Updated: Nov 26, 2018
Review : Elite Praetorian Guard with Heavy Blade Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro) Wave/Series : Amazon Exclusive Released : November 2017
Pros : An exclusive that is not overly difficult to obtain Worldwide. The two new weapon additions are nice variations Cons : Essentially the same figure as Wave 13 - with a slightly changed face plate. Articulation is still limited
Alongside the Stormtrooper Executioner, the Praetorian Guards are looking like the standout "trooper" from The Last Jedi. We have three of them already in the 6" Black Series line - the first released as a single figure in Wave 13, and the second as a pack in with the Guards of Evil 4-pack. In this review we look at the 3rd release from late November 2017, the Amazon exclusive Elite Praetorian Guard with Heavy Blade.
Like the Stormtrooper exclusive, released at the same time, the Elite Guard is sent out by Amazon in it's own shipping box. This one is a shiny white cardboard and carries the Hasbro logo and some product coding. The character name on this white box is "SW E8 BL Victor Guard 3" and refers to the code-names used ahead of Force Friday II for listings of the Last Jedi figures.
Out of its shipper and on first glance you gave a standard Black Series box. There are some subtle differences though, the first of which is the Gregory Titus illustration which is in a bold red colour rather than the usual grey.
This has also led to the character name being in white text so it is not lost against the illustration. This character name is listed as Elite Praetorian Guard with the wording "with heavy blade" in brackets. We get a repeat of this in French, including the bracketed subtitle, underneath in the same font and size. One would speculate this is included for the French speaking Canadian market?
The changes to the front of the box do help the visual appeal, particularly when you consider this is an all red character packed against an all red backing card. There is no specification of exclusivity on the box.
The red spine also carries this French translation, but being an exclusive there is of course no numbering. The card back carries the same image, still in red, as is used on the front and onto this is the generic text covering the Praetorian Guards. This text is identical to that used on the Wave 13 single release.
Out of the box and the figure is slotted into the inner tray and surrounded by his weaponry. The titular "Heavy Blade" only just fits into the tray.
With the guard in hand, I did initially feel a little cheated as he looked pretty much identical to the Wave 13 release. On closer inspection it is clear that the lower part of the helmet is changed, with a more upper sloping face guard and some differing details down either side of the helmet.
Everything else on the Amazon exclusive is identical to the Wave 13 release as you can see in the above images.
The figure is essentially made up of an under-suit with segmented armour over the top. The chest plate is similar to that worn by Stormtroopers and we do get a touch of colour here with a blue button or indicator of some kind.
The armour is cast in a gloss red plastic and does contrast a little bit against the duller red colour of the under suit. While the red gloss does create its own reflections and shadow. it might have been nice to see a wash of black here and there into the panels to define the armour even further.
The lower skirt area is a rubbery plastic and it is cut into four hanging segments to aid some lower articulated movement. There is a texture to this skirt and it is coloured more like the red under suit and not as glossy as the armour. Beneath this are sculpted legs with a black coloured trouser and gloss red armoured boots.
Articulation gets off to a great start with a very mobile head that rotates and can look up and down - even as far as putting it's chin onto its own chest.
The shoulders are also impressive, with the shoulder armour panels themselves being articulated on a hinge so they move with the arms.
It gets a little more difficult when we get to the elbows. The joint is not visible, and is quite stiff and feels restricted by the segmented arm armour pieces. The joint does however work and the arms can be taken to a bend of around 45 degrees. Some gentle heat will help to get the elbows moving.
There is a torso joint sitting under the chest panel and like the head this has a wide range of movement both rotational and for leaning the figure forward and backward.
The legs articulation is made up of ball jointed hips, thigh cut swivels, double jointed knees and an ankle rocker. The legs are held in by the skirt, but with the split the skirt can be splayed out to allow the figure to kneel or take a wider stance.
I have had no trouble standing the Guard, although the ankle rocker joints do feel a bit loose already - something of a common problem on armoured figures for some reason?
The Elite Guard comes with two weapons. I am calling this first one a sword, but it may also segment into a whip of some kind looking at the version SH Figuarts have released. This is cast in a softer plastic and comes with a plain red grip and silver blade.
It can be wielded in either hand, and there is the ability for a two handed pose as you can see above.
The second weapon s the titular Heavy Blade. This thing is a monster and measures nearly 8.5 inches long (21.5cm). Like the sword it is predominantly silver in colour and cast in a slightly flexible plastic with some neat ribbing detail for grips and that wicked looking blade at one end. The blade mount and the end of the blade are coloured red.
Being such a long item and with that flex in the plastic, the Heavy Blade is a risk of being misshapen if it wasn't packed straight - and of course if it is bent out of shape while on display in your guards hands
This heavy blade fits into either hand and can be posed in a variety of stances including a simple guarding pose to a more aggressive two hand advance,
Once you start lining these guys up with each other then you do start to see the appeal of collecting a full set of these for display around your Supreme Leader Snoke's throne.
The Amazon Praetorian Guard is thankfully not too difficult to get, and is priced pretty much the same as a standard release. With the tweaked helmet and differing weapons it gives those wanting to army build Snoke's Praetorian Guards a different version to the standard release.
The figure does have some minor issues - the same ones shared by the standard release. The skirt does inhibit movement and a soft goods version like the Guards of Evil set might have been preferable. The weaponry is also prone to being bent and misshaped.
I score the Amazon Exclusive Praetorian Guard the same as the basic release, 4 out of 5 stars.