A motley lot, but the first new figures I've found in at least 2 months.
Darth Maul Sith Training - (grade: B+) -
This Saga Maul figure was only $4.99 yet is probably as good as POTJ Deluxe Maul. Saga Maul has a better probe droid, a better lightsaber, a better costume, and better articulation which yields more poses, yet costs half as much as POTJ Deluxe Maul - where's the sense in that? Is it because of Deluxe Maul's paint job? Because if so, I don't see $5 more value in that. Ok, enough raggin' on POTJ Deluxe Maul (fraggin' ripoff, sorry, sorry ), on with the review of this figure.
Saga Maul has some wild articulation and gimmicks that aren't totally intrusive. The red-trim costume is actually from a disused Ep 1 design (Art of SW:Ep 1 p.199) and I think it actually looks pretty sharp, defines the various borders much better than the nondescript all-black number he wore in the film. The figure's outfit is preposed fairly wildly at the lower "skirt" section, but not in a confined way unlike with many other versions of this character. The figure has a dial behind each shoulder that blends in nicely - it wouldn't take much to convince me that pattern is supposed to be part of the costume anyway. The figure's pose is somewhat extreme but thankfully allows for a lot of pose-variation, because of that this may be one of the top Maul figures. The sculpting is all nice, lots of textures for the costume, but a standard knobby Maul head.
The figure has full range of motion at all standard 6 points (neck, shoulders, waist, hips) plus a ton more: right forearm, left upper arm cut joint, left forearm, knee diagonal-cut joints, and upper-shin cut joints - the joints are all tight, even at the gimmick arm. The extra knee and shin joints are designed to allow the figure to hold a kneeling pose that works similar to the POTJ Rebel Fleet Trooper only with more flair; the extra left arm joints appear to be gravy while the extra right arm joint is part of a gimmick yet still has full range of motion.
The 2 dials at the back control the right arm, the right dial moves the arm and is directly linked - really, there's no reason to have this dial except to add visual symmetry to Maul's back; the left dial spins the right forearm. These gimmicks cause the shoulder and forearm joints to be a bit gappy, but thankfully nice and tight. Unfortunately, they put a magnet in the figure's right hand instead of his left which keeps the figure from holding onto his saber tightly when you activate the gimmick - too fast and it drops the saber. However, as far as gimmicks are concerned, this one isn't so bad and looks kinda neat when you rotate the left dial, since the arm isn't at as extreme an angle as POTJ deluxe Maul's left arm, things still look balanced yet active. This Saga Maul's left arm has a great sculpt for one-handed holding of the saber, though I cannot see a way for this figure to hold the saber with 2 hands.
Finally, the real reason you will probably drop $5 on this one, the accessories. Maul comes with 2 sweet accessories and I have no trouble appreciating either one. The "dark eye" probe droid from Ep 1 has finally be realized properly in this scale with some accurate sculpting, a keen metallic dark gray plastic, silver antenna accents, and a tall, removable clear stand - this version definitely shames all previous attempts. The other is the signature double-bladed lightsaber, this time with a metal hilt and 2 removable blades! The hilt is very well sculpted though it does not break in half, and looks great with or without blades though the paint for the red activation buttons doesn't line up right on mine. The blades are shorties just like most other Maul saber blades, a little longer than the Saga Yoda figures' blades but definitely not full length for a Jedi or Sith.
The lack of a 2-handed pose and the magnet being in the gimmick hand are the only things keeping this figure from being an "A" in my book, I'm just sorry we had to go through so many weaker Maul toys to get to this point.
Final Grade: B+
Padme Amidala Coruscant Attack - (grade: B+) -
The 2nd Padme figure from Ep 2 is a definite improvement over the 1st, but that's not saying all that much. The likeness is better, fairly good sculpt, but as with far too many figures, suffers from "zombie eyes" brought on by paint applications that aren't tight enough to get the job done - her companion figure, Captain Typho, may be the worst offender of zombie eyes (ok, well, 1 eye) in the Saga line, maybe both got hit in the head by flying debris and are suffering from concussions.
The figure's coloring is a little more alive than Typho's, including an ornate gold belt buckle and a weathered vest. The head's hair is a separate piece glued on and seems a little off from the sides, maybe a lack of hair around the ears maybe, and looks a little balding from the top, but from the front it looks pretty accurate. The figure's sculpt is fairly detailed and only has problems at the button in the back and the gappy articulated knees. The figure has an "off to the left" tilt to her sculpted pose, and her lower tunic separate skirt piece appears to be sculpted to allow a full leg-up pose on the right leg; the left side of the skirt allows the leg to pivot up as well, but is sculpted normal flat.
The figure has the standard 6 point articulation plus swivels at the upper arms just above the elbow, hinges at the knees, and boots that rotate at the top - all allow their full range of motion except the shoulders which are hindered by the vest so they can't go above straight out in front without force and risk; the right arm also is hindered from going back at all by the gimmick. The gimmick button in the figure's back isn't concealed, just a big blue post sticking a half-inch out her spine - pushing the button in raises the right arm so she can shoot at a low-flying ship going by, probably should have designed it to stop it so she points her gun straight ahead instead (not that having Padme raise her gun makes ANY sense to me anyway). This gimmick is absolutely unnecessary and causes the waist joint to be loose and gappy, though there is some welcome slip in the right shoulder to allow the figure to always have the gun up if you so desire.
The figure's legs allow her to get into a one-legged kneeling position which adds to a battle-ready feel for this figure. Both arms are bowed slightly to take advantage of the upper-arm articulation; the right hand is in a gun-holding pose or maybe a loose pointing pose since the index finger is fairly straight (I guess Padme doesn't like to rest on the trigger); the left hand is a bit disappointing, it's sculpted in this goofy thumbs-up pose that looks like Padme's hitchin' a ride up the I-90, but upon closer inspection it's a tight-cupped hand with thumb out meant to hold her removable helmet -- this would have been much more acceptable if her wrist or forearm were articulated, as it is, she's doing a bad impression of The Fonz. The figure fits very well in the Naboo Fighter toy, but then again, even tall Typho fits better than Ric Olie in that cockpit.
The figure's helmet appears to be a remold of Typho's helmet, it's a bit smaller but seems to have all the details - also a better paint job and clearer glasses - but upon closer inspection, it appears to be all new and just similar... it's supposed to be similar, so that's a good thing. Both versions of this helmet are too pointy at the top for my tastes though, looks like the Coneheads are flying Sopwith Camels in World War I. The helmet fits like a glove (er, wait, that's not a good similie... it fits like, um... er... it fits well and isn't too hard to put on or remove) and you can actually see the figure's face inside unlike Typho's. The figure's gun also appears to be a remold of Typho's, but this time, I think it may actually be one - the nose of the gun is film-accurate instead of sculpted to accept a blast effect, but the other details aren't as crisp as Typho's. Most frustrating is the post on the left which fits into the belt hole or rather ALMOST fits, Typho's gun fits just right on Padme's belt here but her own gun is clearly wider and this causes problems which can be overcome not with smashing and mashing though eventually I did get it to hold properly (once Typho's gun had been sitting there for a few minutes).
The figure's final accessory is a loo-loo: a tall 6-piece radar tower that blows up at the flick of a switch... or a funny glance. The instructions really give you no indication on how to use this thing or put it together properly. First you take the base and hold the removable switch in the up position, then insert the damaged core (which has some nifty details and orange burns) taking care to line up the dots on the base with the holes on the core. The switch should now be held in the up position by the core, so take radar dish piece (which has some nice dark copper paint detail, rotates at the dish and pivots at the mid-arm) and surround the LOWER lip with the 2 paintless housing halves - you CAN use the upper lip, but it doesn't rotate at the arm base or hold together as nicely. The outer housing and dish only fit together, they don't lock, so line up the big notch at the bottom of the housing with the base's switch piece and lower the housing down onto the base, the bottom of the main housing will shallowly sit in the well of the base. Stage 1 is now complete, the shaky radar tower is complete; now onto stage 2, push the switch! Push it hard if you want anything resembling an explosion, otherwise it just tumbles apart. A novel accessory that's kinda bland after about 3 seconds, but it's really just an add-on anyway so it won't hurt you to put it away if you don't like it; but considering that there's actual sculpted details all over this thing, even the underside of the base, it could make an acceptable prop in a display so long as it was rubber-banded together.
Ultimately, the oddball left arm, gappy knees and waist, dopey gimmick, and belt hole problem left me a little less than thrilled; but the general success of seeing this figure in the Naboo Fighter's cockpit made up for much of that, and the general sculpting, painting, and design brought it back from the brink. This is the first Ep 2 Padme figure I don't have major disrespect for and that also wins points so...
Final Grade: B-
Teemto Pagalies - (grade: C+/B-)
Another goofy Ep 1 podracer with nifty accessories, oh the humanity! What is there to say about Teemto? He had the largest engines at the Boonta Eve Classic. He got shot down by Tuskens. His cockpit made a goofy noise when it rolled away from the crash. Apparently, that didn't kill him in the EU... too bad.
This goofy-lookin', fang-faced, shrimpy goggle-wearer looks like he should be yelling "I got mail! I got mail! I got mail! YAAAYYYY!" on Comedy Central at nearly every commercial break. What IS IT with them and all those Crank Yanker ads? Anyway, Special Ed here... er, I mean Teemto Pagalies is a short figure (only slightly taller than R2 figs) with standard-6 articulation plus another point at his tail. The legs are V-crotch so don't expect him to pilot Ani or Sebulba's podracers, this is worse than Playmates' 5" Star Trek figures! The head also has strange articulation, rotating almost on the vertical axis so when he turns his head, it's like that look you get when you've just confused your dog; the articulation point here is a real uggo from the back too so don't stare too long if you can avoid it.
The paint is applied fairly well at the head, torso, and legs, but the arms show too much bare cream-colored plastic for my tastes and the brown paint on the top isn't as subtly applied as anywhere else - this makes the arms stand out from the rest of the figure a bit with arms down, but it's forgivable. There isn't much life to the colors used, the browns should have been more red and vibrant and without that the figure comes off a bit drab, dingy and dismal and most importantly, not movie-accurate; there's also a small red crescent on his left bicep, I have no idea if it's slop or intentional. There's also paint slop at the sculpted shoulder harness that causes the eyes to completely miss that this detail is even there. The sculpting and paint at the mouth really salvage this figure from complete boredom though, top notch work there give the right impressions for my taste.
The hands are webbed and totally open, unable to hold anything EVER without severe modification. He's sculpted to hold his arms up over his head so the open hands do make sense, but he's a limited action figure if you want to play outside the convential use. The arms aren't sculpted with the greatest detail, but nearly everything else is including a nice separate, non-removable belt. The figure has removable, clear goggles which barely fit over the top of Teemto's head and don't fit as well one way as the other. Either they're meant to hang loose on the head or they're meant to be pinned between the head and the neck area when he's wearing 'em, either way they look adequate and help turn him from muppet-wannabe into muppet-wannabe-who-drives-a-podracer.
The REAL stars of this set are the other accessories, a big flying pit droid head with 4 legs and a large piece of engine scrap - the droid is from an Ep 1 deleted scene which was finished and put on the DVD, though I haven't personally seen it yet. The dark silver piece of scrap is a great prop made from a nice, solid-feeling rubbery plastic and painted with a nice paint wash to bring out the sculpted details; thankfully, even though this is a Tatooine prop, Hasbro didn't bother with an ugly "sand" paint app. The salvage droid is brown with some nice sculpted details on the top and 2 unpainted antennae, the outer ring is more rubbery material including the antennae, the inner section is hard plastic but blends nicely; when you push down on the top of the center, the 4 spindly legs open so you can move the droid over the scrap. Despite the legs being thin and on a fairly wimpy spring, you really can clamp onto the scrap and use that to pick it up similar to the arcade claw game.
The figure is a fairly well detailed doofus with some articulation and color problems, but the accessories (which are bigger than the figure itself) more than make up for Teemto's shortcomings.
Final Grade: that gray area between C+ and B-