The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection Figures (Triple Force Friday Edition)

First they came for Action Fleet. Then they came for Micro Machines. Then they brought Micro Machines back... only to take them again. Now, The Rise of Skywalker is set to be the first Star Wars film without its own dedicated line of 3 3/4" figures. Instead, this scale will be served exclusively by the ongoing Vintage Collection. All of this means that my once broad collecting focus has now narrowed down to one single line of products. At the very least, it's going to make this upcoming Triple Force Friday a lot less painful on my wallet.


There's both good and bad in having the Vintage Collection as the sole 3 3/4" line for TROS. The upside is that we'll be getting the best possible versions of these figures - including comprehensive accessories, super articulation, and gorgeous Photo Real face treatments. The downside is that we'll be paying more per figure, and will likely see a far more limited range of characters available (at least to begin with). There's also the issue of distribution. Stores here in Sydney are still clogged with pegwarmers from April 2018's first wave of the rebooted Vintage Collection, with no sign of the subsequent seven waves released since then. If it wasn't for the secondary market, my Star Wars action figure collecting would have ground to a halt well over a year ago.

Hopefully the full product reset on Triple Force Friday will see stores at least stock the first TROS wave of figures. With that in mind, I've now assembled an updated list of the Vintage Collection figures I'll be attempting to hunt down.

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Tatooine Skiff 3 Pack Found

While I've managed to pre-order the phenomenal Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Jabba's Tatooine Skiff from EB Games Australia, it's less clear if and when the accompanying Tatooine Skiff 3 Pack will arrive down under. Our best bet is that, like the skiff, we'll see it released on 'Triple Force Friday' this October 4th. Fortunately, I won't have to wait that long - as I managed to pick up this trio of figures loose on the secondary market for close to RRP.


This set features repacks of the Vizam and Brock Starsher from The Black Series (both of whom I missed the first time around) along with a brand new figure, Vedain. Each figure features the expected minimum of fourteen points of articulation, while Vizam and Vedain's helmets are also removable. All three carry blaster pistols, while Brock also comes armed with a vibro-ax. Ordinarily, Vizam is also packed with a rail-mounted cannon, however this wasn't included in my particular purchase (and, unless you have the Sail Barge, isn't really that useful).

Now all these skiff guards need is a skiff to guard!

The Rise of Skywalker Second Teaser Trailer and Teaser Poster Released

While we all expected to see some new footage from The Rise of Skywalker at D23, most of us expected this to be in the form of a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel - just like the one we got for The Last Jedi. Instead, we were surprised with something that basically amounts to a second full teaser trailer. You can check it out below.


While the entire trailer only features about thirty seconds of new footage, there's an enormous amount to take in: B-Wing, Y-Wings, C-3PO with red eyes, a Blockade Runner, and an entire armada of Imperial Star Destroyers... And then of course there's that shot at the very end. But while the internet no doubt goes wild with speculation, it's important to remember that these trailers are deliberately crafted for the purposes of misdirection. Obviously, this is even more true when we're dealing with a film by the very father of the 'mystery box'. Everything else aside, this teaser is exactly what I need right now. A brief, thrilling reminder of how momentous this film will be - but without giving me even the slightest hint of how it's all going to end.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Live-Action TV Series Announced

The long-rumoured - but never confirmed - live-action Obi-Wan television series has now been officially announced by Disney at this year's D23. Details are still thin on the ground, but Disney has confirmed that the series will be set eight years after Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, with Ewan McGregor reprising the titular role.


I, for one, couldn't be happier. This is the one story I've been hoping to see ever since Disney first announced that it would begin producing 'spin-off' films and television series. John Jackson Miller's novel Kenobi remains one of my favourite in the old Expanded Universe, so I can't wait to see a new take on Obi-Wan's desert adventures in the years between the prequel and original trilogies.

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

The Mandalorian Trailer and Poster Released

This year's D23 is now underway, and the Star Wars reveals have already begun - starting with our first look (at least, for those of us who couldn't attend Celebration) at the trailer for the upcoming live-action series The Mandalorian. You can check it out below.



I have to admit that the tone of the show looks a lot more mature than what I'd expected from Disney television show. Then again, this is the company behind the MCU. Their ability to tell dark - yet still thoroughly entertaining - tales is well documented. Indeed, the fact that Jon Favreau (creator of the Iron Man films) is behind the show should give us a pretty good indication of what we can expect to see from the Mandalorian.

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Luke Skywalker Jedi Legacy 3 Pack Found

Last year, San Diego Comic Con gave us a phenomenal exclusive Vintage Collection  set in the form of the Doctor Aphra Comic 3 Pack. This year, they've done it again with an exclusive Luke Skywalker Jedi Legacy 3 Pack. The set features two brand new figures - Stormtrooper Disguise Luke and Rebel Pilot Luke - along with a (much-needed) upgrade to the previously released Black Series Jedi Knight Luke. Given the lack of distribution down under, I hadn't held out much hope of getting my hands on this set. Fortunately a reliable eBay source came through, and I managed to score this trio loose for close to RRP.


In truth, these three represent the very pinnacle of 3 3/4" figures. The Photo Real treatment means that these are some of the most accurate Lukes we've ever seen. Previous releases just don't even compare. What's more, Hasbro have finally been sure to correct some egregious errors from the past - like packing Jedi Knight Luke with his correct (armless) Jedi cloak. The Rebel Pilot Luke is a must-have for my contingent of Rebel pilots, as his previous best release - all the way back from 2006 - leaves a lot to be desired. The Stormtrooper Disguise Luke fills a rather glaring gap in my collection of Original Trilogy figures, and while he might share much of the same body as his previous Legacy Collection iteration, he now comes with that gorgeous, crisp (and far more screen-accurate) Stormtrooper helmet we first saw packed in with the Stormtrooper Disguise Han exclusive figure. The two will make a great pair on display.

All-in-all, I'm absolutely rapt with this phenomenal little set. With these acquisitions, my Vintage Collection Hunt List is complete - at least until new figures are announced for this year's 'Triple Force Friday'. Bring on October 4th!

Star Wars Resistance Season 2 Trailer Released

Yesterday we received the bittersweet news that the second - and final - season of Star Wars Resistance will premiere on 6th October. You can check out the trailer below.


It's hard to not be a little disappointed by this announcement. While Resistance hadn't yet reached the lofty heights of The Clone Wars or Rebels, it showed a lot of promise - and this trailer certainly gives us a hint as to how much bigger its world was going to get. That being said, Resistance only ever had a limited time frame to work with (specifically, the twelve galactic months in which the Sequel Trilogy takes place). With that trilogy being wrapping up, I'm incredibly curious to see where Disney and Lucasfilm decide to take Star Wars animation next.

What are your thoughts on the trailer for season 2 of Resistance? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Waves 7 and 8 Figures Found

As the drought of figures at brick-and-mortar stores continues, the online secondary market has come through once again. I recently managed to score all three Wave 7 and 8 figures on my Vintage Collection Hunt List - VC09 Boba Fett, VC146 Luke Skywalker (Crait), and VC147 Death Star Gunner.


As with the Original Trilogy characters in Wave 5, Boba is a repack of a figure from the very beginning of the Vintage Collection back in 2010. He's been given a few minor paint app tweaks, and - most importantly - the Photo Real face treatment (which appears to be based on the visage of an older Daniel Logan). This update to an already great super-articulated figure easily makes this the definitive 3 3/4" Boba Fett.

Of course, the most in-demand figure from these two waves will be Luke. Not only does he remedy an obvious hole in any 3 3/4" Last Jedi collection, but he also makes excellent fodder for any Legacy fan wanting a 'heyday' Jedi Master Skywalker. While collectors have reported some large variations in the face detailing on this figure, I managed to luck out with mine. Despite Luke's desirability however, I'm most happy for the third of these figures - the Death Star Gunner. A super-articulated version of this trooper has been on my wishlist for over a decade, so I'm rapt to see that Hasbro has finally given him the deluxe treatment.

With these acquisitions, my Vintage Collection Hunt List is complete - at least until new figures are announced for this year's 'Triple Force Friday'. Bring on October 4th!

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 5 and Exclusive Figures Found

Given the previously mentioned glut of old figures in stores, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that I'll be seeing future waves of Vintage Collection figures in my area any time soon. Life, uh, finds a way, however - so I've been turning to the secondary market in order to get my hand on the latest releases. The beauty of being an 'opener' is that this can be done rather cheaply. I recently managed to find all of the Wave 5 and Walmart exclusive figures on my Hunt List for around $17.50NZ each - considerably less than their MISB price of up to $29.99 at some retailers (I'm looking at you, Toyworld).




Wave 5 consists of repacks of four figures from the very early days of the Vintage Collection back in 2010: VC02 Princess Leia (Hoth), VC03 Han Solo (Echo Base), VC08 Darth Vader, and VC23 Luke Skywalker (Endor Captive). This time around, however, all four figures have been given the gorgeous Photo Real face treatment - providing them with some of the best likenesses we've seen in this scale. Add this to the super articulation and wonderful accessories that we've all come to expect from this line (Vader's three-piece helmet is a particularly magical touch), and you've got one phenomenal wave of classic characters.

Micro Force WOW! Series 1 Figures

Last year my wife and I decided to diversify our collecting habits by focussing on a new line - specifically, Hasbro's Micro Force. These figures retailed for $2.99US (around $4.00NZ) in blind bags of two. We managed to collect full sets of both Series 1 and Series 2 - however, while three more series were released, these never turned up at any of our local stores. With interest in the line diminishing, Hasbro recently opted to reposition and rebrand the line as Micro Force WOW!, now selling four figures at a time in a new lightsaber-shaped blind box. We finally came across the first series of this new line at Hobbyco during a recent trip to downtown Sydney.


These new packs retail for $17.99AU. That's around $19.00NZ - or approximately $4.75NZ per figure. Given that the figures have more than doubled in price, we opted for a single blind box to begin with. Fortunately, we nabbed a great quartet. As well as new figures, the WOW! line also includes holographic (read: unpainted translucent) versions of previously released sculpts. We only received one of these however - a red holographic version of the Darth Maul we obtained in Series 2. The other three figures we pulled - holographic K-2SO; Luke Skywalker (Jedi Exile); and Bucket (R1-J5) - were entirely new for our collection

The Star Wars Identities Exhibition (Sydney, Australia)

A few months ago my wife and I moved to Sydney, Australia - just in time to catch the Star Wars Identities Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Unlike the Power of Costume display we caught in Florida (which focussed exclusively on screen-used costumes) this exhibit features an additional range of concept art, maquettes, and - most exciting for me - model starships.


As the name suggests, the exhibition centres around the many influences that comprise our personal identities. Guests use an electronic wristband to interact with ten digital stations throughout the exhibit - each of which invites them to make decisions about what kind of person (or alien) they'd be in that galaxy far, far away. At the end of the tour, each guest's Star Wars alter-ego is projected on a screen for all to see.


Loose Vintage Collection and Black Series 3 3/4" Figures

As of late, it's been slow going as a Star Wars collector. The last few years saw the return - then ultimate demise - of my favourite line of Star Wars collectibles. My wife and I have tried to dabble in some newer lines, specifically Micro Force and the Xcavations Creature Crates. Sadly, the first of these proved impossible to find after the first two waves, while the latter was cancelled outright only shortly after hitting stores. There's always been the stalwart 3 3/4" line, however - at least, until recently. Apart from one lucky sighting of a single case of Wave 4 figure in my New Zealand hometown, I've seen nothing but racks of Wave 1 figures since the line's relaunch fourteen months ago. This same glut of stock also meant we never saw the third (and arguably most interesting) wave of Solo figures. With nothing new in stores, then, my attention has instead turned to filling gaps in my collection - specifically, super-articulated Original Trilogy figures from the Vintage Collection and Black Series 3 3/4" lines.


 


In recent weeks, I've managed to stumble across some great deals on eBay, picking up the Vintage Collection VC04 Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues), VC55 Logray (Ewok Medicine Man), VC57 Dr. Evazan (Cantina Patron), VC88 Princess Leia (Sandstorm Outfit), VC111 Princess Leia, VC 112 Sandtrooper, Stemzee (from the Ewok Assault Catapult set), as well as the Black Series Princess Leia Organa. I also managed to scoop a Power of the Force IT-O Interrogation Droid to complement my cadre of Imperials.

Here's hoping that Hasbro will soon fix its distribution issues. In the meantime, however, I'm incredibly grateful to have the secondary market as a way of scratching my collecting itch!

Special Modifications - The Vintage Collection Imperial Scanning Crew Stormtrooper

The philosophy behind the Special Modifications feature is simple: to make small enhancements to 3 3/4" figures while remaining faithful to their original store-bought aesthetics.

Today's project involved making a few tiny improvements to the stormtrooper from the Vintage Collection Imperial Scanning Crew Special Action Figure Set. For me, this has always been the definitive stormtrooper figure. Not only is he wonderfully detailed and articulated, but he also comes with a couple of features not seen on any other version of this character - most notably, a pair of binders and a removable comlink.

Before (left) and after (right).

For this figure, only two changes were needed: the addition of some black paint to the soles of the boots, and the inclusion of the missing thermal detonator (which I had going spare from my recently upgraded sandtrooper figure). Now he's ready to take on all kinds of Rebelscum!

Special Modifications - The Black Series #07 Biker Scout

The philosophy behind the Special Modifications feature is simple: to make small enhancements to 3 3/4" figures while remaining faithful to their original store-bought aesthetics.

Sometimes it takes the tiniest improvement to make an otherwise great figure even better. Today it was my Black Series #07 Biker Scout. This version of the character is a near-perfect figure, save for those horrible black joint stripes through the shoulder pads.

Before (left) and after (right).

It's hard to understand why Hasbro didn't simply use white hinges - but fortunately it's an easy fix. A few thin coats of Model Masters Gloss White, and the figure looks a million times better!

Kinder Surprise The Force Awakens Bust Launchers

Kinder Surprise are no strangers to weird Star Wars toys, and its seems they've done it again. This time around, they've released a small series of Force Awakens-themed busts. I picked up my first of these while back in Houston, then received another couple from my parents for Easter.


In total, I pulled three unique characters - C-3PO, FN-2199, and R2-D2. Each bust comes with a small disc projectile that can be launched from the base and a small cardboard 'foe' for target practice. In total, there are eight characters in the set: the three above, as well as BB-8, Captain Phasma, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Rey.

Special Modifications - The Legacy Collection BD32 Spacetrooper

The philosophy behind the Special Modifications feature is simple: to make small enhancements to 3 3/4" figures while remaining faithful to their original store-bought aesthetics.

Yellowing plastic is the bane of all collectors. Despite our best efforts to keep figures from sunlight, smoke, and other environmental factors, many white plastics will inevitably turn that sickly shade. I've previously addressed this problem on my Vintage Collection R2-D2 and Legacy Collection Sandtrooper by incorporating the yellowed plastic into a wider 'weathering' of the entire figure. Unfortunately, I'm not able to do the same with the abdomen of my Legacy Collection BD32 Spacetrooper - so I had to come up with a different strategy.

Before (left) and after (right).

While bleaching is always an option, it's not something I'm yet brave enough to do with my figures. So I opted for something a little less extreme - covering the affected areas with several thin coats of Model Masters Gloss White. Fortunately, the gloss matches well with the rest of the figure's armour and completely removes the unsightly yellowing below!

Funko Pop! #292 Baby Nippet Bobblehead

My wife's carefully curated collection of Funko Pop! figures grew recently with her second Star Wars addition - Baby Nippet. While intended to be a Target exclusive, we were lucky enough to stumble across one at our local EB Games here in Sydney.


Seated in an adorable basket and finished with soft flocking, this Nippet hands-down wins the award for cutest Star Wars Funko yet!

Special Modifications - The Legacy Collection SL21 Sandtrooper

The philosophy behind the Special Modifications feature is simple: to make small enhancements to 3 3/4" figures while remaining faithful to their original store-bought aesthetics.

For the most part, I've always been happy with my Legacy Collection SL21 Sandtrooper as the definitive version of this character. With fourteen points of articulation and a handful of great accessories, he makes for a fantastic little figure. That being said, there's always been room for improvement. For one, I've always preferred the orange captain pauldron over the black corporal design that comes with this figure. For another, he's just too damn clean. The 2017 Walmart exclusive Black Series Sandtrooper remedied both of these issues, but included a far inferior helmet sculpt. Today's mission, then, was to modify my old Legacy Collection sandtrooper in order to get the best of both worlds.

Before (left) and after (right).

Insofar as customisations go, it was a fairly simple one. I started by painting the pauldron with Tamiya Acrylic Orange X6, then hit the entire figure with a 50/50 wash of Tamiya Acrylic Brown XF72 and water. This had the added benefit of obscuring some yellowing that had started to appear on abdomen. Finally, to bring him closer in line with his Black Series counterpart, I armed him with a spare T21 blaster rifle I had lying around. Taken together, these small modifications make him a far more interesting figure on the shelf, and - I like to think - turn an already great figure into something even better.

Lego Brickheadz 41627 Yoda, 41629 Luke Skywalker, and 41628 Princess Leia

Over the last few months our collection of Star Wars Lego Brickheadz has steadily expanded. My wife picked up two of the latest releases from the line - 41627 Yoda and Luke Skywalker and 41629 Boba Fett - when we were back in Houston, and added 41628 Princess Leia shortly after we moved to Sydney.


The Yoda and Luke is the first two-pack we've picked up, and it's a great way of being able to introduce smaller characters that might not otherwise merit a full set to themselves. Despite his diminutive size, Yoda is admirably well-designed, and makes a great complement to the heavily-detailed Luke (I mean, just look at that hair!)

Special Modifications - The Vintage Collection VC25 R2-D2 (Take 2)

The philosophy behind the Special Modifications feature is simple: to make small enhancements to 3 3/4" figures while remaining faithful to their original store-bought aesthetics.

While I was initially happy with the weathering job I did on my Vintage Collection VC25 R2-D2, that satisfaction has waned over time. The weathering powder did a great job of providing some realistic 'grit' (and conveniently obscuring the disappointing plastic discolouration), but  it was never going to work well as a permanent solution. By necessity, the weathering powder needs some sort of fixative - usually in the form of a spray-on clear coat. Unfortunately, the design of R2 didn't permit this. I'd hoped some careful handling would be enough to maintain the weathering, but alas it very quickly wore off over time.

My first weathering attempt (left) using weathering dust, compared with my second attempt (right) using a 50/50 wash.

So a new solution was required. And after weathering our recent Xcavations acquisitions with a 50/50 wash of Tamiya Acrylic Brown XF72 and water, I decided to try the same approach on R2. I'm rapt with the result, and see it as a marked improvement on my first attempt. In fact, I already have plans to treat another figure with this exact same method...