The Force Awakens Again In Disney Store’s Star Wars Elite Collection

By bill - January 4, 2016

SW-Elite-Force-Awakens-featThe Disney Store surprises with a trio of new die cast action figures from the Star Wars Elite Collection.

When the Star Wars Elite Collection first launched, the Disney Store also announced a schedule of upcoming release dates for future figures, ending with a mystery reveal on December 18th (the day Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters).  But what we got on that day wasn’t one but three brand new 7″ die cast action figures to join the series: Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, an unmasked Kylo Ren, and Rey now packed with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

I think there’s definitely a place for the Elite Collection.  The sculpts on many of the figures have been very nice, and I like the different feel and texture the die cast figures offer.  That being said, they still feel like a work in progress in my opinion, and the three new figures seem like a great representation of the mixed bag this toy line is at the moment.

Rey was one of the best of the first wave of Elite figures, so it’s no surprise her second figure is equally good.  The Force Awakens hero is depicted in her Jakku scavenger outfit, which is very nicely detailed, moreso than Hasbro’s Black Series release.  From the amount of sculpted detail to the likeness of Daisy Ridley, to the colors used, this is one of the finest Rey toys on the market, especially at mass retail.  Rey is loaded with accessories, including her backpack, the blaster she gets from Han Solo, a BB-8 sidekick figure, and (of course) her lightsaber, which fits very well in her hand.

One of the only drawbacks of Rey is something she and Kylo Ren both suffer from– their lack of lateral arm movement means they can only hold their lightsabers in one hand.  For Kylo, it’s more excusable, as he often fought with only one hand anyway… but it hurts Rey to miss out on so many possible two-handed fighting stances.  It’s a bummer of a design shortfall, especially considering the other aspects of the figure rendered so well, like her soft rubber tunic which allows for free and easy upper body movement.

Speaking of Kylo, his new unmasked variant is, overall, another really good figure.  The figure shares the same sculpt as the Wave One Kylo, which is packed with detail, and features a good range of motion thanks to the pliable rubber tunic and skirt.  Unfortunately, the figure’s lightsaber still fits very loose in his hand, making it easiest to simply leave the clear plastic rubber bands on the hand so he doesn’t drop it.

The big selling point of this version of Kylo is the unmasked head.  This is the first Force Awakens figure featuring a portrait of Adam Driver, and the sculpt is really very nice.  The likeness is definitely there, and Ren’s piercing gaze lends the perfect sense of angry intensity to the character.  As good as the sculpt is, though, the paint used on this portrait is very heavy, which hurts the overall look.  The result feels slightly too puffy and caked-on, while the lack of detail on the eyes makes the end result less realistic than it could have been.  I know the heavier paints are necessary to work with the metal figures, but I’d love to see Disney step up their game on future releases, so the human figures look as great as the masked or alien ones.

Poe Dameron is the only all new figure in the wave, and he is far and away the worst of the bunch, possibly of the entire Elite Collection.  That’s a shame, because I really like the character, and I am a huge fan of actor Oscar Isaac.  He has yet to get a truly great action figure likeness, and while the Elite figure’s portrait is by far the most accurate to Isaac, again the heavy paint mucks things up, making the figure’s head lose detail and definition.

There’s plenty of nice sculpted detail on Poe’s X-Wing pilot uniform, and the colors are perfectly on target (it’s a very deep red-orange, unlike the brighter tone Hasbro chose for their pilot figures).  But Poe’s arms are proportionally small in relation to his body, making him look awkward, while his cut joint waist is about half an inch higher than his belt, leaving an unsightly split in the figure which could have very easily been covered up.  It’s another very confusing design choice that hurts the figure, which seems completely unnecessary.

The biggest strike against this guy, though, is his pilot helmet.  Poe’s helmet is removable, and made of soft plastic.  I always love removable gear and helmets, so I was excited to see the Elite Collection move in this direction… but the end result leaves much to be desired.  First off is the opaque yellow painted visor.  I could forgive this lazy option on Hasbro’s basic 3.75″ figures, but on a high end, 7″ figure retailing for $25, the lack of a clear yellow visor feels especially cheap and ineffective for the overall look of the figure.  Even worse, though, is that the helmet doesn’t fit.  If you place the helmet down on Poe’s head, the visor ends higher on his forehead, above his eyes, which looks incredibly strange.  It’s possible to drop the front of the helmet so the visor covers his eyes, but doing so raises the back of the helmet to an absurd degree (like, practically not even covering the back of Poe’s head).

It’s a shame, because while Poe’s flaws are quite glaring, they are all things which could have been easily rectified.  What could have been the best toy version of the Resistance hero winds up being one of the most disappointing, and I’d hate to see other great Star Wars characters suffer the same fate in this promising toy line.

I’m curious to see where Disney goes next with the Elite Collection.  We’ve got a bunch of Force Awakens characters now, as well as a handful of figures from elsewhere in the Star Wars universe.  Will we see more diversity in the future?  Or will the focus stay mostly on the new movies in the coming years?  Time will tell, but I hope that Disney Store continues to develop their design and production techniques with this line.  Right now, they range from very good to kind of meh, on a toy by toy basis… but I can see great things on the horizon in this collection.  Let’s hope Disney gives the Elite Collection the attention and love it deserves.

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