#2876: Jedi Spirits

ANAKIN, YODA, & OBI-WAN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda — three individuals with lives intricately intertwined. Before Obi-Wan Kenobi was forced into a life of hiding, before Anakin Skywalker gave in to the dark side and became Darth Vader, even before Yoda was known as the last Jedi Master, a young Anakin was presented to the Jedi Council for permission to train the boy in the ways of the Force. Many years later, the Galactic Republic crumbled and the evil Empire rose in its place. Only after the defeat of the Empire, at the hands of Anakin’s son Luke Skywalker, would the three great Jedi be reunited after death as spiritual guides for Luke and the New Republic.”

First hinted at during A New Hope’s climactic battle, when Luke hears the voice of the recently killed Obi-Wan during his run on the Death Star, the force ghost concept fully appears during Empire, when Obi-Wan fully manifests in spirit form.  He shows up again during Return of the Jedi, and is ultimately joined by both Yoda and Anakin in the film’s final moments.  They don’t really do much other than stand there, but it’s a distinctive visual, and one that stuck with fans.  So, toys, of course.  The first one we got was an Anakin, during the original Power of the Force run, though it was handled slightly differently than now.  A more conventional take on the concept in toy form hit the ’90s line as a mail-away figure, the Spirit of Obi-Wan.  Not content to let Obi-Wan have all the fun, Kenner put him out again, this time alongside the other two, as one of their Cinema Scenes, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Jedi Spirits set was part of the 1998 Cinema Scenes line-up for Power of the Force II.  They were one of two Jedi sets released that year, as the line began to be more focused on the final film.  They included a stand, based on the edge of one of the Ewok structures from Endor, where they are seen in the film.  Interestingly, they were all three screwed into the base in addition to the usual foot pegs.  Not entirely sure why that was the case; maybe there was some concern about potentially damaging them by twisty tying them in like the others?

ANAKIN

He’s been subsequently replaced by Hayden Christian in more recent editions of the film, but the original version of Jedi gave us a look at an Anakin from a potential version of events where he never fell to the dark side to become Darth Vader.  It’s honestly sort of sensible, since it also means he would, you know, look vaguely like the guy whose face Luke actually saw earlier that day, so he might be able to know it was his father, and all.  But that’s probably all very silly, I suppose.  The elder Anakin got a sort of force ghost-y figure in the vintage line, designed to sort of be the best of both worlds.  Power of the Force II split it into two figures, with this being the more overt ghost one.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches all and he has three points of articulation…technically.  The neck definitely moves…a little.  The arms also move, but as you can see from the photo, they tend to just fall out of the socket more often than not.  Not sure why, but that’s how it is.  He was an all new sculpt, based on Sebastian Shaw’s brief appearance as Anakin from the movie.  It’s distinctly different from Obi-Wan, so that’s certainly a nice touch.  There’s some nice texture work going on as well.  While the mail-away Obi-Wan was just translucent blue with no paint, they mixed things up a little bit for this set, adding some dry brushed white, to give him a little more depth.

YODA

Yoda was totally without any force ghost figures at this point, so him finally getting one was certainly an accomplishment.  While there were a few Yoda molds to chose from, this one was a new one entirely.  He stands about 2 1/4 inches tall.  You can sort of get some motion at the neck and shoulders, but nothing much, and it feels like it doesn’t want to really move.  Beyond that, it’s a nice enough sculpt.  It’s good for just standing there, which is all he really needs to do.  It’s more accurate than other molds from the same line, and the stance in particular is a little closer to the actual puppet, since he doesn’t have to contend with needing to move.  Also, the arms stay on him, so that’s a plus over Anakin.  Good for him.  His paint works pretty much the same way, although it’s not quite as intense in its application.

OBI-WAN

Obi-Wan is, of course, the figure in this set that was the least new, especially at the time of his release, with the prior version having hit just the previous year at the time.  That being said, Kenner did at least make him a little different, even if it was just for the sake of being different.  The figure is 3 3/4 inches tall.  He’s sort of got the same articulation as Yoda, where it’s *technically* there, but very limited and not really ideal for any proper use.  His sculpt is largely the same as the mail-away version, but he changes out the right arm for one with a different pose.  So there’s that, I guess.  It’s not a bad sculpt, so I can get behind it, especially without the one arm just kind of sticking out like on the prior version.  His paint matches the other two in the set, which looks a fair bit better than the unpainted version.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Cinema Scenes sets as a kid, so obviously that’s not where this one came from.  It is, however, one of the earlier ones I picked up once I actually started doing such things.  I snagged this one when it was traded into All Time, almost exactly two years ago, at this point.  I know, I’ve got quite a PotF2 backlog, don’t I?  It’s not a terribly playable set, but at the same time, it really seems to get the feel of Cinema Scenes down the best, because it’s a distinct visual, and these figures are always gonna be a tough sell by themselves.

#2520: Luke Skywalker & Yoda – Jedi Training

LUKE SKYWALKER & YODA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“At the urging of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda agreed to instruct Luke Skywalker, developing his Jedi abilities.”

Since introducing the concept of a Deluxe line of figures into The Black Series, it’s felt to a degree that each release has sort of reinvented the wheel to work within this new price point.  Greivous was a slightly larger and more intricate figure, the Heavy Mando has one really large accessory, and the probe droid was just an entirely different style of figure.  Now, we’re just going for some sort of a two-pack set-up.  Really, I can’t complain too much, because it means I’m getting one of my favorite set-ups, Jedi Training Luke and Yoda!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jedi Training Luke and Yoda are entry D4 in the Black Series line-up, signifying that their the fourth non-exclusive Deluxe item.  They mark the second deluxe this year, following up the Imperial Probe, and effectively close off the 40th Anniversary sub-set that figure kicked off.

LUKE

Luke’s Dagobah training gear is really just a dressed-down version of his main gear from Empire, but is still a pretty notable look.  It didn’t come to the toy world until the ’90s, but its had a few releases since then, including this one.  This figure is actually available two ways right out of the gate.  There’s this deluxe release, and then there’s a vintage carded one with just Luke and some paired down accessories.  It’s kind of an odd choice on Hasbro’s part, and feels like it’s splitting demand right off the bat, but time will tell how it does.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  To date, he’s Hasbro’s most posable version of Luke in the Black Series line-up, and I can definitely get behind that.  It puts him far more on par with the likes of Bespin Han than his prior, slightly stiffer variants were.  Really, the differences between this and Bespin Luke are pretty much night and day.  This Luke does seem a bit smaller when compared to prior versions, but he actually fits in better with some of the more recent figures than those older ones.  Hamill’s not a huge guy, and the build on this figure really feels about right.  The quality of the sculpt is pretty top notch, with a very realistic set of proportions, well-worked in articulation, and probably the best Hamill likeness we’ve gotten from Black Series.  It’s worth noting, however, that the hair placement seems to be rather off on a lot of copies of the figure, which can rather hinder the likeness. I picked myself the best out of a sample size of four, which worked out pretty well for me, but your mileage may vary.  The paint work on Luke is pretty solidly handled.  He’s got the now standard printed face, which works out quite nicely for the sculpt, and he’s also got some great accent work on both the hair and on the clothes, which offer up some additional depth to the sculpted details.  Both releases of Luke get his lightsaber and blaster (which are the same as previous releases), but the deluxe release also adds in a spare set of hands and the bag for carrying Yoda.  The hands are cool in theory, as they’re meant to let him do his handstand, but the arms are just a touch too loose on my figure to actually keep him standing up.  Oh well.

YODA

Yoda’s gotten four prior releases in The Black Series, including one just this year in the first series of the 40th Anniversary carded figures, all of which were built on the same body as the very first Black Series figure.  That’s a figure that is, at best, a less than stellar offering, and while some of that can be attributed to paint (because boy was that a mess), there’s a heck of a lot of it that was linked to it just having a poor underlying body underneath of that cloth robe.  So, for this latest take on Yoda, Hasbro’s opted to throw everything out and just sort of start from scratch.  Best call, really.  The figure stands just over two inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Pretty much, the first thing that you’ll notice when comparing this figure to his predecessor is how much smaller he is…well, overall.  The heads are pretty much the same size, and honestly pretty much identical in terms of sculpting.  It’s the body that’s much smaller, and much like Luke, that’s ultimately more accurate to the source material.  He also actually gets proper articulation in his legs this time, which is a huge plus in my book, and keeps the single joints in the arms instead of double, meaning his arms aren’t nearly as long this time.  Unlike the last time around, the robe’s not really designed for removal, since the belt is all one solid piece with no clasp on it.  I suppose you could take the robe off if you were really determined, but I’m really not.  Another area of major improvement between Yoda releases is on the paint front.  The original figure hit during one of the worst periods for the line in terms of paint quality, and as such looked pretty bad, with only the bare minimum of detailing, and some really poor quality application at that.  The Archive and 40th re-issues fixed the paint, but this all new version takes it even further, and gives us by far the most “life-like” (as much as a toy of a puppet can be that) version yet.  I also appreciate that they actually painted his flute this time around, as it makes the whole package look just a bit better.  The last Yoda got an okay selection of accessories, and this one’s technically got less, but they work a bit better.  He still has the cane, but he loses the snake and the light saber for a second head with his eyes closed, like when he’s lifting the X-Wing out of the water.  I really don’t miss the lightsaber, since it’s not OT anyway, and the snake was a pretty minor vintage throwback.  The new head is actually a pretty useful piece, so I’m glad to have it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Power of the Force Dagobah Luke was my first Star Wars figure, so I’ve got a soft spot for the design.  I was absolutely thrilled when this set was shown off, and I’ve been patiently awaiting its release.  I even held off grabbing the single carded Luke, because I knew this one was coming, and I wanted the whole deluxe set-up.  Luke’s not a standard design, but he’s the best Luke Hasbro’s released in this line.  The Yoda is also the best Yoda, but it’s really not even a close race on that.  He’s just demonstrably better than the prior release on every front.  This is definitely one of my favorite releases from The Black Series this year, and that’s saying a lot, because it’s been a really good year.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this set 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.

#1320: Yoda

YODA

STAR WARS: THE POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“For over 800 years, the diminutive Jedi Master known as Yoda trained the most committed students in the ways of the Force, guiding them into their roles as Jedi Knights, protectors of peace in the galaxy.”

Yoda.  Talks funny, he does.  That’s all I got.

Okay, I’ve probably got more.  The Star Wars prequels are bad for a whole lot of reasons, but if I had to pick one thing I hated the most, it’d be how badly they mucked up the Jedi Knights, Yoda most of all.  For me, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith cement the little green guy as possibly one of the worst people in the whole galaxy far, far away, having him not only be the guy who essentially establishes the Empire, but also making largely responsible for Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, by way of spending the majority of Episode III’s first act poking the bear with a stick.  But that’s enough of that.  Let’s go back to when Yoda wasn’t totally the worst!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Yoda was released in Power of the Force II’s second assortment of figures.  This was Yoda’s second action figure, following the original vintage figure.  The figure stands about 2 inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation.  He’s not particularly posable, but I honestly can’t think of a Yoda figure that has been, so it’s hard to hold that against this guy.  In terms of sculpt, as a largely inhuman sort of character, he didn’t fall victim to the same problems that plagued most of the other figures from this line.  With that being said, he’s still rather stylized, and not exactly a pitch-perfect recreation of his on-screen counter part.  The head’s definitely a bit big, and the hands are just sort of goofy looking.  Admittedly, he looks more like his real-life counterpart than most of his compatriots, so that’s a plus.  The articulation really isn’t worked into the sculpt, which is most evident around the hips, where the robes he’s wearing just randomly break their flow.  I’m also not entirely sure what’s going on with how the sleeves of the robe are hanging; it doesn’t seem to lend itself to any particular pose.  In terms of paint, he’s relatively passable.  Basic application seems to be pretty solid, though he’s a little bug-eyed.  They added some slight shading as you get further down the robe, which makes it look like it’s been slowly picking up grime over the years.  Overall, the paint’s fine, but all of his colors seem to sort of blend together, which looks a little bland.  Yoda includes his cane (which he has a little trouble holding), as well as a back-carrier.  The second piece goes with the Dagobah Training version of Luke from this same line, allowing Yoda to be carried on that figure’s back (please excuse the photo; I didn’t have Luke handy, so I just went with the blonde hero kid I had on hand).  It’s actually a pretty nice way of adding some extra value to a figure that would otherwise be half the size of his compatriots.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this Yoda growing up.  In fact, I don’t believe I had any Yodas growing up.  I got this guy at the same time as most of the PotF2 figures I’ve reviewed as of late; he came from the Farpoint Charity auction.  This is actually figure I’ve been meaning to track down for some time, since the complimentary Luke was my very first Star Wars figure.  He’s a bit on the goofy side, but I’m pretty pleased to finally have him!

#0624: Yoda

YODA

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

Yoda1

After a bit of a hiatus, I’m finally getting back into Star Wars: The Black Series. It’s not really by choice or anything, it’s just that I’ve finally started finding the figures I want again. The stores around me are all still drowning in a sea of Episode III Obi-Wans, so none of them have been getting any of the new figures. So, I have to check other places, outside of my usual stops to actually find the guys I want. Fortunately, luck’s been on my side, allowing me to track down several desired figures, including today’s focus, Yoda.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Yoda2Yoda was part of the…umm… he was released in the…hmmm. Okay, yeah, Star Wars: The Black Series has done it again. Hasbro’s releases are strange and more than a little hard to follow, so I’m never quite sure where figures actually got released. Yoda’s been given the number 06, but, in all honesty, those numbers are mostly meaningless, since a) they restarted the numbering with Series 4 and b) the numbers don’t seem to have anything to do with order of release. The TIE Pilot is #05, but I know for a fact he came after Yoda. I think Yoda might have been part of the same assortment as the Clone Sergeant, which I believe was the sixth series of figures. The figure is about 3 inches tall and has 19 points of articulation. Now, here’s where the first real issues begin to crop up. See, that’s plenty of articulation, but, for some reason, the figure’s been given double elbow joints, which seem excessive, and nothing but thigh cuts on the legs, so he can’t really do much but stand. Kind of a bummer. The figure has a brand new sculpt, which isn’t a huge surprise. It’s pretty good, overall. The head, hands, and feet all have a nice amount of detail, and the Yoda4clothes are well textured.  The arms are a little bit long, but that’s minor. Of course, most of the sculpt won’t ever be seen, due to the outer robe being done with cloth. I don’t mind the cloth robe at all. It could maybe be a little better tailored and I’m not sure how it will stand the test of time, but it’s not bad. It’s held in place by a small rubber belt, which does its job well, so that’s good. Paint is the one area where the figure (and the line, really) could stand to improve. It’s not bad, but it’s not super great either. The basic colors are fine, but the application is sloppy, and pretty much everything bleeds over. Yoda has a fairly decent selection of accessories, including his signature cane, the blissl flute and snake of the vintage figure, and a lightsaber. What’s that you say? You don’t see a lightsaber in any of the pictures? Well, that’s because goofball Ethan lost it before taking the pictures. Of course, I’m not much of a fan of Yoda having a lightsaber anyway. Plus, as what is clearly an Empire Strikes Back version of the character, the lightsaber’s really not accurate.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, as I mentioned in the intro, none of my main retail stops have gotten any Black Series since Series 2. This presents problems in getting anything that is after Series 2, which happens to be most of the line. With Yoda, things weren’t helped by him being the only OT figure in his assortment, and the only truly new figure as well. So, I kinda figured I wouldn’t be getting one. But, I was killing some time in a Walgreens, and I actually managed to stumble upon this guy! Ultimately, he’s just an okay figure. He won’t be winning any awards or anything. That said, he does a decent job of conveying the character, and he looks good with the rest of the line. Just don’t pay an arm and a leg for him. He’s not worth it.

Yoda3