#2846: Luke Skywalker & Ysalamiri – Heir to the Empire

LUKE SKYWALKER & YSALAMIRI — HEIR TO THE EMPIRE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Five years after the destruction of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker fears there is no hope as the remnants of the Imperial fleet are readied for war under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn.  Using ysalamiri to sever a developing Jedi clone’s connection to the Force allowed mentally stable Jedi clones to be created—a discovery Thrawn would use in his war against Luke Skywalker and the New Republic”

Timothy Zhan’s Heir to the Empire made itself into a rather stable corner stone of the Star Wars Expanded Universe when it debuted in its original prose form in 1991, and became even more cemented when it was further adapted into comics form in 1995, giving a visual narrative to that post-Return of the Jedi world.  Heir would also introduced two of the EU’s most prominent and popular characters, Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade.  If you’re going to be doing a more EU-centered set of Star Wars figures, it’s a totally logical choice.  I mean, sure, we’ve already gotten a Thrawn, but there’s still a chance to do the *other* major character introduced, right?  That’s who you did, right?  Oh, no, we’re just doing a Luke Skywalker variant then, aren’t we?  Yep.  Well, let’s just do that, I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker & Ysalamiri is the third offering in the comics-based Star Wars: The Black Series line-up.  He’s one of two non-comics original characters featured in the set, the other being Darth Maul.  He’s based on his appearance from the cover of the comic’s first issue, which also serves as the front of his box.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  He’s identical in sculpt to the Dagobah Luke from last year.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt, and, as I noted, it’s the most articulated Luke body Hasbro’s got in their parts catalogue.  While the outfits are certainly similar, though, it’s worth noting that it’s definitely an Empire Luke, and Heir is very much a post Return story.  At the very least, it feels like they should have used one of the Jedi Luke heads.  He’s also missing the belt he’s sporting on the cover, which is a shame, and really misses the one chance they would have had to give him a new piece.  The paint’s a bit tweaked, but not majorly so.  His outfit’s all black now, and that’s really it.  I guess it’s a little more striking, but it also means he loses a lot of the cool accenting and dirt that the prior release had.  In terms of accessories, Luke is decidedly pretty light.  He’s got his lightsaber, and the Ysalamiri that’s listed on the box.  The lightsaber is his Jedi version, complete with a green blade that’s not accurate to the comic, but is accurate to what Luke’s saber *should* be, so it shakes out.  Giving him both blade colors might not have been a terrible option, though.  The Ysalamiri is an all-new piece, but isn’t really designed for use with Luke himself, instead being designed to fit over the Thrawn figure’s shoulders.  Obviously, it’s nice that it fits him, since he’s most classically remembered with it on his shoulders, but it just makes Luke feel even lighter when one of his two accessories isn’t even for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really liked Dagobah Luke when he was released, so I certainly wasn’t opposed to a re-use.  That said, I never really warmed up to this figure that much pre-release.  Doing an Heir to the Empire Luke when we still don’t have any version of Mara Jade, the character he spends much of the story interacting with, in this scale at all, feels a bit backwards.  Not helping things is that he doesn’t really do much to give himself much reason to exist.  While this design’s the one on the cover, it’s not overly distinctive or exciting.  The pulled down jumpsuit look that the comic pack 3 3/4 inch version did might have honestly been a better choice, but barring that, just giving him a slightly more enticing accessory selection might have helped a bit.  As it stands, he’s alright, but not much to write home about.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure 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.

#2680: Dark Trooper

DARK TROOPER

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. Known as phase III, this most powerful of the Dark Troopers is actually a figure known as General Mohc. Practically unstoppable, he represents the greatest threat to the success of the Rebel Alliance.”

Kenner’s Expanded Universe sub-set covered a few different EU tales, giving them each at minimum a pair of figures.  Though previously unexplored in the toys, that included some video game coverage, in the form of two figures based on the video game Dark Forces.  The first of those was the game’s protagonist, Kyle Katarn.  The second was today’s focus, the Dark Trooper, a concept that’s certainly moving up in the world, thanks to a proper canon appearance in the second season of The Mandalorian.  But, let’s jump to those humble beginnings, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Dark Trooper is the final single carded figure in the Expanded Universe sub-line of Kenner’s Power of the Force II.  He’s the other of the two later release figures I mentioned in last week’s Spacetrooper review.  Also of note is the fact that the Dark Trooper was the only of the nine single release figures not to be shown off on the cross sell on any of the packaging, for whatever reason.  The figure stands 4 1/4 inches tall (the second tallest in the set) and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s definitely one of the stiffer figures included in this line-up, only further highlighted after looking at the Spacetrooper last week, with his extra movement and all.  Given the bulked up design of this particular look, the slightly more restricted set-up isn’t totally shocking however.  This mold was new to this figure, but would later be re-used in its entirety for the Fan’s Choice rerelease in 2007, likely due to the combination of rarity and popularity of this particular release.  It’s an interesting sculpt, because it feels more dated than the rest of the assortment, but that’s actually because he’s going for a recreation of the game model, which means he really should be that bulked up and geometric.  Hard to take the ’90s out of a ’90s design,  I suppose.  There’s a fair deal of detail work going into this guy, which does a lot to make him a bit of a step up from a straight recreation of the game look.  I also appreciated that the jet pack is actually a separate piece, with full detailing on the figure beneath it.  In terms of paint work, the Dark Trooper’s actually got a bit more going on than it seems on the surface.  All of the silver is painted, rather than molded, and there are actually two distinct shades between the outer armor and the mechanics.  The Dark Trooper includes a rather goofy looking heavy blaster lifted straight from the game, as well as yet another fold out display.  This one’s definitely one of the most clever, being based on the game’s HUD, allowing you to simulate an in-game set up.  That’s pretty nifty!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Dark Trooper was a figure that was almost not mine, and was almost the cause of a real tussle between me and Max….okay, not really.  But, when we were pulling the figures out when they came in, he had called dibs on the Sentinel, and then also set this one to the side…only I didn’t realize he’d set this one to the side with the intent to buy it himself, so I grabbed it with the rest of my set and innocently sent him a shot of the whole set after I’d opened them and set them all up.  Then there was much discussion between the two of us, at which point Max very graciously let me keep the Trooper, because he’s nice like that.  It’s nice to have the whole set-up of these guys after all these years, and the Dark Trooper is certainly nifty, especially after their TV appearance!

 

#2673: Spacetrooper

SPACETROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. The ability of spacetroopers to operate exclusively in space made them a valuable asset to the warlord, Grand Admiral Thrawn. These heavily armed stormtroopers wear full-body armor and have equipment that enables them to function as personal space-capable assault vehicles.”

In the history of Stormtrooper variants, today’s focus, the Spacetrooper, is actually one of the very earliest.  They first appear in A New Hope, one of them being seen when the Falcon gets pulled into the Death Star. Admittedly pretty easy to miss, being a) rather small and b) not actually very removed from the regular Stormtrooper design.  He was also portrayed by concept designer and future director Joe Johnson, which is a nifty little bit of trivia.  The idea has stuck around since, gaining some slight changes over the years.  When it came time to adapt Heir to Empire into comic form, they were granted a unique armored appearance, which served as the inspiration for their very first action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Spacetrooper was part of Kenner’s Expanded Universe sub-line for Power of the Force.  He was one of two figures that shipped a little bit later than the rest, and were subsequently even harder to find at retail at the time.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has a whopping 8 points of articulation.  He’s notable for being the first use of a universal joint on the shoulders, in contrast to prior figures’ simple cut joints.  Why this particular figure was granted these is kind of a random guess, but I’d hazard it’s due to how the shoulders are designed.  It’s a little rudimentary in its implementation, but still quite cool, and certainly useful for a wider range of posing.  The sculpt was an all-new affair, reasonable given the all-new design.  He’s got the basic elements of a Stormtrooper, but a little more armored up, and a little more streamlined.  There are a few other movable elements worked in as well, with an adjustable jetpack, and a fold out blaster built into the left arm (but only the left, because two blasters is too many).  As with the articulation, it gives the figure a bit more variety for posing, and just gives him a better general feeling of value compared to some of the more basic troopers.  In terms of paint, the Spacetrooper is a little lax; mostly, he just relies on the molded white plastic.  It’s slightly pearlescent, which makes a touch hard to properly photograph when coupled with the lack of accenting.  Still, it’s not terribly far removed from the rest of the PotF stuff at the time, and it does hit all of the major elements.  The Spacetrooper doesn’t get any proper accessories, thanks to everything being built in.  He does still get the fold out back drop, though, which is still pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the full set of EU figures came through All Time Toys back in 2019, we didn’t actually know it was a full set at first.  Max had pulled out his Imperial Sentry, and told me I was welcome to the only other one we knew was in the lot, which was this guy.  Honestly, I was pretty happy just to get him, because I’ve always thought he looked pretty nifty, and I’d not gotten the chance to pick him up at that point.  Compared to some of the others, he fades into the background a little bit, but he does a lot of cool, innovative stuff for the time, and honestly holds up pretty well.

#2631: Grand Admiral Thrawn

GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. A tactical and military genius, Grand Admiral Thrawn rallied the remnants of the Imperial fleet and set in motion a plan to destroy the New Republic. Using Force-inhibiting ysalamiri, he became vitally close to achieving his evil plans.”

Last week, I was discussing EU characters who really ran away from their expanded universe origins and became lasting pieces of the franchise in their own right.  While last week’s focus, Mara Jade, was prominent, she never made the jump to official canon proper.  Today’s subject, Grand Admiral Thrawn, actually did.  First introduced by author Timothy Zahn in 1991’s Heir to the Empire, Thrawn has also been confirmed to exist in the post-Disney-acquisition world of the franchise, having served as the primary antagonist for the second half of their Rebels series.  And, perhaps his future in the franchise is unexplored, if The Mandalorian‘s quick reference is anything to go by.  Well, in the mean time, let’s look at a little bit of toy coverage!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Admiral Thrawn was released in the Expanded Universe sub-line of Power of the Force in 1998.  Like many of the characters included, this was his first figure, though thanks to actually becoming proper canon, he’s had a few more of them in recent years.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Thrawn is an all-new sculpt, but not exactly an unfamiliar or unique one.  He takes a lot of cues from how Kenner handled other Imperial Officer figures, which makes a bit of sense, from a consistency stand point.  Like Mara Jade, he’s clearly not a direct lift from the comics illustrations of Thrawn, in order to help him look a bit more in line with the rest of Power of the Force.  His head seems a touch large in my eyes, but otherwise it’s not a bad looking sculpt, and is consistent with how Thrawn generally looked.  It’s basic, but appropriately so.  The paint work is also pretty basic and straight forward, but again consistent with the character’s depiction.  It’s definitely a more unique color scheme, so he stands out nicely in a group of Imperials.  Thrawn is packed with a ysalamiri, the weird thing he’s got on his shoulders there, as well as a small blaster pistol, and the fold out diorama.  This time, it’s the bridge of ship, presumably the Katana.  It’s pretty sweet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

All of these were rare when released, and Thrawn’s quite a fan favorite, so he was also always pretty rare.  Fortunately, that whole set came through All Time last year, so I was finally able to snag one then.  He’s not the most technically impressive figure or anything, but he’s still pretty nifty, and I’m glad I have one.

#2624: Mara Jade

MARA JADE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. Before the death of Palpatine, Mara Jade was the Emperor’s right hand assassin. Five years later and now a successful smuggler, the last thing Mara expected was to stumble upon her former arch-enemy – Luke Skywalker.”

The Star Wars Expanded Universe had a whole host of new characters to add to the mythos, coming from all sorts of different mediums, and doing all sorts of, some times, contradictory things.  A few of those EU characters because rather pervasive, but few were quite as recurrent as Mara Jade, a character who appeared about just every medium other than the movies.  Destined to become Luke Skywalker’s eventual wife, Mara was revealed to be just on the outskirts of plenty of prior events, just waiting to peer into the shot, I suppose.  She’s become rather downplayed since Disney took over, of course, but she was pretty big with the fanbase, and did get a few action figures, the first of which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mara Jade was released alongside the rest of the initial Expanded Universe line-up of Power of the Force figures in 1998.  As such a popular character, she was a rarer figure from an already scarce assortment, at least at the time.  She was one of the three figures in the line-up to be based on the Heir to Empire story, fittingly Mara’s first appearance.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Mara’s sculpt was unique to her, and based at least somewhat on her appearance in the Heir to Empire comics adaptation, though it’s mostly in regards to her attire, since her features don’t match the rather stylized depiction of the character from the comics.  Neither was she really based on Shannon McRandle, the model who portrayed Mara on the covers of the novels she appeared in.  Instead, she’s just sort of an averaged appearance, I suppose.  It works fine for the character, and it’s not like she’s any further from her usual appearances than any of the characters who actually appeared in the movies were.  Mara’s paint work is rather eye catching, especially the bright red hair, and the application is all pretty clean.  They did actually differentiate between the black of her body suit and her boots, so that looks pretty nice.  Mara is packed with Luke’s lightsaber, a blaster pistol, and another 3D backdrop like the rest of the series.  This one shows off a downed ship, and is definitely one of the cooler backdrops.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t know anything about Mara when these figures were new, and I certainly didn’t really see her in person to push me to find out.  As I’ve become more versed with Star Wars over the years, I’ve of course come to know a bit more about her, and I’ve been subsequently more invested in these figures.  I picked her up at the same time as most of the rest of the set, when they all came in through All Time.  Mara’s a pretty cool little figure.  Perhaps not the flashiest of this line up, but a fun and unique figure nevertheless.

#2617: Imperial Sentinel

IMPERIAL SENTINEL

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (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. At the doors of the evil Emperor’s palace, giant Imperial Sentinels, twice the size and power of other Imperial guards, await their prisoner – the Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker.”

Are you ready to get a bit circular?  I sure hope so, because boy-howdy are we about to.  During the pre-production process for Return of the Jedi, artist Nilo Rodis-Jamero crafted an initial design for the Emperor’s Royal Guards, which was a fair bit more involved than the final product in the film.  This design was then co-opted by Kenner when they put together a presentation for Lucasfilm in 1985, which proposed a continuation of the original trilogy’s story, and thereby of the toyline Kenner was then running.  In it, our heroes would have faced off against new villain Atha Prime, who would have made use of this old Guard design.  Lucasfilm ultimately turned down the proposal, and the design was again shelved, until it resurfaced in the Dark Empire comics as the new clone Emperor’s new guards, the Imperial Sentinels, who would subsequently make their way into Kenner’s own Expanded Universe toy line.  Let’s take a look at that figure today, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial Sentinel was released alongside the other EU figures in the initial seven figure drop in 1998’s Power of the Force line-up.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall (one of the tallest figures from this era by a fair margin) and he has 4 points of articulation.  He was certainly one of the line’s more restricted figures in terms of posability, with no leg movement due to the nature of his design.  Of course, he really just follows in the footsteps of the standard Royal Guard in that regard.  At least this guy can turn his head.  The sculpt itself is a little bit on the goofy side, but then again, so is the actual design.  It’s nicely rendered in toy form, though, and one can certainly see why Kenner would have chosen it for a potential new lead villain in their continuation.  It’s definitely got a nice toyetic feel about it.  The outer robe piece is a separate part, which can be removed, for a bit more variety if you are inclined to army build.  The head’s also been designed with light-piping, allowing for the eyes to be illuminated.  It was rare for such a feature to be included in this line, but that doesn’t make it any less cool here.  In terms of paint work, the Sentinel sticks to the Royal Guard color scheme of lots of differing reds.  There’s also some gold mixed in, for a little extra flair.  My figure has a big streak of dark red on his left sleeve, but other than that, the application’s all pretty clean.  The Sentinel is packed with a battle axe (admittedly, not an incredibly Star Wars-y weapon, but a rather imposing one nevertheless), as well as including another 3D backdrop, much like the others in the set.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I touched on in prior EU reviews, Luke and the Clone Emperor were the only figures I had growing up, so all of the other ones were on my list when I got back into it as an adult.  When the full set of them got traded into All Time, the Imperial Sentinel was the only one I didn’t snag, as it was the one from the set Max had already called dibs on.  Fortunately, I was able to get one through Cosmic Comix not too long after getting the rest of the set, so they weren’t incomplete for too long.  The Sentinel is a character with a lot of history behind him, so he’s certainly one I’m glad to have in my collection.

#2610: Princess Leia – Dark Empire

PRINCESS LEIA — DARK EMPIRE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (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. Hoping to free her brother Luke from the evil of the dark side, Jedi Leia prepares to match her power against that of a reborn Emperor. Boarding his colossal warship, Leia is overwhelmed by the oppression of the dark side.”

If you’ve been following my Kenner Power of the Force II reviews as of late, you may have seen me start to get a little bit…uninspired about things?  In my defense I’m hitting a lot of the stuff from when the line was a little same-y.  I do still really love the line though, so I’m going to try to realign with something a little more exciting. Perhaps the most exciting portion of the line was its 1998 Expanded Universe spin-off.  It was our first real glimpse into toys of the world outside of the movies, and also gave Kenner some free reign to do some cool new stuff.  There were a handful of different stories covered, but by far the one to get the largest focus was Dark Empire, a rather notable continuation of the original trilogy at the time.  I’ve looked at both Luke and the Emperor from that story, and now I’m digging further into the set with an updated Princess Leia!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia from Dark Empire was part of the first seven figures in what would eventually be a nine figure line-up of the Expanded Universe sub-line.  She, like most of the EU figures, proved a bit scarce at the time of release, and honestly hasn’t ever reached the same level of plentifulness as other PotF figures.  The figure stands 3 1/2 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Leia is an all-new sculpt, patterned on her more action-faring design from the comics.  It’s an interesting design set-up.  She adds a Jedi-Luke-esque cape to her attire, and beneath it she’s got something that looks akin to Luke’s Bespin gear.  It’s definitely helps to solidify the more traditional protagonist role Leia falls into during the course of the story.  It’s a pretty decent sculpt overall.  It’s rather in keeping with the rest of the mid-line Leia sculpts from PotF, with a likeness that’s consistent with those other figures, making it easy to tell she’s supposed to be the same person.  The figure has a little bit of trouble standing without the cape, but with it on she keeps up just well.  And honestly, who’s not going to use the cape?  It’s so cool.  Leia’s paint work is, like the other EU figures, a touch more vibrant than the usual Star Wars fare.  Of all of them, she’s certainly less removed than others, but I do certainly enjoy the multitude of colors used on her cape.  It’s a very nice touch.  Leia is packed with a light saber (in a rather concerning red, to match her brother), and a small blaster.  And, like all of the single-carded EU figures, her card back also unfolds into a small 3D back drop for her, based on the comics.  This is consistently my favorite part of these figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The EU figures were a favorite piece of mine from this line, but as I noted when I looked at Kyle, the only ones I actually got as a kid were Luke and Palpatine.  I wanted the others, but they are, as noted above, not the most common PotF figures, and they’re one of the few sets I was more insistent about getting carded.  Fortunately, I happened upon a complete set of them through All Time back last year.  Leia’s perhaps not the flashiest of the set, but she’s still a fun variant of the character, and I get a real nostalgic kick from her.

#2561: Speeder Bike

SPEEDER BIKE (w/ REBEL SPEEDER BIKE PILOT)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Whipping through the forests of Endor on a Rebel strike mission against the Death Star shield generator, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia battled Imperial scout troopers atop highly maneuverable speeder bikes. Considered ideal reconnaissance vehicles by the Empire and he Rebel Alliance alike, their maneuverability and acceleration is superior to both landspeeders and airspeeders. This particular speeder bike was designed and built based on production sketches found in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Sketchbook.; its creator was renowned Star Wars artist, Joe Johnston.”

Have you ever been so non-started by something that when it came time to do that thing you actually did an entirely different thing for far longer than you’d like to admit before realizing you were actually doing the wrong thing?  Because I have, and it was right here, just moments ago, when I was so “meh” on today’s review subject that I actually started up writing a review for *next* Sunday, and even got so far as uploading that review’s photos before realizing my mistake.  I’m sure that makes you guys feel real great about having to read the following review that my subconscious clearly didn’t want to write.  Well, we’re doing it anyway.

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

The Speeder Bike and Rebel Speeder Bike Pilot were released by Kenner in 1998, as one of three vehicle sets that accompanied the Expanded Universe sub-line of their main Power of the Force line.  While the figures were all based on established characters and designs from Star Wars media other than the movies, the vehicles on the other hand were all focused on replicating un-produced concept work from the films.  This item is, as you may have guessed, the original concept for the Speeder Bikes that would appear on the Endor sequences in Return of the Jedi, and, as the bio above notes, are based on Joe Johnson’s sketch.  In toy form, it’s about 5 inches long, and features a spring-loaded feature that swings the outriggers backward or forward.  The sculpt is definitely on the boxy side, which is true to the original sketch overall, but the process of converting the design into plastic form has made it a good deal clunkier.  This only increases its relative clunkiness when compared to its film-based brethren.  It’s not a bad looking sculpt from a technical standpoint, I suppose.  The detailing is relatively sharply rendered, so that’s good.  In addition to the outrigger action feature, there’s also a missile launcher built in, for a more offensive set-up, I guess.

Included with the Speeder Bike is its own unique pilot, the Rebel Speeder Bike Pilot.  That’s a very unique name, I know.  While the Speeder bikes in the final film were an Imperial vehicle, and subsequently had their own specific Imperial pilots, it seems at some point they were supposed to be the Rebels’ proper.  This guy’s design is rather different from any of the Rebels we actually saw in the film, with his aviator’s cap and goggles.  It’s not that far removed from the WWI/WWII film-inspirations that the movies had, and a similar design element would crop up years later when Marvel introduced Doctor Aphra into the universe.  So, it’s not inherently un-Star Wars.  The figure stands just shy of 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He feels somewhat on the diminutive side for this line, and I’m not entirely sure why.  I guess he’s just like that.  His sculpt is passable, but compared to the original sketch, it definitely feels like some of the charm of the design was lost in translation.  A lot of that coolness factor just feels gone.  As it stands he’s…fine.  That’s about it.  The paint’s kind of the same deal.  He’s rather drab and not particularly eye-catching.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Expanded Universe sub-set as a whole excites me.  The vehicles from that set as a whole do not.  They’re just kind of bland and not terribly exciting, and they’re certainly not helped by the lack of the 3D back drops.  I never had much attachment to this release, which is why I never really went to the trouble of tracking it down.  I still don’t really have much attachment.  It’s okay.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this set.  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.

#2408: Crowd Control Stormtrooper

CROWD CONTROL STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Feared throughout the galaxy, Stormtroopers are elite shock troops deployed in support of both ground forces and the Imperial fleet. They are responsible for policing Imperial outposts and territories, accountable for sustaining Imperial control in even the most dangerous sectors. This can be a challenging and often deadly assignment for the most reliable shock troop squadrons. Tough port cities such as Mos Eisley have high populations of outlaws, criminals, smugglers and other anti-Imperial types who create a typically chaotic atmosphere.”

Before making use of the sub-line to get out some larger figures and accessories seen in the film, Kenner’s first approach to the “Deluxe” offshoot of Power of the Force was…well, it was certainly more at home in a ’90s toyline.  The first three offerings (as well as one of the two offerings that followed) in the line were all slight re-workings of previously released heavy hitters, but this time with some big gimmicky gizmo included.  On the positive side, it did give collectors a second chance at a little bit of army building in the form of today’s figure, the Crowd Control Stormtrooper.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Crowd Control Stormtrooper was released in 1996, alongside Han Solo w/ Smuggler Flight Pack and Luke Skywalker w/ Desert Sport Skiff.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  The core figure to this set is effectively the same sculpt as the standard Imperial Stormtrooper figure.  Certainly, that’s hardly Kenner’s finest attempt at a Stormtrooper sculpt, but it was the standard one of the time, being only a year old.  It’s still got all the goofy quirks of that particular release, meaning he’s rather muscle bound and also lacks both a neck and the ability to stand for long periods of time unassisted.  The one change this release makes to the sculpt is adding a port to his back so that he can make use of his big gimmicky gizmo.  The other change is a paint change, rather than a sculpt change.  This guy has the same basic paint elements as the regular release, but with a bunch of flecks of dirt all over the body now.  I guess this guy’s been a little worn-in.  Or maybe he’s a really early preview of a Remnant Trooper!  That’d be something!  Whatever the case, he kind of reminds me of cookies and cream ice cream.  The supposed main selling point of this set is not the figure, of course, but rather the Crowd Control pack he includes.  It’s big, and it plugs into is back, and it has some moving parts.  I’m not entirely sure how this monstrosity is meant to aid in crowd control, but this is the Empire we’re talking about here; they tend to go for the crazier, mad-genius-style solutions to things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, these deluxe figures always baffled me a little bit.  I wasn’t really alone on that front, I suppose.  Now that I’m an adult, though, and I’ve really gotten into appreciating PotF2 for what it was, they’re kind of key to that appreciation, because what else sells the true ’90s-ness of the early line better than these guys?  This guy also benefits from really being the only one in the first set that makes any sort of internal sense; a Stormtrooper with an extra gimmick really isn’t that far out there.

This guy came 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.

#2384: Jaina Solo

JAINA SOLO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Daughter of Leia Organa and Han Solo, Jaina Solo is a Jedi student of Luke Skywalker. Like her father, she is also a crack pilot and skilled mechanic. Like her mother, she is a born leader.”

In the quite lengthy gap between the conclusion of the Star Wars saga with Return of the Jedi and the continuation of said concluded saga with The Force Awakens, in addition to some prequels or something, we got a whole host of tales from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  There were a few different contenders for follow-ups to Jedi, but in quite a good number of them, Han and Leia had at the very least a daughter named Jaina (the number of siblings Jaina had, their status as good or bad, and their status as alive or dead was up in the air, however).  Jaina was a pretty popular character, but ended up removed wholesale when Disney reset things in order to clear the stage for TFA.  However, in an effort to not completely overlook her, Hasbro did include her as the EU’s first introduction into The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jaina Solo is figure 56 in the Black Series line-up, hitting in an assortment that included a single-carded Supreme Leader Snoke, Rose, and the slightly revised Jedi Training Rey.  Jaina is officially classified as a “Legends” figure, denoting her status as removed from the cannon.  She was also the winner of the 2016 Fan’s Choice poll, which was what actually got the EU recognition into the line, really.  The figure stands just over 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 28 points of articulation.  Jaina was actually the first real taste of Hasbro’s new mid-torso articulation they were working on, as it’s the same style of joint that would eventually show up on the Lightning Collection figures last year.  It’s got a lot more range, which is pretty much an across the board thing for Jaina’s articulation, really.  The figure sports an all-new sculpt, and quite an impressive one at that.  Jaina is seen here in her pilot’s attire, which was a change from her prior 3 3/4 inch figure, which went with her Jedi robes.  Personally, I much prefer this look, and it helped keep her a little more visually distinctive from Rey, so that’s definitely a plus.  Unlike prior pilots, Jaina’s web gear and vest are totally removable, allowing for a more tactical on the go jumpsuited look.  I would love to see this sort of thing implemented on a Luke or Poe figure in the future, because it honestly works quite well here.  Jaina’s likeness in an interesting one, because she doesn’t have an established actress or anything, but she’s supposed to look like her parents.  They’re kind of merged some features from both Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford into one, and it actually looks pretty convincing (although, for some reason, I can’t help but see Amanda Bynes in there).  Jaina’s paintwork is a lot of dark colors (she was a stealth pilot after all), but it’s a cool look.  The paintwork is quite crisp, and there are some nice subtleties to the shades of black mixed throughout.  She had the misfortune of being from literally the last assortment not to feature the printed faces, but hers is at least pretty clean.  In addition to the previously mentioned removable web gear, Jaina also includes her lightsaber, a blaster pistol, and a removable pilot’s helmet to complete her ensemble.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I never once saw Jaina in stores, due to her being the most demanded figure in her assortment by far.  By the time Hasbro did some revision cases to get more of her out there, and her value had plummeted on the aftermarket, I had kind of gotten distracted, and I just never got around to grabbing her.  Fortunately for me, one got traded in as part of the same collection that included yesterday’s Ahsoka.  Like that one, this is a surprisingly good figure, but that’s an even higher bar to clear for this one, since I already was expecting something really good.  She’s a really solid addition to the line.