Updated: Nov 26, 2018
Review : Obi-Wan Kenobi, Force Spirit Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro) Wave/Series : Walgreens (US) Exclusive Released : Sept 2017
£29.99 (UK Import Price)
Pros : A unique take on the Force Spirit, stunning take on the packaging design Cons : Robe is a little "floaty" and shows signs of fraying
Like Luke & Han in Stormtrooper armour, if you let a Star Wars line go for long enough then at some point a Force Spirit or Hologram figure will make an appearance. While the Stormtrooper disguises turned up a few years back, it has taken nearly 5 years for the first 6" Force Spirit to arrive on store shelves.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi Force Spirit was announced on Force Friday 2017 as a Walgreens US Exclusive. From announcement to arrival on store shelves took just under a month. While the Walgreens exclusivity is restricted to the US, other territories like us here in the UK have been able to order direct from independent retailers.
Outside of Convention exclusives, this is the first Black Series figure that has broken with the current packaging design to do its own thing. And what an exceptional decisions that was. While he box remains identical to the usual format, the colouring has changed from red to blue. And not just any blue, but a ethereal electric blue that matches the shading of the Force Spirit figure itself. Even the artwork has changed from grey to a ghostly blue image of Alec Guinness. And this is a brand new image rather than a re-use of the art from the 2016 Obi-Wan release.
While the colour is an obvious change, it is also worth noting that the packaging on the figure is the older box style with a thinner base to the box front as opposed to the extra thickness added in the Chirrut and Baze wave. And yet the Star Wars Black Series logo atop the box is the newer brighter finish.
Being an exclusive, the box is not numbered - so the blue side spine simply carries a dot matrix square and the character name.
Round the back of the box we get the same Alec Guinness image, now larger, and sitting to the side of some background text which talks around Obi-Wan as a "Legendary Jedi Master" and his role in the Clone Wars and how he acted as a mentor for Luke Skywalker. This is the same identical text as was presented on the Wave 9 release in 2016. There is no mention within this text about the Force Spirit and how Obi-Wan returns in this form after his death at the hands of Darth Vader.
The inner tray is slid out as normal via the top or bottom flap and comes sat in the blue cardboard tray that provides the figure backdrop from the box. There are no accessories included with this release.
Force Spirits are the Marmite of Star Wars collectors - you either love them or hate them. In the past, in the 3.75" range, the Force Spirits have always been a blue transparent figure. This 6" Obi-Wan uses some blue transparency in the extremities like the hands and feet. But it applies a brand new take on the Force Spirit by presenting the bulk of the figure in normal colouration - but with a silvery and glossy hue.
This application is actually pretty accurate to what we see on screen, particularly in the Dagobah scenes in both Empire and Return of the Jedi. Obi-Wan is shown as a transparent figure with a blue hue - but not all blue, that particular look is how holograms are presented.
The sculpt and body of this figure is identical to the Wave 9 2016 release, and in a way the paint on this version shows much clearer how good the Alec Guinness sculpt is on that figure - the silvery paint goes a long way to exposing the sculpt and defining the features much more than a simple skin tone ever could.
The figure is clad in a sheer purple toned robe, which is not as heavy as the original Obi-Wan cloak. Being see through, this robe adds to the ghostly look as the transparency of the cloak allows you to see the robes and feature underneath and yet it still defines a cloak shape around the figure.
That being said the robe is very "floaty" and difficult to shape. It also has some ribbons of thread at the point where it is has been cut - particularly around the cuffs of the sleeves. This could lead to fraying over time.
There is still an issue with the hood, which doesn't sit easily over the head - although it is better than the original. Obi-Wan wore the hood up in the scenes on Hoth, but down in the Dagobah scenes. Getting the hood to sit down is still a challenge and you end up with a floaty piece behind the head when it is folded backwards.
As you can also see from these comparisons. there are no sculptural differences between the two Obi-Wan figures. In fact, the Force Ghost borrows its entire sculpt from the 2016 Obi-Wan and that means the hook for the lightsaber remains in situ on the ghostly Obi-Wan, even when the saber itself is not included (Ghosts don't need weapons).
Articulation on the figure is not something you need loads of, after all this is a Force Spirit and he just needs to stand there and hand out wisdom to Luke. That being said, the figure comes with the same level of articulation as all Black Series figures. the head is articulated and rotates and looks up and down within the gap between beard and chest.
The arms are jointed at the shoulders and can be moved out and up if needed with a full range of motion. The elbows are a single joint that rotates. This bend allows the hands to be placed on Obi's belt as per the pose Guinness takes up in the movies. Sadly the hands remain the gripping hands and that doesn't look all that natural.
The legs are jointed at the hips and with double jointed knees and ankle rockers. This all gives loads of movement, but the skirt blocks most of this and leaves Obi-Wan stuck with a neutral pose.
As an exclusive the Force Ghost approach ticks a few boxes by giving collectors a variant to an existing figure. While getting hold of the figure isn't difficult, by being an un-numbered exclusive there is a choice not to have it in your collection.
Does the Force Ghost approach work? Well I think it achieves what it can under the restrictions of an Action Figure. Perhaps some kind of lighting might have added something, but that would have also added to the RRP which is already up by about $5/£5 to normal pricing.
In many ways this figure shows off the Obi-Wan sculpt much better than the original release. But it also has some flaws such as a flimsy cloak that is difficult to shape around the figure. Because of this I can't award full marks, but for me as a concept and with that stunning packaging I will award a high 4 out of 5 for this Force Spirit.
I also predict Force Spirit Yoda and Anakin Skywalker by the end of 2018, either as future Walgreens exclusive or a possible 2-pack at a Convention or via another retailer.
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