Tag Archives: the mandalorian

Star Wars: The Vintage Collection – Din Djarin (The Mandalorian) and The Child

The wholesome content you come here for.

Today we are celebrating ten years of The Nostalgia Spot! It’s not ten years to the day, the actual anniversary was about a week ago, but it’s close enough. In those 10 years, there have been 750 posts here on a variety of subjects, pretty much all of which could be labeled as nostalgic to someone my age. One such topic though has never been broached, and it’s Star Wars. I have nothing against Star Wars and actually consider myself a fan. The first Star Wars film I ever saw was The Empire Strikes Back when my dad was watching a television broadcast of it in the early 90s and beckoned me to watch it with him. I enjoyed it, even though I thought Darth Vader looked like a rip-off of The Shredder, and my dad made sure to rent The Return of the Jedi for me shortly after our viewing. I don’t think I’d see the original film for a year or so though, and that inaugural viewing was a broadcast television airing too.

I thought Star Wars was pretty great though, and while it never really threatened Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for number one in my heart, I would eventually become a bigger fan later in the 90s. The special edition of the trilogy was heavily marketed as was the novel Shadows of the Empire. Kenner re-launched its Star Wars action figure line and I dabbled in it. I had versions of all of the main cast, as well as a few vehicles, some Micro Machines, and other assorted toys. I got into the Expanded Universe and read quite a few books during that time and also played the video games. I even unironically enjoyed Masters of Teräs Käsi for the PlayStation and sunk several hours into it. And when the prequel trilogy was announced, I was pretty pumped and my family and I made sure to see The Phantom Menace as soon as we could.

Hasbro knows nostalgia.

Ever since though, my fandom has certainly waned. The prequels turned out be rather poor, and when I moved on from toys I largely left Star Wars behind as well. I never stopped liking the original films, but the fandom certainly became exhausting and I’ve never been able to bring myself to care about the franchise in the way a self-described “fan boy” would. To me, it’s just a fun world and fun collection of movies. I have made no grand plans on how to introduce my own kids to it or anything, I’ll just show it to them when they finally show enough interest to care. And so far, they’re fine with not really interacting with it outside of the Disney Infinity game. On the subject of this blog though, I’ve just never felt like I had anything important to say about Star Wars that hasn’t been said somewhere else. It’s a huge topic with a lot of opinions and you can find Star Wars blogs and YouTube channels in astronomical numbers. Anything I post here would just wind up in an echo chamber. I haven’t been actively avoiding the subject, I just haven’t really found anything worthwhile to say on the subject.

If you don’t like the modern stuff, there’s a Luke to keep you happy.

In celebration of ten years blogging though, it felt fitting to finally tackle something related to Star Wars. And today, we’re looking at a toy! The Star Wars: Vintage Collection from Hasbro is a throwback line of action figures meant to remind collectors of the Kenner days. And since Hasbro owns Kenner now, they can even toss the logo right onto the package! The Kenner line was a 3.75″ scale line, though it might be more accurate to say that was really the height and not the scale as the characters did not scale well with each other. They were also articulated in a simple manner with just five points of articulation: head, shoulders, and legs. It was limited, but not in a manner that stood out for the era as a lot of lines offered little articulation. A Toy Biz X-Men figure, for example, often only had four more additional points of articulation at the elbows and knees. I think the line is actually more memorable for just having some amusing sculpts and oddball characters. The original Luke, based on his appearance in Star Wars, had a massive, barrel, chest on him that looked ridiculous. There were also numerous peg warmers of characters no one wanted as the line went on as long as it could often pulling background characters into the limelight. It was a flawed line of figures to be sure, but I had a lot of fun with it and even still have all of my figures to this day.

And with him, as always…

For The Vintage Collection, Hasbro wisely did not just emulate Kenner. These are not ReAction figures. This is a 3.75″ scale line of figures with modern articulation and a lot of the bells and whistles collectors today are used to. I do not collect anything Star Wars today, but it looks to me like this line works largely in tandem with Hasbro’s The Black Series, a 6″ scale line, with these figures just being scaled-down versions of figures from that line. I do not know if that’s true of every figure, but it certainly appears to be the case with Din Djarin, better known to most as The Mandalorian.

This is awesome.

The Mandalorian has been a big hit for Disney and its streaming service, Disney+, pretty much since day one. The second season just finished at the end of 2020 and a third season is expected later this year along with a spin-off series concerning Boba Fett. Like basically everyone with a Disney+ subscription, I have watched The Mandalorian and I’ve found it pretty damn enjoyable. It’s probably the best Stars Wars thing Disney has done and I think that’s due to it keeping things simple. Some of the episodes get a little too formulaic and feel like video game quests or missions, but for the most part the show is anchored by the relationship between its title character and The Child, a toddler of sorts who bares a strong resemblance to Yoda, hence why many just refer to him as Baby Yoda. The Child was given a name in Season Two, but I’ll refrain from including it here since it’s not printed on the package and because I don’t need to spoil it for anyone. This set features both characters and appears to be partly inspired by the final episode of the first season and is very similar to a set from The Black Series that also includes both. And because Hasbro needs to please all retailers, that Black Series set is exclusive to Target stores while this one comes from Walmart. I don’t know if any of these have actually made it to physical stores as it seems everyone who got one did so via Walmart’s online store where this set was made available as a pre-order (which Walmart cancelled many orders of). I did not get a preorder and was actually hooked-up by a fellow collector whom I met on Twitter via the #CollectorsHelpingCollectors group so a special shout-out and thanks go to Jay (@TMNT_MOTU_RGB)!

He’s got a spot for his rifle.

This set comes packaged on a retro-inspired blister card. The card itself is really attractive and features a shot from the series and a cross-sell on the rear. It looks so nice that I almost hate to open it as this is a classic blister and not something that can be resealed, but this wouldn’t be much of a review if I kept it mint-on-card. Once freed from his plastic confines, Mando stands almost right at that 3.75″ mark coming in a tick over. This makes sense as he appears to be a character of approximately average height for the setting. He’s in his beskar armor and he looks like he’s been in a fight as I think this is modeled on the Season One finale. There’s a nice graphite quality to the beskar with just a hint of a pearl finish on it. Black scuff marks and dirt smudges provide the distressed quality the figure is going for while the rest of the figure is mostly an earthy brown and gray-blue. He’s quite detailed for such a small figure and it’s incredibly rewarding to just sit an admire all of the little touches sculpted into the belt, armor, gloves, and boots. The amount of paint on him is rather impressive as there’s lots of little touches, especially on the belt or the shells strapped to his right calf. And it’s remarkably clean for the most part. The only areas I have some paint slop are the fingers and inside of the glove. The trigger finger of his right hand has some turquoise on it that I don’t think is supposed to be there, and it’s the only paint slop I’d consider an eyesore.

Or if you prefer, a jetpack!

Like the detail work on the sculpt, the articulation is rather impressive for such a small figure. His head is on a ball peg and has great range of motion. He can look up and down and tilt as well as rotate. The cape doesn’t really get in the way too, which is surprising. The shoulders are ball-hinged and he has single-jointed elbows with swivel right above the hinge. Even without a double joint at the elbow, he can still bend his arm a bit past 90 degrees. The wrists swivel and his left hand is a gripping hand while the right is in a trigger position. There’s a ball-joint in the torso with some nice range of motion that affords forward and back bends and plenty of twist and side-to-side action. The bandolier across his chest is loose enough that it doesn’t restrict the torso at all. His legs are on ball hinges which is certainly different. You can get him to kick forward and back as long as you line that hinge up the way you want it to go. This means he can swivel at the top of the thigh, plus he has a thigh cut just above his armor so you can finagle a kicking pose, for example, by spinning the top joint to orient the hinge properly and then twisting the thigh so his leg doesn’t look like it’s been contorted in an impossible fashion. I don’t know why they don’t just use a ball-joint, but this is okay. He has a single hinge in each knee and can swivel below the knee for an effective boot cut. The ankles are hinged and can rotate, but don’t appear to have an ankle rocker of any kind. And really, that’s probably the only thing I miss. An ankle rocker just adds stability for more spread out stances, but this guy stands pretty well and I am just impressed that Hasbro got as much articulation into this one as they did.

The best I could do with the rifle. Note how his jetpack can stand on its own though!
The ever important beskar.

Since this is Mando, he needs to come with some accessories. And obviously, important to him are his weapons and tools. He comes with a blaster holstered at his hip which fits snugly in there, but is also easy to remove. The sculpt on it is quite nice, but the paint is understandably simple. It’s just gray with a brown hilt, but there is a touch of pearl in the finish on the gun metal. He also has his rifle which he can either hold or have pegged into his back. The sculpt of the rifle is great and it’s painted or sculpted in that same graphite gray nearly matching his beskar armor. The stock of the rifle is more of a copper than brown and there’s some gold portions where the scope is fastened to the barrel. It looks rather nice, though there is a couple of spots of missing paint on the stock that I don’t believe I caused when trying to pose him with the rifle. His articulation means he can hold it in a ready position, but struggles to hold it in a firing position, but that’s common for six inch scale figures as well. He also comes with a container that probably has a special name, but I don’t know it. It opens at the front with a hinge and the top can also come off. It’s off-white with a little gray paint and looks like something from Star Wars. It’s mostly here to store his stash of beskar. He has a single brick he can hold in his left hand and a molded stack of bricks to put in this container. It might sound stupid, but even this little, plastic, brick is sculpted rather well as it even has the Galactic Empire insignia stamped into it. The finish is the same graphite color as his armor. He also comes with his jet pack, and it’s done in the same graphite color. I’m not sure if this is painted or just the plastic used, but it’s nice. It pegs into his back just fine too.

A canister, some space metal, and a kid.
“I love you, little buddy.”

Of course, there is one other accessory and it’s The Child, or Baby Yoda, whatever you refer to him as. He’s in scale with his much taller buddy meaning he stands at just three quarters of an inch. He is tiny, and yet somehow he’s just as cute as he is on television. The face is perfect and his eyes are a shiny black so they really capture the eyes of the actual character. There’s a little paint in his ears, but otherwise he’s kept pretty simple. His robe is two-toned and has some nice sculpted details in it. Best of all, he’s articulated which the Black Series two-pack can’t even boast. His head is on a ball-joint and it can rotate all around. He can look up and down slightly, but the way the robe is sculpted won’t allow much. That’s the only disappointment since he can’t really look up at Mando. The arms are ball-jointed too so he can raise his arms out to the side a bit and rotate forward and back. I don’t think his hands can move, but they look like they could be pegged in. Maybe they were strengthened with glue. He is beyond fantastic as far as I am concerned though. Somehow, Hasbro got more personality into this tiny chunk of plastic than some of the much larger versions of the character I’ve seen out there. The only downside is he lacks his little, floating, bubble (pram?) stroller of a device which would look nice beside Mando. He’s also so small that he basically can’t have his little steel shifter-top from the show.

What’s in the box?!
SHIT!

And one last thing! Mando also has an alternate head. If you prefer your Mandalorian unmasked you can pop the helmeted head off and replace it with this unmasked version. Once again, I am left floored by this figure as the likeness to actor Pedro Pascall on this tiny, piece of plastic is better than a lot of the larger scaled figures out there. It’s also a far better solution than the Black Series which made the helmet fit over the head thereby smooshing the nose of the actor and leading to a slightly imperfect fit. I can’t imagine ever displaying him with his unmasked head, but it’s nice to have the option. It’s also worth noting that this head features no battle damage as one may have expected given the rest of the figure. And I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention that his cape is removable. One you have popped off the head, simply slide it off, if you desire. It’s well positioned though so as not to interfere with the jetpack slot or the rifle slot so I doubt most will want to remove it. Plus, everyone looks cooler with cape!

He’s so small that it’s hard to get a camera to focus on his face.

If you can’t tell already, I am in love with this release. It’s the best Hasbro figure I’ve ever owned. It makes me want to check out more from the Vintage Collection, though presently I am not after any other characters. Instead, maybe I’ll just quietly hope my son or daughter falls in love with Star Wars and wants to start a collection of these or something. I definitely don’t feel the need to acquire other characters based on The Mandalorian, at least not the characters who originated in the show. I can think of one character from the Season Two finale that might tempt me, but otherwise I think I’m all set. We’ll see. Time has a tendency to make fools of us all. For now, I have this awesome set of figures that I’m really excited to find a home for in my house. I don’t know where they’ll be displayed, but it will be somewhere prominent, I suspect. This set is being sold by Walmart and is presently sold out, but considering how popular these characters are I expect a restock is underway. There may even be a reissue that omits the battle damage and is distributed to other retailers, so if you missed out don’t despair just yet. And if you’re not interested in The Child, there are single card editions of just The Mandalorian available. It also should go without saying though, if you’re a fan of the show or a Star Wars collector you absolutely do not want to miss this!

I feel like we should end this on a comparison shot, just in case I didn’t properly convey how small this figure is. Left to right: Lightning Collection Green Ranger, Mando, Funko Scrooge, NECA Leonardo

24 Hours of Disney+

disney+_welcome.jpgIt’s a bit funny to me what we get excited for in our modern era. If you had told me when I was a kid that people would be geeking out over new phones, subscriptions, and chicken sandwiches I probably would have wanted time to slow down even more than I already did. That’s where we are though and on November 12, 2019 the world paused for Disney+, the first dedicated streaming service from the massively popular (and just plain massive) Walt Disney Corporation.

We’re now well into the streaming era for entertainment consumption. The old days of Netflix sending a DVD in the mail feels like the stone age by comparison. Netflix helped push us into this new frontier, with an assist from rapidly rising cable costs and a government-sanctioned monopoly, and the concept of chord-cutting is no longer a radical one as more and more streaming platforms keep coming. Netflix was initially just a means to an end as it licensed content people wanted and then delivered it to them. It’s no surprise that the content producers were taking notice and weighing the pros and cons of licensing out its media to a third party versus just creating the infrastructure to deliver it themselves. Netflix was quick to notice as it got into the content producing business and now has a whole bunch of shows and movies under its umbrella as it battles with other providers for non-Netflix content. Meanwhile, the biggest media creators are striking out on their own.

Disney is no stranger to production and delivery. Gamers will recall when Disney decided to stop licensing its characters for video games instead taking things in-house to create its own product. Eventually, game production grew too costly and Disney shuttered its studios to go back to licensing. With a streaming platform, costs are more fixed and Disney can charge whatever it wants to consumers. Some might question why Disney decided to create Disney+ since it already had a controlling stake in Hulu, but it’s all about branding. Disney+ is now the home for all things Disney. Those 20th Century Fox productions not named Star Wars can go to Hulu. Oh, and don’t forget they also own ESPN which has its own streaming platform as well. Yeah, there really are a lot of options out there now.

Since this is hardly uncharted territory, consumers have expectations of what a streaming platform should look like and how it should function. Disney was able to basically just do what Netflix did before it and give it a new coat of paint. Disney+ is a very boring interface, though hardly ugly, as it just lays everything in front of the user in a familiar form. Users can browse by genre, media type, character, brand, and so on. Everything is accompanied by a thumbnail image and a larger splash image meant to attract eyes. There are trailers for some films and new series and a summary of the program as well.

img_0561

Disney+ means access to classic movies and new shows, but it also means some older shows that never got the DVD treatment are finally viewable in their entirety.

Even though this is all well-trod territory, Disney+ still has a few odd quirks or missing features. For one, it’s not obvious what the runtime is for anything you’re looking at or considering. It’s not a big deal for old television shows which are fairly standard, but I had no idea how long any of the new programs were or some films. I had to start them and then pause them to see the counter displayed on the screen. The app also doesn’t remember where you left off with a given series. This is a standard feature on other platforms and it’s puzzling to see it not present here. Basically, it’s on you to remember how many episodes of a show you just watched and where to go next. You’re probably thinking that’s not a particularly difficult thing to remember, but it’s a lot trickier to remember where you kids left off watching a show you don’t care about. And they typically have no idea until the episode starts forcing you to embark on a series of trial and error until you get it right.

Those are small quirks that I expect will be remedied fairly soon. Others may take longer. By far, the biggest issue consumers encountered on launch day was performance-related issues. Slow buffering, shows disappearing, or the app completely crashing were frequently cited problems across social media. That was to be expected given that Disney didn’t allow users to preload the app before launch and is also giving curious consumers the option to partake in a free trial. Demand was going to be high, though that doesn’t absolve Disney as the company should have been prepared for this and able to address it quickly. Shows disappearing may have been part of that corrective action just to shrink the library temporarily. I saw quite a few complaints from users that Gargoyles wasn’t available for a period of time, though I didn’t encounter this. I did view the new documentary Imagineering and then found it unavailable after viewing when I went to go back and add it to my watch list. Aside from that though, I was actually rather fortunate to not encounter many issues. When I first logged in and got going around 6:30 AM EST I found the app slow to navigate. By 7:30, it was taking so long I gave up, but I was also heading out to work. My wife dropped our kid off at school shortly after and then resumed streaming with no issues. It was on basically all day with no further issues in my household.

I did a little research on social media and asked folks what they went to first upon signing up yesterday and got a variety of responses. A lot of folks were eager to view shows from their childhood, mainly those from the beloved Disney Afternoon. Some were also excited to check out the old Marvel cartoons like X-Men and Spider-Man. Many were eager to check out the Disney+ original The Mandalorian, a live-action series set in the Star Wars universe. There was certainly a lot of enthusiasm for the app, and most respondents had a list of things they wanted to check-out on day one.

img_0566Perhaps not surprising, the most frequent response I received was for The Simpsons. Disney made a pretty big deal about having 30 seasons worth of The Simpsons on Disney+ on day one. Unfortunately, the biggest complaint outside of technical problems from users was directed at The Simpsons. You may recall, when FXX started airing “Every Simpsons Ever” a few years ago they made the controversial call to crop the image on the seasons shot in 4:3 and adapt them for 16:9. The accompanying app did the same much to the annoyance of longtime fans. Eventually, the app was corrected and both versions were able to stream and they even added commentary tracks. As a result, fans expected the same on Disney+ and there were reports that the early seasons would be presented in the correct aspect ratio. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Not having the commentary is not a surprise, but the 16:9 presentation is horrid. If this were the first time those old seasons were being made available it would be temporarily excusable, as it was with FXX, but in 2019 it most certainly is not. I think Disney will correct this, but it’s something the company needs to get out in front of.

As for me, I have had a pretty good 24 hours at this point with Disney+. My first view was for The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. As it was 6:30 in the morning and my kids were up, it felt like a good way to start the day. My kids watched a lot of Disney Afternoon content during the day as well as some movies they’re more than familiar with. In the evening, I checked in on some of my own personal favorite cartoons and also was able to check out The Legend of the Three Caballeros, the previously UK only show starring Donald Duck (and it was great). When the kids went to bed, my wife and I checked out The Mandalorian as it easily is the most hyped original program on the platform right now. The production values are high, and while the story and character so far seem conventional and even cliché, it was entertaining enough that I’ll continue to check it out as episodes are added. We also watched the first episode of the Imagineering docuseries which focuses on the creation of Disneyland and goes up to the death of Walt and early concepts for Disney World. It was very familiar territory for me, but still enjoyable. I’m probably looking forward to episode two of that series more than I am for The Mandalorian.

3caballeros

We had to wait over a year, but now US audiences can finally (legally) view Legend of the Three Caballeros.

There is some other original content I intend to check out, in time. Lady and the Tramp is one of my favorite films from Disney so I feel obligated to at least give the live-action version a chance. I have low expectations, as it’s not something that needs to exist, but it’s there. There is also a collection of classic Mickey Mouse shorts which have been upconverted to HD that I’d like to see. I’m pretty sure they’re the same as what was present on the Blu Ray compilation released last year for Mickey’s 90th, but I passed on that set (since I have all of the DVDs) and I’d like to see how the conversion came out. I hope more classic shorts will be added, though I doubt that’s a priority for Disney right now. Hopefully we at least get the Christmas ones next month.

Disney+ launched with a few stumbles, but the framework is there for a successful existence. More importantly, Disney is rich in content and should have no issues getting people hooked at least in the short term. Right now, the service is cheap compared to Netflix and if you’re part of a Disney family like I am then you’re probably locked in for the next three years. Disney has been systematically pulling content from cable and streaming providers so my children’s addiction to Disney content will definitely keep Disney+ in my house for awhile. What will spur growth for Disney will be how the original content turns out. The platform is off to a good start, but it might take more to convince people adverse to multiple streaming subscriptions to drop Netflix in favor of Disney+. Disney will also have to make the difficult choice over what it releases on its cable channel versus what it reserves for Disney+. And how will competitors, and cable, respond? Disney+ is undercutting Netflix by quite a lot and I’m curious if Netflix will respond. I suspect it will wait it out at least a year to see if and when Disney ups the monthly rate, but if it starts losing subscribers it may have to do something about it. This is our new reality though and it feels like, if anything, the biggest casualty of all of this may be cable itself.


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