Let’s make something clear: Of all the complaints and grievances that have been fired at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren should not be one of them. The films titular villain has been criticized for being weak and whiny (and that’s using less colorful language/speech than what one would see in Internet comment sections). He is anything but those things. A very powerful force user able to stop and freeze blaster shots mid-air, Kylo can also use the force to pilfer thoughts and information from weaker minds. In his personal chambers, he has a resting spot for his helmet… a mound of ashes from those that he’s killed. He took a direct blast in the gut from Chewie’s bolo (a shot that had been shown to easily kill Stormtroopers) and still managed to fight off two attackers. And do we really need to say what he did to his own father?
For those that have recognized and accepted Kylo Ren as the new villainous force (no pun intended) in the Star Wars Universe, there are many toys and merchandise available for which to purchase, collect, and cherish (head to Toys R Us, you’ll see em’). None perhaps as spectacular as the 1/6th scale Kylo Ren figure from Hot Toys Star Wars line. Courtesy of Sideshow Collectibles, NB was given a sample to review. Unlike Mark Hamill at the end of Force Awakens, we’re gonna do more than stare at it intensely. A slew of pictures, honest thoughts, and at least one joke about actor Adam Driver’s ears will, in fact, follow.
“Everything is better in black”. That famous un-sourced quote was clearly taken to heart in the design of this packaging. Ren is featured on the cover, cross-guard saber in hand, looking quite menacing, of course. Sans the silver foil Stars Wars logo and some sculptor/design credits (on the back) the entire rest of the box as all in a rich black. The whole look of the box is pretty much what AC/DC was singing about in the song “Back in Black”. It should be noted what a vote of confidence and testament to Hot Toys’ life-like figurines, to see the actual figure used on the cover art. At passing glance, one could easily mistake the graphic as official key-art from the films production, but no, it’s the figure posed and well lit (and some after effects w/ the lighsaber), looking convincingly enough as the real life thing.
Kylo comes in the typical Hot Toys shoebox. Like most Hot Toys, a key benefit is the interior packaging. The figure and its contents are all contained within layered plastic trays. Nothing is zipped tied, taped, or clam shelled. Everything is accessible, easily removable, and designed to be re-packaged. It’s true, all of it. If Kylo Ren himself was presented with this figure, there would be absolutely no reason to trigger one of those temper tantrum’s he’s so infamous for.
This collectible figure features Kylo Ren’s helmet with weathering effects, a meticulously crafted outfit with layers, the character’s signature crossguard lightsaber with LED light-up function and weathering effects, and a specially designed hexagonal figure stand with the First Order’s emblem.
Every Hot Toys figure has more and more things that spark a “whoa… that’s cool” reaction. For Ren, it’s perhaps its most boring feature… the clothing. When you think of Kylo, you probably picture this shadowy masked figure draped in all muted black garb. That is very much not the case. Kylo Ren’s costume is way more detailed than what you see on the surface. It takes a high end collectible such as this to appreciate what materials, detailing, and textures lay hidden in plain view. As to how accurate it is to screen, the figure matches with meticulous precision: with ruffled mummy wrapped-like arms, tattered tunic, swooshy underpants, silken inner robe, leather belt, dirt stained boots, and patterned hooded robe. Each layer is a made of a different cloth material, with a unique look and feel of their own. All together it makes for a heck of a visual impact.
The obvious trademark to this figure/character is that menacing helmet. Sadly, it’s not removable (meaning there’s nothing undearneath the mask. You can pop it off the neck joint thought). What it is, though, is hand sculpted to the exact specification of its on screen inspiration. A clean and polished helmet this is not, and its purposely painted that way. The attention to detail in the dents, scratches, and other abrasions give the statue a well worn appearance. The helmet conveys a story to tell all its own. Considering this figure does not come paired with alternative human head sculpt of Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver, it’s gotta do more with less. If the clothes don’t do it (which let’s be frank, the whole attire looks menacing as hell from every angle) then the helmet seals the deal; leaving one to wonder about Ren’s history and what he did earn all those battle scars.
The figure stands approx 13 inches. If you were to do the math, that means to scale, this figure would be 6’6 in real life, which is considerably taller than actor who played him. Not that anyone but a die-hard *cough* Star Wars fan would notice such a thing but still. Size differential not withstanding, this figure can move foot loose and fancy free. It is as limber as it is sturdy. The limbs and joints offer a full range of motion, with no looseness or wobbliness to them. Even the clothes don’t hinder any movement. Lightsaber attack poses, force pushes, and even a bit of Darkside Yoga can be demonstrated with this figure. That kind of assurance in pose-ability certainly ups the fun factor.
A pair of relaxed grips he comes wearing, and packaged a pair of fists, a pair of saber hilt grips, and one gesturing left. They swap easily enough, and there are a couple extra wrist pegs just in case.
He also has a regular saber hilt with the three red blades. This hilt can be worn on the side of his black belt thanks to a slot attachment.
There’s also the extra lower arm that allows an additional hilt to light up. This is identical in construction to Hot Toys‘ earlier Luke, Obi-Wan, and Vader statues, with the arm, hand and hilt being all one piece. Swapping arms is fairly easy but but there is a zipper in the inseam of the sleeve that is next to impossible to zip back up. The red blades from the loose hilt can be removed and popped onto the light up hilt as well.
Lastly, he comes with a very basic black Star Wars logo base, with his name on it. You won’t really need it, the figure is sturdy enough to stand on it’s own two feet, but it makes for nice decoration.
CRITICISM (aka The Not So Good Stuff):
Product in hand, not a whole lot, if anything, to complain about. The figure itself truly is a marvel, probably more so than anyone would have expected. If there was anyone thing about the figure to take umbrage with, it would be a particular section of the helmet. As a bit of an odd design choice, there is no visor. The ocular section of the helmet is an open cavity, which shows a very noticeable piece of black fabric wrapped around an interior rounded head. It looks as if the helmet was planted atop a crash test dummy wearing black nylons over its head. Fortunately, it’s not something that stands out when even a mere few feet away from it.
Where oh where is Darth Vader’s charred helmet? Ren is a tortured and conflicted soul, clinging the the dark days of his long dead grand daddy, worshiping his last remains via his melted helmet. It serves as an object to illustrate the pathos of Ren’s character, as well as help audiences usher out the old and bring in the new villain of the Star Wars Universe. That should have been a go-to accessory for this figure.
Hot Toys likely got the Green-Light for production on their first wave of Force Awakens toys well ahead of movie premier, and, likely, they were advised at the time to not to produce an unmasked Kylo Ren for the sake of spoilers. Either that, or no amount of hand tooling is capable of sculpting out Adam Driver’s dumbo ears (see, we said there would be at least one ear joke). That’s the only explanation as to why this figure wasn’t paired with a sculpted Driver’s head. For a company that prides itself on life-like facial sculpts, it’s a real loss in not having an alternate head, and one that makes the price point a little less reasonable.
Most companies would’ve stuck Kylo in a big black robe and been done with it but Hot Toys didn’t. The costs of their figures are higher than anything else on the market and that’s because their standards are higher. Kylo Ren is no exception. In fact, they brought to life a 1/6th scale recreation that arguably looks better than what you’ve seen in the movies. Even if you don’t like the character, and/or some of the choices director J.J. Abrams made for him (the temper tantrums, the weak lightsaber skills…etc), you have to admit that Hot Toys’ Ren is one fierce looking force user. A simple looking figure done effectively well.
Kylo Ren will set you back more than a few galactic credits, $224.99 to be precise. If there has been an awakening, you’re wallet will definitely have feel it. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, however, then this is an essential character to own, and one that may even surprise you.
Ren is available now. Head to Sideshow Collectibles and show your commitment to the Darkside.
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