Monday, June 30, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,085: Luke Skywalker (The Black Series 2014)

The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A5631
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #21
Includes: Alternate jointed hands, lightsaber, hilt, blaster, removable holster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: June 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Guided by a message from Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke flies to the planet Dagobah to continue his Jedi training with a mysterious Jedi Master named Yoda.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Commentary: For those of you keeping track,  Luke Skywalker is a pretty ballsy jump forward with what a 3 3/4-inch Star Wars figure can be, borrowing heavily from what Hasbro has done with Marvel over the last few years.   Also, as a June release it's worth noting that the last 3 3/4-inch case of The Black Series was December - six whole months between waves is a very long time and the next new wave is expected in July (at press time, anyway.)   This wave has 2 reruns, 3 all-new sculpts, and a nice tweaked version of a previous figure to make a new character.   Dagobah Luke is (at my count) at least the fourth "modern" version of the figure since his to debut in 1996, and he's an impressive specimen - but maybe not the best option for a display.

One complaint I have about features is that the more you have, the more opportunities there are for mistakes.   Thankfully, when it comes to Luke's articulation there's none better and no problems.  He's on par with Hasbro's finest 3 3/4-inch Spider-Man figure, except Luke has single-jointed knees and not double.  This is nothing to sneeze at - the arm joints look about as good as you can expect out of human flesh arms, and the figure has (depending on how you count) 26 joints... or can be moved at about 18 different spots on his body.  So any way you slice it, he's still the best-articulated Luke figure of all time.   Hiding joints is difficult, particularly on fleshy arms or legs - at this scale, you're going to notice rivets and such.  It's a trade-off... if you want a joint-free set of arms, get the very good 2004 Original Trilogy Collection Dagobah Luke - he has swappable arms and heads, plus (if you ask me) looks better as a display item.  This new one lets you pose the figure, which means you get to spend a few minutes with the ankles and knees getting the "sweet spot" so he doesn't topple over when Yoda is in the backpack.   It's imperfect - cool, but not as simple and elegant as the 2004 solution.

The sculpting is about as good as you might expect, and Luke's head is not the horror show of the early stock photos of the packaged product.  There's a tiny bit too much white in the eyes, but it's an improvement over what many of us have feared.  He looks a little more haggard and tired from his training with more lines near his eyes too, and I suspect that the paintjob could be improved on a rerelease and this would look like a more perfect figure.  His hands can hold his lightsaber (or not, if you use the open ones) and the holster can hold the blaster too.  Unlike some other figures, you get a lot for your $11 and I doubt you'll feel short-changed as piece count goes.

But is it perfect?  No.  I've got two complaints I consider to be valid.

Valid Complaint #1: Luke's lateral leg articulation - which works great, and legs him sit in vehicles or stand with ease - has flesh colored rings viewable from the sides.  Ugly, and something that should have been caught and corrected before the first unit shipped.  Valid Complaint #2: Luke has a lightsaber hilt, and a belt designed to carry a hilt.  The two cannot interact - the belt has a peg looking for a loop, and the lightsaber has a peg looking for a hole.   I suspect this was a result of a factory communication issue and the wrong hilt was included, but the point remains that it doesn't quite work right.

Dagobah Luke is without question the most poseable version of the outfit (and indeed the character) at this scale, as most Dagobah Lukes clock out at under 10 joints per.  I appreciate the figure having the rocker ankles, bend-and-swivel wrists on all 4 hands, and double-jointed elbows that can kinda, almost hold on to the training backpack (sold separately with Yoda) straps.   This is a very ambitious figure and shows Hasbro did put a lot of thought and love into the design.  The execution?  Well, that could be better.   Either way, it's the wave's gem and I suspect he could very well be the peak of what Hasbro can do at this scale and at this price point.

Collector's Notes: This figure started shipping from online toy stores late in June 2014.  At press time I have not heard of him showing up in big box shops.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,085: June 30, 2014

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