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Never Forget - The ICMG Petition

Entertainment Earth

Gragra

The year didn’t deliver a ton of alien goodness mixed throughout aside from the Tatooine Wave and its 3 Cantina aliens. The fans of the obscure and freaky costumed characters of the Star Wars films had reason to rejoice with the Naboo Wave though. Hasbro delivered some Podracers, a Gungan nobody, and the single most requested alien from Episode 1, Graga.

And boy did Hasbro deliver on Graga… She (it’s frighteningly a she) features a decent level of articulation for a figure in a dress, some really sharp details you maybe didn’t know about, and as accessories go she isn’t shorted on them despite not getting her fantabulous Chuba Stand thing. So why should you pick this figure up, or should you just not bother? Read on to see what works and what disappoints on this funky freak of the Mos Espa Streets.

PROS

-Sculpt: Aliens tend to not be the sore spot with Hasbro sculptors. You seem to always get a consistently high level of detail and accuracy out of them as far back as even the POTF2 line with all its faults. These aren’t human likenesses after all, and those seem to be the real trick for toy companies to master. Hasbro is surely not disappointing with Graga though as she comes out looking big, funky, and as ugly as ever with her figure.

Hasbro really catches a lot of costume details on this character as well, making her stand out a little on the pegs to this collector’s eyes. For instance the checkered texturing sculpted into her dress is really quite nice and rugged looking, complete with overlapping layers or pleats sculpted in there. Also there is a really unique way the sculptors hid Graga’s waist articulation by sculpting a waistband/belt piece that appears like it’s cinching together from her apron tied tight around her. The way they hid the waist articulation right there and still managed to get the look of the apron tied so that it’s pulling her waist belt thing inward is really nice and adds a lot of depth to the figure.

Another little extra Hasbro gave us with Graga are her legs… While unarticulated, if you look up under her dress (*shudder*), you see she’s got a lot of detail sculpted on her legs. Namely, she has legs which you cannot see in Episode 1 during her scenes. They’re very cool looking and bird-like. A very alien look to them that is unique among even the freakiest Hasbro figures. Also if you look a bit higher you see she’s wearing some kind of shorts for underwear as well, and the entire sculpt of the legs has a ton of little detail that you really shouldn’t even be noticing on your latest purchase. That’s nice detail work by the folks in Pawtucket.

Lastly the sculpt of Graga’s head is one of the coolest done by Hasbro I think, for any alien they’ve put out. The level of detail is impressive, and rivals that of Ephant Mon in its complexity. The sculpt also hides a double articulation point at the neck, but that’s for later to rave about.

Graga’s head sports a lot of life through wrinkles and folds in her thick looking skin. The recessed lines and folds of skin really make her look leathery, muscular, and just generally thick and intimidating as a “thing”. She has her classic protruding teeth on the top and bottom of her mouth, and they interlock somewhat too for when her mouth is closed. The raised horn things all over her head, her bulging eyes, and something that looks like a piece of fruit growing out the back of her head, all wrap up the great detail sculpted into this character’s likeness. Hasbro really put out a figure that displays well with this one.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: Graga has a lot of high points but a couple low points also plague the figure for her decoration. I’d say overall the good outweigh the bad with this one, but there are noticeable issues I’ll address shortly. For now though, the positives are where we look, and they’re a-plenty.

First up, Graga’s costume features a lot of paint details and color variety for the eyes. For instance the lower part of her dress is a darker shade of brown than the upper part of her dress, both distinct sculpts as well, and the shades of brown separate the sculpt work enough to notice it. Then the waist band with it’s black coloring and the apron with it’s darker, more leathery brown color help to accentuate yet more layers sculpted onto just the body of the figure.

Graga’s bird feet/legs are a grayish color with a darker grey wash on them to highlight the details. Each of her claws at the end of her toes is painted with a glossy dark black color, and if you look up under her dress one more time you’ll notice that her undergarments are also a shade of grey-brown to set them apart from the legs. Graga’s arms feature leathery decorative bands painted brown with silver highlights from rings of metal on them. Her hands feature grey claw-like fingernails painted on, and the fun doesn’t stop there.

Graga’s head is a wealth of paint applications both large and small. Her mouth is actually painted inside in a dark color as well as red on the character’s tongue. Graga’s protruding teeth each get an off-white cap of paint, every mole got a little dark blot of paint, every horn a brown dab, and her buggy eyes got a dark red-brown dab with a black pupil dead center on each. Add to all that the nice reddish wash to Graga’s skin that highlights the folds and wrinkles of her flesh, and that’s a TON of paint applications on the figure. The only flaws come from a mismatch between the body, head, and arms, but besides that this is one of the more colorful figures Hasbro’s done in a while.

-Accessories: Graga isn’t going into combat anytime soon so don’t look for her to sport backpacks, or gear to spare, or blasters and whatnot. That said, Hasbro did manage to come through for collectors with a couple of nice, new accessories, and the kind of pieces that make sense with the figure.

Graga’s first little extra is her strand of dead Chuba’s… What is a Chuba? Hell if I know but Jabba the Hutt ate them, and so did Jar Jar. Graga sold them on the street like a New York Hotdog Vendor too, so I guess they’re the intergalactic equivalent of hotdogs or something which doesn’t bode well for what they’re made of. Still they make a cool accessory all bundled up with their tongues hanging out. Extra cool is Hasbro painted the Chuba’s green, the rope they’re tied to black, and even their tongues red. With the rope piece having a hook on the end, Graga can hold the bundle of food up to her customers and it displays nice with the figure and shows what she actually “did” I guess.

And next up is Graga’s one accessory that might help her be more appealing to the kids on some level, as she comes sporting some nice cutlery to dice up her wares. Graga comes with a double-bladed axe that features some spiffy sculpting details. There are multiple cutting surfaces sculpted into the tool, and Hasbro painted the blade silver and the handle black… It’s simple and could’ve used a wash of Chuba guts on it perhaps, but it’s also nice and appreciated for the figure. Every figure should have a weapon regardless of if they used it or not. It just makes good sense to give action figures guns, sticks, axes, swords… These are small ways to make dull characters appealing to kids. Accessories sell toys that otherwise wouldn’t sell.

Other pack-ins then are the usual suspects that have come with figures in 2006. 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.

-Articulation: I was pretty sure I knew just how poseable the new Graga figure was going to be when I saw early photos of her, but Hasbro managed to surprise me with a hidden double-joint on this figure. It surprises me so much and is such a cool, innovative way of adding this kind of articulation, that I really was geeked when I opened the figure up and started playing with it…. Errrr, I mean posing it.

Graga features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 1 swivel elbow joint
- 1 angle-cut elbow joint
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 1 standard waist joint
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 hinged jaw (worth mentioning I figure)

That’s a whopping total of 9 points of articulation on a figure with zero leg articulation. That isn’t too shabby really when you think about it, and she’s got better mobility in her arms than some Jedi figures do. She could hold a lightsaber or blaster 2-handed, and I can’t say the same for all the Jedi or army builders Hasbro does, which is sort of sad.

The shoulder joints allow for some interesting “slicing and dicing” poses of Chuba’s which I just happen to have extras of from my Jabba Glob figure from 1999. She looks really sharp like that, or yelling at Jar Jar for his sly theft of a snack, or to have her attacking someone if you wanted her to (why not?) with her axe.

What really rocks though is that Hasbro slipped a ball/socket joint in at her neck that also works in conjunction with her jaw articulation. Graga can look up, left, right, and she also can open her mouth in a huge gaping maw pose because of the head tilting back while the jaw pushes down. At the same time, she closes her jaw as well, and looks fine just standing there with her mouth shut. A lot of speculation was that the jaw would move, but not the head, but Hasbro surprised us all with a fully ball/socketed head on this figure AND the working jaw, and it makes a cooler toy to play with for sure.

-Sculpt: -Jaw Articulation: The jaw joint on any Star Wars figure is cool really. The Dewback had a cool one, and then of course Ephant Mon. It’d be great to see it on more of the bigger, nastier looking beasts and I still feel it’s a travesty that the vintage Rancor had an opening mouth but the new one fell well short of that feature.

Graga’s opening mouth is really cool though because articulation at the neck wasn’t compromised for the mouth, and her yapping jaw was a trademark of the character in the film as she yelled at the thief Jar Jar. Hasbro designed a really cool feature with this figure though and it deserves a nod for what they did.

-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

-Paint Mismatch: The one flaw with the figure that really stood out to my eyes was the noticeable paint difference between the head, neck, and arms of the character. In particular the neck/head don’t match up in color as they need to, and I found that a little disappointing given the great paintjob the figure received otherwise.

The paint really looked great from top to bottom right to where the head breaks from the body, and there you notice that the shade of paint used on the skin on her chest and back is a distinctly different color than the skin tone on the head which is molded in the color they used. Little differences in the color of a neck and the color of the head are fairly common in the line though. I notice it on everything from human characters to aliens, so it’s more common than it should be, but it’s just something I’ve learned to deal with in the line.

Still, it’s a flaw and one of very few to mention this time around so I’m bringing it up. Otherwise it’s a really nice, colorful paintjob with a variety of paint application styles, so Hasbro has a lot to be proud of too.

-No Chuba Stand: It’s a real nitpick to wish for this, but Graga didn’t do much but stand around behind a food stand in Mos Espa, and yell. Since the figure is more collector-oriented I believe, it would’ve been cool had we gotten the stand she was standing behind selling her Chuba’s, but Hasbro didn’t see fit to dish out a hefty accessory with this figure and instead gave us a couple smaller pieces.

The good news is the stand exists in some format with the Graga Pez Dispense I guess, but it’ll take some customizing to get it right I believe. Given what they pulled off with their C-3PO Endor Throne accessory, I think a stand that you had to assemble would’ve been something they could have achieved, but at the same time I’m happy with the figure as she is, and this is just a nitpick on my part. Wishful thinking if you will.

-Price Hike: 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 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 wraps up another of the End-Boo wave of figures, and this is probably one of my favorites of the entire wave really. I’m not usually as taken by the aliens, though I do love the diversity, but Graga just seemed like an extra effort on Hasbro’s part overall. For instance we got the Momaw Nadon resculpt who had a measly 6 points of articulation, yet Graga chimes in with 3 more points and still couldn’t have her legs articulated because of her dress. It really makes you scratch your head why that one resculpt got so shafted on poseability but Graga comes out roses.

The overall impression I have of this figure though, is that you get pretty great paint applications despite a single flaw, you get all the poseability you can get on this type of character, you get some decent accessories, and you get a sculpt that is equal in every way to Ephant Mon who some consider the pinnacle of Hasbro sculpting work. I really feel this is equal to the likes of the Mon, or VOTC Chewbacca in terms of detail.

The Graga’s around me seem to sell steady too, compared to some alien figures. They move fast enough at retail though that even some of the army builders in the wave are selling worse than she is. The figure’s a fun toy so why not? And the jaw feature is just too cool the way it works. Good toy design there. Big thumbs up to Hasbro for this fine figure that fans really were demanding for a while now.

 

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