Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 860: Quarren Soldier

The Legacy Collection Basic Figure
Item No.:
Asst. 87535 No. 87615
Number: #BD15
Includes: Knife, trident, bonus droid piece
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $7.99
Availability: July 2008
Appearances: Clone Wars

Bio: The Quarren launch an undersea attack on the Mon Calamari. Supported by the Separatists, the quarren swell their ranks with battle droids but encounter strong opposition when Kit Fisto and his clone troopers come to the aid of the Mon Calamari. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' table.

Commentary: Back in 2003, Lucasfilm and the Cartoon Network showed us dozens of awesome new characters, troopers, and weapons in the first Clone Wars cartoon. Initially largely hated on-- don't let the recent revisionist history fool you-- it took a long, ling time to get figures to market like this Quarren Soldier. While not super articulated, the figure does sport 12 joints and can sit thanks to his loincloth not being plastic. Given the elegant simplicity of the original animated designs, it isn't too hard to adapt the figure to a decent "realistic" look. All you really have to do is take the original Tessek figure and remove some clothing, and you've pretty much got it. With the figure's muscular build, Hasbro managed to work in quite a bit of articulation without looking too hokey. The unfortunate thing is that there's not much else going on here-- the detail is good, there's a small knife that fits under his loincloth, and there's just a little bit of armor to admire. It's a shame this figure didn't come out five years earlier, but thankfully the figure we did eventually get was pretty much perfect. Although the cloth is a little bulky, it's still a fairly decent release that begs for a few more figures in order to complete the scenario from the battle on Mon Calamari.

Collector's Notes: For some reason, this figure came and went in a hurry-- there's a good chance it will show up again but it's not currently scheduled to ship in any non-Wave 2 cases.

Day 860: September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 859: Battle Droid (Pilot)

30th Anniversary Collection Toys "R" Us Exclusive Battle Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87604 No. 87754
Number: n/a
Includes: STAP vehicle, additional toys
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.99 (part of a set)
Availability: May 2008
Appearances: Clone Wars

Bio: Battle droids swarm into combat on Geonosis, a vast army under the control of the Separatists. Armed with blaster rifles, the battle droids face the clone troopers in combat: two forces both programmed to act with unwavering loyalty toward their creators. (Taken from the figure's box.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' table.

Commentary: While initially a popular troop builder, the Battle Droid has lost a lot of favor with fans since Hasbro developed the Clone Trooper. Even though there are numerous ranks, recolors, and varieties to crank out, only a few have been immortalized as toys. Fewer still are truly authentic to the movie, but that doesn't mean they aren't any good. This version is interesting because it takes the (arguably) outdated 1998 Battle Droid mold, and gives it the best paint job ever seen for this trooper. Seriously, Hasbro has never done nicer work on a Battle Droid action figure's paint, at least not yet. The extra detail in the figure's grooves really brings it to life, and the bright blue "pilot" marks are a nice touch. The backpack is given the same treatment, and really the only thing this figure doesn't have is a blaster. This, of course, makes sense because his hands were sculpted especially to fit on the handle bars of a STAP, and cannot accept a gun without some modification involving scissors. This is something I'd not advise you to try. I don't think a lot of fans are going to be giddy about buying yet another Battle Droid in 2008, especially after we've seen countless new molds with more precise sculpting and even animated styling. This one may not seem like much, but I can say it's currently my favorite one to look at. Until Hasbro gets around to repainting its other molds to look this good, as far as I'm concerned, this is the best Battle Droid your money can buy... despite not having a gun. Oh, and it has nine points of articulation. Again, this may not sound like much, but in 1998 it was a really big deal.

Collector's Notes: Not only is this figure a repaint of an early prequel mold, it's a repaint of the first prequel mold. The original Battle Droid was packaged with a STAP vehicle and sold in 1998 as a "Sneak Peek" item roughly six months prior to the theatrical release of The Phantom Menace. As fun was no longer in their sights, Hasbro released its Episode II Sneak Preview items just a couple of months early, ditto Revenge of the Sith. Also, this figure came two in a set, with two STAPs and a Super Battle Droid. This made it one of very few Toys "R" Us exclusives that were an exceptionally good value for the money.

Day 859: September 29, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 858: Rebel Trooper

REBEL TROOPER (OFFICER) Ultimate Battle of Hoth
30th Anniversary Collection Ultimate Battle Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87565 No. 87566
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, removable helmet
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $49.99 (part of a set)
Availability: November 2007
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: He's a loner. A rebel, Dottie. (Taken from the figure's box. No, really.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: You really can't have enough troops-- even if a Rebel Trooper is really just a repaint of Major Derlin. By taking the 2006 figure and recoloring the outfit, Hasbro gave us all a figure that, while probably not our first choice to be made, wasn't a real problem. (As I get annoyed when I buy a gift set and the figures are identical to those I have. Repaint it, and I'm pretty happy.) As a repaint, there isn't much to say here-- he has the same 10 points of articulation as Major Derlin, and if you have never seen the figures side-by-side, you might mistake one for the other pretty easily. So it's not all that different, but it will add a distinctive look to your ever-growing collection. Oh, and he can't sit. Gotta love those extra plastic pieces around the waist Hasbro enjoys using so much.

Collector's Notes: As a nifty quickie repaint, it wasn't too shabby for army builders and was a great part of a larger set. Many Targets sold through the Battle of Hoth Ultimate Battle Pack before the clearances kicked in, and with good cause-- even at $50, it was quite a deal. As such, this particular figure has been out of circulation for some time, and there are presently no known plans for a reissue.

Day 858: September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 857: Greedo

GREEDO Cantina Fodder!
Original Trilogy Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 84715 No. 85372
Number: #OTC22
Includes: Blaster, vest, display stand
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: Fall 2004
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Greedo is a bounty hunter hired by Jabba the Hutt to find Han Solo and get the money Han owed him from a botched smuggling run. Greedo finds Han in the Mos Eisley cantina and demands the money. When Han says he doesn't have it, they both reach for their blasters to end the confrontation. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toaster.

Commentary: "Just different enough to make you mad" is a recurring theme in Star Wars since around 2004. As the line progresses, it's much more difficult to tell the difference between a reissue and a repaint-- how different does it need to be to qualify as "new"? This Greedo is new enough as it comes on an awesome cardback and is, well, mostly different. At the time it could be said it was the best Greedo money could buy, but today it's a little tougher to pick a best one as the 2006 release had a funky cloth vest that wasn't necessarily a step forward. Anyway, this one is pretty good because he has an excellent paint job, a good sculpt, and can sit. That's really what you want out of a Greedo, and here you'll find it. Without remolding the figure, this is about as good as the figure can look-- so the third rerelease was the charm here. Some fans may balk at the "lack" of articulation, but 8 points is actually pretty good for the mold's day (1999-2004) and it's not like he did much other than stand, sit, and get shot. As far as packaged Greedo figures go, I'd say this is probably the one to get. It isn't too expensive, it has a great backdrop, and above all else, it looks cool.

Collector's Notes: This was the last (it seems) use of this mold. The first release was in 1999 as a basic carded figure with a CommTech chip and a peachy colored vest. The second in 2002 was similar to this one, but had differently colored shoes and slightly different deco plus a cantina bar section, and no blaster. Hasbro, as you can see, still hasn't gotten the eyes right. The most obvious way to tell the OTC release from the others is that the wound under his vest is red, while the others are more blackened.

Day 857: September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 856: R2-D2

R2-D2 Droid Attack!
Revenge of the Sith Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 85280 No. 69629
Number: #III-07
Includes: Rockets, arm, base, droid parts
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.24-$6.99
Availability: April 2005
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: The fiesty droid R2-D2 is assigned to serve Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars. Seated in the droid socket of Anakin's Jedi starfighter, R2-D2 is witness to dramatic events that will change the galaxy. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' kitchen floor.

Commentary: One of the biggest challenges at Hasbro must be making new versions of R2-D2 which a) are different enough to look new, and b) will not hurt the sales of future new R2-D2 action figures. This figure was a bit of a departure from previous models in that it does lots of things rather than just one. Typically, a sound chip or a single arm accessory was enough for a new figure. This time Hasbro incorporated removable rockets, an articulated (and removable) arm that comes out of his head, and some added accessories. It sports one of the best sculpts Hasbro has done for R2-D2, but it really doesn't fit in with most of the Astromechs the company has produced due to the many slight variations in its design, from the oddly placed dirty paint to the unusually placed third leg. It's a fun little toy, and it's totally worth getting if you play with your figures. It just isn't much to look at compared to other releases if you're a droid collector... but if this is the only R2-D2 you'll ever buy, it's actually not at all bad. At least it can do things, which is more than one can say about a lot of figures.

Collector's Notes: This mold has never, ever been reused to make another droid, and pretty much acts as another one-timer. It was repackaged in 2006 in the "Heroes & Villains" packaging, which I must say looks a heck of a lot cooler than the 2005 ROTS release. Due to the vast quantity of R2-D2 toys, they're all pretty forgettable... but this one certainly isn't terrible. It's just another R2-D2.

Day 856: September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 855: Momaw Nadon (Hammerhead)

MOMAW NADON Hammerhead
Power of the Force Collection 2
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69629
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: November 1996
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Momaw Nadon was an Ithorian. He was exiled from his homeworld, Ithor, after he revealed secrets of Itorian agricultural technology to the Galactic Empire. He spent much of his exile on Tatooine, and was seen in Chalmun's Cantina when Luke Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi came searching for passage to Alderaan. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' desk drawer.

Commentary: The original Hammerhead from 1979 had basically all the same elements as this figure, except the gun was smaller and his outfit was this one-piece blue thing. In 1997, Kenner gave it another try with Momaw Nadon. This figure seems to be based mostly on Ron Cobb's concept art rather than what we saw in the movie, which I think makes it all the more interesting. Usually figures from the 1990s just become old and dated, this is a rare instance of a character being a concept figure first. Because of this, it's probably worth picking up for any concept toy shelves you may have set up.

With only 6 points of articulation, the figure itself is really no better or worse than future releases. He can sit, stand, and hold his giant freaking gun (not shown). His garment is removable, revealing another sculpted costume underneath which is slightly more true to the film. There's not a lot of detail on this particular alien, but then again, it's not like the costume was incredibly ornate either. It was good for its time, and it's still pretty neat today. I'd suggest getting it because it's such a neat curiosity, but if you already have a few Ithorians in your collection you may not want to add one more.

Collector's Notes: A favorite with kids and collectors, new versions of Momaw Nadon would come every few years-- a figure with a revised body and repainted limbs came out in 2002, and a total resculpt was released in 2006. A newly tooled Jedi of the same species, Roron Corobb, came out in 2007. None of which are particularly rare, and each release of Momaw Nadon is notable in that the designers changed the costume quite a bit. The 2006 release seems to be the truest to the movie for now.

Day 855: September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 854: Tobbi Dala

TOBBI DALA with Princess Leia
The Legacy Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87698
Number: #7
Includes: Leia figure, Blaster, Helmet, Rocket Pack, Marvel Comics #69
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: August 2008
Appearances: Star Wars #69

Bio: Princess Leia is captured by slavers while searching for Dengar, a bounty hunter with information that can help her save Han Solo. It looks like all is lost for Leia, until her new Mandalorian friend Fenn Shysa launches a daring raid to rescue her and his boyhood friend Tobbi Dala, who is also a prisoner of the slavers. But before the day is done, there will be death and destruction in the city of bones. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.

Commentary: Lucasfilm and Hasbro have made previous few references to or products from the Marvel Star Wars comic book series. Maybe this is one of the reasons I'm so enamored with Tobbi Dala. I haven't been able to put him down since I got him. Typically, I get a new figure, and put it away in a box or on a shelf after a few days. Tobbi (And Fenn Shysa) have managed to stay out, despite being garish repaints of two figures I already have and don't like all that much, but with new heads. Still, it's what they represent that's probably the most fun, and if you don't know what they represent you may find them entertaining for other reasons.

One of the biggest (and most underused) characters in the 1980s was Boba Fett. Introduced before The Empire Strikes Back and killed in Return of the Jedi, the character went virtually unexplored except for multiple "first meeting" tales and a flashback or two. His origin-- or rather, one of them-- was told in Marvel Star Wars #68, and apparently at the time he was going to be a Mandalorian Protector-- along with Tobbi Dala and Fenn Shysa. Marvel being a comic book publisher from the 1980s simplified many of the designs (including Boba Fett) for printing purposes, and rather than make them "realistic," Hasbro decided to go with an exaggerated look taken straight from the comics, with one notable exception. While the brightly colored armor and gloves ring true, one you take the helmet off, Dala's head is bald in the comics. The action figure has a very slight and patchy layer of thin hair. His head isn't anything too remarkable-- if anything, he looks older than it would seem the comic intended. Still, he's pretty grizzled, and that works for me.

Our hero's armor is really slick in that Hasbro decided to have fun with it. It seems less like a fearsome warrior and more like one of the boombox toting Mandalorians you might see at a comic or sci-fi convention passing out mix tapes. The helmet is this really bright metallic green, as is the chest armor. The gloves, feet, and belt are a superbly bright orange, and his body suit is also a very spiffy bright green. Were it easier to do I'd totally dress up as this guy at a show, except maybe wear a giant clock around my neck. He has unique Mandalorian symbols on his shoulders, a holster for his pistol (recycled from Boba Fett), and 14 points of articulation. Oh, and no cape-- the hole is there, they just didn't include a cloth piece. His rocket pack accessory is also notable in that he looks better without it. It's purple with white highlights, and really doesn't look good with the rest of the outfit.

But, as you can see, it looks a little weird-- this is a figure that fell through a time warp from 27 years ago. Hasbro did a fine job with it, and I like it so much I want a "Mandalorian Protector" Marvel deco Boba Fett to go with it. Seriously. I'm willing to pay. Since getting this figure I've dug out a bunch of Mini-Rigs (the old Kenner-designed vehicles sold from 1980-1985) as the style seems to mesh here, and you know what? I'm really jonesing for some new Hasbro-designed vehicles. Not like the Cruisemissile Trooper, but fully-enclosed one-man ships like the ISP-6, Side Gunner, or the McQuarrie Concept Airspeeder from 1998. All were fun, and really, now would be a great time to do some new ones. (All Hasbro has to do to guarantee a sale is to pack a clone or robot repaint in each one.) I'm quite pleased Hasbro is revisiting these Marvel issues and I really, really hope they continue to do so as the line continues.

Collector's Notes: He's new, so you'll probably just now start to find him if you haven't already. If you read the old Marvel series and don't have one, you're doing yourself a disservice. if you don't know anything about the old Marvel comics, this is a good set to get-- it's an amusing two-part story that, while not necessarily canon these days, is a fun read.

Day 854: September 22, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 853: Lobot

LOBOT with Blaster Pistol and Transmitter
Power of the Force Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69856
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, communicator, Freeze Frame
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: September 1998
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: As the cyborg administrative assistant to Cloud City, Lobot made certain that Lando Calrissian and his Rebel companions would safely escape the Imperial occupied city. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' kitchen.

Commentary: With one of the oddest poses in the entire line-- and that's saying something-- Lobot isn't all that bad. Sure, six points of articulation isn't too special today, but the figure is a great toy. The paint job is wonderful, the types of plastic used don't look cheap (or translucent), and it seems to hold all the detail the designers intended. He just looks like he's dancing, which doesn't help. Sure, he can sit, but his arms are so wide out that you might not be able to get the ship's canopy to close. In a way, it's a pretty tragic release-- it seems like every effort was made to make the quality of the figure extremely high, but none of that matters because he looks like he's dancing. In a way I really hate to reduce the figure to one glaring flaw, but it's hard to get past since it isn't representative of the film. The 2004 version is largely better, but the coloring on this 1998 release looks better if you ask me. It's just a little more lively... which I guess is sort of the theme here.

Collector's Notes: As part of the final "Collection 1" wave of Power of the Force 2 figures, Lobot was actually pretty scarce for a while. His price remained low because fans didn't view him as a must-have figure and they started asking for a resculpt almost immediately. A new version would come in 2004.

Day 853: September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 852: Han Solo (Cantina)

HAN SOLO Cantina
Power of the Force CommTech Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 84185 No. 84202
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, CommTech chip
Action Feature: Blaster goes into holster
Retail: $6.99
Availability: September 1999
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Inside Mos Eisley's cantina, Han Solo just negotiated a lucrative deal to transport two men to Alderaan - enough to pay off his debt to crimelord Jabba the Hutt. But it's too late: bounty hunter Greedo has come to collect - though all the Rodian gets is a shot to the chest from Solo's blaster. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' kitchen.

Commentary: It's always neat to go back and look at the figures that, at one point, were considered amazing marvels of Hasbro's toy-making skills. This Han Solo was once easily the finest toy in the entire line, given that it had jointed knees, extra arm articulation, and a working holster. These things were unheard of in 1999 Star Wars figures, so just some extra features alone were enough to get fans excited. What's better still are that the likeness improved, he was proportioned a little more realistically, and could sit. (Sitting, of course, being very important.) The figure was so good Hasbro reissued it several times. Never being one to shy away from getting the most out of a design, the figure was repackaged, packed with vehicles, and even boxed with a plastic tumbler. If you collect every packaging variant, you may own nearly 10 of this one.

While the figure has since been made obsolete by the 2004 "Vintage" Han Solo, this one still serves a purpose. Mostly that he can sit-- the holster of most newer Han Solo figures was sculpted separately from the figure's legs, and they're only slightly flexible. Given that the belts are part of his legs, this figure has absolutely no problems sitting in your vehicles, and because of this he's still potentially the best toy Han Solo figure you can get from the original film. I like mine plenty, even though the newer ones may have more articulation, better sculpts, and improved likenesses.

Collector's Notes: You can probably get this figure for a buck or two because it has been rereleased so many times by now. It isn't astounding, but it's a look into how Hasbro did things before the introduction of the super-articulated figure. It's pretty remarkable for its day. Unlike some recent figures, doesn't easily fall apart.

Day 852: September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 851: Luke Skywalker (Wampa Food)

Power of the Force Beast Assortment
Item No.:
Asst. 69645 No. 69768
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, wampa
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: Fall 1998
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Luke Skywalker was a legendary soldier and Jedi who helped defeat the Galactic Empire and found the New Republic, as well as the New Jedi Order. A chance purchase of two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, led to him meeting Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and receiving Jedi training from Obi-Wan Kenobi. Skywalker later destroyed the first Death Star and joined the Rebel Alliance. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' boxes.

Commentary: During the late 1990s, Kenner wasn't shy about cranking out lots of Luke Skywalker figures-- nearly 30 were made between 1995 and 1999. This particular version was one of three Hoth Luke figures released during that time period, and this one was notable because it was designed to hang upside-down. In theory, this is awesome-- but Kenner didn't make a cave to hang him from, which means there aren't many opportunities to show how neat that articulated scarf on his head truly is. (Unless you hold him up.) His sculpt and deco are about on par for 1998, but he did have the added distinction of featuring a bloodied face-- this was pretty unusual for Kenner, and made fans pretty excited at the time. Still, he's pretty beefy, his waist is tiny, and the articulation stands at a mere 7 points-- and that's counting the scarf. A new Hoth Luke was released in 2004 with designs to allow him to hang upside-down, and Hasbro widely included cave elements with Luke and a Wampa figure which allow you to recreate a scene from the movie. So as a first pass at a good concept, this is a neat figure, but new collectors really have no good reason to track it down.

Collector's Notes: While the figure is more or less disposable due to recent releases, it's pretty clever. The figure was packaged upside-down in the box, showing that the designers of Kenner had a good sense of humor. The Wampa and the Tauntaun with Han Solo were both quite difficult to find in 1998 because stores underordered the assortment of creatures, meaning some of them commanded premium pricing for quite some time. Thankfully, short attention spans prevailed and you can get this Wampa for a much lower price today.

Day 851: September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 850: Womp Rat

WOMP RAT Disturbance at Lars Homestead
The Legacy Collection Toys "R" Us Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 87777
Number: n/a
Includes: Homestead, Beru, Owen, Sandtrooper, Moisture Vaporator
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $49.99
Availability: September 2008
Appearances: n/a

Bio: The womp rat was a large, omnivorous rodent native to Tatooine. It was widely considered to be a pest. They were slightly larger than two meters in size. There were three races of womp rats: ones that lived in Beggar's Canyon, ones that lived in the Jundland Wastes, and swamp womp rats. It was not unheard of for people to have domesticated womp rats as pets, but Luke Skywalker and his friends used to "bulls-eye" womp rats with stun blasts, while flying T-16 skyhoppers, for fun and target practice. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Lars Homestead.

Commentary: Over the years there have been numerous interpretations of the Womp Rat, from the various video games, comics, and so forth. I'm not entirely sure where this particular version's design came from, but here it is-- it's a toy. That makes it real in my book, and this ugly little rodent seems to combine elements of a few illustrations with the Lenny Gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The strange mouth and teeth don't do much to make the figure look menacing, but they do manage to reduce the appearance of the creature's intelligence greatly. While some of the Womp Rats over the years have had sharp teeth, mean eyes, and a look that could terrify a future meal, this one just looks like he has been praised for learning to fasten his velcro sneakers. Odds are darker lip and ear colors might help make it look a little more menacing.

The creature has zero points of articulation and is posed fairly well. He looks like he's in some sort of action scene, perhaps exploring or poking around in a pile of garbage. It gives him enough personality to live in a diorama, but if you had a whole group of these things it's going to look pretty stupid. I wouldn't suggest going out of your way to get a lot of these things, but I guess you could have Boba Fett shoot one in the head outside a Cantina diorama or something. As it's a new creature-- and we get so few new creatures-- I'm glad I have it. I clearly overpaid for it, but I'm a toy collector. It won't be the last time.

Collector's Notes: This is the only new figural element in the gift set, with the Lars Homestead being the main draw-- the figures are more of the same. As such, if you're a long-time collector, you're essentially paying $50 for a rat and an igloo with a base made of the same materials as a Halloween mask circa 1979. Given I've bought weird and rare items on the secondary market at a premium price in the past, I'm used to paying more than something is really worth, but not for a new item. You may wish to consider not buying this one.

Day 850: September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 849: Darth Revan

30th Anniversary Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87500 No. 87339
Number: #3034
Includes: Lightsaber, hilt, cape, coin
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: September 2007
Appearances: Knights of the Old Republic

Bio: In the days of the Old Republic, thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader, a Jedi named Revan falls to the dark side. While chasing Mandalorian raiders with his Jedi companion Malak, Revan is consumed by destructive Sith energies on the planet Malachor V. He becomes a Sith Lord and lures Malak to the dark side as well, as his Sith apprentice. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy room.

Commentary: After years of waiting, does Hasbro's Darth Revan figure-- a Fan's Choice winner-- have what it takes to be awesome? I guess, sort of. After winning rounds of voting through a ToyFare Magazine-sponsored poll, fans were allowed to peek in on his development. The good news is that he's here-- he's real. The bad news is that as toys go, he isn't so great. The worse news is that it doesn't seem to matter because he sold so gosh darned well, proving that if fans are genuinely interested in the character, that character trumps quality by a huge leap.

Revan is a decent figure-- once you distance yourself from being concerned with the "action" part, that is. His arms have ball-jointed shoulders and elbows, he has normal hips and wrists, a ball-jointed head, and a normal waist. His Sith robes prevent the legs from moving much. If you look at this release as a really great tiny statue, you're going to like it a whole lot more. He can't sit or do most things you'd want a toy to do, but it seems to me the audience for this figure would be a group of older fans who will have him stand around on a desk, and the chances of him piloting an X-wing are minimal at best.

Hasbro's sculptors did a good job, as we're basically used to. The mask is there, and once you take off the hood you can see the somewhat battered human head of this character. (But not the face.) Revan's robes are pretty nicely sculpted, as part of the lower "skirt" actually extends up and acts as a sort of a belt over the chest armor. This doesn't feel like one of Hasbro's normal figures, and it wouldn't surprise me if they used it as a bit of an experimental platform for the line. There's certainly room for more paint detail, but the various ridges, textures, buckles, and other bits are all here. He doesn't disappoint, but then again, I had extremely low expectations in the first place. It's also worth noting his lightsaber's hilt does not match the hilt of the lightsaber hilt, if you catch my meaning.

Collector's Notes: This figure was pretty popular, and produced for a very brief time. If you blinked, you missed him-- and now you're going to pay accordingly. No reissue is planned at this time, but it seems to make sense to bring him back as a pre-order bonus for the KOTOR-themed MMO or something else. Sith Lords are an easy sell-- I'm sure Hasbro could sell a new one they made up monthly if they really wanted to do so. Given that this one is from a popular Xbox game, it's not at all surprising that collectors actually want this figure a great deal.

Day 849: September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 848: Holographic Clone Commander Cody

The Saga Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 85770 No. 87325
Number: #056
Includes: Jetpack, helmet, blaster, display base
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $6.99
Availability: Late 2006
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: The battle-hardened Cody has fought beside General Kenobi many times in the Clone Wars, so it is no surprise that his 212th Attack Battalion is sent to Utapau to once more serve his friend. But this commander soon receives a secret communiqué from a far more sinister leader and quickly changes his allegiance. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy room.

Commentary: Fans love clones, and apparently paint isn't a requirement for figures like this Holographic Clone Commander Cody to prove successful. Mostly clear blue plastic, this figure has a few opaque pins in his joints but is pretty transparent. I was pretty enamored with this figure when it first came out because of the removable helmet. "If the helmet is clear," I thought, "can't you see his face through it?" The answer is "sorta, but not really." Not a lot of light makes it in the helmet, so it isn't like it's going to be really obvious that you can kind of see where his eyes are. The figure itself is-- as far as I can tell-- identical to the non-holographic version from earlier in 2006, which means it's almost super perfect. (He's a little short.) The fun value of a clear blue repaint is pretty low, but if you're collecting them all at least it looks different enough from other figures you own. At this time, it's the only clone figure to get the holographic treatment, so in that respect it's pretty distinctive.

I don't regret buying it-- that's something I think I'm going to be using to rate figures more often-- but it doesn't mean you're going to have a lot of fun with it. It's neat enough, but once you write about it and take a picture of it, where does he go? It's not like there's a playset which can incorporate him, or a little pad to stand on in the AT-TE to look like a projection. Since buying him nearly two years ago, he's lived in a box. I assume yours will as well if you make the purchase.

Collector's Notes: This figure may have represented one of the quickest turnarounds from Hasbro introducing a regular mold to selling a clear blue repaint. (Quickest holographic repaint, period, being Emperor Palpatine in 2005.) It was fairly popular, surprisingly, and now it's going to take some work to find one. Also, he was one of a whopping 4 holographic figures to appear in the basic The Saga Collection line. It seems that since then, Hasbro is trying to limit production of these clear blue figures to one or two per year. I also feel like I should start a pool on how long before Hasbro cranks out an animated The Clone Wars Cody.

Day 848: September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 847: McQuarrie Concept Yoda

YODA and Obi-Wan Kenobi
30th Anniversary Collection Comic-Con Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 87417
Number: n/a
Includes: Cane, Obi-Wan figure, coin (stand is not included)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $14.99
Availability: July 2007
Appearances: n/a

Bio: The diminutive Yoda appears leaner and more whimsical than he will ultimately appear in the films yet still exudes mystical strength. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: In 2007, Hasbro stunned figure fans by releasing this Yoda as part of an exclusive McQuarrie concept-based set of action figures for a mere fifteen bucks. As one of the saga's most famous characters, you can bet there are several astounding pieces of art from the conceptual design files, from various goblins to what looks vaguely like Santa Claus. Playing it safe, Hasbro went with one of the designs which looked a lot like the final design. This is both good and bad, good because you don't have to explain to your friends who he is, and bad because it's just not all that distinctive. The Boba Fett figure is this great and different design. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi is a real departure from the final character. Yoda, well, it's Yoda.

The figure itself isn't at all bad, and actually sets a new standard for articulation in Yoda toys. If anything, it'd be nice to see a regular movie Yoda figure this nicely designed. This is the first-ever Yoda figure with ball jointed elbows, plus he has ballish shoulders, regular hips, a waist, a neck joint, and wrist joints. Even the 2004 Vintage release wasn't this good. The figure also has cloth elements to his costume, allowing him to sit. Again, this is pretty fantastic. The design itself is a weird mishmash of original McQuarrie art and some vaguely Kennerish elements from the original toy, so while it's not exactly Ralph's baby, it's pretty close. The longer hair looks a little goofy, and the facial expression looks more Muppet-esque. There are far fewer wrinkles in his face than in the art, but at this size, that's OK. For fans of Yoda looking for something different, this is a fantastic figure. Unfortunately, it isn't too close to its inspiration, nor is it easy to find. For a unique design, it's quite possible the best Hasbro could have done with 2007's sculpting methods, especially given his spindly little legs.

The only way this figure could be more interesting would have been if Hasbro selected a more unique design. And there were many of those to be seen. Although, surprisingly, I had a hard time finding links of most of them to show you, so pick up The Empire Strikes Back Sketchbook or The Art of The Empire Strikes Back if you have the means.

Collector's Notes: A convention exclusive, this popular figure hasn't been reissued in any form-- nor is he expected to be. As such, you're on your own here.

Day 847: September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 846: Cade Skywalker

CADE SKYWALKER and Darth Talon
The Legacy Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87622
Number: 2 (number on package is incorrect)
Includes: Blaster, companion figure, some MAY include a lightsaber and hilt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: August 2008
Appearances: Star Wars: Legacy (most issues)

Bio: Years ago, when the Sith attacked the Jedi at Ossus, Cade Skywalker disappeared in a fiery blast. Everyone believes he's dead except Wolf Sazen. And it turns out, Cade's former Jedi Master is right. Cade is now a disillusioned bounty hunter and pirate who carefully hides his true identity from everyone. But through a series of circumstances, Cade must face his past - and battle the ruthless Darth Talon, the Emperor's newly chosen assassin. (Taken from the figure's cardback. Oh, and he's a recreational drug user, the package left that off.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.

Commentary: The Legacy comic is a unique one-- it combines fan favorite elements from three decades worth of Expanded Universe materials. Most characters have relationships (or are) existing characters, and sometimes it feels a little forced. No matter your feelings on the comic (I think it's great), Cade Skywalker is a pretty good figure in its own right. The articulation is good, the detail is good, he has a big goofy gun, and it fits in his holster. On paper, it's great. In plastic, he's pretty good.

Hasbro seems to have nailed the costume. He has a shirt that looks like Mandalorian armor. He's got a big black coat because, I suppose, someone really liked The Matrix. His pants look like those of Darth Vader, only exaggerated slightly. It really does look like it stepped right off the comic page. As a fan of the comic, it's easy to like this release. He has a lot of personality in his plastic person, but the one place it gets weird is his head. His eyes seem a little too wide, his head a little too round. His hair is often portrayed as looking a little dirtier and messier, and his scruff looks a little bit more like Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame. He almost looks too clean, but he's still a lot of fun to mess with. After all, a super articulated action figure with a big cloak or coat allows for a variety of fun action Jedi kick poses! Seriously, he's a lot of fun to mess with. It's just that I wish his head was just slightly better. (I'm glad they didn't forget the earrings.)

Collector's Notes: Despite Hasbro saying otherwise, reports have surfaced that show some figures do have a lightsaber and others don't-- as such, you may want to hold off on making the purchase until you see one with the weapons included. Also, my Cade figure had his belt on backward, you may wish to swivel it around.

Day 846: September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 845: Luminara Unduli

30th Anniversary Collection Order 66 Series 2
Item No.:
Asst. 87356 No. 87670
Number: 5 of 6
Includes: Lightsaber, companion figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: March 2008
Appearances: Revenge of the Sith

Bio: Luminara is a Jedi General sent to Kashyyyk in the final days of the Clone Wars with a squad of clone troopers including AT-RT Drivers. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.

Commentary: Repaints are a fact of life in the modern Star Wars line, and this Luminara Unduli is a repaint with a couple of other changes. Based on the 2005 figure's body, this action figure has a cloth "skirt" which seems to be a recolored Tusken Raider garment. In other words, it's not the same as the original release. The figure's costume has been repainted significantly, but here's the problem: you can't tell. The original figure was a sort of dark greenish color, and this new one is a dark greenish blue. The various adornments are slightly different in color, so gold bits are bronze and a few spots aren't decorated as lavishly as before. But, again, you can't tell. The character's unique look continues to shine through but it really is unfortunate that Hasbro took the trouble to come up with a new piece and new paint applications to result in a very samey looking figure. Until I put the 2005 and 2008 releases side by side, I thought it was the same exact figure.

Despite being just different enough to make you mad, you should totally get a Luminara Unduli based on this mold. She's basically super-articulated, but she has cut elbows. Other than that, she's pretty great. The only real room for improvement left would be in the face, as her eyes and face paint could use a little bit of improvement. Well, for a $7-$8 figure, she could use some improvements. As part of a $10 exclusive pack, she's a bargain.

Collector's Notes: She was an interesting release. In some stores, she was one of the first to go. In others, she lingered. Either way, she was eventually findable as a Target exclusive if you looked around. She's pretty cheap too so feel free to get one if you can.

Day 845: September 9, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 844: McQuarrie Concept Rebel Trooper

REBEL TROOPER McQuarrie Concept
30th Anniversary Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87500 No. 87457
Number: #3060
Includes: Blaster, helmet, coin (2007), stand (2008)
Action Feature: Removable helmet
Retail: $6.99
Availability: November 2007
Appearances: n/a

Bio: Ralph McQuarrie's sketches of Rebel troopers show the distinct headgear and simple uniforms that articulate the lean, focused intensity of the Rebel Alliance forces. In his drawings, McQuarrie has captured the Rebels' unity of purpose and determined independence that characterize the Alliance's proud fighters. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.

Commentary: The McQuarrie Concept Figure collection was one of the most exciting things to happen to collectors in 2007, which tells you both that the interest in core characters is supremely important and that actual characters from the movies that Hasbro can convince fans to buy are a diminishing resource. Rounding out the collection of concept figures was this Rebel Trooper, which, unlike the other figures in the collection, wasn't a design a lot of fans would have remembered. Or even seen, much less asked for. Less a great design for a space trooper and more an amusing look for the henchmen in the undersea lair of the vile Dr. Bartholemew Clam, the figure is an oddity on a variety of levels. He has a two piece removable helmet, a holster, removable chest armor, and loads of articulation. Oh, and he's posed in a manner that fits in well with the vintage Kenner line from the 1980s. In many respects, as a collectible, this is the absolutely best McQuarrie Concept figure because it seems to incorporate every fan request for an action figure short of ankle articulation. The joints are well-hidden by the costume design, he can hold his blaster, his helmet can be removed, there's a lot of detail here, and he still looks like he stepped off an artist's sketchpad. How can you go wrong?

The only problem with the figure is that it's fairly non-essential, which while not a crime is an issue with many figures in the line as of late. Chewbacca with bandages, Vader with a new cape, Anakin with new hip joints... it's all Hasbro finding ways to extend the line-- which is what fans say they want-- but it's also filler. This figure would have been an unthinkable release in 2003, and in 2008, it just goes to show that the line is moving in a direction that's less "what would be an awesome seller?" to "OK, we need to come up with something new for fans to buy, what's left?" It's weird that Hasbro could make such a great figure based on a design that probably wouldn't be on any fan's wish list, but here it is. Love it.

Collector's Notes: A member of the one-timer's club so far, this figure is unlikely to make a return appearance any time soon. Hasbro shipped it under a new SKU in 2008 with a display stand, and it's essential for anyone looking to complete their set of collector coins or McQuarrie Concept figures. Everybody else, take it as you will. It seems like it would have made a great character to have attack Vader's secret apprentice in The Force Unleashed though.

Day 844: September 8, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 843: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER Two-piece helmet
The Legacy Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87535 No. 87680
Number: #BD08
Includes: Lightsaber, helmet, droid piece
Action Feature: Removable helmet
Retail: $7.99
Availability: July 26 2008
Appearances: Return of the Jedi*

Bio: As has been the custom of the Jedi and the Sith for many centuries, Vader uses a meditation chamber to enhance his powers. Within this specially pressurized, hyperbaric enclosure, the Sith Lord is able to remove his mask briefly and still be able to breathe. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.

Commentary: As one of Hasbro's best selling figures, Darth Vader is in constant need of refreshing. You can't sell the same figure forever, especially not in an era where fans will rebuy the same product if it's sufficiently changed from time to time. I frequently invoke the phrase "just different enough to make you mad" when describing Hasbro's new and barely altered releases, and this figure is one of the finest examples of that you could ever see. The actual figure is based on the 2005 Evolutions Darth Vader, which was reissued in early 2008, and was changed slightly with a glued-down helmet for the 2007 Order 66 sets. It's a wonderful figure and just a detail or two shy of being the best overall Darth Vader figure Hasbro could ever hope to make. As it stands, it's just merely one of the best for right now. I'd say that this figure that I hold in my hands as I type this is so good, if you only ever buy one Darth Vader figure, this is it. Until Hasbro adds more improvements.

So, what's different? It's all in his head-- the body is effectively the same except for how the lights on his torso are painted. The head is now molded in a flesh colored plastic which actually looks significantly better and more lifelike than previous releases. It brings out the dirt, grime, scarring, bruising, and blood much better than we've seen in the past, and if I didn't know better I'd almost think it was a brand new sculpt. (It isn't, is it?) Either way, it's good. The helmet itself is the other big departure. We've had removable helmets before, but this is the first time the dome can be separated from the facial part of the mask. As far as toy engineering goes, this is a fantastic feat which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. From a collector perspective, it's basically a non-issue. OK, so the helmet comes apart. So what? It's the same action figure otherwise, so who cares?

It's really weird to say "who cares" about what is Hasbro's best Darth Vader yet. It's a stunning release, but it's not significantly different enough from previous releases for me to tell you to go buy it. If you don't have the previous releases, you absolutely need to get it-- otherwise, well, it's up to you. After playing with the helmet for two seconds, it's really no different from what you have.

Collector's Gripes: Since about 2003, it seems Hasbro has determined they could make a small change here and there, rather than overhaul a product, and multiply their sales as a result. As such, there's still a few changes to this figure which Hasbro has yet to implement. For example, there's no ball-jointed neck-- we got a Vader with such a joint with the white Darth Vader from the comic packs line in August 2008. There's no wire in his cape-- this is something we've seen in Batman figures and in Jedi robes, and it would allow his garment to be posed rather than hang limp. Finally, there's no lightsaber hilt or a place to plug it into his belt. This feature has only been incorporated once so far, and with any luck Hasbro will put all three of these features in a future incarnation of this mold or the next-generation super-articulated Darth Vader mold we figure they're developing in a bunker underneath a dormant volcano in New Mexico. (Oh, and they could add ball-jointed wrists and hips some day, but that's probably just being ridiculous.)

Collector's Notes: This is the first time a figure based on the Vader Evolutions body has been released on an individual package. At press time, the figure has only been seen with the R7-Z0 dome and third leg droid parts. The figure will come with other droid parts in the future. As to the * from above, I think the figure is meant to be from ROTJ, but here's the thing-- the description smells like The Empire Strikes Back. The cardback art is from Revenge of the Sith. But there's no damage markings on his arm from the final duel. So I'm just assuming it's Return of the Jedi as that's the only time we saw him take his mask off in two stages, and it's the movie from which the original body mold was said to be taken.

Day 843: September 5, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 842: Grand Admiral Thrawn

The Legacy Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87688
Number: #09
Includes: Ysalamiri, Talon Karrde figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $12.99
Availability: August 2008
Appearances: Heir to the Empire

Bio: It's five years after the destruction of the second Death Star. The Rebel Alliance has established a New Republic, but its existence is threatened by the old Empire. Grand Admiral Thrawn command the remnants of the Imperial fleet and is putting together a plan that will destroy the new goverment. Thrawn contacts Talon Karrde, a man with valuable information that Thrawn needs in order for his plan to succeed. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Imperial Shuttle (the 2006 one).

Commentary: While art has shown the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn in a few different costumes over the years, both action figures (including this one) show the high-ranking Imperial without the yellowish gold epaulets on his shoulders. Even though this super-articulated figure is pretty awesome, it'd be nice to see that. Or some sort of backpack for his little lizard friend to feed off of. But you can tell that from the picture.

Thrawn is an update to a figure from 1998, and for the most part he's pretty good. While it's easy to fault the figure for what they could have done, it's really best to just look at what it is they did give us. The good news is we have a modern sculpt, complete with 14 points of articulation, fantastic detail, a proper rank badge, and everything you would expect out of a decent individual action figure. Except for a blaster. The details are all pretty great, from the slick, shiny boots to the gloves. Oh right-- they sculpted his hands as gloves, you can see the wrinkles on them. The packaging even has his hands painted white, to match his gloves. And the figure itself? His gloves are the same color as his skin. Oops. Maybe we have a potential variant here, but it's more likely this will be the only way the figure is offered. It's not bad, it's just always a shame when a detail of some significance is painted incorrectly, like the snow clumps on Chewbacca or when Luke's gloved and flesh hands were swapped on a 2003 figure. It happens, and with as many figures as Hasbro produces, it's a wonder it doesn't happen more frequently.

The other detail that's something of a downer here is the boots. And keep in mind by picking on part of his boots and his hands, that means the rest of the figure is perfect-- one can only gush about a figure's greatness for so long, but it's easy to dwell on a minor hiccup for long periods of time. Due to the white plastic used for the uniform, much white plastic is exposed and left unpainted around the ball-jointed ankles. For once, it would have been better had Hasbro elected not to give the figure ankle articulation, or if they used black plastic to mold the feet. Other than that, it's pretty awesome-- the head is good, the uniform fits, the boots are glossy, and his little pal is based on the comic appearances. (Or close to them-- the ysalamir has two legs and a tail, not four legs and a tail like in some other art.)

Collector's Notes: In 1998, the first Thrawn figure was in short supply due to a transitional period in the line. Today, it should be widely available and it comes with a reprint of Heir to the Empire #1, which has some of the best Star Wars comic art in the entire Dark Horse run. This set should be added to your collection without question.

Day 842: September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 841: Battle Droid

BATTLE DROID Firing Blaster!
The Clone Wars Animated Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87638 No. 87663
Number: #07
Includes: Blaster, backpack, projectile, launcher
Action Feature: Firing launcher
Retail: $7.99
Availability: July 2008
Appearances: The Clone Wars

Bio: Battle droids are the perfect soldiers in battle - programmed to fight without hesitation and deployed in vast numbers that overwhelm opponents. Individually, though, their limited cognitive ability makes them vulnerable when up against the daring recklessness of Anakin Skywalker and the agile Ahsoka Tano; the two skilled Jedi can easily outwit and outmaneuver these mechanized fighters. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: So these "special" troopers aren't so smart-- I guess that's pretty common knowledge by now. The Battle Droid seems to be a staple in the action figure line, one of few characters introduced in the first prequel which seems to consistently perform at retail. And is also repainted many, many times. This new mold hasn't yet seen a redeco, but we all know it's a matter of time. With the new animated style, Hasbro gave him thicker limbs which should better hold up to gravity. Previous droids had a bad habit of bending and falling over, but this one looks more stable. We'll see how that goes. The sculpt is actually pretty good, but the weird thing is that when combined with its paint job it almost looks wooden to me. It's nice that it's so different visually, but it's also a little strange. The figure's head seems smaller than it should be, too, which adds to its unique look.

With articulation at the waist (a first!), neck, shoulders, hips, and elbows, this is a pretty decent figure. If it had knees, it would be the most articulated version of the character ever, but the figure really only needs more articulation at the elbow. With his standard gun and firing gun, it can be a little tricky to get both hands on the weapon. Extra articulation would have helped immensely, and after last year's Super Battle Droid it might not be out of the question for Hasbro to be able to do this. As few Battle Droids sport elbow joints and none have a waist joint, this figure stands out as being pretty unique in terms of play value. I'd say get one, but hold off on troop building until you see if you really like it or not.

Collector's Notes: Seemingly a speedy seller, this figure is flying off the pegs. I wouldn't suggest paying a premium for it as you can practically smell all the Battle Packs it will be in later this year or next year.

Day 841: September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Figure of the Day: Day 840: Darth Vader (Infinities)

DARTH VADER Empire Strikes Back Infinities
30th Anniversary Collection Comic Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 87504 No. 87521
Number: #09
Includes: Lightsaber, removable armor chunk, Leia figure
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: Summer 2007
Appearances: Comics

Bio: The Infinities series explores tantalizing "what if" stories about what might have happened to Star Wars characters if events had happened differently. In this tale, Princess Leia fulfills Luke Skywalker's dying words, "Find master Yoda... Train as a Jedi... Go to Dagobah." On the jungle world of Dagobah, Leia is shocked to learn her father is the evil Darth Vader. Under the tutelage, Leia becomes a skilled Jedi but faces a final trial: battle her father in a lightsabaer duel and resist his attempts to turn her to the dark side. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: Some have said that Darth Vader is the stuff nightmares are made of, but I think this is the first time we're actually seeing the Sith Lord as seen in an actual nightmare. Specifically, his own. Through some Force-induced hallucinations, Darth Vader appears more twisted than ever in the final issue of The Empire Strikes Back Infinities, which is included with this figure. While he isn't super-articulated, this figure manages to mesh movie and concept designs into a figure that-- if you ask me-- is more striking and cooler than the McQuarrie Concept figure. (Well, except for it not having a gun.) He has a removable helmet which, underneath, has an older, fatter version of Hayden Christensen-- complete with hair. (This is a dream-based figure, you see.) With ball-jointed elbows and ankles, the figure would have difficulty meeting some fans exacting requests for super articulation, but normal hips, shoulders, wrists, waist, and neck joints won't hurt you. Well, I assume they won't. I don't know how you play with your toys. Due to the non-removable plastic cape, he won't be doing much sitting. There's still a decent amount of play value here as he can hold his lightsaber and you can rip off a piece of his chest armor to simulate damage. Fun, eh? If you have a few Darth Vader figures, add one more to your collection and pick this one up.

Collector's Notes: Packaged with a nifty Jedi Training Leia, this set is on its way out of stores. If you've been holding off, get your butt to retail and pick up one while you can.

Day 840: September 2, 2008