Just like The Force Awakens, Hasbro has opted to release two separate sub-lines within their 3.75″ basic Star Wars collection for The Last Jedi. However, unlike the environmental themes of the past, this new “Orange” wave and “Teal” wave setup is much more focused on A-list characters in one, and supporting characters in the other.
It’s not a bad idea, as this allows space for variants of the core cast… something we may need considering based on the trailers alone everybody has at least two very unique costume changes throughout the film.
And gone are the Build-a-Weapon and missile launching gimmicks of the past, replaced by the “Force Link” feature. While I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, this feature is delightfully non-intrusive, and seems really cool. A small chip is built into the foot of each figure, and into every vehicle, droid, and creature as well. The chip syncs with the Force Link wristband (sold separately) and activates quotes and sound effects from the film, unique to each character. It’s a throwback to the Comm Tech reader Hasbro released during the Episode One toy line, but taking great advantage of modern compression which allows the chips to reside inside the toys themselves, as opposed to within an oddly shaped display stand. Comm Tech came up in my last conversation with Hasbro’s Steve Evans, and there was more than a glimmer of excitement as he reminisced about that feature, so I’m very much not surprised to see it sort of make a comeback.
But anyway, let’s turn our focus to the figures themselves. While future assortments will apparently draw from more corners of the Star Wars universe, our first two waves of basic figures remain very focused on The Last Jedi. The “A” assortment includes new versions of Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, and a First order Stormtrooper, as well as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, making his modern debut in 3.75″ action figure form. The “B” team features new versions of Chewbacca (packed with an in-scale Porg mini figure), General Hux, C3PO, and newcomers Rose and Paige, sisters serving in the Resistance.
It’s not a bad lineup, overall, though I’m feeling the lack of mysterious, weird ass aliens that give the Star Wars universe its charm (and sometimes lead to disappointment once the movie comes out). Most of the launch waves are made up of just humans, and returning characters on top of that. I’m confident it’s an intentional choice, an effort to keep details of the film under wraps until closer to December, but it does leave the feel of this #ForceFriday decidedly less intriguing than two years ago.
That isn’t to say the figures we get are bad. In fact, across the board, the revisions and updates prove to be vastly superior toys compared to their initial releases. Actor likenesses have been improved across the board (I’m especially impressed by the portraits on John Boyega’s Finn and Domhnall Gleeson’s Hux this time around), and the figures themselves are fun despite their limited five points of articulation.
The new Finn departs from The Black Series’ choice of costumes, opting for his Resistance fighter outfit instead of First Order disguise. Most of his look is familiar, as he’s still rocking Poe’s jacket, but he now adds tall boots, a belt, and a Han Solo-esque shirt to the ensemble. Finn’s on screen buddy Rose is a very well sculpted figure. Her Resistance technician jumpsuit is appropriately frumpy, and Rose’s unique haircut is well represented in this sculpt. I love that her tool can be plugged into a small hole on her belt when not in use… it’s a subtle detail, but a welcome one, for sure.
Rose’s sister Paige is also present in the launch wave, in her brown Resistance pilot uniform. This is the first Disney era female pilot we’ve seen, and the all new sculpt is really nice. She fits in well with the other Resistance pilot figures, and adds some great details like a breathing mask and a removable helmet, which enhance her overall quality considerably.
I passed on the new C3PO, whose sculpt felt a little cartoony to me, but the inclusion of an adorable little Porg made Chewbacca a must-buy. The Chewie himself is kind of meh– he’s got a weird headsculpt that’s not quite on model, and a strange mish-mash of new tooling and recast parts from The Force Awakens figure, giving him a slightly more action-oriented pose, betrayed by fur hanging straight down on his arms.
We’ve been waiting for a modern Luke Skywalker for two years now, and Hasbro’s figure doesn’t disappoint. He fits in perfectly with the rest of the 3.75″ collection, and the Mark Hammill portrait is incredibly strong. His robes and especially the robotic hand are packed with detail, making it tough to choose whether or not he should wear his rubber cape, which drapes in from of his shoulders. I passed on rey, because she’s also available in a two-pack versus a Praetorian Guard, and Poe, because he’s essentially the same pilot figure released in The Force Awakens line.
On the Dark Side, we’ve got a new Kylo Ren, featuring his new costume and patchwork cape, and a dramatically improved portrait of Adam Driver. I love that Hasbro opted to release unmasked Kylo first, as the likeness and the scar are really the biggest selling points of this character to me. A masked Kylo is also available, packed in with the Force Link wrist band. And if you really need your Ben Solo fix, a third Kylo is packed with his TIE Silencer vehicle.
The new Stormtrooper isn’t a vast departure from the previous version. He features the slightly revised new helmet, which now slopes to a sharper point in the front, and he a gets a new, slightly more action packed pose… but he fits in well with your previous First order armies. While he includes both First Order blasters, I find this pose works incredibly well with the Riot Gear baton and shield released in 2015’s Amazon exclusive First order box set. With that gear in hand, you can almost hear this Trooper shouting “Traitor!”
Rounding out the assortment is General Hux, and he’s great. Unlike the previous figure, cast permanently into his little-worn trench coat, the new Hux sports a rubber coat which is removable, allowing you to display the officer with or without it. And as I mentioned earlier, the hat-less portrait is leaps and bounds better than the previous figure. Everything about this guy illustrates exactly what a character upgrade should look like.
Overall, the new Star Wars figures are really good. There’s a few odd posing choices (such as the unnaturally parallel feet of Kylo Ren and Hux… and, like, all of Chewbacca) but the sculpts are top notch, from the textures of the uniforms to the portrait work. The paint apps are much tighter than we’ve seen in the past; I found a full set’s worth of very nicely painted figures from a single store. Everybody gets at least one relevant accessory, and the new kids gimmick is both non-intrusive and promises to be genuinely fun to play with… are there any Last Jedi spoilers hidden within the Force Link technology? I’m dying to find out!
Look for both waves of Star Wars The Last Jedi action figures in stores now.