Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,015: Emperor's Royal Guard

EMPEROR'S ROYAL GUARD  Return of the Jedi
The Vintage Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 37499 No. 38527
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #VC105
Includes: 2 helmets, force pike, blade weapon, shoulder armor, blaster, cloth robes
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: October 2012
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

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.  No specific character information.)

Image: Adam's photo hole.

Commentary: Complain as I may about the $10-ish price point in 2012, this Emperor's Royal Guard was determined to prove me wrong. You get your money's worth here, more or less.  Because Hasbro is insane, or because of the high piece-count, this figure was delayed and eventually crammed in an online-exclusive wave which meant that one of the few figures fans were really superbly looking forward to building a squad of would be out of reach.

The figure has so much gear and such wonderful deco that it may be surprising that I don't much like it.  The figure has a complete alternate training wardrobe, complete with an Imperial symbol on his back and a nicely decorated head.  In his training gear, it's a really cool looking figure.  With his movie costume, the figure sort of misses the mark.  I don't particularly care for how he holds his pool cue, plus I found the cloth part to be ultimately clunky when trying to recreate the movie look.  The 1983 version got it wrong, too, but in 2012 I don't much feel there to be any reason for a figure to look anything less than perfect.  The bizarrely tall plastic 1997 take on the guard had no problem holding his weapon, and even though his arms protruded from the plastic cloak it more or less worked.

There's still demand for this figure because it's arguably the best modern take on the trooper.  The 1997 one is tall and the arms are weird.  The 2002 one is plastic and looks funky.  The 2005 one lacks the pike, but is generally designed well.  And this one, well, why isn't it perfect?  Why include extra gear and not a perfect pike-gripping hand, or the best-ever crimson robes?  Is it a scale issue?  Was plastic too expensive?  It comes so close to being the best, and it's obvious Hasbro lavished this figure with time and resources to give us something truly great.  The fact that it's just OK is what's kind of disappointing... and its lack of availability.  And with the recent price increases it wouldn't stun me to never see this figure released again, but I think I'm OK with that.  I'd love to see Hasbro crank out a better Royal Guard in its Saga Legends line some day, if possible, that really only needs to stand and hold his weapon.   The action pose stuff is nice, but the character is basically little more than a mobile statue.

Collector's Notes: Hasbro underserved the market on this one, and odds are you didn't get too many of it.   Just for the training garb, it's worth picking up as it's superior to the Crimson Empire boxed set trainees and actually makes a decent Kir Kanos substitute.   Had Hasbro left out the movie helmet and robe entirely, I'd rate this figure more highly... I know it's silly, but including accessories that don't quite work well is almost worse than leaving the gear out entirely.  This is all moot since you'll never see it at American retail.  At the right price, buy it as a great Expanded Universe figure.  Just keep waiting for Hasbro to get that perfect Return of the Jedi guard.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,015: March 5, 2013


Bluesnaggs said...

Adam, this Royal Guard CAN hold the pike in his signature pose. Keep the right arm straight while turning the hand palm up. The pike has a ball-like end that pops right in the hand. Too bad there are not instructions, but the Royal Guard can be posed in the way it's supposed to look. Likewise, the card back should have had the same vintage photo.

Madezra said...

Hey let's make one of THE greatest waves ever and NOT release it to the public!
Real smart thinking Hasbro. I am still mad about the whole online wave fiasco, as it made it nigh on impossible for collectors who do not live in the States to get them. Hell it was nigh on impossible for collectors IN the States to get them...