Wrapping up what’s left of the Episode 1 figures this week… or at least any Episode 1 figures that mattered (I refuse to review a blue Jell-O statue of Darth Maul that you can’t even pose like he looked in his holographic transmissions), we’re going to look at some figures that get a lot of play among collectors. This week we’re taking the microscope to the latest guys to make the figure poll at Hasbro’s podrace of life. Or, if you’d prefer me to not try being funny, we’re looking at the latest Podracer figures Hasbro offers us, and in a 2-pack no less!
I loves me some 2-packs, let me tell you. Nothing gives you the illusion of getting more for less than 2 figures in one package. You want a Jawa? Buy ‘em in 2’s. You want Ugnaughts? They need to be a pair. The Gonk and Treadwell we got earlier this year was just the kind of set that makes me not mind shelling out the cash to buy two. So a Podracer 2-pack really should be a score since they’re freaky designs for aliens, there are features Hasbro can give them to really spiff them up a bit for collectors, and kids should love them because it’s tough to deny Lucas was gearing these freaks to the kiddies. Let’s just see how well Hasbro achieved all of these goals with Mars Guo and Dud Bolt though, and if $7 is worth these two half-sized guys.
-Sculpt: When you get two figures in a set like this it becomes a little more complex for me to review them, so I’m going to try to break this down a little bit so I’m not here writing a novel. For the record, Mars is the green bird-like guy, and Dud is the blue toothy beast with a long snout… It took me a while to remember who was who because honestly the Pod Racers aren’t that important to me.
Mars is a pretty cool design overall, and as The Phantom Menace has aged; I find that the Podracers have all aged well with the film. Their designs are unique, and there isn’t much like them in the classic trilogy, but figures like Mars Guo will look nice mingled in your Cantina if you wanted.
His sculpt is pretty sharp with lots of wrinkles and texturing sculpted into his skin giving him some age and personality. His costume is a cool contrast in that it’s smoother and leathery looking with not much texturing in it. Hasbro did however sculpt some wrinkles in the appropriate spots where his legs bend the costume and such, giving it a bit of life.
Mars’ headsculpt is really freaky and bird-like, sitting atop an elongated thin neck. The face comes to a sharp tapered beak, and a recessed line sculpted along and around the beak shows where his mouth is there. There are lots of bumps and details on the head that show bone structure to his skull, and help to enhance an otherwise detailed sculpt on a tiny figure. It’s as much work as a full sized figure would receive, and it looks great.
Dud Bolt is a more dog-like character, and of the two in the pack he’s my preferred character in overall design out of this set. The figure looks like sort of a Hippo or Rhino or some such animal, but there’s definitely freaky alien attributes to him that Hasbro captured en masse.
The sculpt on Dud is a bit sharper than Mars Guo’s sculpt was even, with details in the skin and costume alike. Like his package-mate, Dud’s got a lot of detail sculpted into his exposed skin like coarse texturing and wrinkles from head-to-toe. The wrinkles and things give the impression of a thick hide, again like a hippo or rhino would have. There seems like there is an extra bit of depth to his skin though, and it really takes paint applications well to highlight the sculpt.
Dud’s costume is like space S&M wear, looking really weird and exposing a lot… Add to that his “hood” and the ball-gag chinstrap on it, and lots of jokes could fly about Dud Bolt around the racetracks. The sculpt of the costume is great though, and like Mars’ costume, Dud’s costume is sculpted very smooth to give a great contrast to the character’s flesh while also giving the impression of it being somewhat protective for a pilot. Also like Mars, Dud’s costume features wrinkles strategically sculpted into the outfit to show where the costume folds due to the character’s joints flex it, or where his sort of pot belly curves his jacket over.
Dud features some other details in his costume though, such as a textured decoration pattern that trims the outfit. There are also silver rivets in his leathery costume sculpted into the gloves, as well as the gauntlets on his forearms. And mentioning the gloves, they’re sculpted over the hands but expose finger here and there and are loaded with straps and such. They’re a fairly intricate piece sculpted over the hands and look pretty cool.
Dud’s headsculpt is also a bit more detailed than Mars Guo’s, but mostly due to design by Lucasfilm. There are lots of details like for instance his open mouth. It’s a rough detail to see but if you look under his oversized snout, you see his little tiny mouth flapped open under there. Dud’s got backwards protruding tusks sculpted into the front of his snout, there are little horns all over his head, he has an antenna thingy in the center of his snout for some reason, and his pointy ears and tiny recessed eyes make a really fine sculpt.
Dud Bolt’s a little bit sharper than Mars Guo is overall, but that’s mostly due to the finer detail in Dud’s design than Mars has. Hasbro did a fine job on both figures, and both look great on the shelf with the other Pod Pilots.
-Paint Aps/Decoration: The paint applications on both Mars and Dud are really impressive. Due to the bright, colorful nature of these figures, the pod pilots really pop out at your eyes when you’re scanning the pegs.
Mars is up first and features a lot of varying paint techniques to make a colorful toy. Mars’ costume is a brown leather color washed over with a dark brown or grey color to make it look extra leathery and worn/aged some. The shirt/bib part of Mars’ costume is also a distinctly different shade of brown from his pants to set it off some, and there is a really nicely applied yellow stripe that runs down each leg, and around each thigh of the character, as well as up the zipper of the pants.
Mars’ skin though is what takes the cake. The skin is multiple shades of green and there is some really cool fading effects going on with the skin tone to give it a lot of life. The figure’s skin on his front is distinctly lighter and fades all the way to a dark green at the back. It also gets noticeably lighter as it goes down his body and disappears under his shirt. Up and down Mars’ arms and back are also yellow stripes that are realistically painted on and look natural on the figure’s skin.
The head on Guo got the most detail in his paint aps though with various details. The yellow of his beak outlining his mouth for instance, and the dark greens painted onto the protruding bits atop his head as well. Also Mars has finely painted eyes with a dark red eyeball and a black pupil in the center. Overall a pretty nice and colorful paintjob on a minor character.
Dud Bolt’s design once again aids him in how cool he looks as a toy. His paint applications match his sculpt in intricacy and detail, and he uses substantially more colors than Mars Guo used overall.
Bolt’s costume is a little less worn looking than his cohort’s looks, but still there is a very feint wash of a darker brown on Dud’s orange-brown S&M duds. There is just enough wash to seep into the folds and give them some noticeable shadowing. There is a nice touch of detail all over the costume as well to show the trim sculpted into it. The trim’s painted black, and then a wash of silver is lightly applied to the black to just touch (barely) the raised surfaces, and it almost looks like he did a little bedazzling to his duds.
One flaw I can point out though here, as I examine the paint applications, is that at the very tip top of Dud’s hips, his belt is sculpted on but not painted on my sample at least. Not sure if this is something they all have, but it’s something I just now noticed that the belt is fleshy blue instead of glossy black.
Dud’s costume also gets additional paint applications because it breaks in so many parts. Most noticeable I’m talking about the shin pads, and the gloves/forearm gauntlets. They’re each painted with a brown that matches the rest of the costume, and each of these paint aps feature a wash as well, like the rest of the costume. There are also dark grey geometric designs on Dud’s shoulder pads and forearm pads, as well as silver rivet paint details all around. The costume alone was worth a 5 star praise-fest I think.
Dud’s skin then though is full of colorful details as well. Dud is overall blue in color but he also has a yellow-brown belly, inner-legs, and inner-arms, which the color fades as it goes outward to the blue color. There are purple-ish details on Dud’s back as well, and the various colors of the body really contrast the costume well.
Dud’s headsculpt then gets a paintjob for the record books I think. The head is overall blue to match the body, with a darker blue on the snout that fades some as it goes backward. Inside Dud’s open mouth he’s painted fleshy pink, and there are some pink highlights at various points on Dud’s face and head. Dud’s tusks are painted off-white to show they’re bone, and his horn details on the top of his forehead are a dark blue color. Then Dud’s eyes are yellow with black pupils to stand out on the blue face, and overall the figure is just one big ball of colorful goodness. Combined with Mars, they look great in the package together.
-Accessories: The accessory count for both figures isn’t exactly overwhelming but Hasbro saw fit to give us something “extra” plus the accessories that made sense. I think something like a couple folded pit droids, or a repaint of any pit droid sculpt would’ve been cool too, but not exactly necessary. Sometimes tools or boxes are neat too, but I feel Hasbro covered the necessities with these two, and we get stuff that helps the figures appeal to both collectors and kids alike.
Both figures feature a set of headwear, both feature a blaster, and then there is the routine pile of stuff nobody really cares about in with 2006 figures. The headgear though are really the nice pieces with both these figures.
Mars’ headgear is simple goggles for piloting his pod… The goggles are a nice sculpt and fit tight on the figure’s head. They aren’t cast in translucent plastic, which would’ve been cool, but they are still painted brown at the straps, a glossy black on the lenses, and a lighter brown on the nose piece. Overall they’re a nice little accessory for a nice figure.
Dud Bolt’s headgear is a bit more complex, and like the rest of the figure he seems to have gotten the better amount of effort. Dud’s goggles are a full helmet actually, with a chinstrap even. The whole thing fits really snug on the figure’s head, and getting the chinstrap onto the chin of the figure is really no small task. It is quite possible though contrary to popular belief. You have to make sure you have the chinstrap on the chin FIRST when putting the helmet on, for it to stay there. Otherwise the strap goes into Dud’s mouth and it looks like a ball-gag… which does match Dud’s S&M costume he has on.
Dud’s helmet is painted an orange-ish brown to match his costume overall. There are silver details around the eye pieces, and the same grey logo as is seen on his outfit elsewhere is on the top of his hat. The chinstrap is glossy red, which when it’s in his mouth it really does look like a ball-gag which you can’t help but laugh about really, and think of Pulp Fiction on some level.
Both characters also get blasters… which get which gun though is completely up to you the consumer. The two weapons are reused sculpts from the Clone Wars Durge figures. Durge’s pistol is included, as is his rifle. The rifle features a painted brown strap, and these actually look like nice guns if not a little awkwardly oversized for the characters that are holding them. Still, every character should have a gun I think at this point. Blasters make things more appealing to kids, and even though the pilots here didn’t fight, it gives the kids something for them to shoot at their other figures with. Overall though, the guns and headgear are just what these figures should come with, and really help with implying extra value to both figures.
And of course the figure also comes with the usual pack-ins too for figures in 2006 that add absolutely nothing to the toy but somehow wind up costing the fans more at retail. There is an embossed stand featuring the film the character appeared in raised on its surface and a silver name of the character painted on the one edge. There is also a randomly packaged holographic miniature figure snuck into the packaging as well. While the stand and miniature are nice, both required molds and effort to be produced and it’s my opinion that the money put into these “gimmick” accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.
-2-Packs Rock!: There is simply nothing better than getting two figures for the price you’d pay for one. This is why it hurt so much paying $7 for Chief Chirpa, a figure a fraction the size of most any other Star Wars figure you’d buy. I hope Hasbro doesn’t give us the midget figure for $7 anymore and try for 2-packs instead since that is the only way to go with the diminutive Star Wars characters we all want in plastic. Even if they’re only including a repackaged droid or some such, it helps ease the pain of $7 for a pint-sized character.
Ewoks should come in 2-packs, Ugnaughts should, certain droids should, figures of children characters should, and Pod Pilots definitely should. You get two well sculpted, well painted, and decently accessorized Star Wars Figures… They’re small, but 2 of anything just makes the price a little easier to deal with.
-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.
-Articulation: Unfortunately where Mars and Dud shine is only in the above, and a key factor they lack is articulation. It’s tough to articulate little figures though, so to that extent I give Hasbro some leeway, but nonetheless, we’ve seen that Hasbro can give ball/socket joints on small limbs like Yoda so a little extra poseability on Mars and Dud would’ve been cool to see.
Mars Guo features articulation at:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
For a total of 5 points of articulation, which just falls way shorter than it should. Mars really could’ve used a little additional arm articulation at the elbows, maybe the wrists. I can understand cutting the legs short since they’re, well, short, but the arms could definitely use a little poseability I think.
Dud Bolt features articulation at:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
That’s a total of 7 points of articulation for Dud Bolt, which is definitely cool and helps him out a little bit for posing. He can at least hold his rifle in 2 hands like he’s just carrying it anyway. Again though, a little extra poseability at the elbows would’ve gone a long way with Dud I think.
Both figures suffer the same problems more or less save for Dud’s wrist articulation. I think the argument they’re short is a bit of BS considering what we’ve seen them do with Yoda for articulation in recent years… I also find the fact they’re pod pilots as a bit of a BS excuse not to articulate them a bit more. The waist joints aren’t there, so a little extra arm poseability would’ve been nice, and kids/collectors simply like articulation so since these two figures should appeal to both demographics, I think it’s worth the extra effort on Hasbro’s part. It’d also be nice so they could hold their guns in more realistic poses too.
That said, the articulation doesn’t sour me completely on these two, like it has in the past on figures like Veers or Momaw Nadon’s resculpt this year. I am guessing this is mostly because Podracers aren’t a HUGE deal to me, but it could also be that they’re so small too and you get two afterall. Still though, the lacking articulation sucks. It’d be nice to see Hasbro step it up with articulation for this price at this point.
-One Stand: A minor quibble on my part is that you get a single stand for two figures, with both their names printed on it, as opposed to individual stands for each figure. That seems a tad stingy to me on Hasbro’s part especially since both figures have pegholes in their feet. The stand is a minor point overall except that both figure’s tiny feet make them difficult to stand too. That then becomes an issue, and really makes 2 stands more of a gripe.
-Difficult to Stand: Like I noted, the figures both have small feet, and thus they become difficult to stand. With my samples, Mars Guo is the more difficult figure to stand since he seems the more awkwardly designed of the two characters. Dud Bolt is more short and squat with shorter stubbier legs. Mars on the other hand has longer thinner legs, and they seem to bow out a little on my sample. A light breeze pushes Mars over it seems actually.
So there-in is the issue of a second stand… It certainly would’ve been appreciated really since you do get two figures. It’s not a huge deal, I can get both characters to stand on their own, but they’re precarious at best and are going to be prone to taking a dive from the old collection shelf.
-No Pods: A gripe that is overall fairly minor, but one I’ve seen others make more than myself (because I know we’d never get them to-scale), is that Pod Racers never have a Pod to race… Mars and Dud are no exception. Hasbro produced two pods and no more for one of the most (and only) spectacular sequences for Episode 1, which is kind of ironic considering how important to the pod race was in terms of keeping the attention of kids with the stellar CGI work.
We got Sebulba and Anakin’s pods, but we’ve got 5 unique pod racers besides Anakin and Sebulba since 2002’s Saga line. That’s a lot of racers without anything to race. The figures are all fantastic too for what they are, so the lacking vehicles could be viewed as a bit of a downer I’m sure. Again I don’t care since I know the vehicles won’t appeal to me personally but it’s a gripe others have and I hear it so I list it here as it’s valid.
-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 many fewer figures with “great” articulation like we saw in last year’s line for ROTS. This decrease in overall “quality” coupled with the price increase just hasn’t sat well with me about this year’s line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.
That about does it for the “Naboo” end of things, though not that the Pod Racers or Graga appeared on Naboo or anything… But they weren’t on Endor which is where we head next. The Podracers make for an interesting double pack of figures though, and they add something colorful and attractive on the pegs next to the likes of Rep Been or Endor Troopers. They’re just the kind of thing to draw a kid or parent’s eye over and say, “I want these!” I think.
The 2-pack features one figure I consider to be pretty outstanding and one that is pretty good. Dud Bolt really got the better end of the deal because he just is a more intricate and complex design than Mars Guo is. His colors are more varied, he has more details in his sculpt and costume. Guo isn’t anything to turn your nose up at though, and holds his own as a small background alien. Both look good with the other pod pilots, and both would look cool ordering a drink at the Cantina too if you’re a diorama guy.
I think kids are going to eat these two up though, so collectors have some competition on them for certain. If you see them, despite the lack of poseability, they’re worth having in your collection. Definitely get a set and enjoy them for what they are since Hasbro doesn’t go for the pod race too often.