SPOILER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE DISNEY+ PROGRAM THE MANDALORIAN
As you’ll be seeing over the course of the month, Triple Force Friday got me a little more than I expected.
Due to the impending conclusion of the Skywalker Saga and the recent launch of The Mandalorian. Star Wars is going to be getting a little extra love here on Needless Things. And I’m glad I did get seduced by the marketing because I’ve ended up with some of the best Star Wars toys ever. Unfortunately it’s a mix of Black Series and Vintage Collection, but in this day and age you take what you can get or you stop collecting. And I think we all know that I’m not about to stop collecting.
I’ve been pretty resistant to Hasbro’s Black Series until recently. Between the temptation of releases like the Fetts, Thrawn, and Jaina Solo and the spectacular new face printing technology, I haven’t been able to resist diving in. I’m by no means a completist and I do have some guidelines, but I finally have to admit that I am collecting Star Wars Black Series figures. When comparing the quality of the 6” and 3.75” releases and taking the prices – twenty bucks and thirteen bucks, respectively – into consideration, the only reason I’m even still buying Vintage Collection figures is that I already own several hundred and I have anxiety if I miss a character I want in that range.
Speaking of characters I want, even without seeing The Mandalorian I knew I wanted the figures from the show. Mandalorians have been a specific niche of my collecting for a very long time now and while I don’t buy every variant of every character, I do try to have at least one of each and upgrade when needed.
Obviously two of the subjects of today’s review aren’t actually Mandalorians.
Gina Carano’s Cara Dune is a former Alliance shock trooper who couldn’t find meaning in a post-war galaxy as a peacekeeper and became a mercenary.
IG-11 is an assassin droid bounty hunter voiced by Taika Waititi, who is a fantastic comedic voice actor and that’s the end of this sentence.
The Mandalorian, however, is a Mandalorian. Played by Pedro Pascal – and yes, that is him under the armor; it’s not just his voice – the character has proven to be much more than just a badass in cool-looking armor. He’s not an unstoppable killing machine because smart people know that that would be a boring protagonist and two very smart people are mainly responsible for this show.
But before I knew anything about Cara Dune and the Mandalorian I knew I wanted those figures. I’m a big fan of Pascal from his work on Game of Thrones and the film Triple Frontier, as well as his role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’m kidding – I only just found out that he was Eddie in the episode “The Freshman”).
Gina Carano first caught my attention as Mallory Kane in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. She plays a badass well and is as good at movie fighting as she apparently was at real fighting. It’s cool just to have a figure of her, the fact that it’s a Star Wars figure just makes it even better.
As for IG-11, he’s a Best Buy exclusive. I like droids and all, but I wasn’t so much excited for the figure as I was that Hasbro was making more product for The Mandalorian. As of this writing my local Best Buy had no less than a dozen in stock, priced at $15.99. You shouldn’t have trouble getting your hands on one.
Cara and the Mando, however, are still pretty tough to find.
I’m a little surprised that Hasbro is still using the same tired old boxes for these figures.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great package. The red and black contrast nicely and are probably one of the most recognizable Star Wars-related color schemes. The greyscale character images are nice, too. But we’ve been looking at this particular design for six years. That’s a long time in toy years.
The white design on the so-called First Edition figures looks great and would have been a nice change for the line, but instead Hasbro made that some kind of oddly limited release. I’ve been seeing them pop up regularly since Triple Force Friday, so I have no idea how they were distributed. I’ve heard from others who have never even seen a white box in the wild.
IG-11 uses the same too-short body as the Black Series and Archives IG-88. I don’t mind this being a repaint with some new bits because they’re essentially the same droid model, but I wish Hasbro would fix the height.
What’s fun about this IG droid is that we actually get to see him move in the show, so the articulation is much more meaningful, if not 100% accurate. I feel like the elbows are too far down on the arms and, looking at reference pictures, it seems that Hasbro botched the knees entirely:
Possible inaccuracies aside, the sculpt is tremendously detailed. There’s plating and pistons and wiring all over the place. Every inch of the figure is interesting to examine. I particularly like the insulated wires that run down the legs and move freely from the figure. They’re very flexible and don’t interfere with posing much.
Deco-wise the droid is beautiful. There’s a base color in there somewhere and it’s probably a shiny gunmetal, but there are plenty of different metallic colors over and around it – bronze, copper, a sort of dull titanium. It makes IG-11 distinct from his cousin and gives the figure a lot of depth and personality. The red sensors on his head, as well as other small applications, are precisely painted and stand out against the overall dull metallic colors of the body.
The Mandalorian figure was rendered obsolete by the end of the first episode. Then, at the beginning of episode three he gets a full suit of beskar that looks completely different from this.
But I’m not grading the figure on being up-to-date; I’m judging its value as an action figure that depicts the look its meant to capture. No matter how briefly that look was relevant.
This figure follows the basic design of a Mandalorian – a flight suit base layer with a vest, armored plating, weaponized gauntlets, and weird doo-dads here and there. This particular design looks more like it would be “background mercenary” than “lead” on the call sheet, but that’s one of the things I like about it. There’s a hardened practicality about this look that’s not the usual EU or even Disney-era Mando.
Reflecting the fact that this Mando isn’t some untouchable badass, the armor plating has signs of wear and abuse. Multiple dents are sculpted and painted across the surface of the armor, going even a step further than the trademark worn look of most Star Wars creations. There’s an overall asymmetrical look, as the armor seems cobbled together and is somewhat mismatched. The thigh and shoulder plates do not match up.
Those shoulder plates are separate but permanently attached pieces that sit high on the figure and are flexible to allow the shoulder articulation relatively free movement.
Wacky fact – some of the Mando’s armor came from a Shoretrooper.
For as drab as the figure looks, there are a lot of colors here and tons of paint apps. Quite frankly we’re almost past the point where I need to say, “They’re applied precisely” because I can’t remember the last time I bought a figure that had a noticeable flaw in the deco. Some NECA’s still have problems, but if you’re buying them in person you can avoid the derpy ones.
The Mandalorian’s trademark bucket is reminiscent of Jango Fett’s. It lacks the added viewfinder that Boba’s helmet has, but from watching the show it looks like those optical enhancements might be internal on this one. This helmet appears to be the only beskar that our protagonist has initially and it is colored as such. The “T” shaped lens is nice and glossy, while there is grime and wear painted on the front. The back is oddly clean, so I’m wondering if this paint job is based on that one scene. If it is it’s weird because the rest of his front should be muddy, too. But I’m glad it’s not.
The Mando’s holster hangs from an attached belt/bandolier piece that gives a little extra oomph to the profile. It snaps closed by inserting a peg on the flap into a hole on the main part. I don’t always love this system because sometimes it’s hard to get the peg in when the weapon is inside, but this one seems to work nicely. The blaster fits into the holster and the figure’s hand perfectly.
One thing that isn’t a perfect fit is the Amban sniper rifle. It has a small peg on it that is meant to fit into corresponding holes on the figure’s back and bandolier, but it doesn’t really. It seats just far enough in to stay put as long as you don’t move the figure or sneeze or look at it too hard. But I do appreciate that the rifle was meant to have a spot to be stored on.
The Mando’s cape is a bit bigger than Boba Fett’s and is designed to hang to the side, leaving the rifle hole open. The sculpt is full of textures and the open neck allows it to be moved around to accommodate action, but it really could’ve used some paint. There’s a bit of dry-brushing around the bottom that looks nice, but a wash to bring that nice sculpted texture pout would have been cool. Considering the amount of paint on the rest of the figure the cape looks especially naked.
Finally, there’s Cara Dune, my favorite figure of the lot.
The likeness is phenomenal. The combination of sculpt and digital printing has resulted in a portrait that is almost Hot Toys-esque. It looks exactly like Gina Carano does on screen, right down to the impossibly tiny Alliance tattoo under her eye.
Just as importantly, the figure’s proportions are accurate. Jon Favreau hired Carano because he wanted a woman who looks like she can kick ass to kick ass. Hasbro didn’t alter her to waiflike princess proportions – Dune is built tough.
Her gear is mostly screen accurate, though there’s one flaw that our Head of Research first pointed out – she has no sheath for her vibroblade. The figure comes with one and unless I’m mistaken in the show she has a sheath for it on her left boot. I’ll have to watch episode 4 again to verify this, though I plan to do so anyway.
Otherwise all of the components of her onscreen look are here. The belt is a separate, non-removable piece that slides around on the hips so as not to interfere with posing. There’s a ton of nice sculpted and painted detail. The holster is part of this piece and features the same kind of peg closure as the Mando’s.
The mesh armor on her trousers and chest plate has a tough but fine look, while the heavy plating on her shoulders and wrists has some nice painted wear. The boots also feature a dusting of paint to give them a little more character and a lived-in feel.
The Black series line is full of humans. Some similarly shaped women and lots and lots and lots of similar dudes. I love that this figure has a unique profile and a very different, yet still very Star Wars, look. I’d like to see more aliens and droids, but more interesting humans are good, too.
IG-11 comes with an E-11 blaster and a DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle. You might recognize them from years of being a Star Wars fan, but these have subtle differences – each sports a hole under their respective stocks. Those correspond to cleverly placed pegs on the droid’s arms so that he can hold the guns with his silly pincer claws. They work very nicely.
Each blaster has a dark metallic paint job. They’re a slightly firmer plastic than most other Hasbro weapons I own, but still not as rigid as I’d prefer.
IG-11’s bandolier – which looks great and which I totally forgot to mention – has a holster slot that can fir the larger rifle. It might fit the smaller one, too, but I completely forgot it was even there while I was taking pictures because I was so into posing the figure like IG-11 was moving in the show. I was seriously excited about such an active assassin droid.
Dune comes with a blaster, a heavy blaster rifle, and a vibroblade. I couldn’t find technical names for the first two anywhere, but I’m sure they’ll be uploaded to Wookiepedia at some point.
The blaster kind of looks like Megatron in gun mode. As a matter of fact, it looks a lot like Megatron in gun mode, just with the sight angled to the side. It fits into the holster or either hand.
The vibroblade is simple – brown hilt, metallic blade. It fits in either hand, but that’s it. I’m surprised Hasbro didn’t put a spot to store it on the figure, especially if I’m right about the boot on the show.
The heavy rifle is badass. I couldn’t find the proper designation for this, either. It has a metallic finish and the stock, grip, and barrels have paint on them. The dual magazines on either side look very cool and are something a bit different from other Star Wars rifles, but not unprecedented. The DC-15A that Clone Troopers used had a configuration with side-mounted magazine.
The strap is attached to a swiveling point on the stock and a c-clasp that attaches to the barrel. I’m a little concerned that this might get loose over time, but I do plan to display the figure using this weapon, so at least it won’t have weight on it.
This rifle did not, as far as I can tell, appear in episode 4 with Cara. Hopefully it and she will show up later on.
Lastly the Mandalorian includes a blaster and the distinctive Amban sniper rifle that was first seen in the Star Wars Holiday Special.
The sniper rifle was the first thing everybody freaked out about when Favreau first started posting pictures from the show, so it was pretty important for Hasbro to get it right. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t attach to the figure’s back very well, they did. The sculpt is all clean lines and menace. The Holiday Special looks so darn goofy that it’s easy to miss how vicious-looking this weapon truly is. Plus, it disintegrates stuff.
Close to forty years ago Darth Vader told Boba Fett “No disintegrations” and we’ve seen very little evidence – if any at all – that anyone ever actually gets disintegrated in a galaxy far, far away. To the point where it almost seems like Vader might be making a joke. But now we’ve seen the Amban sniper rifle in action and it absolutely, positively disintegrates every last bit of a motherfucker. It’s amazing.
So knowing all of this Hasbro nailed the sculpt and the paint and the figure can look cool holding it several different ways.
The smaller blaster is also pretty cool and does everything you want it to, but that rifle is an A++ accessory.
Each of these figures is great and they look great together. Two are still hard to get and one may well end up on deep clearance, but I recommend them all. They’re fine work from Hasbro and solid reinforcement for my decision to collect Black Series figures when I see fit.
I’ve got the Offworld Jawa now and the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian – Paz Viszla, who is voiced by Jon Favreau and portrayed by MMA dude Tait Fletcher – is at home as I type. They didn’t make it into this review but might get featured in some other way on Needless Things before the month is over.
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