Updated: Nov 26, 2018
Review : Admiral Ackbar and First Order Officer Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro) Wave/Series : Toys R Us Exclusive (US) Released : November 2017
(* import / independent price)
Pros : It's Admiral Ackbar! An he is glorious. The First Order Officer, who looks a bit boring is much better than you may think Cons : Availability will be an issue. The jaw on the Admiral can get a touch loose.
"It's a Trap!" Let's get that out of the way first as we welcome Admiral Ackbar to the 6" Black Series line. Amongst the raft of exclusives announced for the last 3-months of 2017, this is the one I have been looking forward to the most - and is at the time of writing the hardest to get hold of for UK collectors.
The Admiral Ackbar and First Order Officer set is an exclusive to Toys R Us in the US and in Australia. At this stage there is now UK release, and going off other boxed exclusives like the Astromech pack or the Cantina 2-pack, this is more likely not to arrive in UK stores who only seem to get the single carded figure exclusives such as Snowtrooper Officer, Hover Tank Pilot and Commander Gree.
The box is essentially an elongated version of a standard box. The bottom rail is however slimmer than the one we are currently seeing. The artwork sits to the bottom right and has Ackbar forward with the First Order officer to the rear. The Star Wars Black logo sits centrally on the top black rail. Unlike other exclusives with varying box designs and sizes - this one should still sit with your single releases and other similar multi-packs.
A circular silver embossed sticker has been placed on the window between the two figures. This confirms it as a Toys R Us exclusive. This is the first time I have seen this sticker since the 2015 Snowtrooper officer. I am reliably told that Toys R Us staff add this themselves, so there will be variations in position and some stocks with none at all.
The character names are in red bold as Admiral Ackbar and First Order Officer. This same red text is repeated on the left spine just behind the wrap around part of the window. There is a faint outline on this left spine where the word Ackbar is printed in large print and in very dark grey against the black backdrop.
The right spine is gloss red as usual. As this is an exclusive there is no numbering, just a repeat of the character names under a shaded box.
Round the back and we get a diagonal split to cover both characters. Akbar sits to the left under the Star Wars Black Series logo. We get a larger version of the Gregory Titus illustration along with a short blurb about the Admiral's role after Return of the Jedi and his current role within the Resistance. This is repeated in three other languages.
The right side is the First Order Officer. Here we get a generic image of the officer - the likeness on the illustration is not a clear resemblance to the figure and you wonder which came first the figure or the drawing. The blurb here talks more general around the "officers of the First Order military forces" and their "allegiance to Supreme Leader Snoke".
A new feature on this pack is that both of these panels have the character name headed above the blurb in a red box rather than simply white text on the black background.
We open the pack as usual and slide the figures out in their gloss red backing card. Both figures are held into the inner tray by the tray itself - no twisty ties here - and their respective weapons are placed at the sides at head height.
Hasbro have always delivered excellent sculpting on the Alien's in the Black Series 6" line, but they have gone one better here with this Mon Calamari sculpt which is nothing short of exceptional. The head is well proportioned and carries a wealth of detail from the fronds round the mouth, to the folds of skin and the overall texture of the amphibious head. What makes it is the eye which is glass like and so expressive and peers out from the ringed bulbous eye sockets. I can't count the number of paint colours used on the head with varying tones of orange across the head and adding shadow and light in the right places. The eye itself is bright yellow with a white ringed back pupil. Our images may make you think there is a white spot in the centre of each eye - but this is purely a reflection of the light as the eyes is so glass like.
This is a Last Jedi release, meaning that Ackbar is seen in his Resistance uniform and not the classic white from Return of the Jedi. It is also a different design to what we saw in The Force Awakens so no doubling up here with your displays. While the head was superbly detailed, the uniform is a little less so. The tunic section is sculpted with a realistic approach to where you'd expect to see creases and folds - particularly where it goes into the belt and where it bunches around the elbows. The tunic is a single olive green colour with the rank badge in a light blue shade with white and darker blue details. There is a plain brown belt around Ackbar's waist and that tucks into the front panel as seen on screen. From under the base of the tunic we get blue trousers, again with the right creasing and folded detail you'd expect. These are also a single tone colour, no washes or highlights. The ankle boots carry a fair bit of detail with some strapping and panelling. They are very similar to what we saw on some Endor Troopers and are two tone brown with the top being a lighter colour to the feet section which is also glossier.
The exposed skin of the arm is sculpted as well as the head with more fronds and that lobster type panel with the spikes. There is less orange variation here paint wise, but they still look good and have the spikes and fingernails picked out in a darker grey colour.
The head itself is not articulated in the usual way - and while it doesn't turn, it is designed so the Admiral can open its mouth. We've seen this type of engineering on a few 3.75" figures and it seems to have been scaled up for Ackbar. Essentially the head is in two halves and the top bit sits on a neck peg with a joint that moves it backwards. As it does this it opens the mouth as the lower jaw section is pushed forward.
This just enhances the figure even more for me as you can alter Ackbar's expression with the jaw movement as you wish. Because of the design the lower jaw can feel a little loose when the mouth is opened - this is normal (I think) and necessary to allow the mouth to move the way it does.
The rest of the articulation on Ackbar is standard fare - 16 points in total including that jaw. Arms are ball jointed at the shoulder, rotating single elbow joint and pivot wrists. The wrists are the most mobile I've seen on a Black Series figure, helped somewhat by the girth of the arms
We have a torso joint secreted behind the belt and this isn't just a swivel, it also pivots up and down adding lean either forward or backward. The legs are ball jointed hips with thigh swivels. These are behind the lower half of the tunic - which does mean the thigh swivel is hidden, but also means there is a restriction on the upper legs. The tunic is a softer plastic however, and with double jointed knees and very articulated rocker ankles you can get Ackbar to kneel or crouch. He stands perfectly well and you can feel a ratchet in the ankles holding them in place.
Ackbar is armed with a modified DH-17 blaster, as used by the Resistance. I believe this is a debut for this weapon in the range, with other Resistance figures to date coming with the larger Blas-tech rifles. It is also a differing sculpt to the one packed with the Death Squad Commander.
It is cast in a black plastic, which does have some give in it - but nowhere near the flexible weaponry we saw in 2015. There are some details picked out in silver around the barrel, grip and on the sights.
Even with his Mon Calamari hands, Ackbar has been designed so he can hold this blaster in his right hand quite well. We are missing the usual trigger finger, so it can look a little odd from some angles. There is no holster for him to stow the weapon - and I suspect many collectors will discard this to the accessory box.
Ackbar has never been one for weapons, so while I appreciate the pack in rather than nothing - it might have been nicer to apply some licence and give us his staff as we all remember from the vintage release way back in the early 80's
The second figure in the pack is the First Order Trooper. This figure is very nonspecific and is not named, and is more of a generic army builder than anything else. The facial sculpt is nicer than it looks in hand, but is quite cartoonish with the large eyes and heavily painted eyebrows. Round the sides under the cap you can see some shading to represent a shaved head. The only other colouring is the pinker tone on the lips.
The hat is plain grey and carries a First Order decal front and centre. This is cast in grey and there is a gloss black peak to the cap.
From the head downwards, the entire body is a direct re-use of the Finn in First Order disguise from Wave 13. It reflects the uniform we see in The Force Awakens and into The Last Jedi for what we assume are lower ranking officers.
Up close the uniform carries some nice detail. The more obvious canisters to either side of the chest, to more subtle panelling and seams and the bunching of the trousers around the upper legs before they are tucked into the glossy black boots. The whole thing is a soft grey colour and has no further paint effects. The belt breaks up the grey of the uniform and is painted in black with a gunmetal buckle. For some reason the buckle appears off centre which you wouldn't expect from the regimented First Order? There is a holster hanging from the belt.
While not advertised on the box, the hat is actually removable. It is cast in a soft rubber material, and the head is then cast as bald with a very light stubble and these two factors combine to a very snug fit with no obvious oversizing issues you often get with removable head gear.
Articulation is 16 points as standard. The head is ball jointed and can be rotated with or without hat - and it pivots up and down by some way so he can be posed looking up or down.
Arm movement is good, but as an officer you most likely will stick to neutral posing or that hands behind the back "attention" stance. The torso does have a joint disguises by the belt - but unlike Ackbar, there is no useful movement - in fact it feels stuck and when I turn mine he flicks back to the front. It reminds me of at the 1980's action features they put on He-Man or Wrestling figures for a spring-loaded punching action. Legs are ball jointed hips, followed by thigh swivels, very well hidden double jointed knees and ankle rockers. This allows for a good level of wider stances and some crouching with the lower half of the jacket cast in softer rubber so the outfit moves to a degree with the leg movement.
In the image above I've shown a blown up image of his wrist where he is wearing a wrist band with some Aurebesh symbols on it. According to Action Figure Blues Episode 298, this has been translated as "Dillon" - the significance of this is currently unknown.
The First Order Officer comes with a small blaster - the same one we got in early 2016 with Hux. It is cast in grey with some black paint added to the grip and rear section. This fits into the right hand of the Officer, but due to the smaller size it's tricky to get his flexible trigger finger into the trigger. When not in use the blaster fits into the holster on the belt. This is a snug fit, but due to the shape of the lower coat the blaster is almost bent when placed in and will distort over time - you may want to leave the blaster sat a little higher in the holster rather than pushing it all the way through.
Scoring two packs is always hard. Had this been a single Ackbar release, he would have walked a 5 star review with barely any criticism. The Officer on the other hand is good and better than I was expecting - but it is not great and looks dated with its cartoonish head sculpt and will stand out even more when we start getting into the face print technology - he would have scored a 3. I think the answer here is to split the difference and award the set a 4 out of 5. Ackbar is the star, with the First Order Officer along to make up the numbers. Like any exclusive where there is no wider UK release, price is a crucial factor and my score is assuming you can grab this set for no more than the £55 I paid via Amazon. I now look forward to the inevitable release of a Return of the Jedi Ackbar - and quite possibly a tweak to a Force Awakens versions?