Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Vintage Wednesdays: POTF2 Biggs Darklighter Review

Star Wars Rebellion against the Empire

Yesterday (April 29th) marked the anniversary of the 1997 release of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, the single greatest Star Wars video game experience available. Some other Star Wars news overshadowed this monumental date for some reason or another, but to ensure XvT gets the love it deserves this week I’m celebrating with a Vintage Wednesday look at Luke Skywalker’s best buddy, Biggs Darklighter!

POTF2 card front freeze frame

First of all then, the packaging. Biggs comes on the iconic green blade POTF2 card with the distinctive Vader cut edge, and also comes packed with my favourite of the 90’s era promotions – the freeze frame. I loved these things for a few reasons back in the day; firstly, they were a neat memento to the character’s appearance in the films in a way that harks directly back to the medium of film itself, and secondly they marked the start of a significant upturn in quality for the POTF2 line. This is a US cardback and so doesn't have the trilingual descriptions that I normally saw on my figures - a nice added bonus of being able to pick these guys up for peanuts on eBay nowadays...

Star Wars Power of the Force 2
Released in Wave 14, Biggs benefits massively from a slimmed down sculpt and realistic proportions in comparison to previous human characters, a change for the better that the line started to take in 1998. Whilst still dynamically posed, the figure has a good centre of gravity and stands easily.

Star Wars Biggs Darklighter Hasbro

In addition to the more realistic sculpt Biggs also has much better detailing than the earlier releases, such as the pipes that run along his flight suit and a strong facial likeness. The paints are a nice combination of colours, with the dull, screen accurate orange much better than the day glow Black Series version that’s currently available, and the recreation of Biggs’ helmet design is superbly done. There is some unfortunate sloppiness with the paint apps on my figure, such as some spill from the black glove onto his arm, and a little grey splodge on the back of the white tabard which does count against him. Other sections such as the helmet and the chest panel are as sharp and clean as possible, however.

Power of the Force 2 Biggs

He comes with two weapons, the standard Correllian Blaster that came with nearly every Rebel POTF2 figure, and a larger blaster cannon. Both are fun (and he looks mean carrying one in each hand), but the larger gun works best in his left hand, due to the sculpt of his right elbow. The helmet isn’t removable, but given how the Wedge Antilles from the Rebel Pilots Cinema Scene set turned out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

POTF2 Biggs and X-Wing

Anyway, there’s one area in particular where the POTF2 Biggs Darklighter excels, and that is in the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter. The first actual X-Wing pilot figure released in the modern era (Luke and Wedge were both previously released in their Snowspeeder gear), Biggs needs a slight push on his arms but once he’s in the cockpit it’s like he was made for it. I’ve had a POTF2 X-Wing for a while now without a pilot, and Biggs here does the job perfectly. I just need to make sure I keep him away from any Death Stars…

Biggs Darklighter Admiral Ackbar X-Wing

The 1998 Biggs Darklighter is a fantastic figure, and was a sign of the great things to come with the Hasbro Star Wars line. If you have an old style X-Wing kicking about in desperate need of a pilot, you could do far worse.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

In Transit

That right there is the condensed Mos Espa Collection, Star Wars division - all packed up and ready for the move. It's nice to see quite how little space it takes up in total, given how sprawling I've seen some collections get (not that that's in any way a bad thing; I just don't have the room for that). As the Emcat and I have moved to a smaller house (albeit in a much nicer town) I needed to get my collection as small as it could physically go. Truth be told it was easier than I thought...

I'd held onto various cardbacks, inserts and some complete, carefully opened blister cards, but on looking through them for the first time since packing them away I had absolutely no idea why. My POTF2 Skyhopper box was torn and bent beyond repair and definitely unfit for the purpose of protecting the vehicle, and as nice as the Original Trilogy Collection cardbacks looked, I had literally no use for them anymore. Rebelscum provides a great photo archive if I ever wanted to look at the cardbacks again (so far I haven't felt the urge), and I've freed up some box space - that's a win in my book.

This isn't a loose versus carded collector post at all, it's just my reflections on how I engage with my hobby. It's not a complete scorched earth policy with regards to collateral materials, either - one thing I have held on to is my extremely small collection of product catalogues, from POTF2 onwards. I spent hours looking through these as a kid, and that's something that still brings me joy today - and whatever you collect, that's what we're all doing this for, right?


Since there's a crossover period with the houses we've started to get settled into our new place already, and once again I'm spending most of my time here in the spare room. Whilst everything's still a little bit chaotic at the moment (as well as the move I'm trying to complete my dissertation), when things settle down I'm looking to take advantage of my condensed collection, new space and greater income to make this room into an office/man cave worthy of the name. As such I've been checking out various examples of Star Wars themed rooms from around the internet, and thought I'd take the Goldilocks approach to sharing some of the examples I've been looking at:

Above is the uber-Star Wars room. Doug Chiang, the design director for Episode One designed this home cinema room, and frankly... That's not a level of dedication I'd be able to match. Also, I'm talking about a room in a rented property here - if I were to go this far out, I don't think we'd get our deposit back...

Now this is classy. High end prop reproductions mounted in over lit glass cabinets and beautifully framed maxi-posters in a clutter-free and minimalist environment... In my dreams, this is how my collection would look. Two major issues with this for me though - firstly, my office/man cave needs to be a working environment, which this doesn't seem to be, and secondly... that is a big room. I guess I could ask the Emcat if I could take over the ground floor of the house, but I have a feeling I know what she'd say. Although that would give me an excuse to get one of those Han in Carbonite fridges made...

This setup is much more what I have in mind. Pictures hanging up in nice frames and a glass display cabinet are must-haves (especially if I end up going the high end collectible route), and the loose shelves at the end would provide an ideal display space for the more toy-like of my toys, making them easily attainable for photographs. I love the ships hanging from the ceiling, although I would definitely think twice about putting the Legacy Millennium Falcon above both my computer and my head. I think a cracked skull, broken PC and destroyed BMF all at once would be too much to bear!

My main requirement with the room is that it's functional, first and foremost. I need somewhere to keep my filming equipment, subject books and editing tools in such a way that I have 24-7 access to them, and displaying my collection, however nice it would be to do, is a secondary concern. That said though, now my collection's that little bit smaller, and increasingly more focused, finding that space shouldn't be so hard... right?

How about you - have you got any tips on space saving, or preferred display methods? My room's a blank canvas at this point, it'd be great to hear your thoughts!

Friday, 4 April 2014

They Call Them... Space Trees!

The Ewok Treehouse
Bright Tree Village
Perhaps it's due to my generally left-leaning politics, or maybe it's just because I selfishly want to see a good range of products from licenses I like get made, but either way I'm a big fan of third party manufacturers and the products they bring to the table. Case in point is this new offering from Twelth Parsec, 'Star Wars Inspired Space Trees' (click through to the Indiegogo campaign page). 

Third Party Ewok Hut
Scale Wars
These Space Trees are decent looking modular display sets that offer collectors the chance to build anything from a sole Ewok outpost to a fully connected Bright Tree Village, and they offer a significant chunk of play value as well (usable huts, rope ladders, AT-ST ending log swings); in short, they're offering pretty much exactly what fans, myself included, have been pestering Hasbro about for years. The campaign has already hit its target but has set stretch goals for the next five days, so be sure to at least check it out if you haven't already and see if you could maybe find a place for one of these in your collection...
Image from
I know there's some collector unease about third party products, at least with some well-informed Transformers fans I've spoken to about the subject, but I think that Hasbro only have themselves to blame for the recent proliferation of non-official Star Wars 'inspired' playsets and displays. Whilst the big H has continually claimed that playsets don't work and won't sell, they're basing that on the performance of the lazy, uninspired designs they put out to cash in on the Prequels. Junk like the Theed Generator Complex (above) didn't sell because it's poorly made, cheap and barely resembles the film set it's based on. I can think of two playsets that Hasbro did get right, the Endor Attack Bunker and the Detention Block Rescue - and both of these look somewhat how they're supposed to, and still command a fair to high secondary market price. The demand is there.

Third Party Cantina Booth
The last booth he ever used...
I'm in no position at the moment to afford any Space Trees, but I wish Twelth Parsec the best of luck with their endeavour. For what it's worth I already have a custom 'Hero Booth' Mos Eisley Cantina display from the hugely talented Boutros77, and would definitely buy something of that standard again in the future - be it from Hasbro or otherwise.

So, are third party companies good or bad? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks to Star Wars Collector for the heads up, and thank you for reading!

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