#3091: Luke Skywalker and Tauntaun

LUKE SKYWALKER AND TAUNTAUN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

My last Power of the Force review before my great big gap in Power of the Force reviews was a creature set.  It was, specifically, the line’s largest creature set.  So, there’s quite literally no topping that.  I guess I’ll just go to the opposite side of the spectrum, and tackle one of the line’s smallest creature sets…which was also kinda borderline one of the line’s smallest vehicle sets, I guess, depending on how you look at it.  Can a living being be a vehicle?  And, what’s the over/under on how long the Tauntauns actually live, and where that places them on this whole vehicle scale?  Eh, I think I’m going to deep on this, you guys.  Let’s just get to the actual review.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Luke Skywalker and Tauntaun were released in 1997 as part of the Power of the Force line’s creature-based sub-set, alongside Han and Jabba, the Sandtrooper and Dewback, and the Jawa and Ronto.  It was the smallest of the 1997 sets, though that didn’t mean it was any cheaper.  It was the only Empire-based creature set from the first year, and one of three overall in the sub-set (with this set effectively being split up and re-paired for the other two Empire sets the following year).

The Tauntaun was obviously the selling point of this set, having not been released in figure form since Kenner’s original Empire line.  While the vintage releases both more or less just averaged the appearances of Luke and Han’s Tauntauns, this one decidedly adapts Luke’s, so as to properly pair off with him in the set.  The figure stands about 4 1/2  inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  The sculpt on this one was unique at the time, though most of it would later see re-use for the Han and Tauntaun pack the next year.  The sculpt is a pretty solid one. It presents a slightly more active Tauntaun than its vintage counterpart, which seems more appropriate for how we see them in the movie, where they’re frequently in motion.  The details match up pretty well with the movie prop, though it is in some ways sporting some slightly more idealized proportions than the real thing.  The detail work isn’t bad, with some passable texturing on the fur, as well as plenty of extra work going into the harness and survival kit on the main body.  The paint work on this release is mostly pretty good.  There’s a lot of attempts at proper accenting which *mostly* work.  The shading on the fur and the white flecks for snow both work out.  The odd yellow on the arms and legs, not so much.  I’m not entirely sure what the aim was on those, but it missed.  The Tauntaun’s only real accessory is its harness/lead, which clips into the mouth, and allows for Luke to more properly hold on.

It makes very little sense to release Luke’s Tauntaun and not a Luke to go with it, I suppose.  There’s of course the single Hoth Luke release, but he notably lacks in the “being able to actually sit on the Tauntaun” department.  This one aims to fix that.  He stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  The extra articulation comes in the form of actual knee joints.  Pretty crazy to see those, especially on a figure of this era, but they did happen from time to time.  Check out his actual sitting action!  From the waist up, he’s effectively the same as his single-release counterpart, with one minor tweak to the left arm, so as to slightly reposition his hand.  Other than that, he’s the same, which is good from a consistency standpoint.  The paint work likewise is pretty close.  It’s solid work, with clean application, and all the major colors it needs.  Luke is packed with his blaster pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had the single Hoth Luke as a kid, and never got a ton of use out of creatures, so I never had this one.  I remember it, especially the way it lingered for a bit, but it just never really called to me.  As I’m working on a full set, I’m picking up a lot of items that I passed on over the years.  In some cases, it’s not so thrilling, but sometimes it leads to me discovering some items I really like.  This one’s part of that latter category, and I’m glad I finally got around to picking one up.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#3061: Han Solo – Bespin Capture

HAN SOLO — BESPIN CAPTURE

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE JEDI (HASBRO)

“A smuggler before he joined the Rebel Alliance, the daring Han Solo stayed alive by keeping his guard up and his blaster ready. Unfortunately, when he arrived on Cloud City with Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO, Solo had no idea he was walking right into a trap… and a fateful confrontation with Darth Vader.”

In the wake of The Phantom Menace‘s tie-in line not quite performing the way Hasbro had hoped, they rolled what remained of that line into a full-franchise covering line dubbed Power of the Jedi, which also boasted updated takes on a few of the Original Trilogy designs as well.  The main characters got a little bit of coverage, mostly serving as a continuation of the slightly improved figures from the end of Power of the Force.  There were two Han Solos included, one of which was based on Han’s super fly Empire attire, which is the one I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han Solo (Bespin Capture) was released during the first year of Power of the Jedi‘s run, hitting during the second round of figures.  He was the first of the two Hans in the line, and the first Bespin Han since 1998.  In the subsequent year, we’d gotten the updated Cantina Han from A New Hope, so the aim of this one was really just to bring the Bespin design up to that same quality.  The figure stands a little over 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  While he didn’t get to keep the knee articulation from the Cantina Han, this guy still got some slightly improved articulation, with universal joints at the shoulders, as well as swivel joints at both elbows.  Han’s sculpt was an all-new one, though the head is clearly based on the same sculpt as the Cantina Han, much like how all of the late run PotF Lukes had the same updated features.  The likeness isn’t bad for Harrison Ford, especially compared to other sculpts from the same era.  The body sculpt is a pretty strong piece itself; the proportions are generally pretty well balanced, and the detailing is pretty sharp.  The jacket is perhaps a touch long for its proper length, but it’s not terrible, and the fact that it’s a separate piece does add a lot of depth to the overall look.  His paint work is generally pretty solid.  The colors are more on the subdued side, and apart from a little bit of slop on the right sleeve, the application is pretty clean.  Han was originally packed with his blaster (which can be stored in his holster) and a pair of cuffs.  Mine is lacking the cuffs, but he’s still got the blaster, which is a much smaller sculpt than prior versions.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I remember really wanting this figure, but Power of the Jedi was one of those line’s that never really had consistent distribution, so I never saw one in person.  Over the years, I kept my eye out for him, and I eventually got a hold of one a couple of years back, courtesy of the House of Fun in New Jersey.  He’s a pretty solid little figure.  I don’t generally get Power of the Jedi stuff, but this guy’s one that feels like a nice extension of PotF, and he’s honestly just my favorite Bespin Han.

#2799: Captain Piett

CAPTAIN PIETT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Following Admiral Ozzel’s fatal mistake during the assault on Hoth, Darth Vader promoted Captain Piett to the station of Admiral. Piett remained in command of Vader’s Executor until its destruction during the Battle of Endor.”

The Empire’s most visible and most marketable troops are certainly the Stormtroopers, but they aren’t the ones that get to make all of the decisions.  That’s left to the far less marketable Imperial Officers.  During the vintage toyline, Kenner didn’t actually make any named officers, giving us just one generic one to cover things.  When it came time to fill things in for Power of the Force II, they rectified that by actually doing a few of the named officers.  This included one Firmus Piett, the longest lived ranking Imperial in the films, serving as Admiral over both Empire and Jedi.  But we’re not talking about that.  No, we’re going before that, when he was just a Captain.  For reasons.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain Piett was added to Power of the Force in 1998.  Though he’s billed as a Captain, it’s notable that the bio describes his whole career path in the film, and we also never got an Ozzel, so he might as well just be an Admiral.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s quite similar to the Tarkin figure.  It makes sense, what with them being in the same uniform, and having a rather similar build.  It’s notable that they’re still totally unique from each other, though; no shared parts at all, even the ones that are almost identical.  It’s a reasonable enough sculpt.  Like Tarkin, he’s a little bulked up, but not nearly as much as earlier figures in the line.  The head doesn’t really look much like Kenneth Colley, who played Piett in the film.  Colley has some rather distinctly harsh lines on his face, and they aren’t really here.  He’s also got a much stronger jawline than he should.  Ultimately, he just looks much more generic. Not enough that I think the intent was for him to initially be a generic guy, but enough that he’s not immediately recognizable as Piett.  The paint work is pretty standard, matching up with the other Imperial Officers from the line, and generally being pretty cleanly applied.  Piett is packed with the same small blaster as Tarkin and Motti, as well as a baton (for all that baton stuff he does), and a Freeze Frame of Piett on the Executor…from when he’s an Admiral...

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Piett’s a character I always had a little bit of a soft spot for, since it’s hard not to feel bad for the guy the way he winds up in his position.  I mean, he’s still a bad guy, like, through and through, but still.  Despite that, however, I never actually had this guy as a kid, nor did any of my cousins.  It’s probably because he’s not a super distinctive figure, I guess.  He’s not bad, mind you, and actually works pretty well as a rank and file Imperial.  So, if you want maybe a few of him, that’s maybe not the worst thing.

#2703: Han Solo – Hoth

HAN SOLO — HOTH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“Han stuck with the Rebel Alliance and helped establish its new base on the ice planet Hoth. After Luke didn’t return from a routine sweep of the planet surface, Han headed out alone into the frigid cold to find him.”

Luke wasn’t the only one to get the deluxe Hoth cold-gear treatment for The Black Series in 2015, and he’s likewise not the only one to get the Archive treatment in 2021.  Both times around, Luke was accompanied by his good buddy Han, in his own set of cold-weather gear.  And I’m taking a look at that Han figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han is another figure in the third assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series Archive.  Like Luke, he too was originally released in a deluxe set in 2015, where he was originally packaged alongside a Tauntaun.  Unlike Luke, he’s one one release between these two; the figure got a head swap and was packed with Hoth Leia for a two-pack in 2018.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Han’s articulation scheme is rather similar to Luke’s, being a rather archaic offering compared to other figures.  The mid-torso joint works a bit better on this guy than on Luke, at least, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same, right down to the cut joints for the wrists.  Han’s sculpt is a straight re-use again.  It’s not the worst sculpt, but it’s far from one of Hasbro’s best.  The actual body’s not bad; the details are a bit sharper than Luke’s, and the proportions aren’t quite as off.  The real issues have to do with the head.  Firstly, like a number of the Han heads, it sits too high on the neck joint.  The actual head is actually made up of three separate pieces, for the head/hat, the hood, and the goggles.  This is accurate to the film, and gives the sculpt some extra depth, but introduces its own set of problems.  The main head is rather under-scaled when compared to the rest of the body, presumably to compensate for all of the other parts.  The face has an okay likeness of Ford, at least.  The hood and goggles are decent pieces in their own right, but in the case of the hood, designing it to be removable costs the aesthetics a bit.  There’s a rather noticeable seam on the back of the hood where it’s designed for removing, and due to the head sitting as high on the neck as it does, it doesn’t actually sit flush with the rest of the coat.  Since it’s, you know, supposed to be the same garment, and all, that’s kind of a big deal.  With careful posing, it doesn’t look quite as bad, but it’s still off from every angle no matter what.  It all winds up being a rather silly venture anyway, since there’s no reason to actually remove the hood, since it’s not a look that’s ever seen in the movie, and it really just ends up looking goofy.  Without an alternate head, or a hood piece pulled down, there’s no practical reason for the hood to be a removable piece.  He’d be better off with the hood permanently attached.  The figure’s paint work is a notable change-up from the original release.  In addition to getting the face printing to differentiate him from the original release, this figure also takes the opportunity to correct the jacket’s color from the blue of the original release to the proper brown.  The 2018 release made this change too, but this is the first time we’ve gotten the hood in the right color.  Han is packed with his usual blaster pistol.  It’s a little light, but it’s consistent with what he originally had (minus the Tauntaun, of course).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Han’s original release was the same deal as Luke, being more difficult to find, lower quality, and just a bit too expensive at the time.  I did *almost* get one during Amazon’s first Prime Day, when he went on sale, for something silly like $5 off, but, again, it was hard to make it worth my time.  I mostly snagged him because I was getting Luke.  Honestly, he’s not as good as the already rather mediocre Luke figure.  The hood and head is a huge issue, and in general, he’s just not a terribly fun figure to mess with.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2702: Luke Skywalker – Hoth

LUKE SKYWALKER — HOTH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES ARCHIVE (HASBRO)

“While on patrol, Luke and his tauntaun are attacked by a vicious wampa. The creature hangs Luke upside-down in its cave, but Luke uses the Force to escape.”

Luke has been no stranger to variants in Star Wars: The Black Series.  As a rather major character in the franchise, I guess that’s pretty fitting.  His major variants largely hit earlier in the line’s run, generally a good deal before the rest of the others in their matching attire.  That has a tendency to drive the prices of said matching looks up a bit.  Fortunately, with the introduction of the Archive sub-line, Hasbro’s got an okay way of getting them back out on the market.  One of the more notable looks that gone without a follow-up was Luke’s cold weather gear from Hoth, which is the Luke variant for the latest round of Archive figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke is from the third assortment of The Black Series Archive, re-releasing a figure that was originally put out in 2015, packaged alongside the Wampa in the deluxe portion of the Blue Line iteration of the brand.  The figure stands about 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Luke’s articulation scheme is rather on the archaic side compared to newer offerings.  The range on a lot of the joints is far more restricted, and they tend to break up the sculpt a lot more than on recent figures.  The arms in particular suffer from both a lack of proper elbow movement, and from a curious lack of anything beyond cut joints for the wrists, which is just unheard of for the line.  A lot of this is due to the figure’s nature, beign built out of parts that are over five years old at this point.  Moreover, Luke is unfortunately from the line when it was kind of at is lowest, before Hasbro really found their footing again.  It’s rough to say the least.  The actual sculpting work’s not awful, at least.  Luke’s seen here post-wampa attach, so his goggles are missing, and he’s got some sculpted scarring on his face.  The face has a pretty decent likeness of Hamill, especially for earlier in the line.  The detail work on the gear is passable, though a touch softer than more recent releases tend to be. His head scarf is a cloth piece this way, which works better from a posing stand point, though it does wind up looking a bit flat and devoid of detail.  Luke’s paint work is generally pretty basic.  It could probably stand to have a little extra accent work, to bring out some of the sculpted details a little better, bit everything important is there.  There’s some slop on the edges of a few spots.  The belt buckle’s slightly misaligned and the skin tone of the the neck doesn’t quite cover the whole area it’s supposed to.  Luke gets the face print set-up in place of the original paint scheme, which is in some ways better, but not quite as hefty an improvement as it usually is.  Notably, it misses out on the blood detailing for the scarring, which was on the prior release.  Additionally, the eyes just don’t look quite right.  At first, I thought I just got a misaligned copy, but all of the ones I looked at were the same, so it looks to be line-wide.  It looks alright from a distance, but up close it looks weird.  In terms of pack-ins, Luke is obviously without the Wampa he was originally packed with, but he gets the lightsaber and blaster from the prior release.  The blaster’s pretty decent, but the lightsaber is of a notably lower quality than other versions; the hilt is molded in silver rather than painted, and the whole thing is a softer plastic than usual, causing the blade to pop out a lot easier.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Luke’s original release marked the period when the line was hardest to fine and generally at its lowest quality, which made it rather hard to stay invested at the time.  That, coupled with the higher Deluxe price point had me steer clear of this guy the first time around.  With all of the other Hoth figures as of late, I’d been hoping for an update or something.  Here’s an “or something”, I guess.  Given the era of the line this sculpt comes from, it’s about what I’d expected.  The articulation’s not ideal, and the sculpt could probably stand to be a little sharper.  In general, he just feels sort of half-formed.  The new paint does a little bit to dress him up, but ultimately, it feels out of place in the modern line.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2519: Snowspeeder (w/ Dak Ralter)

SNOWSPEEDER (w/ DAK RALTER)

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“While stationed on Hoth, the Rebel Alliance modified T-47 airspeeders to become snowspeeders. The snowspeeder was a two-man vessel, with a pilot and rear-facing tailgunner.”

The larger scale of Star Wars: The Black Series may be good for the quality of the actual figures, but the one slight downside of it is the relative difficulties of getting accompanying vehicles on the market.  Hasbro first dipped their toes in the pool of vehicles with the smaller-scale speeder bike, which went pretty well.  They then jumped all-in with the Force Awakens TIE Fighter, which went maybe not quite as well.  The then returned to smaller vehicles with a Landspeeder, which seemed to okay again.  Now they’re trying that slightly larger vehicle thing again, this time with a Snowspeeder, just in time to tie in with Empire‘s 40th Anniversary celebration.  And I’m taking a look at that bad boy today!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The Snowspeeder is part of Hasbro’s Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary subset of The Black Series.  As of right now, it’s the only vehicle of the year.  It also seems to have ditched the numbering scheme that was started with the TIE Fighter in 2015, which I suppose is appropriate given that the whole line is ditching the numbering set-up.  While the last few Star Wars vehicles I’ve grabbed from Hasbro have had some necessary assembly right out of the box, the Snowspeeder just needs the front guns clipped into place, making it a much simpler set-up.  The Snowspeeder measures 18 by 15, and while it doesn’t have quite the footprint and height of the TIE Fighter, it’s still quite a sizable piece, and appears to be properly scaled to the figures to boot (a big deal, since that almost never happens with anything larger than the smaller speeders).  You’ve got an easy time getting both figures into the cockpit, which is really the most important thing.  The detailing on the sculpt is all pretty darn solid.  The aforementioned cockpit is fully detailed inside, with fully formed seating, seat belts, and controls for the two occupants.  The exterior’s about what you expect for a Star Wars ship, with a lot of clean plates and such.  The drag fins can be lifted and extended, as seen in the film, and I really like how they work, so as to not cause any accidental damage when used.  There are additional fins on the lower rear of the ship, obviously for steering purposes.  There is also a removable panel on the ship’s right wing, exposing some of the inner workings beneath it, I guess for maintenance purposes?  Or perhaps even a bit of battle-damage in a pinch.  It’s a cool touch regardless.  There are a few other details hiding in the ship’s standard mode.  It’s got some landing gear, which works in pretty much the same way as the gear on the Vintage Collection X-Wing.  Also hiding is the ship’s tow-line, which they use to take down the AT-ATs.  It can be pulled from the back, and then you pop open a hatch on the underside of the ship to pull it back in.  It’s not very mechanically impressive or anything, but it also won’t be prone to breakage over time, so I can kind of see Hasbro’s angle on this one.  The paint work on the speeder is pretty solidly handled, with not only the base level details, but also simulated wear and tear, as well as smaller insignias and the like.  It looks quite cool.  The accent color scheme feels off in my mind, because I always think of those stripes being orange, but that’s prior toys coloring my view, I guess.  The Snowspeeder is packed with the grapple that Luke uses to get up to the AT-AT he takes down, as well as what I can only assume is supposed to be a grenade or something.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

“Dak Ralter, an eager young rebel pilot assigned to Hoth’s Echo Base, Dak served as Luke Skywalker’s tailgunner during the Battle of Hoth but was killed by Imperial fire that struck the back of the snowspeeder”

Luke’s ill-fated gunner Dak hasn’t been quite as privy to action figures as other characters, but is nevertheless an essential piece of any proper Snowspeeder set-up.  Without Dak, who’s gonna get shot in the face and get stepped on by a big robot camel take on the whole Empire himself?  Dak stands 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Dak’s largely a re-use of the Snowspeeder gear Luke that was just single released.  It’s a sensible option, given that it’s a uniform, and Luke and Dak are supposed to be roughly the same height and build.  It also means that Dak makes use of a really solid sculpt that’s a lot of fun.  The one main change-up is, unsurprisingly, the new headsculpt.  He’s still got the insulating cap like Luke, though I feel it makes a bit more sense here.  The face looks to be a respectable recreation of Jon Morton’s likeness as seen in the film.  The paintwork for Dak is pretty much the same as Luke’s, albeit with the expected change to the face and to the insignias on the helmet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Snowspeeders are one of my favorite OT vehicles, and I’m always down for a good toy version.  After the soft performance of the TIE fighter, I wasn’t really expecting to see the Snowspeeder show up in Black Series form.  I was definitely happy to see it crop up with this year’s Toy Fair showings, and was even more excited when Dak was shown alongside it.  Definitely one of the items from this anniversary collection that I was most anticipating.  It’s a fun piece to be sure, and I think has a little more intrigue to it that the TIE Fighter.  Hopefully others feel the same way.  Is it wrong for me to want an alternate color scheme speeder with a Wedge and Janson?  That’s not entirely crazy, right?

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this whole thing for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2492: R2-D2 – Dagobah

R2-D2 — DAGOBAH

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Can you believe that in the 133 Black Series reviews I’ve written, I haven’t yet looked at R2-D2?  That’s crazy, right?  Well, okay, not really, since I got my Series 1 figure a couple of months before starting the site, and obviously didn’t pick up the subsequent re-release for the 40th line.  They finally opted to actually do a slight variant to the character, so I can totally justify buying another figure, and I have the drive to actually review the mold.  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2-D2 (Dagobah) is another figure from Series 2 of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of The Black Series line.  He’s the last “new” figure in the assortment, but as I touched on above, new is sort of relative here, since he’s just a repaint of the first R2.  He’s 4 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  The movement is a little different on this figure.  He’s got fairly typical joints at the top of the legs and at the “ankles”, as well as an opening door on each side of his front, each with an articulated arm inside.  The head turns as well, but it’s connected to an action feature that drops his third leg down.  It’s surprisingly gimmicky for this line, and makes posing the head a little tricky, since getting it set just right can be a little counter intuitive.  I think leaving the feature out may have ultimately been better, but I suppose it’s not the worst concept.  Otherwise, the sculpt is a pretty impressive representation of R2.  It’s a solid rendition, and pretty sharply detailed.  The main selling point on this release, of course, is the paint, which this time around replicates R2 after he falls into the swamp after landing on Dagobah.  He’s pretty sufficiently grimy and gross.  My only gripe with it is that the third leg doesn’t get fully painted, so it’s slightly jarring when extended.  That said, I don’t believe R2 has the third leg out while on Dagobah, so I guess it’s technically accurate this way.  I think the grime helps to showcase the strengths of the sculpt a little better than the original release’s paint, so I definitely dig it.  The original R2 had quite an accessory assortment, covering attachments from six movies.  This one’s not quite as impressive, getting only the periscope attachment from the first release.  It’s not a huge surprise, given it’s the one we see him use in the movie, and this is supposed to be a specifically Empire-based and all.  You can still remove all of the panels and swap them with the accessories from the prior release as well, but he does end up feeling a touch light given that he still holds the same price tag as the original release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve picked up more versions of the core OT cast in The Black Series, I’ve arrived at the point of having multiple displays with them from each film.  However, I still only had the one R2, and at the going rate for the standard, I certainly wasn’t picking up a second.  Fortunately, this guy came along and solved that problem for me.  He’s a little light on the accessories front, but I like the new paint job for sure.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2492: Luke Skywalker – Snowspeeder

LUKE SKYWALKER — SNOWSPEEDER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“During the Battle of Hoth, Luke Skywalker led the Rebel defense against the Empire’s ground forces, giving the Alliance time to evacuate the planet.”

With no shortage of costume changes in A New Hope, Luke Skywalker kept his impressive wardrobe going for Empire, with not only a new standard get-up and some cold weather gear (because everyone was doing it), but also an upgraded version of his pilot gear from the first movie.  The differences aren’t huge, but they’re certainly more than enough to qualify for another figure, and in fact they have for about 20 years now.  We got Luke’s first pilot gear way back at the beginning of Hasbro’s Black Series line, but now we’re finally getting the tweaked version as well.  Let’s have a look at how that turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) is the second figure in assortment two of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of The Black Series.  Like yesterday’s Rebel Soldier, he’s an all-new offering, and also like that figure, he’s already slotted for release in the main line later this year.  Luke is just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  This version of Luke is sporting an all-new sculpt, which is quite nice, because Hasbro certainly had some room to phone things in and try to re-use parts of the X-Wing pilot sculpt.  It wouldn’t be as accurate, nor would it make for as good a figure, so I’m glad they went the way they did.  He also continues the trend of the butterfly shoulders, which is great when it comes to lightsaber posing.  I definitely enjoy this thing becoming a regular feature.  I have one notable issue with this sculpt, and ultimately, it comes down more to personal preference than to anything truly wrong.  Under the figure’s removable helmet, he’s sporting an insulating cap over his head.  This is accurate to the updated uniform, and we see a number of the other snowspeeder pilots wearing them when their helmets are removed.  Luke, however, we only see with all of the head gear either on or off.  So, while this is *technically* accurate to the costume design, the figure sans helmet isn’t actually accurate to anything we see in the movie.  I would have liked to get him without the cap, but I guess I’ll just have to make due swapping his head with the Dagobah Luke once I get my hands on that (actually, I really wouldn’t be opposed to a Dagobah landing Luke without the cap and gloves.  That’d be a cool variant).  As it stands, with the helmet, he looks pitch-perfect, and that’s really the way most people will be displaying him anyway.  Luke’s paint work is all pretty solid.  The base work is all pretty clean, and he’s using the face printing, so that looks pretty good.  The eye on my figure is slightly off-set, but not terribly so.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber.  He doesn’t get the grapple he uses in the scene against the AT-AT, but fear not, it comes with the Snowspeeder.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I definitely dig the Snowspeeder gear and the whole Snowspeeder set-up in general, so I was pretty happy when this guy was shown off, and even happier to hear he was getting an all-new sculpt.  Though he may not look like much new or exciting outwardly, he’s got a lot to offer, and improves on the already pretty solid X-Wing Luke.  Now, can we get a Wedge to match, or is that too soon?

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2468: C-3PO with Removable Limbs

C-3PO w/ REMOVABLE LIMBS

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

A short stay on Bespin’s Cloud City left protocol droid C-3PO dismantled and dependent on his Rebel companions.”

There’s a bit of difficulty in Star Wars lines to offer decent variants of a handful of the characters, specifically the ones whose designs don’t really change throughout the movies.  For instance?  C-3PO.  He’s got the exact same design in all three of the original films, so any OT-based line definitely has a little trouble differentiating.  Fortunately, there’s at least one solid gimme for a 3PO variant: removable limbs.  Yep, if you want to really want a good Empire variant of 3PO, all you gotta do is make those limbs removable for his encounter with the Stormtroopers in Cloud City.  The vintage line started things off, and Power of the Force II followed suit, with the figure I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

C-3PO with Removable Limbs was added to the Power of the Force line in 1998, and was the line’s third variant of 3PO, following the initial release and the Purchase of the Droids variant.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation…or at least he should, though the waist joint on mine definitely isn’t moving.  Stylistically, the sculpt on this guy is really similar to the revamped 3PO sculpt from the Purchase set.  Much like the various nearly identical Farmboy Lukes produced later in the line, the two sculpts aren’t really the same, but are virtually indistinguishable for the most part.  The main difference between the two, aside from the whole “removable limbs” thing, is the lack of restraining bolt on the upper torso.  Also, there’s the removable limbs.  Those are a difference, too, I suppose.  They come off pretty easily, though the way they attach does ever so slightly impact the posability a little bit.  You can still get full range out of them, but they might need to be popped out and repositioned for some poses.  Like the “Purchase” figure, this 3PO’s color scheme starts out with the vac metalizing again, but this one takes the grime even further than that figure did, making for what is probably the dirtiest of the PotF 3POs.  I’m not entirely sure why the Empire version would be the dirtiest, but I guess it could be worse.  3PO is packed with a cargo bag, perfect for placing him in and allowing him to be carried on Chewbacca’s back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this 3PO figure as a kid, but I remember seeing him on the back of the packaging, and always kind of wanting him to do the whole “carried on Chewy’s back” set-up.  I never did get it as a kid, but it was definitely on my short list when I started filling in the holes in my collection.  He’s pretty darn nifty.

Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy.  They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2463: Luke Skywalker – Bespin

LUKE SKYWALKER — BESPIN

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Luke battles Darth Vader on a narrow platform in Cloud City and rejects Vader’s urging to turn to the Dark Side and rule the galaxy with him.”

40 years and some change ago, in this galaxy, right here, the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, hit theaters.  As Hasbro likes to use pretty much every five-year milestone as grounds for celebration, that means that this year we’re getting a bunch of throw-back Empire stuff in toy form.  Things kicked off with the Probe Droid, and, following in A New Hope‘s footsteps, there’s also a vintage-style-carded line of Black Series figures.  The first assortment was mostly re-hash, but I’m taking a look at the most unique of the bunch today with another go at Bespin Luke!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker (Bespin) is one of the five figures that makes up the first series of the Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary sub-line of Black Series figures.  The other four, Bespin Han, Hoth Leia, Yoda, and the AT-AT Driver are all straight re-cards of prior releases, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that was the case with Luke as well.  He’s a lot of re-use, to be fair, with everything below the neck being re-used from the very first Black Series Bespin Luke.  Like that figure, this one stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Black Series articulation hadn’t really gotten to be what it is now in 2014, when this mold first hit, so he’s admittedly a little bit archaic in terms of movement.  The elbows sit a little low on the arms, the range on the hips is quite restricted, and he’s got the up/down joint on both of his wrists, which is a little odd for posing.  All that said, it’s still a pretty nice looking sculpt, so I can’t totally dis the re-use.  He gets an all-new head, which updates him to the more modern style of separate pieces for the face and hair.  The original Bespin head was probably the weakest of the initial Luke head sculpts in terms of a Hamill likeness, so another go at it isn’t the worst.  This new sculpt is…different?  I hesitate to say better, but I also wouldn’t say worse.  In some ways, it’s a better match, but in others it’s more off, and in particular it seems a bit too large proportionally.  The new head is matched by a new paint scheme, which uses the face printing, thereby making him a little more lifelike.  I definitely like that, but I’m not quite as down for how stripped down the paint on his fatigues has become.  The wash on the original was one of the best parts of the figure, but this one loses a lot of that, and the details on the outfit subsequently become easier to miss.  This figure is packed with the same extras as the last version: a lightsaber and a blaster pistol.  They’re as good here as anywhere else.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

A re-issue of this guy’s been pretty much inevitable, given how hard to find the original had become, as well as the original hitting during one of the weakest periods of the line.  There were definitely improvements to be made, and while this figure makes some of them (namely the better paint on the face/hair), it’s really a trade-off.  This should have been an actual improvement, but it’s instead more or less an equivalent product.  It’s a shame, because I was kind of hoping we might get a more deluxe update on this guy, with extra parts to replicate more of the beating he takes during his Bespin duel.  Perhaps such a release could still happen later.

Luke was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.