The Black Series 6-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.: Asst. A4301 No. A9011
Number: #06 (Blue Box)
Includes: Green blade, lightsaber hilt, snake, flute, belt, gimer stick
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: November 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back
Bio: On the remote swamp planet Dagobah, Jedi Master Yoda teachers young Luke Skywalker the ways of the Jedi and the power of the Force. "My ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is." (Taken from the figure's packaging.)
Image: Adam's photo lab.
Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!
Commentary: Generally speaking, a Star Wars action figure review writes itself. Within seconds I can tell you if a 3 3/4-inch action figure fits within established parameters for "good," and while some aspects may cause controversy - specifically, if one or two bad elements make a figure bad or not - generally the reaction is pretty good. I trust my gut. My gut didn't have an immediate positive or negative reaction to the 6-inch Yoda, mostly because unlike the similarly small R2-D2 he didn't demonstrate value. While we as a group have come to accept that 3 3/4-inch scale figures are now generally $11, those figures usually have a decent array of accessories and there's really no competing Hasbro Star Wars product delivering a similar product at a better value. Not so with the 6-inch line. Due to his shorter size, Yoda is, for all intents and purposes, a 3 1/4-inch action figure. This means that Hasbro's decision to ask $20 of him is either a result of cynicism (i.e., "those people will buy anything,") or perhaps poor planning. I have no doubt this figure costs less to make, although it's possible even the factory (which Hasbro doesn't own, if you weren't familiar with how things in China work) could have said "all 6-inch figures are $X" and as such, Yoda fell under a goofy pricing structure. Since there are no half-sized 6-inch assortments or plussed-up gift sets, this price is what it is - faulty.
As collectors, we are quite often suckers for the things we love. We bite the bullet, shell out our money, and ultimately get what we want. Since Yoda will sell even at secondary market mark-ups and the sculpt is good, it's sort of an issue and it sort of isn't. This figure could fit in a 3 3/4-inch package pretty easily, and seeing that he's short, with a similar to 3 3/4-inch piece count, the price really does sting. This is, simply put, not even big enough to be a 3 3/4-inch figure yet because it comes in a big box, we pay twice as much without hesitation. Not every figure in this line is perfect, and some like the Sandtroopers offer a lot of stuff for your money. With Yoda, you're opting in on paying the Yoda toll.
There are no foot holes in his tridactyl feet, but the ankles are jointed as are the hips and an upper thigh-swivel. But why offer both ankles and a thigh swivel, when no knees are present? It just adds more parts, which takes more engineering and assembly, without offering additional functionality or value. With 16 points of articulation the figure is neither impressive nor bad - the lack of knee joints at this scale is somewhat baffling, and at the same time a decision to not simplify it to sell it as an accessory to a Dagobah Luke (for example) is also a little strange. What we have here is a figure that would be average as a 3 3/4-inch release, and also would fit within the confines of that assortment. There are no bend-and-swivel wrists, but you do get completely unnecessary double-jointed elbows - the cloth garments don't let you get the most out of them and it isn't like Yoda is super-bendy as a character in the first place.
His sculpt is good - it looks like Stuart Freeborn's sculpt, which itself looks a bunch like Mr. Freeborn. His green skin feels darker than most Yoda figures, but it gets the point across. His soulful eyes remain, and the paint on my sample is mostly good although there's a little too much white on this particular figure's left eye. It's a pretty good recreation of a latex puppet, and I can't complain about the quality of his jacket either. Unlike the 3 3/4-inch scale Yoda released earlier this year, it is a bit more tattered and worn - and looks like it actually fits him. The belt is good, and the banded snake is also very nice. His cane fits in his hand loosely, while the prequel-inspired lightsaber seems a smidgen large for his tiny hands. (And it's also an added, unnecessary cost here. A blue backpack for Luke would have been more fun, but it is what it is.)
Because it's a 6-inch scale Yoda with a good sculpt, I can't say this is a bad figure. However based purely on the criteria of the 3 3/4-inch line, it's clearly not a good deal. It also doesn't matter to this series' bottom line, so Hasbro doesn't need to fret. Hasbro's line of 3 3/4-inch figures are taller, similarly articulated figures with a piece count that's sometimes similar to Yoda here. For a figure that's only an inch taller than a standard Hasbro/Kenner Yoda he's sort of a bitter pill to swallow, but Yoda figures have been historically smaller and overpriced since the line started. Of course, usually we were dealing with figures in the $3-$7 range, now that he's $20 it's impossible to ignore that there's not enough plastic here to warrant the price tag, nor is this figure twice as big or twice as good as a typical 3 3/4-inch tall Hasbro Star Wars figure. It's not bad either - and this is very important - this figure's only flaw is that he doesn't deliver sufficient toy for your money. Hasbro's Deluxe-class Transformers are $15 and are roughly twice the size. If money is not an issue for you, or if you just love Yoda, this is a wonderful figure at a price I can't get behind. You can get bigger, better, more impressive figures in this line for the same price, but you won't because we just like Yoda too much.
Collector's Notes: This figure is in major online and brick-and-mortar stores in the USA now.
Day 2,115: December 29, 2014