Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 4: Dark Empire Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER- Dark Empire Comics
Expanded Universe Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69883
Number: n/a
Manufacturer: Kenner
Includes: Lightsaber, Blaster Pistol, Fold-Down Diorama
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: Fall 1998
Appearances: Dark Empire comics

Bio: Six years after the destruction of the second Death Star, the galaxy is thrust into turmoil.  A reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic's closest friend-- Luke Skywalker-- may become their greatest enemy.   Freed from their detention cell, a group of Rebels begin their escape from the Imperial planet Byss.  But the sudden appearance of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, could mean unfortunate news for the Rebels.  Has Luke fallen under the spell of the dark side?   (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Taken in the wilds in the home of Adam Pawlus' display shelves.

Commentary: A gift from above-- Hasbro (then Kenner) asked fans about non-movie figures in 1996 and 1997, and in 1998, paydirt.   Based on the unique stylings of Cam Kennedy, Luke has an all-new red lightsaber (which was prone to fading in direct light), and an all-new blaster which may have been the simplest of the Kenner-designed guns of its day.   The figure was articulated at the typical six points, plus had an extra one so you could lop off his hand, were you so inclined.    While simple, this figure was seen by comics fans as a gift from above for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was an awesome pop-up diorama cardback.  To this day, no Star Wars figure has come up with more interactive packaging than the 1998 Expanded Universe range.

Collector's Notes: The entire Expanded Universe range of 1998 was released during a market glut in which a number of products were pulled from development because Kenner was worried-- correctly-- too many products were flooding the shelves.   As such, a lot of stores didn't order because the assortment in which they shipped was clogging up pegs with Rancor Keepers and other undesirables, leading Kenner and Hasbro to tell fans that the figures were not popular and did not sell.   While true, this is because they were released in market conditions so unfavorable, even a figure as popular as Scorch would have been called a flop.   Today, the once hard-to-find figure can be had on eBay for pretty close to its original price.

Also, this is one of my favorite action figures of all time.  As someone who went batty over the Dark Empire comic series, I made sure to mention my interest for this particular Luke figure at almost every turn in the mid-late 1990s in the off chance it might make a difference, and Kenner delivered.   Luke has a unique sculpt and hairstyle never seen again, and to date, this is the "oldest" Luke figure.   All other figures were made during the confines of the trilogy.   So get the "Separation of the Twins" Obi-Wan with Luke, and this, and you'll have the oldest and youngest Luke figures.   I advise any fans of the comics to run out and get this figure, anybody who has an aversion to non-movie toys can skip this one safely.

Revisited 01/06/2013: Hasbro did a new version of this costume for Dark Empire II in its comic packs line, but the original managed to retail some value.  It's just that good!  I still love it.  It's around $6 on the low end, $15 on the high end.  Once again, on eBay the price seems to have nothing to do with packaging or condition, loose ones cost as much or more than packaged ones.

Day 4: May 10, 2006

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From "Power of the Force" in 1995 to the "Vintage Collection" that is currently ongoing here in 2011, there have been literally THOUSANDS of unique Star Wars figures it's hard for a collector to pick a favorite.

But I'm with you Adam. This one resonates so strongly with my heartstrings it will most likely always be my number one.

When the Dark Empire comics were first published it came at a time when the general public had pretty much turned their back on SW. Hard for kids today to even fathom, but it was true. Seeing Luke in a post-ROTJ form with sith details in his outfit was just too cool to even describe.

This figure is a dream come true. And even though toy-making technology has long since left him behind, he's still proudly on display next to my latest Luke figure with a zillion points of articulation....he looks almost as far removed from the modern stuff at the original 1977 stuff looked to that first "buff" 1995 wave.....but I'll always love this figure the most. Why? Simply cause he EXISTS at all.