Monday, March 4, 2013

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,014: Anakin Skywalker

ANAKIN SKYWALKER The Rise of Darth Vader
Discover the Force Adjacent Target Exclusive Movie Heroes 2-Pack
Item No.:
Asst. 39612 No. 39618
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, Darth Vader figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: February 2012
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Through the creative vision of Lucasfilm Ltd. and the Cartoon Network, the Clone Wars are brought to life in an exciting new series of short animated chapters. A unique animation style captures the drama of this epic period in galactic history along with its outstanding heroes and adversaries. Noble Jedi warriors lead Clone Troopers into battle against the evil Separatist forces and their droid armies. Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda and their comrades struggle against the rising power of the dark side and confront personal challenges against a backdrop of war-torn planets.   (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo hole.

Commentary: Not every purchase I make is a happy one, as this Anakin Skywalker proves.  "Why am I buying this?" I asked myself last year, and the answer was that Anakin was just different enough to make me mad.  The figure has new deco and a helmet previously (or actually, simultaneously) seen on Naboo pilot figures.  It's a mold from 2000 with improved deco.  The same mold was used in the Walmart Mos Espa Race set, except it had dust painted on his face.  The mold isn't very good... it's not bad, but it was 12 years old at the time of its release and was not engineered to sit in vehicles particularly well.   I'm actually a little miffed Hasbro didn't kick off its new 5-joint "Saga Legends" initiative in 2012 so we could maybe have gotten an Anakin that could sit in a Naboo Fighter or Pod Racer without skirt issues.  Had Hasbro opted to issue no vehicles at all in 2012, I'd have no reason to complain but the Anakin figures are, on the whole, crappy "pilots" for vehicles.  As a figure to stand around wearing a helmet?  It's fantastic.

All whining on my part aside, the figure isn't terrible.  The jointed knees were unique back in 2000, and the swivel wrists are a nice touch.  The head sculpt is good, and the paint on the figure's head, hair, and costume are cleanly applied.   As a stand-alone collectible, it isn't bad and I'm sure fans who aren't sick to death of "evolution" sets that are just a way to repackage molds we've all bought seventeen times over will be delighted by this pairing.   Darth Vader is essentially the same figure that has been in The Saga Collection and Saga Legends since 2006, with one scarred shoulder and shiny black armor.  And loose joints.  The arm may pop off for you.

The funny thing is if Hasbro did these exact figures in these exact costumes in that new (old) Saga Legends format, so they could sit easily?  I'd drop $15 on them with a smile.  As it is, yet another squeeze from these molds in an era where materials and labor costs are so high is an odd decision, and I'm sure this is one of many reasons why Target has few to no new interesting exclusives in Q1 2013.

Collector's Notes: Were this set ten bucks, I'd probably have little reason to complain.  With Walmart's 5-figure pack at about $20, this 2-figure set for $15 is sort of, how do you say, awful.  It did hit clearance at many locations of Target stores around the USA, even though it contained a new enough to warrant your attention Anakin Skywalker.  It shipped alongside a set of Darth Maul and Darth Sidious, which I realized as of yesterday I still need to pick up for the unique deco Sidious.  So that'll be here shortly.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,014: March 4, 2013

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