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Ronin Mandalorian (Beskar Armor) & Grogu

Star Wars Movie Realization
by yo go re

It was still easier to get this than the Target version.

Early last year, Bandai/Tamashii Nations released "Ronin Mandalorian" as part of their Meisho Movie Realization line - you know, the one that reimagines Star Wars characters in Feudal Japan. It was a nice-looking figure, but not nice enough to get me to buy in. This year, Mando is back, and he's had an upgrade.

There were some contrarians who, looking for something to dislike about The Mandalorian, came up with the fact that every episode was basically self-contained, just featuring Mando and Baby Yoda going around the galaxy and encountering the same problem over and over. As though one of the most famous and popular manga of all time wasn't about a solitary warrior travelling everywhere with a baby and having standalone adventures. Clearly Bandai made the connection, though.

Ronin Mando was wearing his original piecemeal armor, with all the various shades of brown and mismatched shapes. This one represents his second set, the beskar armor that's a cohesive design and fully silver. There have already been Movie Realization takes on Jango and Boba Fett, so this isn't the first time they've done similar-yet-still-different armors.

According to Tamashii's site, this is an entirely new sculpt. We're inclined to believe them, because what motivation would they have to lie? Technically Mando's beskar armor was a different shape from his... beskaren't armor (though only the most obsessive nerds could tell), so it makes sense this toy would follow suit. The important thing is that he looks like a samurai, and that he most definitely does. He wears his intricate, layered armor over dark grey cloth beneath, and his boots are brown. In keeping with Mando's design, the fingers of his gloves are a different color than the rest - something that would have been easy to overlook or ignore, but here it is!

Befitting a bounty hunter ronin, there are a lot of weapons and gear sculpted onto the figure. He has a tanto dagger on his belt, along with a few pieces of ammo tucked into loops. A sash runs up over his left shoulder, with some more ammo on the front. The armor on the left forearm has Mando's mini-missile launcher mounted on it, while the right has a piece to stand in for his grappling line. Even more cylinders of ammo are strapped to his right boot, and there's a tiny pouch on his left. And while it's not a weapon, he does have his mudhorn sigil molded on his right shoulder.

As far as actual weapons go, there's a katana with a sheath that can fit in a big loop on his left hip. I was going to say that wasn't something the real Mandalorian used, but then I remembered. There's a small pistol that can fit in the holster on his right hip, and a large rifle that can plug into his back. Both of those have moving flintlock hammers, which is pretty impressive (even if the rifle's doesn't move very far). Finally he's got his jetpack, for which no effort has been made to convert it to something "samurai"-ish: oh, it's got the right kind of styling to fit in with the rest of the figure, but it's still a jetpack. What could they have turned it into? I don't know, but something is better than nothing, right?

And then there's the important part of the set: Grogu-tan. This is another one that is barely changed from its real version: Meisho Baby Yoda isn't wearing clothes that make him look like he has pointy green ears, he's specifically a little green goblin man with green skin and pointy ears. I don't know about you, but for me the appeal of this line was the vague idea that these could all have been long-ago humans here on Earth. Yes, even Silliof's Samurai Wars customs featured a big oni, but the line was still mainly human at every chance. Surely there had to be some way to give him a little hood or something, where the seams at the corners would stick out sideways?

He does get one nod to being something other than the literal Baby Yoda, and that's the small top-knot of hair, a feature influenced by samurai-era children. He's got a cute look of concern on his face, and wears the usual small tan robe, held shut by a blue-black sash. And you can look at his little hands and feet in there.

Baby Yoda does sort of get some accessories of his own, and they're the reason I decided to get this set. I've long said that my most wanted toyline would be Lone Wolf and Cub, with a fully functional, weapon-loaded baby cart; this one may not have any weapons, but it's definitely a cart. A little wooden cart with little wooden wheels. It's big enough for Mando to push it around, and Grogu's little hover-egg sits right inside it. Honestly, they should have skipped making that a separate piece and instead tucked some hidden weapons into the frame. Grogu can stand in the cradle, but while there's a dip in the back that looks like it's meant to accommodate his head, his ears are too big and stiff to allow him to lay down. Unless it's face-down. Also, the divot for his body is a little too small to for his arms, so he'll always be reaching up.

Both figures have good articulation. Mando moves at the ankkles, knees, thighs, toes, waist, wrists, elbows, shoulders, pecs, neck, and head. Most of those are swivel/hinge combos or better. A lot of his skirt armor is attached to his belt, all as a free-floating piece, but his shoulder and thigh armor plates are attached directly to the bodypart they protect, with a balljoint so they'll move around as he moves. All Grogu's joints ar balljoints: hea, chest, shoulders, and feet. I can't tell if he has wrists or not, because most of the balljoints were fairly stiff when he came out of the package, and I'm not about to risk tearing a tiny little hand off when it's not meant to move. It certainly looks like it would be a joint, but hey. Mando has extra hands to hold his accessories, but the instructions warn against leaving him holding anything for too long, lest the color begin to transfer from one piece to another.

My #1 favorite thing about the Star Wars Meisho Movie Realization line is the way it takes the aesthetics of Star Wars and maps them onto real-world designs. Unfortunately, this release cuts a few corners, leaving a couple things a little too "Star Wars-y" and not enough "real." But that just means he's not as good as he could be, not that he's bad. The beskar armor looks cool, the weapons are fun, and the baby carriage is a fun homage to the manga series that so obviously inspired the TV series.

-- 06/18/22

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