Hasbro and George Lucas killed my love for Star Wars over the last 15 years. Lucas made three awful/disrespectful movies while simultaneously completely selling out, but it's really been Hasbro's continually less impressive handling of the brand over the last ~seven years that has driven me into a total state of brand fatigue. But... along comes Kathleen Kennedy and everything starts to change and each successive step she's taken with Star Wars has brought me closer and closer back to the fold and while I may not agree with some of the apparent and implied choices with Episode 7: The Force Awakens there is absolutely no doubt that is has re-kindled the FUN of being a Star Wars fan and having something to honestly look forward to. As a result, nostalgia for the the Prequel craze has started to sink in and with the announcement of a new round of "Midnight Madness" - ahem - I mean, "Force Friday" all of my youthful anticipation has kicked into high gear and thus I found myself in a long line waiting for a Toys R Us to open at midnight so that I could buy a whole bevy of new toys!
And now... the action figures! The format that Star Wars turned into an industry! This was, of course, the most exciting and most anticipated category of toys for Force Friday and by far the most under-stocked and quickest seller. The Toys R Us I was at at midnight had one 6" Chewie and three 4" Resistance troopers by them time i made it to the aisle. The Target I went to right after had a mild smattering of some stuff but the bulk of my purchases came from the Target I was at for the 8am opening, and even then I wasn't able to get everything - in particular a 6" Stormtrooper which is really all I "needed" to walk away from Force Friday with. The rumors are a flutter and it really does appear that Hasbro intentionally under-stocked all store with 4" and 6" figures - now, if this was paranoia of clogging pegs three months before the movie or an intentional move to generate a false sense of scarcity and build fervor, I'm sure I don't know, but the result is that Force Friday was the antithesis of the fun of the Prequel Midnight Madnesses and weakened my affinity for Lucasfilm, Hasbro and Star Wars (I'm a cynic so I think it was an intentional thing to try and boost scarcity and drive fervor/sales) rather than strengthen it, as seemed to be the point. I still bought and will buy the toys, but gone is the illusion that this is "for the fans" or that Lucasfilm/Kathleen Kennedy is concerned with "family" of Star Wars and more with generating as much cash as they can. Thank you, stockholders.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black Series: Finn (Jakku)
A really good sculpt with pretty minimal paint. Articulation is everything we've to expect, which means, as is likewise expected, I have to complain about how much more important important doubled hinged elbows are than double hinged knees. The overly black costume and lack of paint make the figure look bland and cheap, but I do like that the jacket has the ribbed bands on the sleeves like Greedo and Ceremony Luke. I strongly dislike Finn's gun - it's the antithesis of all the weapons from the classic trilogy and looks too much like a designer drew out a "cool sci-fi gun." It looks more like a Super Soaker or a knock-off Nerf gun that something from Star Wars to me. Finn's head is nice but it has a very odd, almost hazy quality to it... it looks like it was 3D printed. And not in a design sense, in a production sense. The most annoying, thing, though and that the head is so tight on the neck it's effectively just a swivel joint.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black Series: Rey (Jakku) & BB-8
Good sculpt, minimal but fine paint. Rey is kind of ridiculously pale, like all Hasbro-ian women in Star Wars of late it seems. Her staff accessory is neat though it really would have been great if the strap were softgoods or a separate piece so she could wear it slung over her back. The real star here is BB-8, though. He's hollow with his head on a long barbell joint (basically a double balljoint) which not only allows you full range of head positioning but it also affects the center of weight which opens up posing even more. For as much as I gripe about Hasbro, this is a really great piece of engineering and a great solution to a character with some complex physics!
Hasbro - Star Wars Black Series: Kylo Ren
In general I hate softgoods, especially when it comes to Hasbro/Star Wars but they picked a really nice, textured fabric for Rilo Kiley's cloak and it looks pretty good. The good, of course, leaves much to be desired but from what I've seen and experienced it can be improved by fussing around with how untucked it is from the sculpted scarf. His lightsaber is nice and I appreciate that the blades are removable from the hilt (though the hilt doesn't connect to the belt or anything) but the extra bit of energy connecting the blades isn't that... appealing. On the plus side, though, the blades have a bit more of a frenetic sculpt to them giving a better sense of what we saw in the teaser than the Disney Elite figure. Beyond that, sculpt paint and articulation are what we expect from this line.
Hasbro - Star Wars Black Series: Chewbacca
Yaaaaaaaaaawn. I wasn't crazy about the first Chewie figure and this is just a new head and satchel with slightly lighter paint. The good news is that will pass easily for Original Trilogy should you want that, the bad news is that there's nothing unique or special about a Chewbacca that's 30 years older than the last time we saw him. And don't give me that crap about "oh, he's 200 years old" or whatever, that's such goofy Expanded Universe malarkey that it's really ridiculous they would have kept that when the jettisoned everything else. I'm really bummed Old Chewie doesn't have streak of gray in his fur. That just would have looked so much cooler.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Constable Zuvio
Oooh, this first "new" character (that we hadn't seen or heard of before this toy). He/she/it is a fairly neat desert denizen type, but the wide set eyes and, especially, disk-y hat make him look very Clone Wars. He comes with a rifle/staff and a backpack, plus two arms for the garbage build-a-nobody-wants-it. My only real issue with this guy is that he is very back heavy and is really tough to get and keep standing. Oh how I wish these came with bases (especially interconnecting ones like with the old Episode II figures) instead of this build-a-crap junk.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Finn (Jakku)
I'm sure there is a good reason for why Finn has such a boring costume, but man does this guy have a boring costume! The black shirt/black pants is just so un-dynamic and unappealing. He comes with his Super Soaker and the only kind-of-neat build-a-crap piece - a tiny droid with tanktreads and machine gun arms. The Build-a-Weapons are all split into "three parts" available with different figures, so you gotta buy all three to complete the thing, which generally manages to look almost sillier that the individual pieces. There is absolutely no reason to believe these have anything to do with the actual movie so all they are is at least an extra dollar on the pricetag (these figures are $8 whereas previous single-carded figures were $6 and lacked the build-a-crap) and something no one wants or needs. I totally get that build-a-whatever pack-ins induce compulsive buying but at least make the things relevant. If not a figure (or droid) then bases!
Hasbro - Star Wars: First Order Flametrooper
A nice sculpt with decent paint. The 5PoA format does hurt this guy in that he can't two-hand-hold the gun. Surprisingly, though, the gun and its attached hose can be unplugged from the backpack (which is also removable). Since he can't two-hand the gun I quite wish the legs were more "waiting for the bus" because if the 5PoA format is good for one thing, it's armybuilding ranks for official inspection! And man, man, this whole lack of flame thing is really killing me - it's a FLAMEtrooper! They should all come with a trans-orange fire spray that can attach to the gun!
Hasbro - Star Wars: First Order Stormtrooper
Here he is - the lifebloood of Star Wars toys, the Stormtrooper! The sculpt is nice and the paint is on par for 5PoA. I like this design. Like with his Star Trek aesthetic it does have a very, very strong Apple/iProduct sensibility but it still looks neat and make for a fun toy. The trooper comes with his standard blaster (but no little one) and his build-a-junk piece is... an actual gun! So even though is very toyish, massive and (likely) not from the movie, at least an accessory he can properly use.
Hasbro - Star Wars: First Order TIE Fighter Pilot
Another solid figure for 5PoA and a reasonable update to the classic design. I wonder if that weird think on the top of the helmet is a visor that would swing down? I guess we'll find out at the end of the year. A fun fact, he fits in the TIE fighter better than the figure it comes with. And from what I hear, Poe does the same in regards to his X-Wing. I wonder if that was a factory screw-up, a cost thing with the removable helmets or just Hasbro being Hasbro. I accidentally got two of this guy and I might keep the second since I really like these cards. It's so nice to see not only character-specific cards but such neat card art, too!
Hasbro - Star Wars: Poe Dameron
I'm pretty darn jazzed to see X-Wing pilot suits return! In the trailer and stills the jumpsuits look more red than orange and like the rest of the costumes they look more "designed" (i.e. artistic) than functional but it's still a motif I quite like. It's interesting here that Poe has a black helmet as it seems like half the toys have black and red and half the toys have white and blue, so I guess he changes helmets for the X-Wing he's flying? We shall see. It is kind of a bummer that the helmet isn't removable but "cost reasons," I'm sure. Poe gets a tiny little blaster that fits in his hand and in a holster on his hip plus an utterly pointless thing with two hinged circles. Egads, Hasbro...
Hasbro - Star Wars: Resistance Trooper
Good guy troopers!? Yes please! Sadly, though, there is nothing very interesting about this costume, in fact I'd say it's less designer-ly than the fantastic Rebel Blockade Trooper costumes from ANH. I do appreciate that he has a full helmet, though, it feels very RotJ-Y-Wing-y, and I think it's super cool that it's a black guy in there rather than another white dude. Still though, i must confess there is still overly bland about the earthtones of this costume so that, mixed with the unfamiliarity with the character/s, makes me unsurprised that this is the first pegwarmer in the line. He comes with a rifle and a big kinda dumb, kinda not-awful double-handled blaster build-a-crap piece. Despite my complaints, though (except regarding the build-a-crap piece, eff these utter wastes of money and plastic), this is the kinda of figure I'd love to battle build, but to do so I really need to see him/them in the movie. You gotta have context to build up armies.
Hasbro - Star Wars: Rey
This figure is nice. She's still too pale, I think, and the proportions seem a bit thick though, honestly, all I really have to go off of are comparing the different toys at this point. She comes with what appears to be her signature staff plus she gets her backpack! Two accessories!? Oh how you spoil us! The backpack is actually pretty neat and and is one single piece with both straps having pegs that plug into holes on the backpack - it's actually surprisingly clever, simple and effective and I really wish the rest of the line showed this kind of ingenuity (figuring out how to make something work within the confines of the budget).
Hasbro - Star Wars: Rey's Speeder
I've really grown to love this speeder through all these toys and this is certainly the fun as it's actually scaled to figures! The Rey is a 100% unique sculpt figure and the wraps from her headwear limit her neck joint enough to make this more of a 4PoA figure, but that ultimately doesn't really matter because she fits on the saddle perfectly fine! The pose is a bit rigid, and I do look forward to trying the inevitable "fully articulated" version out on this. I hope they keep the balljoints consistent across all Reys so that we can swap heads. She comes with her staff, now in even more rubbery plastic, and it fits well into clips on the speeder's cargo net. My only complaint with the speeder with the conspicuous button sticking out through the net (really, guys? there was no way to put and paint that to look like a bit of scrap or a part of the speeder...?) but the pop-up cannon it triggers is a surprisingly fun play feature. The orange strips on the back, behind the seat, are hinged horizontally so that's a little extra bit of fun "poseability" for the ship. Really, if you get one 4" vehicle - make it this one!
Hasbro - Star Wars: Desert Landspeeder
Buying toys before seeing the movie is always a tricky business but the comparably-to-other-vehicles-in-this-line reasonable price and unique figure mixed with the "high" of it being brand new and part of Force Friday got me to buy in. As a toy it's neat enough, two seats for figures and a swiveling gun turret in the "roof" for the passenger seat, plus the requisite missile launcher. The roll-cage just loosely connects via basic pegs in the back and tabs in the front which results in it easily pulling off. In effect, you cannot carry this ship by the cage/roof, which is the most logical and natural place to grab and pick it up by. So, what should be a fun "swoosh"-er is forced to be a permanent shelf piece. It is notable that the cage is entirely a separate piece making it all too likely we'll see a "version 2" with a windshield like on the Micro Machine version. The figure isn't terribly exciting but it is a unique (so far) version of Finn and the light yellow spray on him helps break-up the bland black-ness of the outfit.
Hasbro - Star Wars: First Order Snowspeeder
Unlike the Landspeeder above there is something a bit more Star Wars-y about this ship, mainly due to the angled and ribbed nose, I think. It does have a weirdly casual feel to it for an Imperial craft but it's certainly better than a legged walker. It is a fun toy, though, and definitely better than the Landspeeder since there is there nothing that falls off it easily. Similar to the craft this two has a turret-y gun for the passenger seat but it in a pretty cool and surprising twist it's removable! There is a lot of sculpted in "luggage" on the front of the ship but given the implicit nature of the ship and the removable gun it must all be extra munitions so this is really more of a supply ship than an attack craft. I also really dig the hinged landing gear in the front. The snowtrooper is another catchy design, and interestingly seems to have more in common with the Flametrooper than the classic Snowtrooper armor-wise. I'm still not totally sold on having ranks within the troopers but the colored pauldron is FAR, FAR, FAR more appealing to me than having colored striping and warpaint like the clones did.
Hasbro - Star Wars: First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter
Sure it's just a TIE variant that doesn't stray too far from the core design, sure it's kinda pricey at around $40 and sure the cheap plastic is warp-y on the wings, but there's actually a pretty fun amount of play involved here. The guns below the cockpit swivel and the gun on the right "shoulder" have a vertical hinge mounted on a horizontal swivel. There are two launching missiles that are very cleverly cast in translucent green but sculpted and painted to look like the blasters on the front, so when inserted the ships looks "complete" and when fired the green bit emulates the laser trail. The real fun of the ship is the dual seat cockpit - one is a pilot facing forward and the other is a gunner facing backward. Both the front and the back windows are cast in translucent purple-ish plastic so you can see through them. The wings also have the classic, spring loaded pop-off/battle-damage effect, too. The wings are the weakest part since the cheap plastic does let them warp, though they do seem sturdy enough to hold the ship up. The figure is a TIE pilot that is a surprisingly different sculpt from the carded one. His helmet and its attached chest-pack are removable and he even comes with a handgun. It's so odd... he really does seem like a better figure that the carded version but ironically the carded one seems to fit in both seats here better than the figure the ship comes with.
Hasbro - Star Wars Deluxe: Chewbacca, Poe Dameron, Flametrooper
I got these guys because the idea seemed fun and they're part of the newness excitement of Force Friday (and Target actually had them) but that rosy glow has died off pretty quickly. $12.99!? Just a few months ago $10 got us two figures and concurrently $8 gets us pretty much the same thing - a 5PoA figure, one accessory and a goofy, made-up pack-in. I can tell these are more costly to produce than the build-a-weapon pieces, but are they worth a 50% cost increase? Absolutely not. So they're getting returned. I might come back to these figures during a "buy one, get one" sale, but as is they are a flat rip-off. Only this Chewie and the unfound-by-me civies Poe are unique to this line, so once I pay off the credit card debt incurred by my moderate Force Friday spree I'll pick up those up (assuming I'd even be able to find them - thanks Hasbro and your "awesome" continued under-stocking of product). For what it's worth, from what I can tell Finn and the Flametrooper are identical to the carded figures while Chewie is an all-new sculpt as compared to the previous 5PoA figure from the classic trilogy.
Jakks Pacific - Star Wars: First Order Stormtrooper
This design has really grown on me. I'm not super crazy about how smooth and minimal it is but there is really is something cool about black loop of eyes-to-mouth. The sleekness and symmetry of the armor definitely recalls the Clonetrooper armor more than the Stormtrooper armor, and likewise highlights many of the off details that make the classic designs so unique and iconic. Overall though, I haven't met a Star Wars trooper I haven't liked. This is a pretty good figure, and really what you're buying here is the size - about 18". Like the Jakks' previous figures he's a big rotocast vinyl figure with T-crotch, swivel shoulders and head but UNLIKE previous Jakks figures there are also swivel wrists and a fully removable gun! What's more - the the blaster has tabs on it's left side which allow it to plug on to the right thigh like a holster. The only downside to that is the arm is too close to the body to hang next to the blaster but the "holster" is a great touch that, again, adds a better sense of play and value to the figure. And at $20, this is a pretty good value given the large size.
Jakks Pacific - Star Wars: Poe Dameron
I had a big love of X-Wing pilots so I couldn't possibly pass this up. In photos Poe's jumpsuit has a pretty reddish hue to hit but this figure is closer to OT-orange. The sculpt is remarkably nice and detailed for how simple some of the earlier figures were. Obviously they don't have likeness right to Oscar Isaacs (or intended to do a generic pilot initially) because what little face we do see looks nothing like him, but since he's got a helmet on it's not a major issue for me. A great touch is that the visor is cast in translucent yellow and it really looks cool and adds some kind of intangible... I don't know... "character" to the figure. Like the Stormtrooper he too gets seven points of articulation (in the same places) and a little blaster which fits into a holster on the belt. I really like that detail and it makes perfect sense, that pilots would have a little pistol on them "just in case." I'm really digging this big figs, and I look forward to getting more (Phasma!) but I do need to figure out where I'll be able to fit them all.