Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): Dark Trooper by Hasbro

So far, The Mandalorian has been the only Disney+ series that I think has been worthy of my time. Book of Boba Fett went nowhere fast, Obi-Wan was ludicrous and boring, and while I desperately want it to be good, I’m not holding out hope for Andor. So, it sure is nice to look back on that amazing ending to Mando Season 2 and know that if they try really hard, Disney is capable of producing some cool shit. Oh yeah… and we got to see some Dark Troopers!

Now, it’s only fair to say that I was not all that smitten with these guys on the screen. They looked a bit too much like rip-offs of the mechanical Cylons from the Battlestar Galactica reboot and the way they took to flight reminded me a little too much of either Iron Man or the Cybermen in Doctor Who‘s Series 8 finale. They just looked kind of cheesy flying around, and while that works for Doctor Who, it doesn’t so much in Star Wars. For some reason, I also LOL’d when they started punching the bulkhead repeatedly. Now, with all that having been said, these guys have grown on me a bit, and I suspected from the beginning that they were going to succeed for me a lot more as action figures, so let’s see if that’s true!

Well, I don’t know where to begin. First of all, the glossy black finish on this figure is absolutely gorgeous. It’s like a beautiful new car sheen, which probably doesn’t come across as well as it should in my pictures on account of how prone to fingerprints these are. And it’s good that the black finish is so impressive, because there isn’t a lot else here in terms of coloring. You get some silver paint on the joints and servos, and a subtle amount of dry-brushing on the feet to denote wear, but clearly these guys are meant to look fresh out of the factory and spoiling for a fight!

The next thing that I really love about this guy is the way the upper body armor is layered onto the figure. It makes for a more complex feel and appearance than if it were all just sculpted as one piece. The articulation here is every bit as good as your average Stormtrooper, so don’t let that bulky armor and those Protocol Droid-style disk-joints fool you into thinking this guy isn’t agile. It’s kind of a shame that the hydraulics in his abdomen don’t actually articulate with the figure, but they are in fact static, and the torso articulation is confined to a ball joint below the chest. Still, they look great! You get two sets of hands with this fella, one pair of fists, and a pair to interact with his gun. Oddly enough, his fists look really small and puny.

The helmet sculpt is great. It’s a nice homage to the original Dark Trooper design, but updated to work with the modern series. The red eye lenses are surprisingly vibrant amidst that sea of black, but man, it would have been cool if we could have had some light piping up in there!

The blaster design is OK, but the trusty old E-11 Blaster doesn’t have to worry about this design becoming my favorite. I like my Star Wars guns to have a firm and obvious design nod to real world vintage weapons, and this one just doesn’t do it. But it sure ain’t bad. There’s nowhere for the Trooper to store the weapon that I can see, but his gun-hands work well to carry it, with the left hand sculpted to cradle the weapon’s foregrip. It might have been interesting to see these Troopers designed with an integral blaster, like the Super Battle Droids, but maybe they can save that for an upgraded design.

In addition to the Blaster, you get a couple of jet effect parts to stick into his feet. These look fine, but I think I would have rather these guys had jetpacks, than just jet boots. Again, it’s a little too Iron Man-y on the screen, but it looks a lot more credible and fun as an action figure.

“Hey… you notice that the new guy doesn’t say much?”

At $32, The Dark Trooper is priced a bit higher than your average Black Series figure, but he is a bit more complex than what we usually get. I will say that I expected him to be a bit bigger, as he isn’t really any bigger than the Death Troopers, which I included in a comparison shot. Still, I’m not complaining, because he’s a damn fine addition to my Imperial forces. I originally pre-ordered a pair of them, but I may wind up hunting down one more.

Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron: TIE Fighter and X-Wing by Jazwares

It’s not often that you see a new mainstream toy line launch with the Star Wars brand name and not see Hasbro on the box! And yet that’s exactly what we’ve got here, as Jazwares has secured the license to make little Star Wars ships, and even littler figures to pilot those ships. These are sort of like a reimagining of the old Micro Machines or Action Fleet ships, and they seem to be drawing from every corner of the Star Wars franchise! I swore up and down that I wasn’t going to collect these, because I’m trying to tighten up the shit I spend money on, but in the end I thought I’d give it a go with a couple and see what they’re all about!

I decided to go with the TIE Fighter and X-Wing, and these sure do look nice in the packages. At a time when Hasbro is weening their action figure packaging off of plastic, these two have big, bold windows to show off the goods. These are really playing up the collector aspect, with the Series number and the ship number on the cards. These also state Launch Edition in gold foil, which I imagine will pertain to the deco, as it seems like Jazwares will be releasing these ships in multiple colors and finishes. The tiny 1-inch figures are packaged beside their ships in their own self-contained tray and bubble, which is just adorable. Let’s rip these open and start with the X-Wing!

Measuring at about 5-inches long, this is billed as Luke Skywalker’s own X-Wing Fighter, and looking great! With the wings closed, it can rest on it’s three retractable landing gear, ready to launch and take on the Empire! I’m always cautious about discussing accuracy in these sculpts, because no matter how many toys and models of the X-Wing I’ve owned over the last 40 years, there are plenty of people who are much better versed in how well these toys match up to the on-screen models. So let’s just say this looks pretty damn close to me! Despite it’s small size, Jazwares packed a ton of detail into this little bit of plastic. There are panel lines, exposed panels, and all sorts of little bits of attention to take in as I turn this thing about in my hands. Even the undercarriage is fully detailed, with only a couple of screws and licensing information there to distract from it all.

And as fantastic as the sculpt is, the paint work on this little fighter really does its part to elevate the entire toy. Everything about the ship looks dirty, grimy, and well used, hammering home the concept of a lived-in universe that Star Wars practically pioneered. This tiny ship has seen some shit in its day, and the weathering tells the story of a fighter craft that is being barely held together by an undermanned and underfunded rag-tag band of Rebels. I particularly love the scorched black thrusters on the back, and the little chips taken out of the red wing paint. We have certainly seen many larger and more expensive toys of this ship with a lot less attention to sculpt, paint, and overall detail.

The figures are pretty nice considering how small they are. The sculpts are definitely better than the paint, but there’s enough here to get the idea across. Luke even has four points of articulation (hips and shoulders), which are there to help him sit in his cockpit. And that’s obviously what these figures were designed to do, but it’s nice to have the option to display them standing beside it if you so choose. Luke fits in the seat perfectly, and R2 secures into his droid slot with a peg. If you press the panel under the slot, he will rise up to make it easier to pluck him out.

In addition to the landing gear, the wings can also be moved into attack position, simply by pulling them apart. And again, it just looks amazing and begs the handler to whoosh it around the room looking for TIE’s to blast and trenches to run. If I was trying to convince myself not to collect this line, this little X-Wing probably wasn’t the best one to open first, because even after handling it for a short while, I want a couple more. Let’s move on to the TIE Fighter.

I actually don’t have as much to say about this little 3-inch TIE Fighter. That’s not because it’s any less impressive, but rather it’s just a much simpler toy. The sculpt here is every bit as phenomenal as the X-Wing, with all sorts of little details in the body, and some absolutely beautiful texture work on the wing-panels. This literally looks like Jazwares took one of Hasbro’s toys and shrunk it down. There’s no complex paint work or weathering on here, nor should there be. The Empire flies state-of-the-art fighters in tip-top condition. These things are well serviced and scrubbed clean after each mission, and that’s certainly reflected here. You do get a transparent front windshield, and red paint hits for the laser emitters.

The TIE Pilot is the most impressive of these three tiny figures, probably because he didn’t require any precision paint to make him work. I could complain about the one droopy emblem on his helmet, but one of my 6-inch Hasbro Black Series AT-AT Drivers had the same problem, so I think I can let it slide here on a 1-inch bundled figure. The top of the TIE opens and the pilot seat can be raised or lowered to make it easier to pop him in and take him out.

The only other feature here is the ability to pull off the wings to simulate it exploding. It’s a great nod back to the original Kenner toy, and it really makes me want to get one of these in white. And I’ve already picked up a second TIE Fighter for the fleet, so that alone should tell you how much I love this little ship.

These little Starfighters cost $16.99 each, and in this day and age, that ain’t bad. The sculpt on both ships is downright impressive, showing that these were not stamped out on the cheap. The designers clearly put some serious work into them, and succeeded in delivering what have got to be some of the most detailed examples of these ships in such a small scale. I’d argue you could blow these up a lot bigger and the sculpts would still stand up just fine. But it’s the paint work on the X-Wing that really delivers the Wow-factor and makes me want to press on and see what else the Micro Galaxy Squadron has to offer. My guess is that Jazwares will be repainting the hell out of this X-Wing and I’ll probably be here for all of them.

Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): Cobb Vanth by Hasbro

I doubt anyone as more surprised than me that I made it here for at least one review this week. On Saturday and Sunday I was so sick, I just wanted to die. Things got marginally better and than plateaued up until late Wednesday when everything downgraded to what felt like just the worst head cold I’ve ever had. Yesterday I shot some pictures and paid for it by lying down for a couple of hours. Today I’m feeling better, and I hope to be back at work tomorrow. I had a bunch of goodies hit my doorstep while I was laid out this week, so let’s have a look at one of the new Star Wars figures…

Cobb Vanth was introduced in the premier episode of The Mandalorian’s second season, and it still kills me that they didn’t call this episode The Ballad of Marshall Vanth, because I just think sounds all kinds of cool. Cobb’s big claim to fame was buying Boba Fett’s armor from some Jawas, running an evil mining company out of Mos Pelgo, and installing himself as The Marshall. I watched this one again while I opened the figure and really enjoyed it. It also reminded me that the drop in quality going from The Mandalorian to Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan is just shocking, but I’m not going to open that can of worms here.

Cobb’s Marshall space-western duds feature a dark brown trousers with lighter brown high-top boots, an orange shirt with Boba Fett’s cuirass and shoulder armor worn over it. He also managed to pick up the gauntlets, and one knee guard, in his deal with the Jawas. As a result, his outfit has a patchwork look to it, reminiscent of what characters in some RPGs look like when salvaging various pieces of armor from vanquished foes. It definitely fits the scavenger lifestyle on Tatooine.

There’s some very nice weathering on the chest armor, where most of the green paint has been worn down to the bare silver of the Beskar. There’s similar paint wear on the shoulder pieces, the gauntlets, and the knee piece. The back piece seems to have remained curiously unscathed, and I’m wondering if that’s just because Hasbro forgot to weather it. Cobb also sports an orange gunbelt, with a low slung holster hanging off his right hip.

The head sculpt here is excellent, and an all around solid likeness for Timothy Olyphant. The paint on his beard is a rather splotchy, and it doesn’t look like they used the half-tone printing for it, but the eyes and eyebrows look great and I have to say I really dig The Marshall’s coif. I may take a picture of him with me the next time I go to the barber and ask them to give me the Cobb. The Marshall also sports a sculpted plastic bandana, which hangs around his neck.

Extra Boba bits include the jetpack and the helmet. The jetpack pegs into the back of the figure, with two additional tabs to secure it. I’m not all that sold on the coloring here, although with the lighting in the episode, it’s hard for me to dismiss it out of hand. The blue bits looked more green to me, and the yellow and white too bright. Whatever the case, the paint here just looks a bit too bright and cheery. The silver weathering does, however, look on point. The rocket sculpt is certainly accurate to the one Cobb used to blow up the speeder full of Mining Guards, and it is removable.

The helmet, on the other hand, is just gorgeous in the way they recreated all the chipped paint and bubbling rust. I’m also very fond of the deep metallic red paint they used for the area surrounding the visor. The range finder is even hinged! Very nice!

Marshall Vanth comes with two weapons, the first of which is his pistol. This is really nothing special, as it’s a bit of a chunky sculpt with some soft details to it. The design at least retains the Western flavor, making it somewhat reminiscent of an old revolver. I like that it has a lanyard ring dangling off the bottom of the grip.

He also comes with a rifle, which is much more interesting. This one has plenty of detail and sculpted white wraps around the grip and up near the muzzle. and what appears to be some type of scope.

One of the things I dig about The Mandalorian so much was it’s steady stream of interesting and relatable side characters, and The Marshall is just another great example of this. Naturally, I was happy to see him get a figure in The Black Series, and doubly happy to see that Hasbro did him proud. I would have liked the jetpack coloring to be a little more sedate, and maybe have more detail in the pistol sculpt, but overall I think this figure turned out great. I’m not sure if I will pony up for a double-dip if Hasbro does him again without Fett’s armor, but I guess I’d have to see the figure first.

Star Wars Black Series: Boba Fett (Tython) and Fennec Shand by Hasbro

What can I say about The Book of Boba Fett that hasn’t already been said? Aside from the two episodes of The Mandalorian that got shoe-horned into the middle of it, the show was a profound disappointment, and a huge waste of an opportunity. It had a few flourishes of greatness surrounded by a whole lotta nothing. It felt like someone playing a Boba Fett tabletop RPG and not knowing what to do with it. Someone visits Boba at his throne. Boba leaves his throne. He walks somewhere, he gets attacked or something else happens, then he goes back to his throne. Pepper liberally with flashbacks, and there ya go. With that having been said, at least the two figures I’m checking out today had their moments to shine in The Mandalorian, before their own series would sputter out of the gates.

These figures actually come from both series, with Boba billed as from The Mandalorian, and Fennec from The Book of Boba Fett, but they both work well as being from The Mandalorian: Chapter 14, The Tragedy. As usual, you get some nice character art on the angled side of the boxes. Let’s start with Boba.

I was funning around on Twitter with this figure by asking when Uncle Fester became a Jedi, because straight out of the box, I wasn’t all that impressed. The robe looked puffy, and with Boba’s bald head nestled on top, that was the image that came instantly to mind. But after fiddling with the robes and checking out what’s underneath, I really opened up to this figure quite a bit.

On more than a few occasions, I’ve beaten up on Hasbro for not using softgoods enough in this line, so to criticize them on one of the examples where they do, is probably a little disingenuous of me. With a little futzing, I actually think the robe looks fine. It’s well tailored, I like the rough edges, and the hood is a little tough to control when it’s down behind his head, which is pretty much where I want it to be all the time. I actually would have preferred if Hasbro stitched it down to make it look better, but I guess it’s nice to have the option to be worn up.

I was extremely surprised and delighted to see how much sculpting there is under the cloth. You get a tunic with flared shoulders, and textured with vertical stripes, and sculpted robes hanging down around his legs, with the same rough-cut edges as the cloth robe. He has a wide belt with cartridges for his rifle and a shoulder strap, and finally a working holster for his pistol hanging on his right hip. I think the boots are supposed to be the same ones he wears when he’s kitted out in the Mandalorian armor, or at least they look familiar.

I think the head sculpt is OK, with a solid likeness to Temuera Morrison. It makes use of the modern printing technology for the facial features, which looks fine to the naked eye, but gets a little blurry as you punch in closer. I think my favorite thing about the portrait is the scars, which are sculpted rather than just painted. You also get some whiter skin tone around them.

Boba comes with three weapons, the first of which is a pistol that fits into the holster. The design is pretty distinctive, with what I presume is a scope running along the top of the barrel. The grip is also painted wood.

Next up, you get his Tusken Cycler Rifle. This is a great looking accessory, with some decent detail in the sculpt. I like the gold painted bands that are spaced along the barrel. The stock is painted brown, and the scope is painted gray. The carry strap is a plastic, and does a good job at not being too obtrusive. On the downside, it’s tough to get him to assume an aiming posture by drawing the gun up to his cheek.

And finally, Boba comes with the Gaffi stick that we would later see him craft in The Book of Boba Fett flashbacks. I don’t have a lot to say about the stick, other than it is cast in very soft plastic and it’s prone to bending and warping. There’s a string tied around it at each end to serve as a carry strap. OK… Let’s move on to Fennec!

Overall, I enjoy Fennec Shand as a character. She’s stoic and seemingly bad tempered at first, but she softens up a bit as the series moves on. Unfortunately, she’s mostly written in the same key as Boba, and while she serves to offer him some contrary advice from time to time, I think their relationship could have used a bit more chemistry. With that having been said, I dig her character design, and this figure does a fairly nice job bringing that to life in plastic. Her outfit has a very layered look to it, with a sort of half-tunic over her shoulders and chest, and a skirt hanging off her waist down to about her knees. There’s a lot of great texture work going on here, with some opposing geometric patterns in both the tunic and skirt. She also has a control box sculpted onto her belt, and a smaller, simpler one sculpted on her right chest. The costume is a mix of matte and gloss black, with some orange accents and striping. The deco here reminded me of something, which I couldn’t put my finger on until I sat down to write this and realized it’s similar to the deco used for the evil Programs in TRON: LEGACY.

The portrait isn’t quite spot on, but it’s not terrible. There’s a passing resemblance to Ming-Na Wen, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk. If you handed me this head out of context, I’d say I would have a pretty good chance of identifying who it’s supposed to be, so I guess that counts for something. They did a decent job with her hair, especially the few strands that are sculpted down the right side of her face, and the ponytail, which snakes from around the back of her neck and down the front of her right shoulder. My biggest gripe here is with the ears. They look weird and unfinished.

She comes with her helmet, which is cast in soft, pliable plastic and easily slides on over her head. It’s a perfect fit, with the eyes lining up with the slit right where they should. It’s painted black and orange, and it’s a simple sculpt that matches the simple design of the screen used prop, and reminds me of a cross between a knight’s helm and a motorcycle helmet. I do think it looks a little funny with the ponytail hanging out from under it, but that’s not the figure’s fault. With all the fighting Fennec must do, it doesn’t seem like a good idea for her to have something that an opponent could grab hold of in a scuffle.

I was a bit worried that the nature of Fennec’s costume would hinder her articulation, but the skirt doesn’t get in the way much at all, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she’s a fun figure to play around with.

Other than her helmet, Fennec only comes with one other accessory: Her sniper rifle, with a plastic carry strap. I love the design of the gun, but the carry strap is rather awkward. It’s pretty chunky, and it’s hard to get it to sit right on the figure without it getting in the way. Fortunately it’s only pegged into the rifle, so you can take it off. I’ll most likely cast it aside and display Fennec holding her gun most of the time. As for the rifle itself, it’s cast in black plastic, with no additional paint operations, but you get some great detail in that sculpt! The scope is extremely intricate, and you can even see what looks like a fire selector just above the trigger guard area.

All in all, I think both of these figures turned out pretty well. This isn’t really the version of Boba Fett that I was jonesing for the most, even though this was how he looked when he had some real badass moments kicking the shit out of Stormtroopers on Tython. This figure will really just be a placeholder until I get the figure of him wearing his armor. As for Fennec, I don’t think there’s any need for her to get another figure, as this one does a fine job capturing the way she looks through most of the series.

Star Wars Black Series (The Clone Wars): Cad Bane by Hasbro

I’ve never been a big fan of The Clone Wars. I’ve tried watching it a few times, but it just never clicked. I think a lot of it has to do with the goofy stylized look of the characters and the fact that it builds off the Prequels. Nonetheless, I became familiar with a lot of the new characters through osmosis and toy marketing, and it’s cool to see some of them bleeding over into other Star Wars media.

One of those characters is Cad Bane, although the figure I’m looking at today was released before his live action appearance on The Mandalorian. Cad tickles my fancy, because I’m a fan of Westerns in general and Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films in particular. It’s only natural that a character that marries The Old West and Star Wars would be right up my ally!

And boy did Hasbro do justice to this guy! The figure perfectly captures the essence of the intergalactic high plains drifter, with some excellent layering and wonderful attention to detail in the sculpt. For starters, the form-fitting trench coat is cast in soft plastic and has the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. It cuts off at the waist in the front, but trails down to his ankles in the back. It’s a great design, as it not only seems practical in the way it gives him easy access to his guns, but it also doesn’t inhibit the figure’s hip movement. The jacket has a little texturing sculpted in, and I really dig the silver corners on the lapels and lower flaps, which look like reinforced steel tips. My only real complaint about the coat is that the arm holes are too large. At certain angles, it can ruin the effect that the arms are supposed to be sleeves.

As for the rest of the figure, Cad has a sculpted vest under his jacket with two rows of what I presume are power cartridges for his pistols, a satchel hanging on a shoulder strap, two low-slung pistol holsters, and some cool electro gauntlets on his forearms, which have assorted controls on them to access his flamethrower and all sorts of other fun gadgets. Finally, he has a pair of jets attached to the sides of his boots for when he has to skedaddle in a hurry, or head someone off at the pass! That’s western talk!!!

One look at the portrait, and there’s no mistaking that Cad is from Duros, with his bright blue skin, large red eyes, and absence of a nose. His squint and snarl are textbook Clint Eastwood, right off the poster for The Outlaw Josey Wales! He also has two breathing tubes attached to his cheeks, which connect to a control box behind his neck. His distinctive mug is topped off with a wide-brimmed hat, which is removable.

Bane comes with his trusty pair of LL-30 blaster pistols. These are great looking little accessories, especially if you like the smooth and simplified design of the older period Star Wars weapons. They fit perfectly in the holsters, and he has gun-toting hands so he can dual wield them. It would have been great to get his carbine too, but I could always find him something.

I tend to limit myself to only buying characters in the Star Wars shows and movies that I enjoy. These days, that’s The Original Trilogy, The Mandalorian, and Rogue One, but every now and then I have to make an exception. In this case, Cad Bane is not only a cool looking character, but Hasbro nailed this figure so well, that I couldn’t resist having him on the shelf. And now that he’s made an appearance in The Mandalorian, I do believe I’ll have him on display with that collection!

Star Wars “The Mandalorian:” AT-ST Raider (#75254) by LEGO

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s been more than five years since I last built and reviewed a LEGO set here on FFZ. And while LEGO has been out of the picture here, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been picking up the odd set here and there over those years. And having recently moved, I’ve unearthed some of those sets from storage and decided that it was time to build some of them and check them out. So, let’s have a look at the AT-ST Raider from The Mandalorian!

Full disclosure: The main reason I bought this set was because it turned up on clearance and I just couldn’t resist it. I would have much rather picked up the Hoth AT-ST that’s still on the shelves now, but I’m just a sucker for discount LEGO, and it is still an AT-ST. This one is based off Chapter 4 from the first season, titled Sanctuary. I wouldn’t say that I actually disliked any episode of The Mandalorian yet, but Sanctuary was probably my least favorite. It was just really cliched, but at least it had an AT-ST going for it. Anyway, this set consists of 540 pieces, spread out over four numbered bags, which build the AT-ST itself and four Mini-figs! It’s been a while, so let me see if I remember how to do this… oh, yeah… LET’S START WITH THE MINI-FIGS!!!

You get two heroes and two villains, which would make this a well-balanced battle in a box if it weren’t for the giant AT-ST. The heroes consist of The Mandalorian himself and Cara Dune, both of which were good incentive for me to pick up this set. They both look great, and don’t involve any surprise pieces. Mando has a cape, but does not have a printed face under that helmet, just a black head slug. The printing on both figures costumes is nice, and I like Cara’s smirk, while she also has a bit of a snarl as her other face. Cara’s rifle is great, but I’m not as impressed with Mando’s. I guess this is supposed to be his disintegration rifle, with the claw serving as the tuning-fork style barrel, but that’s a bit of a reach. But, even with that nitpick, I love these figs!

For the villains, you get a pair of Klatooinian Raiders, and these guys are pretty damn cool too. Their legs feature the same printing for both, but their torsos are each unique. One has a helmet and a road-warrior style piece of spiked shoulder armor, while the other one just has this weird neck piece. You get an impressive rifle and two pistols for these guys. But do you really need guns, when you have this…

This is my first time building a LEGO AT-ST, so I can’t speak to whether or not this is the same build as the Hoth one, but it is a very impressive model. The scale on the AT-ST feels just right, as it could easily step on a Mini-fig if they get underfoot. The build was pretty fun, with the only redundancy being in the legs, and the model mixes things up a little bit with different colored bricks to show the custom work done on this beast. You also get some exposed cables for the left leg, which is a great little touch.

The legs are a fairly technical build, and the design kept me interested in exactly what they were doing with all the support pieces. It is, however, a little deceptive, as during the build, I believed that I was creating a lot of articulated joints, when in reality the only articulation in the legs is in the “knees” up near the top. I though that would be disappointing, but it’s really not, as I appreciate the stability of this model. It stands rock solid, and I doubt that would have been the case with a lot of working joints in the legs. And I’ll throw it out there again, how much I dig the custom color pieces, which are also helped along by some well-placed stickers.

One of the biggest surprises of this build was the way the body goes together. It isn’t a solid box, but rather the sides just kind of hang on the front and back pieces. This means there are notable gaps where these connect, which become very obvious when looking inside the cabin, but is also pretty apparent from the outside too. It doesn’t deter my enjoyment of the model at all, but it’s an interesting design choice, nonetheless. There is an action gimmick with a knob on the back of platform that can be used to rotate the head left and right. The weapons are also all articulated, so you can swivel the cheek guns, raise and lower the chin guns, and there are two flick-fire missiles hidden on each side of the chin guns.

Like the old Kenner toy, the entire top of the body lifts up to give you access to the cabin, but there’s also a hatch that can be opened as well. There’s actually room inside for both Mini-figs, even though in the episode, the AT-ST was some kind of robotic drone. I like that there are hand rails on each side of the hatch, so you can snap a Mini-figs hand onto it and it will hold him in place popping his head through the hatch. The window armor plates are also articulated, and can angle up or down.

This was a great set to come back to after being away from LEGO for so long. I’d say it took me about an hour or so to build, but I was having some drinks and taking my time. The instructions were well illustrated, and I was able to get through it without making any stupid mistakes or swearing up and down that I got shorted a piece, only to find it a minute later. Yeah, that happens to me a lot! I don’t remember what this sold for originally, but $22 was the magic number that got me to take it home, and I’m very glad I did. It’s a fun build, has some solid Mini-figs, and the AT-ST is a great model with plenty of play potential.

Star Wars Vintage Collection (The Mandalorian): Beskar Armor Mandalorian and The Child by Hasbro

Well, I said I’d be back on Friday and here I am! I’m really pressed for time and I’m still trying to sort out a new photo studio, so I’m shooting guerilla style and not terribly happy with the results. After getting used to the same setup for a decade, it’s been tough adjusting, but I’m working on it. And the show must go on, so here we go! I’ve been strictly a carded collector of the Vintage Collection Mandalorian figures, but I bought doubles of Mando and The Child to open for my Razor Crest, because I didn’t want to open the ones that came with it. I don’t think I realized at the time that the Razor Crest Mando figure wasn’t carded, but let’s tear these open anyway and have a look! And YES! I do hope to get around to that look at the Razor Crest eventually!

I do love me some Vintage Collection cards, which is why I don’t buy all the TVC releases. I just can’t bring myself to open these unless I have doubles. Right now I’m only collecting The Mandalorian and Rogue One releases, so that helps a bit. These cards look great, and The Mandalorian title surrounded by the Star Wars silver border just looks perfect! Let’s start with Mando himself!

This is Mando after he got all blinged out with the mostly new Beskar armor and I have to say the detail in this little guy is pretty damn impressive. You get sculpted wrinkles in the jumpsuit and the armor pieces have a convincing depth to them that looks like they are actually being worn on top, even though they are all just part of the body sculpt. The silver paint here looks nice, and I dig the worn orange splatter and dull gray used for the old right thigh piece. He’s got weapon cartridges around his leg and on his shoulder strap, and a working holster for his pistol!

The cape is cast in plastic, but it still works well with the peg that attaches the rifle to his back. The rifle should be angled more across his back, but I found it works better almost straight up and down. The Razor Crest version has an actual soft goods cape, and we’ll see how that turned out when I check out that figure with the ship. Admittedly, the articulation on this smaller figure is a lot less satisfying than handling a Black Series version. The hips don’t have a lot of range of motion, and there’s a terrible pull on the left thigh swivel leaving an unsightly gap. Still, all in all I dig him.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the helmet. It looks good and the paint is sharp as long as you don’t get in too close. Again, the quality of the silver they used here looks great and has just enough sheen to it. I also love the detail on the shoulder sigil.

The rifle is a solid sculpt, and the paint is pretty impressive for such a small accessory. Hasbro doesn’t always invest this level of paint operations on the 6-inch accessories, so this sure ain’t bad! Mando’s gun hand is mainly intended for the pistol, but with a little work, I was able to get it to work with the rifle.

The pistol fits snugly in the holster as well as in Mando’s right gun hand. There isn’t a lot to say about this accessory, other than it’s painted silver and has a pretty soft sculpt, but is certainly passable.

Finally, you get the jetpack, which is designed to peg into the back in a slot that is off-set to accommodate the cape. It stays on well, but I feel it works best without the cape. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to combine a jetpack and a cape anyway. You’re just asking to set yourself on fire! Let’s move on to Grogu!

OK, so this little guy doesn’t look like much when you punch in close like this, but it’s such an unbelievably tiny figure, that I have to give Hasbro props for doing such a nice job on him. He certainly looks a lot better in hand with the naked eye. And he actually has three points of articulation, with the arms ball jointed at the shoulders and the neck ball jointed as well. The arms do, however, pull out fairly easily and if they happen to hit the floor, they are so tiny it could be difficult to find them again. My only real complaint here is that they painted whites in his eyes, when they should really be all black.

The hover pram is also a nice little piece of kit. It has a clear plastic stand to create the hovering effect, and the blanket inside is sculpted with tiny rumples and even some sharp texturing. You also get a removable cover if you want to close it all the way up. Grogu fits in it quite well and looks great in there.

I don’t review a whole lot of 4-inch figures these days, so it’s fun to go back to them every now and again. To be honest, the only reason I collect any of these is either to keep them carded or to stock a specific vehicle or playset. I find that I just get a lot more enjoyment out of the 6-inch versions these days. They’re easier to handle, more fun to pose, and they tend to allow for more detail and better paint apps. With all that having been said, these two are pretty cool little figures, and I’ll work them into one of my displays somewhere.

Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): Remnant Stormtrooper and Artillery Stormtrooper by Hasbro

The Mandalorian may be in hiatus, but that’s not stopping us from getting some great figures from the series. I’ve checked out a few figures from Hot Toys offerings, but I’ve also got a small stack from Hasbro’s 6-inch Black Series and 3 3/4-inch Vintage Collection. And some of them are Stormtroopers! I LOVE STORMTROOPERS!!! I don’t open the Vintage Collection stuff, but I’ll get around to showing it off one day when I’m short on time, but the Black Series is all fair game to tear into!

At the beginning of the year, I took a look at Hasbro’s excellent new Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper from The Mandalorian. These new recruits are basically variants built off of that updated figure. The Remnant Stormtrooper has been out for a little while, but the Artillery Stormtrooper just arrived and as far as I know is an Amazon Exclusive! I’m going to start with the Remnant Trooper since I don’t have a whole lot to say about him.

As expected, The Remnant is just a dirtied up repaint of the updated Stormtrooper, and that’s fine! I’ll refer you to that earlier review for all the improvements on articulation and tweaks to the sculpt that this Stormtrooper body introduced. Here, the once pristine white armor is now marred with chipping and some very light brownish-orange spray. Everything just looks delightfully flatter and grungier than the regular Stormy, and shows off what happens when you can’t hop on The Empire’s website and order fresh replacement armor for your goons. The chipping is heaviest on the helmet and left shoulder, as well as the upper thigh pieces. There’s also a smattering of it elsewhere. I think the chipping looks great, but I thought it odd how little there is on the back. Indeed, apart from the heavy chipping on the back of the left thigh piece, the back of the armor is almost totally clean. It kind of looks like Hasbro just forgot to do the back, except for that one piece.

The newer helmet sculpt still looks great, although I’ve spoken to a few people who preferred the older one. To be honest, I don’t really have a preference, and I’m fine intermingling my Black Series troopers with each other. The painted details are pretty sharp, and as for accuracy, I’m not enough of a Star Wars gearhead to notice a lot of the subtle differences. Not to mention, I would imagine there were lots of variations in the screen used props over the years.

Hasbro has been pretty good about making The Mandalorian Stormtroopers accessible. And I was able to pick up three of these guys without any difficulty. It’s not nearly as many of the regular Stormies I got when they released, but this was a rare case where my good senses told me to be happy with three. It would have been cool if they varied up the distress to the armor, but I can appreciate how that would be costly for a mass-produced action figure, and the fact that these three suits just happened to chip in all the exact same spots doesn’t really phase me. I still wish they had kept the holster for the E-11 Blasters from the original Black Series Stormies, but otherwise I love these guy a lot! OK, let’s move on to the star of the show… The Artillery Stormtrooper!

This guy made his appearance in Episode 14, The Tragedy, and as his name suggests, he’s basically a mortar specialist. Once again, we get the new Stormtrooper with improved articulation and the lack of an E-11 holster, and distinguished by both the yellow markings on his armor and the yellow officer’s pauldron on his right shoulder. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I am not a fan of carrying the specialized armor markings from The Clone Wars over to the Imperial Stormtroopers. It felt like a cheap excuse to sell toys back then, and it still does. It’s the kind of thing I expect to see in a video game so the player can tell what kind of enemy they’re dealing with. And it’s especially weird to see it just appearing now in The Mandalorian after never turning up in The Original Trilogy. I think the yellow pauldron would have been enough, and it’s the main reason I’m skipping the Hot Toys releases of this guy and the Incinerator Trooper. And yet with all that being said, I still dig this guy well enough.

There are no notable changes to the helmet, apart from the added yellow markings, which looks like he’s dipped his face in a bucket of mustard. I do really like the sculpt and coloring on the pauldron! The subtle creases where the strap is pulling at it is a really nice touch.

His specialist equipment consists of a backpack and the mortar. The pack holds four “mortar shells,” which I think are just supposed to be the thermal detonators that the regular Stormtroopers wear on the back of their belts. Three of these are sculpted into the pack, but the one on the far right can be removed and loaded into the mortar. The horizontal yellow cylinder looks like it could be some kind of specialty shell, but I’m not sure. The pack plugs into the “O I” on the backpack and it stays put pretty well. There are some fixtures on the sides, which look like brackets, but it doesn’t appear to be designed to hold the mortar, which is a shame.

The mortar is pretty big and features a ball joint at the base and a hinged bi-pod. It stands pretty well and I love the fact that you can load it. “Fire in the hole!!!” Normally, I would have preferred to be manning the WEB Blaster, but after seeing how that thing can be taken out with one well placed shot to the power source, I’m thinking these mortars might be the better way to go. Your far from the action, and accuracy doesn’t really count as much. You really just have to worry about one of those filthy space wizards using The Force to toss the shell back at you. But what are the odds of running into one of those these days, right?

In addition to all the mortar gear, this fellow also comes with a standard E-11 Blaster, which is the same one issued to the Stormtroopers, both Remnant and otherwise. But seriously, is there a petition somewhere to bring back the holsters?

For someone who ran out of space a long time ago, I sure love to troop build! It’s totally irrational, but I just can’t help myself. I think it stems from back when I was a kid and the biggest pie-in-the-sky dream I could have was to have a dozen Stormtroopers for my Rebels to fight. And here i am now with no one to stop me! I’m content with just the one Artillery Stormtrooper, but I can’t say I wouldn’t pick up a couple more Remnant Troopers if they cross my path. Either way, these are great figures and a fine addition to anyone’s Imperial Forces!

Star Wars “Rogue One” Shoretrooper Squad Leader Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I could go on and on, recounting all the things that I love about Rogue One! But today, let’s go with Reason #1,256: New Troopers! The film gave us some brand spanking new Imperial Troops, all of which were conspicuously absent from The Original Trilogy, but I’m sure they’ll get digitally inserted in an upcoming Extra Special Edition. And while the Deathtroopers were probably my favorite additions, the Shoretroopers that were introduced on Scarif are a close second! And here comes Hot Toys to prey on my weaknesses by releasing both a Shoretrooper and the Squad Leader as well. The regular trooper isn’t due to ship until early next year, but the Squad Leader arrived on my front stoop a couple of days ago! Time to hit the beach and kick over some Rebel sandcastles!

Here’s the part of the review where I lament the bland and boring packaging we always get with the Star Wars Hot Toys, so let’s just say I did and be done with it. You’ll note that nowhere on the package is it branded as a Rogue One figure, and maybe that’s because these fellows made an appearance in The Mandalorian. That’s also probably why they’re now being called Shoretroopers, instead of Scarif Stormtroopers. Eh, it’s all marketing in the end. But, it’s worth noting that the official copy on Sideshow’s website makes the link to Rogue One, so that’s good enough for me. Not that it matters, because I’m more or less all in on both Rogue One and Mandalorian Hot Toys.

The Squad Leader shares a similar suit to his rank-and-file underlings. The big difference is the lack of the ammo pouch and hip armor, and the addition of the black cloth kama that hangs down to about his knees, and covers his butt. The Leader also features some coloring to his upper armor, with light blue on the tops of his shoulders and a light blue bar running across the top of his chest. He’s also got a white band on his left shoulder, and a red bicep guard on his right arm with three yellow bars. Otherwise, his armor is a sandy tan color with some pretty heavy and convincing weathering effects. The paint on this guy is just great, and it’s backed up by some excellent detail, particularly in the shallow backpack unit.

As for the armor itself, the suit falls somewhere in between the full armor of a regular Stormtrooper and the abbreviated armor of the Scout Troopers. The Shoretrooper enjoys the extra protection of lower leg and forearm armor, but the rest offers more or less the same protection as the Scout has. As usual, the figure is comprised of an undersuit with the plastic armor pieces worn on top and held on either by elastic straps or friction. Above the waist, the body suit is black, but the exposed trousers are brown. About the only thing I don’t much like on this fella is are the boots, which strike me as looking more like brown loafers than combat boots. But, they are still accurate to the design, so it’s hard to fault the figure.

The helmet is also an excellent sculpt and the paint is once again on point. Hell, no matter where you look, the paint just sells this figure so well. You get scoring and abrasions, and just general soiling. It looks like this guy has seen more than his share of action. All it’s really missing is some dried seagull poop! The helmet design is obviously influenced by the Scout Trooper helmet, but the angular plates over the cheeks make it look quite distinctive, as does the reinforced blast shield, which rests above the visor on the forehead. It’s a shame that the blast shield isn’t articulated here, as it would have been cool to be able to drop it down over the visor. But to quote a certain farmboy, then they couldn’t even see… so how are they supposed to fight? I do feel like the neck is a little too long and thin, but that’s mostly only noticeable to me when the figure is viewed from the back.

Rank may have its privileges, but unfortunately it doesn’t mean the Squad Leader gets a lot of extra stuff. Indeed, a lack of extras seems to be a continued sticking point for me and these Imperial Troopers. In this case you get three pairs of hands: Relaxed, Fists, and Gun-toting… plus you get the gun for those hands to tote. Oh, but what a magnificent gun it is! Sure, the E-11 Blaster is iconic as all hell, but this E-22 reciprocating double-barrel blaster rifle is one sexy piece of ordinance. It’s a much beefier and far more intimidating weapon than the ones carried by their vanilla Stormtrooper cousins, and this is an absolutely beautiful sculpt. There are no articulated or removable parts on the weapon, but it does come with a shoulder strap, and features some very nice weathering.

What’s our last stop on every Hot Toys review? You got it! The Stand! In this case it’s the usual rectangle with a silver name plate on the front. You get an illustrated sticker that can be placed onto the base, or you can omit it in favor of what looks more like the deck plate of an Imperial Star Destroyer. There’s also an optional piece to give the base an angled front that is flush with the name plate. As with the packaging, the name plate does not have any Rogue One branding, but rather just says Star Wars and Shoretrooper Squad Leader. The stand consists of your standard adjustable crotch-cradle, which works well with the figure.

I love this figure! He’s a great addition to my Sixth-Scale Imperial Troops, and you bet your beskar that I already have the regular Shoretrooper on pre-order. In addition to the great sculpt, tailoring, and paint, there’s very little in the outfit to hinder his articulation, making him a lot more fun to play with than the more restrictive suited Hot Toys. But I will admit that the price is really catching up with these guys. $230 just seems high for a figure that comes with so little in the way of extras, and doesn’t have an actual portrait. I consider the likeness and portrait to be a huge part of a Hot Toys figure’s budget, and when they’re just doing a helmet, it seems like that should save on the cost a bit. Plus, I think this armor is mostly the same as the Assault Tank Commander, so they’re already getting multiple uses out of it. I seem to recall the last two Hot Toys Stormtroopers I bought were around $200-220, and I think this figure should have shipped around $10 to $15 less than it did. But what the hell, they still got me to buy it, so I guess they know what they’re doing.

Star Wars “The Mandalorian” Scout Trooper Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

The Mandalorian sure has been getting a lot of my Hot Toys money these days, and as long as they keep the figures coming, I don’t see myself stopping. In addition to some of the main characters, we’ve been seeing plenty of Imperial troops, which should appeal to the wider Star Wars collecting audience as well. Most notably, we’ve seen some Rogue One troops resurface, and now the Scout Trooper! These guys distinguished themselves in a stand out scene of self-depricating and banter, which definitely helped to push this release to the top of my list.

The Scout Trooper comes in the usual boring and minimalist shoebox with a printed wraparound band. Yeah, I pick on the Hot Toys Star Wars presentation a lot, but it’s fine. Inside, the figure is laid out on a vac-formed plastic tray. The Scout was available in this single release or as a wallet-busting Deluxe set with the Speeder Bike and some extras. I went with the single release to see how he turned out, and that’s the one I’m checking out today!

If you’ve had any experience with Hot Toys Stormtroopers, then a lot about the Scout should feel familiar to you. Of course, these guys feature much less armor, allowing them increased mobility, not to mention being lighter and more suited to piloting the Speeder Bikes. This figure makes use of a black body suit with all the armor and gear worn on top of it. The suit is more loose than the traditional Stormtrooper suits, but it’s immaculately tailored and fits well. It even includes some stitched pockets in the legs.

The armor consists of a cuirass, backplate, shoulders, arm plates, knee and elbow guards, and hip pieces, all of which are cast in a pretty sturdy plastic with some decent weathering effects. Additional gear includes a quilted cloth cumberbund and codpiece, with a pair of large utility pouches. The utility belt is plastic, with clasps holding the hip pieces on, and the gauntlets are cast in plastic to simulate leather. The boots feature hard plastic feet with a soft plastic material for the tops, which close up along the backs with velcro. They look good, and serve to obscure the split-cut in the boots that improves ankle articulation for those wider stances. As you can no doubt tell from the pictures, the armor and boots feature significant weathering. The grunge is pretty convincing, and while I don’t think they over did it, if you’re looking for a clean and prestine Scout Trooper, this one is certainly not going to fit that bill.

The thermal detonator pack is the only part of the Trooper’s gear that needs to be attached when you get him out of the box. It clips ontot he belt rather simply, but it took me a while to get it on, because the belt curves and the clip doesn’t. Still, once it’s on it stays put. There’s some nice detail on this piece, and I do like that it’s removable even if I doubt I ever will, since I don’t want to bother with getting it clipped back on again.

The helmet sculpt looks pretty similar to what we saw in the good old days on Endor. I’m sure there have got to be some differences, but there’s nothing that really stands out to me. It has been pointed out that this helmet is sculpted with a noticeable gap where the faceplate meets the head piece. Apparently that was done intentionally to mimic the fact that the Scout Troopers’ helmets in the series didn’t close up all the way either. Yeah, I had to re-watch that scene to catch it, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have picked up on that if it wasn’t brought to my attention. The helmet has more of that weathered dusting, and while it looks good, I think this helmet is dirtier than the on screen counterpart. The visor has a nice sheen to it.

If you’re looking for a dirth of accessories, prepare to be disappointed, because this guy comes with the bare minimum. You get several sets of hands, most of which felt so inconsequential that I barely changed any out for the pictures in this review. But trust me, you do get extra hands! You also get the standard EC-17 pistol, which fits into the holster on his lower right leg. The pistol features an excellent sculpt, but it doesn’t feature any articulation or removable parts like we sometimes get with Hot Toys weapons. It stays put in the holster very well, and the right gun-hand is a perfect fit without causing any stress when placing it in or removing it from his grip. Sadly, it does not rattle like a spray paint can when you shake it!

One of the coolest things about this figure is how well articulated he is. Sure, technically all Hot Toys are well articulated, but their costumes usually inhibit a lot of that range of motion. That’s not the case here, and that makes this fellow a lot of fun to play around with. That’s not something I can often say about my Hot Toys. There isn’t much need to worry about stressing the costume, so you can even keep him in action poses indefinitely without fear of damage to the suit. And because of the lighter armor, he has a much better range of movement than the traditional Stormtroopers.

And what’s our last stop on any Hot Toys review? Yup, the stand! You get the typical crotch-cradle stand with a rectangular base. The top of the base has a textured terrain covering with footprints to position his feet. The nameplate is in silver and simply states Star Wars: Scout Trooper without mentioning The Mandalorian.

It’s awesome that The Mandalorian is giving Hot Toys a reason to revisit some traditional Imperial troop designs, especially since I think this release improves on the Sideshow Scout Trooper from a little while ago. Indeed, the only thing I can really find to complain about here is the price. The regular Imperial Stormtrooper from a couple years ago released at under $200. The Remnant Stormtrooper was $205. The Scout Trooper here was $220. I wouldn’t be so picky about the price if they had thrown in a sniper rifle, but they didn’t have them in the series, so I guess it wasn’t considered essential. Still, if you want this fellow with a Speeder Bike, it’ll set you back another $220, and you’d have to be crazy to do that, right? Yeah… I did that too. So, we’ll be able to have a look at the bike when that set ships in a month or so.