Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,791: Anakin Skywalker

Discover the Force Walmart Exclusive Battle Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 38606 No.  38607  
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Sebulba, C-3PO, Pit Droids, display stands, die, cards, helmets, wrenches
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.96
Availability: January 2012
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Podracers line up at Mos Espa Arena's starting grid to compete in the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace. The mechanically gifted Anakin has built his own Podracer and is assembling the protocol droid C-3PO. The ruthless Sebulba is determined to win the race at any cost. Pit droids are part of the racing teams an eagerly assist with repairs.   (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' photo area.

Commentary:  The 2012 relaunch for The Phantom Menace really shows that Hasbro has lost its mind when it comes to producing toys.  They're really good at making collectible figures for dioramas, or to leave in the packaging, but the vast majority of the time they don't really take into account little things like you might need an Anakin Skywalker figure to put in his pod race vehicle.  While the figure can be contorted to fit, his arms won't fit on the controls-- and this goes for all of the Pod Race outfit Anakins cranked out in 2012.  (The sick thing is that in 1999, they made one which fits perfectly and didn't rerelease it.   The same holds for Sebulba, but the 2012 Sebulba can be crammed with Brute Force into his ship.)  More complaining about this at the end.

Anyway, this "new" Anakin Skyalker is an acceptable Anakin Skywalker figure, as a standalone thing.  It's a repaint of the 2000 mold, which we've seen a few times over the past decade and change.  The figure is fundamentally the same as the one in Target's "Rise of Darth Vader" 2-pack, except it has no filth on the face and a different helmet.  Between the two, I like the paint job on the Walmart version better.  This Pod Race pilot comes alive with the dirt on his face, without it the figure's skin is far too pale to show the detail.  Being a 2000 sculpt, Anakin has awkwardly jointed knees, plus rotating wrists.  The stiff plastic of his lower shirt makes it a little difficult to get him to sit in a vehicle (or at all), and will distort the plastic if you leave it that way for a long time.  If you just want a display piece, though, this one isn't bad.  It's not particularly impressive, and I think if you keep pulling the helmet over his head it might scrape off the dirt, but other than that?  It's OK.  It comes with a wrench accessory which is a little awkward for his hands, but it's OK.  I appreciate the display stand too, and the Pod Race flags are a nice touch.  It's just that when you get right down it it, you're buying figures which work well as figures or display pieces, not as vehicle drivers.

Collector's Notes: So let me just complain a little more before we go.  The problem here is that we're seeing how Hasbro thinks as a company, and this kind of thinking means that Hasbro has opted out of making suitable pilots for its vehicles.  Vehicles which aren't exclusives.  So what Hasbro did here was to produce 2 vehicles-- arguably from the film's centerpiece, the reason you would want to see it in 3D-- were most likely produced in larger quantities than the figures which drive them, and opted out of using perfectly good figures which do fit.  The only Sebulba available this year was in an exclusive (strike one), and then it was a Walmart exclusive which received unusually late distribution (strike two), and then the figures don't even fit right (insert fail metaphor here.)   The only other figure/vehicle combination that Hasbro routinely botches was Han Solo and Chewbacca with the Millennium Falcon, generally there are seat/figure compatibility issues.  This sort of thing really ticks me off, because the vehicles are already on clearance before the one token new mold for the year comes out with the Naboo fighter and these were generally just a pile of bad decisions.  I hope the line performed well financially for Hasbro, because as toys these are some of the sorriest releases we've ever seen.  Or maybe I'm the crazy one, assuming kids who buy ships want the figures to fit inside them?

I would also like to point out that the Pit Droids pictured on the box are not included with the set.  The Battle Game cards and packaging reflect Anakin's Pit Droids, with an "A" on them, and the included droids match the one included with Rats Tyerell.  I get that sometimes an exclusive set has to be a low-dollar development cash grab, but geez, there were better molds to crank out to go with the vehicles.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,791: April 25, 2012

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