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Starkiller (Vader's Apprentice)

SW: The Force Unleashed
by yo go re

What makes this review different from and all the other Force Unleashed ones we've done? This time I've actually played the game in question! Wait, what's that? You say this is based on Force Unleashed II, not the original? Well, never mind. Here comes another dose of my ignorance.

According to the number in the corner on the back of the card, this is figure #100 in the Vintage Collection line - an impressive milestone, to be sure! Of course, it would be a more impressive achievement if the figure had ever actually made it to stores. This guy had the misfortune to be released after the Episode I figures, which were heavily over-ordered because of the Phantom Menace 3D re-release. Just like in 1999, those figures pegwarmed like crazy, and stores didn't order the subsequent releases. Toy fail!

We've reviewed enough Force Unleashed toys that you probably know the story by now: while helping carrying out Order 66, Darth Vader found a child with an amazing proficiency in the Force, and decided to raise him in secret as an apprentice, to help overthrow Emperor Palpatine. Since Palpatine was still around for the original trilogy, you can probably guess how that plan turned out (and Star Wars fans may understand what we mean when we say this guy's name should probably be Gaalen Maarek now).

This is the seventh Starkiller figure Hasbro's released, and it's got the best likeness yet. The character was voiced by (and modeled after) Sam Witwer, who's really got a ton of nerd cred: he's been on Being Human, Walking Dead, Smallville and Battlestar Galactica, and even this is only the first of his two SW roles! And this toy looks like him. Kind of.

Subject 1138 is wearing an Imperial flightsuit, his second outfit in the game. It is, as you'd expect, a plain grey jumpsuit, though his has been personalized a bit: the shirt is either torn or just unbuttoned, allowing us to see a flash of blue on the chest, and he's got a big belt with straps hanging from it (reminscent of an X-Wing pilot's safety gear); beyond that, it's just the standard kit, including black boots and gloves, armor plating on the elbows, knees and top of the feet, and Imperial logos on the upper arms. He's foregone the helmet and all the pack of electronics on the chest, but he does still have a small backpack piece that plugs into his spine (the toy's spine, not the character's spine).

Starkiller's articulation is pretty good, befitting a Vintage Collection release. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, H-hips, hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. Yes, there are a few joints that could have been done better, especially when you consider what an active, dynamic character Vader's Apprentice is, but this is still above average. He's armed with two light blue lightsabers, as well as matching lightsaber hilts that can plug into his belt. The lightsabers have different designs, which is odd: the ones in the game seem to be a matched pair.

In case that weren't enough to make you want this figure, don't worry, we're not done yet. He also comes with a bit of chest armor, two plates for his forearms, and a new, wide belt with a white loincloth hanging from the front and back. Taken all together, it does a decent job of re-creating the game's "Hero's armor," but that was worn over a different, blue and white, set of clothes, not the Imperial flightsuit. The intention is clear however, and we give them points for trying.

In order to put the alternate outfit on, you need to remove the belt and backpack. And also the figure's head, but that's easy to do thanks to the decently sizeable ball and socket joint.

Starkiller (Vader's Apprentice) is a really nice figure, and hands-down the best Galen Marek we've had yet. It's just a shame that pretty much nothing after Ratts Tyerell and Ben Quadrinaros ever made it to stores, so the only way to get them was to overpay online. There are a lot more Vintage Collection figures I would have loved to buy, if they'd ever appeared.

-- 09/01/13

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