LUKE SKYAWALKER IN IMPERIAL GUARD DISGUISE
STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)
“The Empire’s victory in the Battle of Hoth has brought hard times for the Rebel Alliance. Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, and two huge bounties have been placed on the head of Luke Skywalker. The Emperor wants him alive, but Prince Xizor , underlord of the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy, wants him dead. Worse still is that the diabolical Xizor is holding Princess Leia Organa prisoner in his castle on the Imperial Center of Coruscant. this is a tactical maneuver, part of a larger master plan to lure Luke Skywalker into his castle where he can be easily eliminated — the key step in Xizor’s plan to replace Darth Vader at the Emperor’s side. unaware of this danger, the young Jedi and Lando Calrissian sneak into Imperial City hoping to rescue Leia. Simplylaying foot on Coruscant is a dangerous act for these two: high on the Empire’s list of most-wanted outlaws, they could easily be recognized and captured — or assassinated. Disguising themselves as beggars, they “borrow” the armored uniforms from a pair of elite Coruscant stormtroopers. These troopers are some of the Empire’s finest, selected as home guards for the wealthiest and most cultured city in the galaxy. Joining forces with Chewbacca and Dash Rendar, Skywalker and Calrissian attempt to infiltrate Xizor’s nearly impenetrable stronghold and rescue the princess.”
1996’s Shadows of the Empire was important, in that it was the first time the public at large had been introduced to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It’s also an interesting experiment in marketing, essentially being a movie merchandising campaign that lacked a movie. There were a handful of figures, mixed in with Kenner’s then running Power of the Force II. Newcomers Dash Rendar and Prince Xizor got figures, of course, but there were also new variants of out heroes Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, all of whom had to take on disguises during this new story. I’ve looked at both Leia and Chewbacca, which just leaves Luke, who I’ll be reviewing today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise was released in the basic figure assortment of Kenner’s Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire line. The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation. This Luke uses the same head as all of the other early PotF2 Lukes. It’s not the best likeness, but hey, here’s to consistency, right? The rest of the figure is brand new. The packaging dubs his look as “Imperial Guard Disguise,” a name that tends to conjure up the red guards from Return of the Jedi, who look quite a bit different than the look Luke is sporting here. However, the bio fills us in that this armor is actually from one of the elite Stormtroopers on Coruscant, making it a separate look entirely. As with so much of the design work seen in Shadows, the armor is undeniably a product of mid-90s comic book design, meaning it’s a little divorced from the original trilogy designs. His armor’s bulky and ultra padded, and seems to lack that used look we’re so accustomed to. It’s a little hard to reconcile this as a design that would appear in between Empire and Jedi. That being said, it’s hardly a terrible look. In fact, it manages to be rather unique and helps this Luke to stand out a bit from the crowd of other Lukes from over the years. The paint work on this figure is fairly decent, and, like the rest of his design, fairly unique. The red’s a nice shade, and all of the application is pretty clean. He’s packed with a removable helmet and half-cape to help complete his full disguise. Since Luke lost his father’s lightsaber in Empire and didn’t build a new one until the beginning of Jedi, he of course needed a new weapon, so this figure included a taser staff weapon.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This figure was, I believe, my first Shadows of the Empire figure. My cousin Noah had saved up to buy the PotF2 Millennium Falcon, and was along for the trip to go buy it. Noah’s mother, who took us on the trip, agreed to get me one figure. Luke was my favorite character, and this figure appealed to my 5-year-old self, so he was the one I picked. I’d say having this guy in my collection already was probably what pushed me to pick up the Bounty Hunter Chewbacca instead of the normal one, and owning these two is certainly not a decision I regret in the slightest.