Throne Room Duel
Darth and Luke

Sean Teeter is back with one of his great Star Wars guest reviews. Take it away, Sean...

One of the most powerful moments in the original Star Wars trilogy comes when Luke Skywalker faces Darth Vader for the final time in the Emperorís throne room. Luke manages to not only resist the lure of the dark side, but also redeems his father who in turn destroys the Emperor. When Hasbro announced these two figures I was excited, especially to get an updated Jedi Luke. Well, silly me, Hasbro decided to release theyíre fully re-sculpted Jedi Luke later this year. Okay, so what was I getting instead? Read the fine print: ďAction Feature . . .Ē Oh boy . . .

Packaging - ***1/2
I have to say that I really like the brand new color design for the Saga line. The gold stripe down the side is a nice touch and very striking against the dark blue front. The back is a much lighter wash. Overall, itís a very simple and classy way to present the merchandise, and probably the best-looking Hasbro packaging in years. I just hope Hasbro decides to keep this look longer than the earlier versions of the Saga packaging.

Sculpting - Luke Skywalker: * Ĺ; Darth Vader: ***
I really hope Hasbroís future Jedi Luke has nothing in common with this figure other than its cinematic basis. This has got to be one of the worst looking figures in the Hasbro universe. From the horrible sneer on his face to the hunched back, itís all so wrong. Because of this, he can only take one pose without looking ridiculous. He canít stand straight, and even if you try to get him to, he looks like Quasimotoís brother. The angles of his ankles help limit him to that one pose. Not to mention that his hands are also at ugly angles. While his face may not be as extreme as Geonosian Rescue Mace Windu, the overall look is just so damn goofy that I canít really give him a higher rating. Apparently, even Hasbroís art department shares my opinion. On the back of each Saga package, thereís a picture of the figureís face. This is the only card where they used a photograph of the actor (Mark Hamill) as opposed to a shot of the toy itself.

Vaderís not great, but heís certainly heads and tails above Luke. The face under the helmet is nicely rendered, as are the details on his outfit. The textures and creases look good, and his inner skirt isnít as extreme as the cape. Thereís also room to move his legs a little more, unlike the Bespin figure.

Both figures also have buttons sticking out of their butt. We all know what that means . . .

Paint - Luke Skywalker: **; Darth Vader: ***
Lukeís paint ops arenít bad, there just isnít much too write the farm about with a figure whoís basically all one color. The details on the face are clean, even if they donít do much for the horrible sculpt. Thereís some bleeding on his ungloved hand, which leads me to point out one of Hasbroís biggest muck-ups yet in the Saga line. Sith Apprentice Maulís teeth were unpainted, Count Dookuís outfit was black Ėnot brown, and now Lukeís glove is on the wrong hand. What makes it worse is that the pictured figure, as well as the test shots released on the Internet, all have the correct paint job. The production figure does not. Will Hasbro fix this glaring snafu? Probably not, if their past track record is examined. Check out the misspelling of ďImperialĒ on R2-Q5 from the Power of the Jedi line. Right on the front of the card no less. Letís hope Hasbro decides to pay attention when the new Jedi Luke comes out.

(EDITOR's Note:  Reports are that Luke's with the corrected glove hand are starting to show up.)

Vader may also be an all black figure, but heís got all those nice little buttons and lights to fill in. The detailing is nice, and above all, clean as a whistle. His glossy boots and armor look good. Thereís nothing more that could have really been done, other than some more highlight effects. 

Articulation - Luke Skywalker: * Ĺ; Darth Vader: ** Ĺ 
Hasbro and their action features: when will they learn that most of these little gimmicks suck and add no play value to most of their figures? In many cases, it also detracts from the figure, such as here.

Luke comes with seven points of articulation: hips, neck, and shoulder cuts, plus swivel and pivot elbows. Finally, something to like about this figure! The elbow articulation is nice Ėyou can bend and position the arms in many poses, but due to the awful sculpt and action feature, theyíre rendered useless, and look extremely goofy in almost any other pose than the Paul Bunyon one heís packaged in. Plus, the joints are loose to make his arms swing down easier, so itís hard to hold any bent poses. The shoulders are slaves to their action feature and can only be clicked into different start positions for Lukeís swing. The neck articulation is useless because of its limited range and awkward angle. Of course, thereís no waist articulation, which is always a sore spot with me.
Heís got the standard magnet in his left hand to hold onto the saber hilt, but it seems to be weaker than others found in the line. Lukeís action feature is meant to mimic a scene from the movie where heís hammering on Vader and finally cuts clean through Vaderís right hand and the railing heís holding for support. You have to fuddle with it a bit, but it generally works okay. Thereís no room for Vader to rest at Lukeís feet though.

Vader fairs better than Luke. He has eight points: neck, left shoulder cut, a ball-joint right shoulder, a swivel and pivot right elbow, a right wrist cut, waist, and hips. The ball-joint is nice as always; I just wish there were one for each shoulder. The whole left arm is in a permanently curved sculpt, with no articulation other than the shoulder cut. This is just sloppy. An elbow cut or a wrist cut could have been easily added for improved poseability. However, because of the right armís superb amount of articulation, Vader has no problems when it comes to an old-fashioned double grip on his lightsaber. The right elbow is left loose for the action feature and his waist is also compromised because of the feature as well. You turn Vaderís torso to one side, then press his button. He flings his weapon. Yay. We can do that with Mace Windu already, but this time itís supposed to be like this, since Vader flings his saber at Luke in the movie. Itís not really a feature I wanted and you canít really aim where the weapon lands. 
Somethingís missing however and if Hasbro hadnít had this oversight, I might have been tempted to bump the score up to three stars even with his existing articulation problems. Luke cuts through something else besides the railing in Return of the Jedi: Vaderís hand. Bespin Luke had his removable hand, whereís Vaderís? It doesnít make much sense to have the removable helmet and no removable hand. 

Accessories - Luke Skywalker: ** Ĺ; Darth Vader: **
Luke comes with a metal-hilted lightsaber with removable green blade and a section of the throne room area, with a collapsible railing. The metal hilt is a new design, based off of the same one from the second Power of the Force toy line. The top ends in a tube as opposed to the flared baffle on the end of the weapon in the movie. The green blade is fine, but the peg seems a tad short for the hilt. The display stand with the railing looks nice but it is very easy to knock the railing down. Since Vader doesnít come with his own base, it would be nice to be able to display both figures on this section, but itís very hard to do so.
Vader is somewhat of a disappointment from the accessories angle. He comes with a sculpted removable cape, a metal-hilted lightsaber with removable red blade, and a removable helmet. The cape and lightsaber are the same from the Bespin duel figure. The removable helmet is in the same style as the Freeze Frame Vader in the second Power of the Force line. I donít own the figure, so I canít compare the two beyond photos. The helmet fits fine, but only snaps down all the way when Darth doesnít have his cape on. The sculpt of the Bespin cape doesnít go well with this figure to begin with, and impedes the helmet from being fully on, even though you can fake it. What does Hasbro have against cloth? It looked great on the Comm-Tech Vader. 

Durability - ** 1/2
Other than the large slip-up with Lukeís glove, there doesnít appear to be much in the way of quality issues with the finished product (other than aesthetic), except for the swivel and pivot elbows. They feel a tad weak and might bend or break over time.

Value - Luke Skywalker: *; Darth Vader: ** Ĺ
Well, these are just starting to turn up in stores. Target would be your best bet if you donít want to look online. The rating given is if you can find a $5 price tag. Luke is a waste of money in my opinion. Even though his display base looks decent, its kind of clutzy in its execution, and doesnít help the figure out that much. Vaderís a decent figure, but not great. Go ahead and pick him up, just donít pay more than the $5.

Brian's Toys has them for $19.99 apiece mint on mint card; $13.99 loose.  Federation Toys will have them in stock soon for $7.00 a pop. Planet Action Figure has a three-figure deal for $25.50, which contains Luke and Vader, as well as the new Hoth Stormtrooper.
The best online prices off of eBay would have to be Kebco Toys, which has them for Pre-Order at $6.29 each.

They really arenít in wide release right now, and this always creates artificial price inflation in the Star Wars community. Waiting can be frustrating, but prices do, and will, go down.

Overall - Luke Skywalker: * ĺ; Darth Vader: ***
Luke has got to be one of the worst figures Iíve come across in the Star Wars line. I donít mind the magnets, but Iíve been sick of Hasbroís action gimmicks since the very first Saga releases hit the shelves, and Iím sure everyone familiar with my reviews knows how I love to beat the dead horse and bitch about it every time a button is sticking out of a Jediís ass. But this time, Hasbro manages to torpedo this figure from two different categories: articulation and sculpt. Even the Arena Conflict Mace Windu, with his rubbery arms and Alien chestburster hole, is a better looking and functioning figure than this. The Jedi Pilot Obi-Wan Kenobi has a similar tree-chopping action feature, but is nowhere near this damn ugly. What went wrong? I know itís my fault for buying it, but I just felt ripped off after opening the package. Iím still washing my hands over and over again. (Unclean . . . unclean . . .)

There have been many Darth Vaders churned out of the Hasbro machine, but there has yet to be an ďultimateĒ Vader Ėone figure that all other versions are compared to. This certainly isnít it, but has some admirable qualities that set it above many of the others out there. The removable helmet is certainly a draw, since itís hard to find the Power of the Force Freeze Frame figure for a relatively cheap price. Plus itís always nice to have a Vader who can hold his saber in the classic two-handed grip. Hasbro got sloppy with the re-use of the Bespin cape, but I can let it slide in the end, especially after trashing their latest Luke. I actually think that this figureís design might have been better used as the Bespin Duel Vader since he can bend his arm in the air, almost like heís shaking his fist (ďYou donít know the power of the dark side!Ē) Heís a borderline figure at best, but Iíll give him the bump to three stars because he displays rather well in a dueling pose. 

If youíre really looking for good Saga figures, go pick up the Hoth Han Solo, Coleman Trebor, and Secret Ceremony Anakin Ėif you can find them that is. Keep an eye out at you local Target, and cross your fingers. 

Figures from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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