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Topics - Jesse James

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136
Toy Reviews / New JD Review: TVC Wave 3 - Admiral Ackbar
« on: December 3, 2010, 12:13 AM »
The Vintage Collection
Wave 3 (Return of the Jedi)
Admiral Ackbar


The Return of the Jedi wave marks an interesting point in Star Wars action figures.  The modern line has been dragging along since 1995.  It's certainly had ups and downs along the way, and the interest of collectors has been right there for the roller coaster ride.  The Return of the Jedi wave shows though, that Hasbro can instantly recapture the collecting community by putting out a simply solid wave of new figures.  Even when it's largely made up of resculpts.

If you think the modern line's dead, than you haven't looked at the myriad of figures that truly need sculpt/articulation updates to make them simply fit in with figures post 2005!

With that said, I wanted to look at some of the ROTJ figures we got, and why not start with "Mr. It's A Trap" himself, Admiral Ackbar.  This character hasn't gotten an update since his original POTF2 sculpt many years ago.  Back then he rocked the typical-for-the-time articulation count of 6 points, and not all his poseability was even all that useful.  He also lacked many solid accessories, and the sculpt's crispness just doesn't compare to what is available today.  There's a lot to look at here though, and not everything is perfect, so let's begin.

PROS

-Sculpt:  First off, if you thought the POTF2 Ackbar was "good enough" looking, you've clearly just been proven wrong.  This figure is actually lightyears ahead of the POTF2 sculpt, which at its time was pretty decent.  He didn't have the buffness, he had a little character in that his hands weren't sculpted to really hold weapons as much as they were sculpted to look like he's pointing at stuff.  At the time, these were unique traits in a Star Wars figure.

With the new Ackbar though, we get detail in the face and hands, showing something that's much less smooth, and much more organic and realistic.  It's kind of strange, but Hasbro actually made a Mon Calamari that looks like it has some age to him.  As an Admiral, you can expect that out of Ackbar I guess, but there's just something different about his headsculpt that they seemed to sculpt him to look like a just tad wrinkly lobster.  

His hands are now posed to hold accessories as well with their sculpt, which is a nice plus.  Sure the old hands were unique, but Ackbar's got to hold a blaster to defend himself like everyone else, rather than clip one to his forearm.  It's an improvement to me then.

The costume is also a lot more wrinkly and "lived-in" looking.  The pants fold and bunch at the right spots, and the sleeves are sculpted as though they're pushed up over his claw-like arms.  It gives the impression the costume was made for a human, and a Mon Calamari guy is just wearing it, and that is a cool little detail.  Also, with the folds and wrinkles, Hasbro has started a new trend where the pin for ball-joints is sculpted to simulate wrinkles at the elbows, knees, shoulders, etc. as well.  Technically they could stick with a standard smooth round pin for all the joints, but they got the extra mile to make the joint blend in with the rest of the sculpt, and you have to appreciate those fine details.

Add in that Hasbro gave him the now fairly standard "skirt" extension of his vest, and you can clearly see a lightyear of difference between this figure's sculpt, and the POTF2 figure.  These are the kinds of comparisons you really use to gauge how amazingly far the line has come in 15 years.

One minor flaw is that Ackbar's rank badge isn't accurate for the character.  It's missing a small bit.  However, Ackbar's rank badge is actually a separate sculpt, and plugs into a hole on his chest (I'm assuming it's glued in, though I didn't try to remove it).  This implies two things to me.  A) it's more realistic looking because it sits off the figure's chest, and B) it may mean that Hasbro intends to give us the "Mon Calamari Officer" someday using this sculpt and a new deco.  The interchangeable rank badges started with the Imperials, and it may be carrying over to the Alliance now.  Only time will tell though.

-Decoration:  The POTF2 Ackbar's deco actually wasn't attrocious, but this figure's got some stand out paint applications.  The skin has a certain sheen to it, for instance, which only highlights his lobstery look.  It also contrasts the duller look to the costume, as it should, and shows that Hasbro was thinking about the paint aps some.  Lately deco has gotten the shaft in Pawtucket, so it's nice to see some figures still get a nice effort.

The skin has a dark wash on it to highlight the recesses in the sculpt, from the wrinkles on his chin and neck, to the separation of his fingers/claws.  Tack on some lobster spotting, and he's pretty slick looking (no pun...  well, a little bit of a pun).

The costume's deco isn't elaborate, but Hasbro got the details it needed to.  The rank badge has a little color detailing to it, the yellow stripes down his sides, the tan vest, the belt boxes...  Hasbro got a lot of little things right on a fairly bland costume.  Even the shoe soles, something they don't always do anymore, got the simple grey tread deco which makes a much more realistic look to the figure.

And the golden shiney fish-eyes...  Very cool.  You have to love it.

-Articulation[/u]:  My biggest complaint with any figure is, generally, where articulation falls flat.  Hasbro's upped their game in this department though, and almost all figures come with what I consider adequate articulation.  For me, Ackbar even goes a notch above adequate, even without ankle joints!  Hasbro knocked him out of the park though as far as I'm concerned, and here's his articulation breakdown:
[ul]
  • 2 Ball/Socket Shoulder Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Shoulder Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Knee Joints
  • 2 Cut Hip Joints
  • 2 Cut Wrist Joints
  • 1 Cut Waist Joint
  • 1 Ball/Socket Neck Joint
[/ul]
Which comes to a total of 10 points of articulation.  Generally this figure would even have ankle joints, however Ackbar's pantlegs extending over his shoes makes adding ball/socket ankles a little trickier in the sculpting and molding process.  This probably added significantly to a figure like Ackbar not getting the poseable feet.

That said, Hasbro sculpted the feet plain and flat.  Nothing bent like he's walking or running, nothing weird.  This means the ball/socket knee joints basically let you pose the figure's lower legs just fine, and just as if the ankles were there more or less.  I've had Ackbar running around shooting people, smacking people with his laser pointer, line dancing, walking, sitting, standing...  He does it all.

It also bears mentioning that the "skirt" extension of Ackbar's vest is pretty pliable as well, and allows his legs to pose nicely at the hip.

It double bears mentioning though, that Hasbro's designer/sculptor of this figure took time to know the character and what he did in the film.  Did anyone else notice that his neck articulation allows for some pretty drastic range of motion, and that the design of the head sitting down in the concave vest sculpt and resting on the neckpeg, actually lets you pose Ackbar in his classic "look down in relief" moment from Return of the Jedi, when the <i>Executor</i> is sent crashing into the Death Star II's surface?  That's flipping awesome in every way, and you can't tell me it wasn't intentional.  Few Star Wars figures have the ability to look down that sharply, but this one certainly does, and Hasbro almost certainly intended this.

-Packaging:  How can you not love this line's packaging?  Even as a non-carded collector, I'm tempted to buy figures and leave them packaged.  I've always opened and pitched, it's been how I've done things since some years ago I realized carded collecting was a virtually futile effort, reinforced by Hasbro's love of repacking virtually everything they ever make.  The Vintage Collection gets even the most stalwart opener to take a second thought about opening that toy though.

So far I've not kept anything carded except a Rocket Firing Fett, but I am on an effort to save the cardbacks of every figure I buy.  It's a work in progress to try and preserve them, but I'm trying.  At least they're flat and don't take up a lot of room.

Still though, there's something about the Vintage packaging that was really special.  It's colorful, it's bold, it's uniformed, it's diverse, it's iconic, and it's expanding with this line to encompass the prequals.  There is a lot to love and Hasbro knows it.

The obvious drawback is the space on the blister to add extra gear.  We were given so many great characters wth great gear for the last 5 years.  Changing to a small coffin-style blister meant less cool pack-ins.  Hasbro has kept up somehow and given us decent gear with some figures, but others are getting the shaft and it becomes somewhat noticeable.  Other figures seem like they've come with quite a bit though.

They have to get high marks all around for what they're doing with this line's packaging designs though.

CONS

-Accessories:  Didn't we just leave this party?  Yeah, we did, and sadly Admiral Ackbar falls prey to the lack of accessories.  I think one thing a lot of people clamored for, before the Vintage Collection was announced, was a chair accessory to come with an Admiral Ackbar resculpt.  I can't blame them, and I'm sure I probably mumbled somewhere along the way that I too wanted a chair for him.

There's not much you can give to Ackbar though, that isn't a big accessory.  Hasbro gave you two smaller items, neither of which he was wandering around with in the movie.  He has a laser pointer stick thing, which is an homage to the stick his original vintage figure came with.  I give Hasbro props for adding props to him, that he really doesn't use in the film (I think?), and tying it to a vintage homage as well.  That's pretty cool and fits with the Vintage theme.

The other accessory he sports is a weird computer screen...  on a stick...  without a screen.  I don't know what it is, actually.  It could be a computer screen, or a humidifier for his species, or who knows.  It looks like something that should be attached to his chair/console, but who knows what it ultimately is.  It's got some deco though... a little silver here, a little grey there.  It's kind of uninteresting though, ultimately.

People really are hoping to someday get the Admiral's swiveling and swirling command chair.  The only other thing I can imagine them giving to him is a big holographic table to display a holo Endor and Death Star on.  That'd be pretty cool, and I could totally see Hasbro doing some kind of Rebel Briefing Battlepack with pilots and Ackbar getting a proper chest badge someday.  At least I think it should happen.  Could is maybe a little too much wishful thinking on my part.  It's a sharp way to get us a Nik Sant Rebel Commando though, Hasbro.  A couple more Rebel Pilots or a General Han or something could slip into the mix too...  I'm just sayin'.

-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.  That's a good bit of money for a little bit of action figure, generally.  The lack of 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, 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.  

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

Sure $8's a lot of money.  Sure he doesn't have his chair...

But Ackbar's a pretty great figure, in a definitely great wave.  It's as simple as that really.  The sculpt is night and day to his previous incarnation of the great admiral, and the paint applications are downright elaborate for a figure these days.  His gear leaves a little to be desired, but you have to give props to them for the little pointer thing as a vintage homage.  The articulation is everything you need to be content with him too, and the fact he does his relieved head nod down?  That's worth it to me ultimately.

The Vintage Collection has, to me, been very good.  The future of it will depend on what Hasbro does with it, but waves like this Return of the Jedi wave make me have a lot of hope for what could be coming down the line.  Sure, 2011's first wave images weren't too sharp, but I think things are going to be fantastic for most of 2011's line-up.  Ackbar's probably not the most exciting character, but fan demand for a resculpt was there.  Hasbro delivered something pretty special for our collections, and that's what keeps guys like me in the hobby for 20 years and counting.

137
The Vintage Collection / The Minor Upgrades You'd Actually Like To See
« on: November 10, 2010, 09:24 PM »
I was thinking of figures that I'd like to see get minor upgrades (major would be cool too, if done well, but minor upgrades to already pretty good figures is what I'm thinking).  What are the figures you'd like to see get these minor tweaks?  Like, as an example, Stormtroopers getting the ball-jointed hips and coming with maybe a new E-11 and rifle like we're going to get...

I'm into that figure, just not his utterly shite helmet and rifle.  If the helmet and rifle are better than initial pictures, I kinda dig that figure a lot, actually.

My first figure...  Commander Bly.

We've gotten a version or two of Bly, but none have been quite perfect...  They're neat, but I'd gladly take a new one using the ball-jointed hips Clone, maybe a cloth kama, and god-willing a completely accurate paintjob.  Not major tweaks there, as all that pretty much exists.  The only thing new would probably be a removable helmet and possibly a headsculpt (perhaps one that matches his CLone Wars animated headsculpt's look somewhat).  I like the removable helmets, so I'm biased there, but I know CHEWIE doesn't dig them, so I sort of left it off as a major upgrade.  I suspect it would happen though.

I'd live without Bly getting redone though, is my point.  But it's the kind of tweaks that would make me happily rebuy him too. 

This is probably the direction Hasbro will go, with many figures, I believe.  The precedent is obviously there...  Taking something that exists, and doing a little bit to it to make it "better".  I think it's a big part of the realistic line's future.  Hell, it's already in the Clone Wars line even.

138
The Vintage Collection / How Many Repaints Are Too Many?
« on: November 4, 2010, 08:57 PM »
I was thinking the other day, and then again tonight...  How many repaints of something are too many to own?

This sort of applies to all the lines, but in general, are you trying to cut things down to one version of a vehicle?  Would you want Wedge and Luke's Snowspeeder, or just one version?  Would an Imperial AT-TE sway you to pick one up even though it's an EU design?  Or is that just too many?  Is the new AT-RT worth keeping the old ones around at all? 

I'm sort of hitting a crossroads on vehicles I guess...  Things like the Jedi Fighter have gotten out of control for me, to the point where I'm not buying them any longer.  I figure, if Ir eally want a deco variation of a ship, I'll get it down the road.  I had so many ROTS fighters that I'm not reluctant to buy ANY JSF at this point.

What's your breaking point with all the repaints?  Does a vehicle's size matter?

I really want the new Boil/AT-RT, but at this point I'm reluctant to buy it because I have 3 unique AT-RT's hanging around.  Same goes with the Freeco...  Do I really care?  It's to-scale, but honestly, do I need a 4th AT-RT?

139
The Clone Wars '08-'13 / TODO-360 Figure
« on: October 15, 2010, 02:18 AM »
As per the front page...

Suffice it to say, he's got a pretty good shot at a figure in the near future.  ;)

But as always, nothing's confirmed till Hasbro, blah blah blah...  but yeah.

Articulation appears as though it'll be limited.  Like I said on the front page, perhaps more of an accessory to a figure, than a figure. ;)

140
Toy Reviews / JD Review: Uncle Milton Fall 2010 Products
« on: October 1, 2010, 04:06 AM »
We did a little review for Uncle Milton on a couple of their Fall 2010 products including the Death Star Planetarium, and their Remote Controlled Lightsaber Room Light.  Both are outstanding products!


Click Here to Read the Full Review!

I really had a blast reviewing both toys, and I gotta say, these are a big improvement over the last round of products in my opinion.  I even found a pretty practical use for the Saber set that any collector could find useful too.  The Death Star I really enjoyed too, from the perspective of having a physical map of the Star Wars galaxy on my wall.  I dig seeing the distances traveled in the Star Wars galaxy.  It's the EU-ness in me. :)

Read the review, feel free to share your thoughts, and enjoy!

141
JD Sports Forum! / NHL 2010-2011 Regular Season
« on: September 23, 2010, 03:51 AM »
I figured since the pre-season has kicked off, it's time to start the new regular season thread... 

Console Energy Center (Igloo 2?) opened tonight.  What a monumental occassion for me.  I'm going to be very sad to see the Civic Arena go.  I'm already planning to buy a chair or two, if they go for sale.  They're talking about putting some of the stainless steel dome parts into the ceiling of the new building as decoration.

The Penguins looked sharp...  err, well they sounded sharp anyway as it wasn't televised tonight.  a 5-1 win over Detroit.  Osgood looked like **** though too.

The Penguins are stacked and will have some interesting cuts to make.  Jordan Staal's going to miss the opener because of a nagging issue from last year's playoff loss to Montreal.  Hopefully he'll be back soon because he's a monster of a player, and fast becoming one of my favorites.  Crosby left the game early with a minor hip flexure, nothing serious, but didn't want him playing with it for no purpose.

I'd like to get to one game this year at the new arena.  That's my goal...  Well, that and Winter Classic tickets.  Not counting on the latter though.  ;)

Fantastic work at the new arena though.  I guess the boards are a little lively though, but they're just settling in and finding the little nuances of it out right now.  The goalies are saying the boards are similar to Detroit's in some ways.

Bill Guerrin is on a try-out-basis with Philly.  I'm bummed about that because he's a great guy, and got involved in charity and stuff here locally immediately, and wanted very badly to stay because his family loved it here.  I'm just bummed he's not been brought back.

Anyway, hockey is here!  Yay. :)

Oh, and one of the funny kinks they have to work out at the arena is the horn was pumped directly into the mic, so when a period came to a close this booming loud horn would go off full tilt.  Mike Lange and Phil Bourque were cracking up about it and I guess Lange took over and was turnign the volume down.

142
1:6 Scale Figures and Collectibles / 12" IG-88? Oh my.
« on: September 21, 2010, 08:59 PM »


Check it out on our front page to visit the brief production video of this anticipated assassin of steel and wire.  They're going to be hard-pressed to top what I consider one of Hasbro's ultimate 3.75" figures.  I'm curious to see SS's product, which they should be able to take to the next level due to the increased scale.  It's going to be tough for them though I think.

143
Modern Classifieds / Target Lava Reflection Figure Set (All 3 Figures!)
« on: September 21, 2010, 02:58 AM »
I have all 3 Target Lava Reflection Figures I'd like to sell as a set... 

Obi-Wan Kenobi MOC
Anakin Skywalker MOC
Darth Vader (including the ticket I was given the morning I bought him since it was a lottery system) MOC

I liked them as a set, but I'm trying to cut down on my carded stuff and this is a set I'm cutting out I think, after much thought.

I'd like $30 for the set of 3 + $5 shipping.

PM me if you're interested.

144
Wow...


Clicky to check out the front page story!

I like the obscurity SS is willing to go to with their 12" line.  I really believe Sideshow deserves a round of applause for what all they put out.  A very cool set I think.

145
TV-9D9 / Dave Filoni Q&A's on SW.com
« on: September 7, 2010, 11:27 PM »
They posted a video tonight on StarWars.com where Filoni answers a Question someone mails in, and so on...  Seems like an on-going series.

I found it kind of interesting that the question was regarding seeing Plo Koon without his mask on in the series, and the answer evolved into a bit more.

First, I found it interesting that Filoni was pretty easy to say "Would I follow how he looked in the EU or the Hasbro figure?  I don't know".  He did say he'd confer with Lucas on it, but it is just one more nail in the coffin for EU's importance IMO...  To so freely disregard it like that seemed telling to me.  He didn't say he wouldn't of course, but he seemed like it probably wouldn't be even a concern that they consider how Plo's look is established already.

Second though, I found it interesting how he has wanted more characters to have subtitles, but that the constraints of the series don't allow for it.  To me, that's huge, and makes me somewhat disevow the voices of the characters in the toon...  It's like the constraints of video game EU, having to allow for the dynamics of the game, or the constraints of the movies themselves having to condense time so the movie flows better and more quickly.  IE: The trip to Bespin from the asteroid field was probably pretty long, but the films can't show it.  The Rebel fleet's trip to the DS2 was probably a good while (and thus the Rebels were on Endor a while), and the films just can't show it.  Those things have always been of interest to me because I never felt the movies conveyed time/distance well.

Likewise the toon has to rely on more english-speaking than is maybe desired, but because it's a kid's show, and kids can't necessarilly read quickly, the subtitles get shelved.  It makes me view some of the characters differently.  Like Bossk...  I didn't like Bossk talking.  I do like him growling/slithering with his noises like in ESB though, and I sort of take Filoni's comments to maybe mean he's viewing them as though they're speaking their native languages as well, not English.  I had hoped for more subtitles myself, but I guess that's one of those things they have to bend for the series regardless of how much sense it would make.

146
The Vintage Collection / Jon Stewart Trooper
« on: August 16, 2010, 04:09 AM »


That's a cool freebie for doing an interview, I must say.  :)  It's amazing how good the likeness to Stewart is, given how off some of the main characters from the films tend to be.   :-X

Great little item though.  It would be awesome to have a professional sculpt your likeness and see how accurate they could get it.

147
The Clone Wars '08-'13 / Jedi Turbo Speeder
« on: August 13, 2010, 04:07 PM »
Sounds like a new vehicle slipped into the 2010/2011 stuff...  2010 I guess from the sounds of it. 

Curious to see good pics of this.

148
The Clone Wars '08-'13 / Ventress' Fanblade Fighter?
« on: August 10, 2010, 08:59 PM »
The latest Clone Wars Season 3 teaser trailer  appears to show Assaj Ventress' Fanblade Fighter...



I wonder if Hasbro would consider this, if it gets much play at all in the cartoon?

This is a ship I was pondering tackling myself.  The design's pretty bitchin', and so I'd dig having one that opened up.  I can't imagine the "fan" part being particularly sturdy though, and I never really got far in any planning on one.  I was more just thinking about how it would work.

Cool to see this showing up though, and the show itself is the platform by which a lot of items have a shot at getting made I figure.

149
Shadows of the Dark Side / 2010 Saga Legends Figures
« on: August 3, 2010, 03:47 AM »
I figured it's a good time to maybe talk about some of the 2010 Legends figures as we got images of what appear to be the re-issue of the new Battledroid sculpts.

Here's some pics...


Click each image to check them out!

So, this sorta seems to answer whether or not the eyes are being fixed on the battledroids...  At least so long as these hold up as production figures.  Kind of weird that one seems fixed, and the other isn't fixed.

150
The Vintage Collection / The Old Republic... The Figures
« on: July 29, 2010, 11:05 PM »
So it was mentioned during Comic-Con I guess about figures from The Old Republic, but not till 2012.  Specifics are probably a tad sketchy, but why not start dreaming a little while we wait, no?  :)

I'm a big fan of this series and its development, but I've not entirely followed the comics for The Old Republic, and I've not kept up on character names...  I am just giddy at the thought of the game itself more than anything.

The "Hope Trailer" got me jonesin' for figures something fierce though, in particular the badass Republic Trooper that tries to off the Sith, while getting zapped with Sithy lightning, with a knife!  That guy's hardcore to even try it.  That trailer's got lots of figure potential to it alone.

What's the wishlists for this alone looking like among you folks?  I'm curious more about The Old Republic comic(s) now as well, and the characters in those.

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