- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2013

The collecting Force is strong with Hasbro’s latest action-figure ode to a galaxy far, far away. The toy maker’s inaugural Star Wars: The Black Series line-up offers 6-inch-tall versions of fan-favorite characters with extended articulation and impeccable detail.

Figures currently available include a battered Stormtrooper, Lord of the Sith Darth Maul, the droid R2-D2 and a hero who went from a Tatooine farmhand to a hero of the Rebellion’s struggle against the evil Empire.

Figure profile (paraphrased from the box): Luke Skywalker uses the power of the Force and his piloting skills to destroy the first Death Star. “It will be just Like Beggar’s Canyon back home,” the cocky lad was known to have predicted.

Accessories: Dressed in his famed orange, X-Wing flight suit from the film “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” Luke arrives with 20 points of articulation. He also has a blaster and lightsaber with detachable translucent blue blade.

Details to his outfit include loose-fitting strappings, a rudimentary life-support control panel on his chest and a helmet. The helmet is a highlight with a weathered look about it as well as intricate logos plucked right from a frame of the movie.

The suit’s paint detail includes a shiny black for thermal gloves and boots, silver highlights for the signal flares below Luke’s knee and data canisters on his shoulder, and a bright white for the vest. The figure also bears a pretty tight resemblance to a very young Mark Hamill, who portrayed Luke Skywalker.

Hasbro is now using softer rubber for hands to easily grip, and the helmet manages to fit perfectly over his head despite feeling like the chinstrap might snap while putting it on.

His favorite droid companion R2-D2 (sold separately), is loaded with stuff such as a lightsaber hilt to stick into the top of his noggin, swappable rocket jets, antennae and an Ewok shocker hidden in a side door. Owners can turn his head to have his third leg screw out in place. Since R2 is a smaller figure and might feel less economically substantial than the others in the series, it might have been nice to add a simple sound-effect feature.

It’s also worth mentioning the slick packaging comprised of a black box with orange striping that verges on a display case. It made me think twice about wanting to remove the figures from their impressive tomb.

Price: $19.99

Read all about it: Dark horse Comics offers the monthly series Star Wars ($2.99 each), with a storyline taking place between the movies “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.” The comic features many of the original cast including Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and the world’s most famous droids, C-3P0 and R2-D2.

What’s it worth: With Hasbro having exhausted near every character variation and design from its 3-3/4 inch lines of figures over the past decades, the 6-inch version is a natural progression and welcomed extension.

However, the price is the choke point here. I’m looking at a wall of Hasbro’s super-impressive, 13-inch-tall plastic statues from its Unleashed line (from back in the early 2000s) that can still be found in the $25 range online.

Do I spend $20 on a plastic 6-inch figure, look for some of impressively detailed and larger Unleashed for roughly the same price, or take a serious plunge in Sideshow Collectibles 12-inch (starting at $99). It’s all a bank account waiting to be drained.

I don’t have an answer here, folks. Hasbro’s Black Series looks great and will satiate the Star Wars collector looking for the latest and greatest to add to his trophy case. He’ll especially be interested in seeing the Wave 2 line-up that includes Han Solo, Princess Leia (in her Jabba the Hutt slave outfit) and Greedo.

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