Luke Skywalker: A young farmboy living on the remote desert planet Tatooine, Luke Skywalker yearns to escape the dull routine of his daily chores on his uncle’s moisture farm. Luke dreams of becoming a space pilot, but is torn between his desire to enroll in the Academy and his loyalty to his uncle and aunt, who need him on the farm. When Luke discovers a cryptic secret message hidden in one of his new droids, he sets out on a quest and is catapulted into a world of adventure which will at last fulfill his true destiny. – David West Reynolds, Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
Continuity Note: Although Luke makes a brief appearance in Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith as a newborn baby, he made his movie debut in 1977’s Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope.
Character Background: Luke Skywalker (With Blast Shield Helmet and Lightsaber)
Although George Lucas’ six-Episode Star Wars saga has now been revealed to be centered on Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, when moviegoers first got a glimpse of that “galaxy far, far away” it was young Luke Skywalker and his adventures that were the focus of their attention in 1977; 30 years ago, when Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope premiered with the studio-mandated truncated title Star Wars, no one (except maybe its creator) knew how complex the story really was. At the time, most viewers identified with the naïve, idealistic, and hero-in-the-making’s quest to restore peace and justice to the galaxy, rescue a beautiful Princess, and, by becoming a Jedi Knight, avenge what at the time he (and the audience) believed to have been his father’s murder by a young Darth Vader.
Luke, particularly in A New Hope, is the exact opposite of Darth Vader in the Classic Trilogy; where Vader was initially perceived as the personification of evil and the public face of the Galactic Empire, young Skywalker represents innocence, earnestness, and selflessness.
Luke Skywalker (With Blast Shield Helmet and Lightsaber): The Figure
Ever since I purchased the original action figure bearing the likeness of the Classic Trilogy’s archetypical hero in 1978, I have tried to collect as many 3.75-inch scale replicas of Luke as possible, especially because Kenner’s Figure No. 1, while revolutionary for its time, was extremely limited as far as what kids or collectors could do with it if they removed it from its carded bubble pack. It didn’t come with any interesting accessories besides its permanently-attached retractable lightsaber and had very few points of articulation, plus the colors used to replicate Luke’s clothing and physical features were a bit exaggerated (pants and boots a bit too brown, hair too yellow).
Worse still, it took Kenner Toys, then a division of General Mills Corporation, about a year or so to release other Luke Skywalker variants to reflect the character’s various costume changes throughout A New Hope; until Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot appeared in toy stores in late 1979, if one wanted to put Luke in the X-Wing Fighter’s cockpit, one had to place the Tatooine-clad Luke on the reclined pilot’s seat rather than the flight suit-clad one.
Aboard the Millennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker is instructed by Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the art of lightsaber battle and the ways of the Force. – Package blurb, Luke Skywalker (With Blast Shield Helmet and Lightsaber)
Although Kenner – which was later absorbed by its archrival Hasbro Toys – did release other versions of Luke Skywalker that coincided with each new Episode in the Classic Trilogy, it never seriously revamped its A New Hope Luke figures much; at the tail end of its 1978-85 collections, the toy maker issued a hard to find Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise, but kids and adult collectors who wanted a “Tatooine Luke” figure with a better lightsaber, more accurate clothing details, and other extras would have to wait until the mid-1990s to find it.
In conjunction with the release of The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition by 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd in early 1997, Hasbro began coming up with new figures for its revamped Power of the Force line. 1997, of course, was when Star Wars celebrated its 20th anniversary and the first prequel, Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace was entering its pre-production stage, and in anticipation of the vast nostalgia market, Hasbro decided to issue new action figures depicting Luke Skywalker as he appeared in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
One of the first “new and improved” Luke figures was The Power of the Force: Collection 1’s Luke Skywalker (With Blast Shield Helmet and Lightsaber). Having messed up the Classic Trilogy’s characters’ pre-1997 Power of the Force figures’ appearance by making them look like they all overdosed on anabolic steroids, Hasbro redid the sculpts to make the figures look more life-like in proportions. They also eschewed some of the Kenner production lines’ conventions, such as the quasi-Fisher-Price blandness of the characters’ faces and the exaggerated colors, particularly that of Luke’s hair and clothing.
Luke Skywalker (With Blast Shield Helmet and Lightsaber) depicts the character as he appears when he’s receiving his first lessons on how to use his father’s lightsaber and, of course, the mystical energy field known as the Force. Luke is wearing his Tatooine outfit, which consists of a white farmer’s tunic, beige-gray light pants, a black utility belt with a tool pouch, and tan leathery boots with sandproof leg bindings. (This is, of course, the same clothing replicated in Kenner’s original Figure No. 1, but the color scheme is more accurate and less exaggerated, thanks to Hasbro’s astute realization that adult collectors – its core consumers – were looking for improved detailing in their action figures.)
Although the look of the figure is a vast improvement over that of its 1978 forerunner, it does have a few limitations. The lightsaber (which I’ll talk about in a minute) is now detachable and better detailed, but it can still only be held in a one-handed grip, as the figure’s articulation points are limited to the neck, shoulders, and hips.
Special Features/Extras: Because Luke Skywalker (With Blast Shield Helmet and Lightsaber) depicts the young Jedi-in-training as he appears in the second act of A NewHope, the figure comes with various accessories that appear in different scenes of the film. First and foremost is Luke’s blue-bladed lightsaber, the one that Anakin Skywalker wielded as a Jedi Knight in the final days of the Galactic Republic…the same laser sword that the future Darth Vader would use against younglings in the Jedi Temple…and would be retrieved, almost casually, by Obi-Wan Kenobi as Vader lay helplessly on the hot ashes of the volcanic planet Mustafar.
Like most Jedi or Sith laser swords issued with Star Wars figures since the mid-Nineties, Luke’s lightsaber’s “energy blade” is made of translucent blue plastic that allows light to pass through to simulate a glowing lightsaber effect. Also, the saber’s handle is nicely detailed, with a black pommel, silver handgrip, and even the beveled emitter shroud seen in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Revenge of the Sith.
Another accessory that comes with this figure is a replica of the flight helmet Luke wears, at Obi-Wan’s insistence, during his “duel” with a small remote as part of his rudimentary Jedi training. About the same size of the flight helmet that would later be included in a 21st Century revamp of the “Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot” figure, it is nicely painted and includes such details as the blast shield that will cover Luke’s eyes during the training session and the pre-Imperial fighter squadron markings on the sides.
Finally, because this figure is one that was packaged as part of the “Freeze Frame” wave of the Power of the Force line, the carded bubble pack includes a slide that can be used with a standard slide projector. The “Freeze Frame Action Slide” is a still from the sequence in which Luke “defeats” the remote even though his eyes were covered by the helmet’s blast shield.
As with all the Star Wars action figures, Hasbro recommends this toy for children 4 and up since the small parts pose a clear and present choking hazard, especially for children under 3 years