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Entertainment Earth

Chief Chirpa

The Saga “Endor Wave” gave collectors a number of figures to really look forward to in the waning days of this year’s lineup. The Endor is just one of those stops Hasbro doesn’t go to very often as is evident by the real lack of decent sculpts for even many of the main characters… sure there’s a Leia in poncho, but who wouldn’t love a new one with all the modern trimmings, right? And don’t get me started on Ewoks who really don’t get the attention they deserve in this line.

Wait, we are going to get started on Ewoks actually, as this week’s review is focused on the latest little vicious teddy bear to be offered to us by Hasbro, Chief Chirpa. Fans can rejoice that yet another vintage figure is wrapped up with an updated sculpt. But does Hasbro do the good chief justice, or are we left wishing for something more? Well I think Hasbro did a pretty good job to update the “standard” they set with their Teebo figure back during the POTJ line (it’s been that long since a new Ewok in the basic line? Sheesh.), but at the same time Chirpa seems to have some noticeable shortcomings… “short” being the key there. Read on for the full review to see if Chirpa is tall enough for this ride, or if he still has to go to kiddie land.

PROS

-Sculpt: Hasbro has another dandy sculpt on their hands with the Ewok Chief here, and prove that their company can dish out some of the best detail and capture the true likeness of even some fairly obscure characters from the Star Wars films. Chirpa has tons of life sculpted into him and this figure makes me only wish I had more Ewoks in the line for some diversity.

The body sculpt of Chirpa is fairly easy to describe… Lots of fur detail. Hasbro sculpted in lots of short wavy fur throughout the body and from head to toe it gives Chirpa plenty of depth and realism. The figure’s toes and fingers have extra details sculpted into them with tiny finger and toenails slipped in there for collectors to notice. The palms of Chirpa’s hands also feature a “smooth” texture to them to give them a paw-like look on this loveable little fuzzball.

Chirpa, as the leader I guess, is entitled to a little extra at dinner it seems… Hasbro seemingly has given the chief some extra weight to make him look a bit portly, which he seemingly was in his brief appearances in Return of the Jedi too. It makes for an extra cutesy looking figure which will nauseate some but I’m an Ewok fan so I love it.

There are no real costume details on Chirpa to speak of, but Hasbro caught the little details the figure had in a small rope belt around his belly. There aren’t many interesting details on it but they did add a small item on his left hip and there is a removable knife w/sheath accessory for the front of his belt too.

The Chirpa face sculpt actually has a good bit of detail for a character that was basically just seen sitting around. The detail Hasbro captured is the big goofy smile that Chirpa sported throughout his sequence where he welcomed the Rebels into his tribe officially. The figure’s grinning teeth and bulging eyes look amusing but accurate at the same time, and the expression seems to accurately represent how this character appeared in the film. I guess he’s just a happy guy. Overall Hasbro did a good job on a character that is mostly fur.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: Along with the sculpt, Hasbro highlights the good detailed work with a good paint application as well. The figure’s fur is a mix of two shades of grey. There is a light base color with what appears to be a darker grey wash to highlight the fur sculpt and give it a nice appearance of depth. The fur paintjob is obviously the dominant application on this figure, but Hasbro also got the brownish-grey paint on his fingers, toes, and the palms of his hands as well. The toenails on Chirpa’s feet got a dark brown application to highlight the claw sculpt as well, and the body’s paintjob really looks nice overall.

The face got a couple paint details as well, with the lips getting a brownish color to help the mouth stand out with the exposed Ewok smile getting a touch of paint to the teeth to help them stand out just a bit. Chirpa’s eyes and nose get the same brownish color as the lips to highlight these areas sticking out from his furry face, and the center of the eyes are a solid glossy black that looks really nice.

Lastly the only other detail painted on the figure itself is Chirpa’s little rope belt. The application is simple but nice with just a light leathery brown color painted on it. The one detail of knotted leather rope is especially a tricky application of paint though and it was done well without bleeding onto the figure’s fur details and it really is a nice effort by Hasbro overall. Chirpa’s paintjob was yet another job well done by Hasbro.

-Articulation: Ewok articulation is kind of like that of an astromech, or some other smaller figure. The diminutive stature really hampers Hasbro’s ability to go hog wild articulating the figure, so there won’t be any 15 points of articulation to talk about. However Hasbro does what pretty much seems to be the best possible poseability we can expect out of Ewok figures. Chirpa even seems to up the ante slightly with a ball/socket neck joint that other Ewoks haven’t had, so that’s a plus.

Chief Chirpa features articulation at:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 standard waist joint
- 1 ball/socket neck joint

That’s a total of 8 points of articulation on Chirpa which isn’t too bad, and the ball/socket neck is kind of a cool first on an Ewok figure. I’m not sure exactly how Hasbro could improve articulation on Ewoks… Maybe angle-cut elbows on a figure, however at this tiny size the elbow joints could perhaps be very unattractive and really may not even add much to the figure. Their arms are so short I don’t know what positives could be gained, or what negatives.

And I’ve found that Chirpa can get in some cool action poses with his club, or a spear accessory. He can appear to be running, lying dead on the forest floor, fighting, or jumping on a Scout Trooper… just lots of cool poses, for a figure so small. I think Hasbro’s pretty much perfected this kind of figure’s articulation though at this point. It would be tough to make this any better by my estimation anyway.

-Accessories: Chief Chirpa basically just sat on his fat fuzzy ass in the film but Hasbro made sure he’s the most heavily armed Ewok we’ve ever gotten in the modern line. Now when I say that Chirpa’s armed heavily, that just means he has an extra weapon compared to just one stormie clubbin’ stick. Still though, that’s not bad considering past precedent, and the extra weapon turned out to be a pretty cool little piece too.

First up, Hasbro gave us Chirpa’s noticeably unique hood. Like one would expect of a chief, the hood is a bit more ornate than most of the Ewoks we saw on Endor. The sculpt alone of the hood is really amazing and really it surpasses (and highlights) the figure’s sculpt overall when it’s on him. There are tons of wrinkles, folds, and a good bit of unique leathery texturing going on in the hood’s sculpt. There are also small bones and claws sculpted into it as decorations, a small jewel or charm in the center, and small threads and stitches sculpted in there.

The hood’s details like claws and things are painted with bone white paint or black for the prominent horns sticking out the top of the hood, and it really looks like Chirpa’s got a lot of trophies on his dome cover. There is some fading brown paint applications that makes the hood go from dark to light very noticeably, and gives the hood an even more leathery appearance, as though it’s a real animal hide. The jewel detail at the bottom front of Chirpa’s hood also has a dab of shiny purple paint on it and it’s something I’d never even noticed on the character before but it stands out on an otherwise dark background.

Next up we get Chirpa’s pimp stick… He comes with a bone club accessory that looks like it’s some kind of bone tied to the end of a wooden stick with some decorations. There are little leather strap details to give the appearance the bone is tied on. The stick has just a little bit of paint for the bone part and a dark brown for the fringe decorations on it. Beyond that not a whole lot of paint details but it’s enough to give it a good bit of detail.

Lastly Chirpa gets an extra weapon for his troubles… Hasbro gave us a removable knife sheath, and one of the tiniest accessories in the modern line to go in it, Chirpa comes with a tiny bone knife. The sheath is tiny and plugs into a hole on Chirpa’s waist. It fits the knife accessory very nicely and securely so you don’t lose it. The knife is pretty neat because it has a brown leathery looking handle and a bone-white blade. The handle of the knife and the sheath both feature leather “weaving” patterns sculpted into them as well, and are nicely detailed. This is little accessory is the icing on the cake for this figure and was a really great surprise to this reviewer.

And of course the figure also comes with the usual pack-ins too for figures in 2006 that add absolutely nothing to the toy but somehow wind up costing the fans more at retail. There is an embossed stand featuring the film the character appeared in raised on its surface and a silver name of the character painted on the one edge. There is also a randomly packaged holographic miniature figure snuck into the packaging as well. While the stand and miniature are nice, both required molds and effort to be produced and it’s my opinion that the money put into these “gimmick” accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.

-Packaging: The Saga Collection packaging for each figure is an interesting mix of styles. You can definitely see some elements of the ROTS line mixed with elements of the OTC line, and that makes for a unique package on the shelves. I really enjoy the black cardback with silver lettering, and I hope it’s something Hasbro is willing to stick with for a long time to come.

I also highly enjoy the unique backgrounds for each figure. Pulling an element from the OTC line, the new Saga Collection packaging uses a film shot that pertains to each unique character, and really individualizes the figures. This is drool-worthy for the carded collector and it makes even the die-hard openers want a figure here and there to keep carded just because of how special the backgrounds are.

The bubble is a little closer to the ROTS line in its overall size and shape, but should lend itself more to staying mint for the carded guys. There’s also an insert depicting the specific character and the character’s name, packaged into the bottom of the package just as the Revenge of the Sith figures had. The insert features the bold blocky silver lettering of the Saga, and lets fans know that this is the universal collection of figures encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.

There’s a lot to like with this packaging so I hope it stays as the standard for a while. I would say that The Saga Collection and Original Trilogy Collection will go down as some of the most liked packaging by collectors for quite some time if Hasbro gives it a while, and this is coming from a guy that rips almost everything off its card at some point or another.

CONS

-Height/Size: If there is a major gripe to be made about Chief Chirpa at all, it’s easily the figure’s overall height and size when compared to almost any other figure, but most noticeably when compared with other Ewok figures. Now I’m not an Ewok expert myself to know, and footage of Chirpa isn’t extensive anyway, but he didn’t look quite this small to me in the film.

When compared to figures like Teebo or the Glider Ewok… or even Wicket who IS supposed to be tiny… Chirpa looks a bit on the small side. He’s incredibly short compared to Teebo (the “standard” setter for Ewoks to me), almost by an entire head actually. Chirpa’s height is more along the lines of the POTF2 Wicket figure’s height (who is oversized perhaps), but even Wicket seems bigger overall with a bulkier head and he seems like he’s a hair taller himself.

Chirpa may be this small in actuality, I don’t know… He looked like he would’ve been on the larger side from the few scenes he is in, at least to me, but what do I know?

So for what it’s worth the height/size issue isn’t affecting me totally in a negative way on this figure, I just definitely noticed it when I picked him up recently, and when with Teebo he’s certainly a short guy, even for an Ewok.

The other “issue” with Chirpa’s size though is the perceived value of the figure compared to others. When you’re paying $7-ish a figure, you’re noticing a dinky little Ewok like Chirpa in that fairly large figure bubble. He’s awful lonely in that packaging by comparison to other figures, and so his being possibly “extra small” as compared to just regular small makes that a little more of an issue since he’s costing a bit for such a little figure.

Maybe he should’ve come with a little throne accessory for him to chill in to offset some of the perceived value? Just a thought to fill out the packaging a little bit. Either way Chirpa’s a teeny tiny little fuzz, and it makes one scratch their head if he’s “accurate” or not.

-Retail Price: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at most all retailers in 2006, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our Revenge of the Sith figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 after tax at most retailers, even the usually stalwart for cheap prices, Wal-Mart. Hopefully Hasbro and Retail will see the light that price increases in this day and age means that people may become more tight with their spending.

I know a price hike will affect my buying habits, and I’ll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. I’ll cut back on army building, custom fodder buying, and other areas that I otherwise maybe would have spent more freely. That $1 or $2 starts to add up over 60 or so figures though. With no retailer seemingly wanting to budge on their standard price, things aren’t looking good for a decrease anytime soon. So keep your eyes peeled for sales because when they happen I’ve noticed that figures that were sitting suddenly fly off the pegs.

The price hike sucks, and what really is tough to accept is that in 2006 we’ve seen many fewer figures with “great” articulation like we saw in last year’s line for ROTS. This decrease in overall “quality” coupled with the price increase just hasn’t sat well with me about this year’s line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.

OVERALL

So that’s really Chief Chirpa all said and done. I have to say, this figure had very little for me to gripe about that wasn’t completely centered on the figure’s overly small size and lack of something to help balance it out in the packaging. It’s not too common when I don’t find a couple extra flaws here and there with a figure, and so that makes Chirpa a fun review for me.

Hasbro’s pretty much got the Ewok formula down, now it’s just a matter of getting the guys in Pawtucket to get it together and make MORE Ewoks. I personally would enjoy seeing the Teebo sculpt re-used in the line, but I could see also Chirpa’s sculpt repainted a couple times to get us a new Ewok Warrior here and there maybe.

The articulation on Chirpa is where it needs to be and can’t really go further. Chirpa’s sculpt and paint applications are stellar despite the dull colors (not the figure’s fault though of course), and there are plenty of little details to keep an eye out for that do make him more visually interesting, especially with his hood on. The Chief’s accessories then are even above par slightly for Ewoks in general, however it would be nice if maybe a larger accessory had slipped in there (a throne would’ve rocked) to offset the figure’s size.

Really though Hasbro did pretty good overall with this Ewok and for people looking to getting the vintage line updated completely, this is certainly a welcomed and overdue addition to the collection. In general it’s just nice seeing an Ewok on the pegs again and I hope more are on the way. Hasbro did a good job for certain with Chief Chirpa and unless you hate these adorable little teddy bears that topple mighty regimes because they ruin the Star Wars experience for you, you’ll definitely want the Chief in your collection with the few other Ewoks we have so far.

 

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