With the pending release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December, toy collectors can begin their countdown with the launch of an entirely new line of collectibles that honor and recreate some of the key characters and vehicles from the new film. Anyone that once found joy in the playthings from the world’s most successfully marketed-to-children campaign will definitely want to take note of these Disney Store Exclusive figures, the Die Cast Elite Series. I had the opportunity to get up close with one of these figures, Sergeant Jyn Erso. She didn’t say much, but the interaction did not disappoint.
From first introductions, the packaging is amazing. The box is stout and paneled with plastic on three sides, giving a great preview of the character within. The black, gray and metallic blue really help the item to pop off the shelf. The large Disney Store logo is present on the upper right-hand corner of the box, something I haven’t always appreciated. Up to now, Disney Store Exclusives have been sort of blah — arms that don’t move, plastic figures bundled together in bulk to give the buyer a sense of the real thing but very short of the mark. But something has changed in recent years. The Disney Character/Star Wars mash-ups started the trend—Park or Disney Store exclusives that were worth the money. The Elite Series takes that to a whole new level.
Unpackaging the figure is a little tricky, as I usually try to open things without doing damage to the boxes, or at least as little damage as possible. I recommend opening these figures from the bottom — the box is sturdier there and less likely to crease or tear. Once the plastic, form-fitted coffin slides out, you’ll see that Jyn is strapped down at about eight points. Not sure why the overkill, but without a pair of wire snips, I would have needed about five minutes to untangle the sturdy wires binding her up like some kind of Hannibal Lector serial killer. If you do use wire snips, snip from the back side to avoid scratching the figure.
Similar to the highly detailed Black Series figures (which are the only ones I will buy these days), the Elite Series stand out in a very clear way-- size. Elites are about 33% larger than the Black Series and much heftier. The metal construction must be difficult to manufacture because the metal parts are not as detailed and textured as their Black Series counterparts. As only the body is metal, the head, vest, gun belt, weapons and figure stand are all plastic. This allows for that higher level of detail to be present. And the details abound.
I’m a prop/costume guy. I examine every inch of a prop or costume in an attempt to recreate it. Last year, for Force Awakens, I made my own Poe Dameron costume and the only screen- shot reference photos were not very helpful. But the Black Series figure was, and this would hold true for anyone looking to recreate a Jyn costume prior to Rogue One from the Elite figure. Jyn’s pistol, rifle and billy club are all beautiful. You can see every nook and cranny on the weapons. Her vest greeblies (the little details on a Star Wars costume that don’t really do anything but look cool as flip) are visible, as are the buckles and clips.
As far as articulation of the figures goes, I’m mixed about the results. I love her hands, especially her gun hand. Her pistol fits exactly into her grip, and her index finger is extended to line up exactly with the trigger guard, just not on the trigger. (Safety first, people—don’t put a finger on the trigger unless you are ready to pull it!) The billy club sits well in her grip…but the rifle. That’s a different story. She can hold it like a pistol (a person pet peeve—you don’t shoot a rifle like a pistol!) but she is unable to hold or aim it with both hands. Her wrists pivot, but there is no articulation at the elbow or shoulder that would allow her to hold or aim the rifle in a realistic manner. I know…it’s just a toy.
Another odd detail is that Jyn is sort of smiling. Not a full blown, teeth-bared grin, but there's a bit of a curve to her lips and cheeks that makes her look…pleasant. All the promo trailers show Jyn as rather humorless, so I am surprised they went with this look. Maybe they were going for neutral but not jovial? I was also surprised that there was no mention of Rogue One on the packaging. Well, on the upper left-hand side panel there is a small corner that says “From the New Film Star Wars Rogue One” which doesn’t even tell the whole story, that Rogue One is “A Star Wars Story”. I suppose they are trying to simplify the messaging—“It is a Star Wars film, but not one of the of the numbered saga…” It just seemed like a missed opportunity to promote the film, that’s all.
Finally, we come to pricing. At a hefty $26.95, I feel like not many folks will be buying these. Sure, the die-hard collectors will have to have them, but that kind of money gets a little bit closer to some of the higher end collectibles that are numbered and will likely gain more long-term value. But if you are looking for a sturdy figure that won’t break easily or maybe even that will stand up to a few chewings by the family pet, the Elite Series die-cast figures will no doubt last the duration of your child’s play time for years to come.