Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): Beskar Armor Mandalorian and The Child by Hasbro

A few days ago I reviewed a trifecta of action figures from The Mandalorian, and as promised I’m back to end the week with a couple more. And while last time was all about supporting characters, this time we’re going straight for the Dynamic Duo themselves: The Mandalorian and The Child! Yeah, Yeah, these are long overdue. I have a huge backlog. Get over it!

I don’t have much to say about Mando’s packaging, as it’s pretty standard Black Series fare. So let’s check out The Child! This box is so tiny! And it’s actually kind of bloated compared to the size of the figure itself! And here’s where I’m going to go off on a rant over WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? Why, Hasbro, would you not include the Hover Pram and a stand in this set and beef it up to $15 or $20? Ten dollars isn’t a lot of money to me. I’ve blown more than that on questionable plastic purchases in the past. But even I was put off by plunking down ten bucks for the contents of this box. Was it all part of your evil scheme to make people buy another Beskar Armor Mando and another Child figure to get the Pram? Was it also your plan to make that version so hard to get that it’s selling for over $100 on the scalper market? Honestly, I don’t understand any of this! Let’s look at Mando.

So, this is the second version of Mando to be released in this format (I reviewed the first back in 2019), and as indicated it represents the character after getting his hands on some of that tasty Beskar and decks himself out with some new armor. I have to admit, I was disappointed that they changed his look so early in the series. I liked raggedy Mando. It really played into the whole Mando With No Name Spaghetti Space Western vibe that the series was going for. If it were up to me, I would have held off on the armor upgrade until the second season. But what do I know? Now with all that having been said, I still dig his Beskar look, and I absolutely love the way this figure turned out! Yes, it does reuse some parts from the first figure, but only where appropriate.

And to be fair, he does still have a bit of a rag-tag look to him. He upgraded his cuirass, shoulders, gauntlets, and added a few nice pieces of thigh armor. The rest of his costume is still pretty low-rent and I like that. With how costly Beskar is presented as being, it makes sense that he couldn’t afford an entire suit of it. Actually, I’m not even sure both of the thigh pieces are supposed to be Beskar. It looks like the left one is, but he ran out and so he just painted the right one to match, and the paint is already half worn off. If that’s meant to be the case it’s a wonderful little touch. I also like his newly earned signet, which is sculpted onto his shoulder. The lower legs are recycled, as is the shoulder strap and gun belt. The cape is also the same one we got with the previous figure, but the gauntlets are new sculpts, with the Whistling Birds launcher clearly present on the left gauntlet.

In addition to getting the Beskar upgrade, he obviously sprung for the wash and wax on his helmet. The head is recycled from the previous figure, which makes sense, as it’s the same helmet. But all the brown grime has been cleaned off and it looks nice and shiny to match the Beskar armor. A few smudges have been added here and there to the armor and helmet, but I really do love the metallic paint they used for these pieces. The finish is so rich and luxurious!

In terms of accessories, most of what we get here is a trip down memory lane from the first release. His trusty pistol is once again included and fits nicely into the holster on his right hip. The pistol is the same accessory, but it’s been given a brighter silver coat of paint. Hey, you’re throwing down some credits to get your gear improved, might as well detail your gun too! Now with that having been said, I actually prefer the pistol from the first figure. The duller finish brought out the details in the sculpt a lot better.

Mando also comes with his Disintegration Rifle. It can still be tabbed into his back when not in use, and the figure’s articulation works really well with it, allowing him to hold it pretty close to his cheek and sight his target through the scope.

The new accessory here is the jetpack. It’s certainly a necessary item, but it’s kind of bland and dull. The sculpt is kind of soft and there’s no paint applications at all. There’s some weathering sculpted into it, but it kind of looks more like a one of my cats got at it and chewed it for a while. The jetpack plugs right into the back of the figure, and while you can kind of put it on with the cape, it’s best to take the cape off entirely. Maybe this would have been a good opportunity for softgoods, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to be wearing a cape with a jetpack. It seems like a good way to set yourself on fire.

Any nitpicks I have with this figure are pretty minor, and I come away actually liking it as much, if not more, as the first release. Yes, I still like that more weary High Plains Drifter kind of vibe earlier Mando had, but this one has actually become more iconic to me. The figure itself is a great mix of old and new, it looks fantastic, and it’s loads of fun to play with. Let’s move on to The Child!

So, I really have very little to say about The Child. Yes, this figure is tiny, but overall I think Hasbro did a great job with what they had to work with. Indeed, the sculpt and paint executed for the portrait are rather outstanding for a figure this size. The body is just a solid piece of sculpted plastic robes, although his feet are visible from the bottom. I’m surprised they got ball joints into the shoulders, neck, and hands, although the arms do pull out rather easily and have to be snapped back in.

He does come with a clear plastic case with three accessories: A bowl, a delicious froggy, and the control knob from the Razor Crest. These accessories are so tiny that I haven’t even bothered to remove them from the case, and I’m not going to do it now either. I sure as hell don’t want to drop one and wind up making a 2am run to the Pet ER because one of my cats has a Baby Yoda soup bowl in his or her throat.

And there you have it! Besker Armor Mandalorian is a superb figure and one that I’ll likely have on my desk for a while. The Child is impressive for how small it is, but it still galls me that Hasbro put this tiny figure out as a solo release. I think the proper way to go would have been to bundle him with Beskar Mando as a regular retail release in the first place. Or, at the very least they should have given him his Hover Pram as a solo release. There’s no way I’m paying $100 just to get that Pram, but if that set does get a re-release, I’d probably go so far as to pick it up for $30. And oddly enough, just as I was writing today’s review, I got shipping notice for the Hot Toys Deluxe Mando and Child. It should be arriving early next week, and I’ll likely bump that set to the head of the line, as it’s been a while since I’ve done a Hot Toys review!

Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): Greef Karga, Kuiil, and The Armorer by Hasbro

Last week I doubled down on Transformers reviews, and I’ve decided that this week I’m going to do the same with the Star Wars Black Series. Hell, I’m going to do better than that. I’m going to knock out three figures today, and at least one more on Friday. I’ve just got so many of these SWB packages piled up and waiting to be opened, it’s starting to get frustrating! So let’s go crazy and check out some figures from The Mandalorian! And yeah, these will be somewhat brief because I’m tackling three figures.

Hasbro hasn’t gone all that deep with the figures from this series, but they at least gave us a good sampling of the main and side characters from the first season. It feels like an eternity ago that I last watched this series, but that’s probably because I deep-sixed my Disney+ after the end of WandaVision. As much as I loved the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, I think it had closure enough to move on, using Boba Fett as a spring board to move on to something else. Especially since I’m bummed we won’t be getting the Rangers series with Cara Dune. Either way, I’ll likely pick up my subscription again after The Book of Boba Fett premiers, but for now, I’m just not that interested in what Disney is selling. I am, however, still excited about most of these figures. Let’s start with Kuill!

If I were to go back in time about 20 years and tell Past Me that we were going to have a Star Wars TV Series with Nick Nolte playing an Ugnaught, Past Me would have punched me in the balls for being a lying sack of shit. And who could blame me? The idea is crazy! Who could have foreseen any of this stuff? Anyway, I loved Kuill and I was very sad to see him die. OH, COME ON. THAT’S NOT A SPOILER. IT HAPPENED FOREVER AGO!!! Well, at least Hasbro immortalized him in plastic, and did a damn fine job at that! I really dig the complexity of the outfit here, as it feels rather layered. The orange tunic is sleeveless, showing the rumpled sleeves of the brown shirt under it and has a belt piece with an extension of the tunic below it. He’s got some puffy brown trousers, which are tucked into his Blurrg riding boots. The belt has hip pouches, he’s got a worn, rugged backpack, and the outfit is tied together with a scarf around his neck and shoulders, which is sculpted separately from the figure.

And man, what a great head sculpt! Hasbro usually does a bang up job on the aliens in the SWB Series, but I still think this one is especially nice. His deep set eyes are surprisingly expressive, and they did a particularly great job sculpting his whiskers. His goggles are sculpted in place, so you cannot move them down over his eyes, but you know what?

I had no idea that the helmet was removable! It really does fit the figure so well, that I thought it was either part of the head sculpt, or it was secured on with glue. This was just a wonderful little surprise. Did I know that Ugnaughts have tiny pointed ears? Feels like I’m discovering that for the first time right now!

In addition to the removable helmet, Kuiil comes with his little blaster rifle. This highly detailed piece of kit has some brown paint for the wood on the stock, and a sling that looks like it’s probably removable. He can sling it over his shoulder, or ready it for action. Honestly, the only downside I can come up with for this figure is that they didn’t make him a Deluxe and bundle him with a Blurrg to ride. Either way, Kuiil gets an A+ in my book! Moving on to Greef!

Greef Karga, played by the always charming Carl Weathers, is a cool character and I was happy to see him get carried over into the second season and right his wrongs toward Mando. I was pretty damn sure that he was going to be a major baddie in the series, and certainly never expected to see them team up! The figure is a very solid effort, but nothing about Karga’s character design is terribly interesting to me. Sure, you could argue the same about a lot of characters from the Original Trilogy, but their outfits have long since become iconic. Greef’s hasn’t, so it’s really just a brown suit. But don’t get me wrong, the texturing on this figure is excellent, and there’s some nice detail to be found, like the quilted pattern on his gauntlets, the wraps on his boots, and the double-holstered gun belt. I also like the cape, which only hangs over his right shoulder and is secured with a belt that runs across his chest and under his left arm.

Alas, I don’t think the head sculpt is one of Hasbro’s better likenesses. It’s not terrible, but it’s just kind of soft. Also, there’s a weird glossy finish to his face, which makes him look like he’s wet. It’s probably sounding like I don’t dig this figure, but that’s not the case. I actually dig him a lot and he’s going to look great on the shelf with Mando and Dune.

Karga comes with twin pistols, which look like someone took the grips and backs of .45’s and gave them sci-fi fronts. I don’t know if it was intentional, but this reminds me a lot of how most of the guns in Star Wars were just modified versions of real firearms, so I’m a big fan of these. Ok, that’s two down and one more to go!

The last figure I’m looking at today is The Armorer, and if I’m being honest, I probably would have been fine skipping this figure entirely. She’s OK. There’s nothing specifically wrong with her, but with storage and display space at an all time premium around my place, I’m not sure I really needed her. She kind of strikes me as being like an upscaled 3 3/4-inch figure, although I can’t really put my finger on why. There’s certainly enough detail in her outfit, like the quilted pattern on her gauntlets and shoulders, or the stitching on her apron. I also find that I like the look of the sculpted half cape a lot more than the softgoods one that came with the Pulse Exclusive version. Although it does drop off of her with the slightest bit of encouragement, to the point where I may just glue it on.

The helmet sculpt is nothing special, as the visor isn’t terribly convincing. It just looks like that part of the helmet is painted over. Maybe gloss finish would have helped. The gold finish does have a decent worn patina to it, and I do like the metallic paint they used for her cuirass. Even still, this figure is doing much for me.

The Pulse Exclusive came with a few extra accessories, whereas this retail release just comes with her hammer and tongs. These are decent enough pieces, and she can hold them pretty well. Obviously, I would have liked to get the extra stuff, but even with them, I wouldn’t have been any happier paying an extra ten bucks for the Exclusive.

I didn’t mean to end this trio of reviews on a downer, and honestly, The Armorer is not a bad figure at all. Maybe she just doesn’t stack up as well to Kuill and Greef, both of which are quite excellent. And with three more figures opened and up on the shelf, I feel like I’ve made a tiny bit of progress with my backlog of Black Series figures, but there’s still a lot more to come. I haven’t yet decided what figure (or figures?) I’ll be checking out on Friday, but it will definitely be more from the 6-inch Black Series, and I’ll probably stick to The Mandalorian. So come on back at the end of the week!

Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Imperial Stormtrooper by Hasbro

When we were introduced to the Remnant Stormtroopers in the first episodes of The Mandalorian, I assumed they were going to all look like that: Dirty and with armor in a state of disrepair. Nope! We later got to see that there are still plenty of fresh Imperial Stormtroopers left in the Galaxy. Naturally, Hasbro jumped at the opportunity to not only get us some Black Series Stormies back on the pegs, but also give them a much needed makeover. Make no mistake, it may look like just another Stormtrooper, but this is an entirely new figure!

There’s the packaging, and it’s worth noting that these are not identified as the Remnant Stormtroopers, but rather Imperial Stormtroopers. This distinguishes them from the dirty boys that we also got in the Black Series as part of The Mandalorian sub-line. And yup, I’ll be getting around to checking those out in the near future. I did review the older Black Series Stormtroopers, but it was so long ago, I might as well just make this mostly a comparison review. Some of the differences are readily apparent and deliberate, while others are more subtle and may just be variances in the molding process.

And here they are side by side, with the new release on the left. The thing I noticed first was the belt. The old figure’s belt was sculpted separately and attached to the figure. It also had a holster for the E-11 Blaster. The new one’s belt is part of the body sculpt, has a slightly different design, doesn’t stick out as much, and has smaller flaps hanging down over the hips. It’s a shame about the holster being omitted, because it’s the only gripe I have about this whole figure. I’m guessing the Stormtroopers in the series didn’t have them, but I’d have to re-watch some episodes to see for sure. The armor on the new figure has an overall shinier finish. Other cosmetic changes include a less angular chest, the “OII” backpack being smaller on the new version and also lacking the peg hole. The armor in the midsection is a little different, and the fanny pack is more prominent on the new version.

The helmet sculpt has been fully revised, and again the new figure is pictured on the left. The old figure had a prominent brow ridge over the eyes, a rounder dome, and larger plugs in the breather apparatus. The eyes are also smaller and set slightly wider apart. Frankly, I like both helmets well enough. The newer one looks tighter and a little more polished to me, but I think this change comes down to a question of personal preference.

Articulation plays a big part in the differences as well, as Hasbro has improved the overall poseability on the new version and many of the joints have been completely redesigned. The arms on the old Stormies could only move outward by about 30-degrees, whereas the new ones can go a full 90-degrees, The range of movement in the elbows has been increased a bit, as has the ability for the legs to more forward and backwards at the hips, allowing for a seated position and a deeper squat. It also feels like there’s a little more range in the torso’s ball joint. The exposed pins in the elbows and knees are also gone in the new figure.

The new Stormtrooper comes with a brand new E-11 Blaster, which is a much more detailed sculpt. And thanks to his improved arm articulation, he’s more capable of wielding it than his predecessor. Hell, he’s even better equipped to brandish the rifle that came with the older Stormies, but is not included with this new release.

With the exception of the holster being nixed, I think everything about this new version is an improvement. It’s a great looking figure, and I really appreciate the added shine to the armor and the all around better articulation. At the same time, I don’t mind mixing my old Stormies with the new ones. It’s reasonable to assume that there would be variances in the armor, either because of changes over time or because of manufacture in different factories across the Galaxy. Either way, they look fine together, and I’m thrilled to be able to expand my 6-inch Imperial army a bit more. Hasbro really did a fantastic job on this one, and I”m pleased to say that I was able to find them easily online and build up a squad of six without having to pay over retail.

Star Wars “The Mandalorian” Remnant Stormtrooper Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

It’s well known that Hot Toys are pricey, so it’s not a line of figures that I tend to look at for picking up multiple variants or repaints. So, when I picked up the Stormtrooper a little while ago, I hadn’t planned on picking up any more. But it only took one drunken night of browsing Sideshow’s website along with some Reward Points and a Gift Card burning a hole in my pocket to get me to pull the trigger on this variant Stormtrooper. Drunk or no, I reasoned that I was already all in for the other Hot Toys figures from The Mandalorian, so there was no point in stopping now.

I make it no secret that Hot Toys packaging doesn’t impress me and nowhere is that more feeling stronger than when it comes to their Star Wars line. These boring boxes feature no flare of presentation or craftsmanship. It’s just a receptacle to get the figure to me. OK, so they splurged and added a colorful, illustrated wraparound band to this one, but it feels like a cheap afterthought. But hey, I should be thankful because I don’t have the space to keep all these boxes anyway, so I only keep the ones that feel like something special, and those are few and far between. Inside the box, the Remnant Stormtrooper lays on a tray with his extra hands and accessories around him.

To some, this may just be a dirty Stormtrooper, but I really dig what these guys represent. I can’t believe anyone bothering to read this review hasn’t watched at least the first season of The Mandalorian yet, but just in case… The series takes place after the events of The Return of the Jedi and recognizes that Galactic Empires, even defeated ones, don’t go away overnight. And that’s a pretty insightful concept for Star Wars. The galaxy is replete with planets where the local remnants of Imperial rule grasp desperately for a hold on their now baseless power. The Stormtroopers may still be at their posts, but as evidenced by their degraded armor, they’ve seen better days. As a result we have the Remnant Stormtrooper! After the unexplained, magical appearance of The First Order in the Sequel Trilogy, I found the world of The Mandalorian a lot more believable and interesting. And I just love the idea of a splintered Empire with Moffs and their Stormtroopers going it alone. The Empire ain’t sending any more replacement armor and the pomp and circumstance of inspections are a thing of the past. Hot Toys did a beautiful job taking their bright and shining galactic enforcers and making them slum it.

A good deal of this review will be making comparisons to the previous Hot Toys Stormtrooper, which I reviewed early last year, and I’ll have some comparison photos at the end. To be honest, I was expecting a straight repaint, but instead Hot Toys gave us what is practically a brand new figure. The biggest differences can be found in the abdominal armor, which is completely new, and the belt, which is now made entirely of plastic, where the previous one was plastic and cloth. Overall, the armor detail on this figure is a lot sharper in places, particularly on the detail in the back plate, but I think it would be safe to say that the majority of this armor is different, subtle in some ways and obvious in others. Is one better than the other? I guess it’s a matter of preference. The previous one looks more classic to me, and while I haven’t scrutinized any screen shots, I’m guessing these changes are made to reflect actual changes in the costumes for The Mandalorian series.

As has been the case with Hot Toys troopers, the underlying body is wearing a black body suit and the armor pieces are worn on top of that, rather than being sculpted as part of the body. Exceptions include the boots and helmet. Even the body suit is different, with the previous release being mostly plain cloth and this one having more of a quilted texture, which feels more in tune with the sharper detail on the armor. Either way, I’m always happy to see cloth as opposed to vinyl used for the suit, but unfortunately it only opens up the range of articulation a little bit. There is a nice range of motion in the arms, but not so much in the legs, and it’s hard to tell what exactly is holding it back.

The helmet also varies a bit from the previous Stormy, particularly around the chin and the vents on the cheeks. The helmet also feels like it sits a little higher off the shoulder, which would probably make it compatible with a pauldron if you happen to have one and want to make him an officer. Another notable difference is in the goggles, which were tinted green on the previous figure and here appear to be just black. And now is as good a time as any to discuss the weathering, which is really well done. All of it is achieved through paint, despite the fact that many of the chips look convincing enough that I thought I would be able to actually feel them on the armor. The chipping is particularly heavy on the helmet, perhaps because it gets thrown around a lot, and on the left shoulder. There’s also some yellowing around the edges of most of the armor pieces, and some splotches of general dirt and what looks like pitting from rust. It all looks great, but I’d be curious to see if the weathering is identical from figure to figure. Not that I’m planning on picking up a second, but that would probably be a deal breaker to have two or more with the exact same chipping patterns.

The last Stormtrooper was pretty light on the accessories, so I wasn’t disappointed to see this one is too. You do get the usual passel of extra hands, including fists, relaxed hands, weapon holding hands, and the like. These are very easy to swap out, which is always welcome, although positioning the arms can sometimes cause the forearm armor to shift forward and knock the hands off their pegs. It’s not a big deal and I’m happier to have them pop off now and then as opposed to being so hard to pop off that I’m afraid I’ll snap something.

And of course, you can’t have a Stormtrooper without his trusty E-11 Blaster. This looks like it’s borrowed directly from the previous Stormtrooper, and that’s fine because it’s an absolutely beautiful little blaster. The attention to detail is fantastic as always, and the folding stock is articulated, albeit rather fragile. Unfortunately, the Remnant Stormy does not come with a holster for the weapon, like the regular release did. I’m not sure if this was omitted for canonical reasons or just because Hot Toys didn’t want to toss it in, but seeing as how they don’t usually cheap out, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Much to my surprise, this box did contain one additional weapon, and that’s the SE-14 Light Repeating Blaster Pistol. This was a great little bonus, as I’ve never had a nice version of it for any of my figures. The sculpt lacks the complexity of the E-11 Blaster, but it’s still an excellent little piece, which he may wind up sharing with the other Stormtrooper. And not to sound ungrateful, but the inclusion of the pistol makes me wish even more that they had given him a holster so that he could carry both.

As always, our last stop on these reviews is the figure stand, and this one is both generic and functional. They did actually print Remnant Stormtrooper on the name plate, which I was happy to see, although I was surprised that they did not brand it with the series name.

The Remnant Stormtrooper probably isn’t a must-have, even for people who are going to be collecting other Hot Toys from The Mandalorian. Once again, if I wasn’t made extra impulsive by a bottle of Jameson, I probably wouldn’t have made this purchase. But ultimately, I’m very glad that I did. While this could have been a cheap-and-quick cash grab, Hot Toys put a lot of work into this release and the result makes for a distinctive looking figure, even when he’s standing right next to the vanilla Stormtrooper. And as I mentioned at the outset of this review, the whole concept of the fragmentation of the Remnant Empire is easily one of my favorite concepts introduced in the franchise and this fellow represents it well. I think this figure retails for just a tad over $200, but by the time I was done throwing coupon codes and reward points at him, I stole him for about $90. Well worth it if you ask me!

Star Wars: The Mandalorian “Vintage Collection” Imperial Troop Transport by Hasbro

Feels like it’s been a while since I checked out a Star Wars vehicle, and I’ve got quite a stack of them from the Vintage Collection, piling up in the corner and waiting to be opened. One of the ones that had me the most excited was the Imperial Troop Transport from The Mandalorian. Of all the fan service that Disney could have packed into that series, who would have guessed that one of the biggest would be a nod back to an old Kenner toy? And this is after the Troop Transport got a previous nod (and toy) in the Rebels 3 3/4-inch line. The ITT has become one popular little vehicle. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid, but my best friend did and I loved playing with it, despite it’s boxy and impractical design it somehow quickly became iconic to me.

And boy does this thing look great in the vintage packaging! Mine arrived a little rough around the corners, but hey… IT’S VINTAGE!!! Getting beaten up in shipping gives it character! You get shots of the toy in action on the front and back panels as well as some close up shots on the side panels. The ITT comes nearly fully assembled, so you can get a pretty good idea of the vehicle’s size before you even open the box. And yes, that means it can go back into the box for storage, which is always a HUGE plus for me with these Vintage Collection releases. It’s also worth noting that there are no electronic features, so if you like pretty lights and sounds, you’re out of luck. On the other hand it also means you don’t have to have any batteries handy, either. I really think they missed an opportunity at packing in a Remnant Stormtrooper with this vehicle, but I’ll have more to say on that later. For now, let’s open this baby up and check her out!

Based on its appearance toward the end of The Mandalorian Season One, the Imperial Troop Transport takes the old Kenner design and peppers it with realism. And rather than beat around the bush, let me just toss out the best and worst things about the ITT right away: It’s got some amazing detail and it’s too small. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is quite as nice a piece as the Rogue One Hover Tank, but that vehicle is damn hard to beat when it comes to its weathered paint scheme and its great attention to even the tiniest details. The Transport comes pretty damn close, though. For starters, the sculpt is packed with all sorts of little hatches, panel lines, vents, piping, and everything the design needed to make it look like a real vehicle. Coupled with the greasy and grimy paint weathering, this cool deco goes a long way to convince me that this is a relic of the old Empire that’s been dragged back into service by the locals to try to maintain a scrap of power and bully the population. Much like the grubby Stormtrooper armor worn by the Remnant, this thing has seen better days, and it seems like the days of Imperial disciplined maintenance are a thing of the past.

There aren’t a ton of features on the outside. There are a pair of blaster cannon protruding from slits in the cheeks of the cab, and there’s a turret on the top that can rotate. That’s pretty much it. The vehicle does have some concealed wheels on the bottom, so it will roll, even though it’s intended to hover. It’s a shame they couldn’t have done something similar to the old Kenner Landspeeder and made them a little springy to improve the hover effect, as the simple engineering on that toy still impresses me and I think that would have been a cool feature here. If you flip the vehicle over you can check out all the amazing detail packed into an area you that you are likely never going to actually see, and that’s pretty cool! There are a series of vents, which I presume are repulse engines of some kind and a bunch of other bits and bobs.

The back of the vehicle opens up to reveal the interior and allow the Stromtroopers to burst out with E-11’s blazing. It seems like it would have made more sense to have the back drop down like a tailgate, giving the troops a ramp to descend, but I guess this design affords the disembarking troops some protection from strafing fighters.

The interior is also accessible from the top, which lifts off to reveal more amazing detail. The deck plates are fully sculpted and there’s a section over the cab that reveals some of the inner machinations of the vehicle. I suppose this could serve as a service hatch. There are some other features inside that we’ll check out in a bit. As a stand alone model of the Troop Transport seen in the series, I have no complaints at all, as this thing is absolutely gorgeous. But at this point, I’m going to grab a bunch of Stormies and we’re going to see how things go down hill once we start playing with it.

The cockpit opens up via the two side doors and… Wow is it cramped in here! It took some doing just to get the Stormtroopers seated in a reasonably convincing manner. There’s a ton of great detail in the cabin, but it’s tough to appreciate it because of the crazy tight quarters. I really wish the top piece that came off included the top of the cab as well. That way I could position the drivers better and maybe even get their hands on the steering yokes. I could also get to see all the work that went into sculpting this area. Such a simple change would have made a huge difference. I do like how there’s a window between the cab and the back compartment, and they did a great job detailing the interior of the doors.

The ITT is most known for the human pockets on the sides, which betrayed the true purpose of the toy being to hold figures. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone owning SIX Stormtroopers to fill it up! I mean, holy smokes were some parents made of money??? But now I’m all grown up and I can buy as many Stormtroopers as I want. Who thought it was a good idea to have troops exposed in these side-pockets, rather than ride inside the armored transport is beyond me. I imagine this thing pulling up to deploy with six corpses slumped in the compartments. But I do like how they incorporated it into the show and had the troops pouring out of it. I think I actually said out loud, “Cool! So that’s how that works!” My cats were confused and unimpressed. Only two of these compartments open up, which is INCREDIBLY cheap for a toy that costs this much. How does seventy dollars buy me only two opening hatches? The doorways leading inside from each side pocket are also very small, which would be forgivable if you climbed up some stairs to get out through it, but the way it is you really have to use your imagination to make it work. And I’ll tell ya… imagination is made for $20 Troop Transports. Not ones that cost this much, Dammit!

There’s a hatch on the top that opens so you can have a Stormtrooper poke his head out, maybe as a spotter or something.  Unfortunately, doing so really shows off the limitations of that turret. The opened hatch blocks its line of fire, and while we’re on the subject notice how if they started firing that thing it would head-shot all the Stormtroopers on the sides of the vehicle! It all harkens back to the running theme of this review… the ITT is too damn small.

As we saw, the back opens up to allow troops to disembark, but the hatch is so low they can’t even stand up under it. It’s hard to believe stumbling out of this thing at a low crouch is an ideal way to enter the heat of battle. And what you’re seeing is also the same clearance as exists inside the vehicle with the top closed. That means the Stormies can’t even stand up in this thing when it’s buttoned up. So let’s go inside and have a better look.

There are some cool ideas going on in here. Firstly, there’s a weapons rack for your Stormy’s guns. I wasn’t really able to make it work very well. Also, the toy is $70, could you not fill the rack with some guns to pad out the value??? There are folding seats inside, which is a neat, but it’s so tight inside that there’s barely room for two occupants to sit opposite each other. It works better if you stagger. The seats are also so low that they have to sit awkwardly or with their legs all the way out. Needless to say, a Stormtrooper can’t stand in here with the top on and so the whole thing just feels very limiting and not a lot of fun. Now, I understand that Hasbro frequently down scales ships to make them work, but the ITT isn’t an example where that should have been necessary. I feel like if this thing were 10% bigger it would have made all the difference in the world. And considering that it has no electronics, no pack in figures, and not a lot of play features, it seems like they should have been able to make it bigger within the price point.

I suppose the Imperial Troop Transport makes a worthy display piece if you want to throw some troops on it and display it on your shelf. But if you’re hoping to have any fun playing around with it, you may want to keep those hopes in check. It’s clear Hasbro put a lot of love and craftsmanship into the sculpt and paint, but then they stumbled at the finish line by under scaling it so much. And I honestly can’t see where all the money went with this toy. Hell, the Rogue One Tank was overpriced too, but at least it had a lot more complexity to it. Keep in mind, I only paid $50 for my Troop Transport, and it still feels like too much. When I had a hankering to review a Star Wars vehicle today, I probably should have gone for the Black Series 6-inch Scale Snowspeeder. It was a much more impressive toy, and I kind of feel bad that I bumped this one ahead of the line.

Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Heavy Infantry Mandalorian by Hasbro

Six episodes in and I am still enjoying the hell out of The Mandalorian. And I’m overjoyed that Hasbro has released at least a few action figures from these episodes. Sure, there’s opportunity for plenty more. Sure, I’m hoping Hasbro goes full guns on this series. But whatever happens, I’m still plenty happy with what we’ve got. Today I’m having a look at the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian who turned up in Chapter 3: The Sin.

I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, other than this box is a little wider than most Black Series packages, and that’s to accommodate the extra gear. And in keeping with tradition, we don’t know a hell of a lot about this character. Well, other than he seems like a real prick at first. He even picks a fight with the titular Mando, to the point where the vibro-blades come out, all in what seems to be mostly a case of misplaced jealousy. But in the end Mr Heavy proves that Mandalorians stick together when he jumps in to support Mando as he breaks bad with his employers.

What we do know is that this guy is an absolute bruiser and that his armor and gear (at least to me) step just a little bit closer to Boba Fett’s familiar armor. I think a lot of that comes from the helmet and the forearm armor. Unlike most of the other Mandos, this guy is armored up from head to toe with the sculpted under-suit really only showing in his upper thighs and his elbows. This guy has obviously proven himself, because his armor is so complete and in relatively good condition. Not to mention that with his heft, it must have taken a lot of that precious besker steel to outfit him. The armor itself is pretty smooth and simple with a mostly blue deco. The exception is in the brown kneepads, lower right leg, and left leg cuff. It gives him that slightly ragtag look, like maybe those are the last pieces he needs to upgrade when he gets his next big score. The forearms feature some nice detailing in the way of panel lines and gizmos, and he’s got a hefty belt with a number of brown pouches, each with painted snaps. The armor is rounded out with some sparing and effective silver brushed weathering, some of which is emphasized in the sculpt with pockmarks and dents. This is a great looking figure!

Of course, one of the big draws in this design is the weaponized jetpack, which looks passingly familiar to the one worn by Boba. This one lacks the central missile and seems to have beefier thrusters, but makes up for it by powering two pretty impressive weapons via two cables. The heavier segmented cable coming out of the right side attaches to his big gatling laser, somewhat reminiscent to the one worn by Baze Malbus in Rogue One. And I’ll come back to the gatling laser in a bit.

The smaller gray cable attaches to the weapon mounted on the left gauntlet. I haven’t re-watched the episode recently, but I don’t remember him actually using the gauntlet weapon, so I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. Maybe just a big-ass flame thrower? That would be cool.

The helmet also strikes me as more reminiscent of Boba’s than the one worn by The Mando, but I think that has to do with the pock marks and the range finder. The helmet is mostly blue to match the rest of the armor, and features lighter blue paint apps for the “cheeks” and more of that silver brushed weathering. The range finder is on the left side of the helmet, is sculpted in place, and a lot beefier than the one on Boba’s helmet. I dig it!

And how about that big-ass blaster! That’s how you make a statement! This beast of a weapon looks like the kind of thing that would be mounted on a tripod, but they don’t call this guy Heavy Infantry Mando for nothing. He’s up to the task to wield this thing like a champ. The weapon can be pegged into the side of the jetpack for storage, and I’m impressed that even with all this gear on his back, the figure has no problems standing up. The giant death stick is just packed with sculpted detail, has some beautiful silver and blue paintwork near the muzzle and barrels, and even features a swiveling hand grip on the top allowing him to hold the weapon perfectly in a number of firing positions.

 

Oh boy, do I love this figure! Naturally, it would be great to get figures of all the Mandalorians in the series, but if we only get one, I’m glad they went with this one. He’s an absolutely gorgeous figure from sculpt to paint, and his giant weapon and near perfect balance makes him loads of fun to pose and play with. And I’m kind of glad that he didn’t turn out to be a total asshole by the end of the episode. Will we be seeing more of him? Well, we don’t have many episodes left, so who knows? I can’t imagine how the writers will spend the last two episodes they have wrapping things up, but I’m excited to find out.

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: 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.