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Never Forget - The ICMG Petition

Brian's Toys

Luke Skywalker

Where does one begin when talking about the famed Vintage Original Trilogy Collection (VOTC) figures? They were an answer from Hasbro to fans that they do indeed hear the cries from the collectors for more articulation, great sculpts, and a little touch of nostalgia mixed in there as well. VOTC is a mixed bag of good and not-so-good though, and really each figure was a toss-up as to how “definitive” it would be for the character the figure was to represent.

The line delivered some hits and misses, just like any other, but it delivered its hits with a lot more power. It delivered both hits and misses at an inflated price however, and that meant a bit more of a sting when Hasbro didn’t get things exactly right.

Luke was a figure who was no exception. He was a valiant attempt at something new from Hasbro, but his popularity was marred by some failed efforts on Hasbro’s part. Needless to say, a definitive “Tatooine Luke” figure is still something that eludes collectors, but this figure has some great features I’d like to see in a future attempt! With that, I’ll pick this figure apart and give you my thoughts on the good, the bad, and of course the ugly of VOTC Luke Skywalker.

PROS

-Articulation: Without a doubt, Hasbro kicks their articulation in overdrive in the VOTC line. The company that was giving us a static 6 points of articulation 10 years ago is cranking out figures now with 6 ball/socket joints just on their lower half! That’s one hell of a leap in quality folks, and Hasbro’s even managed to hide their articulation better than most any toy line out there today, in almost every instance.

Luke’s not much different however some of his articulation leaves little to be desired aesthetically. He’s one super poseable figure though, and that’s going to earn him a major plus in the “Pros” column from me.

Luke sports articulation at:

- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 ball/socket elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints (on the mid-forearm however)
- 2 ball/socket hip/leg joints (a first for the modern line)
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 2 ball/socket ankle joints
- 1 ball/socket waist joint (mid-torso)
- 1 ball/socket neck joint

That’s a total of 14 points of articulation people! And each point is a ball/socket joint giving it a maximum range of motion. Not shabby in the slightest. He even surpasses the Super Articulated Clonetrooper from the Clone Wars line with his ball/socket hips. They’re not an overly attractive point of articulation on Luke though, and so that’s a bit of a downer, but they are covered by his shirt.

Anyway, Luke easily wins some praise for his articulation. He’s poseable and that’s a great thing given what he originally cost.

-Sculpt: Like other aspects of this Luke figure, the sculpt is both a positive and a negative feature. First we cover what’s good though, and this figure has a lot to like about it.

The figure’s height, an issue that has long plagued the Luke Skywalker figures of the past, has been covered by the sculptor of VOTC Luke. He’s shorter than the average figure, and matches up very well to the OTC Dagobah Luke, and Saga’s Jedi Luke figures. The height’s appropriate for him, so it’s nice to see that some attention to detail was paid to make sure this figure features the diminutive stature of Mark Hammil when compared to more “average” height characters like Han Solo.

For what’s underneath Luke’s shirt, even though he never took his shirt off on-screen, Luke’s sculpt is generally adequate. The arms are highly articulated and show their joints since they’re “bare skin” rather than a sculpted fabric, however they look as good as heavily articulated bare arms could possibly look in this scale.

Luke’s body is sculpted a bit more disappointingly, and as such it will be saved for the “Cons” portion of the review.

Luke’s legs are nicely sculpted though, and the articulation is generally well hidden. The hip joints, which feature the first ball/socket joints in the modern line, leave a bit of a gap, and are very visible. The knees and ankles are nicely hidden in the leg’s sculpt however, and show how great the ball/socket articulation is for keeping a figure poseable while the sculptor can still keep the figure appealing to the eye. Luke’s boots feature the most detail of the overall body’s sculpt, showing the intricate leg wraps that cover Luke’s calves, and then the figure’s shoes feature a sculpted sole detail as well.

Luke’s headsculpt is a very nice rendition of Mark Hammil as well, though I could have done without any teeth showing. Hasbro seems to like to have some pearly whites showing on certain figures, Luke figures in particular. Maybe it’s for the dumbfounded look Luke gave on more than one occasion? I dunno.

The hair is Hammil’s wavy 1970’s locks, with lots of intricate lines to show depth. The likeness is noticeably Hammil, and that’s about all you can ask from a company that really is hit and miss with actor likenesses. It’s better than many past attempts at capturing Luke from A New Hope, but I’d still say that the recent Jedi Luke figure from the Saga line is more accurate to Hammil overall.

-Accessories: Luke comes with more than most of the other VOTC figures, and that’s a good thing because most of them don’t come with a whole lot. To be honest though, I’d have given up 2 of Luke’s accessories if it would have meant a better overall figure to look at.

Luke comes with a lit lightsaber (non-removable blade), a removable utility belt, and a softgoods (cloth) shirt. Only 3 accessories, but it’s still more than most of the other VOTC figures come with, so he’s one up on some of his case-mates.

Luke’s lightsaber is nice, and painted with black and silver details, however it could’ve stood a bit more careful application of the paint rather than simply looking like it was dipped in silver then dipped in black. There’s no silver showing through the grip, it seems like thick paint was used, and it just could’ve been a little better for the figure’s price.

The softgoods shirt, while a nice attempt by Hasbro to make the Luke figure more poseable (the shirt allows the ball/socket torso to move freely), is made of an incredibly stiff fabric and tends not to sit on the figure realistically at all. The belt being removable is simply a by-product of the softgoods shirt then. It makes for more accessories, but at the cost of the final look of the figure. A bit of a double-edged sword there, and we’ll touch on that in the “Cons” portion a bit later.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: Good all around are Luke’s paint applications however they aren’t the most complex painting we’ve seen on even a basic modern Star Wars figure. Still though, there’s detail work on the face, most notably, and I am a sucker for nicely painted eyes on Star Wars figures.

And my sample here has 2 very nice, straight, and layered eyes painted on which is good. There’s depth to them, as there is a separately painted iris, white, and pupil, and there’s no bleeding of any of the colors.

Luke’s face/head also has a nicely painted hair that doesn’t bleed onto the face, and a dab of white for slightly exposed teeth. The teeth are a bit bright, but nothing major or distracting like the beaver-toothed Luke X-Wing from the Power of the Jedi line some years back.

The only other paint applied on the figure then, is on his boots. They’re cast in the appropriate brown/tan color of Luke’s latest Tatooine footwear fashion, and then a wash is applied over the leg wrappings and shoes. The soles of the shoes are painted a solid darker brown then, and the end result is some detailed kicks.

Luke’s paint application is simple enough, but my figure has no flaws I can see, so it’s a plus.

-Packaging: The packaging on the VOTC figures is probably the most ornate and eye-catching package for a Star Wars figure to-date. While the basic OTC line that shipped alongside the VOTC figures was nice, the VOTC definitely drew your attention as being something special.

A downside to the dazzling packaging was the cost, which like other features I’ll touch on that shortly in the “Cons” portion, however it was a cost a lot of people were willing to bite for “ultimate” versions of various figures.

The packaging is a recreation of the original vintage Kenner action figure cardbacks from the 1970’s and 1980’s. If you were like me, and can recall these figures adorning your local toy store (Ah, Children’s Palace… The days when a trip to the toy store meant something), then you no doubt have a feeling of nostalgia, just as Hasbro intended. The old style cardbacks are nice to see on the pegs, and they really do catch the eye like no modern packaging has been able to.

While Hasbro went to great lengths to recreate the front of the packaging, the back of the packaging was a modern style displaying 3 other figures from a specific wave. The waves were broken down into a Star Wars wave with the original Star Wars style card, an Empire Strikes back wave styled accordingly, and then a Return of the Jedi wave.

Hasbro’s work to recreate the cardbacks was nicely done, and appreciated. This has so far been the only packaging I’ve wanted to save really. And Hasbro made saving the packaging easy if you were careful in getting the figure off the bubble, as they included a reseal-able protective clamshell over the figure’s card/bubble. Just perfect for keeping everything minty fresh, aside from that X-Acto knife slice along the bubble to get the figure out.

The end result is some nicely displayed toy on the pegs. A full set of the 12 VOTC cardbacks looks really nice displayed amongst your figure collection.

CONS

-Softgoods Shirt: I’m a very pro-softgoods collector overall. I like the idea of Hasbro using cloth to enhance a figure’s poseability generally, though some of the more boring figures, like senators, I feel are fine with sculpted robes. Also, Hasbro doesn’t often do cloth accessories/features on figures a whole lot of justice. The odd silk-like cape that drapes well and folds with the figure’s poses is not something you see often even if cloth is used.

Hasbro, for some reason, saw fit to give Luke a removable shirt. If it’s for the articulation of the torso to move more freely, then personally I would have done without the articulation there and gone with a regular waist joint. The shirt is a stiff cottony fabric, and is puffy and bulky looking on Luke’s tiny frame. It just doesn’t work in this scale, on this figure, with this fabric.

Take away the removable belt and shirt, and also the torso ball/socket joint. Sculpt the shirt instead, and use a regular waist joint. That would have made for a noticeably better figure that I think most people would have considered a definitive Luke Skywalker figure from A New Hope.

-Ball/Socket Hip Articulation: A point of articulation hidden by Luke’s shirt, but which seemed an odd choice to include on the figure even, was the addition of ball/socket leg articulation on Luke. That’s not to say I don’t like Hasbro attempting ball/socket hips on Star Wars figures. I think it would be a fantastic idea I’d like to see on many other figures in the future, however Luke’s articulation is rather unsightly.

The joint leaves large gaps on the figure’s thighs to accommodate the movement of the articulation point. It’s very distracting if you have the figure’s shirt off analyzing it. I think that Hasbro needs to work on how they execute this joint in the future, however I restate that I’d like to see this point of articulation explored for future figures. Especially a Super Articulated Biker Scout, who could definitely use this type of articulation on his legs.

-Torso Sculpt: If, for whatever reason you had, you were to display your Luke figure without his shirt on, he tends to not be the most attractive figure. His shirt doesn’t look great on him though either, as noted a little earlier. However, under his shirt hides a weirdly sculpted lower torso and an overall incredibly skinny body sculpt. The lower torso has these ridges sculpted into it that are just terrible, and serve no discernable purpose really.

It’s a minor gripe given the figure is going to remain with his shirt on for 99% of us, and the other 1% I’d say likely lost the shirt. Still, it’s something worth noting I believe.

-Retail Cost: Without a doubt, and probably the worst aspect of the VOTC line, is the cost that came with each figure. Some have been lucky to have bought their VOTC sets on clearance, however most people paid the retail price which came to approximately $10 per figure or so. Not the cheapest price to pay for a single figure.

The cost of the figure can be blamed on a number of reasons. The VOTC line was touted for its “limited” nature, for instance, driving up costs due to lower production runs. The packaging was ornate, recreated by hand, and it required a lot of extra work for it to be done appropriately. The coffin blisters on the packaging even, to recreate the vintage look, were also “special” and added very slightly to the packaging costs. The special protective case surrounding the figure also would’ve been a noticeable increase in overall costs in producing these figures also. And that’s really only starting on where increases in costs could be hiding with the VOTC figures over basic modern figures.

I personally feel the VOTC figures are not any more intricate or complex in their design than a basic figure is, as far as costs go. If you put VOTC on basic cardbacks, and at basic production numbers, you’d see a figure that would sell profitably at a basic figure’s price. But with the packaging, you have something that, unless it becomes the line’s standard, it definitely inflates the production costs of the figures.

The cost seemed to noticeably hurt the VOTC line as well, as it also has hurt the Ultra/Deluxe lines over the years. $10 is a lot to pay for a figure, and it showed at stores that ordered the VOTC line heavily early-on like Wal-Mart who couldn’t move the later waves out quickly. I love the VOTC concept though, and think that either a better price or case ratios would have alleviated all issues with product movement.

OVERALL

The Vintage Original Trilogy Collection, no matter what figures I find to be flawed in it, will go down in my history book as one of the best ideas Hasbro has ever had. The price will remain forever my only gripe I had across the board with this collection of 12 figures, but I like the idea and I hope to see it continue in the future (maybe even at a cheaper price).

With that said, this Luke Skywalker figure isn’t the most shining example that the VOTC could have shown us. The figure is a nice attempt on Hasbro’s part to do an ultimate Luke Skywalker in his Tatooine gear, but their unnecessary use of the softgoods shirt made the figure fall tragically short of Hasbro’s intended goal. If anything, they were overachievers for once, going the extra mile with the shirt, and the belt, and the unique torso articulation. A simple sculpted shirt would’ve served the collecting community better though.

My opinion on Luke then is that we still need that definitive Luke figure yet. Super articulated, and with no softgoods shirt in sight. Next time maybe they can just include an unlit lightsaber he can clip on his belt, and if they’re extra nice, a removable stormtrooper blaster.

I’m a huge fan of the VOTC line though, and feel you need this Luke if you are buying the other figures. Luke figures were a dime a dozen on clearance as well when Wal-Mart started unloading their overstock of the VOTC line. Ironically Luke was one of the early “rare” figures too, and undoubtedly many impatient collectors overpaid for VOTC Lukes in the early months of the OTC/VOTC line.

So with that said, finding a VOTC Luke for cheap shouldn’t be too hard. Pick one up and make sure you have a complete set… Hell, pick two up and use one’s arms for a poseable Dagobah Luke custom even? Eh, just a suggestion. Oh, and save that packaging because, from my point of view, that’s $5 or so that you paid extra, so you may as well keep it and hang it up! VOTC packaging makes for good decoration to any Star Wars display room.

 

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