Well, it’s #MandoMonday again, and frankly, I am running out of ways to find a new take on how to shower praise on the series. The Mandalorian on Disney+ has been pretty mind-blowing for Star Wars fans, and as we await the final episode of season two (gah!), we have to start looking more towards the action figures that will keep us engaged while we begin the slog until season three. Luckily, Hasbro and Target have teamed up for a new release of the show’s titular character and breakout star – Din and Grogu – to carry on the adventures.
If you have been with me for a bit, you should know that I love Star Wars: The Black Series, at least for the most part. It has had some rocky times with bad paint applications (made 1000x better with the Photo Real installation), and terrible soft goods, but as it stands at this moment, the line is better than it has ever been. I love collecting 1:12 scale Star Wars figures, and I consider SWB to be one of the primary lines I collect. That said, it still has some room to improve. The character selection is improving, but honestly, at this point, it could be better, and the timeliness of releases has been pretty slow as of late. I get it, it takes the time that it takes to get a figure to market, and I know that in the case of The Mandalorian in particular, there was a lot of secret around the series. That said, we should be SWIMMING in action figures based on the series at this point.
Season two has been who’s who of famous friends Mando can meet across the galaxy, and the spoiled kid in me wants all of those faces in SWB RIGHT NOW. Seriously, I know we cannot have everyone all at once, but I want to make a plea to Hasbro to try to get better at coordination and timing, as tricky as it can be. It is cool that we now have a Mando with an unmasked head, but that happened a YEAR ago. Greef, Gideon, and Kuiil are finally getting into the line, too, but again, it has taken FOREVER. I know it is tough, Hasbro, especially in the year that we are in, but I think I have a lot of friends who would agree that we are gonna pretty much want everything from the show, so let’s support it like it deserves. Okay, end of rant. I just want more toys.
Anyway, this is now the FIFTH release of old Mando for our SWB collection (original armor, Carbonized, Beskar, and Credit Collection are the others), but it is probably the one we should have gotten all along. Yes, we have been trained to buy and rebuy stuff ad naseum, so I get the strategy, but without some pretty specific changes or additions, I think this would be the Mando figure that makes me say, “I am good,” but since there is now opportunity to do a new likeness, I am sure I will pick that up, too. Yeah, the main figure is basically the same as what we got in the recent Beskar release, but the extras are actually a lot of fun, and there is that removable helmet that you really should never remove, else you get Mando-splained like Din tried to pull with Bo. Heh.
That said, I like having a removable helmet, especially one that fits so well, as that is often not the case. Frankly, I thought the heads were swappable at first because the helmet is not oversized due to having to fit over a head, so kudos to the design team for getting that right. The head is, as you would imagine, VERY specific in terms of what it is trying to achieve. We have only seen star Pedro Pascal’s handsome visage one time in season one, and and it was only after old Din was pretty much dead. So, he is not looking his best, but that is on purpose, so I get what they are going for. The Pascal likeness is there in some spots, but it is not perfect. I mean, it is not offensive of anything, but when Pascal was announced as the lead in the series (before we knew that helmet would rarely be coming off), I remarked that he is going to be like Harrison Ford and be a tough likeness to realize, so I think some of that is going on here. Overall it is fine for playing to the specific Bacta spray scene, but some blood effects (probably not allowed by Lucasfilm) would have been a nice touch. As it stands thought, I am already ready for a season two figure.
Past that, there are some fun inclusions in this deluxe set, and some of them are brand while, some we have seen before. Mando comes with his pistol and rifle, both making their fifth appearance, and his jetpack is here as well. The latter continues to be a point of frustration with this figure because there is no good way to display it with both the jetpack and cape on at the same time. Look, I am staunchly anti-cloth for my figures, so I would like to challenge Hasbro to get a new sculpt of the cape slung to one side so cape and pack can both be properly managed. Short of that, I guess some cloth would work if it has to because something needs to be done.
The little inclusion of the tracking fob and Beskar ingots is a lot fun. Now we just need to get a figure of WERNER EFFING HERZOG as the Client to get us the ice cream maker storage case. I think that fob will come in handy as you can hand it off to any of the bounty hunters currently in your collection since everyone and their mother is currently scoping the Outer Rim for little Grogu. I really wish we would have gotten the Whistling Birds here as those are some of the best weapons Mando has. I guess they are destined for a future release as we are still waiting on the detonators, oh, and that Beskar spear you just know he is gonna need to fight Gideon.
Little Grogu (still called The Child here) gets billing in this set as well, and frankly, he makes off with just as much new stuff as Din. In fact, Grogu himself is all-new to this set, and not the same as the single card figure from earlier this year. This new release comes with some trade-offs as this figure is not as articulated as the previous (no shoulder or ankle joints), but I do find the likeness to be a bit cuter here. The other matches onscreen instances well, but this one has a bit more personality. Generally, I would be annoyed with a step back in articulation, especially since that one arm is permanently raised, but as this one will likely be permanently in the pram, it doesn’t really get to me. The good news is that the head is swappable with the previous figures, so you can mix and match as you see fit.
Speaking of the pram, like the aforementioned timing issues above, it is now an anachronism for the line as Kuiil’s beautiful handiwork went by the wayside earlier this season. That is okay, though because I still love the idea of having the pram for my shelf display. Let’s face it, little Grogu is, well, little, and even though Din will just be a blink in his overall life span, I like to see him raised up and floating alongside “dad” as they traverse the galaxy. The figure its inside well, and you can even close the hatch if danger decides to suddenly strike. The stand is a nice inclusion as well, and the height seems to be good with what is generally portrayed onscreen.
I generally do not “grade” releases in articles like this, but overall I would give this set a solid B-. It is pretty good, but could still be better with a couple of additional inclusions (Whistling Birds), and a few changes to the execution of some parts (the cape). Plus, the fact that this is a Target exclusive will always pull down the curve. I get it, but man, it is never fun haunting a retailer for an exclusive of a primary character, especially in the midst of a pandemic. These guys are sold out on the website, so a-hunting you will go – it’s a shame these don’t have tracking fobs. Amirite?