5 Jan 2018

Star Wars Forces of Destiny Sabine Wren

So Forces of Destiny hit UK shelves several months ago now, but it's now January and STILL no sign of the Sabine pictured on the back of the boxes.
So I emailed Hasbro.

I had a chat with a few of their representatives none of whom seemed to know why she wasn't on shelves yet. One claimed she MIGHT be seeded into assortments in the new year but they couldn't guarantee it.
I told them that simply wasn't good enough.

Now here's what I think happened.

In the Uk at least, the forces of destiny figures are shipping 1 character per case of 4 or 5 figures. They don't HAVE an assortment case, least i've not seen any evidence of one.
We did get Leia, Rey, and Jyn though the Leia sets are much harder to find in physical stores. Pretty much every shop i've been into has only had Rey or only had Jyn, very few seem to have both and even less have all three.
It's bizarre.
I've seen Leia's set ONCE, i'm yet to see her Endor set at all in a store but i'm relieved the price of it seems to be coming down. £50 for it is ridiculous. 

but what I think happened with Sabine was this:

The purchasers for toy stores were given a series of cases to pick from. Each with a different character in. So they went for the cases that contained characters from the latest movies assuming those would be the most popular and most known. It's also likely the purchaser isn't a massive star wars nerd so didn't have a clue who Sabine even was.
There's also a chance the "girls toys" person was in charge of ordering these, i'm not sure how the purchasing is done in stores and whether it's all one person or departmentalised. But that could also be a factor in this, purchasers ordering "dolls" based on "doll sale" numbers rather than "action figure/star wars toys" numbers.
See, Star Wars toys they can literally sell anything. There are figures of background characters, extras, people who are literally in like 1 frame of a deleted bloody scene and they get toys and those SELL, if they didn't Hasbro wouldn't bother making them. You can get action figures of Salicious Crumb ffs, and the guy with the ice cream maker from Cloud City. These random backgrounders even have NAMES and freaking backstories! It's nuts.
So by Star Wars logic, there was zero reason to expect we wouldn't get Sabine Wren. She's a main character in the Rebels TV series after all, she's not some obscure background player. And she DOES have action figures on UK shelves. But for some reason her forces of destiny figure was not ordered.

Of course it's easy to say it's because she's darker skinned. The UK market is rather notorious for excluding the darker skinned characters from doll assortments, but doll logic shouldn't apply here because these aren't DOLLS right? they're figures, they're star wars, they're a whole different market and at least here in the UK, the Forces of Destiny figures aren't in the doll aisle anyway, they're in the action figure aisle with all the other star wars toys.
So I honestly and sincerely believed that we'd get her. All evidence suggested we would. Star Wars toys sell no matter what character is represented, if even ice cream maker guy can get a widely distributed action figure, why would a protagonist not?

Still, the racism card is a powerful one and excluding the one dark skinned character from the assortment DOES have unfortunate implications in that respect.
So I politely told Hasbro all this, asking why she was being excluded and how it didn't make much sense or mesh with their usual distribution of Star Wars products.
Hasbro UK didn't really know what was going on so they put me in contact with their head office in the US, well, actually they just forwarded my emails to the head of marketing in the US who emailed me back saying he didn't quite understand why she wasn't being sold over her and telling me he'd send me one to say sorry.
Which was very kind. Certainly I wasn't expecting a doll, I just wanted to chase up the distribution so I could work out if I needed to pay to import or if we might possibly be able to convince Hasbro to get her into stores for uk fans.
It's not like Rebels isn't shown on UK tv, it's still running!
So any argument that a child fan of star wars wouldn't know who Sabine Wren was I think is rather silly. It's a dang good tv series and quite popular. (Heck, the Ghost, the ship from the series makes a cameo in Rogue One)

It was just before christmas anyway, and Hasbro's head of marketing told me that I should expect a delay due to the festive rush but my doll should arrive soon.
I thanked him and promised him when she arrived i'd write them a review to say thanks anyway. I feel kinda obligated to do so you know? To "pay them back" as it were.
But i'm still gonna be objective.
Because companies deserve REAL reviews, not just hot air blown up their asses.

As it was, a box turned up after only 2 days all the way from the USA.
WOAH, that was quick!

Interestingly, the case she was sent in says "forces of destiny, adventure figure assortment" suggesting that the US might actually get assortments, not single character cases. Can anyone confirm this?
I kinda love that they're calling them "adventure figures" not dolls. Because they really aren't dolls.

 Anyway,

christmas chaos kinda consumed me for a bit so it's taken me a while to get the time to debox and take a load of pictures. But here we go! FINALLY, at long last, Sabine Wren!





The Forces of Destiny figures i've briefly mentioned in an earlier post, but she was my husband's figure, not mine so I didn't get much of a chance to play with her.
this one is MINE MINE MINE, despite him pawing at her and whining haha.

Sabine is an interesting character, she's an artist, a warrior and the daughter of a fairly bloody important person. Being Mandalorian she wears their armor, which she's decorated herself and it's freaking awesome.
I always liked Mandalorian armor (like the stuff Boba Fett wears) because it looks freaking cool.

Anyway,

Sabine's Forces of Destiny figure is unusual in that unlike the rest of the current wave, she's not representing a life action character but rather an animated one.
Which makes her likeness, or rather, lack thereof, all the more odd.


Her forces of destiny (FOD?) figure looks older. And is way tanner lol.
Which is unusual.

Her FOD  figure is based on her season 2 look. Sabine changes her hair colour a lot.



Sabine's artwork on the back of hte box is quite nice. Her spine is bending rather er... impressively but it's dynamic and she has a lot of personality on her face.
Her art doesn't look much like her figure though, or the art from the actual short webisodes.


In fact, her actual animated art from the webisodes is REALLY pale compared to her figure. Wth?
I mean she's not particularly dark skinned in Rebels, more olive toned than anything i'd say, so why on earth is her doll so brown but her animation so pale?
It's bewildering.

I don't think this image looks much like Sabine. Sabine has really almond shaped angled eyes and quite a long face with high cheek bones, the flash animation characters all kinda look the same, kinda like they just took the same outline and traced over it.

Anyway, let's look at the figure.


The boxes are basically giant blister packs that hinge open at the back like a lot of toys these days. I don't like these boxes because you basically destroy them getting them open and it feels wasteful.

Mine the glue on the backing was starting to fail anyway (maybe that's why Hasbro wanted rid lol) so the box was coming apart before I opened it.

There is a LOT of tape around the outside so this took a bit of effort to pry the plastic off the backing card.


You can see where I tore the card because the glue was holding it too tight at only one point.

Sabine is actually only held into the box with two tabs in her head. The rest of her is held in place with a sort of plastic outline shaped to her body.

The backing card had a silhouette of Sabine (I assume) in one corner, a star field going into hyperspace and then a sunset with a droid. I think it's a sunset anyway....


The graphics are very abstract except the droid, which is Chopper, from Rebels. I do hope we get a figure of him, maybe with Hera when she finally gets a figure. She's pictured in the lineup of animated Forces of Destiny characters so I assume we'll see her eventually in figure/doll form.


The glue failure meant that this plastic surround was totally separate from the backing card for my figure, which allowed me to remove it all without tearing the backing card. The glue has totally failed, there's zero stick. I don't know if they're all like this. Sabine kinda rattled about in the box but the plastic surround kept her mostly in place.

She's tied into this plastic surround the way most dolls are stuck into their box. A plastic tie around each leg, one around each wrist.

She comes packaged with her helmet under one arm and one blaster separate while the other is in the holster.


Here she is all free from her packaging.

I was delighted to learn she can indeed stand on her own without support. YES. I love when dolls and figures can do this.

The forces of destiny figures are a strange hybrid of doll and action figure, with molded plastic parts coupled with fabric elements which I initially found quite strange but having handled a few now, I begin to understand why they did this.
In Sabine's case, her tight fitting armor works better molded, it lets them put all the details in they otherwise would lose with a body suit. Her pants are fabric I believe simply for mobility reasons. If they'd molded her slightly baggy pants they'd have interfered with the engineering of her hip and knee joints, so just adding fabric over the top makes a degree of sense there.

In Rey's case, molding the drapy bit of fabric around her main outfit would have looked chunky and weird, even the small kenner figures did this sometimes with floaty pieces of fabric that went over the top of a mostly molded figure.
And the Kenner and now Hasbro figures are really what I think these should be compared to rather than fashion dolls and things marketed as such.

I remember back in the late 90s and early 2000s there was a launch of 12 inch deluxe figure/dolls for Star Wars and oh man, I so wanted Boba Fett but they were fairly expensive and I didn't at the time collect toys. I thought I was too old.
These kinda remind me of them, though not as deluxe.

Oh electronic Boba... I shall find you.

Anyway, Forces of Destiny...


Sabine's face is very long and narrow, her skin a quite yellowy tan colour.
She has very simple eyes with dramatic liner but no lashes and a sort of coral coloured mouth.
She has asymetric eyebrows that I think give her quite a bit of personality.

Her hair is a short bob in two shades of blue. It's surprisingly free of gel and quite nice and soft to touch.


Her armor is a simplified form of her tv series armor, all molded on. the elbow and shoulder pads clip in place and are removable, as is the belt.

She has a waist joint that's part of her "blaster action" mechanism, we'll get to that.



This is Sabine's tv show concept art to show her costume as it appears in the show.

Her figure has lost the detail on her "orange" shoulder pad (which is actually a checker board pattern) and the bulky equipment on her gauntlets. She also doesn't have the bunny on her blue shoulder pad.


Again there's a simplification of these details. The only thing here that really bothers me is her knee pads. they clip on with short little plastic tabs that look silly. If they had been attached to a black piece or something a bit more substantial they'd look a lot better, not to mention get lost less easily.
they have to be elastic banded on because otherwise  they just come off when she bends her leg.
I wonder if maybe just printing them onto her pants would have been a better idea to be perfectly honest.

Her boots are soft plastic and have lots of wonderful wrinkled texture.


And of course there's her helmet which is freaking awesome.

All her armor has weathering molded into it including gouges, dents and scratches which is a nice touch I think.


All these bits come off and undressing Sabine isn't really overly difficult. It's awkward to get the belt back on though, the little tab that slots into the hole at the back is quite short and it's fiddly.


Sabine's pants are just white fabric with the brown printed on, which I find odd. Why not just use brown fabric? It must be cheaper to just print onto white fabric for doll clothing, I keep seeing this.


Sabine looks pretty strange pantless, it's like she forgot to put her underwear on today lol.
The contrast between her molded armored upper and totally bare lower looks funny to me.
Maybe they should have painted her panties/groin region black? then she'd look a bit less silly.


Her pants do have a pattern molded to them, it's like a sort of weave pattern?.

Interestingly, her copyright markings aren't on her back which has lots of lovely creases molded in but rather printed on her upper legs.


CE on one leg, copyright info on the other.

And what looks like an A on one butt cheek. Uh....


Her hands are removable, though i'm not sure why as she has no alternate hands and it's not like she wears a shirt.


She has articulation at the neck, elbow, wrist, shoulder, hip and knee. The waist joint is deceptive, it can't actually move without activating her gimmick and springs back into place. So you can't actually pose her body twisted at all.



Her knee articulation isn't great. It can bend to 90 degrees but that's it. Means she can kinda kneel but nothing more elaborate.
Her hips only move back and forward, there's zero movement outwards which also limits her ability to pose. I'd have thought ball sockets here would have made more sense but nope, back/forward hinge that's restricted by her butt anyway.

So she can sit down, but she can't do much else.


Her gimmick is that if you squeeze her legs her waist twists.
It is a very limp action and honestly is way more a hindrance to play than an addition. Like all these Forces of Destiny figures, I do think Hasbro would be better off simply ditching the "action gimmick" that doesn't bloody work properly anyway and just give the figures a functioning waist joint instead.


This is as far as she twists with legs closed. And she does so with such a lack of enthusiasm it's kinda depressing. There's no real action, it's more like a disinterested vague turn.

I honestly don't see what this adds, it anything it'd be more fun to be able to move her waist yourself so you could make her shoot people.
Squeezing her legs together is kinda weird anyway and the mechanism is so floppy that half the time it doesn't even work properly anyway. Even when she DOES do a proper twist, she does so weakly and there's just no dynamic there. No point.
They could bring the price down a great deal if they ditched this dumb action thing and i'd go so far as to say for the price (these basic figures who come without a smaller figure are £20!) i'd rather have some adequate articulation than a silly twisty mechanism thing.


Her elbows bend about as well as her knees. You're gonna only really get half as much movement as you SHOULD get from an elbow. But to be fair, most dolls can't hold their arms properly. As most, because of the way her arm is sculpted, you'll get her arm to bend as much as her blaster arm is bent in this picture.

Her hands are soft and squishy though, which makes putting the blasters in her hands quite easy. You then kidna have to squish the trigger finger into place.
I kinda like that she has trigger fingers but it does make her hands look a bit odd when she doesn't have a gun in her hand.


She looks coolest like this.


I had an attempt at posing her like her box art. She has no waist joint so I couldn't really do it properly. Also because her legs don't splay outward I couldn't get her legs to pose right either.
But eh... close enough.

Her knee pads definitely need a little bit of black elastic or something rather than those orange tabs, they look dumb.


Her helmet fits really nicely, it goes on over her hair fine and comes off fine without causing a massive problem with her hairstyle. This is good.

It does make her look a little bobbleheaded but that's more I think a side effect of these figures having quite big heads in the first place.


Her elbow pads don't actually work as elbow pads because they don't bend with her arm. Again, this is a piece I think would have worked better molded on as part of the hinge mechanism.

Her gun hands look great though. Her blasters are quite simple but they look cool in her hands.


Her bobbleheadedness is more obvious in profile I think.

Still I think she looks kinda fun and I intend to display her like this lol.

She's a cartoony sort of figure and I don't mind that at all.


I had a bit too much fun playing with her I think


She's a lot of fun to play with.

Bottom line?

as a toy I quite like this figure. She's pretty decently put together, her joints feel robust and she feels like something that'll withstand quite a lot of rough play and adventure. Her mostly molded clothing also means she can get quite dirty or even wet without too much detriment which for a toy you're encouraging kids to play with outdoors and take on "adventures" seems reasonable.
Her boots stay on well so there's little chance of those getting lost but her knee and elbow pads are going to be something that'll drop off and disappear way too easily.
the shoulder pads actually stay on quite well, they clip properly and they couldn't mold those on without screwing up her shoulder rotation but the knee and elbow pads I feel could have been made part of her sculpt or something without losing too much and that would have been more durable.(I know right? i'm actually recommending molded pieces!??)

I like that her blasters secure quite tightly into her holsters and her hands. I like that helmet is so easy to put on and take off again.
I don't like that she has no real waist joint and that her gimmick doesn't really work and feels pointless.

I feel like these figures would be way more worth it if instead of a gimmick they put that energy into engineering a better hip joint so the figures could splay their legs a little. I also think their price is way too high for what is, realistically, a CHILDREN'S toy. This isn't a collector line Star Wars toy, this is a Star Wars toy aimed at KIDS, they should be robust, they should be fun and they should be easy to play with but importantly, they should be something a child could realistically purchase with their own money or a parent would agree to purchase as a treat rather than a special occassion.
£20 is way too much, particularly when you can get Star Wars merch for half that price and with a far greater variety of characters.
£15 I think would be more reasonable. I feel like that's what they're actually worth but there's a premium added on purely because "star wars" which I don't appreciate.


I also think stores simply don't know how to market these. Are they a doll? are they an action figure? Do they go in the doll aisle or the Star Wars aisle? Do they sit alongside the DC superhero girls or what?
And honestly they are pretty similar to the DC Superhero girls, especially the cheaper ones in their fully plastic molded outfits.
But those molded plastic outfit figures are £10-15, not £20-30 like the Forces of Destiny figures.
These are TWICE the price and I think that's crippling.

These figures are £20, the ones that come with a small figurine companion are £26:99 and the Leia figure with her second outfit and an Ewok is a whopping £50!??
It's RIDICULOUS.
Absolutely ridiculous.

US prices don't seem to be this obscene so it looks to be another case of "oh those Brits, they're made of money, let's gouge em for everything they've got" which pisses me off.
Now the prices are coming down, but only because they aren't selling well at the inflated prices.
And that shouldn't be how you market your product. You should get the price right from the start ffs.


 As a product though, I actually quite like these figures. They're a nice size to play with, certainly allowing for more versatility as most fashion doll accessories will work for them (Barbie joining forces with some Jedi? whoo) and as quite a lot of kids, girls especially, will have toys that are this 1/6 sort of scale they're a size that feels familiar and fits in with other toys.
I always felt like the tiny little kenner figures were honestly just too small, too easily lost and while they're fun because they're small and easy to transport, the larger scale of these figures I think would have appealed more to me as a kid. Certainly it appeals more to me as an adult. I don't really like anything less than 6 inches tall, it's just a bit too small to play with.
Husband is the same, he preferred the 6-7 inch Doctor Who action figures but now they're all 3.5 inches which is way too small and you lose most of the detail at that scale.
Bigger scale means more detail and detail is fun. Right?

I also like the rooted hair because rooted hair looks better than molded hair in most cases.

As an action figure, I think they work.
As a doll? no. They're too gimmicky, too molded. These aren't dolls. I'm sorry, they aren't.

Certainly I think they're better than the large scale action figures toy stores have in which seem to have zero articulation and are basically big fat plastic statues.
I'd rather have one of these than a big fat plastic statue, I can PLAY with this. She can sit down, she can hold her guns and shoot stuff, she can take her helmet off.

My inner child enjoys her.

And that's probably the best recommendation you could get.

I know a lot of doll collectors aren't enthralled by this line and that's fine, because to be perfectly honest, they ARE NOT DOLLS. It's like expecting someone who likes toy cars to enjoy a plushie or something. What you look for in a doll and what you look for in an action figure are different things, they're different toys, though I do think there's some great potential for some Jedi Barbie crossover fun here. <_<

I'd love Hasbro to make a proper doll of Sabine though, with a full fabric outfit and plastic armor pieces. pleeeeaaaase Hasbro? Can we have a new line of those "Collector Line" dolls you did in the late 90s? That'd be awesome. Or some more of those LE Disney Store Elite figures... nghh.



Overall, I give Forces of Destiny Sabine a solid 8 out of 10. And I think part of that is bias simply because I had so much dang fun playing with her on my kitchen bench.

She's a flawed product. Her gimmick doesn't really work and is dumb, her articulation is limited and reduces her posability a LOT and the plastic bits of her armor look odd and fall off too easily.

But she has a rather characterful face, even if she doesn't look much like the Sabine from the tv series, and I admit it, I DID have a lot of fun zooming her around the place making piew piew noises. I'm a total child okay?

I really LIKE this character, and I prefer 1/6 scale to the teensy little action figures you can get of her. I can pose her with my dolls which amuses me. I can set up crossovers with fashion dolls and that amuses me.
She's more versatile than most of my other action figures solely because of her scale. Most action figures are 6 inches tall if not smaller, have next to no articulation and just kinda stand there. With the Forces of Destiny figures I can pose them (sort of) and set them up in scenes that look more dynamic and less "just some figures standing about on a shelf" which I like.
She's currently on a dresser with some Descendants dolls and it amuses me a great deal.

She's a simplified children's toy, not an adult level collectable and i'm cool with this. I actually prefer toys I don't feel all paranoid playing with.

I think a kid expecting a DOLL will be disappointed. A kid expecting an action figure though? I think will enjoy this series.

AND we're getting boys too! Luke, Chewie and Kylo have all gotten dolls designed so far. I look forward to having a look at those too.

I don't think this is, as many suspected, "star wars for girls". What may have started as a response to the "where's rey?" campaign is honestly just another toy line aimed at boys AND girls who love Star Wars. I really don't get gendered vibes from the marketing OR the packaging of this line. (in fact Hasbro right from the start were very careful to never ever mention gender in their marketing. You watch any of the promos they are quite careful not to say something like "following the female characters of Star Wars" but rather it's "following characters we felt needed more stories told." It was the media who jumped to conclusion it'd be all girls and only girls.)
So I really hope we get a lot of characters and we see the rest of the Rebels as well as Finn, Poe and Rose from the new trilogy.
I fully expect a Han Solo figure is in the works, maybe he'll show up when they release the Solo movie.
And I admit it, I would love to be able to complete sets. I'll be annoyed if we don't get the rest of the cast from each group.
Hera has had artwork and has appeared in the webisodes so she's probably getting a doll. but man i'll be disappointed if we don't then get the three boys from Rebels (and Chopper) as well.

Pssst Hasbro, playsetsssss... yessssssss

I haven't watched the webisodes yet, but they're also doing comics and all sorts which is fun. Hopefully they can use this series to do more than tell very short stories and instead can flesh out a few things and give characters a little more depth and attention.
I think it has potential.
But I also fear this is a line that could fail spectacularly.

The toy market is fickle and the prices are too high.

Given the fully fabric, fully rooted hair LE Elite series figures, which were a similar height and aimed at the adult collector market were about £30, the price of the Forces of Destiny dolls is all the more bizarre.
 
Still, I intend to buy a few more. Husband's just ordered Jyn and i'm eagerly awaiting Asokha and comb-able Chewie (it cracks me up okay?)
And once Leia's Endor set drops in price, i'm gonna be getting that too. It's currently £30 which is OKAY but i'd sooner it was £20. Maybe when I next have some Amazon vouchers...

That Leia IS more doll-like... she even has interchangable fashions and I don't think she has a dumb gimmick lol. also Endor costume, that and her bounty hunter outfit are her best outfits man! I need them.




3 comments:

  1. Ooh she's lovely and kickass! *waves hands excitedly*
    I never clicked with the smaller star wars figures either, 1/6th dolls and action figures hit the 'play' spot just right though.
    Really hope to be able to get my hands on some of these (maybe from amazon? Sabine will probably not make it to france)
    Thankyou for the detailed review Jen and happy new year <3

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  2. She IS a doll, whether you like it or not.

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    Replies
    1. tell that to Hasbro man, not me. They're the ones calling these "adventure figures".

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