Friday, May 29, 2009

Figure of the Day: Day 1,033: Holographic Emperor Palaptine (Bust)

EMPEROR PALPATINE Disturbance in the Force
The Legacy Collection Convention Exclusive
Item No.:
No. 87574
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Darth Vader, lightsaber, display base
Action Feature: Push button for lights, about a minute of dialogue
Retail: $19.99
Availability: July 2008
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.

Bio: "What is thy bidding, my Master?" Darth Vader asks, kneeling respectfully before the holographic image of Emperor Palpatine. They have both felt a great disturbance in the Force; Palpatine believes that Anakin Skywalker's son is the cause. Vader suggests bringing Luke over to the dark side to make him a powerful aly. "He will join us or die," Vader vows to his Master. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Commentary: Did you ever pick up an item that just made you mad? While not a horrible abomination, the overpriced Emperor Palaptine in this 2-pack is a good example that, as of last year, Hasbro was pretty confident collectors would buy pretty much anything. Here's a Darth Vader figure offered no fewer than 5 separate times with a large head which, while cool, is also incredibly loud and drones on for a very long time. If you had this thing on your desk at work and someone set it off, you'd probably want to stab someone if anyone did it twice. The item plays the entire dialogue of the scene in which Vader and Palpatine chat in The Empire Strikes Back at deafening levels. It's clear as a bell and a unique technological achievement as far as toys go, but after you try it once you really have no reason to ever look at this again. If you're a fan and not a collector, it's a pretty nifty display piece and, arguably, not bad if it's the only Star Wars item you own. But for people who read columns like this one, it's one more damn thing to waste money on because it offers zero long-term play value like you might get out of, say, a Mon Mothma figure.

As essentially a bust, this item has no articulation, no hands, and no accessories in the sense you may be used to. It's just a big ol' head that plugs into a shiny black base, which sports no foot pegs. (FOR SHAME HASBRO.)

Palpatine is a completely new sculpt and may be separated from the black circle base that Darth Vader kneels on falls off of. He's unpainted, which I think really works best for this one. The figure is significantly taller than any other holographic projection Hasbro has made in plastic, and the detail is really good too. I'm not saying this is necessarily worth the Andrew Jackson you're likely to spend on it, particularly because it comes with another Vader you don't need, but I'd be a bad fan if I told you it was without merit. This may be the best Palpatine sculpt we've ever seen out of Hasbro, and even though it's based on the DVD edition of the scene it's pretty swell. It's also worth noting that Hasbro made Palpatines based on this exact 60-second sequence a few times-- a 2004 Original Trilogy Collection release and the 2008 carded figure, based on the 1980 version of the character, come readily to mind. Still, they're all different enough that I'd probably still suggest giving them all at least one good hard look for candidates to add to your toy stash.

Collector's Notes: This item did not sell out at the show and was in stock at for months after Celebration Japan and Comic-Con 2008. As such, don't pay a premium for it.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,033: May 29, 2009


Unknown said...

But as a diorama-type display piece, this thing is excellent, and there are FAR too few of these things in this scale for my liking. My figures need environments and objects to interact with!

Clavius said...

It wouldn't be so bad if you could actually turn the damn thing OFF if you should happen to accidentally push the button. As it is, the only way to silence the thing is to unplug the Emperor from the base, however once you plug it back in, the whole shebang plays again. Bad, bad, bad engineering. However, if you can actually get Vader to kneel properly, it's a nice looking display, even if the Emperor head is a bit small. If Gentle Giant ever makes a light up emperor head bust, then you could pretty much sockdrawer this one.