#1579: Han Solo – Millennium Falcon Gunner Station

HAN SOLO – MILLENNIUM FALCON GUNNER STATION

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Two weeks ago, I discussed Kenner’s deluxe offerings from their Power of the Force II toyline.  Specifically, I looked at Luke Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon gunner station.  That particular item was designed to work in tandem with another of the deluxe offerings, Han Solo, packed with another of the gunner stations.  I’ll be looking at that particular item today!  And awaaaaaaay we go!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As with the prior set, Han and the Gunner station were released in 1997 as part of the third set of deluxe Power of the Force II figures.  This Han was based on his end of the movie gloved and headset-ed look, which has been the source of a few Han figures (such as the previously released 30th Anniversary one).  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, he lost the waist movement.  Don’t know why, but there it was.  This figure is rather similar in construction to the first PotF2 Han, but he doesn’t actually share any parts with that figure.  He’s still got some of the wonky proportions, and the head isn’t the best likeness of Harrison Ford, but he’s definitely a bit toned down from the earlier offerings.  I’d place him about on par with the Bespin Han figure, where he’s still within the general confines of the line’s style, but looks a fair bit more like an actual human being.  That’s certainly a plus.  The paint work on Han is fairly standard stuff.  Nothing exceptional, but it’s certainly passable work, especially for the line.  There’s less slop here than on the corresponding Luke. The color palette matches the other Hans from the line, so he was certainly consistent.  Han didn’t include any small accessories, but he still had the gunner station, which was identical to the one that Luke came packed with.  If you had both stations, they could be connected by the platform running behind them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Luke when he was new-ish.  They also had the Han at that time, but I was a silly small child who only wanted Luke and not Han, so he went unpurchased.  It was only recently that I finally acquired this guy.  Lost In Time Toys had him out during one of their sidewalk sales in December, so I was able to pick him up for a pretty low price.  He’s a pretty solid offering for the time.  I could have seen him becoming my default Han had I had him back in the day.

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#1565: Luke Skywalker – Millenium Falcon Gunner Station

LUKE SKYWALKER – MILLENIUM FALCON GUNNER STATION

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

In the ‘90s, the toy aisle was ruled by gimmicks.  Whatever your toy was, it needed a cool gimmick.  The trouble for Kenner’s just recently relaunched Star Wars brand was that it’s not super easy to work goofy ‘90s gimmicks into the confines of the established brand.  In ’96, they gave it a go, offering up a Deluxe line, featuring four of the franchise’s heaviest hitters, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, and a Stormtrooper, all packed with some big honking missile launching contraption.  Suffice it to say, the line was not exactly the smash hit Kenner was hoping for, so they went back to the drawing board.  The 1997 Deluxe offerings were all much more sensible, and by 1998, they’d even come up with a decent theme: Gunner Stations.  Remember the gunner stations used by Luke and Han in their escape from the Death Star?  Those were pretty cool, right?  Well, Kenner certainly thought so, and offered up new figures of both Luke and Han, each packed with one of the stations.  I’ll be looking at Luke today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Variations of Farmboy Luke weren’t exactly uncommon in 1998, but this one does give us a slight tweak that’s not been done as a figure since.  Like the Smuggler Han figure I looked at a few months back, this figure depicts Luke with a headset, as well as the belt he took from his Stormtrooper disguise.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Unlike the last version of Farmboy Luke I looked at from this line, this particular figure comes from after the line had largely fixed those wonky proportions, so Luke no longer looks like he’s been juicing hardcore.  I think there’s perhaps an argument to made for him looking a little flat in some places, but he certainly looks a lot better than he did.  He’s also sporting a head based on the second style of standard Luke from this line.  This head was definitely an improvement on the prior one, and while it’s still not a spot-on likeness of Hamill, it’s certainly closer than before.  This particular version has been tweaked to give him the headset, which also means he’s got a full ear showing on one side, which I think was a first as far as Luke Skywalkers go.  The paint on this figure is pretty standard.  The application is all pretty clean, though there’s a bit of slop under his left eye.  Overall, though, a solid effort.

THE GUNNER STATION ITSELF

Luke himself is really more of an accessory to the main selling point of this set, which is the Gunner station.  Once assembled, the station is pretty sizable, standing about 7 inches tall and measuring 6 inches deep.  The seat and turret are one connected piece, attached to the base via a hinge.  The hinge isn’t particularly strong, so the seat ends up just resting on the platform beneath it if there’s a figure in place.  There’s a faux-window piece that clips over the main gun, which does its best to sell this as being one of the Falcon’s two guns.  That being said, aside from the window and the general shape of the gun, the overall layout of the station is a bit different from the one seen in the movie.  I guess it’s more about the spirit, though.  As far as paint goes, it’s confined to the main section of the gun, which has some slight blaster scarring, which looks reasonable enough.  There’s also a decal back on the monitor, which replicates the screen in front of Luke in the movie.  Beyond that, it’s just molded plastic.  There’s also a sort of missile launching feature.  The barrels of the gun can be fired in succession when you turn the gear at the back of the gun.  It’s not spring loaded and the missiles don’t actually click into place or anything. which can be a bit on the annoying side when you’re picking this thing up and moving it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was much younger, every year when school finished up, my Nana would take me and my cousin Rusty out and buy us a few small things as a small treat for finishing out the year.  We were each given a set amount we could spend, and I had gotten one or two other things (what they were, I can’t for the life of me remember), and I still had a little bit left to spend, and I believe this guy was marked down.  He was actually my go-to Luke for a good while, and stayed my stand-by Farmboy Luke until I started collecting as an adult.

#1558: Swoop Vehicle

SWOOP VEHICLE (w/ SWOOP TROOPER)

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s broad reach has included thousands of planets in the galaxy. With such a vast territory to police, the Empire often pays bounty hunters huge sums for the capture or elimination of certain “wanted” individuals. The mercenaries favored by the Empire are expert trackers and assassins, dangerous individuals who are highly intelligent and extremely skilled in both weapons use and air combat. A preferred vehicle of many of these elite bounty hunters is the swoop, a brawny speeder craft most often associated with gangs and outlaws such as the Nova Demons and the Dark Star Hellions; its toughness and incredible speed make it a perfect mount for bounty hunters.”

For the most part, Shadows of the Empire’s focus was placed on our recognizable heroes and villains, filling in a few gaps in their personal stories.  Totally new concepts weren’t a huge piece of it.  Sure, there were the likes of Dash and his ship the Outrider, but they were really just quick concepts thrown together to replace a popular character who couldn’t actually be in the story.  There were a few more original concepts, but mostly off to the side, such as today’s focus, the Swoop speeder!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

Following in the vein of Return of the Jedi’s Speeder Bikes, here’s the Swoop.  It’s sort of the chopper of the galaxy far, far away, I suppose.  Of the three vehicles offered in Shadows of the Empire packaging, this is certainly the smallest.  It’s about 6 inches long and stands 2 1/2 inches tall.  The cannon on the side swings up and down, but beyond that there’s no other moving pieces.  Not a shock on a vehicle of this nature, though, and its not like the design really allows for them.  It’s a decent enough design for a bike in the Star Wars ‘verse, matching up alright with what we’ve seen in the movies, while also not being a total retread.  The sculpt is fairly well rendered, albeit perhaps not as intricately as some of the actual movie designs.  It lacks some of the smaller details that sold that whole “used future” aspect of the franchise.  Still, it’s a visually intriguing design, and it fits well with the rest of what Kenner was doing at the time.  The paintwork on the bike is pretty solid stuff.  A lot of red and silver, but it looks good, and there’s some pretty cool accent work on the larger sections of the bike.  Smaller details are handled via decals instead of actual paint.  The decals are fine, but they are a bit less advanced than the sort of thing you’d see now, thereby making them rather obvious.  That said, the bike certainly looks better with them than without them.  The bike includes a missile for the cannon, which has a spring-loaded feature.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Included with the Swoop is its own dedicated pilot, simply dubbed the “Swoop Trooper.”  Very original name there.  The package proudly boasts that this figure is exclusive to this particular set, and, unlike a lot of Kenner/Hasbro’s “exclusive” pack-in figures, it actually stuck for this guy.  I’d guess that’s largely due to his obscurity…and reminder, this is a Star Wars figure I’m taking about here.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  The bike pilots all got extra articulation at the knees, which I was always a fan of, though he does end up losing the waist joint.  This figure also has a different neck joint; instead of the usual swivel joint, he’s got a hinge sort of thing, which allows him to look up and down instead.  The same joint had previously been used on the Biker Scout from the main Power of the Force II line, and, while I don’t mind it, it certainly made a bit more sense on that figure than it does on this one.  The Swoop Trooper’s design was, of course, created wholesale for the Shadows of the Empire event.  It’s alright, but, like a lot of the Shadows designs, it doesn’t necessarily fit the classic Star Wars aesthetic, instead falling into more typical ‘90s comics design concepts.  It’s certainly not a bad design, but I can’t say it’s a favorite of mine.  Still, it’s a decent sculpt of a decent design.  I certainly appreciate the presence of some shared armor elements between this guy and some of the other troopers (namely the knee pads from the Biker Scout).  In terms of paint, the Trooper is a bit of a step up from the bike, since there’s a bit more going on.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the assortment of browns, as they aren’t a super thrilling combo.  That said, application is all pretty clean, and he looks respectable enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Swoop bike was a rather recent addition to my collection.  I missed a lot of the Shadows of the Empire stuff when it was new, so I’ve been piecing it together little by little.  I found this set at Lost in Time during their winter sale.  Since it was like $5, I figured it was worth it to finally grab it.  Not the most thrilling thing to come out of the franchise, but it’s another solid offering from Kenner’s ‘90s Star Wars output.

#1544: Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise

LUKE SKYAWALKER IN IMPERIAL GUARD DISGUISE

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“The Empire’s victory in the Battle of Hoth has brought hard times for the Rebel Alliance. Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader, and two huge bounties have been placed on the head of Luke Skywalker. The Emperor wants him alive, but Prince Xizor , underlord of the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy, wants him dead. Worse still is that the diabolical Xizor is holding Princess Leia Organa prisoner in his castle on the Imperial Center of Coruscant. this is a tactical maneuver, part of a larger master plan to lure Luke Skywalker into his castle where he can be easily eliminated — the key step in Xizor’s plan to replace Darth Vader at the Emperor’s side. unaware of this danger, the young Jedi and Lando Calrissian sneak into Imperial City hoping to rescue Leia. Simplylaying foot on Coruscant is a dangerous act for these two: high on the Empire’s list of most-wanted outlaws, they could easily be recognized and captured — or assassinated. Disguising themselves as beggars, they “borrow” the armored uniforms from a pair of elite Coruscant stormtroopers. These troopers are some of the Empire’s finest, selected as home guards for the wealthiest and most cultured city in the galaxy. Joining forces with Chewbacca and Dash Rendar, Skywalker and Calrissian attempt to infiltrate Xizor’s nearly impenetrable stronghold and rescue the princess.”

1996’s Shadows of the Empire was important, in that it was the first time the public at large had been introduced to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  It’s also an interesting experiment in marketing, essentially being a movie merchandising campaign that lacked a movie.  There were a handful of figures, mixed in with Kenner’s then running Power of the Force II.  Newcomers Dash Rendar and Prince Xizor got figures, of course, but there were also new variants of out heroes Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, all of whom had to take on disguises during this new story.  I’ve looked at both Leia and Chewbacca, which just leaves Luke, who I’ll be reviewing today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker in Imperial Guard Disguise was released in the basic figure assortment of Kenner’s Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire line.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  This Luke uses the same head as all of the other early PotF2 Lukes.  It’s not the best likeness, but hey, here’s to consistency, right? The rest of the figure is brand new.  The packaging dubs his look as “Imperial Guard Disguise,” a name that tends to conjure up the red guards from Return of the Jedi, who look quite a bit different than the look Luke is sporting here.  However, the bio fills us in that this armor is actually from one of the elite Stormtroopers on Coruscant, making it a separate look entirely.  As with so much of the design work seen in Shadows, the armor is undeniably a product of mid-90s comic book design, meaning it’s a little divorced from the original trilogy designs.  His armor’s bulky and ultra padded, and seems to lack that used look we’re so accustomed to.  It’s a little hard to reconcile this as a design that would appear in between Empire and Jedi.  That being said, it’s hardly a terrible look.  In fact, it manages to be rather unique and helps this Luke to stand out a bit from the crowd of other Lukes from over the years.  The paint work on this figure is fairly decent, and, like the rest of his design, fairly unique.  The red’s a nice shade, and all of the application is pretty clean.  He’s packed with a removable helmet and half-cape to help complete his full disguise.  Since Luke lost his father’s lightsaber in Empire and didn’t build a new one until the beginning of Jedi, he of course needed a new weapon, so this figure included a taser staff weapon.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was, I believe, my first Shadows of the Empire figure.  My cousin Noah had saved up to buy the PotF2 Millennium Falcon, and was along for the trip to go buy it.  Noah’s mother, who took us on the trip, agreed to get me one figure.  Luke was my favorite character, and this figure appealed to my 5-year-old self, so he was the one I picked.  I’d say having this guy in my collection already was probably what pushed me to pick up the Bounty Hunter Chewbacca instead of the normal one, and owning these two is certainly not a decision I regret in the slightest.

#1523: Princess Leia Organa

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“After many unsuccessful attempts to bring change to the Empire as a senator, Princess Leia Organa became involved in the Rebel Alliance and immediately established herself as one of its most popular and influential leaders. Although it was extremely dangerous for someone of her prominence. Leia often participated in secret missions for the rebellion. It was during one such mission to recruit General Obi-Wan Kenobi that she obtained the technical readouts for the Empire’s new Death Star battle station. Moments before being captured by Darth Vader, Leia hid the plans in the droid R2-D2, who then escaped to the planet Tatooine to find Kenobi.”

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve looked at both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in their Stormtrooper disguises, which they use to sneak into the Deathstar detention center.  I haven’t yet looked at the subject of their rescue (who ends up doing a little bit of the rescuing herself), Princess Leia Organa.  So, I’m going to amend that today, by looking at one of the worst Leia figures in existence.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Princess Leia was released in the first series of Kenner’s Power of the Force II, where she wound up as the short-packed figure.  She was the first of several Leia figures from the line, and is based on her introductory look, her main appearance from A New Hope.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Despite Carrie Fisher being a good deal shorter than most of her cast mates, Leia isn’t noticeably shorter than the other figures in the line.  This was a trend that wouldn’t really be corrected until the line re-formated after The Phantom Menace.  Leia’s sculpt was unique to her, which is a good thing, because that means Kenner realized the horrible mistake they’d made and never allowed it to occur again.  I’m sorry, was that too harsh?  Yeah, I’m not much of a fan of this sculpt.  She’s preposed, she’s got really goofy proportions, her costume’s kind of strangely inaccurate, and, most importantly, her face looks not unlike a monkey.  Seriously, look at that face and tell me that doesn’t look at all like Zira.  None of the PotF2 figures had particularly great likenesses, but every other Leia in the line was way better than this.  I’m trying to find something positive to say about this sculpt…the hair’s not terrible, I guess?  Her paint’s pretty simple, since she’s mostly just molded in white plastic, which a little bit of paint here and there.  It’s not terrible.  Leia included two different styles of blaster pistol (both of which are missing from my figure), as well as a removable cape and skirt.  The cape is a bit baffling, as it just sort of continues the trend of Kenner clearly having no idea what Leia was actually wearing in the film.  I suppose this was a bit closer than the vintage release?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ah, this one.  This one’s an important one.  Why?  Because this is the figure that introduced me to my arch-nemesis: The Scalper!  Yes, in my quest for this figure, I had an unfortunate run-in with a horrid man-creature, which I detailed a few years ago in the ever so eloquently titled “GAHHHHHHHHH!  Suffice it to say, I did eventually get the figure through non-scalped means, thanks to some dutiful work on my parents’ part.  This was my first Leia, and I have aa whole story that goes with her, which gives her all this great emotional value.  It’s a shame the actual figure kind of sucks.  I mean, I’m glad I have her, but there’s no denying that she’s just a bad figure.

#1516: Luke Skywalker as Stormtrooper

LUKE SKYWALKER AS STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Disguised as stormtroopers and fighting off a regiment of Imperial troops inside the Death Star, the escaping band of heroes finds refuge in a garbage receptacle. The Rebels realize their problem has changed when the walls begin closing in.”

So, apparently there was this movie released yesterday.  Star Wars?  Kind of a big deal I guess.  While I’m still totally up to date on the actual Last Jedi stuff in my collection, I still have plenty of older figures in the backlog.  And, since I looked at the Stormtrooper Disguise Han Solo two weeks ago, why not take a looksie at his companion Luke figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker as Stormtrooper was released in the 1996 assortment of Power of the Force II, as that year’s third variant of Luke, and the fifth overall Luke in the line.  This was our second Stormtrooper Disguise Luke, following the one released in the original Power of the Force line.  He’s about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Despite how it may look, the only re-used piece on this guy is the torso, which is the same one used on the Stormtrooper Han.  Nevertheless, he’s still the same height as Han and the basic troopers, meaning he’s not actually short for a Stormtrooper.  Instead of Han’s more pre-posed look, Luke has a more generic standing pose, which looks decent enough.  He still follows the general style of the line, so he’s far more muscle bound than any of the troopers we see on screen.  But, like I said with Han, if you’re gonna have the style, I guess it’s best to stick with it.  His head is a re-working of the early PotF2 Luke head.  It’s not one of the better Hamill likenesses, but it’s not as terrible as some of the early sculpts.  Plus, it means he fits with the rest of them, which I suppose is for the best.  The paint on Luke is fairly straight forward stuff.  It’s pretty clean overall, and matches up with the rest of the line pretty well.  Luke was packed with a removable helmet (the same one included with Han) and a standard Stormtrooper blaster.  It’s a pretty standard set of extras, but more than one accessory is always nice with a Star Wars figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting Han as a mail-away, I was on the look out for this guy.  It took him a little while to hit, but I ended up finding him at Another Universe, the comic book store in the local mall.  I was pretty excited for him, and he makes for a pretty cool pairing with Han to be sure.

#1502: Han Solo as Stormtrooper

HAN SOLO AS STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Okay, so let’s talk about a concept that I really miss: mail away action figures.  Those cool little bonuses you’d get for collecting a bunch of proofs of purchase, or even just finishing a box of cereal.  Hasbro used to be pretty big on them, but we haven’t seen anything like this in a good decade.  It’s kind of a little sad.  So why not reminisce a bit for better times and have a look at one of my favorite mail-away items, Han Solo as Stormtrooper!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han Solo as Stormtrooper was offered in 1995 through 1996 as a Kellog’s-exclusive mail-away offer, featured on Froot Loops, as a part of the overall Power of the Force II line from Kenner.  This was the second Han in POTF2, following the basic ANH Han from Series 1.  As noted by the name, he depicts Han in his Stormtrooper disguise from his time on the Death Star in A New Hope.  Believe it or not, this was the first time we got such a figure.  Said figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Surprisingly enough, the sculpt is all-new, and doesn’t use pieces from any of the standard Stormtroopers.  It still follows their lead stylistically, of course, meaning he’s still got that whole steroid abuse look going on.  But hey, if you’re gonna blend in, you gotta actually blend in, right?  He’s sculpted with a bit of a pose to him, like he’s right in the middle of a lunge or something, which is consistent with the rest of the line’s earliest figures.  The head is a slight re-working of the early POTF2 Han head.  It still doesn’t really look like Harrison Ford, but I can understand their desire for consistency.  I also really like the addition of the collar to his neck; that’s a nice touch.  His paintwork is fairly standard fair.  The body’s on par with the basic Stormtrooper, and the head with the first Han, so he’s certainly at home with his line-mates.  While the figure included no blaster (due to Kellog’s fairly strict no guns policy with their mail-away offerings), he did get his removable helmet, which looks just like the actual trooper head, and goes on quite nicely to boot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure’s important to me.  Not only was he my first Han Solo, but he was also my first experience with a mail-away offer.  I was at the grocery store with my parents, and they let me pick out a cereal.  I didn’t know what I wanted, but they were kind enough to point me in the direction of the Froot Loops with the Han offer, and that was just tops for me.  Sure, this figure’s goofy and dated, just like the rest of the line, but I still think he’s awesome.

#1460: Luke Skywalker in X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear

LUKE SKYWALKER in X-WING FIGHTER PILOT GEAR

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

” Growing up on the twin-sun planet of Tatooine, Luke Skywalker had always looked tot he stars. He had been told that his father was a great star pilot, and it was clear that the young Luke had inherited some of his skills. In the arid deserts of the Jundland Wastes, Luke and his best friend Biggs Darklighter, would race their T-16 skyhoppers. Tagging womprats in Beggar’s Canyon or threading the Stone needle, Luke and Biggs were the best of friends, and daring pilots. Unfortunately, they were separated when Biggs went to the Academy, and Luke was forced to stay behind.”

Luke Skywalker figures are a hot commodity these days, due to his almost total absence from the main Star Wars toy lines for the better part of two years.  For a good portion of the franchise’s run, it was hard to go anywhere without tripping over a whole pile of Luke Skywalkers. There were a dozen Lukes in the Power of the Force II line alone, and I’ll be looking  at another one of that particular subset today, with Luke in his X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke was released in Power of the Force II‘s first year, as a later addition to the assortment.  He was the second Luke in the line, and the second figure of Luke in this particular gear in general.  Despite the claims on the package that this is Luke in his “X-Wing Fighter Pilot Gear,” which is a little bit misleading.  The figure’s actually wearing his cold-weather flight gear that he puts on to pilot his Snowspeeder during the Hoth Battle from Empire.  He does eventually wear it while flying his X-Wing later, but it’s still more commonly viewed as his Snowspeeder gear.  Not that the two designs are that dissimilar, of course.  The figure is about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  The sculpt was unique to this guy at the time of his release, however the body ended up getting re-used later down the line for both Wedge and Dak.  Until around 2010 or so, this was actually the only Hoth flight-suited sculpt Hasbro had on hand.  Just like the rest of these early figure’s, it’s a rather dated sculpt.  He’s got the usual exaggerated proportions, albeit masked a little bit by the more padded nature of the design.  He’s still got the insane bulging muscles, and the crazy thin waist, of course.  On the plus side, the detailing on the costume is pretty decent; the ridges on the arms are pretty cool, and the helmet, while a bit on the tiny side, is quite accurate to the source material.  Said helmet is permanently attached to the head, and missing the visor, but removable helmets were still a ways off at this point, so this isn’t bad.  His face is a slightly different likeness than the other Luke’s from this line.  It’s still a bit off, looking more like Ron Howard than Mark Hammil, but that’s a step in the right direction at least.  The paint work on this figure is on par with the rest of this line’s offerings.  It’s pretty clean overall, apart from a few fuzzy lines on the edge of the vest.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber and a small blaster pistol.  The lightsaber is a lot shorter than the initial Luke saber, but I choose not to judge him for that; Hoth is very cold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this figure when he was relatively new.  I had gotten the PotF2 X-Wing Fighter as a gift, and didn’t yet have the proper Luke to fly it, so I obviously had to buy this guy.  Along the way, my original was lost, more than likely sold during one of my “purges” over the years.  The one reviewed here is a replacement, picked up at Farpoint a few years back.  He’s hardly the best pilot Luke figure out there, and he certainly shows the line’s flaws quite overtly, but he was my first pilot Luke, and he still holds an important spot in my collection.

#1446: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Once known as Anakin Skywalker, expert pilot and hero, Vader studied the ways of the Force under young Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. His impatience with the Jedi training made him susceptible to the dark side, which corrupted him as he gave in to his anger and aggression. Vader was almost killed in a confrontation with Kenobi, and was forced to adopt his current life support systems and fearsome body armor.”

You know, it’s been two weeks since I reviewed a Star Wars figure. That’s a long time.  I could go into withdrawal.  Or worse yet, I could get a huge backlog of Star Wars figures to review!  Oh…right…too late.  Well, let’s take another stab at getting through that backlog, shall we?  Let’s have a look at my man Vader here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader was part of the very first series of the Power of the Force II line.  Believe it or not, this was only the second small-scale Vader ever released.  That’s kind of crazy in this day and age where you can’t go anywhere without tripping over like 50 of this guy.  This was long before the trend of 100% movie accuracy, so this figure ends up as a rather indeterminate version of Vader.  I suppose he’s technically an Empire/Jedi Vader, since his robes go under his shoulder armor.  Of course, even the original Vader, who was released to coincide with the first movie, had the robes under the armor, so I think it’s less an accuracy thing and more a “they just never really noticed” thing.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Vader’s not only taller than his compatriots, he’s also just generally larger.  This is Vader if Star Wars had been made in the ‘90s and he’d been played by Jeep Swenson…the ‘90s were a strange time.  Apart from the overall Swenson-ness, the sculpt isn’t terrible.  The quilted pattern on his undersuit is nice, and most of the important details are there.  The helmet’s a little off, but it was a marked improvement on the vintage version, and it’s not like anyone would ever confuse it for anything but Darth Vader’s helmet. The one notable omission on this guy is his lack of the bottom section of his robe.  However, as with the handling of the shoulder armor, this is something consistent with the vintage release, so maybe Kenner/Hasbro just hadn’t learned yet.  The figure’s topped off with a plastic cape, which makes the already bulky Vader even bulkier.  It’s not a bad piece, but it definitely has a flair for the dramatic.   Vader’s paint is fairly straightforward stuff.  Mostly, he’s just molded in black, with a few little spots of detail work.  Nothing spectacular, but it’s fair enough fore the time.  Vader’s one accessory was his lightsaber, which, like all of the early figures, came in short and long variants.  Mine no longer has his, but I’m fairly certain it was one of the short ones, given the basic time period of when I would have gotten this.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t know 100% how this guy came into my collection.  I know how he *didn’t* come into my collection.  Let me ‘splain: the first time I saw this figure, it was just after seeing The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the theatre.  After the movie, my parents took me to the KB Toys in the same mall so I could get one figure.  It came down to this guy or Phoebus from Hunchback.  Having just seen the movie, it was Phoebus, and not Vader, who went home with me that day.  I know that Vader was given to me by my parents shortly after.  Now, if I had to guess, using my much more fully-formed and adult investigative skills, I’d say my parents more than likely bought me both of these figures that day and just gave me Vader a little later.  I can’t know for certain, of course, but that’s certainly the type of thing they’re prone to do.

#1432: R2-D2

R2-D2

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“R2-D2 is a tripodal computer repair and information retrieval robot, or astromech droid. As an R2 unit, he is equipped with navigational starfighter interfaces, plus extensive sensor packages and numerous devices to facilitate in-flight repairs: laser arc welder, circular saw, grasper arm, and fire extinguisher. He communicates through information-dense chips, beeps and whistles and seems to take pleasure in causing anxiety for his neurotic companion, the protocol droid C-3PO.”

More Star Wars?  Really?  Listen hypothetical reader, I have a lot of Star Wars figures, and I can’t just stop reviewing them for three months every year just because there’s a big explosion of new product.  That would be insane.  Almost as insane as writing an action figure review every single day for the rest of my life.  Moving on.  One major player absent from all of the new stuff I reviewed was astromech droid R2-D2, who for the second time in a row has been left out of the initial product launch for a Star Wars film.  Fortunately, I have a whole back catalogue to fall back on.  So, here’s an R2 figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2 was released in the first assortment of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line in 1995.  While later R2s in the line would go for more scene-specific looks, this one is just a standard R2; no special bells or whistles.  The figure stands about 3 inches tall and he has 3-ish points of articulation.  I say “3-ish” because in addition to joints at his head and the tops of his legs, R2 also has an extending middle leg, which I guess is *sort of* articulation.  This was the first time an R2 figure got the extending leg.  It’s still sort of in a prototype stage, and isn’t as cleverly designed as later models, but it works well enough.  R2’s sculpt was new to him, and it’s not bad.  Most of the important details are there, and they’re nicely defined.  He does end up a little skinnier than he’s usually depicted, but with all the wonky proportions that were going on in this line, I think it’s safe to say that R2 got off pretty easy.  R2’s paint is passable, though not without a few flaws.  Let’s start with the head: the vac metalizing, though inaccurate to the film, is certainly a cool feature, and helps him stand out.  Of course, as is usually the case on vac metalized pieces, some of the overlying paint has had a fair bit of chipping.  The body was mostly molded in white plastic, and, as you can probably see from the photos, it was pretty prone to yellowing.  The overlying paint is fairly decent overall, though it’s important to note that the’ve left off one of the blue stripes that makes up R2’s “face.”  I only just noticed that while writing this review, actually.  Now I’ll never be able to un-see it; the sacrifices I make for these reviews.  R2 included no accessories, but he does have a pretty nifty light-piping feature in his head, which illuminates his eye when you get the light just right.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

R2 was a gift from my parents, I believe on a Valentine’s Day?  Since I was never much for lots of candy, they tended to get me a small figure of some sort instead, and that was R2.  This was my first R2 (and I believe one of my earlier Star Wars figures in general), and he’s really the only one I had until well into the 2000s.  Like the rest of the line, he shows his age, but he’s a fun figure, and certainly not bad for the time.