Make no mistake, we have come quite a long way in the 6 inch Black Series action figure line. The line is undoubtebly at its best now in 2018, finally. Photoreal was a game changer. However, after 5 1/2 years some things have not changed, and some things could be addressed by Hasbro and improved upon. What things? Click through for my list of Black Series pet peeves.
Cousins, twice removed, Princess Derpina and Princess Leia
No doubt about it, when you check out the photo above you can easily see that the Black Series in 2018 is leaps and bounds better than the Black Series in 2013. No contest. However, as great as headsculpts and paint apps usually are these days, other things were not really improved upon in the past 5 1/2 years.
So here’s my list of pet peeves, things Hasbro should re-engineer or improve upon!
- Ratcheted ankle joints – the ratcheted ankle joints are probably the single worst thing about Black Series figures in 2018. The idea is probably that these ratcheted joints prevent the ankles from becoming loose or so… but in reality these ratcheted joints make it more often than not very, very difficult to get the feet flat on the ground, at a 90 degree angle to the body. I blame the non trivial percentage of Black Series shelf divers on these ankle joints in combination with non flat feet (that is, the sole is not flat). The ankle joints simply prevent any fluid foot motion, you can’t easily position the feet any way you like to balance the figure and the bad thing is that sometimes you are between ratchet points when you want to have a figure standing, which is always a precarious thing. SH Figuarts has much better ankle joints, which allow for absolutely fluid motion. Number of Figuarts shelf divers is zero.
- Ratcheted knee joints with two pins. The knee joints may be functional, but they are very, very ugly and destroy the aesthetics. Also, let’s be honest, how many times do you need the double joint? Moreover, the hinge joint used for the knees is prone to warping and warped legs are a very common occurrence in the Black Series. I think a solution similar to the new elbow joints would be much better here: single joint with generous cutout in the back of the knee to allow for more than enough articulation. It would remove the unsightly pins, it would get rid of the current hinge joint that will ultimately warp and it would improve the aesthetics a lot.
- Hands with trigger fingers for characters that don’t hold or use a blaster. It seems that Hasbro has a very, very limited number of hand moulds for the Black Series. Which is why characters such as Tarkin or more recently, Skiff Guard Lando get hands with trigger fingers. Even if Tarkin never even used a blaster and Lando uses a vibroblade. Would it kill Hasbro to maybe mould one new hand that can grip things without having a useless and silly looking trigger finger? Of course, extra hands would be the solution here, but it seems that extra hands are a very rare thing.
- Making some essential accessories (convention) exclusives. Why? Hasbro, do you realize that a) exclusives are annoying to begin with for most collectors but that b) making some accessories exclusive infuriates more collectors than not? Why is Han in Carbonite an exclusive accessory? So maybe 10% of all collectors (if at all) can feel better about themselves? Why is Salacious Crumb and Jabba’s throne an exclusive accessory and the regular release of Jabba as barebones as it can get? And more recently, why would you make Bespin Han’s hand with pointing finger an exclusive accessory? Wouldn’t the breather mask, Mynock and the packaging have sufficed? Why make the hand exclusive too?
I could have mentioned other things as well, the sometimes too rubbery plastic used or the fact that most weapons have no paint apps at all and look quite cheap at times. The E11 blaster has more variations than I remember. Sometimes it’s cast in all black plastic. Sometimes it gets some silver accents here and there, it changes from figure to figure without any consistency at all. But these are minor quibbles compared to the 4 pet peeves listed above.
So, how do you feel? Do you agree? Do you have other pet peeves and things you’d like to see changed not mentioned here?
Also, to make it clear once more: the Black Series is in a good place, the figures do look fantastic, quality is consistent, sculpts and paint apps are as perfect as they can be for a $20 mass produced toy and especially the sculpts are often more accurate than what SH Figuarts delivers. But that doesn’t mean the Black Series can’t be even better.
That being said, the Black Series is not SH Figuarts with its somewhat higher price point and plethora of accessories, so SHF is not really the benchmark perhaps, but it shows what can be done and I am certain that without SHF using photoreal ever since the line was created Hasbro would not have introduced a similar tech for the Black Series. The comparisons online between the SHF and Black Series version of a character became too embarrassing.
If Hasbro changed only one thing… then I would ask them to re-engineer the ankles since they are essential for balancing the figure. I am tired of figures shelf diving and murdering other figures on their way down to the ground.