The cape features some particularly great sculpting and weathering, and I like that it’s not too cumbersome, because even as it is, it seems like the most impractical thing to include on an infantry uniform. [OK, that was only true until I realized it’s probably a rain poncho and not a cape.] It’s designed to tab into two notches on his shoulders, but mine doesn’t like to do that, which isn’t a big problem because it stays on just fine by hugging his shoulders.

The helmet fits perfectly and includes a chin-strap. The breather mask has two partially sculpted straps that hold it on simply by friction and the tubes run behind the head and plug into the holes on the top of the backpack. Finally, the goggles can be worn up on the helmet or down over the eyes. One of my frequent complaints about the Black Series is that it doesn’t often make use of the larger scale, but here’s a figure that really does. I’m sure all of this could have been done in the smaller 3 3/4-inch scale, but I don’t think it could have been quite as well executed as it is here. I mean, it would have been much easier to just sculpt the goggles, helmet, and mask all as one piece, but I’m happy to see Hasbro rose to the challenge here.

The final accessory in the box is Han’s E-10 blaster rifle. It’s a nice change-up form the usual Imperial small arms and features some great detail in the sculpt. The forearm grip is even folded down so it can be held in both hands. And since I’m looking at two figures today, I’m just going to skip the usual run-down of articulation. There’s nothing new here, and I’ll just say how I wish Black Series made use of double-hinged elbows like Marvel Legends does. The rotating hinges are OK, but I would really like a better range of motion in those elbows. Moving on to Chewbacca…

I actually don’t have a whole heck of a lot to say about Chewie here. I was actually going to pass on this figure, but I found it on sale and I decided I needed him to stand beside young Han Solo. It seems to borrow the same body sculpt as the original Black Series Chewie, but with a very different paint job. Gone is the more uniform brown and in its place is a mix of dark brown and light tan. Unfortunately, I don’t think the new paint does the sculpt any favors. It looks very basic and the radical differences in color shades makes this look more like an animated version of Chewie to me. Maybe a wash would have helped. Of course, Chewie’s more familiar bandoleer strap is replaced here with the Y-shaped baldric and satchel.

We do get an entirely new head sculpt, which I think is a fairly solid and I dig the goggles, which have an elastic strap and can be worn up on his forehead or down over his eyes. Once again, I’m going to take the lazy way out and not run down the articulation. I’ll just refer you to my review of the original Black Series Chewbacca review from many years ago.

Chewbacca comes with the blaster rifle he wielded in the film. I’m not sure what this one is called, but it’s a formidable weapon for a formidable Wookie. The sculpt features loads of detail, the forearm grip is painted brown, and there’s a small side grip that’s actually articulated and can fold in or out. It’s a great looking gun, I just wish they had re-sculpted Chewie’s left hand so that he could hold it by the forearm.

In the end I couldn’t be happier with the way Mimban Han turned out. It’s rare that I can give the Black Series the nod for going above and beyond, but Hasbro did just that on this figure. All the removable gear makes him lots of fun, and he’s just a great looking figure. Chewie isn’t quite as big a success story. There’s a lot of recycling here and the paint just doesn’t do the sculpt any favors. It’s not a terrible figure by any means, and I’m ultimately glad I got him, but I’m also glad I didn’t have to pay full price for him. And I have to say, it’s been fun going back and checking out figures from Solo. So much so that I may try to squeeze a couple more into the mix next week.

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Emperor Palpatine by Hasbro

The first time Hasbro released The Emperor as part of the 6-inch Black Series, I took a pass. I think I was on the outs with collecting Star Wars at the time. or maybe I had too many other things on my wish list that month, but for whatever reason I didn’t pick him up. It was a decision I learned to regret because he started going for a good amount of money on the second hand market, so when I finally decided I wanted him, I was shit out of luck. But to my surprise, this was a case where hesitancy ultimately paid off, and Hasbro released this new Palpatine figure with an extra pair of heads and his almighty throne. Truly, the Sith Lords had smiled upon me.

Submitted for your approval, the terrible mock up package used by Amazon as their official image. Mine arrived with the package smashed to smithereens, so I’m forced to use this one. You get the idea. The window box follows the usual deco for this series with a black box, red interior, and red right panel. You get some monochrome character art in the lower right hand corner, a multi-lingual blurb about the character on the back, and as usual everything is collector friendly. The only difference between this box and the regular releases is the size, as this one is thicker than normal to contain the throne piece. Also, this release is an Amazon Exclusive, so there’s no number on the right side panel.

And here’s Papa Palpy out of the box and overall I am very pleased with him. One of my unending gripes with the Black Series is Hasbro’s reluctance to use soft-goods when it’s called for. Hell, it took a do-over from The Mandalorian to give us a proper robe on a Jawa! Well, if there was ever a figure that needed soft-goods, Palpatine was it. The figure features sculpted robes covered with a black cloth skirt, and finally a hooded and sleeved robe on top of that. There’s a plastic sash around his waist and a plastic catch holding the robe together just under his neck. Does it look perfect? Nah, not really. But I am willing to grant some leeway because of how difficult it is to get tailored clothing to look right at this scale. Hell, even at the bigger one-sixth scale, it can be tough. But in this case, I think the robe falls about the figure quite naturally and the sleeves are tailored to give him the hanging wizard sleeve effect. I do find that it’s necessary to futz around with the cloth a bit to get it to look right, but that’s to be expected too.

The only area where the cloth gives me trouble is in the hood. The sides of the hood are supposed to fold out a bit on his shoulders, and the garment is tailored to make that happen, but they tend to hover a bit higher. Also, the fold on the left side tends to ride higher. It sometimes gives him a Sally Field Flying Nun look to him. That’s a reference to an old TV show, kids. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, and honestly, it may not be an issue on all figures. My guess is that a lot of these will have their own individual quirks, so your mileage may vary.

I’m not going to run down the articulation here, but it feels like the figure makes use of all the standard points. He is definitely a lot more agile than I need my Emperor figure to be. Seriously, in terms of posing him, he can do most anything, but all I need him to do is stand there looking haggard and menacing. Palpatine comes with his rustic black cane, which he can hold in his right hand, and his left hand is sculpted so as to be pointing. The cane feels a little short. I don’t remember The Emperor hunching over quite that much when walking. But I can live with it.

You get three different heads and all of them are spectacular sculpts. The figure comes out of the box with a neutral expression or, in The Emperor’s case, slightly dour. You also get a smiling face and an angry “Imma Gonna Force Zap You” face. All of these are excellent sculpts with some solid paint to back them up. Unfortunately, all the years of Robot Chicken have made it difficult for me to take The Emperor seriously. Especially when he’s pulling that smiling face.

Of course, the big draw of this set is the inclusion of his throne. It’s likely to get collectors to double-dip on the character, so how is it? Pretty damn good, actually. It’s solid and sturdy and features some great detail, particularly in the control panels on the arm rests. It’s a shame they couldn’t have included a cardboard backdrop showing the window behind him, but then I guess I’m asking for a lot.

The figure fits in the throne quite well. At first, I thought there wasn’t enough head clearance, but it looks like that was the case on the actual film prop. I think my only gripe here is that his feet don’t quite touch the floor when he’s sitting in it, and that looks a bit silly.

The last accessories in the box are a pair of Force lightening hands. I’m really glad, Hasbro went this route, rather than just give us blue energy tendrils to attach to his arms. It works very well and I think the effect looks great.

I pre-ordered this figure ages ago, and had completely forgotten that it was even coming. At close to $40, it was a bit of an indulgence, since I try to be finicky about how much I spend on my Black Series collecting these days. I’m at that point in collecting where space is running out and something’s got to give. Black Series is often close to hitting the chopping block, but then it releases a figure like this and I’m sold on it all over again. With that having been said, if some third-party out there wants to produce a display base for this set with the illustrated cardboard backdrop, I would probably pony up the cash for that.

Star Wars Black: The Mandalorian by Hasbro

This week was Triple Force Friday where Disney launched merchandise for the upcoming Rise of Skywalker film, as well as a Star Wars video game and TV series. Now, sadly I have almost zero interest in the upcoming movie, Yeah I’m at a weird crossroads with Star Wars. I’ve got a case of franchise fatigue, but buying the toys is a tough habit to break when I’ve been doing it all my life. Fortunately, there is still one spark that may re-kindle my love for this franchise, and that’s The Mandalorian series coming to Disney+ next month. And today I’m checking out the 6-inch Black Series version of the titular character.

It’s safe to say that I was completely blown away by The Mandalorian trailer. I was expecting something flat. stuffy, and dire like Game of Thrones with Star Wars characters. What we got was exciting, explosive, and downright cool. To me it looked more like a Star Wars movie than, well… the last Star Wars movie. If they can make the story and characters work, I think this thing is going to be hugely enjoyable. But all of that is still wrapped in mystery. Even the blurb on the back of this box doesn’t betray any of the main character’s secrets. So let’s open him up and check him out. I’ll note here that this figure was also released with a metallic paint job as a Target Exclusive, and I’ll also be taking a look at that one in the near future.

Yup, this is basically a show built around a guy in a cool-looking set of space armor, and Mando here definitely fits the bill. And while the similarities are certainly there, I was pleased at just how different this armor is from that of our friend Boba Fett. Mando’s ensemble looks more rustic and patchwork, and Hasbro did a beautiful job sculpting in all of those details. I am particularly pleased with the sense of depth here, and although nearly everything is just sculpted as part of the figure, it really does look like we’re getting layers of plate armor and belts worn on top of an underlying suit. For example, the mismatched upper leg plates actually protrude up and away from the hips as they cross those thigh swivels. That’s cool. There are sculpted straps over the halves on the lower right leg armor, and the strap of whatever those little canisters are is neatly painted.

The shoulder armor are separate pieces and cast in soft plastic to help the shoulder articulation along. The cross strap and pistol belt are also separately sculpted and worn by the figure, as is the cape, which hangs around his neck and on his right shoulder.

The head sculpt looks more similar to Jango’s than Boba’s, but maybe that’s just me. As many have pointed out, it’s missing the iconic range-finder, and I find this helmet to be more form fitting than Fett’s. It’s also sporting an all silver paint job, with some blemishes of dirt, which interestingly is at odds from what we’ve seen int he trailer where his helmet is clean and shiny. Of course, the T-shaped visor is painted black, further shrouding the man in mystery. While on the subject, all the paint on this figure is well done. From the silver on the buckles and clips, to the weathering on the armor plates.

The articulation here is fairly straightforward for a Black Series figure. I think the only big surprise for me was the lack of swivels in the biceps. Instead, Mando is sporting rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint hidden up under the torso, and the neck is ball jointed. Yup, he’s pretty fun to play around with, although he does seem to be a little back-heavy.

The Mandalorian comes with a pistol, which is not dissimilar to the one usually included with Boba Fett. This one strikes me as having more of a 19th Century American West quality to it, which suits the outlaw frontier flavor of the series trailer. The pistol fits nicely into the figure’s right hand and the trigger finger threads through the guard comfortably. It can also be kept in the holster on his right hip.

He also comes with his rifle, and I am both in love with, and very curious about, this distinctive weapon. It looks like a composite between an antique Moroccan firing piece, a Winchester, and a… tuning fork? Yeah, that last bit was immediately identified by fans as a homage to Boba Fett’s weapon in the Star Wars Holiday Special. It looks like it’s some kind of plug bayonet, but in reality, I’m thinking that the energy blast produced by the rifle is emitted from these prongs. Either way, I dig it, and Hasbro did a wonderful job on this little plastic version. The stock and furniture is painted brown, the receiver is gun metal gray, and the prongs are silver. It’s a lot of detail and color variation on an accessory in this scale. I also appreciate that the figure can hold it well and even assume a firing position, by drawing it up to his face.

There’s a tab on the side of the gun that looks like it’s intended to be a magazine, but it doubles as a tab that fits into a slot on his back, passing through a slot on his shoulder strap, so he can wear the rifle on his back. Now, I say “fits” but that may be pushing it. Mine barely goes in at all. I can make it work, but it doesn’t take much to knock it off.

If you’ve been around FFZ long enough, you may know that I love getting Star Wars figures of characters before they appear on the big screen. It’s a great way to first experience all the nuances of their look, and get familiar with them before seeing them in action. It also let’s me enjoy them as a blank slate for a little while. I fill my mind with all sorts of assumptions and imaginings of what they are going to be like, and it really brings back the magic of being a kid again. I’ll only have about a month left until more about this character is revealed, but in the meantime, he’s a very exciting figure to add to my collection.