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Review : Star Wars Black Series Luke Skywalker (Hoth) and Wampa, The Empire Strikes Back



Welcome to our review of the Star Wars Black Series Deluxe Creature box set of Luke Skywalker in Hoth gear and the Wampa. The set is based on the Hoth Wampa scenes from The Empire Strikes Back and even had Luke suspended upside down in the box. The set was released in 2015 under the blue line phase 2 packaging.

Packaging 4/5


The deluxe packaging sticks to the standard design principle of the blue line with a matt black box and large window to show off the figure. The Star Wars Black Series logo sits bottom left and the grey lined circular illustration top right. Interestingly the illustration is only of Luke and not the Wampa. The character name sits bottom and centre in blue as Luke Skywalker and Wampa.


The Hasbro team have had a bit of fun with the packaging with Luke actually packed as though he is suspended upside down from the roof of the Wampa's cave - his lightsaber just out of reach beneath him. While I guess there was temptation to use a diorama printed cave background, the release sticks with the standard black backing card to keep it consistent.


On the back of the box is a movie still of the Wampa dragging Luke through the snow, this has been converted to a grey almost shadow art image.


The European release of Luke and the Wampa had an over-sticker on the rear of the box at the top for the character name. This obscured the text that was in place on the US release and the reason for covering up this descriptive text is not clear.


"WHILE ON PATROL, LUKE AND HIS TAUNTAUN ARE ATTACKED BY A VICIOUS WAMPA. THE CREATURE HANGS LUKE UPSIDE DOWN IN ITS CAVE, BUT LUKE USES THE FORCE TO ESCAPE"


"Steady. Hey, steady, girl. Hey, what's the matter? Do you smell something?"

The box opens via either of the two side panels and the figures slide out in their inner tray. There are no twisty ties, just a bit of tape around the accessories.

Paint & Sculpt 3/5


Luke follows suit with the prior releases of Luke X-Wing and Luke Bespin with a facial sculpt that is a passing likeness to Mark Hamill, but nothing spectacular. We have a basic single skin tone, over which we get painted eyes and eyebrows. The lips are once again left plain. What we do get however is some painted bruising around Luke's right eye and the right corner of his mouth - there is then some scratching in a blood colour.


The Rebel Hoth headgear is sculpted with the padded insulation type material with the larger peaked gear over the top. To the side of this is the comms gear painted in silver. The scarf piece is a soft goods strip and thi hangs off the side of the helmet. This piece has been attached so it hangs down when Luke is upside down. It is less impressive when Luke is standing upright as it defies gravity and goes up before looping over and hanging awkwardly.

The costume is well executed with the various cream shadings of padded winter clothing. Everything is pretty much cast plastic of the colour the piece needs to be, with a few areas then painted. It is all missing a wash to weather it up as it too shiny and clean. The Rebel decals on the tunic are neatly painted with a variety of colours used.


The belt is sculpted as part of the tunic, and not loose as seen on Bespin Luke. The holster is then the separate part in soft plastic that is glued at it's top to the belt. The bottom section is not connected so not to impede articulation - which can leave it sticking out from the leg and the sculpted strap on the thigh that is meant to be the bottom strap of the piece. I'd have preferred to see this as a whole individual piece.

The giant lump of plastic that is the Wampa is sculpted nicely and is a decent match to the Wampa we see on screen, although some licence has been taken in the fact that this is sculpted plastic and not real fur hanging down the face. The fur is all sculpted flowing detail.


The eye are black and soleless with a grey paint around them. For me this should have almost all been black - one of the things about the Wampa is those giant black eyes. Under these eyes and on the nose is a pale yellow tone. You can see from close up shots of the screen Wampa that this should be more a flesh tone.


The mouth is painted black with sculpted white teeth and the lips are the same grey from round the eyes - more yellowed teeth and lips would have been a little better. Finally we have the curved horns, well sculpted with the ridged detail. They are however poorly painted in the grey single tone and should be a lot darker

The addition of running blood around the Wampa's mouth and down his chin has split collectors. The blood was of course seen on screen as he tucked into a slice of Tauntaun, and the way it has been applied is pretty nice on the chin as it flows away from the mouth and then drips down.


The remainder of the Wampa body is the same sculpted fur detail, captured on each piece that then flows into the connecting piece past the joint. The colouring starts as a cleaner white at the shoulders and varies to a cream further down. The same colouring is used at the top of the legs which are white and move to a cream lower own.


The palms of the hands are furless, like an Ape, with sculpted muscle definition. The claws are the same dull grey as are the three claws on each foot.

Accessories 4/5


Luke is packed with the same accessories as have accompanied him in the previous releases. The first is the DL-44 blaster cast in a black softer plastic with painted grip and barrel. Like its predecessors it is prone to warping. It slots into the right hand of Luke where a trigger finger can slide into the trigger.


When not in use the blaster slips into the holster. The fit is snug without being too tight as to run the paint. A rubber strap then comes over the top and fastens into a socket to keep the blaster in place.

Luke also gets his Lightsaber. This is perhaps the best painted hilt I've seen with clearly defined black fins as well as gold, black and red button details and a black emitter. The blade is a deep blue and this is straight and true. The blade plugs into the hilt with a click.

Luke holds the saber in either hand, or when not in use it can be hung on a hook on the belt.

With the arm articulation, as we will see shortly, the figure can also hold the weapon in both hands.

We can only grade Luke in this section for accessories as there is nothing included for the Wampa. This is not a huge problem, and apart from a slab of meat there is nothing really that could be included to add any value to the snow monster.

Articulation 4/5


Luke comes with the standard 16 points of articulation. As we've seen the arms are ball jointed shoulders with single joint rotating elbows and pivot wrists. This supports some good lightsaber posing in one or both hands.


Legs are ball jointed at the hips, but are a touch held back by the lower hem of the cold weather gear. Beneath the hips are thigh swivels and then a set of double jointed knees. The legs end with a pair of ankle rockers and the figure stands pretty well.


The head is articulated via a neck ball joint and pivot but can only really turn as the head gear and raised collar stop any looks up or down. The plus side of this is that the ugly pivot joint can't be seen - an issue we have had on Bespin Luke and Anakin Skywalker. The final joint is a torso joint set quite low down in the stomach area. This will rotate and also lets Luke lean forward or backward into poses.


The Wampa, impressively, has 17 points of articulation. And despite the bulk is pretty wide ranging in terms of poses available.


Starting with the legs - you wont get the "crouched chewing on a Tauntaun" pose but with ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, single rotating knees and ankle rockers the Wampa can do quite a bit with wider and bent knee stances. Being so heavy and with huge planted feet he stands solidly without issue.


The arms are ball-jointed at the left shoulder with a full range of movement, the right can rotate - there is a reason for that as we will see. The elbows are a single rotating joint and the wrists a pivot.


The head is popped onto a ball joint so can move slightly from side to side, take it too far and it will sadly pop off. The final two joints both sit in the torso - one each under each segment of fur. Both rotate and combined do give a degree of lean and bend to the midriff.

The fun of this set comes with the ability to pose the characters in the various hoth scenes. With the help of a stand we can follow the Wampa's capture of Luke right through to the scenes in the cave...



And it is here at the climax of the cave scene that we find out about the Wampa's final secret - a removable right arm. This is the reason the right arm is a rotating joint only as the peg is designed to pop out of the body. It leaves behind a painted blood red inner on both parts, although the inner socket on the body remains white as does the peg on the arm.



Summary


Fans of the Hoth scenes on Empire will have to add this set to their Black Series collection and the set has many ways of posing it is a lot of fun to play with.


There are few gripes including the face decor for Luke and his the clean and un-weathered glossy uniform. That soft goods scarf on the side of the helmet is also frustrating.


Th Wampa is a huge lump of a figure but the blood effects will split fans and a bit more care over the paint apps on the face would have made it look much better.

At a £44.99 price tag at time of release (2015) this is a lot of plastic for your money and it has some nice touches like the removable arm. I score the Luke & Wampa set a solid 4/5 - with individual scoring of 3/5 for Luke and 4/5 for the Wampa.




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