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Hot Toys Kylo Ren collectible: The Star Wars villain has never looked better

It's like having a mini-Adam Driver from The Rise of Skywalker on your shelf.

Hot Toys Rise of Skywalker Kylo Ren promo
Hot Toys' Kylo Ren from The Rise of Skywalker will look incredible on your Star Wars shelf.
Sean Keane/CNET

Many Star Wars fans had problems with the sequel trilogy's story beats, but no one could fault Adam Driver's performance as Kylo Ren. From the moment he marched off the shuttle in the opening of The Force Awakens to his final moments in The Rise of Skywalker, his every movement and gesture were fascinating to watch.

His character design is also absolutely killer -- draped in black like OG Star Wars villain Darth Vader, with a style of his own. Hot Toys, a Hong Kong company that makes stunningly lifelike 12-inch collectibles based on characters from movies, TV shows and video games, has released three separate figures for each of the sequel trilogy movies, with The Rise of Skywalker figure shipping this month for $251 (around £178/AU $328). That movie's version of Rey is coming out soon too, for the same price.

So yeah, these are pricey collectibles by any standard. I've allowed myself to get some over the years (my first was Hot Toys' spectacular Christopher Reeve Superman in 2011), but have become increasingly selective. I appreciate the artistry of every character the company  produces, but any figure I actually buy has to spark joy any time it catches my eye.

US distributor Sideshow sent me the latest Kylo Ren to play with, and I'm appraising it as a slightly wary collector. The box is another variation of the style Hot Toys has used for years -- classy black and gray, with impressive shots of the figure. As always, opening the box was slightly nerve-wracking because the item inside is so fancy and I'm nervous about damaging it, but it's easy to unpack.

This set includes two interchangeable heads, and I reckon most people will opt for the unmasked one since Kylo spent most of The Rise of Skywalker without his helmet. Hot Toys figures live or die by their actor likenesses, and this figure delivers -- Adam Driver's piercing gaze is unmistakable, along with the scar Rey gave him and that flowing, beautifully conditioned hair. 

The helmeted head is similarly impressive. The look is meant to mirror Kintsugi, a Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics by dusting the lacquer used to glue the pieces back together with powdered gold, silver or platinum -- the breakage becomes a part of the object's history rather than something to hide. Director J.J. Abrams said this highlighted Ren's fractured, raging psyche -- a clever idea, if only the movie's rollercoaster pace allowed it to sink in.

When I saw The Force Awakens back in 2015, I thought Kylo looked much cooler with his helmet on (I guess I wanted him to be the new Vader almost as badly as he did). As Driver's performance drew me into the character's humanity, I preferred seeing him without the helmet, so I definitely prefer to display this figure with the unmasked head. Your mileage may vary.

With more than 30 points of articulation, he's super-poseable, so you can replicate pretty much every scene from the movies. Sometimes Hot Toys' intricate costumes make me nervous about leaving a figure in an extreme pose, but that isn't the case here. Our boy Kylo might be a mass-murdering warlord, but he dresses practically. His outfit is beautifully tailored, offers plenty of room to move and includes a cape that sticks to his shoulders with magnets.

Aside from the reforged helmet, this is pretty much the same outfit Kylo wore in The Last Jedi, so you can use this figure to re-create most scenes from the movie too.

Hot Toys Rise of Skywalker Kylo Ren masked

The helmet is beautifully sculpted.

Sean Keane/CNET

There are also seven interchangeable hands, including fists for some authoritative gestures, hands for holding his super cool crossguard lightsaber, relaxed open hands and one gesturing hand (for wrecking fools with the Force). He's pretty light on accessories, but his lightsaber's blades are removable, and the hilt is nicely detailed.

If you like your figures to brighten up the room, the helmet has LED features, and there's a swappable right arm with a light-up lightsaber. I didn't have the teeny-tiny screwdriver needed to open the head or arm, so I'll update this article and add photos of those features soon.

The base is standard Hot Toys fare -- it resembles the gray floor of a ship (with a thin removable slip depicting a slightly more detailed gray floor) and has a stand to hold the figure steady. It serves its purpose, but it'd be nice if it included some sculpted elements or a few more alternative surface options (like sandy Pasaana, shadowy Exegol or his sparkling white quarters).

I'd love to see Hot Toys' take on the redeemed Ben Solo to re-create his final moments on screen, but it's so cool the company finished what it started by releasing a version of the character's dark side from each movie in the sequel trilogy. The Rise of Skywalker Kylo Ren is an absolutely incredible figure, and will look spectacular in your collection if the high price doesn't put you off.

Even if Hot Toys figures are out of your price range, I highly recommend checking out the artistry that goes into all the Star Wars collectibles on Sideshow.

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