Happy Holidays!

holiday

The year is winding down and it’s been almost half a year since I started this blog. I wanted to thank everyone who read the articles, reviews, and kept coming back for more. It’s been a lot of fun putting together content for my own site and it means the world to me that this project has, at least in my mind, has had a good start. So again, thank you all, and have a happy holiday season!

Continue reading “Happy Holidays!”

Black Series: Cassian Andor and the Death Trooper (Variants)

Fourteen days to go until Rogue One and about two hundred pages left in Catalyst. I have to say I’m enjoying the book just as much as the toys, and it’s all setting up what will without a doubt be a great Star Wars movie. I will probably do a mini-review on the book before the movie comes out. But for now, more toys!

Today I’m reviewing the variants of Cassian Andor and the Death Trooper that are exclusive to Target’s Rogue One Three Pack. Keep an eye out at your local Target and watch for deals – the pack retails for $59.99, but thanks to a 30% off sale I got the pack for right around $40.00. The three pack includes the variants of Cassian and a Death Trooper as well as the same Jyn Erso that is available on its own. Since that’s the exact same figure, I’ll be focusing on Cassian and the trooper.Cassian.jpg

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Cassian’s Eadu costume, the blue jacket, will probably be what he wears for the first portion or maybe half the movie. So this is the outfit he will likely wear on Scariff. The figure looks pretty good overall. His brown jacket is detailed with light brown/tan markings down the sleeves, a possible rank insignia on one side, and another metallic box with two blue dots – perhaps a comlink or some other gadget? The shirt underneath is detailed with a sort of Bespin Han Solo collar and extra flap of fabric below the neck. Cassian is a two-belt type of guy, one to hold his pants up and a separate one exclusively for his holster. Plain tan pants and dark brown boots round out his outfit, and all of it carries a nice earthy tone to its color pallet. Cassian is a pretty simple figure – not simple bad, just not the most interesting. However, I’m biased towards our glorious Empire, so that’s just me.

Here is something very interesting, however – Cassian’s blaster rifle.

blasterblaster2

Another theory; I really don’t think this modular weapon design is going to play into the movie at all. That’s just my guess, but if we were getting that kind of technology (like a gun that turns into an assault rifle with a couple attachments) I think we’d be seeing it on another toy somewhere. The blaster pistol in the center, while colored differently, is actually the same one included with the Eadu version of Cassian. The other one is just colored differently and lacks the small tab for the stock to attach to. My guess is that it was easier to mold the weapon in production as three pieces, given the level of detail. Regardless, it’s one of the coolest looking guns I’ve seen come out of the Black Series in a while and much more detailed than the blaster that comes with his Eadu outfit. Admittedly, I do take the gun apart just for the satisfaction of putting it back together.

Cassian is well-articulated like most Black Series figures – he isn’t missing ankle rotation like Luke and Ahsoka. The pistol fits his holster if you prefer to break the weapon down for a different look or for play. My only complaint is that there was a small bit by his ear that the paint seemed to have missed, which should match his hair, but that’s nothing that couldn’t be touched up.

Moving on to one of the new addition to our rogues gallery. . . (I’ll show myself out)

20161129_113906.jpg

I’m calling this one the Death Trooper commander as no specific rank is noted on the box art the way it is with the Scariff trooper squad leader. I’ve seen the name Death Trooper specialist thrown around and admittedly I like that name too. Anyway, this figure is identical to the solo Death Trooper that is also available right now, minus the fact that this one is armored up with extra gear. He includes the same rifle and pistol, but wears a harness containing extra ammo pouches (not unlike a sandtrooper or ARC trooper,) a rank pauldron, and what appear to be grenades strapped across his stomach. As with the previous Death Trooper, all the expected articulation is there underneath the jet black armor. Krennic’s enforcers just look mean. And if you’re like me and reading Catalyst right now, you can see where Krennic started his private attache of troopers during the end of the Clone Wars. But I’ll save spoilers for a spoiler post later on!

All in all, the Rogue One Three Pack is a good value, especially if you can get it through Target’s promotions during the holidays. 30% off was an especially good deal in my opinion, as the way I look at it, I essentially wasn’t paying for the second Jyn Erso. Really, it’s still not a terrible deal at full price – you’re basically paying for three full-priced figures still, but I’m always looking for deals on these. Keep an eye out on Reddit like I do or find a good collectors’ group. You’ll find out pretty quick which figures to grab up and when, and you’ll also known when a figure gets a case of the Constable Zuvios and it’ll be around for a long time (full disclosure – I wanted a Zuvio but waited it out until he was on clearance at my local Target. I think he’s cool enough and he was cut from the movie, which in my mind makes it cooler that he still got a toy release.)

I’m trying to plow through Catalyst before the movie comes out, so that will probably be the next thing I review. So far I’m really enjoying it, and I appreciate the parts of canon it connects and fills in. I was surprised by it, actually. And I can’t wait to see what happens after the fact in Rogue One, seeing it all tied up and fully enveloped into the canon not only by itself, but also by setting up A New Hope.

That’s it for this review. I recommend getting a hold on this three pack but look for the smart deals. The last exclusive to Target (the Poe Dameron jacket variant and the riot control stormtrooper aka FN-2199) was still in stock near me until this three pack came out, so keep you can probably keep your eyes peeled for  clearance sale eventually if you have to wait. And as always, thanks for reading and happy hunting!

 

-David

Black Series: Ahsoka Tano

I found one of these on Black Friday and couldn’t believe my luck. Better yet, there was a sale at Target (buy one Star Wars anything, get another 50% off) so I was able to pick up Ahsoka and Luke Skywalker without breaking the bank.

20161129_142221.jpg

First off, I can’t gush about the overall look of this figure enough – it’s gorgeous. The new Togruta head sculpt, a first to Hasbro’s Black Series, is spot on. The skin tone and paint apps along the head tails look great. My only complaint about the head sculpt is that with two head tails in the front and one in the back, it makes it difficult to turn and pose her head. But that’s more a flaw in Togruta anatomy than it is anyone’s fault at Hasbro.20161129_142344.jpg

Like the new Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka includes hooks at her hips that allow her lightsabers (with the blades removed) to dangle realistically from her sides. Ahsoka is articulated nicely throughout her arms and under the chest armor. Her three-sectioned belt tied to the ring in the front reminded me of Revan’s iconic robes. Maybe the Rebels art department did that as a nod to another Force user who walked a grey path? I’d like to think that’s canon but that’s just me. Anyway, my only problem with the build of the figure aside from the neck rotation is that Ahsoka also seems to have poorly-articulated ankles. Her long boots run over the sides of her feet, which disables any ankle rotation (if there is any to begin with.) And one minor than minor detail about her lightsabers bothered me at first. The hilts are detailed but not painted, but I probably won’t even remember that after this lovely figure has been on the shelf for a while.

Rogue One is coming! Next I will be reviewing the exclusive three-pack of figures from Target’s Rogue One pack. We’re only fourteen days away!

 

-David

Black Series: Farmboy Luke Review

I’m finally catching up after some Black Friday purchases and a few birthday presents to myself (I had to – I can’t pass up a deal) Hopefully everyone had a good weekend and or holiday and is ready for some new toys! Here’s my review of the newest (and my first) Black Series Luke Skywalker.

20161129_142045

I know quite a bit about Star Wars but not everything, so let me see if I can get this straight. So this blond kid from the middle of nowhere goes off looking for a space wizard one day. He learns to use the Force like his father, but doesn’t stray down the same dark path as his father did during the Clone Wars. Something bad happened there probably. Taking up his father’s lightsaber, he travels across space and becomes the apparent savior of the galaxy (in one timeline, at least)

Okay, time to stop playing dumb. Of course I know Luke Skywalker, and this is a great figure of him. First and foremost, the face is pretty spot on (minus a bit of a messy paint application to the eyes.) The hair is a perfect sandy blond color and the cloth shirt is a great touch to what could have otherwise been a pretty bland figure in terms of overall look and color. At first I thought the shirt was way too big on him. . .but then I remembered it’s actually kind of big on him in the movie, too. Points for accuracy there.

Luke of course includes his lightsaber as well as his macrobinoculars. A new addition to this wave of figures is a small hook on his belt, which allows the lightsaber (with the blade removed, of course) to hang from the belt. It’s a great detail, and the fact that it isn’t a slotted or otherwise tight connection allows the hilt to sway naturally during play or display. I also like the flap on the underside of the macrobinoculars, which double as a place for Luke to hold them as well as clip them to the back of his belt between the pouches.

20161129_142131

Although I like this figure a lot, I do have a few minor gripes with it. Collecting sites and comment sections have noted that the Black Series is dropping in quality, something I personally haven’t really noticed insomuch that it’s affecting my enjoyment of new figures in any way. I’m probably biased – I just love getting new toys. I wonder if these details might be what people are talking about (honestly, when I see people start to complain, I skip those comments most of the time even if they are valid.) As I mentioned above, Luke’s eyes look a little weird. The application of his left eyebrow is slightly lower than the right, making some of the blue appear to run a touch above his eyebrow. It isn’t glaringly noticeable but it’s there. Also, this figure has great articulation until it gets down to the ankles, which lack the swivel motions of previous figures. This wouldn’t bug me so much if footwork wasn’t so integral to swordfighting poses. Last and certainly least, I wish the sleeves of his shirt maybe cinched ever so slightly at the end. Luke does get a little lost in his big shirt depending how he’s posed.

So what are your thoughts on the new farmboy Luke figure? Did you get a hold of one in the Black Friday madness like I did? Stay tuned this week for more reviews. And hopefully I can get through Rogue One: Catalyst in time for the movie – I just started last night!

-David

Happy Holidays!

Nothing to see here, move along. Move along. Ok, I’m kidding. But really, no big updates other than I hope everyone has a good start to this holiday season. And since this is a Star Wars blog, enjoy this picture I took rearranging figures this morning. It sort of reminded me of a comic cover or a splash page. Just ignore the cluttered collection around it (I cropped some out, otherwise your eyes might have trouble focusing haha)

And as always, thanks for stopping by. Happy holidays from The Empire’s Elite. 

-David

Black Thursday Strikes Back

The Force works in mysterious ways. It binds us, penetrates us, and makes us stress shop. During my technical difficulties yesterday, I stopped by Wal-Mart to see if anything was left in the Star Wars section after Rogue Friday. As luck would have it, I found two more Black Series figures from my wishlist! Check out this special addendum to my previous review with two more figures, Jango Fett and Kanan Jarrus.

Anyone who knows me knows I love Mandalorians almost as much as I love the Empire and finding the last toys on the pegs at the store. Both Jango and Kanan were the last figures I could find at the store, and I have a huge weakness for buying the last thing I can find of anything related to Star Wars. I know I’ll either never see it again (until the price is likely jacked up on Amazon) or I’ll see dozen of them in two months. But I never know which one it’ll be, so buying the last ones usually gets the best of me.

Jango Fett (Attack of the Clones)  is a wonderful figure. He’s heavy with all of his well-detailed armor. The removable helmet isn’t flimsy. The jetpack has three placement pegs to keep the jetpack in place and level. The pistols are also more durable than I expected, which is something I appreciate because sometimes the weapons with these figures can be bent or just downright flimsy and fragile. There’s plenty of detail to take in; dirt and grime in the armor, tarnish marks, the knee-mounted dart launchers, and a nice dent from when he hits his head on Slave One’s loading ramp door in Episode 2. The head mold also looks pretty good. He’s missing the actor’s stubble, but maybe this is just Jango looking a little more cleaned up than normal. The figure looks and feels so right in every other regard that this one detail gets a pass for me, especially since I probably won’t remove the helmet terribly often.

Onto Kanan from Star Wars: Rebels, this is another example of Hasbro stepping it up with the quality of these figures. Taking an animated character and making him look ‘real’ is no simple task, and it was pulled off very well with this figure. All the details are there, from his shoulder armor down to his lightsaber that actually dissasembles the way it does on the Rebels show. The blade is removable, and then the hilt of the lightsaber can be stashed away in two pieces on the frontand back of his belt. Kanan also includes his signature blaster pistol that fits into a hip holster. Out of the few heroes in my Black Series collection, this is definitely a new favorite!

All in all, I love these figures and love that I was able to find them even more! I’m old school when it comes to buying things. I like to hold it in my hands first before I take it to the register. That is especially true with these toys, as their can be flaws such as bad paint and flimsy or bent weapons to deal with. But the other reason I don’t buy many of these online is something I often compare to the philosophy of Batman. Batman never kills the Joker, even though it could save lives every time the Joker escapes imprisonment. He can’t kill the Joker because if he let’s that violent part of him see the light of day, he will never stop, and he would destroy every last one of his enemies and become just as bad as them. My fandom isn’t so dramatic, but it boils down to the fact that if I buy one thing on the internet, I will soon BUY ALL OF THE THINGS.

Go find your toys! Love and support the fandom!

-David

 

Thanks for reading this! If you enjoyed what you read (or even if you hated it, to each their own) let me know in the comments section! Leave a like if you are so inclined and subscribe to get notified every time I post something about my love for Star Wars. If you have an idea for something you’d like to see, let me know in the comments and I might make a post about it!

 

 

Black Thursday: One Big Review

I was going to put this together sooner, but a pesky flu and some technical difficulties got in the way. But now the show goes on as I take a closer look at my newest Black Series figures. Lego will always be my first love when it comes to Star Wars toys, but the Black Series is a close second. Let’s start with the namesake of Rogue Friday, the day these figures were released, with a new character from Rogue One.

I like Jyn Erso a lot so far, and that’s saying something considering we know next to nothing about her yet. The figure has a good sculpt and the normal posability for this type of figure. Something I noticed was that the little strap on her holster comes undone, making it easier to draw and stash away her blaster pistol. I thought this feature was new, but I went back and checked out my Han Solo figure and his holster does that too. You learn something every day! Jyn includes a blaster pistol, which is cool but doesn’t look quite as Star Wars-y to me compared to other weapons. She also has a removable head scarf. It’s easy to get her posed and keep that trademark spunky attitude when on display.

Next is Cassian Andor, the Eadu variant. I didn’t know Target had a 3-pack exclusive of Cassian in another outfit plus Jyn and a Death Trooper variant (more on that later). I’ll have to keep an eye out for that and hopefully it is as plentiful as the last exclusive pack that included Poe Dameron (in the jacket he gives to Finn) plus stormtrooper FN-2199. I like the overall design of this figure with one exception – the face doesn’t quite look like the actor to me. Whether I should chalk this up to variation among figures or just a slightly off sculpt remains to be seen. I don’t hate it, and admittedly it does look a bit more like the real actor when the hat is removed (shame, because it’s a pretty nice hat) Regardless, the jacket is detailed very well with it’s padding and furry hood. The hat has a scarf coming down on one side, and Cassian includes a blaster pistol and blaster rifle.

I bet K2SO steals every scene he’s in once the movie comes out. The figure is quite nice, with a sculpt resembling Imperial battle armor worn by General Veers and the like. The figure is the longest, lankiest droid I’ve ever seen, and he’s very posable. You can see in the third picture of him that he can channel Zenyatta from Overwatch and pose in a meditative state. K2 is nicely detailed and surprisingly can stand without a base, which I was surprised given how tall and awkward he is.

Next is the Death Trooper, part of the Imperial Security Bereau’s special forces under Director Krennic. This is one of two current variants. The other one, which in my opinion is more desirable, has different gear: same guns, but a shoulder pauldron and ARC Trooper style ammo pouches are added to the shoulder. As far as I can tell, that 3-pack comes later this month. Despite being slightly less interesting than that variant, there’s still plenty to like about this figure. He has Darth Vader’s belt buckle, a unique piece of knee armor, green eyepieces in the helmet, and unique weapons. This guy definitely captures the ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe of the Death Troopers. If you have the variant, they make a nice companion to Target’s two pack of shadow troopers. His height over everyone coupled with the black armor just makes him look mean. (Note: If you buy the 2-pack of shadow troopers, which I do recommend, that scout trooper doesn’t come with the sniper rifle; I had that lying around from another stroomtrooper variant and gave it to him)

Wrapping up Rogue One is probably my favorite figure of the Rogue One wave thus far, and that’s the Hovertank Trooper. Like the Death Trooper, he captures that meanness and intensity of the utilitarian armor scheme. The shoulders are a new rubbery material that flexes if you pose the arm too far up, bending it in instead of stressing or damaging the edge. Nice touch there, I like that a lot. The armor is a sort of mash up of stormtrooper gear and scout trooper gear, with stormtrooper-like boots and light torso armor, plus a unique helmet. Instead of full leg armor, the figure wears dark brown pants over the black bodysuit all stormtroopers wear underneath their armor. He also carries a blaster just in case he’d have to leave the armored safety of his hovertank. There’s a lot of nice detail, especially in the dirt and grime on his boots and armor.  This figure is exclusive to Toys R Us.

Lastly there’s the Force Awakens variants. A repackaged Rey now includes a lightsaber along with her signature staff and BB-8. Apart from minor differences, it is the same figure that has been available for a while now. I found her to be slightly difficult to pose when holding the lightsaber with both hands, but I noticed their may be a slight defect in the joints of my figure’s left arm. Could be damage, could be an error. I’m not exactly sure, but I like the figure and had been wanting one with a lightsaber. Kylo also appears to be an identical figure, but with changes to his accessories. This variant swaps his mask (the entire head) for the face underneath. I thought there would be an injured variant with the scar on his face, but I’m sure that will be coming for Episode 8. The other changes are regarding his lightsaber. He now includes two sabers, a new ingnited blade that is molded to the hilt (no weird three-pronged thing with the extra ‘energy’ going around it to hold it together) and an extra hilt with no blade, which can attach to a new notch in his belt. My only complaint, albeit a small one, is that like Cassian, his skin tone isn’t quite right. They both appear a little too pale to me. But skin tone is very difficult to transale into plastic, so I’m not holding that against anyone.

Overall, I enjoyed unboxing all these figures and adding them to my sizeable Black Series collection. My favorites are almost always new Imperial troopers, and this was the case yet again this time around. I was super happy to be able to purchase so many this time around as well. I went rather late in the day on Rogue Friday and was still finding good toys stocked on the shelves. This wasn’t the case for Force Friday, the previous event, where all the Force Awakens toys were revealed. So good on you, whoever makaes that sort of thing go more smoothly. Target had great promotions that rewarded you for going big on your purchases and I hope they do things similarly in the future for Episode 8’s theme day and the eventual other spinoff reveal days. It seemed much smoother this time, so let’s hope it gets even better when we do this all again next year!

-David

Thanks for reading! If you liked this rant and review, leave a like or let me know in the comments. Also, if there’s something you’d like to see, drop me a comment or an email and I might make a post about it!