#2546: R2-D2

R2-D2

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“While repairing his new droid R2-D2, young Luke Skywalker unwittingly short circuits its recording system, causing a holographic image of the young Princess Leia to appear. She implores the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and then disappears as quickly as she emerged.”

When Hasbro took full charge of Power of the Force for the line’s final year, they were busy running the Phantom Menace tie-in line right alongside it, resulting in a much smaller assortment of offerings.  In addition, it was a grouping that felt far more like a “best of” assortment than anything, offering mostly revised versions of the franchise’s core characters, with more scene specific accessories that would eventually become Hasbro’s bread and butter for the smaller scale line.  Among these figures was today’s focus, a variant of R2-D2.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2-D2 was released in 1999, as part of the first of the two CommTech assortments that wrapped up Power of the Force‘s run.  It was the fourth, and final, standard-release R2 in the line.  The figure stands 3 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  He’s notable for being the first R2 to add in the “ankle” articulation on the legs, which would become common place for the line going forward.  It was quite handy for posing him, and meant that he could, for the first time, properly use his third leg function, a function that was added back in here after being removed from the two prior variants.  It’s definitely a cool element.  R2’s sculpt was all-new, and is really the best R2 sculpt to come out of the line.  It’s not leaps and bounds above the others or anything, but it does seem a little sharper, and those extra joints certainly don’t hinder it.  His paint work has some nice light weathering on the lower portion, signifying that he’s a New Hope version of the character, an he’s still all sandy.  Also quite notable is the decision to go with a flat silver paint on the dome, instead of a chromed appearance.  The chromed look was cool, but not actually accurate to the films in the slightest.  This change-over was definitely notable, because it marked Lucasfilm’s licensing relenting on some hard-lined rules for the toys that had been in place since the ’70s, and had been the reason for the chrome on all earlier versions of the character.  R2 was packed with a small holographic figurine of Princess Leia, to showcase his message from her in the first film.  It’s a cool little piece, and one of the better extras for an R2.  He also gets the CommTech stand, for those that care about such things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve discussed before, I only felt the need to own one R2 growing up, and that was the first PotF2 figure.  This one just wasn’t in the cards.  However, I’ve been trying to piece together this crazy full set I’m working on, which means picking up all of the various variants.  I gotta say, this R2’s really good.  I have to go back on my last R2 review and say that this one was really the best in the line.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2504: Admiral Motti

ADMIRAL MOTTI

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (HASBRO)

“The senior Imperial commander in charge of operations on the original Death Star, Admiral Motti often disagreed with the decisions of Darth Vader. His outspokenness almost cost him his life when Vader used the Force to strangle the Admiral into silence.”

In 1999, when prepping for the tie-in to The Phantom Menace‘s release and the big marketing push that accompanied, Hasbro decided to actually take over full ownership of the line, officially bringing an end to the facade of Kenner still running the line.  This extended to the Power of the Force line, which would run concurrently with The Phantom Menace, albeit in a far more limited capacity.  They offered up a lot more redoes of previous designs during these two years, but also still gave us some brand new characters never before seen in toy form.  This included today’s focus, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti, aka the guy who Vader force chokes in the first movie.  Yay.  That guy really needed a toy, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Admiral Motti was one of the final two Power of the Force II figures released (the other being a Princess Leia variant), hitting shelves just before the transition to Power of the Jedi in 2000.  He was the third Imperial Officer to grace the line, following Tarkin and Piett.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Oh boy, is that one extra joint I see there?  Yep, Motti gets an honest to god elbow hinge on his left arm.  Why is that?  Well, so that he can more properly recreate the force choking scene, of course!  Yep, he actually gets the ability to do that very specific pose.  I mean, there’s not really many other poses he can pull off, of course, but really it feels worth it.  It’s a pretty distinctive pose, and it’s the one pose that any one is really going to remember him in.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to pick Motti out of a line-up if not for the pose.  Otherwise, his stance is fairly neutral, so if you want to throw that arm back behind his back, I guess you can have him look rather British and upper-class and pompous.  In terms of paint work, he’s overall pretty basic in how he works.  Lots of greys, but that’s accurate, so it’s hard to really knock it.  Motti is admittedly a character that doesn’t really have any obvious accessories, but Hasbro did their best.  He gets the same smaller blaster as Tarkin did, as well as a CommTech chip, since those were still a thing at this point.  Amusingly, the back of the chip lists Motti as “Commander of Opperations Aboard the Origional Death Star” which features not one, but two separate typos that are really bad and really noticeable, and were really never corrected, since the line was already on its way out.  I guess we really shouldn’t have been all that surprised by “Skywalkwer”.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Motti’s one of those figure’s I’ve wanted for a while, not really because I care in the slightest about the character, but because he’s sort of one of those morbidly distinctive figures.  I mean, how often do you see the force choke in plastic form?  He’s not an exceedingly common figure, being at the very end of the line and all, so I had to wait through quite a few PotF collections coming in through All Time before finally getting my hands on him.  He’s not the most thrilling figure or anything, but he amuses me, and I’ll admit to doing a little bit of a happy dance when he came through.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2440: R2-D2

R2-D2

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Inside the Imperial Death Star, R2-D2 uses one of his many mechanical assets to rescue his Rebel companions from certain death within a rapidly closing trash compactor.”

As I was mentioning last week, droids make up quite a subset of the Star Wars universe, be they background, or even main characters.  Of note are C-3PO and today’s focus R2-D2, who have appeared in every film in the franchise to date, making them the real connective tissue that holds things together.  Being as frequently appearing as they are in the films, they are similarly pretty frequently appearing in the accompanying toy lines, usually with some sort of gimmick to help set them apart from prior releases.  Let’s dig into what makes this specific R2 so unique.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2-D2 was released in 1998 as part of Kenner’s Power of the Force line.  He’s the second R2 to be released in the line, following the more standard version from ’95.  The figure stands 3 inches tall and has 3 points of articulation.  This R2 was a totally new sculpt.  It’s not terribly different from the initial figure, but it’s different enough to be noticeable.  Unlike the prior R2, he doesn’t have the retracting third leg, or any third leg at all.  Instead, he makes use of the extra space in the torso to add a slightly different gimmick: a retracting datalink arm.  It’s a cool enough feature, though it would probably be cooler if it hadn’t immediately broken on mine.  Maybe I’m just too rough on my toys?  He’s also got another built-in gimmick, a  pop-out scanner in his head dome.  That one works a lot better, and is probably my favorite part of this particular release.  The paint work on this guy is a definite step-up from the prior figure.  He keeps the chromed head (this was a wonky licensing thing with Lucasfilm, despite its inaccuracy), but corrects the missing third blue stripe on his “face.”  He also gets quite a bit of weathering on his lower portion.  While he’s *technically* a New Hope R2, this added dirt means he pairs quite well with the ESB Dagobah figures, which is another plus in my book.  R2 is packed with both a grasper arm and a saw arm, both of which can plug into the front of the figure.  He also included a Freeze Frame slide depicting R2 and 3PO on the Death Star, though I somehow managed to misplace that one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really only had the need for one R2 growing up, so this guy got left out.  He’s one of the ones I was more interested in when I started to go back and fill in the holes in my collection, though, and wound up as part of one of my earlier splurges of PotF figures back in 2018.  He actually sat packaged for a good while before I finally got around to opening him.  Issues with the datalink aside, I think this guy was the best of the R2s offered up by this line.

Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2401: Sandtrooper

SANDTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Their remote location makes the spaceports of Tatooine havens for the varied masses from across the galaxy. At the seedy Mos Eisley spaceport, this variety is more than evident at the main hangout, Chalmun’s Cantina. The most loathsome of Mos Eisley’s population can regularly be found there, including imperial sandtroopers, who are deployed by the Empire to quell outbursts with brutal efficiency. In the days before the Galactic Empire, the spaceport of Mos Espa hosted a similar reputation as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” From the outdoor markets to the junk shops – overseen by the gambling crimelords, the Hutts – Mos Espa was a place where a nine-year old boy could learn the ways of the universe.”

Hey, remember how I’ve got all these Power of the Force figures I can review?  Great, I don’t have to remind you why I’m doing this review, then.  I’ve looked at all manner of Stormtrooper variants, many of them from this very line, but today I’m kind of doubling back and looking at a variant of a variant.  Oh man, how crazy is that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Sandtrooper was released in 1998, accompanying a 3D display diorama of the Mos Eisley Cantina.  He was the actual figure used to sell a bunch of cardboard, wrapped in cardboard.  Neat trick, I suppose.  We had gotten a standard, run of the mill Sandtrooper in the main line, but this one aimed to be different enough to make collector’s buy.  Guess it worked.  According to expanded universe materials, this guy actually has a name.  He’s Davin Felth, the trooper who says “Look sir, droids!” while they’re searching on Tatooine.  And now you know that.  Don’t you feel like your life has meaning now?  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He uses the same head, torso, and pelvis as the single-carded Sandtrooper, but gets a new set of arms and legs.  It’s still the super goofy PotF2 trooper build, but by this time things were starting to be a little bit more toned down.  Those arms and legs are definitely less bulked up compared to prior troopers.  His pose is also a more neutral one, but, in an interesting turn of events, he’s not really able to do anything but hold that one neutral pose.  He looks like he’s standing guard (which makes sense for the playset he came with), meaning he’s designed to hold his weapon in a non-battle stance.  He can’t actually hold it by the handle, due to the relative posing of his arms.  The paint on this guy is also toned down from the prior Sandtrooper.  He’s still got a little bit of weathering, but it’s nowhere near as intense.  His pauldron has changed colors to mark a change in rank, with it being white instead of orange.  For some reason, the black section has also changed to a light grey, which is an odd choice.  Moving further down, the figure has also lost the black detailing at the elbows that prior troopers had, which does look a little weird.  The Sandtrooper was packed with a blaster rifle and a patrol droid (missing from mine) which plugged into his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As part of my goal of getting all the figures from the PotF2 line, I’m having to track down some of the more odd-ball releases as well, which includes this guy.  I ended up getting ahold of one from a loose collection that was traded into All Time, though he was missing the droid piece.  He’s not a bad figure.  I actually like him quite a bit, certainly more than I was expecting to.

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2394: Garindan – Long Snoot

GARINDAN — LONG SNOOT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Garindan, a Kubaz informant, works only for the highest bidders – usually the Empire or Jabba the Hutt. Garindan followed the young Skywalker and his mentor Ben Kenobi through the alleys of Mos Eisley.”

You know what I’ve got a pretty darn sizable backlog of?  Power of the Force.  It would probably be a good idea to use this time to cut through some of that backlog.  So, uh, I guess I’ll do that.  Let’s have a look at Long Snoot, officially named “Garindan.” Fun fact: through the miracle of stock audio and heavy audio processing, Garindan was actually voiced by legendary actor John Wayne, in what would officially be his final “role” in a film before his death.  That’s right, this is a John Wayne figure….yeah, it’s still probably not enough to make anyone care about a Garindan figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Garindan was released in the 1997 assortment of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  This was Garindan’s first time as a figure, which is not a huge surprise, what with him being a pretty darn minor character and all.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has the usual 6 points of articulation, though it’s worth noting that the articulation is all pretty restricted by the plastic cloak.  This early in the line, the figures were all still kinda bulky and roidy, so Garindan is definitely not an exact match for what we see of him on screen.  By virtue of so much of the sculpt being hidden under the cloak, he doesn’t look terrible, but he’s certainly not going to fit in with anything outside of this particular line.  This cape piece is suitably dramatic looking, so I can almost forgive how much it restricts the figure.  Other than the cape, the one piece that really defines this guy is the head; Garindan had a fairly distinctive look to his noggin, and the figure does an alright job of recreating that.  It does make it look a bit more like a straight alien face than a mask, as it appeared to be in the film, but in Kenner’s defense on this one, there were hardly the same resources available for checking the screen accuracy of a very minor character in 1997 as there are now.  There’s another pretty cool touch to this figure, which is almost hidden under the cloak.  Rather than giving this guy the usual dual grip hands, his right hand actually has his communicator sculpted into it.  Usually, I’m not a fan of sculpting accessories into hands permanently, but it actually works pretty alright for this guy.  Garindan’s paint is pretty simple, and pretty drab, truth be told, but it gets the job done.  Garindan was packed with a blaster pistol, and, depending on which version you got of him, a Freeze Frame slide.  Mine doesn’t have the slide, so I guess I’ll just deal with only having the pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have Garindan as a kid, but my cousin Rusty did, actually as a “this is close enough” replacement for Darth Vader, who was a little hard to find.  I myself was never too impressed with this charade, but I was lucky enough to have the real deal, so I guess I was a little biased.  I ended up getting this one from a small collection that got traded into All Time last fall.  He’s alright; nothing terribly exciting, but honestly there are some features I had forgotten, so it was cool getting to look at him up close again.

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2385: Death Star Trooper

DEATH STAR TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Death Star Troopers were the elite of the Imperial Navy who were stationed aboard the first and second Death Star. They were responsible for piloting the super-structure to its destinations and firing the super laser on the orders of those in command of the station. They wore black uniforms and flared, reflective helmets.”

Remember when I reviewed the Power of the Force Death Star Trooper?  If yes, then good, because that means you know the guy I’m reviewing here.  If not, then you should maybe click on that link.  Back?  Great, now you know the guy I’m reviewing here.  He’s not really super pivotal to the movie or anything, but he’s got a nifty little history in terms of toys.  Okay, let’s have a look at his Black Series release, because what else is there to do these days?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Death Star Trooper was initially released under his vintage “Death Squad Commander” monicker on a vintage-style card for the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope.  He was then subsequently re-issued two years later as figure 60 in the main Black Series line-up.  He hit shelves alongside the the first wave of Solo product, as well as the similarly re-issued Jawa and the similarly-themed Tarkin.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  By virtue of being a re-issue from earlier in the line, the Trooper’s articulation isn’t quite as impressive as Han and Lando from the same assortment, but it’s still pretty usable in terms of the sorts of poses this guy might need to pull off.  The sculpt is a pretty solid recreation of the look we see on screen.  Like the Rebel Trooper than would follow later in the line, the helmet is a removable piece.  It doesn’t stay in place quite as well, due I’d say to its more flared design.  The head under the helmet isn’t quite as directly based on one actor the way the Rebel was, and looks to be an amalgam of the handful of actors we see in the role on screen.  He’s definitely got some of Joe Johnston’s features, so it’s possible they intended this as a more direct reference, but they’re all kind of generic-looking.  It’s a suitable head for the purposes of this figure to be sure, since you can get away with having a few of them on the shelf without it looking too much like a bunch of clones.  The paint work is a distinguishing feature of this release, since between the original and the re-issue, the line had introduced the face printing as a standard feature.  That means his head is particularly life-like, and a noticeable step-up from the original release.  The Death Star Trooper includes a blaster pistol, which he can hold or store in his holster at his side.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The 40th figures hit at a period when I was without the funds for quite as much collecting, so I didn’t track that one down, despite being at least a little bit interested.  By the time the regular release hit, I was more focused on others in the set, so I again ended up passing.  I ended up getting him back in late 2018 during one of Cosmic Comix’s sales.  He’s sat unopened on my shelf since then, but, hey, he’s been opened now!  Honestly, he’s a pretty okay figure.  Certainly not as goofy as the PotF figure.

#2380: Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet

LUKE SKYWALKER w/ BLAST SHIELD HELMET

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Aboard the Milllennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker is instructed by Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the art of lightsaber battle and the ways of the Force.”

At the end of 1997, Kenner reworked their standard Luke Skywalker head for their Power of the Force line, in an attempt to bring him more in line with, you know, a real person, and not some sort of He-Man knock off.  The following year, they got to work making this new version of Luke the new standard, which included going back and updating their take on “Farmboy” Luke.  Apparently they really liked this updated Farmboy Luke.  In fact, they seemed to like him so much that they just kept releasing minor tweaks to the mold, just all over the place.  Lets, uh, look at another one of those, I guess?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet was released in 1998 as part of the Power of the Force line.  This figure is designed to replicate Luke’s appearance while on the Millenium Falcon before they get brought in by the Death Star.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Construction-wise, this figure is more or less identical to the Luke included with the Purchase of the Droids set.  The only real difference between them is the belt piece.  While the Droids set version has a pair of binoculars on his belt, this one removes them.  Yay?  It’s different?  Technically it’s less?  Honestly, though, it’s not a bad sculpt, and a definite improvement on the original ANH Luke from the line, and this was the first single-carded release, so it was a valiant idea.  The figure’s paint does change things up a bit as well.  He’s decidedly got a cooler-toned color scheme.  I’m not sure if that was an intentional thing, but it fits with him being on the Falcon as opposed to on Tatooine.  Luke is packed with his father’s lightsaber and the blast shield helmet he uses while training.  It’s too bad they couldn’t also throw in the training drone, but I suppose this isn’t a bad little assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure as a kid (Gunner Station Luke was my on-hand version of this mold), and I can’t really say I had much of an undying need to get one, but as I’m trying to make my way to a complete run of Power of the Force figures, I have to pick up these guys at some point, right?  This one came in with a bunch of others at All Time last summer, and I used some trade credit to pick him up.  He’s not a bad figure, but it’s not easy to get particularly excited.  Just wait til I get to all of the other versions of this mold…

#2366: Jabba the Hutt (w/ Han Solo)

JABBA THE HUTT (w/ HAN SOLO)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

For the (first) Special Edition release of A New Hope, one of the primary new features was the re-insertion of a cut scene from the original film, which would have introduced viewers to the gangster Jabba the Hutt two films earlier.  In the scene as it was shot, instead of the huge slug we’d all come to know, Jabba was portrayed by actor Declan Mulholland, who was pretty much just a guy in a lot of furs.  For a number of reasons, the scene was excised, and its important bits were retooled into Han’s confrontation with Greedo, leaving Jabba as an ominous figure not fully realized for two more films.  When the scene was added back in, a Jabba more in line with the creature seen in Jedi was digitally added in to replace Mulholland (something Lucas has maintained was always his plan, though Lucas isn’t exactly the most trustworthy source on such things, since he frequently claims that whatever the current final product may be was always his plan).  Ultimately, thanks to the Greedo scene still being there, the scene’s kinda redundant, slows down the movie, and removes a chunk of Jabba’s menace, and to top it all off, the Jabba CGI model is just nowhere near as convincing as the puppet was.  And that’s not even touching on that magical CGI leap that Han has to take in order to jump over Jabba’s tail… Where was I?  Right, the toys.  They made some toys of this absolute masterpiece of a scene, and I’m taking a look at them today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jabba and Han were released as one of the Power of the Force II line’s creature sets in 1997, in order to coincide with the release of the Special Editions in theaters, alongside the similarly Special Edition-inspired Ronto with Jawa and Dewback with Sandtrooper.

JABBA THE HUTT

The main focus of this set to be sure, this Jabba was the only release of the character in the PotF2 line, and is notable for being the only one to be directly based on the CGI model of the Special Edition.  Small victory there; it wasn’t allowed to spread any further.  The figure is about 4 inches tall by about 7 inches long.  His only really reliable movement is at the shoulders; there’s joints at the mid-section and in the tail, but they’re all linked together in a mechanism-driven movement, which doesn’t really have much motion, truth be told.  I think some more straight-forward joints there would have been better served.  As it stands, he actually can’t even properly get into his basic RotJ sitting pose, which is a bummer if you want to make use of him in the Jabba’s Palace playset.  The sculpt on this guy is clearly tailored after that previously mentioned CGI model, which is evident from Jabba’s slightly skinnier proportions, especially in the head, and his larger eyes.  The texturing on his skin also has that same sort of droopy, almost melted quality of the early CG model.  I guess you can’t really fault Kenner on that; he’s possibly a little better looking than the source material, truth be told.  Jabba’s paint work also draws a bit more from the updated design.  While the original Jabba model had the sort of two-toned thing we see going on here, it was far more subtle.  For the CGI look, it became more pronounced, and that was further emphasized on this guy.  It’s not *awful* but it becomes even more noticeable when compared to his vintage counterpart, which didn’t go for the two-toned thing at all.

HAN SOLO

The creature sets liked to throw at least one standard figure into the mix, and I guess you could do a lot worse than a standard Han Solo.  That’s what this is: a pretty standard Han.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation (no waist joint for this guy).  His sculpt comes from the same basic lineage as the standard ANH Han from the beginning of the line, but he’s a lot like the Gunner Station Han, in that he tones down a lot of the previous Han’s wonky proportions and pre-posing.  Honestly, where it not for the leaps and bounds made by the Cantina Han two years later, this would easily be the best ANH Han in the PotF2 line.  As it stands, he’s at least in that nice mid-ground spot.  Honestly, it’s kind of a shame he only came packed in this set, because I’m certain it led to him getting far more overlooked than he should have.  I certainly did.  His paint work is probably his weakest point.  For some reason, he’s awfully pale, and my figure also has a stray mark of brown across his cheek, which is more than a little distracting.  Han included a unique version of his blaster, which was in a dark blue this time instead of the usual black.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember seeing this set when it was, new, but even as a kid, I wasn’t much of a fan of the updated Jabba, so I never did get one.  That said, I’ve been filling in my PotF2 collection a lot recently, and ended up with the Jabba’s Palace 3D playset, but no Jabba to go with it.  Luckily for me, All Time got one of these traded in, and so I’ve finally added it to my collection.  There’s not really much to write home about on either of these figures, but they do have sort of this quaint “wow, we didn’t know how far the edits would eventually go” quality about them.

#2302: Wedge Antilles

WEDGE ANTILLES

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A talented young Rebel pilot from Corellia, Wedge Antilles survived the attack on the first Death Star to become a respected veteran of Rogue Squadron.”

Though he may be on the short list of characters to appear in all three of the original Star Wars films, poor Wedge Antilles has always had to play the waiting game when it comes to action figures.  He was completely absent from the vintage line, and while he’s subsequently gotten a decent selection, it took well over a hundred figures to finally get him in added to The Black Series.  Better late than never, right?  And, as luck would have it, his inclusion in the line just so happens to nicely coincide with the character’s long-awaited return to the franchise in The Rise of Skywalker.  How about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wedge Antilles is figure 102 in the Black Series line-up, the last figure of this assortment numerically.  He’s also the second of the two OT-based figures in the set.  And, believe it or not, he’s only our second OT X-Wing pilot in the line, which seems almost baffling.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  In contrast to the rest of the line-up from this assortment, Wedge is predominantly built out of re-used parts, namely the body of the X-Wing Pilot Luke figure from way back in the very first assortment.  The two wore the same uniform in the movie, and the actors are within an inch of each other in height and pretty similar in build, so it’s hard to blame them for going for the re-use.  That said, I think some collectors were hoping they might take this opportunity to finally give us someone in the padded pilot gear from Empire, thereby keeping Wedge as a totally unique figure.  Of course, then he wouldn’t match the Luke we have, or the inevitable Biggs figure, and wouldn’t have the added benefit of giving Hasbro an easy way of filling out the line-up with some easy re-use.  Plus, it’s not like Wedge figures have a history of getting new parts, so it’s really not much of a shock.  On the plus side, the X-Wing Luke body is honestly one of the best of the earliest entries in the line, and while some of the articulation isn’t quite as well worked in as more recent figures, it still holds up.  Wedge definitely doesn’t look out of place with the rest of his assortment at all.  He does get a new head, of course, which sports a pretty decent likeness of Dennis Lawson.  The hair’s a little weird, because it doesn’t match any of the un-helmeted shots of Wedge we get in the movies.  It’s not totally off base, though, and honestly I imagine a lot of people will be keeping the helmet on him anyway.  With the helmet on, the likeness is pretty much dead on.  The paintwork on Wedge is essentially the same as on the X-Wing Luke figures, but it’s worth noting that there are a few small, easy to miss changes between the two figures, which really don’t amount to much.  Beyond that, he’s got the expected changes to the head, which is again using the face print tech.  Wedge is packed with his helmet, which is a re-decoed version of the one included with Luke, as well as a DH-17 blaster rifle, which is something we don’t see Wedge carrying in the film, but is standard issue for the Rebels, so it makes sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wedge is a prominent figure for me because Wedge is honestly my favorite Star Wars character.  He was at the top of my wishlist for this line from the very start of it, ever since I got that first X-Wing Pilot Luke back in 2013.  It’s been a long wait for him, and he’s a pretty straight forward figure, but he was never the less worth the long wait.  He’s not overly flashy or anything, and perhaps doesn’t have the flair of the others in this assortment, but he’s still my personal favorite.  Now, how about that Empire variant.  And maybe a Rise version as well.  And a TIE pilot version.  Heck, let’s just reinstate the Evolutions packs, and get them all at once.  It’s the only way to be sure.

I picked up this Wedge from my friends All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2300: Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony

LUKE SKWALKER — YAVIN CEREMONY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

On Yavin 4, the Rebels hold a ceremony to award the heroes who bravely fought to destroy the Death Star.  Luke Skywalker receives his medal for bravery from Princess Leia.”

Do you ever have that moment where you have something really monumental and important in front of you, and you think to yourself really hard about how this is the absolute worst time to screw up, and you focus so hard on that only to inadvertently screw up terribly on something that you’ve managed to do correctly hundreds of times previously, to the point where it should be second nature to you?  Because we know Hasbro had that moment.  And today we’re looking at that moment.  Behold, Luke Skywalkwer—crap, I mean Skwalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony is figure 100 in the Black Series line-up.  Of course, thanks to re-numberings and exclusives, there are far more than 100 figures in the line, but getting to the number is a momentous occasion nevertheless.  And before we get any further, yes, you read all those instances of Luke’s surname above correctly; on the packaging for the momentous number 100 figure, Hasbro somehow managed to misspell poor Luke’s last name, the name of a whole saga, three times in two different ways.  As someone who’s worked in publication design, my heart goes out to the poor designer who let that slip through.  They’re probably never going to live it down.  The truth is, if this had been any other numbered release, I don’t know that it would have caught quite as much flack, but unfortunately it’s the big 100, the one that people who very well may have never bought another Black Series will hold onto, and the one that people are far more likely to keep in package.  Heck, I’m a loose collector, and even I’m hanging onto the box for this one.  Admittedly, in my case it’s purely for the typos, but the point still stands.  This one’s probably going to be well-remembered.  Well, enough about the box, let’s talk about the actual Luke Skwalker figure inside!  As the properly written section of his name denotes, he’s wearing his slightly more uniform-esque get-up from the ceremony on Yavin IV that ends the first film.  Though only seen in one scene in the main films, the look served as Luke’s primary attire for his portion of the Holiday Special (I know) and recently saw a resurgence when it was used prominently in Marvel’s Star Wars comics.  This figure was actually released a little earlier last year as a con-exclusive with several additional accessories and a Marvel-inspired box.  As has become the trend with such exclusives and their inevitable re-releases, the core figures in the two packages are essentially identical.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Apart from being shared with the exclusive release, this Luke has a unique sculpt.  It’s our first truly new OT Luke since figure 21, and the line’s come a long way since then.  The result is definitely the most technically impressive Luke we’ve gotten in The Black Series.  The articulation is definitely one area of notable improvement for the most part, although the hip joints on this guy have a weird set up which places a definite learning curve on using them.  I’m not much of a fan.  Like the Jabba’s Palace figure, this Luke uses the new style of head construction with separate pieces for the hair and face, which makes for slightly more depth in the sculpt.  On my figure the hair and head don’t line up 100% perfectly, but it’s close enough to work.  It’s honestly Hasbro’s best Hamill, displacing the Jabba’s Palace figure’s very brief moment with that title.  The body construction is in a lot of ways very similar to Bespin Han, which is fine by me, because that was a good lay out for a figure, and the designs of the two costumes are also pretty similar.  His paintwork is fairly standard for the line at this point.  The base color is all pretty clean, and he’s got the printed face which looks plenty realistic.  The con-exclusive release had a lot of extras, where as this one is comparatively pretty light.  Both figures include the blaster, and this figure also includes the medal, making him specific to the ceremony.  That’s all he gets, which leaves the rather glaring omission of a lightsaber.  He doesn’t have it during the scene in the movie, so I guess there’s that reasoning, but that didn’t stop them from including both a saber and a helmet with the pilot Luke.  It’s also not a new piece, so it feels like it should have been an easy inclusion.  I’ve got a few of my own, so I can loan him one, but it’s a little annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, Cermony Luke wound up as my default Luke for a good while, and as such I’ve always had something of a soft spot for this particular look.  I like that the comics brought the design back, and I was very happy to see this figure unveiled.  He’s a proper choice for the big 100 number, and even with the goofiness surrounding the packaging and its many errors, this is a really nifty figure, and probably the best Black Series Luke.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.