Welcome to Figures & Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy. From product reviews to informed editorials, these are most definitely the articles that’ll make you want to strike a pose.
I know this column has the word “figures” right there in the title, but
I am not a model maker by any stretch of the imagination, but when Bluefin sent me this Rogue One Red Squadron Star Wars model kit and asked if I’d review it, I was glad to give it a shot. After all, I’ve written about these toys a time or two, not to mention the fact that Bandai has been blurring the line between action figures and model kits for a long time–not just with Gundam, but with buildable Dragon Ball figures, among others. Plus, this new Star Wars kit is supposedly designed with the average consumer in mind.
The average consumer, that is, who owns a pair of nub-cutters, which Bluefin were kind enough to send along as well. Technically you CAN make the model without these–parts pop out of the frames fairly easily–but they will make your life easier. Wish I’d had them as a kid for all the G.I. Joe vehicles that came in semi-kit form.
Here’s what awaits when you open the box, which came to me Japanese style, which is to say open and un-taped; Bluefin generally has to shrink-wrap them for the U.S. market, due to a higher rate of theft.
Two sticker sheets are included, and it may take you a while to figure out which is which. There are waterslide transfers for the patient professional, and regular peel-offs for the people like me. And some of these stickers are incredibly, insanely small, which is why I include my finger for comparison.
Okay, X-Wing fighter. I guess we start with the wings.
I realized pretty quickly that these kits are for kids with nimbler fingers and fresher eyes than I–lots of light and squinting is required to see the numbered parts, and my semi-arthritic fingers aren’t the best with some of the smaller bits. However, the pieces fit together very nicely, to the point that when I was flummoxed by this mismatching join…
…I ultimately knew it had to be my mistake, and indeed it was, as I’d put that piece on the left together backwards. The engineering is truly impressive on these, and getting everything to snap together should not be a problem, or require any excessive force (or glue). That’s a tough thing to pull off, but Bandai have had years of practice.
The stickers, it should be noted, are a higher quality than most–they will go over contours nicely and “hug” the surface, unlike most typical plastic toy stickers that start peeling off if so much as an air bubble is trapped inside. (Click to enlarge the picture above, or any other image in this post, for a better look.)
One of the things that frustrates me about ANY symmetrical model, LEGO included, is when you come to that point where you’ve finished building one part, and you realize you are going to have to repeat that entire process again to create its corresponding part. Oh well…
The wings open and close perfectly, holding position depending on which way you want to display it. You can build landing struts for it if you choose, or have them closed for display on a flight stand (included).
Wanna see the level of detail on this thing? The cockpit actually includes a joystick, which is a separate piece that could fit under my fingernail.
Here’s where it gets annoying. Let me show you the size of the pilot, using a U.S. penny for scale.
Put a penny up to your monitor just so we know what we’re talking about. Now, look at those little dots on the sticker sheet directly to the left of the penny.
You are supposed to put those stickers on his helmet. Yes, really. By some miracle I managed one; by an even bigger miracle (and a feat I’m super proud of) I got the orange sticker for his visor approximately right.
You may applaud now. But seriously, if you ever meet a collector who got all the stickers on, bow down to them.
The inclusion of red parts saves you some effort, at least.
This is a very attractive buffet for cats, just so you know. But mine have learned.
Another customization option comes with the canopy. You have the option of a windowless frame or a pure window (that will get its “frame” by way of stickers). I opted for the fake glass.
The flight stand looks like it’s articulated, but it really isn’t–you can opt for multiple positions when you put the “joint” together, but once you do, it’s held there, and you’ll have to take it apart to repose.
Now here’s a bit of a kicker–when you look at the final sticker guide, it becomes apparent that to get it to actually look like the box product, you were expected to paint it.
There are no stickers for those carbon burn effects, for example. Nor is the pilot orange.
That said, it looks okay even unpainted. But man, if you ever thought putting stickers on a Kenner/Hasbro toy was hard, you have no idea.
Also, once you build that main X-Wing, the set comes with a whole ‘nother, SMALLER X-Wing. What?
Yeahhh, maybe later. My fingers hurt. Models aren’t really for me, though I am tempted by the vac-metal chrome Threepio set they have coming, mainly because Hasbro seems reluctant to do one like that, ever.
These toys generally are just for somebody more patient than I. I wanna play now! Your Kessel Run mileage may vary.
Images: Luke and Julia Thompson for Nerdist
Luke Y. Thompson is Nerdist’s weekend editor, and loves to talk toys. Tweet him @LYTrules.