Thursday, December 29, 2016

Director Krennic - Rogue One

With G.I. Joe figures, there is one basic style that defines the genre.  You have straight arm figures, Ninja Force figures and Armor Tech figures.  But, that pretty much sums of the entirety of the line that has non standard articulation.  The rest of the figures are designed the same way and are pretty much interchangeable.  Where the difference comes into play are the sculpting style changes that occurred in the 2000's when Hasbro introduced the Joe Vs. Cobra sculpts and then the Anniversary sculpts.  These figures retain some elements of vintage Joes.  But, they are completely different in most design aspects.  However, you have a definitive break when each style began.

In Hasbro's Star Wars line, the design changes are less definitive.  If you follow the flow of figures from 1995 through to 2016, you see an evolution of the figures.  While a 1995 figure can't really hold a candle to a 2010 version of the character, if you also review the steps in between, you see how Hasbro got from the beefy 5 points of articulation figures from POTFII to the sleek and well design super articulated versions from the Vintage Collection.  They appear to be different lines until you follow the sculpting from the beginning.  Now, though, Hasbro has returned to the 5 POA action figure as the staple line for the new Star Wars films.  While I am, generally, opposed to this idea, there are instances where it works.  I've often stated that, when it comes to Star Wars figures, I'm less concerned about having the "best" figure than I am about having one that's good enough.  And, in some cases, good enough is represented by a 5 POA action figure.  Such an example is the Director Krennic figure from the 2016 Rogue One figure assortment.

Director Krennic is a new character created for Rogue One.  In some ways, he a superfluous character who isn't really needed.  The movie really didn't need a new bad guy as either Tarkin or Vader would have filled Krennic's role without much modification.  His motivations for his actions were based on Tarkin's theft of Krennic's role aboard the Death Star.  But, Krennic would have already been subordinate to Tarkin, so this seems like the type of thing Krennic should have seen coming.  Krennic had some sort of relationship with Darth Vader.  But, his audience with the Sith Lord seemed more of a cinematic opportunity to show more of Vader than actually advance the plot.  Krennic chased the protagonists around the galaxy and seemed to be a decent, if cookie cutter bad guy.  Krennic's death really only served as a bit of comeuppance for Jyn in her quest to avenge her father.  But, seeing as how she also perished shortly after Krennic, the good feeling was relatively moot.  In the end, you have a character who's relevance is more political than action.  His only real value is that he wears a cool, white uniform, he has a huge cape and he's flanked by a sextet of custom "Death Troopers".  He could have been purged from the movie and no one would even realize it.

But, this is Star Wars.  And, Star Wars if heavily about characters that serve no real purpose.  In fact, there are, literally, hundreds of action figures based upon characters who are not just minor, but so minor they neither speak, are the focal point of a scene or even credited in the film.  For some reason, these background players take on lives of their own and we, as collectors, demand toys for them.  In that zeal, we get some stuff that, on paper, should be awful.  Krennic, after all, is a grey haired old man with an inflated sense of self importance.  As a toy, he should be awful.  But, as he is a major character in a film, collectors demand a figure and they were rewarded with a pretty solid representation of the character.

For me, Star Wars figures are display pieces.  They sit out on shelves or in a display case and never move.  It's nice to be able to pose them into dramatic stances.  But, that is more of a novelty as most figures can only be posed so many ways before you've exhausted the limits of ways to get the figures to remain upright without the aid of stands.  For some characters, just having them stand there, doing nothing, is the perfect look.  Imperial Officers fall into this category and Krennic fits right in with them.

As a sculpted toy, Krennic is great.  He has his arms at his side, shrouded by his massive, stiff plastic cape.  His legs are straight, with no odd bends to force him into a pose.  Just out of the package, Krennic looks exactly like he did in the movie.  Sure, he looks like a guy who might deny your loan application.  But, that's what he's meant to be and the head sculpt brings that across.  Where you get your value on the figure is detail.  The cape perfectly hides the joints on the figure, so you focus just on his visible uniform.  The tunic has folds and wrinkles to show use.  His pants do, too.  He has the baggy thighs that define Imperial Officers and his spit shined boots are simplistic bliss.  The tunic's long waist is a separate piece that covers the figure's waist.  This gives Krennic much more depth, even if it limits his articulation at the hips.  His Imperial insignia are solid.

The real conversation point is the waist mounted holster.  As a kid, I wanted nothing more than working holsters for my Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures.  Now, they are a staple of the Star Wars line.  Krennic's works perfectly and holds his pistol with the handle out.  It is just visible from behind the cape and shows that Krennic is a bit more than a standard officer since he carries a visible side arm.  Mine featured some poor paint applications and overspray around the belt.  This seems to be a common issue with the lower price point figures.  So, keep that in mind when picking out a sample.

Krennic is readily available right now.  Oddly, he seems to sell through fairly well.  You'd think a silver haired villain with limited articulation would pegwarm with the best of them.  But, for now, Krennic appears to move fairly well.  It might be that collectors are stockpiling a few extras for customizing purposes.  Or, maybe, Krennic really did fill a villainous niche and casual fans have taken to the character and want a plastic representation of him.  You can find Krennics pretty easily, but he will sell down as the waves age on the shelves.  I'm not sure if this will last, long term.  But, it's pretty apparent that Rogue One toys will disappear come August or September of 2017, replaced by the new film's figures.  So, even if Krennics do start to back up in early 2017, collectors are assured they will disappear to clearance bins before the next series of toys hits retail locations.

Long term, I'm not sure where Rogue One will fit into the Star Wars pantheon.  Right now, enthusiasm for the movie seems high.  But, "The Force Awakens" also energized fans.  Within a year, though, the general reception for that movie had cooled and many of the flaws were more apparent.  It's likely Rogue One will suffer from the same pattern.  The movie has holes in it and Krennic is not the only character who could have been removed without affecting the plot at all.  In time, cameos from original trilogy characters will become blase and the shock effect will diminish.  With all the main characters dying at the end, there's not much legacy to Rogue One beyond what we've seen.  However, Krennic is a character who could return in an earlier story.  Being the director of the Death Star construction, he's a major player in the Empire.  So, should there be another film or two set between Episode III and Episode IV, Krennic could return.

In the past, you could be assured that a character like Krennic would, eventually, get remade into an ultimate, super articulated version.  But, that reality no longer exists.  Barring his appearance in another film, this is probably the last Krennic figure we'll see unless Disney/Hasbro completely change their approach to Star Wars toys.  For years, Star Wars was immune from the dreaded "movie tie in toys" where a line was heavily marketed prior to a film release and then relegated to clearance and discount stores within weeks of the film's premier.  Disney seems to be pushing Star Wars toys in that direction.  The only difference being that the brand has enough legs at retail to survive the dead first half of the calendar year.  This gets us more figures and toys than we'd get for most other franchises.  But, leaves Star Wars feeling scarce and limited.

That may be part of the ploy to retain interest for the next decade.  It's worked on me, though.  I have more Rogue One figures than I do from the Force Awakens.  But, that's mostly due to the original trilogy tie in which is more in the wheelhouse of my interest in the franchise.  But, figures like this Director Krennic show that there is value in limited articulation figures, especially if they are well sculpted.  I'll pay premium prices for super articulated versions of characters who require it.  (Chirrut Imwe is one such character for sure.)  But, for guys like Krennic, the 5 POA format works perfectly and allows me to spend a little less for features that would be wasted on the character.

2016, Black Series, Director Krennic, Death Trooper, Rogue One, Star Wars
Director Krennic and a Black Series Death Trooper

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