Micro Force Blind Bag Series 1 Figures

With my favourite miniature Star Wars vehicles now no longer in production, I've turned my attention to a different 'micro' line: Hasbro's new Micro Force blind bag figures. My fiancée and I have been hunting these down over the past few weeks, and after a few double ups (and no small amount of surreptititious bag fondling), we finally managed to get our hands on the full set of Series 1 figures.

The first series of the Micro Force line contains rereleases of twelve figures from the now defunct Fighter Pods game. Each blind bag contains two figures, and retails for $2.99US ($4.09NZ). Characters are drawn from both the prequel and original trilogy eras, but with a strong focus on the latter.

The thing that really surprised us about these figures was the quality of the paint jobs. Eyes are individually drawn and highlighted, and tiny details - like Ahsoka's facial tattoos - are executed with surprising precision. In fact, in many cases, the faces on these figures look far better than those on their 3 3/4" counterparts - making them phenomenally good value for around only a buck-fifty each. With Series 2 (containing a raft of new sculpts from the post-Disney buyout era) now turning up in stores, and rumours of an upcoming vehicle expansion, there are a lot of reason to be excited about this line!

Micro Machines R2-D2 Playset

The return of Micro Machines in 2015 was - for me - the most exciting part of the onslaught of new Star Wars merchandise under the Disney banner. Alongside their line of miniature vehicles (which I allowed myself to collect with a completionist's compulsion), Hasbro also released a pair of transforming head playsets reminiscent of those we saw back in the '90s. Unfortunately, they were branded with a ridiculously high MSRP of $49.99NZ - putting them well outside my collecting budget. It seems this price discouraged a lot of other buyers too, as the sets soon found their way to clearance bins. I picked up the Stormtrooper playset for $15.00 back in 2016, but a couple of weeks ago I did one better - finding the R2-D2 set on clearance at Toys'r'Us for only $4.98US ($6.84NZ).

R2 opens up to reveal a Starkiller Base diorama, and comes with a Chewbacca microfigure and an exclusive 'dirty' variant of the First Order Snowspeeder. Also included is a single play feature - a rotating flight wand upon which a vehicle can be mounted.

Once again, however, this set is only a shadow of the transforming Micro Machines playsets of the '90s - each of which would come with around half a dozen micro figures and a raft of features. Once you've opened R2 up and spun your Snowspeeder around a couple of times, there isn't a lot more to do. And just how many iconic Force Awakens scenes can kids recreate with a single Chewbacca microfigure? In order to get the most out of this playset you'll need to supplement it with other vehicles and figures from your collection (as pictured above). Doing so turns this into a really nice display piece: one that justifies the $5.00 - but certainly not the original $50.00 - price tag.

Black Series 3 3/4" Emperor's Royal Guard, Ponda Baba, and Tusken Raider

Now that they're no longer the sole distributor of super-articulated 3 3/4" figures, Walmart appear to be quickly trying to clear out their stock of exclusive Black Series figures. This has been great news for collectors, as its seeing shelves finally fill with figures that had otherwise been languishing in storerooms. Recently, I stumbled across three of these that I'd been after for some time: the Emperor's Royal Guard, Ponda Baba, and the Tusken Raider for $12.83US ($17.71NZ) each.

All three are repacks from previous lines - but they're characters that I either missed the first time, or didn't have the presence of mind to pick up when available. Lately I've been claiming that the detailing of 5POA figures is now just as good - if not, in some cases, better - than their super-articulated companions. I still believe that to be true. That being said, the inclusion of extra articulation on figures like these will always be a welcome sight, especially when it comes to posing figures for display.

Game of Thrones Creators to Write and Produce New Series of Star Wars Films

Yesterday - somewhat completely out of the blue - StarWars.com announced that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been hired to write and produce a new series of Star Wars films.

(Image courtesy of www.starwars.com)

Details are predictably thin on the ground at this stage, but the announcement confirmed that these films would be separate from both the episodic Skywalker saga and the recently-announced trilogy being developed by Rian Johnson.

Honestly, I find this news a little exhausting. The wording of this announcement suggests that Benioff and Weiss will be responsible for the production of at least two Star Wars feature films. This means that Disney now have at least seven new Star Wars films in the works (including Episode IX, the as-yet untitled third "Star Wars Story" film, and Rian Johnson's recently announced trilogy). Don't get me wrong, more Star Wars is always a good thing - I just wish we had a little more breathing room to appreciate each installment in the saga (I'm already looking forward to the eighteen month lacuna between Solo and Episode IX). I also worry that such an excess of releases may water-down the pomp and ceremony that always made Star Wars film releases such huge events.

How about you? What are your thoughts on yesterday's announcement? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Teaser Trailer Released

With less than four months before the theatrical release of the film, we finally have a teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story. You can check it out below:

I'd been feeling a growing sense of indifference about this film over recent months. With production allegedly mired by dysfunction, and a release date so close to the release of The Last Jedi, it had been hard to muster up any real enthusiasm for the project. But that's all changed now. Solo looks slick, fun, and unlike anything else we've seen in the saga so far. There's a real Firefly / Guardians of the Galaxy vibe going on - which just so happen to be two of my favourite franchise outside of Star Wars.

How about you? What are your thoughts on the official teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars StoryBe sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

The Hunt Is On - Rogue One 3 3/4" Shoretrooper Captain and Bistan 2-Pack Found

With the first wave of Last Jedi stock eclipsing the last wave of Rogue One figures, I'd began to wonder if we'd ever see the Shoretrooper Captain and Bistan 2-pack. Fortunately, a small amount of stock trickled through to Amazon recently, and I managed to pick one up for the US MSRP of $14.99US ($20.67NZ).

I'm a real sucker for interesting aliens, so I knew I had to have Bistan - a.k.a. 'space monkey' - in action figure form as soon as I first saw him on the Rogue One behind-the-scenes reel. Unfortunately, while Hasbro's 5POA figures have been getting better and better, they seem to have dropped the ball on this one. He's a serviceable enough representation of Bistan, but there's something about his details that just look a little muddy. Maybe it's the sculpt, or maybe it's the paint app. Or maybe there's just too much fine detail in his face to translate well to a figure of this scale (and cost). Either way, while he looks fine on display from a few feet away, you won't want to get up too close.

Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume Exhibition

While visiting family in Florida this week, I got wind of a Star Wars exhibition going on in nearby St. Petersburg. A little investigation found that it was the Smithsonian Institute's Star Wars and the Power of Costume - a display of over 60 original screen-used costumes from throughout the Star Wars saga. Fortunately, I got a chance to check it out on my last day in town.

I really had no idea what to expect going into this exhibition. And now, having seen it, I'm still struggling to put into words the impact of actually seeing these iconic pieces in person. So instead, I'm just going to let these phenomenal photos taken by my fiancée do the talking...

The Hunt is On - Force Link 3 3/4" Wave 3 Figures Now Entertainment Earth Exclusives

In a surprising turn of events, Entertainment Earth this morning announced that they have secured the exclusive rights to distribute the third wave of 3 3/4" Force Link Last Jedi action figures (including C'ai Threnalli, the Flame Trooper, and the Finn vs. Phasma 2-pack) in the US.

(Image courtesy of Entertainment Earth)

In all honesty, this is incredibly frustrating news. While store exclusives may be common in other lines, five-point-of-articulation figures have always had the blessing of being widely available. Further, Entertainment Earth's inflated pricing ($10.99US instead of the $7.99 MSRP for individual figures, and $17.99US instead of the $14.99 MSRP for the two-pack) combined with its shipping fees will see collectors paying around 55% more ($47.92US versus $30.97US) for these three items than they would in an ordinary brick-and-mortar store. In light of this, I'll be passing on these 'exclusives' and removing them from my Last Jedi hunt list.

The Hunt Is On - Force Link 3 3/4" Wave 2 Figures Found

After an early false alarm all the way back in October, the second wave of Force Link 3 3/4" Last Jedi figures has finally turned up in my local vicinity. There were three figures from this wave on my hunt list - DJ (Canto Bight), General Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker (Jedi Exile). Fortunately, I was able to pick up all three in the last couple of weeks.

Despite the limited articulation and unnecessary Force Link gimmick, this second wave of figures is further evidence of just how good Hasbro's sculpting process is becoming. All three likenesses are spot-on, with Leia and Luke being particular standouts. Each figure comes with a screen-used accessory, as well as some sort of removable soft plastic outer-ware. In fact, Hasbro's plastic sculpting of soft goods is becoming so good, it's starting to aesthetically outshine the fabric soft goods of the higher-priced Black Series line.

Force Link 3 3/4" Ski Speeder

One good thing about having a very short lead time between Star Wars movies is that it doesn't give stores long to clear out stock. In the prequel era, retailers had a solid three years to get rid of a movie's merchandise. Now they barely have a few months. For collectors, this means some great clearance details - like the rathtar I recently acquired. The ski speeder is another case of this.

I was largely indifferent to this vehicle when it was first released, but after seeing The Last Jedi I fell in love. Unfortauntely, the $89.99NZ price tag was incredibly discouraging. Recently however, Target had them on clearance for a much more reasonable $18.98US ($26.35NZ) each - and that was an offer I couldn't refuse.

The first thing you notice about this vehicle is just how darn big it is. The box belies its true size, largely because the vehicle ships broken into two pieces. If it's not exactly 1:1 scale with a regular 3 3/4" figure, then it's awfully close - and that's great to see. Not only is it big, but it's packed with fantastic features too. The one concession to playability is the handle on the lower side - but this is perfectly incorporated into the stabiliser and doesn't detract from the aesthetics of the vehicle one bit. Pull a trigger on the handle, and two missiles (again, discretely concealed into the engine greeblies) will fire. Depress another button on the top of the engine, and the starboard wing will 'blast' off battle-damage style. The whole engine canopy is removable, in fact - giving you further options for displaying damage, or setting up a maintenance diorama. The ski speeder also features a pair of fold-down landing gear so she can nestle somewhere safe between battles. Perhaps my favourite feature, however - and one that isn't even given a call-out on the box - is the tiny working seatbelt used to hold a figure securely in the cockpit.