Monday, September 19, 2011

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,634: Ponda Baba (Walrus Man)

The Vintage Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 97568 No. 32242
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: VC70
Includes: Pistol, alternate bloody arm, fin hands, paw hands, glass
Action Feature: Alternate right arm, alternate hands
Retail: $9.99
Availability: September 2011
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Celebrate the legendary Star Wars saga that changed the universe forever! This collection brings to life the incredible story of good versus evil that captured our imagination and took us to a galaxy far, far away. Iconic Star Wars heroes and villains are captured with incredible detail and premium features to commemorate each epic tale in the Star Wars saga. May the Force be with you! (Taken from the figure's packaging. There is no bio.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' kitchen.

Commentary: This Ponda Baba is pretty much perfect. It's one of my favorites. There's not much left to do with this guy, from where Hasbro's engineering goes. He's super-articulated. His coat is part of the torso. He has fins with strange little finger grips. He has paws. He has a holster. He can stand, he can sit, he can hold his liquor-- literally, he's got a glass.

This is the first completely new Ponda Baba sculpt since 1997. 1997. A resculpt in 2004 has been reused a few times, but it shared parts with the 1997 version-- so there's never been a super-articulated version of the figure before this one, and someone at Hasbro must have said "let's just put every last possible feature into this figure" because that's exactly what happened. Given the increased prices, it's good they did this-- I wasn't sure if I should be pleased that one of the precious few slots devoted to Cantina creatures would be given to a remake of a figure I was pretty satisfied with, but they did, and I dig it.

The second arm pops off at the shoulder-- just pull it out, it'll pop nicely. The alternate bloody stump arm has a ball-jointed shoulder and a "swivel" at the lightsaber wound, which makes sense given that the main point of this is to be a stump on the ground. The elbow is unnecessary, and the ability to select the paws or the fins is a nice touch. The hands swap easily, and the other feature-- the holster-- works great. The holster opens up a little bit so it can be gripped more easily, it works fantastic.

Hasbro did a bang-up job resculpting this guy. The 1997 figure was ahead of its time and a wonderful release in its day, and so is this one-- the brown shirt is here, the gold belt buckle is great, and they even painted one of the buttons on his jacket. The piping on the jacket is great, the textures on the outfit are magnificent, and the boots are nice and shiny. The holster doesn't grip the leg-- which means he can sit, which means this is a step in the Right Direction. (It's very important for figures to be able to sit.) I had to problem getting this guy into any pose I wanted, and since my vehicles are mostly packed up I didn't have many chances to get him to sit in something sensible-- but I did test him in the big 2010 AT-AT, the 2009 Millennium Falcon, and the 2010 redesign of the TIE Bomber and could get him to fit in a decent way in all of them. Which basically means this: I went out of my way to find something to complain about and could not find it. The figure is just that good.

Aside form the stump, the neatest new feature are the fin hands. The flippers are sort of round, paddle-shaped appendages with three fingers each. The two fingers and thumb are these weird little tube things, and they can perfectly grip the glass or the gun. Perfectly. If you buy only one unnecessary remake this year, this may well be your best bet. At ten bucks I do not feel I wasted my money, and for those of you who know me, I am a cheapskate. As the Aquabats once said, "Don't ask why, just buy buy buy." Cantina lovers, this may be your figure of the year for 2011.

Collector's Notes: This figure hit with some repacks, but the most notable things about this figure are in the packaging. For starters, the cardback uses a different illustration than the 1979 original. Second, it has the Boba Fett mail-away flyer, which does say you can use any Hasbro Star Wars action figures for the offer and does not impose a limit on which assortments. So sender beware! I'd love to see Hasbro try a "Kenner" version someday-- swim fins, stupid vest, green skin-- but I think that's unlikely. I'd buy it though-- if it's as good as this one, it would be a treat. A freaky green treat.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,634: September 19, 2011

1 comment:

Campbell said...

I'll be on the lookout for this one. So many features and a superb sculpt makes this seemingly the end-all be-all of Ponda Baba figures.