Review : Obi-Wan Kenobi (A New Hope)
Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro)
Wave/Series : SDCC / LFCC 2016 Exclusive
Released : July 2016
Price : £44.99
2016 was certainly a good year for Summer Convention Exclusives in the Star Wars 6 inch Black Series range, and particularly for UK fans who were catered for officially for the first time. While the unmasked Kylo Ren was a Celebration London exclusive that was taken to SDCC a week later, the Obi-Wan Kenobi was an SDCC exclusive that for the first time ever was brought to London Film and Comic Con by A1 Toys.
Fans at Celebration, a week before SDCC and a couple of weeks before LFCC, were also "looked after" with fans at SWCE able to order the figure at the A1 booth for delivery as the 1st August 2016 - the route we took to obtain our review copy. A few remaining figures went up for sale shorty after LFCC.
Where as the 2016 Kylo Ren exclusive saw packaging in keeping with the current phase 3 red & black design - Obi Wan was more in keeping with previous SDCC releases like the 2013 Boba Fett and 2014 Jabba's Palace, although not a direct match. The over-riding packaging is a gloss black, and unlike the usual figure releases there is no immediate window through which to view the figure. Instead the grey lined art that normal adorns a corner of the box is centralised with a very nice image of Alec Guinness. Above this sits the Black Series logo, and beneath it is the character name. To the right side is a contrasting silver spine with a rebel gloss black logo and under this is again the character name and the usual "hatched" panel that is used on most exclusives in place of the normal numbering system.
Round the back and the rear art is pretty plain with a repeat of the Black Series logo top left, and below this a line art landscape of Ben's hut on Tatooine. The only other noise on the box back is the usual European Safety sticker overlaid on the bottom left. So where is the character bio? Well it is on the left hand spine and details the background of Obi-Wan and in particular his exile on Tatooine after the events of Order 66 and through to him accompanying Luke and Han to the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia.
Just under this bio text is a strange "drawer" and if you pull this out you find a cardboard stand and an instruction sheet for the figure and it's accessories. I am not sure I understand the thinking on this drawer vs just packing these in the box. Like the Kylo exclusive, the front of the box is a cover held in place by Velcro tabs. Once open the figure and it's accessories are revealed, and on the inner cover is a text box containing Princess Leia's speech that she records and sends in R2-D2 along side the Death Star Plans. And remember that cardboard stand from the secret drawer? Well here is where this comes in as the whole central panel slides out of the front cover. This can be displayed the in the stand with either the Alec Guinness face or the Leia speech displayed. And of course for boxed collectors this removable panel gives a further option for MIB collectors to show off the figure without compromising the packaging.
The figure exits the box by the top or bottom flap. It slides out packed in the usual clear plastic tray, and behind this is a cardboard background which is illustrated with the inside of Obi-Wan's hut. The figure is held in with a couple of elasticated clear ties, while the table is tied in place with a paper tie.
Let's look at Obi-Wan first.
Obi-Wan stands 6 inches in height and is probably one of the best Human character likenesses they have done in the past 12 months. The likeness is a reasonable one to Alec Guinness particularly capturing his cheek-bones and the fierceness of his stare. There remains a lack of any paint application on the skin tone, but with a more define aged face than say a General Hux, the light and shadows falling on the sculpt does part of the job for you. The beard and hair also helps, and I am pleased they didn't just go with a stereo-typical grey, but more the grey/blonde colouring that Kenobi had in 1977.
The torso is a hard plastic with the outer cream robes over an inner darker one. Neither of these carry any real paint depth, just a base colour. The belt is a dark brown band with gold buttons and hook to the right as you look on which Ben can hang his light saber hilt. And to the left is a pouch. The lower robes are a more flexible plastic and are a slightly different colouring to the top half. These lower robes are fitted on top of sculpted, and very detailed, legs. These legs are dark brown with texturing on the trousers and a sculpted seam, and these trousers then tuck into a sculpted boot. You wonder if these legs will make an appearance further down the line in another figure as Hasbro didn't really need to put any detail into a pair of legs that are completely hidden at all times.
The outer robe is done in soft goods, similar to how Emperor Palpatine was realised in phase 2, and is fully removable - although I found one of the arms on mine was a very tight squeeze to get over the flared cuff of Obi-Wan's sleeve. Straight out of the box and the robes are a tad flat and need some work to get them to hang right. The fabric is light enough and does flow and hang fairly well to the scale it is representing. The hood is stitched and therefore does sit like a hood when up, but is a bit bulky when folded back.
I compared the supplied robe to another that was fan made, and they are probably about the same in terms of how they work on the figure with pros and cons to each. The custom version is a bit better in terms of stitching and finishing, and I worry that Obi-Wan's cloak will fray pretty easily over time.
Articulation is standard to the Black Series. Starting at the feet there is ankle rockers, double jointed knees, a thigh cut swivel and ball jointed hips. None of this is really of any use as you can only move the legs within the confines of the outer skirt piece. That being said, Obi-Wan stands really well and isn't going to fall over easily. The waist is jointed so the torso can swivel and this joint is hidden nicely in the wrap around the belt.
The arms are where you will tweak Obi-Wan's look so it's good to find the arms are really maneuverable on the ball jointed shoulders either up above the head or out to the side. The elbows are single jointed, but do swivel. And as you can see from my pictures, with a bit of tweaking of great wrist movement, you can get Obi-Wan to hold his saber in both sides and ready to take on Vader. The articulation ends in the ball joined head, so Obi can look around a full 360 degrees and up and down.
Obi-Wan is being released as a basic figure later this year (or early 2017) so everything we have talked about so far will be consistent with the standard version. The standard version will also come with Obi-Wan's light saber and this is one of the nicest designs and production pieces I've seen. It captures the multi piece design of Obi's saber, with ribbed black handles and contrasting silver pommel and emitter. The blade is a much tighter fit than other sabers and clicks in and out depending on how you want to display it.
There is a second saber included with this exclusive box, and this is Anakin's/Luke's saber. Although included in the exclusive, it is identical to that supplied with previous Luke's - most recently the A New Hope Farmboy.
The big draw for most fans is the "big" accessory. This is circular table on which sits a couple of gold trinkets and a 1.5 inch blue translucent plastic figure of a hologram Princess Leia. The table is one colour, but is textured, and stands 2 1/4 inches high. Underneath is a speaker and the table is raised up on some feet so the speaker is not on the ground and therefore the sound is clearer when the FX functions are activated.
This FX feature is activated by preying down the gold urn. This activates the hologram by way of an LED under the table. After a couple of flashes the audio kicks in. There are two versions, which play alternatively. The first is the short and sweet "help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope". While the second is the full message which lasts around 40 seconds - and can be stopped at any point by re-pressing the same button. The audio is crisp, clear and reasonably loud considering the size of the item. It is also taken directly from the film, there is no voice actor replication as far as I can tell.
On first listen I felt it was a little slower or deeper than the actual audio on the film, but this turned out to be my mind playing tricks and the audio is a really good replication in toy form. Time will tell how long the 3 AAA batteries will last, or if there will be any deterioration of the LED or audio.
So the final point comes down to value for money. The whole set cost £44.99 for those ordering at Celebration or buying at London Film & Comic Con. It was then increased to online orders to £54.99. In pure terms the figure will cost you £22.99 when it is released as a single figure, leaving you paying £22-£32 for the box and the talking table. The exclusivity will ensure this item will always rise in value, but as a collector you will have to decide if the table and its FX features really warrant paying the price of another figure? To me it is a tad too high, but I understand for us UK customers A1 Toys will have had to pay a premium price to bring a limited exclusive over to the UK and the £44.99 price would certainly be a lot more respectable vs what you would pay for the figure already on the secondary market.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a figure many fans have wanted for a long time, in fact he made it into the short list for last years fans poll. He is a nice figure, and unlike other recent "human" releases is a great likeness to the character. The robes will always split opinion, but like Palpatine you can get a good display pose with work. The table is a nice addition and pumps out strong audio as well as lighting up a nicely sculpted Leia Hologram. My only gripe is with the price which feels a tad high. And there will be a frustration for those many many fans who won't be able to buy this iconic piece of Star Wars. But sadly we should be used to Hasbro doing this to us now considering that both Han in Carbonite and Jabba's Throne & Salacious Crumb have been SDCC exclusives. I score the SDCC Obi-Wan Kenobi a 4 out of 5.