Review : Unmasked Kylo Ren
Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro)
Wave/Series : Exclusive to Star Wars Celebration / SDCC 2016*
Released : July 2016
Price : £32.99
* a standard version will also be released and will exclude the Darth Vader head, the First Order Banner and no alternative masked head.
An unmasked Kylo Ren always felt like an inevitable addition to the Star Wars Black Series line. He was announced a couple of weeks before Star Wars Celebration 2016 in London as an exclusive figure, and would later go on to be available at SDCC 2016. Restricted to 3000 pieces at Star Wars Celebration, the figure sold out across all three days. It was also revealed at the show that the basic unmasked figure would be released in the main series, the vanilla version will be #26.
The exclusive Kylo was packed in an over-sized box which was approximately three times the width of the standard packaging. It held the black with bold red trim from Phase 3, but without a window. Instead a front flap, held in place by Velcro tabs, would be opened to reveal the figure within and its accessories. The box cover included a grey scale image of the unmasked Kylo Ren with his lit cross-saber a stark red colouring against what I assume is a snowy black background. To the left the red stripe holds the Star Wars Black Series logo at the top in black and the character name at the bottom. This red band extends round the left hand spine. A First Order logo is embossed into this red panel.
Round the back is another grey scale image, this time of about half of the Kylo Ren mask to the left hand side of the box. Over to the right is the Star Wars logo again, this time in grey, and a paragraph detailing Kylo's past. This text is printed in very dark grey and is not the easiest to read, or indeed photograph. The box ends on the right hand spine with a further First Order logo and the character name. Our version, bought at Celebration, also sports a couple of over-stickers. One at the front obscures some detail next to the Hasbro logo, there is then another one on the bottom of the red band that quotes Age +4, a legal requirement I assume for UK sales. Round the back a larger sticker covers a large proportion of the back - again this is predominantly safety notice related.
Inside the spine is a wonderful image of the melted Darth Vader helmet in grey scale artwork. In stark contrast the inner tray holding the figure is a bold red, and not just a flat colour but with a plasma light sable glow around each compartment. The figure is presented to the right with a light saber hilt already in hand. Next is the lit lightsaber and then the two heads - Darth Vader's melted helmet and the Kylo Ren mask. The final compartment holds a First Order Banner and stand.
This entire inner tray slides out and the pieces all pop out easily enough, with the exception of the figure which is tied in twice with a black twist tie and also an elasticated clear band.
Looking at the unmasked figure first, and the likeness to Adam Driver is passable but not particularly well painted. This is sadly consistent with most human Black Series figures now. The figure comes with his hood folded back, and then around this is the sculpted plastic cloak. From this piece comes the soft goods robe that covers the chest and then flows down into an outer skirt, These soft goods are nicely tailored, with a decent texture and do hang really well considering the scale. They are held in place with a plastic belt. The arms are sculpted plastic with a ribbed design, and the same ribbed design is repeated in a soft rubber inner skirt. Under this final skirt are a pair of sculpted legs with quite a lot of detail considering they are hidden. The figure ends with strapped gloss boots. Aside from the head paint wise there is nothing other than a touch of silver on the belt, but each black element of the costume does carry a different shade and texture.
This is the revised version of Kylo and he differs from the original version with an updated outer cloak around the neck, a crisper belt, and shorter robes that stop at his feet and do not splay out across the ground. This revised Kylo figure is also a touch taller than the original wave 1 release.
The unmasked head can be swapped out with the Kylo Ren helmet. The mechanism to do this is quite smooth and once in place you essentially an identical masked Kylo Ren to the revision that was put out as part of the main range. The helmet also serves to be held by Kylo so he can have it under his arm, or held out inspecting it while he seeks out the dark side within.
The two lightsabers are also a big improvement on the other release. Both are crisper in the sculpt and paint and fit neatly into either hand. The lit version is the same as the one sold with the Starkiller version of Kylo.
The Darth Vader mask is so far exclusive to this box set only. It is a really nice sculpt and designed with a flat base so it can sit steadily on a table. I feel it would have been nice to be displayed with a plinth of some kind, but perhaps that is asking too much. Paint wise, there is more paint applications on the Vader helmet than on the Ren figure with a wash appied over the black plastic cast.
Also exclusive to the box set is the First Order banner. This comes in two pieces. The first is a really crisp hexagonal stand with an embossed First Order logo picked out in deep red. The banner mast slots into this. The banner itself is soft goods and hangs nicely on its cross piece. It is a deep red in colour with a flat black First Order logo at it's centre. My one niggle is that it feels a little small. It stands just a half inch taller than Kylo, and I would have liked to see a more grander piece.
Articulation on the figure is identical to all the other Ren's and consistent with the POA the Black Series are now using. The head is a ball joint and either head can move up and down and rotate fully on the ball joint. The shoulders are ball jointed and can extend out and upwards, although you will find the right arm stops a little lower than the left due to being blocked by the over cloak. The elbows are single jointed but also rotate and there is a pinned wrist which allows the hands to rotate and bend.
Hidden under the cloak is a waist joint which gives the torso some sideways movement to the legs, this will aid more action orientated poses. The hips are ball jointed like the shoulder and have a swivel just under them at the thigh. With double jointed knees and ankle rockers the legs are really maneuverable and are not even blocked completely by the inner plastic skirt thanks to some cleverly added splits in the skirt. It is quite easy for example to get Kylo to kneel with his cloak spreading out to either side.
As a figure, unmasked Kylo was a no-brainer for Hasbro. And as an exclusive it kind of works too. All collectors will be able to pick up the core figure eventually, whilst those who bought it at SWCE/SDCC will have the exclusive packaging and a couple of extra pieces for their trouble - the same way Hasbro approached the 2013 (Boba Fett) and 2014 (Jabba the Hutt) SDCC exclusives. Are these extra's worth a +£10 price tag? That will be a matter of opinion, but I think for me there is enough in the box to warrant the £33 - although I would be loathed to pay much more on the secondary market.
I score the unmasked Kylo Ren a 4 out of 5 for the exclusive version. The head sculpt could do with some extra paint applications and the banner could maybe do with being a bit bigger.
Putting aside the exclusive elements, and of course at a lower price, the standard version will likely score the same - but we will have a better look at this and update our gallery and review once figure #26 hit's stores.