While Star Wars geeks rant and rave about how "terrible" the new films are, they forget one very simple fact: the old films weren't any better. Characters changed motivations at the drop of a hat, nothing was really examined or explained, and the visual effects were more important than the dialogue. The only real difference between the films is the age of their audiences at first release.
As Star Wars fans have grown up, so have the toys aimed at them. Gone are the simple, straightforward figures that started the 3¾" scale and the Big Five as articulation. Today's figures are more detailed, with better likenesses and accessories. Some are preposed, some are highly articulated, but they're all fairly ornate. Not something you could give to a young fan of the films.
Though the hardcore fans have aged (and, some would say, become nitpicky and bitter), George Lucas has never forgotten that kids are a real part of his audience. And there was no way he wasn't going to sell them something.
Enter Playskool. They teamed up with Lucasfilm Ltd. to release a line of preschool-friendly Star Wars toys with offerings from all the films. Items range from small three-figure sets to a large Millennium Falcon playset.
Searching the galaxy in the X-Wing fighter, our hero Luke Skywalker and his trusty sidekick R2-D2 find their most feared enemy - the evil Darth Vader. Let the lightsaber battle begin!
"X-Wing Adventure" is one of the mid-priced sets,
featuring three figures and a vehicle. Included in the set are Luke Skywalker in his pilot gear, Darth Vader and R2-D2. The figures have a "super deformed," almost gashapon look to them. Vader is especially cool, with his squashed proportions and giant red eyes. He has a real fabric cape and moves only at the shoulders. His red lightsaber is gripped tightly in his right hand. Molded in a slightly squat position, Vader's legs are one solid piece and provide him with plenty of stability.
Luke, of course, has a ridiculous grin on his face.
Wearing his bright orange flight suit (patterened after actual Navy flight suits, oddly enough), he shares Vader's odd half-sitting pose, though his giant feet are separate. He's got his blue lightsaber in his right hand and his left hand is open, palm out; a magnet in there is supposed to create "Force action," but only when used near certain other figures.
The sculptors even went to the trouble of recreating the technological thingamajig on Luke's chest. The only oddity is that he's not wearing a helmet. Safety first, kids.
R2, on the other hand, might as well be an accessory. While the detailing on him is nice, he's just a solid lump of plastic with no action.
The X-Wing is the star of this show. Measuring 9" wide by 8" long and 3¼" tall, it is a very good reproduction of the ship from the films. Well, provided that ship were smooshed down in size. Like the people, the ship has been compressed for young hands.
The cockpit opens and closes (Luke's wrist articulation keeps the lightsaber from getting in the way), R2 fits in place behind the pilot, and the wings can be adjusted to either flight or attack mode: push the button behind the little droid, and the wings spread apart; push the panel on the rear of the craft and they snap back together.
Overall, the theme of the Playskool sets is "cute." The people, the beasts, the vehicles are all much more adorable than ever before. Unfortunately, Playskool seems to have done what no other Star Wars licensee has ever managed: underestimated the demand for their product. The sets are fairly difficult to find, between the folks buying them for their kids and folks buying them for themselves.
These are great toys, if you can find them; just be prepared to snatch them from a child's hands if need be.