Friday, 28 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian

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Release Date: April 2022
RRP: $24.99/£23.99

If you ever want confirmation that Mandalorians are a sure seller right now, look no further than the Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian figure. While this splinter group of Mandalorian extremists played a massive role in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, their role in The Mandalorian has been far more limited – appearing in a flashback that revealed how foundling Din Djarin was rescued from a Super Battle Droid attack. However this all too brief appearance debuted a new live-action look for the Death Watch armour, which Hasbro have now added to their collector figure lines that'll surely entice the army builders among us.

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Time is quickly running out for that familiar window box, as Hasbro move ever closer to adopting plastic-free packaging across all of their toy lines. But there's still chance to enjoy it a few more times with the most recent releases, and in terms of box design little else will be changing other than the front. As part of the Mandalorian range of figures the box uses orange font and colour accents, and then on the sloped side of the box sports some great artwork of this Mandalorian armour variant. This artwork is repeated on the back alongside a short bio of the character(s), and the inside the figure and accessories can be found stored on the usual moulded plastic tray.

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As well as being a new variant of Mandalorian armour, the Death Watch Mandalorian is a particularly significant figure for another reason – it's the debut of a brand-new mould. That's right, after seeing the dated Jango Fett mould rolled out for the Clone Wars season 6 Mandos a few years back we now have a new sculpt that shows off how far the Black Series has come. And what a mould this is – beautifully proportioned with sharp detail and vibrant colours. The blue/light blue armour is a bit of a jump from the more traditional grey/blue of the Clone Wars Death Watch, but this look definitely gives off far more of a military platoon vibe. In addition to the usual dings and battle wear the armour also sports a number of white stripes and markings, as well as the familiar Death Watch insignia on the left shoulder pad. As per all of the new Black Series troopers the figure has a moulded head sculpt with the helmet glued on top, again giving it much better proportions. While the Black Series has always gone for a "realistic" aesthetic even with their animated figures, put this side by side with any of the older generic Mandalorian releases and this is one looks far more like a real person/suit of armour.

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But the best part of getting a brand new sculpt isn't necessarily the look of the figure, it's the fact we finally have a generic Mandalorian figure that's representative of the current era of the Black Series in terms of poseability. Altogether the Death Watch Mandalorian features; Ball jointed head, neck, waist and hips Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles Thigh swivels The Fett moulds might have been good back in the day but compared to newer figures they're sorely outdated, and you only have to look as far as the shoulders to see the world of difference. No longer are the pads moulded onto the arms – these are free-floating soft plastic pieces that have that are looped around the peg fitting the arm into to the torso. This means they have some degree of movement to free up the arm articulation and are durable enough to take it as well. While some additional butterfly joints would have been nice, they don't seem to be 100% across the board in the line yet so the lack of isn't completely surprising. On top of this thanks to the additional armour the suit has the use of swivel hinges in the elbows and knees (particularly the latter) isn't as egregious as it is on some other releases. And then finally as the icing on the cake, this mould even has a moveable range finder – something we've seen so many times on clone troopers but annoyingly absent on the Fetts.

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In addition to the jetpack the Death Watch Mandalorian also comes with two weapons – a WESTAR-35 blaster pistol and a new variant of blaster rifle. The pistol was previously released with both Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves so is perhaps a little small for the larger male sculpt, but is nicely moulded and painted with its wooden grip section. When not in use, the pistol can be stored in the belt holster (which in turn can then be fastened for additional security). The blaster rifle (the type of which I haven't been able to find) however is an all new sculpt, featuring an extended scope and stock which allows for dual grip. New weapons are always appreciated on Black Series figures as there's so many repeats, but this one is particularly good and really suits a platoon of highly-skilled Mandalorian warriors. Technically the guns can fit in either of the figure's hands, but as only the right hand has a moulded trigger finger they're definitely intended to be used right-handed.

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For a nameless character that had around five minutes of screen time, Hasbro sure gave it their all with the Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian. After the constant repeats of that dated Boba Fett mould, we finally have an all-new army builder Mandalorian that highlights what the line currently has to offer. With a great sculpt, bold paint job and varied accessories, this is yet another example as to why Mandalorians have quickly become Star Wars' hot ticket item both on screen and when it comes to collectibles. Even if you don't have the desire to army build, if you're a Black Series fan then you definitely owe it to yourself to check this one out.

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