Action Figure Analysis: My Top 5 figures from the Power of the Jedi toy line
Prior to the year 2000, the original trilogy figures from Star Wars were grouped into the Power of the Force 2 label (on green-tinted cards with Darth Vader’s mask), and the Episode I label (on red-tinted cards with Darth Maul’s face).
Starting in late 2000, Kenner joined both the Original Trilogy and Prequel lines into the Power of the Jedi line.
The release came out 2 years prior to Attack of the Clones, and had some interesting figure choices. We got a couple more costume shots of Padme Amidala and her decoy, and a couple figures based on art concepts of the series’ Expanded Universe. Even so, I thought I’d give my Top 5 favorites from this series.
And so, to quote C-3PO, “Here we go again.”
I know that this is supposed to be a Top 5 list, but I decided to add an honorable mention to the mix.
Originally, the Mother of the Dark Lord of the Sith was meant to be number 5 on my list, much like Aunt Beru in the Power of the Force 2 line. There’s some nice clothing detail work on Shmi, and her little adding machine is a nice accessory. I had wanted to give her the 5th place spot, but there’s one major issue that kept me from doing so: the paint applications and light color of her skin.
Pictures of Shmi in the film show her with a darker skin tone, the kind one would find on such a warm and unforgiving planet as Tattooine. Also, the rouge on her cheeks and the simplicity of her eye-painting just makes me crinkle my brow. Even so, I can’t fault Kenner for providing us with another link in the Skywalker family.
I know what you’re thinking: “who is Ketwol!?” Well, up until 1997, he didn’t exist in the Star Wars universe. When Lucas decided to fix some pet peeves in A New Hope, one of those was to evict resident “wolfman” Lak Sivrak from the cantina scenes. In his place, came Ketwol. However, that’s not the whole story. Ketwol’s name also has a fun little meaning to it. You see, his head can be turned backwards, and create a whole new character. Both of Ketwol’s faces appear in the cantina, and most likely as an inside joke regarding this, just spell and say his name backwards.
There’s also a surprise under his pants (no, not that!). You see, Ketwol isn’t exactly human-height, but has stubby legs, and wears metal extensions. This is probably one of the first Star Wars figures you can (officially) display pantsless. Probably out of all the different characters introduced in the Special Edition re-releases, Ketwol definitely gets more kudos from me for the added character creativity.
Of the various computer-generated characters in The Phantom Menace, one of my favorites is Sebulba. I attended a special presentation regarding the Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibition at Chicago’s Field Museum in December of 2000, and several of the guys from Industrial Light & Magic were there. One of them, was animation supervisor, Rob Coleman. Rob even mentioned that Sebulba had a bit of a fan-following (even at ILM), and showed us test footage that I still can’t forget.
Prior to this figure, Sebulba had appeared in two figure forms: in his street gear as part of the Mos Espa Encounter 3-pack with a figure of Jar Jar Binks and Anakin, and in his racing gear as a pack-in figure with his mammoth orange and black podracer. With the Boonta Eve figure here, Kenner chose to combine traits from both of these figures. Unlike the podracer Sebulba, this one has a removable helmet, and the facial expression is a new sculpt, reminiscent of his giving Anakin a sinister grin. This figure is a much ‘cleaner and more detailed’ version of a very interesting-if-brief character in The Phantom Menace, though one has to wonder what a more updated version of Sebulba would look like, with increased articulation in his limbs.
To this day, I’ll never forget the story I heard when a couple of the underclassmen I knew in high school, saw the A New Hope: Special Edition on opening night. When Jek became the first casualty in the battle over the Death Star, they emitted a cry of, “NOOOO!!! PORKINS!!!!”
Porkins is one of those figures that only comes with a removable helmet, but then again, he’s mainly meant to be in the cockpit of an X-Wing. The paint applications are pretty good, and he’s also one of the first figures to have an unshaven look to his face. One thing some may have trouble with, is getting him to actually FIT into an X-Wing. This is one of those figures that seems to have been instrumental in paving the way for other pilots in the Death Star battle. Prior to Porkins, we had pilot figures of Luke, Wedge Antilles, and Biggs Darklighter. Soon after, we’d get many, many, many more.
I guess it’s the little boy in me: I’m rather excited when it comes to characters that have pieces that come off. In this case, it’s literally a character sliced in half! Many were pretty much incensed when it seemed Lucas had killed off what some were hoping was going to be the Darth Vader of Episodes I-III.
This figure was rather ingenious, as Kenner could have used plastic tabs to pop apart Maul’s body. Instead, they used magnets, which makes him easy to separate, and put back together.
The look of shock on his face, the spread-arms pose, just eagerly ask you to put him on a table high off the ground, and push him over, to watch him break apart as he falls or hits the ground.
Much like Darth Vader with Removable Helmet (my Number one favorite Power of the Force 2 figure), this is probably the second iteration of Vader that sticks in people’s minds. I remember a comic shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa, that had an older version of Vader missing his head, and a joke sticker saying that the $500-priced figure was a rare Vader based on the scene where Luke ‘lops’ the Sith Lord’s head off.
Of course, this version of Vader isn’t truly real, but a spirit that takes his form, and whom Luke confronts in a cave on Dagobah. Some of the best detail is in the plastic, which has some translucency to give it a ghostly quality. However, the big surprise is the head, which is attached by a couple plastic tabs (be careful, if one breaks, the head will not stay in place). Not only can you decapitate Vader, but you can also remove a piece of the faceplate, showing Luke’s face inside, and giving Luke himself a shocking revelation!
And so, another year, another top 5 figures list. Looking over the various figures from this line, there were some that were quite fun and creative. Kenner also started the Fan’s Choice figure creation during this line, where the fans would get a chance to vote on a figure they’d like to see produced. This practice is still going strong even today.
Power of the Jedi was probably the last action figure line I was really excited about collecting. I’ve never been able to explain it, but once the Attack of the Clones figures came out, I really pulled back from collecting for a couple years, with the only real ‘blip’ being the Original Vintage Trilogy Collection that was released in 2004 (with super-articulated figures from the first trilogy, packaged on original card reproductions).
There’s still plenty I could cover regarding Star Wars toys (I have a certain Disney-related playset that I’ve been meaning to post a review of), though this may be one of the last Top 5 lists for awhile. Of course, I have plenty of other toys and figures to review/critique/compare/criticize, so we’ll see what the rest of 2013 holds for Action Figure Analysis.