Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Kuiil

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Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Hasbro needed a little bit of time to get the ball rolling, but now Star Wars fans have plenty of action figures from Disney+ smash hit The Mandalorian to look forward to in a number of different scales and styles. Wave 28 of the Black Series paid particular attention to the show, as Moff Gideon and Greef Karga were also joined by a Black Series Kuiil figure. A hermit Ugnaught that’s freed himself from a life of service and chosen to live in solitude, Kuill encounters Mandalorian Din Djarin when he arrives on Arvala-7 in search of “the asset”. Later the Mandalorian enlists his help again Moff Gideon and the Empire remnants in a bid to protect the Child, where he is shocked to find Kuill has repaired and reprogrammed bounty hunter droid IG-11. Kuiil is tragically gunned down by Imperial Scout Troopers attempting to retake the Child, and is buried by Mando in an unmarked grave on the planet Nevarro.

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Kuiil comes boxed in the now-standard Star Wars Black Series mural artwork packaging, joining previous releases as the seventh entry in the ever-expanding piece of art. On top of the fantastic artwork of Kuiil himself, his section even has both him and the Mandalorian riding a pair of Blurrgs just behind him. On the front of the box you’ve got that big window section to take a good look at the figure inside (and since Kuiil is so short his whole body is on show), and then on the back that spine artwork is repeated alongside a surprisingly length bio in various languages. Open up the multiple layers that make up this new style packaging and you’ll find both Kuiil and his accessory neatly stored on a moulded plastic tray.

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As an Ugnaught Kuiil is a little shorter than your average Star Wars character, but fits perfectly in scale with the rest of the Black Series (and to a lesser extent, MAFEX/S.H. Figuarts) line-up. The shorter size certainly doesn’t mean less detail though, because this is another fantastic figure from Hasbro. Head sculpts have definitely improved since the introduction of the photo-real sculpting but can still be generally hit or miss, but Hasbro really shine at semi-humanoid creature heads like this. It’s the perfect likeness of the Kuiil prosthetics that appeared on the show. And as an added bonus, the helmet is even removable to reveal his bald head and ears! It’s a really cool touch that adds that extra dimension to the figure and how you can pose and display it. Interestingly the figure is very light on painted detailing (the belt, shoulder pads and helmet details are the only notable areas), with most of the colouration done with the plastic itself. On the one hand it makes the figure a little less intricate, but on the other it does mean there’s a far smaller margin for error from figure to figure. There’s still plenty of detailing on that moulded plastic thought, the gloves and scarf especially. The scarf and backpack are moulded together as a single soft plastic piece, and can be removed from the figure entirely if you pop off the head.

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Articulation on the figure is great as well, with Kuiil sporting the following joints; 
- Ball jointed head, waist and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles
- Thigh swivels 
Another case of no additional butterfly joints on the shoulders, which shows that those seem to be implemented on a case-by-case basis still and no standard across the entire line. The jury’s still out on whether ditching the double hinged joints in favour of swivel hinges is more beneficial to the bigger things, but for more peaceful characters like Kuiil they do the job well enough. That said, there are still plenty of restricted areas on this figure. The elbows can barely managed a 90 degree bend, and the raised sculpting on the shoulders mean the arms can barely raise either without rotating them first. On a different figure I’d be underwhelmed, but honestly I can’t imagine that much I’d want a Kuiil figure to do that this isn’t capable of.

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Kuiil’s single accessory (other than his helmet that is) is his stun dart rifle, which has been cast in dark grey plastic with a paint brown stock. It has minimal moulded detailing, but is a good likeness of the weapon he uses on the show nonetheless. The rifle also has a flexible strap which can be unhooked from the stock, making it much easier to take it in and out of the figure’s hands without damaging the piece. While you can get a somewhat decent firing pose from the figure, given Kuiil’s size and proportions it tends to look better being carried neutrally - which works fine given that Kuiil wasn’t really much of a fighter anyway. It’s not a very exciting accessory, but then there isn’t really anything essential that a standard release Kuiil needed to come with. It’s a shame that there isn’t also a deluxe version that also came packaged with a Blurrg both he or the Mandalorian count mount. It’s a pretty iconic image from season one, so many collectors probably would have been happy to pay that little bit extra to get a creature figure along with it (we don’t get nearly enough of those in Star Wars lines any more). A single pack release like this could have always followed a little bit later.

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As a key character from season one (as well as The Mandalorian as a whole) Black Series Kuiil is surely going to be an essential pick-up for many, and they’re unlikely to be disappointed with the purchase. Despite seemingly like a fairly basic release when it comes to size, paint apps and accessories, Hasbro have definitely made up for it on the incredible sculpting Kuiil has as well as surprise little features like the removable hat. I’d have still preferred some sort of deluxe release so that we could get a Blurrg along with him, but fingers crossed that still might be a possibility somewhere down the line. Kuiil is a great figure nonetheless, and looks superb alongside the other members of the cast. “I have spoken.”

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