OBI-WAN KENOBI, DR. EVAZAN, & PONDA BABA
STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)
“On the run from Imperial stormtroopers, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker enter the seedy Mos Eisley Cantina in hopes of finding swift passage to the planet Alderaan. Inside, among the gallery of criminals are the murderous Dr. Evazan and the brutal Ponda Baba–both of whom are thirsty for a fight with Skywalker. Reaching for their blasters, the villains are suddenly cut off from Luke by the pulsating blaze of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber! Will Obi-Wan triumph and save the Rebellion’s only hope?”
So, believe it or not, the original purpose of the Cinema Scenes sub-line of Power of the Force II was to, you know, recreate scenes directly from the movies. By the end of the line, it had transitioned into “let’s throw three figures into a set”, but there was far more focus with the early stuff, where it was a merging of previously released figures with new in order to create a specific scene. This was the case for today’s set, the “Cantina Showdown”, which showcased Obi-Wan in his brief face-off with Mos Eisley Cantina denizens Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Cantina Showdown was one of the four sets released in 1997, the first year of Cinema Scenes. This set was a Walmart-exclusive upon release, and would prove to be a less than stellar performer at retailer, for a few likely reasons I’ll touch on as I review the figures proper.
Patterned on his single-carded release from ’95, this figure aimed to inject a little more dynamism into the previous figure. Like that one, he stands roughly 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation. It feels sort of odd and recursive for a figure to add more pre-posing to one of the ’95 releases, but this was far from the only time the line did it, so I guess it was a bit of a thing. To be fair, Obi-Wan was one of the least stylized of the earliest figures, so I suppose Kenner just wanted him to get in on the ’90s pre-posed, super-roided fun. So, here he is, I guess? Despite looking similar, the only parts actually shared with the single are the head and torso, with everything else, including the robe, being retooled for his sick action pose. I’m…I’m not entirely what the pose is going for, if I’m honest. It’s not like Alec Guinness was breaking out the kung-fu moves when he whips out the saber at the bar, and even with the dramatically bent elbows, he still doesn’t have the ability to hold his saber two-handed, making the non-holding hand look even more awkward than the single-release, if I’m honest. The paint on this figure is pretty much the same as the standard, and he’s also got his lightsaber, albeit the shortened version. Shrinkage!
Like Obi-Wan, Ponda Baba also had a single carded release, which this one draws much of its stylistic inspiration from. Unlike Obi-Wan, Ponda’s prior figure hit shelves just months before this one, making him feel a little bit more redundant. Again, it’s the pose that really differentiates them, and again, the only real overlap is the head and torso. Even the jacket gets re-sculpted in the name of dynamics. It’s admittedly not a bad sculpt; all of the creatures stood out as the best of the earlier figures in this line. That said, this version, due to the preposing, has a lot of troubles staying standing, which can get more than a little bit annoying. For me, the most criminal piece of this release is that he doesn’t take advantage of the newly-sculpted parts to add the one important feature that the sing-card lacked: a removable arm! It’s kind of key to the scene, so for it to be left out of this supposedly scene-specific release is just odd. Also, this figure cuts the original’s accessory count from two to one, only including the smaller blaster pistol.
As the set’s one truly unique piece, Dr. Evazan seems like the natural fit for the set’s star, doesn’t he? I mean, the character had never gotten a toy release before, so this one had to be a big deal, right? Well, in a word, no. The thing about Evazan is that he’s got the far less distinctive of the two creature looks here, which is why Ponda was always first for toys. The thing about this particular Evazan figure is that it doesn’t even really capture that already less distinctive look, making him look even more average than he does in the film. Removed from the other two figures in this set, it’s a little hard to place him, and that’s probably why his value also drops pretty drastically when it’s just him. Kenner was right to think this guy couldn’t move as a single-carded figure, but that’s at least in part because he’s the worst of three figures included, made worse by there not being another option to get him. I will say, they did at least try on the paint, giving him some more subdued work than we saw a lot of his contemporaries, especially on his vest. He also included a unique blaster pistol, which I suppose would be cool if I had it, but I don’t.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When you go completist on a line, there are the items that really test you. This is one of those for me with Power of the Force II. I mostly have them because All Time Toys had all three of them loose, with only the one missing piece between them, and they were super cheap, and I was already buying a bunch of other PotF figures. It’s not hard to pin-point why this set performed so poorly. Obi-Wan and Ponda Baba had a lot of work to do to prove their worth, and they don’t succeed. Evazan didn’t, and yet somehow he also doesn’t succeed. How does one manage that?