Here’s a question– how do you make one repeating trope in the Star Wars saga, which involves cool looking dudes standing and literally doing nothing– into a premium format box set that collectors will go crazy for? While I cannot provide an answer, Hasbro certainly has. The Guardians of Evil box set contains four unique Black Series action figures tracing the history of the “Royal Guards” from the prequels, to the Original Trilogy, to The Last Jedi… with a detour to Star Wars Legends in between.
Specifically what we get with this four-pack is a Senate Guard (Revenge of the Sith era), an Imperial Guard (totally classic), a Shadow Guard as seen in
the Expanded Universe Legends, and one of the Elite Preatorian Guards who serve Supreme Leader Snoke in the upcoming The Last Jedi.
When I first heard of this set, my immediate thought was, could this be worth a purchase considering three quarters of the figures are essentially the same guy painted different colors? After having the set in hand, the answer is yes.
Hasbro did a bang-up job with their Imperial Guard sculpt, so it makes sense the tooling would hold strong for both the Senate and Shadow Guards. Each of these variants include an all new weapon– a rifle for the Senate Guard and a lightsaber pike for the Shadow Guard– and the Senatorial figure also sports a new headsculpt based on his helm seen in Episode III. Beyond that, the base bodies are identical to the fully detailed, well articulated Imperial Guard– a sculpt so good it almost seems criminal to hide it beneath a soft goods cover– but cast in new colors (blue for the Senate, black for the Shadow). While the detail poured into this design is commendable, I find the exaggerated aspects of the Imperial Guard sculpt don’t sync well with the new variations… the figure’s arms seem elongated, the right hand is posed awkwardly when not holding the original figure’s staff, and the soft goods cloak needs a second arm hole to make the Senate Guard film accurate.
But a New Trilogy nerd like me saw one clear. and present focus in this assembly of four figures– the Praetorian Guard. While one of the Praetorians joined The Black Series in the second wave of Last Jedi releases, and another is presently up for preorder at Amazon.com, this four-pack includes what I can assume through context clues is the standout among the varied armors of Snoke’s elite bodyguards.
The Praetorian Guards have been a divisive factor among typical Star Wars fanboys, but I find their odd, samurai-meets-fencing-meets-Roman Centurion style to be very intriguing. While I’ll admit their final design isn’t the most traditionally Star Wars-y we’ve ever seen, the unique and strange nature of the Praetorians’ armor nonetheless feels welcome in my interpretation of the Star Wars mythos.
I found myself drawn to the Praetorian included in this set, whose helm seems to be unique among Snoke’s legion. With a samurai-esque visor looming over his face plate, this guard has a look and feel that seems unique to the character, while his armored visage and red pallet call back to previous guardians of the “big bad” in Star Wars history
For all I know, the Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi will be as cool looking yet useless as the Imperial Guards I grew up with in the OT, but I have confidence Rian Johnson will not let such a cool character design go to waste. Of all the figures in this box set, the Praetorian is the most mysterious… yet the most filled with potential.
The Guardians of Evil box set is a shared exclusive, available now at Game Stop, and coming soon to Barnes and Noble and Shop Disney. Regardless of the era of Star Wars you find yourself most drawn to, there is something to please everyone in this box set, which makes it feel like the perfect subject material for Hasbro’s all inclusive Black Series to deliver.