Black Series: Clone Commander Gree

Clone Commander Gree (Toys”R”Us Exclusive)
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Toy Line: 6″ Black Series
Release Date: July 2017
MSRP: $24.99
Current Price: eBay | Amazon

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a military force essentially created for the war with the Separatists 10 years before the Jedi knew of their existence. Following the Battle of Geonosis, many other battles took place across the galaxy. The Elite Corps fought in the Second Battle of Geonosis, Battle of Kashyyyk and the transportation of Nute Gunray to Corruscant (which was a failure). Clone Commander 1004 was a well decorated veteran in the GAR. CC-1004 was the commanding clone in the 41st Elite Corps Battalion. He fought alongside some of the most famous Jedi Generals during the Clone Wars including Anakin Skywalker. Continue reading “Black Series: Clone Commander Gree”

Vintage Viewport Rewind | Comic Con’s & Last Jedi’s

Calling all Star Wars Collectors..

Join Christopher James Leddy of Vintage Viewport from the Brick City Blockade Podcast Network | The Vintage Viewport Rewind. Chris discusses San Diego Comic Con 2017 collectibles and what he hopes to see come Force Friday II on September 1st. Of course, much more!

Oh yeah, Porg’s Please! 

Follow Christopher James Leddy (Vintage Viewport Collecting) on Twitter : @VintageViewport

Subscribe to the Podcast Network on iTunes | Rate & Comment

Thanks for listening, and May the Force be with you

S.H. Figuarts: Shadow Trooper Review

Shadow Trooper
Star Wars Battlefront
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release Date: October 2015
MSRP: 4,500 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: E-11 Blaster Rifle, 2 Closed Hands, 2 Open Hands, 2 Trigger/Pointing Hands
Articulation Details: 34 – Head, Neck, Shoulder Pads, Shoulders (Hinge and Swivel), Biceps, Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Torso, Waist, Hips (Hinge and Swivel), Thighs, Knees, Ankles (Hinge and Swivel), Toes

“There’s always a bit of truth in legends.” – Ahsoka Tano, Star Wars Rebels

For two years in a row, Bandai has released a Star Wars S.H. Figuarts exclusive figure at their Fall Tamashii Nations event. Continue reading “S.H. Figuarts: Shadow Trooper Review”

MAFEX: Captain Phasma No. 028 Review

Captain Phasma
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Toy Line: MAFEX
Release Date: March 2017
MSRP6,120 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay

When the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser first made it into our lives, we saw many things that left us speechless.

It wasn’t until the second teaser that was released at Star Wars Celebration 2015 that we saw even more amazing characters. One of which was a chrome Storm Trooper with a cape draped over their left shoulder. We just got a quick glimpse of this character as they walked towards the camera. I was hooked on this character instantly. Continue reading “MAFEX: Captain Phasma No. 028 Review”

S.H. Figuarts: Captain Phasma Review

Captain Phasma
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release DateFebruary 13, 2016
MSRP:  5,616 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: Sonn-Blas F-11D Blaster Rifle, Removable Cape, Left Shoulder Pad, 2 Closed Fist Hands, 2 Open Hands, 1 Right Trigger Hand, 1 Left Cradle Hand
Articulation Details: 38 – Head, Neck, Shoulder Pads, Shoulders (Socket and Hinge), Biceps, Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Torso, Waist, Ammo Pouches, Hips (Socket and Hinge), Thighs, Knees, Ankles (Socket and Rocker), Toes

“Report to my division at once.” – Captain Phasma, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

To say that Captain Phasma was underutilized in The Force Awakens is a massive understatement. Whether it was the marketing department not on the same page with the film crew – most Star Wars fans expected Phasma to be featured more prominently.

It might be taboo to invoke the similarities to the character of Boba Fett with Phasma if we focus on style over substance. However, what made Fett so appealing to fans was the intrigue and mystique of his background and it was left up to everyone’s imagination.

The novel and comic book series featuring Phasma is set to debut this fall might answer some questions but we still don’t know much because a lack of dialogue and meaningful screen time. So what do we know? We know that Phasma commands the Stormtroopers of the First Order and likely holds a higher rank than captain. Captain just rolls off the tongue better. We also know that her chromium plated armor and blaster rifle come from a salvaged Naboo Yacht once owned by Emperor Palpatine.

That being said, how does this Captain Phasma figure in the S.H. Figuarts line stack up? It’s a solid entry from Bandai overall.

This Phasma figure was released in early 2016 while The Force Awakens was still in theaters. It comes packaged with an appropriate amount of accessories for a standard issue figure. Phasma’s personal Sonn-Blas F-11D blaster rifle has loads of detailed included. It also has the appearance of being coated in chromium and is one of the best blaster rifles in the entire Star Wars S.H. Figuarts line. It is a mirror image of the First Order Stormtrooper blaster with a butt stock.

This figure also has the standard three sets of hands – with one difference. In addition to a closed and open set of hands, there is a specific right hand that can hold the blaster rifle and a left hand with a cradle grip. I have to deduct some points for the trigger grip hand. The blaster handle is so thick that it does not stay in the hand solid. At the very least, it is functional. The First Order cap is removable if you pop Phasma’s head off. It is a flexible plastic in characteristic S.H. Figuarts fashion. A separate left shoulder pad can be popped on the figure if you would like to display the figure without the cape. I found that it works best to leave the shoulder pad off when displaying with the cape.

Packaging

This figure looks fantastic. The way that Phasma’s armor is painted gives the impression of the chrome finish without being super shiny and subject to smudges and finger prints. It was a good trade-off in the design phase.

My gripe with this figure is the scale. It is off to the untrained eye and doesn’t appear to be a 6’3” Gwendoline Christie. It’s not off by a lot, but enough that it doesn’t look right standing next to a First Order Stormtrooper.

Speaking of the Stormtrooper, this Phasma reuses several armor pieces that led to the reduced scale size. The torso, arms, thigh and knee pad armor is a repainted version. The only difference is the lower body protection, shins, hands, boots and helmet (obvious). The fine paint job on the armor makes it feel like a different figure even though most of it is the same. Even in the promotional images, it showed Phasma standing more forward than the troopers with her to give the appearance of a height difference.

Figure Gallery

It is interesting to think that Gwendoline Christie struggled mightily in her armor because this S.H. Figuarts has just as much, if not more, articulation than most figures. It was not as functional as the filmmakers had hoped. Hopefully that was not the reason for her reduced role in the movie. I cannot image having Christie do many dynamic actions in the film but her action figure sure can.

I found the biggest limitation when posing this figure was the bulkiness of the blaster rifle. That fact that it only could be held in the right hand and that it doesn’t stay put well as noted above didn’t help matters. Also, the figure had some minor balancing issues. With some special care and patience – it wasn’t a determinant.

Photo Gallery

 

Overall, this is a solid figure. It won’t appeal to everyone and the scale issues could be a huge deterrent for some. There is no question that this figure outdoes the Hasbro Black Series version and can be had for a reasonable price on Amazon and resellers in Japan.

This captures the essence of Captain Phasma well even though even it has several faults.

 

S.H. Figuarts: Clone Trooper Phase II Review

Clone Trooper Phase II
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release DateOctober 21, 2016
MSRP4,860 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: DC-15A Blaster Rifle, DC-15S Blaster Carbine, 2 Closed Fist Hands, 2 Trigger/Pointing Hands, 2 Cradle Hands, 2 Blaster Rifle Cradle Hands
Articulation Details: 32 – Head, Neck, Shoulders (Socket and Hinge), Shoulder Pads, Biceps, Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Ribs, Waist, Hips (2 Hinges), Knee, Ankles (Hinge and Rocker Joint), Toes

“Commander Cody, the time has come. Execute Order Sixty-Six.” – Darth Sidious, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

One of the coolest parts of the Prequel Trilogy and Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series were the Clone Troopers. The animated series allowed Lucasfilm to personalize their story more and give them several episodes as the focus. It is fascinating to see the evolution of the Clone armor beginning with Attack of the Clones all the way through Revenge of the Sith.

Those three years show how the armor became more functional and had further unit designation. The evolution from Phase I to Phase II shows the gradual progression into what we know as the Imperial Stormtroopers from the Original Trilogy.

While we know that the Phase II armor had an improved helmet design and the armor was strong and lighter – it also allowed toy manufactures the opportunity to “kit bash” existing designs into new figures. Bandai’s Tamashii Nations collector line did this with the S.H. Figuarts Clone Trooper Phase II figure.

As far as I can tell, this Phase II Clone Trooper reuses the Phase I armor sculpt for the body with the obvious exception of the newly sculpted helmet. I find it interesting that the helmet can make it seem like an entirely new figure. At least it is more aesthetically appealing.

This Phase II trooper came loaded with accessories – matching its predecessor with weapons (DC-15A blaster rifle and DC-15S carbine rifle) and four sets of interchangeable hands. The standard closed fists and trigger hands are included – along with two versions of cradling hands. One set of hands is better equipped to handle the larger rifle, while the other looks like it could be holding a hologram of Darth Sidious in their palm.

Packaging

The armor again has a matte finish that is excellent. Against a dark background, the white armor really pops. I had an issue while attempting to shoulder the larger rifle in the right arm and ended up with some unintended weathering on the right bicep. I do wonder if we’ll receive any specialized versions of this Phase II trooper like we did with the Phase I Captain. I am sure many fans would gladly take a 501st or 442nd variant.

Figure Gallery

The shortcomings of this figure mirror the Phase I figure. None of the articulation issues were fixed as it was strictly a new head sculpt. The elbows still don’t allow for anything other than a 90 degree bend because the armor on the arm bumps up against itself. The shortfall there is it is difficult to have this figure hold either rifle close to their chest.

The upper hip armor also doesn’t allow for a deep knee bend. There is still a workaround to achieve some crouching poses. I have to give this figure high marks for the balancing. Even with the toe articulated in a stepping pose – it balances well without the need for a stand.

Photo Gallery

It might be easy for some collectors to pass on this updated reissued figure. If I had the choice between the Phase I or the Phase II design – I would take the Phase II Clone Trooper every time. The helmet design is so well done that it tips the scales that much.

This is a solid figure overall and the price is just right at this time. Many online retailers are offering this figure for less than the original suggested retail price. You could go as far as army building with this figure if you desired.

S.H. Figuarts: Kylo Ren (The Force Awakens) Review

Kylo Ren
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release DateDecember 18, 2015
MSRP5,940 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: Hood, Shawl, Ignited Lightsaber, Lightsaber Hilt, Lightsaber Hilt with Belt Notch, 2 Closed Hands, 2 Grip Hands, 2 Open Hands, 2 Force Choke Hands
Articulation Details: 25 – Head, Neck, Shoulders (Socket and Hinge), Biceps, Elbows, Wrists, Hands, Waist, Hips (Socket and Hinge), Knees, Ankles, Toes

“That lightsaber… It belongs to me.” – Kylo Ren, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I nearly had a heart attack when I opened this figure. After taking the top protective plastic tray off the figure, I found that my S.H. Figuarts Kylo Ren had been given the Darth Maul treatment. I was in disbelief. With some quick thinking, I realized that the waist joint had just come loose and unattached itself. The high waist is an illusion that helps with the design of the figure – but I’ll have more on that shortly.

I am not certain I would consider myself a huge Kylo Ren fan but he’s well represented in my Star Wars collection. I have all three variations that Hasbro has produced in their 6″ inch The Black Series line and now both versions that Bandai has produced under their Tamashii Nations S.H. Figuarts line. It is actually the first Kylo Ren Black Series figure that launched my collecting journey early in 2016. I’ll always have Kylo to thank for all the money I’ve spent on the hobby since then.

Once I repaired my Kylo Ren, I got lost with all the accessories and fine detailed points of this figure. Even though this was a standard issue figure release – an extra set of hands was included. Typically most figures only have three different sets of hands. The fourth set not included with many others was a Force choke pose. His grandfather would be jealous of them based on his interaction with Director Krennic in Rogue One.

The lightsaber hilts are out of this world. Not one, not two, but three lightsaber hilts were included. Each had immense detail with different paint applications. One of them came with a peg at the base of the hilt which allows it to attach to Kylo’s belt. The next one that does not have the blade ignited can be held in either hand. If you look at where the blade is emitted, you can see the small groves of where the emitter is. Top-notch craftsmanship. And finally the ignited blade is something to behold. Bandai did well with unstable blade and it has a nice transparent red. Even in some of the photos I took – it had an appearance of a red glow.

I did not take any photographs with the hood and shawl taken off. As I was setting up poses, I could not figure out a way to get the hood up and over his head without damaging the figure. It never even occurred to me that I could probably just pop the head off and remove both. Next time I’ll try to be more intelligent than the action figure.

Packaging

What can I say, this looks just like Kylo Ren. Most figures in the S.H. Figuarts line do not have soft goods clothing. In fact, I can’t think of any off of the top of my head. I prefer this soft plastic look to the soft goods look that Hasbro did with their figures. The texture is there that gives the figure a lot of depth. The hood does have a weird drape to it, but it didn’t bother me the more I set the figure up.

My Dorklair co-host Bill Drewnowski posted an article last year of a modification that some have done in the collecting community. It involves removing the hood and robe from the Black Series figure and then replacing the Figuarts hood and lower robes. It does look great – but I am not that daring yet to try it myself.

Everything else looks screen accurate. The arm wraps are one of my favorite parts and the helmet is phenomenal. You can even see the detail for the visor screen. His boots aren’t normally that visible because of the long lower robe but there are different buckles there.

Figure Gallery

Photo Gallery

I had a blast posing and photographing this figure. There are so many possibilities and even though I had more photographs than I normally do for my reviews – there are plenty more I could have added. The articulation for this is fairly standard but the range of motion is where this figure is really strong. One subtle feature I enjoyed was the wrist and hand range. With the angle that Kylo had his Lightsaber grip, it was possible to recreate his scene where he points his lightsaber at Finn with arm extended. Another one was holding just the hilt at his side very naturally.

The lower robes did get in the way at some points, but they are bendable enough to just move out of the way.

Overall, I really enjoyed this figure. I had held off reviewing it for some time but glad that I finally did. It is still reasonably priced on sites like Amazon and is worth adding to any collection. It is a solid value when you consider it with all the extras included. I can’t get over how well they made Kylo’s Lightsaber.

I may get courageous enough to try the S.H. Figuarts-Hasbro kit bash in the future – but not now. I look forward to comparing this offering against the unmasked Kylo Ren web exclusive that was released in early 2017.

 

S.H. Figuarts: Padmé Amidala (Attack of the Clones) Review

Padmé Amidala
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release Date: June 16, 2017
MSRP6,264 yen
Current Price: eBay
Accessory Details: E-5 Blaster Rifle, Alternate Head, 2 Cradle Hands, 2 Open Hands, 2 Trigger Hands
Articulation Details: 26 – Head, Neck, Shoulders (Hinge and Swivel), Elbows, Wrists, Hands, Torso, Waist, Hips (Swivel and Hinge), Knees, Ankles, Toes, Blaster Holster, Left Hip Pouch

“No, I call it aggressive negotiations.” – Padmé Amidala, Attack of the Clones

For most Star Wars fans, Attack of the Clones is their least favorite film in the saga. Bandai’s Tamashii Nations clearly doesn’t agree with that assessment. This S.H. Figuarts Padmé Amidala figure is the eighth figure produced from AOTC – far and away the most represented film in this collector line.

I’m at peace with the Prequel Trilogy. As I gotten older, I appreciate them more as time goes on for what they are and what they aren’t. It is all one large Star Wars story at this point from my viewpoint.

One of the best parts of an expanding Star Wars universe in multiple mediums is that there is something for everyone. It’s perfectly acceptable to love everything, only like some parts or dislike most of it.

I’m not sure Bandai is trying to send a message with their focus on Attack of the Clones, but as a Star Wars fan – it is great to see at least one licensee buck conventional wisdom. For the second consecutive month, a Tamashii Nations web exclusive was the only S.H. Figuarts figure released. Anakin Skywalker was released in May, and now we have Padmé Amidala for June.

There was considerable hype surrounding this figure. From the time the early images were shown late last year, there was a scramble to preorder Padmé from online retailers with the ability to secure this exclusive release. The final product did not fail to meet expectations.

The hype for Padmé drove up interest and the prices on the secondary market are already higher than expected. I’ve seen some hardcore collectors express disappointment that the figure may not be worth what the current market price is dictating. That value proposition could occur with any figure, not just this one.

Disappointment aside, this is a solid figure. The likeness to Natalie Portman is spot on. It also marks the first time that Bandai has created a female Star Wars character in the three years since the line was created. This offering gives hope for exceptional editions of Leia and Rey in the near future.

Part of the disappointment for this figure was the lack of accessories for a web only exclusive. Padmé only came with an E-5 Battle Droid Blaster Rifle, a spare head with different expression and the standard three sets of hands. Prior to opening the brown shipper box, I wondered how Bandai was going to have her grip the over sized blaster rifle with the hand guard in the way. The Geonosis Battle Droid had the ability to grip around the handle. The handle and actually detaches from the bottom of the rifle and then can be inserted back in after she grips it. The insert tab is small and I struggled to keep the rifle together at times.

Packaging

As I mentioned before, this was the first Star Wars female character that Bandai has produced in this line. Just like the Anakin exclusive released just last month – the S.H. Figuarts human faces and sculpts have been superb. The digital print technology looks just like Natalie Portman on both heads included. There is hardly any pixelation upon close inspection. My minor gripe about each head is that the hair is very flat brown. From far away it looks decent but under a bright light or up close it is too shiny.

I can rationalize why this particular outfit was used since it is fairly iconic and shows Padmé kicking some butt and taking names on Geonosis. Even though her midriff is showing – the figure is still done tastefully. The weathering on her outfit is well done and there is plenty of fine detail. It even has the slash marks from the Nexu on her back. Her blaster holster and left hip pouch are both movable. There is tons of detail packed into her boots with the shin design and the tread on the bottom of them.

Figure Gallery

Before I get into the articulation, I have to mention some of the issues I had with swapping out the two different heads. This is the first S.H. Figuarts figure that I’ve looked at that where the neck ball joint would stay lodged in the base of the head versus staying at the top of the neck. Every time I swapped out the head, I needed to use tweezers to pull out the connector and plug back into the neck. I also managed to pop out each shoulder socket on accident when trying to move the arm slightly above 90 degrees horizontally.

Those issues aside, this figure was a blast to pose for these action shots. Even without a figure stand, the balance was good enough that I could be creative and not have the figure remain stationary up and down. A few times the blaster rifle did separate itself from the handle but that was quickly fixed. Most of the articulation was fairly standard and was boosted by the pouches on the belt that could be adjusted as well as the drop hip hinge.

Photo Gallery

The demand for this figure was high at the time I did this review. The prices on the secondary market validate Padmé’s popularity and it hard to see the prices return to the suggested retail prices. These web exclusives have a limited supply and with a high demand – the casual collector gets stuck paying a premium.

As with this figure and any other exclusives that may catch your eye – try to preorder as early as possible. The price will only go up as the days, months and years go by. The S.H. Figuarts line is too new to determine if these figures will hold or gain value in the future. If the craftsmanship and level of detail is any indication – they’ll be a centerpiece to your Star Wars collection for a long time.

I can find only a few minor items to nitpick about this figure, otherwise it is a solid collectible overall. If you are a fan of Padmé’ Amidala – this is worth adding to your collection.

 

 

S.H. Figuarts: Luke Skywalker (A New Hope) Review

Luke Skywalker
Star Wars: A New Hope
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release DateJuly 22, 2016
MSRP5,940 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: Lightsaber Hilt, Blue Lightsaber Blade, Alternate Face, Blast Shield Helmet Head, Training Ball with Laser Blast, 2 Closed Hands, 2 Open Hands, 2 Lightsaber Grip Hands
Articulation Details: 23 – Head, Neck, Shoulders (Hinge and Swivel), Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Waist, Hips, Knees, Ankles, Toes

“I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.” – Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: A New Hope

Luke Skywalker was my favorite Star Wars character growing up (and still is), so any new variation of action figure or collectible that gets released always has my full attention.

This Star Wars: A New Hope version of Luke was highly anticipated when Bandai decided to release it under its S.H. Figuarts line. Of course, in the collecting community, this version of Luke on Tatooine is affectionately nicknamed “Farmboy Luke”. There have been countless versions of this figure in every size and scale imaginable since the first Kenner action figure in 1978. This one might just be the best of the bunch.

This is the second Luke Skywalker figure in the S.H. Figuarts line. In 2015, he was one of the first Star Wars figures produced and depicted in his Jedi Knight outfit from the ROTJ final act. I’ll get into it shortly, but Bandai improved the proportions of the figure and toned down the gold highlights in his hair with this entry.

It is fitting that this was the next version of Luke that was produced. It’s easy to want every variation that we’ve seen of him across the Original Trilogy in this collector’s line. But that is the rub with S.H. Figuarts, quality over quantity. Would I want an X-Wing pilot, Bespin or Hoth versions of him? Absolutely.

Of course, collectors can be a fickle bunch – myself included. While this figure came packed with extras, it is easy to play armchair quarterback and wonder if some different choice could have been made. I would not have complained if they figured out how to include a removable Stormtrooper belt and E-11 blaster rifle with trigger hands. It would also have been neat to see his binoculars included as well.

Instead of complaining about what we didn’t get – let’s focus on what we did. The standout piece outside of the Anakin Skywalker lightsaber (or is it Rey’s now) was the blast shield helmet secondary head and the training device from the Millennium Falcon. Instead of having large helmet that would fit over the top of the existing head sculpt – the helmet has its own joint that can be inserted into the neck. That is where the secondary face comes in as well. Luke’s hair is split between front and back, and that is how each face can be used.

Packaging

The base face is my preferred one to display as it more accurately depicts Mark Hamill’s likeness. The secondary face has a smirking look that just looks off. Luckily the blast shield can help cover that up. Otherwise, this figure comes with the standard set of three hands that most do: closed fist, open hand and lightsaber grip.

It makes sense to mention when applicable that Bandai’s digital print technology can lead to some impressive looking human faces in person but can look pixelated in photographs. In certain lighting environments is less noticeable but it still exists. Despite my qualms with the included secondary face, the standard version is one of the better ones I’ve encountered in this line. It’s one of the best versions available of Luke Skywalker period – even when you compare it to some of the high-end collectibles on the market.

This sculpt of the figure is more accurate than the earlier version produced in 2015. The body proportions aren’t as lanky. It is always impressive how Bandai how makes the articulation appear seamless with the clothing sculpts. It’s important to notice the subtle weathering on Luke’s tunic, pants and his boots. Prior versions of Farmboy Luke often rely on soft goods for the tunic and it just never looks right. I’ll take the trade-off of limited hip articulation for this look.

Figure Gallery

If this figure has any shortcomings, it is in the articulation realm. Like most of the Jedi characters in this line, Luke also experiences a limited range in the upper arms because of his tunic. It is near impossible to have him hold his lightsaber with two hands away from his body. He didn’t utilize his father’s lightsaber much during the film, so we can give a pass here.

Bandai passed on giving this Luke figure a drop hip hinge. That is a fairly common feature in this line. That limits many crouching positions you could hope to have posed this figure in. His lower tunic also prevents the forward leg movement. It cannot get anywhere close to a 90 degree angle.

A nice touch that I wish would be utilized more often with Jedi characters is the articulated forearm within the tunic sleeve.

Photo Gallery

This is a figure that I looked forward to taking a closer look at and it didn’t disappoint. It is a standout right out of the box. There is a lot of small details that I’ve got a higher level of appreciation for upon closer inspection. I never thought I would say it but I prefer this S.H. Figuarts version of Luke to his earlier Jedi Knight release. Luke Skywalker as he appears at the end of ROTJ is my favorite version of him in action figure form – but this figure is more well-rounded and better overall.

This figure has been available for just about a year on the secondary market and is still reasonably priced at several online retails for import. It is even reasonably priced at Amazon as well.

This figure is a must-add for any Luke Skywalker fan.

 

MAFEX: Rey No. 036 Review

Rey No. 036
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Toy Line: MAFEX
Release Date: April 2017
MSRP: 5,800 yen
Current Price: Amazon| eBay

Rey is a character that brings a massive amount of mystery to the Star Wars Universe.

She captivates us when we first see her as a scavenger spelunking through the inside of a battle damaged Star Destroyer. Then, we fall in love with the Theme music that the maestro John Williams created for her as she slides down a sand dune with her little treasures. From there on she is thrown into an epic battle between good and evil, but is riddled with self-doubt and the need to “go back home”.

Throughout the story, we see her character develop by gaining new friends like Chewbacca, Finn, BB-8 and the late Han Solo. She finds out more about herself through personal trials by helping the ones that she had just met. She has strength, compassion, and the will to do something good for the Resistance and her friends.

The part of her story when we all felt the feeling of weightlessness was when Kylo Ren reaches out to force-grab the saber and it flies past his face and into Rey’s hand. The Force Theme plays and we realize a new Jedi in the world of Star Wars has emerged.

In the near future, we will find out more about Rey and what she is in the Star Wars Universe. Whether you believe she is Luke’s daughter, Kylo’s Brother (or future love interest) or whatever fill-in-the-blank theory you can contemplate – she will unquestionably be an extremely powerful impact on our fandom. The Forces of Destiny, The Last Jedi, Episode 9 and possible novels and comic books will unravel this undeniably interesting heroine. With her eccentric personality and a knack for survival, she will be extremely fascinating.

The Medicom Toy MAFEX Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey (No. 036) 1:12 scale figure is a superb rendition of the character.

The box is an open window that provides a glimpse of all the wonderful accessories that this figure comes with:

  • Staff
  • Blaster
  • Lightsaber Hilt and Blue Blade
  • Scarfed Head with Goggles
  • Backpack
  • 2 Gloved Hands
  • 2 Open Hands
  • 2 Trigger Hands
  • 2 Closed Fists
  • 2 Grip Hands
  • X-wing Pilot Helmet
  • Action Stand

The accessories included are great. Everything is expertly sculpted and painted with perfection.

The details in the lightsaber hilt are great and make it a stand out in this set. The hilt is the Skywalker lightsaber that we all know and love. Heck, I even have this lightsaber hanging in my room. It is symbolic to the Star Wars fandom. We would recognize it out of a lineup of many other lightsabers. MAFEX expertly painted the silver and black with red fragments on this piece. I look at this and fall in love with the mythology of the back story of this lightsaber all over again. The blade fits perfectly in the hilt with a square insert. It is an interesting detail to say the least.

Rey’s head is an example of the tactic that Medicom Toy MAFEX is pushing for all of their new action figures. Whereas S.H. Figuarts has wonderfully sculpts heads and digital print technology faces, MAFEX has a digital print procedure that takes the actor’s face and carefully interprets it on a tiny piece of plastic.

The extra hands are for the accessories that are a given with the figure. There is two hands that hold the Lightsaber, two hands that have a trigger ready finger for the blaster, two gloved hands (mine came with 2 left hands) that are open to hold accessories, two closed fists (that come with the figure out of the box), and two open hands for either resting or force push action. The hands are removable with extreme ease and I found that very impressive. SH Figuarts’ hands are very hard to pull off and dare I say just as scary to put them back on. Medicom has made it easier making the pegs easier for the user to push-on and pull-off the hands. I am attempting to contact Medicom to see if I am able to get a replacement right gloved hand.

The scarfed head is a great detail to add to this figure, even though it was in The Force Awakens for all of 15 seconds. The mask has the blue/green tint on the goggles that are said to have come from a Stormtrooper helmet. The smallest feature is the light that is molded in the side of the mask and it makes for an absolutely great detail. The browns, tans and grays are very expertly weathered. Just like the hands, the heads are easily swappable. With a smooth removable feel, the heads glide off but seem to stay put when reattached.

The backpack is a good add-on if you are going with the scavenger load out for the figure. The mold is great and the coloring and weathering is very well done. There is a certain drawback, the backpack does not detach from anywhere on the bag. This makes it a little uncomfortable to attach the backpack to the figure. You have to twist the arms a little that would make most experienced action figure collectors cringe. But when you get past the cringing, and sling that backpack to the figure, Rey is ready for exploring more forgotten empire waste. However, if you are going to go with the scavenger look, please remember that the backpack has to go on first and then the head swap. The slits in the back of the scarfed head have given this little feature to help you out.

Ever since the promo-pictures of Rey hit the Internet wearing the X-Wing pilot helmet, we have speculated where in fact she got that piece of equipment. The helmet is a great piece to add for your isolated Rey scene. She wears this for a few seconds in the movie but it has sparked great controversy. The name on the side of the helmet is Raeh. We all have different ideas of what that means but we probably will not know who or what kind of impact Raeh had on Rey. The helmet splits down the middle for an easy way to put the piece on Rey’s head. Be sure to use something like tweezers or maybe your fingernail to split it open. Finally, instead of going with the over-sized fit that was in the movie, MAFEX made it a perfect fit for Rey’s head.

Photo Gallery

This figure is worth the gamble of it being made by a company that is slowly creeping back into our Star Wars collections. Medicom MAFEX has burned us before with some faulty joints and parts that fall off in some previous figure releases.

However, with last year’s release of the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi versions of Boba Fett – I have fallen for these figures. I do have to say, my experience with MAFEX figures is in no way extensive whatsoever.

Rey is a great piece to have in your collection and I am incredibly satisfied (besides the 2 gloved left hands) with the detail, articulation and paint application. She is not only a beautiful and mysterious character, but she has made it into all of our hearts as Star Wars Fans.

If you like Rey as a character and can afford this price (mine was about $60.00), She is totally worth your hard-earned money and I recommend her completely. You can order her from many online retailers including Toy Ninja, and other importers.

Thanks for reading, and…

May The Force Of Others Be With You.

S.H. Figuarts: Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike Review

Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release Date: April 2016
MSRP: 12,960 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: Blaster Pistol, 2 Closed Hands, 2 Open Hands, 2 Grip Hands, 2 Blaster Hands (2 Fingers for Blaster grip), Speeder Bike, Speeder Bike Stand
Articulation Details: 34 – Head, Neck, Shoulder Pads, Shoulders (Hinge and Swivel), Biceps, Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Torso, Waist, Hips (Hinge and Swivel), Thighs, Knees, Ankles (Hinge and Swivel), Toes

“Go for help! Go!” – Biker Scout, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

As someone who was born just as the Original Trilogy was wrapping up with Return of the Jedi, I have many fond memories of re-watching that movie more than the others. I’m not sure I can state unequivocally that Return of the Jedi is my favorite Star Wars film – but it is the one that I get the most emotional about.

I absolutely loved the Speeder Bike chase. It was ground-breaking at the time and it still holds up well today. It was intense to see Luke and Leia chase down the Scout Troopers before they could report back to their base.

The S.H. Figuarts version of the Speeder Bike and Scout Trooper was available as web store exclusive last April. It can still be somewhat difficult today to track down for a reasonable price on the secondary market. It originally had a suggested retail of about $117.00. This set cost significantly more than a standard figure from Bandai – but you have to remember that this had a proper scale vehicle as well.

It is natural to want to compare this to the Hasbro Black Series version only because of the similar scale. I try to make a habit to not make comparisons between the two lines because they are each for a different type of collector and at a much different price point. Of course the S.H. Figuarts version will take the care more often than not.

This set came with the Speeder Bike in 1:12 scale as well as the Scout Trooper. Both are just stunning. The attention to detail is awesome and it looks screen accurate from my vantage point. The one comparison I will make with the Black Series version is that this trooper sits down on the bike and can lean forward to reach the handle bars, where the Hasbro version is mostly in a standing upright position.

Because of the inclusion of the Speeder Bike, this figure is fairly light on other accessories. The Scout Trooper does have four sets of interchangeable hands along with a blaster pistol. The set of hands not found with many other figures in this line is a two-finger grip for the pistol. In researching it, I didn’t realize that the Biker Scout pistols lacked a trigger and that it fired from pressure applied to the grip. You learn something new everyday.

The Speeder Bike is well put together. It does have a model like feel to how flimsy it is in parts, namely the handlebars, but when handled with care – I had no issues with it whatsoever. It does have some nice weathering on the paint application and there are several movable parts such as the handlebars, the foot pedals and the exhaust flaps.

Packaging

I’m not an expert on Scout Trooper armor but Bandai really nailed the screen accurate aspect here. Yes, some of the troopers in the movie are a little short for a Stormtrooper and have some extra padding around the midsection – but this figure works well.

The helmet is by far my favorite element. The deeper visor is sharp and many Star Wars fans, myself included, claim that the Scout Trooper helmet inspired part of the look of the Scarif Shoretrooper one. One of the other cool additions is the Trooper’s boots. The bottom of the sole has a unique tread that obviously helps them hang on for dear life on their bike. My only gripe about this figure is the pistol holster on the right shin. It is not a tight fit and the pistol constantly fell out as I was positioning the figure on the bike.

Figure Gallery

As I noted before, this figure has all the necessary articulation to pose the figure without the Speeder Bike as well as on the bike in a variety of poses. I tried to recreate some shots from the stock marketing photographs and the box packaging. The shooting the pistol while zooming through the forest moon of Endor was tricky and took some patience. I cannot understate how cool it is that the figure sits properly on the bike with the neck angled up looking forward.

Photo Gallery

I really enjoyed this figure. I knew I would give my affinity for Return of the Jedi and the nostigal surrounding it. This version of the Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike is the definitive version available on the market in this scale. I only referenced the Hasbro version to express how cool the features are with this deluxe vehicle set.

If you are interested in the figure, finding it on the secondary market is your only option. I was able to find one factory sealed for close to the original suggested retail price by scouring online retailers in Japan. It is not a must have for every Star Wars collector but it is a nice luxury if you can find a great deal.

May the Force be with you.


S.H. Figuarts: Stormtrooper Review

Stormtrooper
Star Wars: A New Hope
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release DateApril 25, 2015
MSRP4,320 yen
Current Price: Amazon | eBay
Accessory Details: E-11 Blaster Rifle, 2 Closed Hands, 2 Open Hands, 2 Trigger/Pointing Hands
Articulation Details: 34 – Head, Neck, Shoulder Pads, Shoulders (Hinge and Swivel), Biceps, Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Torso, Waist, Hips (Hinge and Swivel), Thighs, Knees, Ankles (Hinge and Swivel), Toes

“Open the blast doors! Open the blast doors!” – Stormtrooper, Star Wars: A New Hope

One of the benefits of hindsight is that we can be more objective as time passes or have different reference points. It can be an advantage but it can also be a disadvantage. Case in point with the original S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper release. Having the benefit of two years after its original release to perform a review makes me view the figure much differently than had I back in April 2015. I have several issues with it knowing what I know now – but I still gave it the benefit of the doubt. I should also note that I am attempting to be a completist on this collector’s line. Under normal circumstances, I likely would have passed on this figure – especially at the elevated secondary market prices.

By today’s standards, this Stormtrooper was light on accessories. Outside of the standard two closed fists, two trigger hands and two open hands, the only other accessory was the E-11 Blaster Rifle. The blaster was in better scale than say the one included with the Shoretrooper.

Packaging

This looks like a Stormtrooper should but it is a bit stylized. I’ve heard that it was a major sticking point for many collectors waiting to get into this line because of it. I don’t claim to be an expert on Stormtrooper by any means. A few things stand out to me and it’s mostly the helmet. The bridge of the nose is flatter and makes the helmet appear wider than it actually is. I have not reviewed the Rogue One version yet, but even in the box it looks a bit better than this offering. This figure almost has a Star Wars: Rebels vibe to it with how the eyes are positioned.

Despite my minor qualms with the figure – the detail is still there. The helmet has several nice touches with the sculpt with the blue marks and air vents.

Figure Gallery

This figure has plenty of articulation with 34 points that I could determine. My main issue was with the lower torso. The movable shoulder pads made most any pose possible with the blaster rifle – especially with the large movement that the upper torso has with the ball joint. The thigh armor just doesn’t work with this figure. It is impossible to achieve a 90 degree bend at the knee without swiveling the thigh over. Since the knee and calf do not have a swivel, you cannot make this figure crouch down. If you have found a way, please let me know.

In a way, it put a damper on this figure since the setups are not limitless like many other figures that were released later. I would like to see a 360 degree ankle swivel on other figures but it was wasted here. Also, the knee joints allowed for more than a 90 degree rotation but the leg armor also prevented that as well.

Photo Gallery

Overall, I was mostly critical of this figure but I do not have buyer’s remorse. There are some redeeming qualities that make it appealing to S.H. Figuarts completists like myself. Plus, it is nice to know you own the second Star Wars figure produced from Bandai.

If you are casually collecting this line – I would recommend going for the Rogue One updated version of this figure instead.

 

S.H. Figuarts: Anakin Skywalker Attack of the Clones Review

Anakin Skywalker
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Toy Line: S.H. Figuarts
Release Date: May 2017
MSRP6,264 yen
Current Price: eBay
Accessory Details: Lightsaber (Ignited), Lightsaber Hilt (Belt), 2 Closed Fist Hands, 2 Grip Hands, 2 Open hands
Articulation Details: 26 – Head, Neck, Shoulders (Socket and Hinge), Elbows, Forearms, Wrists, Hands, Waist, Hips (Socket and Hinge), Knees, Ankles (Hinge and Rocker), and Toes

“Someday I will be the most powerful Jedi ever.” – Anakin Skywalker, Attack of the Clones

First, let me get this out the way. If you are looking for a review of the special edition (early bird) S.H. Figuarts Anakin Skywalker – you’ll have to look for it elsewhere. The website I ordered this from did not receive the special version of this figure with the additional action head and two extra lightsabers. At the end of the day, it did not bother me that much because this is a standout figure in its standard form.

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker is a polarizing character in the Star Wars community. On one hand, there are some fans that don’t care for the Prequel Trilogy and think Christensen is the worst actor ever. Others adore him and are not bothered by any perceived short comings of Episodes I through III. The popularity swell was on full display at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 when Hayden’s autograph and photo opportunities sold out quicker than any other in Celebration history. You might argue that it was because it was his first appearance at a convention since 2002, but the outpouring of happiness from fans gives me hope that more Star Wars fans will continue to become more accepting of the Prequel movies.

The timeliness of this Tamashii Nations exclusive S.H. Figuarts version of Anakin Skywalker from Attack of the Clones couldn’t have come at a better time. Some third-party vendors began taking preorders in November and December 2016 and this figure just began shipping last week. The demand for it and the short supply at the moment is driving up the price on the secondary markets like eBay.

Because this was a web exclusive release, this figure came in the typical brown shipping box for extra protection. The standard release version of this figure had different box artwork that depicted the scaled down accessories and lack of an action face head. Included were the typical three sets of hands (closed, open and lightsaber grip). And as with most figures that include lightsabers in this collector’s line – there is Anakin’s ignited blue lightsaber from the film as well as an unignited hilt that can be attached to his belt.

Packaging

This figure was better in person than most of the press release photos appeared leading up to the release. The likeness to Hayden Christensen is uncanny. For my money, this digital print face is one of the best in the entire S.H. Figuarts line. It is better than Mace Windu’s and that one was also excellent. I can’t speak to the special edition face since I didn’t receive that version but I cannot get enough of the face sculpt and digital print. It was also nice to see Bandai resist with any gold highlights through Anakin’s hair like they have with many other human characters recently.

His Padawan braid is flexible and can be moved to the front or back depending on what look you are going for. His Jedi outfit hides many of the articulation points well and his look from Episode II is recreated faithfully. This figure does suffer in the articulation realm because of how the outfit was done but it is forgivable. The detail and accuracy in this figure is stunning. In the right lighting – the figure looks so realistic.

Figure Gallery

This figure was a blast to pose and photograph as you can see below. It wasn’t without a learning curve of what the figure was capable of or the limitations were.

Having Anakin hold his lightsaber with both hands with anything other than a resting position in front of his chest with elbows bent was frustrating. Also because his grip hand was more relaxed than say the hammer grip of Mace Windu – it made it difficult to hold his lightsaber in certain positions because of the extra baggy Jedi sleeves. The sleeves are made of a harder plastic without any give.

I can accept some of the trade offs of fewer articulation points in the upper chest and biceps to have a more screen accurate representation.

Photo Gallery

The look and aesthetic of this figure is magnificent. Without a doubt it is the quintessential version of Anakin Skywalker as seen in Attack of the Clones. Many in the collecting community and those specifically collecting these S.H. Figuarts figures were disappointed that the early bird edition wasn’t more readily available. I can only speak from my experience, but I don’t feel like I was slighted by receiving the standard version.

Keep an eye out on the secondary market for whatever version of this figure you decide to pursue. It may seem short on extras but I cannot understate how well this figure looks in person. Even these digital photos from an amateur photographer like me do not do it justice.

 

Funko: Smuggler’s Bounty 40th Anniversary Unboxing

The Funko Smuggler’s Bounty boxes for May 2017 shipped this week. There was considerable buzz for this 40th Anniversary box among collectors – especially after the big reveal that Luke Skywalker with Speeder was going to be the deluxe POP! included.

My box arrived safely this morning and I couldn’t wait to see what else was included.

First off, the box was supersized and larger than the box for The Empire Strikes Back and the Hoth Han Solo deluxe figure. The artwork of Princess Leia was suberb on the box but sadly that was her only representation in this box. It was a huge missed opportunity. My hunch is that this box was in production much prior to the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher. I’ll give Funko the benefit of the doubt.

 

Upon opening the box, I was greeted by the traditional patch and pin securely glued to the top flap. I’ll give high marks to both the patch (X-Wing Pilot Luke Skywalker) and pin (Chewbacca).

After opening the top flap of the box, that is when the disappointment set in. There was the already confirmed Luke Skywalker deluxe POP!, but the other inclutions were underwhelming to honor the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope. That being said, the deluxe POP! makes this box worth the purchase price alone – especially fans of Luke Skywalker.

Who salted first?

The Han Solo and Greedo salt and pepper shakers were a missed opportunity. I would rather have received a coffee mug that I would actually use. And the sweat bands? I really don’t get that at all. I don’t know many people who wear sweat bands period, let alone Star Wars branded ones.

 

175 Luke Skywalker with Speeder

All else is forgotten though – because this deluxe POP! is top-notch. I’m mostly a boxed collector when it comes to Funko, but even I can appreciate the level of detail in Luke’s landspeeder. It is also nice to see paint weathering on a vehicle from Funko. My hope is that the continue making similar combinations in the future. As I noted above, this POP! is worth the price the box this month alone.

Overall, I’d give this box a passing grade. While I’m ecstatic about the Luke Skywalker, the other inclusions missed the mark. A lot of collectors seem to be let down that there was not more tributes to the 40 years of Star Wars. You can’t always get everything you want, but overall I’m pleased with my purchase this time around.

 

If you would rather leave the unboxing to the professionals, Yoko & Cameron of Funko did a video here: