Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,883: Obi-Wan Kenobi (The Black Series)

Sixth Redeco and/or Release

The Black Series 50th Anniversary The Power of the Force Line Look
Item No.:
No. F1266
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cloak, lightsaber (PulseCon set includes Ponda Baba, Dr. Evazan, bar, glassware)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $104.99
Availability: November 2021
Appearances: Star Wars: A New Hope

Bio: On the run from Imperial stormtroopers, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker enter the seedy Mos Eisley Cantina in hopes of finding swift passage to the planet Alderaan. Inside, among the gallery of criminals are the murderous Dr. Evazan and the brutal Ponda Baba - both of whom are thirsty for a fight with Skywalker. Reaching for their blasters, the villains are suddenly cut off from Luke by the pulsating blaze of Obi-Wan's lightsaber! Will Obi-Wan triumph and save the Rebellion's only hope? (Taken from the single figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab. Sample pictured is from the Cantina Showdown PulseCon 3-pack.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

This is a good figure, but at this point you have to roll your eyes a little bit. I think these 50th anniversary items were a cute idea with poor distribution, lots of repetition, bizarre price increases (surge pricing, perhaps?) and other issues make some of them frustrating. This Obi-Wan Kenobi is the sixth release of this same figure sculpt - he was sold on a 40th anniversary cardback, a Black Series red and black box, and also sold as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive with furniture from his house. This is his second entry in the 50th Anniversary line, the previous one being the vinyl cape "Kenner" deco as an Amazon exclusive. Oh, and I almost forgot the Spirit of Obi-Wan from Walgreens.

Were it not for COVID-19, this Obi-Wan figure would have been a SDCC exclusive twice over. While there are changes to his face deco and cloak, there's really no way to sugarcoat how boring some of this can get. Hasbro did include bar sections (and two first-to-market figures) to sweeten the deal, but each is a $22.99 retail figure, and this set was $104.99 before tax and shipping. Hasbro also promoted the partial Cantina bar section as a selling point - buy two and build the whole bar! While obscenely pricey, Hasbro also had a limit of one per customer, so such a double-purchase wasn't exactly possible. Like I said, it's been a frustrating year for a lot of this stuff.

We used to be able to count on some new (or at least, not available for at least five to ten years) characters in every wave. The fact that we've had the very same Kenobi mold five times in roughly as many years just sort of makes me sad. I'm happy fans have opportunities to buy him, but four of them were in very short supply and one was a mainline regular boxed figure - and those tend to also be in short supply. I haven't even talked about the figure - which is good! - yet, but Obi-Wan certainly does feel like the canary in the coal mine showing how Star Wars action figure collecting has been a shallower experience for those who dare to collect them all, especially given some variations are just bonus accessories and packaging - you know, things that are important to hardcore fans.

For new fans, this is a great figure - plain ol' Obi-Wan was never produced in big enough numbers to satisfy market demand for very long, as is also the case these days, so if you never got an Obi-Wan? This is a good one. The robes are a bit nicer, and at least my sample seems to hang on the head much better than previous releases. (The weight could be improved on as it doesn't hug the head quite right, but it's still a good pattern.) The lightsaber seems to be the same, as does the body deco, but you'll want this for a movie-specific photo-real Alec Guinness head. There's a little color in the beard, with glossy eyes and painted lips. I didn't feel there was a problem with the previous head, but I admit these are a bit more lifelike and will no doubt spoil us. It meets the "just different enough to make you mad" qualifications, but odds are the Cantina bar section - complete with drink dispenser that does not exist in the 3 3/4-inch line - is enough to make this set desirable, even if you have other versions of the figures.

Of course, the original 1997 Cantina Showdown 3-pack is only worth about $15. It's not like it was even rare when it was new - I bought a few of them on clearance for $2 a pop. I assume it's being done to take advantage of the Ponda Baba (Ceremonial Luke retool) and Dr. Evazan (D.J. and Jedi Luke parts) molds in the mainline, combined with the anniversary, and Hasbro trying to make photoreal versions of just about everybody. It's a weird world we live in, the one bright side being that there are opportunities for newbies to get figures that they missed, but with figures like this selling out nearly immediately they're not exactly great experiences for any but the uninitiated fan.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Hasbro Pulse in the PulseCon exclusive boxed set.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,883: December 21, 2021

1 comment:

chimpinfinity said...

And not one of the many re-releases are re-tooled to allow Obi-Wan to sit in Luke's speeder beacuse of the molded skirt. This team would never have gotten the SW gig in the Kenner days.