SPEEDER BIKE (W/ PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA IN ENDOR GEAR)
STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)
The Star Wars franchise has long placed a good deal of emphasis on the distinct vehicles utilized by its heroes and villains, with at least a few new designs for every film. For Return of the Jedi the cool new vehicle was the speeder bike, a hovering cycle that was perfectly tailored for exciting chase scenes. It of course got a release during the vintage line, and by extension, it found itself among the re-purposed vehicle molds for Power of the Force II in 1997. Where the prior release had been sold on its own, for PotF2, it was available with one of three pilots: the Biker Scout, Luke Skywalker, and today’s focus, Princess Leia Organa.
THE VEHICLE ITSELF
The main focus of these sets was the Speeder Bike, seen here as it appears on the forest moon of Endor. As I touched on in the intro, a lot of the vehicles for Power of the Force II re-used the molds of their vintage counterparts. For the bikes in particular, there’s a definite feeling of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Measuring about 7 inches in length and standing about two inches off the ground, the Speeder Bike is a fairly decent replica of the on-screen version of the vehicle. Some of the features have been simplified ever so slightly, and it still has the original mold’s adjustments to make seating the figure on it a little easier, so the controls are vertically oriented rather than horizontally, and there’s still that little plunger that held the original figures’ legs in place. The plunger was no longer necessary thanks to the vehicle specific riders, but I can’t complain about it remaining, since that keeps it backwards compatible, and meant it could still be used with figures not specifically designed for this set. The foot pedals have springs built in to maintain tension, allowing the bike to stay up straight even if not totally balanced in its weight distribution. Later bikes would instead resort to flight stands and the like, but I actually like how this works, and it certainly makes it playable. Speaking of playable, there’s a whole other spring-loaded feature designed with play in mind. When you press the pack on the rear of the bike, it pops apart into several pieces, simulating the rather catastrophic damage the bikes tended to take in the movie. In terms of coloring, the original bike was always a little on the pale side. This one went a little more accurate, and also supplied some decals if you wanted to go even further with the accuracy.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Included with this bike was a variant of Leia, seen here in her camo gear from Endor. Since this is what she’s wearing when on the bike, it’s pretty sensible, don’t you think? Leia’s Endor appearance had previously appeared in the vintage line, though this would be its debut here for Power of the Force. It would, however, later be retooled and released alongside a Commemorative Coin. But this one was first. She stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation. These pilot figures were the first to sport knee articulation, which was a definite plus for this Leia, though the articulation is perhaps a little rudimentary in their implementation. The sculpt is about on par with the rest of the line. The helmet is permanently attached to her head, which is honestly the best way of handling it. Her poncho is a separate piece made of a somewhat rubbery material. It’s a little bit bulky, but not terrible as a whole. Under the poncho, Leia’s got a fully defined uniform, which is a respectable match for what she was wearing in the film. Leia’s paintwork is actually pretty darn decent. Most of it’s pretty basic, but the work on the helmet and poncho is subtle and quite nicely implemented. Leia is packed with a blaster pistol which, while it may look really similar to Han’s, is actually a totally unique sculpt.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
As a kid, the only of these sets I had was the one with Luke. Back last year I finally picked up the one with the Scout Trooper. Leia here? The last of the three to be added to my collection. All Time got her in last winter, and I picked her up during my splurge of PotF2 purchases. For the money and time it takes to acquire, this release of the speeder bike, regardless of which figure it comes with is really the best option. It’s pretty accurate, the spring loaded features are fun, and it scales nicely with the other offerings. Plus, the Leia figure that’s included is actually not a bad offering, and is probably the best of the three potential figures to go with.