#2903: Steppenwolf

STEPPENWOLF

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

As one of Darkseid’s most trusted agents, Steppenwolf commands the every action of the huge, vicious, canine army known as the Hounds of Hades.  In addition, Steppenwolf carries the Electro-Axe, a universally dreaded device that fires deadly Radion Bolts.”

Even within the Fourth World itself, Steppenwolf has always kind of been the red-headed steppenchild stepchild.  He’s just sort of there, and occasionally they’d send him off to go look imposing at someone and invariably get the snot kicked out of him to prove that the heroes are greater than expected. Even Jack Kirby didn’t know what to do with him, and he created him. He’s low tier in an already low tier bracket.  The choice to use him as Justice League‘s main antagonist was odd to say the least, no matter which version you took in.  But, I guess more people know him now?  Yay?  Well, let’s go back to the beginning, and look at his very first action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Steppenwolf was added to Super Powers in its second year.  Initially, he was the line’s very first mail-away figure, but he was later added to the line proper with his own carded release.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Steppenwolf’s design was one of the most changed of the Fourth World Characters.  Up to this point, he’d generally worn a lot of green with more of nobleman hunter sort of a feel, but his Super Powers design really amped up the sci-fi side of things, as well as just generally making him a whole lot spikier.  I mean, not Justice League levels of spikes, or anything, but, still, like, a lot of spikes.  While I’ve generally been okay with the Super Powers redesigns, Steppenwolf is one that I’ve never really jived with.  There was a formality to the original, which just is lacking here.  So, rather than being imposing he’s just…goofy.  I don’t think that’s what they were aiming for.  From a technical standpoint, it’s not a bad sculpt.  As with all of the Super Powers sculpts, it’s got a nice set of balanced proportions, and just enough detailing to keep him interesting, without making him too overcomplicated.  His backpack and axe are all connected to the figure permanently, and the axe is *supposed* to clip onto the backpack for storage.  On my figure, however, that clip has broken, so he’s forced to forever just hold his axe.  Poor guy.  While the character had classically been done up in shades of green and yellow, for this figure he was inexplicably in red and brown, perhaps to further differentiate him from Mantis?  I don’t know, but I’m not sure I like it.  The application’s not bad, though, and he’s even got some vac metalizing on his axe, which is pretty cool.  Steppenwolf’s action was his “Power Action Electro-Axe Chop,” which swung his right arm downward when his legs were squeezed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been a huge Steppenwolf fan, and I’m even less of a fan of his redesign here.  So, when it came time to confront buying this figure, I wound up bundling him in with another figure I actually was very excited to get, Brainiac.  Even when he was new to me, he wasn’t my focus.  And that’s probably for the best, because he still doesn’t really wow me, honestly.  He’s hardly a bad figure, but probably on the low end of my list for Super Powers.  That’s the price of being such a strong line in general, I suppose.

#2896: Desaad

DESAAD

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“The Tiny Tyrant of Terror! Although DeSaad has no special powers, he is a master at creating devices to torment humans. Among his arsenal are the Fear Machine, which can incite entire cities to panic, Nerve-Beams, which induce instant paralysis, and Vertigo Grenades, which make people lose their sense of balance.  For all his torturous abilities, DeSaad is a coward. Thus, he uses Darkseid’s other minions to fight battles for him. But when cornered, DeSaad will beg for mercy.”

When Darkseid joined the Super Powers line, he brought with him a handful of his faithful servants from the comics.  While Darkseid himself was a hulking figure of great strength, one of his closest devotees was DeSaad, a small, cowardly lackey, whose primary focus was on manipulating his opponents into fearing him through less scrupulous means.  After Darkseid himself, DeSaad is one of the more notable residents of Apokolips, within the grand scheme of things.  Fitting, then, that he was right there with Darkseid getting his first figure in tandem.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DeSaad was added to Kenner’s Super Powers line in its second year in 1986, getting the first of his two figures to date.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation…sort of.  Depending on how you look at it, it could be a little more, but also a little less.  The shoulders do have some butterfly motion, but it’s totally tied to his action feature.  Moreover, the hips are restricted by the skirt piece, the neck is restricted by the tubes on the head, and the shoulders are restricted by the device on his chest.  Lotta restricting going on there.  This is definitely one more for just kind of standing there.  DeSaad’s design in the comics is pretty basic; he’s a small scrawny guy in a purple cloak.  This one isn’t too far removed from that at its starting point, but then also adds the weird contraption on his chest, which does give him a little more flair, to be fair.  The device, along with the tubes running to it from his head, are unfortunately quite prone to breaking, which is why one of the tubes on mine is in such a state.  Otherwise, it’s not a terrible piece of work.  He looks suitably creepy, and the detailing on the outfit does get pretty involved, which is cool.  His paint work’s not bad.  Fairly nuanced compared to others in the line, with a sickly green skin tone, and some subtle accenting on the legs and cloak.  Generally, it looks pretty solid.  DeSaad’s gimmick is a “Power Action Shock Squeeze.”  Squeezing his legs moves his arms in closer to his center.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

DeSaad is one of the most recent Super Powers I added to my collection.  He was purchased in the fall of 2019, from Factory Antique Mall, the largest antique mall in America.  They got a lot of stuff there, and that included this guy.  I didn’t have him, and he wasn’t a terrible price, so I bought him.  That’s really the whole story.  He’s cool looking, but definitely a lot less playable than the rest of the line, which is a little bit of a bummer.

#2889: Darkseid

DARKSEID

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Darkseid’s powers are practically unlimited. Along with incredible strength and invulnerability is the bizarre Omega Efect, which he uses either to destroy his oponents or to teleport them to other dimensions.”

Though he’s a household name these days, Darkseid hasn’t always been quite as top tier, initially staying in Kirby’s little corner of the DC universe with the rest of the Fourth World characters, and not generally interacting with the rest of the DC universe.  It wasn’t until the ’80s that he really began to become a more encompassing foe, and it was via Jack Kirby’s own involvement with the Super Powers line as it moved forward that Darkseid and the rest of the New Gods found their place amongst the mainstream heroes and villains.  Darkseid would subsequently find himself worked into Super Friends in its later seasons, beginning the path that would cement him as one of DC’s heaviest hitter villains.  At the beginning of all that is the figure I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darkseid was added to Kenner’s Super Powers during the line’s second year, as one of the six Fourth World foes added that year.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Darkseid was by far the tallest figure in the line, which was appropriate to his menacing stature in the comics.  His mold was totally unique to him, based partially on the house style of Jose Garcia-Lopez, and also on Jack Kirby’s own work for the line.  While the Fourth World characters were mostly changed up for the line, Darkseid is one of the few characters to remain effectively the same as his classic counterpart.  He’s got shorts instead of a loin cloth and he adds a cape, but neither of those things really changes up the look that much.  The sculpt is a pretty impressive piece of work, successfully giving Darkseid the presence that the character should have.  There’s some rather nice texturing on the exposed portions of his rocky skin as well, and the facial sculpt in particular seems to really capture Kirby’s take on the character.  Darkseid’s cape is cloth, as was the standard for the line, but it’s notable in its use of a far more elaborate clasp to hold in in place, which features a sculpted pendant piece.  It’s not a classic Darkseid piece, but it does add a nice little extra bit of flair to the design.  Darkseid’s paint is less intensive than most, relying heavily on molded colors, but what’s there is clean and bold, and matches usual depictions of the character.  Like many figures in the line, Darkseid had no accessories, but he still got an action feature, his “Power Action Raging Motion,” which swings his arms up when his legs are squeezed.  Additionally, he’s got light-piping in his head, which allows for his eyes to light up, simulating his “Power Action Omega Beams,” or, as they’re often called in the comics, “Omega Beams.”

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Darkseid was a figure I wanted from a rather early point in my collecting of the line, because of how fascinated I was with the Kirby characters, and how unique he was compared to the rest of the line.  He was very near the end of my Super Powers collecting as a kid, purchased at the Baltimore Comic-Con the year before I got Mantis.  He was without his cape at the time, but I was able to get ahold of a replacement for him in just the last month, courtesy of All Time Toys.  He’s truly one of the line’s definitive pieces, and just an all around solid figure.

#2882: Brainiac

BRAINIAC

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Brainiac The Living Computer is a brilliant computer mind and evil genius whose schemes are capable of destroying whole civilizations with an insane fear and hatred of Superman and of the being he calls the ‘Master Programmer.'”

The first year of Kenner’s Super Powers was full of the DC Universe’s heaviest hitters, facing off against a handful of villains, of course.  The villains roster was a 50/50 split between Batman and Superman’s rogues galleries.  I’ve already looked at the first of the Superman rogues included, Lex Luthor, and today I’m following up with the second of those, Brainiac.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brainiac is part of the first year of Super Powers, as one of the four villains included in the debut line-up.  In a move right on par with the Luthor figure, rather than being based on Brainiac’s classic jumpsuited green-skinned humanoid design, this figure was based on his updated appearance from Action Comics #544, which had debuted the year before this figure’s release.  It was still very new and current, and, admittedly, it’s probably a better toy design, so that’s a plus.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Brainiac was a little bit less articulated than most of the figures in the line, since he dropped the knee joints.  This was, presumably, due to the way the vac metalizing process works, and a desire to have less joints to potentially lead to damaging the finish.  Brainiac’s sculpt is a rather impressive piece of work.  There’s a lot of room for smaller detail work in the more robotic design, and Kenner took advantage of it.  Even with the slightly softer detailing caused by the finish, he’s still got quite an intricate appearance.  It makes for a very visually interesting sculpt, which is a lot of fun.  Brainiac’s color work largely relies on the chrome finish, which has a slightly bluish hue to it.  It’s a lot of fun.  He’s also got detailing on his eyes, and some additional accenting on the shoulders, which mixes things up nicely.  It’s all topped off with that clear dome on the head.  Brainiac didn’t get any accessories, but he did get an action feature.  Squeezing his arms activates his “Power Action Computer Kick,” which swings his right leg upward.  It can make him a little unstable at times, but with the right placement on the hip, he’s still okay.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After I got back into collecting Super Powers as an adult, I had a small fund of money that I put aside in order to work my way through the rest of the collection.  Luthor was my first purchase after getting back in, and a few months later, I followed up with Brainiac.  He’s a pretty solid figure.  Not classic Brainiac, of course, but still very fun.  A very good, fun robot figure.  And who doesn’t love that?

#2876: Jedi Spirits

ANAKIN, YODA, & OBI-WAN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda — three individuals with lives intricately intertwined. Before Obi-Wan Kenobi was forced into a life of hiding, before Anakin Skywalker gave in to the dark side and became Darth Vader, even before Yoda was known as the last Jedi Master, a young Anakin was presented to the Jedi Council for permission to train the boy in the ways of the Force. Many years later, the Galactic Republic crumbled and the evil Empire rose in its place. Only after the defeat of the Empire, at the hands of Anakin’s son Luke Skywalker, would the three great Jedi be reunited after death as spiritual guides for Luke and the New Republic.”

First hinted at during A New Hope’s climactic battle, when Luke hears the voice of the recently killed Obi-Wan during his run on the Death Star, the force ghost concept fully appears during Empire, when Obi-Wan fully manifests in spirit form.  He shows up again during Return of the Jedi, and is ultimately joined by both Yoda and Anakin in the film’s final moments.  They don’t really do much other than stand there, but it’s a distinctive visual, and one that stuck with fans.  So, toys, of course.  The first one we got was an Anakin, during the original Power of the Force run, though it was handled slightly differently than now.  A more conventional take on the concept in toy form hit the ’90s line as a mail-away figure, the Spirit of Obi-Wan.  Not content to let Obi-Wan have all the fun, Kenner put him out again, this time alongside the other two, as one of their Cinema Scenes, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Jedi Spirits set was part of the 1998 Cinema Scenes line-up for Power of the Force II.  They were one of two Jedi sets released that year, as the line began to be more focused on the final film.  They included a stand, based on the edge of one of the Ewok structures from Endor, where they are seen in the film.  Interestingly, they were all three screwed into the base in addition to the usual foot pegs.  Not entirely sure why that was the case; maybe there was some concern about potentially damaging them by twisty tying them in like the others?

ANAKIN

He’s been subsequently replaced by Hayden Christian in more recent editions of the film, but the original version of Jedi gave us a look at an Anakin from a potential version of events where he never fell to the dark side to become Darth Vader.  It’s honestly sort of sensible, since it also means he would, you know, look vaguely like the guy whose face Luke actually saw earlier that day, so he might be able to know it was his father, and all.  But that’s probably all very silly, I suppose.  The elder Anakin got a sort of force ghost-y figure in the vintage line, designed to sort of be the best of both worlds.  Power of the Force II split it into two figures, with this being the more overt ghost one.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches all and he has three points of articulation…technically.  The neck definitely moves…a little.  The arms also move, but as you can see from the photo, they tend to just fall out of the socket more often than not.  Not sure why, but that’s how it is.  He was an all new sculpt, based on Sebastian Shaw’s brief appearance as Anakin from the movie.  It’s distinctly different from Obi-Wan, so that’s certainly a nice touch.  There’s some nice texture work going on as well.  While the mail-away Obi-Wan was just translucent blue with no paint, they mixed things up a little bit for this set, adding some dry brushed white, to give him a little more depth.

YODA

Yoda was totally without any force ghost figures at this point, so him finally getting one was certainly an accomplishment.  While there were a few Yoda molds to chose from, this one was a new one entirely.  He stands about 2 1/4 inches tall.  You can sort of get some motion at the neck and shoulders, but nothing much, and it feels like it doesn’t want to really move.  Beyond that, it’s a nice enough sculpt.  It’s good for just standing there, which is all he really needs to do.  It’s more accurate than other molds from the same line, and the stance in particular is a little closer to the actual puppet, since he doesn’t have to contend with needing to move.  Also, the arms stay on him, so that’s a plus over Anakin.  Good for him.  His paint works pretty much the same way, although it’s not quite as intense in its application.

OBI-WAN

Obi-Wan is, of course, the figure in this set that was the least new, especially at the time of his release, with the prior version having hit just the previous year at the time.  That being said, Kenner did at least make him a little different, even if it was just for the sake of being different.  The figure is 3 3/4 inches tall.  He’s sort of got the same articulation as Yoda, where it’s *technically* there, but very limited and not really ideal for any proper use.  His sculpt is largely the same as the mail-away version, but he changes out the right arm for one with a different pose.  So there’s that, I guess.  It’s not a bad sculpt, so I can get behind it, especially without the one arm just kind of sticking out like on the prior version.  His paint matches the other two in the set, which looks a fair bit better than the unpainted version.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Cinema Scenes sets as a kid, so obviously that’s not where this one came from.  It is, however, one of the earlier ones I picked up once I actually started doing such things.  I snagged this one when it was traded into All Time, almost exactly two years ago, at this point.  I know, I’ve got quite a PotF2 backlog, don’t I?  It’s not a terribly playable set, but at the same time, it really seems to get the feel of Cinema Scenes down the best, because it’s a distinct visual, and these figures are always gonna be a tough sell by themselves.

#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.

#2862: Jabba’s Dancers

RYSTALL, GREEATA, & LYN ME

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Deep within the dimly lit halls of Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine, the musical combo, the Max Rebo Band, entertains some of the galaxy’s most notorious smugglers, mercenaries, and bounty hunters. Besides offering great music, the multispecies band has three of the galaxy’s best back-up singers and dancers. Greeata, a Rodian who is also a capable kloo horn player, joined the band at the same time as its lead singer, Sy Snootles. Rystáll, an exotic near-human raised by a pair of Ortolan musicians, was a slave under the crime lord Xizor until Lando Calrissian won her by defeating the lord in a sabacc tournament. Lando freed her and Rystáll’s travels eventually brought her to Tatooine. The third singer is a Twi’lek named Lyn Me, recognized by her people as the greatest dancer out of all the Twi’lek clans. Together the trio of singers/dancers helped the band secure a lucrative, extended contract playing in Jabba’s court until a visit from the Jedi Luke Skywalker cause the Hutt’s criminal empire to come crashing down.”

As I discussed last week, in its second year, the “Cinema Scenes” Power of the Force II sub-line shifted from purely scene-accurate recreations to a way to get out three figures that otherwise might not see release.  In light of the release of the Original Trilogy’s special editions in theaters, Kenner added a handful of the newly added characters to the line.  Included in that second year were Rystall, Greeata, and Lyn Me, three dancers from the extended musical number in Jabba’s Palace from Return of the Jedi‘s special edition release.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“Jabba’s Dancers” was one of the Cinema Scenes sets added to Power of the Force in 1998.  It was one of two Jedi-themed sets from that year, and the only explicitly special edition-based set in the line.  Like the rest of the line, this set featured a display base for the three figures, though for some reason, this one places all three of them at the far end, which makes them look quite off balance.

RYSTALL

Rystáll Sant, as is her full name, is a human-Theelin hybrid.  What’s a Theelin?  Apparently a race that got a fair bit of use in animation, it would seem.  How about that?  Anyway, Rystáll stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is more on the pre-posed side, since she’s in the midst of a dance, though it’s admittedly a more reserved sort of a dance.  Mostly, it’s just the shoulders that really have that sort of strut to them.  It’s not ideal for a lot of variety in actual posing, but it looks decent enough when compared to the shot of her from the film.  In general, it’s a pretty nice sculpt.  It’s fairly basic, but all of the important details are present.  She also stands alright on her own, which is always a plus.  Her paint work is also rather basic.  There’s some slight shifting of colors from piece to piece, which is a little distracting, but otherwise, things work.

GREEATA

Greeata Jendowanian is a female Rodian (aka the race of Greedos), who’s fairly distinctive, so that’s going for her.  Yay, more Rodians.  The figure is the same height as Rystáll, and keeps effectively the same articulation scheme.  Her legs are a touch more restricted, thanks to that skirt piece, but overall, you get okay poses out of her.  She’s also posed mid-dance, and it’s again very much carried in the shoulders.  In her case, the posing winds up making her a little more off-balance, so she tends to topple quite a bit.  But, if you can keep her standing, she does look pretty nice.  The detail work on the texturing of the skin in particular is quite impressive.  Greeta’s paint work is slightly more involved, but generally works out a little better than Rystáll’s.  There are no drastic shifts in color between pieces, and there are a few spots of accenting that work quite nicely.

LYN ME

Not to be confused with Oola, Lyn Me is the *other* Twi’lek dancer from Jabba’s palace.  See, she’s not green, she’s white.  But, you know, actually white.  Chalky white.  Alabaster.  Real pale.  That’s her.  Apparently, she’s an even better dancer than Oola?  That feels a bit ret-con-y to me, but that’s kind of Lyn Me in a nutshell.  Lyn Me is yet another unique sculpt.  Like the others, she’s also in a dance pose, though hers is a little more intense than the other two.  Not incredibly so, but she’s still a little more pre-posed.  It works out okay, though, and I think makes her look a bit more interesting on her own than the other two.  Generally, it’s a pretty nice sculpt, and probably the best of the three included here.  Her paintwork is decent enough, though some of her black wrappings are a little messy on the application front.  Overall, though, not a terrible piece of work.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this pack up from All Time at the same time as the Cantina Aliens set last summer.  I wasn’t quite as immediately familiar with this set, at least as a kid.  I became aware of it later, but I don’t really remember seeing like I did the others.  Whatever the case, I picked it up mostly for completion’s sake, but I do ultimately like the three of them a fair bit, even if they are Special Edition characters.  They add some nice variety to the Jabba’s palace display, and there really are worse things.

#2855: Cantina Aliens

LABRIA, NABRUN LEIDS, & TAKEEL

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Their remote location makes the spaceports of Tatooine havens for many suspicious travelers from across the galaxy. At the Mos Eisley spaceport, Chalmun’s Cantina is a popular hangout for the rough crowd and deadly violence breaks out on a daily basis. Takeel, a Snivvian, is known to dabble in bounty hunting and smuggling. The horned Devaronian Labria calls himself an ‘information broker,’ though his information is questionable at best. No one knows for sure what the Morseerian known as Nabrun Leids looks like underneath his breath mask, which he must wear in all non-methane environments. The former fighter pilot will fly anyone or anything anywhere, if the price is suitable. These kinds of patrons have helped make Tatooine’s spaceports famous as a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Initially more focused on actually replicating scenes from the movies with maybe one new figure, and a few retooled ones to better fit the set-up, Power of the Force‘s “Cinema Scenes” line fairly quickly became a way for Kenner to quickly drop three whole new figures, very frequently of quite obscure characters, all in one shot, loosely connected by the theme of all being present in a given scene or locale.  We got two sets dedicated to the Mos Eisly Cantina.  The first was more plot relevant, depicting Obi-Wan facing off against Ponda Baba and Dr Evazan, but the second stuck to the background a bit, and gave us some obscure alien patrons.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The “Cantina Aliens” Cinema Scenes set was added to the Power of the Force line in 1998, as part of the middle year of this particular sub-set.  After quite a bit of focus the first year, this set was the only one in 1998 to be based on A New Hope, and would likewise be the last of the ANH Cinema Scenes.

LABRIA

Officially named “Kardue’sai’Malloc”, this guy’s a weird looking devil dude with a sort of unfortunate name here.  So, you know, there’s that, I suppose.  He’s about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He has some trouble balancing, at least on my copy, made even more difficult by the cape, which also cuts down on his shoulder articulation a little bit.  His sculpt is totally unique, and it does a respectable job of capturing the design from the film.  He’s in line with the rest of the mid-run PotF figures, with a slighlty bulked up build, and a bit of preposing (which also contributes to the difficulty standing).  The cape is removable, and has a rather nice draping effect which keeps it over the shoulders.  Honestly, one of the better capes from the line.  His paint work is pretty basic, and fairly monochromatic, but it gets the job done, and there’s more to it than it could be, so kudos to Kenner there.  He’s packed with a small blaster pistol.

NABRUN LEIDS

That freak!  In the gas mask!  …no, wait, that’s a different guy.  Sorry.  Nabrun Leids is another of the Cantina denizens, characterized by his face obscuring gas mask.  Slightly less obvious are the extra arms, but they’re there too.  The figure stands a little under 3 3/4 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  He’s granted two extra joints, thanks to the two extra arms.  His sculpt is another unique one (though it did get a repaint early in the ’00s as well), and it’s honestly not bad for the era.  It pretty much follows the design, at least what we can see of it, from the movie.  The paint work is again pretty basic, even more so than on Labria.  I do dig the pearlescent white plastic for the jumpsuit, though.  Nabrun is packed with a larger blaster rifle.  He has a little trouble holding it, but it’s a cool design.

TAKEEL

Last up is Takeel, a character that kind of already had a figure before this one, depending on how you look at things.  Takeel is part of the race commonly referred to as “Snaggletooth.”  There were two different Snaggletooths in the vintage line, one from a Cantina set, so arguably he’s technically a remake, I guess?  But the name’s unique to this one, so it gets murky.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  His sculpt is pretty decently rendered.  It’s certainly a better take on a Snivvian than the original, and one that doesn’t look too bad in a modern light.  I suppose there are some areas that could benefit from maybe some additional texture work, but it’s still a solid offering. The paint’s again on the basic side, and he’s probably the one figure in this set that could benefit from some extra accenting on the paint work, but the basics work out alright.  Takeel is packed with a smaller blaster rifle.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I snagged this set when it was traded into All Time last summer, as part of a larger collection of figures.  I recall seeing this set, but it never much spoke to me as a kid.  None of these particular designs really jumped out at me, I guess.  I wasn’t expecting much from it when I cracked it open, but I honestly was pretty pleasantly surprised.  They’re all pretty solid aliens, and fill out the scene really nicely.

#2848: Wedge Anitlles

WEDGE ANTILLES

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Poor Wedge, he gets no respect.  Despite being in all three original trilogy films, and being the only person to survive both Death Star runs, he was completely absent from Kenner’s vintage toyline.  When he did finally get his due as a toy, it furthered the whole “no respect” thing just a bit more.  Packed with a Millennium Falcon-shaped carrying case (because, he’s just clearly the most logical choice for such a thing), initial shipments of the very first Wedge Antilles figure were actually produced with an incorrect color scheme.  While I’ve looked at the corrected Wedge figure, I’ve yet to look at the original release.  I’ll amend that today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wedge was released as the pack-in figure with the Millennium Falcon carrying case, which was added to the Power of the Force line in 1997.  This figure was only available in initial shipments, before being replaced by the corrected version shortly after.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Like the corrected version, this figure was built using the same body as the Luke Skywalker in X-Wing Pilot Gear, which is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s actually Snowspeeder Pilot gear.  Again, like that figure, he also gets a different head from Luke.  It still doesn’t look much like Dennis Lawson, but it does at least look distinctly different from Luke, so at least it’s clear it’s a different guy.  The only difference between this figure and the corrected version from later is the paint work, specifically on the helmet and the arms.  The helmet, rather than showcasing Wedge’s correct paint scheme, actually has somewhat of a merging of Wedge and Luke’s helmet designs, leaning a little more heavily into the Luke side.  It’s not a bad design, honestly, but it’s inaccurate.  The arms feature extra white detailing on the raised ribbing on the sleeves.  Again inaccurate, but it’s at least a cool extra detail.  Like the regular release, Wedge was packed with a small blaster pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After I got the regular version of this guy, this one was certainly on my list, but mostly just for the novelty.  I didn’t really put much effort into tracking him down, or anything, but I was keeping a look out for him while working at the store.  As luck would have it, he came through in a big collection of loose figures I got to process last spring.  He’s a weird oddity to be sure, and makes you wonder about the process that led to these errors making it to production.  Still, he’s a pretty fun novelty to have in my collection.

#2813: Emperor’s Royal Guard

EMPEROR’S ROYAL GUARD

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Only the most promising soldiers are chosen to serve as Emperor Palpatine’s personal guards. Experts in many forms of combat, both armed and unarmed, they are conditioned to automatically react to the Emperor’s will.”

Introduced in Return of the Jedi, the Emperor’s Royal Guards don’t really do much of anything on the screen.  The just stand there.  They look cool and all while doing it, but still, it’s just standing.  Then they reappeared in Revenge of the Sith, and did some more standing.  Also got force thrown around by Yoda a bit, which is something, I suppose.  But mostly still with the standing.  The toys, at least early ones, kind of go along with this, being built mostly for said standing.  Behold, a figure that stands!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Emperor’s Royal Guard was added to Kenner’s Power of the Force line in 1997.  This marked the second figure of the design, following up on the vintage release from 1983.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and has a whopping two points of articulation.  Okay, technically three, I suppose, because the neck is sort of jointed.  Doesn’t really move, but they tried.  The Royal Guard was the type of figure referred to as a “salt shaker” by the fanbase, due to his skirted design meaning that his torso was all one immobile piece, much like a common table salt shaker.  While the original figure had placed a whole body beneath the figure’s cloth cape, the cloth pieces weren’t really a thing at this point in the line, and so Kenner just made the underlying body one solid block.  The red cloak is still a separate piece, so you can lift it up and see that they’re nothing impressive beneath it, if you so choose, but it hardly seems worth it.  At the very least, the helmet’s pretty cool.  It’s nice and sharply defined, and just looks pretty clean.  The arms, on the other hand, look kind of chunky for some reason.  Odd choice there.  The paint is virtually non-existent on this figure, apart from the black on his visor.  That was it, with nothing more.  I mean, I guess it works, but it’s not terribly exciting.  The Guard is packed with his little poking stick, and, if you were lucky, a Freeze Frame slide.  I was not lucky.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Seeing as they only really stand there, I never had much attachment to the Royal Guards.  They look cool, but that’s it.  And, when it came to this figure, that really was it.  There’s virtually no play value at all here.  He stands real good, because, well, there’s not actual legs, so it would be hard for him to fall over, now wouldn’t it.  This figure wound up coming to me through a trade I did with Max a couple of years ago.  Mostly I got it because I’m getting all of the Power of the Force figures, and I kind have to get this one, now don’t I?  Honestly the sturdiness is nice from a display standpoint.  If you just want an army of them to stand behind Palpatine at attention, as in the movie, this is honestly your best bet.  So, maybe he’s not without value.  But he’s still not a great toy on his own.