With the upcoming Star Wars movie just over the horizon, we can already see an ever-growing surge in related merchandise from brands other than Hasbro. Bandai, a Japanese toy company, acquired the Star Wars license early last year and here is the latest offering in their high-quality S.H.Figuarts line—Luke Skywalker.
I thought I already had my definitive ROTJ Luke, but, upon seeing the teaser pictures, I knew I had to get this one. I pre-ordered mine from cdJapan. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to arrive this early. It came in a small corrugated cardboard box and was stuffed with Kraft paper for cushioning. As an added layer of security, the actual toy boxes were encased in bubble wrap inside a fabric gift bag.
Now onto the nitty-gritty:
PRESENTATION and PACKAGING
The figure comes in a small, glossy black box with a window in front. It is roughly the size of a VHS tape (for those who can still remember) and there is no wasted space. Since the quality of the packaging is comparable to the elegantly simple Black Series boxes with no excessive fluff or weird profiles, Mint-in-Box (MIB) collectors will enjoy this. Also, if you need to store your figure for transport or, well, storage, then you’ll be pleased to know that the 2-part blister tray has a snap-lock feature, negating the need for tape.
From the onset, the figure screams quality and the sculpting is its best feature. It accurately captures Mark Hamill from face to build. You can see the attention to detail in both his normal and windblown Khetanna/sail barge hair. The face feels stamped-on, but it is Hamill, without a doubt. It reminds me of the laser scanning process they did with the early Toybiz LOTR figures. And we’ve come so far since then.
Luke’s outfit is pretty simple so one can rarely go wrong with the details. Everything here is well-represented, down to the folds. Of course there are some who prefer the shiny buckle or an open flap (and maybe even the vest), but this can hold its own.
The figure stands at 6 inches tall and, as of now, there are only a few Lukes in this scale—one being the Hasbro Black Series and the other from the kid-friendly Force Battlers line. There is also the Unleashed line, but that is more statue than action figure.
Comparing it to its closest rival, the Black Series Jedi Luke, this one takes it in spades. It may be slightly taller scale-wise, but it outshines its competitor in every other way. The Black Series Luke, for me, was really a let-down, not just compared to this one, but also compared to its first iteration—the Flight Suit ANH Luke.
The figure is in solid plastic (ABS and PVC from what I read in the site). Nothing feels soft or rubbery. While it may not be as durable as a 5-POA kid’s toy, it will not fall apart in the collector’s hands.
The figure is typical of the trademark S.H.Figuarts super articulation. Elbows, wrists, ab-crunch, knees, ankle rockers…they are all there to allow for a wide range of dynamic posing (no pivot joint bicep and forearm or thigh swivel, though).
The removable heads have their own hinge joints while the hands have a socket where you can push the ball in. Unlike the ill-fated B:TAS (Batman: The Animated Series) first line, the pins are sturdy and can hold up to posing so long as excessive force is avoided.
The joints are all nice and tight and the figure has no problem standing in reasonable poses. I’m still getting used to the shoulder joints, though.
The paint job is clean and precise. No slop or flecks to be found, even on the cracks and crevices. I’m not really sure if there is a wash (apart from the face) or if they are just using the same color of plastic, but the results are still beyond satisfactory and the figure still pops out in photographs without being too glossy or muted. I just have a slight issue with his hair, as I find it a bit too golden for my taste. The eyes, being printed on rather than painted, feel realistic but faded. The closest example I can offer is the World of Warcraft Figureprints. But make no mistake, I do not consider this a minus. It’s more of an acquired taste for me. It does have a very huge plus and that is the chances of you getting a cross-eyed Luke are next to none.
Luke comes with a basic set of accessories: his lightsaber, a set of hands, and an alternate head for Vader. As with everything else, they look fantastic. The lightsaber hilt suffers no loss of detail and the blade is neither soft nor deformed. Like the Black Series sabers, the hilt is detachable from the blade. The only difference is that the emitter matrix and focusing core are also included.
It would’ve been nice if he came with binders, a cloak, and a blaster pistol, but judging from the diorama scene that is supposedly out in stores as well, this is obviously the Death Star II Luke (pre-flap/pre-force lightning) version.
If there’s one thing I disliked, it’s the crotch assembly. For one, I don’t know if the joints were molded in clear plastic (which, for those who can relate, caused problems with DC Collectibles figures—tending to be fragile and brittle compared to colored plastic) or were warped from stress. Either way, I feel that the figure’s durability down there has been compromised. Another is the thin piece of plastic connecting the front and the back along with the exposed T-joint. I wouldn’t call it a design flaw but I would’ve preferred the affair to be a solid chunk of plastic.
Despite the gripe, this is now my new favorite Luke and I’m hoping they will expand this line to include other Jedi. And to anyone who is still unsure, I highly recommend getting one.
You’ll find he’s full of surprises.
Photos by Robert De Villa