Thursday, March 23, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,354: Chirrut Imwe (Rogue One Line Look)

CHIRRUT IMWE Projectile Firing
Rogue One   Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. B7072 No. B7276
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Staff, projectile, launcher
Action Feature: Launching arrow
Retail: $7.99
Availability: October 2016
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Deeply spiritual, Chirrut Îmwe believes all living things are connected through the Force. His sightless eyes do not prevent him from being a highly skilled warrior. Though he lacks Force abilities, this warrior monk has rigorously honed his body through intense physical and mental discipline.  (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: This is a good one - and for a time, was surprisingly easy to get.  One of many surprises in Rogue One, Chirrut Imwe brought the blind martial artist trope to Star Wars.  Well, the first explicit nod to it - Han Solo got a taste of that role in Return of the Jedi, but it was generally more slapstick in nature.  Chirrut got to be funny, but generally for other reasons.   Like the larger figure, he has a great head sculpt, a generous amount of armor and bandolier bits, and blued-out "blind" eyes.   Also surprisingly, his lightbow accessory is actually inspired by something on screen.  This wasn't necessarily obvious when he came out a full two months before the movie, so the swing-out elements and a decent firing mechanism were a nice touch.

Articulation more or less normal for this era, giving us a figure that reminds me a lot of the very first 1984 mail-in/POTF Anakin Skywalker.  The robes are cut down the middle, allowing his legs to swing forward.  Due to the bulk of the costume, you won't be getting him to fit in many vehicles.  Due to the lack of vehicles in this line, odds are this would never be a problem.   He can easily hold his staff - which is painted in a couple of spots - in either hand.  The bow clamps on his hands without too much fuss, but gravity is gravity and it's not like you're probably going to have him do a lot of aiming unassisted by hand.

I love the robe sculpting, I appreciate that they used extra tooling to separate his left hand from the sleeve, allowing both to be molded in plastic.  For a brief time I saw this figure sitting a lot, which is a shame because he's a great character and an above-average figure.  If you saw this movie and didn't like Chirrut, I don't even know what I'm supposed to say to you.  He was cool, the movie was fun enough, and Hasbro did a really good job with this figure given their current direction from whoever directs these things.  I know a common argument going around is "Wouldn't this be a better figure if it were completely different?"  Sure.  But it's not - this is the figure.   And it's a great figure given the circumstances surrounding its release, so do yourself a favor and grab it before Hasbro stops shipping them and someone charges you $50 for it on Amazon.  It's not going to be today, but I don't assume Hasbro will keep Rogue One characters in circulation once the line reboots for The Last Jedi come September.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,354: March 23, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,353: AT-AT Driver (The Black Series)

AT-AT DRIVER Big Figure Debut
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. B9804
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #31
Includes: Blaster Pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: November 2016
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The Empire's combat drivers are trained to handle everything in the Imperial ground arsenal, but AT-AT drivers see themselves as elite, controlling their massive four-footed assault vehicles in combat against Rebel targets. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  One of the bizarre things about being a long-term fan of this series is that facts change.  Really!  The AT-AT Driver has been white for as long as I know - people even called it a "white TIE Fighter pilot" at toy shows when rooting through toy bins in the 1980s and early 1990s.   To date, most of the figures have been white - but a few years ago, people started pointing out in prop replica forums that the figure was a darker color.  The light grey looked white in the dark AT-AT cockpit, which means that the vast majority of the Kenner and Hasbro 3 3/4-inch action figures you own of this costume are actually dead wrong.   Aren't we all lucky that they've only done a whole heck of a lot of them?

The figure is nice, and seems designed to be able to sit if you were so inclined - the hip joints are largely unobstructed save for the straps hanging over the legs.  Roughly 27 points of articulation await you, which is fantastic for a costume that you see mostly from behind and only sitting down in the movies.   The level of detail is good, but the paint job is really exceptional.  The helmet and chest armor are packed with little black, silver, and red details that are sure to invite scrutiny and pass with flying colors - provided we don't find out that there are other color strangenesses to consider later.  The helmet lenses are nice and big, and the Imperial cogs are fairly sharp.  There's not a lot going on with the arm or leg deco, but the colors do match nicely and that's what you're going to want.

Bend-and-swivel wrists are a lovely thing to have here, giving the figure a full range of motion to control the giant toy AT-AT Hasbro will never make because it would probably cost $1,000 or more to manufacture in today's economic climate.  Perhaps we can settle for a $300 AT-ST some day instead, although that would be a bit of a centerpiece in any collection and an eyesore in your home.   At least the driver figures would be cool, because you've got things like rocker ankles that you absolutely do not need.  This is how you get your $20 worth - the blaster has a silver marking on it, and the figure has pretty much all of the markings you could want.  Will you ever need to use the double-jointed knees?   No, but it's nice that Hasbro gave them to us.  It'd be nicer if we got a second accessory, but at least we got something useful rather than absolutely nothing like certain droids I could name.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,353: March 21, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,352: Sabine Wren (The Black Series)

SABINE WREN Season One Armor
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. B9882
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #33
Includes: Two blasters, helmet, paint sprayer
Action Feature: Removable helmet, articulated rangefinder, working holsters
Retail: $19.99
Availability: November 2016
Appearances: Star Wars: Rebels

Bio: Sabine Wren was a Mandalorian warrior, explosives expert, and talented graffiti artist - qualities that came in handy as one of the first to rebel against the Empire. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  Hasbro's really killing it with the "realistic" 6-inch Star Wars Rebels figures.  I don't know why they didn't do Sabine Wren earlier, because I don't know which fan of the franchise - even one who doesn't watch the show - wouldn't go for a Mandalorian Rebel artist warrior ex-Imperial.  As characters go, she's a multi-hyphenate in a world of archetypes.  On the show itself she's cooler on paper as they don't give her a heck of a lot of screen time, but I could say that about much of the main cast.  At least she has skills, desires, and interests beyond "something bad happened to my family" and "the Empire burned my house down."   Seriously, when have we ever really seen someone in Star Wars on the big or small screen with a hobby?   It's rare.

Her hair and armor are a big part of who she is, as this is a character with color who seems designed by someone who used to live in Phoenix.  (The bird logo, the purple and orange hair recalls the Phoenix Suns basketball team.)   Rather than cop out,  Hasbro ponied up the pennies on paint here.  The right shoulder has a checkerboard pattern, the left has a wolf.  Her chest armor is covered in stripes and the aforementioned Phoenix design, while her gloves and boots have paint splatter that - in a rarity on toys - is meant to represent paint splatter.  It's very convincing.    There's a lot of grey under all the purple and orange, but multiple shades of it break up the figure nicely.

I think it should go without saying, this is one of my favorite action figures out of Hasbro in recent years.  It's great.

The "realistic" version of the figure gives her a decent skin tone and face sculpt, although the biceps seem a little ill-defined due to the color.  Or sculpt.  Or both.  The face is expressive with a nice smirk, and of course you can hide the whole thing under a very tight helmet.  It fits, but I don't know if it will cause paint rub with frequent use.  I advise caution, or buying two figures just in case.  You wouldn't want to rub off the orange streak... or purple, for that matter.   The helmet itself looks cool although the dark purple border around the visor doesn't contrast from the purple plastic that makes up the rest of the helmet.  There are little sculpted scuffs too, which is a nice textural addition.

Her blasters are slightly weathered and slip in  her holsters or wrists without a problem.  The paint sprayer can sit in the holster, sort of, and comes undecorated.  She can also hold her helmet in her hands, and you can move its rangefinder with your fingers.   In other words, this figure is better than Boba Fett.

Based on my stats, you guys are mostly interested in Rebels stuff now.   Based on your comments and emails, you are not.  You are a confusing bunch.  I'd say old or new fans would be well-served to buy this one, mostly because there's nothing else quite like it.  I love the original trilogy movie stuff, but the Rebels stuff is far better than I'd imagined in this scale.  We've got Kanan already, Hera is on the way, I can't wait for them to finish the Ghost crew.   It might not ever happen, but I hope it does - Hasbro really delivered the goods with this one. 

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,352: March 15, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,351: Snowtrooper (The Black Series)

SNOWTROOPER The Grunt
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. B9884
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #35
Includes: Stormtrooper blaster, rifle too
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: November 2016
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Snowtroopers are stormtroopers trained for operations in arctic conditions and equipped with specialized gear to protect them against cold. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  As a kid I was pretty fascinated by masked and helmeted characters.  The Imperial Snowtrooper was a favorite, mostly because it was so strange - a helmet with some sort of cloth mask, and a waistcoat for some reason.  While being a mix of soft and hard armor, the helmet also resembles the garb of a revolting part of what most hoped was America's past, giving a subtle air of disgust for the bad guys.  Interestingly, kids and adults would go on to embrace Darth Vader and the agents of the Empire in a pretty big way as fans, collectors, cosplayers, and more - no matter how evil you are, fans are a forgiving bunch.

The classic Snowtrooper design is here, with Hoth Battle Gear dirtied up a tiny bit.  I've always found this odd - it may be accurate, but the old Kenner figure is in my head and as I grew up in the desert, I associate snow with being white, pristine, and not the slushy mess caked on his boots.  No, because I didn't see that until I went to New York for Toy Fair in my 20s.  (Thank you Mike Sullenger for the disgusting experience.)   The color on the boots is exactly what the frosty street sludge looks like when it gets near the pure white snow, so Hasbro did a nice job matching that gunk.   The creamy body glove looks good, as do the glossy white hard armor  bits.  The helmet does not have a removable head underneath, but it does sport two points of articulation around the neck to get some decent poses.  Its various lights and switches are painted nicely, and its backpack has more deco than the original Kenner figure.  It's nice, is what I'm saying.

I love the guns. They're fantastic.  The short stormtrooper blaster has a silver bit painted on the side, which is lovely.  The rifle is better - it's molded in black, with painted silver that give it the look of a used weapon with black paint worn away with time and use.  Both fit perfectly in either hand, and the arms are articulated to allow limited two-fisted posing.  It's not perfect, but bend-and-swivel joints have their limitations.   Thigh-swivels, rocker ankles, and bend-and-swivel wrists are all here for your enjoyment.   It's worth  noting that the figure has a codpiece that sticks out when you swing the legs forward, so don't do that.  I'm not a huge fan of that bit of engineering, but it's molded to the belt which in turn is molded to the rubbery kama hanging over his butt.   You gotta cover your butt.

For the price, it's great - I assume you'd love to army build him if it showed up in stores in good numbers.  The figure was part of a great wave of six new figures sold online last year, and they're consistent sellers.  The wave was packed with fan favorites new and old, with the Snowtrooper being an oft-requested stooge of the Empire - all but required on any collector's shelf.   The figure excels in this format, with great sculpting and paintwork.  It doesn't get to innovate, but it does give you what seems to be the logical extreme of just how good this format can look today without raising the price.  Nicely done.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,351: March 13, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,350: Scarif Stormtrooper Squad Leader (The Black Series)

SCARIF STORMTROOPER SQUAD LEADER More Blue
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. B9801
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #28
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2016
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Specialist Stormtroopers stationed at the top secret Imperial military headquarters on Scarif, Shoretroopers patrol the beaches and bunkers of the planetary facility. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!


Commentary:  Beach Stormtroopers?  Yes.  The non-exclusive Scarif Stormtrooper Squad Leader brings us one of three Shoretrooper armors, and this is a good one.  There's a lot of variation between the styles, which is a huge change from the Sandtroopers, Clone Troopers, and whatever else you've seen. The colors are great - one of my co-workers is collecting the various flavors of Shoretrooper and she's right to do it!  They're wonderful.   This Squad Leader has the best 6-inch deco on such a trooper so far, with the figure giving your old favorite Stormtrooper a real run for its money.  Especially when you factor in inflation!

The figure is cast in a sandy brown plastic with dark brown pants, matching shoes, and some wonderful battle damage.  It's not Hasbro's best, but maybe second best.  (Look, I loved those Revenge of the Sith Clone Trooper scuffs and marks.)  The figure is retooled slightly from the exclusive, non-leader version - note the distinctive belt and kama!  The deco adds blue to the chest and shoulders, plus a fancy yellow "U" on the chest.  The mud splatter looks good, as do the painted vents on the figure's back side.   The distressed blue striping is sharp, and the shins are messed up just a little bit - it does a good job bringing out the sculpted detail while also hinting that this trooper spent some time in the water.

Articulation is good - he has no problem double-gripping his rifle, and there's cool silver wear-and-tear on it too.   The leg articulation is good too, although he won't be doing much sitting thanks to the plastic skirt piece.   The rocker ankles are conducive to all sorts of poses, and thankfully they're solid enough to keep him upright.   It's good.   It's not perfect - it's hard to do perfect at this scale at mass-market price points - but the paint applications are nice and clean, the colors are vibrant, and it's a cool design.  I hope there are more things like this in the Lucasfilm playbook, because I am so bored with white troopers at this point.   Color and variety are good, even if it's color on top of earth tones.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,350: March 8, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,349: Baze Malbus (The Black Series)

BAZE MALBUS And the Force Is With Him
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. C1366
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #37
Includes: Belt plug-in gizmo, backpack, blaster/cape, cable
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: January 2017
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio:  The harsh reality of his Imperial-occupied home world has hardened Baze Malbus into a pragmatic soldier and a crack shot with his heavy repeater cannon. His bravado that provides a contrast to the spiritual centeredness of his best friend and moral compass, Chirrut Ímwe. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  R2-D2 needs C-3PO and in Rogue One,  Chirrut Imwe needs Baze Malbus.  The two former members of a Force-related temple on Jedha seemed to be hanging out in a slum for reasons we never really saw on the big screen.   He's basically as good as any other 6-inch action figure from Hasbro, with a skin translucency that's different than Chirrut, but quite good.  You'll see a little more light passes through Baze's face, unlike Chirrut's.   This gives him a slightly softer look, not unlike the Vaseline-lens used in old Hollywood movies.   Considering he's a harsher, tougher character it's certainly an interesting design choice.

He's good - the head sculpt looks more than a little like him, thanks mostly to the recognizable hair and beard.  It's one of the better Hasbro beards, and the hair turned out quite nicely.  The eyes and eyebrows are good, but they're not as good as Chirrut's.   In any other wave, this would probably be the winner - it's just tough to compete with something as good as his predecessor.  The costume itself is dang near perfect as you can get, with a suit that looks like it was made out of junk found around IBM's dumpster in 1976.   This is what you want.   The off-white plastic bits on the weathered, body suit just plain work, and the shiny red armor bits are pretty great.  They're not all consistent in color, but it doesn't seem they were exactly the same in the movie either.  There could stand to be a bit more weathering on the figure and a hint of grey in the beard, but given the size it's probably better to understate than overstate these details.  Stuff vanishes as you go smaller.

Articulation is normal.  Actually, it's great - but if you're doing the same thing for several years, "great" is no longer superlative.  Consistency is good with bend-and-swivel wrists, rocker ankles, and enough arm movement to allow for double-gripping of his massive cannon.  The backpack fits nicely, and what's even more surprising is that there's a small accessory that plugs in to the back of his belt.  What is it? I don't know.  But it looks neat, and I assume loose examples of this figure will be missing this piece later.

As Baze's one and only costume, it's unlikely you'll ever see a variant costume for him ever again unless he cameos in the Han Solo side story movie.   Maybe we'll see a deluxe deco version some day, but again, I doubt it - I think this duo is only going to become more popular as the years go on, so be sure you don't skip them.   We've yet to see what kind of attention span the new Hasbro has under Disney's lead, but I have yet to see any evidence that anyone is interested in looking back with three or more new movies on the horizon over the next few years.   Thankfully Baze is well-constructed, so I don't expect him to fall over on your shelve before these movies hit home video.


Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,349: March 6, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,348: Chirrut Imwe (The Black Series)

CHIRRUT IMWE Is One with the Force
The Force Awakens The Black Series 6-Inch Figure
Item No.:
Asst. B3834 No. C1365
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #36
Includes: Lightbow, staff
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: January 2017
Appearances: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Bio: Deeply spiritual, Chirrut Imwe believes all living things are connected through the Force. Though he lacks Force abilities, his sightless eyes do not prevent him from being a highly skilled warrior  monk. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary:  When people walked out of Rogue One, it would seem the characters left a bigger mark than the film itself.  Depending on what you brought to the table, you got a huge kick out of Chirrut Imwe for any of many possible reasons.   Some fans saw him as half of a couple.  Some saw him and Baze as a sort of new R2-D2 and C-3PO.  Others enjoyed seeing a Force religion beyond Jedi.  And of course, more still just loved seeing the classic Zatoichi archetype adapted for space opera.   Not only was he a baadasssss of the first order, but he got to be a decent comic character that got to send up the classic kidnapping convention of throwing a bag over somebody's head.   That alone was worth the price of admission.

The smaller figure (which I had neglected to review) is awesome, but the big one?  Even awesomer.  (Which, by the way, is a word.  It's also a great album.)   Hasbro delivered the goods here with a fantastic portrait of the actor Donnie Yen, marvelous-for-Hasbro deco, smart use of soft goods, and a better-than-expected Lightbow accessory.  The staff is a staff - two painted silver bits - but the lightbow is pretty gorgeous.  It has two grips, both of which he can easily hold.  The two bits fold in nicely, and I assume - as I don't have all the reference books - it was made by Baze.  According to some early stuff, a gimmick for the movie was that Baze was some sort of gun genius and he designed all sorts of awesome weapons - which is not what I saw in the final cut, so who knows?     The deco is sharp and the parts all move nicely - there's even a joint on the front to rotate the tongs around if you're so inclined.

The figure itself is good too!  It looks closer to the actor than some figures, and the skin tone isn't as waxy or translucent as some other figures.  Specifically, Baze.   The blind eye deco is sharp and so is the stripe on the cloth part of his robes.  Everything seems to be in order quite nicely, from the bandolier to the wrist armor.   Articulation is on par with the bulk of the better Disney-era characters, with double-jointed knees and rocker ankles and bend-and-swivel wrists.  He has no problems aiming his bow - which I am very surprised to see - and the mixed media robes hang quite nicely.  The red cloth looks gorgeous, and the black plastic mixes with the black cloth well enough that I don't think you'll be upset by it.     The eyebrows could probably be improved a bit - if you get close, you might notice that parts of the sculpted brow weren't painted.   The funny thing is the figure looks pretty fantastic even with this in mind, so I'm not sure if it would be better or worse with fully-painted brows.   Of course, you probably won't see him in the store anyway, so it's not like you're going to have a chance to find out without buying one online.  (Or so is my guess.)

I like this one a ton - I really dug the characters in the movie and it came with everything I could want, with the articulation he needs, and better than expected accessories.   Hasbro definitely hit the high notes and delivered a figure that meets my needs.   I can't wait to look at Baze!  ...who is also here on my desk.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.  

--Adam Pawlus


Day 2,348: March 2, 2017