Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios

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

2020 marks a big year for the Star Wars Black Series toy line as it goes through another major overhaul - introducing brand new packaging as well as all-new sculpts for some of its most reused moulds (looking at you Stormtrooper). Among the first waves of relaunched figures were brand new reissues of the Star Wars Rebels cast with photo-real head sculpts (where appropriate), and the return of the Ghost crew can only mean one thing - fans prayers have at long last been answered. At long last, Black Series Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios has finally arrived. The Lasat Honour Guard was the last member of the crew needed in the line, and after years of rumours and teases Hasbro have finally delivered in the form of this deluxe release.

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The reissued Rebels wave (also featuring the brand new Zeb) unveiled all-new packaging for the Black Series, completely doing away with the rectangular black and red boxes these figures have called home for the past few years. These new boxes are still rectangular but have a diagonal spine on one side, stretching out into a longer rectangle at the back. The frame of the box is entirely cardboard with no plastic attachment, and when you open it up (ideally from the top) the whole plastic tray pulls out - consisting of the tray holding the figure/accessories and a clamshell lid. Gone is the engraved style artwork from the previous boxes, replaced with full body artwork on both the sloped spine and the back of the box (where it is joined by a small character bio). Each film/series is now marked with its own unique colour, which in Rebels’ case is purple. But undoubtedly the biggest selling point of all is the spine art on each of the figures from that piece of media connects - so effectively you’ll already have a sizeable Rebels mural if you bought all seven figures in this wave. In theory this should make a great display, but putting the artwork on the sloped spine doesn’t make any sense. If you were to store these boxes like books, there’s going to be huge gaps between the segments - connecting them only works when they’re being put together on an angle. Not to mention Zeb’s box is slightly wider than the others because he’s a deluxe release, which complicates matters further. It’s a really cool idea in theory, but would have worked so much better had Hasbro just stocked to normal rectangular boxes. That way they’re easier for storage AND display.

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Hasbro have struck an excellent balance between the Zeb’s cartoon design and the Black Series’ more realistic aesthetic with this release, as Zeb looks pretty much perfect without having to really change anything. This might have something to do with the fact Zeb’s design is actually based on some of the original Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Chewbacca - something I always thought was a really cool throwback in Rebels. The head sculpt carries a suitably Zeb scowl, giving the design plenty of attitude that you don’t often get with some of the more generic facial expressions. His orange and olive (hell of a colour combination there) has a glossier finish to the rest of the body, which stands out nicely when light hits the figure. Though the torso might seem fairly low on intricate paint apps Zeb’s exposed body is covered in streaks of dark purple that stand out against the lighter shade, all of which have been neatly applied. His right shoulder pad also sports graffiti-like marks, which go well with the ones that are also present on both Kanan and Sabine. As a deluxe figure Zeb is slightly taller and chunkier than your average Black Series release, but in terms of mass it certainly doesn’t feel “deluxe” in the same way the Build-A-Figure repacks do in the Marvel Legends line. Admittedly the Black Series has always been a bit different and tended to play by its own rulebook, but Zeb doesn’t really feel “deluxe” in the same way that the Imperial Probe Droid did either. And while it may have considerably less paint apps, the similarly priced Wampa towers over this figure in terms of height and mass. Make no mistake Zeb looks fantastic, but what constitutes as a “deluxe” release in the Black Series is still pretty dubious.

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Though a slightly bigger than average Zeb’s articulation is largely the same as that of a standard Black Series figure, but there are a few little differences here and there worth noting. Altogether he has the following;
- Ball jointed head, neck, waist and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, shins and feet
- Double hinge knees
- Thigh swivel
The biggest surprise of all here is the ball and socket connection for the head and neck, which makes a nice change from the usual ball hinge seen on Hasbro figures. The two ball joints provide a great range of articulation to the head, all of which is completely invisible under Zeb’s armoured collar. That said the shoulders do have some issues, most notably the hinge not having much more than 45 degree movement (although if they did, the shoulder pads would become an issue). The lack of butterfly joints makes the shoulder issues all the more noticeable too, and it’s just as well those elbows have swivels or otherwise you wouldn’t really be able to bring those arms closer to the chest at all. The swivel hinge elbows look a bit weird here because of how long the joints are, but they work really well and provide just as much articulation as a double hinge probably would on this sculpt. Moving down the body you get some really good movement, with lots of joints on the feet to ensure Zeb can balance well despite not having a lot of surface area to work with. Those feet definitely take some getting used to, but once you do you’ll be pretty impressed with some of the poses Zeb can pull off - at least on his lower half anyway.

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Despite that deluxe price tag Zeb only comes with a single accessory, but boy does he make it count. Said accessory is of course his Lasan Honour Guard AB-75 Bo-Rifle, his people’s traditional weapon of choice. As it’s name suggests the Bo-Rifle can switch between a rifle and electrostaff within seconds, a feature which has been fully replicated on this toy. Simply compress the staff down, twist the midsection 180 degree and pull the handle down to form rifle mode. When compressed the Bo-Rifle can also comfortably fix to Zeb’s back via two pegs. When extended in electrostaff mode, the weapon also has two translucent purple effect part pieces which can slip over the generator tips to show it as active. The Black Series has been dabbling in effect part pieces a lot more recently and little touches like this really make all the difference - both the weapon (and figure as a whole) look so more dynamic because of it. The more colourful look of the Rebels cartoon also makes it stand out amongst the Star Wars universe arsenal as a whole - those green wrappings around the weapon adding nicely to the dull grey/silver colour scheme. Big transforming weapons aren’t really something you see in the Black Series very often, so for Hasbro to pull it off so well with Zeb definitely makes it feel all the more special. My only hope now is that the Black Series will start giving these figures alternate hands one day - at this stage they’re the only Hasbro collector line that doesn’t include at all (outside a few notable exceptions). You could argue they aren’t a necessity, but they’d definitely add a little extra punch to the line as a whole.

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Black Series Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios is a figure many collectors (myself especially) have been waiting for a long time, and Hasbro really don’t disappoint with this release. There’s a couple of minor issues and it’s questionable whether this truly deserved that deluxe price tag (but then, do most Black Series deluxes when compared to their equivalents in other Hasbro lines?), but overall this is definitely one of the better Rebels figures and a great way to close off the main cast. That said, I really hope Hasbro aren’t done with the series just yet. Give me Kallus, Pryce, old man Rex, AP-5 - there are still plenty of fantastic Rebels characters just begging for figures.

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