Star Wars Black: Imperial AT-ST and Driver (Walmart Exclusive) by Hasbro

It’s hard to believe that it was five years ago that I reviewed the Vintage Collection AT-ST from Hasbro. FIVE YEARS AGO!?! While that toy had a number of good points, like the expanded driver cabin, I came away without being terribly impressed with it, mainly because it didn’t stand on its own very well at all, and the deco leaved something to be desired. When Hasbro re-released it as a Walmart Exclusive as part of the Star Wars Black Series, it was an easy pass because of the crazy price. I seem to recall they were asking sixty dollars for this thing! But when it later hit a certain online toy e-tailer for $25, well I couldn’t resist giving it another go. Oh, and keep in mind, while I’m referring back to the Vintage Collection release a lot, this toy first saw release way back in 2009 as part of the Legacy Collection.

It’s hard to beat the Vintage Collection packaging of the K-Mart Exclusive AT-ST, and this one doesn’t even try. It comes in a window box, so you do get a good look at the toy itself, but the minimalist black and red Black Series deco does nothing for me. There’s some monochrome art on the front and the cardboard behind the tray has some faint background scenes, but it just feels like lazy package design. Thanks to the high price point, these must have been a retail disaster for Walmart. They even had an entire endcap of them at my local Wally World, and that place almost never has any Hasbro Exclusives. They were on clearance too, but nowhere near as low as the price I got mine for. Unlike the VC version, there’s no assembly required here and the toy comes right out of the box and ready to go. I rarely ever start out reviews with comparisons, but lets just go for it.

Here they are side by side, with the new Black Series version on the left and good old Shitty-feet from the Vintage Collection on the right. Does that nickname refer to the fact that it can’t stand on his own or the fact that it actually looks like it’s been standing in feces? You decide, there is no wrong answer. I had planned to take more pictures for comparison, but I literally could not get the VC version to stand for more than a couple shots before getting really frustrated and tossing it aside. They are identical molds as far as I can tell and the only real differences are in the decos. The new one is cast in a much paler gray plastic and has what looks like a sandy spray on its feet, legs, and head. There’s also no battle damage on the SWB version, and it has a completely black butt.

Which deco do I like better? Well, it can’t be that easy can it? To be honest, I prefer the darker gray plastic of the earlier release, and I do like the scorch mark on the head. The old deco would have been a slam dunk as the favorite if it weren’t for the heavy mud on the feet, which I think looks really bad. The paler gray plastic on the new one looks a little cheaper and the weathering spray isn’t all that convincing to me. In the end, neither is perfect and ideally, I would have liked a compromise between the two. Each AT-ST definitely looks like its been hanging out in a different environment, so the VC release could clearly be from Endor and the newer release looks like it has seen action on a barren planet. Maybe even Jedha? That’s kind of cool. On the other hand, if you plan on picking this one up to beef up your Imperial ranks, I don’t think they display well together because of the obvious differences in weathering. OK, so let’s get to the Star Wars Black version all by itself…

Straightaway, I have to say the stability on this toy is a hundred times better than what I got on my VC version. I don’t know if they just tightened up the joints or redesigned the ratchets, but this baby will stand and even pose with very little difficulty and that fix alone makes it a very welcome re-release. The detail on the sculpt is great in some areas, but feels a little wanting in others. I said it back when I reviewed the previous release, and I’ll reiterate here that I’m still amazed at how well the original Kenner toy holds up in that regard. As a result the detail here doesn’t feel like a huge leap forward over the original vintage toy. I don’t think that’s a slight against this toy, but rather just shows that the original was so well done. With that having been said, you get some nice detailing on the sides of the legs and the back of the head.

That’s not to say there isn’t improvement. Gone is the hokey Kenner walking gimmick and in its place is a pretty cool and complex network of articulation for the legs. The tops of the legs don’t connect directly to the body, but rather to articulated struts that can move away from the body. This adds a cool element of stabilization that would probably have to be present for this fictional vehicle to work well. In addition to that, you get ratcheting joints in the tops of the legs, at the first bend, again down near the ankles, and again at the ankles. I’ll admit, the toy could have really used some swivels or rockers at the ankles to make it able to stand in more extreme poses, but it gets by pretty well as it is.

The head design features two different cheek weapons. On the right hand side, there’s a grenade launcher and a cluster of blasters on the left. Both of these can rotate. The windows also have hinged armor plates that can be left open or buttoned up for combat. The stock chin gun can rotate left and right and raise and lower to target enemies ahead or below. You also have the ability to swap out this gun with a dual missile launcher. Yup, this is the same option that the Vintage Collection version featured. I think the original idea was to make it more kid friendly by giving it missiles and a firing gimmick. but I actually think this works well as just a different weapons load out. The missiles are kind of fun, but I prefer the one that comes attached to the vehicle in the package.

The top of the head is hinged so the entire plate can be opened to allow easy access to the drivers’ cabin. Apart from the added articulation, the biggest draw of this modern AT-ST over the old Kenner one is the expanded cockpit that can seat two drivers very comfortably. The cockpit itself features some great detail, including seats, controls, and foot pedals. The sides of the cockpit feature some pre-applied stickers with more instruments and screens.

The smaller hatch on the roof will also open to allow one driver to pop his head out and there’s a railing around the roof to prevent careless accidents at the Imperial workplace. Wait, the Imperial engineers put railings on this thing but not on those two-foot wide elevated walkways on the Death Star?

Unlike the Vintage Collection release, this AT-ST does include a driver figure and that’s certainly a nice bonus, but for the original price of this thing, they should have thrown in two. I’m pretty sure this guy is a repack of the Vintage Collection AT-ST Crew two-pack, released sometime around 2012. It’s a decent figure, albeit a tad generic looking.  He’s wearing pale gray jumpsuit with some nice sculpted rumples and pockets, black boots and gloves, a standard issue Imperial belt, and he has a chest harness with shoulder straps. The helmet is removable and he has a pretty good head sculpt hiding under it. He also comes with a standard E-11 Blaster, but no holster to store it. The articulation is kind of a mixed bag, in that he has full on rotating hinges in the limbs and a ball joint in the chest, but the t-crotch feels like a bit of a throwback. Still, he gets the job done, and I may have to hunt down one more of these guys.

Overall, I like this toy a lot. It’s a great sculpt and it’s loads of fun now that the crappy legs from the Vintage Collection release have been fixed. Unfortunately, the bland colored plastic and unconvincing weathering do tend to put a damper on things. Either way, I don’t know what they were smoking when they slapped the original $60 MSRP on this thing, but I can’t come close to justifying that kind of money, even if it is a pretty good toy. At $35 or $40, these might have actually found their way off Walmart’s shelves and into collectors’ shopping carts. But at $25, I’m overall satisfied with the purchase. The deco might be a step back, but at least I don’t have to prop a doll stand up under it if I want to keep it on display.

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Star Wars “30th Anniversary Collection:” V-Wing Starfighter by Hasbro

It feels like a long while since I’ve looked at a 3 3/4-inch Scale Star Wars vehicle, especially if you exclude the whole 5-POAPALOOSA I did for the opening of The Last Jedi. Let’s face it, Hasbro doesn’t do a lot of these anymore and when they do, they’re a far cry from what they were in the glory days. Unless you want to count a certain Sail Barge Experiment that’s going on right now. Anyway… A couple of weekends back, I spent Saturday morning going through one of my Star Wars totes. I was expecting it to be mostly figures, but there were a few surprises buried in there, and one of them was this cool Starfighter that was released as part of the 30th Anniversary Collection, one of the last of Hasbro’s Star Wars lines that I collected with excitement and fervor. I was surprised to find that I never gave it a proper review here, so I set it aside for a day just like today!

The Alpha-3 Nimbus Class “V-Wing” Starfighter made its appearance at the end of Revenge of the Sith, escorting Palpatine’s shuttle to Mustafar. I’ll confess, this last point came up in my research and I didn’t remember actually noticing them when I watched the movie. For a long time, I just assumed this ship was based off an Expanded Universe design from The Clone Wars, or a concept that never actually got used. One bit of credit I’ll always give to the Prequels and Clone Wars era, is they featured some pretty cool ships, many of which were given the royal treatment by Hasbro to become excellent toys. Anyway, I think this ship was released a few times, but I got the 30th Anniversary Collection version. I was never a big fan of the package design, but I think I bought just about everything this line put out. The package indicates the ship being flown by a standard Clone Pilot, and that’s the figure I’ve used for my pictures, but I’ll point out that Hasbro did release an official V-Wing Pilot as part of an exclusive multi-pack and that one wore a black flightsuit. The V-Wing requires a bit of assembly as all of it’s wings have to be attached, as does the front section of the hull. It’s probably more than I’m used to seeing in this size toy, but nothing too complicated.

To say that this is a distinctive design is quite the understatement! I suppose you could argue that there’s a little bit of A-Wing in here, at least in the ship’s main body, but this one is more elongated and has a much sharper taper, like the head of a spear. Also, I’m a big fan of ships that have different configurations for landing and flight, and as we’ll see in a bit, the V-Wing very nearly takes this idea to the extreme. The basic layout follows the usual Rebel/Republic ship formula with a single-pilot cockpit positioned in front of a socket for an Astromech Droid. In this case, the Droid’s head is permanently attached to the ship, so you cannot provide your own. His head will, however, swivel, and if accessorizing is your thing, he’s painted to match the hull of the ship. And speaking of paint, the deco on this ship is absolutely gorgeous. In addition to the red and off-white coloring, you get some yellow markings, scorch marks, and a lot of silver scrapes and weathering. I think you could argue that Hasbro overdid it a bit with the silver scrapes, but in this case, I think too much is better than nothing. Comparing this ship to Hasbro’s super-clean modern offerings is like comparing apples and oranges.

When landed, the V-Wing rests on three landing struts, the rear two are integrated into the collapsed wings, while the front retracts into the primary hull. There are three sets of articulated wings, one set on each side and another set mounted behind the top of the cockpit. All of these have textured heat radiating panels on the interiors. I really dig the armored-up look the V-Wing sports when it’s all closed up and landed.

From the back, you can see the V-Wing’s dual vertically-stacked thrusters, as well as a pair of articulated rudders that flank the engines. The V-Wing is not capable of Hyperspace on its own, but apparently could be adapted to take a Hyperspace Ring like the Jedi Starfighters. When the ship is ready to take off, you just fold in the front landing strut and press in the upper engine to deploy the wings.

And man, does this thing look awesome with the wings deployed! They spring open like scissor blades and really show off the sleek and aggressive design of the hull. They also reveal the banks of missiles that are positioned on each side of the cockpit area.

The missiles are cool in that they actually look like missiles and not the usual simple rods that we see in a lot of Hasbro’s ships. They have pronounced fins and the tips are painted red. Paint applications on missiles! These truly were wondrous times! There are buttons positioned at the top of the wing mounts which will fire these and they shoot pretty damn far!

The cockpit looks nice and snug, but there’s actually plenty of room in the compartment for the Clone Pilot figure, and I imagine most other normal humanoid figures would fit fine as well. The cockpit is hinged at the back and there’s a little slot at the front to help open it. Fun fact: The V-Wings sacrificed life support for maneuverability, hence the importance of the sealed flightsuit. The eye on my Q7-Series Astromech is a tad wonky, but otherwise the paint on him is pretty good, and I really appreciate the fact that his head will swivel.

About the only downside of this beautiful ship is that it doesn’t come with a way to display it with the wings open. There is, however, a useful cluster of pipes sculpted on its undercarriage near the back. I was able to make it work fairly well with a flight stand that Mattel used to sell for their DC figures.

If you’ve been with me for a while, then you may have heard me talk about my Great Star Wars Purge that happened around 2009 or so, where I liquidated a huge portion of my Star Wars collection. I can still remember getting ready to add this one to the selling pile, but relenting at the last moment. It might have been because it was still a relatively new purchase at the time, but now that I’m holding it in my hands again, I think it was probably more about just how unique and special this ship’s design is, and how well Hasbro carried it off. It’s hard to think of too many ships in this class since that have turned out this well. It’s both a fun and great-looking toy, and it’s been rescued from the storage tote and now displayed on my shelf once again!

Star Wars Black: Imperial Royal Guard by Hasbro

Oh, Star Wars Black Series, why can’t I quit you? You are a line of figures I really want to walk away from, because you’re all over the place when it comes to sculpts and paint and actor likenesses. But whenever I try to leave you, I keep getting pulled back in by some figure that turned out pretty damn good. And even if I did quit today, I’d still have a good half-dozen or so figures waiting to be reviewed, so let’s get to it. Today I’m looking at a figure that I was really looking forward to, even if he really doesn’t have a place on my display shelf. The Emperor’s Royal Guard!

Or, apparently he goes by Imperial Royal Guard these days, at least according to the box. There was something about the magic of Star Wars that could capture our imaginations with just a cool costume design flashed on a couple of frames of film. Thanks to the old Kenner action figures, I could spend countless hours speculating on a background character, just because I had an action figure of him and needed to invent a backstory. Nowadays the crushing weight of the Expanded Universe canon spoon fed to us by the InterWebs does that for us, but back in the day it was all up to our imaginations. Case in point, these Royal Guards remain one of my favorite troop designs in the whole series. I find these guys to be intimidating and badass. But that’s all based on mystery spiced by my own whimsical extrapolations, because the Royal Guards were merely window dressing in Return of the Jedi. Or more accurately, elevator dressing? Either way, I’ve owned every version of these guys that Kenner or Hasbro have put out and I’ve loved all of them. Suffice it to say, I was eager to see how the Black Series version would turn out.

Softgoods! The Black Series hasn’t always taken advantage of this scale to incorporate softgoods, but I think it was a no-brainer for this figure. The Royal Guard’s majestic cloak is fashioned from a nice soft and brilliant red fabric that falls pretty naturally around the figure. It can bunch up at the shoulders a bit, but all in all I think it looks really good. The only sculpted plastic this guy is showing is his very distinctive helmet. The sculpt for the helmet matches all of the sexy and sinister curves I remember, but the paint used for the black visor could have been a little crisper. It doesn’t even fill out the entire area that’s supposed to be black. Come on, Hasbro. There is literally one paint application showing on this entire figure and it turned out a bit dodgy. Eh, the truth is it’s only really noticeable if you get in close, so let’s give him a pass. As for what’s under the cloak? My guess would be they cheaped out with just a blank buck, but let’s take a peek…

OH MY GOD!!! You’re just going to have to believe me on this one, folks. I haven’t read or watched any reviews of this guy, so taking him out of the box and lifting his robe is the first time I saw what was going on under there and I am in awe. Not only does he have a fully detailed and sculpted suit of armor under there, it is absolutely beautiful in both its design and execution. It’s not quite the Imperial Guard from the Shadow of the Empire, but it’s close enough for me to use as a stand in. Hell, we’re going to have to get rid of those robes and take a closer look at his business!

Removing the robes is as simple as popping off the head and popping it back on and I’m actually surprised that the figure looks as good as it does with the robes off and the regular head reattached. I will, however, throw it out there that Hasbro should have included the Shadows of the Empire Imperial Guard helmet as a swap out because that would have been amazing. But I digress. Getting the cloak off this guy is like I’m seeing him for the first time, and I really dig what I see. He’s wearing a sculpted dark maroon suit with bright crimson armor pieces sculpted onto it. Little touches include the painted buckles on the straps holding on his shin guards, pouches on his belt, and a holster for a pistol that I did not even realize these guys carried. I really am impressed and yet also supremely disappointed that we never got to see these guys cast off their robes and show off their fighting skills like the Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi did.

The Royal Guard comes with two accessories, the blaster pistol and a force pike. The pistol looks identical to the one carried by the Biker Scouts, but I don’t have that one handy to do a comparison. Either way, the Guard’s left hand is sculpted to hold it pretty well, but I had no luck getting it into his right hand. The cross draw required for the holster on the right hip isn’t unheard of, but as we’ll see in a bit, the cloak makes wielding the pistol in that hand a little problematic. The force pike, on the other hand, is a new weapon and Hasbro put a lot of effort into the sculpt. I’ve only really seen this accessory before in the 3 3/4-inch scale, so it’s cool to see it fleshed out with some of the finer details.

The articulation includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the chest and the neck is ball jointed, but the helmet doesn’t offer a whole lot of range of motion. So my big question is, how well does the articulation and accessories work with the cloaked figure. Let’s put it back on and find out.

Most of the time, these guys tend to stand there with their force pike in hand and flank The Emperor. Let’s face it, how many times do you think some random Joe takes a pop at Papa Palpatine? Probably not often. So I tend to think of these guards as mostly for show. Anyway, thanks to a slit running down the right side of the robes, the right arm is accessible for him to hold the weapon in his most iconic of poses. I’m not sure why they went with the pointy index finger in his right hand, but maybe it was so you can get a bit of an angle on the way he’s holding the weapon.

Of course, if you want him to start busting out the action poses, it helps to roll the cloak back over his shoulders. I didn’t think this would work that well, but it’s actually not too bad. However, the left arm with the gun can still be a little awkward. If I can grab another one of these, I may try out slitting the robe up the left side as well to offer a little more easy access. I’d like to think that the Royal Guards just drop the cloaks when the occasion for combat presents itself.

I started out by saying this was a figure that has no real place on my display shelves, and that’s kind of true. I skipped the Black Series Emperor, because I honestly didn’t think it looked very good and now I’ve got an Emperor’s Guard with no Emperor for him to guard. It’s something that I can’t easily remedy because Palpy is now going for a shit ton of Republic Credits on the secondary market, and if I wasn’t going to buy him for $20, I sure as hell am not going to pay more. That having been said, this figure has both surprised and delighted me by all the work Hasbro did on the body under those robes. I expected him to look good standing there at attention with his force pike, but not much else. Who would have thought that a simple figure like this could have just possibly rekindled my love for this line.

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” Snowtrooper Officer 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Hot Toys and impulse buy aren’t usually words that go together, at least not for a working stiff like myself. But last week on Amazon, some Marketplace sellers have been blowing out some of their First Order troopers from The Force Awakens at prices that I just couldn’t refuse and before I knew it I was clicking away a large chunk of monies. The first one I went for was the Snowtrooper Officer, mainly because I dig the design so much and I was happy to see these guys turn up again in The Last Jedi on Crait (as Salt-troopers?), because it makes this review just a little less dated.

If this is your first trip to the Star Wars Hot Toys rodeo, you should know that the boxes all feature the same stark black-on-slightly-less-black decos so they do all match, but to me they aren’t very visually striking. Indeed, the only art here is a nice photo of the figure on the front panel. But what these boxes lack in artistic value and eye candy they make up for with overall construction. These shoe-boxes are very much like the higher quality boxes Hot Toys used to use for all their lines before moving to the flimsier window boxes in sleeves. And there’s something to be said for that when you’re paying a lot for a figure and want to store the extra pieces in something other than a Ziploc bag. You also get a really nice illustrated cardboard insert placed over the tray, something that Hot Toys also used to do. Inside the box, the figure comes on a single tray with all his extra bits flanking him on both sides.

The First Order Snowtrooper comes out of the package all bundled up and ready to hunt Resistance scum through the snowy tundras or clear out their icy hidey-holes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the classic Imperial design is tough to beat, but I’ve really come to love the new First Order look, possibly even a wee bit more. Either way, the design makes for an interesting figure in this scale because of the mix of plastic armor and fabric. Indeed, I don’t think I really realized how much of this uniform was fabric until holding this figure in my hand. It’s just not something that I got a sense of with Hasbro’s 6-inch version, and it’s not like these guys were on screen all that much.

The underlying suit is beautifully tailored with some lovely quilting effects on the arms and legs, as well as immaculately stitched borders running down the front of the suit and the edges of the kama. He has a pair of knee pads attached with elastic straps and below that is all sculpted plastic leading down to the boots, with black paint applied to the sculpted straps. Moving up from there, he features a codpiece, armor sleeves on his forearms, and a chest and back-plate with the shoulder armor attached with flexible straps. The most striking thing about this figure for me is how shockingly bright all the white is. He’s like a walking advertisement for bleach. This is a figure that makes me want to scrub up before handling him, like I’m going into surgery, for fear of leaving a smudge on the fabric. I should also say how much I dig the contrast between the shiny armor pieces and the fabric of the rest of the uniform, both in texture and finish.

The black belt around his waist features two pouches, which are basically fabric wrapped around boxes to help them keep their form. They’re non-functional, and I’m not sure what he’s supposed to keep in there. Maybe rations or just extra power magazines for his blaster. The backpack features some great detailing on the sides, and attaches very simply by sliding it onto a triangular tab. It’s easy to take off, but it also holds on very securely. I’ll also note here that the predominantly fabric uniform makes this Snowy a lot of fun to play with. There’s still more restriction than I would like in the legs, but the arms have a lot more range than Hot Toys’ regular First Order Stormtrooper, which is a pleasant surprise.

The only thing that I can tell that sets this guy apart from the rank-and-file Snowies is his right shoulder pauldron. This piece of flexible plastic has a leather-like texture and is painted with a deep red finish. The head is easily removable, but it looks like the pauldron is attached to the armor pretty well. It may be possible to get it off if you want to convert him to a regular trooper, but that’s not something I’m going to risk messing with. I’m guessing this could be intentional so that Hot Toys could sell more of the Officer and Trooper two-packs.

As for the helmet itself, it’s a great piece of work. The nearly featureless, and totally flawless, smooth curves make it super creepy and intimidating to me. It features black markings running around the back to the sides, a narrow, visor, and two silver caps on the end of his breather units. Like all the armor pieces, the helmet features a super glossy finish.

As expected from any Hot Toys offering, the Snowtrooper comes with a hearty helping of hands, which are fairly easy to pop on and off. You get a pair of fists, a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of weapon holding hands, a single left hand with the fingers opened, and a pair of accessory holding hands. The accessory holding hands are designed to work with his binoculars. The binoculars were a nice surprise, as I didn’t know they were included. They’re satisfyingly large, beautifully detailed and have a hinge in the middle to fold them up. They’re also pretty rugged, making it easy for the trooper to hold them and I was happy to see that the articulation allows for him to hold them up to his face. Am I ever going to display him with these? Probably not. If I had more than one of these guys on my shelf? Then definitely.

His only other accessory is his blaster rifle, the E-11D, and this has got to be one of the sexiest weapons in the Star Wars Universe. One of my favorite things about the First Order design aesthetic is the addition of white paint to the Stormtroopers’ weapons. It really makes the designs pop and look so much more distinctive than those of their Imperial predecessors. This scoped blaster features a telescoping stock and a fold down grip under the muzzle. It’s a striking piece of futuristic military hardware. Unlike the binoculars it does have some delicate parts, but the articulated parts seem to allow for a little give to help minimize breaking.

Finally, the figure comes with a hexagonal stand that is identical to the type used for the previous First Order releases. The base features the First Order emblem and the front reads “Star Wars First Order Snowtrooper” so, no it does not denote this fellow’s rank. Attached to the base is a simple post and crotch cradle to help keep him vertical. It may not be flashy, but I really appreciate it’s simple design and the fact that it doesn’t take up much space on my shelf.

When it comes to Hot Toys, I tend to avoid the “Troop Builder” type figures, because it’s a dangerous road to go down. Even now, I find myself wanting to pick up a regular Snowtrooper to display next to this Officer and keep burning myself with cigarettes every time the thought comes up. But the truth is, one of the reasons I try to resist these is that the Troopers tend to be priced right in line with the regular Hot Toys releases, and I have a hard time swallowing that. Case in point, This Snowtrooper retails at $219 over at Sideshow. I’m not saying there isn’t a great amount of craftsmanship at work here, indeed he’s a gorgeous figure. But I’m taking into account that they didn’t have to sculpt and paint a likeness for his portrait, they don’t have to pay an actor for the likeness rights, and he doesn’t come with a whole lot of accessories. Also, they knew they were going to be able to sell at least one variation of this guy too. All that conspires to make me feel that Hot Toys could have snuck these in at under the $200 mark. Maybe that’s why some retailers are slashing prices. When this guy turned up on Amazon for $139.99, I didn’t even have to think about it. And yes, I will eventually get around to reviewing the First Order Stormtrooper that came with Finn. I just need to find the time to go into the storage and find his box.

 

Star Wars Black (Legends): Jaina Solo by Hasbro

Folks, I’m kind of at a crossroads with the 6-inch Star Wars Black Series and today’s review is a great example of why. For the most part, this line hasn’t been living up to my expectations, at least not consistently, and I’m constantly considering whether I really need to keep collecting it. At the same time, there are enough genuinely good figures tossed in at regular intervals to make me want to stick around. Either way, I was genuinely excited to hear that Jaina Solo was getting a release, especially since she’s been wiped clean by Disney’s purge of most of the Expanded Universe. I’m actually quite surprised she would get a release at all, since the current Trilogy has replaced Han and Leia’s Expanded Universe kids with Ben Solo, and acknowledging her existence is somewhat problematic and potentially confusing to some of the younger fans out there.

And yet here she is! Because in the end it’s all about finding new ways to bring in more Republic Credits, right? And I guess if that means merchandising those characters that now never were, so be it. Case in point, by slapping the name “Legends” in parenthesis on the package characters like Jaina Solo can live again, even if she is no longer canon. Of course, Jaina’s appearance is mostly thanks to the results of a Fan Poll a while back. Prior to that one, a previous Poll gave us Darth Revan, which granted is also an Expanded Universe character, but seeing as how he’s from The Old Republic, there’s no reason to presume he can’t still have existed in the current Star Wars canon. Sheesh, this is all so complicated, let’s just look at the figure.

OK, so first off, is this really supposed to be her Stealth-X suit? If that’s the case it’s pretty far off the mark, at least going on what I remember from the Dark Horse comic. Then again, I suppose there’s no definitive design for Hasbro to work off of. Maybe I’m just a little bitter because I wish she was wearing just a regular orange X-Wing pilot suit. With all that having been said, the suit is nicely detailed with the ribbed vest, control box on the chest, leg straps, and all the trappings of your typical Star Wars Universe flight suit. She also has a smuggler-style belt with a low slung holster, just the kind that dear old Dad used to wear. There’s some copper paint on the straps for the chest box, but the underlying black suit is devoid of almost all other color. It only has some orange piping, which we’ll be able to see more clearly in a bit, and  you get a little extra gloss in the black boots and gloves.

Other than choice of suit, my biggest issue with this figure is the proportions, specifically in those arms. Why are the elbow joints placed so low? Why are her biceps so long? At first, I thought it was an optical illusion from the suit sculpt, but the more I look at it, the more I realize that someone at Hasbro doesn’t fully understand human anatomy, because the ratio of forearm to bicep on this figure is seriously askew and it really looks strange to me.

The portrait is also a sticking point for me. I don’t think the sculpt is bad. It’s a little soft, but they did get a little personality in there with her smirk, a little something else she picked up from Dad. I also can see a little of her Mom in her cheeks. The hair is sculpted pretty well too, with a hair band forming a pony tail at the back. I think it’s the paint here that really musses things up. Besides being the usual bare-minimum-basic paint job that Hasbro has been giving us with the human portraits, the eyes on mine just look terrible. They’re uneven, and they’re perpetually looking up. I’ve seen a lot of those pictures around the Net of people who do some amazing paint work on these portraits, but Jaina here doesn’t need amazing to be an improvement, just competent would do.

Luckily, Jaina comes with a helmet to help cover up the amateur hour paint-job. Again, the paint on this seems way off from what I remember in the comics. That one was sleeker and had little in the way of colored markings or detail. This one looks more like a Resistance helmet from the current Trilogy. But with that having been said, the paintwork on it is pretty good and I like how worn and weathered it looks. The visor could have been a little cleaner, but hey, all the better to hide her eyes.

What’s cool about this figure is that the flight gear is easily removable and under it you get an outfit that could pass as just her regular space-adventure garb. Here’s where you can see more of the orange piping on her top, as well as a thin belt with silver belt buckle hiding behind her gunbelt. The gunbelt features some nice detail on the pouches and even some silver paint for the button snaps. The holster fits her blaster quite well, and she also has a hook to hang her lightsaber from.

I’m not sure if the blaster is new or not, but it looks a lot like the standard DL-44 we’ve seen a few times in this series. It features good sculpted detail and Jaina’s right hand is sculpted with a trigger finger and holds it really well.

Her lightsaber hilt is quite unique and comes with a detachable purple blade. It even has a little purple paint on the side of the hilt, making it all the more distinctive. She can hold it either hand or wield it two-handed if you prefer.

The articulation here is pretty typical for Hasbro’s SWB ladies, with just one big surprise. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but there are no bicep swivels. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, hinges and rockers, in the ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso features a ball joint under the chest, and here’s the big surprise… an additional ab crunch hinge just above the waist. Finally, the neck is both ball jointed and hinged.

Make no mistake, there’s some great stuff to be found in this figure, and I was pleasantly surprised at how versatile she is with the removable flight gear. But the portraits in this line continue to disappoint me, and let’s face it, this one wasn’t even based on any specific likeness, but rather a comic character at best, or a description in a book. Toss in the bizarre arm proportions and we’ve got some serious problems for a $20 figure in a line for collectors. And yes, I still wish they released Jaina in her regular orange flight suit, but that last bit is just my personal preference. I probably have five or six SWB figures that I still have to review, and as I get around to reviewing them, I’m going to really be weighing the merits of staying in this line, or maybe just being a hell of a lot pickier about the figures that I buy from it.

Star Wars Black (The Last Jedi): Maz Kanata by Hasbro

How about The Last Jedi, huh? It’s really bringing the fan community together! That was sarcasm. I’m honestly surprised at how polarizing it’s been, because personally, after two viewings I’m still pretty mixed on it. There were parts I loved, parts I hated. I didn’t like it nearly as much as The Force Awakens or Rogue One. Overall I found it to be an enjoyable but really weird movie, and not worth losing my shit over by attacking other fans who didn’t love it and/or hate it enough. Apparently I’m in the minority on that one. What’s all this got to do with Maz Kanata? Well, she had a cameo in the new movie, and oddly enough Hasbro chose now to give her a figure, rather then back when she had a slightly bigger role in The Force Awakens. Let’s take a look…

There isn’t a lot to say about the packaging, as it hasn’t changed much this past year or so. Black box, monochrome art, red backing behind the tray. Maz is figure #49 and the copy on the back clearly places this figure from the period after her castle was destroyed in The Force Awakens. Strange, since she comes with the accessories seen in that movie instead of maybe the jetpack she wore in The Last Jedi. As much as I liked Maz in TFA, her cameo in The Last Jedi just didn’t work for me. I’d argue that it might have been worthwhile to keep her in the audiences’ minds for an appearance in the next movie, but I highly doubt the continuity in this trilogy is being planned that carefully.

But all context aside, this is a fantastic little sculpt! Her little vest and belt are sculpted from separate pieces and there’s some wonderful texturing on her shirt, as well as detail on her bracelets and boots. The excellent sculpt is backed up by some very nice coloring, including brown trousers, and a teal shirt. The gold and silver bracelets and some rather colorful paint applications on her boots make the figure’s deco quite striking. I just love everything they did here.

The head sculpt here is equally impressive, and continues to reinforce the fact that SWB’s sculpts and paint tends to excel with the aliens as much as it often fails with the human characters. They’ve managed to capture personality, as well as all little wrinkles, in her face and her skin has an almost metallic coppery sheen to it. It even looks like they added some gloss to her bottom lip. The paint on my figure’s eyes could have been a little more even, but I’ve definitely seen worse.

The hat and googles are also pretty damn neat. The goggles are pegged into the sides of her head, so you can actually slide them down over her eyes and they look great in either position. It’s a simple little gimmick, but I’m really happy Hasbro made the effort to do it.

While Maz may be small, she doesn’t lack in articulation. She has rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles, as well as ball joints in the hips and neck, and swivels at the thighs and the waist. There’s not much missing here then you’d find in a regular sized figure, except maybe a torso ball joint.

Maz comes with a few pretty cool accessories, the most notable being the old trunk that she kept Luke’s lightsaber in, and yes, she also comes with the lightsaber to put in it. I really dig the sculpting on this chest. The wood looks ancient and warped, the fixtures holding it together have a hammered metal finish and feature sculpted rivets. The only downside here is that the hinges are not really hinges, but just soft, bendy pieces of plastic, so I imagine that opening and closing it a lot will eventually cause them to stress and break. It’s just an all around great looking piece, but I’ll confess that it’s probably going to end up getting re-purposed to either my Mythic Legions or LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons collections. You can never have enough treasure chests in your fantasy action figure lines! The lightsaber hilt is the same old thing we’ve seen countless times in the 6-inch Black Series.

Maz also comes with an old DH-17 Blaster pistol, which feels more like a rifle when wielded by someone with her tiny stature. We’ve obviously seen this accessory before, but I have a soft spot for this design, so I’m always happy to get another.

I think Hasbro did a beautiful job on this little lady, but is she worth $20? Well, in fairness I got her on sale for $11, so I’m pretty happy. But I do think the value here feels a little better than that of the other small 6-inch Black Series figures like Yoda or the Jawa. Part of that comes from the sizable trunk accessory, but a lot of it also comes from the excellent articulation, as well as the top notch sculpt and paintwork. It would have been cool to get this figure back when The Force Awakens was out, but better late than never, I suppose! It’s just a shame that Hasbro never gave us more figures of some of the characters hanging out in Maz’s castle. Maybe later on down the road, they’ll fill in some of those spots.

FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 1

Welcome, Toyhounds, to the first part of my Favorites from 2017 and I’m not really here. In fact, I’m probably out on my patio smoking a cigar and getting caught up on my stack of comics. If you’re confused about why you’re reading some kind of canned bullshit and not an actual review, I’ll refer you back to yesterday’s post where I explain everything. If you’re up to speed, then we’re going to dive right in to my first five favorite additions to my collection from 2017. These are in no particular order, so let’s go…

DC “Designer Series” Frank Cho Wonder Woman Sixth-Scale Statue by DC Collectibles: There was never any doubt that I’d have a statue from DC Collectibles on my Favorites list this year, because I picked up some great ones. But which one to choose? I waited a long time to get a version of Adam Hughes Wonder Woman in my collection and she turned out great. Likewise both the Babs Tarr Batgirl and the Deluxe Harley Quinn Bombshell were superb releases. In the end, I went with Frank Cho’s Wonder Woman because it’s just such a wonderful representation of the character, and it is executed flawlessly. I love the costume design, the paintwork is nearly perfect, and I really dig the materials DCC is using for flesh tones on these pieces. Cho’s Wonder Woman is not only my favorite DC Statue pick up in 2017, she may very well be my favorite statue of all my collection.

Transformers “Titans Return” Jumpstarters by Hasbro: This is only the second item on my list, and I’m already cheating by giving one slot to two figures. But that’s OK, because I couldn’t break up the Titans Return Jumpstarters by showing preferential treatment to one and ignore the other. If I wanted to really cheat, I could have taken up a lot more spots on my Favorites List just from Titans Return alone, so getting me down to just two was quite the achievement of willpower. It’s no secret that I loved this line, and there were a lot of figures that could have landed on this list, but in the end I had to go with Topspin and Twin Twist as my favorites. Not only are these great figures, not only are they superb updates to their G1 toys, but the fact that we got official Jumpstarters from Hasbro still boggles my mind. These are so good, that I ended up selling off my far more expensive third party Jumpstarters.

Ghostbusters Firehouse by Playmobil: If you had told me a few years ago that we’d be getting a Ghostbusters Firehouse playset in 2017, I’d have called you a raving lunatic and poked out one of your eyes as a lesson not to f*ck with me. And yet here it is! What’s even more baffling is the fact that it came from Playmobil. Now, I may be a little biased, because PlaymoSpace and Playmobil Pirates were my jam growing up, but even if I wasn’t already sold on the brand, I probably would have jumped at this. With their track record for going nuts on parts and accessories, and their easy to customize figure buck, Playmobil turned out to be the perfect fit in this otherwise unthinkable union. Yes, I could have just as easily listed the Ecto-1 here, but c’mon… this is the freaking Firehouse! And Playmobil did a beautiful job with it. It’s almost a pity this set didn’t come out closer to Christmas, because it would have been a perfect review for Christmas Morning!

Epic Marvel Quarter Scale Deadpool by NECA: I’ve been trying to stay away from NECA’s Quarter Scale figures. They’re amazing figures and very reasonably priced, but I really don’t have the space for them. Nonetheless, there are some releases that are no-brainers, and when they first revealed Deadpool, I knew I had to make an exception. And I’m glad I did! This figure truly lives up to the name Epic. The sculpt is phenomenal, the accessory count is over-the-top, and despite being such a big figure, he is loads of fun to play with. NECA absolutely surpassed themselves with this figure and it is some of the best work I’ve seen out of anyone all year long.

Star Wars Rogue One TIE Striker by Hasbro: I’m probably as surprised as you are to see this on the list, but this toy just impressed the hell out of me. I wasn’t expecting much, and I didn’t even buy it until it hit deep clearance. Star Wars vehicles aren’t what they used to be, but this one feels like it belongs among the best of them. Sure, I could have done without the Nerf gimmick, but apart from that this is a quality toy and a cool design from what has become one of my favorite Star Wars movies of all time.

And that’s it for my First Five Favorites of 2017. Come on back tomorrow and I’ll wrap up my list of the good stuff!

Star Wars “The Last Jedi:” Resistance Ski Speeder by Hasbro

The Last Jedi hit theaters at the end of last week and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll need to see it again before I can solidify my opinions on it. Oh, I enjoyed watching it, to be sure, and I’m just still on the fence over the fine distinction over whether or not I loved it or just liked it a lot. There were a couple of cringe moments for me, I thought some of the structure was weird, but overall I love the direction in which they took it. Plus, it had some fantastic moments, wonderful characters, and it always kept me guessing. And, of course, seeing it has really whetted my appetite to look at some more Star Wars toys! I already did a weekend marathon of Star Wars reviews, which included a look at some of the 3 3/4-inch figures from TLJ, and today I’m opening the 3 3/4-inch scale Resistance Ski Speeder!

It may have been more accurate to call it a Rebel Ski Speeder, but maybe that’s just me nitpicking. The vehicle comes in a pretty good sized box with some exciting artwork on the front and a big advertisement for the Force Link unit. The box is mostly enclosed, except for the little window that shows off the included Poe figure. There is a little assembly required, but nothing too difficult. You just plug the mono-ski into the bottom and the stabilizer boom into the side. There are also two missiles to load into the front. There are no stickers to apply, and since the vehicle is designed to work with the Force Link, there are no batteries required either. I’ll also note that it is possible to disassemble the Speeder and get it back into the box, which is always a plus for me. Let’s talk about the figure first!

Captain Poe Dameron features the costume that he wore for most of the movie. So as great as the X-Wing Pilot version is, this one is kind of a must have too. And it also happens to be an excellent figure as well! Poe features a simple jacket, trousers and boots, with a white undershirt and a broad belt. There’s also a functional holster on his right hip with a thigh strap and a bold Resistance emblem patch on his left shoulder. When it comes to costume design, this isn’t a complex figure, but it’s a fantastic sculpt with plenty of detail and a pretty solid likeness for this scale as well. After the terrible 3 3/4-inch  X-Wing Poe from The Force Awakens, Hasbro is really doing the character justice this time around.

Poe comes with two accessories, a pistol and a communications headset. Both are cast in the same gray plastic. The headset fits him pretty well and he can hold the gun in either hand. It also fits snugly in the holster. When I get to how much I paid for this vehicle, you’ll see why it was practically worth it for this figure alone. Alright, let’s move on to the main attraction.

And here’s the Ski Speeder all set up and waiting for action. The Speeder has two folding sets of landing gear, which along with the retracted mono-ski, will allow it to rest on a flat surface and helps a lot for when you want to display it. Comparisons have been made between this design and the B-Wing, and there’s certainly some similarities in there. Of course, this vehicle is meant to operate only along the surface of a planet, so there’s no gyroscope in the cockpit, nor is there a fully enclosed canopy. It’s a decent sized vehicle, measuring just over 17-inches across and it has a satisfying heft to it as well.

They’re is some really nice detail on display here, both sculpted directly into the hull as well as from some extra bits added on. The mid section has a dark gray plate with a grill and the back features a short, stubby tail with a circular turbine and a rudder fin. This is also where the two missiles are loaded. The mono-ski features a pistol-like grip with a trigger, so you can whoosh it around the room and pull the trigger to fire the missiles. And they do fire with a decent bit of power to them. The gray disk on top of this mid section also activates one of the other play gimmicks. By pressing it down the stabilizer boom will eject from the rest of the Speeder to simulate battle damage.

The stabilizer boom features some attached wires, pipes, and brackets all cast in dark gray. You also get two long and thin blasters protruding from the front of the end piece. The vehicle does not feature a lot of paint, but there is some dry-brushed weathering as well as some fading to the red stripes. It’s not the most realistic deco, but when combined with the two-tone gray plastic pieces, there’s at least a nice variety to the coloring here.

The cockpit section definitely features the most detail and looks really good. It looks like there’s another big blaster slung low on the outer side of this module and there’s also a very small blaster cannon, like a chin gun, that can pivot left and right. The canopy features clear plastic windows and a silver painted frame.

The cockpit is big enough to fit the figure, but getting his head to clear the back canopy frame is a little difficult. Or I should say that it’s getting it to clear when taking him out is the real challenge.

The mono-ski is hinged with a spring so that as soon as you lift the Speeder off it will snap down into place and drag as you skim it across the carpet, table, sofa, or any other salt laden surface. Fold up the landing gear and you’re all ready for flight! The gun-style handle is perfectly designed for play without really looking too out of place.

The Ski Speeder debuted with an MSRP of around $30, but it’s dropped pretty quickly and I was able to grab this one for $15. It’s a great recreation of a pretty cool and unique design, and as far as Star Wars vehicles go, that’s all everything I’m looking for. The size of the craft made it a perfect fit for Hasbro’s current price-point model, so much so that I’m 99% sure it’s the reason they were thrown into the movie, although the whole sequence was still pretty cool in its own right.  If there’s a downside to The Last Jedi and its toy potential, it’s that I don’t think we’re going to be seeing many vehicles from it. I was hoping we might get a new TIE Fighter and X-Wing, made a little better than the versions we got for The Force Awakens, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. The Resistance bombers were damn cool designs, but probably too big for 3 3/4-inch scale. I may still pick up the A-Wing, but the Canto Bight police vessel will have to drop quite a bit before I consider it. Then again, it is the only way to get that figure. Hmmmm.

Star Wars Black (The Last Jedi): Elite Praetorian Guards by Hasbro

What’s that? You didn’t get enough Star Wars content over the weekend. 30 figures and a handful of vehicles just didn’t cut it? Well, your wish is my command and I’m about to slather some more Star Wars content all over your morning muffin. Let’s check out not one, but two versions of The Elite Praetorian Guards from the 6-inch Black Series!

The packaging holds few surprises, as these guys come in your run of the mill Black Series window boxes. The only thing out of the ordinary here is that the one with the Heavy Blade is an Amazon Exclusive and thus not a numbered figure. It also features red character art on the front and comes in a plain cardboard mailer box. The regular release is #50, and I really think that Hasbro could have come up with a more interesting character to take the fifty slot. While these fellas are being billed as the successors to the Emperor’s Royal Guard from Return of the Jedi, I think we’re going to actually get to see these guys fight, so that’ll be cool. But are the figures cool?

Eh, kinda? I’m actually a little lukewarm (HA! That’s a Star Wars pun!) on these guys and part of that is due to the costume design and part is due to the execution of the actual figure. The first thing worth noting is that from the neck down, these guys are identical. That’s good if you want to skip one, but it’s also good if you want to pick up the Exclusive and have a pair to flank your Snoke. And yes, I just realized that “flank your Snoke” sounds like a dirty euphemism.

The bad thing here is that by design, these guys are pretty bland. The upper body armor and sleeves are cast in shiny red plastic, and the skirts are cast in a soft matte plastic textured to look like leather. There’s a similar matte leather textured area sculpted around the neck. Lifting their skirts reveals some textured black plastic for their legs, more glossy red plastic for their boots and black paint on the soles of their boots. It’s tough for me to tell from the screen grabs, but I’m pretty sure the skirts on the movie costumes are fabric, and if that’s the case, I think softgoods would have been the way to go for the figures. It looks really good on the Emperor’s Royal Guard robes and I think it would have looked better here. At least it would have helped to break up the monotony of red plastic.

The helmets are the same basic idea, but the configurations are different. The regular release has ribbed face guard that looks almost like a fencing mask to me. The exclusive version has one that’s peaked and looks more like a classical knight helmet. The exclusive version’s helmet also peaks at the back, whereas the regular release is flat. These variations seem to match the pair that was shown in the trailer. To complicate things further, the Big Fig version by Jakks Pacific has a completely different helmet configuration, which is also reflected in the Hasbro 3 3/4-inch version that’s packed with Rey.

One thing I really don’t care for are the segmented sleeves. These just look weird to me and remind me of the segmented hoses that they used to use for robots arms and legs in the 60’s. Kind of cheesy. They also make it tough to find the elbow joint buried in there, and they don’t have a lot of range of motion anyway. And as long as we’re touching on the subject of articulation, here’s what we’re looking at. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The splits in the skirts mean that they don’t effect articulation much at all. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There’s swivel in the waist, a ball joint in the chest, and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Other than those elbows the articulation is overall excellent. My only other issue is that the soft plastic skirt looks awkward at really low crouches. Another reason softgoods would have been welcome here.

Besides the helmets, the big difference between these guys is their gear. The regular release comes with red and silver glaive. It’s a good looking weapon with nice texturing on the shaft. The blade is painted silver and has a long, sweeping blade, which resembles a falchion. It’s an elegant looking weapon to be sure, and he looks damn good holding it.

The exclusive version has the heavy bladed glaive with a shorter, broader blade and a longer shaft. This one looks a lot less elegant and a little unwieldy. I actually prefer the one that comes with the regular release.

The exclusive version also comes with a Force Pike, somewhat similar to the ones carried by the Emperor’s Royal Guard, but with a red hilt. I should note that I’m assuming the other weapons are vibro-axes and not regular edged weapons.

Each of these figures are running around $20 right now on Amazon. If you’re only going to get one, the Elite seems to be a bit of a better value as he comes with the extra weapon, but I suppose in the end it should come down to helmet preference. I actually like them both about the same. As for the overall figures, they’re OK. I think we’re going to see them in action in the movie and that may buoy my opinion of them after, but for now, I definitely prefer the designs of the old Royal Guards over these. Speaking of which, if I’m not too busy tonight, I may come back later with a look at the Black Series Royal Guard.

Star Wars Rogue One: TIE Striker by Hasbro

I’ve got one more vehicle to squeeze in today and if you haven’t sensed an overpowering theme of Rogue One this weekend, then surprise… it’s from Rogue One. What can I say, other then I loved this movie and picked up a lot of the toys, not least of all this spiffy new TIE Fighter. And it felt good, because poor reviews and high prices kept me away from the X-Wing and TIE Fighter from The Force Awakens. Suffice it to say, I’ve been jonesing for a new iconic starfighter and I was hoping this was going to be it!

The TIE Striker comes in a mostly enclosed box with a little window to show off the included TIE Fighter pilot figure. You get some exciting artwork on the front showing the ship in action and plenty of pictures of the actual toy on the back. And if you didn’t notice the Nerf logo, then you should be prepared, as this is indeed one of them Nerf Ships. I actually get a kick out of the way they incorporate the Nerf gimmick into the artwork and manage to still make it look cool. The toy does require a bit of assembly, including snapping the bottom piece onto the hull and locking both wings into their sockets. And while the box is technically collector friendly, once together this ship is not really designed to come apart again, and it sure isn’t going back into the box. Let’s start with a quick look at the figure.

I’m tempted to just say, if you’ve seen one TIE Pilot then you’ve seen them all, but I don’t want to dismiss this figure so quickly, because it is extremely well done. The sculpt is crisp and detailed, especially the helmet and the control box. You also get some nice texturing and rumpling to the flight suit. Obviously, he’s mostly black, but you do get a mix of matte black for the suit and glossy black for the boots, gloves, helmet, and vest pieces. The paint is overall very good, particularly on the chest box and the belt. The only place this figure disappoints is that the Imperial insignia on his helmet are not even. I had a similar issue with my 6-inch Black Series AT-AT Driver and it’s pretty damn frustrating. Doubly so here, because the figure came with a vehicle, so it isn’t as easy to just pick up another one on card.

The TIE Pilot does come with a standard E-11 Blaster. He can hold it in either hand, but there’s no holster for him to put it in. That’s all I have to say about this guy. If it weren’t for the insignia slip up, he’d be absolutely perfect. Moving on to the ship itself..

The TIE Strikers are experimental fighters designed to specialize in atmospheric operations and feature two wing configurations to make them more effective at their job. The above position shows the fighter with its wings locked into the regular flight mode. I have to say that straight out of the box, I was impressed and surprised with the quality of this toy. Having handled Hasbro’s fighters from The Force Awakens and experiencing the X-Wing’s tiny size and floppy guns, and the First Order TIE Fighter’s easily warped panels, I wasn’t expecting anything decent here. As it turns out, this is TIE Fighter that can hang with the best of them. The ship has a great heft to it, and measuring at 17-inches long, it probably isn’t perfectly scaled to the 3 3/4-inch figures, but it still feels satisfyingly large. If you know what it’s like to swoosh around Hasbro’s TIE Interceptor, then you’ll have a good idea what to expect with this baby in hand.

As for the sculpt and detail, you get plenty of panel lines, hatches, vents, and other bits and bobbins scattered about the hull. The wing panels feature that familiar black textured grill pattern seen on the other Hasbro TIE fighters. The wing panels do have a little flex to them, but not enough for them to warp easily, and mine came straight right out of the box. Now, if I were going to be storing this thing in a tote for a while, I’d take some precautions to make sure they lay flat, but otherwise, I don’t have any worries about wing warping. The front canopy is clear plastic with a sculpted framework.

When the wings are locked in the cruising position, all you have to do is flick the switch on the back to spring them down into the attack position. Yes, if you want to put them back up you have to do it manually.

The bottom of the craft has sculpted points to make contact with the ground, so the TIE Striker can be displayed in a landed position with the wings up or down.

Despite the elongated, pill-shaped body of the hull, there’s only room for one figure in the cockpit, and I’m pretty sure these were also one-seaters in the film. The cockpit features a lot of great detail in the sculpt, including the chair and all the instruments and controls flanking the pilot on both sides. It seems like there should be a control stick or steering column or something in there, but what we got still looks pretty damn good.

The cockpit offers plenty of room for the figure to fit in there comfortably. That may seem like a silly thing to have to point out, but I remember some of the ships from The Force Awakens had issues fitting the figures inside, and we’ll also see the same issue on at least one of The Last Jedi ships when I get around to reviewing it.  You also get a little notch on the top of the cockpit hatch to store the pilot’s gun. OK, I’ve put it off long enough… let’s flip this baby upside down and talk about Nerf!

In theory, I think the concept of putting firing Nerf darts on the ships is a noble one. It definitely adds play value, and I can see it adding a lot of fun to the dynamic of swooshing these around the room and dog-fighting with another Nerf equipped fighter. But my cardinal rule of toy gimmicks has always been that the gimmick shouldn’t be a detriment to the toy itself. Easy enough… make the Nerf guns detachable, right? Well, Hasbro didn’t do that. Now with all that having been said, the Nerf gimmick does not really spoil this toy for me at all.

The Nerf cannon doesn’t look too out of place on the TIE Striker, and I can just write it off as being the Proton Bomb Launcher that’s supposed to be equipped on these fighters. Of course, you also get clips on the bottom of the wings to hold additional Nerf darts. These are a little more of an eye sore, but they still look like they could be the normal type of bomb payload you would see on a real aircraft. I actually think they look better with the Nerf darts in them acting as Proton Bombs. Would I rather they left this out? Yup. But I’m not going to let it ruin what is an otherwise lovely toy.

I seem to recall the TIE Striker originally retailed around $40-50. That seemed like crazy money, especially in light of how disappointing The Force Awakens fighters were. Now that I have it in hand, I can at least say it feels like it’s in the right ballpark, because I don’t think the TIE Interceptor was much cheaper back when it was released, and the two are quite comparable in size and quality. And whether you like it or not, you have to figure that the Nerf gimmick is upping the price a bit as well. Granted, I picked up this baby on Amazon for $16, so my sense of value is going to be a hell of a lot more favorable. The bottom line, this toy feels like a return to the quality of the good old days, and it deserves a place on the shelf with some of the better fighters that Hasbro put out over the years.

And that’s going to wrap up this 5-POA Star Wars Weekend. It felt good to get a chance to pull out all of these figures and toys and finally give them their due here on FFZ. Granted, I didn’t get to cover everything I wanted to, so I may very well be extending this thing into next weekend, but on a much smaller scale as I pick up the odds and ends that I still want to look at. But for now, I’m wiped and I still have to do a couple write ups for tomorrow’s Marvel Monday, so I’ll see y’all tomorrow.