Force Friday II Delivered Some Strong ‘Star Wars’ Figures, If You Were Lucky Enough To Get Any [Review]
Another September has arrived, and with it comes the new annual tradition of Hasbro releasing the first new Star Wars toys for the Lucasfilm movie of that given year. Though September 1 was dubbed as Force Friday II, this past weekend was actually the third consecutive time Hasbro’s Star Wars team unleashed a bevy of new figures across both the 3.75” and 6” lines. Given the response to the last two yearly events, we hit up Force Friday II at our local retailer to get our hands on some of those Black Series figures first, and came away impressed with almost all the figures in this first batch.
Depending on where you shopped (or what random figures were in boxes Hasbro sent out to select media outlets), you either had a strong chance at getting every new character you wanted, or you had to be among the first two or three people in line to even sniff a chance at getting any of the new Black Series toys. The 3.75” collection was abundant, as it has been over the past two years, but for whatever reason Hasbro and its retail partners still haven’t quite figured out a fair and encouraging distribution model for the “adult” collector line that is the Black Series.
Your experience varied based on where you lived, with reports of plentiful 6” figures popping up, but our experience was slightly less impressive. Retailers in the southeast of Pennsylvania were severely lacking beyond one or two boxes of the new Black Series characters. With only a small handful of Jedi Master Lukes and Jedi Training Reys to go around, many fans waited outside stores for hours and ended up walking away empty-handed. This isn’t the first time Force Friday’s been a bit of a let down for fans, but that other areas of the country were a bit more fortunate shows there’s progress being made ... in some places.
Fortunately, we did get our hands on everything we hoped to obtain on Force Friday II. And with a little help from Hasbro, we even got a figure we weren’t expecting to see at retail until the second wave of figures shipped in a few weeks. We figured we could wait out the revamped Kylo Ren given how prominent he was on shelves for the past two years. No offense to Adam Driver, but he just doesn’t move the needle like Rey, Luke or Hera Syndulla.
Jedi Training Rey technically made her debut alongside Jedi Master Luke Skywalker at San Diego Comic-Con this past July, but this is the first time the promising padawan is getting a solo release in her The Last Jedi digs. The new costume takes a lot of inspiration from Rey’s Jakku scavenger days, while also still being fairly in line with what we expect Jedi to wear in the Star Wars Universe. I wish she would have gotten more use out of that Resistance outfit she got at the end of Force Awakens, as that had a bit more civilized style to it, but this new grey robe is still very much true to the character.
The best part about this figure is the new Daisy Ridley likeness, which is miles above what Hasbro first released back in 2015 during the first Force Friday. There are more defined features here, and Rey’s face isn't quite as vague. For a mass-market portrait, this is exactly the kind of progress it's nice to see Hasbro make. This head is where the baseline should have been all along, and it’s a really great Rey.
Luke Skywalker is no stranger to the Black Series, having the most figures of any individual character across the entire saga. Just about all of Luke’s iconic looks from across the series have been transformed into Black Series toys, with Jedi Master Luke being one of the most awaited of them all. Fans have been looking forward to this figure since the first showings of The Force Awakens ended, and it only took two years for it to happen. In toy time, that’s a miracle.
There’s a lot about Luke’s Last Jedi look that I like, including the very traditional Jedi robes that echo back to Obi-Wan and his mentor Qui-Gon. There’s a simplicity in the look that brings that “monk in seclusion” vibe to life, and it all comes together quite well. That he doesn’t come with any accessories is a bit of a surprise, particularly given that he has a hook on his belt to hold a lightsaber. Perhaps Luke has moved beyond the need to wield the weapon.
The only thing that really sticks out as a disappointment with Luke is his cloth cloak. I tend to lean towards favoring soft goods on the Black Series figures when appropriate, and thought it might work well for Luke in this instance. I was wrong. The cloak is uncooperative at best, and never sits right on the figure no matter how you want to pose him. Maybe next time, Hasbro.
Finally, the world gets the General Leia we’ve all been waiting for. The new Leia brings the most current incarnation of Carrie Fisher’s beloved space princess to life in impressive fashion. Hasbro has had some trouble getting the likeness of Leia/Carrie right over the last few iterations of her toys, but this one comes closest to the elder version of the Resistance leader. The costuming and hair styling are on point, and they finally managed to make a Leia that doesn’t have a hard time standing on her own two feet.
Granted, the likeness is still not as accurate as we’d hoped, and that discrepancy between Carrie Fisher and her toy is no more obvious than when she’s standing against the Force Awakens version of Han Solo. Hasbro got really close to a spot-on Harrison Ford, but Leia’s portrait lacks those same defining features that would have made this figure that much more authentic. Still, more Leia figures is never a bad thing; hopefully this isn’t the last time we see the Rebellion's greatest asset in toy form.
Hera Syndulla rules. There's not much more to say about the Rebel pilot than that. She’s been one of the best things about Star Wars Rebels since the show began, and her finally getting a chance to join the rest of the Black Series cast members is a wonderful occasion for fans. Hera was actually supposed to arrive some time ago, but manufacturing issues led to a bit of a delay. That added time in development was all worth it though, as Hera might just be the best figure in the new wave of Black Series characters.
Bringing the characters of Rebels to life is no easy task, as the TV show is very stylized for a certain look. Hasbro’s Black Series must bring those characters into a more realistic realm, as they stand alongside characters from the existing films based on actual humans. So far, Hasbro hasn’t disappointed, but Hera is a really remarkable sculpt that captures the vibrancy of her animated version while also making her feel as real as Luke or Leia. And that paint app? Gorgeous. She’s a perfect addition to an already impressive line-up.
There are still a lot of Black Series figures to come this year based on The Last Jedi, and from what we've seen of Hasbro’s offerings we're looking forward to getting our hands on them all eventually. The mix of new and classic characters suits the line well, and were it not for a few clothing mishaps or slight accuracy issues, this could have been one of Hasbro’s best waves in the Black Series to date. As it stands, the Force Friday II offerings are a strong supplement to the growing line, and are sure to make fans that have been waiting very happy.
The Star Wars Black Series figures are available now for ~$20 each. Some of these figures were bought for review. Some were provided by Hasbro.