And now for the next chapter in the Favorite Star Wars Figures Saga... Modern Figures! This article covers my 10 favorite figures from Power of the Force 2 onwards. Again, these aren't necessarily the best figures but those that I hold near and dear to my heart. This time I'll stop fence-sitting and rank the figures in descending order with my favorite last. Let's start off with...
10. Teebo (Power of the Jedi, 2002)
As a kid, the Ewoks were da bombad (as Jar Jar would say). Sure hardcore Star Wars fans virulently reject the Ewoks, but I still love the little buggers. Unfortunately, the first modern Ewoks (the Wicket and Logray 2-pack released in 1998) left much to be desired. The teeth-grinding countenance that I loved about the vintage figures was nowhere to be found in those sloppy sculpts. But four years later, along comes Teebo to revive the ticked Ewok tradition! Although Teebo's so large that he's out of scale with the rest of the Star Wars line, that's actually not a bad thing because he's a much more substantial figure than some modern Ewoks (I'm looking at you, Chief Chirpa).
9. Jabba the Hutt (Saga Ultra Assortment, 2004)
Strangely, decent Jabbas have been pretty sparse. Sure, we've gotten our fair share of Jabba figures, but most of them aren't the real Jabba. Either they depict the weird Jabba of Star Wars SE (who looked more like a talking trash bag than anything), or the comical spitting Jabba of the Prequels. I always wanted the fearsome, sideways-sitting, disgusting hulk of ROTJ. Then along came this Jabba (basically Jabba Glob with better paint apps) which fulfilled all my dreams. He even comes with a tongue with which to lick hapless bystanders... how awesome is that?
8. Yakface (Power of the Force 2, 1997)
For some reason, Kenner/Hasbro assigned proper names to all the SW aliens in the modern line, almost all of which sound like random gibberish. Saelt Marae? What is that, some kind of fish dinner? To crap with that, he'll always be Yakface to me. This figure was super-cool because he was a resculpt of the rarest of the vintage Star Wars line (sans Vlix, of course). And let's face it... the Yak Man is just plain fun, the Joe Camel of the Star Wars Universe. For the record, I cut off his robe because he couldn't sit (which is certainly a problem when putting the figure into Jabba's Palace dioramas). And I always hated his pansy staff, so instead I gave him a cooler skiff guard staff.
7. Yoda (Power of the Force 2, 1996)
The early POTF2 line gets raked over the coals by Star Wars collectors these days. But every once in a while, Kenner really nailed the look and feel of a character in that line. Despite being in the third wave, this Yoda captured the look and feel of the ESB Yoda amazingly well. We got many more Yodas in the years to come, none of them particularly memorable because they depicted the aberrations of the character from the Prequels. OTC Yoda (2004) eventually gave him some competition, but for my money, POTF2 Yoda is still the definitive figure.
6. Wookiee Warrior (Revenge of the Sith Sneak Preview, 2005)
This is the only Prequel figure in the mix because - shocker - I hate the Prequels. But even I admit the preview Wookiee Warrior is super-sweet. Once you strip off that goofy Prequel armor, you have a hyper-articulated wookiee of unbridled awesomeness! The joints allow for lots of great movement, and the feet are large enough to help the figure stand in extreme poses. And this figure really feels substantial, a good-sized hunk of plastic that deserves to be on my best-of list despite its Prequel status.
5. Darth Vader with Removable Helmet (Power of the Force 2, 1998)
I can remember the ecstatic glee that I felt when this figure was first released. It was the very first Darth Vader with a removable helmet, a figure that we had all fantasized about for years. But it was also the first Vader without the hyper-musculature that was characteristic of the early POTF2 line. I love the gesture of the left hand, which is obviously Force-choking some incompetent Imperial fool just off-screen. And, interestingly enough, there are two, count 'em, TWO additional points of articulation in his right arm at the elbow and the wrist. In this era of hyper-articulation we might dismiss this, but at the time it was a big deal. There have been better Vaders since but this one is a great reminder of the "good ol' days".
4. Ephant Mon (Saga, 2002)
Has it really been 7 years since this figure was released? Seems like yesterday. It's probably not surprising to see Ephant Mon on any best-of Star Wars figure list. The character is one of the coolest aliens in Jabba's Palace and Hasbro did Ephant Mon justice with a fantastic sculpt and great paint apps. Not to mention the "giant elephant in the room": this figure's huge! The dude really filled out the card. All this for the low, low price of only $5! Hasbro was never again able to come close to that deal.
3. Han in Stormtrooper Gear (Power of the Force 2 Mailaway, 1995)
Han Stormtrooper was so awesome and had such a great impact on my SW action figure collecting that I've devoted a Toy Tribute entirely to this figure. Read the tribute for more!
2. Hammerhead (Power of the Force 2, 1996)
Momaw Nadon? Enough of these shenanigans, this is Hammerhead. As a kid, I loved Hammerhead (the vintage figure even made it into my top 10 vintage list) and this update was a huge leap forward. Kenner really played up the alien features by giving the figure an interesting skin texture and filling out the creature design with funky feet. I'm not too sure what the deal was with the huge blaster: for a character who's supposed to be a peaceful botanist, he sure carries a gun that looks like it could blow away a squadron of Stormtroopers. But this Hammerhead was such a favorite that I carried it in my backpack during my early college years and it frequently was a passenger during the long college commute.
1. Chewbacca (Power of the Force 2, 1995)
That's right, Sasquatch Chewie is my favorite modern Star Wars figure. Chewbacca was my favorite Star Wars character as a kid so when POTF2 was released, I automatically gravitated toward this figure. Sure, he's hyper-muscular... sure, his semblance to the "real" Chewbacca is questionable... but at the time, I was so overcome with enthusiasm for the new Star Wars line that I didn't care. And despite these "flaws" (which, 14 years later, seem more charming than anything else), Chewie did have some great features: the fur detailing was nice, the waist joint added a lot to playability, and his weapons were super-cool! Not only did Chewie come with his signature bowcaster, but he also came with a cool blaster rifle that you could sling over his shoulder! Like Hammerhead, Chewie frequently tagged along in my backpack and my car. And he also sat on my display shelf for years to come, representing the beginning of over a decade of Star Wars action figure collecting.
And there you are! These top 10 lists are a bit arduous, but fun. Maybe the next will be Star Trek figures..? Stay tuned!
My 10 favorite vintage Star Wars figures