Thursday, May 2, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,130: Darth Maul (The Retro Collection)

Just The Way He Was Never Intended!

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure Target 6-Pack
Item No.:
No. G0370
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, plus Battle Droid, Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala, Jar Jar Binks, and Obi-Wan Kenobi
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $59.99
Availability: March 2024
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection is inspired by 1970s Star Wars figures and features original figure design and detailing! Continue your collection from the galaxy far, far away! (Stolen from the marketing copy. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at eBay now!

A few years ago I was pondering if Kenner-flavored prequel figures would be cool, and now we've got Darth Maul just before the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace He was the first one I'd want to see in this style - but Diamond Select Toys made a Jumbo 12-inch Kenner figure too... and I think they designed it better. Diamond's had sharper detailing, a better head, a vinyl cape, but had a not-so-retro lightsaber with a silver hilt. Hasbro opted to make soft details with very few painted tattoo markings, a different pose, and arms that were, sadly, too big to fit in the Sith Infiltrator vehicle we got about 18 years ago.

If there's one thing that's increasingly clear to me about Retro figures, is that they would be massively popular if these things could be released before the movie or TV show. With rough details, they would be the ultimate "sneak preview" figures. If they're off-model or generally wrong? That's OK.

Maul is a really tough nut to crack for true Kenner styling - after all, what do you emphasize? Do you pretend it's pre-1977 and give him early details like a vinyl cape or telescoping lightsaber? Or do you pretend Kenner never stopped doing Kenner-style figures, and make something that may look more like a 1990s release? This figure doesn't seem to hit any specific era with its massive 1980-style lightsaber hilt with two blades, the pre-1984 clean cut slice in the pants without any flowing fabric detail, and a head that has horns that somehow look better than the 1999 figure and facial tattoos that, I must say, don't do it for me. It's pretty close, but I don't know how Kenner would have done either the face or the make-up. It's just a lot more red and a lot less sharp angles than I expected.

In terms of functionality, it's pretty great - the aforementioned Sith Infiltrator ship from Hasbro has a few quirks and a small cockpit that was designed around jointed knees and smaller arms, so this one can sit in it - but you can't close the cockpit. He can sit, though, so break out the mini-rigs because his range of motion is excellent and he doesn't have any obstructions. They did a good job there, and he can holt the lightsaber better than most real Kenner figures. His pose is also pretty great, with a right hand slightly rotated to give him a slightly more dynamic shelf presence than most modern Hasbro incarnations of Kenner sculpts. I think they got that completely right.

He's also rather tall - Liam Neeson's a big dude and so are his figures, but Ray Park is a little short. Their Retro figures are about the same size. That seems like an OG Kenner move, were there wasn't a massive rift between the shorties and the Wookiees like we get with modern figures.

I'm less enamored with the actual robe sculpting - it seems unfinished, and is missing a certain sense of the weight or detail of an actual old figure. I would love grooves on the face for the tattoos (Klaatu had some real texture), and a chest that has some better layering. I'm not saying I could do any better, but it would be nice to have the lower torso area a smidgen more rounded so the legs swing forward more easily. It's good, but it could be just barely better - or, most fans won't notice and won't care because they will never open this one. But we will. I love how it feels as a toy - all the parts move more or less as expected and it feels like something you believe could have existed in the past.

As a bundle I assume this set is going to be destined for a sale unless the run was particularly low - that's no criticism of the set, I just don't think people going to Target are going to see a weird block box with no visible figures and drop $60 unless they are big believers in the format. I bought it at full price because I want to see more of these, and Hasbro's not making too many figures per year and the prices are generally on the fair side. Collector's Notes: I got my set from Target. It was in a pile of stuff on the "Collectibles" shelves without any real indication as to where it should have been.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,130: May 2, 2024

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