Let me start this review of Wave 1 of the new Elite Series figures for The Force Awakens with a shout-out to the staff of Forbidden Planet Glasgow, who were the ones who let me know about these Disney Store exclusive figures. I’m so glad to know that my local comic store is staffed by true fans, who want to share news about amazing items with other fans.
So yeah, I was actually taken unaware by this new series, as I had my eyes set on the Black Series figures, which I had previously held to be the pinnacle of Star Wars merchandise in the ‘affordable action figures’ range. It should therefore speak to the amazing quality of these figures that within just two days of Force Friday I have purchased all of Wave 1, when I originally entered a different shop just expecting to buy one Black Series Stormtrooper.
The Elite Series as a Whole
The main difference between the Elite Series and the Black Series is materials. The Black Series is your traditional action figure, made of plastic, while the Elite Series figures are die-cast. Essentially; they’re totally f****** metal.
You’ll notice it as soon as you pick up their boxes, these figures weigh a ton. The first time I held one I was genuinely shocked at the apparent heft of the figures. For figures which tend to retail CHEAPER than the Black Series (each figure I purchased was £18.95) I was amazed by how much ‘stuff’ you’re getting for your money.
As a side-note, my only complaint with this line as a whole is the bane of any action figure collector’s life: twist ties. I have never opened any other kind of figure that was held in place with so many twist ties. There can be up to nine per figure, and each one is done up so tightly you’ll wreck your fingers trying to eagerly unwrap your new babies.
Figure by Figure
I’m going to start with my favourite here and work my way down to the less-impressive ones. First up we have the absolute star of this line: Captain Phasma.
With that asymmetrical cape, one-of-a-kind-armament, and a sweet paintjob, no-one else in Wave 1 stands out quite like Phasma. The paint may be matte, rather than the chrome which has earned her the ‘Chrometrooper’ title, but this figure still strikes an imposing figure, which is very easy to pull into effortlessly cool poses.
Phasma suffers from the problem which hurts all but one of this line, in that she is unable to hold her weapon across the chest, with one hand on the trigger and the other on the barrel. Given the size of some of the guns in this wave it is difficult to get them in realistic aiming or firing poses with just one hand, so usually they just end up standing about looking cool, rather than proactive.
Next up is Vader-lite himself, Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren, like Phasma, are intimidatingly large figures, with Phasma being generally big, and Kylo being a tall drink of water. Both figures are also helped by their great fabric work. Phasma with her cape, and Kylo with his everything, but especially his hood.
Due to his lightsaber not fitting his hand entirely snuggly (can be easily fixed with the transparent rubber bands I lost) I usually pose him in a comtemplative manner, rather than a fighting stance, but he still casts an imposing figure regardless.
Both Phasma and Kylo represent the very best of this line; coming off as small, posable statues, rather than action figures. Their weight, great detailing and effortlessly cool posability make them an absolute steal for the price.
Now for the stormtrooper; the only figure that I had originally set out to buy from the Black Series.
I’m going to let you in on something here; I had all of my doubts about The Force Awakens immediately lifted once I saw the new stormtrooper designs. Something about the way it blended such an original, iconic design with a completely updated aesthetic just hit me, and made me feel at ease. It was why I was so excited to grab a stormtrooper figure in the first place, and boy am I glad that it was an Elite Series figure that I ended up getting.
Looking for all the world like a shrunken actor sitting on my coffee table, the new ‘trooper is perhaps the most easily posable figure in the line, getting into action poses that none of the others have the range of movement for. If the other figures exist as posable statues more than higher-quality action figures, then the stormtrooper really is closer to his Black Series counterpart than the others.
Closely related to the stormtrooper, and sporting just as nice a glossy white paintjob is the flametrooper.
Making the most of a beautifully simple two-tone paintjob, the flametrooper is just a mark below the stormtrooper, due to his more limited posability.
He does however gain points in detailing, as he is the only figure in the line who is perhaps more interesting when viewed from a rear three-quarters angle, due to his unique weaponry.
There isn’t really much more to say about the flametrooper, other than that he was the first figure I went back to buy the day after Force Friday because my baddies team just didn’t feel complete without him.
Which brings us to the last two figures in the wave, which I bought today due to a completionist’s itch and because of how impressed I was with the rest of the line. Both are unarmoured characters, which are always a little harder to accurately render than their completely encased brethren. Something about the armour on all the other figures makes them seem much more true to their onscreen images, in a way rendering a human in toy form just doesn’t come close to until you enter Hot Toys territory.
First up is Rey, who as you can see, comes with the best accessory in Wave 1.
You’ll have to forgive my poor photography skills here, as I promise these last two figures loom much better in the flesh than they do on the screen.
Rey comes with the most accessories, which befits her status as a lifelong scavenger of the planet Jakku (thanks box art info!), so her figure looks best when decked out fully. And of course a ‘figure’ of BB-8 with a whole one point of articulation can’t be beat. Even if he is fully spherical, and thus a little hard to stand up properly.
Finally comes Finn, who is probably the only somewhat disappointing figure in the run, but likely only due to the fantastic company he is keeping. Be warned, I have uploaded two pictures here to try and compensate for the fact that I cannot for the life of me get a good shot of this figure. The flash makes him look like a large Kenner figure, and the flash off makes him blend into the background I stole from some Firefly figures. Just try to blend the two together in your mind and you’ll have the figure as he appears in my hands.
Finn is let down by being a less interesting design than all of our bombastic baddies, and by not having any accessories as cool as Rey. Finn is limited to just the one blaster, which admittedly goes well with his nice jacket. Because he can’t hold the blaster in both hands it seems silly to have him in an action pose, so he ends up standing around looking serious instead.
Now that we know Finn ends up holding a lightsaber in a duel against Kylo Ren it would have done this figure the world of good to have had a blue lightsaber packaged in with him. Having him up against Kylo would have made for a cool action piece for the two figures. That being said, maybe that would have just exposed how these figures really aren’t made for those kind of action poses. The lack of cross-torso arm movement really hurts these figures, but I guess that is why we still have the Black Series.
So yeah, Elite Series Wave 1 is a great collection with more hits than misses. The only thing you really need to remember with these figures is that you can definitely pose them in cool ways, but that action shots are harder to do than with smaller, bendier figures.
I can definitely recommend the Elite Series as unbelievably cheap statues however. I’m totally blown away by how much toy you are really getting for your money.
The Writer of this piece was: Andrew Stevens
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