Right now, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a little bit like Shrodinger's Star Wars. Longtime fans of the franchise have been burned by incredible trailers and hype before, and aren't so eager to let their guard down just in case Episode VII disappoints them yet again. But there's also reason to believe that the new trilogy (and the numerous other films in development) won't fall prey to the same pitfalls that ended up being the prequel trilogy's downfall. As such, The Force Awakens exists as both an incredible triumph and a spectacular failure all at once. It's interesting then that Tamashii Nations next three figures happen to tie the prequels and the new sequels together.

The next wave of SH Figuarts Star Wars figures will hit this winter, and includes Obi-Wan "The Only Good Part of the Prequels" Kenobi, Kylo Ren and the First Order Stormtrooper. Tamashii's gone with the padowan incarnation of Obi-Wan, which is an interesting choice given that rat tails never took off as a viable haircut, but it does allow pit the soon-to-be Jedi Master against the previously released Figuarts Darth Maul. The figure looks sharp, even in the sculpted and articulated robes, and includes two different facial expressions. Kenobi's bemused confusion was certainly an expression used often in the early film, but I'm a little surprised Tamashii didn't go with something a bit more aggressive to match up with Maul.

Kenobi will also come with his first blue lightsaber, which he loses during the battle against Darth Maul. Such a newb. It's okay though because he also comes with Qui-Gon Jinn's green lightsaber, which he uses to give Maul a discount on pants for the rest of his life.

Like Darth Maul before him, Kylo Ren was the big attention-getter from the first few trailers. There's just something about those bad boys dressed in black with bright red lightsabers that haven't been seen before. He's been at the forefront of most of the marketing blitz, along with the tried and true Stormtrooper. Sure, the heroes of the upcoming film, Rey and Finn (and some others), have been present, but Kylo has become the face of the brand for the moment. Hopefully he makes it through more than one movie.

The articulation appears to be fantastic, even though Tamashii went with a molded cloak over a fabric one. It's a detailed sculpt too, with lots of texturing on the fabric to give each black section of his outfit a distinct look and feel. It looks like he has a few different hands as well, but curiously, this version of the lightsaber is a bit more pure than those we've seen from Hasbro to this point. It might just be a style thing, but I'm interested to learn whether the final version of his unique blade resembles the clean-cut focus of a true saber, or is indeed crackling with so much power the hilt can barely contain it.

The First Order Stormtrooper has already seen numerous incarnations in action figure form, but to this point, it looks like SH Figurarts might have a leg up on the tightness with its version. The Hasbro and Funko versions have been solid, especially for the price point, but with the slightly higher retail price, Tamashii is able to really hone in on making the standard class soldier as crisp as possible. There's good articulation despite the armor plating, but sadly he only comes with one blaster. That seems to be par for the course with the Stormtrooper to this point, which is more than disappointing. Just once it would be nice to see one company offer a bit more for this Stormtrooper to work with.

The First Order Stormtrooper (¥5400/~$45) and Kylo Ren (¥5940/~$50) are set to arrive in December, with Obi-Wan (¥5940/~$50) due to drop in January.

 

 

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