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Review : Star Wars Black Series Yoda, 40th Anniversary, The Empire Strikes Back

Updated: May 9, 2020


Yoda was released in the Spring of 2020 on special Kenner inspired vintage cardbacks to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. This sub-line of the 6 inch Star Wars Black Series started in 2017 with the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope, and the 2020 line continues the design with a number of new characters and figures on these gorgeous vintage cards. Yoda is part of Wave 1 which also includes the AT-AT Driver, Han Solo Bespin, Princess Leia Hoth and Luke Skywalker Bespin.

Packaging 4/5


Like the 2017 releases for the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope, these new Empire Strikes Back figures come on a vintage inspired blister card - complete with original Kenner logo.


The card art remains the same as the original 1980's releases with the same card image of Yoda perched on his log, the same yellow name plate and figure backdrop, and the same red Empire Strikes Back Logo. Even the 4+ safety sign appeared on the original, although this new version has been changed to a circular design rather than plain text. The only new addition is a foil "40th Anniversary" logo in the top right next to the offset punched hole.


The card back is also a replication of the 1980's versions, with the other figures from the wave displayed in varying character specific colour boxes. Beneath this is the 40th Anniversary text which is generic to all card backs. There is no character unique text.


"Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with figures from The Black Series, featuring classic design and packaging"


The only downside of a card of this nature is damage, particularly if these are bought from physical stores rather than specialist retailers. Even fresh out of the case there is a slight bend on the card.



Paint & Sculpt 3/5


Yoda is a re-use fully of the original 2014 figure. Like the Archive version the figure is now treated with the Face Print technology and it makes a big difference to the overall look of the figure with a much better likeness to the original Yoda puppet - most notably the eyes, which were very crude on the original release. There is also a more subtle treatment for Yoda's hair (or what's left of it), which is much more palatable.


The rest of the body is covered in a sand coloured robe, now in a much lighter textured fabric than the first release. It is tied at the waist with a plastic tie fashioned a a belt. There is a fully articulated body under the robes - but they won't come off easily without cutting the belt piece. The soft goods hang fine on such a small frame, but they are a little open at the back of the neck and this causes them to slip down the shoulders. It is as though they are missing a tuck and stitch around the back.



Yoda has his blissl (flute) around his neck. This has a habit of getting in the way of poses and sticking out at odd angles. You may be better tucking it into his robes as it can't be removed as the strap is too short to go round his ears and over his head and off. He also comes with his snake. This was always an homage to the original Kenner release, making its inclusion on the Vintage card more poignant. Hands and feet are painted well enough, with the nails picked out in a bone colour.


Scale wise, Yoda is too big when compared to the other 6 inch figures. He comes up to Luke's waist almost when he should really only reach his mid-thigh area.



Accessories 4/5


The snake accessory is removable. It is cast in a soft plastic and in one shape that is designed solely to hang around Yoda's neck. The stripes are well painted, and up close you can even see the snake skin texture which is really impressive at the scale. The cream and pink are a touch lighter than the original release.



Yoda has his Gimer walking stick, cast in brown plastic with some level of wood effect built in to the cast. This detail may have been more defined with a darker brown wash over the top. It looks and feels slimmer and less substantial than the original version. It can be hooked over or through either hand to create the walking stick pose.



Yoda comes with his lightsaber, something that is not contemporary to Empire. While I appreciate the addition of any accessory - this seems an odd choice for this release.


The saber is a re-use of the 2014 version with black hilt that is then painted silver. The paint on this is less than perfect with scratches and splashes. The blade is translucent green and clicks into the hilt for an ignited lightsaber effect.


Yoda can hold the saber in either hand, but it does look odd when used with this figure and with the hand poses which are more sculpted to hold the walking stick or for lifting up X-Wings.



Articulation 3/5


As a smaller body, Yoda has a lower articulation count of 14 points. This is just about all he needs for the level of posing you would want. As I said lightsaber and fight poses look and feel odd. The joints are sufficient for having Yoda lean on his stick or gesticulate with his hands at Luke.


Head : ball joint neck

Body : ball joint waist

Arms : ball joint shoulder, double joint elbow, wrist pivot

Legs : ball joint hips, single joint knee, ankle rocker


The arm do suffer a little bit from the lack of a bicep swivel to offset the inability of the elbows to twist. In fact Yoda may have been better served with a single elbow joint that rotated. Without this rotation there is no way Yoda can get anywhere close to two handed poses of either his saber or his stick.



Summary


Yoda is a nice inclusion on the Vintage card, particularly with the snake accessory. Once opened however we still have the same figure from 2014, albeit now a little better looking thanks to the face print.


There remains issues with articulation and the lack of any rotation at the bicep or elbow, and that means posing can be a little stiff and is definitely restricted. I also don't want to knock the inclusion of any accessory, but the light saber is odd both in the blister for carded collectors and for loose collectors where it will probably go straight into the spares box.


Hasbro certainly have not perfected a figure of our favourite Jedi Master, and I score this Vintage carded 40th Anniversary release a 3 out of 5.




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About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...

action figures, reviews, review, articulation, star wars, black series, empire strikes back, dagobah, 40th anniversary, hasbro, yoda,

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