Saturday, June 2, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 392: Tusken Raider

Power of the Force Deluxe Beast Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 69655 No. 69769
Number: n/a
Includes: Gaffi stick, bantha
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $29.99
Availability: Summer 1998
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: An immense, shaggy beast, the Bantha lumbers across the barren Tatooine landscape. Suddenly, the peaceful image is destroyed as its master, a vicious Tusken Raider, erupts in a violent ambush on farmboy Luke Skywalker. Known throughout the galaxy, Banthas are magnificient creatures that stand over four meters tall. The peace-loving herbivores are able to survive for weeks without food or water, making them the perfect pack animal for Tatooine's infamous Sand People. They also serve as beasts of burden for the planet's moisture farmers and are raised in some parts of the galaxy for food and clothing. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: The toy room of Adam Pawlus.

Commentary: Aside from the arms, this Tusken Raider is pretty much all-new-- for its time. Back in 1998, this figure was revolutionary. Each leg had a knee joint and a swivel in the thigh-- that sort of thing was unheard of! It also featured the first modern use of soft goods, a little cloth "loincloth" of sorts between the figure's legs existed to assure their modesty was preserved. The figure's head was retooled and while it wasn't as good as some later figures, for its time, this was a surprisingly exciting release. After all, the 1997 Tusken had his head sculpted so he was looking down, which is much less exciting than a figure whose eyes can look up and meet his prey. While primitive by modern standards, the figure was specially designed to sit on a Bantha which was a pretty big deal. After all, don't forget that in the vintage line we'd likely have had to deal with the infamous "trap door" mechanism. Changing the figure rather than the creature was probably for the best, and the end result was a figure that still is interesting today. And I do most certainly mean "interesting" in that sort of vague "notable but not like good" way. Sort of like "may you live in interesting times." Still, it's a decent enough figure-- as a rider. This isn't a figure that would look good in a Tusken clan made of figures made in 2000 or later.

Collector's Notes: While overpriced, interest in this set remained strong even after they were clearanced out for as little as ten bucks. The figure itself isn't as exciting as its beast of burden, but still, it's worth tracking down as an evolutionary step in the line-- and for the Bantha, which even alongside the 2006 model is still quite cool. Of course, I'm a big fan of the Bantha as a creature with five and counting. All I need are three more, a fourth with a red nose, and a Landspeeder full of presents and I've got my new Christmas display. It's also worth noting that this is the second modern Tusken Raider action figure. Since its release, there have been several more in Power of the Jedi (a sniper), Saga (a sniper with a massiff, a female with a kid, a decapatation-friendly Tusken), an OTC release, the 2006 Saga Vintage version, and of course the tan and red clans at Toys "R" Us today. You can build quite the family of Tuskens if you're so inclined. Oh, and A'Sharad Hett, the Tusken padawan, is also coming this year. Still no word on Sharad Hett, the Tusken Jedi from the surprisingly good Outlander graphic novel/comic series.

Day 392: June 2, 2007

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