#2261: Prince Xizor

PRINCE XIZOR

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“Prince Xizor is the head of the galaxy-wide criminal organization known as Black Sun, his power and influence challenged only by the Emperor and Darth Vader. A villainous mastermind, Xizor uses his huge , intergalactic shipping operations as a legitimate front, employing millions of criminals to execute favors for the Empire and carry out its his own evil agenda. His characteristic lack of emotion is due much to his Falleen ancestry which evolved from a species of reptile. Cold and clever, he plots his moves with a diabolical genius and fights with the skill of a tera kasi master, stopping at nothing to get in his way. Those that dare challenge Xizor generally meet with death by his own hand or by one of his myriad of henchmen. His favorite proverb: “To contend with Xizor is to lose”.”

In 1996, the Star Wars expanded universe got its first real time in the public spotlight, courtesy of the multimedia event that was Shadows of the Empire.  A movie launch without the movie, Shadows encompassed books, comics, video games, and of course toys, and told a story set in the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Since it was set between two established chunks of the story, there wasn’t very much at stake just pitting our heroes against Vader’s forces, since we all knew the outcome wouldn’t arise until the end of Jedi.  This meant there needed to be a new villain.  Enter Prince Xizor, a villain whose imposing nature was hindered only by not being Darth Vader in a universe where Darth Vader exists.  Oh, and also by totally having his look stolen by Ivan Ooze a year prior.  Xizor was central to much of the story’s marketing, and wound up with two figures from Kenner for their part of the tie-in.  I’m looking at the standard single release today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Prince Xizor is the final single-carded figure in the Shadows of the Empire spin-off line of Power of the Force II figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  That said, only the arms really have practical movement most of the time, thanks both to the weird braids on the back of his head, and the thick plastic robe that encases most of the figure.  A lot of this Xizor’s sculpt is shared with the two-pack release of the same time, but it remains unique to the character.  That’s…good?  I mean, it’s certainly different from everything else.  That said, Xizor was generally depicted as a fairly skinny guy, and this figure does not follow that set-up.  He definitely falls into that really buff PotF2 aesthetic, and perhaps exemplifies it even more than other figures from the main line.  It’s really only exaggerated by the really bulky robe, but even with that removed, it’s still not great.  I mean…there’s some interesting detail work going on under the robe, so that’s cool, but it’s not like it’s a particularly endearing design.  It’s a relic of its time at best.   The colorscheme is also a definite relic, and easily feels like the least Star Wars-y aspect of the character.  Neither purple nor the pale green feel like the fit the established Star Wars color scheme, especially the colors of the original trilogy era.  The application on the paint is decent enough, but that doesn’t really change how out of place he feels with the others from the line.  Xizor is packed with a pair of shield blades, which can snap together into one larger shield.  They’re nifty enough, and honestly one of the more exciting parts of the figure, because they’re unique if nothing else.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Even as a kid, I never liked Xizor.  He always felt like an intruder, trying to hide amongst the rest of the Star Wars line, but always sticking out.  As such, I never owned him.  But, after managing to get everyone else from the Shadows line, I felt it was wrong for him to still be missing.  I ended up grabbing him during one of my PotF buying sprees last winter.  There were a lot of figures, so I guess that made buying Xizor a little more palatable.  He’s still not really a favorite of mine, and having the figure in hand hasn’t really changed any of my opinions about it or the character, but here it is, I guess.

#2247: AT-ST Driver

AT-ST DRIVER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

The AT-ST, commonly referred to as the “chicken walker” was first introduced into Star Wars in Empire Strikes Back, but really became prominent in Return of the Jedi.  The vehicle would end up being one of the earliest vehicles available in the Power of the Force II line, hitting shelves in 1995.  However, while the vehicle was available right away, it would take a little bit of time for it to finally get its distinctive driver, whose figure I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The AT-ST Driver was added to the Power of the Force line in 1997, unfortunately right after the vehicle he was meant to pilot left shelves, making him a little bit of a tough sell.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  I’ve looked at a fair bit of this figure’s sculpt before, since the torso, pelvis, and legs were all re-used for the 1998 Scanning Crew figure.  He had a unique helmeted head, as well as arms with gloves.  The sculpt is fine, but not really anything to write home about.  I will say that the AT-ST Driver-specific parts made it slightly more exciting than the Scanning Crew, as well as making him a little easier to justify army building with that helmet in place.  As a whole, though, he’s still a little soft an puffy by modern standards.  As with the Scanning Crew, the paint on this guy’s somewhat on the bland side, but that’s due to the film design being a whole lot of grey.  Hey, they can’t all be winners, right?  Otherwise, the goofy aliens wouldn’t stick out and be fun.  The AT-ST Driver was packed with two different styles of blaster rifle, which I suppose is nice of them to include, even if he’s destined to never hold them, what with driving the AT-ST and all.  Still, it’s nice to get something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy from All Time.  I know, shocker.  He was in a collection that got traded in, he was still carded, but his card and bubble were in really ratty shape, so I took the opportunity to grab a “new” one without paying a new price.  He’s okay, but hardly the most exciting, much like the Scanning Crew figure was.  These guys are meant to accent the more exciting figures in the set, but not be the primary focus themselves.  In that respect, I guess they do succeed.

#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.

#2205: Imperial Scanning Crew

IMPERIAL SCANNING CREW

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In 1997, we got our very first Wedge Antilles figure, available exclusively as a pack-in with a figure carrying case shaped like the Millenium Falcon.  Wedge’s placement in a case shaped like a ship that he never so much as stepped foot on during the original trilogy’s run was definitely an odd choice, so in 1998, when Kenner re-issued the case again, I guess they kind of took that to heart, and instead gave us someone who *had* actually stepped foot on the ship…like that’s literally the only thing he did.  Yes, it was the Imperial Scanning Crew, one of those non-even-a-Stormtrooper guys who goes and checks the Falcon when it gets pulled onto the Death Star in the first film.  Admittedly, not the biggest role, but he *did* interact with the Falcon!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As touched on the intro, the Imperial Scanning Crew replaced Wedge Antilles as the pack-in figure for the Power of the Force II Millenium Falcon Carrying Case in 1998.  There’s just the single version of the figure to keep track of this time around, though, which is honestly a little amusing, given the there’s room for multiple purchases on a figure like this.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Like Wedge, the Scanning Crew figure makes use of some reused parts, with his torso, pelvis, and legs all being shared with the AT-ST Driver figure from 1997.  There’s not really a lot you can do to mix up the basic grey jumpsuit, so the re-use is honestly pretty sensible here.  He gets a new head and arms, which remove the gloves and helmet and give him that officers’ style cap that the crew sports in the movie.  The whole sculpt would eventually see re-use again for a single carded Scanning Crew figure in the Original Trilogy Collection, so obviously Hasbro liked it.  It’s not terrible, though it certainly shows all of the hallmarks of the mid-line PotF2 figures, with proportions that aren’t totally crazy, but are certainly a bit off, and some slightly softer sculpted elements.  His paint work is rather on the bland side, but then that’s pretty accurate to the source material.  Application’s still pretty clean, though, and there’s not obviously missing details.  The Scanning Crew figure was packed with a blaster pistol and a scanning trunk, both of which are missing from my copy of the figure.  The trunk is actually a nice, unique piece, and a sensible choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finally picking up a Wedge, I felt compelled to own this guy as well.  Not really sure why, probably just that completist strain that runs through me.  I ended up finding him loose last winter during a vacation, courtesy of my usual vacation stop Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s not super exciting, and really anything to write home about, but he was unique, and honestly a decent choice for this sort of a pack-in figure, being non-essential, but still a nice background filler for a kid who bought the case.

#2191: Cantina Showdown

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.

OBI-WAN KENOBI

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!

PONDA BABA

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.

DR. EVAZAN

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?

#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.

#2164: Jabba’s Skiff Guards

KLAATU, BARADA, & NIKTO

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Jabba the Hutt always enjoyed the thrill of using the lives of others as tokens in his games of peril and doom. Years ago he presided over the dangerous Tatooine Podraces where dozens of pilots put their lives on the line as crowds screamed and cheered. He now hoped to surpass that drama by escorting his prisoners Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca to their end in the Great Pit of Carkoon. But the captives quickly overcame the skiff guards Klaatu, Nikto and Barada, and brought Jabba himself to a fitting end.”

The denizens of Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi give Mos Eisley Cantina a good run for its money in terms of their unique and strange alien designs..  Fitting, I suppose, since the two locations are on the same planet and all.  The characters in Jabba’s company are divided into three separate groups.  There are the ones in the palace proper, the ones on his sail barge, and the ones on the skiffs over the Sarlac Pit.  Today’s figures, Klaatu, Barada, and Nikto (a sci-fi callback referencing the words spoken to Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still) fall into that third category.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Released in 1999, these three were part of the third year of Cinema Scenes for the Power of the Force II line.  They were designed to coincide with the release of the Skiff proper that same year, which just seems downright sensible, doesn’t it?

KLAATU

This is Klaatu, who is apparently a male Kadas’sa’Nikto, at least according to his Wookiepedia entry, which is pretty much my only source for info on this guy.  He’s green, reptilian, and looks like he’s wearing his pajamas.  That’s pretty much all I got.  Oh, right, the figure!  Yeah, so he’s 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  All pretty standard there.  His sculpt was unique to him and would remain so.  Klaatu’s stance is the least pre-posed of this bunch, and honestly his actual sculpt is also the least detailed, which leads one to wonder if he may have originally been slated for some sort of a single release earlier on, before being moved here.  Klaatu’s paintwork is decent enough, if not incredibly eye-catching.  It’s got some weathering going on, so that’s pretty cool.  Klaatu is armed with a pike, which he has a little bit of difficulty properly holding with his pose.

BARADA

This is Barada, who is a Klatooinian, something that may have caused some confusion around his buddy Klaatu.  Barada actually has a whole backstory, not that any of it’s remotely touched on in the movie.  His sculpt would actually be re-used again years later for a single release in slightly different colors.  While still not incredibly pre-posed, he’s still a little more so than Klaatu.  His sculpt is also far more detailed, especially in regards to texturing, which is how he was able to be re-used much later on without much issue.  Barada’s vintage figure actually used the wrong color scheme for the character, meaning this figure was the first time he would receive his proper colors.  The paintwork is fairly strong, especially when it comes to his skin tone.  Barada was packed with a blaster pistol.

NIKTO

This is Nikto…wait, no, it’s actually not!  Despite what the box may claim, the character’s actual name is Vizam, and he’s a member of the Kajain’sa’Nikto, a separate race of Nikto from Klaatu up above.  Additionally, Vizam isn’t even present on the skiff in the movie; he’s part of Jabba’s sail barge crew (he’s seen manning one of the blaster cannons).  But, there was no sail barge set, so here he is.  Of the three sculpts in this set, Nikto/Vizam is actually my personal favorite.  The posing on him is well executed, and I particularly appreciate how he’s sculpted to properly hold his weapon.  I also dig all the work on the various layers of his outfit; it gives this figure a little more depth than his pack-mates.  His paint work is again pretty decent.  They were definitely starting to try out accenting here, which works well for this particular set of characters.  Nikto/Vizam is packed with another pike, but this one is actually unique from the one given to Klaatu.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Jabba’s palace group has never been super high on my list of interests, so I didn’t have these growing up (though I did have one of the reissues of Barada). I ended up getting these guys from All Time during one of my Potf2 splurges back in December.  Ultimately, they’re one of the intersting cases of figures that don’t do a whole lot on their, but as part of a greater set, they’re pretty nice.

#2149: Cantina Band Member

CANTINA BAND MEMBER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Mos Eisley may be home to scum and villainy, but it’s not without its entertainment value.  There’s plenty of peppy tunes to be had in the Mos Eisley Cantina, home to the Cantina Band, known more specifically as Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes.  The Cantina Band is definitely a distinctive element in the first film, even if they do boil down to just six identical guys with rubber masks.  The band was absent from the vintage line, but Power of the Force put a lot of effort into filling out the Cantina, with both patrons and employees.  Rather than releasing the Band’s individual members, Kenner took advantage of the shared basic design and released one figure with a bunch of instruments, allowing fans to buy how ever many they wanted…provided it wasn’t more than five.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cantina Band Member was offered up exclusively through Star Wars Insider Magazine and the official fan club in 1997.  The figure was limited to five per person…which actually means no one was able to get a complete band, since there are six members in the movie (two of them played the same instrument).  Whoops.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  In order to facilitate holding all of the instruments, the Band Member was given both elbow and wrist joints, thereby making him one of the most articulated figures in the line.  Such as it is, he still has some trouble holding the instruments, but it was a nice idea.  The sculpt on this guy isn’t a bad one; the aliens always made out the best in this line, and he’s no exception.  The head’s definitely the best piece, and does a quite respectable job of capturing the mask from the movie.  The body falls a little bit victim to PotF‘s penchant for pre-posing.  It’s not terrible, and is really just limited to the slight forward step of the legs.  It does make him slightly tricky to keep standing, though.  The paintwork on him is fairly basic, but there’s definitely some nice accenting on the head and hands, which gives him a little bit of pop.  Accessories are really the main game here, as the figure includes five different instruments.  Included are the Kloo Horn (played by band leader Figrin D’an), the Dorenian Beshniquel (played by Doikk Na’ts), the Fanfar (played by Ickabel G’ont and Tedn Dahai), the Omni Box (played by Tech Mo’r), and the Bandfill (played by Nalan Cheel).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t so much up on the fan club stuff in the ’90s, so I didn’t get one of these as a kid.  Instead, he’s one of the perks of working with All Time Toys, as I literally had this guy thrown at me by the owner when he was informed I didn’t own one yet.  He’s not quite as good a figure as Kenner was aiming for, but he’s still a pretty solid offering, and at some point I’ll need to track down a few more of them.

This figure was literally thrown at me by my sponsors over at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.  I doubt they’ll throw anything at you.

#2135: Rebel Pilots

WEDGE ANTILLES, TEN NUMB, & ARVEL CRYNYD

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“For generations, an evil power has spread throughout the galaxy. It began with Darth Sidious’ sinister plot to conquer the planet Naboo and peaked with the Empire’s domination of the galaxy. Throughout the era, brave starfighter pilots flew into space to fight this power. Naboo pilots braved impossible odds to save their planet from the superior forces of the Trade Federation. years later, X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles, B-wing Pilot Ten Numb, and A-wing pilot Arvel Crynyd were part of the assault on the second Death Star. Their success at the Battle of Endor released the iron grip on the galaxy.”

Several reviews in, I must admit, I’m running out of interesting things to say about Rebel pilots.  There sure are a lot of them, which is probably a good thing, given their high mortality rate.  Like other areas of the Star Wars ‘verse, they also get into the whole specialization bit that Lucas got particularly fond of, with each ship getting its own branch of pilots.  A few of them were packed with their vehicles, but Kenner eventually went for broke and threw a handful of them together in one multipack.  I’m looking at that set today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These three were released as the “Rebel Pilots” Cinema Scene, released as part of the third year of Power of the Force II Cinema Scenes in 1999.  Of all of the Cinema Scenes, they were the one that seemed to have the loosest grasp on the concept, since it’s not actually based on a particular screen grab from the film like the others.  I think Kenner was just using the easiest excuse to put out these guys in a multipack.  I’m certainly not complaining.

WEDGE ANTILLES

After being officially introduced to the line in 1997 as a pack-in with the Millenium Falcon carrying case, Wedge got his second figure in pretty short order as the real headliner of this set.  While that figure gave us Wedge in his cold-weather gear from Hoth, and generally followed the stylings of the earlier figures from the line, this one gives us him in his more standard X-Wing pilot attire from both A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  From the neck down, he’s the same body as Biggs and the Rebel Alliance Pilot.  It’s a fairly standard pilot attire and they had fairly similar builds, so it works fine for Wedge.  He gets a new head, which marks a first in the line, giving a pilot a removable helmet.  It’s a little oversized, especially when compared the admittedly quite undersized helmeted heads of the earlier pilots, but actually looks pretty decent.  Under the helmet, there’s a decent likeness of actor Dennis Lawson, which looks closer than the prior attempt.  It does, of course, benefit from being his whole head, rather than just the face. The paintwork on Wedge is pretty decently handled, albeit pretty basic in implementation.  Interestingly, the various colors on his flightsuit have been slightly changed from Biggs and the Rebel Alliance Pilot, making Wedge a little bit more unique.

TEN NUMB

While everyone knows fellow Sullustan rebel Nien Nunb, he’s not the only one to figure into Jedi‘s climactic star battle.  B-Wing pilot Ten Numb was also there, and so he got a figure.  Yay.  The figure stands 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He’s an all-new sculpt, although a lot of his parts are unsurprisingly pretty close to Nien Nunb’s.  It’s honestly not a bad offering.  He’s not super posable or super detailed, but he’s a good match (at least sculpturally) for the character’s on-screen appearance.  Like Wedge, he’s also got removable headgear, which is actually pretty impressive given how oddly shaped his head is.  Ten’s paint is the subject of some scrutiny, because his jumpsuit is actually entirely the wrong color.  In the film, he’s in red, but early promotional shots had the character in white, and that’s what his figures tend to be wearing.  If nothing else, it makes him more easily distinguished from Nien Nunb, so I guess there’s that.

ARVEL CRYNYD

Okay, so this guy?  Not actually Arvel Crynyd as it turns out.  Arvel is an A-Wing pilot, and is notable for crashing into the bridge of the Executor.  If a figure’s getting his name, it would make more sense for it to be the A-Wing Pilot.  This guy on the other hand, isn’t an A-Wing pilot at all.  He’s actually a Y-Wing pilot named Lt. Telsij.  Talk about mistaken identity.  Telsij is another all-new sculpt, and he’s pretty much on par with the other two, although he’s obviously a little closer to Wedge in terms of styling.  He too has a removable helmet, which is another good fit.  Beneath it is a nicely detailed, sufficently unique looking head.  In terms of paintwork, Telsij is in a similar situation to Ten.  His jumpsuit is red here, but should actually be grey to be screen accurate.  What’s weird is even if this were Arvel, the red would be incorrect, so I’m not sure where the color came from.  Whatever the case, it’s likely going to be hidden from view and he’s minor enough for it to be forgivable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this set as a kid, but I knew of its existence, and have wanted it for a bit.  I finally got it via a large Star Wars collection that was traded into All Time Toys.  There were actually a few of this set mixed in with all the loose items, so I was able to fish out the best copies of each of them.  It doesn’t fit the trend of the rest of the line, but I don’t really mind it, because this is actually a pretty dope set.

#2121: Rebel Alliance Pilot

REBEL ALLIANCE PILOT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In my review of the Power of the Force II A-Wing Pilot back in June, I discussed how the Rebel Pilots gained unique uniforms in Return of the Jedi after they’d all shared the same basic look for A New Hope‘s trench run.  But, they *did* all share a uniform originally, which means that toy makers will find themselves with a need to fill a few spots with generic guys in that same uniform.  That’s where today’s figure comes into play!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rebel Alliance Pilot was available exclusively with the Target-exclusive Y-Wing Bomber, released in 2000 as an exclusive part of the Power of the Force II line.  Exclusively.  Lot of excluding going on there.  He was officially billed as “Unique Rebel Alliance Pilot,” which is rather amusing, because…well, he’s not.  He’s just definitively a generic place holder figure for all of the various unnamed pilots seen in the movie, meaning he’s exactly the sort of figure you would have every right to own multiples of, and who would therefore not be unique in the collection.  What’s more, even his molds aren’t really unique.  From the neck down, he’s identical to the 1998 Biggs Darklighter figure, which is fair, since he was our first proper New Hope-styled pilot.  The head is a new piece, at least in theory, though I myself remain unconvinced that it’s not just Biggs’ head without the mustache painted.  I’d have to actually see the Biggs head sans paint to confirm this, of course, which is a bit much for me.  Whatever the case, the two heads are certainly very similar, and this figure possess the same undersized helmet issue that Biggs had, which is consistent at the very least.  May the Rebel Pilots are just pin-headed?  For the most part, his paintwork matches Biggs, at least as far as the body is concerned, barring one color change-up on his chest monitor.  The head is different, with the skintone being molded rather than painted, and his helmet having a more generic selection of details.  Everything about the paint says “designed to fade into the crowd.”  The Pilot included no accessories, really being an accessory himself and all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s not a lot noteworthy about this figure, and that kind of extends to how I got him.  I picked him up alongside the carrying-case version of Wedge, back in December when I was on a PotF2 binge.  He’s fine.  That’s the best I can say about him.  I’m sure if I had the vehicle he was originally packed with, he’d look nice piloting it.  As it stands, he’s just one of those figures I have because I’m looking to get a full run.