#2568: R2-D2

R2-D2

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Remember last week’s Speeder Bike review, where I mentioned setting up an entirely different review completely by accident and getting further than I’d like to admit into it before realizing my mistake?  Wanna see what I started reviewing?  What could possibly be more exciting than that edge of your seat Speeder Bike review?  Gotta be honest, dear reader, it’s not actually that much more exciting, because it’s just another R2 variant.  It’s not like there were a metric ton of those or anything.  But, my subconscious was apparently more on board with this review than last week’s.  Let’s see how it did, I suppose.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2-D2 was part of the 1997 “Electronic Power F/X” sub line of Kenner’s Power of the Force line.  The main purpose of the line was to replicate some of the cool battles from the original trilogy with all of their cool effects….and then there was also this somewhat mundane “R2 while he was wandering through the desert in that one scene in the first movie” figure.  People were just lining up for this one, let me tell you.  The core R2 figure isn’t anything super special.  He has a few features that are new, but also trades out a lot of stuff that had become standard.  He’s about 3 inches tall and has a whopping 2 points of articulation, at the top of his two main legs.  He lacks the ankle joints of later figures, of course, but also loses the up and down movement on his third leg, as well as lacking the ability to move his head dome.  These changes are due to his main “F/X feature”, which is a lights and sounds gimmick.  Press the center of his body, and his eye lights up and there are some beeps to go along with it.  It’s okay, but it’s hard to say it’s worth losing all of the posability.  Additionally, it results in some loss of crispness on some of the sculpted details, which is another iffy trade off.  His paint work is actually not terrible.  He’s appropriately grimy for having been rolling through the desert, and he even has the more proper flat silver that most figures at this point lacked.  Of course, it might be an unexpected side effect of the more single-piece construction, I suppose.  All of the Power F/X figures included a rather elaborate base piece, which added to their features.  R2’s is of some rocky Tatooine terrain.  The piece has an arm built into the base, which has a magnet built into the end of it, which catches R2 by the piece of metal in his third leg’s foot.  This allows R2 to be moved back and forth somewhat seamlessly, although it doesn’t work overly consistently.  It’s kind of nifty, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unsurprisingly, R2 was a figure that excited me all that much as a kid, and was subseqently one that I never had much drive to own.  I had every other Power F/X figure before this one…so, of course this is the first one I’m reviewing, right?  Honestly, that’s because he was a rather recent addition (picked up at the same time as the bike, in fact), which made him rather easy to grab and review quickly.  Yes, sometimes what I’m reviewing is based on me being lazy.  I’m sure it shocks you to your core to find this out.

#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.

#2553: Princess Leia Organa – Ewok Celebration Outfit

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA — EWOK CELEBRATION OUTFIT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“An accident during a furious speeder bike chase leaves the princess without a way of finding her Rebel companions. Befriended by Endor’s Ewok civilization, Leia is once again united with her friends, but under different circumstances.”

You know what’s just really the best variant of a main character in an action-oriented action figure line?  An outfit that never sees a single moment of action!  Or, at least, that’s what numerous Star Wars toy lines would have me believe.  Sometimes it works out, of course, and we get cool looks that *could* see some action, if you really wanted them to.  Sometimes we get looks that even *do* see action in later EU tales (Luke’s jacketed look from the end of A New Hope springs to mind).  Sometimes, however, you get today’s focus.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia in Ewok Celebration Outfit joined Kenner’s Power of the Force II line in 1998.  This wasn’t the first time this look got a figure, or even the first time it was in PotF; a slightly different version was released alongside a re-packed Wickett figure as part of the Princess Leia Collection in 1997.  Like all the other Leia Collection figures, however, that figure used a lot of cloth pieces, making it stand out a bit from the core line’s releases.  This one instead was an all plastic variant.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Both the neck and the hip joints are greatly restricted by the figure’s design, but on the plus side, the arms and waist are free and clear.  So there’s that, I guess.  These restrictions do not help with the already very non-action feel of the figure.  Also not helping is the figure’s pose, which is…I don’t know exactly what it is.  The legs are close together and sort of prim and proper looking, but there the arms are just slightly elevated…because?  I don’t know.  I got nothing.  The paint work is all very brown.  It’s accurate, but not super thrilling or eye-catching.  At least it’s well applied.  Leia is packed with a small blaster (hinting at her doing something more exciting than standing around, which doesn’t really track with the rest of the figure) and a freeze frame slide.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been much for this particular Leia design, as I always have preferred her more practical get-ups, and her Endor tactical set-up is just a much better design to me.  This figure is one of those ones I have seen many times over the years, and I certainly knew I was going to have to get it some day now that I’m doing this whole complete run of the line thing.  I wasn’t really in much of a hurry, and really only snagged it because it was right in front of me.  Thrilling, I know.  Almost as thrilling as the figure itself, right?

#2538: Joker

JOKER

THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (KENNER)

My last Kenner Batman: The Animated Series review had me taking a look at one of the line’s patented wacky variants.  Variants were kind of central to the line’s success, covering not just Batman and Robin, but also some of their antagonists.  As I touched on in prior reviews, not all of the variants Kenner rolled out were “wacky”.  Some of them were actually quite sensible, including today’s focus, a pretty solid variant of the Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This Joker figure, known in the collector’s community as “Machine Gun Joker” because of the big machine gun accessory he included, was released in Series 2 of Kenner’s Adventures of Batman and Robin line in 1997.  He was Kenner’s fourth animated style Joker, following the basic, jetpack, and pogo stick variants.  He’s a completely show accurate figure, since Joker sported the coat and hat from time to time.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation…provided the head hasn’t snapped off at the neck joint like mine has, thereby removing a point of articulation.  It’s okay, years of therapy have managed to get me through the loss.  This version of Joker sported an all-new sculpt, not re-using the parts from the prior variants.  It’s probably the best old school style Joker sculpt that Kenner did, for what its worth, being a fair bit more on model than the earlier versions, and just generally having cleaner detailing and a more solid overall construction.  In terms of paintwork, he’s again a bit of a step-up, correcting the issues with the bluish skin, as well as just generally getting the colors closer to their on-screen counterpart.  The application is basic, but pretty clean, and just some of Kenner’s best work, again.  Joker was packed with the machine gun I mentioned earlier in the review, as well as a bundle of TNT, complete with Joker’s face on it.  Both pieces are a touch oversized compared to the figure, but for the time, pretty straight forward, and unhampered by the gimmicks, which was pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Machine Gun Joker has the distinction of being my first Joker action figure, picked up when he was brand new, on a trip to the store with my Dad.  If I recall correctly, I specifically went in looking for a Joker, since I didn’t have one, and this one was the most straight-forward Joker available at the time.  He stuck as my primary Joker figure for most of my childhood, and I’ve definitely got an attachment to it.  Honestly, I was pretty happy to find he’s just such a good figure when going back for the review.  He remains one of my favorite Joker figures.

#2531: Decoy Batman

DECOY BATMAN

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

Interspersed with its selection of rather faithful recreations of characters and designs from the show, Kenner’s Batman Animated offerings also had a need to keep a lot of colorful variants of its main character coming at a regular pace.  So, we definitely got a *lot* of Batmen, whose importance to the overall narrative definitely had a range.  Some of them were sensible additions, perhaps taking one gadget or moment and building a whole figure around it, while some were just kind of bonkers.  And some were bonkers at the forefront, but ultimately not that weird when you explored them just a bit further.  Today’s figure fits that particular, very narrow mold.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Decoy Batman was officially part of Kenner’s tie-in line for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, released in 1993.  While the last two figures I looked at from this line were directly lifted from the film, this one’s a bit more dubious.  His whole gimmick is that his torso launches away as a “decoy”, while the underlying Bruce Wayne figure can get away, I suppose, which kind of tracks with the scene in the movie where Bruce places his cape and cowl on a sawhorse and flings it out of a building in an attempt to escape the police…and now that I’ve written that out, I realize this figure’s maybe a better tie-in than I realized.  I mean, sure he’s not a direct lift from the scene, but I guess the concept’s there.  He fits into that “building a figure around one moment” dynamic.  Kudos to Kenner, I guess.  And, like, anti-kudos to me for not thinking this through before writing the review.  I mean, sure, I could go back and re-write the whole thing and make it look like I knew from the start, but tell me: where’s the fun in that?  Okay, maybe I should actually get to the reviewing.  This figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The body sculpt for the figure is unique to him and it’s not bad.  The build is in line with the other standard Batmen from the line, and while the costume details are somewhat made up, they aren’t too crazy or zany.  He re-uses the main line’s Bruce Wayne figure’s head, and it’s a pretty darn spot-on old-style Bruce Wayne head, so no complaints there.  Perhaps the weirdest element of the whole thing is the way his action feature works; the Bruce head is on a spring-loaded neck piece, which can be depressed into the torso, much like a turtle, allowing for the “decoy” head and chest piece to snap over top.  It was a gimmick that Kenner would use a few more times for their DC lines, as well as their Shadow tie-in line.  It’s goofy as heck, but it does get the job done, and honestly doesn’t really impede the figure too badly. The clip-on decoy piece is another pretty solid match for the animated series designs, and is a pretty basic Batman from the show.  Well, in sculpt, anyway.  The paint work opts to forego the usual Batman colors for a black and red number.  For some reason, they really liked making Bruce-to-Batman figure’s red.  I really don’t know why that is, but it happened on three separate occasions, so that’s one heck of a pattern.   Ultimately, it’s not the worst color scheme ever, and does sort of fit the art deco designs of the show, at least somewhat, but it’d certainly be cool to see this figure in a more standard color scheme.  In addition to his decoy chest piece, Decoy Batman was also packed with a grapple…which I lost.  Look, it hardly seemed as essential as the main gimmick of the figure, alright?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get Decoy Batman new, since the whole line was gone from retail shelves by the time I was actually getting into collecting.  So, I was definitely on the follow-up market for him.  Ultimately, he was kind of a bit of a consolation prize, if I’m honest.  I was at Baltimore Comic Con, and saw the Phantasm at a dealer’s table.  It was, however, $20, and that was too much for me, so instead I got this guy because he was $5.  Can’t really say I was at all let-down by the set up, because I wound up getting the Phantasm a bit later down the line anyway, and Decoy Batman’s a pretty fun figure in his own right.

#2524: Phantasm

PHANTASM

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

As I’ve brought up on this site, my favorite Batman film of all time is easily Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Animated Series’ cult classic theatrical feature. It’s an impressively crafted story, and actually does a phenomenal job of actually salvaging some of the elements of the rather messy Batman: Year Two story.  The story’s original antagonist, Reaper, was reimagined as the titular Phantasm, a chilling and truly intimidating villain.  Unsurprisingly, the Phantasm got some toy coverage in the tie-in line, and I’m looking at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phantasm was released as part of the Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line in 1994, and was really the main focus figure in the line-up.  I know, what a shock.  What was also *supposed* to be a surprise was the Phantasm’s identity, which was to be hidden under the figure’s mask in the package.  However, for some reason, someone at Kenner thought it would be a much better idea to instead package the mask off of the figure, thereby revealing the Phantasm’s secret identity before the film even hit theaters.  Yay.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation.  The Phantasm’s sculpt was all-new, and, well, it’s technically a little bit compromised.  It’s not entirely Kenner’s fault, to be fair.  In the film, the reveal that the Phantasm is really Andrea Beaumont is hidden by the fact that the two character’s designs sport almost entirely different builds.  It’s a total cheat in the movie, and not something that’s quite so easily rendered in three dimensions.  For the purposes of this figure, Kenner opted to sculpt Andrea as she’s seen post-reveal, and then provide add-on parts to approximate the Phantasm design.  Ultimately, it’s a compromise, but it’s probably the optimal compromise.  The underlying figure is a pretty solid recreation of Andrea’s design.  The head in particular is a good match to the model.  Technically, for true film accuracy, she shouldn’t have the glove on her right hand, but I’m ultimately not too bugged by the added symmetry.  Phantasm’s paint work is pretty basic, but a decent match for her colors in the movie.  There’s no odd color changes this time around, so she’s nice and screen-accurate.  Phantasm is packed with her mask/hood and cape, which slips nicely over the head, and her scythe attachment for her hand.  They make for a passable, if perhaps not quite as intimidating, recreation of the primary Phantasm design.  The figure also originally included a gun because, you know, gun, right?  Mine doesn’t have that piece, which, you know, is just such a bummer, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get the Phantasm when she was brand new, mostly due to being just shy of being only enough to actually see the movie.  Also, when I finally did see it, she kind of scared the crap out of me, so I held off for a bit longer.  Ultimately, I ended up getting her as a Christmas present from my parents a few years later, and she’s stuck with my collection  since.  While the figure obviously isn’t a pitch perfect recreation of the film design, I’ve still always found it to be a really fun offering, and certainly one of my favorite Animated pieces.

#2517: Retro Batman

RETRO BATMAN

BATMAM: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

I’ve looked at a surprisingly small amount of Kenner’s Animated Batman tie-in product.  I’ve certainly looked at a chunk of the DCC follow-ups, and even a handful of Mattel’s JLU-era stuff, but I’m averaging about a single Kenner animated figure a year right now.  Well, I’m aiming to mix things up a bit.  In tandem with my looks back at the other toys of my childhood with X-Men and Power of the Force, let’s throw a little bit of Batman into the mix, shall we?  And what better place to start than with a variant of the main guy himself, hailing from one of my absolute favorite pieces of the Animated Verse, and one of my favorite DC-related things in general, Mask of the Phantasm.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Retro Batman is one handful of Batman variants that were released in 1994 as part of Kenner’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line.  Unlike most of those other variants, which were mostly made up by the minds at Kenner, this one was actually in the film, depicting Batman as he’s seen in the flashbacks (it also showed up during some of the flashbacks in the episode “Robin’s Reckoning”, which is a good companion piece to the film in general).  He’s not terribly far-removed from the standard Batman design, and in retrospect is kind of a merging of the BTASTNBA, and JLU designs all into one.  The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He keeps the standard Kenner 5 points, and also has a swivel on his right forearm to assist with his action feature.  It won’t really hold many poses, but it does add a slight bit more of variation to the posing.  His sculpt is fairly typical of this era of figure from Kenner.  He’s not a pitch-perfect match for the animation models, but he’s pretty close, and fits consistently with the styling of the other figures in the line.  The sculpt is clean, and hits all the important notes, and he’s pretty darn sturdy.  As was the way at this point, his cape is cloth.  Again, not super accurate, but it works for their purposes, and it certainly helps with the playability.  His paint work is pretty cleanly handled overall, though Kenner for some reason opted to make the body suit a sort of bluish silver, rather than the typical grey.  It’s not super far removed, and it reads the same way as the standard colors.  I honestly don’t mind it, but it’s still a weird choice.  Batman’s accessory selection here is…interesting to say the least.  He’s got a battle spear and a sort of a gun looking thing?  I don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to be, nor do they really line-up with anything from the movie or the episodes where this look appears.  But, they certainly feel toyetic.  The spear is meant to be placed in his right hand, allowing it to be spun using the wheel mechanism in his arm and back.  It’s odd, but harmless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While the majority of my Animated stuff is actually from when I was a kid, this one is not.  I always wanted him, but just never managed to find one.  Fortunately, one came into All Time a couple of weeks ago, new, sealed, and in pretty much pristine condition, so it was almost like getting it when it was brand new.  He’s a fun variant of Batman, and also a sensible variant of Batman, and those two didn’t tend to cross-over in this line too much, so I gotta say he really works for me.

#2511: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“As Han Solo’s partner, Chewbacca the Wookiee (or Chewie, as Solo calls him) distinguished himself as a talented pilot, starship mechanic and smuggler. After being rescued from Imperial slavers by Solo, Chewbacca pledged a life debt to the rogue pilot and followed him to several different planets as their relationship grew and the two became close friends and partners. When Solo acquired the light freighter Millennium Falcon, he and Chewbacca began their career as intergalactic smugglers. Chewbacca’s reputation as a brawler gave him a distinct advantage in shady business negotiations, and it was he who initiated the deal to transport Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker from Tatooine to Alderaan.”

Okay, so here’s something of an odd thing that slipped through the cracks of my review schedule: somehow, in all of the Power of the Force reviews I’ve written here on the site, I’ve managed to leave one single figure from the initial assortment un-reviewed for far longer than I realized. I speak of today’s entry, the line’s first take on Chewbacca, who has thus far escaped my reviewing focus.  Not to worry, dear reader, I’ve got him all set for today, so lets take a look at this crazy monkey man who really isn’t a monkey man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca was, as noted in the intro, part of Kenner’s first 1995 assortment for their revamped Power of the Force line.  He joined standard versions of Luke, Han, Leia, R2, C-3PO, Obi-Wan, Vader, Lando, the Stormtrooper, and Boba Fett in bringing Star Wars back to toy shelves for the first time in over a decade.  This would mark Chewy’s second time getting a 3 3/4-scale figure, following his old vintage release, placing him in the same category as Vader, the Stormtrooper, and Boba Fett.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation…technically.  There’s a neck joint there, but best of luck really getting any sort of motion out of it.  This guy got an all-new sculpt, which would serve as the basis for Chewy’s Shadows of the Empire figure as well. Chewbacca’s vintage sculpt was definitely on the scrawny side of things and…well, this one definitely goes for the other end of the spectrum.  Way on the other end of the spectrum.  This guy’s like two of the vintage guy.  Chewy may have been bigger than the other characters, but he wasn’t a body builder like this one.  He falls into a similar category to Vader, who was likewise a little on the small side for his vintage release, and then ballooned way up for his ’95 figure.  It’s downright goofy looking, and ends up making Chewy look a lot more simian than he did in the films, especially with that less shaggy, more carefully groomed appearance he’s got.  At the very least, the texturing on the fur isn’t too bad, though the bandolier isn’t quite so lucky; it looks stretched to fit Chewy’s new bulk, and ends up missing out on some of the better detail work of later versions.  The major details are there, but not much beyond that.  Chewbacca’s paintwork is fairly decent, perhaps the best of the initial batch, in fact.  He actually gets some nice accenting on his fur to give it its proper variations in color, a definite step up from the vintage counterpart.  Chewbacca was packed with both his usual bowcaster and also a more generic and definitely very ’90s gun, just in case one wasn’t enough for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Part of the reason Chewbacca got overlooked for review is because he kind of got overlooked in my collection, too.  As I mentioned in my Bounty Hunter Chewbacca review, that was my standard, and quite frankly, my go-to Chewbacca as a kid.  I didn’t actually have a basic Chewy; he was one of the figures that was in the batch of figures my Grandmother had for me and my cousin at her house.  It meant I got to play with one, but it wasn’t ultimately mine.  When the figures got split up between us, Chewy went with my cousin, and I never thought much about it, having moved onto better Chewbaccas.  When filling in my collection, I actually forgot about this figure, until managing to find one loose a couple of Christmases ago while on vacation.  I then forgot I had that figure and hadn’t actually reviewed it until I took it down off the shelf for the photo that ended my recent C-3PO review, at which point I got him onto the schedule as soon as I could.  And, here we are.  He’s not great, or anything.  He’s goofy and not very accurate, but also not as fun as the Bounty Hunter Chewy, so he’s just sort of here.

#2489: Prince Xizor VS Darth Vader

PRINCE XIZOR VS DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

In the time between Han Solo’s capture by the Empire and his delivery to Jabba the Hutt, a secret struggle for power took place within the shadows of the Empire. A clash between power hungry crimelord Prince Xizor and the dreaded Darth Vader meant certain death for Luke Skywalker. As the Rebel Alliance’s only hope, a band of heroes led by Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and Dash Rendar set out to rescue Solo while protecting the young Jedi from a horde of bounty hunters and assassins.”

Oh, I bet you thought I was done with Shadows of the Empire, didn’t you?  Well…I wasn’t…so, you know…here we are?  Yeah, I know, I’m not thrilled about it either, but think of it this way: after today, the Shadows figures can’t hurt you anymore.  See?  Doesn’t a little but of optimism go a long way?  Okay, let’s get through this together guys.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Xizor and Vader are the second of the two Shadows of the Empire comic packs, the other being the Boba Fett and IG-88 set.  That one is, admittedly, a little more of an exciting prospect than this one, what with our only PotF2-style IG and all, but this one has value, too….there’s, um…a comic?  And the figures, too, I guess.  While the Xizor was technically distinct from his single-card release, this Vader would also end up single-carded in a Power of the Force assortment later down the line.

PRINCE XIZOR

“Xizor is the head of Black Sun, an intergalactic criminal empire that supports literally millions of outlaw organizations and activities. Since entering the service of the Emperor, the Dark Prince is widely considered one of the powerful individuals in the galaxy. He controls his operations with cold, deadly accuracy assuring that those who dare challenge Xizor meet with swift death, often by his own hand. His hunger for power has put him at direct odds with Lord Vader, But Xizor is afraid of no one; his hunger for power has driven him to dispatch an onslaught of assassins with orders to eliminate Luke Skywalker. Xizor plots to spoil Darth Vader’s promise to deliver Skywalker to the Emperor alive — a maneuver that would undermine Vader’s reliability and secure Xizor as the Emperor’s most favored ally.”

Prince Xizor was Shadows‘ primary antagonist, and that netted him not one, but two figures in Kenner’s tie-in line.  I’ve already looked at his single-carded release here on the site, but the two-pack was *slightly* different.  He’s only *mostly* the same.  That’s not quite as bad as *all* the same, right?  Well, actually, that’s probably up for debate, because if they were all the same, I’d only need to own and review one of them, rather than two.  Damn you Kenner and your making me right about Prince Xizor twice as many times as I needed to!  Like the single card, this figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Also like that release, his movement’s incredibly limited by the braids on his head and the thick plastic robe, and even further hindered by the tweaked posing of the arms, which prevents them from being quite as useful.  As far as parts, this guy and the other Xizor use the same head, torso, and pelvis, and he’s got ever so slightly tweaked arms and legs, which now are more pre-posed than the prior ones.  The robe also remains the same as the other release, despite this figure’s more dynamic pose.  In my review of the single Xizor, I remarked that I didn’t feel his color scheme was very Star Wars-y, and I stand by that here.  Application of the paint is at least still pretty good, so I guess he’s got that going for him.  This Xizor trades out the last release’s weird fan blade things for a battle staff, which works a bit better with the pose, I suppose.

DARTH VADER

“Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, has instilled terror throughout the galaxy since the beginning of the Empire. His devotion to the Emperor and mastery of the dark side gives him more power than any single individual in the galaxy except for the Emperor himself. Draped completely in black and wielding the ability to take a life with a mere gesture, Darth Vader stands as the incarnation of evil. His dislike of Prince Xizor is intense and his distrust well-founded. Though Vader would gladly eliminate Xizor, Emperor Palpatine has need of Black Sun’s shipping operations to speed construction of the new Death Star. Xizor had best watch his back however, as Vader’s control of the dark side of the Force makes him a most formidable foe”

Though a notable player in Shadows, Vader faced the problem of not actually having his appearance change at all from his normal look for the purposes of the story.  That’s a little hard to sell as a separate figure, so Kenner had to figure that out.  Enter the pre-posing.  Effectively, this guy takes the initial PotF2 Vader and sort of bends and contorts him a bit.  Now he’s different!  Yay!  Honestly, it’s not terrible in terms of design, and he balances on those mid-walk legs better than you might expect.  His cape gets a little more flair to it as well, which works out pretty well.  He gets the same saber as his standard counterpart, as you’d expect.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have trouble fully articulating how little I care about this particular release.  I literally only own it because a) I’m collecting the whole line, and b) it was bundled with the IG-88 and Boba set, which I actually wanted.  Neither of these figures exactly has much new to offer, and furthermore, I just don’t care about Xizor in the slightest.  So, here’s this set.  Cool.  I’m done now.

Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys.  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.

#2482: Lando Calrissian in General’s Gear

LANDO CALRISSIAN in GENERAL’S GEAR

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Proving his impressive flying capabilities and natural leadership qualities during the battle of Taanab, Lando is appointed General in charge of the attack on the second Death Star.”

In addition to a whole stock of disguised looks for their infiltration of Jabba’s Palace at the film’s beginning, the heroes of Return of the Jedi all also get new, fancy, high ranking uniforms as the film progresses.  No longer content to just steal Han’s clothes, Lando picks up some new toggs to go along with his promotion to general within the Rebellion ranks.  It’s pretty standard Rebel officer fare, but with the addition of a cape, because if you’re gonna be as suave as Lando, you gotta have a cape!  It also serves as the perfect excuse to give Lando just a touch more toy coverage, thereby giving me more things to review.  Alright!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lando in General’s Gear was added to Kenner’s Power of the Force II line 1998, and was the third, and final, Lando to grace the line.  It’s honestly not terribly surprising; they really just added his looks in the order that they appeared in the films.  I suppose they could have throne us a curve ball and given us Lando in Smuggler’s Gear (i.e. Han’s clothes), but the world just wasn’t quite ready for that yet.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new, which actually surprised me a bit, because I could have sworn the head remained the same between all three Landos.  It’s very similar to the one used on the other two, but not quite identical; his features are a touch more refined.  The rest of the sculpt is notable because, despite the fact that by 1998 the line had pretty well abandoned the hard pre-posing of earlier years, this guy’s stance really isn’t neutral.  I mean, sure, it’s not quite as disco-ready as the first Lando, but he’s definitely got quite the wide stance going there.  Among other things, it makes it quite hard to get him into the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon, which is sad, given that’s really the primary purpose of this particular look.  Pre-posing aside, this is actually quite a nice sculpt.  The detail work is all pretty sharp, and the texturing on that removable cape in particular is really sweet.  The paintwork is pretty standard for this line, so application’s more on the basic side, but generally pretty clean.  Some of the details are a bit sharper than previous Landos, especially on the face, showing the line’s upward trend of improvement.  Lando was packed with a blaster pistol and a freeze frame slide showing him in the Rebel briefing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My Lando figure growing up was the Skiff Guard Disguise version, but I recall my cousin Rusty having this version of Lando among his collection.  In fact, through various interminglings of our collections, I believe I even managed to wind up with the cape floating around my collection for a good while.  The figure, however, I waited on.  He came from a large trade in at All Time, and was one of the few I didn’t already have, so boom, there he was.  He’s probably the best PotF Lando, truth be told, though maybe not quite as fun as disco Lando.

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.