Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,921: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER  Lightsaber Construction
The Vintage Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 37499 No. 49687  
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #VC87
Includes: Cloth robe, tool, lightsaber, hilt, optional belt
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: February 2012
Appearances: Return of the Jedi deleted scene

Bio: Celebrate the legendary Star Wars saga that changed the universe forever! This collection brings to life the incredible story of good versus evil that captured our imagination and took us to a galaxy far, far away. Iconic Star Wars heroes and villains are captured with incredible detail and premium features to commemorate each epic tale in the Star Wars saga. May the Force be with you!  (Taken from the figure's packaging.  No specific character information.)

Image: Adam's floor.

Commentary: One of the funny things about Star Wars as an action figure line is how Luke Skywalker is on some exponential trajectory toward perfection. It approaches perfection, but will never touch it.  The 2010 Death Star II Jedi Luke is pretty good-- I don't think I'm off saying it may be one of the overall finest Hasbro has to offer.  This 2012 deleted scene model comes tantalizingly close, but oddly falls short.  I know some of you complain I'm too forgiving and others complain I'm too harsh, but let's be honest: this would be a great figure, if the authenticity were ratcheted up a half-notch.

Based on a scene cut from the movie, this is basically Hasbro's chance to go back and redo a "Jabba Palace" Luke with more bells and whistles.   By effectively reusing the arms and legs from the 2010 figure, Luke starts off with great articulation right out of the gate.  You've got your bend-and-swivel wrists and 14 total points of articulation, and new hands make him look just a smidgen better.  The torso is well-sculpted and unlike the 2007 Rancor Pit version, isn't, how do I say this nicely... completely, amazingly, and "how did this get approved?"-ingly wrong.   It looks like his vest, it's not too bulky, it's good.  I approve.

Where the figure breaks down is in the head and cloak.  Ordinarily in a toy line this wouldn't be a big deal, but I take issue with it not because I have to nitpick, but because this is Hasbro's (at least) fifth modern attempt on this costume.  5 times.  Each time there's something a little better and something a little worse, with the exception of the 2004 version which was, by and large, quite good for its day and pretty good today.  The head sculpt is colored well and crafted nicely this time around, but the hair is parted on the wrong side of the head.  Were this the first (or second, or third) Luke figure I'd say "eh, fine, get over it."  But it's a resculpt, and it's a retool, and pretty much all of the existing Luke figures got it right.  As it's essentially the 29th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, it's a detail that really should be right.  The second aspect is his cloak, which is rarely done correctly, be it due to some sort of muscle-memory or just poor perception.   The figure repacks the Revenge of the Sith-era cloth Jedi cloak, which is, obviously, just not right.  The color may be up for debate (some shots look black, some look dark brown) but the thing you can't argue is that the robe is open at the neck and has sleeves.  It closes at the neck, and has no sleeves.  So yeah... no.

As a starting point for another, better figure this is fantastic.  I hope Hasbro retools it, because the lightsaber, tool, and spare belt (so you can choose the look you prefer) are great additions to a figure during an era where they basically start at ten bucks.   With his hair sort of messed up, I would say this would be a better base for Sandstorm Luke than Lightsaber Construction Luke, and maybe some day we'll get another Sandstorm Luke we can swap out with this one.  The figure has all the makings of a quality product with good sculpting, good accessories, and a nice bonus optional part - but a questionable head and robe bring the whole thing down.  I'm not saying don't buy it, but if you're a stickler for authenticity, well, Hasbro can still improve on this one.   (If the hair was right and the robe was left out entirely, you'd have little to complain about here.)

Collector's Notes:  Unlike other figures from 2012 wave 2, this one got carried forward in two other assortments.  This makes it one of the more common figures in this year's line, and during a brief period in early 2012 you could actually stumble on wave 2 for a couple of weeks.   Since all new figures are one per case (and basically have been since late 2010) this may not mean much, as one collector can swoop in and buy any and all new figures at a store without breaking a sweat.   Thankfully the eBay prices are low, usually $10 or less before shipping.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,921: October 24, 2012

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