Friday, 29 November 2013

Star Wars: The Modern 12 Back Part III

Part III
Here are the final four entries to round out the best modern 12 back Star Wars action figures. If you’re late to the party Part I is here, and Part II is here.

Darth Vader

At the time of A New Hope you’d be forgiven for thinking that Darth Vader was the big bad of Star Wars, but as the saga progressed that title went to the Emperor, and Vader’s redemptive arc gave Return of the Jedi the emotional push it sorely needed and became the fuel for the Prequels. I still get shivers down my spine when watching his revelation in The Empire Strikes Back, and I must have seen it hundreds of times. It’s easily my favourite moment of cinema.

This version of ol’ Darth is from The Anniversary Collection of 2007, and originally came packed with Obi Wan’s vacant cloak, following their lightsaber duel at the end of A New Hope. This figure was far better than the VC08 version I recently sold, but I wouldn’t consider this the current definitive Vader – for that honour goes to VC93.


The nicest thing about looking at these A New Hope figures in isolation is that the story starts and stops there. With the original 12 backs there weren’t even sequels, let alone prequels, and that’s why this Stormtrooper, from 2004’s Original Trilogy Collection is the definitive version for me.

Rocking 14 points of articulation, an excellent sculpt and an appropriately sized blaster, the best bit about this guy is that if you remove the helmet, all you get is a ball joint. Maybe the helmet is a bit on the small side, but the less that clones infect the OT the better.

Ben Kenobi

After having half a film to shine Obi Wan Kenobi gets relegated to an expositionary role for the rest of the OT, but by then his work is done – Luke has been more or less sufficiently mentored, and his final sacrifice allowed the Falcon crew and Princess Leia to escape. He may have been old, but he went out like a champ!

This Obi Wan is also from the A New Hope Blu-ray Commemorative pack, and is based on the 2008 Legacy Collection release. It’s a very good iteration, capturing his wizened look rather well. The force-using finger pose makes him slightly awkward holding his lightsaber and the cloak is extremely billowy, but those are the only cons on an otherwise fine figure.


Finishing off the original 12 backs was the diminutive Jawa, the desert scavengers that bought the droids back together and got slaughtered for their efforts. The character of these guys, by which I mean their seeming enthusiasm and peculiar language, really helps bring Star Wars to life. These are the first aliens/indigenous life forms that we encounter, and their successful appearance is the springboard needed to completely sell the film. By the time Luke arrives at the droid sale, we’re already invested in the world.

This Jawa is an incomplete version of the 2009 Legacy Collection edition. It should come with a blaster for the bandolier holster, but sadly that was lost by the original owner. However, in its original condition this is still the finest Jawa you can find.

And so the Jawa wraps up the modern 12 backs. It's been fun photographing and profiling these figures, and with this set it also marks the first time that I've actually fulfilled a collecting focus. Other than maybe getting all the accessories, and the VC93 Vader, these figures are all I need as far as A New Hope collecting goes. It's nice to be able to say that this collection is finished.

This series couldn't have been made without the amazing review database over at Jedi Temple Archives - be sure to go take a look for yourselves, and thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Star Wars: The Modern 12 Back Part II

Part II

Part One, showcasing the first four figures, is here. Now we’re really hitting the big guns…


Chewbacca is one of the characters that helps to shape Star Wars the most. His relationship with Han softens the smuggler’s image, making him a more relatable character, and Chewie’s loyalty (most explicitly shown in ESB) erodes even the hardest of hearts. He may not have much of a character arc, but the OT wouldn’t be the same without him... whilst the PT would be a tiny bit better.

This Chewbacca is from the 2011 Vintage Collection Android set and is my preferred modern sculpt of the character, in large part due to the mouth being closed. There’s 15 points of articulation but he’s such a lean character there’s only so much posing you can do. That said, ball-jointed hips would have killed the look of him, so it’s an understandable trade off. This version was second hand and so his trusty bowcaster is missing its bow. It’s a shame, but I’m not too panicked about finding a replacement – I’m sure one will turn up eventually.

Princess Leia

For a film series that was being made up on the fly, the way that Princess Leia and Han Solo’s story arcs intertwine is extremely well done. She starts off as the uptight senator and bastion of the Old Republic, but as the saga progresses she eventually mellows, remaining a strong leader (at least until the final act of ROTJ), whilst becoming more forgiving of Han’s devil-may-care attitude, and even a little bit cocky herself.

This figure is from 2004’s VOTC line, and it looks like it too. It’s a decent figure, better than any from the POTF2 days, but Leia looks young, more like the teenage queen Lucas originally envisioned. Well scaled, but by that definition extremely small, she goes well with Han and Luke but unlike the respective likenesses of the other two, doesn’t quite do Carrie Fisher justice. An update for the captured Princess is sorely needed.

Luke Skywalker

The main hero of the OT, here’s Luke as he first appeared way back when: a young moisture farmer unable to take control of his own destiny who turns space adventurer, Princess-saver, Jedi-in-training and rebel hero. That’s a lot to pack into two hours, and is probably why so many kids grew up idolising young Skywalker. It may be cooler nowadays to say Han was your favourite, but there were fights over who would be Luke in my playground, brah.

Luke here is from the Blu-ray Commemorative pack for A New Hope, which is a slight repaint of 2009’s Resurgence of the Jedi figure. It’s the best modern ANH Luke by some margin, with 14 points of articulation, a fantastic sculpt and one of the better Mark Hamill likenesses Hasbro has produced. The arms do hang a little long and the figure suffers from not having ball-jointed hips, which could have been hidden by his skirt, but as Luke Skywalker goes this is a superb action figure. He fits in the Vintage Collection Landspeeder as well, which is always a bonus!


Star Wars wouldn’t have happened without R2-D2, the astromech with attitude and an unnatural devotion to his mission. Whilst Han had Chewie, Luke had R2, a divide between the natural and mechanical worlds that is examined thoroughly in Will Brooker’s highly readable BFI guide to Star Wars. I’m not excited at the prospect of seeing R2 again in the sequel trilogy after the way he was used in the prequels, but if they are going to be wheeling out the same characters again then you’d suppose that he has to be in there somewhere…

Also from the Blu-ray Commemorative pack, this R2 was originally from 2005’s Saga Collection Early Bird set. It looks gorgeous with a shiny chrome top, crisp blue paint job and lots of nice little details, including a removable third leg and light-piping for the eye. This is by far the best R2 at 3.75”, and well worth purchasing.

Part I is up here, and Part III will be online on Friday.

Thanks for reading!

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