Thursday, April 13, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,020: Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight, The Retro Collection)

(Jedi Knight, Kenner Style)

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F6866 No. F7274
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cloak, lightsaber, blaster
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!

Arguably the apex of the hero figure in the 1980s Kenner line, Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight) was a figure I always considered essential. Figures with multiple accessories were unusual back then, and throwing in a Jedi cloak too? It was amazing, an amazing and generous bonus in an era of relatively cheap action figures with reused accessories galore. He was also probably pretty cheap to make - like the 1983 original, this figure is molded in black with one painted flesh hand. The head in 2023 was molded in the skin color (as some of the originals were) with painted hair, eyes, and eyebrows. While those extra parts no doubt cost some money, it would not surprise me if the savings on the paint helped to make this one not break the bank.

The reissue of the figure is rather good, in the sense that does a good job of bringing you something to what you may remember or what you've seen in photos. My 1983 Luke was a painted-face variant (with a dinged nose), so seeing this one as a painted hair version was a nice change of pace. The eyes are a little close and the eyebrows are a bit small, making it obvious at a glance that this is not a legit 1983-1985 original. It also has the side effect of making his face look a little squished and almost a little cross-eyed. I bet a revised paint mask could improve it greatly. The sculpt has most of the major milestones where you expect them, and unlike most of the other retro figures doesn't seem to have lost as much sculpted detail. The details are a little bit softer than an original - be sure to compare the torso robe folds - but at least they're mostly all there. The pants of a 1983 original have some sculpted texture which this one lacks - his pants are totally smooth.

The buttons on the lightsaber seem to have been moved down the hilt a bit, but you get the same basic shape and the landmarks are, again, present. The green is nice and vibrant. Similarly, the blaster color is a little lighter with details that look like a copy of a copy - they're present, mostly. The tip or the scope is gone, for example, and other bits look close but not quite right. Without an original to compare it against, you'd probably assume it was a pretty good replica. Heck, it is - but none of these things are perfect. Also the cloak is fine, a little paler and with a different cut - but it hangs well and evokes the original nicely.

Given what it costs to buy repro accessories, this is a pretty good value. It may not stand up to the amount of articulation you get in a Hasbro Spider-Man Epic Hero Series figure, but it's the kind of thing that (in a perfect world) I'd love to see Hasbro keep in circulation semi-regularly - surely they could crank out whatever a decent-sized run of Luke, a Stormtrooper, and Darth Vader may be every year or two. I assume the audience may not be unlimited, but these things aren't just any action figure. This line was the toy line for a lot of kids, and keeping them in rotation could make a lot of people really happy. I appreciate that there are a lot of little differences so you can't pass it off as an original, as this new figure is the "Made in Vietnam" to go with the Hong Kong or Taiwan variations you may already own. It expands the franchise for old-school fans, while giving people who aren't 45 years old a crack at this figure at a fair price. It's different. It's interesting. If you think you might be interested in it, I recommend you order one or go out to buy one right now.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth. I should also note that despite there being an assortment listed on the package, Hasbro only produced these in solid-packed character cases for the US market. (If there were assortments overseas, I am unaware of them.) This is also the first time in decades that Hasbro has made a single-carded Kenner-style Luke Skywalker and it hasn't been a store exclusive or game pack-in. Given that The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi figures sat around a bit, I'm incredibly curious to see if fans gobble-up these bargain-priced Return of the Jedi figures. Even if I didn't collect this stuff, I'd be buying this one.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,020: April 13, 2023

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