#2233: Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR & DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Board the Death Star…for a fight to the finish!  Recreate classic Star Wars movie battles in two games! In the first, for younger players, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca sneak through the Death Star capturing Imperials. Can you score the most captures?  Now advance to the next game — and take sides. Darth Vader, Boba Fett and stormtroopers move in the open, capturing Rebel Code Cards to win. But the Rebels move in secret. To win, they must use strategy to reach the Millennium Falcon, then dice-roll their way off the Death Star!  Add other action figures you already own…and fill the game board with life-like Star Wars characters!”

In the ’90s, Star Wars was back on the rise again, and they were just slapping the brand on everything they could.  The action figures maintained their foothold as the primary selling point for just about everything, resulting in the distribution methods being a little bit all over the place.  There were a bunch of mail-away offers, there were figures packed in with playsets, and carrying cases and collector’s coins.  And, in 1998, there were two figures offered exclusively with a board game of all things.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Luke Skywalker in Trash Compactor and Darth Vader with Removable Dome were the two Power of the Force II figures available exclusively with the “Escape the Death Star” board game (not to be confused with the “Escape *FROM* the Death Star” game from the ’70s, which was just re-issued with an exclusive figure packed in…it’s not confusing at *all*), which hit shelves in 1998.  The game included the two figures, plus a bag of accessories containing three lightsabers and three styles of blaster.  There were also cardboard standees of all the non-Luke and Vader characters mentioned, which could be replaced in game play by the separately sold PotF releases of the characters.

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR

Luke was easily the most populous character in this line by this point, so another variant wasn’t really too much of a shock.  This one, like a lot of the late-run Luke variants was also exceedingly similar to a prior figure, namely the Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise from 1996.  But this one’s different, you see.  He’s Luke after he falls into the trash compactor and gets pulled under the the water by the Dianoga.  This necessitates the new head sculpt featured, which also better matches the changed Luke likeness introduced in 1997, though with the slicked back hair, he’s not as immediately recognizable as Luke.  Aside from the new head and a few small deco additions on the torso, he’s pretty much the same as the previous figure, meaning he’s still not a little short for a Stormtrooper.  Drat.

DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

As the most recognizable character in the franchise, there’s an undeniable desire to release lots of Darth Vader action figures.  The trouble, of course, being that the character only has minor changes to his look over the course of the franchise, so not exactly a lot of room for variation between releases.  Nevertheless, Kenner sure did their best to jam as many possible variants of him into the line as possible.  Unlike Luke, this one doesn’t actually get any new parts, being the head from the “Complete Galaxy” Vader on the body of the main line’s removable helmet Vader from the same year as this figure.  Despite his lack of new parts, he actually ends up being a slightly more worth while figure than Luke.  I mean, not essential or anything, but the reveal of the back of his head is a distinctive moment from Empire, and with the dome in place, he actually makes for a really solid basic Vader figure.  It helps that the removable helmet body is probably the best Vader body from Power of the Force, so getting it again really wasn’t a bad deal.  It also helps that, unlike Luke, Vader got to keep his removable helmet, so there’s less of a feeling of this loss of value.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t own this as a kid (though one of my cousins did), but I remember this game when it was released.  And I also remember it from all the years after it was released that it sat around not selling, because it was definitely not one of the line’s hotter items.  The real trouble is that finding the set’s market is a little tricky.  The game was just a hastily thrown together to augment the figures really, so it wasn’t going to be appealing to board game collectors, but the figures were also rather hastily thrown together to go with the game, and neither one of them is anywhere near essential to a collector.  Topping that off was that the whole thing cost more than four times the cost of a single figure, making this a very hard sell to the action figures they were trying to cash in on.  It’s not hard to figure out why these two are still rather cheaply acquired.

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