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.
It wasn’t as hyped as 2016’s midnight event for The Force Awakens, but September 30th was this year’s “Force Friday,” the day on which new Star Wars merchandise for the upcoming Rogue One could now be sold. Because expectations for Rogue One are so different–it being the first live-action Star Wars feature outside of the Skywalker family saga since the Ewok movies–the action figures are a bit easier to find, and items based on the prior movies were thrown into the mix as well. So in addition to all the new characters at mass retail, Entertainment Earth debuted an exclusive new troop-building set featuring Revenge of the Sith Clonetroopers who, surprisingly, have never been sold at mass retail in the six-inch scale.
EE provided a set for my perusal, and it coincided nicely with Hasbro passing along the two major protagonists of the new movie (I presume, anyway): Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, and Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Let’s take a closer look at them.
The six-inch Black Series have been the choice of collectors since the line started, and especially so once the four-inch line went back to basic five-point articulation in order to keep costs down to a kid-friendly “under $10.” These are twice the price, but they have more than twice the poseability and detail. Usually.
Cassian and Jyn come in the standard box style for the line, without particularly prominent Rogue One messaging–it is, after all, aimed at collectors who know their stuff, though kids can certainly play with them too. A tiny scrap of biographical information gives us little more than the names of two locations in the movie.
The Entertainment Earth troops come in some of the nicest packaging I’ve ever seen for figures like this. It resembles a Blu-ray box set, with a slipcase that fits all the guys inside.
Then once you’ve slipped the interior out, it opens up accordion-style (they’re all connected).
My wife had to be forcefully reminded that this is a column about playing with toys, and these samples are provided for review, because, as a Barbie collector who keeps dolls in boxes, she swore up a storm at the notion I’d be taking these out of their cardboard-and-plastic prisons. Technically, this is somewhat collector-friendly packaging, as in you can put them back in if your careful. But the first thing you need to watch for is the upper flap on the boxes, which is somewhat different than on the likes of Cassian and Jyn, and you could tear it if you’re not prepared.
What the product pictures online don’t show you is the level of battle-damage deco on these guys. It’s practically McFarlane-esque, and to the untrained eye might make you think a kid played with these outdoors all day.
The black on the visor is a shiny black, different from the flat black on the armor seams.
Fans of Revenge of the Sith–yes, they exist and I am one–can probably pick out which Clonetrooper is which. Blue with the tracksuit stripes up the leg is Darth Vader’s personal 501st, mustard-yellow is for Uatapau, green seems to be for Kashyyk (though the bio at Entertainment Earth says he’s for attacking the Trade Federation homeworld, the package does not specify that), and red is for the Senate. The red paint scheme was previously used on an original-trilogy Stormtrooper as a Battlefront retailer exclusive. This one looks to have seen some serious action.
Only the red one comes with a blaster rifle; the rest come with the standard-issue Stormtrooper blaster. All appear to use the same base body.
Here’s how they compare to other iterations. You may notice that the Utapau trooper’s mustard highlights are a slightly different shade than Commander Cody’s…and that OT Stormtrooper is a little short because it’s Luke in disguise.
Articulation, as usual, is excellent, with double-jointed knees and elbows, and ball joints where appropriate. The one weird omission, like with most of these figures, is the lack of a cut waist–the thinking seems to be that a mid-torso ball joint makes that unnecessary.
The Clonetrooper set is priced at $99.99, or approximately $25 per figure. While that’s higher than mass retail, it’s not bad for exclusive/convention pricing, and if you’re a display-in-box kind of collector, the packaging does merit some extra scratch. If you’re a diorama kind of collector, you’ll want multiples. And if you’re a kid who just likes toys, you’ll wonder why this base figure has never appeared in your nearest store, and the only way to get a plain white one was in an Amazon.com multipack with others from different eras.
Now on to Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor. They’re symptomatic of the surprising lack of excitement I feel over Rogue One, a movie I’m sure I’ll probably like but have trouble getting hyped for. Part of it is the blah character designs: Finn and Rey were visually interesting characters from the get-go, while Jyn and Cassian are supposed, I think, to look like typical military. While that may work for the story, it makes for ho-hum looking toys.
From an equality standpoint, it’s cool that Jyn is allowed to dress like the men of Star Wars do, and isn’t obliged to spend forever picking out a nicer outfit or accentuating the curves. And that may make her a good character, just as she’ll be a better infiltrator if she looks like nobody special. But compared to other female movie toys this year (we’ve gotten more good ones than usual, which is awesome), she doesn’t quite pop off the shelf.
Not that it’s just a lady thing. Cassian looks like he’s wearing Hoth Han Solo’s leftovers.
Both are also fully poseable, which is particularly impressive on the bulkier-clad Cassian. And their headgear comes off, though I wouldn’t take Jyn’s on and off too much, since it’s a pretty tight fit. Cassian’s pops into place easily.
Both also have pistols that fit into side holsters with unlatching straps, a cool detail impossible to properly do at the smaller four-inch scale.
Here’s the biggest issue, and you may have noticed it if you thought their faces were slightly out of focus in any of these shots: the likenesses are soft. I mean, Cassian is mainly recognizable as Diego Luna because of the goatee, and Jyn could be almost any actress. I think the issue is twofold: allowing the digital scan to do all the work without further sculpting, and using a flesh-colored base plastic that’s left mostly unpainted.
Check out the difference between Jyn and Rey:
Or Luke and Cassian:
A level of likeness has been lost, and I don’t think it’s because the technology or sculpting has gotten worse. But as Nerdist readers will know, a great paint job can make all the difference.
Thankfully, that’s not an issue with masked, helmeted soldiers.
Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor will run you around $20, but if I were you I’d take a wait-and-see approach on those. See if you like the movie, see if the paint jobs improve on future variations, and so on. We already know that both characters have at least one more variant coming already.
If you want the Clonetrooper pack, however, act fast. Popular Black Series figures tend to only go up in price.
Luke Y. Thompson, Nerdist’s weekend editor, would probably have taken the figures out of the box anyway. Tweet him if you agree.