LUKE SKYWALKER & YODA
STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)
“At the urging of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda agreed to instruct Luke Skywalker, developing his Jedi abilities.”
Since introducing the concept of a Deluxe line of figures into The Black Series, it’s felt to a degree that each release has sort of reinvented the wheel to work within this new price point. Greivous was a slightly larger and more intricate figure, the Heavy Mando has one really large accessory, and the probe droid was just an entirely different style of figure. Now, we’re just going for some sort of a two-pack set-up. Really, I can’t complain too much, because it means I’m getting one of my favorite set-ups, Jedi Training Luke and Yoda!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Jedi Training Luke and Yoda are entry D4 in the Black Series line-up, signifying that their the fourth non-exclusive Deluxe item. They mark the second deluxe this year, following up the Imperial Probe, and effectively close off the 40th Anniversary sub-set that figure kicked off.
Luke’s Dagobah training gear is really just a dressed-down version of his main gear from Empire, but is still a pretty notable look. It didn’t come to the toy world until the ’90s, but its had a few releases since then, including this one. This figure is actually available two ways right out of the gate. There’s this deluxe release, and then there’s a vintage carded one with just Luke and some paired down accessories. It’s kind of an odd choice on Hasbro’s part, and feels like it’s splitting demand right off the bat, but time will tell how it does. The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation. To date, he’s Hasbro’s most posable version of Luke in the Black Series line-up, and I can definitely get behind that. It puts him far more on par with the likes of Bespin Han than his prior, slightly stiffer variants were. Really, the differences between this and Bespin Luke are pretty much night and day. This Luke does seem a bit smaller when compared to prior versions, but he actually fits in better with some of the more recent figures than those older ones. Hamill’s not a huge guy, and the build on this figure really feels about right. The quality of the sculpt is pretty top notch, with a very realistic set of proportions, well-worked in articulation, and probably the best Hamill likeness we’ve gotten from Black Series. It’s worth noting, however, that the hair placement seems to be rather off on a lot of copies of the figure, which can rather hinder the likeness. I picked myself the best out of a sample size of four, which worked out pretty well for me, but your mileage may vary. The paint work on Luke is pretty solidly handled. He’s got the now standard printed face, which works out quite nicely for the sculpt, and he’s also got some great accent work on both the hair and on the clothes, which offer up some additional depth to the sculpted details. Both releases of Luke get his lightsaber and blaster (which are the same as previous releases), but the deluxe release also adds in a spare set of hands and the bag for carrying Yoda. The hands are cool in theory, as they’re meant to let him do his handstand, but the arms are just a touch too loose on my figure to actually keep him standing up. Oh well.
Yoda’s gotten four prior releases in The Black Series, including one just this year in the first series of the 40th Anniversary carded figures, all of which were built on the same body as the very first Black Series figure. That’s a figure that is, at best, a less than stellar offering, and while some of that can be attributed to paint (because boy was that a mess), there’s a heck of a lot of it that was linked to it just having a poor underlying body underneath of that cloth robe. So, for this latest take on Yoda, Hasbro’s opted to throw everything out and just sort of start from scratch. Best call, really. The figure stands just over two inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation. Pretty much, the first thing that you’ll notice when comparing this figure to his predecessor is how much smaller he is…well, overall. The heads are pretty much the same size, and honestly pretty much identical in terms of sculpting. It’s the body that’s much smaller, and much like Luke, that’s ultimately more accurate to the source material. He also actually gets proper articulation in his legs this time, which is a huge plus in my book, and keeps the single joints in the arms instead of double, meaning his arms aren’t nearly as long this time. Unlike the last time around, the robe’s not really designed for removal, since the belt is all one solid piece with no clasp on it. I suppose you could take the robe off if you were really determined, but I’m really not. Another area of major improvement between Yoda releases is on the paint front. The original figure hit during one of the worst periods for the line in terms of paint quality, and as such looked pretty bad, with only the bare minimum of detailing, and some really poor quality application at that. The Archive and 40th re-issues fixed the paint, but this all new version takes it even further, and gives us by far the most “life-like” (as much as a toy of a puppet can be that) version yet. I also appreciate that they actually painted his flute this time around, as it makes the whole package look just a bit better. The last Yoda got an okay selection of accessories, and this one’s technically got less, but they work a bit better. He still has the cane, but he loses the snake and the light saber for a second head with his eyes closed, like when he’s lifting the X-Wing out of the water. I really don’t miss the lightsaber, since it’s not OT anyway, and the snake was a pretty minor vintage throwback. The new head is actually a pretty useful piece, so I’m glad to have it.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The Power of the Force Dagobah Luke was my first Star Wars figure, so I’ve got a soft spot for the design. I was absolutely thrilled when this set was shown off, and I’ve been patiently awaiting its release. I even held off grabbing the single carded Luke, because I knew this one was coming, and I wanted the whole deluxe set-up. Luke’s not a standard design, but he’s the best Luke Hasbro’s released in this line. The Yoda is also the best Yoda, but it’s really not even a close race on that. He’s just demonstrably better than the prior release on every front. This is definitely one of my favorite releases from The Black Series this year, and that’s saying a lot, because it’s been a really good year.
Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this set for review. If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.