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!
After the terrible under-stocking fiascoes at Toys R Us and Target for the midnight openings, I made damn sure I wasn't going to miss out at the Disney Store, so I got in line at 4:30am for their 6:00am opening - and it fortunately worked out for me! Their available offerings were a little vague so I wasn't totally sure what I'd find, but I was very much hoping to get a set of their Die-cast action figures - if I couldn't get Hasbro's 6", then, by gum, I'd get Disney's! And then there were a couple fun surprises there too! So, the high of getting what I wanted pushed me over into some impulse purchases too - see Hasbro, that's how you do a highly publicized fan event!
Disney Store - Diecast Vehicle: First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter
Thanks, most likely, to Micromachines I have a deep-rooted love of miniature ships so I was fairly eager to scoop up this new line of die-cast from Disney; and they're pretty darn good! The Special Forces TIE is a really nice piece that captures (what we've seen of) the ship pretty well. It's got some really nice details (the wings stand at 4.25" inches tall so it has a good scale for detail) and the paint is pretty clean and tight. Both wings and body are metal, so this has some good heft to it, while the chunky rings where the arms connect to the wings are plastic, as are the top, bottom and windshield of the "eye," and the antennae-ish guns. The window is cast in translucent red and it looks really cool, though sadly the rear window is solid metal. The top hatch clearly has a hinge joint but it appears to be glued shut, sadly. This has a $10 price tag which is really a good price when you consider what else $10 gets you in the toy world these days.
Disney Store - Diecast Vehicle: Kylo Ren Command Shuttle
Much like Kylo Ren is just another revision of Darth Vader so is his ship just another revision of the Tydirium, but also like him it's neat enough for what it is. The black color with red window is a nice, striking appearance and I dig the wide-ness of the body. Both parts of the wings, as well as the body, are die-cast metal so this ship is nice and weighty. The extending wings are just a manual push/pull feature that works well and they stay nicely in place when extended. On the underside of the wings are two landing-gear footpads on each side; they're just plastic, though, and dangle limply so they hang loosely when they ship "flies" and can't withstand the weight of the metal ship when it's "landed" so, in effect, they are useless. There also appears to be a small hinged gangplank on the underside of the ship but, like the TIE, it's glued in place. The biggest frustration with the ship (and indeed all toys of Kylo's Shuttle) is that the wings are permanently upright! This is a really, really cool looking toy but the non-functioning landing gear and lack of hinged wings make the $20 price awfully steep.
Disney Store - Diecast Vehicle: Resistance X-Wing Fighter & Poe's X-Wing Fighter
These are just two different deco's of the same mold, so we'll just count it as one entry, here. Traditionally I haven't been too fond of Star Wars vehicles in different-than-onscreen colors (i.e. I want my X-Wings white with red stripes, my Y-Wings with yellow stripes, my A-Wings red, etc.) but I must admit that these white/blue and black/orange schemes are really growing on me a lot. I also like the re-design of the X-Wing with the more flush/half-wings, though sadly the tooling of these keep them from resting as flush as one would want. They are hinged, though, so you can have S-Foils in closed or attack position, and the fuselage rests a little loosely over that hinge so it can rock side-to-side like some previous X-Wing toys. The canopy is a separate piece cast in translucent smokey plastic, but it's glued shut on Poe's (the black one) and opens to an empty shell on the Resistance one (white/blue). Both ships come with three removable landing-gear footpads, which are pretty nice, though a flight stand is definitely missed. Still though the sculpt and paint on both are gorgeous and they are definitely worth the $10!
Disney Store - Diecast Vehicle: Rey's Speeder
I'm really digging Rey's speeder a lot and while I have all versions currently available this is easily the best of the bunch! The sculpt is really nice and seems the most correctly proportioned based on the prop I saw at Celebration and SDCC. The paint is rich and gorgeous and it comes with a little hover stand, too! Be careful when you're opening this, though, as the plastic of the stand is just as clear and contoured as the plastic tray so it can easily be mistaken as part of the packaging. And as if the sculpt and paint weren't good enough - the gear net is removable! It's cast is a soft, rubbery plastic... as is the pile of junk (with Rey's Staff and backpack) in it! Now that is some damn remarkable "plus-ing" and is so cool and fun it's now something I find missing from Hasbro's 4" version. I love this little thing so much I might go get a second one out of pure adoration. This also runs $10 and has definitely sold me on this line, I am all in for Disney's die-cast ships!
Disney Store - Star Wars Elite Series: Captain Phasma
You guys can keep your Kylo's and your BB8s - I'm all about Phasma. Sure she's got a goofy name, but everyone has silly-as-heck names for this movie. I wasn't sure what to expect from this Die-cast Action Figure line, but in general they're pretty good. The sculpts are nice and the paint is good, though articulation is a bit lacking. We get a balljointed head, swivel-hinge shoulders, hips and ankles, with hinged elbows and knees and swivel wrists. It's good, but plentiful enough that I tend to more notice what isn't there than what is - namely, bicep swivels. Without that simple joint in both arms posing feels surprisingly limited. The arms, legs and body are die-cast metal (held together by exposed screws on the the back) while the head, hands, feet, and accessories are plastic. The result is a hefty figure that is ultimately fairly top-heavy, so when you add to that feet made of a softer/lighter material under a ball-hinge joint... well long term standing is a dubious proposition. Phasma is 7.25" tall which seems to make sense given this line is in 6.5" scale.
Disney Store - Star Wars Elite Series: Finn
This figure is probably the easiest to directly A/B to Hasbro's 6" line. This guy is 6.5" tall while theirs is 6". Theirs is much more detailed in sculpt while this one has slightly better looking proportions and much better paint. Hasbro's has ~18 points of articulation while Disney's has ~14 - and while most of that difference in is the legs, the lack of swivel biceps or something comparable is really kind of a deal-breaker here because no figure can hold their weapon with both hands. As a result, these are just display pieces (which I'm totally okay with) but if that's was the intent, they really should just have legs with less articulation; legs with more, in a word, stability. The licensing loopholes to make this line are intriguing and it's a ballsy, if not risky, move by Disney but it's really a shame that a single point of articulation was overlooked and has such a big impact on the enjoyment of these. I was expecting the exposed screws on the back to be the "big" problem but honestly that, and even the stability issues, aren't as nearly frustrating to me the limited poseability resulting from no side-to-side motion in the arms.
Disney Store - Star Wars Elite Series: First Order Flametrooper
This is Disney's big trump card to Hasbro, being first-to-market with a larger scale Flametrooper figure (although apparently some midwest grocery stores did get in the second series of Hasbro's 6" line). The sculpt is pretty nice (except the left arm) and the paint is damn impressive given how tight the line work on the helmet is. The backpack is really great looking too, as is the gun, but unfortunately the arms basically "ruin" this figure. The first weird choice is the the right hand is part of the sculpt/mold of the gun - so the gun is fundamentally non-removable. Also, since there is no side-to-side motion in the arms the right arm is sculpted hooking left with it's hinge joint angles side-to-side rather than front-to-back while the left arm is sculpted in a painfully unnatural bend in order to fit the hand to the grip on the gun. It's just awkward and, sadly, pretty un-fun. I'm also a little chapped because I desperately want a Flametrooper with a translucent orange flame accessory for their gun and this seemed like the best chance for that... but no dice. I know I'm talking a lot about these figures' flaws - the flaws definitely do exist and certainly hurt my enjoyment of the toys - but overall I am pleased with these toys.
Disney Store - Star Wars Elite Series: First Order Stormtrooper
I was utterly unable to find a 6" Stormtrooper anywhere during Force Friday, but at least I have this 6.5" one. He has all the strengths and weaknesses of the other figures in the line. He does get two guns though, same as Hasbro's 6" version, and the little pistol even has a sculpted-on clip that appears to allow it to slide on to a peg on the right thigh, though I can not get the clip to fit over the peg... so go figure. One nice touch is that all the figures in this line come with the same, nice big black "Star Wars" base. It has one peg that fits the one peghole on each figure (right foot). Given that this figure, in particular, likes to fall over I might have to switch them over to doll stands with waist-clips in which case these bases will get donated to the 6" figures from Hasbro (the peg works just fine for those figures). I should also note that these figures are $25 each, so that's only $3-$5 more than the 6" ones for Hasbro, which seems fair for a store-exclusive line with much better paint than Hasbro could ever dream of.
Disney Store - Star Wars Elite Series: Kylo Ren
Darth Paintball-Mask turned out pretty nice. I appreciate the fully sculpted cloak and lack of softgoods, plus they gave some "character" to the arms and left hand which make him more fun to pose than the other figures. For some reason Rilo Kiley is sporting almost Frankenstein-ian lifts on his shoes here, not sure if that's from the movie or just Disney's take on him. There are splits up the sides of his skirt allowing for some leg posing, though the lack of a rocker-peg on the ankles holds back stability on that front. His head is separate from the cowl so you can get some fun head posing in there. Darth Revan's lightsaber turned out a bit nicer than the one with Hasbro's figure, since the blades aren't removable here they don't have the goofy connecting "energy" between them. Conversely, though, I much prefer the more raggedy look of the blades on that one to this guy's smooth ones - let us not forget this is allegedly not meant to be a proper lightsaber. There is some very subtle zigzags on the blades, though, and the whole piece is cast in translucent red with the hilt fully painted and with much more detail than Hasbro's. One bummer, though, is that the right hand is sculpted in more of a "grasp" than a "grip" pose so his hold of the saber is tenuous. And yes, I'm proud of how much I mocked this fellow's name and design. He's not bad looking but he's also not that great, unique or iconic.
Disney Store - Star Wars Elite Series: Rey and BB8
Articulation and assembly issues aside I think this figure trumps Hasbro's. The likeness seems better and the skin tone is more peach, more tan - which makes sense for a character on a desert world. Plus, she gets a backpack and a blaster in addition to a staff and BB8! Not having seen the movie yet (we're 3 months away from its release, after all) I'm not totally sure how she's meant to hold the staff since there are grip-like things closer to one end. Disney's staff, here, has a more generically open belt on the staff but it's still too narrow to fit over the figure's torso. Likewise, the backpack looks great (though a little large on her, and a lot large on the 6" figure) but the straps are too short to fit over her shoulders (too short even for the 6" figure!). The left strap is glued in place while the right has a basic plug/peghole attachment, useful only if the strap were about a quarter inch longer, alas. I really, really, really like her blaster - it's 100% Star Wars (unlike that ugly, over-designed Super Soaker Finn comes with). BB8 seems a tad over scaled and pales in comparison to Hasbro's 6" version. He's a plastic head on a simple swivel joint attached to a metal ball. This photo was the first time I've even been able to keep him upright. Still though, the strengths of Rey outweigh the negatives here.
Disney Store - Figurine Playset: Flametrooper, Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren, Rey, BB8, Finn
Disney has a loooong history of doing PVC Figurine sets for their stores so it is no surprise that they had one ready to for for Force Friday. This is a pretty nice collection of characters, though a bit repetitive given it's identical to the Elite Series line-up. Finn and Rey come in nice, expressive poses (especially Rey) while BB8 gets to be way over-scaled and boringly posed (she comes up to the waist of 3¾" Finn, in case you were wondering, so she's over-scaled for that line too). Kylo comes in what seems to be his iconic pose, and it looks good, though I gotta admit the painted lightsaber turns me off. Phasma is the main reason I wanted this, I just love that damn woman and she looks utterly regal and badass in that simple stance. The Flametrooper is the real surprise and his pose is super dynamic and looks super cool. Again, though, where is the titular flame? For $15 this is a very solid purchase and I'm quite likely to be all-in for this range when they do more.
Disney Store - Voice Changing Mask: Captain Phasma
I'm not much for roleplay items but when I saw this... the novelty of it and great looking quality won me over, and you know that? This is my favorite purchase for all of Force Friday! The sculpt is really nice and the size is wonderful - it's not kid-sized at all and looks perfectly proportional to me when worn. The only bummer is that it's not a full helmet, the back is missing and has plastic button straps (like a baseball cap, but in a "Jason's Hockey Mask/upside down T" configuration) to adjust for fit and to hold it on. On the inside is a little rubber pad for the top front of the head and a plastic nose bridge for... the nose. The eyes are a tinted plastic but I can see relatively well out of them. The big surprise, and mild spoiler, is that it has quotes from the movie - the quotes aren't that spoilery but I certainly hadn't heard that voice until I started pushing the button on the side of the helmet. There's a sliding button on the back, too, to put it audio-clips-only mode, off, or voice changer mode. The latter still allows for quotes to be played by tapping the button on the right temple but also employs a mic/speaker that does a decent voice modulation for a comm-link/Stormtrooper-y kind of sound. I pretty much wore this all Saturday - it's ridiculously fun! And, at a shockingly low price of $25, it's waaaaaay too affordable not to get!
Disney Store - Voice Changing Mask: First Order Stormtrooper
In addition to Phasma they also had Kylo Ren's helmet and this Stormtrooper helmet. I was on such a high of getting all the Elite Series and was digging on Phasma's helmet so much I decided to get this one as well (I'll need to see the movie before I'm totally sold on Kylo, plus his mask just doesn't have much personality or character to it (like Stormtroopers or Vader), it just looks like a cool paintball or ski mask). I really love the size and sculpt of this mask, and it functions much the same as Phasma's, though this one has a different voice and a less pronounced modulation for the voice changer. Other than being not-a-full-helmet the only real downside is the grated speaker on the top of the forehead, but you know what? This is a toy and it's only $25 - so it doesn't really bother me at all. I mean, come one... $25!? That's the same price as the Elite Series above, or half of NECA's figures these days! These helmets are pretty fun and such cool display pieces! Hell, I've basically just talked myself into getting the Kylo one right now based on price alone!
Disney Store - Giveaways: Force Friday Pin
The first 100 people to make a purchase got one of these pins. I'm not sure how many people were in line by store-opening at 6am, but it was probably about 100 now that I actually think back on the line behind me. Before the doors opened an employee walked down the the line handing out numbered cards which we then had to turn in to get our pin at the register. It's a smart way to handle things, though I do wish they had a hole-punch or something they could have used so that we could keep the cards to always remember where we were in line... The pin is a nice, basic little First Order poster about 1¾" tall all told (including the border) and it comes on a cardboard backer and even in a nice little plastic slip cover. Sure it's not the coolest thing in the world, but as a freebie I got for and a memento of being there first thing in the morning for Force Friday it's a nice token of their appreciation for my business.