Action Figure Analysis: My Top 5 mold-breaking figures from the Power of the Force
After an absence of almost a decade, Star Wars returned to toy aisles in 1995. Several old toy molds were dusted off and repainted, but the action figures were definitely not like what I had played with prior.
Aside from the beefcake men and the monkey-faced Leia, the line eventually started to evolve, and we got some really interesting characters, including some that we probably never thought we’d ever see made. Almost 16 years later, the line is still producing figures, and has branched into other Star Wars-based areas, like The Clone Wars, and The Expanded Universe. With the impending release of Episode I in theaters, I got a bit nostalgic for my older collecting days, when I’d use my newly-acquired driver’s license to head out to the local Discount Stores and search for the new figures.
From 1995-2000, the revitalization of the Kenner action figure line was titled Star Wars: Power of the Force. However, seeing as this was the last iteration in the mid-80’s before the original line went defunct, many collectors have named the re-introduction in 1995, Star Wars: Power of the Force 2 (or POTF2).
For this posting, I’ve included my Top 5 figures from the Star Wars: Power of the Force 2 line. Please be advised that this Top 5 only takes into account the Basic figures, and not deluxe figures, mail-away exclusives, or multi-packed figures.
So, let’s look back a long time ago, and start the countdown!
I will admit, the fifth spot on this Top 5 caused me alot of consternation. While my original instincts were to go with the ASP-7 Droid created for the A New Hope: Special Edition (he was the first figure based on a computer-generated creation in a SW film), I eventually went back to kindly ol’ Aunt Beru.
What’s so special about her? Well, not that much…except she comes with a pitcher and glass of blue milk (well plastic blue pieces shaped like these things)! Her clothing just screams the 70’s, but I did like the detail they gave to her collar material, not to mention that she’s a minor character that is part of Luke’s journey to Jedi Knighthood. Unlike most action figures, Beru wasn’t one to jump about or fire a blaster, but the fact that Kenner made a character like her, shows that not every figure in the line has to be action-oriented. A few years down the line, they would do something similar when the Power of the Jedi action figure line-up would include Anakin’s Mother, Shmi Skywalker.
Kenner did create a figure of Luke’s Uncle Owen, but he was only offered in a 3-pack with Luke and C-3PO. Plus, the amount of detail didn’t compare with what Kenner did in 1999 with Beru.
Old white men in gray suits talking politics. While suited bad guys had taken the form of an Imperial Commander and a Star Destroyer Commander, the main decision-making guys hadn’t gotten their own iterations…yet.
As a kid, I often glossed over the scene with Tarkin and Motti, but years later, I really enjoyed it, as it offered a slight glimpse into how the galaxy far, far away was bring run (dissolving the Imperial Senate, Regional Governors, etc). While Darth Vader was the front-and-center bad guy when it came to marketing, he largely glossed over the subtly-powerful Grand Moff Tarkin. It was Tarkin who ordered Vader to stop choking Admiral Motti, and ordered the destruction of Alderaan. Tarkin’s toy release in 1997 was so mind-blowing, that a special sticker was added to the toy’s plastic bubble, telling how it had Never Been Offered Before in any Kenner Collection.
Admiral Motti was the brash gray-suit who insulted Vader’s ‘sorcerer’s ways,’ and led to our first glimpse of force-choking powers. Toy-wise, Motti’s toy was one of the first that used an elbow-hinge. Rather than just lock his left arm in a fingers-to-throat pose, Kenner gave fans this rather exciting option of being able to give the Admiral a more neutral pose when he wasn’t insulting a Sith Lord.
After Obi-Wan Kenobi sliced off Walrus Man’s arm in the cantina in Star Wars, most probably didn’t think Lucas would carry on with appendage mutilation in his films, let alone towards his main characters. The ability to give a figure this feature had been done with another figure in 1998 (hint: it’s also on this Top 5 list), but the fact that they gave Luke a plastic-pegged, removable right hand made this one of my most-remembered figures from that time. It also allows one to re-enact one of the most mind-blowing moments in the series: he loses his hand, his Father’s lightsaber, and then finds out the guy who killed his Father…IS, his Father.
This was one action figure that I don’t think anyone felt would ever be made. However, as the late 90’s started seeing an action figure revolution (such as McFarlane Toys‘ scantily-clad Angel/Warrior named Angela), one can’t help but figure Kenner saw this as their cue to launch this iteration of Leia. The only accessory she comes with is a chain and collar, remnants of here enslavement by Jabba the Hutt. At the time she was made, the plastic clothing and action stance didn’t make her easy to fit into various vehicles in the action figure line, but as a display/statue figure, she looks just fine. Hasbro would later make a couple other iterations of Leia with better articulation, but this one I still have after all these years.
Plus, one can’t help but feel she paved the way for other scantily-clad Star Wars girls, like Jabba’s green-skinned dancer, Oola.
Word was, this version of Darth Vader was one of the most-requested figures that people asked Kenner to make. 3 years after the POTF2 line started, this Vader appeared in the toy aisles in the Spring of 1998. Unlike the film version, Vader’s helmet only comes off in one piece, but at the time, I felt this was just one of the coolest figures that had been made of him. Also, he’s sporting pre-2004 bushy eyebrows (with the re-release of the films on DVD in 2004, those bushy eyebrows were digitally removed).
Also to add to his injuries, his right hand is removable, so you too can re-enact Luke’s violent retribution against his Dad for considering to subvert Leia to the Dark Side. In actuality, the figure isn’t really ‘new,’ just updated. He uses the same body as the Darth Vader figure introduced in 1995. A little added extra is that he has a swivel-elbow joint on his right arm.
Much like Leia as Jabba’s Prisoner, the removable helmet Vader has been redone several times since 1998. The most recent Vintage Collection release gives us the removal of all 3 parts of the helmet, but even with that feature, I still hold onto this Vader with a sense of nostalgia.
And there you have it, my first blogged top 5 list regarding some of my Star Wars figures. Given that 2012 is kind of a big year for the series (the re-release of The Phantom Menace, the tenth anniversary of Attack of the Clones, and the 35th anniversary of A New Hope), I think it’s safe to say I’ll have a couple more reviews/analysis throughout the year for the saga.