Thursday, September 29, 2022

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,964: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Wandering Jedi, The Retro Collection)

(Wandering Jedi, Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F4200 No. F5770
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, robe, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.99
Availability: July 2022
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection features design and detailing inspired by the original 1970s Star Wars figures. (Stolen from the marketing copy. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

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

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

In terms of value, this Obi-Wan Kenobi (Wandering Jedi) from The Retro Collection is objectively not a good deal compared to his The Vintage Collection equivalent - who has two droids and a bonus lightsaber hilt for a couple of bucks more than this 5-jointed figure. I know things like packaging and freight aren't free, but given Hasbro has made some decent $4 5-jointed Marvel figures* and decent $5 6-inch Star Wars figures, we know they can do more for less. Or at least more for the same price. Kenner fanatics are not exactly spoiled for choice, though, so the few figures you get per year are rarely a question of value. There's a reason that a $30-$40 bootleg "custom" figure is a viable option for fans of this underserved format.

These Kenner-inspired figures are a form of time travel. The Inquisitors are a mix of 1970s vinyl capes and 1980s clip-on weapons, but Obi-Wan Kenobi seems like he's full-bore 1984. The cloth robe hangs well, with lapels that remind me a bit of the 1984 Han Solo (Trenchcoat) figure - except the robe has a hood. And it hangs well! The cut of the fabric is really nice, and doesn't get in the way of the limbs rotating. I love cloth robes because you can put a figure in a vehicle without creasing the vinyl sheet. 

Obi-Wan is mostly covered by the robe, so its unique softer texture, clean stitching, and unique thickness makes it work pretty well. He also has a blue lightsaber - much like Snowspeeder Pilot Luke or the variant Jedi Knight Luke figures - and a new blaster that can fit in a loop on his hip. Very few old Kenner figures got this much gear, so it's a treat when we get so many parts. The blaster is larger and much more simplified than the TVC equivalent, appearing a little off-model. As it should. Weird is good. I would have liked it if the hands were a bit better at gripping the blaster, but it's not like the old Kenner figures were great graspers. The loop on the belt is a little loose to hold the blaster, but the robes keep it in place fairly well.

The figure itself doesn't seem like a simplified The Vintage Collection sculpt - and I appreciate that. Sometimes you can see where creases or other elements carry over, but it looks like Hasbro did the "Kenner" work here with slightly shorter shirt sleeves, bigger boots and a decent belt. The tail end is squared-off, but the legs align nicely and if you leave on the robes, it's not like you'd notice.  You're not getting a squared-off rump when he sits. The head and arms all swivel nicely, too. It may seem silly to praise the articulation of a simple figure, but this sort of thing really matters. If they joints don't work, what good is it? You don't have to fight with him or squeeze things a certain way, everything just works. Figures like this have eroded away my patience for super-articulated figures where you have to align the arms just-so to get them to balance standing up. I just don't feel like I have the patience for it anymore - I just want a toy that works. Obi-Wan works.

Retro middle-age Ewan McGregor looks pretty young, with no gray hair. The beard is perfectly fine, the eyebrows are nice, the hair is long and parted to the side in a way that doesn't look too out of place with my very old childhood toys. Obi-Wan is a little better than actual Kenner figures, but not as detailed as modern figures of this size. Meanwhile, his eyes and eyebrows look pretty much exactly right. 

The shirt itself is a little more billowy than the Kenner originals.  This Obi-Wan figure (and indeed, most of the figures) are more three-dimensional than the flat figures of old - the lightsabers seem to jut out a bit more, and the extra detail in the plastic "fabric" doesn't seem quite as primitive as what we got back in the day.   I don't hate it, but it is worth noting that there's a big difference from figures derived from a digital sculpt in 2022 than wax or, in some cases, wooden patterns of old.

I like this one. It's good Hasbro seemingly put a little more love (and budget) here, as he ships two per case and is the star of the show. When I was a kid I wondered what young Obi-Wan Kenobi looked like, and if Kenner threw this at me in 1987 I'd say "yup, works for me!" In 2022 I'm still pretty happy with him, because there's a lot here that just plain works. He can't quite hold his blaster out straight ahead, but this is true of a lot of old Kenner figures so I'm not going to grouse too much. I don't know if kids will love these figures as much as I do - heck, some collectors don't care for them - but after 25 years of Kenner and Hasbro making figures that don't always meet my standards of realism, I appreciate and enjoy figures that exist just to be a plastic plaything. It's just a nice action figure, in the style of an old toy, and it completely meets my expectations and needs at this size and price. The only thing that would have been better is if he had a vehicle I could buy to go with him.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,964: September 29, 2022
* - As of September 2022, some 99 Cents Only stores have started to stock the bagged 3 3/4-inch Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. I highly recommend them at the $2.99 asking price, particularly the Hulk, if you're fanatical about 1980s-style Kenner toys.

No comments: