The Empire Strikes Back 2.0 wave of Legacy figures delivered a lot of resculpting people have wanted for a while now, and today's review is just that. The Bespin Guard
from this wave is a modern update of a figure that hasn't seen a new tool since the Power of the Jedi line, and that figure wasn't entirely screen-accurate either, so this is a long-time coming to many collectors.
Still, Hasbro has sellability with head variants on this figure, as many die-hards will note the two vintage Bespin Guards have still yet to be done with any accuracy. This figure gives Hasbro a fantastic base to work with, but will they? That remains to be seen as the only expected variant so far is an alien variation from a cut sequence of film (cool though).
Some may argue for yet another new sculpt of this figure... I doubt it happens, but the argument has some firm footing I think. Read on for what works on the new Bespin Guard, and what fails. There's an interesting mix of both with this one.PROS
: Hands down the figure's sculpt is really detailed from head to toe. There's a very nice texturing sculpted into the pants and jacket of the figure, and different parts of the uniform are raised or recessed giving it a lot of depth, such as the gold piping on the jacket, the cuffs of the sleeves, or the outside seam of each pantleg. Also a lot of "bulk" is sculpted in with the jacket bunching at the elbows, or the pants bunching at the boot top where they're tucked in. They even sculpted the pin for the left shoulder's ball/socket joint so that it lines perfectly with the folds sculpted to the arm. Talk about detailing!
Likewise, the character gets a nice generic headsculpt that still manages to have a little bit of character with a somewhat unique hairline. The face is plain but stern looking, and that's the way I like to see my figures. Not too animated, but not a mannequin either.
With all the detailing sculpted in, all you need is the paintjob to match it to bring out the highlights, and you're set. Hasbro knocked this one out of the park pretty well except one issue... the height. That's for later.
: What constitutes good/bad accessorizing of a figure is sometimes subject to a number of things like price, comparison to other figure's in the line, and even the size of the character in question. This figure, as an army builder, stands to gain points if he comes with just the pieces that make him truly "complete" to me, and so for that I have to give Hasbro a lot of credit.
The figure comes with:
-Baton & sheath (functional)
-Pistol & holster (functional)
Little more could really be clumped into a figure like the Bespin Guard that really applies to the character, save for a set of binders like the POTJ figure came with. So with that said, I think this really is a well-rounded figure, esepcially because both the holster and sheath for the weapons are removable, and both function quite well.
Also all the gear has a sharp and detailed sculpt. The hat is actually designed to fit the head quite snugly. It's even a little difficult to fit it on the head properly, but I'll give a pass to that issue. I thought it was nice the weapons got a nice paintjob too, a much needed improvement over the goofy blue color of the POTJ gear.
: These days Hasbro rarely lets you down on this issue, so it's uncommon to have a gripe here. The Bespin Guard is near super-articulated, and really that's pretty fantastic since they're not always considered the most exciting characters.
The Bespin Guard features articulation at:
-2 ball/socket shoulders
-2 ball/socket elbows
-2 standard wrists
-2 standard hips
-2 ball/socket knees
-2 ball/socket ankles
-1 ball/socket neck
-1 standard waist
For a total of 14 points of articulation. That's a good total for any army builder really, but on a character like the Bespin Guard I think it's pretty exceptional. That makes him able to pose so he's smackin' Han on the head, or having coffee, or roughing up the Ice Cream Maker Guy for jaywalking, or whatever it is Bespin Guards do to "keep the peace".
Mine basically is standing there, but hey, they'll get posed around a bit too at some point, so I like all the poseability on this guy.
: The paint applications on this figure are relatively sparse compared to many, but the little details are pretty cool. For instance the barely visible white shirt collar peeking out of the neck is really a nice little detail Hasbro acknowledged. Also the gold piping on the jacket is kind of ornate for being a tiny thin line of gold that goes from a straight line around the jacket and ends with an elaborate squiggly design at the bottom.
For the record my samples aren't the best with the gold lines, but again I'm giving some leeway. It's so thin, perfection's virtually impossible here I think.
The red at the cuffs, the shine of the black boots, the hair line... Pretty much everything is perfect. My figure's eyes are a little wonky but I feel that's more the fault of the almost "squinty" look to the sculpt of the eyes giving less surface detail to work with, than the paintjob being bad. I'm really pleased with the deco here.CONS
: While this wave's been semi-new, with the way Legacy has gone, this wave's difficult to find for many. It first surfaced in December 2009, and here we are February 2010 and this wave's still impossible for most to find. I've lucked into 3 Bespin Guards in my collection, one bought for me by a friend out-of-state, so I really can only say I've seen it twice in 3 months... I'd call that scarce, wouldn't you?
He's a good figure but if you want to really go nuts army building him you may have your hands full.
: I'm a big fan of human army builders not in faceless armored helmets and things having a little diversity to them. We're getting a human and an alien, and that's diverse, but I prefer diversity among my humans a little spread out. An Asian headsculpt, a caucasian headsculpt... These would have been nice. They could knock out the vintage Asian headsculpt and I'd be happy. I'd gladly buy this figure with the vintage African headsculpt as well. Diversity is good for the humans.
To me this issue applies to the Hoth Rebel, Fleet Troopers and other similar figures. Even if it's not seen in the movie, it'd be appreciated by me personally.
: This issue's open to some debate because Hasbro's scaling of figures is so all over the place, it's just something you really suck up and deal with anymore. Compared to some "average height" characters, the Bespin Guard is quite a lumbering giant. He's almost a head taller than the Scanner Technician from just a wave or two ago. Go figure. Compared to a Stormtrooper I had around he's not horrible.
This may be an issue to some, to others it's not a huge deal. For me I'm getting past a lot of the scale issues this line has though. I'm happy when a really big character's scaled right, and when an Ewok or something is tiny. I'd like to see some more effort in the humans too, but flaws happen in the design process so I get it.
: Star Wars ain't cheap folks... $6.99 is a pipedream at this point, and $7.50 is actually "cheap". That's a sad statement considering what you're ultimately getting. Blame the economy, blame the industry, blame Hasbro, blame retail, or blame Lucasfilm... Either way you've got a lot of money to spend on one little old piece of plastic.
You knock the price down some, and suddenly gripes like the accessories are much more minor than they are otherwise. The Build-A-Droid promotion is nice, but coming to a close, so where does that perceived value go then, when it's over?
Basically $7.99 is a lot of money for an action figure of this scale, any way you slice it. Prices have gone up, and income hasn't gone to match it for many people, so these are just rough times we have to deal with as collectors. As such though, the price is always going to be a negative unless the figure's really something special or comes with something really outstanding as an accessory. For some, these hikes have cut into their hobby and how much they've been able or willing to spend on it, and that includes myself.OVERALL
So how do you wrap it up? This is just another great figure for Hasbro.
It's funny how 2008-2009 has been a great period for Hasbro and success with Star Wars, but that the collector-focused figures have suffered. There's a lot of reasons for this from distribution issues and price increases to the global economy and toy industry troubles. Hasbro put out some great figures in the Legacy line, and yet a lot of hype doesn't swirl around some it seems.
This Bespin Guard is one of those figures. He's going to be one of the ones you look at down the line and think, "Yeah I remember him, he's pretty great", but which you probably forget somewhere along the way too... This era for the modern line and for the core collecting base is a time of turmoil. I know lots of guys quitting or cutting back, and it's a shame because they're missing out on really definitive figures from the beloved OT like this one.
I'm hoping for more head variants than an alien guard, which is cool, but I'm really sticking on the diversity issue here. If I had one really legit gripe I think it was that one. Bespin Guards were diverse in the movie, and so I'd like to see a white guy, asian guy, both vintage heads done... This is a figure ideal for a battlepack I think, and a re-release with a new head down the road with another ESB wave.
In general I obviously like this one... to the point I'm readily admitting I'll buy him 3, 4, or 5 more times anyway. So Hasbro, get crackin' on those I guess. I'm waiting to buy more stuff.