Friday 5 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Sabine Wren

Release Date: November 2016
RRP: £20/$20

The Star Wars universe is one that inhabits movies, animated series, books, comics, video games and more, but as far as the Black Series collector toy line goes its the films that naturally take priority. However every so often Hasbro will throw fans of the extended universe a bone, and in 2016 produced a handful of figures to coincide with Star Wars: Rebels. First came Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano, but they were soon followed by the show's resident graffiti artist and Mandalorian heroine Sabine Wren. Prior to her release Sabine had come second in Hasbro's fans' choice poll in 2015, which is all the more reason why her release was so hotly anticipated.

Sabine comes in standard Star Wars Black Series packaging, which is of course a jet black box highlighted by red and white text along with a solid red backing card behind the figure inside. The front corner and back of the box also feature unique artwork of the character in question, and in Sabine's case the art is especially good as it really manages to capture her personality in a single pose. The back of the box also has a short character bio, translated into a number of different languages depending on the territory you're buying the figure from. Inside, Sabine and her four accessories are stored on a single moulded plastic tray.

True to her artist personality, Sabine is possibly changes her look the most over the course of Rebels. Other characters have far more dramatic changes to their look, but with each season Sabine changes up her hair and armour colours. Black Series Sabine is directly based off of her season one appearance, where she went for a rather fetching purple and orange colour scheme. Now while there's a certain expectation when it comes to quality with a collectors' line like the Black Series, but at a £20/$20 price point you also have to a paint job that reflects that. But Hasbro really went above and beyond with Sabine, and she sports some of the sharpest paint apps I've seen on a figure at this price point. Not only are all the sections and symbols (the Alliance-style bird logo on her chest, and the Anooba on her left shoulder pad) all immaculate, but they also have weathering and scratching that looks like its supposed to and not just like someone's scuffed up the figure. Even the random specks of paint on her gloves and shins look like splash back from her various artistic endeavours. It's an incredibly sharp looking figure, which makes it all the more disappoint that the face sculpt doesn't match the same quality as the rest of the body. Hasbro's face printing has significantly improved over the last few years, but unfortunately Sabine not only comes from a time before their technology advanced, but also suffers from not having a real-life counterpart to be based off of. Transitioning from the stylised animation model to a more realistic look that matches the rest of the line makes perfect sense, but Sabine just misses the mark - and the blotchy paint apps on my figure don't help matters much either. Part of this feels like it could have easily been improved with simply a more expressive face though. The stoic look may work for a lot of the Jedi or trooper figures, but Sabine is a bundle of attitude and the face sculpt should express this just as much as the body does as well.

But on top of all that amazing paintwork Hasbro have also done an excellent job with the articulation as well. Sabine features a ball jointed head, ball-hinge shoulders, elbow swivels, wrist swivels, hinged wrists, torso swivel, ball jointed hips, upper leg swivels, double-hinge knees and ankle rocker joints. There are a few areas where the paintwork has made the joints stiff and incredibly difficult to pry loose (primarily the wrist hinges) but overall it's impressive range of movement that allows for plenty of posing options. Despite the lighter frame and small feet she also balances surprisingly well, so you shouldn't have any concerns about her suddenly falling over once you've posed and displayed her.

Sabine's accessories include her Mandalorian helmet (done up in a predominantly dark purple colour scheme that matches her hair and body armour), her two WESTAR-35 blasters and finally her handheld painting airbrush. While the guns can both be stored in the two holsters around her waist when not in use, unfortunately there's no place to store airbrush. All of her handheld accessories are basic one colour pieces but each have some moulded detail to them, with the blasters also sporting some nice silver weathering to give them a bit more depth though. But it's the helmet that's by far and large the best piece here, which gives that really cool feminine twist to the standard Mandalorian look. It is a little bit of a tight fit on the head, but once it's on it fits on firmly and repeated removal doesn't seem to show any signs of rubbing the paint apps off of the face. As an added bonus, the helmet also has a moveable rangefinder which can be brought down to sit in front of the visor.

Buying this figure sometime after the conclusion of Rebels it's easy to wish that she also came with the Darksaber and while this would have been both an excellent and extremely important addition to her arsenal, at the time of production/release she didn't have it in the show so it's no surprise it was omitted. Maybe if a Clone Wars Maul is released somewhere down the line he'll have a Darksaber she could wield, but until then she sadly won't be standing as leader of the Mandalorians.

Iffy head sculpt aside, Star Wars Black Series Sabine Wren is a solid figure that's well worth her place in anyone's collection. The colours and paint apps are of top quality, and the option of displaying her wearing her (equally excellent) helmet softens the blow of head not quite capturing her in-show look or personality. Those rare times the Black Series steps outside of the films always prove to be the most exciting, and hopefully 2019 will be the year that the line rounds off the Rebels cast for collectors around the world.

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