Friday, June 30, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 55: Yoda

YODA with Jedi Council Chair
Episode I Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84095 No. 84086
Number: n/a
Includes: Jedi High Council Seat, CommTech Chip
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: May 1999
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Bio: An esteemed Jedi Master, Yoda faithfully served the Galactic Republic as one of the 12 members of the Jedi Council. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Luke takes a moment away from being a hero for a photo shoot on Adam Pawlus' stairs.

Commentary: Back in 1999, the hobby saw a huge influx of new, uninformed blood that jumped on the likes of Yoda for several reasons. One, he was someone they knew, and two, he had an "error." The first release of this figure was missing the words "Episode I" from under the big Star Wars logo, and this was eventually corrected. (There were more variants-- but this is one that was focused on the most.) The figure itself isn't half bad. He has a big blue chair, ball jointed shoulders, and a jointed neck and "unileg." The sculpt was fantastic, but the paint job for this figure doesn't do it any favors. Remember the vegetable gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch? Yoda's unique bright cheeks and face look a lot like that, which reduces the desirability for this figure a little. Still, it's the only Yoda from the first prequel, and was also the first Yoda figure to come without a cane. If you love CommTech chips or want every Yoda, this is a figure you just have to own. If not, keep reading.

Collector's Notes: Due to demand during Attack of the Clones, Hasbro retooled this figure to have a magnet in his hand, repainted him, and gave him a lightsaber. As the figure still has a throne, you may wish to seek out another version of Yoda, and not the Episode I version featured in this column as his skin coloring is, to say the least, bizarre. Kudos to the sculptors and designers, though-- the figure is overall quite wonderful, but it's hard to get past the facial coloring. (The bushy white hair is also somewhat distracting.) As such, for the Yoda devotees, this is an easy buy.

Day 55: June 30, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 54: Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet

LUKE SKYWALKER with Blast Shield Helmet
Power of the Force Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69881
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Blast Shield Helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: Summer 1998
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: A New Hope

Bio: Aboard the Milllennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker is instructed by Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the art of lightsaber battle and the ways of the Force. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Luke takes a moment away from being a hero for a photo shoot on Adam Pawlus' stairs.

Commentary: In 1995, all the figures were big and muscular, and Kenner started to move away from this in the years that followed. In 1998, they made a few "all-new likeness" figures like this Luke Skywalker, which had Luke slimmed down, but he still had a slightly goofy expression (not shown), the same six points of articulation, and some great new accessories. OK, one new accessory-- the lightsaber was nothing new, but this was the first-ever blast shield helmet, an accessory that leaves fans begging for a training remote to this day. (A non-removable one is in a chest that comes with the 2006 Luke, but I digress.) The helmet fits nicely on Luke's head, and the figure became the "standard" sculpt. As such, your desire to buy this figure should basically come down to if you want a blast shield helmet or not. If you do, buy it. If you don't, this Luke is no better or worse than any Tatooine Luke released since (and in) 1998. I like this figure a lot, so you should consider it.

Collector's Notes: Hasbro liked this sculpt so much, they made three "new" Lukes in 1998 alone-- one with a stormtrooper belt and headset came with the Millennium Falcon Gunner Station, and one with a smushed-in nose came in Purchase of the Droids. Since then, variations on this sculpt have been used for no less than six "new" figures, often being limb swaps or an old figure with new accessories and other minor changes. Aside from the "Vintage" Luke in 2004, all Tatooine Lukes since 1998 have been based on this design.

A fun fact: due to the "smushed" nose on Purchase of the Droids Luke, which came in a three-pack with C-3PO and Uncle Owen, can slip the helmet on very easily and is actually a better head for use of this helmet. (Even if it looks awful without the helmet.)

Day 54: June 29, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 53: The Emperor

Saga Collection Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84861 No. 84820
Number: 0330
Includes: Cane, two lightning effects
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: Summer 2003
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Bio: The Emperor was the supreme ruler of the most pwoerful tyrannical regime the galaxy had ever witnessed. He was a scheming ruler, planning events far in the future, using the Force to foresee the results. He tried to turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force, even at the expense of sacrificing Darth Vader. Luke refused the power offered to him by the Emperor, so he attacked Luke with deadly Force lightning. Luke almost died in the assault, but his father returned to the lights side of the Force and hurtled the Emperor into the Death Star's reactor core. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Yet again appearing on a TV tray, the Senate Pod is not included.

Commentary: Surprisingly, the name of this figure is in fact just The Emperor, making it one of very few figures that doesn't refer to Palpatine by name since the first modern figure in 1997. But I digress. This is a figure that not only do people dislike, but they actively hate. The oversized hood and the bulk of his cloak are all one piece, and it's very difficult to pose things so that they look decent. His hands aren't very good at holding his cane, but the energy bolts snap right on with no problems. The figure has a quasi-ball joint at his waist, a worthless neck joint, ball jointed shoulders, and articulated wrists. All other joints are rendered meaningless by the costume.

As a figure that can hunch over, or rear up and spread out to look creepy and all-powerful and evil, this isn't a bad figure. But due to its almost greenish tinted face, iffy articulation, awful hood, and the fact that several superior versions of this character have been made, fans were left scratching their heads as to why this figure came into being. If anything, it feels like this figure was inspired by the Unleashed Darth Sidious action figure, as it's a bit more stylized than normal and as such, it's a little harder to swallow.

Collector's Notes: Fans wanting this figure can find it cheap on eBay, or wait for the reissue at the end of the summer. This figure has never been repainted, although fans are generally worried that the 2006 reissue will be a weak seller. It's not a horrible figure, it's just that Hasbro seems to constantly make new and better versions, so it seems somewhat worthless. For the price, though, you can do worse. Although we can't name a worse figure based on the Emperor.

Day 53: June 28, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 52: Luke Skywalker Bespin

LUKE SKYWALKER The Empire Strikes Back
Original Trilogy Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 84715 No. 85376
Number: OTC-26
Includes: Lightsaber, Bacta Tourniquet, Blaster, Display Stand
Action Feature: Removable Right Hand, push button for dueling action
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: Fall 2004
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The Rebel hero Luke Skywalker interrupts his Jedi training with Yoda to fly to the Cloud City if Bespin, to rescue his friends who have been captures by the evil Imperial leader, Darth Vader. As he fights to free his friends, Luke battles Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel and discovers that this terrible villain is, in fact, his own father. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Traveling off-course from Dagobah, Luke explores the vast uncharted regions of the fridge in my kitchen.

Commentary: One of the finest molds from 2002, this Luke Skywalker came out in 2004 repainted and revised for a new market. Before, he was sweaty, bloody, and included a weathervane from which he could hang. This version cleans Luke up a bit, makes him a bit more presentable, and drops the weathervane while adding a display base. As far as basic Luke figures go, this is one of the best, with 12 points of articulation, the ability to sit, stand, slice, dice, and exploit magnets as well as a working holster. You can "hack" off his hand, and he displays well. It's shocking that this figure came out before the 2003 "Death Star II" Luke who looks like a cross between He-Man and a hunchback. This figure is superior to the 2002 Bespin Luke in terms of deco, but it's missing the giant accessory. As such, we would have to advise you to buy both.

Collector's Notes: Shipping for a very short time, this figure isn't too easy to find but, thankfully, is still somewhat cheap. As such, it's worth running out and buying. The packaging is also excellent as it recreates a scene completed by 2006's Bespin Darth Vader. Also notable, the 2002 Bespin Luke had three unique hand variations. For those who keep track of such things, this one uses the "bloody Luke" mold, but it is not bloody. (As far as the 2002 version goes, a non-magnetic version was released, as was a "metal peg" version that was, you guessed it, not bloody.) Another worthless note, I got into an argument with Mike in 2002 over what was the better figure: the original release of this figure, or Ephant Mon. (I still think this was a bigger milestone.) Luke was one of the first figures to have this much articulation-- and action features-- this well executed.

Day 52: June 27, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 51: Princess Leia Organa in Hoth Gear

Power of the Force Collection 3
Item No.:
Asst. 69705 No. 84143
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster Pistol, Freeze Frame Action Slide
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $1.97-$9.99, Fan Club Exclusive later blown out at Toys "R" Us
Availability: Fall 1998
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Imperial snowtroopers have been spotted inside Hoth's Rebel base. Little time remains for Princess Leia and Han Solo to make it to the Millennium Falcon and escape with their lives. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: TV trays oh boy!

Commentary: As one of the last non-prequel era action figures, Princess Leia Organa in Hoth Gear was one of many figures shuffled off to the Fan Club to be an exclusive because American retail, allegedly, did not want to sell them. The figure itself was one of the better figures of the POTF2 era, with a better-than-normal face sculpt, a normal pose, and an overall decent representation of the costume. With the normal six points of articulation, she can't do much but stand and sit, but standing and sitting are things Hasbro has trouble making figures do properly these days. As one of two Hoth Leias, the other being a Toys "R" Us exclusive from 2003, this is arguably the better of the two-- but the other is shorter. So if you like normal, 1980s-style poses, this is the figure for you. If not, get the gift set. This one has a more authentic recreation of the costume.

Collector's Notes: This figure was originally to be the pack-in bonus to the Complete Galaxy Hoth Globe toy, one of many toys eliminated due to SKU reduction in 1998. The issue was that too many toys were in the marketplace, which was apparently true as many toys from this era, including this Fan Club-exclusive Leia, were blown out for pennies on the dollar in 2000 during a massive Toys "R" Us clearance sale.

Day 51: June 26, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 50: Darth Vader (Hoth)

DARTH VADER The Empire Strikes Back
Original Trilogy Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 84715 No. 85329
Number: OTC-29
Includes: Lightsaber, Display Stand
Action Feature: Removable Right Hand
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: Fall 2004
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The evil Imperial Lord Darth Vader is ordered by the Emperor to crush the heroic Rebels. Vader tracks the Rebels to the planet Hoth and launches an attack to capture them and destroy the Rebel base. He is furious when the Rebels discover his forces are coming, and the Rebels are able to escape the base before the evil Empire can capture it. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: TV trays can be quite fun.

Commentary: A good mold, this widely reused sculpt has been used time and again since 2001 for the Emperor's Wrath version of Darth Vader. This version has no X-ray bits, but does have a solid, opaque plastic used for the figure and adds a light dusting of white to indicate clean newly fallen snow. This figure is identical to a gift set figure released earlier if you take away the snow, so there's really three Darth Vaders out there using this sculpt with a fourth coming, and two of which can only be different through their use of white. For an attempt at a "different" Darth Vader, this may be the lamest yet but it is unique and many fans lamented the lack of "snow" on the 2006 Hoth Darth Vader figure as, after this figure, it was something we expected. This particular figure wasn't incredibly easy to get, but was one of three OTC Darth Vader figures in 2004 and because of its unique packaging you may want to get one. This particular figure has eight points of articulation-- the standard six, plus a wrist and another arm joint to allow for "Emperor-chucking" poses.

Collector's Notes: This specific figure with this snow deco has been released only once and is therefore one of the exclusive repaints that you can find in the Original Trilogy Collection from 2004. (Of the 38 basic figures, 31 were reissues, and of those 31, 9 have unique repaints exclusive to this series.) If you're a Darth Vader fan, this is a figure you need to track down because it is unique in that it's the only Darth Vader to have any environment-specific weathering so far, plus it's, as I'm fond of saying, "just different enough to make you mad." The Imperial Forces gift set contains this figure without the snow. If you're a variant hunter, trying to collect them all, or Vader-crazy, this is essential. If you just want a Darth Vader, this one is really no better or worse than many others.

This figure is particularly notable in that it uses a Return of the Jedi-specific mold for an Empire Strikes Back-specific scene. Of course, the differences between the two films aren't great enough that, as a 3 3/4-inch figure, most fans would ever notice. Also, this figure has the "old style" lightsaber without the flare at the handle as the original figure was developed before those new style lightsabers became standard. All Darth Vaders of this mold use the same lightsaber mold so far.

Day 50: June 25, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 49: Jabba the Hutt

JABBA THE HUTT with 2-Headed Announcer
Episode I Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 84125 No. 84167
Number: n/a
Includes: Gong, Chuba Projectile, 2-Headed Announcer Figure
Action Feature: "Real-Feel" Skin
Retail: $14.99-$19.99
Availability: Summer 1999
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: Episode I

Bio: The annual Boonta Eve podrace at Mos Espa is perhaps the most exciting, action packed sporting event in the galaxy. Completing a time-honored race ritual, crime lord Jabba the Hutt bites the head off a chuba and spits it at the traditional gong. The podracers are off! While a two-headed announcer narrates the play-by-play, a young Podracer named Anakin Skywalker races towards his destiny. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: Oh, shelves. Will you ever learn?

Commentary: While not sized or sold as an action figure, Jabba the Hutt deserves a little more than to be viewed as a dumb beast, and as such, we're going to look at his 1999 redesign. This figure drew no small amount of ridicule, mostly for its ridiculously shaped mouth that resembles that of a kind of doll that, coincidentally, is also geared toward adults. To compound the amusement factor, the toy's box boasts "real-feel" skin, something else I've been informed is also popular in products designed for grown-ups. But before this turns into a smut discussion...

Jabba's sculpting is much better than his 1997 forerunner, not as great as his 1983 ancestor, and about a few rungs below the 2004 "Ultra" version. This one has a jointed neck and shoulders as well as a Chuba with a "bite-off" head that's able to be shot out of his mouth when you pound his back. (...) Also, his mouth has an extra hole that can be filled with water and used as a squirt gun of sorts. Truth be told, this figure's real value is as a novelty, and this is one of those toys you keep around to go on about, at length, to cynical non-collector friends to invite giggles at one of the wackier items you can buy. While the gong-spitting action is awesome (in concept) and the sculpt was great for the time, his coloring is a little bland and sadly he's not the Return of the Jedi version-- and that's how most of us came to know and love Mr. The Hutt. It includes a companion announcer figure based largely on concept art which, in and of itself, is a worthwhile curiosity. We'll look at him separately later, but for the time being this toy is one of two Jabba toys based on his Episode I appearance and we daresay it's the lesser of them. Still, as a toy, this is a fun little item. As it can be had for retail (or less) on the secondary market, Jabba fans owe it to themselves to pick it up. As to everyone else, if you have the "Ultra" Jabba and want another one, make this your next purchase.

Collector's Notes: Released once, and late, this was a very hard-to-find item in its day. Along with the rare-as-all-get-out Eopie, Jabba was largely hunted by collectors because of his rarity, not because of his authenticity or his overall awesomeness as a collectible. It's a fine toy from a day when Hasbro was still making toys over collectibles, and as such, it's a figure worth having. Fans on a budget may wish to hold on to their money, though, as it doesn't exactly go in any diorama themes nor does it, for lack of a better expression, "sing."

Also, the "chuba" is also referred to as a "gorg," as in "Gorgmonger" Gragra.

Day 49: June 24, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 48: Han Solo

HAN SOLO Escape from Mos Eisley
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85770 No. 86810
Number: 035
Includes: Blaster Pistol, Display Stand
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99-$6.99
Availability: May 2006
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: A New Hope

Bio: The Mos Eisley Cantina has been a popular hangout for a lot of smugglers over the years, but none were as bold as Han Solo. Just as Han makes a deal to take a two-man, two-droid crew to Alderaan, the bounty hunter, Greedo, stops him in his tracks. Reluctant to go down without a fight, Han smooth-talks Greedo but later has to take quick action and blast him. Now he faces the challenge of escaping Tattooine and avoiding Imperial entanglements. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Who likes TV trays? We're back in this favorite spot because it was easy.

Commentary: At first glance, this looks a lot like a Han Solo figure that's been offered several different ways since 1999. It turns out, it's very similar, but Hasbro took that old figure's body, repainted the figure in (arguably) better colors for his uniform, repainted the gun, and gave him an all-new head sculpt. The end result is a figure with 10 points of articulation, a holster, and a gun, and it's just different enough for you to care. For fans on a budget, it's more of the same-- but for real variant hounds and those who collect them all, this is a must-buy. The head sculpt, while not quite a perfect Harrison Ford, is an improvement over many past figures although perhaps not enough to warrant buying what is essentially the same figure for what may be close to the 10th time. But with the display stand, new head, newly decorated costume, and the red holograph figure randomly packed in (at press time) all figures, there's probably just enough compelling about this version of Han Solo to make you bad. It's not as good as the 2004 Original Trilogy Collection "Vintage" figure, but then again, nothing really is.

Collector's Notes: A reasonably new figure, Han Solo can be found with a little bit of work. Mostly designed for hardcore collectors and kids, passive fans will have a hard time coughing up the money to buy yet another figure. At press time, it is not known for how long this will ship, but its new display stand and head sculpt, as well as the black silver-tipped gun are what set it apart from earlier, very similar versions of this Han Solo figure. At press time, there are no known plans for a rerelease of the 1999 sculpt of this figure.

Day 48: June 23, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 47: Wat Tambor

WAT TAMBOR Geonosis War Room
Power of the Jedi Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84861 No. 84990
Number: 0323
Includes: War Room Console, removable yellow Holographic War Room Model
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: Fall 2003
Appearances: Primarily Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Wat Tambor is foreman of the Techno Union, a galactic institution that produces many of the weapons and droids for the Separatists forces. Tambor is quick to join Count Dooku's Confederacy of Independent Systems in their fight against the Republic, and readily commits his army of battle droids to the cause. He also hosts the meeting of the Separatists at one of the Techno Union's droid foundries on Geonosis, where the secession movement explodes into the start of the Clone Wars. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Atop some more shelves, and perhaps Old Smokey. Cheese may or may not have been involved.

Commentary: Gold! Of sorts. While Wat Tambor was created without the crazy awesome metallic look of his movie counterpart, the design is just so striking he can't be ignored. While other Separatists were "Guy With Long Face," "Guy with ugly face and stupid hat," or "Classic Alien in New Robe," Wat Tambor was interesting because he seems to be both a joke and a fantastic design. Not every figure includes TV knobs on his torso. While he does have robes, which prevent him from doing fun toy things-- you know, these are toys-- like piloting vehicles or sitting, he makes up for it by looking great. He has ball-jointed shoulders, jointed wrists, a jointed waist, and a head that kinda moves a little. Unfortunately, this is a figure you buy mostly for looks, but also for the fact that it ties in to the Geonosis War Room Screen Scenes-- also must-buy items. As another added bonus, the Death Star holograph from those sets plug right in to the war console that's included with Mr. Tambor here-- synergy at work, folks! There's not a lot of toy here, but he looks so gosh darn cool, how can you say no? (Note: Wat Tambor is up there with the previously reviewed Power of the Jedi Boss Nass as one of the top prequel figures of all time.)

Collector's Notes: Available only in 2003, and for a fairly short period of time, a lot of collectors say this figure is impossible to get and worth lots of money. This means that "a lot of money" is about $3-$10, which is well worth it for a figure this nifty. Since the Techno Union also appears in The Clone Wars, although I'm not sure Wat Tambor was explicitly identified, fans of that series may want one (or more) of this figure for dioramas or other uses.

Day 47: June 22, 2006

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 46: FX-7 Medical Droid

FX-7 Medical Droid
Power of the Jedi Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84455 No. 84656
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99-$6.99
Availability: Fall 2001
Appearances: Primarily The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The multi-armed medical droid FX-7 was stationed at Echo Base on Hoth, serving as an assistant to the medical droid 2-1B. FX-7 played a crucial role in saving Luke Skywalker after a vicious wampa attack and a night spent in the freesing temperatures of Hoth. Thanks to FX-7's excellent medical programs and the bacta tank, Luke's life was spared. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Atop some more shelves, this time placed in Bacta Luke's... tank cradle thing.

Commentary: This is possibly the most articulated figure in the entire line. FX-7 has over a dozen arms, each with multiple points of articulation. His arm "rack" moves, his head moves, it's a figure that shows that Hasbro can, in fact, make a figure with a significant chunk of moving parts. Significantly more detailed than his vintage counterpart, this droid was a fairly speedy seller upon its release in the mega-popular (with collectors) Power of the Jedi range. As a marvelous recreation of a nifty design that goes above and beyond his vintage forefather, this is a figure that's well worth tracking down online or off, and it's likely as good an FX-7 figure as we'll see in our lifetime. It's just that well done.

Collector's Notes: This version of the figure was also one of the first modern figure designed with real synergy in mind-- FX-7 and Bacta Luke were designed to fit together nicely, and almost feel as if they were a set that got split up in the course of development. Many figures with interlocking parts were developed after these, but as far as individually packaged Star Wars figures go, this is the first time they made it so that you really felt something was missing if you didn't buy both toys. With Attack of the Clones, Hasbro took synergy to a new level with figures from the Cantina having connected bases, the Outlander club sub-series in 2003, and of course the gun pods and Clone Speeder Bike that you could place in the Republic Gunships. Truly, this was the start of something wonderful.

Day 46: June 21, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 45: Clone Youth

Lama Su with CLONE YOUTH
The Saga Collection Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84861 No. 84925
Number: 0310
Includes: Lama Su action figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: Winter 2003
Appearances: Primarily Attack of the Clones

Bio: A tall, lithesome creature, Lama Su is Prime Minister of the storm-shrouded planet Kamino. Commissioned by an enigmatic Jedi Master, Lama Su has undertaken the largest human cloning project ever attempted. He has grown an army of 200,000 troops - trained and ready for combat - with another million in progress. Because the Kaminoans are far removed from galactic affairs, Lama Su mistakenly believes he is fulfilling the order for the Galactic Republic, and is thus unaware of the grave consequences his enterprise will hold for not only the Republic but also for the entire galaxy. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Shelves!

Commentary: As a twofer, the Clone Youth didn't have to do much to make you feel like you got your money's worth-- and with four joints, he doesn't go very far in pushing toy tech. Essentially young Boba Fett with a new head (but in reality an all-new sculpt), this figure is the only completely devoid-of-armor Clone Trooper on the market today. While "mess hall" Clones are wanted by some fans, as of yet, Hasbro isn't pushing for those so you can get this little guy. He's fairly well done but as a "bonus figure" he really shines... he just can't do much other than stand due to the articulation and lack of accessories.

Collector's Notes: If you think you've got every clone, you're wrong-- here's one more! He's only in this set right now, and he's fairly easy to get. As such, go buy one.

Day 45: June 20, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 44: Zutton (Kmart Blue Snaggletooth)

ZUTTON Mos Eisley Cantina
The Original Trilogy Collection Kmart Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 34527
Number: n/a
Includes: Bar section, glasses
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: Fall 2004
Appearances: Kenner's vintage Sears-exclusive Cantina Adventure Set

Bio: On the planet Tatooine, the Mos Eisley cantina, also known as Chalmun's cantina, is the hot spot for entertainment and intrigue. Many species intermingle there, spying and conducting shady business. Bounty hunters frequen the seedy joint, hoping to catch their prey in an unguarded moment. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker went to the cantina to find transportation off the planet, which led to their first meeting with Han Solo. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: In the pop-up Cantina diorama Kenner offered from 1997-1999.

Commentary: Hasbro doesn't do many figures from 100% recycled parts, but this blue Zutton is a fine example. The head and body sections come from the 2001 Zutton figure, and the arms and legs come from the 2002 Ponda Baba, the Wal-Mart exclusive one with the jointed knees and sliceable arm. The figure has a total of 9 joints, and as before with Ponda Baba's arm, you can cut his arm off too. He can sit, he can stand, but when standing his legs are a little awkward-- much like the vintage figure on which he was based, they're straight up-and-down. For being a figure with another random figure's arms slapped on it, it looks surprisingly good and well put together-- although the torso has a little more detail than the rest of the limbs. For fans of unique collectible figures, this is a must-buy, but he technically isn't in the movies so much as he is a legend to collectors. So if your fandom bread is buttered on the toy side, go get one.

Collector's Notes: Watch the silver paint-- this unique color of paint rubs off if you aren't careful, as evidenced by the vintage figure and toys in other lines. So, buyer beware, and collector, be careful! The figure is a tribute to a Sears exclusive goof-up, a tall, blue Snaggletooth action figure from Kenner that's one of very few figures from early in the line that, out of his box, goes for a small wad of cash. Fans of the vintage Snaggletooth alien may be interested in other figures of the Snivvian race, such as Takeel, or the red version of Zutton.

Day 44: June 19, 2006

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 43: Crab Droid

CRAB DROID Moving Legs and Missile Launcher
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85182 No. 85571
Number: n/a
Includes: Missile
Action Feature: Moving legs and missile launcher
Retail: $9.99
Availability: 2005
Appearances: Primarily Revenge of the Sith

Bio: On the sinkhole planet of Utapau, the Separatist forces send in crab droids that can move easily over the rough, rocky terrain. The launcher under their center section launches powerful missiles. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Trade Federation vehicle shelf.

Commentary: With a real lack of Separatist anything, a figure like the Crab Droid really bolsters the ranks of their forces nicely. Designed for a sinkhole planet, it has multiple moving legs activated by a button and a firing rocket. In other words, compared to most figures, it really doesn't have meaningful articulation, or for that matter, hands or a head. Armed to the teeth, this nifty robot is much larger than the movie counterpart, making it sort of a giant Crab Droid. It's also missing the "face" design elements, like the big red eye and some other bits and pieces. As such, this is probably closer based on concept artwork, a roughed-out "toy" concept of the Crab Droid, or some other not-entirely-true-to-the-movie element. As such, we could see Hasbro doing another one down the road with a few revisions and an all-new sculpt.

Collector's Notes: This is the only Crab Droid Hasbro has made, and it's so big it almost crosses over into the "vehicle" category-- but it's sold as a figure, so we'll treat it like one. There really aren't any major variants so just pick up a couple and let your Utapau Clone Troopers go to town on them. This isn't the only figure Hasbro "enlarged" when making it a toy. In the old days, Kenner made the Snowspeeder very large when compared to the figures, and recently, it appears Hasbro made Rappertunie much bigger too.

Day 43: June 18, 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 42: Darth Maul with Sith Attack Droid

DARTH MAUL with Sith Attack Droid
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 84455 No. 84568
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Sith Attack Droid
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: 2001
Appearances: Dark Horse comics' Darth Maul miniseries & concept art

Bio: Darth Maul, the evil Sith Lord, prepares for battle with the Jedi by dueling with lethal attack droids. Darth Maul's hatred of the Jedi fuels his desire to perfect his skill with his double-bladed lightsaber. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Shelves, yay!

Commentary: From 1999-2002, Hasbro was challenged with finding new ways to sell a one (or one-and-a-half) costume wonder Darth Maul. Easily the most popular new character of the first prequel, the designers at Hasbro turned to concept art and action features in order to flesh out the selection of this Sith Lord, and this particular version was largely based on appearances from comics and concept art. The figure itself looks nice, but the arms fall out of the joints quite easily-- so while we could talk up articulation, he's more or less a statue because he's somewhat fragile. He fits right back together again, but this isn't a good toy, not by a longshot. One of the coolest things about the figure itself is his weapon, which actually splits in the middle.

Fans of comic-based figures will dig this. Fans of Maul will dig this. Fans of toys will not-- it's a display piece. His companion droid has a few moving arms and can fly off his base, but other than that, is largely decoration.

Collector's Notes: This is the only "topless" Darth Maul, and the figure's never been reissued. We don't expect to see it again either. As such, buy one on the secondary market with my blessing, it ain't getting any more common and it is neat from a design standpoint.

Day 42: June 17, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 41: Plo Koon

PLO KOON Jedi Master
Power of the Jedi Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84455 No. 84568
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, Force File
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99-$6.99
Availability: 2001
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and some Dark Horse comics

Bio: One of the twelve members of the Jedi Council, Plo Koon is a courageous warrior who comes from a long line of Jedi. His hand-to-hand combat abilities are legendary. he also uses his Force powers in combination with his extensive scientific knowledge to produce startling effects against his opponents. (Taken from the figure's Force File.)

Image: TV tray time.

Commentary: Few figures were as crazy rumored as Plo Koon before his eventual release, but sure enough, he eventually came out. This figure is more or less a "chess piece," there's articulation under the robes but you can't get to them as the robes don't exactly come off easily. His neck can turn, and his shoulders and elbows swivel. Aside from that, he stands there, and often needs some help with a display stand. He's got quite a bit of detail in his head and costume, although that which you can cull from big brown burlap sacks is minimal. The lightsaber is unique and looks great, and the figure itself is a nice one. Still, he looks like a guy in a burlap sack, albeit a cool guy in a nicely fitted burlap sack. As the very first Plo Koon, he's worth snagging, and this is the only one released thus far with the outer Jedi robes.

Collector's Notes: In 2005, this figure was the basis for the Holographic Plo Koon. His yellow lightsaber was never ignited on-camera, but was seen in video games and comic books. A number of Episode I-era Jedi had lightsaber colors that did not match what was eventually shown in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. A particularly funny and totally ridiculous rumor was being "confirmed" left and right in 1999 about Plo Koon: that Hasbro made him a Canadian exclusive, to the Zeller's chain. Oh, Internet. How you amuse me. New Plo Koons were released later. For Episode II, he was given freakish energy blast accessories. For Episode III, he was sculpted with significantly more points of articulation. A Plo Koon Jedi Starfighter was released as a Target exclusive in 2005 as well.

Day 41: June 16, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 40: Darth Vader (Bespin Confession)

DARTH VADER Bespin Confession
The Saga Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 85770 No. 87167
Number: 038
Includes: Lightsaber, debris, display stand and a random red holographic figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99-$6.99
Availability: May 2006
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Darth Vader has sinister plans to use Cloud City's carbon-freeze chamber. Reluctant to try this crude process on the Emperor's prize, Luke Skywalker, Vader decides to test it first on Han Solo. The process works, and although Luke finds his way into the chamber, Vader's plans fail as Luke escapes and confronts him in heated lightsaber combat. At the end of this dramatic battle, Vader confesses to Luke the secret that has burned within him: He is indeed Luke's father! (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: TV tray time.

Commentary: This particular mold is one of many Darth Vader figures we'll be filing under "just different enough to make you mad." The basic figure sculpt is identical to two previous releases, but more on that below. In and of itself, this is an OK figure with a decent amount of articulation, although other figures have done it better. The "removable" helmet is glued down, the debris is largely recycled from other toys, and the display stand for all samples seen to date reads Star Wars and not The Empire Strikes Back. The lightsaber is nothing new, either. The figure is articulated at the shoulders, wrists, elbows, neck, waist, hips, and knees-- for those keeping track, there's a bunch of joints here, but it's still not the best Vader ever. For $6 or $7, though, it's good and better than the previously released "Hoth" Vader from 2006-- which has a different stand and no debris, plus the removable helmet. The figure even has the same silver "scrape" on the right shoulder-- take note of it if you missed it like I did at first.

Collector's Notes: In 2005, this figure was released in fancier packaging and with more accessories as the 500th Action Figure Darth Vader. In 2006, it was released first as a "Battle of Hoth" Darth Vader Saga #013 for the same price as this release, but with fewer accessories. For "bang for the buck," this is the release to get because of the boxes and the price-- you get a lot of toy for a fairly decent price.

As far as can be told, the biggest power box is recycled from a Hoth Survival Accessory Set from 2002, the medium-sized box is from the 2003-2004 Deluxe Kamino Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the thing that looks like either a film canister or some canned ham is, frankly, not easily identified by me. I figure it's either new or from G.I. Joe. Either way, with the new silver brushed "scrapes" they look pretty slick.

Day 40: June 15, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 39: Mace Windu

MACE WINDU Episode I Sneak Preview
Power of the Force Episode I Sneak Preview Collection
Item No.:
No. 84138
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $2.99-$5.99 + 6 UPCs and a recepit
Availability: Fall 1998
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Bio: In the days before Palpatine's Empire began its reign of terror, the Galactic Republic governed the affairs of the galaxy from the capital of Couruscant. In addition, the city-planet was also the seat of the legendary 12-member Jedi Council. Wisdom and experience were equally as important as abilities in the Force among the Jedi Council members. For this reason, Mace Windu, a senior member of the Jedi Council, was especially honored and revered throughout the Galactic Republic. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: This one was shot in front of an in-progress custom project of mine.

Commentary: According to Sam Jackson, this is the best Mace Windu figure-- numerous interviews have him lauding this one above all others. While it was made long before actors were scanned for the merchandising, I tend to agree it's one of the best, even if the goofier, screaming head was more authentic. With a mere 6 points of articulation, this figure was loved, but it isn't exactly great. It's good, though. The detail is nicely done and has very subtle muddy boots-- a nice detail. One thing weird, though, is the lightsaber. According to the comics, Mace Windu (and all Jedi) occasionally trade lightsabers with other Jedi as a sort of bonding activity, which is why Mace's weapon in Episode I-related merchandise and photography is, by and large, "wrong." All of the Episode I Jedi were given lightsabers in all sorts of wacky colors, all of which were approved by Lucasfilm, until the "blue, green, red, or purple" rule came into play around Episode II. So, this figure is more or less accurate to the film and true to the merchandising rules of when he was made.

Collector's Notes: While more Mace figures were made, none have been as good as this one, overall. Some have goofy poses, ridiculous arms, silly facial expressions, or some other problem you wouldn't like. This is by and large the best one, the only way it could be better is with a new-and-improved scanned head and a purple lightsaber, a reissue, I'm sure, is on the books somewhere in Hasbro HQ. For the time being, though, buy this one. You can get it on eBay for about five bucks, much better than the 6 UPCs + recepit + $3 Kenner was asking back in 1998. If you think you can do better than that as far as pricing goes, I daresay you're wrong.

Day 39: June 14, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 38: Han Solo in Endor Gear

HAN SOLO in Endor Gear
Power of the Force Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69621; No. 34515
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster Pistol, later releases have a Freeze Frame Action Slide
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99-$5.99 (POTF2); $19.99 (OTC multi-pack)
Availability: Spring 1997-1998; Fall 2004
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Han Solo commanded a strike force of freedom fighters whose mission it was to sabotage the Imperial shield generator protecting the new Death Star. However, a surprise visit from some of Endor's native Ewoks appears to present an uncalculated setback. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: This one was taken on the Millennium Falcon PC game that Hasbro put out in 1998-- basically, it was a Millennium Falcon playset you put on your PC keyboard.

Commentary: Some figures age gracefully, others do not. This is a "not." When the figure first came out, his typical-for-the-line sculpt and incorrectly colored blue pants were charming, although it took almost a year for the figure to be rereleased with the correct brown pants. The figure can't stand up, has a bad face sculpt, no holster, a goofy pose... there's really not much to say about this one. He's even got the wrong shirt on. It's one of a few instances where the vintage figure from 1984 was actually better, with an (arguably) more accurate sculpt and cloth trenchcoat. A better version of this figure was just released in 2006, with better articulation, the right shirt, a cloth coat, and a working holster. The only reason to buy this figure is to "collect them all" or because it's so cheap at some toy shows, it's essentially free. While great for its time, he's not much to speak of today.

Collector's Notes: Given lots of shots at retail, this figure sold fairly well and isn't really a terrible toy, it's just that as a collector, you're likely discriminating enough to know that Hasbro (then Kenner) can do better and not only have they done better, but they've ran laps around figures like this one. It really shows how far the modern line has come, and why so many newcomers consider the pre-1999 line to be "the old line" while some of us older folks hold that distinction for figures released prior to 1995 exclusively. Aside from the aforementioned pants variant, the figure was released on two unique cardbacks: with, and without a Freeze Frame Action Slide. The slide is not considered to be part of a "complete" figure.

Day 38: June 13, 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 37: R4-A22

R4-A22 Astromech Droid
The Saga Collection Astromech Droid Pack Series 1
Item No.:
Asst. 87055 No. 87056
Number: n/a
Includes: n/a
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $39.99 (part of a 5-pack)
Availability: January 2006
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Bio: Works at Dexter's Diner in the Coco Town section of Coruscant. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: The Droid Foundaries of Adam Pawlus.

Commentary: There aren't many figures that this can be said about, nor many collectors who can make this claim: this one is my fault. (I can point to a hair under maybe 30-some figures where I had a hand in them somehow.) R4-A22 was part of a pet project I started on in early 2005: to make a list of all the astromech molds available, and see what there is to repaint so I can lobby for their production, somehow. A few months later, I get hired by Entertainment Earth, and the rest, well, is plastic history. I picked this one because it was one of very, very few cone-head R4 units as of yet unmade as a toy and I like variety. While not as weathered as I might hope for, nor is it using the "current" astromech body favored by other droids, I still think it's great because it's orange, and one of very few droids made specifically from Episode II. He has articulation at the neck, shoulders, and all three ankles, plus his third leg is fully retractable.

For customizers, diorama builders, and those needing scenery, this is a great figure. For those looking for meaningful characters with lots of dialogue and/or a significant role in the Expanded Universe, move along. Or have Dark Horse write me to write a series of short stories about astromechs. (I'm available and I work cheap.)

Collector's Notes: As of today, there are four different droids that use this mold: these, R4-E1, R4-I9, and two different droids named R4-M9. One was teal and a Star Tours figure while the other was more of a dark green and part of the regular line. These droids, of course, will be reviewed in the future.

Ever wonder what would happen if a fan got to get a lot of say in an exclusive? This is pretty close to exactly what I originally proposed, and it's the exact mold and paint job I expected. In short, mission accomplished. As such, I'm overwhelmingly biased to love it, but as I'm a big fan of droids and repaints that make sense, this is a figure that a lot of fans can, I hope, get behind. It's still available, although the production numbers aren't exactly huge as I'm lead to believe. What's out on the market now is it, when they're gone, they're gone, and all that jazz. (And if you want to see more droids like this, well, you know the drill-- vote with your Lincolns.)

Day 37: June 12, 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 36: Boba Fett

BOBA FETT Special Edition 300th Figure
Power of the Jedi Collection
Item No.:
No. 84566
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, blaster rifle, removable backpack, firing rocket, non-firing rocket
Action Feature: Spring-loaded firing rocket, articulated rangefinder
Retail: $9.99-$14.99
Availability: Early 2001
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: The galaxy's most infamous and dangerous bounty hunter - as well as its most expensive - Boba Fett is a stoic hunter who is feared throughout the universe, and for good reason. An intimidating presence whose background is shrouded in mystery, Boba Fett furthers his mystique by masking his true identity behind modified Mandalorian armor. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: As always, in the ever-dangerous world of the collection of Adam Pawlus.

Commentary: Way back in 2001, all Boba Fett figures were these big, muscular, borderline tubby figures-- and they were awesome for the time. For the milestone of 300 3 3/4-inch action figures (although this number is debated), Hasbro put a lot of extra effort into Boba Fett. This brand-new sculpt was so beloved by fans, that the figure was a raging success even at the price point of $10, a then-high (and ridiculous) proposition when compared to his peers, which were $5.99-$6.99 at retail. (Oh, how things changed!) With added arm articulation, the ability to look down his barrel, a working holster, a firing rocket, and the best-sculpt of any Boba Fett figure at the time (or perhaps ever), how can you go wrong? The astounding amount of joy this figure brought with it cannot be measured by mere words, squeals and other sounds might best articulate just how much people wanted a new Boba Fett in 2001, and how glad they were that Hasbro put one out that, for the time, did everything you could hope for out of such a figure. After a few years, it's still the best ESB-flavored version of the bounty hunter, and with his moving rangefinder and firing rocket, it's really not a figure you pass on so much as push others over to get. Buy two, it's worth it.

Collector's Notes: Modified versions of this figure would be available later in a variety of ways, all with missing parts, removed features, or other things which make them not worth mentioning here as unique figures. They include: pack-in figure with Boba Fett's Slave I (2004, OTC, doesn't have a rocket or pistol); part of the Ultimate Bounty gift set (2003, Toys "R" Us Saga Exclusive, no firing rocket); Bounty Hunter Gift Set (2006, Previews Exclusive, Saga Collection).

Each version may have barely different battle damage markings, but odds are most collectors will never notice this and it can be ignored. As far as accessories go, though, the Power of the Jedi one should be considered definitive. Also, there's two versions of the POTJ box. The first release (which you can see at the feature below) has bad line art and heavily pixely names on the back of the box. Later releases have better art on the front and smooth, normal-looking text.

Day 36: June 11, 2006

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 35: Ellorrs Madak

Power of the Jedi Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 84455 No. 84647
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster pistol, Force File
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: Summer 2001
Appearances: Primarily Star Wars: A New Hope

Bio: Like all Duros, Ellorrs Madak is a natural wanderer who is at home wherever his travels take him. Although Duros tend to be a peaceful species, the Empire's restrictive trade practices prompt Madak to leave his government job and become a freelance flight instructor and occassional smuggler. (Taken from the figure's Force File.)

Image: After a hearty meal at Wendy's, this alien was hit by a shrink ray on Adam's TV tray.

Commentary: Every few years, Hasbro makes the mistake of letting fans vote on figures, which results in months of bickering, finger-pointing, and conspiracy-theorizing. For Fan's Choice Poll #1, Amanaman was assumed to be the sure-winner, but a last-minute upset let Ellorrs Madak, the Duro, snatch victory from his yellow-and-green grasp. The resulting figure was a work of art, with amazing sculpting, a too-uncommon working holster, very good paint, and the typical 6 points of articulation. This figure has two selling points: it's a Fan's Choice figure (which is a nice little collector subset unto itself), and it's a Cantina alien. If neither of those are selling points to you, it's hard to say to get this. It sits down nicely, looks cool, and is a figure that's only been made once, never repackaged, and never revised. I very much like it, and it's one of my favorite Cantina aliens. Be careful when selecting one, though, as the paint sometimes is wonky in places.

Collector's Notes: "Worthless" is a harsh sounding word but fairly accurate as to what this toy is worth. Made in big numbers, this requested figure more or less fizzled due to overproduction and in some markets, was still easy to have into 2005. (For the record, the target lifespan of a figure at retail, max, is about 6 months.) Along with Ketwol, the Bespin Guard, and a few others, he became a staple at some Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart stores and may even still be hanging in your neck of the woods. If so, be aware he deserves a good home and is an excellent figure, just not popular. I wouldn't part with mine, and I'm still holding out hope that someday, Baniss Keeg (the other Duro) gets his own figure too.

Day 35: June 10, 2006

Friday, June 9, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 34: Ugnaught

UGNAUGHTS with Tool Kit
Power of the Force Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69837
Number: n/a
Includes: 2 figures, tool kit, rubber apron, Freeze Frame action slide
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: Summer 1998
Appearances: Primarily The Empire Strikes Back; also appears in the Expanded Universe

Bio: Ugnaughts, the humanoid species found on Bespin's Cloud City, manned the controls of the freezing chambers where Han Solo was encased in carbonite. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' shelf.

Commentary: Boy howdy, is this an ugly figure. This Ugnaught one of two in the 2-pack, but for the sake of this article, we're splitting them up. Each has a unique sculpt, and this is the tusked, gloved, and square-shouldered one. With limited articulation at the neck, shoulders, and waist, it's not exactly super-articulated. (Although the fact you get 2 makes up for it.) The sculpt is very good, and unfortunately, Hasbro's willingness to put 2 figures in 1 package for under $10 have seriously waned. The individually painted tusks, the soulful eyes, and the dog-ugly face bring out a lot of character in a toy that's little more than a little person in a rubber mask. In and of itself, it's a pretty good figure. For dioramas or your Cloud City playsets, you'll want a lot of Ugnaughts, as they're very nicely done.

Collector's Notes: And if you want a lot of them, boy, are you in luck. As one of the many Collection 2 figures from 1998 which didn't sell too well, this guy was still seen in drugstores by yours truly through at least 2002, and I have few doubts there's a Walgreens somewhere that still has them at $8.99. Today, this set of figures can be had for a couple of bucks tops, so don't get ripped off-- be stingy.

Day 34: June 9, 2006

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 33: Probe Droid (Probot)

PROBE DROID with proton torpedo and self-destruct exploding head Power of the Force Collection (1997); Revenge of the Sith Collection Assault on Hoth Battle Pack (2005) Item No.: Asst. 69610 No. 69677; No. 85841 Number: n/a Includes: Head, rocket Action Feature: Self-destruct blast-off head, spring-loaded "eye" missile Retail: $9.99; $24.99 Availability: January 1997, Fall 2005 Appearances: Primarily The Empire Strikes Back; also appears in the Expanded Universe Bio: Probe droids (also known as probots) were reconnaissance automatons. These droids were dispatched by to gather information, reporting anything of significance. Some models were equipped with a self-destruct, to prevent enemies from studying them and determining their source, as well as a small weapon for defense. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.) Image: Adam Pawlus' shelf, on top, where it's just a bunch of crap thrown up there. This is the 1997 version of the figure. Commentary: One of the first deluxe action figures that wasn't a figure fans had with a new backpack, the Probe Droid was quite popular for quite a while. It tended to sell fairly well, and for fans of vintage toys like the Hoth Wampa cave from the Micro Collection and the Turret & Probot Playset, it was fun to see the return of the Probot, even without the old-timey name. (The name "Probot" was used for the 2005 re-release.) With a blast-off head and a firing rocket, this was not just a great figure, but a pretty nice toy as well! The figure was capable of having several moving parts, a head that could raise to reveal added weaponry, and a tiny extra gun as well. In short, it's everything you could want in a Probe Droid and then some, although it is lacking a certain "magic" quality that the vintage toy seems to carry with it to this very day. Still, it's a fun figure, and a must-add to every collection. Collector's Notes: The 1997 and 2005 releases are virtually identical. Some of the 2005 ones have the legs assembled differently, and a slightly different level of black spray. While your mileage may vary, I do not consider these to be significant enough differences to buy the Battle Pack just for the variation for my "complete set." A fairly common figure these days, you can probably add this to your collection for less than original retail. If you can still find the 2005 Battle Pack, it's a wonderful value with several great toys and overall, is probably a better buy.

Day 33: June 8, 2006

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 32: Asajj Ventress

ASAJJ VENTRESS Sith Apprentice
Clone Wars Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 84851 No. 84827
Number: 0347
Includes: Lightsabers, lightsaber hilts, cloak
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99-$5.99
Availability: Fall 2003
Appearances: Primarily the Clone Wars multimedia project, which includes comics, games, cartoons, and novels; she does not appear in any of the films

Bio: A ruthless and cunning military mastermind of the Confederacy, Asajj Ventress is instrumental in fighting the Jedi during the Clone Wars. Count Dooku discovered the mysterious Asajj Ventress on a war-torn planet shortly after the Battle of Geonosis. Though she had never trained as a Jedi, Ventress demonstrates a corrupt mastery of the Force. Under the tutelage of Count Dooku, she has embraced the dark side, using her twin curved lightsabers to cut down all those who would oppose her. Often accompanied by the bounty hunter Durge, Ventress is more than a match for the Republic's greatest Jedi. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Clone Wars shelf.

Commentary: For 2003, Hasbro, Lucasfilm, Dark Horse, and whatever wacky publishers involved that week got together and gave us a series of Clone Wars action figures designed to look like they might had they appeared in the movies. (An animated series and figures were developed separately.) Due to the development cycle, some characters like Asajj Ventress appeared one way in the comics and were eventually redesigned and reimagined elsewhere. This version of the character is based on her early comic appearances (before she becomes electronically enhanced/dies/whatever in Star Wars: Obsession) and has unique features like tatoos, full eyes, and less-pale skin when compared to later versions of the figure. (An animated figure, a new version in the Jedi vs. Sith Battle Pack, the Unleashed 7-inch figure all are based on the animated series style-- black rings around the eyes, paler skin, a little less detail, and a more striking appearance.)

So, that's the short of Asajj Ventress. So what about this one? Well, she's great. Ball-jointed shoulders, jointed wrists, holsters for her lightsabers, lots of great sculpting, a removable cape (and head), and lightsabers with removable blades make this a top-notch figure with a lot of thought given to how it can be played with or displayed. She doesn't stand all that well-- as in, she could be more stable-- so you might wish you had a display stand for her. With a rough textured shirt, weird sith fanatic facial expression, and nice accessories, she's a great figure. But if you want a "movie style" 3 3/4-inch Ventress that looks more like the cartoon design, pass on this one. If you're a comic fan, get this one. (Or both.) I like this figure (and the whole Clone Wars toy line) quite a bit, so much so that I make sure to give it a special place in my collection. If you're not a fan of the Expanded Universe, you should skip her. But if you're a kid, odds are you want one, and if you like the Sith, odds are you want one, and if you like Jedi... need I go on? Asajj Ventress is a figure for the modern Star Wars fan who still enjoys new arrivals in the saga. (Even old farts like me love this figure.) As such, I advise you read some comics and watch some cartoons. If you like the characters you meet, consider getting this one. And while you're at it, perform a public service and buy one of the dozens of unsold Unleashed figures at retail.

Collector's Notes: The face paint varies widely from figure to figure. My sample looks great-- she has striking eyebrows and great eyes. Mike's (as seen in the "more images" link that follows this section) has a face of lesser quality. As such, when buying one, make sure to ask to get a look at her first unless you're one of those people who buy figures, put them away, and never look at them. At which point, who cares? The figure looks just as good with the cloak as she does without it, which is a nice perk in the modern toy world as usually the figures aren't designed this well. She can also give her cloak to the other 3 3/4-inch Asajj Venturess figure from 2005 which is just about as good but for different reasons.

If you're on a budget, this may not be the best way to go-- currently, this figure actually commands a decent price on eBay. As such, if you're one of the many that wants an Asajj Ventress but not necessarily this Asajj Ventress, consider buying the Jedi vs. Sith Battle Pack. (Actually, I've seen many cases of the set going for less than just an Asajj by her lonesome.)

Day 32: June 7, 2006