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!)

The hair sculpting is also the best part of Leia, who - while being an otherwise simple build - nevertheless makes a welcome addition to this line.

But all three of those figures pale in comparison to the Boba Fett - who, at 161 pieces - comes in at nearly twice the brick count of many other characters in this line. And it's easy to see where they all go. Boba's detailing is second-to-none, with every familiar facet of his armour carefully executed through the most novel uses of Lego bricks. His appearance is further enhanced by a staggering number of uniquely printed parts.

This quartet will go especially well with the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper we picked up earlier last year. There's no word yet of any future Star Wars Brickheadz release, but here's hoping we'll see plenty more characters represented in this great little line.

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...

Star Wars Science Xcavations Creature Crates

It's no secret that Star Wars merchandise has suffered some sever distribution issues over the past couple of years. It's stymied my 3 3/4" collecting, and brought a complete halt to the collection of Micro Force figures my wife and I were building. The same thing very nearly happened with Uncle Milton's new line of Star Wars Science Xcavations Creature Crates. We'd awaited these Walmart exclusives with bated breath ever since their announcement at Toy Fair 2018, only to see the line be cancelled before we ever found them in stores. In a surprising stroke of luck, however, our local Sydney Kidstuff store recently managed to source a limited supply, and we were finally able to pick up a handful of crates.

At $19.99AU ($21.37NZ) each, these crates have a hefty price tag for blind bag toys - and it's still up for debate whether the price warrants the content. Don't get me wrong, the actual skulls are fantastic. Each comes in three pieces and requires assembly. Once you're done, you're left with an incredibly detailed - and thoroughly unique - display piece. While they look good enough in their original plastic colour, I hit ours with a 50/50 wash of Tamiya Acrylic Brown XF72 and water to really make the details pop.

An added bonus are the crates themselves. Modelled loosely after the cargo containers that appear on the back of the Imperial Assault Tank that debuted in Rogue One, these boxes make great reusable storage bins for Star Wars bits, and - with a little paint and modification - would also work excellently as diorama fodder for action figures.

But while the kits are labelled "Xcavations" there's a disappointing lack of actual excavating involved. Instead of encasing the contents in a solid sandstone-like block (à la all of those dinosaur dig kits we had as kids), the skulls are merely placed in some semi-kinetic sand and reveal themselves as soon as they're poured from the crate. It's a disappointing oversight, as making the skull removal more of a process may have made the high price-point feel slightly more justified.

The Rise of Skywalker Teaser Trailer Released

Today marks the first day of Star Wars Celebration - the biggest 'Wars themed event of the year. It comes as no surprise, then, that this morning's Rise of Skywalker panel concluded with the long-awaited (and long overdue) first teaser trailer for the final film in the Skywalker Saga. You can check it out below.

Given that it's a teaser, there's not a whole lot that can be gleaned about the film just yet. That being said, it looks like we're clearly in for another visually stunning entry in the saga. It's wonderful to hear Leia's theme taking centre stage, and - given what J.J. Abrams said during the panel - we can probably take this as a clear indication that Carrie Fisher still has a large role to play in the saga. It's also great to catch our first glimpse of Lando back on the big screen - and behind the controls of the Falcon no less. Of course, the big talking point here is that final shot of the ruins of the (presumably) second Death Star. It looks like our heroes are returning to Endor? As for that laugh preceding the title placard - well, let's all just remember that these trailers are designed to misdirect in every way possible.

Perhaps my favourite part about this trailer, however, is that it contains the first reveal of the title of the film - The Rise of Skywalker. It's something I've been hoping Disney would do ever since announcing the production of more Star Wars movies. Don't get me wrong - I've appreciated the early title announcements of the previous films - but there's something far more exciting about doing it in this way.

I've unashamedly adored the previous two instalments in the sequel trilogy - and for very different reasons. I'm now more excited than ever for December to role around, and to see how this epic nine-film saga comes to a close.

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