Thursday, March 23, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,014: The Emperor (The Retro Collection)

THE EMPEROR (Kenner Style)
The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6866 No. F7275
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cane
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $11.99
Availability: February 2023
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

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!

When I heard they were going to make Return of the Jedi Kenner figures, there were a lot of figures I assumed we would get - Jedi Luke was a shoo-in, Boushh Leia seemed likely, a Biker Scout was all but guaranteed. But The Emperor I assumed we wouldn't get - surplus white-box mail-in figures were cheap 20-30 years ago, and you can get mint, complete originals now for $15-$20 delivered to your home. He's so cheap, it was probably the worst choice to reissue - if you wanted it, you could've had it already, and a packaged retro remake is a very poor substitute for the original because Hasbro uses an awful flimsy cardstock, intentionally distresses the cards, and slaps an ugly sticker, an iffy 40 Jedi graphic on it, and makes other eyesore changes for carded collectors. But at least you get the figure, and in this case, I don't think it was necessary since the originals tend to hold up really well. Kids who got one tended to not play with them much, so the paint is usually good, the joints are usually tight, and the cane is frequently present. Honestly I was expecting we'd get an Emperor's Royal Guard or Gamorrean Guard as both are good army builders and who wouldn't want more of them?

As this line goes on, it seems like Hasbro is intentionally smoothing these figures out and I'd say making them a little worse. The original 1983 and 1984 releases have a very subtle cloth texture to the robes... and this 2023 one is super smooth. The joints on the 2023 release are somehow looser than the original. The original toy's skin is much more wrinkly, to the extend where I am much more appreciative of the deeper sculpted cuts and careful attention to detail. Having said that, the robes look pretty much the same, the colors are pretty much identical, so if you put this guy on a shelf you probably won't realize it's not the original unless you get real close and squint. Still, I don't understand why Hasbro would de-detail the Kenner original, which is surprisingly wrinkly, unless it was to make the figure look intentionally worse for some reason.

The figure's cane is less detailed than the original, which I appreciate from a "which one is the old one?" perspective. The color and shape perfectly match the old one, but with fewer cuts and grooves. Just like the figure, it would make a fine replacement for the original that you might not realize was under-detailed without really giving it a hard look.

Due to the massive amount of detail on Lando that was washed out, he's probably a worse reissue, but due to his design, a better figure. The Emperor was never a fun figure, and the smoothed-out detail really doesn't hurt it much. The color matching is excellent, and Hasbro did a great job wasting a slot on what could have been a more in-demand figure here. I assume Lando (who, for the record, I love) and the Emperor (not so much) will probably glut up a warehouse somewhere unless they deliberately underproduced the duo. It's a perfectly acceptable remake here, but given this line will most likely be online-only, and you can get an unlimited supply of legit vintage Kenner The Emperor figures online, it's ultimately a pointless endeavor. I know they wouldn't have made Yak Face in the first wave, but Wicket or Admiral Ackbar would probably have been more welcome for filling a market need... or our need for meme figures. The Emperor comes recommended only for those too lazy to open an eBay account to get the genuine article for roughly the same price, if not exactly the same price after shipping is involved.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,014: March 23, 2023

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