Wednesday 20 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver. 2.0

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Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 10780 yen

The six-inch Star Wars action figure market has become rather competitive in recent years, particularly when it comes to the most popular characters. While Hasbro will always rule to roost in terms of range with the Black Series, both Bandai's S.H. Figuarts and Medicom's MAFEX lines have become quite the rivals in regards to higher-end alternatives. Multiple seasons also mean multiple renditions of characters, and now Medicom are back with their MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver 2.0 figure. After their initial Mandalorian release back in 2021, this new version of Din Djarin takes inspiration from the second season of The Mandalorian with modifications, improvements and a tonne of new accessories.

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The 200th release in the MAFEX catalogue, The Mandalorian Ver 2.0 comes in a white box that echoes the aesthetics of other Mandalorian merchandise. Most of the box's front taken up by a big window showing off the figure and its incredible range of accessories. Just under that window is a bust image of the figure, as well as the Star Wars, Mandalorian, MAFEX and Medicom logos. Each side of the box sports further images of the figure in poses directly lifted from the series itself, more of which can be found on the back which shows off the full potential of the figure in all its glory. There's just so much on offer with this release the back really is jam-packed with pictures showing off all the accessories and features, with those Star Wars and Mandalorian logos appearing once again alongside a desert backdrop to tie it all together. Open it up and you'll find "This is the Way" printed on the inside flap (a beautiful touch) and then the figure and accessories spread across two moulded plastic trays. Like all MAFEX releases it also comes with a generic clear plastic stand with various adapter pieces, all of which are bagged together separately underneath the trays.

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As coincidentally suggested by the fact this is a Ver 2.0 release, this figure is based on the season 2 appearance of Mandalorian Din Djarin. While subtle, there were some changes made to the armour between seasons 1 and 2 of The Mandalorian – the most obvious being the armour plate on his right leg. The figure has also opted for a more battle-worn gunmetal silver finish on the Beskar armour rather than the shiny silver seen on season 1 figures – a look which is definitely more prevalent in all the promotional material for the series. Based on reviews Medicom had already done a great job with their first MAFEX figure and they've just built on that here, delivering a Mando figure that not only gets the sculpt detail spot on but also the body proportions. This really does look like a man in an armoured suit! Every little detail on the figure has been perfectly crafted and not a paint app is out of place. But without a doubt one of the best aspects of the figure is the soft goods cape, which in season 2 was slightly shortened and given a number of holes toward the bottom to show off its battle-worn look. Not only have these aspects been covered off, but the cape is also wired to give it full poseability.

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MAFEX aren't just out here to impress with looks though, as the figure exhibits a pretty impressive range of articulation as well. Altogether this includes; 
- Ball jointed head, neck, waist and wrists 
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles 
- Butterfly joint shoulders 
- Double hinge elbows 
- Drop-down ball jointed hips 
- Single hinge knees and toe sections 
- Bicep swivels 
The shoulder pauldrons are clipped onto the arms so that they can lift up independently of the shoulder, which definitely helps when it comes to posing. It's a very good array of articulation but certainly not without its limits – despite being there the waist joint is barely useable thanks to the tight sash piece, the blue hip guard pieces are static so can get in the way of leg movement and single hinge knee joints are a little surprising. Overall it does the job well enough though, and it's unlikely you'll find yourself too unimpressed with the range of poses the Mandalorian can pull off. That poseable cape also makes every pose look a hundred times better, so anything it can do it does with considerably more character and personality.

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Then we come onto accessories, and for this release it's a BIG one. Mandalorian Ver 2.0 comes with so much stuff that it's simply impossible to talk about it all in just one section, so I'm going to start off with the basics. First we have a whopping nine additional pairs of hands, ranging from a variety of weapon-holding hands to closed fists, various open hands and even pointing ones. It's a fairly standard selection, but the amount included means all bases are covered. Next we have Mando's standard armaments – a vibroblade, blaster pistol and of course his signature Amban phase-pulse blaster. The latter accessory comes in two varieties – a standard one for holding and then one with the various straps to attach it to his back. Doing so can be a little fiddly, but the instruction leaflet included with the figure lays it out pretty well. The pulse blaster is very nicely detailed and painted, even coming with a translucent lightning effect piece to clip onto the end to represent it being fired. The blaster pistol is another great little piece, and most importantly has been given screen-accurate colours following Medicom's mishap on the first MAFEX release. When not in use, the blaster pistol can be holstered on the figure's belt. Rounding off the accessories is the Rising Phoenix/jet-pack, which also includes two thruster effect pieces. Attaching the jet pack to the figure is a little more involved than expected, as it also includes an alternate backplate for the figure which has a socket for the jet pack. So to attach it you first have to remove the backplate from the figure (which is simple enough), and then connect the jet pack. Moulded in the same gunmetal plastic as Mando's armour, there isn't a whole lot to say about the jet pack other than its screen-accurate look and how everything fits together on it nicely.

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Moving onto the various gadgets housed within the Mandalorian's Beskar armour the figure also comes with alternate flamethrower and whistling bird attachments for the wrist gauntlets, as well as a grappling hook attachment that connects to the right arm. Both weapon attachments are beautifully moulded in translucent plastic, the flamethrower part looking especially impressive with its blue and orange colouring. Both effect parts are attached to the panel pieces they come out from on the gauntlets, so fixing them to the figure involves swapping out the whole panel rather than just clipping them on. The grappling hook is a nice extra part too (albeit one that might not be used as much given everything else this set comes with), which clips into a small hole by the wrist. It's worth mentioning where that hole is because MAFEX figures don't come with a whole lot of instructions, so it's very easy to miss just where it plugs in.

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With weapons being part of a Mandalorian's religion the fun doesn't stop there, as there are also some specific season 2 weapons to make this release extra exciting. First up is the iconic Darksaber, which comes in both inert hilt and fully activated saber variations. A nice chunky hilt with excellent moulding and accurate paint detailing, the Darksaber looks fantastic with its milky white blade that has the crackly black detailing laid on top of it. There are so many great weapons included with this release, but the Darksaber is definitely the highlight. Also included is the Beskar Spear taken from Morgan Elspeth in Chapter 13, which Mando used to defeat Moff Gideon and take the Darksaber. As you'd expect the spear is a long thin piece of silver plastic with good detailing, and can be clipped to the side of the jetpack when not in use. While a great accessory I would also argue that it's also the most fragile piece of the set, and extra care should be taken when placing it in the hands meant to hold it as the grip is particularly tight. I would definitely recommend using a bit of heat on both the hands and the jetpack clip to soften/expand them a bit first – that way you won't suddenly find yourself snapping the spear even when just using it the way it was intended.

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Continuing even further with the accessories the Ver 2.0 figure also comes with two alternate heads, one being far more notable than the other. The first is an alternate helmet with the light attachment fixed to the side, which has been used quite a bit in the series but admittedly isn't the most memorable of gadgets. That said, its inclusion goes to show how dedicated Medicom were in packing this figure with as much as possible. The attachment could have easily been a separate piece that clipped onto the helmet, but at least this way the standard helmet remains a clean sculpt with no visible peg holes or anything like that. The second head is of course an unmasked Din Djarin, which has a superb likeness to actor Pedro Pascal. The details might be a little soft in some places, but it's instantly recognisable as him and sports the perfect neutral expression. This head also comes with a separate neck piece with exposed skin, and both heads can be easily switched onto the figure by popping the parts off their respective ball joints.

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And of course what Mandalorian release would be complete without a Grogu to go with him? Understanding that the character is nowhere near big enough to justify a separate release Medicom continue to package their Grogu figurines in with Mando himself, with the 2.0 figure coming with both a standard Grogu figurine and one moulded inside the now-iconic satchel. Both Grogu figurines are perfectly scaled with the Mandalorian and nicely detailed, though the facial sculpt is perhaps a little softer and less detailed than similar rival offerings. The main Grogu figure seems largely static but actually has head, shoulder and hand articulation, whilst the satchel Grogu is a completely static. However the bag itself as a soft goods strap, which not only makes it easier to slip onto Mando but also looks much better on him alongside the soft goods cape. Two really solid figurines to round this incredible array of accessories off, proving once and for all that this Mandalorian really is the complete package.

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So the final question remains, is the MAFEX offering really the best Mandalorian figure at this scale out there? And given everything discussed so far, the answer is a resounding yes. The Hasbro Black Series figure will always have the edge when it comes to pricing, so the Bandai's S.H. Figuarts release is a much fairer comparison. The MAFEX Ver 2.0 is admittedly a little more expensive, but not only does it come with pretty much everything the Figuarts Mandos have had thus far consolidated into a single release (plus more!), but the body proportions and overall quality of the figure really is a cut above. Far more human-like proportions, more realistic colours, a poseable soft goods cape – when it comes to the base figure it's impossible to find an area that Medicom don't have Bandai beaten in. Grogu comparisons are little more varied, since Bandai have now switched to similar styled figurines that they included with their season 2 and 3 Mandalorian releases. Season 1 however spawned a separate Grogu (then 'The Child') release, sporting more articulation, soft goods clothes, multiple heads and most importantly a crib accessory. That Figuarts release is definitely more impressive (fiddly as it may be), but then you’d expect that given this Grogu had his own separate price tag. MAFEX are definitely winning in terms of overall quality, but S.H. Figuarts are miles ahead of them when it comes to timeliness – while MAFEX are still playing around with The Mandalorian season 2, Figuarts has moved on to both season 3 and Ahsoka. So with that in mind both have their pros and cons, but in a straight side by side comparison Bandai just don't stand a chance here. And that's coming from someone who generally really liked the S.H. Figuarts releases.

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So what else is there left to say about MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver 2.0? Between the sculpting, articulation and INCREDIBLE amount of accessories this release has this really is the definitive Mandalorian figure at this scale. Sure it's also the most expensive of them all, but it's the kind of release where you can see exactly where the money's going. The comprehensive selection of accessories also means it's the ONLY Mandalorian you'll ever need, as opposed to Black Series and S.H. Figuarts versions that have separated the accessories among multiple versions. MAFEX might not be the answer for all Star Wars figures, but when it comes to Mandalorians they're definitely a cut above the competition.

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