#2869: Final Jedi Duel

LUKE SKYWALKER, DARTH VADER, & EMPEROR PALPATINE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE (KENNER)

“Under the evil gaze of Emperor Palpatine, the lightsabers of two Jedi Knights – a father and son – clash furiously in a final duel between the light side and dark side of the Force. Slowly, the young Skywalker is lured closer to the rage of the dark side, and Palpatine sits confident of the Rebellion’s defeat and the acquisition of a new emissary to fulfill his evil legacy! But the young Jedi’s resistance appears to be growing…”

Though its later years saw Cinema Scenes switch more to getting out never before released characters and obscurities out in a quick shot, Kenner launched it with a focus on actually recreating distinctive scenes directly from the film.  It doesn’t get much more distinctive than Luke and Vader’s duel on the second Death Star during the climax of Return of the Jedi, so it’s not a terrible surprise that this scene was one of the ones more specifically recreated.  In fact, they technically recreated it twice, if you count the Power F/X figures.  But this was the only time they did it in Cinema Scenes.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Final Jedi Duel was added to the Cinema Scenes sub-line of Kenner’s Power of the Force in 1997.  It was the only Jedi-based set from the first year, though many would certainly follow.  The set included a stand, like all of the Cinema Scenes, but this time it was a far more integral piece, since the Emperor’s chair is permanently affixed to the stand.

LUKE SKYWALKER

Jedi Luke was no stranger to this line, although at this point, he’d only had one version, and it was iffy on screen accuracy, since it amalgamated a few looks.  This one was unique in Power of the Force in that it was actually a Death Star II version of Luke, specifically sans the vest.  In fact, it was the first ever non-Endor Luke to not sport the vest, so that’s pretty cool.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  While the core line was moving from pre-posing at this point, they had really translated it into the Cinema Scenes figures, which remained quite pre-posed in their first year.  Luke is one of the most impacted by this, with a deep lunging saber dueling pose.  It looks impressive when the whole set-up’s there, but on his own, it can be a bit limiting.  Notably, it makes him really hard to keep standing, which I’m not big on.  That said, the actual sculpt isn’t a terrible one.  Notably, it introduced a new head, more specifically tailored to Jedi than the one on the prior Jedi Luke.  It’s honestly not a bad likeness, especially for the time.  The paint work on this figure is pretty basic, but in keeping with the line.  He does get shiny boots, so that’s fun.  He’s packed with his lightsaber, which he has a little trouble holding.

DARTH VADER

Vader was also no stranger to the line.  This marked the third version of him for the line, each one being slightly more pre-posed than the last.  It was another amalgamated design, keeping with the other two.  The figure stands just over 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  This Vader sculpt actually got re-used a few tomes, mainly for the wonky colored repaints that Hasbro liked trotting out for anniversaries and special occasions.  Like Luke, he’s rather pre-posed, though this one’s a little more stable, and he can actually stand on his own.  Generally, he looks a lot like the prior two, but the one notable improvement here was the inclusion of his skirt beneath his cape.  That marked a first for a Vader figure, so it’s kind of a big deal.  His cape has been re-worked here so that it’s not actually removable.  It’s connection is kind of weird, but otherwise I guess it’s not bad.  The paint on Vader pretty much matches the other versions from the line.  It’s not like he really had any major change ups in the films, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Vader is packed with his lightsaber, which he holds a lot better than Luke.

EMPEROR PALPATINE

Ah, Palpatine.  Always the most thrilling action figure subject.  He’s so exciting, right?  What’s this one’s gimmick?  He sits.  That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  Literally, he takes the overall vibe of all of the other Power of the Force Palpatines, folds him in the middle, and makes him sit in his sit-and-spin chair.  Technically he’s got articulation, and technically you can take him out of the chair, but really, what’s the point?  It’s not like you’re going to do anything else with him.  He’s made for sitting.  I suppose that’s more to the point for the character than other figures, so kudos to Kenner for that.  He’s also got the chair, which does look pretty cool.  Too bad you can’t take it off the base, but it’s still nice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Final Jedi Duel is a rather recent addition to my collection.  It got traded into All Time a couple of months ago, sealed.  They’d come through loose a few times, but without the base, at which point Palpatine is actually pointless, so why bother?  So, when it was a sealed one, that was a pretty easy sale for me.  It’s not a terrible set.  It doesn’t have the broader appeal of other Cinema Scenes, since none of them really work outside of the setting.  On the other hand, it makes it one of the truest sets to the actual concept, so I guess there’s that.

#2750: Emperor Palpatine

EMPEROR PALPATINE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

I was going to begin this review by remarking that I’ve never actually reviewed an Emperor Palpatine figure review, but that’s…well, it’s a lie, I guess, because I have.  Clearly, I’m very invested in the character, because I keep such close tabs on him.  I mean, yeah, he’s the most pivotal single character in the whole saga, I suppose, but he’s…boring?  I mean, I guess the unlimited power gimmick is always good for a laugh.  But beyond that?  Meh.  Even his toys tend to be pretty meh.  I mean, there’s only so many ways to add something new and different to an old guy in a cloak.  This one goes for simulated unlimited power.  Go figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Emperor Palpatine was the fifth and final of the five figures in the Power F/X line-up of Power of the Force figures.  He falls more into R2’s vein, being more of his own standalone piece, rather than more interactive with the others like the three lightsaber wielders.  It feels a little bit like a missed opportunity, though, since he’s based on Palpatine’s portion of the throne room battle, which would make him a somewhat decent pair off with Luke, allowing for multiple display options if you get the whole set.  As it stands, he’s just, kind of off on his own, and not really ingrained to the crossline playability set-up.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 3 points of articulation.  Well, he’s got three joints…I hesitate to really call it articulation, because there’s hardly any actual motion to be had.  He’s pretty much just got the one pose, making him even less posable than the other figures in the set, and that was already kind of a low bar.  The figure’s sculpt is a tweaking of the prior single-card release of Palpatine, which wasn’t a terrible set-up.  It was an old guy in robes, and I guess it did that well enough.  This one’s an old guy in robes, but with his arms up this time.  He kinda looks like he’s doing the Thriller dance.  Like Vader, this guy’s sculpt does at least hide the battery pack a little better than Luke or Obi-Wan did, so he doesn’t look quite as weird.  Although, admittedly, a hunch back wouldn’t look all that out of place for this guy.  His Power F/X feature is worked into his hands, similarly to the three lightsaber wielders, but for his lightning (commonly referred to as “unlimited power” by those in the know).  The bolts slot into his hands, and the effect is, again, a fairly weak light, but I guess it’s alright.  His paint work is pretty much just on the face and hands.  It’s kind of thick, but consistent with the other PotF Palpatine figures.  At least there’s no notable slop or anything.  Palpatine gets his own stand, based on his spot in front of the window on the Death Star II.  It doesn’t work quite as well as the other three Death Star stands, I find, but it’s not a bad set piece, I suppose.  It’s got the little arm for moving him around, but it doesn’t really have the same appeal without that dueling ability the other three had, or the slightly more fun magnet gimmick from R2.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Palpatine was really just a side effect of getting the rest of this set of figures.  He was in the lot, and I wasn’t really going to turn him down, I guess.  In retrospect, Luke and Vader are really the only two I really wanted, and the others are a bit extraneous.  Palpatine really exemplifies this, because he just doesn’t really seem to fulfill the same purpose as the others.  That’s probably why he tends to be the least desired of the set.

#1474: Clone Emperor Palpatine

CLONE EMPEROR PALPATINE

STAR WARS: EXPANDED UNIVERSE (KENNER)

Six years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the galaxy is thrust into turmoil. A reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic’s closest friend – Luke Skywalker – may become their greatest enemy. With the power to transfer his consciousness to genetic clones, a younger, stronger Emperor Palpatine is perilously close to gaining total control of the galaxy forever.”

Following the conclusion of the original Star Wars movies, there was no immediate follow up planned.  The prequels were still just a concept, and the sequel trilogy wasn’t even a glimmer in Kathleen Kennedy’s eye.  The next best thing was the Expanded Universe, which fans latched onto pretty quickly.  In the ’90s, in the midst of their re-launched toy line, Kenner created an EU-centered sub-line.  Amongst that line were two figures based on the “Dark Empire” story, which included today’s figure, Clone Emperor Palpatine.

THE FIGURE ITSELF 

Clone Emperor Palpatine was released in Kenner’s one series Star Wars: Expanded Universe line in 1998.  As noted in the intro, this figure hails from “Dark Empire,” a story which sees Palpatine brought back in a series of cloned bodies.  Without the name on the package to go by, you could be forgiven for not recognizing this as Palpatine, since he’s noticeably less wrinkly than he usually is.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall (the EU figures were a little smaller) and he has 7 points of articulation.  Where’s that extra point coming from you ask?  Why, from his left wrist.  And why just the left wrist?  Because it’s actually just a side effect of making the left hand removable.  It was actually pretty common around this period of Kenner’s Star Wars figures, before they realized they could do more with that joint than just detachable limbs.  Now, you may have noticed my Emperor has no left hand.  I lost it.  Silly me.  Palpatine’s sculpt was unique to him.  It showed Kenner’s trend towards much less exaggerated stylings, and honestly feels more like a vintage figure than a lot of his compatriots. His robe is a separate, removable piece, which goes on and off pretty easily, and is a pretty solid sculpt to boot.  The paint work on this guy is about on par with the rest of Kenner’s offerings around the time.  It’s all cleanly applied, and the details are fairly sharp.  It’s not terribly exciting, but there it is. Palpatine was packed with a light saber–blue, so as to leave everyone all confused and shocked.  There was also this cool 3D fold-out playset thing with all of these figures.  I really wish I still had that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I can’t tell you exactly why I got this guy.  I got him from the Farpoint dealer’s room, back when he was new.  He shortly followed my acquisition of Luke from the same series.  I think I just wanted someone to go with him.