Jabba's Palace Luke Skywalker

Coheteboy isn't the only one around picking up the new Star Wars figures themed around Jabba's Palace - Sean Teeter, our original college bum, is here tonight with a review of the Jabba's Palace Luke Skywalker.  The floor is yours, Sean!

Buckle up folks, it’s one of my longer winded intros . . .

Return of the Jedi was the culmination of the original Star Wars trilogy. Luke became a Jedi, Vader was redeemed, the Emperor was destroyed, Yoda passed on, Leia and Luke found out the truth of their parentage, Han and Leia were on the verge of getting’ busy, and Lucas fell to the dark side by introducing us to the Ewoks and the world of marketing. Despite the splash of cutesy creatures, this movie certainly does have some powerful moments. The final duel between Luke and Vader, the Emperor’s unexpected powers, Jabba and crew, Luke’s green lightsaber, and speeder bikes are high points in this film. However, I think my favorite is probably a lot different than anyone else’s. In a move of genius, Lucas and company keeps the central hero of the trilogy off screen for a long time, allowing every one of his friends to sink into their own holes up to their necks. And then Jabba’s front door opens . . .

Just that scene where Luke walks in sporting his Jedi robes and effortlessly pushes two Gammorean guards back against the walls with a wave or two of his pointed fingers says it all: the hero has truly arrived.

Needless to say Kenner made Luke in his Jedi outfit one of their first releases in the Return of the Jedi line complete with cloak, lightsaber, and the pistol he snags from a guard at Jabba’s court. Every kid I knew on the block had one, as well as the kids on other blocks.

The next time Luke Skywalker showed up on card in his Jedi togs was in 1996 in the second Power of the Force line. The style and colors of the card changed, but the simple figure didn’t. In fact, the original one from 1983 still looked better in many respects, except for the lightsaber. A few specialized versions followed –Luke with a Rancor, Luke with the Tattoine skiff—but another carded version of a Jedi Luke continued to evade kids and collectors alike towards the end of the POTF2 line and anywhere in the Power of the Jedi line. In the fall of 2003, Hasbro released the piece of trash known as the Throne Room Duel Luke Skywalker. Not even a mispainted glove on the initial release prompted much collector or fan excitement, plus it was quickly forgotten when Hasbro eventually leaked a shot of an all-new, retooled Luke Jedi figure. 

So finally in the beginning of the year 2004, we get the first true basic Jedi Luke action figure to be on card since 1996. And now the big question: does Luke Skywalker, Jabba’s Palace live up to the hopes of long waiting fans?

Packaging - **1/2
At one point in the past I gave this category three and a half stars because the simple blue and gold patterns looked really nice and classy, but in light of what Hasbro has done with their animated Clone Wars packaging, the blue and gold just doesn’t cut it anymore. The bubbles also seem to be made with cheaper plastic in some cases, leading to easily dented packages.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Second only to William Shatner, Mark Hamill seems to give action figure sculptors the hardest time when it comes down to capturing his likeness. I can easily provide examples of figures that look pretty close to Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Sir Alec Guinness, but a decent version of Hamill is much harder to find. Up to now, the best sculpt has been the recent Hoth release with Luke’s injuries sustained from the Wampa attack. 
This face sculpt isn’t as good, but it’s still heads and shoulders above most of the others. (Sorry, bad pun.) I can look at this figure’s noggin and honestly say that it looks like Mark Hamill. The detail is excellent and Luke definitely looks like he’s aged under the strains of everything he’s been through. My only gripe is that the hair looks a little too big, but this makes me completely forget about the awful grimace on the Throne Room Duel version. Almost . . .

The body is just as good. As opposed to doing a paint wash over the vest, Hasbro sculpted it with different texture and the effect works nicely. Once again the wrinkles and pleats are all in the right places, but Hasbro’s had plenty of practice with all the different Jedi they’ve done over the years. At this point they shouldn’t be having much trouble here anyway. The skirt around the waist is pretty stiff and really inhibits the hip articulation. A softer plastic or splits down the sides would have worked a lot better for leg movement.
The hands are also nicely done. The right hand is open so that Luke can either use the force, or fold it over the left to mimic his pose in Jabba’s court. The left has a nice slightly slanted grip. The open hand does limit what he can hold, but it doesn’t really hurt this particular figure. I would like to see Hasbro do interchangeable hands on a few of their figures in the future to allow some variations though.

Paint - *1/2
There is very little to paint on Luke since almost all his body parts are molded in whatever colors they’re supposed to be. The only paint ops are on his head. 
Luke’s eyes are perfectly done. That ends the good part of this section.

His hair is an absolute mess. I have better paint jobs on some of the bootleg figures in my collection. Eeek! Not only do the edges bleed onto his face, but there are spots on every angle of his lid where the paint is either see-through thin, or just plain rubbed off. What the hell man? The great sculpting job still manages to save his appearance in the end, but it’s an absolute shame that it was almost completely ruined by a few lousy brushstrokes. From what I’ve heard this is not just an isolated case, but a common problem with this figure. Unfortunately he’s packed with his hood on, making it damn near impossible to check anything but the very front of his head.

Those of you into errors and variations might have noticed that Luke doesn’t have a glove painted on his right hand. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Even though Luke sports the Michael Jackson thing for most of his screen time, he doesn’t put on the glove until after he leaves Jabba’s palace.

Articulation - ***1/2
Our Jedi knight has a whopping fourteen points of articulation on his body, just like the Bespin Luke. Mr. Skywalker has a neck cut, shoulder cuts, elbow cuts, wrist cuts, a waist cut, hip cuts, swivel knees, and cuts at his boot-tops. 

There are some great lightsaber poses to be had with these arms, but not as many as there could have been. Ball-jointed shoulders and elbows like on the Clone Wars Mace Windu would have really gone a long way. The angles of the cuts on the elbows are designed to work either bent or straight, so that Luke can adopt both neutral and action poses. It’s a good idea, but the seams on the elbows just don’t look as good straightened out. The bicep seems to overlap a bit.

The knees bend all the way back, but also easily bend forward a good ways. Unfortunately the leg posing is severely limited by the skirt, as it hampers basic hip movement. 

Accessories - ** 1/2
With the addition of a stand, Luke comes with the same assortment of accessories as the 1983 figure: a cloth cloak, a lightsaber, and the pistol borrowed from a palace guard.

The stand is something showing up more and more with the newer Saga releases, and while I like having extra stands around for figures with balance issues, I fear that they might become a cheap replacement for other possible accessories. That and the interlocking feature doesn’t work that well with the other stands out there.
The cloak is a mixed bag. While I prefer cloth to sculpted capes and cloaks, Hasbro has had some problems in the past with how they look. No two of these cloaks seem to be the same. I’ve seen them stitched crooked from every angle. None of them seem to rest completely the same on the figure and from what I’ve heard; the stitching can be too loose or too tight on the hood. The front also flares out heavily from the neck as opposed to hanging down straight –plus the edges are frayed in spots. The hood is hard to fold back completely and takes effort to look decent. While it can be smoothed out to look pretty good for some poses, it just takes way too much effort than it should. Don’t get me wrong, I like the black color, but wasn’t it brown in the movie?

The lightsaber is a really low blow. The shot on the back of the packaging, as well as preview shots from Hasbro, showed a completely retooled, movie accurate lightsaber. I was really happy about that since all the other Jedi Luke sabers had basically been tubes with a few rings and a knob on the butt. It also appeared to have the new removable blade sculpt as well. Surprise! Hasbro pulls the rug out from under us instead, and packages Luke with a repainted Ben Kenobi saber from the POTJ line. Why? I agree that the Kenobi saber has a similar sculpt and that the new paint job is as accurate as you can be working with that hilt, but come on. This was one of the most anticipated figures to come out of Hasbro for a while, and they shortchanged us as opposed to doing him up in grand style. No thumbs up on this choice. Well, I do have a finger up, but it ain’t my thumb . . .

And what of the blaster? Well, guess what? The damn thing’s basically perfect. Not only is it the right size and sculpt, but the silver paint ops are clean. I’m glad it looks nice since the Lando Calrissian, Jabba’s Sail Barge figure that’s coming out soon has the same one. 

Durability/Quality - **1/2
The joints on his elbows are kind of weak, as is his waist. The lower arms pop off too easily, and I think if I were to give him a bit of a tug from the top and bottom, he’d snap.

Value - ***
If you get him at $5 or under, you’re getting a good deal. He’s got flaws, but he’s still the best Jedi Luke out there. Target or K-Mart’s probably your best bet even though I haven’t been able to find him in stores. has had him in a few times at $4.99 a pop, but he gets sold out quickly. Keep your eyes open.
Brian's Toys is pretty steep at $19.99
Since I couldn’t him in stores, I got mine off of Ebay

Overall - ***1/4
The more nits I pick with a figure, the more likely you are to see me use fourth-stars in my final ratings. There are many good things at work in this figure. His sculpt and articulation put him miles above any previous Jedi Lukes out there; his head sculpt alone makes him one of the best likenesses of Mark Hamill in the 3 ¾” line. However, I got spoiled when Hasbro produced a handful of figures with ball-joint articulation and I haven’t recovered since. This was supposed to be a retooled figure, and while it was in comparison to its predecessors, it basically has the same exact articulation of the Bespin Duel Luke, without the action feature to muck it up.

The heavily botched paintjob is a really low blow especially since there’s so little to actually paint on Luke, and it was something as simple as his hair.

My biggest disappointment has to be with the accessories. Between the frustrating-to-pose cloak and bait ‘n’ switch lightsaber, there are enough negatives present to keep Luke from being the end-all-be-all of Luke Skywalkers available. It doesn’t help that the photo art on the back of the packaging includes a version of the prototype saber.

It’s been the season of Skywalker at Hasbro. Since September we’ve seen the Throne Room monstrosity, a new Hoth Luke, this Jedi version, and another one coming soon. The upcoming Hologram figure will be the same sculpt as this one, just see-through.

When all is said and done, this is definitely a good figure and a worthy addition to any Star Wars figure collection –be it for play or show. I would love for Hasbro to revisit this version again down the road and give us an ultimate Jedi Luke with swappable gloved and ungloved right hands, a new lightsaber with a removable blade, a much better cloak design, and ball-joints. But for now, this guy will do the job.

Figures from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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