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6 Star Wars Action Figures That Should Be Added to the Black Series

Yesterday, I took a Star Wars Black Series survey at surveymonkey.com to tell Hasbro what I want to see in future Black Series releases. If you take it yourself, you can 20% off your purchase at hasbrotoyshop.com (a word of caution, the survey is heavily 6″ biased, which can be a problem if you lean more towards 3.75 figures like me).

On another related note, I finally, finally, finally got that Ahsoka Tano figure I’ve always coveted. For years I wanted the Vintage Collection Ahsoka Tano figure but it was always priced at over $100. I love to collect, but I’m not stupid so I waited and learned that Hasbro had released the same figure to the Black Series line. So when it was finally available on Amazon, I bought it. Before that, I bought Medal Ceremony Princess Leia, a much needed update of a 1998 version.

Recently, I got myself to thinking: “what other past figures should get the Black Series treatment?” The possibilities are endless. So I’m narrowing the list down to female characters only and they’ll mostly be from before the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm. Also this is going to be an ongoing series so for now I’m going to pick 6 characters. Let’s begin, shall we?

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Padme Naberrie Peasant Disguise

Episode 1’s toy line in 1999 had three Padme figures: her battle gear, her Mongolian-influenced senate dress and her peasant disguise outfit when she first meets Anakin. At the time, Lucasfilm were promoting Padme and Queen Amidala as separate characters to avoid any spoilers. Padme’s battle of Naboo outfit was redesigned and re-released in 2012 to coincide with the 3-D release of The Phantom Menace but there hasn’t been a Tatooine Peasant Padme since 1999.

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Leia Organa Ewok Celebration Dress

Leia channels her inner Earth Mother. This is my third favorite Leia costume after this one and this one. To show off her diplomacy skills, she wears the dress the Ewoks make for her after Wicket brings her back to his village and again after the Empire is defeated. The last time we saw this dress in toy form was as part of some collectible tin collection in 2006. The figure looks like she needs to use the bathroom. A Black Series update is much needed.

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Juno Eclipse

This figure was part of the 2007 multi-media project The Force Unleashed. Juno Eclipse (portrayed by Nathalie Cox) is the Imperial pilot who escorts Galen Marek/Starkiller on his missions to eliminate any remaining jedi and helps him find his humanity (as well as hers) in the process. The only figure of her is her black Imperial Officer uniform. Eventually she joined the Rebellion so maybe when Hasbro gets around to designing her, she’ll have her Rebellion look.

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T’ra Saa

The picture above comes from the 2009 Comic 2-Pack Collection of secret jedi couple Tholme and T’ra Saa, two heroes of the Clone Wars. Not only did the line feature two action figures for the price of one but also came with the Dark Horse comic both characters featured in. No doubt the toys would fetch a very high price today what with Dark Horse no longer holding the reins of Star Wars. Hasbro can release both Tholme and Saa figures separately under the Black Series banner but you know which one I’m more willing to shelve out money for.

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Darth Phobos

Another character introduced through The Force Unleashed only this character functions as a training hologram for Starkiller. She was included in a 2011 5-pack Toys R Us exclusive. Unfortunately that cost at the time, $49.99. Today the lowest price you can get for the pack on Amazon is $149.69. Yup, time to give the gal her spotlight and her Black Series treatment.

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Jabba’s Dancers

OK, I cheated. I said 6 but I’m including these three because how can you split them up. Well, maybe Hasbro can sell them separately or as a 3-pack. Anyway, Rystall, Greeata and Lyn Mei were added to a musical scene in Jabba’s palace in the Return of the Jedi special edition. They were a part of the late 90s Power of the Force line and included in a 30th Anniversary Walmart exclusive with Joh Yowza and Rappertunie. However these gals have been in the same stilted position since 1998! They could use more articulation because they’re, you know, dancers. 

So that’s my first wish list of Star Wars ladies who should be added to the Black Series. Stay tuned for part 2 and sound off in the comments: which female character action figures would you like to see reissued as new additions to the Black Series?

See also: 10 Female Star Wars Characters That Should Be Made Into Action Figures

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Female Star Wars Characters That Should Be Made Into Action Figures

Aside from a post I wrote about the new Rogue One teaser and a lengthy list of belated Lucas/prequel appreciation from IMDB, I’ve been mostly silent about the direction Disney is taking Star Wars because there’s such a treasure trove of SW stuff pre-Disney. I have six films, two Clone Wars series, one Ewoks TV movie, the Legends/Expanded Universe and the Dark Horse Comics (one of these days I’ll check out those Droids cartoons). But my biggest and only gripe I have with Disney and Hasbro is the lack of diversity and quality in their action figure department. The Force Awakens is the hot item at the moment and whenever I go to Target, Toys R Us and the Disney Store, I always stop at the boys toys section to check out the latest SW action figures…

…AAAAnnnd it’s nothing but TFA, TFA, T-F-A. *Sigh*. I had to turn to Amazon to buy that Princess Leia Medal Ceremony 3.75 Black Series figure that Hasbro made but never released to stores. Phooey!

I still want detailed, articulated, finely sculpted action figures from the OT, PT, CW and Legends eras. It shouldn’t just be the Disney films that get the spotlight.

But enough complaining! What if I made a wish list of my top ten choices for female character that should be made into an action figure? Who would they be and why? Here’s my choices:

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10. Ackmena

C’mon, admit it. You thought Bea Arthur’s performance of “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye” was the highlight of the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special. You even have it downloaded on your iPod. So why not have an action figure of the grand dame of the Tatooine cantina scene? You can add her to that diorama you made of Mos Eisley where she butts heads with Wuher over whether droids should be allowed.

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9. Guri

Bodyguard, assassin, secretary and Xizor’s most prized possession. What makes her different from the others on our list is the secret only the Falleen crime lord knows: she’s really an advanced human replica droid. Nevertheless, between her and her boss, she is the most shrewd. She’s also one of the most interesting characters in Shadows of the Empire. Since they’ve made two figures of Xizor, I don’t see why they can’t make a figure of his right hand woman.

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8. Lanoree Brock

A Je’daii Ranger and the leading lady of Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, a novel that takes place 25,793 BBY. Just imagine owning a pre-lightsaber, sword wielding jedi.

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7. Cindel Towani

The first Star Wars spinoff film to have a female lead. If we can have young Anakin and young Boba, then why can’t we have Cindel? Honorable mention should also go to Nightsister Charal.

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6. Dorme

Two handmaiden action figures came from The Phantom Menace. It’s high time we get some handmaiden figures from Attack of the Clones. Following in the footsteps of Sabe, Dorme is Padme’s #1 handmaiden and closest confidant. One of the most memorable scenes in episode 2 is when she tearfully says goodbye to Padme. If Keira Knightly can be immortalized in plastic why can’t Rose Byrne?

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5. Queen Apailana

I have 6 Queen figures: 5 of them are Amidala and one is Queen Breha (AKA Leia’s adoptive mother). I need more queens in my collection! I want Apailana so I can compare and contrast her funeral gown with Amidala’s gray pre-senate gown.

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4. Queen Jamillia

As I said before: more queens! Plus Jamillia had a great line: “the day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.”

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3. Eirtae (Pre-Senate Cloak)

Even though Queen Amidala’s handmaidens look alike, what with those hoods and all, their robes were just as eye-catching as the queen’s gowns. They’ve made one figure of Rabe in her yellow/orange flame gown, so they should make the other handmaidens in various gowns. Eirtae should get the burgundy gown.

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2. Brea & Senni Tonnika

How they never released figures of these two is beyond me. From the first time I saw A New Hope, I wanted the Tonnika sisters as action figures. As a fan of Ancient Egypt, I was allured by their style.

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1. Tenel Ka 

In my opinion, Tenel Ka is the most interesting female character of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I liked her the moment I met her in the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. A focused, taciturn friend of the Solo twins, Tenel Ka wears many hats: as the daughter of Prince Isolder and Teneniel Djo, she’s a princess of two worlds, Queen of the Hapes Consortium (which means another queen added to my collection!), Jedi, Amazon and mother to Allana Solo. She avoided using the Force as much as possible, refused a prosthetic arm when she lost hers in lightsaber training, and her lightsaber hilt is a rancor’s tooth! So Hasbro and Lucasfilm, if your’re reading this, get to work, on the double!

Now it’s your turn. Which female Star Wars character would you like to add to your toy collection? Sound off in the comments.

 

 

 

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Star Wars and Female Representation – Part 3

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Since I’ve been getting a lot of feedback for my previous posts on female character-centered merchandise, I realized that I didn’t expand on the ladies of the Expanded Universe that much. I just mentioned that there were action figures of them and that’s that. Well shame on me because now I’m going to fix that by showing you which ladies got represented in plastic form and where to find them (Yes, I’ve just heard about how SW toymakers were told not to include Rey in their merchandise. Why am I not surprised? Once again, this would’ve never been a problem when Lucas was in charge.).

I wasn’t much of a star warrior in 1995-6, but I do recall seeing commercials for lots of Star Wars action figures. It wasn’t until the release of the Special Editions in 1997, that Star Wars toys really started taking off and they haven’t lost steam since. The earliest wave of EU inspired action figures was the release of Shadows of the Empire, a multimedia project that revealed what happened to Luke, Leia, Chewie and Lando between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Sadly, there were no action figures of Guri, Xizor’s right-hand, er, woman and only two figures of Leia (one in her famous Boushh disguise and the other in an outfit provided by Xizor). But in 1998, fans caught a glimpse of  an action figure of one of the EU’s most popular female character: Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand. Here it is. But that’s not all. In 2007, Hasbro released some two figure packs that came with a comic. One of them was Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade from Heir to the Empire. And recently Mara was included in the Black Series line. I bought mine from the Disney Store, of all places.

Speaking of 2 figure comic packs, most of them contained ladies: The Dark Woman, Lumiya (the first ever made), Deena Shan (twice!), Ysanne Isard, Darth TalonJarael and T’raa Saa. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Remember Bastila Shan, the wife of Revan, in Knights of the Old Republic? She got an action figure too. And so did bounty hunter Shae Vizla from The Old Republic.

In 2008, Lucasfilm embarked on the most ambitious multi-media project since Shadows of the Empire except this time some female characters were included. Among them was Felucia Shaak Ti (a movie character that surivived Order 66) and her apprentice, Maris Brood. Another important character was Juno Eclipse, the woman who melts Galen Marek’s heart. And as an added bonus in this TFU five figure pack is the first and only Darth Talon action figure, a long dead sith lord resurrected as a holographic figure for Galen/Starkiller to duel with.

Shall I resuscitate you now? No? Good because I’m not finished yet.

Before Rey, there was Jaina Solo, daughter of Han and Leia, niece of Luke Skywalker and “Sword of the Jedi”. In 2009 she was included in the Legacy Collection with her brother, Jacen.

And what about Asajj Ventress? Even though she became canon with The Clone Wars, she was first introduced via the EU. Her first action figure appearance was as stylized as her animated counterpart in Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2003-2005 Clone Wars series. Then there was a five figure Battle Pack set from 2005 that included her, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda and General Grievous. Then in 2007 she was in the aforementioned Comics 2 Pack line with Tol Skorr.

I would mention her 2008 Clone Wars action figure, but that’s not considered Expanded Universe. 😉

For part one of this series, look here. For part two, click here.

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Star Wars And Female Representation – Part 2

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In my last post I addressed the complaints made against Star Wars regarding the lack of female representation. I also talked about some of the Leia-centered merchandise that was released over the years and the fact that Lucasfilm and toy companies were actually very mindful about female representation in their products. But my focus was most on the Empire era with Leia, Aunt Beru, Toryn Farr and Oola. Now we jump to 1999 where Lucas has tantalized us with three new Star Wars movies. How did female representation fare then? Hate to burst your bubble, haters, but if there’s one thing the prequels did better than the originals, it’s that they added more women in their stories. They also brought in a larger female audience. They created new fans – many of them women. The prequels were also an inspiration for many cosplayers because of Queen Amidala’s many wardrobe choices. But there was also her handmaidens, Aurra Sing (more on her later) and Zam Wessell, and lady jedi like Aayla Secura and Bariss Offee. Then in 2008 came the Clone Wars TV show and we got Asajj Ventress (who first appeared in many comics and an earlier Clone Wars TV show), Mother Talzin and of course, Ahsoka Tano. If you doubt her popularity, you’ve definitely been spending your entire adult life hanging upside down in a wampa cave.

But how did Star Wars fare when it came to female representation in merchandise? From what I remember, there was enough Amidala merchandise to rival Disney’s Princess line. T-shirts, stationary, posters, costumes, even a makeup collection! But most of all: fashion dolls to showcase Padme Amidala’s fabulous wardrobe. There was the Queen Amidala Portrait Edition Collection where you could get dolls of the teen queen in her various gowns as seen in The Phantom Menace. There was also another collection called simply, the Queen Amidala Collection and they were more kid-friendly dolls that involved different ways to arrange Amidala’s dress, disguising her as a handmaiden and of course, styling her hair. Twice. I forgot to mention a two doll pack collection where she’s in her battle outfit with Qui Gon Jinn. Sadly there wasn’t as many Padme dolls for Attack of the Clones (except one) but other ladies got their time in the spotlight: Shaak Ti, Aurra Sing and Bariss Offee

But since Star Wars dolls are not a new thing, there was also something that was never released before: paper dolls. Yes! You could play the part of Amidala’s handmaiden and dress her in different royal attire. There was also a Padme paper doll book for Attack of the Clones (because she made more costume changes in that film than in episode 1!)

And of course we can’t forget the action figures. To date, I personally have 13 Padme Amidala action figures, 6 from TPM, 4 from AOTC, 1 from Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars and 2 from ROTS. I also have two Sabe action figures and two bounty hunters: Zam Wessel and Aurra Sing respectively. I could go on and on about my collection but we’d be here all day. Here’s a list instead. (Confession: I’m secretly drooling for that “realistic” Ahsoka Tano Vintage Collection action figure but it’s only available on Amazon and the price offers range from $105 to $139. Yeesh!)

And what of the Expanded Universe? Though it was kicked off in 1978 with Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, toys based on the books, comics and video games of TGFFA shot skyward with the prequels and they covered different eras, from the early days of the Old Republic to the adventures of Cade Skywalker. Characters like Lumiya, Mara Jade, Jaina Solo, Juno Eclipse and Shae Vizla were given their own action figures.

It’s hard to say how Disney/Hasbro will fare in the future when it comes to female character driven merchandise since they’ve only owned Lucasfilm for 4 years now. I’ve been bored with a lot of SW merchandise lately because it’s all been OT and TFA era and I want more representation of the entire saga. I feel that the #WeWantLeia campaign was too limited in its demands. I don’t want just Leia, I want Padme and Ahsoka too. So girls, keep speaking up. Keep demanding. Ask for more female characters in merchandise – not just Leia.

But also, look for that silver lining: DIY merchandise. Sewing and crafts have always been considered a feminine art form and instead of sitting around on their computers, wishing, hoping and tweeting for female-centered merchandise, some fangirls have made their own merchandise. Heck, it worked for Ashley Eckstein.

I will also leave you with this idea, girls: use Star Wars as inspiration to make your own movies. We can’t keep on demanding men to represent us when we have the brains, the hands and the imaginations to represent ourselves. We can’t have more women in front of the camera until we get more women behind the camera. And instead of demanding inclusion in a 40-plus franchise that needs to be retired, let’s create new SF and F stories with female characters or adapt SF novels written by women for the big and small screen.

In the meantime look online and at your local comics, toys and collectible shows for merchandise.

Happy shopping, star warriors.

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“Star Wars” and Female Representation – Part 1

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If you’re a girl who loves Star Wars like me, by now you’d be familiar with all the brouhaha that’s been floating around the internet about TGFFA’s “female problem”. From actor dads who introduced their daughters to the saga (via only two episodes if I may add) to Hasbro’s contemporary lack of female characters in their toy lines, to screams of outrage when the first pictures of the cast of The Force Awakens at a script reading were released.

And I have to admit: I don’t get it.

I mean, I’m all for increased female representation but I don’t get the timing of these arguments. The franchise is nearly 40 years old. It took fans this long to realize that the male to female ratio was disproportionate? Shouldn’t we’ve been complaining about this when the first trilogy was released? And why is a 1977 film being called out for using the Smurfette Principle, while a 2012 film like The Avengers gets a free pass?

Let’s go back to 1977 and look at things in an historical context.

While the 70s will forever be remembered as the decade of The Women’s Liberation Movement, the concept of feminism was still foreign in many parts of the U.S. The subculture of science fiction was no exception. Despite being a genre of futuristic, scientific possibilities, it was a genre that was still ruled by older white men, even though there had always been women SF/F writers from the get-go. One woman writer in particular, Pamela Sargent, describes her dilemma when she was collecting stories for a pet project of hers:

Twenty years ago, my first anthology, Women of Wonder, was published. It was the first anthology of its kind: science fiction stories by women about women. For over two years, I tried to find a publisher for Women of Wonder, and the reactions of the editors were instructive. A few editors thought the idea was wonderful but decided not to do the book anyway. Some editors found the idea absurd, a couple doubted whether I could find enough good stories to fill the book, and one editor didn’t think there was a large enough audience for such an anthology.

Let’s backtrack a little. Not only did society look down upon the idea of women liking science fiction, they couldn’t comprehend the idea of sci-fi as a genre to be taken seriously.

 It’s hard to believe now, but many SF films and TV shows that are now considered classics, were at one time critical, commercial and ratings flops. 2001: A Space Odyssey was hated by the critics and despite positive word-of-mouth, took years to regroup its costs. Darryl F. Zanuck had to overcome a lot of obstacles, both political and creative, to make The Day the Earth Stood Still. Arthur P. Jacobs needed Charlton Heston’s star power and John Chamber’s makeup talent to convince studios to distribute Planet of the Apes. And both Star Trek and The Outer Limits suffered so much from low ratings and executive meddling that it lead to the departure of their respective creators. So what point am I trying to make? That if these classic films and shows had a hard time getting respect with male leads, imagine how much harder it would’ve been if the leads had been female. George Lucas was no exception (It’s been said that one of the reasons he called Star Wars science fantasy was because if he said it was SF, the film would’ve never been accepted).

Speaking of Star Trek, there are times when female portrayal on that show set my teeth on edge. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show as much as the next nerd but there are times I secretly felt that Leia could kick the butts of every woman on the Enterprise (not that she would do that). Having loads and loads of female characters doesn’t automatically make something pro-woman. But a story can have only one or two women and they can be written extremely well. And now back to Lucas.

According to the book The Art of Star Wars Galaxy (Gary Gerani, Berkeley Pub Group, 1993), Luke was originally written as a girl on a mission and Han Solo was a general who was helping her in her quest. But studio executives refused to distribute the film unless there was a budding romance between the two characters, something Lucas did not want (one thing he was adamant about was that the main hero, male or female, would not have a romance). Maybe it’s because classical mythology always featured male protagonists or maybe because male characters aren’t expected to fall in love as much as female characters, but either way Luke became a man. Oh well…

But there is one thing Lucas had been adamant about: in his script there was going to be a woman.

Star Wars has become such a fixture of pop culture, it’s hard to believe that Princess Leia Organa was a shock to filmgoing audiences in 1977. No one had seen anyone like her before because unlike those before her, she was more than just smart and determined, she was an action girl. She knew how to shoot a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. Before Leia, action sheroes were mostly seen on television (like Emma Peel, Honey West, Wonder Woman and Charlie’s Angels), not film. Leia was the first. Yet, it’s inaccurate to say she’s the only female character in the films, she’s the most important. How would audiences have sympathized with Luke’s desire to leave Tatooine if it wasn’t for Aunt Beru’s support? How could we truly comprehend the evil nature of Jabba the Hutt if we weren’t witness to Oola’s demise?

Yet what the first Star Wars lacked in two-hour cinema, it made up for in comics, television, novels, video games and toys. Yup girls, at one time you could girl-themed SW merchandise to your heart’s desire. Here’s a Princess Leia doll. Here’s another one. Here’s one that was released in the 90s. Here’s one of her on a speeder bike.

Dolls not you’re thing? Well did you know there was a 1997 Princess Leia Collection? These were two figure-packs of Leia in different clothes with an accompanying male character. Here’s one in her ceremonial gown with Luke. Here’s another one of her in her Ewok-made dress. Here’s one where she’s with Han on Bespin. And last, but not least, here’s her famous senator gown. And they’re all made with real cloth.

But you didn’t have to be the heart of the Rebellion to get an action figure. You could simply stand there in the background and become an action figure. You could have only one scene and become an action figure. You didn’t have to be in the movies and you could still be an action figure! Many various characters from Kitik Keed’kak to Toryn Farr to Sy Snootles got action figures so that girls could make up their own adventures with these characters with limited screentime. And I’m forever grateful to Lucasfilm for that.

But what about the aforementioned expanded universe? And the prequels? And the Clone Wars? How did female representation fare in those eras? Find out in part 2!

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A Sci-Fi Movie Fan’s Incredible Collection

We all have favorite things we like to collect. Some people collect Barbies. Some collect Beatles or Elvis memorabilia. There are people out there who still like to collect stamps. I like to collect Star Wars action figures, Beanie Babies and SF art trading cards. But every collector, sooner or later, faces the dilemma of where to store his or her finds.

That’s not the case with Cho Woong.

According to Star Wars.com, the South Korea native has quite a collection of movie statues and figures beautifully displayed above his restaurant in Daegu (I’m guessing that’s where he gets the money to buy all these beautiful props and accessories ’cause if I tried the same thing, I’d be living in my car). Most of his collection consists of Star Wars characters, vehicles and weapons but he also has stuff from Alien, Predator, Avatar, Terminator, E.T., Lord of the Rings, Marvel and even The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

But don’t take my word for it, see his website here.

Check out his restaurant here. (This is for those of you who have more interest in his culinary skills than his collecting skills. Hope you can read Korean)

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