Star Wars Black Series: Figrin D’an by Hasbro

I know, I just checked out Jazwares Millennium Falcon a couple days ago, but I guess I’m in a Star Wars mood this week, so let’s return to A Galaxy Far, Far Away one more time before heading into the weekend. As someone who has been frequently complaining that we still don’t have Black Series Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, or a number of other Cantina Aliens yet, I was a little bitter to see Figrin D’an jump to the head of the line and make an appearance. But then I reasoned it out that Hasbro knew they could make collectors buy the same figure six or seven times and it all made perfect sense.

I was actually thinking about skipping this figure, because it’s not terribly exciting for a $20+ purchase, and I knew I wasn’t going to buy the whole band. But then Figgy started turning up at a few online retailers for $9.99 and I decided to go for it. Luckily, the retailer I bought it from had a three-figure limit, so they stepped in where my better sense would have failed me. So, yes the figure in the package is billed as the lead performer of the Modal Nodes, Figrin D’an, but he comes with three different instruments, and apparently all Bith look alike, so you can use him as several different members if you buy more than one.

Here’s Fiery Figgy out of the box, and while he look pretty good, he’s still a pretty bland figure with just a black tunic, black boots, and gray trousers to make up his costume. The only thing really distinctive here are his big Bith hands and his bulbous Bith head. But, hey, that’s not the figure’s fault as it’s still a pretty good representation of the character. A lot of the Cantina aliens were just about giving people monster heads and monster hands. It was pretty casual. Hell, even Greedo was wearing high heels most of the time. You get some sculpted rumples and wrinkles in the tunic and pants and some seams, but not a lot else noteworthy… heh, see what I did there?

The head sculpt is decent enough, albeit maybe a little soft. When we were kids, my brother and I used to call these guys Hiney Heads and that made us giggle because their heads looked like butts. It kinda still makes me giggle. Keep in mind, it was quite a bit later until any of us knew that these guys had names and that their race had a name. We sure as hell didn’t know their music was called Jizz, which is a shame because that would have made us giggle too. I do think the paint job for the portrait could have been better. Maybe a little bit of a wash or some shading? I mean, the costume was simple enough, they could have done something special with the head, but like the rest of the figure, it’s perfectly passable. It even has a little hole in its maw to stick the various instruments into.

The articulation is solid enough. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with hinged pegs in the hands. The legs have ball joints in the hips, rotating hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint under the chest and the neck is ball jointed as well. All they did was stand there and sway in the movie, so this level of articulation has them more than well covered. Except for the elbows, which definitely could have used better than a 90-degree bend to work better with their instruments.

As mentioned earlier, you get three different instruments, the first of which is the kloo horn, which I believe is what Figrin D’ar played…

Next up is the fanfar…

And finally, the fizzz. Each of these instruments vary in detail with the fanfar and kloo horn having the most and the fizzz having the least, but they all seem to be good representations of the on screen versions. Each has its own challenge when it comes to getting the Bith to hold it so that the mouth piece is actually sticking into the tiny mouth hole, which should be evident in some of the pictures. Double hinged elbows would have sure helped in this department, as well as maybe getting a set of hands specifically made for each instrument. Considering the simplicity of the figure, I don’t think one of those two improvements would be asking too much.

I’m happy to have some Bith musicians, but the cynical side of me says that these are just more evidence of Hasbro trying to stretch figure molds to the max. Yes, it’s a new sculpt, but it’s basically a musical troop builder, which is just one step better than the endless carbonized and credit series repaints that Hasbro has been pouring into this line. Now, if you want to get the remaining instruments to complete your band, you have to buy the Deluxe Nalan Cheel figure, which is a Hasbro Pulse exclusive and comes with the three larger instruments but runs close to $40. You will then need to buy at least two more Figrins in order to display one band member with each instrument, BUT… I believe there were two kloo horn players, and a little research tells me that there was an eighth member that wasn’t playing, but I think he was dressed different so I won’t count him. So, by my reckoning that would be a total of six Figins and one Nalan to complete the band. I haven’t decided to take that plunge yet, especially since Figgy is back up to $20 at most retailers. Maybe, if he drops to ten again, I’d consider it, but until then my Cantina band will remain a trio.

Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron Millennium Falcon by Jazwares

Perhaps one of the biggest toy surprises of 2022 was a company other than Hasbro or Mattel getting the license to produce Star Wars ships. And yet Jazwares came out of the gates swinging with their Micro Galaxy Squadron series. It was a line I did not want to get into, because I already have so many Star Wars toys, but in the end, I had to give it a try with the X-Wing and TIE Fighter, and after that all bets were off. Today I’m checking out what I believe is the biggest release in the line so far. It’s the fastest hunk of junk in the Galaxy… The Millennium Falcon!

The packaging for this line continues to be rather gorgeous with lots of snazzy foil and a huge window to show off the toy. You also get a good look at the four micro figures that are included and the package announces that there are motion activated lights and sounds. Alas, there’s no Try Me button, because there are no batteries included, so you’ll need some AAA’s and a screwdriver to enjoy the electronics. The packaging is collector friendly, although you do have to pop on the top gun and radar dish and pop them off again to return the ship to the box.

As outstanding as this ship looked in the box, I have to say that it’s even better in hand, and it’s the perfect size for whooshing around the room. Let’s face it, it can be a little difficult to do that with Hasbro’s Legacy Falcon or even the old Kenner release for that matter. I am extremely impressed by the amount of detail in the sculpt and there is indeed a lot of it to take in. There are panel lines, vents, wires, hoses, and even exposed patches of the ship’s inner workings. Jazwares clearly does not use the smaller scale of this line as an excuse to skimp on the details, and that’s a big part of what makes these ships so special. In addition to the detailed sculpt, you also get some wonderful weathering, as well as some orange trim here and there, and the iconic scorch marks trailing behind the top vents. The only possible call out I have regarding the ship’s design is that it shares the oversized cockpit that most toy versions of the Falcon have had, and for the same reason: To allow it to fit figures.

The top side of the Falcon has an articulated radar dish and the main cannon, which can swivel. The cannon mount is transparent plastic, as is the canopy for the cockpit. There are two buttons concealed under two of the circular vents, which activate the electronics. One makes the sounds of the cannon firing, while the other makes engine noises and lights up the engine strip on the back of the ship. Once this is activated, whooshing the Falcon around will make different flying noises, all of which sound great. The undercarriage of the ship has five folding landing gear for the ship to rest on and a sculpted cannon that does not turn. The boarding ramp can also be lowered. Before getting inside the ship, let’s take a quick look at the figures!

The Falcon comes with Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, and Princess Leia. It’s a good assortment, but obvious exclusions are farmboy Luke and C-3PO. I’m hoping Jazwares will include them in a future release of the Landspeeder. The sculpts on these 1-inch figures continue to impress me, and while the paint is overall really good for figures of this tiny size, my Leia has some brown splatter on her forehead. Still, the detail is exceptional, with the only surprising thing being that they didn’t paint Chewie’s bandoleer strap.

What really blows me away is that you can fit all four figures into the cockpit area. It’s worth noting that even the 3 3/4-inch Kenner Falcon only seated two. There’s also a crazy amount of detail inside the cockpit and even some nice linework sculpted on the inside of the hatch. I would have liked some darker gray paint on the interior of the cockpit, which is a similar nitpick that I had with the X-Wing and Slave-1, but what we got still looks great.

The top of the ship opens up to reveal a pretty good amount of space inside. Points of interest include the circular seating around the Dejarik table, a cargo area, and the removable deck plate that reveals the smuggling compartment. Here again, the detail is really off the charts. All the grating in the deck plating has been recreated, as well as the various cargo containers.

Like the original Kenner Falcon, the top cannon gunning station is in the middle of the ship. Here you can remove the gunning station and place a figure inside!

As mentioned earlier, the boarding ramp can be lowered, but the figures are a bit too big to enter through there. Even with such tiny figures, some accommodations had to be made, and that’s understandable.

Boy, do I love this ship! While the Falcon is scaled for 1-inch figures just like the previous releases, that doesn’t really make the ships scale all that well together. In fact, I’d say the relative scale is probably about the same as we got in the 3 3/4-inch lines. The Hot Wheels fighters would work a little better with this Falcon, but they’d still be a bit large. But, with that being said, the Falcon is another great release for Jazwares’ fleet. At the original MSRP of about $45, it does seem like this line is getting rather pricey, but the good news is that this Corellian freighter has already been deeply discounted and you should be able to find it for closer to $25, which is a real steal for what you’re getting! It looks outstanding, has some well designed play areas, and the electronics are a nice bonus. Now, if only Jazwares would release the Ebon Hawk, I could die a happy collector!

Star Wars Black Series: Cassian Andor and B2EMO by Hasbro

A friend of mine once argued that beyond The Original Trilogy, Star Wars was incapable of any real depth and new ideas. I proffered that Rogue One shattered his argument, but he insisted that even Rogue One was just propped up by familiar imagery that we’ve seen over and over again. We had to agree to disagree on that one, but I understood his underlying point. And then came Andor, a series that even he had to agree expanded the Star Wars franchise beyond the same old, same old. Andor is so well-written that it’s almost unbelievable that it came from the same production company that gave us Obi-Wan and Book of Boba Fett. It introduces us to characters that are motivated and relatable, showers us with finely crafted and memorable dialogue, and does more to expand the Star Wars Universe than well, almost anything I can think of. Of course, all this comes at the cost of a lot of action. The show is slow and plodding. It’s deliberate and measured. So did I actually want action figures from this kind of show? You bet I did!

And Hasbro answered the call with this initial offering: A two-pack featuring the titular Cassian Andor and his droid B2EMO. This set started life as a Pulse Exclusive, but just this week it was offered up as a wide release by other online retailers. As far as I can tell, the retail release is identical to the exclusive, but if you went with Pulse, you got the figures in hand at about the same time it was going up for pre-order elsewhere. So, I guess that’s something!

The packaging here is very nice! You get what looks like an enclosed box, but it’s actually a slipcase holding two windowless boxes that slide out of opposite ends. Each of the figures is secured with twisty string, and they look quite striking against the red trays. And yeah, B2 looks a little awkward levitating in the middle of his human-sized tray. Let’s get them out of there and start with Cassian himself!

Well, I actually didn’t expect as much color as we got on this figure. Not that it’s all that flashy, but the blue shirt looks nice, as does the gold buckle and fixtures on his smuggler-style belt. The overcoat is a reddish-brown and the tunic is two-tone green. All in all, for a show that is pretty drab on screen, I think the deco on this figure pops pretty well. The sculpt work that went into the costume is very impressive. We get all sorts of stitching, rumples, and layers. It perfectly characterizes Andor as the common rabble that he is, with maybe just a hint of swashbuckling flare.

I’ve gone back and forth on this portrait. It’s definitely a huge improvement from the Rogue One versions, and I think the likeness is good from certain angles, but maybe not from dead on. The hair sculpt is especially well done, and the facial hair is pretty good too. The printing makes the details look rather blurry up close, but it looks fine as long as you don’t punch in too close.

The articulation here is a bit better than I was expecting, and by that I mean the bulky plastic costume doesn’t really inhibit anything. Alas, there are no double hinges in the elbows or knees, but instead rotating hinges. You do still get thigh swivels, but no bicep swivels. It’s not ideal to me, but it works OK, although the elbows can only manage 90-degree bends. The ankles are hinged with lateral rockers, there’s a ball joint at the waist, and the neck rotates at the base and has a ball joint further up in the head. Andor features two trigger-finger hands, which is kind of strange since he only comes with one gun.

The gun is a simple pistol, which was showcased a few times in the series. I like this boxy no-nonsense design. It’s not as flashy as some of the weapons of the Star Wars Universe, but it fits the pragmatic nature of the series to a tee. All in all, I’m very pleased with the way Cassian came out. There’s definitely some room for improvement, but overall not bad. I wish I could say the same about B2EMO…

Yeah, this guy is just a huge disappointment. Granted, the design doesn’t offer quite as much to work with as an Astromech, but this little salvage droid deserved better than what we got here. My biggest complaint are the feet, which are rubbery and not really straight. Hasbro couldn’t even throw this poor droid some actual wheels so he could roll. Instead he just has sculpted treads under the feet. All this makes him feel really cheap. I do like the rusted finish on his body, as well as the sculpted pitting, but he could have used something to bring out those panel lines. I may have to bust out a Sharpie and do it myself. You get one orange foot, suggesting that it was replaced at some point and Cassian couldn’t be bothered to paint it. It’s also really hard to make out any of the detail around the inside of his head, although I’m happy they gave his lens a little red to help make it out better.

In terms of articulation, B2 can close up into a box and then open up in three stages. He can turn his head and he can extend his feet out, which is something I didn’t even notice him doing in the series. The big disappointment here is that his head isn’t on some kind of ball joint so it could angle upward. If this were a 3 3/4-inch figure, I would have been OK with all these nitpicks, but… I don’t know, I was just expecting something a lot more impressive than what we got for a 6-inch scale figure. Maybe if we got his charging station, that would have helped him feel a little more substantial.

I got this set for 25% off when Hasbro was running their Pulse sale, and that certainly helps me accept B2 for what he is. Needless to say, I’m a lot more impressed and satisfied with the Cassian figure. I certainly don’t have any buyer’s remorse, but now that the set is available at multiple retailers, the chances of it turning up at deeper discounts or clearance is a lot better. Personally, I want to support the figures Hasbro releases for the Andor series so we will get more, otherwise, it probably would have been prudent to wait for a better price on this set.

Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron: Jango Fett’s Slave-1 by Jazwares

While I’ve only gotten around to checking out the Micro Galaxy Squadron X-Wing and TIE Fighter here on FFZ so far, I have been picking up Jazware’s tiny Star Wars ships here and there, and now I’m trying to find the time to open some of them. This Attack of the Clones version of Slave-1 came in most recently, so I decided to bump it to the head of the line! As a rule, I don’t really buy any Prequel stuff, because I’m not into the movies at all, but I was having a tough time finding the Empire Strikes Back version of Slave-1, so I settled for this one for now. And that’s fine, because if there’s one thing I do like about Attack of the Clones, it was Jango Fett.

The package calls this Jango Fett’s Starship, because Disney is still enforcing the absolutely f*cking ridiculous practice of no longer referring to this ship by name. Please note in the title that I am, because “Prisoners-With-Jobs-1” is too long to type. Seriously, Disney made a joke out of how stupid it was to be afraid to say the word SLAVE in one of their Marvel movies, and now they are literally afraid to do that very thing. Welcome to Clown World… You can’t make this shit up. Anyway, the box is really nice with some snappy foil in the deco and a space scene printed on the tray backing. The window shows off the toy beautifully and everything is collector friendly. I especially love how the tiny figures are enclosed in their own separate tray and bubble, as it’s nice to have a place to keep them even if you don’t want to keep the entire package. Let’s free this Slave-1 and check him out!

These ships continue to impress me with the intricacies of each sculpt, as Slave-1 features all the panel lines, vents, cables, and other bits and bobs that I would expect to find in the larger 3 3/4-inch scaled vehicle. The plastic used here is pretty light, but it still holds the details of the sculpt very well. A good part of the ship is just bare gray plastic with a light wash, but you do get some instances of paintwork, including the dark blue, green, and yellow trim in all the right places. There isn’t as much convincing weathering on this ship as there was on the X-Wing, but Slave-1 looked a lot less battered in Attack of the Clones than it did later on under Boba Fett’s stewardship, so I’m thinking what’s here is appropriate.

Jazwares went absolutely nuts detailing the ship’s undercarriage! Here you get the thrusters painted in a sort of mustard color and lots more panels, compartments, and whatnot sculpted into the plastic. For a part of the ship you aren’t going to see most of the time, I’m really impressed with what they did here.

They also made an opening hatch to show where the seismic charges are deployed. I like that they thought to include this feature, but the execution is pretty piss-poor. There’s no paint on the charge at all, so it kind of just looks like another part of the ship’s machinery. I really think the charge should have been painted, or better yet, actually have one that could be removed from the compartment. And while we’re on the subject of paint, it feels like the whole bottom of the ship should have been painted darker gray. I’ll come back to that idea again in a bit.

The gyro scoping gimmick found in the original Kenner Slave-1 is recaptured here, so as you maneuver the ship from its horizontal landing posture to its vertical flight mode, the “wings” will remain parallel to the ground. The two laser cannon at the end of the ship’s tail can be rotated 360-degrees independently of one another. Let’s take a quick look at the figures and how they can interact with the ship!

The set includes Jango Fett in his armor and young Boba, and I am sincerely blown away by how much attention to detail Jazwares has been able to pack into some of these tiny figures, and I think this pair is especially nice. Even when you punch in this close, most of the paint and details hold up, which is beyond impressive. You could randomly hand me that young Boba Fett figure and I’d know exactly who its supposed to be, and that’s quite an accomplishment when dealing with figures so tiny that the Macro mode on my shitty camera can barely lock on to them. As usual, these figures only have articulation in their hips and shoulders, to allow them to either stand or sit in their vehicle. You’ll notice that Jango’s jetpack is slightly askew. I’m pretty sure it’s meant to come off, but I can’t budge it without applying more force than I’m willing to give it.

Like previous 3 3/4-inch Slave-1 toys, the cockpit opens and the pilot seat orients itself with the “wings” as the ship is moved. Amazingly, there are three seats in this tiny ship, with the pilot riding in the front and two passengers in the back. The seat designs are genius, as the arm rests act as clips to hold the figures in place and they do that very well! The interior of the cockpit has a lot of detail, including the segmented deck plating and even the contours of the seats. Like the bottom of the ship, I would have loved to see the interior cabin painted a darker gray, or at least the platform and seats.

The cargo compartment also opens up and there’s a loading ramp and a hatch that opens and tucks into the top area to hold it open. This whole design is better implemented than some of the 3 3/4-inch versions we’ve had in the past. The cargo compartment contains a hinged weapons rack with sculpted grenades and guns. There’s a peg hole in the center and I can’t help but think that if I could get Jango’s jetpack off, it might be meant to peg in there, or perhaps that’s for a feature used in the ESB release. And once again, some darker gray paint on these areas would have gone a long way! I should note that there are no electronic features on this ship, and I’m fine with that.

There’s no doubt about it that Jazwares is pouring some wonderful design elements into these tiny ships. I absolutely love everything they did with this version of Slave-1, and with the exception of the rather cheap looking seismic charge hatch, the features here go above and beyond what I was expecting. Indeed, the only nitpicks I have are how much more could have been done with some added paint to the interior and undercarriage. My customizing skills aren’t the greatest, but even I would be tempted to pick up another one of these if it goes on sale, and add a little matte gray finish to the interior. In the meantime, I’m still on the hunt for the ESB version of Slave-1!

Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): New Republic Security Droid by Hasbro

Today is sort of Friday for me, as I have the next three days off. I plan on sleeping, boozing, and playing some video games, but for now I’m stopping in to check out a new Star Wars Black Series figure from The Mandalorian! It’s the New Republic Security Droid! And the title already told you that! So, let’s go!!!

These fellas were first seen in the season one episode, The Prisoner… Have we seen them since? I honestly can’t remember, but I do hope we see these Droids again in some sort of prominent capacity. Indeed, the entire episode’s character roster has been woefully underserved by the Black Series, or even the Vintage Collection for that matter. All we got so far is Zero, and I still have to get around to reviewing him. Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about the packaging, except to note how much space there is for stuff I would have liked to see included. But let’s put a pin in that for a moment.

I really dig this design a lot! It’s distinctive, and yet has a flavor that certainly fits the Star Wars Universe. The design is trim enough to look like they would be fairly agile in combat, and yet the design still looks sturdy enough to endure a fight. The reinforced chest armor perhaps shields his CPU and important bits, while he also has a fairly beefy groinular region, perhaps to protect his other important bits. The limbs are thin, but not quite spindly, and the joints are slightly evocative of the familiar Imperial Security Droid design, with the same type of jointing and fairly similar feet and hands. The sculpting here is pretty sharp and a nice mix of angular and rounded features. Most of the Droid’s chassis is left as bare matte plastic, while you get some nice silver-gray paint in the compartment around the neck. He has two New Republic insignia, one on left side of his chest, and the other toward the bottom of his recessed backpack, and some additional matching orange panels. There’s a stray spot of silver dry brush on his chest, which I assume is a flub, but it actually looks like a bit of weathering and I would have liked to see more of that.

The head is a no-nonsense, functional design. You get a slab of gray with a yellow visual sensor across the top. These guys clearly aren’t designed with personality in mind, but simply to substitute for organics in battle. I find it interesting that the Imperial Security Droid’s portrait has a lot more expressive personality over this New Republic fighter, but that’s probably because we were first introduced to the K2 Droid in Rogue One as a character we were supposed to like and relate to, whereas these fellas were technically the bad guys of the episode. He has one stubby antenna protruding from the top of his head.

The articulation here is excellent, with all the usual points you would expect to see in a human character. There isn’t quite as much lateral movement in the shoulders as I would like and his elbows can only do about a 90-degrees bend, but all in all I’m very pleased with what we got. The joints are strong and not at all gummy, and he’s surprisingly fun to pose!

You get one accessory here, and that’s the DH-17 style Blaster. The weapon is cast in black plastic and has a silver painted muzzle. The sculpt is a little soft, but there’s still plenty of detail to be seen. The right hand is designed to hold the gun, and includes a trigger finger, while the left hand is designed to cradle or steady the weapon. And herein comes my main complaint with this figure… I think there should have been more in the box, namely a battle damaged head and chest plate.

I was very happy to see this figure released, but at about $25, the price seemed really steep. A little patience turned them up at $15 a pop at an online retailer, and that made me grab three. It’s very cool to finally get some army-builder soldiers for the good guys, and the fact that they’re Droids sweetens the pot! These guys are surprisingly fun to play around with and pose, and they are sturdy and well balanced. With some battle damaged parts, I would have jumped at the retail price, but thankfully the deal allowed me to build a little squad of these New Republic Clankers. If they turn up again at that price, I may grab a couple more, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a Vintage Collection release to add to my carded 3 3/4-inch Mandalorian collection.

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!