"Black Friday" was always named as such, by my awareness, because it was a miserable time to be out shopping since the hordes descended upon stores for the deals. As such, it really kind of bothers me that retailers have embraced the term and turned it into its own horrible brand. It would be as if, to use the old adage, lawyers attempted to and succeeded at turning the term "shyster" into a positive. Just rubs me the wrong way. That said though, I am a materialist so while I avoid "Brick & Mortar" like the plague that weekend I cruise a lot of the websites. Unlike last year Mattycollector had no exceptional deals but conversely Amazon went insane with some of their pricing, thus resulting in what you're about to behold.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black: Darth Maul
A strong case could be made that Darth Maul is the only good thing to come out of the Star Wars prequels so leading off with him in the new 6" line makes sense, and this figure is a perfect summation of the line. He's a 9-out-of-10 but that remaining 1 is so conspicuous it actually makes the figure feel like a 7. The bummer here is that he does not have double-hinged elbows. This is not a huge deal but becomes quite noticeable when you can't have him look into his macro-binoculars. What good are the macros if he can't look into them? If he has the macros, he also needs his probe-droid controlling wrist band. He includes two heads for hood-up and hood-down look (god bless Amazon for selling these at $10/each!). He should have come with a "half saber" hilt with sculpted damage at the midpoint and the hilt he does get should be one solid piece. There is no excuse nor reason for this figure to have a two-piece lightsaber hilt, especially when is comes apart so easily. This could have been the definitive Theed Palace Maul with a future hooded variant including the binoculars, control bracelet and a probe droid for the definitive Tatooine Maul. This is really a great figure but like I said, and you can no doubt tell, I'm so hung-up on the "half way there"-ness that I can't fully appreciate it.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black: Greedo
I'm shocked as hell that not only they did Greedo but did him in the second series! It's going to take forever to get the signature A-List-ers with the occasional B/C-List-er like this guy. That said, though, of course he turned out pretty darn cool. I love the dark washes on his outfit to bring out the details. He only comes with his blaster, which is fine, but considering how decked out other figures are I wish he'd had a drink or something too. The articulation works surprisingly well for some nice subtle posing but his very straight-fingered left hand limits a lot of options since it's so odd/false looking. Beyond the hand and somewhat forgivable lake of accessories the only complaint that I have is that Greedo's eyes are ovals... not circles. It's the annoying little detail that once noticed can never be unnoticed. Oh well. This guy was only a couple dollars off, but I was on such a roll I couldn't help but get him, and a welcome addition to the collection he is.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black: R2-D2
This is one of the worst figures of the year. Yes, plenty of alternate parts and such and a decent enough sculpt but that's where it ends. The real crime of this figure is the "play feature" of turning the head to move the center leg. It's insulting. If references to old figures are going to be part of this line then why doesn't Luke have telescoping lightsabers? Right, because though nostalgic they make for bad figures, particularly ones marketed as "definitive." Not only is the play feature dumb, it also results in over/under-extended legs and the head at odd angles without some jerrying. Then... there's the paint. Or lack there of. The body looks cheap as hell without any wash or detailing on the white plastic (see Greedo), the blue universally has soft edges and the vac-metallized dome isn't that well done and has a massive seam running across it. If this were 1995 this figure would be cool. In 2013 it is offensive, particularly at the $20 asking price. Even at the $10 I paid it's a let down and only worth getting for completionism. The worst part is that this figure is so bad they will have to re-do him down the line eating up a spot for a new character/costume and wasting the money we spent on this one.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black: Slave Leia
People seem to really hate this figure and I just don't get it. Sure it seems like sort of an odd choice for the first Leia but the Slave outfit does make some sense as it's become a lamentable Convention meme and probably has "cross-over appeal." Due to the naked-ness the articulation is a bit limited but she can, at least, come closer to the "reclining against Jabba" pose than I expected - so that's a plus. She comes with Boussh's pike/blaster thing and a skiff axe. They're nice inclusion, but honestly a couple pillows or Salacious Crumb would have been more welcome. Also, the links on her chain are open so that one can extend it with a metal chain should they desire, a nice touch. All that and probably the best Carrie Fisher likeness to date. I'm not terribly surprised that she (along with Greedo) is a pegwarmer, but she's still a solid entry in the line.
Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Coruscant (Anakin Skywalker & 501st Legion Trooper)
I knew if I held out long enough somewhat would drop these cheap 2-packs even lower, and thus Amazon gave them to me at five bucks a pop! Both are nice sculpts, with decent enough paint - well, once you get a good one. One of the main reasons I don't like buying toys online is that you can't inspect the product first, and thus that proved the case here as I got stuck with a Trooper whose helmet paint was way off. So... I had to do an exchange at Target - thanks for the hassle, internet. Anakin turned out well enough and I'm quite pleased to have an "Anakin Vader" (aka Anakin with evil yellow eyes) in the collection.
Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Geonosis (Battle Droid & Jango Fett)
Jango is the clear winner of this set, because Battle Droid schmattel froid. The latter turned out well enough with a removable backpack which the blaster can connect too, though the arms block an even orientation, though it of course has trouble standing. Jango is pretty cool with truly an excellent pose. There's some real subtlety to the sculpt that give him a lot of character through a very classic gunslinger pose. His jetpack and guns are removable though his holsters are cast shut. I'm into the "5-points" revolution but I do wish they'd include little "plusses" like holsters for old Django here.
Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Star Destroyer (Darth Vader & Seeker Droid)
Having grown up with the original Kenner figures there is definitely some novelty to seeing the sculpted/split skirt on this figure. While I always prefer plastic to fabric, the cloth cape is, I feel, the right kind of "plussing" to the old Kenner format. Most importantly, the sculpt is quite good and the paint, though minimal, is as well. Vader gets packed with some weird droid that is a slight revision to the recent figure (which I don't yet have, parumph!) of the Star Tours 2.0 Seeker Droid. It's an odd choice here, but presumably the relatively low price of $10 for two figures requires a high degree of reuse.
Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Utapau (Battle Droid & 212th Battalion Clone Trooper
Here we get two predictably straight repaints. Both have the same good sculpts and decent paint of their brothers. With prices going through the roof these days I'm not at all opposed to the return of '5-points-of-articulation' figures, as long as they still follow modern aesthetics, which is to say I am more interested in the Hasbro Star Wars style than the Super 7/Funko Re-Action line. What does bug me here is the strict adherence to "5 swivel joints" when there are ways to maintain the same budget "plus" up a bit with the Clone Trooper helmet being a prime example - it should really be a ball-and-socket joint rather than a cut neck. But oh well, what are you going to do? These figures are still better than 6" R2.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Droid Factory
I honestly had no interest in this at all but when Amazon cut it to $15 total I simply had to buy in. Not only is that $2.50 a figure, it's 75% off - so I must not be the only one to not give a damn about six minor repaints and one new but wildly obscure Prequel figure. 212th Battallion Clone Trooper is yet another reissue of the latest Clone figure this time in the Utapau colors. Battle Droid This is the first version of the Episode 1 sculpt with the super articulation that I've gotten and indeed it is quite impressive. Of course, with the articulation it is a little harder to get him standing but it does make for a funner figure, plus bonus points for including both the backpack and the commander antennae. Black Squadron TIE Pilot is just another TIE pilot but at least he's Classic Trilogy! Sandtrooper is the minimalist of all repaints and I do honestly feel quite Sandtrooper-ed out. Sun Fac is the only army-builder that really appealed to me because they made the Geonosians so infrequently and specifically. He's articulated to the X-Treme, but is likewise tricky to keep upright. FA-4 is the one all-new figure and he turned out pretty well considering he was meant to be a BAF, I particularly like the head/neck design. However, seeing as he was Dooku's chauffeur in, like, two shots - who cares? TC-70 is a simple repaint of the base BAF protocol droid but now painted as Jabba's servant from the abysmal start to The Clone Wars show - what uselessness. While all of these figures are good, or arguably very good, not a single one is exciting or interesting.