Tuesday 4 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Hunter

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

As always May 4th marks the annual Star Wars Day: May the 4th Be With You celebrations, and this year Disney are marking the occasion with the premiere of brand new animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+. After making their debut on the final season of The Clone Wars, the series follows Clone Force 99 (aka “The Bad Batch”) - an elite team of clone troopers created with “desirable mutations, during the time after Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Meanwhile Hasbro have been quick off the mark this time around, with the first Bad Batch figures now available as part of the Black Series collectors’ line. Included in this first selection of releases is Hunter, clone commando sergeant and the team’s leader.

Star Wars Black Series Hunter Box 01

Star Wars Black Series Hunter Box 02Star Wars Black Series Hunter Box 03Star Wars Black Series Hunter Box 04Star Wars Black Series Hunter Box 05

Black Series Hunter is the first figure in the line’s Bad Batch range, introducing a new colour accent for the now-standard mural packaging. These figures will have a dark red/crimson accent to their boxes, which runs along the name bar at the front of the box onto the connecting character artwork on the spine. While one might have expected the five members of the Bad Batch to have made up the first five pieces of artwork, the release of the Elite Squad Trooper means that surprisingly they won’t actually be altogether on the connected mural. Still, the artwork featured here of the squad’s leader looks fantastic - both on the side of the box and on the back where it’s accompanied by a short character bio. As there’s not much known about the series yet it’s pretty light on specifics, but still fairly detailed in setting out Clone Force 99 and what “desirable traits” were engineered into Hunter. Open the box up and you’ll find the clone trooper, along with all his accessories, neatly laid out on the moulded plastic tray.

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 02

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 03Star Wars Black Series Hunter 04Star Wars Black Series Hunter 05Star Wars Black Series Hunter 06

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 07Star Wars Black Series Hunter 08Star Wars Black Series Hunter 09Star Wars Black Series Hunter 10

The Bad Batch are an interesting bunch of clones because naturally while they’re all still based off of the Jango Fett template, their unique characteristics give far more unique facial structures. So while you’re still able to see the Temura Morrison/Jango Fett influence in Hunter’s head sculpt, it definitely stands out from the rest of the clones. The half-skull facial markings are a little dark and ill-defined, but overall its a great effort and captures that cartoon/live-action hybrid look Hasbro tend to go for on their figures. The bandana, complete with tiny skull logo, looks great. Moving down you have the Bad Batch’s distinct grey armour, which sports darker grey areas and red accents. The shoulder pads also feature the skull and 99 logos. The armour sports very subtle carved battle damage across the whole body, with some areas further accented by splashes of silver paint. It doesn’t stand out all that well on grey plastic, but looking at the figure up close it really gives the figure a more textured animated look. 

To complete the uniform Hunter also features a removable helmet and backpack, although in the latter’s case you wouldn’t really want to display the figure without it as you’d be leaving a massive plug hole visible. The backpack is simple but fits in very well with the armour - featuring the same etched detailing and red accents. It’s the helmet that really makes the package, beautifully painted and far more striking than any other clone trooper helmet we’ve seen previously. Off of the figure it seems a little on the larger size but it fits over the figure’s head perfectly, and once fitted doesn’t look disproportionate to the body whatsoever.

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 11

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 12Star Wars Black Series Hunter 13Star Wars Black Series Hunter 14Star Wars Black Series Hunter 15

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 16Star Wars Black Series Hunter 17Star Wars Black Series Hunter 18Star Wars Black Series Hunter 19

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 20Star Wars Black Series Hunter 21Star Wars Black Series Hunter 22

Though the sculpting of the armour might be different this is still the new clone trooper body through and through - the main visual giveaway being that identical black undersuit. As such Hunter displays exactly the same range as other “new” trooper figures, including; 
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles
The shoulder pads have been designed differently to previous efforts - instead of being directly connected to the arms, here they’re a separate piece of soft rubbery plastic that has been fastened to the joint within the torso. They’re completely flexible and lift up comfortably with the arm, but will then stay in place unless pushed down again. It’s a perfectly fine design choice for now, but I do wonder about stress marks, stretching and just general deterioration of these parts over time with repeated movement. Whilst I’m still not entirely convinced switching out all the double hinges for swivel hinges on the trooper body was for the best, Hunter nevertheless has a good range of articulation to pull off a variety of different poses. The legs could perhaps do with a little work though, since kneeling poses are pretty much impossible. Too much forward movement and the leg armour is at serious risk of clashing with the crotch piece, either chipping the paint or even damaging the relatively soft plastic. And as practical as the swivel on the knee may be, the fact that the knee pad is fixed in a static position makes any decent use of it look really strange.

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 23

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 24Star Wars Black Series Hunter 25Star Wars Black Series Hunter 26Star Wars Black Series Hunter 27

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 28Star Wars Black Series Hunter 29Star Wars Black Series Hunter 30Star Wars Black Series Hunter 31

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 32Star Wars Black Series Hunter 33Star Wars Black Series Hunter 34Star Wars Black Series Hunter 35

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 36Star Wars Black Series Hunter 37Star Wars Black Series Hunter 38

On top of the aforementioned helmet and backpack, Hunter also comes with a nice little array of weaponry that makes him far better equipped than any clone trooper that has been released previously. More significantly, most of these are new pieces instead of just recycling the same old clone blasters. First up is Hunter’s vibro-knife, which is also the only weapon that can be stored on the figure when not in use - there’s a sheath attached to his left wrist gauntlet. Given it’s the smallest accessory here it’s surprising just nicely detailed it is - the blade isn’t just a vibrant silver, but it also has yellow line markings running down into the black handle. For proper firepower though Hunter also has DC-17m ICWS (Interchangeable Weapons System) assault rifle and DC-17 hand blaster. While the latter weapon was previously included with Rex and Wolffe, the former is a brand new piece. Both weapons are moulded in black plastic and given a wash of silver in an attempt to bring the moulded detailing a little more. It also gives both weapons that same semi-animated look the figure itself has as well. All three weapons can fit into either of Hunter’s hands, however only the left figure has a moulded trigger finger so has the best grip on the blasters. It’s a shame neither of the blasters can fit in the backpack given how thick it is, but weapon storage has never been a big priority for the line so it isn’t surprising. Overall it’s a nice little set of accessories for the figure, and by far the best there’s been on a clone trooper in quite some time.

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 39

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 40Star Wars Black Series Hunter 41Star Wars Black Series Hunter 42

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 43Star Wars Black Series Hunter 44Star Wars Black Series Hunter 45Star Wars Black Series Hunter 46

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 47Star Wars Black Series Hunter 48Star Wars Black Series Hunter 49Star Wars Black Series Hunter 50

With previous Star Wars animated series still feeling somewhat under-represented in the Black Series it’s great that Hasbro have got the ball rolling quickly with The Bad Batch, and Black Series Hunter is a very good start. Taking that brand new trooper body and using it for something far more unique than your typical clone trooper, Hunter is an interesting mix of real-life and animated aesthetics that blend into a fun figure with plenty of accessories and play value. The clone trooper body is something buyers are eventually going to get sick off, but seeing it on more unique troopers like the Bad Batch will certainly help its longevity. Between the premiere of the show and the likelihood of having all five members in figure form before the year is out (Echo is the only one not solicited), it’s looking to be a good year for fans of the Star Wars universe.

No comments: