One of my all-time favorite characters in the Star Wars universe has been Grand Moff Tarkin. This, to me, is the true embodiment of evil in the films, as he’s the cold-hearted “average Joe”. He’s not a Sith, he’s just a ruthless military leader, political zealot, and mass murderer. If there’s an on-screen parallel to the Nazi’s of World War 2 in the films that Lucas drew on, then Tarkin is the guy that represented it… He oozes scary, even for a gaunt older man, and I guess that’s why the late, great, Peter Cushing made a career out of playing characters in Horror films (both good and evil). I mean, I named my cat Tarkin for God’s sake! He, and Bossk, are my only two character collecting focuses even. I love this guy!
So was I pumped to hear about a new Tarkin figure? Well duh! Was I pumped to hear about Tarkin in Episode 3? Yeah but I fear cameos can weaken a character too… I wasn’t really let down with either of those either, as Tarkin’s cameo was pretty small in Revenge of the Sith and his action figure delivered nicely enough. But was he all he could have been? Well, that is the question I’ll try and answer right now!
-Sculpt: From what I’m looking at, he’s a pretty good representation of the guy on the cardback he came in. I wouldn’t say this is Hasbro’s best likeness to-date, but the simplicity of the costume helped a bit for the sculptors I think and it almost seems to me that whoever sculpted this figure’s head maybe was aiming for an in-between of Peter Cushing and the guy from Episode 3. That’s alright I guess, as it really looks more like what I envision Tarkin looking like than the actor did if you caught him up close… In the movie he’s a distance away, so I’m now thankful for that.
As was mentioned, the outfit’s pretty simple. Really it seemed to me like the shot in ROTS was actually a “down the road some time” shot of the Empire after it’s a little more established in the galaxy.
The tunic and pants are nicely sculpted in the style of the Saga Admiral Ozzel figure from just a year+ ago. It’s not the smooth look that the original POTF2 Tarkin or Motti figures have, as this Tarkin features a texture sculpted into the cloth… That’s fine though, as it really doesn’t stand out terribly, however I do believe the smoother sculpt of the POTF2 figures looks better.
Still, Hasbro made the tunic stand out some and look a little less bland. They nailed the little details on him too such as the code cylinders in his coat’s pockets, and his rank badge is probably the tiniest ever seen, but looks very nicely done. The jacket’s got another nice detail that shows how it buttons in real life by sort of overlapping and buttoning up around the neck, but just off on the right shoulder. Hasbro sculpted that little detail very nicely.
In addition to all that, the tunic features a separately sculpted skirt-piece, which his predecessor did not. Oh how times change! I always praise this little addition, and love how it just makes the figure look 100 times more realistic (to my eye anyway). The skirt-piece features the figure’s belt as well; the only really stand-out detail on his entire outfit.
The pants are more of the same with the Tunic, and while they don’t puff out as much as I’d like, they still do a little bit and look quite nice. His boots also seem a little different than what most recall from A New Hope, and since I can’t take a look at ROTS right now, I can’t say the lines sculpted on the boot-tops are accurate but I’m wagering they are. They’re not just smooth boots like the Classic Trilogy Imperials, so maybe there’s a change in footwear over 20 years for the Imperial military? I dunno.
The headsculpt is pretty fantastic. It’s got sharp, gaunt features that you’ve come to expect in this character. The face’s personality is one of seemingly deep thought, or a morbid contentment as Tarkin watches his favorite ride get built before his eyes. The eyes seem deep in the sockets, as they should, and the hairline is unmistakably Tarkin’s sharp Widow’s peak. I love the headsculpt overall, as it really does look like a younger Tarkin, and that makes this Tarkin fanatic quite happy.
-Articulation: He’s not as great as some figures in the ROTS line-up, but he’s definitely sporting more articulation than his old-fart counterpart. That’s good, and it allows for a Tarkin that looks like he can shoot a gun too, which is nice since he’s younger. Maybe you want to put him in a diorama defending some distant outpost with Clones? Hey, he’s gotta have a backstory as to why he’s so loved by the Emperor, right?
Tarkin sports articulation at:
-2 standard shoulder joints
-2 angle-cut elbow joints
-2 standard wrist joints
-2 standard hip joints
-1 ball/socket neck joint
-1 standard waist joint
With 10 points of articulation total, Tarkin can do the same as the Ozzel figure… He can clasp his hands behind his back, he can hold a blaster with 2 hands (rather nicely too), he can look like he’s taking orders, or giving orders… He’s cool like that.
As a Tarkin fan I think I’d have been happy to get maybe ball/socket knees and shoulders… or at least the knees. Some may say it’s excessive but the figure doesn’t feature a TON, and to make him more interesting to the masses I think he’d have benefited from ball/socket knees especially, but it’s not a huge deal either and I think customizers will still view the new Tarkin figure as a great base for more Imperials in both the classic era and the era this figure is from if their imaginations want to make more random “Early” Imperials.
-Paint Aps/Deco: This is a double-edged sword, as Tarkin isn’t perfect, and what is flawed sort of sticks out like the proverbial “sore thumb”, but I’ll touch on that in the Cons portion more… For now, I have painting goodness.
Tarkin doesn’t have a LOT of paint applications actually, but on my figure they’re clean for the most part. His hair’s nicely painted a dark brown (I always envisioned Tarkin with black hair when young, but what do I know?), and the paint doesn’t stray onto the head, nor does the hair have any flesh color on it, so that’s good. The eyes are also nicely painted, as are the eyebrows, and give the face a lot of depth. I can see the color of the pupil, the iris, and the white of the eye are all separate dabs of paint, which is always a nice touch of realism from painting. The sockets around the eyes appear to have had a paint application to make them look like they have bags around them as well, which is very subtle so you really don’t notice it like on some figures (Anakin figures in the ROTS line, I’m looking at you with your freaking mascara on).
The same goes for the detail painting around the figure… The rank plaque has the red, blue, and yellow squares all painted and no straying off the squares… The badge itself is silver and doesn’t stray onto the color of the coat then. The code cylinders are also given a dab of silver that covers them pretty well but doesn’t bleed onto the coat. And again the belt and boots both have black (and the belt a silver buckle) that doesn’t bleed onto the tunic or pants.
-Paint Aps/Decoration: The negative paint application is, and we’ve seen this one be a negative on past figures with otherwise fine paintjobs, the liverspots on his noggin’. Now, I found a sample with ok liverspots, but of 3 other Tarkin figures there they were more pronounced/darker and they looked pretty bad, so I’m thinking I’m the exception to the rule in picking out a good one here. Mine are sort of faded and barely noticeable on my sample but I felt this bared a mention in here.
This problem showed up in the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine figure from the Saga line. It was much worse, and it seems like it’s maybe just a feature Hasbro’s got trouble trying to paint on a mass-production piece. Not easy, but it still looks bad on the figures I noticed it on. Like he had something worse than just liverspots going on up on his forehead. Yeesh!
-Accessories: It’s rough to pay $5 - $6 for a figure like the Clone Commander with his skirt, 2 pistols, a rifle, a grappling hook, and all that stuff… Then you pay the same price for Tarkin here and he’s got a rehashed base and a rehashed blaster.
That is not to say that Tarkin’s Clone Carbine and his base are bad accessories, but would’ve including the miniature Death Star hologram from the Separatists Screen Scene have hurt? Or a data-pad like Shaak-Ti’s perhaps? Just something extra to make him seem worth a little more in the realm of what you were about to shell out.
Sure he didn’t have that stuff in the film, but he didn’t have a gun either (though I’m very happy he has one). It’s just that he seems sparse in his packaging. He doesn’t look terribly interesting, but some neat little piece may make the difference to someone wanting to buy this guy… Though admittedly, I don’t see many kids picking Tarkin up.
-Odd Skin Color: I’m not sure exactly how accurate the color they molded his head and hands in actually is to the film… In the pictures, he seemed to have SOME color, but the figure looks corpse-like in color. It’s one of my bigger beefs with the figure because it does seem to stick out that he’s a sickly white color.
Granted the character’s not hitting the beaches much without some strong sunscreen, but Hasbro’s attempt to match the color seems to have gone overboard to me. A slightly more pink shade would’ve helped him out and made the Imperial Coroners just turn around and go back home when they saw him. It doesn’t seem accurate to me though.
-Rubbery Blaster: And while we’re on the subject of the accessories, I’ve gotten tons of this little Clone Carbine with various Clones since the Saga line. They’ve all been perfectly made, fairly rigid with just a hint of pliability to them… Not Tarkin’s gun though.
His little Clone Gun I can barely fit into his hand. The handle keeps warping/bending every time I try to put it into the figure’s hand, it’s not even funny. It’s made of the cheapest of the cheap in plastics, and I’d hoped Hasbro was getting beyond limp accessories. It seems like that rubbery material is still around for them to use though, so let’s just hope this is a fluke and it’s not making a come-back.
-Skirt Piece Color Mismatch: This is weird, and I have my buddy Jason to thank for actually pointing it out because I honestly didn’t notice this till I had the figure in a better light here at my house and out of the package.
My buddy pointed out that the skirt-piece is a noticeably redder color than the rest of the figure, and I have to agree that it is. It’s got a tinge to it that is definitely pinkish or red or something. At the store, and even at home when I opened the figure, I didn’t notice this, and Tarkin’s sat on a shelf till I was able to finally review him here and I just happened to get a message from my buddy about him this same night. Well mine’s the exact same way as his appears to be. Very odd and it does look kind of bad. I’m not going to let it influence my overall opinion too much, but it appears a different color of plastic was used in these separate pieces.
Even though this figure had some complaints, I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed in him at all. He fills a void for a character that saw about 2 seconds of screen time and absolutely NO dialogue. That said, I’d still like an all-new Tarkin from A New Hope (you reading Hasbro? I think this is probably one of the most asked for resculpts guys!). I don’t think this figure’s a suitable body to just slap an “older” Tarkin head on either… It could work with the upper body maybe, but not the legs. I’d prefer more accurate pants and boots personally.
Anyway, I’d sure have liked a slightly more poseable figure of Tarkin, but I can live without that for now. An ANH Tarkin that can sit, and had this much articulation in the arms at least, would certainly be a welcome addition though. I was more disappointed with the lack of accessories as they tend to make these more “boring” figures a bit more appealing to collectors. Like the laptop with Lobot, they can take a dull figure and make him a bit more fun. And to a lesser degree, the skin color of Tarkin is just not quite right and sticks out a bit. They seemed to have missed his Death by 20 years or so aboard the Death Star! In the meantime, get that man an IV Unit! STAT!
I still say to pick this guy up though, as he’s nice to have on your shelf with the Emperor and Vader watching over the construction of the Empire’s latest weapons. It’s what the guy does best folks!