#2520: Luke Skywalker & Yoda – Jedi Training

LUKE SKYWALKER & YODA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“At the urging of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda agreed to instruct Luke Skywalker, developing his Jedi abilities.”

Since introducing the concept of a Deluxe line of figures into The Black Series, it’s felt to a degree that each release has sort of reinvented the wheel to work within this new price point.  Greivous was a slightly larger and more intricate figure, the Heavy Mando has one really large accessory, and the probe droid was just an entirely different style of figure.  Now, we’re just going for some sort of a two-pack set-up.  Really, I can’t complain too much, because it means I’m getting one of my favorite set-ups, Jedi Training Luke and Yoda!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jedi Training Luke and Yoda are entry D4 in the Black Series line-up, signifying that their the fourth non-exclusive Deluxe item.  They mark the second deluxe this year, following up the Imperial Probe, and effectively close off the 40th Anniversary sub-set that figure kicked off.

LUKE

Luke’s Dagobah training gear is really just a dressed-down version of his main gear from Empire, but is still a pretty notable look.  It didn’t come to the toy world until the ’90s, but its had a few releases since then, including this one.  This figure is actually available two ways right out of the gate.  There’s this deluxe release, and then there’s a vintage carded one with just Luke and some paired down accessories.  It’s kind of an odd choice on Hasbro’s part, and feels like it’s splitting demand right off the bat, but time will tell how it does.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  To date, he’s Hasbro’s most posable version of Luke in the Black Series line-up, and I can definitely get behind that.  It puts him far more on par with the likes of Bespin Han than his prior, slightly stiffer variants were.  Really, the differences between this and Bespin Luke are pretty much night and day.  This Luke does seem a bit smaller when compared to prior versions, but he actually fits in better with some of the more recent figures than those older ones.  Hamill’s not a huge guy, and the build on this figure really feels about right.  The quality of the sculpt is pretty top notch, with a very realistic set of proportions, well-worked in articulation, and probably the best Hamill likeness we’ve gotten from Black Series.  It’s worth noting, however, that the hair placement seems to be rather off on a lot of copies of the figure, which can rather hinder the likeness. I picked myself the best out of a sample size of four, which worked out pretty well for me, but your mileage may vary.  The paint work on Luke is pretty solidly handled.  He’s got the now standard printed face, which works out quite nicely for the sculpt, and he’s also got some great accent work on both the hair and on the clothes, which offer up some additional depth to the sculpted details.  Both releases of Luke get his lightsaber and blaster (which are the same as previous releases), but the deluxe release also adds in a spare set of hands and the bag for carrying Yoda.  The hands are cool in theory, as they’re meant to let him do his handstand, but the arms are just a touch too loose on my figure to actually keep him standing up.  Oh well.

YODA

Yoda’s gotten four prior releases in The Black Series, including one just this year in the first series of the 40th Anniversary carded figures, all of which were built on the same body as the very first Black Series figure.  That’s a figure that is, at best, a less than stellar offering, and while some of that can be attributed to paint (because boy was that a mess), there’s a heck of a lot of it that was linked to it just having a poor underlying body underneath of that cloth robe.  So, for this latest take on Yoda, Hasbro’s opted to throw everything out and just sort of start from scratch.  Best call, really.  The figure stands just over two inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Pretty much, the first thing that you’ll notice when comparing this figure to his predecessor is how much smaller he is…well, overall.  The heads are pretty much the same size, and honestly pretty much identical in terms of sculpting.  It’s the body that’s much smaller, and much like Luke, that’s ultimately more accurate to the source material.  He also actually gets proper articulation in his legs this time, which is a huge plus in my book, and keeps the single joints in the arms instead of double, meaning his arms aren’t nearly as long this time.  Unlike the last time around, the robe’s not really designed for removal, since the belt is all one solid piece with no clasp on it.  I suppose you could take the robe off if you were really determined, but I’m really not.  Another area of major improvement between Yoda releases is on the paint front.  The original figure hit during one of the worst periods for the line in terms of paint quality, and as such looked pretty bad, with only the bare minimum of detailing, and some really poor quality application at that.  The Archive and 40th re-issues fixed the paint, but this all new version takes it even further, and gives us by far the most “life-like” (as much as a toy of a puppet can be that) version yet.  I also appreciate that they actually painted his flute this time around, as it makes the whole package look just a bit better.  The last Yoda got an okay selection of accessories, and this one’s technically got less, but they work a bit better.  He still has the cane, but he loses the snake and the light saber for a second head with his eyes closed, like when he’s lifting the X-Wing out of the water.  I really don’t miss the lightsaber, since it’s not OT anyway, and the snake was a pretty minor vintage throwback.  The new head is actually a pretty useful piece, so I’m glad to have it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Power of the Force Dagobah Luke was my first Star Wars figure, so I’ve got a soft spot for the design.  I was absolutely thrilled when this set was shown off, and I’ve been patiently awaiting its release.  I even held off grabbing the single carded Luke, because I knew this one was coming, and I wanted the whole deluxe set-up.  Luke’s not a standard design, but he’s the best Luke Hasbro’s released in this line.  The Yoda is also the best Yoda, but it’s really not even a close race on that.  He’s just demonstrably better than the prior release on every front.  This is definitely one of my favorite releases from The Black Series this year, and that’s saying a lot, because it’s been a really good year.

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

#2492: Luke Skywalker – Snowspeeder

LUKE SKYWALKER — SNOWSPEEDER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“During the Battle of Hoth, Luke Skywalker led the Rebel defense against the Empire’s ground forces, giving the Alliance time to evacuate the planet.”

With no shortage of costume changes in A New Hope, Luke Skywalker kept his impressive wardrobe going for Empire, with not only a new standard get-up and some cold weather gear (because everyone was doing it), but also an upgraded version of his pilot gear from the first movie.  The differences aren’t huge, but they’re certainly more than enough to qualify for another figure, and in fact they have for about 20 years now.  We got Luke’s first pilot gear way back at the beginning of Hasbro’s Black Series line, but now we’re finally getting the tweaked version as well.  Let’s have a look at how that turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) is the second figure in assortment two of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of The Black Series.  Like yesterday’s Rebel Soldier, he’s an all-new offering, and also like that figure, he’s already slotted for release in the main line later this year.  Luke is just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This version of Luke is sporting an all-new sculpt, which is quite nice, because Hasbro certainly had some room to phone things in and try to re-use parts of the X-Wing pilot sculpt.  It wouldn’t be as accurate, nor would it make for as good a figure, so I’m glad they went the way they did.  He also continues the trend of the butterfly shoulders, which is great when it comes to lightsaber posing.  I definitely enjoy this thing becoming a regular feature.  I have one notable issue with this sculpt, and ultimately, it comes down more to personal preference than to anything truly wrong.  Under the figure’s removable helmet, he’s sporting an insulating cap over his head.  This is accurate to the updated uniform, and we see a number of the other snowspeeder pilots wearing them when their helmets are removed.  Luke, however, we only see with all of the head gear either on or off.  So, while this is *technically* accurate to the costume design, the figure sans helmet isn’t actually accurate to anything we see in the movie.  I would have liked to get him without the cap, but I guess I’ll just have to make due swapping his head with the Dagobah Luke once I get my hands on that (actually, I really wouldn’t be opposed to a Dagobah landing Luke without the cap and gloves.  That’d be a cool variant).  As it stands, with the helmet, he looks pitch-perfect, and that’s really the way most people will be displaying him anyway.  Luke’s paint work is all pretty solid.  The base work is all pretty clean, and he’s using the face printing, so that looks pretty good.  The eye on my figure is slightly off-set, but not terribly so.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber.  He doesn’t get the grapple he uses in the scene against the AT-AT, but fear not, it comes with the Snowspeeder.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I definitely dig the Snowspeeder gear and the whole Snowspeeder set-up in general, so I was pretty happy when this guy was shown off, and even happier to hear he was getting an all-new sculpt.  Though he may not look like much new or exciting outwardly, he’s got a lot to offer, and improves on the already pretty solid X-Wing Luke.  Now, can we get a Wedge to match, or is that too soon?

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

#2463: Luke Skywalker – Bespin

LUKE SKYWALKER — BESPIN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Luke battles Darth Vader on a narrow platform in Cloud City and rejects Vader’s urging to turn to the Dark Side and rule the galaxy with him.”

40 years and some change ago, in this galaxy, right here, the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, hit theaters.  As Hasbro likes to use pretty much every five-year milestone as grounds for celebration, that means that this year we’re getting a bunch of throw-back Empire stuff in toy form.  Things kicked off with the Probe Droid, and, following in A New Hope‘s footsteps, there’s also a vintage-style-carded line of Black Series figures.  The first assortment was mostly re-hash, but I’m taking a look at the most unique of the bunch today with another go at Bespin Luke!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Bespin) is one of the five figures that makes up the first series of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of Black Series figures.  The other four, Bespin Han, Hoth Leia, Yoda, and the AT-AT Driver are all straight re-cards of prior releases, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that was the case with Luke as well.  He’s a lot of re-use, to be fair, with everything below the neck being re-used from the very first Black Series Bespin Luke.  Like that figure, this one stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Black Series articulation hadn’t really gotten to be what it is now in 2014, when this mold first hit, so he’s admittedly a little bit archaic in terms of movement.  The elbows sit a little low on the arms, the range on the hips is quite restricted, and he’s got the up/down joint on both of his wrists, which is a little odd for posing.  All that said, it’s still a pretty nice looking sculpt, so I can’t totally dis the re-use.  He gets an all-new head, which updates him to the more modern style of separate pieces for the face and hair.  The original Bespin head was probably the weakest of the initial Luke head sculpts in terms of a Hamill likeness, so another go at it isn’t the worst.  This new sculpt is…different?  I hesitate to say better, but I also wouldn’t say worse.  In some ways, it’s a better match, but in others it’s more off, and in particular it seems a bit too large proportionally.  The new head is matched by a new paint scheme, which uses the face printing, thereby making him a little more lifelike.  I definitely like that, but I’m not quite as down for how stripped down the paint on his fatigues has become.  The wash on the original was one of the best parts of the figure, but this one loses a lot of that, and the details on the outfit subsequently become easier to miss.  This figure is packed with the same extras as the last version: a lightsaber and a blaster pistol.  They’re as good here as anywhere else.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

A re-issue of this guy’s been pretty much inevitable, given how hard to find the original had become, as well as the original hitting during one of the weakest periods of the line.  There were definitely improvements to be made, and while this figure makes some of them (namely the better paint on the face/hair), it’s really a trade-off.  This should have been an actual improvement, but it’s instead more or less an equivalent product.  It’s a shame, because I was kind of hoping we might get a more deluxe update on this guy, with extra parts to replicate more of the beating he takes during his Bespin duel.  Perhaps such a release could still happen later.

Luke was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2380: Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet

LUKE SKYWALKER w/ BLAST SHIELD HELMET

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Aboard the Milllennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker is instructed by Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the art of lightsaber battle and the ways of the Force.”

At the end of 1997, Kenner reworked their standard Luke Skywalker head for their Power of the Force line, in an attempt to bring him more in line with, you know, a real person, and not some sort of He-Man knock off.  The following year, they got to work making this new version of Luke the new standard, which included going back and updating their take on “Farmboy” Luke.  Apparently they really liked this updated Farmboy Luke.  In fact, they seemed to like him so much that they just kept releasing minor tweaks to the mold, just all over the place.  Lets, uh, look at another one of those, I guess?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet was released in 1998 as part of the Power of the Force line.  This figure is designed to replicate Luke’s appearance while on the Millenium Falcon before they get brought in by the Death Star.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Construction-wise, this figure is more or less identical to the Luke included with the Purchase of the Droids set.  The only real difference between them is the belt piece.  While the Droids set version has a pair of binoculars on his belt, this one removes them.  Yay?  It’s different?  Technically it’s less?  Honestly, though, it’s not a bad sculpt, and a definite improvement on the original ANH Luke from the line, and this was the first single-carded release, so it was a valiant idea.  The figure’s paint does change things up a bit as well.  He’s decidedly got a cooler-toned color scheme.  I’m not sure if that was an intentional thing, but it fits with him being on the Falcon as opposed to on Tatooine.  Luke is packed with his father’s lightsaber and the blast shield helmet he uses while training.  It’s too bad they couldn’t also throw in the training drone, but I suppose this isn’t a bad little assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure as a kid (Gunner Station Luke was my on-hand version of this mold), and I can’t really say I had much of an undying need to get one, but as I’m trying to make my way to a complete run of Power of the Force figures, I have to pick up these guys at some point, right?  This one came in with a bunch of others at All Time last summer, and I used some trade credit to pick him up.  He’s not a bad figure, but it’s not easy to get particularly excited.  Just wait til I get to all of the other versions of this mold…

#2300: Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony

LUKE SKWALKER — YAVIN CEREMONY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

On Yavin 4, the Rebels hold a ceremony to award the heroes who bravely fought to destroy the Death Star.  Luke Skywalker receives his medal for bravery from Princess Leia.”

Do you ever have that moment where you have something really monumental and important in front of you, and you think to yourself really hard about how this is the absolute worst time to screw up, and you focus so hard on that only to inadvertently screw up terribly on something that you’ve managed to do correctly hundreds of times previously, to the point where it should be second nature to you?  Because we know Hasbro had that moment.  And today we’re looking at that moment.  Behold, Luke Skywalkwer—crap, I mean Skwalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalkwer – Yavin Ceremony is figure 100 in the Black Series line-up.  Of course, thanks to re-numberings and exclusives, there are far more than 100 figures in the line, but getting to the number is a momentous occasion nevertheless.  And before we get any further, yes, you read all those instances of Luke’s surname above correctly; on the packaging for the momentous number 100 figure, Hasbro somehow managed to misspell poor Luke’s last name, the name of a whole saga, three times in two different ways.  As someone who’s worked in publication design, my heart goes out to the poor designer who let that slip through.  They’re probably never going to live it down.  The truth is, if this had been any other numbered release, I don’t know that it would have caught quite as much flack, but unfortunately it’s the big 100, the one that people who very well may have never bought another Black Series will hold onto, and the one that people are far more likely to keep in package.  Heck, I’m a loose collector, and even I’m hanging onto the box for this one.  Admittedly, in my case it’s purely for the typos, but the point still stands.  This one’s probably going to be well-remembered.  Well, enough about the box, let’s talk about the actual Luke Skwalker figure inside!  As the properly written section of his name denotes, he’s wearing his slightly more uniform-esque get-up from the ceremony on Yavin IV that ends the first film.  Though only seen in one scene in the main films, the look served as Luke’s primary attire for his portion of the Holiday Special (I know) and recently saw a resurgence when it was used prominently in Marvel’s Star Wars comics.  This figure was actually released a little earlier last year as a con-exclusive with several additional accessories and a Marvel-inspired box.  As has become the trend with such exclusives and their inevitable re-releases, the core figures in the two packages are essentially identical.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Apart from being shared with the exclusive release, this Luke has a unique sculpt.  It’s our first truly new OT Luke since figure 21, and the line’s come a long way since then.  The result is definitely the most technically impressive Luke we’ve gotten in The Black Series.  The articulation is definitely one area of notable improvement for the most part, although the hip joints on this guy have a weird set up which places a definite learning curve on using them.  I’m not much of a fan.  Like the Jabba’s Palace figure, this Luke uses the new style of head construction with separate pieces for the hair and face, which makes for slightly more depth in the sculpt.  On my figure the hair and head don’t line up 100% perfectly, but it’s close enough to work.  It’s honestly Hasbro’s best Hamill, displacing the Jabba’s Palace figure’s very brief moment with that title.  The body construction is in a lot of ways very similar to Bespin Han, which is fine by me, because that was a good lay out for a figure, and the designs of the two costumes are also pretty similar.  His paintwork is fairly standard for the line at this point.  The base color is all pretty clean, and he’s got the printed face which looks plenty realistic.  The con-exclusive release had a lot of extras, where as this one is comparatively pretty light.  Both figures include the blaster, and this figure also includes the medal, making him specific to the ceremony.  That’s all he gets, which leaves the rather glaring omission of a lightsaber.  He doesn’t have it during the scene in the movie, so I guess there’s that reasoning, but that didn’t stop them from including both a saber and a helmet with the pilot Luke.  It’s also not a new piece, so it feels like it should have been an easy inclusion.  I’ve got a few of my own, so I can loan him one, but it’s a little annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, Cermony Luke wound up as my default Luke for a good while, and as such I’ve always had something of a soft spot for this particular look.  I like that the comics brought the design back, and I was very happy to see this figure unveiled.  He’s a proper choice for the big 100 number, and even with the goofiness surrounding the packaging and its many errors, this is a really nifty figure, and probably the best Black Series Luke.

I picked up this guy from my friends All Time Toys, and he’s still available here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2265: Luke Skywalker – Jabba’s Palace

LUKE SKYWALKER — JABBA’S PALACE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Luke Skywalker was a Tatooine farmboy who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known.”

And lo, the Post-Christmas reviews begin!

There were a few years running where my first post-Christmas review was invariably an Alien Queen, but after my friends and family ran out of Alien Queens to buy me, I’ve moved onto another theme, it would seem: Star Wars.  Honestly, it’s not all that new a concept, me getting Star Wars figures over the holidays, going all the way back to the Millenium Falcon I received for Christmas of ’96.  So, I guess I can dig it being the new trend.  So, let’s kick things off with a Luke Skywalker figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jabba’s Palace Luke Skywalker is a Walmart-exclusive Black Series offering.  Much like the two Captain Americas that they got last year, they also got two versions of Jedi Luke back to back.  Sometimes, I think Walmart’s toy buyer might be a little limited in their sights.  Whatever the case, this figure theoretically started showing up alongside the Triple Force Friday stuff back in October, though realistically, he started showing up shortly before the holidays.  This Luke is the second Return of the Jedi Luke we’ve gotten in the Black Series line-up, following the more end of the movie inspired version released back in 2014.  This one, as the name denotes, is based on Luke as he first appears in Jabba’s Palace, prior to ditching his vest and getting his robotic hand damaged. The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  For the most part, he’s fairly reliant on parts from the previous Jedi Luke figure.  He uses the body of that figure, along with a new head, the right hand from Bespin Luke, and an all-new vest overlay piece. The new head is the real star attraction.  While I always felt that sculpt on the original Jedi Luke head was far better than the sub-par paint job allowed to show through, it’s never the less a little bit of an artifact of an older way of doing things, since the separate face/hair pieces have become the new way of doing things, and allow for a more realistic recreation.  This new sculpt follows that new styling, and is honestly one of Hasbro best attempts at a young Hamill likeness, at least as far as the face is concerned.  The hair I’m still a little iffy about, but it’s certainly not terrible.  The new vest piece is a decent overlay; it’s not too bulky.  Of course, it’s also not designed to be removed, which I was a little let down by, but if you don’t want it on the figure, it’s easy enough to remove, keeping in mind it’s not really going back on.  And, on top of that, after removing it, you’ll also discover that he’s missing the previous figure’s belt (which would have no doubt affected the look of the vest at this scale, so I get why it’s gone).  The figure is also privy to the improvements in paint since the last Jedi Luke.  That previous figure was honestly one of my worst experiences with iffy paint in the line, but this guy gets the new face print tech, which works very well for him.  There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing this paint on the old sculpt, just to see how the two pair off, but as is, this one looks very good.  This Luke ends up being a little better accessorized than the last one.  While he no longer has the swapable flap for the front of his uniform, he still gets his lightsaber (with a more accurately painted hilt this time), a cloth-goods cloak, and the blaster he steals from one of Jabba’s guards (re-used from Kanan Jarrus).  Not a bad assortment of extras, and certainly enough to make him worthwhile even if you have the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been looking for this guy pretty much since Force Friday.  As a kid, I went as Jedi Luke for Halloween, so I’ve always had a soft spot for this costume design, and felt the old figure wasn’t doing it justice on the shelf.  I found this figure just before Christmas and actually bought him with some money I got from my Grandmother for the holiday.  He’s solid improvement without being a straight replacement.  I just kind of wish Hasbro would stop giving their best figures to Walmart as exclusives…

#2249: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

Oooooh, I bet you *really* thought I was done with the Galaxy of Adventures stuff, didn’t you.  Well, I mean, I was for a while…like almost a month…so I guess I kinda was.  I did get this guy before finishing the prior round of GoA reviews, and I did very much consider throwing him at the tail end of them, but ultimately thought that it might be a little much.  Would have made this intro funnier, though.  But that’s okay, I don’t like to be funny anyway.  As I noted in those reviews, the overwhelming focus of the first series of the line was on the newest trilogy, but the Original Trilogy isn’t getting overlooked entirely, and is in fact getting more focus in the next assortment.  It’s also getting more focus via the line’s very first exclusive offering, Luke Skywalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker is a Walmart-exclusive Galaxy of Adventures figure.  He’s shipping in solid cases and started showing up about a month after the first round of product hit.  He’s not marked in any way as an exclusive, so it’s possible he may not remain so, but for the time being, that’s where he is.  There are a few versions of Luke to choose from, but for this release Hasbro’s opted for the Jedi Knight appearance, which pairs well with the Vader from Series 1.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall (he’s shorter than everyone but Rey) and he has 25 points of articulation.  Luke is an all-new sculpt, and matches stylistically with the rest of the line.  Like the others, his articulation is quite well implemented, allowing for a surprising amount of range, and the figure is also very sturdy on his feet.  In terms of level of stylization, Luke’s not quite as cartoony as Rey was, being more in-line with Finn’s sculpt.  There’s some definite changes made, but there slightly more restrained.  Similar to the others, there’s not really a Hamill likeness, but he still has a proper character likeness.  I will say, the eyes seem a touch wide for my taste, which is the only real complaint I have.  I was initially going to complain about his torso being a little bulky, but that was before I took him out and realized that the vest is actually a removable piece.  This allows for both major looks he sports from the movie, since there’s a fully detailed torso beneath.  I’m okay with the slightly bulky torso if it means having the extra option, and it certainly works a bit better here than on a more realistically styled figure.  The paintwork on Luke is overall pretty decent.  It’s certainly sharp and clean in its application.  Again, the larger eyes seem a little off to me, and I feel like he’s got a bit too much color in his face, but I can’t fault Hasbro for their attempts to keep him from looking under-painted.  Luke is packed with his second lightsaber, which is a fairly decent piece, but unlike all of the other sabers I’ve gotten from this line, the silver of the hilt from this one chips off really easily.  I don’t know why it’s different, but it’s my only true complaint about the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting and loving the whole Series 1 run of figures, I was definitely down for this guy, but wasn’t having a ton of luck finding him at first.  Fortunately, Max was able to point me in the right direction, and I boy were there a lot of this guy to choose from.  There are some slightly minor issues that I feel hold Luke back ever so slightly, but admittedly, Luke’s the one character in the line-up I really had any expectations about going in.  He’s still a really solid release in his own right.  I look forward to filling out more of the OT cast.

#2233: Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR & DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Board the Death Star…for a fight to the finish!  Recreate classic Star Wars movie battles in two games! In the first, for younger players, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca sneak through the Death Star capturing Imperials. Can you score the most captures?  Now advance to the next game — and take sides. Darth Vader, Boba Fett and stormtroopers move in the open, capturing Rebel Code Cards to win. But the Rebels move in secret. To win, they must use strategy to reach the Millennium Falcon, then dice-roll their way off the Death Star!  Add other action figures you already own…and fill the game board with life-like Star Wars characters!”

In the ’90s, Star Wars was back on the rise again, and they were just slapping the brand on everything they could.  The action figures maintained their foothold as the primary selling point for just about everything, resulting in the distribution methods being a little bit all over the place.  There were a bunch of mail-away offers, there were figures packed in with playsets, and carrying cases and collector’s coins.  And, in 1998, there were two figures offered exclusively with a board game of all things.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Luke Skywalker in Trash Compactor and Darth Vader with Removable Dome were the two Power of the Force II figures available exclusively with the “Escape the Death Star” board game (not to be confused with the “Escape *FROM* the Death Star” game from the ’70s, which was just re-issued with an exclusive figure packed in…it’s not confusing at *all*), which hit shelves in 1998.  The game included the two figures, plus a bag of accessories containing three lightsabers and three styles of blaster.  There were also cardboard standees of all the non-Luke and Vader characters mentioned, which could be replaced in game play by the separately sold PotF releases of the characters.

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR

Luke was easily the most populous character in this line by this point, so another variant wasn’t really too much of a shock.  This one, like a lot of the late-run Luke variants was also exceedingly similar to a prior figure, namely the Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise from 1996.  But this one’s different, you see.  He’s Luke after he falls into the trash compactor and gets pulled under the the water by the Dianoga.  This necessitates the new head sculpt featured, which also better matches the changed Luke likeness introduced in 1997, though with the slicked back hair, he’s not as immediately recognizable as Luke.  Aside from the new head and a few small deco additions on the torso, he’s pretty much the same as the previous figure, meaning he’s still not a little short for a Stormtrooper.  Drat.

DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

As the most recognizable character in the franchise, there’s an undeniable desire to release lots of Darth Vader action figures.  The trouble, of course, being that the character only has minor changes to his look over the course of the franchise, so not exactly a lot of room for variation between releases.  Nevertheless, Kenner sure did their best to jam as many possible variants of him into the line as possible.  Unlike Luke, this one doesn’t actually get any new parts, being the head from the “Complete Galaxy” Vader on the body of the main line’s removable helmet Vader from the same year as this figure.  Despite his lack of new parts, he actually ends up being a slightly more worth while figure than Luke.  I mean, not essential or anything, but the reveal of the back of his head is a distinctive moment from Empire, and with the dome in place, he actually makes for a really solid basic Vader figure.  It helps that the removable helmet body is probably the best Vader body from Power of the Force, so getting it again really wasn’t a bad deal.  It also helps that, unlike Luke, Vader got to keep his removable helmet, so there’s less of a feeling of this loss of value.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t own this as a kid (though one of my cousins did), but I remember this game when it was released.  And I also remember it from all the years after it was released that it sat around not selling, because it was definitely not one of the line’s hotter items.  The real trouble is that finding the set’s market is a little tricky.  The game was just a hastily thrown together to augment the figures really, so it wasn’t going to be appealing to board game collectors, but the figures were also rather hastily thrown together to go with the game, and neither one of them is anywhere near essential to a collector.  Topping that off was that the whole thing cost more than four times the cost of a single figure, making this a very hard sell to the action figures they were trying to cash in on.  It’s not hard to figure out why these two are still rather cheaply acquired.

#2177: Purchase of the Droids

UNCLE OWEN LARS, C-3PO, & LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Under attack by an Imperial Star Destroyer, protocol droid C-3PO and his partner R2-D2 safely escaped a battered Rebel capital ship and landed on the desert planet of Tatooine. Soon after, the droids were abducted by scavenging Jawas and sold to Owen Lars for use on his desert moisture farm. Luke Skywalker, nephew of Owen and a Tatooine youth, remained unaware that his uncle’s purchase of C-3PO and R2-D2 was to help launch one of the most pivotal destinies the galaxy had ever known…his own.”

Alongside its cast of very colorful lead and background characters, Star Wars also has quite a selection of quite average, not particularly colorful or unique in the slightest characters.  For the most part, these characters are rather easily overlooked by merchandising, but there are a few of them who are a touch plot relevant, such as Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle.  This poses the question:  how do you handle toys of these figures?  Kids aren’t exactly going to be lining up to buy a sort of paunchy middle-aged guy in a robe.  What sells him?  Colorful main characters of course!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Uncle Owen, C-3PO, and Luke made up the “Purchase of the Droids” set, part of the 1997 assortment of the Cinemascenes sub-line of Kenner’s Power of the Force II.  The set is based on, stay with me here, the scene where they purchase the droids.  I know, crazy.

UNCLE OWEN LARS

Man, where’s all the toy love for curmudgeonly uncles?  What’s that?  Nobody cares about them?  Well that’s…pretty accurate, I guess.  This isn’t the only time Owen’s seen action figure form, but it was the first, because there just wasn’t time to fit him into the vintage line.  I know, we were all very sad.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Owen sports an all-new, all-average-looking sculpt.  Perfect for the character!  He’s a bit more pre-posed than other figures from the same period; his right arm in particular is bent and angled in a slightly strange fashion.  I’m not entirely sure what they were going for there, and there’s really no pose it looks natural in.  The likeness on the face is about as good as any of these likenesses were.  He’s identifiable as the character he’s meant to be, and that’s really the main point.  Owen’s paintwork was a little more experimental than others from the line.  It’s a bit murky, but I guess that’s sensible for a guy who lives on a desert planet.

C-3PO

And here begins the slight tweaks for the major players.  There are actually a surprising number of 3POs in the Power of the Force line, though this is only the second one I’ve personally reviewed.  It’s worth noting that this one is actually pretty different from the first one.  He’s been brought more in line with the proper proportions for the character from the film, rather than the more stylistic interpretation of the first figure.  They also sharpened up the detail work a bit, and even added the restraining bolt that the Jawas placed on him when he was captured.  3PO’s paint work starts out with the same vac metalizing as the predecessor, but this one also gets a bunch of dirt and grime, depicting him as he looks after wandering Tatooine for a bit.  It’s definitely a unique look for 3PO and helps him stand out a bit from the other takes on the character.

LUKE SKYWALKER

By 1997, Power of the Force was just beginning to be neck-deep in Luke Skywalker figures, specifically of the “Farmboy” variety.  This figure would be the first of a whole bunch of Luke figures that would draw from the same base figure with a handful of changes here and there.  He was our first instance of the majorly slimmed down version of Farmboy Luke, which would later be used for no less than five separate versions of the character.  It’s not bad for a standard Luke, especially if it was your first time picking up one of this style.  I don’t have much to say about in light of having all of the other five.  He’s the one that comes in this set.  That’s his unique selling point.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I didn’t have this set growing up, I remember that my cousin did, and it was one of the things that was left at my grandparents’ house, meaning I would frequently get to play with it when he wasn’t around.  I don’t know what happened to them in particular, but I picked up this one from Yesterday’s Fun over the Christmas holiday last year.  It’s more part of my drive to complete the line than to own any one figure in the set, but it’s one of the few Uncle Owens, and I do have to admit I quite like the 3PO.

#2004: Speeder Bike (w/ Luke Skywalker in Endor Gear)

SPEEDER BIKE (W/ LUKE SKYWALKER IN ENDOR GEAR)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the first of three versions of the Imperial Speeder Bike released by Kenner in their Power of the Force II line.  The vehicle’s mold was first introduced in the vintage Return of the Jedi line, and was then re-packaged in the ’90s, with one of three different pilots.  I’ve already looked at the one with Leia.  Today, I look at her brother Luke, alongside his own Speeder.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The speeder bikes in these sets were all identical, meaning this one is exactly the same as the one I looked at alongside Leia two weeks ago.  I liked it then, and I still like it now.  I imagine I’ll still like it when I get around to the third variant of this set.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like the Leia figure included with the last one, this one has an Endor variant of Luke Skywalker.  Luke spends a little bit less of his time in this gear, but it’s still a fairly distinctive appearance for the character.  Like Leia, it had previously appeared in the vintage line, but this was the first we saw of it in this re-launch.  It would also be our only Endor Luke for a little while, as figures of him from Jedi tended to go for his, well, Jedi appearance.  As such, this figure’s sculpt would remain completely unique to him.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.   Check out those sweet knee joints!  That was a pretty huge deal.  Luke’s head is rather similar to the Endor Rebel trooper, not only with the same helmet, but also a rather similar facial structure.  This Luke’s sculpt was notable for not including his outer vest; he was not the only version of Luke to omit it in this line, but he was the first one.  Like his sister, Luke has a removable rubber poncho piece.  This one’s not quite as nice.  It isn’t very well fitted to the figure, making him look really pudgy.  It also lacks the nice, subtle paintwork, meaning it’s just a lot of unpainted tan plastic.  This guy was packed with a variant of the green lightsaber included with the basic RotJ Luke, though this one was wider than that one so that his slightly enlarged grip can still hold it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I only had one Speeder Bike, and it was this one.  I was definitely a Luke kid, so I needed to have another version of him, and the Endor one was one of my favorites.  That being said, I remember the actual figure didn’t get a ton of use; instead he was robbed of his poncho and speeder, which I gave to my standard Jedi Luke.  Looking back at this figure, I kind of remember why that was the case.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s not as strong a figure as the Leia.