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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Emperor Palpatine by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black: The Mandalorian by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Black: Imperial Jumptrooper by Hasbro

Gamestop is not a company that I enjoy doing business with, and that’s a rant for another time. But even I have to get off my high horse for a $5 action figure clearance sale. Yes, even though I know full well that they’re going to take my order then cancel most of it later when they find they didn’t have enough inventory to fill it all. I’m convinced that it’s all just a big come-on to get you on the site to maybe buy a few things at full price. In this case, I ordered about ten figures, and four of the ten were cancelled with the excuse “Item not available.” And a 60% success rate is a lot better than I usually do at these sales. But still, it’s a pretty shitty way to run a business. One of the figures I ordered that actually got fulfilled was the Imperial Jumptrooper, so let’s check him out today!

This guy was supposedly a Gamestop Exclusive, although there’s no indication of that on the package. You can, however, tell it was exclusive to somewhere because there’s no number on the side panel. I had little hope of ever finding this guy in the store, since I try to avoid going in there, and when I do I find it to be pretty terribly stocked. Nonetheless, this wasn’t a figure that I wanted badly enough to go on their site and pay full price plus shipping. My last experience with the Jumptroopers was the 3 3/4-inch figures that were tied to the Force Unleashed game. Those were pretty cool. This one isn’t the same design, but rather it’s based on the look from Star Wars: Rebels. And I guess the older ones aren’t even official canon anymore, but screw that. I have proof it existed! You can’t take away my figures, Disney!!!

Unlike the previous Jumptrooper, this one features a heavy reuse of the regular Imperial Stormtrooper armor. Indeed, most of the body is just recycled from the Black Series Stormtrooper. The big differences include the elongated shoulder pauldrons, and the new helmet. This one also has unpainted lateral hinges in the ankles. Boo! I’m a big fan of the Black Series Stormtrooper, and most everything I dig about that figure can be said about this guy as well. The articulation is solid, albeit appropriately limited for a guy wearing armor. The sculpting is pretty convincing as pieces of armor over an underlying black bodysuit, at least it is for this scale, and the functional holster is a very welcome treat. The orange paint on the left pauldron adds a splash of color to the armor and includes an Imperial insignia stamped on it, as well as the right shoulder.

You can’t have a Jumptrooper without a jetpack, and to be honest, I find this one to be a little understated. I mean, in fairness I guess Boba Fett’s wasn’t that big either. This one has a tank on the top, which I presume is for oxygen, as it has two hoses leading from it and going into the helmet. The pack is mostly white and has minimalist detail, which I guess matches the design of the armor pretty well. The pack itself attaches to the figure simply by pegging into the back, and features a little red and black paint, including some scorch marks around the jet exhaust ports.

The new helmet instantly reminds me of some of the Imperial pilot helmets, like the TIE Pilot or the AT-AT Driver. It still retains a lot of the regular Stormtrooper helmet features, but here the eyes are a continuous visor, the breather tubes protrude from the front, and there’s a crest running up the top of the helmet. The side vents are neatly painted blue, and you get some gray and orange paint on the top. It’s a pretty cool variant that incorporates a number of different Imperial design tropes.

While he may be a specialist, the Jumptroooper still comes with the regular old E-11 Blaster. It’s an excellent sculpt, albeit the plastic is rather soft. Rather than just cast in black plastic, it has a bit of a gunmetal finish to it. He can hold it in his right hand, and it fits into the holster quite well. I don’t mind so much getting this weapon included, as it is the mainstay of the Imperial army, but I still feel like these elites should have been given some kind of special weapon as well.

There is a figure stand included, and this was a big disappointment, mainly because I expected it to be something it wasn’t. As a figure stand itself, it’s perfectly functional. The foot slips into it, and it does a decent job holding him up. I probably wouldn’t mind having a pack of these to prevent some of those action-figure-avalanches in my displays. But when I saw this in the package, I assumed it was going to be some kind of flight stand, with a second piece concealed at the bottom of the box. Obviously, that wasn’t the case and so it feels like a major missed opportunity here.

And as a jetpack trooper, this guy is a little underwhelming to play around with. The regular Stormtrooper armor makes him not terribly agile for those flying poses, which makes me think that maybe Jumptroopers should have more unique armor designed for them to maneuver in the air. Another big missed opportunity here is the lack of any jet blast effect parts to draw attention to that jetpack and really make him look like he’s blasting into action.

Does it sound like I’m down on this figure? Well, maybe. To be honest, I liked the design of the Force Unleashed Jumptrooper a lot better than this one, and I’m kind of sad to know that we’ll never get that one in the 6-inch Black Series. This figure is perfectly serviceable, but it also feels rather lazy. Sure, a lot of that has to do with the design from the show and it isn’t the figure’s fault, but there are also too many missed opportunities for extras. I suppose it’s a good Exclusive release, because I wouldn’t have felt left out if I was never able to get him. As a $5 clearance figure, I’m perfectly happy to have him, but ultimately I am coming away very underwhelmed by this guy.

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” Captain Phasma 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

The Force Awakens, eh? How topical is that? Well, they did just drop a sorta-trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, so I guess that’s something. Anyway, today’s review may feel like I’m digging all the way down to the bottom of my backlog, but in reality I just got this figure a few months back. A certain e-tailer was tossing out large credit incentives to help them unload their unsold Hot Toys stock, and this one was just too good to pass up because it basically reduced the figure to $75. I know, that’s not a ringing endorsement to start the review with, but fair is fair. And I don’t mind stating ahead of time that without the incentive, I wouldn’t have otherwise bought Phasma. But am I glad I did? Let’s find out…

Here’s the box, and it’s so bare bones and completely uninteresting, that I’m not going to spend any time on it. If you’ve picked up any of Hot Toys’ Star Wars figures, then you know what to expect from the presentation here. And so, with a package not worth talking about, I’ll take the time here to explain that I decided to dredge up Phasma to review today because I had fun looking at the Stormtrooper a few weeks back, and while the new trailer for The Rise of Skywalker did nothing for me, I did re-watch Solo and The Force Awakens recently and had a good time doing it. OK, let’s check out the figure!

Like the recent Hot Toys Stormtrooper, Captain Phasma is an incredibly simple release, but she makes up for that by looking so damn good! Let’s face it, on the big screen, Phasma failed as a character, but as a high end action figure? It’s the perfect canvas for that sublime chromed out First Order Stormtrooper armor. Yes, she’s so good, I can forget that she was another non-character in a cool outfit. The figure body is appropriately taller than the First Order Stormtrooper (which I promise I will get around to reviewing some day), and dressed in a pleather undersuit, which looks great peeking out between those armor plates, but really cramps the figure’s articulation something fierce. I also dig how it’s ribbed around the arms and neck. It’s quite reminiscent of the old Cylons from Classic Battlestar Galactica and that’s why I love it so much. The armor itself is worn in pieces over the bodysuit and for the most part these pieces are held fast by friction. Each of these pieces sport an absolutely dazzling reflective finish along with some moderate rust effects to give the suit a weathered and well-worn look.

In addition to her suit of armor, Phasma’s other fashion accessory is her flowing cape. This garment fastens together around the neck and is easily added or removed simply by popping the head. You can certainly display her without it, but the spacing between the helmet and the shoulders looks awkward to me when she isn’t wearing it. This is especially the case from behind where you get a glimpse of extra neck, and the zipper to the bodysuit as well. The cape is odd in that it looks refined and finished on the interior liner and ratty on the outside. After doing some research it looks to be accurate, but I didn’t get that sense from my memory of the film. It also has a tailored red stripe running down the edge. The cape is worn in a lopsided fashion to cover more of her left side and leave her gun hip unencumbered.

The helmet sculpt looks great and features a lot of the pitting and rusty speckling as seen on the rest of the armor. I like the recessed textured screen that makes up the “mouth” and the visor is dark and foreboding.

As if attempting to beef up the contents a bit, Hot Toys loaded Phasma up with hands, and I have to say that a lot of these just seem pointless. She has relaxed hands, slightly more relaxed hands, fists, and hands to interact with her weapon. Sure they all serve their different purposes, but outside of this review, I doubt I’ll ever swap them out. She’s destined to be holding her rifle all the time. Another reason I’m less than enthusiastic about changing them is the fact that the pegs come out in the hands each time, requiring me to grab some pliers to get them out. It just isn’t worth all that fussing to me.

As we’ve already seen, the only other accessory in the box is her customized F-11D Blaster rifle, and I am absolutely in love with how this weapon turned out. The details are so sharp and the platinum finish with black trim is drop-dead gorgeous to me. It includes a scope, a telescoping stock, and a swing down grip under the barrel. The accessory is also magnetized so it can be worn on her right hip without the need for a holster. The gun works quite well in her weapon-holding hand and she looks great wielding it!

Our last stop is the ubiquitous figure stand and, like the packaging, there’s no surprises here. It’s a typical hexagonal stand with a crotch-cradle post. The surface of the base features the First Order emblem and the front panel says “Star Wars” and “Captain Phasma.” It does it’s job, and that’s about it.

Are you looking for that one great Hot Toys figure that shows what the company can do and really feels like solid value for your money? Well, Captain Phasma probably ain’t it. Oh, she’s a great looking figure, and I honestly can’t complain about any must-have accessories that have been left out. But in the end, I just can’t see the value here. This figure retailed for over $250 and there’s precious little in the box to account for that price tag. There’s no likeness rights, no complex and realistic portrait, no die-cast parts, and accessories that amount to a pile of hands and a gun. It’s hard not to look at some of my Marvel figures that cost less and came with so much more. It’s no wonder this figure hung around long enough to need credit incentives to get rid of her. I don’t know, maybe the chrome and weathering technique on the armor was some kind of crazy expensive process, but I think this was just an example of Hot Toys getting greedy to sell a figure of a character that a lot of people wanted even before they saw the movie. But, I like her well enough and I was able to pick up a TBLeague Phicen figure with the credit, so I consider this purchase a win-win!

Star Wars: Stormtrooper 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I was already well behind on my Hot Toys reviews before the site went on hiatus, so now I’m buried even deeper. But since the new Stormtrooper arrived this week, I thought I might as well bump him to the head of the line and check him out. A while back I maintained that I wasn’t buying any Original Trilogy Hot Toys, because that rabbit hole runs too deep, and to make that work, I’ll just point out that this guy will go with my Rogue One Hot Toys. Hey, I used that same argument to justify getting Vader and Tarkin, so why not? Today I will be looking at the standard release, although there is also a Deluxe version available.

The packaging for Hot Toys’ Star Wars offerings are really nothing special. They use the same black format with a picture of the figure to do most of the talking. Although here they added a little wrap around for the front lid that offers a splash of color. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t prefer something a little more special with my expensive figures, but that’s OK. These boxes mainly just go into storage anyway. And if there’s one theme of today’s review, it would be simplicity. Under the lid you get a standard plastic tray that holds the figure, stand, extra hands, and a couple of accessories. Apart from removing some protective plastic, the Stormtrooper comes ready for display.

And boy is this figure simple! And that is in no way meant as a slight, because it is indeed almost refreshingly simple. Reviewing Hot Toys figures is often intimidating for me. They are complicated to set up, sometimes difficult to handle, and giving them their proper due is seriously time consuming. Costumes need constant adjusting, little bits and bobs fall off during shoots, and I’m often afraid that I’m going to break things. But none of that is true with my new Stormy! And here’s where I should also point out that even with as many goddamn Stormtrooper figures I’ve owned over the years, I’m still no expert on the particulars of their armor. This looks great to me, but there could be some inaccuracies that I’m not seeing. I also do not own the previous Hot Toys Stormy, so I can’t do any in depth comparisons on the improvements here. So why should you even keep reading? Hell, I dunno. Just let me enjoy my new figure.

As simple as the figure is, it’s still an underlying articulated buck that’s actually wearing the armor, and that obviously sets it apart from most of the other Stormtrooper figures out there. The figure is first dressed in a very soft fabric bodysuit, which can be seen in the joints and between the armor plates. This is a big departure from the leather-like bodysuit that Hot Toys First Order Stormtroopers wear. The result is that the underlying suit doesn’t really hinder the articulation at all, even though the armor plates themselves in some cases do. The armor pieces themselves consist of upper and lower legs, sleeves for the forearms and biceps, shoulder pieces, a codpiece and a butt plate, a wrap-around for the abdomen, a chest and back plate, and of course the helmet. The boots are sculpted plastic and the armor pieces on the backs of the hands are sculpted as part of the hands. And you do indeed get a nice assortment of hands, including a set of weapon hands, fists, relaxed hands, a “stop” hand, and a hand designed to cradle the blaster. The armor pieces have a nice glossy finish to them, and are some very subtle weathering marks here and there.

The belt is plastic on the front and fastens in the back with elastic and velcro, which holds it on surprisingly well. There’s a leather-like holster that hangs off just behind his right hip, and this houses his E-11 Blaster and features a retaining strap that is secured by a magnet. The holster is very easy to work with and I don’t have any concerns about the strap tearing. Besides the blaster, which we’ll check out in a second, the only other actual accessory included is the cylinder that goes on the back of his belt. I think this is referred to as a thermal regulator, and it attaches onto the belt with two metal hooks, which also helps conceal the velcro patch that secures the belt. I’ve found that the belt itself can ride up a bit on the figure when I’m posing him, but otherwise it fits fine and looks great.

The helmet sculpt also looks excellent, but here’s where I will once again defer to experts, who may be able to point out all kinds of things wrong with it. For me, the detail is all there from the blue vents on the sides to the breathers on the front. I especially like the green tint on the goggles. It’s subtle enough, but in the right light it looks brilliant. The neck area under the helmet also has a ribbed rubber gorget over the cloth bodysuit.

The E-11 Blaster is a beautiful little weapon. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve owned this blaster in the 3 3/4-inch and 6-inch versions, but this feels like the first time I’m actually seeing it for all it can be. The detail is every bit as amazing as I expect from Hot Toys accessories. The sculpted hands that are designed to hold it work quite well, although I find it easier to get the weapon into the hand, wrap the trigger finger, and then attach the hand to the wrist post.

The blaster also has an articulated stock, which folds out from under the barrel. It’s a nice touch, even if I’ve never really cared for the way this thing looks extended. It’s also frightfully fragile, which gives me even less incentive to fold it out. That’s it for the accessories, and yes I’m fine with that, as I wasn’t expecting much going in. There are a few more things that I think Hot Toys could have thrown in, like maybe a rifle and a pauldron, but none of those things were included in the Deluxe version either.

And finally, Stormy comes with a pretty standard figure stand. The base is rectangular and designed to look like the deck plating of an Imperial ship. The name plate simply reads, “Star Wars Stormtrooper,” and the post is the usual crotch-cradle design, which works fine with the figure. And herein lies the big difference between the regular and Deluxe releases. The Deluxe version includes an LED Death Star backdrop panel to put behind the stand. It’s a very nice addition, but at $243, that makes it $55 more than this regular release? Nah, I’m good, thanks!

It’s hard to find a Hot Toys figure for under $180 these days. Hell, even the First Order troopers were each over $200. Granted, there aren’t a lot of extras in this box and there’s no actor likeness to sculpt, but it still feels like a pretty good value. Enough for me to pick up another? Well, probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. I’ll also point out that It’s kind of amazing that even after all of these years I can still get excited about a Stormtrooper figure. I’ve had entire of legions of these guys in the 3 3/4-inch scale, many of which have long since turned yellow and useless. I was quite pleased with Hasbro’s 6-inch Black Series version and grabbed up as many as I could find. It seems only fitting to add the Hot Toys version to my collection. The real reason I picked this one up was to put him in the back of a Rogue One display, which I will inevitably assemble once I get Director Krennic. For now, he’s hanging out between Tarkin and Vader, two figures that I desperately need to get around to reviewing.

Star Wars (Solo): “Mission on Vandor” 4-Pack by Hasbro

It’s been a stressful week for me and a couple of nights ago I crashed into my sofa, watched Solo for the first time in a little while, and enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing escape to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. It also reminded me that I have a whole bunch of figures from Solo waiting to be opened and reviewed. I was going to go with some of the 6-inch Black Series offerings, but it’s been so long since I checked out any of Hasbro’s 3 3/4-inch line, so let’s have a look at this Mission on Vandor 4-pack.

This set is very similar to the Rogue One Jedha Revolt 4-Pack. It’s the same size box and collects some characters from a specific sequence in the film. Here we get new versions of Han Solo and Qi’Ra, as well as an Imperial Range Trooper and Weazel, one of Enfys Nest’s gang. We’ll start out with Han and Qi’Ra.

Oddly enough, I don’t think Hasbro released a single carded Han figure for this movie. How crazy is that? There was one bundled with the speeder and one bundled with the Force Link 2.0 Reader. I never picked up that speeder, and while I had no interest in the Reader, I did get that Han figure loose on Ebay.

Anyway, this version of Han comes wearing his big furry coat and goggles, and it’s a pretty damn good looking little figure. The coat itself is a soft plastic vest layered over, what I imagine is a lot of re-use from the regular Han. The sculpted sleeves on the arms don’t quite match up all the way with the coat, but it’s close enough. The texturing on the coat is excellent and his gun belt is sculpted over it to hold it together. In addition to a functional holster, the gun belt also has a sculpted life-line and what I think is his Droid Caller on the other hip. The head sculpt is solid enough and the permanent goggles are decent enough for this scale. Nothing special, but not bad either.  The coloring is good, and I like the addition of the dirty boots.

No surprise, Han comes with his newly acquired DL-44 blaster pistol, which fits in his holster and can also be held in either hand. Although it’s intended for his right, as that one has a sculpted trigger finger.

Next up is Qi’ra in her Vandor duds, and while Han was a solid figure, this one actually impresses me on every level. The sculpt is fantastic, with little details like ribbing on the backs of her sleeves and on her collar. Her flared trousers feature tiny seam lines and little wrinkles, and her heels are even sculpted under the cuffs. The jacket is just part of the body sculpt, which works fine for this figure. Even the paint is so sharp and crisp. From the ultra thin line of her necklace, to the edging on her belt, the paint applications here are better than a lot of the 6-inch scale figures. Even the head sculpt is fantastic for this scale with more of that super sharp paint detailing.

Qi’ra comes with a very simple blaster pistol, which she can hold in either hand, and can also be stored in the holster on her right hip. I’d love to see Hasbro turn out this version of the character in the 6-inch Black Series, just to compare it to this one, because, setting articulation aside, I think this smaller one would hold up remarkably well.

The third figure is the Range Trooper, and this is the only figure in the box that was also available as a single carded release. I don’t have that version for comparison, but based on pictures I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s much difference. My guess is Hasbro gave him a single release because he’s a fodder for army builders. Either way, I think this is an excellent figure for the scale. They really packed a lot of detail into the sculpt, from the mechanics of his boots to the tiny stitch lines in his coat, to the textured fur collar and fringe on the sleeves and coat flaps. The red paint hits on the armor could have been a little sharper, but it’s not particularly bad either. I really dig how they got the same gold paint they used for the 6-inch Black Series version onto his tiny visor.

The Trooper comes with his standard blaster rifle. I actually don’t know what these blasters are called, but they’re very similar to the Stormtrooper E-11 rifles. It’s a decent sculpt, but the plastic on this one is really mushy. He can hold it in either hand, but there’s nowhere for him to carry it. That’s probably a fault of the costume design, because even the 6-inch version didn’t have a holster.

The final figure in the bunch is Weazel, one of Enfys Nest’s gang and of course played by Warwick Davis. This little guy also features some great detail in the sculpt, including a rather wide and complex system of belts, some ribbing on his outer sleeves, and a helmet that is somewhat tribal and similar in design to Nest’s but also includes a range finder like we see on the Mandalorian helmets. This was a great choice for including in a multi-pack like this one, as I’m not sure Hasbro would have risked putting him out there on a single card. Although, I’d be willing to bet he would still have sold well.

Weazel comes with two weapons. The first is this rocket launcher, which is cast in silver plastic and has a red painted rocket on the end. He can sort of hold it in firing position, but not as well as I would like. The design of the stock doesn’t really work with his arm, but I can get it to work fairly well. I really dig that they sculpted and painted two additional rockets hanging off his belt on his right hip.

He also has a small blaster pistol, which he can hold in either hand.

I realize that the 5-POA line is not popular with a lot of collectors, and I’ll freely admit that it isn’t a priority for me either. Nonetheless, collecting 3 3/4-inch Star Wars figures has been a part of my life since I was eight years old and I doubt I’ll ever be free of it. I don’t try to be a completist on these, but I do pick them up whenever I can find them, while I’m more likely to leave the super-articulated 3 3/4-inch figures on the pegs. Either way, this is a really nice assortment with some two cool variants, one brand new character, and an extra troop builder. I believe it retailed at around $30 originally, which is right in the ballpark of what these would cost together if they were single-carded. I picked up this set for $18 and that felt like a great deal!

Star Wars Black: Bespin Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian by Hasbro

I don’t usually like to combine reviews, it messes with my OCD, but I’ve got to start making some exceptions because I’m so far behind with opening figures. And since I happen to have three Bespin-themed figures from The Empire Strikes Back lying on my 6-inch Black Series Pile of Shame, I decided I’d just go ahead and check out all three today! So let’s take a trip to Cloud City and open up some Star Wars figures!

And here are some quick packaged shots, although I’m not sure why I bother anymore, because at this point these are pretty standard stuff. Black boxes with mediocre monochrome character art, red inserts, and some pretty bland multi-lingual bios on the back. These are collector friendly, but I’ve never felt bad about pitching these boxes into the trash once they’ve been opened. Han is in what is considered his traditional Bespin Outfit, whereas Leia is labeled as Bespin Escape so as not to confuse her with the regal red gown she wore for part of her stay in the City in the Clouds. If you’re keeping track of the numbers, Han is #70, Lando is #39, and Leia doesn’t get a number because she’s a Target Exclusive. Let’s start with Han!

Han’s outfit in A New Hope is what I consider his most iconic look, but this outfit from The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because I played with the Kenner’s version of this Han so much as a kid (owing mostly to my dog chewing up my original Han Solo figure), or just because Han is so damn cool and better fleshed out as a character in Empire. Either way this is my preferred look for the lovable Space-faring Scoundrel. The outfit is simple enough: tall black boots, brown trousers with yellow piping up the sides, a white shirt with a flap-down collar, and a jacket. My figure has some odd glossy patches on the jacket, which I’m writing off to some kind of QC issue. It’s not the first time I’ve had that happen, and while it doesn’t bother me too much, if I can find him again for cheap, I’d probably try for a better one.

The sculpt features all the wrinkles and rumples I come to expect in my 6-inch plastic outfits, along with some sharp tailoring detail and stitch lines. The jacket features the usual soft plastic vest with the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. All this is great, but the real showpiece for this figure’s outfit is the low-slung smuggler’s gun belt. Thanks to some nice paintwork, it has a great weathered leather look to it and the holster features a retaining strap that pegs into the holster to keep Han’s trusty blaster in place.

The Black Series portraits have been all over the place, but when it comes to the humans. They started strong with that original X-Wing Pilot Luke, but since then they’ve been mostly mediocre at best. Here’s a figure that starts to buck that trend. The likeness is pretty damn good, and I’d say it’s easily the best (Harrison Ford) Han this series has put out yet. Not only are his facial features spot-on, they even got the scar under his lower lip right. The figure also uses the new(ish) printing method for the eyes, eyebrows, and lips. The hair sculpt is great and I love how his bangs hang down over his forehead. The only downside here is the weird choice to use a gloss finish for his hair, which makes it look wet under bright lights.

And of course, Han comes with his trusty DL-44 Blaster. We’ve seen this accessory before, so there’s nothing new to say, other than his right hand is perfectly sculpted to hold it and you can thread his trigger finger into the guard. Let’s knock out articulation here too, because all three figures have the same basic poseability. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There are ball joints in the torsos, and the necks have both ball joints and hinges. Moving on to Lando…

Here he is in his classic Empire outfit and looking as dapper as ever! Lando’s outfit is even simpler than Han’s, as he’s just sporting a pair of blue trousers, a lighter blue tunic-like shirt with puffed out sleeves and a black collar, a wide belt, and shiny black shoes. Hasbro didn’t have to do anything amazing to make this outfit work, and they sure as hell didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Lando looks fine, but I put off picking this one up because he didn’t look terribly exciting in the pictures and in hand, he really isn’t terribly exciting either.

I will take a moment to bitch about how ridiculous it is that they gave him a sculpted plastic cape, and I think that one issue is a big reason why I dragged my feet on buying him for so long. FOR F*CK’S SAKE ONE OF THE 3 3/4-INCH BLACK SERIES LANDO FIGURES HAS A F*CKING CLOTH CAPE!!! Hasbro, do you even realize how insane that is? It’s not just an aesthetics issue for me, but I’d like to be able to pose him without a plastic wrap-around cape hindering his articulation. There’s just no excuses for this. Hell, at the price point, they probably should have included both a cloth and a plastic cape. What an enormous fail!

The portrait here is fairly solid, although this is an older figure from before Hasbro started stepping it up with the portrait sculpts and using the new printing techniques. Reviewing Lando with two new figures is an interesting experiment as to just how jarring the new figures will look when displayed with the older ones. Honestly, while the difference is night and day, I don’t really have a big issue with the way the figures look together. The likeness to Billy Dee is definitely there, and while the paint is a lot more flat and cartoony, I don’t think that it looks particularly bad.

Lando comes with two accessories. The first is his little communication device, so he can tell his citizens to evacuate the City and take the ice cream makers to safety. This is a pretty cool little bonus item and his left hand is sculpted so that he can hold it well. It would have been nice if there was a way to attach it to him somehow, because I’ll probably not display him holding it and I’m afraid it’s going to end up getting lost.

While not really an accessory, I do like that they sculpted the control panel on his right wrist. I think this is what he used to secretly signal Lobot. It’s a nice little bit of attention to detail.

And finally, Lando comes with a DH-17 Blaster. We’ve seen this sculpt before, but who’s going to complain about getting another one of these cool weapons? Not me! I love this design and I dig the silver paint applications. Let’s round out this trio with Leia…

I saved Princess Leia for last, not because she’s the best and not because she’s a bad figure, but just because I have so little that I can possibly say about her. This is the outfit she gave up her gown to wear so she would have something a little more sporty to run around in. It’s essentially just a white jumpsuit with some sculpted padded areas and it has got to be one of the most boring outfits worn by any of the main characters in the film. That’s not to say it’s bad. Hasbro did what they could with it and it looks fine. I just think this costume was a really odd choice to go with before giving us a proper Bespin Leia in her red gown. It’s also kind of strange to have this one on the pegs so close to the release of the Hoth Leia, because at a casual glance the two figures could look somewhat similar. On the other hand, is it possible that this is the first time Leia has been released in this outfit? I know that I never owned this version of her in figure form before, so that would be something.

Bland and simple outfit aside, the real selling point of this figure is the portrait, which is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it a great likeness, but the printing used for the eyes and lips looks great. They even did a beautiful job with her rather unique hairstyle. As much as I love this head-sculpt, it makes me sad that they did the A New Hope Leia before they got their shit together like this. Because as much as I said Lando looked fine with the two newer figures, putting this Leia next to the previous ones really shits on the old portraits.

Leia comes with one accessory and that’s her E-11 Blaster. Again, we’ve seen it before, but I’m always up for adding another to my collection. Now I find myself wanting to pick up another one of those 3PO’s clogging up my Walgreens and chopping it up to put on Chewie’s back.

While I clearly had a few nits to pick with some of these releases, truth be told these are all solid figures. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that Han and Leia are both excellent. They show some great progress in the head sculpts, and while there isn’t anything here that couldn’t have been done as well in the 3 3/4-inch scale, over the years I’ve come to accept that most 6-inch Black Series aren’t being designed to take advantage of the larger scale. And while Lando’s plastic cape will forever be a blight on him in my eyes, he’s still a decent enough figure and I’m ultimately glad I got around to picking him up. Now I just need that proper Bespin Gown Leia… and Lobot and a Bespin Guard, and some Ugnauts, and a Cloud Car Pilot, and…

Star Wars Black (Solo): Rio Durant by Hasbro

I only caught Solo once in the theaters, but I picked up the Blu-Ray when it was released and I’ve re-watched it three times since then. It’s a movie that continues to settle in my heart as an example of what these Star Wars Story films should all be aiming for (if and when they do any more) and it introduced some fun new characters into the Star Wars Universe. One of those was the Ardennian pilot, Rio Durant, may he Rest In Piece. Oh, um. Spoilers?

Dialing in at figure #77 in the current series, Rio was one of those characters that I wanted to get as a figure the moment I saw him. He was likable, and his weirdly endearing alien design made him a great choice for the plastic treatment. But as news of Solo‘s disappointing earnings filtered in, I would have bet real money that a Rio figure was just a pipe dream. The tooling and articulation needed for the extra set of arms would be extensive, and I was convinced the Black Series Solo figures were going to be a one and done wave. But happily, Hasbro proved me wrong and here he is, so let’s open him up and check him out!

With Rio out of the package, I find myself instantly impressed with all the work Hasbro put into this guy. I mean, seriously, we’ve had figures of main characters in the Original Trilogy that don’t feel nearly as well executed as little Rio here, and while he was far from a background character, he didn’t have a huge amount of screen time either. So, where do I even begin? Well, let’s start with his flight suit. It’s a unique looking suit, but it still has that unmistakable Star Wars flavor to it. It’s mostly blue and gray with some silver and red highlights. I dig the tightly compressed bands of rings on the sleeves and lower legs, as the sculpted lacing reminds me a bit of the Compression Suits from Alien.

The control box on his chest is a separate piece held on by the wide, orange harness. There’s a hose that runs out of the box, connects with the left shoulder strap, and then connects to the microphone and earpiece on his head. The harness and box features some great sculpted detail and extra paint hits. The white belt is also sculpted separately and has plenty of detail, including a tiny belt buckle, pouches, and a functional holster for his blaster pistol. There’s a little bit of weathering on the belt, but I think it should have been applied more heavily and evenly throughout. I think the fact that the belt and holster are too bright and new looking is the only nitpick I can come up with.

The head sculpt is excellent, but then the Black Series has always been great at recreating the aliens. All his little wrinkles are present and the gradation in skin tone from the brown in his face to the blue-gray in the back of his head is well done. There’s also a notable scar running across his forehead, and I’m not sure if that’s screen accurate or just a mishap in the mold, but either way it adds some character. I think the only thing missing are his whiskers, and that would be tough to do in this scale.

I was surprised to see that the goggles are sculpted separately and can be pulled down over his eyes, or removed altogether. What a great touch! The strap is sculpted in soft plastic and there’s a translucent red piece for the lens.

So let’s talk arms!!! I was particularly interested to see how they were going to do his arms, and they look pretty damn natural, with one set connecting to the body just a bit above and behind the other. His four hands feature finger-less gloves and he’s got a red band around one of his left wrists. And so long as we’re talking arms, let’s go into articulation. Rio has got it in spades, which is especially cool for such a short figure. Each of his arms have ball joints at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and swivels in the biceps. His legs are ball jointed at the hips and have rotating hinges at the knees and ankles. There’s a ball joint in both the chest and the neck. The range of motion on most of these joints is very satisfying and I’ve been having a blast playing around with this guy ever since I got him.

Rio comes with two weapons and he can hold either in any of his four hands. The first is a scoped blaster pistol that fits into his holster.

The second is what looks like the blaster equivalent of a sub-machine gun. In addition to the regular grip, this has a grab bar coming out of the side and a second grip under the barrel. Both of these are cool and unique designs and very welcome additions to my collection of 6-inch scale Star Wars weaponry.

For a line that sometimes feels pretty damn mediocre, Star Wars Black has a distinct way of surprising me just enough to keep me collecting it. Rio is one of those figures. He’s an absolute homerun, featuring some fantastic sculpting and paintwork and a perfect execution of a cool alien design. This is exactly the kind of figure I expect out of what is supposed to be a premium collectors’ series. I dig him so much, if I had any skills as a DIY person, I’d already be building an Imperial AT-Hauler cockpit for him to sit in. For all the shit I give Hasbro for the Black Series figures they clearly phone in, I’ll happily give them the highest of praise for this one. Fantastic work! Now I just have to hunt down Beckett and Val!