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Review : Star Wars Black Series Guardians of Evil 4-Pack (Exclusive)


Welcome to our review of the 2017 exclusive Star Wars Black Series 6 inch set, the Guardians of Evil. The set was exclusive to Gamestop in the US and was never officially released outside of the States, just imported at a premium and in low numbers into the UK. The set brings together four figures from across the various Star Wars era's from the Republic Senate Guard to Supreme Leader Snoke's Praetorian Guards from The Last Jedi.


Packaging 4/5


The Guardians pack is one of the few four packs released in the Star Wars Black Series. It uses the layout setdown by the Imperial Forces 4-Pack from 2015 by presenting the figures side by side in an elongated package.


The box retains the same height and depth as a normal black series box. But extends to have four figures in situ. To the right hand side we have the red spine. There is no number as this is an exclusive and instead the greyed square and then a list of the figures included in the pack. The other spine no red text and the word Guard can be seen in grey against the black background.


Each figure is individually named underneath the figure window and next to a Gregory Titus illustration. They run in chronological order with the Senate Guard first followed by the Imperial Royal Guard. We then have the Emperor's Shadow Guard and finally the Elite Praetorian Guard.

The back of the box is similarly segmented with four panels, one per figure. The order remains the same on the reverse with the Senate Guard coming first with the Star Wars Black Series logo above it. That does mean the Senate Guard text is not directly behind the Senate Guard in the packaging - but it would be difficult to get mixed up.

Each guard has a short bio text, and these are repeated in the various alternative languages. The Shadow Guard is of course now a Legends character and thus is preceded on the rear by the word "Legends". The same labelling was used on the Jaina Solo release so it is consistent.


"Senate Guard


For centuries, the Senate Guards kept the galaxy's legislators from harm while they went about the Republic's business on the capital world of Coruscant. With the decline of the Republic, the blue guards were eventually phased out by Imperial stormtrooper patrols and the red guard in the Emperor's service.


Imperial Royal Guard


Resplendent in crimson robes and armor, the Imperial Royal Guard protected the Emperor. Secrecy shrouded the Guard, with rumors abounding about the sentinels' background and combat capabilities.


(Legends) Emperor's Shadow Guard


Each one of these elite guards is specially chosen by Palpatine for his exceptional loyalty to the Emperor and the Empire, and for his ability to use the Force. Each Shadow Guard carries a pike that can ignited to use as a lightsaber-like blade


Elite Praetorian Guard (with Double Blade)


As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any threat."


Sculpt & Paint 4/5


Each of the first three figures are based on the same figure. We start with the Senate Guard who has a brand new helmet piece cast in glossy blue with black painted visor. The lines are clean and there are no obvious defects. The painted black visor is painted neatly but it does look painted and doesn't sit too well with me on the figure.

The cloak is entirely soft goods and is taken from a very soft flowing fabric that does hold its shape well. There is a lot of fabric here so it takes some time to smooth it and have the figure looking realistic without it billowing out everywhere.

What is brilliant is the decision by Hasbro to have sculpted armour under this cloak and the Senate Guard has this, but it is identical to that used originally on the Imperial Royal Guard single release. This time it is cast in the same glossy blue as the helmet with darker blue almost purple undersuit.

The Imperial Royal Guard, who was originally released a couple of months earlier in 2017 and who provides the base for these first guardians, is identical to its single release. The helmet is cast in gloss red plastic. The visor is set back on this figure and while it is painted, the recessing works to make it look more like the prop.

Like the Senate Guard, and like the original release the cloak is the same soft flowing material that can be shaped and tucked to get the position you are happy with.

And again the body underneath is fully sculpted. The intention with this figure is for this armour to represent the Royal Guards seen in the Crimson Empire comic book and therefore allows an alternative option for your guards. The robes can be rotated under the helmet to reveal the armour if you want the Crimson Empire look to your figure display.

The Emperor's Shadow Guard first appeared in the Force Unleashed novel and then would appear in the Force Unleashed video games. They are essentially force sensitive elite soldiers - a role now replaced in the Disney canon by the Inquisitors.

Like the other two figures the helmet is cast in glossy plastic, this time black. The visor is painted again, but rather than black the figure has a red tinged visor to differentiate it from the helmet.

Again the robes are soft goods and flowing and can be smoothed and folded into position.

The same sculpted armour also exists under the Shadow Guard robes cast in black gloss and with the undersuit in a softer mat black.

The fourth figure, the Elite Praetorian Guard, is also a tweaked release as it shares the same base body as the other Praetorian Guards released both in wave 13 and as an Amazon exclusive. This version, like the other two, differs in terms of its helmet. Here we have a duck billed affair, with a curved top. All of it is cast in red gloss plastic with no paint apps.

The armour is all gloss segmented panels with a slightly duller red visible around the neck and under the shoulder armour. The legs are painted black with the red returning in the knee high boots. The sole other pieces of paint / colour are a small black spot on the chest plate and the black soles of the boots.

The body is a re-use from the other Praetorian Guard figures apart from the skirt which is now soft goods, and this makes a huge difference to articulation as we will see later.


Accessories 4/5


Each of the Guards is provided with an appropriate accessory weapon. We start with the Senate Guard who is armed with the Mk II Paladin blaster rifle, as seen on screen. The weapon is cast in a rigid plastic with a semi-flexible strap added. The colouring is base black with silver added own its length.

The weapon fits into either hand, with the right having the required trigger finger. Two handed poses are available and thanks to the strap the weapon can be slung. The strap does provide the sole issue in that being semi-rigid it doesn't hang naturally.


The three Senate/Imperial Guards are also armed with an EC-17 hold out blaster. This is packed in the holster on their belt and held in place with an elasticated clear band. It is the same one packed with the original Imperial Guard - but not the same as the original one with the Scout Trooper which had a tendency to snap. It is cast in black plastic and has no paint apps.

It is designed to fit into the left hand as it has a smaller grip and therefore the first two fingers slot in the grip while the other two sit underneath. This is not wholly accurate, but is probably better than increasing the blasters side to fit the figures hands. When not in use it goes back in the holster. The fit is pretty tight but there is a danger of it being dislodged and falling out un-noticed from the robes.

The Imperial Guard has the same Force Pike as the single release. This is cast in grey with painted black around the grip. It fits into a two handed action stance, or can be sat in the right hand so it leans back on the shoulder as seen in the movies when these guys are in the guard position. For some reason Hasbro gave the Guards a trigger finger which can stick out and look odd in certain holding poses with the force pike.

The Imperial Guard also has the EC-17 hold out blaster in the holster under the robes.

Our Shadow Guard has a more ornate force pike which is cast in black plastic with ridged sculpted detail. It is then fitted with a red lightsaber type blade. The blade can be removed if you wish to pose the Guard without the weapon ignited.

The pike fits into the right hand, but when held the trigger finger they've given the figure looks even odder than it does on the Royal Guard, sticking straight out.


The EC-17 hold out blaster is again in position in its holster under the robes.

The Elite Praetorian comes with what is described as a double blade. This is a two piece weapon that is cast in red plastic with silver painted blades. On the end of one blade is a notch that lines up with a plug on the other half. This allows the two pieces to be combined into a double blade staff of sorts.

The weapon can be wielded in either, or both, of the Praetorians hands and looks great either as a combined staff or as two separate bladed pieces.


There is no secondary weapon for the Praetorian Guard.



Articulation 4/5


The first three figures in the set share the same articulation. There are 15 points of articulation in total, one less than the usual Black Series figure - and that is due to the helmets of the Senate / Imperial Guards being fixed.


The arms are ball jointed at the shoulder with a single rotating elbow and pivot wrist. While double jointed elbows would have been ideal, the single joints do just enough to allow for two handed weapon poses with the Force Pikes or the Senate Guards rifle.

There is a joint built into the torso to allow the upper body to twist and lean in and out. This allows for the figures to be posed as though advancing with their weapon or preparing to strike.

The legs are fully mobile as the armour is dialled back around the hip area. This makes the ball joint hips fully mobile and with a thigh swivel and double jointed knee beneath them the ability is there to have these figures kneeling.


The legs end with an ankle rocker. This is sadly a little loose on all three figures and does not feel ratcheted. While standing the Guards is fairly easy, there is a problem with the ankles slipping and the figure toppling over.

The Praetorian has the full 16 points of articulation, having the neck joint in place to move the helmeted head. The torso joint is mobile around the centre of the chest and the legs are fully articulated and no longer constrained by a hard rubber skirt. On this version the soft goods allows the full movement of the ball joint hips, thigh swivel ,double jointed knees and ankle rocker.

As with the other releases, the issue is the arms on this figure which are jointed beneath the segments of the armour. The shoulders work well enough thanks to a joint in the shoulder panel above the joint which moves with the arms as they are raised. The elbow joint is less useful as it is locked in position by its own armour. It can bend a little, but not excessively, and that hinders the arm poses somewhat - particularly when wielding the weapons.

Summary


This is one of those sets that on paper for the targeted US market works really well. It brings the Senate Guard and Emperor's Shadow Guard into the line, gives collectors another Royal Guard and a variant Praetorian to guard Snoke. The figures are all done well, even if three of them are essentially the same body, with good accessories and articulation. All of that in the US is priced at around $80, the same as you'd pay for four figures - and it is easy enough to either pop into Gamestop or order from their website to obtain them.


The issue for the rest of the world, particularly Europe, is that there was no formal release - even the promised Disney Store release never materialised. That left the set retailing at around £120 and that means you are paying £30 per figure, more than a basic release for a repack and three tweaks.

I played the long game with this set, and eventually imported from the Far East for a good price and if you can get this at £80 or below then it is a solid set and I score it 4 out of 5.




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