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Bandai Japan: S.H. Figuarts Star Wars First Order Executioner, Elite Praetorian Guard and 2BB-2

Today we bring you a review of the second of four sets of two figures that went up for preorder on Force Friday in September. If you have been collecting the Star Wars Figuarts line (or any Figuarts line at all, really), then you know that’s an extremely small turnaround time. But that’s to be expected with a brand new movie coming out. Gaze upon RoboKillah’s pictures (and video) and my near-superfluous babble to see whether these toys do the job.

As with each of the four Force Friday sets, Bandai gave you two options for their massive figure dump: either buy what you wanted individually or pick them up in sets, which means, as an ordering bonus, you get a different variation on the new ball-shaped Droids that have become all the rage in a galaxy far far away. R2 and R5 units are so 30 years ago because now we have BB units.

I’m personally in for any Figuarts Star Wars figures anyway, so getting the sets, and the bonus droids, is just a happy byproduct of a no-doubt clinical obsession with these figures.

This time around we have the First Order Executioner, an Elite Praetorian Guard, and the Resistance Droid otherwise known as 2BB-2. I have many questions, most notably: was there a 1BB-1? 1BB-2? Was 2-1B a distant relation? If you call out his name in a crowded corridor do you have to dial a 1 first? So many questions without answers.

First up, let’s take a look at the Elite Praetorian Guard. The guards have been given quite the push in marketing, with Hasbro pumping out several variations and Figuarts giving equal time to the variety of weapons and designs. I’m not really sure if they’re actually going to be “doing” anything in the movie or just standing around looking menacing, and at this point I don’t care. Red is my favorite color, so I’m in for as many guards as I can get.

As both Hasbro and Figuarts have released the same Guard, there’s an obvious feeling of “who did it better.” Right out of the box, I am much more pleased with the articulation on the arms. While the Hasbro figure attempted to provide some softer material at the elbow so the Guard can bend his arms while retaining the plated armor look, the Figuarts figure opted for a deeper cutout. The articulation point is visible, but the trade off is that he’s much more expressive in his articulation there.

The difference comes down to personal preference, but I definitely prefer function over form in most instances, and being able to pose the Figuarts figure dynamically with a greater range of elbow motion is the most important to me, so the Figuarts is a clear winner in that respect.

The rest of the figure is appropriately sharp, as we’ve come to expect from Figuarts. The armored parts have a nice gloss to them, The robes that cover his legs are flexible enough to not inhibit his motion, but there is an unfortunate “shelf” effect if posed a certain way. With anything other than fabric, that’s just something that’s going to be constant among any character with covered legs. And, much like the sculpt-break on the arms, it will either bother you or not.

Otherwise, the range of motion in all of his joints are mostly excellent. His shoulders are hampered a bit by the plates there, so he won’t be able to put his arms all the way out to the side, but they can be raised above his head.

The legs have the standard Figuarts range of motion. He does feature the drop down hips so he can get into a deeper crouch.

Overall, despite some design-induced hitches, the figure itself is very successful and makes me eager for the remaining versions due out in November and December.

This version of the Guard comes with a nice array of accessories. He comes with three sets of hands: fists, open and weapon-gripping hands. They, of course, can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways.

For weapons, this guard comes with the dual-bladed staff. I’m really hoping the guards get a chance to use all their fancy weaponry in the movie. We get the full, connected staff, and we get the two separated halves that cannot be connected. This is different from Hasbro’s version, where the two sections can be connected for the staff or left separate for the sword-form.

In addition to the staff, the Guard also comes with a sword-whip. You get the sword-form, and then you get the whip-form, which is made of a flexible material. The first time I remember seeing a sword that transformed into a whip was, I believe, Brotherhood of the Wolf. Again, hopefully these weapons are actually used in the movie. But if not, that’s what toys are for.

Next up in our little triptych is the First Order Executioner, otherwise known as “the guy nobody invites over for dinner.”

The FO Executioner is not as novel as the Praetorian Guard, as he has been released in a couple different variations before. His body appears mostly the same, and the only real noteworthy paint difference is the black on the right side of his helmet and his black shoulder pads. I guess those extra touches of black denote his Executioner status. He gets super-pissed if you screw around with his helmet.

I have been consistently impressed by the overall articulation and freedom of motion in all of the First Order Stormtroopers. I will spare you another diatribe exclaiming my schoolgirl giddiness over his articulated pouches, and instead just link you to a previous review on the original First Order Stormtrooper from Figuarts. But seriously, it is so nice not to have a pose be impeded by static, unmoving pouches made of hard plastic.

The Executioner is mainly set apart by his accessories. Like the other variations, he comes with his standard rifle, a blaster with pegs that allow it to attach to his thigh, and another without pegs that he can hold. Talk about thinking of everything …

He has several different sets of hands: trigger hands, cradling hands, fists and a set of staff-holding hands.

The staff holding hands are the important part of his entire “executioner” schtick, because his main weapon is a laser axe. The figure comes with a staff and two swappable parts: the resting axe-head and the open and ready for business section. Both look great but I do feel the absence of a decent-looking laser-effect like the Hasbro figure came with. While probably not completely necessary, it would have been a neat touch and therefore leaves a very conspicuous hole in an otherwise excellent offering.

Last up is the bonus Resistance Droid. 2BB-2 is very simple, but he gets a unique sculpt and the execution is exactly what it needs to be for essentially a beach ball wearing a hat. The top section snaps onto a ball joint that gets a pretty decent range of motion. The included plastic stand is a nice touch so he doesn’t roll around like an idiot and fall onto the floor and then we slip and die on it.

As a general Droid fan and an immediate fan of BB-8, getting any and all of the in-movie BB droids is a nice little bonus to these Figuarts sets, especially considering the figures themselves are worth it all on their own.

Robo has a video review of these figures up, so if you’ve just looked at the pretty pictures and skipped to the end, you can check that out:

I’m a fairly easy target for the Figuarts Star Wars figures, and these don’t disappoint. I’m already ready for November’s figures.

5 thoughts on “Bandai Japan: S.H. Figuarts Star Wars First Order Executioner, Elite Praetorian Guard and 2BB-2

  1. I find the new designs generally facepalming. Take that “Praetorian Guard.” Seriously, that’s the best they can do? He looks like a lamp from IKEA. The boss villain wears a urine-stained bathrobe, and the droid that we’re supposed to fork thirty-odd dollars for is a “beach ball with a hat.”

    Weird. It’s as if the design team struggles with some kind of creative paralysis. PIty the reviewer who struggles to write something constructive.

  2. I am tired of the Star Wars merch…and I think many agree with me. Too much in such a short time seems to be killing interest and the collectors market. I am very interested in the sales aspect of these things.

    A few people on the inside see a big collapse coming for Hollywood and popular brands in the next couple of years.

    The new Star Wars stuff just does not sell well.

  3. It gets weirder when you look at some of their Kamen Rider figures. Some of the reviews I’ve seen indicate that they usually try to make even the smallest parts look like they took the real thing and shrunk it to scale with the main figure.

  4. Yeah, while the model kit and Hot Toys figures do have the logos. It’s weird when SHF skips those small details, like some of Harley’s tattoos and Deadshot’s text on his collar.

  5. About the only thing I think they got wrong this time was some missing details on the Executioner. The shoulders are missing the First Order logos that the behind the scenes photos and clips show these guys have.

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