#2736: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE (KENNER)

If I seem uncharacteristically agitated or prone to getting frustrated during today’s review, fear not, dear reader. It isn’t you that I’m frustrated with, or even the figure I’m looking at, just know that at the core of things is a desire to seek out whomever created WordPress’s Block Editor and do something awful to them…like force them to use WordPress’s Block Editor…much as they have done to me. Feels like poetic justice if I’m entirely honest. Or something that the Spectre could really get behind. I feel like I should see what that guy’s up to….or I suppose I could write this review, and try not to focus too much on how frustrated I am by the interface I’m writing it on. Last week, I looked at the second of my Electronic Power F/X Power of the Force figures. Today, I’m looking at another, specifically Darth Vader, who’s stepping up his Power F/X game.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader was released in 1997 as part of Power of the Force‘s aforementioned “Electronic Power F/X” sub-line.  He followed the early Vader set-up of being more of a combination of all three of his film appearances, rather than being clearly based on one in particular.  This would work to Kenner’s favor in terms of this toy’s playability, as it meant that Vader could face off against either Luke or Obi-Wan, depending on your fancy.  The figure stands roughly 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Like Luke, his movement is somewhat restricted by the inner workings of the figure’s light-up feature, meaning his right arm is largely rendered inert.  He’s been sculpted with something of a walking gait, much like the Shadows of the Empire variant.  It means that, much like that figure, he has a lot of trouble staying standing.  Hence him making use of some sort of prop or stand in all of the photos, because this guy was really not cooperating.  Otherwise, the sculpt is pretty much business as usual for the early Vaders.  If you’ve messed with one Beef Cake Vader, you’ve messed with them all.  He’s certainly got an imposing silhouette.  Due to his larger size, the battery housing is at least less of an issue for this guy, so he doesn’t have the weird hump set-up like Luke did.  Like Luke, Vader’s arm has been built with lightsaber as a part of it, though it’s a lot less rudimentary than Luke’s.  This one actually vaguely detailed to match Vader’s actual hilt from the movie.  The light up feature works pretty much the same way as Luke’s, and is also not terribly bright, but it’s there.  The paint work on Vader is pretty much the same as all of the other Vaders from the line.  It gets the job done and looks pretty decent, even if it’s not terribly involved.  Vader is packed with a large base piece, which is the match for Luke’s Death Star hallway, just meant to be the other half.  It even connects to Luke’s for a more full diorama set-up, and allows for them to “duel” via the arms for moving them around.  It’s actually pretty fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I brought up last week, Luke was the only one of these I had as a kid.  That being said, I always really wanted Vader, mostly due to the whole interacting with Luke thing.  Fortunately, All Time had him and three of the others right as I was really getting serious about this PotF thing.  Vader’s not really all that new when compared to other Vaders from the line, but he goes well with Luke, and there’s no denying that this goofy, gimmicky thing really works best when you’ve got multiples from the set.

 

#2729: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Hey, remember yesterday, when I was talking about a mid-90s line’s use of light-up features in order to re-introduce some of the core characters into the market place again?  Well, as it turns out, Toy Biz’s X-Men wasn’t the only line to try that.  Kenner’s Power of the Force did it too!  Everything’s better with lights, right?  Well, Kenner certainly felt so.  While I’ve looked at the line’s one outlier, R2, already, they also covered the original trilogy’s four most action-oriented force users.  I’m kicking my dive into the line-up off with our hero, Luke Skywalker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke was released in 1997 as part of Power of the Force‘s “Electronic Power F/X” sub-line.  Luke gets more to the actual point of the line-up than R2 did, actually focusing on one of the OT’s cool fight scenes, in his case the battle between Luke and Vader on the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi….well, sort of, anyway.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he’s got 5 points of articulation.  He loses the usual waist joint, and also gets severe limitations on the right shoulder, both due to the electric feature.  Beyond that, none of the other joints really give him much actual range, due to the somewhat pre-posed nature of the figure’s sculpt.  He’s…sort of, like, mid-lunge, I guess?  Like, for stabbing?  I don’t know.  The actual sculpt’s not exactly Kenner’s finest work.  The head’s distinctly different from the original PotF2 Luke head that looked nothing like Mark Hamill, but still looks nothing like Mark Hamill, so it’s a lateral move.  The light-up features have a direct impact on the quality of the sculpt on the right arm and the torso, since that’s how the feature works.  The torso’s rather bulked up, especially at the back, in order to house the batteries, which give him sort of a hump back.  Not the most flattering thing, which is why he also gets the cape, which Luke doesn’t actually wear in the scene this is replicating, in order to hide the hump a bit.  The arm has been designed with the lightsaber built into it, with his hand kind of folded around it.  It’s kind of crude, and not really hand shaped, and the hilt is really wide, short, and basic in its detailing.  It’s definitely goofy looking.  There’s also this sort of cap piece that goes over the the actual blade.  I think it’s really just meant to be part of the packaging, but it’s not coming off of mine.  The actual light-up feature’s okay, I guess.  Not terribly bright, and barely noticeable in the photos here.  It’s also a little hard to activate, due to it being behind the cape. The paint work is all pretty basic work.  It’s not bad, but the right arm’s definitely a bit fuzzy.  Otherwise, pretty standard for the line.  Luke’s packed with a large base piece, meant to look like one of the halls from the Death Star.  Like R2, there’s an arm for moving him around, though this one doesn’t do the whole magnet thing; it’s just a basic peg set-up instead.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, this was actually the only of the “Power F/X” figures I had, because I was all about Luke, and I was all about a good gimmick.  Unfortunately, these figures, more than others from the line, don’t really stand up to play so well.  As such, my original Luke is in pretty rough these days.  Fortunately for me, All Time had four of the five figures in the set right as I was ramping up on filling in my PotF collection, and that gave me the opportunity to pick up this guy again, alongside the rest of the set.  This guy’s hella gimmicky, and hella goofy, but I can get behind it.

#2694: Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi

BEN (OBI-WAN) KENOBI

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (HASBRO)

“Legendary among the heroes of the Rebel Alliance, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi is regarded as one of the greatest Jedi Knights ever to have lived. As a young Jedi who had just completed his own training, Obi-Wan made a solemn pledge to train young Anakin Skywalker in the ways of the Force. Anakin became a Jedi but then turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Many years later, destiny would have an older and wiser Obi-Wan guiding Anakin’s own son, Luke Skywalker, in the ways of the Force, and ultimately, in turning Vader back to the light side.”

Last week, I took my first dive into the Power of the Force Flashback Photo subset of figures, and rather poked fun at the concept and how far of a reach some of those figures were for the idea.  Well, in their defense, some of them did make at least some bit of sense.  Given that it was to tie-in with the first of the prequels, and there were actually some crossover characters, showing those characters from the original trilogy, and offering the flashback there?  Not the worst idea.  Among the cross over characters was Obi-Wan Kenobi, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, as he is so specifically named on the box, was part of the first set of “Flashback Photo” Power of the Force figures, hitting towards the end of 1998, just as we were getting prepped for the new movie.  He was our fourth Obi-Wan from the line, and only the second to be part of the regular line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  This would mark the first real move to improve the articulation on these figures, as Obi-Wan wound up with a whopping three joints in each of his arms.  Sure, they were all cut joints, and sure, the rest of his movement was majorly restricted by the robes, but it certainly was a step up.  Also of note was the fact that this was the first Obi-Wan not to be based on the first PotF figure’s molds, making him generally less oddly bulked up and weird looking.  He’s still a little more bulked up than Sir Alec Guinness actually was in the movie, but it’s not quite as insane.  Preposing is a bit more involved this time, with the figure being designed to directly interact with the “Flashback” Vader figure, in an effort to recreate their duel from A New Hope.  With the extra articulation, there’s a little more variety as to what you can do, though it’s still not a ton.  Honestly, the screen accurate thing wasn’t the worst concept, and it does at least make him a little more unique compared to others in the line.  It’s not a bad looking sculpt, either, and they were really starting to get the hang of making the clothes look fairly natural on the bodies.  The hood in particular doesn’t look too bad, and hoods are usually pretty darn tricky.  The only downside is that the hands have some difficulty holding the lightsaber, which does somewhat hinder his purpose.  In terms of paint work, Obi-Wan is about on par with the rest of the line, so he’s basic, but generally pretty well handled.  All of the important details are there, and they’re pretty cleanly applied.  Obi-Wan is packed with his lightsaber, which is about all he really needs.  Of course, he’s also got the Flashback Photo, which is about as intriguing here as it was with Beru.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

All of the Flashback Photo figures passed me by as a kid, just because there wasn’t actually much new coverage there.  This one in particular proved frustrating for me as a kid, because I just wanted a prequel Obi-Wan figure, and I kept finding this one, and he wasn’t really what I wanted.  Admittedly not really the figure’s fault, I suppose.  I wound up getting him this past fall when he was traded into All Time.  He’s not a bad little figure, and is probably this line’s best version of Obi-Wan.

#2687: Aunt Beru

AUNT BERU

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Beru Lars was the closest thing to a mother that Luke Skywalker ever knew. She and husband Owen lovingly raised Luke as their nephew, and trained him in the mundane ways of moisture farming on their arid Tatooine homestead.. All along, Aunt Beru understood that a larger destiny awaited Luke. Years before, on another part of Tatooine, the slave Shmi Skywalker raised the boy who would become Luke’s father-Anakin Skywalker. Like Aunt Beru, she sadly understood she could only love and nurture her boy for a relatively short period of time before she had to allow him the freedom to fly on his own wings.”

I know what you’re thinking: “Why does Shmi Skywalker get mentioned in Aunt Beru’s bio?  Isn’t that a weird reach?”  Yes.  Yes, it is.  But it’s okay, because weird reaches are something that defined this particular branch of the Power of the Force line.  In celebration of the upcoming Prequel Trilogy, Hasbro (who was once again putting their name on action figures, after deciding to shut down their Kenner division) decided to celebrate in the best possible way you can when you can’t actually release anything from the movie you’re promoting: awkward, forced tie-ins.  Instead of actual Episode 1 based product, they produced the “Flashback Photo” figures, a set of Original Trilogy figures that each had a tie to someone from the new movie.  Figures like Vader, Obi-Wan, R2, or 3PO all made sense, being in both sets of movies and all, but what of other characters?  Well, you get pairings like Beru and Shmi, who aren’t related, and don’t actually interact on-screen….but, I guess they’re sort of similar?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Aunt Beru was added to the Power of the Force line in 1999, as part of the second round of the “Flashback Photo” figures that were leading into the new film.  This was Beru’s first figure (not an exceptional shock, really), and remains the only OT Beru figure we’ve ever gotten.  Clearly she’s overdue for Black Series treatment, right?  Riiiiight.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  She’s rather limited on the mobility front, due to the harder plastic skirt, but it’s Beru; it’s not like she was exactly action oriented.  Her sculpt was an all-new thing, and it’s actually a rather nice offering.  The proportions are fairly balanced and realistic, and pre-posing is kept to a minimum.  Her outfit is fairly well detailed, and she’s even got a halfway decent likeness of actress Sheila Mary Fraser.  Generally, just pretty good sculpting for the time when you get down to it.  Additionally, the paint work’s not too bad either.  Mostly, it’s flat base color work, but there’s some decent work on the pattern of her collar, and the accenting on the hair also works quite well.  Beru’s real selling point is the accessories.  She gets the best ever accessories for an Aunt Beru figure: a pitch and cup of blue milk!  It’s kind of a signature thing, so it’s nice they put it in there.  Hasbro obviously knew that old woman in a sensible jacket and dress serving a good, calcium building beverage wasn’t going to fly off shelves, so they packed Beru with one of the Lars family Service Droids.  Though simply dubbed “Service Droid” on the package, this guy is actually a WED-15-77 Treadwell droid, which is a somewhat recurring type of droid from the films and expanded universe material.  Treadwell even has a single joint at the base of his treads, and a spot for keeping the milk, making him the perfect companion piece to Beru.  Lastly, there’s the “Flashback Photo” piece, which is really just an extra piece of packaging that you’d be forgiven for immediately throwing away.  It’s a picture of Beru on a set of shutters; pull the tab down, and they flip to show Shmi Skywalker.  Thrilling.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is one of those oddball releases that isn’t really ripe for buying as a kid…so I didn’t.  She got traded into All Time over the summer, and I snagged her then, as I continue my quest of getting all of Power of the Force.  Honestly, while she may not be the most thrilling character, Beru is a better figure than you might expect, and holds up surprisingly well for this line.  For me, though, Treadwell is the real star.  He’s just so nifty!

#2680: Dark Trooper

DARK TROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“It is a period of Civil War. The Rebel Alliance struggles to free the galaxy from the clutches of the evil Galactic Empire. Discovering that Imperial forces have begun developing a new type of stormtrooper, the Rebels call on mercenary Kyle Katarn. His mission: seek out and destroy the secret Imperial project called Dark Trooper. Known as phase III, this most powerful of the Dark Troopers is actually a figure known as General Mohc. Practically unstoppable, he represents the greatest threat to the success of the Rebel Alliance.”

Kenner’s Expanded Universe sub-set covered a few different EU tales, giving them each at minimum a pair of figures.  Though previously unexplored in the toys, that included some video game coverage, in the form of two figures based on the video game Dark Forces.  The first of those was the game’s protagonist, Kyle Katarn.  The second was today’s focus, the Dark Trooper, a concept that’s certainly moving up in the world, thanks to a proper canon appearance in the second season of The Mandalorian.  But, let’s jump to those humble beginnings, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Dark Trooper is the final single carded figure in the Expanded Universe sub-line of Kenner’s Power of the Force II.  He’s the other of the two later release figures I mentioned in last week’s Spacetrooper review.  Also of note is the fact that the Dark Trooper was the only of the nine single release figures not to be shown off on the cross sell on any of the packaging, for whatever reason.  The figure stands 4 1/4 inches tall (the second tallest in the set) and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s definitely one of the stiffer figures included in this line-up, only further highlighted after looking at the Spacetrooper last week, with his extra movement and all.  Given the bulked up design of this particular look, the slightly more restricted set-up isn’t totally shocking however.  This mold was new to this figure, but would later be re-used in its entirety for the Fan’s Choice rerelease in 2007, likely due to the combination of rarity and popularity of this particular release.  It’s an interesting sculpt, because it feels more dated than the rest of the assortment, but that’s actually because he’s going for a recreation of the game model, which means he really should be that bulked up and geometric.  Hard to take the ’90s out of a ’90s design,  I suppose.  There’s a fair deal of detail work going into this guy, which does a lot to make him a bit of a step up from a straight recreation of the game look.  I also appreciated that the jet pack is actually a separate piece, with full detailing on the figure beneath it.  In terms of paint work, the Dark Trooper’s actually got a bit more going on than it seems on the surface.  All of the silver is painted, rather than molded, and there are actually two distinct shades between the outer armor and the mechanics.  The Dark Trooper includes a rather goofy looking heavy blaster lifted straight from the game, as well as yet another fold out display.  This one’s definitely one of the most clever, being based on the game’s HUD, allowing you to simulate an in-game set up.  That’s pretty nifty!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Dark Trooper was a figure that was almost not mine, and was almost the cause of a real tussle between me and Max….okay, not really.  But, when we were pulling the figures out when they came in, he had called dibs on the Sentinel, and then also set this one to the side…only I didn’t realize he’d set this one to the side with the intent to buy it himself, so I grabbed it with the rest of my set and innocently sent him a shot of the whole set after I’d opened them and set them all up.  Then there was much discussion between the two of us, at which point Max very graciously let me keep the Trooper, because he’s nice like that.  It’s nice to have the whole set-up of these guys after all these years, and the Dark Trooper is certainly nifty, especially after their TV appearance!

 

#2673: Spacetrooper

SPACETROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. The ability of spacetroopers to operate exclusively in space made them a valuable asset to the warlord, Grand Admiral Thrawn. These heavily armed stormtroopers wear full-body armor and have equipment that enables them to function as personal space-capable assault vehicles.”

In the history of Stormtrooper variants, today’s focus, the Spacetrooper, is actually one of the very earliest.  They first appear in A New Hope, one of them being seen when the Falcon gets pulled into the Death Star. Admittedly pretty easy to miss, being a) rather small and b) not actually very removed from the regular Stormtrooper design.  He was also portrayed by concept designer and future director Joe Johnson, which is a nifty little bit of trivia.  The idea has stuck around since, gaining some slight changes over the years.  When it came time to adapt Heir to Empire into comic form, they were granted a unique armored appearance, which served as the inspiration for their very first action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Spacetrooper was part of Kenner’s Expanded Universe sub-line for Power of the Force.  He was one of two figures that shipped a little bit later than the rest, and were subsequently even harder to find at retail at the time.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has a whopping 8 points of articulation.  He’s notable for being the first use of a universal joint on the shoulders, in contrast to prior figures’ simple cut joints.  Why this particular figure was granted these is kind of a random guess, but I’d hazard it’s due to how the shoulders are designed.  It’s a little rudimentary in its implementation, but still quite cool, and certainly useful for a wider range of posing.  The sculpt was an all-new affair, reasonable given the all-new design.  He’s got the basic elements of a Stormtrooper, but a little more armored up, and a little more streamlined.  There are a few other movable elements worked in as well, with an adjustable jetpack, and a fold out blaster built into the left arm (but only the left, because two blasters is too many).  As with the articulation, it gives the figure a bit more variety for posing, and just gives him a better general feeling of value compared to some of the more basic troopers.  In terms of paint, the Spacetrooper is a little lax; mostly, he just relies on the molded white plastic.  It’s slightly pearlescent, which makes a touch hard to properly photograph when coupled with the lack of accenting.  Still, it’s not terribly far removed from the rest of the PotF stuff at the time, and it does hit all of the major elements.  The Spacetrooper doesn’t get any proper accessories, thanks to everything being built in.  He does still get the fold out back drop, though, which is still pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the full set of EU figures came through All Time Toys back in 2019, we didn’t actually know it was a full set at first.  Max had pulled out his Imperial Sentry, and told me I was welcome to the only other one we knew was in the lot, which was this guy.  Honestly, I was pretty happy just to get him, because I’ve always thought he looked pretty nifty, and I’d not gotten the chance to pick him up at that point.  Compared to some of the others, he fades into the background a little bit, but he does a lot of cool, innovative stuff for the time, and honestly holds up pretty well.

#2631: Grand Admiral Thrawn

GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. A tactical and military genius, Grand Admiral Thrawn rallied the remnants of the Imperial fleet and set in motion a plan to destroy the New Republic. Using Force-inhibiting ysalamiri, he became vitally close to achieving his evil plans.”

Last week, I was discussing EU characters who really ran away from their expanded universe origins and became lasting pieces of the franchise in their own right.  While last week’s focus, Mara Jade, was prominent, she never made the jump to official canon proper.  Today’s subject, Grand Admiral Thrawn, actually did.  First introduced by author Timothy Zahn in 1991’s Heir to the Empire, Thrawn has also been confirmed to exist in the post-Disney-acquisition world of the franchise, having served as the primary antagonist for the second half of their Rebels series.  And, perhaps his future in the franchise is unexplored, if The Mandalorian‘s quick reference is anything to go by.  Well, in the mean time, let’s look at a little bit of toy coverage!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Admiral Thrawn was released in the Expanded Universe sub-line of Power of the Force in 1998.  Like many of the characters included, this was his first figure, though thanks to actually becoming proper canon, he’s had a few more of them in recent years.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Thrawn is an all-new sculpt, but not exactly an unfamiliar or unique one.  He takes a lot of cues from how Kenner handled other Imperial Officer figures, which makes a bit of sense, from a consistency stand point.  Like Mara Jade, he’s clearly not a direct lift from the comics illustrations of Thrawn, in order to help him look a bit more in line with the rest of Power of the Force.  His head seems a touch large in my eyes, but otherwise it’s not a bad looking sculpt, and is consistent with how Thrawn generally looked.  It’s basic, but appropriately so.  The paint work is also pretty basic and straight forward, but again consistent with the character’s depiction.  It’s definitely a more unique color scheme, so he stands out nicely in a group of Imperials.  Thrawn is packed with a ysalamiri, the weird thing he’s got on his shoulders there, as well as a small blaster pistol, and the fold out diorama.  This time, it’s the bridge of ship, presumably the Katana.  It’s pretty sweet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

All of these were rare when released, and Thrawn’s quite a fan favorite, so he was also always pretty rare.  Fortunately, that whole set came through All Time last year, so I was finally able to snag one then.  He’s not the most technically impressive figure or anything, but he’s still pretty nifty, and I’m glad I have one.

#2624: Mara Jade

MARA JADE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Five years after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance has driven the evil Empire into a distant corner of the galaxy. But a new danger has arisen: the last of the Emperor’s warlords has devised a battle plan that could destroy the New Republic. Before the death of Palpatine, Mara Jade was the Emperor’s right hand assassin. Five years later and now a successful smuggler, the last thing Mara expected was to stumble upon her former arch-enemy – Luke Skywalker.”

The Star Wars Expanded Universe had a whole host of new characters to add to the mythos, coming from all sorts of different mediums, and doing all sorts of, some times, contradictory things.  A few of those EU characters because rather pervasive, but few were quite as recurrent as Mara Jade, a character who appeared about just every medium other than the movies.  Destined to become Luke Skywalker’s eventual wife, Mara was revealed to be just on the outskirts of plenty of prior events, just waiting to peer into the shot, I suppose.  She’s become rather downplayed since Disney took over, of course, but she was pretty big with the fanbase, and did get a few action figures, the first of which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mara Jade was released alongside the rest of the initial Expanded Universe line-up of Power of the Force figures in 1998.  As such a popular character, she was a rarer figure from an already scarce assortment, at least at the time.  She was one of the three figures in the line-up to be based on the Heir to Empire story, fittingly Mara’s first appearance.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Mara’s sculpt was unique to her, and based at least somewhat on her appearance in the Heir to Empire comics adaptation, though it’s mostly in regards to her attire, since her features don’t match the rather stylized depiction of the character from the comics.  Neither was she really based on Shannon McRandle, the model who portrayed Mara on the covers of the novels she appeared in.  Instead, she’s just sort of an averaged appearance, I suppose.  It works fine for the character, and it’s not like she’s any further from her usual appearances than any of the characters who actually appeared in the movies were.  Mara’s paint work is rather eye catching, especially the bright red hair, and the application is all pretty clean.  They did actually differentiate between the black of her body suit and her boots, so that looks pretty nice.  Mara is packed with Luke’s lightsaber, a blaster pistol, and another 3D backdrop like the rest of the series.  This one shows off a downed ship, and is definitely one of the cooler backdrops.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t know anything about Mara when these figures were new, and I certainly didn’t really see her in person to push me to find out.  As I’ve become more versed with Star Wars over the years, I’ve of course come to know a bit more about her, and I’ve been subsequently more invested in these figures.  I picked her up at the same time as most of the rest of the set, when they all came in through All Time.  Mara’s a pretty cool little figure.  Perhaps not the flashiest of this line up, but a fun and unique figure nevertheless.

#2617: Imperial Sentinel

IMPERIAL SENTINEL

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Six years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the galaxy is thrust into turmoil. A reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic’s closest friend – Luke Skywalker – may become their greatest enemy. At the doors of the evil Emperor’s palace, giant Imperial Sentinels, twice the size and power of other Imperial guards, await their prisoner – the Jedi Master, Luke Skywalker.”

Are you ready to get a bit circular?  I sure hope so, because boy-howdy are we about to.  During the pre-production process for Return of the Jedi, artist Nilo Rodis-Jamero crafted an initial design for the Emperor’s Royal Guards, which was a fair bit more involved than the final product in the film.  This design was then co-opted by Kenner when they put together a presentation for Lucasfilm in 1985, which proposed a continuation of the original trilogy’s story, and thereby of the toyline Kenner was then running.  In it, our heroes would have faced off against new villain Atha Prime, who would have made use of this old Guard design.  Lucasfilm ultimately turned down the proposal, and the design was again shelved, until it resurfaced in the Dark Empire comics as the new clone Emperor’s new guards, the Imperial Sentinels, who would subsequently make their way into Kenner’s own Expanded Universe toy line.  Let’s take a look at that figure today, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial Sentinel was released alongside the other EU figures in the initial seven figure drop in 1998’s Power of the Force line-up.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall (one of the tallest figures from this era by a fair margin) and he has 4 points of articulation.  He was certainly one of the line’s more restricted figures in terms of posability, with no leg movement due to the nature of his design.  Of course, he really just follows in the footsteps of the standard Royal Guard in that regard.  At least this guy can turn his head.  The sculpt itself is a little bit on the goofy side, but then again, so is the actual design.  It’s nicely rendered in toy form, though, and one can certainly see why Kenner would have chosen it for a potential new lead villain in their continuation.  It’s definitely got a nice toyetic feel about it.  The outer robe piece is a separate part, which can be removed, for a bit more variety if you are inclined to army build.  The head’s also been designed with light-piping, allowing for the eyes to be illuminated.  It was rare for such a feature to be included in this line, but that doesn’t make it any less cool here.  In terms of paint work, the Sentinel sticks to the Royal Guard color scheme of lots of differing reds.  There’s also some gold mixed in, for a little extra flair.  My figure has a big streak of dark red on his left sleeve, but other than that, the application’s all pretty clean.  The Sentinel is packed with a battle axe (admittedly, not an incredibly Star Wars-y weapon, but a rather imposing one nevertheless), as well as including another 3D backdrop, much like the others in the set.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I touched on in prior EU reviews, Luke and the Clone Emperor were the only figures I had growing up, so all of the other ones were on my list when I got back into it as an adult.  When the full set of them got traded into All Time, the Imperial Sentinel was the only one I didn’t snag, as it was the one from the set Max had already called dibs on.  Fortunately, I was able to get one through Cosmic Comix not too long after getting the rest of the set, so they weren’t incomplete for too long.  The Sentinel is a character with a lot of history behind him, so he’s certainly one I’m glad to have in my collection.

#2610: Princess Leia – Dark Empire

PRINCESS LEIA — DARK EMPIRE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Six years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the galaxy is thrust into turmoil. A reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic’s closest friend – Luke Skywalker – may become their greatest enemy. Hoping to free her brother Luke from the evil of the dark side, Jedi Leia prepares to match her power against that of a reborn Emperor. Boarding his colossal warship, Leia is overwhelmed by the oppression of the dark side.”

If you’ve been following my Kenner Power of the Force II reviews as of late, you may have seen me start to get a little bit…uninspired about things?  In my defense I’m hitting a lot of the stuff from when the line was a little same-y.  I do still really love the line though, so I’m going to try to realign with something a little more exciting. Perhaps the most exciting portion of the line was its 1998 Expanded Universe spin-off.  It was our first real glimpse into toys of the world outside of the movies, and also gave Kenner some free reign to do some cool new stuff.  There were a handful of different stories covered, but by far the one to get the largest focus was Dark Empire, a rather notable continuation of the original trilogy at the time.  I’ve looked at both Luke and the Emperor from that story, and now I’m digging further into the set with an updated Princess Leia!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia from Dark Empire was part of the first seven figures in what would eventually be a nine figure line-up of the Expanded Universe sub-line.  She, like most of the EU figures, proved a bit scarce at the time of release, and honestly hasn’t ever reached the same level of plentifulness as other PotF figures.  The figure stands 3 1/2 inches tall and she has 6 points of articulation.  Leia is an all-new sculpt, patterned on her more action-faring design from the comics.  It’s an interesting design set-up.  She adds a Jedi-Luke-esque cape to her attire, and beneath it she’s got something that looks akin to Luke’s Bespin gear.  It’s definitely helps to solidify the more traditional protagonist role Leia falls into during the course of the story.  It’s a pretty decent sculpt overall.  It’s rather in keeping with the rest of the mid-line Leia sculpts from PotF, with a likeness that’s consistent with those other figures, making it easy to tell she’s supposed to be the same person.  The figure has a little bit of trouble standing without the cape, but with it on she keeps up just well.  And honestly, who’s not going to use the cape?  It’s so cool.  Leia’s paint work is, like the other EU figures, a touch more vibrant than the usual Star Wars fare.  Of all of them, she’s certainly less removed than others, but I do certainly enjoy the multitude of colors used on her cape.  It’s a very nice touch.  Leia is packed with a light saber (in a rather concerning red, to match her brother), and a small blaster.  And, like all of the single-carded EU figures, her card back also unfolds into a small 3D back drop for her, based on the comics.  This is consistently my favorite part of these figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The EU figures were a favorite piece of mine from this line, but as I noted when I looked at Kyle, the only ones I actually got as a kid were Luke and Palpatine.  I wanted the others, but they are, as noted above, not the most common PotF figures, and they’re one of the few sets I was more insistent about getting carded.  Fortunately, I happened upon a complete set of them through All Time back last year.  Leia’s perhaps not the flashiest of the set, but she’s still a fun variant of the character, and I get a real nostalgic kick from her.