Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: The "Final" Wave of Star Wars Vintage Action Figures, Part 2: The Phantom Menace.

I feel like evoking the phrase "The Phantom Menace" is like screaming out, "HEY! DO NOT READ THIS POST!" but come on, you bitter old buggers, it's been thirteen years, give Episode One a break. Hasbro is currently producing some super fine 3 3/4 action figures, and these are some of the very last ones in their vintage look-line. I covered the Return of the Jedi figures here, and now in part two (of three) I will look at four characters from Uncle George Lucas' misunderstood cult indie classic.

Isn't somebody going to join me... after the jump?

Okay only the hardcore are here now. And I am totally cool with that. High five, buddy! You're still here I assume because you're a fellow collector and want to check this out, or are a big enough fan that you, like me, think The Phantom Menace is kinda awesome in a weird, experimental, acid trippish kind of way. Or maybe you were a kid when Episode One debuted. Kids love Episode One. But they also act perpetually drunk.

As you saw from the card art before the break, our first figure is lily white lady bounty hunter Aurra Sing. Interesting that the photograph shows her front considering that only a couple of seconds of her back appear in the film. She's watching the pod race from the top of a balcony in a single shot, that has zero explanation. Many of us believed that she would be important in Episode Two but we got purple-clad, morphing female bounty hunter Zam Wessell instead. Both are pretty forgettable. However...

In her defence, Aurra has become a more prominent character in The Clone Wars animated series, teaming up with Baby Boba Fett and space-lizard Bossk. She's had a pretty enjoyable handful of episodes so that, at least, may make her a more desirable addition to your collection. Not that screen time was ever a factor when we were kids. We bought Yak Face, for Christ's sake. How often does Yak Face appear on screen? What do we even know about Yak Face? Apart from the fact that his face is a yak?

Anyway... depending on your level of fandom, this could be one of the first proper looks you get at the character...

I dig her although there's a couple of weird elements to her design. The fact that she has a radio antenna sprouting out of her frigging head has always seemed off-putting to me, especially when scaled up for action figure form. All of her figures have had ridiculously long ape arms as well which makes her legs seem stubby. And the long fingers screams of a make-up artist making an alien on a budget.

But this is far superior to her previous releases, both in sculpt and detail. She's also lucked out with the accessories, receiving not just her rifle and twin pistols but also a space-suitcase containing a secret bounty. Want to share the secret? Okay but don't tell anyone...

Lightsaber hilts! Does that mean she's killed three Jedi?! I find that a little hard to swallow. Actually, it may have been four Jedi and I may have lost one. I don't know. This floor is covered with toys and bullshit. It could be anywhere. If you know let me know. Maybe it's space for her next target? Because I personally find this shocking but apparently these figures are for kids to play with, and construct stories with, not just for jaded over-cashed oldsters to display on their straining shelves. Nah... I'm reading too much into it.

Moving on from Aurra we have...

A gungan warrior! Now let's remember that not all gungans were bumbling dipshits. These warriors are part of a proud and noble race of gibbering bipedal catfish. And here's a highly articulated generic warrior should you wish to amass your own proud plastic army of them...

I like this design - I've always been a sucker for the alien characters. I know this would have been a favourite as kid. Sometimes Lucas knows us better than we know ourselves.

I guess the aim was to give him some real versatility as a warrior so that you can pose him in lots of way and interchange his accessories. We've previously received a warrior with the shield and boomba hurler. This guy instead has a very long staff. Very long. You think I'm exaggerating his length. Look how long this is...

It does split it half but I'm not entirely sure what purpose that serves. It may have been just to fit him in the package and ensure that he didn't impale the eye of an unsuspecting stockboy.

There's one more accessory but I'm not entirely sure where it goes, or what it's supposed to do, and there's no specific character text on the box to shed any light either....

I think it's supposed to balance on his shoulders there, but it can also swivel down to attach to his face. Is is some sort of annoying gungan musical instrument? Actually it has two small lenses that line up pretty well with his eyes. If these are intended to be some sort of space binoculars then might I submit that they are highly impractical. I assume it allows you to see the empty hill on the left, and the empty hill on the right, and obscures the advancing army that is charging down the middle.

Regardless, I welcome this figure. He joins the ranks of three other generic gungans I have, plus Tarpals, Boss Nass and, of course, Jar Jar. Holy shit that's a lot of gungan. That's the one way things have changed since we were kids - we thankfully didn't have a whole Yak Face family! "New from Kenner! Mrs Yak Face! She has a pink bow! Hideously adorable!"

Speaking of Yak Face, remember his three-eyed pal, Ree Yees? Well the next character is of the same race...

An obscure choice to be sure, Mawhonic is one of the many podracers who lost against Baby Skywalker in the Boonta Eve race. This figure surprised a lot of collector's because he's tiny. He'd be lucky to come up to Ree Yee's chest. 

I guess this is what happens when the props department get drunk and skin a goat. You don't want to know what they used for the eyes.

You don't get much simpler than this release. What you see is what you get here: a tiny figure of a background character with more articulation than he probably requires and a single accessory. And I'm not sure why a podracer would need a huge rifle. I guess during times of star wars everyone is packing.

But I still really like this figure. As I keep reiterating, I'm a total sucker for the alien characters. They were my priority as a kid and are still a priority now. Have you ever gotten a close look at all those podracer guys? There is some weird Muppet craziness going on there for sure! We've got a ton of them in figure form already and I hope they eventually make all of them. It's niche, yes, but I'm all in.

And our last figure for today is... well... this has been a great wave, but they're not all winners. Here's the booby prize...

It might seem like I'm being cruel, it's just a generic pilot guy right? No harm in that? But look at what they've done to him... it's far more apparent when you take him out of the package.

Bless Hasbro for making an attempt with the softgoods cloak but this is all kinds of wrong. The material is wrong, the stitches are huge and hideous and there's a rough unhemmed edge. Oh... and it's MASSIVE. It looks like a dirty great bathrobe. "I hope you're not going to fly that nice new starfighter in that dirty great bathrobe?" Needless to say I won't be displaying this guy in that thing. I will take it off and give it to a rat. And it will make him feel dapper. 

Underneath all that he's not too bad...

The proportions look weird to me and I'm kind of off-put by his generic mug. Nice of Hasbro to include two styles of helmet though, one with goggles down and one with goggles resting on top. It's always the best way to make these things look screen accurate. It's a shame that couldn't carry over to the clothes. 

All that said, I think this is my first one of these? The only thing I've got that's even close is the Ric Olie from 1999. Ha! Remember Ric Olie? He often gets mentioned at trivia nights after: "Who is nobody's favourite Star Wars character?"

And that's Part Two! There are three remaining characters in this twelve figure wave that I will get to later. Assuming more than two of you read this. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey that Naboo pilot stole a much larger, homeless alien's ratty coat! EVIL! :D And I thought he was one of the good guys!