Those weren‘t exclamations of joy coming from the theaters in December, those were screams of agony from our wallets. As if millions of bank accounts suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. Star Wars was great again, and that meant lots of expensive new pop culture ephemera on the horizon. When it comes to creating shrunken down versions of our big screen heroes, nobody does it better than Hot Toys. The Hong Kong toy making juggernaut had thrown their hats in the Star Wars ring over the course of 2015, with releases mostly centering on characters from A New Hope, (Though they do, of course, have a Boba Fett on the way) but as the year drew to a close and Force Awakens-mania overtook the nation, HT’s “First Order” of new figures began to hit online shops, with their peerless quality echoing that of the franchise re-defining source material currently on the big screen.
Today’s subject: Kylo Ren. Adam Driver’s command performance of Darth Vader’s conflicted and tortured heir apparent was the most amazing thing in a film full of them. Hot Toys’ version of the “dark force warrior” lacks Driver’s likeness or the melted Vader helmet he holds so dear, but excels in bringing home a perfect representation of the new villain for how he appears in the majority of the film.
Kylo comes in the typical Hot Toys shoebox, layered in plastic within is the figure, two lightsaber hilts (one with a connected second arm that lights up), one set of translucent blades, his stand, made of reflective plastic and bearing the new “First Order” logo, and a whole mess of extra hands. Those hands are one bone of contention I had with the figure, as only one of them is really good for any “force powers” style gesturing, mimicking the splayed fingers pose that Ren assumed in several of the initial trailers. That’s the good and bad thing about this figure being out so soon, the lack of any scene specific accessories or anything else that could be considered “spoilers”. Usually we’re lucky to have these Hot Toys figures out by a film’s Blu Ray release (for example, the Ant Man figure just came out in HK, so he’ll release over here in about a month), figures dropping while a film is still in theaters is unheard of. The figure designers lack of familiarity with the source material is the obvious trade off. But in Ren’s case, the flawless execution of the rest of the product more than makes up for it.
Ren is just that: a simple figure executed flawlessly. Most companies would’ve stuck Kylo in a big black robe and been done with it but Hot Toys shows why their figures are worth the prices they command. The various components of the costume are made of screen accurate fabrics, from his slightly shiny hood and tunic to his ribbed sleeves and silken inner robe and pants, which layer perfectly over the underlying super articulated True Type body. Just standing still Ren demands attention but begin working with the figure and you see that he can get into any super acrobatic Jedi fightin’ pose imaginable, thanks to the thin though durable fabrics and the heavily jointed arms, legs and torso underneath.
His mask is sculpted and painted with dead on film accuracy, sporting all the scuffs, scrapes and battle damage seen in the film, as is his obviously crude and homemade lightsaber. The included blades go in and out of the hilt easily and when unlit it can ingeniously be slid into a peg placed on his belt. His boots have awesome weathering too, looking like he just came home from Jakku and boy is he tired from slaughtering innocents, and the thin rubber they’re made from doesn‘t inhibit ankle articulation in the slightest. Another small complaint: that light up feature. It requires you to completely remove the figure’s lower arm from the elbow down, but given the tightness of his sleeves it seems slightly impossible to do (as many other reviewers and forum posters have attested), even though there is a zipper at that side of the figure’s wrist. I chose not to even bother rather than risk breaking or tearing something, your mileage may vary. That zippered sleeve does make the wrist peg on that side easier to access though, making me wish both sides were zippered. Such is the mystery of Hot Toys.
Hot Toys’ Kylo Ren is currently still available at most online collectible retailers for the MSRP of $224.99. That price may seem slightly high given the lack of accessories here but in my opinion he’s only another gesturing hand or two away from being a home run. Of course a “final battle” Ren with a Driver head sculpt and more detailed diorama base, possibly like the Black Series “Starkiller” exclusive, is an inevitability, but may be far off given the relatively small Hot Toys’ currently bloated release schedule. Until then, this guy will do just fine, and he and I will both be patiently waiting for HT to release their versions of Rey and Finn.
Look for our full breakdown of the Hot Toys First Order Stormtrooper Two Pack tomorrow.