Since I cannot for the life of me find the other three in the first set of six FORCE AWAKENS DISNEY STAR WARS ELITE SERIES, this review is going be labeled "PART 1." Ironically, Part 1 has two of the characters that you would think would be the hardest to find. FORCE FRIDAY was such a blur of driving and stopping and going into parking lots to check websites, it was like some exchange scavenger hunt but the catch was we did not what the heck we were looking for.
I had heard echoes about the Disney Store having some kind of hybrid 7-inch die-cast and plastic figure but I figured, "if you can get it at Disney, how difficult can they be to get?" Then my first delivery from Disney showed up and I was hit over the head with a mint in box U.S.S FLAGG. The order I had gotten in was Kylo Ren, First Order Stormtrooper, and Captain Phasma. As I was opening the Disney box, it just so happened that I had the first wave of HASBRO's Black Series on the table because I was in the middle of writing my review on them for the AFJ website. As I pulled the first Disney Elite out of the box, I was immediately startled at the figure and packages weight. It was like going to pick up a gag weight that was labeled 100lb but was really 10lb. Except this was the complete reverse, I moved my hand too quick thinking it would be feather light. Instead, this felt like something that deserved to be in a collectible section where an employee had a key in the store to get you one. These are way too nice to be "peg warmers." First impression? I was seriously wowed.
As compact, as they make the BLACK SERIES that I think, takes after the MARVEL LEGENDS packaging, somehow they upped the game into the best packaging yet that all are ironically done by the same company or subsidiary of Hasbro or Disney. It was the weight of the package of each figure that I kept coming back to me. I am about 95% a MOC collector but like Captain Stryker in AIRPLANE, the flop sweat started because these babies were itching to escape from their hardened cardboard and metallic-like package. Then I realized that after other Junkies opened their packages and saw the DISNEY ELITE for the first time, they too would realize, "OMG how did these fly under my radar?!?"
CAPTAIN PHASMA ELITE SERIES
To start out from the front, the front is almost like a full on window box--you can see everything. First up was CAPTAIN PHASMA, the character I have the least Intel on but has easily become my favorite after Kylo Ren overload. I reviewed GAME OF THRONES for three glorious seasons on the now-defunct MANIA.com so when I found out that A) PHASMA was a woman (didn't see that coming) and B) the character was being played by Gwendoline Christie that played one of my favorite THRONES characters, BRIENNE OF TARTH. PHASMA has this amazing look of looking like a hybrid of an original trilogy old school Stormtrooper, a First Order Stormtrooper and a separate armored beast with a fine touch of a brilliant cape and a beautiful futuristic gun. And from the footage I have seen of the character in the minute amounts J.J. Abrams has thrown at us, PHASMA is at a majorly high shine that no amount of elbow grease will get my figure to look like. Of the ELITE SERIES that I have retrieved so far, CAPTAIN PHASMA is my favorite.
FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER ELITE SERIES
I love the natural evolution of the Empire's Stormtroopers to the new FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER. There is clearly a change, but it is not invasive enough for anyone to really complain about. I actually like it better than the older Stormtroopers because it looks like the final result in a long time development of trooper suits. I have a feeling that the "army builders" out there are going to be opting for this version over the BLACK SERIES to make their massive waves of troopers for the truly die-hard that will spend countless amounts to accrue 30, 40 or 50 Stormtroopers to accrue a respectable army not only for show but for detailed photographic presentation. I have always seen the STORMTROOPER's utility belt from EPISODE IV as the first one I had ever seen and I have been in love with it since. I cannot wait to see what this new Trooper has inside his utility belt and I am secretly praying for an updated grappling hook. What? A fans gotta dream right? The figure also comes with two sweet blasters, one that is more of a handgun and the other more of an intricate design. But let's be honest, I'm guaranteeing none of them hit any of their targets!
KYLO REN ELITE SERIES
Since FORCE FRIDAY, Kylo and Ren are pretty much the only two words I have heard. However, now the hype has seemed to wane a bit making the BLACK SERIES fairly easy to find at cost but there is a reason for that---the ELITE SERIES KYLO REN totally kicks the BLACK SERIES tux has. The BLACK SERIES practically looks thrown together compared to the ELITE SERIES KYLO. I'm not kidding either! Had I known that the DISNEY ELITE SERIES were going to be so far superior, I wouldn't have hip checked that soccer mom to grab the only full wave of BLACK SERIES on FORCE FRIDAY. In my defense it wasn't a hip check, it was more of a light push with my shopping cart. "Tight" is the best word I can use to describe the ELITE SERIES KYLO. The costume, the cowl, the lightsaber--it looks like it was the only one made just for you. While I was already excited about EPISODE VII and the toys, the ELITE SERIES is one of the best surprises in recent memory.
**BONUS DARTH MAUL!!**
If that were not enough, Disney sprung DARTH MAUL on us with a new exclusive ELITE SERIES being released from now until the release of the movie in December. As it turns out we are going to be getting an Exclusive DIE CAST ELITE STAR WARS figure for the next two weeks leading up to EPISODE VII on December 18. This came out of nowhere! And it all began last Monday when I almost had a coronary running for my life to pick up the first in the Exclusive Series, DARTH MAUL. Darth wound up being #1 on AFJ’S SEPTEMBER’S TOP 10 HOTTEST figures. Here is a peek at the DARTH MAUL that I risked my life for and although the next in the releases is Anakin Skywalker, the one after that is GENERAL GRIEVOUS for which I will definitely throw some elbows to procure if need be!