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Topics - Jesse James

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106
So how many of you applied for this at the start of the year?  Well if you did, watch your mailbox because I got my first freebie today...

I got a Deluxe Mandalorian w/Speederbike.  I sent for one or two more, I forget, but I'm anxious to see what my next item will be now.  I was hoping for this or Obi-Wan with the side-car BARC, so I was pleased at what I got from them. :)

107
Just thought this would be fun to discuss...  Make up whatever, between Ultimate or regular packs, kind of trying to stay within the basic guidelines Hasbro has set with BP's in past precedents.

Right off the bat...

-Yavin War Room...  New Dodonna, Yavin Technician Commander (Tech with the Fleet trooper style tan shirt) w/headset, Leia (or Fleet Trooper Head variant), & light-up War Room Table (or swap out one of the previous figures for the table).

-Yavin Ceremony...  Proper Ceremony Han, Ceremony Luke with proper skin color, Ceremony Leia (would be nice, but it'd be a new figure I'd assume), Rebel Officer (Honor Guard with new head & hat, more brown color).

-Yavin Base...  2x Fleet Trooper (2 Head Variants), Crow's Nest Accessory, Hangar Technician w/Light Wands & Han's Money/Box dealies

-Death Star Escape...  VOTC Han w/Stormtrooper Belt ala the new Luke, Repack new Vintage Luke, Chewbacca w/Stormtrooper blaster rifle, Leia


I'm always up for weird ideas...  This kind of popped into my head thanks to some other Battlepack talk, so share what you're thinking too.  Realistic packs aren't really likely anyway, but it's fun to speculate.

108
Feedback / darth punkinhed's feedback
« on: March 8, 2011, 03:00 AM »
Just wanted to say I've done a deal with Charlie, and the guy's awesome!  A great seller, really glad to have bought some figures off him and to have met him this past weekend at the local Toy Show to boot!

Thanks man!

109
Joe Defender / 2011 Toy Fair Stuff
« on: February 12, 2011, 02:56 PM »
The news has poured in for Joe as much as anything...  Looks like a big year for the line.  New cards, new Skystriker, new lots of everything it seems.  And Renegades being realistic is a great thing and every reason I wished Clone Wars had been too.

We've been trying to keep up with the live news from the guys at the show in our Hasbro Toy Fair Early News post but it's a fast and furious pace to keep up with any line right now.  Seems like there's a lot of news already though and I'm sure I'm missing tons of details.

110
Yup, it's happening.  :)  Just heard from our team at Toy Fair!

111
Seems like Tarkin's now slated for the Vintage Line according to DD in the Force Cast.

112
And it's not the Death Star...  ;)  

Darryl DePriest said in the Forcecast that three items he'd love to see get the major update are the Sailbarge Death Star and the Sandcrawler.  He said a theatrical re-release are the best hope for anything getting done, and that *drum roll* they have that...  A Death Star then, come the re-release of A New Hope to 3D theaters?

Hmmm...  Interesting.

The Sandcrawler, DD said basically doesn't stand much chance of getting redone.  Sorry to those who were hopeful on that then.  Also said that the Barge wouldn't likely happen till Episode 6 is out in the theaters again, even then he's doubtful it will get done as well.

But, playset fans rejoice.  As with any film release, you have a chance now of getting what you want.

113
The Vintage Collection '10-'13 / An Ewok Update Coming... Who?
« on: February 10, 2011, 12:54 AM »
Also in the Force Cast from DD, an Ewok is getting an update...  Who?

We're down to pretty much Teebo and Logray needing the updates the most right?  I'm leaning towards Teebo then as Logray's not attrocious to me in anything but articulation.  Teebo's like a giant compared to all the rest now.

114
The Vintage Collection '10-'13 / 2012 - "One EU Figure In Every Wave"
« on: February 10, 2011, 12:05 AM »
Interesting tidbit from Darryl DePriest in the ForceCast this week...

1 EU Figure in Every Wave come 2012.  I'm sort of surprised.  Plus his desire to see comic packs actually come back.  Let the EU bashing begin!  (or the love)

115
Any thoughts on what we could get?  Part of me almost thinks it'll be something Vintage-related like the Fett.  Like we'd wind up with a Blue Snaggletooth re-release or something (just throwing it out there, not necessarilly what I believe we'd get).  

I could almost see them delivering a Death Squad/Star Commander this way.  After our discussion though, I really am not into the thought of a repaint there.  That character clearly has a very unique uniform compared to other officers, and very clearly compared to the traditional "Death Star Trooper" in the black we're used to.

At the same time, I could see Hasbro say, "Screw it...  It's not really worth the hastle".  I reflect back on Rocket Firing Fett in particular there.  They were pretty geeked about him at Toy Fair because he was 100% aimed squarely at the collector, and I don't know if they were really intending him to even drive sales much, but rather to just give collectors something cool.

However, due to the shipping issues, they sort of faced a lot of criticism that I don't know was really honestly deserved...  at least not in Hasbro's direction specifically, but they took it.  I could just see them backing off a mail-in this year.  Maybe just Clone Wars, or maybe even nothing at all.  These toolings they're putting into them aren't cheap I'm sure.

Anyway, I'm really curious about what we could see in 2011 now.  There's been no real hint so far.

116
The Vintage Collection '10-'13 / Star Wars Toys Strong in 2010
« on: February 5, 2011, 12:14 AM »
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/star-wars-record-toy-revenue-96809

As per the front page, I found the story interesting about how well the Star Wars brand (specifically from Hasbro and Lego) did in 2010.  This is a contrast to last  year when Hasbro was saying at Toy Fair that the line was stalling somewhat.  It makes me wonder if Vintage did well, or only Clone Wars/Legends did well...  Lego always seems to do alright, but Hasbro's rebound got me curious.

I'm guessing we'll hear something from Toy Fair this year, as they usually give you the vagues of what did ok, what's not doing ok, etc.  No specifics, but wouldn't you love to see those?

Anyway, it's kind of interesting, something to ponder...  I could see Vintage being listed as not performing as well as they'd hoped with the Clone Wars being the driving force again, but we'll see.  I kind of hope this means good things for the line overall, but right now distribution and pricing are the biggest issues to me.  I can't find anything I want, and when I do it's stickershock anymore too.  The figures are great but I've still cut way, way back.

Right now though it'd just be cool to see a new figure.  I only see Clone Wars getting a restock lately.

117
The Vintage Collection
Wave 3 (Return of the Jedi)
Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)


Since I can't find anything from Wave 4 (2011 Wave 1, the Attack of the Clones figures), I decided to try to finish some of the Return of the Jedi wave figures because A) they're getting talked about a lot in our forums, and B) they're all pretty great.  But each has its nuances that are fun to point out as positives and negatives.  Today I'm going to look at one of the tougher to find figures from the wave (which is tough to find overall) that I think everyone universally agreed is a great figure.  We're going to examine Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight), who takes a figure from just the previous year, and somehow manages to blow it out of the water.

Now let me start by saying that I personally loved the figure from last year.  It took Hasbro eons to actually update Death Star Duel Luke Skywalker, and when they did, they made some cool updates.  However, the figure had drawbacks.  First his arms and legs are a little thick, especially his shoulders which made him look much broader than Hammil's build was back in 1982/83.  But Hasbro did some great stuff though as well, like the interchangeable chest plates so you could have him buttoned up or with his shirt partially undone.  Also his left hand sculpt is fantastic for the scene where he takes his saber back from Palpatine.  I also think it's a pretty decent headsculpt, but that seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

Jumping forward though, it's clear that Luke got a major makeover at the end of 2010.  First, Hasbro went with a ground-up reworking instead of re-using parts like the last version.  Also they really wanted to work on the character's likeness, and finer points of the costume, and the effort shows.  Then the articulation...  Let's just say they bumped it up a notch and only removed one point from the last figure.  But he's not perfect, as no figure ever is really it seems.  This one's flaws don't seem to be keeping fans from loving it though, so read on and let's disect this update, and wait for the variant that has the shirt flap open and a little bit messier hair style.  :)

PROS

-Sculpt:  What can you say?  At this point, Hasbro loves to make collectors collectively mess their pants when they update a figure, even if it's one we just got a year before.  Sure, you may be annoyed that you're buying the same guy, again, but when they manage to truly knock your socks off with the second (or more) effort, you have to cave and buy it I think.

In Luke's case, it's pretty night and day with the previous incarnation.  First, the costume's much more accurate.  It's a tigher fitting costume than the previous figure displayed, and the sculptor caught every detail of that, with folds in the appropriate places like the elbows, knees, hips/crotch, etc.  Really though it looks a lot tighter fit to the new sculpt, and that's just how it should be.

Little details are enhanced as well.  The small pouch on Luke's right hip for instance, where he keeps his Mentos, "The Fresh Maker".  Also the two silver dots on the belt, the clips on the left hip for his saber, and even getting the belt buckle right (the previous figure's wasn't accurate).  They're a lot of little details right on the belt that are updated and much improved.  The costume even has a superior "texture" sculpted to it.  It looks more like a spandex-like material, for a form-fitting outfit, compared to the texturing sculpted into the previous incarnation. 

The headsculpt I think is a little debatable as to which you prefer...  Luke's head looks a little large on the Vintage sculpt, and something about the last figure I really liked, but I think the likeness in the face is superior and the hair is sculpted a little more naturally, a good bit more depth to it, and looks great. Ultimately I give the nod to the new headsculpt as the superior one, and I think most will agree, but I still think the 2010 figure does look decent as well. 

Overall though, this figure is pretty night and day to the previous one, and I actually liked the previous one (I was in the minority though).  I like, and miss, the removable chest pieces though.  I think that could have been, and should have been incorporated into this figure, especially with Hasbro's currently high prices on these figures, and retail asking above the MSRP in the majority of cases out there at the stores.  Anything $7.99 or up should really deliver a lot to you in terms of the toy you get.  In this case, I can see Hasbro scupting a new torso with the shirt flap open and getting people to buy it again, and that's frustrating.  We should get both with one figure at $8+ a pop.  At Toys R Us prices, the figure should walk, talk, and clean your home.

-Accessories:  The accessory count for this Luke isn't especially high, however it delivers the things you should demand with most Jedi characters, and it delivers an extra bit that is simply appreciated.  Could they include a blaster?  Sure, and it'd be appreciated, but it's not a necessity.  Going back to the sculpt, the only "extra" accessories I really would've liked would've been the interchangeable chest pieces, and that's really more part of the figure's sculpt than accessories to me, but I digress.

Luke comes with:
  • Lightsaber (Ignighted)
  • Lightsaber (Hilt w/Peg)
  • Imperial Binders/Handcuffs

It's only 3 accessories total, but it all makes sense with the figure, and is appreciated in a time when you don't always get the unlit saber hilt.  All Jedi should have that, but they're not really standard issue.  The only other thing one could've, maybe should've hoped for, is a cloth Jedi cloak...  However, to this costume, it's not really accurate either.  I guess we'll have to wait for the actual Vintage sculpt with the vest to maybe get the cloak. 

You do get the binders though, so you can recreate your favorite father/son moments, and you can have your favorite wrinkly old mentor with a bondage fetish remove those binders.  That's cool.  Or at least you have extra binders for your favorite Rebel figure to get captured with.

Overall though, that's 3 accessories which is about right for the character, in that specific costume.  If there's any gripe, it's that the paintjob on the saber's hilt is actually noticeably less crisp and carefully applied than the previous figures (despite being the same sculpt).  I just swapped accessories between the two.  You really notice it on the copper ring area and the copper button to ignite it though.  No biggie.  Enjoy.

-Articulation:  Here's where Hastro decides to spice things up a little bit.  And I'm not talking a little bit, but actually significantly.  That's not easy to do in the modern age where Super Articulation now is competing with Super Duper Articulation. 

The Clone Wars line introduced us to the ball/socket wrist joint.  It's impressive.  It helps a soldier figure hold his rifle in a much, much more realistic pose.  It helps Jedi hold their lightsabers in a myriad of stances.  It makes figures look like they have an incredibly compound fracture if you bend it all the way one direction or the other, but suffice it to say it adds a surprising ammount of movement to the hands.  It's unheard of in the realistic line though...  till now.

Hasbro wasn't done there though.  The ball/socket joint has become an increasingly used point of articulation on figures in both lines.  It helps characters ride certain vehicles or creatures more realistically, and it REALLY improves how a figure can be posed kneeling, sitting, or doing Yoga.  This Luke received both sets of these additional articulation points, and only at the cost of one torso ball/socket joint.  It's a trade-off I guess.

Luke features articulation at:

  • 2 Ball/Socket Shoulder Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Elbow Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Wrist Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Hip Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Knee Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Ankle Joints
  • 1 Ball/Socket Neck Joint
  • 1 Cut Waist Joint

That's a total of 14 points of articulation, and all but one of them are ball/socket joints to boot.  Talk about poseability!  This guy's like Gumby.  He's also articulated just right to ride a newly sculpted Speederbike, which we've been asking about here at Jedi Defender since before it was the cool thing to do! ;)  In all seriousness though, this figure has G.I. Joe levels of articulation going on, and then some.  I miss the ball-jointed torso somewhat, but at times that doesn't look great.  Ironically though it didn't look bad on the last figure, so I do miss that point of articulation on this character.

People really underestimate what the hips and wrists add to a figure too, especially a character who wields a saber.  Luke can have this awesome 2-handed, over-the-head, swinging pose with the saber just like when he's giving his Pop the smackdown...  Other than the chest not being accurate to that scene.  Still he can do that pose.  And like I said, the hips are great for all kinds of action poses, or riding a future Speederbike and looking quite realistic on it.  Here's to hoping for that.

-Versatility[/u]:  This is a weird one to list, but it's applicable to certain characters who have very subtle costume differences.  OK, so Hasbro didn't give us the interchangeable chest plates, but that doesn't change that fact that they now have a pretty perfect base to do a number of Luke figures from Return of the Jedi that only require a single piece new tooled, or some new accessories or whatnot.

Luke could get a new torso, and you've got Death Star Duel Luke with the open shirt-flap we've mentioned a couple times already.  You also have then a possibility of Hasbro sculpting a new torso to include the vest from his time on Tatooine at the beginning of Jedi, or they can add softgoods vest like the last Tatooine version of Luke from that film.  I'd prefer the latter really, as I like the movement of the softgoods.  Likewise you could then just add the poncho, a belt, and a helmet, and you've got a new Endor Luke using the new sculpt.  Unfortunately his head is too large for Endor helmets, so that'll need addressed with a bigger bucket, or a smaller head.

The point boils down to this figure being versatile.  Hasbro made a really solid base to work with on future minor differences, and so that means any future figure should really be the definitive version of that minor costume difference...  we hope.  Some accessory changes, and a new torso or softgoods, and you've got 2 or 3 new Lukes you can whip up.

CONS

-Paint Aps/Decoration:  Here's one area where I was actually pretty disappointed with this Luke figure, and collectors should be too.  First, figures are anywhere from $7.99 to $10.99 at retail right now.  That's obscene, but Hasbro's still skimping on paint applications in the production process to save a buck.

What really stings though, is that this Luke has barely any complex paint applications at all.  He's the man in black.  He's really not colorful at all, so why would you cut anything back then?  Every little thing wrong is going to get nitpicked by me, and it should be. 

First on my sample, the hair got a darker wash of brown paint to tone down the light color (which I don't think is as accurate as a little darker hair color in the first place).  The wash wasn't controlled well though, and bled onto the figure's skin a number of areas, and it shows pretty obviously.  His eyes and eyebrows are painted nicely, and even, but the hair's wash bleeding everywhere detracts from that a good bit, so I was disappointed with that from the start.

Upon closer inspection then, I noticed how sloppy the one pop of color on the costume was then.  There really is only a couple small points of silver on the belt, like the buckle and the saber clip.  All of it is sloppy.  The silver of the buckle bled onto the pants, shirt, and belt, that surround it.  The clip for the saber looks horrible and bled a lot onto the pants.  Both buttons are painted much larger than the button's sculpt actually is, it appears.

The paint applications are simply a let-down on a pretty flawless sculpt.  A lot of my disappointment ties to the price though.  $7.99 or up shouldn't see these kinds of flaws.  I can see cutting back on some aps though, but not doing a sloppy job on the ones that you do add.  Not for $8 or more.

-Distribution:  I'll keep this short and sweet, but ultimately the Return of the Jedi wave of figures has had some of the coolest figures in 2010 in it, yet it's been distributed horribly.  We're into February now, and Jedi wave stopped shipping back in December for my area.  That means almost 2 months now of not one new figure on the pegs here locally, but that Wave 3 never came close to satiating demand.

That's simply poor distribution it seems, which can be attributed to retail being clogged with Revenge of the Sith Clone repacks nobody really cared to have, and retailers cutting back for the holidays ending at exactly the wrong time.  Hasbro may need to step in and remove some of the clutter before we see any of these great figures in any quantity though.  Hopefully they'll get to that soon because I'm 2 waves behind.

-Figure Design:  Here's something I just don't quite understand about Hasbro, and it's frustrating because as a customizer I see a lot of how figure's are designed from taking them apart.  I'm going to use this point to compare this Luke, to the Wave 1 Bespin Luke specifically.  They're designed completely different from one another, and I don't know if Hasbro would ever give a reasonable explanation why.  The Bespin figure seems vastly superior.

First, this Jedi Luke actually is the first time, in a LONG time now, that I have seen Hasbro make a figure where you can split the torso into two pieces.  He's made using the more rigid ABS plastic, and to get the torso apart you bascially have to crack it open.

In contrast, Bespin Luke is one solid poly-vinyl piece of plastic.  It pops apart easily at the torso joint, and onto the lower torso.  It's really quite neat, and seems like it would take far less labor to construct the figure.

Second though, the lower torso of Luke is also this 2-piece style, and that means at the waist joint, the movement isn't as fluid.  My Luke actually sort of catches and can be difficult to pose because of this design change from the Bespin figure, which I think is a big step backwards.

As noted, it's got to take more labor to construct the Jedi Luke figure than the Bespin Luke.  It also takes more molds, as the torso is now two halves instead of one piece.  Two molds = more money invested.  The two rigid torso parts (upper and lower) also make for a looser fit at the waist.  It's very strange, and Hasbro hasn't done figures like this in quite some time unless they have a ball/socket waist joint.  Even then, they're not always done this way.

I don't know if this is a materials cost issue, or what.  I'm disappointed Jedi Luke isn't designed EXACTLY like Bespin Luke though.  It's hard to understand why they changed it though.  They may have a good reason, or maybe not.  I'd hoped we'd seen this style go the way of the dinosaur though.  I guess not.

-Price: What's a good review without a good major gripe, and with this line (and lately, the line in general), the price is pretty out there. $7.99 is the base price for The Vintage Collection, however many retailers are a full dollar above that, or all the way to $10.99 at Toys R Us!  That's pretty disturbing and it's certainly made me cut back in how I collect. That's a good bit of money for a little bit of action figure, generally. The lack of large or extra accessories, and the easy comparison with figures right on the pegs beside any Vintage Collection figure really makes you question some purchases.

When compared to Legends and Clone Wars figures, which are all to be $6.99 (though we're now seeing them bump up another $1 at these retailers like Target), and then the fact that they come with their Galactic Battles card, stand, and dice, and that Legends figures feature a mix of extra weapons as well... well how can you not compare? They're all Star Wars figures obviously, so you really can't help but look and think that the Vintage Collection is at least $1 overpriced, though at this stage I say it's more like $2 overpriced.

Since prices jumped above $5.99 though, I've been pretty focused on doing my army building and custom fodder buying when there are sales. Sales don't always hit when you want them to though, so you're stuck shelling out quite a bit, or cutting back. Myself, I've largely cut back. Figures I'd have not thought twice about buying 2 of in the past, I now put one back. Army builders I'd have bought 20 of (I'm, sadly, serious about that) I now only buy a couple of, or wait for sales all together. It's a rough time out there to afford the hobby, so price factors into the review I'm afraid.

OVERALL

So another figure off the review shelf and onto the dusty mess of a display shelf I have going till I can get my permanent set up ready.  I'm glad I got this figure when I did, as I probaby got him at the nifty prices retailers were running up to Christmas, and wish I'd bought a 2nd.  Right now though, buying one isn't even an option in my area as the Return of the Jedi wave of figures are almsot all long gone.  Woof's around now and again, but even he's not that common.

This is a Luke a lot of people had hoped for, for years.  People just weren't happy with the figure we got last time around, and while it was pretty neat to me, and I will always harp on missing that chest piece being absent on this new one, it really fails compared to the new Jedi Luke.  Hasbro pretty much hit a home run here.  That said, he clearly has flaws, and if he comes out again anytime soon you'll be likely paying more for him than before.  That stings.  It doesn't matter how good a figure is, if it costs too much for the hobby to even be considered affordable.

I'd like to see updates to this figure's torso though, like mentioned in the review.  I think he has a good chance at being a fantastic base figure to knock out the little costume differences Jedi Luke has going on.  I just wonder if when the different variations come out (It's bound to happen), will figures cost $20 a piece?  We'll see.

Wrapping it up though, if you don't have this figure, I feel for you.  Like I said, I wish I'd had a chance even to get 1 or 2 more of him.  I'd love to update my Endor Luke at least, using this guy.  Hasbro did a good job on the figure, they just need to make the line more affordable I think, at this point, and get these figures out there to people too.  There's definite demand for many from this wave.[/list]

118
12" Figures / Sideshow 12" Clone Sergeant (AOTC)
« on: January 13, 2011, 07:44 PM »
Wow, kind of out of left field here but Sideshow made a pretty bitchin' looking 12" Clone Sergeant and have it up for pre-order, as per our front page story!



I love the extra hands.  Any sergeant should come with the hand-signal hands, and now it makes me wish the 12" Endor Rebel Sergeant had some extra appendages like that.  Very cool.

119
    Entertainment Earth Exclusive 2010 Comic Packs
    Jaster Mareel & Montross


    So I wasn't thrilled with the first set I reviewed.  Let's face it.  That was a weak effort on Hasbro's part, and there isn't a really credible way to sugarcoat that Fel figure no matter how many cool helmets you pack in with him.  But that doesn't mean the EE Comic Packs were bad!  Oh no, not by a longshot on that one.  They really put out some cool figures, one pack aside, and that leads me to the focus of my newest review.  This time I'm peeling back the layers on the Jaster Mareel & Montross packs, which are some fine choices in the action figure world.  

    But I hear it now...  "Who the hell are Jaster Mareel and Montross?"

    And you know what?  You're right...  Who the hell are these guys?  Who the hell are half the figures the comic pack line had?  That's probably its biggest problem, and its most likely reason for failure, ultimately.  To shorten their story though, Jaster Mareel is Jango Fett's mentor in a Mandalorian military organization, and Montross is a rival.  If you're a G.I. Joe fan, think along the lines of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow during their training days.  Montross off's Mareel, Jango vows revenge, and in another story Jango off's Montross.

    Montross and Mareel are Mandalorian soldiers though, and who can't happily buy more of those if they look cool?  Kids seem to like these kinds of characters too, so I do think these would've been eye-catchers on the pegs of the local store had they gotten this far.  As it stands, I'm glad that Entertainment Earth picked these up for us because I really didn't realize how much I wanted these two in my collection.  And kids would love them not just because they're random Mando's, but because they just look bad-ass!  Blasters galore, funky paintjobs, cloth capes, removable helmets, and articulation...  They're truly mean looking characters!   Let's break them down some, shall we?

    PROS

    -Sculpt:  Both characters share some old parts, with a health smattering of new ones.  This is, to me, the ideal way for Comic Pack figures to have come out.  You get something new without completely getting something new.  I don't know if this is what the Hasbro bean counters require to spread out the costs in a wave of comic packs, but to me these are just as good as brand new figures of the two characters.

    Mareel is Jango Fett's mentor, and rightfully so, he shares some of the Evolutions Jango Fett figure's parts.  Namely, the feet, shins, thighs, torso, arms...  Holy ****, he basically share everything except the belt.  But this makes sense, as Jango inherits some of Mareel's gear.  In the Gamecube (that's going back now) game "Bounty Hunter", Jango's cruising in Jaster's old ship, so it stands to reason he maybe takes some of his gear as his own.  It doesn't hurt either that Mandalorian armor looks so similar from one warrior to the next, so why not, right?

    The sculpt is crisp and sharp all around with raised armor pieces over a slightly fitted but still wrinkled body-glove.  There is a ton of detail in the armored forearm guards, and the hoses to them are a nice touch (and appear to hide up into the armor).  There is a nice smoothness to the armor, and in general this was a great sculpt when first released.  

    The new parts are the head and belt.  The headsculpt is that of an older man, lines on his face, maybe a slightly "tired" look.  It's appropriate, and seems accurate to the character's likenesses.  It's generic enough that it could be used on almost any figure though, and look decent.  It maybe could use some scarring or something to truly make him look like a soldier for hire, but as it stands I think it's accurate and looks nice.

    The belt is incredibly detailed with pouches, straps, buckles, wraps, and more!  It features 5 sculpted pouches for ammo and gear, all with a very deep look to them, like they could actually open up, and even have little buttons sculpted on like they'd snap closed.  The same can be said about all the belts, holsters, and straps, as they feature adjusting holes for buckles, a leathery look to the holsters, and seams sculpted on.  The belt's a separately sculpted piece, and really a nice effort by whoever made it, as it really sets the figure apart from Jango I think.

    Montross shares parts with Boba Fett, however he shares very few.  He only uses Fett's upper and lower torso pieces.  Everything else is brand new!  Fett's torso armor has some distinct dents and dings, but they aren't a problem at all to me.  I like that they used Boba's armor so that Montross was completely like the Jango torso they used on Mareel.

    Montross' headsculpt is that of a military-man, complete with flat-top haircut.  He's younger in his life at this point, so a lack of scarring seems appropriate.  He has a cool kind of stern/pissed off face sculpt as well, which is appropriate for a guy as scummy as he is.  But I liked that they made sure to sculpt his arms with short-sleeves instead of full sleeves.  It seems to be a signature of his outfit in various EU that he turns up in.  I remember it from the game and how distinct it looks.  Plus they also gave him some pretty big guns too.  Looks like Montross could whip some ass with his popeye forearms and biceps!  This dude's pretty big.

    Just likek Jaster, Montross' belt is incredibly detailed, and sculpted as though it wraps around his waist multiple times.  There are blue straps that hang down off the back of the belt for some reason, and look like they're wrapped in with all the other layers of belt at his waist.  There are more crisply sculpted pouches and buckles, notches, and holsters.  Another great detail is that Montross has thigh-straps sculpted to the holsters on his belt.  They fit over the figure's thighs and thus move the holsters with the articulation.  This is something I truly wish Hasbro would standardize at this point.  Unfortunately, Jaster Mareel does NOT have this feature, but that's not to say he necessarilly needs it.  I don't know if Jango wore them or not, but if he did, he should have them then, and I think Jaster would look cooler with the thigh-straps.

    Montross features some simpler forearm gauntlets.  His legs are 100% new from top to toes.  There are straps sculpted on that wind around both his legs, and he has knee guards and some thigh pads.  He has boots with sculpted treads and some armor on the top of the shoes.  I guess he has to wear them for the Star Wars equivalent of OSHA.  No bounty hunting without metatarsals.

    Overall, both figures feature some old parts, and some new parts.  One figure is almost completely re-used, and the other is almost completely new.  Both are very fine sculpts, sharp details, and pretty great likenesses to how they appear in various EU.  All Montross needs is some weathering, altered paint details, and white-ish hair and he's all set to be re-released as Montross when he is competing with Jango Fett in the "Bounty Hunter" game!  And I'd buy him just for that reason.

    I have to say, I was really quite shocked at how nicely and accurate both these figure's sculpts are.  Tip of the hat to Hasbro on that one.

    -Articulation:  I'd generally rank articulation a little lower in the review, but I wanted to just kind of move it out of the way now because it goes without saying really that the articulation is great on both figures.  But I'll say anyway that it's basically "super articulation" as we've come to know it.  Hasbro didn't add anything, but they didn't take anything away either, and got it just right to me.

    Jaster Mareel features articulation at:

    • 2 Ball/Socket Shoulder Joints
    • 2 Ball/Socket Elbow Joints
    • 2 Cut Wrist Joints (Above the Forearm Guards)
    • 1 Ball/Socket Neck Joint
    • 1 Ball/Socket Torso Joint
    • 2 Cut Hip Joints
    • 2 Ball/Socket Knee Joints
    • 2 Ball/Socket Ankle Joints

    For a total of 14 points of articulation.  

    The gauntlets of the Jango Fett figure's arms have faced a little criticism, however I think they work well enough.  The only addition I'd make that would help a lot is giving Jaster (or Jango) wrist articulation also below the gauntlets.  Ideally, Hasbro could even give him ball-joints at the wrists like they're doing now with some figures.  It would help him hold more weapons properly (his hands are sculpted pretty specifically for his pistols right now).

    Montross features articulation at:

    • 2 Ball/Socket Should Joints
    • 2 Ball/Socket Elbow Joints
    • 2 Cut Wrist Joints
    • 2 Cut Hip Joints
    • 2 Ball/Socket Knee Joints
    • 2 Ball/Socket Ankle Joints
    • 1 Ball/Socket Neck Joint
    • 1 Ball/Socket Torso Joint

    For a total of 14 points of articulation.

    Like I said, basically super articulation as we've come to know it, on both figures.  Montross is a hair more poseable due to the different forearm articulation design.  Mareel re-using Jango's parts, and the way Hasbro did those on the Evolutions Jango, does seem a little limiting in poseability.  Montross has basically no problems though.  And both figures sit, run, kneel, shoot, and just stand around fine.  Posing them fighting has been cool on my desk here while I write this.  They look like bad-asses, and they have the articulation to make them fun to pose like bad-asses.  ;D  The articulation is quite sufficient though, on both.

    -Paint Aps/Decoration:  Both figures sport some pretty impressive deco applications at this point.  However, Hasbro still is cutting paint aps as well.  I'm going to focus on the positives at this point though, and I'll just list what's cut later because it's unfortunate.

    Both figures feature some pretty ornate decoes on their costumes first.  Jaster Mareel has a neat yellow diamond on his chest plate, some yellow and black bantha skull logos on his shoulders along with red shoulder armor pads, and the rest of the armor is painted a gunmetal type of color.  His costume is a dull grey-green jumpsuit, nothing flashy really, but appropriate.  The gauntlets got little paint detail added, but the hoses for the flamethrower and other sneaky weapons did get painted black.

    Montross has red triangles on his shoulders and his chest armor, and his armor is mostly a gunmetal color as well, except for blue shoulder pads.  His jumpsuit is a more dull blue color, and his straps around his legs and arms got black paint aps.  His flesh tone of his arms matches his face, which is nice because it doesn't always turn out that way!  Hasbro also dabbed some silver on his holster buckles and belt buckles.  This was something Mareel didn't get.

    Both characters have good face/hair paint applications as well.  Both my characters have perfectly centered eyes, no straying of any of the colors, and no crossed-eye-syndrome.  Jaster's eyes appear more complex, using the 3-layer-technique (white, iris, pupil), while Montross' eyes are more squinty in their sculpt and seem like they're just a simpler paintjob by default then.  Mareel's hair is jet black, which his age implies to me he should have some grey.  Montross has a light wash into his flattop sculpt that gives the impression he's greying a little bit.  I thought both characters have pretty expressive face sculpts, without looking too specific, and Hasbro did a nice job painting them just right.  The skin tones are even perfect to me.

    Like I said, some things were cut.  Mostly on Mareel's deco, but both suffered a lack of "wear".  Otherwise I think they're pretty great.  I like how they display, and with all the other Mando's (like the Clone Training Mandalorians from Entertainment Earth) they really look cool.

    -Accessories:  Both of these guys come armed to the hilt!  They're here to kick chew bubblegum and kick ass... and guess what?  They're both out of bubblegum (god, I love that line).  I'm really shocked, actually, at how many weapons and accessories both guys came with.  They each come with 3 weapons, backpacks, capes, and helmets!  That's a ton of stuff for a Star Wars figure, especially in the comic packs, which seemed to screw you on accessories sometimes, or something usually got left out.  Not these two though.

    Montross sports a blue cloth cape, jetpack, blaster rifle, two blaster pistols, and Mandalorian helmet.  

    The jetpack is just Boba Fett's pack redecorated...  sort of.  It's actually a NEW sculpt.  It's heavily based on Boba's pack, but it's not as smooth, and tiny details got changed on it.  It really isn't the same sculpt though.  The biggest difference though, is that it has a longer peg to compensate for fitting through the figure's cloth cape, and it's gunmetal decoed with blue highlights to make it Montross' pack.  I'm not sure how accurate this pack is to all the character's EU images, but it works for me.

    Montross has a blue cloth cape, which is pretty cool and fairly simple.  It has a little stitching for strengh at the neck, and a hole so the jetpack fits through at the back.  It's neat.  And he sports a re-use of a Boba helmet, complete with dent.  If it were me, I'd have used another Jango helmet without the dent, but it's probably easier to just use the Fett helmet with the Fett body I guess.  The helmet doesn't feature a moving range-finder, as they don't seem to do those anymore, and that should change in my opinion.  It does sport a pretty ornate deco though, with blue and black markings, as well as a yellow emblem on the right front above the visor.  Also nice is tht the visor is glossy black, and the other black details are dull and muted.  It's a pretty cool look.

    The hardware this guy carries into battle is great.  Montross got three blasters, which are new sculpts.  There are two identical pistols which Hasbro saw fit to give ornate decorations to both!  They have tan handles, as well as copper, brown, and gunmetal paint details.  That's a ton of paint for just a couple of accessories, and I'm shocked they did this much for just the guy's pistols.  He also comes with a blaster rifle which is a gunmetal grey color with a couple copper paint details, most notably on the end of the stock.

    One guy, and that's already a ton of gear.

    Jaster Mareel features similar stuff, though less ornate with the paint aps.

    He comes with the Evolutions Jango jetpack, which is unaltered except it's a lighter color than Jango's, with red highlights to make it Mareel's.  It matches Jaster's helmet nicely which is the same basic deco except with a glossy black visor like Montross has.  Like Montross, there is a cape, but it's a dark red since Mareel seems to like red a lot.  It has a black strap sewn to it, and a hole in the back for Jaster's jetpack to fit through as well.  It's a cool look, and works for both figures with the big flowing capes and the packs sort of holding it all together.

    Mareel comes with three blasters also, and they're also a couple of new sculpts.  He features two identical pistols like Montross, but they're a different sculpt and much smaller.  They're lacking any deco, and are simply a simple gunmetal grey color that they're cast in.  That's fine too because there isn't much you could do except some silver highlights or something.  To me, I'm cool with them as they are.  He also comes with a rifle which is a little hard for him to hold like he's aiming it.  It's  really cool sculpt though.

    The rifle's stock is a clearly wood-grain sculpting, and even features the Bantha Skull from Boba Fett's armor emblazoned on it!  It's a neat little tribute and looks really cool sculpted into the rifle's stock.  There is a lot of detail in the rifle overall and it sort of reminds you of Boba's from the classic movies.  It doesn't have a pistol-grip though, and is more like a traditional hunting rifle.  That's what makes it difficult for Jaster to be posed "aiming" the rifle, but shooting from the hip looks pretty cool.  It has little deco, like the pistols, which it actually could use some brown on the stock.  However they did paint the sculpted sling black, and a bayonette-type blade on the end got a silver deco, so that is cool.

    That's 6 accessories per figure.  That's a lot.  And at least half of those are new sculpts, and they're pretty great looking on top of that.  I would REALLY like to see these come back.  Otherwise, they're all great geat and I wish I had extras of all these weapons.

    CONS

    -Non-Moving Range-Finders:  I'm just going to get this out of the way quickly, but basically it's the only gripe I can possibly make about the accessories I think.  Hasbro did the moving range-finders on Mando helmets and ARC Trooper helmets for a while, but suddenly gave it up.  I'd really rather see them bring this back though, as I really thought it was a cool feature on the figures that had it.

    It's possible that they don't want a part that small on a removable helmet, but it wouldn't be the smallest part they ever made, and it could be made pretty secure to the helmets I think.  It's a cool feature, and EU fans surely would dig it for Jango at the very least.  Plus I believe Boba Fett's range-finder is down in Empire Strikes Back briefly.  It's something I'd like to see make a comeback.

    -Cut Paint Aps/Decoration:  I hate to even make a gripe because both figures are incredibly colorful, and both actually do feature a good number of paint applications.  It's just that some were cut that probably would've made sense.

    For instance, neither figure have any kind of wash or wear.  For "soldiers for hire" type guys like Mandalorians, you'd think there'd be at least a little dirt or wear to the outfits.  They're so clean it's like they're ready to parade before the Grand Poobah of Mandalorian's to show what good soldiers they are.  I think a wash wouldn't have hurt as it's something they could've done very lightly, one color, and it would've looked good.  As it stands though, looking really clean has its own coolness I guess.

    Jaster Mareel really is the character that got shafted on deco cuts though.  Especially his belt/holsters, where there is a ton of detail sculpted on that they just didn't highlight at all.  There are no buckles painted silver at all, and that sucks.  Every pouch has a button sculpted on it like it snaps shut, and not one of them got painted.  That's the little details some artist put in that really needed a paint ap to bring them out, and bring it to the collector's eyes what a great job was done to that new belt piece.

    Also both Montross and Jaster have sculpted-on treads at the bottom of their feet, but neither got a paint deco.  Even just black would look cool and make that little detail on both figures stand out.

    Ultimately it's picking nits because these figures both have a lot of deco already.  A little more could've gone a long way.

    -Availability:  It's hard to say this isn't a negative, in my view.  I'd probably have bought three of these sets by now if I could find them in stores.  As it stands, they're online exclusives, and as such they will cost you more than if you got them at the local store.  Entertainment Earth really deserves a lot of credit for getting these to market at all though, and if I don't find anyone with an extra set they don't want, then ultimately I'll be going back to EE to pick up an extra of these.

    Still, it's the kind of set that would've been great to see on the pegs at your local toy aisle.

    OVERALL

    Wow, long review...  I'm winded, or carpel tunneled, or whatever.

    What can I say about Jaster Mareel & Montross that I haven't already blabbed on about?  These two are great, and now that my review's done of them, I can't wait to put them up on my Mandalorian/Clone shelf.  They will blend in nicely there, however I have to say that these characters, and more particularly Montross, actually meant something to me.  I'm scratching my head most of the time with EU figures, and have to research them, but I knew Montross and was so glad he was getting a cool figure.

    The Bounty Hunter game on Gamecube really was a great gaming experience for me, and the story was outstanding.  If you've not played it, you should find a way to do so.  It gives so much insight into Jango's past leading up to Attack of the Clones, and makes you feel bad for him as a character because he's not really a "bad guy".  He doesn't like Jedi, but it seems like he's hardly alone in that mode of thinking.

    And his hatred of Montross is throughout the game till near its end!  I'm now intent on reading more of the Jango backstory as well, as I want to learn more about Jaster Mareel's character.

    Both figures turned out great though.  They're that ideal balance Hasbro sometimes finds.  New parts, old parts, but figures that seem completely new!  Great accessories, above-average decoes overall, very few flaws...  Hasbro hit a homerun with this set.  Not to mention that this would've had kids buying.  I cannot imagine a red and blue version of (basically) a Fett wouldn't appeal to random consumers and kids.  

    And here's a fun tip for you...  Both heads seemingly fit the Hoth Rebel Trooper for some troop diversity (as do any heads on the Boba or Jango bodies, like Jodo Kast).  A cool little extra I guess.  If it fits that body, it fits a number of other army builders as well like the Rebel Technician, and some of the Pilot figures and such.

    So the concensus?  If you don't buy another set of the exclusive Entertainment Earth comic packs, buy this one.  It's hands-down my favorite of the 4 they put out to, at least for now, wrap up this line.

    (Since these reviews are so long, I'm going to bow away from comic packs for now unless someone writes me asking to review one for some reason.  I'm going to try sticking with basic figures for brevity for a while, haha!)[/list]

    120
    This occurred to me in another thread...

    The Death Squad Commander, a "Death Star Trooper" but sporting the grey uniform, has two looks depending on how you want the figure made.

    The figure's based on production images of the trooper working the consoles behind Tarkin/Vader as they blow Alderaan apart.  He's rocking the typical Death Star Trooper tunic, but no ranks or anything.

    The actual vintage Death Squad Commander figure has all those details but sports a painted-on rank badge for one reason or another. 

    Which would you want then?  A complete vintage update that sports a red/blue rank badge?  Or would you want one that's film-accurate without a rank badge at all?

    Does film-accuracy trump vintage toy reproductions?  Does this fall into the same category as Hammerhead's sweet blue unitard?  Or would the little rank badge homage be appreciated more?

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