OAFE: your #1 source for toy reviews
B u y   t h e   t o y s ,   n o t   t h e   h y p e .

what's new?
message board
Twitter Facebook RSS      

Starbuck & Leoben

Battlestar Galactica
by Rustin Parr

I'm not sure who invented the idea of an action figure two-pack or when the first one was released, but the logic is sound: two figures equals twice the reason for the consumer to purchase. Often times we get some sort of core character packed with a second- or third-stringer as a way to balance the sales and get out lesser characters. Other times it's two new characters, but every time it comes down to that simple axiom of "how do we sell the most?" DST's Battlestar Galactica toyline is nearing its completion (to the great sorrow of those of us who collect it), and in the twilight here they have gone a bit crazy with the two-packs, but in a good way. They are releasing three sets to help us round out collection. One set has the Number Eight Cylon, aka Sharon "Boomer/Athena" Valeri, in two different colonial outfits (very much appreciated!), another has Lt. Gaeta with the criminally postponed Col. Tigh, and the third rests before our very eyes. Leoben and Starbuck - the match made in...?

I was very disappointed when this set was announced. The end was clearly near and now we were getting a Leoben before a Bill Adama, a Laura Roslin, a Gaius Baltar!? And finally a new Starbuck, but in her green off-duty suit? Really!? These are two figures I would certainly like, but definitely not over several others. It wasn't until I saw the figures in person at San Diego Comic Con 2009 that I decided to order it. In person the likenesses in particular were stunningly accurate, and moreover it was pretty clear that if I wanted this line to survive I could no longer pick and choose but instead support it by ordering and preordering everything I could.

Well, the two pack is out and ultimately I'm happy with it, but really... it's a split vote for me. Review spoiler - Leoben is cool and Starbuck is mediocre.

More philosophical and unconventional than his fellow Cylons, the Number Two model often uses the name Leoben Conoy and seeks to understand the true nature of the universe. With his belief's called into question by the Hybrid's prophecies, his visions of the future now seem more uncertain than ever.

From the waist down this man is identical to Chief Tyrol (he uses the same waist, legs and feet originally created for the Chief), everything from the waist up is all new and all Leoben. This is the character's main outfit which originated, like the name, from his appearance in the last third of the Mini-Series. Good thing the Resurrection Ships resurrect clothes as well. The sculpting is pretty solid and the paint patterns on the outer green shirt are remarkably clean and clear. The only thing to really note is that though the outer shirt is a separate piece from the torso, it has blocks that fit into holes on the torso to which it is glued. An interesting if not odd choice.

One of the many nitpicks I have with BSG is Cylons who not only have a name that all copies seem to use, but also have a sort of uniform, a common outfit, they also always wear, like Leoben here. He should be known as "Two," just as Tricia Helfer is "Six," but whatever. This figure has the best likeness in the entire series. If you look at a picture of Callum Keith Rennie in costume, it's right there.

A gifted and uncompromising pilot, Kara Thrace's combative attitude has puts her at odds with authority in the past. Her apparent death and subsequent resurrection has caused speculation that the dedicated officer might be a Clyon herself... Her true path remains unrevealed.

(Seems like they should "has puts" a proofreader on that copy!)

Okay, so hey, this is only the second Starbuck figure DST has made. Starbuck. One figure up until now. Anders has two, Helo has two, Six had three figures, and Apollo has four, and of course there are easily hundreds of Cylon Centurions and Warriors. Yeah, let's really pile on those guys. But my point is Starbuck, the face of the show, got a figure in Series 2 and then wasn't revisited until effectively the end of the toyline, but they've made four damn Apollos. Hmmm, wow, I wonder why sales were so poor?

Ever since modern BSG got rolling, Starbuck was
a high profile character because the producers had changed the gender of a major character from the original show; it'd be like remaking Star Wars with a chick Han. On top of that, they managed to create a very complex character who is also the best (most believable/likeable) "tough woman" since Ripley in Alien. And to top that off, they cast Katee Sackhoff in the role, a woman with a innate charisma and undeniable cute-ness that has taken the character light years beyond what it could have been and has made Starbuck the quintessential "dream girl" for all nerdy fanboys. Throw this is in a pot and you get money-stew! And this is only the second figure of her that they've made.

What's more, Starbuck has had easily the most variations to her look throughout the series, thanks to her short hair/long hair shifts, not to mention the various uniforms. When I think of Starbuck, the outfit that comes first to mind is her off-duty "tank top" look, after that her pgear, then the blue uniform and finally the jacket version captured with this figure. While I understand the choice to go with this look, its her core outfit for Season 4, I'd have really preferred one of the other costumes, or even another pilot outfit with the zipped-up collar, or with long hair, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But these is the cards we is dealt and they is the punch we rolls with.

Much as with Leoben, Starbuck reuses another figure from the waist down - in this case, Kendra Shaw. The arms come from the Dualla figure (which also used the same below-the-waist parts, so really just think of this as reworking of D) which means Starbuck cannot fully straighten her arms, and thanks to the elbow sculpt the forearms can't really go south of a 45° angle. What is new is the jacket, torso and head. The jacket piece is a soft PVC that fits over the torso like Leoben's but unlike his there are no tabs, holes or glue - this is exactly how it should be. The torso, from what I can tell (based on images), is not shared with the upcoming Athena figure and therefore is all Starbuck all the time. Sackhoff has a pretty unique body type and it's nice to see that acknowledged, though this figure doesn't seem to be as broad shouldered as the actress, though that's no biggy. The head, however, is.

It is horribly ironic, the likenesses in this two-pack. While Leoben is the best in the series, this is pretty much the worst. It basically looks like young Sandra Bullock in a bad wig. The previous Starbuck figure already had a weak likeness, and this does nothing but move backwards. What's worse is that the prototype at SDCC looked so, so much better! The hair is a separate, soft PVC piece to allow for better head movement, but it ultimately just looks lifeless and, well, like a mediocre wig.

In true DST fashion, the set comes with a handful of accessories, most being re-releases. We have the "Galactica Top Gun" stein, a handgun, a Cylon "white thing" (the tracking device Six directed Baltar to in the first episode of the series), a Pryamid ball, the Arrow of Apollo and a mysterious black tube. It definitely looks familiar to me but I can't recall if it's a poster tube used to carry around the Arrow or to tote along "vision" paintings by Starbuck. Either way, it's the only all-new accessory and has a removable lid (though it has no contents nor can the arrow fit in). Despite the various flaws I do see in this set, I will never do anything but thank DST for their dedication to accessories and pulling things through to get us these neat little bonuses!

This set is a perfect example of the risk run with doing a two-pack. It's a heavy hitter character and a second tier character. In theory they help each other out, making a "must have" set, however, despite Leoben's excellence the mediocrity of Starbuck makes this a difficult sell. While a major costume, it's not really a signature look for her and, compounded with a bad likeness, one can easily write this set off. It's a Starbuck you probably won't add to your limited shelf space and a Leoben that will make a skin job display of only Caprica Six and him, since odds are you missed out on the TRU exclusive Sharon/Eight. There aren't even a lot of reusable bodyparts! I can't really recommend this set to you, but I desperately want you to buy it because strong sales means they'll make more... the bitterest of all Catch-22's.

-- 05/09/10

back what's new? reviews

Report an Error 

Discuss this (and everything else) on our message board, the Loafing Lounge!

Entertainment Earth

that exchange rate's a bitch

© 2001 - present, OAFE. All rights reserved.
Need help? Mail Us!