Rustin's Spoils of the Week #218

Star Wars, man... what a world. The Disney/Kennedy-era sure has made it un-fun to be a fan by turning the whole thing in to something so "controversial." It really makes one wonder where the franchise would be at if social media were around back when the prequels came out. While I'll always love Star Wars and love toys and especially love Star Wars toys, these movie sure have made for some fairly bland figures and mixed with, particularly the post Last Jedi, world... well it's been tough to muster the will to write about them... but I got nothing else going on this weekend, so let's catch up on a lot of stuff I picked up in the wake of Force Awakens but never got around to.

Funko - Star Wars POP! Vinyl: Captain Phasma & Smuggler's Bounty Exclusive
Like a lot of collectors, I was bit pretty damn hard by the Captain Phasma bug early on, so I set out on a mission to get every Phasma figure I could find, and that meant breaking out of my "action figure comfort zone." I like POP!s but have avoided them chiefly because of how inherently slippery that slope obviously is and that fact that I've been pretty underwhelmed (by the QC) of the few I have picked up. Likewise, I'm not a very big fan "mystery boxes" but signed up for Funko's "Smuggler's Bounty" in fact of pre-Force Awakens SW-enthusiasm. This is my first Star Wars POP! and it pretty much meets my expectations. Because of Hasbro's license these have to be bobble-heads on stands, which isn't that exciting, but it does mean she comes with a removable base that is a pretty welcome addition. The POP! aesthetic worked out okay here, but not quite as well as with unmasked characters. The Smuggler's Bounty version comes with the "fan-demanded" vac-metalized armor.

Funko - Star Wars POP! Vinyl: Flocked Chewbacca (Smuggler's Bounty Exclusive)
The first Smuggler's Bounty box came with two POP!s but the second came with an undesirable mug of 3PO's POP! styled head and this... The only toy "paint" gimmick I like less than Vac Metallizing is Flocking, so imagine my excitement when I beheld this diarrhea-colored wookie. The Force Awakens is the first time I've ever really liked Chewie (above/beyond simply being part of the team) so I at least enjoy this more than I would have a year ago.

Funko - Star Wars POP! Vinyl: First Order TIE Fighter Pilot (Smuggler's Bounty Exclusive)
So... are you telling me the only way to get a First Order TIE Fighter Pilot POP! is through Smuggler's Bounty? AND there is a variant of him with the red stripes!? Well, I guess the first part is kind of a neat, but that second part... man, Funko LOOOOOVES funking their fans/collectors over with their insidious blindboxing up-sell tactics. Much like Phasma, he's a nice sculpt and a decent interpretation of the "character" into this stylized aesthetic.

Funko - Star Wars POP! Vinyl: Han Solo, Snow Gear (The Force Awakens) (Loot Crate Exclusive)
WOW. Wow...! Not only a Star Wars POP! but HAN funkin' SOLO!?!?! I would have imagined that Loot Crate and Funko would be in some major feud after Funko basically stole Lootcrate's thunder and undercut them by starting their own subscription services, but maybe such a high profile character/exclusive is Funko's way of making amends for having done so. Force Awakens is the
most I've loved Han since A New Hope so I'm happy to get any Old Hans than I can. It's not the most exciting or dynamic costume or character but it's translated pretty well here to the POP! aesthetic. I'm not terribly crazy about the painted on bags under his eyes though, that just seems weird, but I'll go with it. This is the sort of thing that is fun about these mystery boxes - a cool, fun, big surprise. I just wish they could be more consistent and of a toyline I'm a more avid collector of.

Funko - Star Wars Wacky Wobblers: Captain Phasma
Bobble heads... remember the 2000s? This may well be my first ever bobble head purchase, so... thanks Phasma. I dig the sculpt and style here more than the POP! version so I'm pleased to add it to the Phasmallery. I do wish her blaster had been painted in the more coppery silver as in the movie and other toys just to help break up the sea of silver and black, but I can live with it.

Hasbro - Star Wars: Asty (X-Wing Pilot)
Who doesn't love X-Wing pilots, especially alien ones? He's not the coolest looking alien, and I would prefer to see a race we're familiar with rather than yet another new one, but such is JJ. The sculpt is solid and the paint is on par with the line. My only real complaint is that the visor isn't translucent but the head is one solid sculpt so I suppose that couldn't be helped. Still though, that could have easily been achieved if the production money for the crappy build-a-weapon wasn't wasted on that. I should also note that in the intervening months all that pack-in junk just got tossed in the boo box, and I just don't have enough damns to give about them to sort out what came with what, so... I'm sorry if that is crucial information for you, but this more of Op-Ed column than a checklist.

Hasbro - Star Wars: Captain Phasma
So this is my favorite version of Phasma. There is something about this 4.25" figure that just feels the most accurate. I think it's also the best representation of her cloak - maybe not the most accurate, but the best looking, with a nice bright red stripe. Her gun is a slightly yellower silver plastic and like all the Stormtroopers it can attach to her thigh via a peg. She's got swivel joints at the shoulders and hips but a pretty robust ball-in-socket joint at her head/helmet. Plus, come on - look at that card art! I absolutely had to get a second to keep carded, she's gorgeous on there! A perfect balance of silver and green with splashes of red and back. Man, I really like the cards for this line and Phasma is the pinnacle of them! Regardless of your scale or articulation preferences, if you get only one Phasma - make it this one.

Hasbro - Star Wars: First Order Snowtrooper
Man... the editors were just not kind to the merchandisers, were they? I suppose that comes with making movies without very solid upfront planning, though. Sure these guys are lined up in the Starkiller review but the only ones that get to be in more than a wide shot are the Officers. Still though, when I found these for $6.99 at Walmart that didn't stop the old battle building gene to kick in! Say what you will for the 5-PoA style but they do make for infinitely better "Imperial Review" figures than other, more articulated figures! Plus, now I can fill out that Snowspeeder vehicle a bit more, too!

Hasbro - Star Wars: General Hux
I strongly dislike Domnhall Gleeson as an actor and Force Awakens did exceedingly little to change that opinion, but he is the lightweight Tarkin of the film, so here we are. The figure is decent and does precisely what it needs to - manage the group through whining more than the other whining commanders. Ugh... "First Order"... what a joke.

Hasbro - Star Wars: Guavian Enforcer
So these guys look cool and, after seeing the movie, count as battle builders - so... I'm on the case! I just need one more to meet the on-screen requirements but that also means now I "need" that awful Scottish kid. As much fun as elements of it were, that whole sequence was the absolute lowlight of Han's "story" both in the film and the series. But... these Target Logo-headed G.I. Joe characters do make for cool looking figures!

Hasbro - Star Wars: Goss Toowers
Isn't it funny? You see a toy of a character pre-release of a film and you assume they are in some significant or memorable... but then that movie comes out and you realize that, "Oh... this is just what they had reference available for a year ago when they had to start sculpting." Certainly he didn't get it as bad as Zuvio, or arguably even Phasma, but still - a figure with one second of screen time is what made this line fun when the toys were coming out 20 years after the movies, not concurrently with release. Anyway, though, it's a fine figure and I will never, ever, turn down a new/unique character to a repaint or rerelease so I am fairly happy to have him. It'll be interesting to see if he has a somewhat bigger or more present role in Episode VIII to help with sell-through on all the pegwarmers and/or so that Hasbro can reuse the tooling.

Hasbro - Star Wars: Kylo Ren
Boy do I not care for Kylo Ren's look but at least the texture here give the figure a lot to look at. I'm also a big sucker for this sort of "dress cut in two" style of leg articulation on this scale of figure. His lightsaber is also one solid piece, which is a decided improvement over the misbegotten removable blade take on the 6" version.

Hasbro - Star Wars: PZ-4CO
Oh man, I hate this droid. I do kind of appreciate the unique coloring but he sooooo, sooooooooooo, soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fake & cartoony looking! It's so PAINFULLY obviously a guy
with a "giraffe neck" helmet on... I mean, stuff from ANH/'77 looks infinitely more "real" than this. But that's kind of the problem with a lot of droids in Force Awakens, they were all just mediocrely fabricated - and that, of course, before we start bemoaning JJ's weak sense/preference of design. But, at least PZ (ugh, even the name is eye-rollingly weak) makes for a decent toy and his bright color pops on the shelf. Much like Goss, this dude will just help pad out the Resistance display on the shelf.

Hasbro - Star Wars: Sarco Plank
Now this is a design I love! Like so many of the figures in this line, it was really disappointing when his appearance accounting for a handful of frames, and not even in a significant/iconic way like the Cantina aliens. BUT, that doesn't change how neat he is. I love the beetle-esque face plate/shell and the color scheme in general is really nice. Plus, he's got a gorgeous rectangular gun! I would have loved to see this dude do more in the film, but since "everyone wants to go back to Jakku," maybe he'll get a chance in the sequels.

Hasbro - Star Wars Armor Up: Chewbacca
So I got this back during Force Friday but due to the unjust cost I debated long and hard about him, ultimately opening him. I just needed a Force Awakens Chewie in the collection. As I've said before, it just breaks my little heart that they didn't give Chewie little streaks of gray in his fur to help differentiate him from the previous films and to show the passage of 30 years. The sculpt is disappointly very soft, even for this line, but on the plus side his bowcaster is one solid piece and his purse is fully removable. He comes with a dopey bit of "armor," as per this subline's gimmick allowing for a 50-100% price increase over the basic line, but I can at least appreciate that it is within the aesthetic style of the Episode III Wookies, a nice hint of continuity, even if I don't very much like the look of it.

Hasbro - Star Wars Armor Up: Kylo Ren
I "had" to spend the doubled price since this is the only Kylo yet with his hood down and helmet on. He's got a new scarf to match, and though his torso and right arm are the same as the carded figure this version has new skirt/legs and a left arm with clenched fist for ultimate whining. He comes with his trademarked trademark lightsaber and a breathing apparatus piece of armor, which fits pretty well once the scarf is removed (even those a re-breather over a mask makes as much sense as a jetplane for Superman [but I love that Super Powers vehicle]) even if the white coloring seems "off" for the character.

Hasbro - Star Wars Armor Up: Poe Dameron (Jakku)
I had to get this since it was the only (or cheapest, once the Walmart exclusive $50 X-wing came out) way to get civies Poe. The figure is fine even if the likeness is questionable. He comes with a nice little jetpack piece with attached helmet. But, noticing the helmet was rubbery, I gave it some tugs and it was removed from the rest of the armor with relative ease (not sure if I just got lucky with bad/weak glue or if that was semi-intentional on Hasbro's part) which means we get a sort of bonus accessory of his white/blue helmet. Sure it's got a tab on the back and is a bit more flared out in the back too, but (a) it's close enough for me and (b) that stuff can be carved off fairly easily if it bugs you. It does kind of beg the question of "why wasn't it just included as a more accurate, separate piece," but then you get stuck in the quagmire of trying to understand how Hasbro thinks.

Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Bossk & IG-88
You know the saying, "in for a penny, in for a pound." Bossk is everybody's favorite non-Fett bounty hunter and, shockingly, it reads like IG-88 is a close second even though he's pretty literally a piece of junk and has always been my personal least-favorite. But, what is one drop of dissent in a sea of fanboys. Like most of these figures, they're good for what they are, though I can appreciate why they're not for everyone/every collector. Even though they aren't huge improvements over past figures I, personally, do find more value and interest in these than the constant repaints or "now with a slightly different head" releases we were getting for years.

Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Cikatro Vizago & IG-RM
I still haven't seen much Rebels but it certainly is leading to more appealing figures than Clone Wars did. These guys are obviously playing on the "Devil Man" Cantina Alien and the earlier Ralph McQuarrie art for IG-88 (hence the "clever" name). There is only one accessory here, though, a blaster for Vizago and it fits nicely in a sculpted-on holster. IG-RM has trigger fingers, but they were apparently no match for the production budget. The figures' sculpts are really solid and the paint is pretty good. Both turned out pretty well and I am exceptionally happy to get two new Rebels figures rather than one and a repack - like...

Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Ezra Bridger (Cadet) & Kanan Jarrus
I can't remember why I got this... I'm just so damned sick of this Kanan figure they keep forcing on us. Cadet Ezra is nice because he's unique, but it's not a very exciting look at all. Maybe I found it on sale, or maybe during all the Force Awakens hype I bought in to the notion that Hasbro was pulling the plug on Rebels figures. Either way, I have it. So the collection is that much more complete.

Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Sabine Wren & Stormtrooper
At least if they have to force a repack on us do it like this, include a battle builder. Sure it's not very exciting, but it's insanely better than another Kanan (though I would have accepted another Ezra if it meant they'd paint up his flight helmet as per Sabine's actions on the show). I'm not a huge fan of the character, she's just SO obvious in her conception of being "hip and cool" (wow, a female character that kicks ass, shoots guns but has a wild artistic side and plays by her own rules all while sporting a Boba Fett helmet... gee, Sabine, you couldn't be any more on-the-nose zeitgeist even if you tried [and, clearly, they DID]). She holds her guns pretty snugly AND they fit well in the sculpted-on holsters. I know a bunch of folks were unhappy that she didn't have a removable helmet, but I'm happy with it. It looks better as a unique head plus affords them a very reasonable re-release with a new head in the future, which I will also happily buy.

Hasbro - Star Wars Mission Series: Wullffwarro & Wookiee Warrior
I'm a slut, what can I say. The "warrior" is very "Rebels Chewie" so I'm sure that was some tooling bet-hedging. Neither of these are good figures. The sculpts a very soft, even for the animated aesthetic, and cast in shiney (read: cheap-looking) plastic with very haphazard dry-brushing. I imagine that a customizer could make a pretty novel Bigfoot figure by grafting not-Chewie's longer legs on to Wullffwarro's little stubby ones and getting rid of his armband. And don't even ask about the inclusion of accessories, you greedy bastards.

Hasbro - Star Wars Two-Packs: BB-8, Unkar's Thug & Jakku Scavenger
Other than the Milenium Falcon, this is the only way to get a 4" scale BB-8, but it's good set. Unkar's Thug is a pretty novel not-Tusken Raider, and looks suspiciously similar to the guys driving the not-appearing-in-this-movie Desert Speeder on it's box art - and indeed he fits pretty well in the gunner position. Teedo is a fun little guy, I especially dig his little metal flipflops, but his release in this capacity does highlight how painfully different the toy market is these days - once upon a time he'd absolutely have come with his Luggabeast and I lament that he doesn't have it here. BB is also pretty nice, not quite as good at the 6" version but he does have a flatened bottom to keep him up-right and a barbell-joint to pose his head, a "dirty" wash would have just helped a lot. The set comes with a net launcher double-missile thing which doesn't work very well thanks to hair-triggers. Still though, two really good Jakku denizen figures plus the best droid since R2 - how can you say no!

Hasbro - Star Wars Two-Packs: C-3PO & R2-D2 (The Force Awakens)
Oh man... I got this when TRU was doing a 20% off, or something, sale last fall and debated long and hard about opening it or returning it. I absolutely hate 3POs red arm for a lot of reasons and this lame-ass R2 is boring as heck. In fact, both of these are just re-releases of the Mission Series two-pack I already wasn't crazy about. R2 comes with a big doo-hickey that fires electricity missiles from his shoulders. It's goofy as hell and I might dig it if the figures weren't so offputting themselves. At the very, very, very least they needed to give R2 a "dirty" paint wipe if not a better "dusty" spray effect, but having him perfectly clean is just... not right. In point of fact, just thinking about this set I feel gross. But, complusiveness, you know. I hate that Hasbro utterly half-assed this set and I hate that I still bought, encouraging that behavior. But I think that's a big part of 3PO having a red arm - in a production meeting the licensing group pointed out they needed SOME way of making the classic droids different for the new movie otherwise people wouldn't buy them since there is 30 years worth of 3PO/R2 merch. Thus, he gets a red arm, and they make a dumb joke about it and suckers have to re-buy a figure they already own.

Hasbro - Star Wars Two-Packs: Darth Vader & Ahsoka Tano (Rebels)
It is pretty novel that Ahsoka came back for Rebels, and I gotta admit it makes me feel happy for Filoni, et al, that they can continue the story of their baby girl despite Clone Wars getting canceled (and she obviously never appearing in the films). The figure turned out well, a bit scrawny but such is the design they have to work with. Vader is pretty neat, and certainly McQuarrie concept-inspired, though I do find him a bit too angular and stylized for my tastes. Still, a fun set and a very welcome addtion to the Rebels display.

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