Updated: Nov 24, 2018
The First Order Tie Fighter Pilot, in it's basic version, is number 11 in Phase 3 of the Star Wars Black Series 6 inch range. It is also packed in with the 6" scale Tie Fighter, albeit the Special Forces version with his red helmet markings. The Tie Pilot is part of Wave 3 of Phase 3, arriving with the Resistance Trooper and then repacks of Rey/BB8, Finn, Stormtrooper and Kylo Ren.
We have looked at enough of the Red & Black Phase 3 boxes to know them inside out, so let's get straight to the figure.
The new First Order Tie Pilot design hasn't grabbed me as much as the Original version, and in the box and in most images he doesn't show off all the little details in his costume & armour. It is only in hand and close up that you appreciate the figure and it's intricate design.
Starting with the helmet, and like the OT version this draws a lot from the standard Storm Trooper helmet. Onto this are bolted some kind of visor, which is sculpted onto the forehead, as well as the breathing pipe at one side of the mask which snakes down into the chest unit. The chest armour and shoulder armour are directly taken from the First Order Trooper whilst everything else in the torso is a more lightweight flight suit. This is all painted in black, but there is a clear definition from the armour parts and the helmet to the flight suit, and it is this change in texture and shade that adds a real visual distinction to an otherwise all black figure.
The chest box sits neatly on top of the chest armour, and as mentioned connects with the breathing pipe that comes from the helmet. It is quite clever that Hasbro have made the pipe flexible to a degree so you can still rotate the head of the figure and the pipe bends with it. Reports are that the paint on the Special Forces version may have made this feature a tad more brittle - so do move the head with caution. The chest box is painted "OK" but a couple of the buttons are a bit sloppy. It is also interesting that the blue & grey buttons are in a different combination on the Special Forces version - this could be deliberate, but you would assume it's more likely a factory error.
The Pilot is equipped with a utility belt and then with flight straps hanging to either side similar to what we saw on the X-Wing suits from the Original Trilogy. The flight trousers are sculpted as cloth and are the duller shade and they finish in a set of boots which return to the high gloss finish.
Outside of the chest box, the only other paint applications are the decals on either shoulder depicting the First Order logo. Of course the Special Forces Pilot also comes with the red striped helmet and some extra silver trims, sadly this is all a tad messy to be honest and doesn't seem to sit well on a high gloss finish.
Articulation was better on the standard version to the one packed with the Tie Fighter. The shoulder armour withdraws nicely under the chest piece and allows the arms to get out to say 70 degrees, and coupled with the elbow bend you can get him into a firing position or into a piloting position with hands on the controls. The head, as we mention, does move but is held back by how far that breathing pipe will bend and I certainly worry about the longevity of the pipe itself.
The lower half is made up of hip joints, thigh swivels, double jointed knees and an ankle rocker. This does allow the Pilot to get into sitting positions and of course then fit into the 6" Tie Fighter itself, either front or rear seat. As I say, the Special Forces version was a little stiffer but just needs working around and perhaps a little heating.
Sadly both figures suffer from being very difficult to stand. The feet don't seem to be right and I almost thought they were the wrong way round at first. The ankle joints are also quite loose and therefore the figure does have a tendency to flop forward. You can solve this with a wider stance and a twist of the thigh swivel outwards, or just drop them on a stand.
Only one accessory is included - and with this figure I am not sure what else could be packed in, so this is fine. The pistol is small and fits in the hand perfectly well and even has some paint application with silver trim either side. I kind of wanted a holster, even though I have no idea if they have them in the film, but then again the holster on the OT version did spoil the look - so I guess Hasbro can't win.
When it comes to scoring, I am going to score this as the standard release only. I think the paint variations on an all black figure are very clever, and in the main any decals and trim is neatly done. The helmet articulation worries me, so am not sure if a more flexible pipe was possible. I am glad he can sit well enough, but it is a shame that there seems to be an inherent issue with standing naturally which is plaguing a number of the more recent figures.
All of this adds up to a 4 out of 5 for me with just a couple of niggles vs otherwise a very solid figure, and one that I think will do well in terms of Army Building and of course to fill that 2nd seat in the Tie Fighter