Friday, May 19, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 13: Malakili (Rancor Keeper)

MALAKILI Rancor Keeper

Power of the Force Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69723
Number: n/a
Includes: Vibro-blade, Freeze Frame Action Slide (1998 only)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: 1997-1998

Bio: Malakili was one of the keepers of the only known rancor specimen. Kept in a special pit below the crime lord's court, the rancor was reserved as a method of getting rid of unwelcome guests or others who failed the crime lord. (Taken from the 1998 version of the figure's cardback.)

Image: Shelf bait.

Commentary: While most figures in the 1990s were updated versions of the movie characters, Malakili really was an update of the vintage 1984 action figure. With the same weapon, pose, and general look, he has the basic 6 points of articulation and adds little else to the line. He doesn't have the saddened look on his face as seen in the movie, nor the facial (and body) hair, or-- I assume-- the right colored outfit. It's hard to tell in the dark. The figure itself is amusing because of what its function is, although we can't say that the figure itself is anything special. A great addition to your Jabba's Palace diorama, Malakili looks great in crowd scenes, but in and of himself, he ain't much to look at. (And why the heck were they so reluctant to name Jabba on the 1998 Malakili cardback?)

Collector's Notes: There aren't many figures you can point to and blame for problems in a toy line, but Malakili could be one of them. 1997 and 1998 were nasty times for collectors, with Hasbro re-releasing many figures in 1998 on new packaging and a bonus "freeze frame action slide" for an extra dollar. A lot of the figures were poor sellers before the 1998 reissue, and old stock languished on the shelves-- and now, the price went up. Malakili was frequently lining a number of shelves and was also one of many figures that Target stores had a very difficult time moving when some locations instituted a "hole punch" policy-- in short, they punched a small hole in the card to deter collectors. While it did no such thing, it did cause already weak figures to sell even worse as not only were they undesirable, they were damaged goods.

As an added bonus, Malakili shipped in assortment 69605, "Collection 2," which later in 1998 would contain the Expanded Universe line. Hasbro blamed the failure of Expanded Universe on poor sales for Collection 2, which, at the time, resulted from a domino effect in many markets which were born from unsold stock dating back to 1997. Malakili was frequently found among the poorly selling figures and became the butt of many collector jokes for being a bad figure that really cause the line to look as if it were doing worse than it might have otherwise. Granted, other factors hurt the line in the pre-Episode I days, although none can deny this figure's immense lack of popularity and completely unnecessary rerelease. Even though there is significant room to do a better Rancor Keeper figure, no fans are clamoring for such an item at this time, so if you want one, you can get one easy.

For the record, in most markets, those Expanded Universe figures were quite difficult to find and very popular. Due to the lack of popularity for the SKU, however, many fans only found them on clearance and were unable to have an opportunity to buy them at full price or otherwise.

Day 13: May 19, 2006

No comments: