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Ask Aak
(Republic Senator)

Senators are easily some of my favorite figures to put on my shelf and stare at, and yeah sometimes thatís not such a bad thing. I certainly can appreciate these figures for what they are, as they basically stood there in the film and talked, so they stand there on your shelf andÖ well, they donít talk, but they stand there. Of course theyíre not as fun as a VOTC Stormtrooper, VOTC Han Solo, or pretty much any Clone Trooper from the Revenge line, but theyíre still good quality figures that fill that background character need. And when Hasbro beefs up the articulation on them nicely, gives them some good accessories, and taps some pretty obscure characters, well theyíre just that much better.

That brings us to todayís review of Ask Aak (Republic Senator). The Gran (Ree Yees lookiní dude) Senator who supports Palpatineís army creation during Attack of the Clones I believe, and the Senator who got basically no screentime in Revenge of the Sith. Hey, you have to imagine his butt kissing earned the Grans some perks under the Empire though right?

Ask Aak is a pretty neat update on the Gran sculpt, which hasnít seen anything since the much storied Ree Yees figure that wound up becoming a limited retail release figure and a borderline exclusive to the Fan Club Store some years back. Ree Yees was pretty great for his time, but it is nice seeing a prequel update to the species like this, and Hasbro chose not to disappoint us even though the subject matter wasnít the most incredible.

The figure has turned into a sleeper hit as well, though his distribution has been sketchy at best. Still, heís been popular when he does hit the shelves, and for collectors who like to study the figures for all their intricate little details heís a surefire winner. Read on as I pick him apart and see what makes him a worthy hunk of plastic. He sure fits into ďThe UglyĒ as far as my Good, Bad, & Ugly theme goes, but thatís not always so bad folks!

PROS

-Sculpt: Without a doubt the figure features a ton of varying sculpting details that really set this one apart from other figures in the line. While a Wookiee may be predominantly fur sculpting, or a Cloneís smooth armor sculpt is all-too-familiar to us, Ask Aak features a costume that is ornate, varies in texture and style, and thatís not even getting to the characterís physical appearance as a funky alien species.

Aakís headsculpt is full of life and unique sculpting. The frowning goat-like mouth, slightly open as if in mid-speech (or looking like he just got shot down trying to pick someone up at the Outlander) is sculpted just right for it to look realistic, but not be too pre-posed or awkward looking. Thereís depth to the mouth that makes it look hollow, and the teeth are just sculpted slightly showing, so no woodchuck issues here.

Aakís got striking features like 3 extended eye sockets with a little variety in how open or closed they are (the center one is open more than the 2 side eyes). Thereís a set of large floppy ears sculpted on the back of the head and 2 smaller ears above the eyes. There are also 2 long antennae on the top of the figureís head as well. All have a lot of little details like wrinkles in the flesh, skin bumps, leathery texturing in the skin, and boney ridges all around. There is just tons of detail in the headsculpt alone.

The figureís hands and feet, while foreign to classic trilogy purists, are quite accurate to Ask Aak as he appeared in the prequel films. Chalk it up to racial diversity among the Grans I guess, but Hasbro made sure to sculpt the figure accurately to the films and not use ďneck upĒ production stills to produce the figure. The extremities feature a variety of details sculpted into them, such as separately sculpted fingers on both hands, claws, and skin bumps on the tops of the feet and back of his hands.

The costume is easily the best part of the sculpt though, and really stands out as a little work of art I think. For instance the coat itself is comprised of unique fur trim all around it, as well as an intricately sculpted zig-zagging pattern all over the body of the jacket. The fur is short and rich with detail and depth. Itís also raised nicely off the jacket and looks very real. The coatís got a wealth of folds in the main fabric pieces then, and the texture is very symmetrical and adds a lot to the end look of the figure.

Ask Aakís pants and shirt also feature unique texturing and once again display a sculptorís talent for realism. A brown undershirt for Aak can be seen peaking out at the forearms and at his neck where a thinner fabric was sculpted and appears to have a much finer texture sculpted into it (barely noticeable). Then a vest inside the heavy fur-lined jacket is there which appears to have a coarse heavy looking fabric sculpt to it with lots of depth and folds. And lastly the pants are sculpted to have yet ANOTHER fabric texture sculpted into them, as well as a ton of folds and wrinkles to imply a baggy pant that is tied off at the cuffs at the figureís ankles.

If thatís not enough detail for you, I donít know what is. If I had to bet, Iíd say that whoever put the hard work into the famed Ephant Mon figure from the Saga line had a heavy hand in the Ask Aak figureís creation. The sheer amount of detail in this figureís sculpt makes it worth a purchase but thereís other little extras that make this Senator stand out.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: Paint application on Ask Aak is a variety of colors and techniques that turn a darkly colored outfit on a colorful looking alien into something a little bit more. The paint applications are varied in color and the techniques of washes helps make the costumeís sculpt (and all its fine detailing) stand out tremendously.

The first thing I noticed was the fur trim on the heavy outer coat, which is a dark brown with a grey-white highlight to the fur, making itís textured sculpt stand out a lot against the dark background. The undershirt is a simpler medium brown color, and the coarse looking shirt under the jacket is a dark brown. The jacketís fabric besides the fur trim is an almost dark grey or charcoal looking color, and is very nicely done.

The flesh of the hands and feet feature a fading color between a pink and tan color. The toenails/claws are painted a very dark brown, and the skin bump details are painted brown or dark red shade as well.

The head features a lot of paint applications as well with the flesh/pink color of the skin fading with a brown-grey color thatís heavier on the back of the head and lightens as it comes towards the face. The eyes are solid black with little detail to them, but they are glossy paint and so they shine with the light just right, and solid black is perfectly accurate to the film anyway. Aakís teeth are also painted off-white and very well so that the open-mouth detail of the sculpt stands out and looks fantastic.

The pants are cast in a dark red/purple plastic, and then a wash of black is all over them to highlight the folds in the sculpt, and the texturing as well. The end result is really realistic looking, and itís great how a simple detail like a figureís pants can turn out so impressively. Proof that a good sculpt is only as good as its paint applications.

-Articulation: While Iíll never label the good Senator as being in the top 10 figures for poseability, and heís not one I take off the shelf and ďplayĒ with often, heís definitely good for a Senator figure. Mas Amedaís going to hold the title for the best though with all the ball/socket joints he features, but Ask Aakís matching up well with past greats like Orn Free Tah or the Episode One Darth Sidious figure.

Ask Aak features articulation at:

-2 standard shoulder joints
-2 swivel bicep joints
-2 ball/socket forearm (wrist) joints
-2 standard hip joints
-2 ball/socket ankle joints
-1 ball/socket neck joint
-1 standard waist joint

Thatís a total of 12 points of articulation, and thatís on a Senator who was on-screen only briefly and is too fat to have done anything ďaction orientedĒ anyway. So thatís not too shabby for Hasbro on this type of figure.

Some of the joints are a little new and unorthodox in the line. The ankles and forearm/wrist joints are like the new ball/socket neck joint that the modern line is utilizing. The wrists and feet just basically plug into a socket on the leg or arm, and the movement is somewhat limited but not terribly so. It is really interesting, and on some figures it would really be even better for poseability, but on Aak itís a little limiting.

Still, you can get a lot of ďconversationĒ type poses out of him, or as if heís throwing a hissy on the Senate floor flailing his arms around accusing someone of stealing his Danish or something. The inclusion of the neck and waist joints, as well as his legs, allows for other poses like him walking, laughing, etc. He really is rather fun to pose for a figure that is ultimately a little on the dull side. Iíve got my Aak striding along on his base like heís walking with Palpatine discussing what wrong move to make next. Ask Aak is a pretty enjoyable figure though ultimately so Iím a happy camper with him.

-Accessories: While Iím not 100% pleased with the accessory count, or that we didnít get a miniature holographic Palpatine or some such, I think Hasbro did give a little extra effort to include a basically unrelated accessory with the Ask Aak figure so that he was a little more appealing in the package. Two accessories with a Senate figure arenít really all that bad ultimately.

The first piece we got was one of the stands used throughout the ROTS figure line and with varying paint jobs. This one is the base simulating ship deck plating or a Coruscant building floor or whatnot. Itís a simple piece, meant to interlock some ways with other bases of the same design, but it doesnít snap together in a straight line which is rather frustrating. The base has some color in its paintjob though, and it doesnít look bad. Itís just a nice piece to display your figures and is more appealing to the eye than the rectangular Star Wars stands for certain.

The second accessory is a rifle, which while itís a reused sculpt from a past figure, you canít argue getting it too much since itís a weird but appreciated extra. The fact they packed a blaster in with a Senator is good news to this reviewer because itís one of the only things Hasbro has up their sleeve to make any Senator type figure more appealing on the pegs.

The gun they included is the weapon that the Saga Bossk resculpt was packed with, which isnít even a small weapon. I guess Ask Aakís packiní just incase the Clone Wars come to his doorstep? The rifleís a nice accessory, very accurately sculpted for what it is, and Hasbro went the extra mile to even paint the barrel of the gun silver while leaving the strap and stock simply black. Kudos to Hasbro though for packing in a gun with a Senator figure since they really arenít appealing outside the collector market. Maybe a kid would like one with a gun though to act as a fun alien figure for his Clone to shoot at.

Short of packing in a camera droid, or a holograph mini-figure of Palpatine or some such, I really think Hasbro did well for pack-ins with Aak, making him a little more interesting to those buying him.

CONS

-Availability: At the writing of this review, Ask Aak has been released to retail for quite a while but hasnít been an easy find for everyone looking for any figure from his wave. Iíve actually only seen them twice, and that is rather odd considering the somewhat dull characters that accompany Aak (Tarkin and Mena Tills, another Senator).

Iím sure that if these figures were released on a really wide scale theyíd be about as fast moving as Orn Free Tah was 3 years ago. He sat, even on clearance, for quite some time. But he was a great figure, and so is Ask Aak. Hopefully everyone looking for one is going to find him for their collections.

-Lack of Ball/Socket Joints: I think that if Hasbro had really wanted to put a little extra work into making a poseable figure, which they ultimately could have by adding liberal use of ball/socket joints where they chose not to.

As I noted in the articulation area, and yes I do think heís nice and poseable for what he is, Mas Ameda is Reigning Senatorial Champion for articulation, and he had pretty good use of the ball/socket joint at the elbows and biceps. Heck, the ROTS Mas Ameda was more poseable than many army builders even, and how sad is that!?!

If Hasbro had included ball/socket elbow joints and shoulder joints on Ask Aak, he would be much more poseable ultimately, and thatís only a positive in my book if it isnít inhibiting the looks of the figure. Thatís not to say it was a necessity, but overall I really was pleased with this figure and this was the only little nitpick I could think of, plus itís just too late for me right now.

So sure heís poseable as he is, but Aak sure could have been better. Iím pretty happy with him as he is though.

OVERALL

I cut the Cons a little short tonight since Iím not unhappy with Ask Aak at all really. Had Aak been an army builder instead of a Senator though, I would have had a much bigger complaint with the articulation, sad to say. Aakís got a lot of the key aspects to a good action figure going for him though, and thatís pretty good for piece of set dressing.

The rifle accessory was a great touch and I hope Hasbro sees fit in the future to give even the dull background guys a weapon just to spice them up a bit. The Cantina aliens it makes sense since everyone seemed to be armed in the bar, but for Senators it maybe doesnít make much sense why they have a gun, but the inclusion of the accessory is greatly appreciated. If anything Hasbro could even pack in Clone rifles just to appease the masses who need the Clone rifle to outfit their armies.

I would recommend picking Ask Aak up but heís really not an easy one to find. If you catch him on the pegs, donít hesitate to add him to your collection though, as heís a solid piece of figure. Heís sneaking out to retail still, as I did just see him again recently, but heís a bit in demand so keep your eyes open. And of course, a big hand to whoever sculpted Ask Aak over at Hasbro. Heís on-par with Ephant Mon for overall quality. Heís a winner folks!

 

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