Thursday, May 9, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,132: Qui-Gon Jinn (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, Jar Jar Binks, Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, 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!

I feel that there's a sliding scale with retro figures - almost none of these feel like they could have existed in the 1980s due to their posture and texture, but sometimes there are elements that feel right out of 1980. Qui-Gon Jinn absolutely feels that way. I would have loved to live in a world where Hasbro made one with a vinyl cape and telescoping lightsaber (because being from a prequel, it should look older than the 1978 figures.) What we got was a figure with cloth Jedi robes and a non-telescoping lightsaber, which is what we saw around 1983 - but the figure's texture is too smooth for 1983, as Kenner was putting subtle changes on its many figures.

Old Kenner figures were usually pretty on-model or wildly divergent. Luke looked more or less like what you might expect, Leia did the best they could with the engineering of the day, and I don't think there's anyone who can explain what was going on with R2-D2. Qui-Gon Jinn looks like a really high-quality knock-off with hints of the 1980s peppered throughout. The most authentically "old" detail is his left hand, which is a little more like the claw we saw on 1978 Luke. Can you cram an accessory in it? Sure - but it's not a "gripping hand," like the right hand. The robes mostly look like someone copied the reference photos well, except for the belt. In the movie (and most toys) the dark brown belt usually hangs a tiny bit higher, with some of the tan belt hanging below it. Here, the dark brown belt hangs a little low and it immediately struck me as just not looking correct. His boots look more or less like other action figure boots, but have that weird, not-quite-puffy rounded detailing that modern Hasbro Retro figures sport but old Kenner figures did not. You probably won't notice, but it really is one of those subtle "this isn't right" things that fans over 40 will see and are less likely to accept.

The head sculpt has an example of modern toy companies working around old limitations. The hair is a separately molded chunk in the back - old Kenner figures rarely had long hair or ponytails. In the case of Boushh, they just dropped Leia's braid entirely. Qui-Gon has a glued-in piece and while it does look sloppy, "sloppy" is how such a thing would probably look in the 1980s. The eyes don't quite feel right for the era, and the beard looks arguably too good. General Madine may be the most prominent beard in Kenner-dom, and Qui-Gon's looks too realisitc. Not that it needs to look weird, but sometimes weird is right with these old figures. The head also isn't particularly glossy, which hurts the old-ness a bit.

A green lightsaber that's just like Jedi Luke's is what one should expect, but the Jedi Robes - included with Qui-Gon but not Obi-Wan Kenobi - are also arguably too good for a retro figure. The hood sits well on the head, the texture is good, the feel is nice... Hasbro really struggled with cloth Jedi robes with sleeves when we started to get them regularly. This seems refined, which is odd - but also Kenner was pretty good about getting hats and hoods to fit, and most figures could fit in the appropriate vehicles. It makes sense that this would be just fine.

The figure's articulation is good, but I'm not buying the posture. The arms and legs swing forward well, and the long robes cut as leg joints do have a precedent. If you have a Hoth Han Solo or Bespin Princess Leia, their garments hang below the belt and above the knees, so this is more or less how it should look. The legs swing forward with little fuss, and the neck can turn without snapping off his long hair. That's more of a modern innovation, and I can't think of an old Kenner figure from the Star Wars era with long hair over his shoulders. Maybe I'm forgetting somebody. In terms of functionality, I would say it's appropriately retro with the quality-of-life improvements we got when Hasbro said "hey, we can use flexible plastic and the thumbs won't snap on our G.I. Joe figures." This is a good thing, even if it's not necessarily authentic to the era.

You can choose to like this figure for what it is - a licensed figure that looks like it could stand on a shelf with other old figures - or bag on it for not hiring an actual original gangster sculptor, and was probably sculpted digitally, and was spit out of a factory who doesn't grok that Kenner's old figures had good, crisp details - just not as much detail as a modern figure. For about $10, given what I assume to be a limited audience (the Venn Diagram of "People who love Episode I" and "People who love Kenner Action Figures" might be me and about 40 other people in total), it's this or nothing. I don't think someone like Stan Solo was ever going to crank one out, and I don't know that a Super7 or other company that trades in 3 3/4-inch retro figures would (in today's marketplace) come up with something that captures the tough-to-define posture and pose of those original figures. Having said that, I'd rather the original Episode I figures be posed and jointed like this so they could more easily fit in vehicles. It's good for what it is (a modern take on retro) and I can't argue the price.

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 3,132: May 9, 2024

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