Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,135: Obi-Wan Kenobi (The Retro Collection)

with a familiar pose

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure Target 6-Pack
Item No.:
No. G0370
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber with Queen Amidala, Jar Jar Binks, Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, and Battle Droid
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 don't know if anybody will agree with me, but I'm pretty sure this Obi-Wan Kenobi was at least partially inspired by the 2012 Duel on Naboo Battle Packs Obi-Wan Kenobi [FOTD #1,831] figure. It also had 5 points of articulation and was a pretty excellent figure, with a similar (but not identical) pose and one of the best Ewan McGregor likenesses of the entire line. Hasbro is on the lower price point end of the collectible toy spectrum, but they do an amazing job - and seeing what they were doing a decade ago with "kid stuff" continues to impress me to this day. Comparing that figure to this new (old-style) one, you can see a lot of similarities in where the shoulders and legs are cut, with slightly different leg poses that are a bit more dynamic than the rest of Hasbro's "Kenner" figures. This guy has a bit more personality.

This entire grouping was a fascinatingly weird 25th anniversary set, and I can't imagine Hasbro had an easy time picking which six figures got made. I'd love to see another six, mostly due to the lack of the blue shirt Padme or young Anakin. I can't imagine they'll do another set of guys from this movie, so I'll just say that these are about as good as the other remake and new figures. Your old figures are still special, but these are a nice addition to the old figure line if you can get past the "you're not my real dad!"-ness of them. The old Kenner sculptors aren't coming back, the old factory techniques are no longer used, and a lot of Kenner-era fans aren't going to like the prequels anyway. As such, this figure is about as good as it's going to get in the current marketplace.

One of the biggest departures is his Jedi braid, now molded to his torso rather than his head. It's an elegant solution that deprives the head from having a breakable part, and very much seems like the kind of thing Kenner would have done early in the line. The squared-off legs are also similar to a lot of figures we got during The Empire Strikes Back, and the boots are pretty close. The colors seem a little more saturated than most Obi-Wan figures, but I'm fine with that - it's what Kenner tended to do. The deco is simple, with pretty good Kenner-style eyes and generally nicely painted hair, belt, boots, and hands. There's not a lot going on here, so it turns out rather well.

The head doesn't look quite right, but I'd say the same about most of the vintage Kenner heads of old. It's not like Han Solo really looked all that much like Harrison Ford, and it would be a stretch to say that any of the stars really resembled the photographs on the cardbacks. If anything, Obi-Wan excels at being just a smidgen off-model, as it seemed Kenner was fond of doing. To this day I have no idea if they were intentionally trying to dodge likeness rights or not, and while there's probably a book or a doc somewhere that explains it, I haven't seen it yet. But I do know that Obi-Wan's wider arm and leg stance really seems more modern than most figures. It's also more interesting to look at than most modern Retro figures.

As always the sculpted detail is a little botoxed-out, like someone expanded a selection in Photoshop by a pixel or two and filled it in. I would not be stunned if they used the aforementioned 2012 figure's digital model as a starting point, and then refined it until you got what we have here. There are plenty of nice landmarks, wrinkles, and folds, but some of them seem other unfinished or digitally smudged out in a way that seems a smidgen undercooked. Despite this, teh hands are great - both can hold a lightsaber tightly and that's not the kind of thing we got a ton of in the old days.

I have no doubt fans will poo-poo this figure for his soft detail, but it does look like Hasbro is making inroads in trying to capture the harder-to-describe details on old Kenner toys. I would love to see sharper sculpted details, but the more unique poses and slightly off-model face combined with joints that seem to swing smoothly and allow the figure to sit? I have little to complain about in that regard. The figure is good enough, and I would say the only thing I feel is missing is the cloak that we got with Qui-Gon Jinn. I assume it was for budget reasons, and I would say this is a perfectly find retro-style figure for the price. With the original Kenner sculptors well beyond retirement, and few people wanting to replicate an outdated form of sculpting, I can only say that I admire the attempt and it's nice to get something that continues to try to get closer to the old days. I doubt we'll ever pick up a new retro-style figure and say "this is 100% exactly what Kenner would have done" as getting the sculpted detail and body language just-so would result in massive fan arguments regardless of the quality. If you want a vintage-style figure with a sharper sculpt, thankfully, it exists. If you can enjoy this figure for what it is, it's pretty good - but now that we're five years and dozens of figures in, we're never going back to copy the 1982 production values.

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 3,135: May 21, 2024

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