Friday 7 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series K-2SO

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Release Date: 2016, September 2021 (Re-release)
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

The redesign of the Star Wars Black Series packaging brought about a lot of opportunities for Hasbro, one of which was the chance to re-release a whole range of older figures and make them seem brand new again. Not just because of their fancy new packaging with connecting mural artwork, but also through improved head sculpts that made use of their (then unavailable) photo-real technology. The first batch of figures to get this treatment were the cast of Star Wars: Rebels upon the launch of the redesign, and then some time later it was also the turn of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Initially released all the way back in 2016, the Rogue One crew have been given a new lease on life – joined by a largely unchanged re-release of the Black Series K-2SO figure. While arguably Orson Krennic was far more needing of a reissue, it makes sense that the programmed Imperial Security droid would join his companions so that collectors were able to pick up the whole group in one fell swoop.

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"A reprogrammed Imperial security droid now loyal to the Alliance, K-2SO is an alarming sight standing within a secret Rebel base. The pragmatic droid is an effective insertion agent, as he can blend in perfectly at Imperial installations and outposts."

This wave of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story figures marks the film's debut in the new-look Black Series packaging, with Hasbro designating the boxes teal as its secondary colour to differentiate it from the various other films/series/games. Although he may be a re-release K-2SO's packaging comes with all-new character artwork, displayed on both the connecting mural spine and back of the box. On the back it's also accompanied by the character bio, this time identical to the one on the original release. Despite having no accessories K-2SO's height means he fills up that plastic tray rather well.

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The Imperial Security droid design isn't one that's been in the Star Wars universe for a long time, but definitely didn't take long to make an impression. It isn't just K-2SO's sarcastic personality that sells it either – that hulking torso supported by spindly legs and arms along with the vacant expression giving the design a kind of robotic Slenderman vibe. It's one I'd definitely like to see used a lot more in Star Wars productions, which is why it was pleasing to see them as a common enemy in Jedi: Fallen Order. The quality of the sculpt just goes to show how well Hasbro were able to do the job first time around on this release, this figure naturally lacking the poor face sculpting the other Rogue One figures have. There was one mistake that needed to be rectified though, with the original release sporting eerie red pupils inside those vacant white eyes. Admittedly this only affected the very first run of the figure and was quickly fixed, but still worth mentioning nonetheless. The figure has a very faint texture to the last which gives it a very nice feel and finish, along with the varying bits of silver paint scuffing that has been applied to give him a more worn look. The paint apps might be a little spotty here and there (mine has a weird red scuff on the head) but overall is pretty great – the Imperial insignias on either shoulder being a particular highlight.

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One of the best things about getting droids in the Black Series is how different their articulation can be to a standard figure. With things like Astromech droids this is a little more obvious, but even the more humanoid ones like K-2SO can have vastly different joints and poseability to the "actually-human" figures. Altogether K-2SO features; 
- Ball jointed head, neck, upper torso and hips 
- Swivel hinge shoulders and wrists 
- Pin joint elbows, knees and ankles (in two places)
- Upper/lower elbow and knee swivels 
There is a lot to like with this figure. Addressing the most obvious thing first, the shoulders and hips are pretty restricted. Though the figure has proper swivel hinge joints installed in the shoulders, their design means the arms can't raise very far before the tops press up against the torso. Similarly the legs simply aren't really designed for a great deal of outwards movement, despite both the design and cavities above suggesting otherwise. But wow does everything else on this figure sound good – with swivels and pin joints everywhere to give him human-like movement, but with that added droid flair. The ankles are particularly well designed, with two separate hinges to give both ranges of movement a standard swivel hinge would otherwise give. K-2SO even has a ball jointed neck and head, something that was rarely seen on Black Series figures back in 2016. There is one problem though, and that's just how fragile this figure feels. Between a lot of the joints being extremely stiff and the design featuring spindly arms and legs, it isn't hard to imagine something snapping on this release under the tiniest amount of pressure. The pin joints in the elbows and knees are particularly concerning. You can get some great poses out of this figure, many of which most Black Series figures would struggle with, but there's definitely an element of fragility to this mould that I'd rather do without.

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Sadly K-2SO doesn't come with any accessories, which isn't all that surprising really given that there isn't anything essential the droid would need to come with. However the important thing is that he is perfectly capable of holding a Stormtrooper blaster rifle, which means you can recreate his final scenes of taking out oncoming troopers before eventually meeting his end. Admittedly it’s not a fantastic fit but it gets the job done, and the hands are moulded in a way that the grip is tight enough for the rifle (or any other similarly sized weapon you have in mind) not to slip out of his hands.

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Admittedly I bought this figure not because of Rogue One but rather my love for Jedi: Fallen Order and the role Imperial Security droids play in the game, and in that respect Black Series K-2SO is a great addition to the collection. It's one of the best (and possibly underrated) droid designs in the Star Wars universe, and this sculpt definitely does it justice – either as K-2SO or as a nameless unit programmed to give Cal Kestis grief. What does let the figure down though is the articulation, which should be fantastic but instead has to constantly be handled with kid gloves for fear of anything snapping. What should have been an amazing release is instead one that's lovely to look at, but less fun to handle.

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