#2107: Kyle Katarn

KYLE KATARN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“It is a period of civil war. The Rebel Alliance struggles to free the galaxy from the clutches of the evil Galactic Empire. Discovering that Imperial forces have begun developing a new type of stormtrooper, the Rebels call on mercenary Kyle Katarn. His mission: seek out and destroy the secret Imperial project called Dark Trooper. A rogue mercenary loyal to no one, Kyle Katarn has accepted a near-impossible mission to destroy the Empire’s ability to develop an army of unstoppable stormtroopers known as Dark Troopers.”

Remember two years ago when I looked at two figures from the Expanded Universe sub-line of Power of the Force?  Well, would you look at that? I’ve finally made my way back to the rest of them.  For their first real go at Expanded Universe offerings, Kenner aimed to diversify, focusing on several different EU tales.  Included among those was the 1996 video game Dark Forces, which covers the (original version of the) acquisition of the Death Star plans, before delving a bit into its own lore.  The player plays as Kyle Katarn, a Rebellion-hired mercenary, who would make his action figure debut in the EU line.  I’ll be looking at said figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kyle Katarn is the first of the two Dark Forces-themed figures released in the Expanded Universe sub-line.  He hit shelves in 1998 and, like all of the EU figures, was a little bit scarce.  Though his bio is definitely referencing Dark Forces, and all reference material points to him being based on that game, Kyle’s design is actually a fair bit closer to the game’s sequel, Jedi Knight.  There are definitely some merged elements, and you can be a little bit forgiving with the ’90s graphics, the biggest giveaway is Kyle’s beard, since he didn’t have that in the first game.  They’ve even edited the illustration of him from the first game in order to make him closer to the figure.  Why did they decide to go with the second game’s look?  Well, there are a few possible reasons, but my main guess is that giving him the beard made him more immediately distinguishable from Han, as well as the other EU Han-stand-in Dash Rendar.  You wouldn’t want to confuse the fans, would you?  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He sports a unique sculpt, which, while pre-posed, is still fairly manageable.  By this point, the proportions issues of the PotF2 were essentially gone.  Kyle’s still definitely a product of his time, but that’s more because Kyle, the character, is a product of his time.  The face on this figure does seem a little friendlier than I’d expect from a supposed mercenary, but it’s still quite a nice offering.  I also like some of the liberties they’ve taken with some of the costume elements; in particular, I really dig his chest armor.  Kyle’s colors are a little bit brighter than the usual Star Wars fair, which works pretty well for him.  The application is pretty clean, and there’s even a little bit of weathering on the boots.  Kyle was packed with two different styles of blaster, allowing him to swap between them as he would in the game.  And, since I got him still in-package, he also has a 3D-fold-out display base, which places him in front of an Imperial Shuttle.  I really love these things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back in the day, the only EU figures I had were Luke and the Emporer, due to how hard the line-up was to find at retail.  When I started filling in holes in my PotF collection, these guys were all very near the top of my list, but they don’t show up super often, and I was insistent that they still be packaged.  I ended up getting fairly lucky with these, as a complete set was traded into All Time Toys a few months back, and they let me take (most) of them, for a pretty good deal at that.  Having not played the Dark Forces games personally, my interaction with Kyle is peripheral at best, but I still have fond memories of staring at his prototype all those years ago in a Star War fan magazine.  The figure’s pretty typical for the line, which is to say he’s pretty fun.

*Kyle is also notable for another reason: he’s the 5000th unique figure to be added to my collection!  That’s way too many, right?  Or is it not enough?

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#1488: Luke Skywalker – Dark Empire

LUKE SKYWALKER – DARK EMPIRE

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. Freed from their detention cell, a group of rebels begin their escape from the Imperial planet Byss. But the sudden appearance of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, could mean unfortunate news for the Rebels. Has Luke fallen under the spell of the dark side?”

Remember two weeks ago when I was talking about the Star Wars Expanded Universe?  Well, hows about a little more of that?  Yeah, let’s go with that.  It’s another Dark Empire figure!  Wooooo!  This time, it’s Luke Skywalker, in his ‘90s anti-hero phase.  Let’s have a look!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dark Empire Luke Skywalker was another of the four Dark Empire figures in the one and only series of Kenner’s Star Wars: Expanded Universe line.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Like the Clone Emperor, the seventh point of articulation is on his wrist (though this time it was the right one), which was more to allow for the removal of Luke’s hand…which is why my figure is missing his right hand.  Luke had a totally unique sculpt, based on his bad-boy look from the Dark Empire comics.  It’s sort of goofy and definitely dated, but I can’t help but find it endearing.  By this point in time, Kenner had lost the bulky, puffy look of their early ‘90s Star Wars figures, so this guy doesn’t look anywhere near as goofy, at least proportion-wise.  The head was a new mold, showcasing Luke’s extra bouncy hair from Dark Empire, but it has the same facial construction as Kenner’s second-generation PotF2 Luke heads, which had a slightly better Hamill likeness.  It’s a little strange that he’s ended up looking so much younger, but I don’t think it looks terrible at all.  Luke’s paint is pretty solid overall.  I think it’s a bit more pleasing to the eye than the Clone Emperor, and the application is generally pretty clean.  Luke included a lightsaber—red to denote his flirting with the Dark Side during the events of Dark Empire—as well as a blaster pistol.  He also included another of the fold-out 3D display stand things, which was pretty cool.  Reeeeeaaaaally wish I still had one of those.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I think this was the first instance of me eagerly awaiting the release of a Star Wars figure.  I was at the local Another Universe at the mall with my Dad, and I saw this guy on the cover of a Star Wars fan magazine, which had the details on the whole Expanded Universe assortment.  My Dad was nice enough to buy the magazine for me, and I remember dragging that thing all over the place while I eagerly awaited this figure’s release.  As I mentioned in the Clone Emperor review, I found this guy in the Farpoint dealer’s room the year he was released, and he was purchased for me by my Grandmother.  He’s a pretty awesome figure, and still remains one of my favorites.

#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.