Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,086: Yoda (The Black Series 2014)

YODA Dagobah
The Black Series 3 3/4-Inch Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. A5077 No. A5632
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: Black Series #22
Includes: Gimer stick, training backpack, flute, cloth robe
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $10.99
Availability: June 2014
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: A wise and powerful Jedi Master, Yoda takes on the training of young Luke Skywalker, who comes to the planet Dagobah to learn the ways of the Force.  (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Commentary: Since his debut in 1980, Yoda has had quite a few figures for a character with basically 1 1/2-costumes at best when it comes to the movies.  If you want to feel really old, the last all-new sculpts for original trilogy-specific Yoda figures were in 2004 for The Original Trilogy Collection, when we got a really nice $5 basic version and an arguably not-so-nice $10 "Vintage" version.   This figure is somewhere in between those two - actually, it's probably closer in tone to the 1980 original.   Yoda has but 5 joints, a cloth robe, a belt, a cane, a sack, and a removable neck flute.  The sculpt is OK, but the robe is put on so poorly that you will need to take off the robe and futz with it to get it to look semi-decent.  And truth is that it can be made to look semi-decent rather easily - it isn't great, but the problem is Hasbro has to see the light that cloth accessories at a 3 3/4-inch scale are a dubious proposition.   When you have a character that never really needs to sit like Empire's Yoda, a sculpted version is arguably better - and also easily available between the 2004 Original Trilogy Collection version, and the Jedi Training on Dagobah Battle Pack (2007-2009).  But, I digress.

The sculpt of this Yoda feels a little smaller than previous releases, and he earns points for that.  The figure was clearly designed to sit in a backpack and wrap his arms around Luke's shoulders, like in the training scenes in the movie.   He does this well - the included knapsack is a little too large and baggy to really click for me, especially when compared to the streamlined 2004 version.   It does fit on Luke just fine, and  Yoda fits in without a hitch.  It is functional as all get out, but gosh is it enormous.  I have some giant canvas tote bags and I think this is scaled larger than those are.   The straps fit Luke perfectly, and the buckle not only works but looks good.  Hasbro deserves a medal for that.  It's not easy to do, let alone do without being clunky or baggy.

Yoda's flute fits perfectly around his neck, the cane fits perfectly in his hand, and the figure's face sculpt is good.  Luke with Luke there's a tiny bit too much white paint on his eyes, but he's sad-eyed and has a lot of personality.  The fact he has been downgraded to 5 points of articulation at his price point just plain hurts, mostly because we've seen more with older figures - of course, Yoda's more stable here, but I don't think we really got our money's worth.  The cloth robes obfuscate the rather nice sculpt, and are a little too clean.  Soft goods work great for prequel Yoda since he's not a mud hobo, but this version should be a little dirtier or more torn up - and for the money, I have to assume it could be done.  It just wasn't.  The robes fit fairly well if you're patient, but I'm not, and I kind of want my figures to look good before I open the card - I'm not a carded collector... but I feel for those of you who are.

New fans will probably love it - it's a nice Yoda!  Those of us who have bought over 20 Yodas may look at this and prefer older ones, despite the fact Hasbro did make something quite good here.  The sideburns on Yoda look a little funky - it seems they painted bare skin and not sculpted hair - but maybe it's just mine.  If you've got money to spare, the combination of Yoda and Luke is pretty good and worth a look.  Luke in particular is a milestone that fans will likely be mad Hasbro won't reach for again - it's so obviously someone pulling out all the stops, while Yoda seems like someone pulled out a couple of stops.  There's nothing really terrible about this Yoda beyond the price and the baggy backpack - the figure's good, the accessories all fit, and it's friggin' Yoda.  It doesn't matter if you hate him - if he hits stores, casual fans will buy it if you pass.

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 2,086: July 1, 2014

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