Female Jedis - Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli and Shaak Ti


Sean Teeter, the College Bum, is back tonight with another terrific Star Wars review.  Take it away, CB!

I’ve got more Revenge of the Sith figures for y’all, boy have I got more . . . 
It’s time for an action-feature-free review boys and girls! Up tonight are three figures that we’ve all seen before: Shaak Ti, Aayla Secura, and Luminara Unduli. These ladies popped up once before in the AOTC Saga line. Shaak and Luminara were basically statues with a little arm movement. Aayla came later, complete with ball-jointed shoulders and a unique section of latex “skin” around her bust line. Aayla was part of the first Star Wars review I ever did for Mr. Crawford’s site. I was impressed with the Saga version back then, but there was still room for improvement. Certainly there was plenty of room for work in the immobile Saga versions of Luminara and Shaak as well, so tonight we’ll see how Hasbro’s retooled versions of the these three ladies compare. 

Packaging - ***
I’ve got a love/hate thing going on with the new packaging. While I absolutely dig the design of the card and bubble, as well as the excellent backer-card art, I find the taped blister edges a bit sloppy. You still have to rip the blister off of the card to open them, so why not just stamp the entire thing on like all previous carded figures, as opposed to just the top? The die-cut design while visually striking also seems to attract stress damage more, compared to the rectangular cards. For those of us who collect carded figures this is going to be a pain in the butt. For you variation collectors out there, some of the Vader helmet artwork is tinted purple, the rest blue. No word on whether one is rarer than the other.

There’s also good news for MOC collectors, now that the Protech Star Case 3 is out –specifically designed for ROTS cards. There are a few eBayers selling these things at a little over a buck each in wholesale lots.

Sculpting - Shaak Ti, Aayla Secura: *** ½; Luminara Unduli: ***
First off all of these figures look good, but I started to get a bit nit-picky the more I looked at them. 

Luminara has the simplest sculpt of the three which is why she places the lowest. Her face sculpt is a tad bland. The headdress looks accurate enough but should have been made out of softer plastic to allow easier neck and shoulder movement. The little details look good though: her armbands, belt, front sash, and shin guards all have nice-looking relief work. Unlike the sculpted skirt on the heavily pre-posed Saga figure, Luminara has a black cloth skirt. The fabric is thin enough to allow for adjusting and there’s plenty of room for leg articulation. Her skirt looks better than most other Jedi with cloth lower robes, mainly because it’s a separate piece of wardrobe from her upper body –as opposed to the plastic to cloth transformation found on figures like Saesee Tinn and Agen Kolar.

Of course, Shaak Ti has a cloth skirt as well. While it doesn’t match up with the top color it still looks and works just as well as Luminara’s. Shaak Ti’s head sculpt is nicely done. All the little creases and wrinkles in her tentacles look nice and the face seems reasonably close to the character’s look in the movie. Upon closer examination, the head is basically the same one used on the Saga figure with the front tentacles modified for easier movement. While I like the changes made, I’m not a great fan of reused sculpts. At least the original one was decent to begin with. What really bugs me about Ms. Ti is her immobile left arm. While a certain amount of pre-posing is acceptable in figures, the pose chosen here is kind of awkward. I’ll bitch about it more in the articulation section.

Aayla also suffers from pre-posed arm sculpting as well. Both of her elbows are at permanent quasi-right angles. Her legs and torso sculpt look close to the character, but the head looks a little off. The head sculpt is a new one and does have a better likeness of actress/ production assistant extraordinaire Amy Allen than the Saga figure, but still misses a bit. The tendrils in the back are in a neutral position that works better than the flared-out pair on the other version.

One obvious change would have to do with this character’s . . . most famous assets. Aayla’s bust line appears to be slightly reduced in size. Check out the original figure for comparison –plus I’m sure every fanboy out there has seen the shots of Allen in the ROTS trailer where only the will of the force keeps those things from popping out. Unlike the original, there’s no latex skin to feel up either. This was a truly unique feature found in the Saga version that was probably cut due to budget restraints and pressure from the Christian Coalition. : ) 

Paint - ** ½
Shaak Ti has lots of little uneven fading and bleeding on her tentacle stripes, plus it appears that the stripe spacing is uneven in some areas. There appears to even be one missing on her right-side one. Her facial paint job is also a bit uneven: the red doesn’t go to the edge of her jaw line, but spills past her forehead, plus her right eye and lipstick are painted off-center. There’s also some light bleeding on the front of her arm guards from the red hand paint. On the other hand, her nails are cleanly done and the silver detailing on her face looks nice. The front skirt flap and wristband details are pretty clean as well. Overall, I think the Saga figure had a better-looking paint job –certainly a cleaner one—but this figure is certainly a serviceable version. 

Luminara seems to have some impressive detailing at first glance, but upon closer inspection it seems that Hasbro had trouble staying within the lines. None of the work on her intricate front belt flap and wrist guards is clean. It looks fine from a few feet away, but up close you can clearly see that the sculpted design lines aren’t matching up. The paint just bleeds everywhere. Ironically her shin guards appear quite clean, despite being hidden most of the time. The brown from her headdress bleeds over to her face. Her eyes are screwed up too: the right one is blue with a brown pupil, while the left one is solid brown.

The overall skin tone on Aayla Secura looks too light; from the pictures I’ve seen, she’s a pretty deep blue. Hasbro also gave her a bit of a dirt wash, which doesn’t work too well. The dirt on her chest just calls attention to the brown paint bleeding over to the blue skin. The wash on the right arm appears solid on the section between the bicep and wrist cuts, but isn’t found after either articulation point. Her headgear has lots of bleeding and missed lines had well. The head band and ties crisscrossing her tendrils are hit and miss. The face ops are also a tad off. The hooker lipstick found on the previous figure returns, but is smeared off to one side, while one of her eyes is missing most of its painted pupil. The wash on her top looks pretty good though, and the yellow spots to the back of her head look better than the black ones on the Saga figure. I also think the eyebrows look closer to the source material than the ones on the Saga figure. 

Articulation - Aayla Secura: *** ½; Shaak Ti; Luminara Unduli: ***
Aayla’s got great legs. Seriously, she has the best articulated legs in the ROTS line thus far and the most points of articulation in this group at fourteen: ball-jointed head, shoulders, knees, ankles, cuts at the waist, wrists, right bicep, and limited ball-jointed torso.
The arms are the real heartbreaker on this figure. She does have some skinny limbs but that’s not a good excuse –especially when the Saga Secura had both bicep and elbow cuts on her left arm. I assumed back then that Hasbro didn’t want to include cuts on the unclothed arm due to visual aesthetics, but with this figure (other than the wrists) the unclothed arm is the only one with a cut. Okay . . . Her lightsaber poses are easily limited because of this. She can still strike a few but not as many as she could have. If she had been able to strike a neutral pose/ straighten out one arm, I might have been a bit forgiving here. The torso joint works nicely, allowing Aayla to lean slightly in any direction. The legs allow for nice, deep stances. The joints seem a tad fragile though so be gentle.

Luminara Unduli has twelve points: ball-jointed head, shoulders, knees, as well as cuts at the elbows, forearms, waist, and wrists. Her head design limits the neck joint quite a bit, as well as the shoulders when resting in its neutral position. The shoulders can only be fully used after her head’s been turned to the side. Luminara has the best arm articulation of the three girls. The cuts at the armguards and elbows work nicely for a variety of poses. The ball-jointed knees are great but can leave the feet looking a little awkward depending on the pose since there’s no ankle articulation. Of course the skirt can cover it up anyway.
Shaak Ti has ten points of articulation: ball joints at the head, shoulders, and knees, with cuts at the right elbow, right forearm, waist, and hips. Her right arm works perfectly well but the total lack of articulation in the left one is not only a mystery, but total crap as well. With this figure design the right and left arms could have mirrored each others cut articulation quite nicely, just like with Luminara’s. Her light saber poses are definitely limited by this. Her head sculpt allows for greater movement than the Saga version, but is still limited by her tentacles a bit. The legs are easily the best part of this figure and work out quite well.

Accessories - ***
Each figure comes with a lightsaber hilt, removable blade, and a sculpted base. Shaak Ti also comes with a small data pad. The hilts are all reused from previous figures. Shaak Ti’s hilt can also be found with the preview General Grevious, Agen Kolar, and Saga Shaak Ti figures. Aayla’s hilt is the same sculpt with a different end-cap on the base. Luminara’s appears to be the same saber from her Saga version. Unlike the other two ladies there’s no peg on the hilt for belt attachment, however the hilt tucks underneath the edge of her belt just fine on its own.

Shaak Ti comes with the same base found with several other figures, including Kit Fisto, Saesee Tinn, Agen Kolar, Count Dooku, and Plo Koon. It looks nice and serves its purpose. The data pad is fine, but appears to be kind of fragile.

Unduli and Secura come with the same sculpted base, but with different paint ops. Aayla’s is darker, with lots of brown and gray/blue fungus, while Luminara’s is very green, with brown fungus. Both bases look decent and even hook together for display purposes. 

Durability/Quality: Shaak Ti; Luminara Unduli: ** ½; Aayla Secura: ** 
These ladies have some fragile limbs to them. Those thin arms are going to cause trouble some day. The leg joints on Aayla also feel pretty fragile. There are also mars in the plastic on my figure in two spots on the right side of her head on torso. I’ve seen the head spot on every Aayla figure I’ve come across in stores.

Value - ***
For the $5.29 I paid for these gals at TRU, I felt like I got a decent deal. While I’ve got my issues with the paint jobs and arm articulation, they’re still a far cry beyond what I got from most of the Saga line. You can find most basic ROTS figure for under $6.00 at TRU’s, Targets, and Walmarts. K.B. Toys and K-Mart will cost you a buck or two extra, so be sure to shop around. 

They’ll be a tad higher online, especially at the beginning of their run. has all three of these figures in for $7.50 each, plus the original Aayla Secura figure for $5.95. has several ROTS figures in at a temporary sale price of $5.29. All three of these ladies are currently in stock.

Overall - Aayla Secura: *** ¼; Shaak Ti; Luminara Unduli: ***
I really wanted to give these figures higher scores. My expectations for Hasbro went up after their great work on eleven out of the twelve VOTC figures. If these figures came out under the Saga line, I probably would have rated them all at least at three and a half stars; maybe even four. I’ve gotten tougher with Hasbro this last year because they’ve gotten better. Provided they stop being uneven with their articulation, I’ll probably give most of the basic ROTS three stars at the very least from what I’ve purchased and seen previews of.

The simple truth is that these are pretty good figures. They all have decent sculpts and accessories, but the quality control with the paint ops is pretty bad in many areas. The amount of bleeding and smearing really detracts from these girls, which is quite a shame. Next to this, the uneven work on the arm articulation adds up. Jedi figures need to have decent arm articulation above everything else. While the legs here are excellent all-around, the arms just aren’t up to par these days, except on Luminara –they’re only impacted by her head sculpt. 

The ball-jointed ankles bump Aayla up a notch over the other two, but that lack of arm articulation kept me from giving her a three and a half star rating. Luminara Unduli will go nicely with the Barriss Offee figure released in 2003, but she could have gotten a higher score if Hasbro had stayed within the lines while painting her. 

Even though quite a few fanboys out there were waiting for the new Aayla Secura figure, the one I was looking forward to was Shaak Ti. I really liked the Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network; even more than the first two prequel movies combined. Despite the semi-hokey storyline involving Anakin’s visit to the Native-American-like alien race, the third season did a great job in its story telling, character development, and action sequences. I have to say those animated lightsaber fights were just as good, if not better than a lot of the filmed ones. Easily my favorite sequences involved Shaak Ti, especially when she holds her own against a few dozen of Grevious’ specialized bodyguards. I liked how they expanded on her character and was looking forward to a new action figure I could pose facing off against a few of those droids. While I like what Hasbro’s done she could have been a hell of a lot better, especially if they had given her a cut joint or two in her left arm.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the first wave of animated figures released, I’ve grown to like them –especially the sculpt on the recent Grevious figure. I’d love to see Hasbro do some of the secondary characters in the animated style as well, especially Shaak Ti.

Score recap
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Shaak Ti, Aayla Secura: *** ½; Luminara Unduli: ***
Paint - ** ½
Articulation - Aayla Secura: *** ½; Shaak Ti; Luminara Unduli: ***
Accessories - ***
Value - ***
Overall - Aayla Secura: *** ¼; Shaak Ti; Luminara Unduli: ***

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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