Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 270: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA Wookiee Rage!
Revenge of the Sith Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 85173 No. 85278
Number: III-05
Includes: Bowcaster
Action Feature: Squeeze legs for "Wookiee Rage"
Retail: $5.24-$6.99
Availability: April 2005-present

Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: The Wookiee warrior Chewbacca battles beside fellow warrior Tarfful to save their home planet from the invading Separatist forces. Yoda leads the courageous fight to save Kashyyyk from domination. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: For Revenge of the Sith, most figures were based off of the new movie. Chewbacca here is an oddity, because it seems he's actually more of a cross of the original 1978 action figure and his appearance in the original Star Wars, what with his bright eyes and open mouth and bowcaster. It's a fun little action figure, and he has the best ever action feature-- labeled on the package as "Wookiee Rage," all he does is rear his head and arms back and howl. This figure is Hasbro marketing at its finest. I'd buy a t-shirt that reads "Wookiee Rage!" on it. I'm not being snide, either. I am that much of a nerd. It doesn't do much, but it doesn't take away from the figure too much and the novelty of the name of the action figure actually makes owning this one well worth it, just to talk about to people who aren't too aware of the little nuances in the hobby like this one.

The sculpt is excellent, with lots of sculpted strands of hair and a nice face giving Chewie a great personality. The figure's deco could be better, as along with Tarfful this poor soul has a lot of brightly colored streaks in his fur that looks like some sort of weird mud or other brownish materials which we can't discuss here for reasons we can't go in to. It's obviously Chewbacca, and with 10 points of articulation, he's a pretty strong figure. Obviously he's been outclassed by Vintage/Early Bird/Tin releases which would come both before and after this release, but as a kid's toy this is a pretty solid release. Except the completely worthless knee joint, which allows the leg to rotate but not bend. Seeing as how Hasbro figured out how to do a Wookiee knee right with the Sneak Preview Episode III Wookiee Warrior, it's really quite confusing to think that they screwed it up with this later and arguably more popular release.

Collector's Notes: Since 2005, Hasbro has made sure to have this figure on the market regularly. In 2005, it was sold individually and in the Rebel vs. Empire Battle Pack. It was repackaged in 2006 for the Episode III Heroes & Villains Collection. In 2007, Hasbro is repackaging it yet again as part of the as-of-yet unreleased Saga Legends collection. If you want it, you should have no problems getting it for $7 or less. If you buy it to keep in the package, you simply must buy the 2005 version with the big "Wookiee Rage" sticker on it. Best. Marketing. Ever.

Day 270: January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 269: Clone Pilot (Black)

CLONE PILOT Black Variant
Revenge of the Sith Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 85173 No. 85423
Number: III-34
Includes: Blaster, cannon, projectile
Action Feature: Firing red rocket
Retail: $5.24
Availability: Fall 2005

Appearances: n/a

Bio: Clone trooper pilots are specially trained for the skills needed to fly attack and troop ships. As part of the Grand Army of the Republic, the clone pilots engage the Separatist forces across the galaxy. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: In Japan, Takara and Tomy were two toy companies that learned one true thing about collectors: if they'll buy it once, they'll buy it twice if you release it again in black. Despite not appearing in the movies or, as far as I can tell, any Expanded Universe tales the black Clone Trooper Pilot is basically a redeco, but is that a bad thing? I daresay no-- but the timing was a little too soon. People were still giddy for more figures from the final prequel, and this doesn't really qualify. It's an awesome looking figure, and seeing how post-Revenge of the Sith territory is being explored by the toy line, it's totally awesome today, in 2007. It will be more awesome if Hasbro gives us some new vehicles or at least a redeco of the upcoming V-Wing to use with it, but I digress.

It's a solid figure-- there's not a lot of clever little details you can put into a pilot's suit that was obscured on the big screen and was supposedly a lower-detail render from Industrial Light & Magic, but hey-- Hasbro did good. There's a decent pose that-- GASP-- allows the figure to sit in the vehicles! What a novel idea. This alone makes it a winner in my book, but adding glossy black paint to offset the more matte coloring of the suit certainly makes it look more interesting. With 12 points of articulation, it's a good figure-- but I do have to say I wish the exposed skin on the pilot's face was a smidge darker. It seems the black pilot's skin is a little less peachy than the white version, but still... these are supposed to be Jango clones, and the coloring isn't quite perfect. But as an action figure in its own right, man, this is a fun little toy and a great figure to have sitting in your vehicles. And hey, Hasbro-- how about making some Clone vehicles, hmm?

Collector's Notes: This is the repaint-- the original one was grey and white, like the AT-AT Drivers. There's still at least a few more redeco opportunities for this mold, like the pilot Odd Ball, and the decoration as it appears on the packaging (which is different than the white version of the figure). In most markets, the black pilot was harder to find than the white, although your mileage may have varied. The white one was a pegwarmer in many areas, which is a shame as it's a good figure and a lot of us bought several to pilot our gunships and ARC fighters.

Day 269: January 30, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 268: Jango Fett

JANGO FETT Final Battle
Saga Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 84851 No. 84505
Number: 0231
Includes: Blasters, backpack, flame blast, removable head
Action Feature: Spring-loaded flame blast, magnetic head can be "decapitated"
Retail: $4.99
Availability: 2002

Appearances: Attack of the Clones

Bio: The bounty hunter Jango Fett is a shrewd mercenary mysteriously linked to the growing Separatist army and the unexplained assassination attempts on Senator Amidala. His battle scarred suit of armor and muscular frame are physically imposing, and hidden beneath his sleek, domed helmet lies a coarse, pitted face hardened by a life of dangerous work and ruthless operations. Armed with dual pistols, a jetpack and flamethrower, Jango Fett is a mobile arsenal fully equipped for combat. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: Few toys are real toys in the Star Wars line, but Hasbro put a lot of fun action features that don't suck into this particular Jango Fett. Who ever expected Hasbro to make a figure where you could cut off his head? Or that had scene-specific knee articulation? Or a firing flamethrower accessory? I sure never saw it coming, and those of us that grew up on the original Kenner toys were both intrigued and dismayed when Hasbro pushed action features heavily in their line starting in 2002. Thankfully, this was one of the better figures, with incredible paint deco, above-par articulation, and, for better or worse, a scene-specific pose. The sculpting is great, and the look is nearly perfect-- except for the large gauntlet which holds the springs for the spring-loaded flamethrower. This is a heck of a nice figure, if you're a kid or if you're a collector. The fact you can cut his head off may be a little grim for some kids, but hey, if they saw the movie then it's nothing they probably haven't watched on DVD with the freeze frame feature at least a couple of times.

Collector's Notes: Since first appearing in 2002, this figure has gone on to become a staple of Battle Packs, appearing in the Jedi vs. Separatists set in 2005 and the Battle of Geonosis set in 2007. The later releases would be virtually identical, except they generally included one of his two blaster pistols. If you want the figure with both guns, be sure to get the original release. As far as articulation goes, this is probably the best Jango Fett on the market today. Fans are still requesting a super-poseable upgrade of the popular character, and I for one hope Hasbro gets with the program and cranks one out. I'm not the world's biggest fans of resculpts, but Jango is worth it.

Day 268: January 29, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 267: Mon Calamari Officer

Power of the Jedi Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84455 No. 84644
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: 2000

Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: A peaceful race of amphibians, the Mon Calamari species have adopted the name of their watery homeworld. Unfortunately, they were a target for Imperial enslavement. After striking back and regaining their freedom, the Mon Calamari joined the Alliance and focused all their energies on defeating the Empire. (Taken from the figure's Force File.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: Another favorite of mine, the Mon Calamari Officer was one of three figures from Power of the Jedi developed in a hurry as a stopgap way to get more Trilogy product in the post-Episode I marketplace. (The others being K-3PO and a Princess Leia Endor figure.) This figure had a few changes made besides the paint, like the newly sculpted helmet, a new blaster, and shoelaces added to his boots. How he ties them, I do not know. But it's a mystery.

By and large, the figure is a 1997 Admiral Ackbar with a few changes-- so it's not as ornate as his fellow figures in this assortment, still being a little beefy and everything. The sculpting is good, the paint is excellent, and as a trooper, this is a real winner. After all, the number of non-human, non-armored troopers of any alien race is pretty small, and to have more lobster people always makes the 4-year-old in me very, very happy. It's a fun figure with only six points of articulation, but he can sit in most vehicles quite easily and is a lot of fun to mess with. The helmet design is especially cool as it fits on snuggly and doesn't really pose any problem-- which is nice, as sometimes, they're a little tough to get on or off.

Collector's Notes: While not the strongest seller of his time, this figure did fairly well and a lot of fans (like myself) snapped up a couple of extras because, hey, how often can you get Admiral Ackbar's teammates? The figure's price range is all over, but you should have little problem getting one for under $10 shipped. And you should get one, he's a cool little figure that Hasbro probably won't revisit with a new sculpt for a while. Which is a pity, as I'd go nuts for an all-new Admiral Ackbar or any other Mon Calamari figure.

Day 267: January 28, 2007

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 266: Uncle Owen Lars

UNCLE OWEN LARS Purchase of the Droids
Power of the Force Cinema Scenes Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 69650 No. 69778
Number: n/a
Includes: Display Base
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99-$19.99
Availability: 1998

Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Owen Lars was the son of moisture farmer Cliegg Lars and the stepbrother of Anakin Skywalker. He married Beru Whitesun, and after his father's death, he inherited his job as a moisture farmer. Eventually, Beru convinced Owen to adopt Anakin's son, Luke Skywalker, as Anakin had turned to the dark side and became the infamous Darth Vader. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: Who'd have guessed it? In 1998, Hasbro gave us Uncle Owen finally, and we were only too happy to take him. The plastic used for his (and the Luke from his set's) face is a little weird, being somewhat translucent-- but the sculpting work was excellent, giving a certain knowing smile that we've all come to know through the publicity photos we've seen on a million trading cards, magazine articles, and wiki sites. The figure has the basic six points of articulation, and has an outfit that has exceptional-- for 1998-- cloth texture. The figure itself tends to draw different reactions from different fans. Some saw him as a decent stand-in for the Wuher figure we assumed we'd never get. Others see it as a joke, a lame figure of a lame character posed to "pull my finger." I find it a decent figure, although I do have some issues with the quality of materials used to make it. By using a slightly better plastic for the head, it might have been possible to never hear another fan request for a new Owen from the original film-- but in its current state, there's obviously some room for limited improvement.

Collector's Notes: Uncle Owen was a figure a lot of fans didn't expect to see, but Hasbro showed off a prototype in 1997 that made fans very happy. Of course, since then, they've been asking for two more Owen figures-- a young version based on Episode II, which seems possible some day, and a fried-to-a-crisp version which started as a joke, but the endless echo of "me too" makes it seem as if the joke has worn off. The original release of Owen was still easily had online (and in some backwater stores) up until 2006, proving it was a bit of a slow seller. The complete Purchase of the Droids boxed set, along with Luke and C-3PO, can be had for under $10. It's also worth noting it was blown out at Kay-Bee toys on the cheap in the year 2000.

Day 266: January 27, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 265: Battle Droid

Clone Wars Deluxe Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 84845 No. 84992
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, Backpack
Action Feature: Splits in half, magnet in torso
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Fall 2003

Appearances: Attack of the Clones, The Clone Wars

Bio: Battle Droids are produced in massive foundries on Geonosis. Despite a treaty forbidding the expansion of those armies, Geonosian foundries are currently running at maximum capacity, with thousands more battle droids secretly massing on Geonosis. Destroyer Droids, also known as droidekas, are engineered specifically as mobile machines of destruction, capable of eliminating practically any opposition. They roll into battle in the shape of a wheel, then unfold to full-standing combat stance for assault. Super Battle Droids operate independently rather than in groups, making them stronger, more efficient models of technological weaponry. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: This particular Battle Droid is a quasi-painful figure. It looks wonderful-- I think it's one of the best looking versions of this trooper ever. If given a stand, he stands upright-- but his rubbery limbs tend to get distorted between gravity and his packaging. If you knock him over, he splits apart fairly easily, and the sculpt is, well, pretty much exactly as good as all the other Battle Droids, but with unique deco. If you love cannon fodder, this is a perfect figure-- if you're looking for some diorama spice and variety, you need this figure-- if you want the best-ever super-poseable Battle Droid, pass on this one. He has poseable arms and legs, and not much else.

Collector's Notes: Three figures for $10-- a great deal. The set also included a Destroyer Droid and a Super Battle Droid. While neither were high-end, super-poseable figures, they looked great and for the price, were wonderful additions to the line.

Day 265: January 26, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 264: Lando Calrissian

LANDO CALRISSIAN with Heavy Rifle and Blaster Pistol
Power of the Force Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69583
Number: n/a
Includes: Heavy Rifle, Blaster Pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: December 1995

Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: A former smuggler and friend of Han Solo. After losing the Millennium Falcon to Han in a game of sabacc, the same game later won Lando the job of Baron Administrator of the floating Cloud City and Tibanna gas mine on the gas giant planet of Bespin. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: Six points of articulation and a cape aren't much when you're the super-beefy Lando Calrissian, but sometimes you can find popularity from other sources. Between the new surge in collectors, the "ha-ha Colt 45" crowd, and of course, Empire Strikes Back fans went nuts for the figure upon its release, even while fully admitting that Lando's new figure could totally take on He-Man in a fight. What you see is pretty much what you get, as there's very little special texture on Lando, and unlike many modern figures, in hindsight, he looks like more of a toy than an attempt to capture the likeness of Billy Dee Williams. Later releases in this outfit would be slimmed down considerably, include a cloth cape, and employ significantly better sculpting techniques in order to make the best possible figures. (One was released in 2001, and another in 2004.) The figure was often called "disco Lando" due to the changes made in his costume for the action figure and, I assume, the pose as well.

Collector's Notes: In 1996, this figure went from "new" to "rare" in about five minutes. He first shipped at two per case-- and then stopped shipping for a couple of months. Fans went berserk, paying upwards of $40 for this brand-new action figure. This sort of hype wasn't too uncommon when the line was new, as nobody really knew the scope of the line to come and every release seemed like the last (or best) one. Today, the figure doesn't exactly go for a lot of money, but it's a great example of what hype can do for a figure that, with few exceptions, wasn't all that great.

Day 264: January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 263: Princess Leia as Jabba's Prisoner

Power of the Force Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69683
Number: n/a
Includes: Chain, Freeze Frame
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: Summer 1997

Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: After her birth, Princess Leia became the adopted daughter of Bail Organa and Queen Breha of Alderaan, making her a Princess of Alderaan. An accomplished Senator, Organa was most famous for her strong leadership during the Galactic Civil War and other subsequent galactic conflicts, making her one of the Galaxy's greatest heroes. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: When the new line started, few figures were in demand as much as Princess Leia Organa as Jabba's Prisoner, due to the fantasy after seeing her on the big screen in 1983, and due to the reality of seeing a fairly good (for the time) custom figure on an early issue of Action Figure Digest. Back in 1997, fans had a short list of never-before-made figures that they wanted to own, and Leia was at the top, along with other fan favorites as Wedge Antilles and Grand Moff Tarkin. After a short wait that seemed like forever, all of these figures saw production and made it to market.

While a little tall by 2007 standards, this figure was a real winner back in the day. She was fairly slender, as opposed to beefier figures, and while her proportions were not completely based in reality, they were a step in the right direction. With six points of articulation, a sculpted ponytail, and a removable chain, she had pretty much everything you could hope for in a figure that could stand there and look good. She can't really sit easily, certainly not well enough to be able to sit at Jabba's... feet? The figure is an excellent sculpture, but we're still in need of a resculpt that would fit in well with modern figure sizes and articulation needs-- that, or just another statue that's preposed sitting. Still, this original release is a good one, but the 2001 Deluxe figure with the Sail Barge Cannon is a bit more properly sized, if awkwardly posed. Of course, it's a Slave Leia figure-- so you really can't go wrong with buying any version.

Collector's Notes: From 1997-1998, this was a very popular figure, probably mostly because it was one fans never thought they would see. Of course, there were dozens of rumors about it being recalled for being "too sexy" despite far sexier/anatomically closer to reality toys from McFarlane and other companies. The figure was considered a huge success, and the prices are all over the board-- it could be a dollar or two, or ten or more. Happy hunting! Also notable, the very first factory samples-- which as far as I can tell, never made it to the public-- had the area under her dress in a flesh color. The final release was more purple.

Day 263: January 24, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 262: Tarfful

TARFFUL Firing Bowcaster!
Revenge of the Sith Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 85173 No. 85343
Number: III-25
Includes: Bowcaster, projectile, club
Action Feature: Twist for Wookiee-punch, bowcaster really shoots
Retail: $5.24-$6.99
Availability: April 2005

Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: The heroic Wookiee tarfful helps the Republic forces when the Separatist droid armies invade his home world of Kashyyyk. Serving under the command of Yoda, Tarfful fights valiantly to keep his planet free. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Playmobil Tree House. (Hey, it was on clearance and $7 well spent.)

Commentary: When the first rumblings of Revenge of the Sith's trip to Kashyyyk came up, fans heard there would be two Wookiees of note-- Chewbacca, and newcomer Tarfful. This bigger, beefier Wookiee has unique hair, more armor, and some of the worst paint on a hairy action figure I've ever seen. Just what are those white streaks for, anyway? (Never mind, I don't want to know.) From far away, it looks good, but up close you'll find yourself wishing they picked a better color. The figure is good, but not great-- rather than including ball-jointed knees like the Wookiee Warrior, we get a weird swivel-knee that really doesn't do anything to enhance the figure. It's a sign of articulation that doesn't work, sure the knee rotates, but why? For what possible reason might this be useful? The figure has a hard time holding his club (even when you use the finger indentations on it, which I didn't in the picture) and has a fairly... vintage-esque pose. Even with swivel elbows and knees, he's pretty much only going to stand straight up and down. The sculpt is very good, and if Hasbro ever decided to do a resculpt with either more (or less) articulation, that might be a good thing-- if they drop or change some of the paint ops.

Collector's Notes: Available in 2005, this figure was made in good numbers and was an all-around good seller in a year packed with Wookiees. He can be bought on eBay for a couple of bucks.

Day 262: January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 261: Bespin Security Guard

BESPIN SECURITY GUARD Carbon-Freezing Chamber
Power of the Jedi Playset Figure
Item No.:
Asst. 26296
Number: n/a
Includes: Freezing Chamber playset
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99
Availability: 2001

Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The Bespin Wing Guard, informally known as the Bespin Security Guard or Cloud Police, was the primary security force of Cloud City on Bespin. Wing Guards dressed in dark blue uniforms with red and gold trim with dark blue helmets. They also carry silver blaster sidearms. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: While there's a really awesome Bespin Security Guard figure in the Power of the Jedi line, this is not it. This is the crappy (by comparison) one, as his arms are based on an existing Jedi Luke with the legs and lower body belonging to a Han Solo in Carbonite figure. This may sound ridiculous, but it's sensible-- the playset was designed to "freeze" Han Solo, so any figure that would come with it should, in theory, be able to interact with it if the fan doesn't have the Han. So that's the construction-- the head is new, and the upper body is new enough. It looks like a very primitive figure next to the other figures released at its time, but it's the only modern Bespin Guard figure that doesn't have the jacket sculpted in a weird, opened pose. So this one is the most authentic to the original 1980s Bespin Security Guard figures and, in many respects, the film. It's worth tracking down for now, but if Hasbro ever makes a new, closed-jacket Bespin Guard, you can probably skip this figure and never look back. There's not a lot of detail to be seen here, and it just looks... well, like it was rushed. And it no doubt was.

Collector's Notes: As a playset pack-in, it's a little cheesy. But what do you expect? The playset was first announced in 1998 and released several years later, hence its... very 1998-esque aesthetic, covered in guns. Oh, and don't miss the newer guard, which is well worth grabbing.

Day 261: January 22, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 260: Nien Nunb

NIEN NUNB with Blaster Pistol and Blaster Rifle
Power of the Force Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69694
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, rifle, Freeze Frame action slide
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: Fall 1997

Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Nien Nunb grew up in the caves of his homeworld, Sullust with his sister, Aril Nunb. Later, he worked for the SoroSuub Corporation as a smuggler. During one of his smuggling flights he befriended Lando Calrissian - an individual Nunb would have great deals with in later years. It was with Calrissian that he would copilot the Millennium Falcon during the climactic Battle of Endor. He went on to become the administrator of the Kessel spice mines, and sporadically worked with the New Republic and its successor, the Galactic Alliance. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: As a pretty popular figure in the vintage line for many fans, it was only a matter of time before the memorable Nien Nunb was granted a modern figure-- and that amount of time was about two years. With a decent sculpt, excellent paint, and six points of articulation, it's a little old-fashioned compared to today's super-poseable figures with tiny blasters and more paint ops on their head than this figure has on his whole body. But this said, it's a good figure-- the head sculpt is excellent, the clothing is good, and the pose, while weird, is decent enough to stand on his own. For its time, it wasn't the best figure, but it seems to hold up fairly well and makes a good toy. After all, he can actually sit and be placed in vehicles, a distinction many figures over the past decade cannot claim. It's a good upgrade to the vintage figure, but, obviously, there's still a little room for improvement. A removable "helmet" or more joints would be nice, but the sculpt as it is, is a good one.

Collector's Notes: It's not Nine Numb. It's Nien Nunb. The figure sold from 1997-1998, and hasn't been seen since. The figure was clearanced out in many stores and one collector bought 100 of them for fun-- as such, you can guess it's pretty common. A new one is not expected soon, and this one is good and cheap enough to warrant tracking down.

Day 260: January 21, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 259: Anakin Skywalker (Deluxe)

ANAKIN SKYWALKER Lightsaber Slashing Action
Saga Deluxe Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 84859 No. 84882
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsabers, slice-apart Geonosian victim
Action Feature: Push button for Lightsaber Slashing Action
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Summer 2002

Appearances: Attack of the Clones

Bio: Battling for their lives in the arena, Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi clash against thousands of Geonosian Warriors in a grueling confrontation. As Geonosians attack, Anakin uses the Force to retrieve a second lightsaber and prepares to defend himself at all costs. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: In a movie year, there are going to be lots of Anakin Skywalker action figures. In 2002, there were something like 3 basic figures, and 2 more deluxe ones-- and in the end, none of them were really all that great. While a better version would be made in 2005, all the versions from 2002 had their pros and cons-- this one had a quasi "Soft Goods" tunic, which was flexible and allowed the figure additional movement. Of course, that's all well and good, but when you have the Ridiculous Screaming Open Mouth, the figure is usually beyond redemption-- it's just goofy. You want to cram things in the mouth at this point, so the question is really how good is this figure once you get past the head. Again, not very-- he has a very distinct pose which is necessary for his slicing-and-dicing action which, I should add, isn't very good in the first place. If you have to have all things Anakin/Vader, this is an excellent item. But for collectors that just want a single Anakin figure, go get the one in the Anniversary Tin or the Evolutions pack-- this one isn't capable of much other than looking goofy and falling over.

Collector's Notes: In 2005, the same basic figure came out in the Jedi vs. Separatists Battle Pack, except Anakin had a different head and Hasbro swapped the blade colors on the lightsabers. As the figure is pretty iffy, we wouldn't say either one is worth tracking down over the other.

Day 259: January 20, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 258: Princess Leia (Vintage)

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA Vintage Original Trilogy Collection
Original Trilogy Collection Vintage Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85213 No. 85225
Number: n/a
Includes: Imperial blaster rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Fall 2004

Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Leia Organa was the daughter of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo, making her the younger twin sister of Luke Skywalker. After her birth she became the adopted daughter of Bail Organa and Queen Breha of Alderaan, making her a Princess of Alderaan. An accomplished Senator, Organa was most famous for her strong leadership during the Galactic Civil War and other subsequent galactic conflicts, making her one of the Galaxy's greatest heroes. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Early Bird Kit display. While cheap, the amusement factor of this display base seemingly knows no end.

Commentary: So far having been released but once, this "Vintage" version of Princess Leia Organa was a rare treat-- rare in that she can actually sit down, which isn't too common on Leia figures these days. As the best articulated version of the princess in this outfit, fans should probably run out and get this one-- there's not a lot of strong detail in the sculpt, but the outfit is fairly simple anyway, so it's not like there's a lot of things Hasbro needs to represent in order to make a great figure. With her added arm articulation, she can aim her weapon or easily sit down at a table or in a vehicle. Really, can you ask for too much more than that? Her face is very toylike, but that seems to be the intent-- to re-imagine the original toy, moreso than making the "Best Leia Evar." She ain't perfect (for example, she has no foot holes for use with foot pegs), but she does make for a very nice action figure. And unlike the 1995 Princess Leia figure, nobody seems to be accusing her of being an action figure of Han in drag. (Which it seemed you could hear quite a bit back then.)

Collector's Notes: So far, this figure hasn't been rereleased, so it's worth tracking down the original. Do take note that she has the "wrong" gun-- it would have been nice to see Leia include her own unique blaster, as the 1978 Vintage figure had done. Only one more new sculpt of Leia in her white gown from the original movie has been made since this figure, and it was basically a tiny statue.

Day 258: January 19, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 257: Naboo Soldier

NABOO SOLDIER Battle of Naboo
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85770 No. 87085
Number: 050
Includes: Big Freaking Gun
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: Fall 2005
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Though Naboo is a peaceful world, the people of the planet understand that peace comes at the price of vigivlance. Outnumberd and outgunned by the Trade Federation, many of the humans of Naboo step up and volunteer when it comes time to rise up against the occupying droid armies and retake their cities. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's toy shelf.

Commentary: Keeping the names straight of all the various Naboo Soldier figures can be a real trial, so I prefer just to identify them by color or hat. This particular release has an unusually bulky costume with an unusually small head, which makes it a very amusing figure to look at. It has a peculiar knee joint that (in my findings) has been very stiff, but hey, that's just one of the figure's dozen points of articulation. It's a little generic, but that can be a good thing with figures like this-- Hasbro could recolor it and give it a different head next year, and it might make the basis for any of countless comic- or novel-inspired action figures. There's very little detail here, so once you get past the fact that the figure is practically super-poseable, it should fit in nicely with the figures Hasbro made from 1999 for the first prequel. Also, the weapon is reused from one of the Naboo Soldier figures from 1999, so it's unusually large and has two grips. At least I think it's a second grip, as I do not know a lot about guns.

Collector's Notes: Fans love army builders. Fans hate Episode I. What happens when you have a figure that combines both? Well, it depends on where you live. Where I shop, the Naboo Soldier was quite tough to find, although I have seen email complaining he's a real pegwarmer. I think I've seen close to a half dozen, two of which were on some sort of freak clearance when the figure was still new. It's a nice addition to you growing collection if you like prequel toys, otherwise skip it. For customizers, the figure is nicely generic-- you could probably make something really cool out of this one. Kudos to Hasbro for having the guts to revisit Episode I again, as you can count the number of waves focused on the first prequel since 2001 on one hand.

Day 257: January 18, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 256: Luke Skywalker (Gunner Station)

LUKE SKYWALKER Millennium Falcon Gunner Station
Power of the Force Gunner Station Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 69665 No. 69848
Number: n/a
Includes: Gunner station, missiles
Action Feature: Really fires!
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Spring 1998
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Luke Skywalker was the son of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and Naboo Senator Padmé Amidala, and the older twin brother of Leia Organa Solo. A celebrated pilot, leader, and legendary Jedi Master, Skywalker was most famous for destroying the first Death Star and providing the catalyst for Darth Vader to kill Emperor Palpatine, which led to the eventual downfall of the Galactic Empire and made him the greatest hero of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's toy shelf.

Commentary: In 1998, Hasbro (then Kenner) introduced the "New Luke" sculpt. Before, they were all beefy, but now, Luke Skywalker looked a little bit more like his movie appearances. For the Gunner Stations, the basic sculpt (with its six points of articulation) was modified to include a communications headset, which (so far) is unique to this Luke figure and has yet to be revisited. But Hasbro does like to reuse ideas and it's probably only a matter of time. Better Luke figures have been released since this one, but only just barely-- this basic design tends to be the basis of most (if not all) basic Luke figures from the original movie. It's not perfect, but it's pretty great-- if you like big, firing accessories, this may be the one you want to get.

Collector's Notes: This wasn't a great seller. Some online stores still have units from the first shipments, so if you want one, it's going to be easy to get.

Day 256: January 17, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 255

Revenge of the Sith Deluxe Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 85182 No. 85572
Number: n/a
Includes: BARC Speeder
Action Feature: "Exploding" Action!
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Spring 2005
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Jedi Master Stass Allie is an experienced warrior and field agent. She is also a skilled healer and a member of the Jedi Council. Riding a BARC Speeder, Stass Allie uses her skills and the power of the Force in combat. (Taken from the figure's carback.)

Image: Adam's toy shelf.

Commentary: For once Hasbro got it right-- or did they get it wrong? Few figures can be shown to fans and get very different reactions like Stass Allie, which is the first-ever release of the character as a figure that wasn't simply another figure with a new name. By and large, it's a good set-- you get a newly sculpted Jedi Knight and a vehicle for about $10. The figure has the basic six points of articulation (that's bad) plus wrists (that's good) and a good sculpt (also good.) There's no lightsaber, unfortunately, which means this release isn't going to be "good enough" for most fans-- we're still going to want one that has a decent amount of articulation and a weapon. However, she's absolutely wonderful as a BARC Speeder pilot, and since that's what she comes with, that's probably what you'll be using her for if you buy this. You could do worse!

Collector's Notes: This was one of the worst selling deluxe figures in 2005-- well, maybe not in terms of numbers, but piles of unsold figures sat in pretty much every store I had the fortune to visit. The main reason to buy this is for the vehicle, and that's supposedly coming out with some Clones in 2007. Despite being a pegwarmer of incredible proportions, the fact that she has a vehicle with her makes her exciting to a lot of collectors, and you'll be lucky to find her for $10 before shipping. More than likely, she's going to cost you more.

Day 255: January 16, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 254: Aunt Beru Lars

AUNT BERU Relative!
Power of the Force Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 69680 No. 84049
Number: n/a
Includes: Milk carton, glass, droid
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: Spring 1999
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Beru Lars was the closest thing to a mother that Luke Skywalker ever knew. She and husband Owen lovingly raised Luke as their nephew, and trained him in the mundane ways of moisture farming on their arid Tatooine homestead. All along, Aunt Beru understood that a larger destiny awaited Luke. Years before, on another part of Tatooine, the slave Shmi Skywalker raised the boy who would become Luke's father-Anakin Skywalker. Like Aunt Beru, she sadly understood she could only love and nurture her boy for a relatively short period of time before she had to allow him the freedom to fly on his own wings. (Taken from the figure's carback.)

Image: Adam's toy shelf.

Commentary: Back in 1999, there weren't too many figures fans were clamoring for from the original trilogy, but Aunt Beru was one of them on a short list. Shortly before Episode I came out, fans were treated to Beru, as well as another C-3PO they didn't want, and a bafflingly neat but nonsensical Anakin Skywalker figure that was basically "alive" and had a lightsaber. Still, Beru made the wave great. The figure had a good likeness, especially for the time, and a really wonderful sculpt that captured the fabric quite nicely. She isn't perfect, and her pose is a little stuck, but hey-- they made Beru! Who would've guessed back in 1977 that such an action-free character would be made as an action figure? Since there probably will never be a new one, you can go out and buy this one with the knowledge that odds are she'll never get an upgrade.

Collector's Notes: Well, she's cheap-- eBay fans, the figure sells for as little as $0.99 + $5 shipping on her original card. Which makes her cheaper than what I paid way back when. As such, you should probably go ahead and snag her-- she's a great figure for any collection, and since it seems like even a younger version of Beru is pretty unlikely, you should just go get this one before fans wake up and realize she sells for way less than she probably should.

Day 254: January 15, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 253: Commander Bly

Revenge of the Sith Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 85173 No. 86650
Number: III-57
Includes: Twin pistols, rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.25-$6.99
Availability: Fall 2005
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Equipped for battle on the exotic fungus planet of Felucia, Commander Bly fights alongside Jedi Knight Aayla Secura. When the secret Order 66 is issued, Commander Bly suddenly turns on Secura and the rest of the Jedi. (Taken from the figure's carback.)

Image: Adam's toy shelf.

Commentary: In short, Commander Bly is just yet another repaint. The Clone Commander figure was given a fresh coat of paint, and his hook-and-string based accessories were dropped. The resulting figure was an end-of-the-line release which inspired newfound panic in fans due to it being available in decent numbers, but during the busy holiday 2005 season where not just collectors, but tons of parents were out looking for figures-- any figures-- for their kids. (Say what you will about gift-givers, but they ain't picky like us collectors.) The figure is essentially super-poseable, with all the joints you might hope for except for a waist joint. Aside from that, the figure moves just like you would hope for, and while the first release's color was a bit off, near the end of the run Hasbro did manage to fix the deco to better match the packaging. Unfortunately, it wasn't easy to get. No matter the version you choose, either version is worth adding to your collection.

Collector's Notes: Several variants on this figure exist, with some major and minor changes. The first two releases were identical, with the same color of yellow for most of the figure's markings, but the color of the rings in the shoulders and ankles come in yellow or white. The third release is the one that's colored properly, and that one has brown markings down the middle of the helmet and in a few other places. The third release tends to go for a bit of cash, and fans are hoping Hasbro reissues it in the upcoming Felucia themed Battle Pack which also includes some Star Corps Clone Troopers and Aayla Secura. Surprisingly, this figure and the very popular Commander Gree were not reissued as part of the successful 2006 assortments of "Heroes & Villains" and "Greatest Battles," which brought back 2005's best-selling figures for another go-round.

Day 253: January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 252: Ephant Mon

EPHANT MON Fan's Choice
Saga Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84861 No. 84812
Number: 0245
Includes: Cane, vibroblade
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: Fall 2002
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Formerly a gunrunner, Ephant Mon is a cunning and ruthless adversary. A Chevin from Vinsoth, he was saved by Jabba the Hutt and pledged his loyalty to the crime lord, eventually becoming Jabba's head of security. Heeding a warning from Luke Skywalker, he was one of the few to survive the destruction of Jabba's sailbarge at the Pit of Carkoon. (Taken from the figure's carback.)

Image: Adam's toy shelf.

Commentary: A figure many fans have demanded for years, Ephant Mon finally saw production as a Fan's Choice figure in the Fall of 2002. The figure looked expensive, and according to comments from Hasbro designers on panels since 2003, it would seem that it was. (I overheard one panelist say something to the effect of "we lost our shirt on that one.") The figure came on larger than standard packaging (for the time), was massive, heavier, and had a lot of detail and articulation you usually didn't see. Articulated jaws weren't a common feature on these figures, nor were blades you can hide in his robes, canes that combine with said blades to make a weapon, and so on and so forth. Because Hasbro went out of their way to make this figure special, it was one of the best of 2002-- but if they did anything less than the stellar job you see before you, odds are fans would still be complaining to this very day. We're a bitter bunch like that.

There's very little to dislike about this figure. He may have problems standing, but that's what his cane is for. The detail is incredible, his size seems perfect, and it seems impossible for Hasbro to do a better job. (I doubt McFarlane could do a better job.) Short of having perfectly designed soft goods (which is unlikely), this figure is as perfect as it gets. His mouth gives him added personality, and he can bite stuff. That's cool. This guy is just so big and so nasty that you're doing yourself a disservice by not picking one up, price be damned.

Collector's Notes: On the secondary market, this figure has been on an up-and-down rollercoaster over the years. At release, he shot up really quickly. Last year, he could be had (pre-shipping) for under $8. As of when I checked eBay for this feature, he's shot up yet again to about $10-$25, depending on how crazy the bidders are. There were also several for $7.50-- so those pinching their pennies can get some decent deals, but it looks like your hopes of getting it cheap are about nil. The figure shipped in one case in/around September of 2002 at one per case, and that was it-- until a number of the case showed up at Kay-Bee Toy stores a couple of years later for the bargain basement price of about three bucks. And I should also note that in my many massive toy hunts, I never once saw this figure in stores until those Kay-Bee clearance figures hit.

Day 252: January 13, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 251: G3-5LE

G3-5LE Star Tours
Star Tours Disney Park Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 10263
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.00
Availability: 2005
Appearances: Star Tours

Bio: G3-5LE, or G-3 5LE was a droid that worked for the Star Tours travel agency. He can be seen near the MSE-1T track plugging and unplugging a fuel tube. Since demands for the fuel are constant, G3-5LE stays by it all the time. He uses a broken MSE-1T unit as a table to rest the fuel tube on. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's Star Tours/Toys of the Damned shelf.

Commentary: Most figures have their fans, their cheerleaders, and those who will insist a figure is the best ever. Star Tours figures usually don't inspire that kind of love from fans, and the last (so far) series of figures based on the line are obscure like nobody's business. I myself couldn't even remember G3-5LE's name, and the figure is pretty unremarkable. Its brightly colored hoses make it look like a toy, and it's not especially well articulated. What you're looking at here is a real toy, and it feels pretty solid, but it's still a figure based on a dark corner of the Star Wars Universe that most people won't recognize. I'm not even sure where to find this Droid on the ride. As someone who's pretty big on obscure droids, aliens, and beyond, I'm not a big fan of things that aren't cool just by looking at it (like a purple Clone Trooper), or that I can't recognize as being from something. Since the figure was made for a theme park and was probably a result of the Disney/Hasbro licensing deal, it's an interesting figure because of where it came from and probably how it came to be. But by itself? Boring.

Collector's Notes: I couldn't find any closed auctions for this one on eBay when I wrote this feature, which probably says a lot. Not that the figure is rare, but that absolutely nobody cares. The bulk of Star Tours figures went from being a panic-inducing set for collectors to stuff that doesn't command its original price these days. Don't pay a lot of money for this figure, just because something is hard to find (regionally or otherwise) doesn't mean it's worth plonking down your time or resources to get it.

Day 251: January 12, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 250: Darth Maul (Holographic)

DARTH MAUL Holographic
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85770 No. 87090
Number: 048
Includes: Lightsaber, stand
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: Fall 2006
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Though his motivations and goals are a mystery to the Jedi, Darth Maul is kept on a tight leash by his master Darth Sidious. Seeming to be a rogue warrior bent only on chaos, he is actually a precision instrument used to make the first strike in a plan that will lead to the subjugation of the entire galaxy. In constant contact with his shadowy master, Darth Maul gladly kills or destroys any target he is given. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's 2006 prequel shelf.

Commentary: While a version of Holographic Darth Maul was released in 1999, apparently someone decided it wasn't good enough. Well, we disagree. This new release uses another mold from 1999, giving the Sith Lord a pose and a weapon never seen while he was communicating with everybody. Also, the mold and the plastic seem weak, the figure has toppled over once or twice while remaining on the stand and is, at worst, kinda crappy. With some futzing, he'll stay upright, but the 1999 Maul was much better despite having no articulation because he could actually stand up right and was a more appropriate design. The new blue coloring may excite some fans, and the clear blue lightsaber may be of some use to customizers. The figure's sculpt is still one of 1999's finest, but repeated pressings from the mold seems to have taken some of the sharpness out of the final product. It's still good, or at least OK, but it's hardly the finest Darth Maul being sold during the Q4 2006 period. If you have to have all things Maul, you'll love this. If not, well, save some money and skip this one. The unpainted face sculpt doesn't look a lot like Ray Park, as many of the first Maul figures relied on paint over sculpt to resemble the character. Not that it matters too much, but a little more attention to the likeness of the actor would be nice to have here.

Collector's Notes: Despite not being great, this figure may go down being hard to get. Available in one case assortment at one per box, there aren't that many to go around and the figure wasn't one I spotted on the pegs much here in Los Angeles. As such, if you're someone who will want every figure eventually, it would be to your advantage to pick this up on sight-- it may not be great, but it's going to hurt a lot worse if you have to pay above retail to finish your set down the road.

Day 250: January 11, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 249: Luke Skywalker (Early Bird Kit)

Early Bird Kit Wal-Mart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 85868
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber blade
Action Feature: Retractable blade in arm
Retail: $29.99
Availability: Summer 2005
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Luke Skywalker was the son of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and Naboo Senator Padme Amidala, and the older twin brother of Leia Organa Solo. A celebrated pilot, leader, and legendary Jedi Master, Skywalker was most famous for destroying the first Death Star and providing the catalyst for Darth Vader to kill Emperor Palpatine, which led to the eventual downfall of the Galactic Empire and made him the greatest hero of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam's Early Bird stage.

Commentary: While there a lot of oddities about this figure, it might be more important to focus on what this figure of Luke Skywalker is rather than what it isn't. It's meant to be a throwback to the original 1978 vintage figure, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Hasbro designers said "well, people are probably going to leave this in the mailer box anyway." To date, it's the only version of Luke from the original film to have a shirt that isn't white-- it's a weird tan color, which may match the illustration on the Early Bird Kit stage well, but it doesn't look like the movie at all and is the one aspect of this figure of which I'm especially critical. It's not hard to get a shirt color right. The overall sculpting is fairly excellent, and it really is a neat update to what was the very first Star Wars figure for thousands of fans. The figure even has the wacky lightsaber-in-the-arm trick, which you either love or hate.

Hasbro designers decided to improve the original figure design with ball jointed shoulders and a waist, but unfortunately, the modern "skirt" piece prevents Luke from doing a lot of sitting. This is a figure that shows designers have a lot of ambition and the ability to try new and interesting things, but at the same time, shows that someone wasn't necessarily doing a lot of thinking when it came time to paint it. Even if this is the color that the design team/marketing/whoever really wanted, it looks weird and not so hot, and leaves the door open for a properly colored repaint on a regular basic figure package down the road.

Collector's Notes: As a mail-in figure, this is a pretty good one. Given that Hasbro went out of their way initially to not bother to tell fans what figures they'd be getting with the modern Early Bird Kit, it seems you could argue that this figure (and the Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 it came with) were made to be substandard releases because the team knew that a lot of people would buy it and send off for it without knowing what would come in the mail. This is, of course, purely speculation. The actual Early Bird Kit sold at Wal-Mart was initially sold only at select Wal-Marts, meaning the half dozen or more I would frequent in Phoenix didn't all stock them-- only the two in the overall oldest areas of town, where they were fairly weak sellers and stuck around for quite some time. There's nothing to confirm this but supposedly the redemption late was low and units remain at Hasbro's distributors waiting for a new home, plus the deadline for the mail-in offer was extended several times in hopes of getting people to buy the kit. It's a pretty safe bet we'll never see an offer like this again, which is a mixed blessing. If Hasbro did a new Early Bird Kit as a "Sneak Preview" offer for, say, the TV series figures, that would be a very compelling thing (if done early enough.) So there you have it-- another bit of nostalgia, recycled and ultimately not quite the hit you might hope for.

Day 249: January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 248: Xizor

PRINCE XIZOR Shadows of the Empire
Shadows of the Empire
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69594
Number: n/a
Includes: Energy weapons, removable gown
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: Summer 1996
Appearances: The Clone Wars (in theory)

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

Despite their devotion to the Emperor (though Xizor's commitment is at best a political maneuver) there is little love between Vader and the Dark Prince. Vader does not trust the crime lord's intent, while Xizor seeks vengeance against Vader for the deaths of his family. A direct attempt on Vader's life however, would be too dangerous - even for Xizor - and in his opinion, a fate not painful enough. To ruin Vader in the eyes of his beloved master would be the ultimate degradation, a feat which could only be accomplished by locating and eliminating Luke Skywalker. Spoiling Vader's promise to deliver Skywalker to the Emperor alive would undermine Vader's reliability and give Xizor all that he desires: final vengeance and Vader's position as the second most powerful figure in the galaxy. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's shelves, yet again.

Commentary: When the first new Star Wars figures hit in 1995, there was little question that it would be a huge hit. Just one year later, the line took a detour from the films into the Expanded Universe with the very first Shadows of the Empire figures including the awkward Prince Xizor, a figure made famous for not selling. A year or three later, it was still possible to find unsold figures in stores, and I even saw a brand new Wal-Mart open up with pegs of Xizor-- despite the figure not having been shipped for several months at that time, and no other Shadows figures were around to be seen. Truly, the figure is cursed.

For the time, though, he wasn't horrible. As a new alien with a new sculpt, it was a nice addition to the mix, even though his incredibly dorky Energy Blade weapons were the subject of many jokes until collectors decided it was time to move on. The sculpting is pretty good, but nothing stellar. It's obvious a new version could be made today and greatly improved, but odds are nobody really wants to see a new version of this character because he was killed off in the original Shadows project and, well, it'd be like dumping gasoline onto a fire.

Collector's Notes: The figure is what you call "common." Paying more than a couple of bucks for it would be foolish, so your best bet is to buy it off another collector or to pick it up as part of a large lot/collection where it averages out to be basically nothing. Few figures were as disliked as this one, mainly due to the fact fans felt another movie character could have been made, but it's still a unique curiosity and one of the very first non-movie characters to get a toy.

Day 248: January 9, 2007

Monday, January 8, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 247: Clone Commander

CLONE COMMANDER Mace Windu's Attack Battalion
The Saga Collection Target Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 87110
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, blaster rifle, helmet, "purse"
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: October 2006
Appearances: The Clone Wars (in theory)

Bio: This commander leads a team of clone troopers into battle to protect the Jedi Temple. He uses a series of hand signals to direct and position his battalion as they battle the invading droid army. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: Inside the backdrop from the box for Mace Windu's Attack Battalion.

Commentary: At first, this looks like a brand new figure. It isn't. This Clone Commander is the Revenge of the Sith Evolutions Star Corps Clone mold, modified with a new helmet, and additional new accessories. It even has the same, thinner rifle. The newly tooled shoulder prevents some of the motion which the original figure had, but it's still pretty spiffy. The head under the helmet has oddly painted eyebrows, and is slightly paler than you might like. As such, you can thank your lucky stars that you have a helmet which you can leave on his head. There's not much to say about this Clone that hasn't been said about most others-- it's very posable, includes more guns than you need, and doesn't come from a specific story in the existing Expanded Universe. It's just a cool purple Clone with a funky helmet, and fans of such things will enjoy it. It makes an exciting toy for this reason, as there are very few Star Wars action figures that don't already have an entire backstory fleshed out for them before you make the purchase. With this one, it's almost entirely up to you.

Collector's Notes: The Episode II and Episode III hammock is largely called Clone Wars, so it makes sense that any Clone Trooper with the Revenge of the Sith helmet design and any relation to a character killed in that film would be, by default, Clone Wars. As far as I can tell, no fiction has shown a visual representation (or even a mention) of Mace having his on squad-- but hey, here it is. The box says "As Seen on Cartoon Network" but does not sport a Clone Wars logo like on other recent items from the series. Which is funny, because it would make more sense to say that this is a toy from the Clone Wars because it could be, yet I do not recall seeing it on Cartoon Network at all. Also, this set includes three of the Clone Trooper, one Clone Commander, and Mace Windu in the boxed set.

Also, the figure has one small blaster pistol-- not two, like it says on the box. It is stored in the man-purse. Also, this item sold out in most stores fairly quickly, an unusual case in 2006 as nearly every Target exclusive hit the clearance racks in decent numbers for nearly all Hasbro Star Wars exclusive products. This mold will return again in Wave 1 of the 2007 "30th Anniversary Collection," but painted in orange and named the Utapau Airborne Trooper.

Day 247: January 8, 2007

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 246: Boba Fett

BOBA FETT Kamino Escape
Star Wars Saga Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84861 No. 84863
Number: 0207
Includes: Helmet, poncho, blasters, blast effects, backpack
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: April 2002
Appearances: Attack of the Clones

Bio: The offspring of the resourceful and dangerous Jango Fett, young Boba was trained by his father in the art and skill of bounty hunting. The tragic events that soon befall Boba will give rise to a fierce desire and determination to become the galaxy's most feared bounty hunter. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: The shelf of Adam Pawlus.

Commentary: One thing fans always wanted to see was Boba Fett earlier in his career. But not this early. This really young version of the bounty hunter is armed to the teeth, with tons of accessories that once belonged to Jango, which more or less makes this a quasi-Expanded Universe figure of Boba getting started after the events of the film. (Or maybe deleted scenes stuff.) Either way, it's a unique figure, even if he isn't the armored terror we've all come to love.

Boba's skin color is a little pale, and he has seven points of articulation. It's possible for him to wear all his gear at once, but it does look a little funky. The tunic sculpt is simple, and acceptable for a figure of this nature. Of course, when you get right down to it, it's a pretty unexciting concept-- it's a tween with guns. With a little more armor, or maybe a truer-to-the-movie deco, this could be a really exciting release. But it is what it is-- Boba from the movie, with extra gear, at a low price. For the hardcore Fett fans, this is a must-buy. In and of itself, it isn't too thrilling, and might be a figure to skip if you're in need of space and/or money.

Collector's Notes: Like many figures in 2002, this one did pretty well-- most regions didn't get bogged down in it, but it did leave fans wanting more in a year where Hasbro really dropped the ball by, well, not making enough Clones. With so many other better (and older) versions of the character having been produced as toys, this isn't one I'd jump on if I was just getting started. But hey, if you're gonna collect them all, this is the only version of the Young Boba Fett out there, so you don't really need to worry about it being outclassed by a newer, better sculpt. This is it.

Day 246: January 7, 2007