Author Archives: Troy Brownfield

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Super-Articulate: More Lucasfilm 50th and Bad Batch Hunter

Greetings! For your May the Fourth, we have five Star Wars Black Series figures here for your perusal. Four are new versions of previously released figures, all available on the Lucasfilm 50th Anniversary Archive Series card. The fifth is part of a brand-new Disney+ show that debuts today. Let’s check ‘em out.

The Bad Batch: Hunter: Hunter is the leader of Clone Force 99, nicknamed “The Bad Batch” because each Clone member possesses an advantageous mutation. Hunter himself benefits from enhanced senses. The characters’ armor is styled after the common Clone armor, but in a stylized gray.  In figure terms, Hunter comes with a number of accessories, including a removable helmet, a DC-17 hand blaster, a vibro-knife, a backpack, and a DC-17m repeating blaster rifle.

Right off, this guy looks great. The figure really captures the look from the animation, and they really tried to nail the face tattoo. The vibro-knife slides into a wrist gauntlet sheath, and the backpack fits on the figure via a t-shaped plug. The tendency today is to make two heads for a figure when you have a helmeted or unhelmeted look, but I really like that this comes with a (slightly flexible) helmet that you actually put on and take off of the figure.

I also find that Hunter is a touch more poseable than is the norm for the armored figures. Maybe that’s just my impression, but the fighter posed easily and the helmet managed the trick of both fitting snugly and coming off easily. I really like Hunter, and I’m looking forward to filling out the team.

Tusken Raider: I never had the first SWBS Tusken, so if this guy is basically the same . . . he’s new to me. I love this guy. The face is pretty exacting, the cloth robe hangs well, and the details sing everywhere. The figure includes a cycler rifle and a gaderffi stick with three interchangeable ends. When shooting the pictures, I was a little more interested in shots with the cycler rifle, probably because my original 12-back Kenner figure didn’t have one. However, I did include one triumphant gaderffi-hoisting shot. I think that this is just great overall.

Death Trooper: I’m a sucker for Stormtroopers and all their variants, so I jumped at the chance to pre-order that last three figures we’re covering this week. Up first is the Death Trooper, distinguished by its black armor. The figure comes with a pair of accessories: the SE-14r light repeating blaster, and the E-11D blaster carbine. Death Troopers were first seen in Rogue One, and have since appeared in The Mandalorian.

One of the cool things that you can tell under direct light or in the camera flash is that the figure isn’t totally black; it has gray and greenish accents at the joints. I like the Death Trooper design, and I’m glad it got a re-release for the people that didn’t get it the first time around (like me).

Shoretrooper: Like the Death Trooper and the Hover Tank Driver (coming in a minute), the Coast Defender Stormtrooper, aka Shoretrooper made its debut in Rogue One; like the other two, it’s also been seen in The Mandalorian. The Shoretrooper armor was designed for just that: operating in coastal environments. Like many Stormtroopers, the Shoretrooper carries an E-11 blaster rifle.

One distinct element of the Shoretrooper is the lack of full leg armor, and that’s reflected in the figure. Like the film character, the figure has that visor build-out on the helmet. I like the discoloration on the armor; it what armor would look like if it had to stay in a sandy, salt-heavy environment over a long period of time. It’s a good looking figure, and it can add some versatility to your displays.

Hover Tank Driver: This armor got a lot more play in Season 2 of The Mandalorian as Mando and Mayfeld. Hover Tank Drivers (aka Imperial combat assault tank pilots or tank troopers) did exactly what their name implies: they drive hover tanks and other heavy vehicles. In Rogue One, the operated hover tanks at Jedha City.

The armor bears similarities to the Shoretrooper, especially in terms of the unarmored thighs. The helmet is stylized differently, maybe evoking a heavier feel as befitting a helmet for an armored vehicle. Like the Shoretrooper and other Stormtroopers, this one comes with an E-11 blaster rifle. It might not be the most exciting divergence of the Stormtrooper armor, but I think it looks pretty cool.

All of these figures are available now in stores (if you can find them) and at various online outlets. So what do you think, collectors? Are you liking the Archive selections? How about the Bad Batch? Let’s hear it.

Super-Articulate: The rest of Mr. Hyde (and Katy!)

Welcome back, figure hunters! As you’ve read in recent weeks on Graphic Policy, the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Marvel Legends assortment has had a bit of a strange release. Figures slipped out ahead of the April 25 street date at some stores, the pre-order information didn’t go up until April 24, and it was generally a very odd roll-out. But that’s over, the figures are in stores all over the place, and I’ve obtained the remaining four in the Mr. Hyde BAF wave, as well as the Target exclusive Katy. Let’s break it down.

Wenwu: There’s no way around this: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, aka Tony Leung, is a f——g legend. LEGEND. A massive star of Asian cinema and one of its greatest actors, period, the casting of Leung as Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu (and *cough*TheMandarin*cough) is a coup of epic proportions. So obviously, they have to do a good job with the figure’s face. And they DID. Hasbro has really improved the facial rendering on MCU figures by leaps and bounds.

The whole assortment has some really great costume detailing. There are intricate patterns and textures on the figures that you can tell took time. Those are also pieces that wouldn’t easily be repurposed, meaning that this is a case when those parts were created expressly for this wave without a huge chance they’d be used again. The Wenwu figure benefits from the double-elbow joint, which is great for posing. You’ll notice the five rings on each forearm; advance buzz is that this is how the Mandarin’s ten comic book (finger) rings are represented in the film. That’s a striking look, and another unique pair of pieces. Like other figures in this assortment, Wenwu comes with various hands for fight posing. Nice work overall.

Death Dealer: The cinematic Death Dealer has a great look. That mask is awesome, and the figure captures it. Like Wenwu, there are highly detailed vinyl elements. The paint color on this figure in particular pops; the blue is very deep and rich. DD comes with multiple hands, two of which are devoted to knife throwing effects. One holds a single knife as if it’s about to be thrown; the other has two in flight. I like dynamic accessories like this that can suggest action even in static posing. There is a slight bit of posing difficult on the figure’s left side, as the cut of the tunic and the stiffer vinyl prevents that leg from accessing full poseability.  Nevertheless, it’s a great look, and there are creative ways to address that if you’d like. This might be my favorite on the group on sheer look.

Xialing: Shang-Chi’s sister Xialang gets an excellently poseable figure. Like the other Shang-Chi figures, this one comes with multiple hands for fight choreography posing. I realize that it’s specific to the character design from the film, but it’s always refreshing when a female figure isn’t in heels. For one thing: much, much easier to stand. While this figure isn’t quite as visually interesting as some of the others, I feel like the utility of being able to pose it well makes up for that.

Civil Warrior: The Civil Warrior figure is based on the character designed used in the Contest of Champions game. Some parts appeared to be repurposed from the previously released “Hydra Cap,” but I have to say that this one looks great. Nice color choices and great paint apps, particularly on the distressed shield, really stand out. And this figure has some great poseability as well. I realize that this won’t be everyone’s bag; hell, I wasn’t super-excited when it was announced. But it was definitely one that makes a strong impression in person. Solid.

Mr. Hyde: I’ve been waiting for Mr. Hyde for a long time, mainly because he was part of the “Under Siege” Masters of Evil line-up. Also, with Mr. Hyde in the line, that should theoretically move Quake closer to reality. I might have preferred the earlier look to the slightly more dapper Hyde, but this is a GREAT BAF. My favorite detail is the bloodshot eyes. What a great idea, and what fine execution. Love the cane as a big-ass accessory. It’s not often that the BAFs get an accessory that large designed for them (Cull Obsidian and armored Thanos aside), so it’s great to see the work go into it. Suit color is great and the figure comes out appropriately huge. I really like this and, for “Under Siege” reasons, I’m glad he’s bigger than the Wrecking Crew. Well done.

Katy (and Morris) Target Exclusive: If you’ve read this column, then you know that Exclusives are a bane of my existence. I had very good luck ordering the Target exclusive Retro Rogue and Gambit online a few months ago, though, so I tried to be optimistic. A few hours before the stores opened for the April 25 onsale date, the Target app added this one for order. I placed a pick-up order online, paid with Red Card (5% off, kids), and picked it up later. Incredibly easy.

Outside of being an exclusive, this one has been contentious online for a few reasons. One, people have mocked the name Katy. Y’know, it’s the character’s name. If she has another, hidden identity, they’re hiding it, and that’s fine. Two, the comparison between her outfit and Mulan. Seriously, that’s your gripe? Three, that it’s Awkwafina. That’s your own problem. And Four . . . Morris.

Morris (whose name we know because he comes in a Lego set, and is named on the box) is a DiJiang. It’s a divine bird from Chinese folklore. Obviously, the movie plans to lean into more of the wuxia genre; if you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means “martial heroes,” and references legendary heroes from ancient China, frequently represented in fantasy literature or film (notably, to American audiences, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero). It makes sense to incorporate the genre, especially if the film contains a rumored appearance by Fin Fang Foom (a Great Protector dragon character has already been spotted in action toy and Lego form) and also features guardian lions (glimpsed in the trailer). So, as far as all that goes, Morris is cool. He’s a great value-add to the figure.

As for Katy herself, I think that the figure landed a good likeness of the actor. The bow, quiver, and arrows are all new accessories, and the quiver in particular is tailored to fit the figure. The long dress outfit is restrictive for posing, but it’s definitely distinctive and doesn’t look quite like any other figure in the line. In fact, one of the best things about the Shang-Chi figures in general is that have a unique identity, which is great on a number of levels.

If one thing characterizes this assortment, it’s EFFORT. You can see it in the detail, you can see it in the elbows, and you can see it in the willingness to make new pieces and accessories. They’re primarily new characters, they’re colorful, and they’re not like any Legends assortment we’ve seen before. I like them even more than I expected to, and I always consider that a fine compliment.

Behemoth’s New Monster

Steve Ekstrom

A little bit of full disclosure to start: I’ve known Steve Ekstrom for years. He served with me on the Best Shots team at Newsarama, and wrote for my ShotgunReviews.com. I joined him when he spearheaded the Imminent Press Kickstarter for Terminal. He lettered part of Sparkshooter. In a way, that makes me an ideal interviewer rather than a conflicted one, because I know where the bodies are buried; I helped bury some myself. But now, Steve, who has worked in and around comics for years, is back with a new title, a new job, and a new mission. He’s the new Editorial Director for up-and-coming publisher Behemoth Comics. And like that name might imply, there’s here to do some damage.

Graphic Policy: Some people might remember you writing for Newsarama many moons ago. I’ve talked to a lot of other people about this, so here goes: in what way was working in comics journalism a help, and in what ways was it a hindrance, when it came to breaking into comics? Would you do that differently now?

Steve Ekstrom: Wow, big guns first, I still like the cut of your journalistic jib after all this years, my friend.

I think being a journalist in comics for nearly a decade taught me a lot of valuable lessons in professionalism like “Don’t go into business for yourself while you’re working on projects for other people or publishers” or “This is the proper decorum for interacting with established creators” or “Try not to ruin your own career by writing really negative reviews full of hyperbole that attack the creators ability to make a paycheck.”

Those are all lessons I had to learn through experience. I feel like a cat that’s missing three or four lives now but I’m still out here trying to tell stories and make comics. [laughs]

I will admit that journalism did open doors for me in that it gave me a degree of notoriety and the ability to guarantee smaller publishers at least one interview to cover their content because, contrary to popular belief, most major websites do NOT adequately cover lesser-known indie creators who are just starting out. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of needing all your articles to drive clicks and/ or the need to be first with major news items for trending moments on social media.

In terms of doing things differently, I would have played less World of Warcraft when I was still just starting out. I would have tried to save more money to pay professionals to get things done faster. I was very fortunate to get to work with artists and colorists who were starting out just like me and we were all hungry and working for free. We needed small amounts of content to create a body of work to show competency so that’s what we did. Did I offer to pay in exposure? Sure, a little bit. If you’re just starting out and you put the right squad together magic can happen.

Graphic Policy: I think that Matt Brady is an underappreciated figure in comics in the 2000s. What impact did he have on you?

Steve Ekstrom: Let’s be honest here: You gave me my first invite to the party. You saw that I had some writing talent on MySpace of all places way back in the middle of 2006. You offered me a spot in the Best Shots squad. I didn’t even KNOW how big Newsarama was until I spoke to my old college friend, Adam Tracey, who was the Managing Editor of Toyfare Magazine at the time.

Matt Brady gave me my first paycheck as a journalist in the comics industry. He gave me the confidence to be the work horse I wanted to become in my first year at Newsarama and he let me earn my spot. I will always be forever indebted to the two of you.

In all seriousness, I want to see Matt write a Power of the Atom book at DC. He pitched it to me one time when we were heading to a mixer for DC Comics in San Diego and it was glorious. I’ve also had the pleasure of editing some of Matt’s work a couple of years ago; he’s incredibly talented.

Make some more damn pamphlets, Matt.

Graphic Policy: Tell us about your experience with DC’s old ZUDA program.

Steve Ekstrom: It was eye-opening to say the least. I learned so much about actually “making” comics in that time period. The 4:3 format was unique and frustrating because it changed the way you tackled a page and the “grid”.

I also learned a lot about marketing a project for a competition. So much hustling is needed! It was kind of the same sort of month long sprint you make with a crowd-sourcing campaign. This was also way back before everyone and their mother was online every single day for 12 hours a day on their phones. And I totally sucked at Twitter back then…and, well, I still do.

Mostly, I learned a valuable lesson regarding “word economy” in sequential storytelling. I shoehorned a ton of information into our 8 page submission thinking, “Oh, yeah, if they can get past the heavy lifting in the intro, they’ll get action-packed explosions and wrestling with albino crocodiles in the next 8 page segment.” Not so much. We came in third for the month with over 60,000 views for “The Ares Imperative”. [laughs]

Graphic Policy: You’ve been on the positive and the negative side of crowdfunding experiences. What did you learn from both outcomes? And what do you think of the ways the crowdfunding is being used today?

Steve Ekstrom: I know that I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded but that’s just part of the process. You’re not living your life if you’re not failing upward at times.

Truthfully, there’s a lot of nuance to it. Knowing which month to campaign or which extras to add or how to get estimates on everything connected to your funding goals and still hitting a reasonable over-funded benchmark for the project you’re presenting. All of it. It’s a LOT. The goal also has to make sense in regard to what you’re offering. I totally messed up on my first Kickstarter because I had no concept of scope. We were trying to raise $20K and we didn’t even have stories in the can yet. If you’ve never tried to crowd-source a book: DON’T DO THAT. Have stuff to show potential backers.

When we funded on our second outing, I learned how to be a small publisher. I learned how to package an entire book from concept to marketing to printing and distributing it out of my house. It was absolutely exhaustive but I loved every minute of it.

I want to see crowd-sourced comics continue to flourish and I want platforms like Kickstarter to keep creating opportunities for creators to make new comics that don’t have the luxury of bigger publishers’ bank rolls. I think there are murky lines being crossed when bigger companies have the scratch to make their own books without sourcing but I also understand that crowd-sourcing is just pre-ordering with extra steps most of the time. I could talk about the merits of these sorts of scenarios all day with the right group of creators.

Graphic Policy: In addition to writing, you also developed your lettering talents and began picking up work. What motivated you to do that, and is that something you plan to continue?

Steve Ekstrom:
Honestly? I made the same mistake most eager new creators and I devalued paid letterers by trying to learn how to do it cheaply on my own thinking that it would be “easy”. I was incredibly wrong.

Looking back, I got lucky because I have a touch of OCD so I would pour myself over my lettering until it looked professional on my first published story but it was still nowhere near the perfect digital stuff done by Nate Piekos or Richard Starking. I have learned to love the craft of lettering and typography.

The most important lesson I can impart on new creators: PAY THE LETTERER. You’re going to think that lettering is the least important aspect of the book. You’re wrong. Your story is the least important, writer person. The technical aspects of the book can easily carry a shitty story. Lettering is the least important part of production when new creators are considering what’s important. However, bad lettering is the FIRST aspect of a book to take a reader out of their experience reading your project if it’s done poorly.

I’d been lettering my own projects for roughly a decade before I felt comfortable enough to charge money for my services. Now, I offer to edit as I letter and it works really well with well-conceived projects that need minor polishing. They get both services for one low rate.

Going forward, I will be lettering for my limited number of clients as well as on most of the projects I will be writing or editing because it allows me to have tighter control over the production of the overall work. Now that I’m joining up with Behemoth, I may even start lettering some of their books I’m not connected to directly. I’m not allergic to money and I love making comics professionally. Let’s make this bread!

Graphic Policy: How did you first become involved with Behemoth?

Steve Ekstrom:
Mark Bertolini approached me to letter a project called “Feeder” with artist Darryl Knickrehm. Mark worked on Terminal Pulp Anthology with me and I absolutely loved Darryl’s style when I saw his work on The Argus at Action Labs. I jumped at the opportunity to have my name on the cover of this project.

Mark introduced me to Nathan [Yocum] and we got on the phone and talked for like 3 hours. He reminds me of a much more gigantic version of my best friend, Mark. He and I just live on this crazy wavelength made out of frenetic ambition, late night taco bell runs, horror movies and content strategy regarding making comics. He’s a soul brother, for sure.

Graphic Policy: You’ve just been named Editorial Director; can you outline what that job IS and what it DOES?

Steve Ekstrom: For me, I think one of the most important things a small publisher needs is brand identity. The comic industry has a sea of hobbyists and amateur creators who want to make comics so there is a massive body of work you have to swim through to get to the surface, to be seen and sell your products.

Having a clear cut vision for the direction of the creator-owned books is important. Understanding the marketplace and what sorts of books you want representing your brand is so crucial to competing in a large marketplace that has a diminishing number of brick and mortar stores with budgets and fickle readers. We’re all fighting for the same $20 every week. And you know what I’m going to say next…

$20 is $20.

Joking aside, I bring a wealth of practical business experience as a journalist and indie creator to the table. Behemoth was just a natural fit. They approached me about having a role at the company and said, “What would you like to do?” so I told them I wanted to help them create a monolithic brand and I wanted to have my hands on as many projects as a guy with two hands and a Doc Ock harness could handle. I love this industry and I would happily spend the rest of my life making these damn pamphlets.

As for my major role, I am going to be handling a new imprint of direct-to-digital projects called D2D. We’re still relatively small as a brand so investing in up-and-coming creators is a little risky in that we have a narrow margin for error if we pick up a project that doesn’t end up selling as well to retailers as our sales forecasts project. So, we want to create a space for creators who have projects that may not be quite ready for “prime time” but still could use an opportunity for growth and experience through our digital storefront on Comixology. It’s a win-win situation when you consider the outcome.

Rising stars can have a recognizable brand on their product while they learn to market on a smaller scale with less risk of having to worry about print thresholds in a competitive marketplace. In the event that we discover a sleeper hit digitally, we can turn around and produce a print run of a project or collect a trade with minimal overhead costs.

Graphic Policy: You’ve already expressed an interest in assembling unknown talent. Can you speak on why that’s important to you?

Steve Ekstrom:
This is where I guess I should also mention I’m also going to be the editor of a direct-to-digital anthology project that we’re calling PRIMER. One of my first projects was published in an old anthology series called NEGATIVE BURN from Desperado Studios back in 2008. At the time, Negative Burn was the BEST place to find tomorrow’s creators and a lot of big names today got their first big breaks in that anthology.

I want to do the same thing with PRIMER. I know how hard it is to make comics and have them reach the right people so that you can develop yourself professionally. This is my chance to remember where I came from, to honor the people who gave me my first opportunities and to “pay it forward” by helping young creators who have the drive to persevere and the hunger to want to make polished, professional looking products. Again, it creates more opportunities for me to make comics. It doesn’t get any better than that but…

Making comics isn’t easy. Like at all.

The people who make it to the top of this industry are 1% of 1% of 1% of a body of people who all want to tell stories and all want to compete for the same five bucks. If you aren’t competitive and you aren’t constantly growing or developing your skills, you’re probably not going to get to write Spider-Man or Batman if that’s what you aim to do. Most of us have to earn that right with hard work and quantifiable sales figures. Hell, I’m still trying to get to that point in my career, too. [laughs]

All that said, there’s still going to be fairly strict submission process for D2D and PRIMER. I am going to be working with Nathan as well as our other Senior Editor, Kevin Roditeli, to iron out clear cut guidelines for our entire brand.

Graphic Policy: You’ve already worked on an anthology yourself with Terminal Pulp Anthology. What makes for a good collection, and how do you make Behemoth’s stand out?

Steve Ekstrom:
Ironically, the best advice I’ve ever heard about an anthology is this: “Your anthology can only be as good as the worst story” and, let me tell you, that advice is painfully accurate. I have spent a lot of time collecting all the popular anthologies that have come out over the past 20 years. All of them have a range of stories but the one factor that I remember seeing most? Technical proficiency.

As I said earlier, the least important part of a comic is the story and that’s coming from a guy who went to school to be a writer. It’s incredibly humbling to accept this as a truth. Good art, exceptional coloring, technically polished lettering can all elevate a mediocre story. So, yeah, be a good writer and know your craft but this entire medium is still visually based. Bring the quality with the visual elements so that those elements in turn elevate your story.

I plan to curate the line initially by privately approaching folks who are on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues. I want well-constructed shorts so I can set the bar for people who want to submit so they can, in turn, set the bar for themselves.

In 2008, I had my first submission packet put together for a project. It was drawn by a guy who was local to me, my cousin who had experience as a graphic designer helped me flat color the sample art and letter all of it with, yep, you guessed it, Comic Sans and it was atrocious. But I didn’t know any better. I had romanticized my efforts. I was ready to submit this turd straight to Image because I was “ready”.

I was working for Newsarama in San Diego at Comic-Con International and I showed my submission to CB Cebulski who was, at the time, promoting his project called “Wanderlust” at Image. He gave me the best advice of my career when he kindly didn’t rip my heart out of my chest and show it to me after looking at my atrocious submission.

He said, “Okay, I want you to look at your submission packet and look at this copy of my comic. Imagine that you had $5 and you walked into the comic shop and you saw your project sitting next to my project. Not knowing anything about either of these projects, based on your eye for quality as a fan of comics, which one of these two books would you buy based on the quality alone.”

I sat quietly for a short moment as dread built at the base of my stomach because I knew the answer instantly. I pointed at his book. He patted me on the arm and he said, “Look at the books that make it to the shelf. That’s what you’re competing against. Your project has to be as good as all of the other books that make it onto the shelves.”

It was an incredibly humbling lesson and probably the roughest one to learn first but it put me into a frame of mind where I knew I had to make every effort my best effort. I hope to impart that on others through the production of quality content.

Soko

Graphic Policy: Tell us about SOKO.

Steve Ekstrom: Soko is a really awesome police procedural/ crime project in a similar vein to that of Criminal or the movie The Departed and it is set in Serbia. I’m working on it with up-and-coming Serbian writer, Vanja Miskovic, as well as Italian artist Antonio Fuso who is on a hot streak right now with his project Wyrd being developed for television over at Dark Horse and Stargazer finishing up a healthy run at Mad Cave. We also have Antonio’s studio-mate Stefano Simeone on colors; he’s the artist for a Mega Man Fully Charged at BOOM!. We’re also sporting this ridiculously awesome cover on the first issue by one of my all-time favorites, Serbian artist, RM Guera who most folks will remember for his epic run on Scalped at Vertigo.

This book is stacked with talent. Vanja and I both are very proud of what we’ve put together and we can’t wait for it to hit shelves in the late fall.

Without giving too much away because the solicits are coming soon, Soko focuses on systemic corruption in law enforcement while exploring modern dilemmas in that region of the world that are connected to human trafficking as well as fuel smuggling.

Graphic Policy: What other Behemoth books should people be checking out RIGHT NOW, and why? What makes a “Behemoth book”?

You Promised Me Darkness is absolutely chewing up the market right now as it keeps breaking these crazy sales records as a black and white horror comic in a marketplace where four-color comics reign supreme. I am absolutely loving all the excitement looming for this series as it hits shelves over the summer. There are some really exciting licensed books that we’ll be announcing soon enough that will probably turn some heads, too. We’ll have to wait and see! I don’t want to spoil anything just yet.

Also, check out Kevin Roditeli’s Happy Tank imprint. This guy is an absolute animal whose energy is contagious. He’s at the helm of our MFKZ project that I think is going to be big deal book this year.

Graphic Policy: It’s no secret that comics is a volatile field. Behemoth is making important deals with the likes of Simon & Schuster and Netflix. How critical is that to the ongoing success of a young company, and how to those alliances impact the development of new titles?

Steve Ekstrom: I think the most important thing we can do is continue to provide top-notch content. I know that seems like such a generic answer, but when you think about it, quality is really all it boils down to when you’re in a market where two companies hold 90-ish% of the sales figures.

We just have to keep making solid choices on the content we’re going to produce. Nathan and Ryan have some really fantastic concepts for marketable products coming down the pipeline that I would have never conceived on my own. I can’t wait to talk more about this stuff as it comes to fruition.

Other than quality, we just need to keep finding hungry talent with projects that fit our mold. This is a savvy brand that, while we may have sort of an outlier’s sensibility, we’re also determined to put out technically competent, well-crafted comics and graphic novels as well as innovative cross-promotional materials like miniatures, shirts and even records. We’ve got vinyl, man! How cool is that?

Graphic Policy: Last words: what do you personally want the world to know about you and the work you’re about to do?

Steve Ekstrom: I’m an ambidextrous Scorpio with a penchant for 70’s R&B and enchiladas? Nah, that’s pretty much common knowledge…

Right now, I am connected to seven or eight ridiculously amazing projects as either a writer, a letterer, an editor or some amalgamation of those three roles and I cannot wait to share these stories with the world.

I’ve spent my entire life loving comics as a fan. I grew up and went to school to learn how to write because I was a storyteller as a kid. I entered this industry as a guy who wanted to bring reader response criticism from the classroom to book reviews and I knew I wasn’t discovering fire or anything but I wanted to put butts in seats and I did it. I care about this business and I want to give back to it after a lifetime plus some of entertainment and joy.

I get to curate my own line of comics. I want to work with anyone that is hungry and motivated like me. I want to give a platform to new creators who understand how to make professional looking comics. This is a business first and foremost. We have to walk a line between commercially viable products, fine art and counter culture that surfs the edges of the cultural zeitgeist.

Keep your eyes on the Behemoth website and our social media for announcements concerning submission guidelines for D2D and PRIMER as well as other news about shows we will be attending later in the year and the release dates for all of our upcoming projects.

We’ve got content scheduled all the way out until the middle of 2022.

And we’re really just getting warmed up. All hail Behemoth!

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Shang-Chi and Iron Man (A.I.)

So, this is a weird one. On Saturday, my friend Billy Cooper (of the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo and Indiana Toy Collectors Unite) posted a message on that Facebook group that he’d seen figures from the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings/Mr. Hyde BAF wave at a nearby Target. And while we’ve seen some leaked pix of that wave online, there has as yet been no a) official announcement, b) solicitations that we’ve seen, or c) pre-order listing.

I rolled over the check it out later, and there were indeed five of Shangi-Chi and six of Iron Man (AI) on the pegs. The other four figures (Civil Warrior, Death Dealer, Wenwu, and Xialing) weren’t out. I asked an employee for help, and she scanned the backs. Normally, the scan will show if they have the rest of the assortment. This time was odd, as the scan of Shang-Chi only correlated to the five figures preset; same with the Iron Man, leading us to believe that the individual figures were solid cases. She even graciously checked the back to see if the other four were present, but they weren’t. I had no issues at check-out; they rang up for $19.99.

Again, this is unusual precisely for the reasons that I mentioned. Also unusual is the fact that their assigned system numbers (087167874 and 087163271) don’t show anything when you search them on the website. This is the opposite of what normally happens; in the case of the recent ML Storm and Thunderbird two-pack, for example, the number pulled up a listing even weeks before the on-sale date and arrival in stores. These two numbers, which obviously have to be active for the employee’s scan and completed sale, just don’t pull up anything.

Granted, this isn’t a mystery on the order of the Mary Celeste, but it’s just very peculiar. In our hyper-regulated retail world, it’s unusual for a previously unannounced product to just show up. It’s weirder still for coming the day after HasbroPulse Fan Fest, which teased a new Domino/Cannonball two-pack and set up the Iron Man/Ursa Major BAF wave for pre-order and didn’t release any information on this wave at all. Everything we’ve seen so far has been leaks to the likes of Rektangular and various Instagrams. Those figures showing up in a Target in the middle of Indiana is just . . . odd.

Fortunately, I have photos. This isn’t Bigfoot hunting, people. I’d also like to thank Jay at www.toynewsi.com who posted some of my photos as well. But here you can take a look at the figures, which include out-of-package shots. Each one comes with a Mr. Hyde BAF leg in addition to appropriate accessories.

Iron Man (A.I.): A comic-specific figure, the only real new part of this one is the holographic head. If you’ve followed the comics in the past few years, you know this iteration comes from a point where Tony spent some time dead, and an A.I. version of himself occupied an armor. The figure sculpt itself is a redecoed version of the 80th Anniversary figure; this one has a bright and shiny red-and-yellow scheme that kind of echoes that Secret Wars Iron Man figure from the ‘80s. It would almost be a perfect classic Iron Man as is were it not for the more modern blue on the chest. It’s a decent figure, and the A.I. is fun in you know the story.

Shang-Chi: Our first MCU Shang-Chi comes with a staff and four extra hands for various fighting stances. The overall poseability works out great for a figure like this, especially the double-elbows. I didn’t go super-deep into all of the possible fight poses, but you get a feel for the scenic versatility that the figure can carry. The Simu Liu likeness is pretty good, too. I feel like this is a good entry for the MCU section of the line, and I look forward to seeing the others.

Well, there you go, campers. If you’re interested in this line, happy hunting. I can’t guarantee their release pattern, as we just don’t know. I’ve reached out to my regular contact for comment, and we’ll pass it along if we have anything to share. Until then, if you have comments or questions, drop ‘em below.

Super-Articulate: Star Wars Black Series Lucasfilm 50th Jawa and Qui-Gon Jinn

I’m writing this just ahead of the Hasbro Pulse Fan Fest on Friday (April 9). Obviously, the event promises a lot of news. It’s almost certain that some of the Star Wars info will contain more items carrying the Lucasfilm 50th Anniversary branding. Two of those items are in the wild now, and we’ve got them here. One is the Jawa (pre-ordered from Amazon) and the other is Qui-Gon Jinn (Best Buy Exclusive).

Jawa: The Jawa is part of a cluster of anniversary figures (including Greedo and Obi-Wan Kenobi) inspired by a) the original 12 Kenner Star Wars figures from 1978 and b) the specific looks of those figures. If you know those original figures, you know that the Jawa initially hit shelves with a vinyl cape, and then quickly had a running change into a cloth robe. The new Star Wars Black Series figure is specifically based on the robe iteration.

There have been Jawas before in the Black Series, including a standard and an “Offworld” modeled of their appearance in The Mandalorian. I like this one the best. Maybe that’s informed by nostalgia for the original Jawas (which were my first experience with having a bitch of a time finding a particular figure in the stores), but I think that the look is great. The soft-goods robe is a well-considered idea, and lends an authenticity to the figure. The blaster sculpt is great, and the overall look is really sharp.

Just for fun, I took some photos of the new figure next to one of my original Kenner Jawas. It puts into stark relief just how small those original figures were. But you can also appreciate how far the figures have come in terms of detail and visual impact.

Qui-Gon Jinn: There’s been a Qui-Gon in the Black Series before, but I feel Hasbro refined the head for this one. It looks shockingly like Liam Neeson. That resemblance for a movie-based line should definitely be something that the design team shoots for. I felt like they landed it here.

The figure comes in a really outstanding bit of packaging. Made to resemble the original Phantom Menace blister cards, the package has a shiny quality that really makes it stand out. As I’m an opener, this is partially lost on me, but I can appreciate the look and think that people that display their carded figures will probably really like it. It’s well-done.

Qui-Gon comes with a single (appropriate) accessory, his green lightsaber. I found the figure to be fairly poseable. Occasionally, those vinyl/plastic tunics can hinder poseability, but I don’t find it restrictive on this figure. I decided to take a few extra pix with other characters to give a little perspective; Qui-Gon, like Neeson, is fairly tall. Overall, I think that this is a solid figure and a good anniversary choice. The original Qui-Gon can go for three figures online, so this will allow fans and collectors that made have missed the first one to catch up.

The 50th: So far, the 50th Anniversary program seems charged with figures that fit specific needs or address holes collectors might have in their line-up. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of the Fan Fest. The easiest guest might be Tech and Echo from The Bad Batch, as that’s the only new Star Wars we’ll be getting for several months.

What do you think, readers? Let us know.

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends House of X

Greetings, mutants! This much is true: Jonathan Hickman and an army of collaborators totally reinvigorated the X-books with the twin House of X/Powers of X minis and the subsequent wave of related X-titles. The overall storyline gave the subline a much-needed shot in the arm and propelled the X-Men back to the forefront of comics conversation. Anyone that even vaguely pays attention knew that the story would get represented in figure form sooner rather than later. The (first?) House of X Marvel Legends is in stores now. Let’s take a look.

Overview: The initial figure selections are totally sensible. Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira McTaggert are crucial to this particular story. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Wolverine are likewise pivotal and among the most important X-characters (in fact, those three, Xavier, and Magneto appear on the House of X #1 cover). The Omega Sentinel appears as an antagonist early on, and the Tri-Sentinel looks cool as hell. So, onward.

Moira McTaggert: It’s about time. Moira McTaggert is about as important as a supporting character in the history of X-Men that I can think of. She should have been made years ago in her classic yellow and purple costume. I thought it was excellent that Hickman’s story elevated her profile and gave her an amazing and surprising backstory. Hasbro cleverly expounded on Moira’s multi-faceted role by making the figure in such a way that in can have two distinct looks. One is jaunty, mod-ish look with the cap and scarf, and the other, which I prefer, is the scientist look with the lab coat. This is another good example of Hasbro creating maximum value with extra parts and accessories that can completely change a figure. Here you have an extra head, two extra arms, extra hands, the removable lab coat piece, and the scarf, as well as a science book. The design team obviously put a lot of thought and care into the look. Amid iconic mutants, they made Moira stand out.

Professor Charles Xavier: The helmeted Xavier was an instantly iconic look. Nevertheless, the figure also comes equipped with an extra regular head and an attachable psionic power effect. The figure’s slim build is evocative of the fact that Hasbro really has developed a broader array of body types to more accurately capture a character. Maybe I like it more because I like the story, but I appreciate that it’s sometimes more difficult to nail the simpler design. This is a solid piece.

Magneto: I’ve been waiting for a white-costumed Magneto for some time, and I was not disappointed. This is a figure with presence. Great head/helmet and cape sculpts pull this together, and the extra grasping hands are perfect for poses to would illustrate Magneto using his powers. The stark white next to the primarily black costume of Xavier is a great contrast, and they look really good next to one another.

Marvel Girl: There were those that were unhappy with Jean taking back the Marvel Girl name and costume in the House storyline, but it’s hard to argue with an iconic name and look. In figure terms, this is an excellent representation of Jean from the storyline, and a solid take if you want to get a second one for your classic-era display.  The only negative for me is that the stiff vinyl of the skirt makes leg poseability a little bit difficult. Apart from that, it’s a good version.

Cyclops: As Cyclops is one of my all-time favorite characters, I’m always down for another version. I like the new blue-on-blue costume; it’s a deceptively simple, but cool, design. In terms of the sculpt, it’s a really good representation of Scott Summers. Like the previous Retro Cyclops in the X-Factor costume, this employs a second head and an attachable optic blast. This is another strong entry.

Wolverine: Let’s hear it for the fat claws! I vastly prefer the broader blades to the slimmer ones, and this figure gets that exactly right. And again, I’m happy that Hasbro makes a consistent effort to keep Wolverine shorter to be in proper scale with the other characters. While this costume is specific to the House/Powers story, this is actually a really strong Wolverine for those that collectors that just want a good version of each character.

Omega Sentinel: I’m always up for a previously unmade X-villain, so I was pleased to see this one added. The Omega Sentinel comes with two heads; the bald one reflects the House/Powers appearance, and the head with hair is an earlier look. Yes, the hair is a different color than the comics appearance, but the volume and detail of the hair sculpt is impressive. The interchangeable weaponized arms are great; they really make the figure pop and stand out from the other figures on the shelf.  This is a dark horse favorite for me in this wave.

Tri-Sentinel: I’m going to be completely honest: getting the three heads into the body was a MASSIVE pain in the ass. I can’t recall the last time I had this much trouble fitting a BAF piece in, let alone three. I had to go the hot water route on the neck joints in order to finally get them to fit. By contrast, the arms and legs fit extremely easily. Difficulty aside, I think it’s a great-looking BAF. As a big Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, I like the subtle referencing here. I also like BAFs that are big, and this fits the bill. It’s also surprisingly poseable. This and the Omega Sentinel look great next to each other; when I get a chance to do some shelf adjusting, I’ll be putting them next to Nimrod, too.

This is another strong showing from the Marvel Legends team. I do hope that we get some more House/Powers figures; I’d like to see a Marauders Kate Pryde, more New Mutants, and some undone characters, like Quentin Quire, in particular. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. What about you, readers? What’s your take?

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Deluxe Thanos

Marvel Legends Thanos

Gather ‘round, kids. Here’s a story of how I almost passed up on what turned out to be a really great figure. So, when the Deluxe Thanos was previewed a few months back, I thought that it looked really good, but I figured I’d pass. While I have a pretty substantial Marvel Legends collection, and while I also have few qualms about getting another version of a character (or even the same character twice, if they go on two separate teams in my set-up), I thought I was set for Thanos. I had the MCU regular and armored versions, the previous Thanos BAF, and the Walmart Exclusive with the Infinity Gauntlet hand. Even though I thought that the King Thanos head looked great, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick up the figure.

However! As the figure was hitting shelves, Target ended up having a 25% off a single toy coupon (both in store and in the app). With a small credit that I had already and the additional 5% percent I got off for having a Red Card, I thought it would be worth it to apply a fairly significant discount to the figure. And I’m glad I did.

The Deluxe Thanos is an excellent representation of the character. He’s big, both height-wise and in terms of mass, and definitely captures the Perez/Lim look of the character from The Infinity Gauntlet. The colors pop in a tremendously comic-accurate way. The heads are great, and I love the two interchangeable versions of the Gauntlet, particularly the “snap” hand. In fact, I thought that the “snap” hand and figure in general were so true-to-page that I included a photo of the figure next to that particular scene in the trade. It’s a fantastic adaptation. To give you some sense of the size and scale of the new version, I took a couple of pix next to other Thanoses (Is that right? Thanosi?) for some perspective.

Marvel Legends King Thanos

In display terms, I opted to use the King Thanos head. This is the future version of the Mad Titan that hails from the 2016 Thanos series; that series, incidentally, also brought us the introduction of Cosmic Ghost Rider (pictured) and The Fallen One/Silver Surfer (out now as a Walgreens exclusive; I’m still looking). In my (deeply irrational) mind, it made sense to go with the different version for the display. He does look damn cool with the Cosmic Ghost Rider.

I really appreciate that Hasbro is putting out these Deluxe figures, even though I know I probably won’t be gunning for all of them myself. (Contrary to what my wife might think, even I have my spending limits). But I’m glad that they exist, and I’m glad that they bring some wider character selections to the line. In fact, I’m hopeful that this might even be the avenue that manifests what is possibly my personal longest-asked-for Legend, Lockjaw. (Hell, how about a Pet Avengers boxed set? We’ve had versions of Zabu, Redwing, Ms. Lion, and Lockheed; give us Lockjaw and Throg, throw in Cosmo, and we’re golden).

Overall, this is a really good piece of work. Collectors that might have missed earlier offerings have a chance to add Thanos to their collection, and insane people like me can add another version to their universe. It’s another solid win.

Super-Articulate: A (Marvel Legends) Firestar is Born!

One of the most (don’t say it, don’t say it) hotly-anticipated (I said it) Marvel Legends, perhaps ever, is Firestar. Firestar had a unique trajectory for a new character entering the Marvel Universe, and it’s worth taking a look at that before we dive in on our review of the (remarkably) first-ever Marvel Legends Firestar figure.

Background: As you probably know, Firestar is one of those rare comic book characters that debuted outside their universe before moving into it. Other examples include Perry White (who appeared first on The Adventures of Superman radio show), Harley Quinn (Batman: The Animated Series), Agent Phil Coulson ( 2008’s Iron Man), John Diggle (Arrow), H.E.R.B.I.E. (the Fantastic Four cartoon), and X-23 (X-Men: Evolution). Her debut came in 1981’s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends; originally, the Human Torch was supposed to be the third character (along with Spidey and Iceman) but the same legal and rights issues that plagued the 1970s FF cartoon (thus, H.E.R.B.I.E.) precluded the Torch’s involvement. The creators instead introduced the original character, Firestar.

Within the context of the animated series, Firestar (college student Angelica Jones) was a mutant and had previously been a member of the X-Men. The character was very popular among viewers of the show, which ended its run in 1983. Two years later, Firestar debuted in the Marvel Comics Universe in Uncanny X-Men #193; she was originally one of Emma Frost’s Hellions and helped her then-love interest James Prodstar (Thunderbird/Warpath) with his plan to take revenge on the X-Men. Shortly after, Firestar headlined a self-titled four-issue mini-series in 1986.

In Firestar’s new major appearance, she joined the New Warriors and was a member of that group from 1990 to 1996 throughout its original 75-issue run. Firestar and her New Warriors teammate (and love interest) Justice joined the Avengers in 1998’s Avengers (Vol. 3) #4, and the characters spent a few years on the team. After that run (and the dissolution of that relationship), Firestar bounced around as kind of a “value-add” character in projects like Marvel Divas and Young Allies. In 2013, Firestar finally joined the X-Men as part of the Amazing X-Men team. She’s been recently seen alongside the X-Men in the House of X mega-arc.

What About the Figure?: The figure? Oh yeah, the figure’s great. Let’s break it down, staring with the best, and funniest, accessory: Ms. Lion. If you recall, Ms. Lion was Angelica’s dog from the cartoon. Ms. Lion has her own little spot in the comics as a part of the Pet Avengers alongside the likes of Redwing, Zabu, Throg, Lockheed, and Lockjaw. Including this accurate (and admittedly, cute,) PVC figure is the right touch.

As for Firestar, the figure is packed with two sets of hands, two flame effects, and two heads. One head has a hair-swept sideways look, and the other head has its hair down (more closely resembling the animated version). The costume here is the classic look from both the cartoon and the character’s early years in print.

This is a very-solid piece of work from Hasbro. The paint really pops and the creative team has definitely captured the look of the character. I had a bit of difficulty switching heads; my figure seemed particularly tight, and I was a little worried about bending the collar. Ultimately, the other head went on fine. I prefer the hair-down head because when I think of Firestar, this is how I picture the character. That’s the best representation for me.

I had a little bit of a debate with myself as to where to display the figure. There are good arguments for a place near Spidey and his allies, and a valid one for the X-Men, too. I decided to go with my original impulse and put her with the New Warriors. (Note to Hasbro: Justice, Speedball, and Namorita, please). Firestar is a great, long-overdue, figure. I also appreciate that the figure was solicited as a single that could be ordered outside an assortment. Frankly, as much as I like the BAFs, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that. I’m just glad that, after 40 years, Firestar has gotten a great, modern-scale figure.


Purchase: Entertainment Earth AmazonBig Bad Toy Store

Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Into the Spider-Verse/Stilt-Man BAF wave

Let me get this out right up front: I like this wave a lot, even more than I expected to like it. Obviously, we’re dealing with a wave that is half-pulled from an absolutely outstanding piece of work in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but Hasbro made a tremendous effort to make the four figures from the film match the particular stylized look of their animated counterparts. As for the other two, one is an early contender for the year’s best.

Peter B. Parker: I know that some people don’t like this figure. That’s crazy. This is a perfect representation of what the character looked like in the film, right down to the fast-food drink cup. From the “I’ve let myself go” body to the mismatched shoes, this is a figure that was crafted with care to match the source material. I like the inclusion of the second, partially unmasked head, but I prefer the completely unmasked version. This is a case study in interpreting the look of an animated character and realizing it in figure form.

Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen/Ghost Spider: Let’s start with the unmasked head. You know that I pay close attention to hair sculpts, and this one is just great. It totally captures the (accidental) asymmetrical haircut that Gwen has in the film. The masked head is solid. I find that the overall figure is faithful to the film and doesn’t simply copy the earlier comics version of the character in the ML line. In particular, the detail on the ballet-style slippers is well done. Gwen also comes with Spider-Ham, which is essentially a PVC with a moveable head. However, the design is tremendous and it looks great standing with the other figures.

Miles Morales/Spider-Man: This is top-notch work. Obviously, the two heads are great. But the figure really exists in layers, as real effort was made to differentiate the shorts, the hoodie, and the shoes. The figure also has thinner legs that the normal teen body, demonstrating the extra care and tooling that went into making the figure. It’s a complicated paint-app, too, with several different colors evident in the overall body. I hate to totally belabor the point, but if you’re gonna recreate an animated character, you recreate the character. And they nailed it.

Prowler: The Prowler is a cool figure, and the design is neat overall, but it falls a little short of the sense of menace that the character conveyed on-screen. It still looks pretty great, but given the choice between the two, I would take the earlier comic-centric version of the character every time.

The Hand Ninja: The Hand Ninja looks good in general; it does exactly what’s it supposed to do, which is be an army-builder. The pair of kamas and the katana are natural accessories, and well-rendered. I’m glad that the figure exists, but I don’t find it tremendously exciting.

Frog-Man: This is hands-down my favorite figure in the wave. I love the fact that this figure even exists, and it’s the kind of deep-bench selection that keeps me excited for future Marvel Legends announcements. This is a perfect realization of the character from the comics, and the figure is festooned with so many great details. Check out the springs under the flippers! Hell, check out the flippers! But the crowning touch is that you can see Eugene’s eyes inside the open mouth of the Frog-Man mask, just like his entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Another bonus is that Frog-Man is a much-different body-type that your standard heroic figure, acknowledging that Hasbro really put in the work to bring him to life (seriously, what other figures are gonna repurpose flipper feet with springs on the bottom?). Again, I love the commitment to producing “lower-level” characters. Which brings me to . . .

Stilt-Man BAF: My second-favorite figure in the wave!  Just look at this guy. Yes, of course, yes; Stilt-Man is a somewhat goofy concept. But look at it; that’s awesome. And he comes with the briefcase! (The briefcase even opens to show sculpted-in money). Of course, there’s a hilarious bonus here in that multiple pairs of legs (packed in with each Hand Ninja) can be added to make Stilt-Man ridiculously tall. I’m only showing one set in the photos. There’s also a secure base to keep the figure standing upright. I just love both this and Frog-Man, both of which are just plain fun. Which is what this hobby should be, right?

What do you think, campers? Tell us your thoughts. Frankly, I want to see some more secondary heroes from Spidey’s books, like Rocket Racer, and other related characters like Will-O-the-Wisp and Cardiac.  How about you?

Super-Articulate: Star Wars Black Series Mando & More

Welcome back to the ongoing effort to, y’know, catch up. This is Troy Brownfield and we’re back with another look at the Star Wars Black Series. Obviously, this is one of the busiest figure lines, with new things arriving all the time. I decided to focus on four of the “newer” arrivals in the interest of trying to get ahead for when more things land soon. Three are figures drawn from The Mandalorian, and one is a deluxe figure pulled from The Phantom Menace.  Let’s take that last guy first.

Jar Jar Binks: Frankly, I was a little puzzled at first as to why Jar Jar was done in deluxe style. Sure, the larger accessories lend the figure to the deluxe box and treatment, but Jar Jar could have easily been a figure with one or zero accessories. That said, once everything is out of the box, I found the accessories to be cool enough to justify their own existence. Another thing that’s more evident upon reflection: Jar Jar is a figure that is mostly, if not entirely, new in the sculpting department. Other characters might be able to repurpose arms, legs, etc., but I’d wager that Jar Jar is entirely new. That’s one reason I put in a close-up shot of the feet; you can’t exactly put those on Leia.

Another unique sculpt section is the head and neck assembly. Jar Jar’s longer neck is distinctive to Gungans (outside of Boss Nass), and the different assembly provides a greater range of motion for both the head and the neck itself (turning at the shoulders, moving forward and backward, etc.). It’s a great set of tiny decisions that really lends a lot to the personality of the figure. The head and face are spot-on pieces of work, too. The vinyl costume pieces add more authenticity as well.

As for those accessories, they’re weapons used by the Gungan army as seen in The Phantom Menace. The shield is my favorite; the overall design and coloration are great, and the sheer size made me admit that the deluxe boxing and price was the way to go. The spear is impressively tall, but I like the booma atlatl as well. Hasbro put a lot of attention to detail in these pieces. Overall, I like the Jar Jar figure a lot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some elements of the figure are used to give us a Captain Tarpals in the future. Really nice job.

Kuiil: I like short figures. Let me clarify: I like it when lines include figures of different heights. It can give the figures a much better since of scale. It’s great to see the Ugnaught mechanic/moisture farmer/babysitter/assassin droid rehabilitator Kuiil get a solid representation at proper height. I put it one shot of Kuiil with IG-11 to give a sense of that.

Frankly, this is a little gem of a figure. He’s not the flashiest, and his character (unfortunately) isn’t around for long, but the design team did him justice. The face is definitely the winning feature here, and the scarf is that kind of perfect extra touch that Hasbro really seems to be reaching for lately. This is an instance where the figure looks exactly like the character, and it’s all the better for it.

Greef Karga: Speaking of likenesses, the Greef Karga figure really does capture Carl Weathers. You almost expect the figure to tell you to save the packaging to get a stew goin’ (everybody get that who’s gonna get that? Great; let’s move on). At any rate, part of the fun of this one is the strong resemblance.

In terms of costume, Karga isn’t the flashiest guy. However, Hasbro did a lot of work to bring contrast to the varying browns, making the pants, shirt, sleeves, and cape all visually distinct from one another, even if they down come from the same palette neighborhood. Like the vinyl pieces on Jar Jar, the two-side cape with sculpted-in folds looks not only accurate, but natural; it looks like it does indeed lay over his shoulder, and not just like a piece of plastic stuck to other plastic.

Karga comes with two blaster accessories, each of which can fit in the functional holsters on the figure. I opted for the two-gun look. I included a photo of Karga with Cara Dune as a) they’ve spent a lot of screen-time together, and b) the photo itself is begging for a Mythrol figure. You hear that, Hasbro? If he’s a Funko Pop, he can be Black Series.

Moff Gideon: Of course he comes with a Darksaber. There’s a lot of fine detail on that weapon, and if you look closely, the edge all the way around varies from the body of the blade in color and opaque quality. That’s just crazy for something that thin. Gideon also comes with a pistol that fits the figure’s holster.

As for the rest of the figure, this is another strong effort. I’m not sure if the likeness is as close as Karga, but, damn, kids, that’s Esposito. Like the Darksaber, Gideon’s outfit is festooned with small details and tiny color additions that enhance the overall look. The two-toned cap is removable, and the interior red really makes the smaller details on the figure itself pop.

Hasbro continues to do a fine job with their offerings in the 6-inch scale. I know some fans would prefer faster turnaounds for certain characters, but you have to admit that the pace is accelerating, with Mandalorian Season 2 figures like Bo-Katan Kryze and The Bad Batch already making their way to shelves. This is a rock-solid group right here, and it will just reinforce the fandom’s desire for more.

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