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Review – S.H. Figuarts Mace Windu

I have a sort of general philosophy I like to follow when writing reviews. I like to give good points and bad points and let the reader sort of make the final conclusion on if something seems good or not.  There are really too many subjective factors to give a definite yay or nay on most things.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

Unfortunately, I don’t really have much to say about Figuarts Mace Window that is negative.  I really just don’t, the figure is damn near perfect and it’s definitely the best toy Mace Windu us ever going to get.  I suppose that, as a Star Wars Figuarts, he’s a little pricey than some people might want to pay.  Also the cuts for his joints are a little ugly looking in some poses.  But these are kind of nitpicky level complaints.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

Mace Windu includes 6 sets of hands, and 2 heads, one angry and one more smug/neutral.  He also includes 2 light sabers, one with a peg to hang off of his belt and the other to be held, with or without the blade.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

The sculpt on everything is amazing, which is helped by the fantastic paint job.  The heads do a spot on job of capturing Samuel L. Jackson down to little wrinkles in his forehead.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

He pose ability and stability are also great for a lot of really exceptional dynamic posing.  His open hands are great for “force action”.  He can perfectly wield his light saber in one or two hands.  The details on the head and expression work great for attacks and neutral poses.

SH Figuarts Mace Windu

Basically what I’m saying is, if this figure interests you, he’s great and well worth picking up.  It’s every bit as awesome as it looks, probably more so.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – These Are the Droids I’m Looking For Edition

I want to make a bit of a behind the scenes confession.  Sometimes I sit on stuff a bit to better balance out these posts.  Or to make them work for “clever titles”.  Or to be sure I have something for the future during a slower week.  Like Black Series 3PO, which I’ve had for a few weeks now, but I wanted to wait to pair him up with other “gets”.

Star Wars Black Series C-3P0

This “normal” version of C-3P0 is a Walgreens exclusive repaint of the Episode 7 one with the dumb pointless red arm.  Personally, the Red arm should be the exclusive, but then we’d just have a new shelf warmer for Walgreens.   His main issue is that Black Series R2-D2 came out in like Wave 1 or something, years ago, so he is impossible to find.  That’s where my other pick ups come in.T

Star Wars Black Series C-3P0, Bandai R2-D2 and BB-8

Bandai makes model kids for Star Wars.  1/12th scale models kits.  There’s a 3P0 and R2 kit, but there is also a newer kit with R2 and BB-8, which ended up being perfect for my wants.  I’ve been torn on BB-8 somewhat, Black Series BB-8 comes with Rey.  I already have a Rey from the K-Mart set that includes the display base and saber, but no BB-8.  Getting this set gets me a really really nice R2 and really really really nice BB-8.  I may do a full review down the road, but I cannot stress more how incredibly impressive both R2 and BB-8 are, especially since the set cost around the same as a single Black Series figure.  They have add on bits, and all of the articulation you would need, this includes BB-8 with his really clever engineering.

Keeping int he Star Wars theme, I also picked up a couple of Black Series figures on deep clearance at Wal-Mart.

Star Wars Black Series Jyn Erso

First off is Jyn Erso.  I’ve been holding out a bit hoping for a mark down of the Target 3 Pack that includes the proper Cassian, but I’m not real sure I even like that figure at all, and for the price, I decided to just stick with the single Jyn.

Star Wars Black Series Kylo Ren

I also picked up Kylo Ren, minus the mask.  I have the original release of Kylo Ren, and I didn’t really want to pay another $20 for what amounts to a better light saber and an unmasked head, but for $7, I could go for that, especially since he spends more time minus the helmet vs with it.

Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I’m going to cut to the chase here a bit.  I enjoyed it.  I have been more excited for this movie than I am for Episode 8, especially after how patronizingly fanservicy Episode 7 ended up being.  There are some dodgy bits, especially during the middle act, but it’s decent overall.

What Rogue One does the best, is being a good movie set in the Star Wars Universe.  Ok, sure, that’s what it is.  I get that.  What I mean though is, it’s not part of the “Main Saga”.  It’s a side story, like other classics such as The Ewok Adventure, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and of course, The Star Wars Christmas Special.  The environment and ascetics are definitely there on all levels.  The musical score isn’t super memorable, but it does fit the tone and some of the familiar themes show up here and there.  There’s even a few of the classic characters, though aside from one or two, they almost feel like cameos.

Anyway, after this point we’ll move into the spoiler section and some other more detailed thoughts.  You’ve been warned…

The Spoiler Section

A brief rundown in case you’re here and don’t care about spoilers, the movie follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), members of the rebel alliance (eventually) as they work with a rag tag group of other misfits to retried the Death Star plans for the Rebellion.  Jyn Erso is enlisted because she is the daughter of Galen Erso, who was lead designer of the Death Star, and Cassian Andor is just a rather ruthless Rebel mercenary.

This movie takes place before the original 1977 Star Wars movie, Episode 4, a New Hope.  It’s possible it takes place literally seconds to minutes before, though I’ll touch on that a bit later.  It doesn’t involve any Jedi, it doesn’t get it’s own opening crawl, it doesn’t center around any of the Skywalkers.  Most notable, as many have pointed out, none of these characters exist in the “Original Trilogy”, which also makes the ending a bit of a downer since well, everyone dies.

I’m rather glad they went this route though, trying to come up with some cheesy mechanic as to how say, Jyn survived but decided to go into hiding or something wouldn’t have worked as well.  There’s already some vague continuity issues with the job they did connecting this movie to Episode 4.

I’ll start with that connection, since it’s part of the bad of this movie in a few ways.  It’s also on the level of “nitpicky nerd shit” really.  The movie ends with the Tantive IV, Leia’s big white ship that we see in the opening to A New Hope blasting off into hyperspace with the Death Star Plans.  Just before this is Darth Vader, rampaging through a troop of familiar Rebel soldiers trying desperately to get the Plans onto the ship on a little data disc.  I know there have been some complaints about how Vader is a bad ass here while being “weak” later during his battle with Obi-Wan but Vader is also kind of a bad ass again later during Empire and Jedi, so if anything, A New Hope is and always has been the outlier in this whole Vader’s Power Level debate.

I’m more concerned with the need for a little flimsy data disc.  The entire climax of the film centers around needing to transmit the data up to the command ship, the command ship can’t just transmit it to the Tantive IV?  This may also be a bit of a Star Wars thing though, it’s a very odd mix of technology in it’s universe, some things are crazy advanced while others are downright primitive.

Anyway, the closing moments also give us Princess Leia on the ship.  A very, CGI Princess Leia.  It’s a very very good CGI Leia, but it’s definitely not real.  Which brings up another more major oddity.  Grand Moff Tarkin also appears in this movie.  Tarkin is the commander of the Death Star from Episode 4 who ultimately goes down with the ship… er… moon… whatever…  Since Peter Cushing, if he hadn’t already passed away, would be very old to reprise his role, they opted for a CGI Tarkin.  It’s very very close, like Leia, but it’s also clearly CGI.  He also shows up in the film a lot more than Leia’s 5 second appearance.  The movie centers around the rebels recovering the Death Star Plans, it makes sense that the guy who is in charge of the whole project were present during the film.  There are only a few other real noticeable characters from A New Hope, the two thugs from the Cantina, Dr Estibaz and Ponda Baba make a brief cameo, and the Rebel leader, Mon Mothma also makes an appearance, though instead of going CGI they just got a new actress to play her.

My biggest gripe with the film is most of it’s middle act.  There are a lot of “conveniences” which always feel like bad writing and feel like they are showing up more and more in films in general.  Basically what I mean is, in logical writing, Event X occurs because Action Y.  There are many moments where Event X happens, so that Action Y can happen, which makes things seem contrived and crap.  Most of this occurs during the scenes on Eadu.  They end up crash landing while trying to remain “under the radar”, something that feels like it would have made them more noticeable, but it doesn’t.

Cassian intends to assassinate Jyn’s father there, though Jyn is under the impression they are mounting a rescue operation.  It’s not super clear why the rebels would want to assassinate him since even if he weren’t already obviously trying to defect to the Rebels through previous actions, he would be an amazing source of information on the Empire’s new Death Star, since he, you know, designed it.  Killing him seems really reckless.  Conveniently, Cassian has a sniper rifle and Galen Erso happens to be in this random supply outpost AND he happens to have a need to come stand around on the upper deck while Cassian is waiting to shoot him.

Notice what I said about conveniences.

Turns out that Director Krennic, the movie’s protagonist who also has a knack for conveniently being everywhere our hero’s are, has also come to Eadu to discipline Erso’s troop for the data leak over the Death Star’s existence.

Logically, sniping Krennic, the guy who is sort of second in command of the Death Star would make a lot of since, but Cassian seems determined to shoot Galen.  Around the same time, the Rebels decide that since they can’t raise Cassian and his crew on the radio, they should scramble a bunch of starfighters to the planet.  More conveniences.  During the ensuing battle, Galen is accidentally killed by a rebel bomb.

The whole sequence of events just felt really… sloppy.

It felt like it was meant to create tension between Cassian and Jyn, the two main characters but that tension felt like it was just thrown away within a few hours time by the end of the movie.

This also touches on a complaint I have had with the Newer Star Trek films.  Space is big.  Like, really fucking big, even at the speed of light.  Yet lately space travel is, when convenient, treated like it’s a 5 second hop anywhere.  I mean we just had a short scene where our heroes were chilling in the ship during their flight to Eadu, now the Rebels are sending X-wings almost instantly to the place from Yavin?

The only other real complaint is that Saw Gerrera played by Forrest Whitaker is almost a non character for as much effort as they put into finding him and all of the plot mystery surrounding him.  He leaves way more unanswered questions about his background than he really should.

Enough complaints though, what’s good.  The visuals are good, really good.  Aside from  the two uncanny valley moments with Tarkin and Leia, all of the effects are top notch and really fit the world of the original trilogy well.  Little scuff marks here and there on background scenery, the odd ball layered outfits and clothing, the weird juxtaposition of fancy space technology with primitive technology.  It all does a very good job of feeling like Star Wars.

This film also, as a result does a good job of feeling like it’s paying homage to the original trilogy, without feeling so blatant about it the way Episode 7 was.  Where Episode 7 really played up the whole “hey look, here’s this thing you remember from A New Hope!”, Rogue One just does it, and it exists in the world, as if it’s part of the world, not as if it’s part of some barrage of Easter eggs you’re supposed to feel good about.

The cast is decent as well, though the characters are mostly one dimensional stereotypes.  As I mentioned right off, it’s hard to get too invested in them in the end, since they all bite it in the end.  Jyn and Cassian get the most characterization followed probably by Director Krennec or K-2SO.  K-2SO is to Cassian as Chewbacca is to Han Solo, he’s sort of his partner in crime, as a reprogrammed Imperial Droid.  He mostly exists to provide some comedy but serves his purpose in the plot.  Mostly he comes off as a really snarky C-3PO.  He definitely gets most of the best lines throughout the film.

There is also the pair of… I’m not sure what they were, former Jedi Temple guards or something, with Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yun) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang).  These two join the crew about halfway through the film somewhat by happenstance and provide some on the ground support through a few battles.  Most notable is Chirrut Îmwe, who is basically a blind martial artist who very strongly believe in The Force.  This feels a little odd but consider that at this point in the time line, the Force has effectively been eradicated.  Order 66 was roughly 15-20 years previous and Obi-Wan is still in hiding and Luke Skywalker is busy farming moisture on Tatooine for his uncle.  He doesn’t seem to be Force Attuned like a Jedi but he’s very likely Force Sensitive.  He’s a fin character though like most of the secondary cast, pretty one dimension in scope.

The climactic battle around the Imperial archive is nicely done as well with plenty of good tension all around.  We get a lot of classic Star Wars vehicles and ships along with a few new ones.  The Rebels haven’t recruited Admiral Akbar apparently at this point since we get a different, fatter, bluer Mon Calamari in charge of the flagship.  There’s some cameos by Red and Gold leader from Episode 4, though their couple of scenes and lines just seem to be remixes of footage and voice lines from the Episode 4.  No sign of Wedge Antilles, which I have to say was a little disappointing, considering he’s the only pilot from the original trilogy to survive all three films.  Maybe they couldn’t decide which Wedge to use since he’s played by two different people in Episode 4.  It’s also possible I missed it.

I know it feels like the nitpicky negatives outnumber the positives but it’s a good movie.  I think mostly I’m still kind of off on this concept of spin off Star Wars movies.  I know there have been TV shows and books for ages, I’ve experienced both of them, but the whole spin off movie still seems weird.  Maybe after there have been a few more films they will feel more natural.  Though it’s possible that by that point I’ll be on Star Wars burn out mode.  I kind of wish Episode 7 had done this well in terms of flow, but Episode 7 also had a bit of a bigger role to fill, being the first Star Wars movie in 13 years, and trying to make up for the bad vibes that the last three films had left for everyone.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – 3DSxl Edition

Been slowish for new toys, of the plastic variety but not so much for the electronic variety.  I kind of fell off of the Nintendo bandwagon back when the 3DS became a thing, it seemed like a pointless gimmick (it still kind of feels that way) and I just didn’t have time.  Generally, I’ve picked up the newer Nintendo handhelds at the start of each generation, or at least pretty early, then upgraded later for cheap near the end of the generation.  I never bothered with the 3DS.

I decided over the holiday season that if I didn’t find, specifically, the New 3DS XL on a sale, I would just buy one after the holidays.  Well, there weren’t really any sales that I saw so I just bought one, along with New Super Mario Brothers 2.  I spend most of the first evening with it replacing the SD card with a 32gb one I had floating around and then figuring out how to register a Nintendo ID, then registering my collected pile of 3DS games from a couple of Humble Bundles I’ve picked up.  So I have maybe a dozen or so games for the thing already right off.

It’s neat, I haven’t really fully explored some of the 3D aspects but I like it, along with New SMB2.

I also received a gift from the person whose dogs I watch occasionally int he form of these pretty snazzy Star Wars model kits.  I’ll get around to actually assembling them eventually.

 

Weekly Wednesday Haul: Hodge Podge Edition

I ended up with quite a bit more than planned this week so I’m just going to dive right in…

Combiner Wars Groove

Combiner Wars GrooveIf you want to get really technical, I bought this back in May.  It only just now finally arrived.  The short story behind Groove, Hasbro decided having a motorcycle as part of the Protectobots was kind of absurd, since he would be crazy out of scale, so they replace him with a new character, Rook, and gave us a Legends sized Groove.  Takara, over in Japan, decided they wanted everything to be “really G1” and made their own Groove.  There were rumors about Groove not passing some sort of drop test, and this that being the reason he couldn’t be released in the US.  Then there were rumors that he was too complex/large to fit the budget for a Deluxe toy (I find this more likely).

Combiner Wars GrooveWhatever the reason Groove wasn’t initially released, he ended up getting his own special release.  This isn’t unprecidented, the year before the two missing members of the Aerialbots and Stunticons also got their own release.  I’m kind of hoping the Shuttle Blast Off gets one next year, mostly because it would mean I have 4 extra limbs from the “new characters” to use on Sky Lynx.

Groove Himself is… mostly alright, and really out of scale with everyone else.  I pretty much keep my Combiners combined though so I’m good with using Groove as a leg and recovering Rook to keep as a separate figure.  Rook is pretty great, but he’s kind of a boring limb.   I guess what I’m saying is, for those who missed out on Groove, you aren’t missing out on much, and he’s probably not worth the excessive secondary market mark up.

Transformers RID Bisk

In other Transformers gets, I was really surprised to find Bisk hanging on the pegs.  I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Bisk from people who watch the show and his designed seemed really neat.  He’s a big goofy Lobster robot that turns into, well, a Vehicon.  Mostly a Vehicon.  I don’t watch the show so I don’t know if there is something to it but his vehicle definitely resembles the Vehicon cars from Transformers Prime and his gun mounts help seal this deal.

RID Bisk and Vehicons

His Lobster-man robot mode is definitely not a Vehicon though.  He’s definitely, a giant Lobster-man.

It’s definitely a neat and fun design. The way his arms are jointed to flip around on themselves during transformation really adds a lot of poseability and options to the arms in Robot mode.  His backpack even works in his favor since it comes off looking like a Lobster shell.  I’m not sure if there is much else coming down the pipe for Robots in Disguise, maybe a few repaints, but if this is the last of the Decepticons we get, I’ll remain pretty satisfied.  It’s kind of a bummer that the Autobots of the earlier waves were just kind fo lack luster and unoriginal with their character options.

Robots in Disguise Bisk

Pardon the mis-transformed shoulder pads…

I can see how fans of a more traditional robot design in their Transformers wouldn’t like a lot of these Decepticon designs but I really like them a lot.  They are essentially all new characters, and all have this nice little theme going on that makes them feel like a team.  Honestly, they are starting to feel like some sort of rejected line up for a Mega Man X title.

Doctor Strange

So, along with Bisk, I was surprised to find the Doctor Strange wave of Marvel Legends.  I kind of worry this is going to be like the Ant-Man wave was, only possibly worse.  Half the figures were recently released in slightly different versions in a boxed set, that a lot of Doctor Strange Fans probably already picked up.  The other half of the figures are Doctor Stranges, one being the same as the Hulkbuster Strange + a cape, the other being a kind of lame “Invisible” Strange.  The third being the movie version Cumberbatch Strange.  This is the Doctor Strange I picked up, and it’s likely to be the primary draw for a lot of people in this wave.  The only other figure I want to pick up is the kooky Gothy Magic Girl, whatever her name is, mostly because the design is “neat” and she will be find for kooky photos.

imgp1235

This Doctor Strange is great.  I really like the MCU figures, they all seem to be pretty top notch and I prefer the realistic style over the comic looks for most of the the characters anyway.  He also comes with a different magic effect part!  Tons of figures have been getting the newish arm clip swirly thingies that I believe originally came with Scarlett Witch.  Several figures from this wave use them, the previous Hulkbuster Strange had them, they are starting to feel a little overused.  This movie Doctor Strange instead has a sort of shield glyph thing.  The fact that it holds like a shield is a little funky but you can’t really see the handle when he’s holding it due to it’s size.  It’s a nice change.  He also has extra hands, one set is kind of closed for holding things (like the shield magic part), the others are a slightly open and relaxed design.

On a side note, I’m kind of relieved to say my want list for Marvel Legends is finally dying down for the year.  There’s not really any waves left that aren’t starting to trickle into stores.  I don’t really want anyone from the Space Knight Venom wave, though I may look into Hob Goblin.  Spider-man waves with their endless Spider People and Symbiotes get really old, especially when Spider-man has so many interesting villains.  There’s the Abomination Wave, which has the MCU Scarlett Witch, a figure likely to be impossible to find.  I have a couple more X-men to pick up still and I really want that TRU Kate Bishop Hawk-eye, though I don’t want to pay the 3 pack price for it.  There’s been almost too many waves this year, they really could have cut an entire wave by maybe not putting a Captain America in almost every wave or something.

Star Wars Black Series K-2SO

imgp1231Lastly, I did some sort of “Force Friday” shopping, (the next day), and bought K-2SO.  The figures from Rogue One all look interesting and I’m pretty stoked for the movie but I kind of want to hold off on picking any of them up until the movie actually comes out.  Also there is a 3 pack with Jyn Erso that seems like a better idea than the solo figure, since it has another Rogue Squad guy and a Trooper.  I also really dig that unmasked Kylo Ren, but I hate the idea of buying the same figure again just for the new head.  I may look into doing some sort of import version to fill that desire instead.

K-2SO is pretty cool, he has a lot of interesting design cues from other Star Wars elements.   His back sort of resembles C3P0’s or a Storm Trooper.  I’m sure the head has shown up on some other similar droids (if not the same model).  The overall design kind of reminds me of a Super Battle Droid from the Prequel trilogy.His long spindly legs make him a little tricky to stand up and balance.  I also have no idea of what his real role is, He cane be posed pretty dynamically, but for all we know, in the movie, he could be as mobile as C-3PO.