Thursday 10 October 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Ezra Bridger

Release Date: May 2019
RRP: $20/£20

It may have taken Hasbro over three years to get there, but slowly but surely we draw ever closer to having the full main cast of Star Wars Rebels as part of the Black Series. Kicking off with Kanan and Ahsoka all the way back in 2016, more and more of the Ghost crew have found their way into the franchise's premier six-inch line until now we stand with only one absent from the line-up. But before we lament the lack of Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, let's take a moment to look at the Jedi Padawan and revolutionary hero from the planet Lothal. Star Wars Black Series Ezra Bridger was released as part of the line's 21st wave, alongside fellow Rebels star Chopper.

Numbered 86 in the third phase of Black Series figures, Ezra comes boxed in the usual black and red rectangular packaging. As a slightly shorter figure Ezra is pretty much completely on show through the clear plastic window, which is perfect for checking the figure out for any potential paint problems if you have the luxury of picking him up from a physical store. The front of the box also sports some great artwork of Ezra done up in a more comic book aesthetic, which is expanded on the back alongside a short bio about him. Open the box up and you'll find Ezra and his two accessory pieces neatly stored on a single moulded plastic tray.

Hasbro’s new face scanning technology has made a huge difference to the look and quality of the Black Series figures, but for those releases that don’t have an actor likeness to draw from the benefits aren’t quite as obvious. Like his fellow Rebels cast members Ezra has been sculpted to fit a more realistic/general Star Wars aesthetic, and while the results aren’t bad the face sculpt does lack a lot of that cocky charm we see from Ezra in the first two seasons of the show. Characters like Ezra could really benefit from more expressive sculpts, so it’s a shame that Hasbro generally just leave it at a generic look unless the figure just so happens to include extra heads (and that’s pretty rare for the line). Other than that though, the figure looks pretty great. It’s a perfect revisioning of Ezra’s more iconic long-haired look, and with some really sharp paint apps on his jacket, belt and shin pad. The jacket also has a textured finish, making it stand out all the more against the smooth orange jumpsuit. The only real gripe I have is the hook on the right side of the belt intended for his lightsaber is unbelievably flimsy. The saber being designed the way it is it’s hard to latch it onto the hook without accidentally knocking or bending it, but even the tiniest push in the wrong place results in the hook starting to come away from the belt. So much so that I’m wary about trying to hook the lightsaber hilt on there again.

The belt itself is a very weird addition to the figure, because while the head suggests that the figure is based off of Ezra’s look in the first two seasons of Rebels the belt actually comes from his modified design in seasons three and four. One can only assume it was done to give the figure a bit more of a varied look, because the legs would certainly be pretty bare without it. The belt is removable from the figure, but this isn’t immediately obvious at all given the way the holster pieces stretch down and circle the legs. Overall it’s a very solid looking figure with some really sharp colours, but feels a bit like the Black Series of a few years ago rather than up there with the standard of their current offerings.

The rather poor articulation on the figure doesn’t help to shake off this notion either. Ezra features ball joints in his head, neck hips and torso, along with swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists and feet. The thighs have an additional swivel cut, and just below those are a pair of double hinged knee joints. While that sounds like a pretty good spread for a smaller figure, but a combination of bad design and bad QC make this a tough figure to get the most out of. For a start a lot of the joints are unbelievably stiff. The hips and knees especially, both of which often feel like they’re going to break every time you bend them. The upper hinges on the knee joints of my figure barely move at all. Secondly, the belt wrapping around the legs the way it does, combined with the aforementioned stiffness, makes the hips feel nigh unusable. You can barely get any forward or backward motion out of them before the soft plastic connections begin to stretch, and judging by the other bits of easily breakable plastic on here you just don’t feel like risking it. The upper body is generally a lot better, but without that all important hip movement most of it just goes to waste. That isn’t to say you can’t get good poses out of Ezra, but I’m not prepared to potentially break the figure to find out. He’s pretty damn hard to find in the UK.

Ezra comes with just two accessories - his custom-built lightsaber from the first two seasons of Rebels and the Imperial Cadet helmet he often uses for a disguise and/or protection. The helmet appears repeatedly over the show with various different colour patterns, but here it’s been realised in a fairly standard white with red accents in-keeping with the majority of its onscreen appearances. The helmet fits comfortably over the head without impeding articulation, and looks great for an alternate display option or if you’re putting Ezra undercover in the middle of your Empire figures. The lightsaber is of course Ezra’s unique hybrid variant that doubles as a blaster, and like the rest of the Black Series features a removable blade piece. The hilt has been very nicely detailed and can hook onto the right side of Ezra’s belt when not in use. The translucent blue blade is a little bit more problematic though, at least on my copy of the figure where the peg locks extremely tightly into the hilt. Removing it takes a fair bit of force, and only doing so once has already bent the peg to the point where it looks like it’s about to break (much like the belt hook). While I appreciate the option to have the lightsaber without or without the blade attached, when doing so risks breaking it one does wonder if including an alternate inert hilt would be easier (if less cost effective). It’s also a little disappointing that there isn’t any sort of blue blast effect for the blaster side of it either, just to show off that function a little better. I know effect parts really isn’t the Black Series’ thing outside of a few special releases, but with the Power Rangers Lightning Collection including them with every figure the potential they have here has become even more apparent. Still, I’d happily forgo them if it meant we just got better QC on the pieces that are included here.

As fantastic as it is to say that we’re one step closer to the full Rebels cast, Black Series Ezra Bridger is a fairly average figure overall that could have handled some aspects a lot better. The iffy head sculpt can be overlooked in the face of no direct actor likeness and a quality sculpt for the rest of the body, but basic QC problems like the belt hook and lightsaber blade peg being so flimsy shouldn't really be present. Even worse is the absolutely atrocious execution of the legs, because when surrounding straps restrict hip articulation that much you're really missing the point of an action figure. Though somewhat disappointing on his own, Ezra really shines alongside his Rebels co-stars so well worth the purchase if you're a fan of the series. Now just release Zeb to finish them off please Hasbro.

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