The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 15 Figures Found

Wave 15 saw the realistic 3 3/4" debut of two Clone Wars characters I'd been aching to add to my collection for many years: Fives and Hondo Ohnaka. I managed to secure both via an EB Games preorder for $29.00AU ($30.85NZ) and $25.00 ($26.60) respectively.

These are an absolutely phenomenal pair of figures - the release of which is perfectly timed, given that 2020 saw the climactic conclusion of the Clone Wars animated series. Donning his ARC getup, Fives comes with the standard super-articulation as well as a pivoting rangefinder. He's also replete with accessories: a removable helmet, removable pauldron, removable backpack, blaster, blaster rifle, and two blaster pistols. One thing that often bugs me about heavily accessorised figures is that I can't make full use of their equipment. Often they can only be displayed with one or two items, while the remainder get relegated to the bottom of a drawer. Not so with Fives. He's capable of donning his entire loadout (his blaster clipping into his backpack and his pistols slipping into working holsters) without look overencumbered. It's enormously satisfying.

Hondo, on the other hand, comes with nothing more than a single blaster pistol. But the phenomenal sculpt and paint app more than make up for this. While technically donning his Galaxy's Edge attire, Hondo can just as easily be used to flesh out a realistic Clone Wars display - which is precisely what I have in mind for him. My only real disappointment is with the frustratingly neutral expression on his face. It lacks the trademark cunning and charisma of this character. Sculpting him with a broad, charming grin (and, perhaps, including his pet Kowakian monkey-lizard) would have made this otherwise great figure absolutely perfect.

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 14 Figures Found

Wave 14 of the Vintage Collection provides us with another sampling of redecos from across the saga - this time featuring characters from The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and Return of the Jedi. Three of these figures were on my hunt list: VC27 Wicket, VC92 Anakin Skywalker, and VC103 Obi-Wan Kenobi. I recently picked up the entire trio courtesy of Mighty Ape for $20.80 each.

The latter two of these figures mark the only realistic Clone Wars depictions of Anakin and Obi-Wan in the 3 3/4" line. While they were originally released back in 2012, distribution was poor, and - as a result - the pair often went for a hefty price on the secondary market. It was therefore a great call on Hasbro's behalf to give us a second chance to pick up these figures. The addition of Photo Real face treatments is simply an added bonus. Each figure comes with the expected super-articulation and both lit and unlit lightsaber accessories. The pair will go great alongside the realistic Ahsoka Tano I picked up back in 2017.

I had already managed to pick up this Vintage Collection Wicket on the secondary market. But while he came with his cowl and spear from Return of the Jedi, he had been missing the additional accessories that - in my opinion - absolutely make this figure: an entire alternative outfit inspired by his appearance in the Ewoks cartoon series. Now, however, I have a second Wicket to keep perpetually dressed in his animated attire!

Lego Brickheadz 75317 The Mandalorian & the Child

It's been a slow year for Star Wars Lego Brickheadz. Last week, however, my wife finally got her hands on what just might be the best release yet in this line: 75317 The Mandalorian & the Child.

Let's be honest - this set was always destined for greatness. Both the Mandalorian and the Child are incredibly well-suited to a brick-based realisation. What I didn't expect, however, was just how good that realisation would be. The Mandalorian features an insane amount of detail - from his wonderfully sculpted helmet, to his sidearm, to his (detachable) over-the-shoulder rifle, to the metallic cartridges clipped to his belt.

But, of course, the real star here is the Child. While much simpler in design, the team at Lego have managed to perfectly capture the heart and soul of this character. The pivoting ears (featured in their 'sad' downturned position in the image below) add even more character to this build. And don't forget the pram. While this accessory could easily have been phoned-in, Lego instead put an enormous amount of time and care into extracting the smooth curves of the Child's conveyance from a small handful of chunky bricks. Further, some extra detailing at the hinges gives the illusion of a real, working mechanism within the build - a wonderfully nice touch.

Taken together, these separate elements make for a set that I cannot recommend highly enough!

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 13 Figures Found

Wave 13 of the Vintage Collection is indeed an unusual one - featuring a disparate mix of figures from A New Hope, Rogue One, and The Clone Wars. Of these, there were only two figures that made it on to my hunt list: VC167 Power Droid and VC168 Clone Commander Wolffe. Last week, I received both via EB Games for $24.99AU ($27.08NZ) each.

While Wolffe saw a 2015 Black Series release in his cold weather gear, this is his first release in his traditional armour. A removable helmet has also been added, revealing a Photo Real likeness of New Zealand's very own Temuera Morrison.

Nevertheless, the real highlight of this wave is the Power - or 'Gonk' - Droid. Despite his popularity with fans, the Gonk Droid has only received two single-carded releases in the twenty-five-year history of the modern figure line - the most recent of which was all the way back in 2006. I missed him then, and have regretted it ever since. Fortunately that's now been remedied. With a removable upper 'shell' and two independently articulated legs, this figure gives us everything we need in a Gonk figure. He'll go great alongside my Jawa and other sandcrawler droids.

The Child Plush Toy

While our tiny Black Series Child figure is all well and good, my wife and I knew from the outset that we would need at least one larger version of this character in our collection. After considering the many preorder options available late last year, we finally settled on Mattel's plush toy as the best option for displayability and playability. He arrived in the post a short while ago, and we couldn't be happier.

Mattel's take on The Child features a vinyl head and hands along with a weighted plush body that gives it just the right heft and malleability for display. His glossy eyes and lightly airbrushed skin add to the realism, making him the most accurately-detailed and scaled option available - excepting, of course, that phenomenal $420US ($625NZ) Hot Toys offering. At only $56.99AU ($62.30NZ) however, this was precisely The Child for us! 

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 12 Figures Found

I was unsure whether the latest 'Fan Channel Exclusive' Vintage Collection repack wave would make it to Australian shores (it ultimately did, thanks to EB Games and MightyApe), so I pulled the trigger early and picked up the three figures for less than RRP on the secondary market.

Wave 12 of the Vintage Collection sees the re-release of four highly sought-after figures. While I was able to give the C-3PO a miss, I did pick up VC04 Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues), VC47 Lando Calrissian (General), and VC50 Han Solo (Bespin Outfit). All three figures feature Photo Real face treatment - though with varying results. While Lando and Han look great, there's something slightly... off about Luke's appearance. This tends to be a common issue when Photo Real is applied to older headsculpts (compared with the outstanding accuracy that can be achieved when Hasbro apply Photo Real to a specially-designed sculpt).

I missed Han on his first release back in 2011 - so it's great to finally fill that gap on my Empire shelf (though, admittedly, his goggles and welding torch were immediately donated to better kit out my Hoth Leia). Luke, on the other hand, provides a welcome update to my 2010 Vintage Collection version of the figure, while Lando does the same for my 2016 Black Series version.

The Black Series 6" The Child

As a dyed-in-the-wool 3 3/4" collector, I've largely avoided releases in Hasbro's larger-scale 6" Black Series line. There are the occasional exceptions, and my continued impatience with Hasbro's failure to release (or even announce) a Child for the 3 3/4" Vintage Collection line has driven me to dabble in the Black Series once again - recently picking up their version of The Child for $20.00AU ($21.34NZ).

Coming in at only 1.1", The Child may just be the most adorable Star Wars figure yet created by Hasbro. Despite his diminutive stature, he still manages to boast an impressive seven points-of-articulation, featuring ball-jointed feet, ball-jointed shoulders, swivel wrists, and a ball-jointed head. He also comes with three accessories: a frog, a bowl of bone broth, and the Razor Crest control lever knob he's so fond of playing with. These tiny accessories come packed in their own clear acrylic display case - an absolute necessity if you hope to avoid losing that near-microscopic lever knob. My one bone (broth) of contention is that the The Child is largely incapable of interacting with these accessories. You'll need to use some kind of adhesive if you want him to have any chance of holding either the hold either the bowl or knob in his hands.

The only other downside of this figure is the lack of additional accessories. Considering that he sells for close to the price of a full scale Vintage Collection figure ($20.00AU versus $24.99AU), Hasbro really could have included a little more plastic. The glaring omission is, of course, his pram. This needn't have been much - just a single sculpted piece of egg-shaped plastic atop a transparent stand - yet it would have added enormous play- and displayability options for little additional cost.

Despite being created for the 6" scale, this version of The Child seems entirely compatible with figures from the 3 3/4" line - as pictured above. In fact, let's consider the math. The 6" figure line is based on an assumed scale of 1:12, meaning that a 6 foot tall character will be sculpted at precisely 6 inches. Wookieepedia lists the Child's height as 16.1", meaning that an accurate 1:12 figure of the character would be around 1.3" tall. Consider instead the 3 3/4" line, with an assumed scale of 1:19.2. An accurate Child in this scale would instead be 0.8" tall. At 1.1" tall, this Child figure is actually somewhere between these two scales. He's slightly too small for a 6" figure, and slightly too big for the 3 3/4" line.

Given this, it seems that Hasbro really missed a trick here. The fudging on the scale of this version of The Child means he could easily have been marketed for both the 3 3/4" and 6" lines. Unfortunately, by labelling him as purely a Black Series figure, Hasbro may have excluded many potential 3 3/4" customers. Indeed, even I had decided to pass on this figure until my wife had a hunch about the scale and encouraged me to pick one up all the same. I now realise, however, that he is an absolutely adorable must-have for collectors of both lines.

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 11 Figures Found

Yes, they're finally here! Almost five months after the The Mandalorian series debut, we finally have the chance to own characters from the show in Hasbro's legacy toy scale. Wave 11 of The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" line includes VC164 Cara Dune, VC165 Remnant Stormtrooper, and VC166 The Mandalorian, and I was recently able to nab all three for $24.99AU ($26.51NZ) a piece.

Honestly, I was a little concerned as to whether I'd be able to get my hands on these. EB Games is now the only brick-and-mortar store in Australia stocking the Vintage Collection, and tends to receive only a case or two of each wave. Online purchasing had been similarly dire, with previous waves only being sold by random assortment. It's for this reason that I've been resorting more and more to the secondary market for new releases. Then EB Games went and did something wonderful: starting with wave 10, their online store began listing new releases by individual figure. I was able to preorder all three figures shortly after they were listed online, and couldn't have been happier to see them finally arrive last week.

First up is the Mandalorian himself, decked out in his early-season pre-beskar armour. He comes with everything you'd expect: his trademark pulse rifle, his sidearm, and a nicely-sculpted shoulder cape. The sidearm fits snugly into a working holster at his hip, and the rifle clips onto his back through a very nifty attachment. As you'd expect with any Vintage Collection figure, the Mandalorian is brimming with articulation - allowing you to pose him in just about any way you can imagine. The paint app is on point, with his beskar helm getting a very nice dirty metallic finish that - in this collector's opinion - rivals that of the larger (and more expensive) 6" figure.

But as sought-after as the Mandalorian might be, he's by no means the star of this wave. That honour goes to Cara Dune. In fact, she may be one of my favourite figures yet in the Vintage Collection line. I simply cannot convey how impressed I am by Hasbro's job in capturing this character in plastic. The sculpt and articulation work together beautifully to create a figure that is equally wonderful as both a toy and a display piece. The pièce de résistance is the Photo Real treatment of the face - what I think is the best usage of the technique yet seen in this scale. Gina Carano's likeness is captured perfectly, right down to the tiny Rebel Alliance emblem on her cheek. It's a staggeringly accurate amount of detail for a figure that's less than four inches tall.

Rounding out this wave is the Remnant Stormtrooper. For some time now, Hasbro has been telling us that the financial viability of the Vintage Collection line rests on future waves featuring a healthy number of repacks alongside new sculpts. And if Hasbro has to rerelease figures, then this is precisely the way to go about it. They've taken the utterly perfect Vintage Collection Rogue One stormtrooper mould, dirtied it up, and - hey presto - created a 'brand new' figure that we'll all lap up. Not only that, but it's precisely the kind of character that - because of its army-building potential - is likely to sell in even higher numbers than either the Mandalorian or Cara Dune.

Indeed, it seems that Hasbro still hasn't fully realised just how lucrative this approach can be. A Mandalorian-carded rerelease of the Vintage Collection Death Trooper would sell just as well, as would a dirtied up version of the Black Series Biker Scout. Heck, pack him with one of those white Legacy Collection speeder bikes, and you'll have the makings of a set that will fly off shelves - all without spending a single penny on a new mould.

Until then, this trio will have to suffice for my 3 3/4" collection of Mandalorian figures. Fingers crossed we'll see some more representation as season 2 draws closer.

Hot Wheels Commemorative Series Return of the Jedi Speeder Bike

Last Christmas, my wife surprised me with the entire first wave of the highly sought-after Hot Wheels Commemorative Series starships. The second wave is yet to turn up in brick-and-mortar stores here in Australia, but thanks to a recent Amazon order from the US I was able to get my hands on the first vehicle from that wave: a Return of the Jedi Speeder Bike.

Although he looks great straight out of the box, I gave him the same Citadel Nuln Oil treatment I gave to the first wave. It's a simple customisation, but one that makes all of the tiny little details stand out even more.

Also included is another piece of the die-cast Death Star. This time around, its the superlaser - now making my battle station fully armed and operational!

It's gratifying to have rounded out the first two trilogies in this line. Now it's time to hunt own the final three vehicles! 

Lego 75265, 75270, and 75271 Tatooine Sets

Given the dearth of new 3 3/4" figures hitting stores, I've been exploring other ways of getting my collecting fix. To that end, my wife and I have been delving more into Lego's Star Wars offerings as of late. We recently picked up a wonderful trio of new Tatooine-themed sets: 75265 T-16 Skyhopper vs Bantha Microfighters, 75270 Obi-Wan's Hut, and 75271 Luke's Skywalker's Landspeeder.

Retailing at $44.99 each, Obi-Wan's Hut and Luke's Landspeeder are designed as a particularly synergistic coupling - the combined pair providing you with the full quartet of Obi-Wan, Luke, C-3PO, and R2-D2 (as well as a second ponchoed Luke for variety). Also included are a pair of native Tatooine denizens - a Tusken Raider in 75270 and a Jawa in 75271. Luke's Landspeeder gives us an incredibly detailed upgrade on previous Lego iterations of this vehicle, complete with a rifle mount and nifty opening cargo compartment.

Yet it's Obi-Wan's hut that's the real standout. The sit is brimming with hidden features and Easter Eggs (did someone say blue milk?) that make the set both a joy to build and to explore upon completion.

While not a direct companion, the simultaneous release of the T-16 Skyhopper vs Bantha Microfighters for $34.99 is fortuitous indeed. While the under-scaled Skyhopper isn't a perfect match, the set is justified on the basis of the adorable brick-built bantha alone. The addition of another Tusken Raider and a Tatooine bush pilot only sweetens the deal even more.

Taken together, these three sets make for a wonderful combined display - and go particularly nicely with the 75136 Droid Escape Pod I gave my wife for Christmas last year.

Medal of Bravery Replica

While my collecting focus is largely centred on 3 3/4" action figures and Micro Machines, I've always harboured a soft spot for any kind of in-universe items (particularly those beyond the usual - and repetitive - toy weapon and helmet offerings). My wife has become incredibly good at scratching this particular itch, and did so again when she surprised me with this Medal of Bravery replica for Valentine's Day this year.

Cast from solid metal and featuring a high-quality ribbon, this metal carries the exact kind of heft you would expect from the real thing. Featured prominently in the closing scene of A New Hope - and now given extra meaning by The Rise of Skywalker - this medal will make a wonderful display piece alongside the golden sabacc dice my wife gave me for my birthday last year.

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Wave 10 Figures Found

I was lucky enough to find a small assortment of the Triple Force Friday wave of Vintage Collection figures at my local EB Games. Sadly - and somewhat predictably - the next wave (Wave 10) proved much harder to find. There were three figures from this wave on my hunt list: VC150 Princess Leia Organa (Yavin), VC162 Sith Trooper, and VC163 Shadow Trooper. While I finally managed to find the Sith Trooper at retail, I had to resort to the online secondary market to secure the other two.

As usual with The Vintage Collection, this wave provides us with another excellent trio of Vfigures. Leia is an upgraded of version of the (previously Walmart exclusive) Black Series figure from 2015 - now with improved articulation and that wonderful Photo Real face treatment. The Sith Trooper, on the other hand, is an entirely new figure and represents (only) the sixth 3 3/4" figure we've received from The Rise of Skywalker. Featuring phenomenal articulation and a unique pair of weapons, he'll make a great addition to my First order forces.

Rounding out the wave is the Shadow Trooper. While technically a new figure, he is in fact a clever repaint of the Rogue One stormtrooper with the addition of a pauldron. He comes as something of a surprise - being sourced from Legends gaming material - but a welcome one, to be sure. In fact, if Hasbro needs to pad waves with repacks of old sculpts to keep production costs down, then this is exactly how it should be done.

Now I've got this wave in hand, my 3 3/4" collecting is apparently going to quieten down for a while. Other than a trio of new Mandalorian figures coming in April and a handful of Photo Real upgrades towards the end of year, nothing else has yet been announced by Hasbro. It could be that they're waiting to show off a slew of new products at next month's New York Toy Fair. Ordinarily, however, such announcements are preceded by all kinds of leaks and rumours through the usual channels. But this time around, there's nothing. It's no secret that Hasbro's current Star Wars license expires this year - so I suppose we'll just have to hold our breaths to see if their twenty-year affiliation with the brand is set to continue.

Lego 75267 Mandalorian Battle Pack

Let's be honest - everyone loves The Mandalorian. Despite this (or, perhaps, for this very reason) Mandalorian merchandise has been hard to come by. The 6" Black Series Mandalorian and the Hot Wheels Razor Crest are nowhere to be found, and we won't be seeing any 3 3/4" Mandalorian figures until at least April. For that reason, I pounced on the one (also very sought-after) piece of Mandalorian merchandise I've come across - the Lego 75267 Mandalorian Battle Pack.

Retailing at $22.99AU ($23.97NZ), this set comes with four uniquely decorated Mandalorians (two male and two female) from the enclave on Nevarro. The detailing on each is phenomenal, with three of the four even featuring printed leg pieces. Also included are four fabric capes, four rangefinders, and four visors; allowing you to customise each figure according to your own preferences.

These battle packs usually come with a slightly contrived vehicle build - like the drastically undersized First Order snowspeeder in the Sith Troopers battle pack. In this pack, however, we get a perfectly scaled screen-accurate vehicle in the form of the Balutar-class swoop from the Clone Wars animated series. Previously released in a 2011 Mandalorian battle pack, this updated version of the swoop now comes with a rundown, mismatched colour scheme - no doubt the result of three decades of wear and neglect. As an added bonus, there's also a small fortification build that provides a mount for one of the four included studshooters.

In fact, the studshooters might be my only gripe with this set. While I understand that they provide some additional play value for kids, they do look a little cumbersome on the figures. While one or two 'heavy weapons troopers' might be able to brandish these, it would have been great to receive a wider variety of armaments for the other figures to wield. Fortunately I've got an abundance of new blasters from my Lego Star Wars advent calendar for these Mandos to pillage!