Star Wars Action Figures

 

Yodasnews Review:  Yoda (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498) 

Review Date: July 14, 2008

 

FIGURE SPECIFICATIONS 

After a lackluster first half of 2008 with slow and uneven distribution and only a small handful of figure waves, Hasbro’s Star Wars brand is poised to hit its stride with an entrance expected to rival any of the previous three films’ Midnight Madness events.  On July 26th, the floodgates will open on two very distinct figure lines: The Legacy Collection and The Clone Wars.  As icing on the cake, both the massive new Millennium Falcon (BMF) and the equally massive and impressive AT-TE will make their grand simultaneous debuts on store shelves. 

As a special treat for our loyal readers, we present the first review of the Clone Wars action figure line—nearly two full weeks ahead of street date.  After all, the Rebels weren’t the only ones with covert Bothan spies aiding them.  July 26th is gearing up to be a very expensive night for many Star Wars collectors, so it would be helpful to know what kind of product to expect—especially if a good chunk of your budget is going toward the AT-TE, the BMF, or both. 

And now Yodasnews is proud to present an in-depth review of our namesake, Jedi Master Yoda.

 

ACTION FEATURE:  Excellent 

Yes, dear readers, it’s the “Return of the Action Features.”  They’re back.  Take a moment and let out a collective moan, groan, or tribute to George Carlin by muttering his Seven Dirty Words.  Bucking tradition, we’re just going to get this out of the way now.  Also, its presence intrudes upon other areas of this figure, so it makes good sense to discuss the feature itself now and then address its impact later on where necessary. 

Based upon pictures from Toy Fair earlier this year, we already know that Yoda’s action feature is the only one in Wave 1 to be integrated into the figure itself.  Others such as Anakin and the Clonetrooper have the action feature based in their weapons and can be removed if so desired.  Considering Yoda’s action feature is pretty much in our faces, then the least it can do is perform well. 

And that is the only reason for its “Excellent” rating.  Despite any personal feelings about the concept of action features, objectivity dictates scoring based on performance, and the feature works superbly.  The spring inside the mechanism is tight and holds the energy blast firmly in place.  A gentle push upward on the end of the projectile releases the spring, propelling the weapon several feet.

 

SCULPTING:  Excellent 

The new CGI models for the characters in The Clone Wars represents a combination of Tartakovsky’s unique style and photorealism, and this figure is extremely faithful to that source.  The most telling proof is that the facial features and their geometrical proportions match the CGI model.  The brow lines and their spacing are identical as are the angular cuts of Yoda’s jaw line.  Even the body proportions appear identical such as the size of the ears in relation to the face and the size of the head in relation to the body.  The attention to detail on the portrait is incredible too.  Close examination of the spot where Yoda’s ears connect to his face shows a small bump of overlapping “cartilage” that is also found in close-ups of the CGI model. 

The biggest highlight of this figure’s sculpt is the way it attempts to absorb the aesthetic impact of the action feature.  Rather than a flaccid appearance for Yoda’s cloak, Hasbro’s sculptors went with a wind-swept design.  That means the majority of the cloak “blows” toward his left hand side and “bunches up” as real cloth would.  It also produces a substantial amount of room in which the action feature mechanism can be housed.  Had the sculptors not taken this route, the firing mechanism would stand out even more and likely necessitate an oversized arm.  Of course, the downside is that the overall aesthetic of the figure is still heavily disrupted by the launcher’s presence because Yoda has a permanent hunchback look.

 

PAINT APPLICATIONS:  Above Average 

This is the first of only two areas unaffected by the action feature.  The majority of the figure sports clean paint applications, but there are several areas where the paint bleeds beyond its boundaries.  The most notable area where this occurs is the hairline where whitish-gray spills over onto the dark forest green of Yoda’s skin.  Furthermore, Yoda’s irises should be a golden color—not the green found on this figure.  Beyond that, the paint applications are very good.  The fingernails are crisp, and the eyes (while the wrong color) are clear and well defined unless viewed under a macro lens.  As for the hair, there is a gray wash brushed over a white base, giving it definition and optical texture.

 

ARTICULATION:  Below Average (Bordering on Poor) 

Here is another area in which the action feature causes significant disruption.  Because of the statuesque approach taken on that entire side of the figure, Yoda lacks shoulder and elbow articulation on his left side.  He does feature a ball-jointed head, but the bulkiness of the solid plastic cloak restricts any tilting motion, resulting in lateral movement only.  The swivel cut elbow on Yoda’s right arm feels flimsy and loose, and its range of motion results in the awkward right angles found on Imperial officer figures.  The right hand is also loose when moved and can easily pop out.  The only decent joints are the swivel waist and ball-jointed ankles, but they are ultimately useless.  In the end, this is more of a statue than an action figure. 

ACCESSORIES:  Excellent 

Projectile aside, Yoda comes with his two standard accessories: his lightsaber and gimer stick.  For this character, there is little else that could be included, so this score hinges solely on the execution and quality of these two accessories.  Fortunately, both are exceptional.  The lightsaber is one of the better Yoda ones in the Hasbro line with a mostly accurate sculpt (the emitter shroud is missing—presumably because it would be too thin) and an above average paint application.  It also fits snugly in Yoda’s right hand.  The gimer stick is even more impressive for two reasons.  First, the sculpting on it produces an excellent simulation of wood.  Second, it has the capability to cover up the gaping hole caused by the projectile launcher (the picture below illustrates how).

 

 

OVERALL RATING:  Aesthetics: Above Average; Functionality: Below Average (Bordering on Poor) 

As one of the first figures in the next era of Hasbro’s Star Wars brand, Yoda is a dismal start in terms of craftsmanship and playability.  Regardless of how well it functions, the decision to integrate the action feature into the figure itself as opposed to making it detachable cripples any meaningful poseability, hampered further by poorly executed joints elsewhere.  On the plus side, the sculpting and paint applications are very accurate to the CGI model, and the gimer stick proves to be a saving grace in terms of the overall aesthetic quality of the figure. 

Most disappointing of all is that Yoda is not the outcast in this assortment.  Several other figures in Wave 1 are hampered by a production quality far below what collectors have come to expect in recent years.  Check back soon for reviews of other initial entries in the Clone Wars line.