New Life For STAR WARS & WITCHBLADE Figures (Mania.com)

By:Dan Cziraky
Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Old toys never die. Well, sometimes they do, but often they just get repackaged or rediscovered by new fans attracted to the property when it becomes a big-budget movie (like TOMB RAIDER) or a popular TV show (like WITCHBLADE). Today, we take a look at a couple of action figures that have been on the market for a while, but are currently the victims of a renewed life. The Boba Fett: Special Edition 300th Figure was recently put into a new package, making the old one a collector's item, while Moore Action Collectibles' WITCHBLADE figures are popping up at Kay-Bee toy stores across the country fans drawn by the television series can pick them up at a discounted price (assuming they don't mind that the figures are based on the comic book likeness, not Yancy Butler).



STAR WARS



Kenner/Hasbro never made a big deal about their 100th or 200th STAR WARS figuresnot the way they did over their 100th and 200th edition Batman figures, anyway. But, for the 300th SW figure, they decided to give the fans and collectors a little something special (maybe to make up for all those months in 1999 and 2000 when we couldn't find anything new on the shelves?).



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For the Boba Fett: Special Edition 300th Figure, released early this past winter, Hasbro sort of combined the articulation of the 3-3/4-inch line with the style of the now defunct "Epic Force" 6-inch line. This Fett was sculpted to recreate an actual pose from the movie, which was reproduced on the side of the window-box packaging. The figure also came with a few added extra details that did, in fact, make it rather special. It had a cloth cape that draped nicely at the figure's left shoulder. The eight points of articulation (including the movable range finder on the figure's helmeta first in this scale!) allowed for a good number of alternate poses. The figure's smaller blaster actually fit in its hip holster, a la the "Han Solo (Mos Eisley Cantina)" figure. Finally, it had an actual, firing rocket-pack.



Ah, the ol' firing rocket-pack! How many of us are old enough to remember those original, mail order "Boba Fetts" from 1979? They were advertised on the backs of the original line of STAR WARS figures from Kennera year in advance of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACKand were supposed to have rocket-packs that fired. Then, some kid fired a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA toy "Cylon Fighter" missile down his throat and choked. Suddenly, it was a safety hazard, and the "Boba Fetts" shipped with no firing rocket-packs. There were rumors for years about a few out there that did, in fact, have the working, spring-loaded mechanism, but these all turned out to be rare production samples. No kid ever got one through the mail-order offer or bought one on a blister-card.



Unscrupulous venders started customizing old Fetts at one point and selling them on-line as the genuine article. (May they rot in the spice mines!) Then, more reputable venders started offering a customizing service, whereby collectors could purchase old figures that were altered to have firing rocket-packs. Of course, the "Deluxe Boba Fett" in the "Power of the Force 2" line had a firing rocket-pack, but it was an over-sized version that slipped over the figure's head and shoulders like a harness.



At last, thanks to those "Choking Hazard" warning labels, Hasbro was able to offer us a real, firing rocket-pack on ol' Boba-boy. You have to remove the dummy/display missile, then place the long-tailed firing one into the pack. By flicking the very end of the missile's tail, it goes flying at a pretty good distance. There's no weight to it, however, so it's unlikely (though probably not impossible!) that anyone is going to put his or her eye out with it.



However, is Hasbro's claim that this is, in fact, their 300th SW figure genuine? The list on the back of the box would seem to support it, but the list is riddled with inaccuracies! It doesn't even support Hasbro's depictions of "Mara Jade" from the SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE line as the 200th figure, or "Han Solo in Carbonite" from the original RETURN OF THE JEDI line as the 100th figure on the back of the "Boba Fett" box!



Recently, Hasbro made a running change to the packaging for this figure. Originally, the photo of Fett on the left side of the box was set against an all-white corridor, supposedly in Cloud City. The new packaging uses the same photo, but now has the green laser-burst, which is the signature of the line's packaging, coming from behind him. Since these new packages seem to be getting released in bigger quantities, those original, white-corridor packages are now highly collectible.



Meanwhile, Hasbro is busy repackaging several other figures for release later in 2001 and 2002. Several figures planned for release with CD-ROMS, such as an all-new "Bespin Luke Skywalker" and "Laser-repelling Bespin Darth Vader," will now be packed without the computer disks. Later this year, we can expect some "Deluxe" figures, such as "Amanaman with Salicious Crumb" and "Princess Leia with Desert Sail Barge Cannon" from ROTJ, "Darth Maul Crusader" (stripped to the waist and sporting a full-body tattoo) from TPM, and the much-requested fan favorite, "Luke Skywalker with Bacta Tank" from TESB. We can also look forward to some "25th Anniversary" 2-pack, window-boxed figures in 2002 of EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE characters such as "Luke & Leia on Death Star Bridge," "Obi-Wan & Vader's Battle," and "Han Solo & Chewbacca."



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WITCHBLADE



Moore Action Collectibles' line of WITCHBLADE figures has been popping up in Kay-Bee stores of late. These figures, originally selling for $9.99, have been reduced to just $3.99! Now, these aren't based on the new, TNT WITCHBLADE series, starring Yancy Butler (THIRD WATCH). These are based on the Top Cow comic book likenesses. As such, the action figure of Sara Pezzini is wearing only the Witchblade, as is baddie Kenneth Irons. Ian Nottingham is in knight garb, and the redheaded Medieval Witchblade rounds out the set. The second series of figures, featuring Sara in a skintight red designer dress, Nottingham wearing the Witchblade, and Top Cow character Aspen Mathews of FATHOM fame, can also be found in limited supply at KB. Should the TNT series become a hit, we'll probably see a line based on it from MAC, as well. It should be much more "kid friendly," as the series is going for a "grittier" feel than the comic book, resulting in Butler showing far less skin than her comic book doppelganger. Since Butler's such a babe, this is kind of a shame!



Meanwhile, MAC has announced they will be releasing figures based on THE X-FILES in 2002, and plans call for Mulder, Scully, and Cancer Man in the first assortment! More BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER figures are on tap from MAC, in addition to an ANGEL line next year. So, right now, things are looking pretty good for genre-TV related action figures.