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Mustafar Lava Miner

The 30th Anniversary Collection has been teased with multiple picture leaks from all the collecting sites as well as Hasbro, and fans can’t seem to get enough images to satisfy them. The quality in 2007 seems like it’s heading up, up, up, and very few figures pictured so far have seemed as though they would be letdowns at all. One that had some potential for disappointment though was this week’s review, the Mustafar Lava Miner.

The figure’s early photos gave the impression of something very true to the characters briefly glimpsed in Revenge of the Sith. Bulky looking guys in heavy equipment working gear, that were bent over dishing out buckets of molten rock. Not much to them in the films of course, but that doesn’t mean they should get short-changed as figures. I’d say in general Hasbro didn’t cut too many corners, but some design choices made the figure less than perfect. Check out the review and see just what I’m talking about, and how some simple choices in the figure’s design can impact the final figure fairly dramatically as a toy.

PROS

-Sculpt: Hasbro seemed to catch a ton of detail with a figure that is seen on a dimly lit world in ROTS, and that you don’t get to see but for more than a couple seconds at a time. For the most part these guys were random witnesses to the greatest duel in Star Wars history, and nothing more. Yup, they’re set dressing. Hasbro saw to it they got nice sculpts though.

The costume itself is relatively simple. The blue body suit is smooth and form fitting with few wrinkles or folds. There are some designs in it but not much in the way of texture sculpting going on. The “armor” pieces are a bit more ornate though and make up for the bland costume underneath. In particular the shin guards, shoes, and the protective loin cloth piece are really neat because they all got little bits of lava that had splattered up onto the character’s costume sculpted on to look like it had cooled and hardened on the costume bits. Of course the “damage” is heavier on the shoes and things. It makes the character look more worn and realistic as a lava miner.

There are some costume details sculpted in too like a wring of pouches on the character’s belt. There are also little oxygen/breathing details sculpted around the neck and of course on the face. The face/helmet are really the most detailed with the hoses, breathing devices, and other details being found here.

Something people maybe hadn’t noticed right away but Hasbro caught is the number of fingers on the character’s hands. There are only 4 digits on each hand. This is something I’d never have noticed in the movie at all but Hasbro must’ve caught somewhere along the line. In general there’s lots of cool details to enjoy on this sculpt, despite the somewhat bland nature of the character.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: In general the paint aps on the Lava Miner are pretty sparse. There’s not a lot to look at but MOST of what was done is pretty nice and does add some color and intricacy to the figure. One flaw I noticed is the gauntlet armor has lava damage on it, and my sample isn’t painted. It doesn’t detract a lot but I notice the sculpt details for damage and none of the cooled lava on there.

On the legs and skirt piece where the lava splattered up though, Hasbro gave the sculpted damage a grey paintjob with some black detailing. It shows the gold-ish color of the armor through just a little bit, and it isn’t overdone at all. It just looks right the way Hasbro did it and very nicely applied.

The character’s costume has little paint on it, but there is some grey piping on the stomach, and of course the belt got a different color to it to set it apart from the rest of the costume.

Beyond these details, the paint mostly consists of a gold-ish color where the armor is, and some silver and grey details on the oxygen hoses of the mask and whatnot. Again it’s a fairly simple paintjob but the character’s color design was fairly simple too it seems so it’s accurate. The only disappointment was the gauntlet damage being left colorless, at least on my sample. Otherwise it’s got the color where it counts.

-Accessories: Like the paintjob, the accessories have one flaw, and otherwise have cool gear that’s new to the figure. The Miner comes with 2 pieces, but I personally feel we should’ve gotten one larger one as well that would’ve really made the figure a bit more impressive as a “display piece” as well as a figure.

The Miner comes with a pole for fishing out lava and of course a big pot with lava sculpted into it. The two pieces are of course the obvious pieces this figure should have, but one obvious piece that’s missing is the mining platform they were seen on (and that Obi/Ani dueled on) in the film. That’s the disappointment. The gear you do get though is pretty cool itself.

The mining pole accessory is a nice sculpt, with details that make it look like a functional piece of mining equipment. The pole is cast in a fairly rigid plastic, which things like this make you wonder why you cannot get a battledroid with strong legs, or an Amanaman staff that doesn’t droop. The mining pole is pretty thin in spots but still very sturdy and that rocks. So kudos to Hasbro for that. The pole is cast in a metal color with a black handle painted on, and it really is sculpted like it looks like a functional piece of gear.

The “clamps” on the pole are sculpted to attach then to the second piece, the lava pot. The pot is sculpted to look heavily damaged and worn through use. The pot has large deposits of cool lava all over it, and lava itself is sculpted inside the pot. The outside of the pot is cast in a metallic color and there’s a nice wash on it that makes the cooled lava look darker. The lava inside then got a nice orange/red paintjob and it looks very nice and stands out (as it should) from the rest of the piece. Together it’s a really nice couple accessories, but again the mining platform is missing from this figure and is pretty important to this figure.

-Coin Pack-In: So in 2007 Hasbro’s decided to take the pack-in concept a different direction. They’re bringing back an idea we haven’t seen since 1985 as the original Star Wars line was dying down. Now we’ve got pack-in coins to collect with each Star Wars figure in the 30th Anniversary Collection, and I have to admit they’re kind of cool.

The coins are fairly substantial in that they’re weighty, made of real metal (Aluminum I’m guessing), and are nicely sculpted/detailed and shiny. Each coin is unique to the character it’s packaged with. They each feature the figure’s number in the collection, a raised image of the character, and on the reverse (“tails”) side of the coin is a logo or emblem specific to that character’s affiliation (an Imperial Logo for Imperial figure, Rebel Logo for Rebellion characters, etc).

The coins are collectible themselves, much more so than the “miniature holographic figures” of 2006, which I think many of us have a drawer full of at this point. These actually feel like you’re getting something that’s a separate, interesting collectible apart from the figure itself. And so long as it’s not impacting what we pay at retail, I’m ok with little stuff like this.

If coins are why we pay $7 a figure before tax though… Then I want no coins or anything. I want a less expensive toy instead. But Hasbro says these pack-ins don’t impact the price, so then the coin is pretty cool to me.

CONS

-Leg Pose: The first major issue with the Lava Miner that hurts him overall is the decision by the Hasbro designers to sculpt the legs in a wide stance. At the thighs in particular the figure is sculpted so his legs are agape, and that puts him in a permanent hunched over pose for his mining exploits.

This is a good pose, no doubt, but unfortunately locks the miner into that pose. Having him standing normally would be nice, as even in the limited footage of the miners they were not always hunched over doing their mining. The pose is severely limiting though despite a pretty hefty articulation total for a background character (kudos for that thought), and so it renders a lot of that articulation moot as far as its usefulness.

This probably won’t be a deal breaker on the Miner for most collectors. The character is so far in the background of scenes that most people aren’t going to be concerned, but it did bug me some about this one unfortunately.

-Articulation: Unfortunately, the Lava Miner has all the articulation on paper to look like he’s super articulated, but he doesn’t quite make it because of the leg’s pose/sculplt. It’s a prime example of how one design choice can negatively affect the final figure and other aspects of the figure.

The way the legs are sculpted in a wide stance so the figure is hunched over for his mining, makes the knee articulation virtually useless on this figure unfortunately, and a little difficult to pose. If there was a figure that ever deserved ball/socket hips in the Star Wars line, it’s this guy here. I’d have done without the ankle joints if they’d have given that poseability at the hips actually. The pose of those legs really does impact the figure’s poseability, and from there the toy loses some of its luster.

The articulation on the Mustafar Lava Miner is:
- 2 ball/socket elbow joints
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 pin-swivel knee joints (not ball/socket unfortunately)
- 2 ball/socket ankle joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 standard waist joint

That’s a total of 14 points of articulation on the Lava Miner, the same totals found on most super articulated figures. Good on paper, bad in practice with this figure. Again though, that’s completely attributed to the sculpt of the legs and their wide stance. The pin-swivel knees aren’t a huge issue one way or the other, though they do limit the leg poseability compared to ball/socket joints. In general though they’re better than no articulation at the knees.

Had the ankle joints been bumped to the hips, I think this figure would be pretty outstanding for poseability. That’s not the design that was run with though, so we have a figure that does suffer from a pretty pre-posed stance, even in 2007.

-No Platform: As noted in the accessories pro, I was disappointed by the lack of a mining platform. The only time you see the miners is on these platforms, and considering you easily could re-issue that accessory for an Ani or Obi figure from Mustafar, I think Hasbro missed an opportunity to give something really special with this figure. Plus it would be a larger, but not too big, accessory to pack in with him.

The platform maybe is a little too complex though for Hasbro to want to throw into this package. I can dig that point of view too on this. The platform did have some details like a control bar and things. It’s not small either, it’s just not very large. It would’ve made the Miner a much more interesting figure when displayed is all I believe. I doubt many collectors are let down by the platform omission, it just is a noticeable piece from this character’s brief appearance.

-Price Hike: 2006 sucked for one major reason. $6.99 was the “standard” for most of the country at retail. You were paying $7 before you even got to tax on a single 3.75” Star Wars figure… This trend is carrying over into 2007, as retail hasn’t seen fit to lower the retail price of Star Wars figures, and actually my first couple figures for 2007 were obtained at K-Mart stores for $7.39 before tax.

This is really starting to add up unfortunately for some of us. The quality in 2006 was dubious at best, with figures having tons of articulation sometimes, and others having a whopping 6 points total. If 2007 quality stays high, I’ll be more accepting of the price, but it stings with any “smaller” character you get like a Jawa or Ewok, and any time corners are cut on any figure like removing knee articulation. Hopefully a $1 price break to $5.99 average is due us soon. In this scale $7+ a figure is really overpriced despite some of the great figures we get sometimes.

OVERALL

So that’s another one of Wave 1 down for 2007, and if this is “as bad as it gets” this year, we’ll be lucky. The Lava Miner is pretty damn nice in general, despite my flaws. He’s a good displayable figure of a character you barely noticed in the film. I’m ready to buy a 2nd, but unfortunately that’ll be where I cut off purchases most likely.

So where do you stand? Does the platform bug you? The pose? The pose, for me, is the biggest issue… The platform would’ve just been icing on the cake had we gotten it, but the pose really sort of takes the Mustafar Lava Miner from an A+ figure to more in the C+ range. Yes, that impacted the final tally that much I’m afraid. Poseability is a toy’s best friend, and the hips just needed a ball/socket to really make this figure look right standing or hunched over… As it stands now (no pun) you’re left with a figure that only can be mining, nothing more.

I’ll still gladly get 2 miners for their “moment” in the film. They’ll display pretty cool with the sentry figure from 2005 I believe, and maybe I can find a good display background to put them on. I think most people will suffice with just 1 of the Miner. He’s not ground breaking. He’s not a Cantina Alien. He’s a decent piece of set dressing is all it seems. Pick one up but definitely not a figure to want by the dozen for your mining force I’m afraid.

 

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