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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Jedi hit theaters at the end of last week and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll need to see it again before I can solidify my opinions on it. Oh, I enjoyed watching some of it, but I’m still on the fence over whether it was really my cup of tea. There were a couple of cringe moments for me, I thought the structure was weird, and it didn’t feel like there was any point to a lot of it. But seeing it has at least whetted my appetite to look at some more Star Wars toys! I already did a weekend marathon of Star Wars reviews, which included a look at some of the 3 3/4-inch figures from TLJ, and today I’m opening the 3 3/4-inch scale Resistance Ski Speeder!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars “The Last Jedi:” Island Journey Rey, General Leia Organa, and DJ by Hasbro

The morning has slipped away and Star Wars Weekend is drawing to a close. I’ve got just a couple more updates to do, and seeing as how I did this as a lead up to The Last Jedi releasing at the end of the week, it seemed only right to squeeze one more batch of figures from the new film. Luckily, I stumbled upon a piece of the most recent wave just a few days ago with “Island Journey” Rey, General Leia, and DJ, and I snapped them up. I was hoping to get the second version of Luke in here as well, but it just wasn’t in the stars.

I’ll say once again how much I love the packaging for this line. The character art is great, the white and red deco looks clean and sharp and is no doubt a reference to the Red Dust that we see on the planet Crait in the trailers. And in just under a week these won’t be mysteries any longer! The packages also remind us that all of these figures are compatible with the Force Link device, but having had some hands-on time with one, I doubt I’ll be buying it unless when they hit deep clearance. OK, let’s get on with the figures, and I’m going to start with Rey!

This version of Rey is dubbed “Island Journey” so it’s safe to assume she’s wearing this on the island where she finds Luke. She comes wearing a soft plastic cloak with the hood sculpted down her back. It’s more than a little bulky and none to flattering as a fashion statement. There are cut-outs so she can raise her arms while she’s wearing it. Also since the front of it ends at her belt, she can technically still sit down in it, but the back hanging down to her ankles means, she can’t wear it while sitting in a vehicle. Thankfully, this plastic garment is also removable, so let’s pop her head and see what’s going on underneath!

And we have is more or less Resistance Rey from The Force Awakens, which I just looked at a couple of reviews ago so I’ll spare you all the details again. The new deco features the pants and jacket going from tan to more of a two-tone gray, and her tunic underneath is more cream colored than light gray. Her boots have also gone from brown to gray. I’m going to go out on a limb and presume that this is meant to be the same outfit that she wore at the end of TFA, but for creative reasons, they switched up the palate on it. I actually approve of the change, because I felt it was weird how Rey would choose a new outfit that matches the coloring of her Jakku robes almost exactly. No one is that is that crazy about tan as a color. I don’t know what to tell you about the head sculpts. They keep changing them up, but they never really hit it right.

In a surprise to absolutely no one, Rey comes with her blaster and Luke’s lightsaber. The blaster is the same one that Han gave her in TFA and we’ve seen several times so far. Both Hasbro and Rey are sure getting their mileage out of that little gun! She still has a functional holster to store it in and she can also hold it in either hand. The lightsaber is the same too, with a permanently ignited blade. This version of Rey is the first figure in the line that I feel I could have skipped and not really missed out on anything. Not terrible, but not really worth hunting down, in my opinion. Truth be told, I was just so excited to find her in the wild, that I never thought twice about whether she was worth picking up. Moving on to General Leia…

I was rather surprised to find General Leia swinging on the pegs, because the distribution here often sucks and for a while everyone seemed to be hunting her. Obviously, this is not what I think of when I think of a General’s uniform, but rather stately robes that better promote her as a Princess or someone of high political importance. That having been said, it’s a pretty nice sculpt, with texturing on the outer cloak, and a little gold paint on the end of her right sleeve. I also actually think the likeness for this one is pretty good.

And the cloak is easily removable, by just slipping it off through the arm holes. Although I can’t say why I would want to do that, because it looks great on her.

Leia also comes with a blaster pistol and it looks like the design is trying to mimic the one she had in A New Hope. I’ll actually be surprised if she winds up brandishing a weapon in The Last Jedi, but like I said in an earlier review, I’m never going to quibble over getting an extra gun with my figures. Alright, let’s turn our attention to the last figure, DJ.

In a Universe of some pretty creative names, DJ is not one of my favorite Star Wars character monikers. I’ll hate it even more if he winds up actually being a DJ and that’s what they call him. Yes, this is the one of those figure based on a character that we know little about, and that’s a wonderful thing. I have such fond memories of that magical time speculating about Star Wars figures and what their characters will be like in the movie. For example, Squid Head was a high profile Rebel spy who was the centerpiece of all my old Star Wars adventures until I finally saw the movie and he was hardly in it. I didn’t even spot him at all until Return of the Jedi hit VHS and I could really scrutinize the scenes. Ah, but DJ is played by the always awesome Benicio Del Toro, so I’m sure he’ll be a character of some consequence. For now all we know is that he’s based in the City of Canto Bight on the planet Cantonica.

I’m talking a lot about the character because I don’t have a lot to say about the figure. He’s cool figure, but nothing outrageously exciting. He features a long trench coat with plenty of sculpted detail and some nice gold line-work on his lapels. The likeness is non-existent, but if it’s any consolation, he does come with a blaster to make up for it. Seriously, I got nothing else. I’m hoping seeing the movie will make this figure more interesting to me.

So, these are all solid figures, but so far this wave doesn’t have the wow factor of the first wave. General Leia is definitely the stand out favorite of this trio and I’m glad to see her getting a figure this time around. Did she even get one in The Force Awakens? I can’t remember, but if she did I never came across it. Second place would be a toss up between Rey and DJ and I’ll give DJ the edge just because he isn’t a repaint in a smock. I should point out here that I’ve picked up a few more figures and vehicles from The Last Jedi this weekend, so I may have to extend this to next weekend and check out some of that. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, and I still have one more review to go before I can put this weekend marathon to bed.

Star Wars “The Last Jedi:” Luke Skywalker, Jedi Training Rey, C-3PO, General Hux, and Kylo Ren by Hasbro

Star Wars 3 3/4-inch Weekend is cruises onward. This is the third installment of what I’ve decided to call 5-POA’PALOOZA, I’m on my second pot of coffee and feeling one with The Force and maybe a little jittery from all the caffeine. Tired of Rogue One stuff? Ok, we’ll take a breather. For now, let’s fast forward to five more figures in the initial assortment from The Last Jedi.

As will be the case for a few of these 5-POAPALOOSA Reviews, I opened these figures a while ago, so I cribbed these official packaged shots from Amazon, which is only fair because that’s where I bought them. I’m also pretty sure I’ve paid for at least one of their warehouses, so it’s about time they paid me back a little. Anyway, I really dig this package design. It’s white and clean and some of the character art is wonderful. Look at that picture of 3P0! I think that’s borrowed from some vintage art, because I remember obsessing over a very similar piece of art when I was young. Also, I finally had some time to play around with that Force Link thing, which they were demoing at Target a few weekends back. Can’t say I’ll be buying one anytime soon. And with that ringing endorsement… Let’s start with Luke Skywalker!

It was both cool and frustrating, how difficult it was for me to find this figure on the pegs. Cool because I love that the figure is so popular, frustrating because he shouldn’t be that hard for kids to find. I eventually gave up and bought him online with the rest of these. This is a very simple figure of Luke as we saw him at the end of The Force Awakens. He’s in his light colored robes and cloak and I think it’s just fabulous. The head sculpt and paint are particularly solid, I love that they added gray to his beard with some halftone printing. There’s even some detail in his tiny mechanical right hand.

The plastic cloak fits the figure quite well by just resting on the shoulders. It comes off easily to reveal all the little details sculpted into Luke’s outfit. Again, for a simple outfit, they did some nice texturing to the fabric and some different shadings. The belt has a silver buckle, a sculpted pouch, and a tiny hook for the lightsaber hilt that he does not come with! In fact, the only thing he comes with is his robe. I’ve got nothing else to say, except I love him! Next up… Rey!

Rey sports her somewhat new-looking costume. Actually it strikes me as mostly the same as her Jakku costume, only gray instead of tan. I’m glad I didn’t pop for the Hot Toys figure of her outfit from the end of The Force Awakens, because it doesn’t look like she’ll be wearing it much. I do, however, have the 3 3/4-inch version and maybe we’ll see that before this weekend is over. Anyway… The sculpt here is very well done, with a number of different textures and details on display. The paint on her costume could have been a little tighter in some places, but it’s not bad. I do think the likeness is a big improvement over that initial release of Rey from The Force Awakens. I realize that’s a back-handed compliment, but I don’t think this one is too bad. Unlike Luke, some of Rey’s costume is cast in softer plastic and layered onto the figure itself and some of her hip articulation is hindered by that. But then if you’re after good articulation, these figures aren’t for you, anyway.

Also unlike Luke, who came with bupkis, Rey comes with three accessories: Her staff, her pistol, and Luke’s lightsaber. The pistol fits into the holster on her right hip, and I can’t show it to you because I lost it, goddammit! In my defense, it was very small and I recall being pretty drunk when I opened these. Then again, I think I may have lost the same gun for each of my 3 3/4-inch Rey figures. The staff is similar to what we’ve seen before, with a plastic shoulder strap. It is a new sculpt, but I’m guessing it’s supposed to be the same staff.

The lightsaber has some nice detail in the hilt, and it does have a ring, so theoretically you could hang it on Luke’s belt, but the blade is not removable, so in practice you can’t. All in all, I think this version of Rey is decent, but probably not the star of this show. This version of Rey was also released as a two-pack with the Praetorian Guard. Will we be seeing those this weekend? Maybe! Next up… Goldenrod!

I actually never picked up the 5-POA C-3PO from The Force Awakens, so this is my first figure of him in this scale in quite a while. I’m not sure if this is that same mold or not, but I will say it’s a fantastic little sculpt, the proportions are great, no details are missed, and the coloring is superb. Even the paintwork on the wires in his exposed midsection is super clean and precise. It’s nice to see he got his gold arm back. Or did he have that at the end of The Force Awakens? I think he did. It must be time to watch that one again!

Another nice bonus is that articulation isn’t as important with 3PO because he isn’t all that agile in the films. I barely even miss it here. I honestly didn’t expect to be this blown away by a 5-POA 3P0 figure, but if you’re in the market for one, this is a great one to get. I actually like it loads better than the allegedly premium Vintage Collection release, and I’ll just go ahead and say that it’s my favorite version of Goldenrod in this scale. Moving on to the bad guys, cue the Imperial March… here comes General Hux!

The Hux figure from The Force Awakens was pretty good, but this one is better! The most obvious difference is that he’s not wearing his officer’s cap and the likeness is far superior. This is a damn fine head sculpt for this scale. He’s wearing the same uniform with black trench coat, but this time Hasbro took a different approach with it, but sculpting the coat out of soft plastic and sculpting sleeves on the arms. This is the method they used for the 6-inch Black Series figure and it looks fantastic on this little guy. On the downside, you probably won’t be able to get him seated in any vehicles, because of the coat.

Hux comes with a blaster pistol, but sadly no holster to store it in. That was a gripe I had with TFA version too. Where does he keep that thing when he’s making those spittle-spewing speeches? He also comes with a mouse droid. I’m sure this guy is recycled, but I’m not sure if I own the previous release or not, so I’m happy to have this one. OK, that’s four figures down and one to go. Let’s wrap it up with a look at the biggest asshole in Star Wars history…

Kylo Ren is back and apparently now that he’s murdered his loving father in cold blood, he doesn’t have to hide behind a mask any more! His outfit has changed a little. He’s traded in his longer black robes for something more like a tunic. It has the same overall texture as the original Kylo figure, and the same sculpted belt. In addition to losing his mask, he’s done away with his hood and now has a cape that he wears on his shoulders and it’s easy to take off for when he needs to throw down. The cape looks great from the front, but it gives him a hunchback look from the back. I think the likeness here is pretty good for this scale. They did a nice job accentuating his scar, although it doesn’t have the creepy metal mesh, it’s just a red line. Still, neat though.

In addition to his cape, Kylo comes with his wicked and now very iconic lightsaber. He can hold it in either hand. Before I wrap this up, let’s take a look at the new versions of three of these figures with their counterparts from The Force Awakens.

Like I said earlier, Rey’s likeness on TLJ figure may not be a masterpiece, but she’s a huge improvement over the first TFA release. I think the Hux is a huge improvement from head to toe. Both Kylo Ren figures are pretty solid, but I’m surprised at how bad ass he looks without the helmet. I’m going to enjoy that in The Last Jedi.

The last time I visited with The Last Jedi 3 3/4-inch line I was notably impressed, and that impression remains with these figures. I guess I can understand collectors dismissing these out of hand because of the limited articulation, but these are all very solid sculpts and great looking figures. 5-POA or not, the appeal is clearly still here for me, and I’m looking forward to grabbing up more of these! For now, I’m going to splash some cold water in my face and be back in a little bit and get back to Rogue One!

Star Wars Black: First Order Stormtrooper (Amazon Exclusive) by Hasbro

While I’m saving my pile of 3 3/4-inch Star Wars toys for the week leading up to Episode Eight, I’m still trying to get through the rest of this stuff beforehand. And that’s not an easy feat, because it keeps rolling in. Today’s release reminded me how surprised I was to see that Hasbro didn’t reissue the First Order Stormtrooper as part of the 6-inch Black Series figures for The Last Jedi. Nope, instead we got a regular Stormtrooper and the Stormtrooper Executioner, which was OK, but nothing really special. Yes, there’s still plenty of time, but maybe it had something to do with Amazon offering this pretty cool exclusive version with a whole bunch of extra gear.

Behold, the Amazon Exclusive First Order Stormtrooper and his snazzy packaging! The box features a bowed front with pictures of three different flavors of Stormtroopers: Regular, Riot Control, and Heavy Gunner. Based on the size of the box, you might be inclined to believe that all three are in here, but nope. You get one Stormtrooper and all the gear to make any of the three you want. The back of the package features another piece of monochrome art with a closer look at everyone’s favorite space-faring thugs. The graphics are actually on a sleeve, which lifts off to reveal…

Some windows, which feature a very familiar Imperial pattern, and a First Order emblem. These are actually folded flaps secured by velcro, which open to reveal the figure on his tray, flanked by all his goodies. I don’t tend to save the packaging for my Black Series figures, but I think I’ll make an exception here. It looks so nice, it’s totally collector friendly, and it’ll give me a place to keep all this stuff. Let’s start off by looking at the regular Stormtrooper.

There aren’t a lot of surprises here, and despite a few minor differences in paint, he appears to be the same figure we’ve been getting all along. That’s not a bad thing, because this was always a pretty solid release. The plastic has a nice shiny finish to it, although the black paint could have been sharper in a few areas. I’m still surprised how I’ve taken to this design since it was first revealed. My first knee jerk reaction was that Disney shouldn’t have messed with such an iconic design, but it’s really grown on me over the last few years.

Articulation is identical to what we saw with previous First Order Stormies. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, swivels at the tops of the thighs, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a ball joint under the chest armor and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. I have no real issues with the points here, except for the elbows, where the sculpt doesn’t allow for enough of a bend. Some double hinges would have been nice there, but Hasbro seems to save those for the Marvel Legends and not the Black Series. I can’t imagine why, but I wish they would reconsider.

He comes with the same blaster and pistol that we saw with the regular release of this figure for The Force Awakens. Both weapons have a tab on the side, which can plug into the slot on his leg for storage. They’re both great sculpts and feature white and black decos to match the armor, and with a little silver trim on the scope. Before we move on to the rest of the gear, here’s a quick picture of him alongside the regular release Stormtrooper and the Riot Control Stormtrooper.

Which one is which? Don’t ask me. I’ve already mixed them all up. The biggest difference in the paint that I can see is on the belt. There’s a black dash painted on the box that is second to the left on two of them, but third to the left on the other. Let’s move on to the accessories and start by kitting him out as the Riot Control Stormtrooper

This guy, made famous in The Force Awakens by FN-2199, is equipped with his electrified baton and riot shield. The shield is basically the same one that came with the Riot Control Stormtrooper that was packed with Poe Dameron in his Resistance jacket. It features two soft straps, one to go around the forearm and the other can be grasped in the Stormie’s hand. It can take a little work to get him to hold it right, but once it’s in position it looks great. The baton, on the other hand is a new sculpt and where the previous one was just a static piece, this one has articulated tongs that can be turned around to make it look like it’s activated. I was pleasantly surprised that they produced an entirely new piece for this set. Now let’s go for the Heavy Gunner!

Oh boy, do I love the way this guy looks. The equipment includes a heavy artillery vest, which fastens around his torso and fits the figure perfectly. There’s also an ammo pouch, which you can clip to the vest, and a backpack that plugs into a peg on the back of the vest’s straps. Of course, he isn’t a Heavy Gunner without a big gun, so you also get his Mega-Blaster.

This is a pretty damn big gun with the same white and black deco as the smaller weapons. It also has a hinged grab-bar on the side. I love the look of this thing, but I do wish he could hold it better. His right hand seems to be sculpted pretty well for it, but it’s so bulky that it’s hard to get it into the crook of his arm. It also doesn’t help that the figure doesn’t have a lot of range of motion in those elbows. Now, I’m not saying he can’t hold it. I’ve been able to get some pretty good poses of him ready for action, but it isn’t as comfy a fit as I would have liked. Fortunately, he really doesn’t have to hold it…

Because it comes with this mount and stability bar, both of which peg into the bottom of the weapon. OK, so if we’re to assume the Hot Toys version is accurate, the stand is actually supposed to fold up under the gun when it’s not in use, but I can forgive Hasbro for going this route for the 6-inch figure.

You also get one final piece of equipment, and that’s a pair of binoculars. These are surprisingly nice, with a very detailed sculpt and a hinge that lets them fold up in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s pretty tough to get him to hold them like he’s using them.

If you can’t tell, I’m very pleased with this set. I’m always happy to add another Stormtrooper to my collection, and the versatility that comes with swapping out all this gear makes this figure a lot of fun. It’s even more fun if you already own a few First Order Stormies to borrow some of the gear. The Amazon Exclusive Stormtrooper retails at about $35. I’m OK with that price, but if you break it down the extra $15 seems a little steep, even with all these accessories in the package. At least you do get some nice premium packaging to store it all in and to date, this is the only way to get a Heavy Gunner Stormtrooper in the 6-inch Scale.

Star Wars Black (The Last Jedi): Stormtrooper Executioner by Hasbro

As promised, I’m doubling up on content today to try to get caught up on some of the Star Wars figures that have been piling up. Today I’m checking out the First Order Stormtrooper Executioner! I haven’t had any luck finding this guy in my neck of the woods, but a friend of mine decided to troop build these and then thought better of it, so I took one off his hands at a good price. The downside? He shipped it to me loose, so I have no packaged shot. That’s OK, though, it’s the same old style window box and besides, this will be a quick review since I don’t have a lot to say about this guy.

What we have here is one of them there Stormtrooper variants, aka a repaint to sell more toys. But before I get too cynical about it, I should point out that he does have a unique function. The Executioners are specifically tasked with hunting down other Stormtroopers who have deserted. Sound familiar? I’m guessing that Finn isn’t an isolated incident and maybe after getting their Starkiller Base all blowed up, there’s been an epidemic of Stormtroopers breaking ranks and spliting. We’ll find out in a few months, but to me it seems likely that we may see a squad of these turn up in the new movie to hunt down Finn.

The sculpt appears to be identical to the vanilla flavored First Order Stormies, and that’s a good thing because these were great figures and I’d like to see them return to the pegs so I can get a few more of the regular ones. I really dig the glossy finish on these guys. Shiny Stormtrooper armor is love!

The Executioner is distinguished by his black shoulder armor with First Order logos, and a black stripe on his helmet. There are a few other minor paint differences between him and the regular trooper. For example, the satchel on his left hip is all black on the standard Stormy, but has a white front panel on this guy.

The Executioner is also characterized by a rather distinctive laser axe weapon. This is a short staff with articulated appendages on the head. These swing out and generate laser arcs when it is activated, thus creating a double-edged laser cutting blade.

The accessory includes two laser effect parts, which can be removed to display it activated or deactivated. In theory, I like the idea of following through with the executioner theme and giving him an axe, but in practice it’s pretty silly. It would be much more practical to just shoot the traitorous bastards. Unfortunately, that’s not an option, because mine didn’t come with a blaster. I texted my friend and asked if he forgot something, but I was surprised to learn that Hasbro didn’t bother to included it in the package with these guys. Bummer. I’ll probably give him one of the pistols from another Stormtrooper.

All in all, this is a cool looking variant, but I’m really not keen on his weapon at all and that puts a damper on the deal. If he came with a blaster, I would have tossed the axe into the Tote of Forgotten Accessories, but since that would leave him totally unarmed, I guess I’ll let him keep it. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to love it. Originally, I had planned on picking up a pair of these, but now that he’s in hand, I think one will be enough unless he turns up for cheap on the aftermarket.

Star Wars “The Last Jedi:” Poe Dameron, Paige Tico, Rose Tico, and First Order Stormtrooper by Hasbro

Last weekend was Force Friday II, an event where retailers launch the new toys for the upcoming Episode 8: The Last Jedi, and my job requires that I partake, as a planner, coordinator, and executor. But as a buyer I was trying to sit most of this one out. I ordered the 6-inch Black Series figures that I wanted online, and I planned on abstaining from the 3 3/4-inch offerings completely. And after publicly boasting about my awesome willpower, I folded exactly one day later and bought four of these little buggers. Also, because I have even less willpower, I wound up opening them in the car while I was waiting for my order of Chinese Food to be ready, so I don’t even have any packaged shots. Jeez, I’m a real pathetic specimen. But that’s OK, let’s just borrow the official Hasbro pictures to have a look at the packaging…

The presentation here is white, clean, and snappy! The Star Wars logo is in red and you get a red swipe with the character’s name along with some great character art striping the card to the right of the bubble. The bubble shows off the figure and accessories quite nicely, and there’s an insert that calls out the Force Link gimmick, which uses a chip to identify the figure and play sound clips out of a glove-like accessory (sold separately!). Unfortunately, the back of the cards are a f’ugly multi-lingual soup with a mix of warnings and copyright information. I really miss the days of “Collect Them All.” Anyway, I dig what Hasbro has done here. The packages are fresh and original, and it’s a shame I already tore them to shreds. On a side note, just about every one of these cards came out of the cases all bent to hell. I’m not sure if that’s the norm, but it’s certainly enough to vex the MOSC collectors. Let’s start with Poe Dameron…

I wanted to start with Poe, because he’s the main reason I bought these. When I saw him on the peg and realized he was so much better than the garbage Happy Meal toy of a figure that we got for The Force Awakens, I decided to buy him to replace the old one. That quickly descended into, well, if I’m buying one I might as well buy a few more. So, this is essentially an apology do-over figure of Poe in his X-Wing Pilot outfit and from the neck down, it’s actually the exact same sculpt that we got last time. And that’s fine, because my issue with the previous figure was from the neck up.

Here’s a quick shot of them standing side by side and it’s easy to see what a monumental difference the better noggin makes, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. While the mold is clearly the same, the texturing on the flight suit looks a lot more pronounced on the new figure. Otherwise, there are just some minor variations in the coloring and the paint lines on the new figure are a lot cleaner. You still get the functional holster on the right hip and the teeny tiny blaster pistol, which he can hold in either hand.

And gone is the cartoonish blob of a head with the sculpted helmet and ugly painted yellow visor. In its place we get this fully sculpted head, which is not a bad likeness of Oscar Isaacs for this scale and price point. The facial features are really well defined and the paint is sharp and clean. The helmet is a little work of art by itself and includes a translucent yellow visor and crisply painted markings and insignia. What’s more the helmet fits perfectly and doesn’t look oversized at all. Jeepers, Hasbro, how did you manage to make a sculpted-on helmet look bigger than the one that comes off? That flies against all logic!

Poe features the standard five points of articulation, which includes a standard t-crotch, rotation in the shoulders, and a ball jointed neck. He also includes two additional points of rotation in his gauntlets. This is a great little figure and having it in hand just begs the question, why couldn’t Hasbro do this last time? Either way, I’m re-purposing the old Poe as a standard X-Wing Pilot, so he won’t go to waste. And hopefully I won’t lose the gun this time! Let’s move on to Paige Tico…

Paige and her sister Rose represent that magical time before a Star Wars film is released when you have action figures of characters that you know very little about. Case in point: When I was a kid, I proffered that Squid Head was a heroic Rebel spy integral to victory over the empire! Aaaaand then I saw Return of the Jedi and realized I may have overstepped a bit. We do know that Paige is a “Resistance Gunner” and seeing as she’s wearing a flight suit, I can surmise she’ll be manning a turret on some kind of fighter. I really dig the look of her flight suit, it’s similar to Poe’s, but has even more of a WWII flavor to me. You get lots of lovely little details like the rumples in the legs and the belts and buckles on the back of the ribbed vest. The paint is a little rough on the chest apparatus, but intentional or not, I think that gives it a nice weathered look.

As with Poe, Paige features a fully sculpted head with a wearable helmet. I’ve only seen a few stills of the actress, but I think the likeness is decent enough for the scale. The flight hood looks especially good, almost like you could take it off. The helmet features a translucent yellow visor and fits the figure perfectly. The markings on this one are fantastic, including a checkered pattern, blue stripe, and some insignia on the side.

Paige gets one more extra and that’s the breathing mask that hangs off her chest apparatus. This piece has pegs that fit into the sides of the helmet and it works surprisingly well for a figure in this smaller scale.  If and when Paige gets a 6-inch Black Series figure, I’m interested to see if they can really improve all that much on this one, beyond the articulation of course.

Paige has the same articulation as Poe, minus the gauntlet swivels. She also comes with a blaster pistol, which she can hold in either hand. The only downside is that she has no holster to store it in. How the hell am I not going to lose that? I might as well just give it to my cat right now. Moving on to Paige’s sister…

Rose Tico is another mystery character. Other than being Paige’s sibling we’re told that she is a Resistance Technician, I’m assuming means mechanic and I think has a lot of potential for a really cool character. With that having been said, Rose is not one of the more exciting figures in this wave, as she’s basically just wearing overalls. That’s not to say she isn’t a great looking figure. As with Poe and Paige, there’s a ton of great detail in this sculpt, from rumples and wrinkles to the sculpted pockets and the hood. She also has some sharp printing on the right of her chest and her sleeve.

The head sculpt seems like a fair likeness to what I’ve seen of the actress. They definitely got her hair looking close. Again, the printed Aurebesh lettering on her chest is a great touch.

Standard 5-POA applies, making Rose’s articulation identical to that of her sister. She comes with what I think is supposed to be some kind of spanner or diagnostic probe. It pegs into her belt and can be held in either hand. She also includes a rather large blaster rifle, so I’m assuming we’re going to get to see her do some fighting when Episode 8 hits. And that brings me to the last figure of the day, the First Order Stormtrooper.

I was expecting a repack of the exact same figure that was released in The Force Awakens line, but this Stormy appears to be all new. The biggest differences include a wider stance to the legs and a glossy sheen to the armor, where TFA version was more matte.

Here they are side by side, with the new release on the left. Overall, I’d say I prefer this one, although the new leg stance can make him a bit more difficult to stand, especially if you don’t have his feet planted in that one intended sweet spot. I’d also say that the details are a little sharper on the new one and the paint is a little cleaner.

The new version includes both the blaster rifle and pistol that came with the previous release and you can still peg either one into his leg.

The Last Jedi figures are retailing for $7.99 a pop in most places, and I think that’s a pretty good price for what you’re getting. In the past, Hasbro has touted these 5-POA figures as having the best possible sculpts, but this is the first wave in a while where I believe that’s true. Plus, I thought the days of decent action figures under $10 were a thing of the past, but even with the 5-POA standard, I really enjoy these a lot. I haven’t even touched on the gimmick that makes them talk, but I don’t think I’d pick up one of those gadgets unless they were discounted down to almost nothing. Oh, and yes, this means I’m back on the 3 3/4-inch Star Wars bandwagon and I’ll be checking out some more of these soon.