Monday, January 4, 2016

Star Wars The Force Awakens – The New Hasbro Toys

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the movie. But seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, do you even care?

Hasbro launched the new onslaught of Star Wars toys back in September. For reasons I have already discussed I chose not to collect any of it aside from a few pieces here and there like Captain Phasma and a die-cast Finn.

Much to my delight and surprise, Santa left nearly all of the new 3.75” scale Force Awakens toys for my son on Christmas! So now I’m going to review the line as a whole.

I don’t often review things that are specifically for my son. First, I have enough to review on my own. There’s a stack of Batman Animated figures that I can’t seem to get to. Second, I don’t like co-opting his play time by taking the pictures I need to take. As such, there are only a few accompanying this article rather than the many detailed shots I normally provide. I had to snag them in between Millennium Falcon strafing runs on the First Order base. I figure everyone has seen these things at retail by now, and aside from a few key observations I’ll make you’re getting what you see.

If you buy anything from the links on this page - or just click them and buy other junk - Needless Things gets a ha'penny!

THE FIGURES

While I always feel that vehicles are a key part of any Star Wars line, without the characters you’ve got nothing. Of course, when these figures hit back in September, we sport of had nothing anyway. We didn’t know much at all about anyone and had to judge them based solely on their appearances.

Now we know that almost everything that’s out at the moment can be seen in the first act of the movie and also that a lot of it is barely in The Force Awakens, if at all. Constable Zuvio – who seemed to be a major supporting character – isn’t even shown. We have yet to see figures of Han Solo, Princess Leia, Maz Kanata, and several other characters, not to mention some striking background characters like the mismatched couple in Maz’s place.
I’m not here to judge the appropriateness of the figures, though. I’m here to talk about their quality. And to be honest, I would’ve been thrilled to have some more random, background characters to fill out my imaginary Mos Eisley when I was a kid. And that’s exactly what a ton of these are. We’ve been making awesome Jakku junkyard scenes.

These are all the simple, old school figures with five points of articulation. I’m only covering the single-carded basic figures ($6.99-ish MSRP, depending upon where you buy them). We don’t have any of the Armor Up series because Santa is not a chump.

Every single one of these figures has an excellent sculpt and better paint than I expected. Some of them hold their guns or accessories fairly well, some don’t. The Resistance Troopers are particularly bad. Whether they can be held or not, all of the accessories look great. They have excellent sculpts and they are made of sturdy plastic. It’s not the old, firm plastic of the vintage toy line, but it’s not rubber.

I will complain about the pricing on this line several times throughout this post, but I have to admit – these figures are way nicer than what Funko and other companies are currently doing in this scale and they cost less.

The packages are not easy to open. Hasbro used a plastic blister glued in between a folded piece of cardboard. There is no easy way to get them open, but the best way seems to be to fold the card beside the blister and tear it upward.

Most of the figures have ball-jointed necks, making their heads removable. This is useful for some – you can put Finn’s head on a Stormtrooper body. But the sizes are different in some cases for some reason. For example, you can’t put Poe’s helmeted head on his flight suit body. Kind of dumb.

Each of the figures comes with one third of the parts necessary to build some sort of thing. The build-a-weapon pieces are not from The Force Awakens or any other Star Wars production. They’re kind of fun to put together, but annoying because they generally don’t make anything useful or interesting. Also, Hasbro mixed franchises when packing them in, so even if you buy every single character from The Force Awakens you will be missing parts since some come with Dagobah Luke or Kanan or other characters from outside of Episode VII.

It really doesn’t matter, though, because the parts and the constructs are all lame and will end up in a drawer or even the trash.

Here are some notes about specific characters:

Captain Phasma – One of my favorite basic figures. Her blaster has some paint and I actually like her wacky plasma saw thing. While vac metal would have been nice, toy makers don’t seem to go for that any more.

Oh. Well.

Constable Zuvio – I think this smaller version looks much better than the Black Series figure. He’s not in the movie, but he makes a great figure to have for your Jakku scene. I love his hat and armor.

Ello Asty – Star Wars names have a tendency to be dumb. Let’s go ahead and get over that and be amused that this guy is named after a Beastie Boys album and that his helmet says “Eat Me” in Aurebesh. That alone makes him a must-have. Fortunately, he’s a great-looking figure and also a non-human in a Resistance uniform, something I hope to see more of.

Finn (Jakku) – Great head sculpt. His (Poe’s) jacket looks great. There’s more paint on almost all of these than you’d expect, like the dusty app on Finn’s lower legs. I don’t necessarily like dirt/battle damage, but Hasbro definitely went the extra mile with these.

First Order Flametrooper – In my thirty-plus years of toy collecting I have come across many, many flamethrower figures that cannot hold their weapon. Whether it was because the tube connecting it to the backpack was too stiff or because the weapon was designed poorly or some other reason, there are tons of crappy flamethrower dudes. This is not one of them. As a matter of fact, this might be the best 5 POA flamethrower dude ever.

First Order Snowtrooper – General Hux is actually the best example, but I’m going alphabetically here, so I’ll start with this guy – Hasbro did a great job with skirts, coats, and stuff like that on this line.

First Order Stormtrooper – Staple of the line. These guys look great. All of the various troopers have shiny, white armor that makes for an awesome looking army when you put them together. There are two different versions of the basic Stormtrooper. We only got one kind, so I don’t know if there are differences beyond the build-a-weapon piece. I suspect not.

General Hux – His coat looks great. The split works nicely. It lets a little light through, but the sculpt is very tight and looks great when the legs are lined up. Also, it is sculpted in such a way that it doesn’t look all weird when you move the legs. This one has a great likeness.

Goss Toowers – I thought this was another of Jakku’s random inhabitants, but he’s actually a Resistance mechanic. I’d imagine he’s in one of the scenes with all of the X-Wings prepping for battle. He looks great. His coveralls actually should have tipped me off because they don’t look like what the Jakkuvians (?) wear.

Guavian Enforcer – This is one of the least Star Wars-looking characters in the history of the franchise. The Dark Horse comics and some of the other Expanded Universe materials produced some questionable designs, but these guys (as it turns out there are more than one) seem way off spec. They look awesome, but just don’t seem right. Regardless, the figure is great – tons of detail and more paint than you’d expect.

Kylo Ren – There are several Kylo Ren figures in the line. We got the one with the two big arm attachments. Otherwise I don’t know the differences between the basic figures. The textures on this guy are fantastic. What surprised me most, though, was the fact that he has legs sculpted inside of his robes. He holds his lightsaber well. I don’t know what the lightsaber is made of, but it got bent right above the hilt at one point and I thought for sure that it was going to break. But I carefully straightened it back out and it was just fine.

PZ-4C0 – I am so happy that we got a distinctive and remarkable new droid with the new movie. I can’t imagine the practical purpose of this giant, ridiculous neck, but I love it. The head and neck do remind me somewhat of General Grievous, so if this guy ends up shooting Leia in Episode VIII, I won’t be surprised.

Resistance Trooper – These are definitely the lamest figures in the assortment. They’re the modern equivalent of those weak-ass Endor Rebel Commando that Kenner made. However, they are great non-descript troop builders, so you need at least three of them. It’s worth noting that this one has a dark skin tone, so future variants could occur.

Rey (Starkiller Base) – I don’t get why this isn’t Rey from Jakku, other than that one should have included BB-8 and her headgear. Speaking of heads, this one has a better head than my significantly more expensive Black Series 3.75” figure. And the same backpack, minus a little paint.

Sarco Plank – One of my favorites, despite being named after a piece of wood. His breathing mask and backpack look incredible. Even with the dull brown robes this figure is eye-catching. He also comes with a nifty gun that reminds me of the rifle Zuckuss uses.

BB-8, Unkar’s Thug, & Jakku Scavenger – This was a multi-pack that is easily the best value of the entire line. BB-8 looks great and has a head that can move around. Unkar’s Thug looks like a Middle Eastern terrorist and makes me slightly uneasy. The Jakku Scavenger is actually part of a race known as “Teedos” and is the one that caught BB-8 in a net. 

He should have come with a Luggabeast and, quite frankly, I’m pretty irritated that he didn’t. We don’t have any beasts in this line, though I suppose we could still see some. I just don’t get the point of putting this guy in the three pack as opposed to some other random character. It’s not like “Jakku Scavenger” was on anyone’s must-have list.

The set comes with an absurdly large net launcher that actually works quite well. None of the figures can hold it, but my son or I can and it works fine.

R2-D2 & C-3P0 – Must-haves, given that they are the stars of the entire saga. These aren’t the best our favorite droids have ever looked, but they’re okay. Artoo is essentially the same as he’s always been and Threepio has a gold leg (though that is now correct) and a red arm. Neither is as shiny as I’d like, but they’re serviceable enough.

The set comes with a big device that sits on Artoo’s shoulders and fires electric rockets. It’s ridiculous, but it looks fine and works in the context of a toy. Personally, I would have preferred a tarp to drape over the astromech.

THE VEHICLES

Desert Assault Walker (Entertainment Earth Exclusive) – Not in the movie, but fun. I like any version of the AT-ST, even one as tiny as this one. The hips and ankles are articulated and it has little control handles in the cockpit that swing down. The cannon also swivels. It comes with a Stormtrooper Officer (he has a pauldron), which is nice to have. I like this desert variation slightly more than the regular one and you can actually get it from Amazon for cheap:


Desert Landspeeder – This is a very insubstantial vehicle, but it looks like part of what we know of Jakku. The rotating turret is neat and it’s just big enough to not feel like one of those minirig-style vehicles. It probably should have come with another Jakku native instead of Finn, but whatever. It’s a different Finn figure and one that we arguably needed since he’s post-armor, pre-jacket. He’s also dusty, which is okay.


Elite Speeder Bike – A new version fog the classic Speeder Bike that does not actually appear in the movie. It’s about as basic as you can get and honestly not worth the money, even compared to how overpriced this line is in general. The included Stormtrooper is okay but bland. He does have knee joints, but they don’t really help him mount the bike any better. This is the only straight-up pass in the line.

First Order Snowspeeder – Also not in the movie (as far as I could tell – could be on Starkiller base at some point). I think releasing this and the Desert Landspeeder at the same time was an error. They’re too similar and made the vehicle assortment seem a bit dull. Neither one is bad, though. I wish the cannon on this one could have been a bit further forward to allow for one more figure. Also, the cannon doesn’t attach very well. Otherwise this thing is fine. It comes with a Snowtrooper Officer, which to me is a desirable figure. Because pauldron.


First Order TIE Fighter – I was very surprised by how nice this ended up being. The plastic seems slightly nicer than the rest of the vehicles, which mostly feel pretty cheap. The wings are sturdy and the classic mechanism to eject them works better than any other TIE toy I own. The cockpit is a bit snug for two figures, but it does work. The two firing laser bolts also work well. The included TIE Fighter pilot has a removable helmet and a blaster. He looks good and the accessories fit and work well. This item is pricey, but overall might be the best value amongst the vehicles. I understand now why Hasbro chose it as the sole entry for the Black Series. This is the only one I am seriously considering buying for myself.


Poe’s X-Wing Fighter – This is a hunk of garbage. Hasbro were out of their ever-lovin’ minds to think it was okay to charge fifty bucks for this junk. The rubber nose doesn’t stay on well, the laser cannons were bent all to hell:

And the included figure barely fits in the cockpit. This is an utterly unacceptable toy. I would be mad if I had paid twenty-five dollars for this thing, let alone fifty. I’m relieved that Santa brought it so I don’t have to feel like such a sucker.

Okay, now that I’ve said all of that – I heated up the laser cannons with a hair dryer and straightened them out. They look fine now. The sculpt of the Starfighter is very nice and it is slightly larger than the original Kenner model. The mechanism to operate the s-foils is excellent and they stay together better than most other X-Wings I’ve owned. So in the end, the only real problem here is the cockpit. You have to work to get the figure in far enough and once it’s there it doesn’t look right. The rubber nose isn’t a huge issue because if it bothers you that much you can glue it on.

The included figure is Poe Dameron in his flight suit with a removable helmet and a blaster. It’s probably the best of the Poes.

Resistance X-Wing (Walmart Exclusive) – This gets a separate entry because there was one critical difference besides the coloring (which I prefer to the regular version) – the laser canons were not all bent up. They aren’t packed any differently and don’t seem to be a different plastic, but they were perfectly straight out of the box. This one comes with Poe in his jacket and gear from the beginning of the movie. He also has a non-removable helmet, which seems odd.

I’ve seen this variant at several Walmarts now, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one.

Rey’s Speeder – The best of the small vehicles. It has more heft than any of the others and has a cannon that pops out of the top and fires a rocket. The cargo net comes off and there are also clasps for her staff. The included figure has goggles and headgear and fits on the seat nicely. I was most surprised at the adjustable flaps on the sides.

THE MILLENNIUM FALCON

The Millennium Falcon – Yes, of course the fastest ship in the galaxy gets its own category.

Also, this is the centerpiece of the line and the most expensive item. So I’ll go ahead and say – no way is it worth the $125-ish that Hasbro wants. But when compared to the rest of the overpriced line it’s as close to earning its inflated price tag as anything. Here’s why:
When I first saw pictures of this thing I mocked the heck out of it. It had a bunch of silly-looking gun features and the back canopy turned into some kind of lounge area. My first impression was that the Kenner version I had when I was a kid was much cooler.
I was wrong.

This Falcon is an excellent toy that is far superior to almost every other Falcon that has been released. The gun features are awesome. 

The dorsal turret pops up and reveals a whole gunner’s station with a closing hatch that a figure can fit directly into. No – the Falcon doesn’t look anything like that, but it’s FUN.

There’s another hidden cannon that pops up from the front section and fires a NERF dart. It’s also FUN and it goes really far.

The old Kenner Falcon had a panel that came off to reveal the interior. The panel itself was just this big hunk of plastic that you set aside and tried not to step on. This Falcon has a similar panel, except that this one turns into a floor area so you have more Falcon to play in. It doesn’t technically attach to the back, but it does sit there and the whole point is that the designers used every bit of real estate they had.

There’s an opening compartment in the floor, of course.

If you put Chewbacca in the cockpit, nobody else can fit in there. That’s a failing, and the only one this Falcon has, as far as I’m concerned.

Finally, there are sounds. Lots of sounds. When you turn them on, the ship reacts to your movements. When you move it around, it swooshes. When you put it down, it makes a landing noise. When you pick it up, it makes a takeoff noise. When you move the little hyperdrive switch it makes either the “going to hyperspace” noise or the “hyperdrive fail” noise. The guns make sounds when you fire them. This thing makes so many noises that right now I’m still not sure we’ve heard them all.

Yes, the Force Awakens Falcon is small compared to the BMF from a few years ago, but the sculpt is excellent and it has all kinds of bells and whistles.

It comes with Chewbacca, Finn, and BB-8. BB-8 is dirtier than the other version and Finn and Chewie have headsets on. For the first time we have a Chewbacca figure that can easily and securely hold his bowcaster (I like that thing).

Is this Millennium Falcon worth the money? Well, does your kid love Star Wars and need a Millennium Falcon? If the answer is “yes”, then yes. It’s a great toy that costs too much, but that’s the world we live in. You’re not going to get a comparable Falcon for less and could conceivably pay more for one that isn’t as good.


THE CLOSING

As sad as it makes me that Hasbro is no longer focusing on what I want to collect, this is a fantastic toy line. Everything is grossly overpriced, but these are great toys. I think that there is even a possibility that future releases could drop slightly in price, as the precedent has been set before with Star Wars and GI Joe lines – the first wave is expensive, but successive waves experience price drops as Hasbro tries to keep the line popular and appealing. Hopefully they’ll drop those stupid build-a-weapon pieces and get the price down to five or six bucks a figure.

As for the vehicles, those prices are nothing short of outrageous. I can’t even imagine what Hasbro would charge for a nicer X-Wing in the style of the Vintage Collection at this point if they think those under-engineered hunks of crap are worth fifty bucks.


If you want Star Wars toys and aren’t beholden to a particular style and can handle the jacked-up prices, this line is going to make you very happy. If your kid wants Star Wars toys, these are way better than the ones we had. And I include both the Kenner originals and the 90s revival in that statement.

1 comment:

  1. I got this Millennium Falcon and it is the best Millennium Falcon for 3.75" so far for fun and display factor. Your kid is a lucky kid to have some many starwars toys for christmas.

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