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.