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Maz Kanata

SWVIII: The Last Jedi
by yo go re

Thrill to the adventures of the character we've lovingly dubbed "Apricot Yoda."

The destruction of her castle has forced Maz to become more mobile and take a more hands-on (and blaster-firing) role in the turbulent criminal underworld. She offers help in the struggle against the First Order by pointing the Resistance toward a mysterious new ally.

Maz Kanata was only in The Force Awakens for a short time, but her role was pivotal - neither Finn nor Rey were interested in being heroes until she set them on that path, and she made Han take BB-8 back to the Resistance himself so he'd stop avoiding Leia. Without Maz, Finn runs off to the outer rim to hide, Rey never unlocks her Force potential, and Han wanders off with Chewy, continuing to eke out a mediocre living scamming different crime syndicates and thus probably gets killed after double-crossing the wrong person. Leia sends someone to find Luke, but nobody has the patience to put up with him so he stays holed up with the fish-nuns. Snoke-ing intensifies. So basically, Maz saved the galaxy, no matter how quick her role went by.

JJ Abrams and co-production designer Rick Carter had the same English teacher, Rose Gilbert, so they based their mentor character on her. Maz is small and wrinkly, and is wearing her nifty goggles - they don't magnify on the toy the way they do in the movie, but they are articulated: they can pivot up onto her forehead, revealing the eyes painted beneath them.

Considering she was already 100 years old when Yoda was born, it makes sense that Maz dresses like a grandma: a little green sweater, an olive drab vest, high-waisted maroon pants, colorful boots and enough jewelry to sink her to the bottom of a swimming pool. Seriously: rings, bracelets almost up to her elbows, a beaded necklace... add to that the little metal plates (gold-pressed latinum?) hanging from her belt, and she'd be a noisier character than the entire droid army. Her pants and shirt have different textures, and her vest is a separate piece slipped onto the torso. Completing the granny look, she's got her hair hidden under a wrapped head covering of some sort.

The figure stands a scant 4" tall, but she still has most of the same articulation the rest of the figures claim: balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows and wrists, balljointed torso and hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinged knees (instead of double-hinged), and swivel/hinge ankles. The torso is so small that its range of motion doesn't seem overly impressive, but all the joints work smoothly and hold their poses the way they should. My figure had a little bit of excess plastic on the left elbow, left over from the molding process, but simply bending the arm was enough to push it out of the way, and then peeling it off was no trouble.

Since this figure came out alongside The Last Jedi and the bio references her role in it, it's no surpsise that her accessory is a blaster rifle. It's a DH-17 blaster, aka, "the gun the Rebel troopers used." You know it: black body, silver barrel, scope on top, all that. She uses it while trying to settle a "union dispute," but sadly, we don't get her jetpack to go with it. Hey, just because she's old, it doesn't mean she's not still an action girl.

But because this figure is so small, just getting a blaster wouldn't be enough to justify her pricetag. So, tying this toy into Episode VII as well, she's also got the crate Rey found in her basement. It's got... various... brown... things sculpted inside it, and there's a loose lightsaber hilt that can be stored inside. The chest is sculpted to look like wood, and has big metal hinges on it, but it's still not very good: rather than having actual hinges, the lid is just soft plastic; so while you can close it (and the latch will hold it shut), doing it enough times will eventually just make the plastic snap. That's bad planning.

As an all-CGI character introduced in the first part of a new trilogy, Maz Kanata is, functionally, the apology for Jar-Jar Binks. And clearly, they learned their lesson, because while she's only got a brief role, she's not outrageously annoying, nor conspicuously separate from the other actors in the scenes she's in. ILM has set right what once went wrong, and they used a tiny orange space pirate queen to do it.

-- 03/11/18

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