SPIRIT OF OBI-WAN
STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)
You know something I really miss? Mail-away figures. They were quite popular during the ’80s and ’90s, and even made their way into the early ’00s, and were particularly common amongst the Star Wars lines, and they even netted me my very first Han Solo action figure. To say I have a soft-spot for them is something of an understatement. In their hey-day, they permeated all manner of merchandising. Perhaps one of the most infamous is today’s focus, the Spirit of Obi-Wan. One of the first offerings of the re-launched Star Wars line, he was born out of a partnership between Kenner and Frito Lay. If you sent in a certain number of proofs of purchase from Frito Lay’s then-new pizza flavored potato chips, they’d send you this fancy exclusive figure. Obviously, thought the smart toy collectors out there, this figure was going to be super rare and hard to find, so they had to order as many of them as possible, so that they could retire on them in the future. Little economics lesson here: if you create false demand for an item, then the supply will rise to meet it, and then *nobody* gets to retire. But enough about senseless speculation, how’s the actual figure?
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Spirit of Obi-Wan was shipped out to fans in 1997, as the second mail-away offer in the Power of the Force II line. He was the line’s second Obi-Wan figure, following his standard release in ’95. It was also our first time getting Obi-Wan in his force ghost form, which is somewhat surprising given how much of the original trilogy he spends as a ghost. The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 0 points of articulation. Yes, you read that articulation count right; this figure has no articulation, at least not right out of the box. There are clearly joints at his neck and shoulders, and you can get them moving without *too* much trouble, but they are affixed in place when new, on every sample of this figure. Why is anyone’s guess. It’s entirely possible it wasn’t even fully intentional, but there it is. Obi-Wan’s sculpt is, understandably, rather similar to his standard release figure. The only parts actually shared between the two are the head and I believe the right arm, since the translucent nature of the figure makes a solid construction on the torso more sensible than the removable robe of the prior figure. It actually looks pretty decent, and possibly one of the most surprising things about this figure’s sculpt is that it wasn’t ever repainted into a regular Obi-Wan. I do have to say, while not spot-on, the head actually seems to have more of a resemblance to Alec Guinness when unpainted. Speaking of unpainted, that’s the nature of this whole figure. While later force ghost figures would experiment with variations in coloration, this one is just a straight translucent blue. I myself like this look a little more, if I’m honest; it makes him more identifiably different. The Spirit of Obi-Wan was packed with no accessories, unless of course you count the assortment of coupons he came with, but that seems like a stretch to me.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I had enough trouble holding onto my regular Obi-Wan back in the day, so I did not have this one growing up. Instead, I added him to my collection thanks to my friends at All Time Toys, who got in not one, but two *sealed* copies of this figure, one of them still in its cardboard mailer. Since they aren’t actually worth much of anything, All Time was more than happy to pass along one of the pair to me. He’s not a super playable figure, but he’s a nifty sort of set dressing, and a great example of how badly speculators can screw up a market. Don’t buy your toys as investments kids; it never really pays off.