Monday, 5 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360

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Release Date: September 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, and the cancellation of all major events and conventions has seen toy companies have to rethink their plans when it came to their exclusive releases. Hasbro especially have had a lot to work with given both the variety and popularity of their collector lines. One such example is the Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360 set, the long-awaited release of the popular bounty hunter from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While it's not quite clear what this release was originally planned for, it was meant to be a shared European exclusive. Instead it was released as a fan channel exclusive in Europe across various stores, arriving on month ahead of its US release via Hasbro Pulse. A standard version of the Duros bounty hunter will also arrive as part of the line's 27th wave, however that does NOT include his techno-service droid partner.

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As part of the phase 4 Black Series releases Cad Bane and Todo 360 come in the new style packaging that we haven’t properly looked at on this blog yet, but then again this particular box has some significant differences thanks to its exclusive status. It also gives us a good indication of Black Series boxes might look like in a few years’ time when Hasbro finally go plastic-free, as other than the moulded tray piece and ties pretty much everything here is cardboard. The box is slightly larger than even the deluxe Black Series releases, sporting a black slip cover with the Star Wars logo in glossy yellow lettering and a yellow strip to tell us this release comes from The Clone Wars. The visible spine of the inner tray features the new character artwork that adorns all Phase 4 Black Series releases, although this release will likely lack to artwork connectivity with other Clone Wars figures thanks is it’s bigger size. It does however also feature Todo 360 in addition to Bane himself, making it unique from the standard release’s artwork. Pull out the glossy white inner box and you’ll see three windowless sections - a large one with Cad Bane attached to a moulded plastic tray, and then two smaller sections with his blaster pistols and Todo 360 respectively. On the back of this inner box that spine artwork is repeated alongside a small bio on the two characters in multiple languages.

While the box is very nicely produced, it certainly doesn’t feel like it was meant for opening. The easiest way to open these Phase 4 boxes is from the top, but since the inter tray doesn’t fully pull out (there’s a tab that prevents full removal) this is impossible. Instead you need to cut the tape on the artwork spine and carefully pull out the cardboard tabs without ripping the box, which is far easier said than done. Once you’ve managed that you’ll be able to pull out the actual cardboard tray, cut the plastic pieces and then remove the pieces one by one. Since the plastic tray piece isn’t glued to the box, you’ll then be able to take it in and out of the box without having to open the spine up again. Cad Bane’s coattails are tucked through the back of the tray, so be sure to be careful when removing them so that the paint doesn’t get scratched. 

Though it may seem like this packaging was designed with MISB collectors in mind, then again since the tray doesn’t pull out all the way you’d need a fair amount of room on the shelf to display this box properly. Hasbro were definitely on the right track with this box, but it would have been much better if the sleeve had just been a separate slipcase that could be removed outright rather than being built into the box itself.

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When it comes to adding animated characters to the Black Series there’s usually some element of change made to the design in order for them to fit in alongside their live-action contemporaries, but Cad Bane is pretty much a dead ringer for his original design. His noseless head has that same eerie thinness, and he even has that same toothed grimace you’d often see on the show itself. This still very much looks like a design that could work in live-action though, and Hasbro have realised brilliantly through the various bits of detailing and texture the figure has. Primarily clad in what we can only assume is some sort of space leather, Bane’s coat is covered in minute wrinkling detail that really gives off the look of worn leather. The shirt and trousers have similar detailing, both with additional weathering to simulate wear and tear. On his forearms are a pair of mechanical grey gauntlets with wires reaching underneath his sleeves, both with moulded buttons and carefully applied red paint apps. On the subject of paint apps - the silver could have easily gone wrong on his twin ammo belts but both are crisp, and overall there doesn’t seem to be a single bit of silver paint out of place on the entire body. The coat tails are made from soft plastic, so are able to bend somewhat with the legs but don’t have a great deal of flexibility to them. Cad Bane is easily one of the best looking Black Series figures I’ve laid eyes on in some time - Hasbro really brought their A-game to this one and visually there doesn’t seem to be a single thing to criticise.

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As arguably the most important factor in this whole release, it's extremely pleasing to see that the hat is indeed removable and that underneath is a fully sculpted version of Bane's thin bald head. Though the hands aren't specifically designed to hold the hat they are able to give a reasonably good grip on it for both poses removing and adjusting it. The breathing tubes connected on either side of his face are also removable, both of which coil around into a device which hangs around freely over his back. This is particularly good news for anyone who wants to try popping that head on a clone trooper body to reference that time he escaped custody. The tubes are sturdy enough not that they don't feel like they'll break with repeated removal, but they are a little fiddly and prone to popping out when moving the head. Finally on top of all that the satchel is also a free-floating piece and can easily be removed without having to pop off the figure's head or limbs. Between the sculpt quality, paint job and all these freely-moving/removable parts Hasbro really went the extra mile with this release, and their efforts definitely haven't gone unnoticed.

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As expected for a brand new release Cad Bane also has excellent articulation, which is all the more impressive given how much that coat could have restricted it. Altogether he includes the following;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles 
- Butterfly shoulders
- Bicep and thigh swivels
On top of all that, the rocket boosters just above the ankles can also rotate a full 360 degrees and be positioned accordingly. While there are a few areas that are naturally restricted by that soft plastic coat (namely the waist and backward leg movement), overall Cad Bane remains a highly expressive figure and those little improvements Hasbro are finally implementing on the Black Series (butterfly shoulders, separate head and neck ball joints) make a huge difference. Even the omission of double-jointed elbows and knees doesn’t feel like too much of a loss thanks to the swivel just above each hinge, movement which comes in addition to the standard bicep and thigh swivels placed just above. What makes it all the more impressive is just how seamless the joint implementation on the figure is - there isn’t any sign of visible pins on this figure at all and all the swivels are completely concealed. From gunslinger poses to just standing there looking cool in his cowboy hat, Cad Bane is extremely expressive and sets a new standard in quality for the Black Series.

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Cad Bane's main accessories are his twin LL-30 blaster pistols, which in-keeping with Cad Bane's general look are some of the most cowboy-looking guns you'll find in Star Wars. The guns are impressively sculpted with defined details and a textured grip section, moulded in silver plastic with added paint apps on the grip and barrel. The hands grip the guns perfectly and the moulded trigger fingers really complete the look, and then when they aren't in use they can also be stored in the holsters on the sides of his belt. On face value it doesn't seem like a whole lot of accessories, but then again thinking about the hat and bag being removable you could count them in amongst the count if you wanted to as well. Besides, as a gunslinging bounty hunter the pistols were the most important thing Cad Bane could come with. Hasbro got those right, so what more could you want?

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Of course this special edition of Cad Bane also includes an additional accessory, in the form of his techno-service droid Todo 360. Though often undervalued by Bane, Todo 360 was extremely loyal and an invaluable member of his crew. He also stands out in the Star Wars universe as being a completely new droid design, rather than simply an astromech variant of something similar. Todo 360 might be a much simpler figure than Cad Bane but Hasbro certainly haven't skimped out on the quality here either, sporting perfect proportions and colouring. The figure is also extremely articulated, sporting a ball jointed neck, shoulders, legs and feet. There's even a swivel joint thrown in so that the upper torso can tilt to either side. Some out there will probably question whether Todo 360 is worth the extra money, but look at it this way - Hasbro charged $10 for the Child as well. As an individual release this probably wouldn't work, but as an additional accessory Todo 360 is easily on par with that. Granted the Child is more intricately sculpted, chunkier and has accessories, but the finish and articulation on Todo 360 are much better. If I had to have one minor nitpick it would be that I wished it came with a stand so he could posed hovering at eye-level with Cad Bane, but since stands aren't really the Black Series' thing for the most part it's understandable that one wasn't included here. Other articulated stands work perfectly fine, either if attaching them to the figure is a little cumbersome. All in all it's a very fun little figure and definitely makes this deluxe version of Cad Bane stand out from the regular release.

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Cad Bane is a character who's been at the top of Black Series collectors' wish lists for a long time now, so when Hasbro finally got around to releasing him it needed to be some sort of special occasion. A makeshift Pulse exclusive following SDCC's cancellation might not be what they had in mind, but that certainly doesn't make Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360 any less spectacular. This latest era of the long-running line has come out swinging with arguably one of its best figures in years. Whether its this deluxe edition or the regular retail release, Cad Bane is not a figure you want to miss out on - oozing with personality and the kind of build/paint quality that rivals toys at double this price point. Hasbro are really firing on all cylinders at the moment, and based on the quality of this the Black Series looks to have a very bright future ahead of it.