Friday 18 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Captain Rex

Release Date: Early 2018
RRP: £20/$20

If there's one collecting rabbit hole I never truly wanted to get down, it's Star Wars figures. Although the franchise will always be dear to me, the sheer volume of characters and variants on offer makes it feel like a pretty overwhelming prospect. Previously I limited myself to a few select characters and have picked up a few S.H. Figuarts, but thanks to a current resurge in interest I finally find myself experiencing Hasbro's Black Series for the first time. This has been their main Star Wars action figure line since 2013, coming in both 3.75" form and a more Marvel Legends-esque 6" variety. As I'm currently going through a rewatch of Star Wars: The Clone Wars I just couldn't say no the Black Series 6" Clone Captain Rex figure – who was released as part of the main line last year after early previews as a 2017 Hascon exclusive. Commanding officer of the 501st Legion (which would later go on to become "Vader's Fist") under Anakin Skywalker, Rex is one of the few clones to escape the effects of Order 66 – continuing life in hiding until joining the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars: Rebels.

True to its name, all Black Series figures come in stylish matte black boxes with red spines and inner backing card. The top has the Star Wars logo in faint grey colouring, while the bottom right corner has some nice monochrome artwork of the character contained inside. It's pretty basic packaging for sure, but definitely gives off a nice premium feel that this is THE Star Wars line to collect. Also printed on the spine is the figure's number in the 2015-18 assortment, the kind of detail that's pretty unnecessary but will look good if you collect the whole line and have the boxes lined up together. The back features the same artwork again, as well as small bio about the character (in multiple languages depending on the territory). Inside Clone Captain Rex is stored on a moulded plastic tray.

Clone Captain Rex uses a digital facial scan of Jango Fett/Clone actor Temuera Morrison to get a pretty excellent likeness for the head sculpt - and due to the nature of these characters it's one Hasbro can get their money's worth out of by just using again and again with little differences here and there. Rex's blonde buzzcut feels a little more prominent here than it did on the show, but nevertheless it's an excellent transition from the CGI model to a more realistic look. The same goes for the armour, which is a blend of both his phase one and phase two variants welded together. The overall paintwork on the body is also pretty sharp, as its not only been applied but also scratched up to give the look of worn battle damage. Across the arms and legs are also a number of tally counts - a record of Rex's kill score. Hasbro has also given the armour a wash of brown paint to give it a dirtied up look, and while the effect itself is pretty good it's spread pretty unevenly. The torso section is almost completely clean, which doesn't really gel well with the dirtied abdomen underneath or the most visible dirt on the upper legs. The final addition to the sculpt are the fabric skirt sections, which despite seeming a little unwieldy at first are a far preferable alternative to solid plastic versions. These might not have any sort of internal wiring for fancy posing, but they don't impact on articulation and that's definitely the more important thing.

At this kind of price point articulation is of course much less than you'd expect from something like a Figuarts or Mafex figure, but it's still pretty great for a £20/$20 figure. Rex features a ball jointed neck, ball-hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double-hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, a waist swivel, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, double-hinge knees and then some ball-hinge ankle rockers for the feet. Listed out like that it doesn't sound like that much less than a Figuart, but its the range of motion here that's the big difference. The hips are the most significant area in this regard, offering a pretty small circle of motion overall. Still, the armour itself doesn't really get in the way of anything and Rex is still able to pull off a decent range of action poses worthy of a soldier such as himself.

Rex's accessories include two identical blaster pistols (which can fit comfortably into the holsters at either side of his waist) and of course the clone trooper helmet to complete the armour. The helmet is where the combination of the phase one and two armours is the most apparent, and like the body also has the welding marks running around the visor. As well as featuring a moving antennae which doubles as a rangefinder, the helmet also sports some rather sharp paintwork - not just for the welded sections but also just the general blue markings and score tallies on either side. The only real question here is - why a working helmet rather than an alternate head? From a playability (not to mention its less plastic overall) point of view it makes sense, but its a pretty tight fit over the head and repeated removal could easily lead to damage over time. Hasbro seem pretty comfortable using alternate heads in the Marvel Legends line, so why not here? Don't get wrong it being a working helmet is pretty cool, it just seems like a surprising way to go about it for a collector-orientated line.

Japanese lines like S.H. Figuarts or Mafex are all well and good, but their higher price points, strict adherence to the live-action films and above all the fact they're multi-franchise ranges mean they'll never be enough to create a sizeable Star Wars collection. For that you'll want the Black Series, and while the lower price points means they aren't that comparable in quality the line is still extremely good for what it is. Star Wars Black Series Clone Captain Rex is more than proof of that, not just succeeding as an excellent figure but also a great transition from an animated to more realistic aesthetic. There are undoubtedly things Hasbro could have done better, but nothing anywhere close to deal-breaking. Okay Black Series you now have me convinced, I'd better start looking up some of the other great figures I've clearly missed out on…

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