The Good: Detailing on both the Tauntaun and Luke, Cute play function.
The Bad: Terrible balance for both toys, There have been better sculpts since, Harness grip issues.
The Basics: The Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun deluxe toy from Kenner’s Power Of The Force line is a fair representation of the characters with unfortunately low playability.
I am tired of writing about Luke Skywalker action figures. I know that might seem silly as I sit down to review the Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun toy from Kenner’s Power Of The Force line, but I think the marketing department got the name wrong. This is the Tauntaun with Luke Skywalker figure; Luke is an accessory to the Tauntaun. No one bought this figure for the Luke and then tossed the Tauntaun (I know for a fact that the opposite is not true). That being the case, I am reviewing the Tauntaun primarily and treating this version of the Hoth Luke Skywalker figure as a secondary accessory (which, it is).
For those unfamiliar with the Tauntauns, they were the beasts of burden on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!). Luke rode one out to investigate what he thought was a meteor crash and got knocked out by the Wampa creature. The Tauntaun did not fare so well; it was killed by the other beast and devoured.
It is, however, the Tauntaun intact and alive that is the subject of Kenner’s Power Of The Force Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun toy set.
The Tauntaun is a two-legged, furry-looking animal that Luke and the other Rebels rode while on the frozen planet of Hoth. The toy stands just under 6” tall, 8” long tail to claws and a 3 1/4” wide stance that puts it in scale with most of the figures in the 3.75” Star Wars toy line. The Tauntaun is instantly recognizable to fans of the Star Wars Saga, though arguably all that differentiates this from any other Tauntaun to be Luke’s animal is the left horn that is broken off.
This version of the Tauntaun is molded with the saddle on the main trunk of the furry beast. This Tauntaun is cast with its legs in a running stance and arms with the wrists limp, which is how it appeared in the movie. Kenner got a lot right with the sculpt of the Tauntaun as it has the horns, claws, saddle with bedroll all molded on in perfect proportion. The detailing is consistent with the figures of the time and Kenner even textured the body of the Tauntaun to look hairy, as opposed to leaving it smooth (which would be entirely inaccurate).
As for the coloring, Kenner did a fairly decent job on that front. The broad strokes are exceptional; the claws and tail are realistically colored and the saddle is colored distinctly enough to obviously not be part of the body of the creature. But Kenner really wins points for coloring on the fur. On the tail, atop the gray back of the Tauntaun, there are flecks of white which embody snow perfectly. There are also snow highlights on the saddle. The white underbelly of the Tauntaun is miscolored (intentionally) to be yellow, as if this Tauntaun has been through muddy areas (or just sloppy as an animal when it came to eating!). Kenner even made the eyes of the Tauntaun glossy, brown and detailed such that the irises are brown and the pupils are black. The only thing not well colored on the body of the Tauntaun are the buckles on the straps on the saddle!
The Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun was a deluxe figure (vehicle) set. The Tauntaun came with three accessories; a Hoth Luke Skywalker figure, a bridle and a blaster. The bridle is a soft plastic loop that fits around the Tauntaun’s head. Brown and undetailed, the loop has a perpendicular loop on it at the end. That loop fits into the Tauntaun’s mouth. Kenner appears to have recycled the piece from something else as this bridle is not custom fitted to the Tauntaun. Instead, the loop fits around the lower jaw awkwardly, though the straight part of the bridle fits nicely in the animal’s mouth. On the strap that defines the opposite end of the bridle, there is a peg that Luke’s left hand may grasp and a tab that slides awkwardly into Luke’s right hand. The bridle hardly keeps the Luke Skywalker figure stable.
As for the Luke Skywalker figure, this is essentially the same as the Power Of The Force Hoth Luke Skywalker. The primary difference are the legs and the hands. The hands have strangely short fingers that are oriented entirely for the purpose of fitting on the tabs and pegs on the bridle. Neither one solidly grips that accessory. At the time this toy was released, it was a big deal that this Luke Skywalker featured knees that bent. This does allow this Luke Skywalker to sit well on the saddle of the Tauntaun. This Luke Skywalker also stands fairly well as a result of the increased articulation. It does not, however, have the holes in the bottom of his feet needed to allow him to interact with the playsets. The intent here is clear; this figure is supposed to ride the Tauntaun and nothing else!
The blaster is a generic Rebel blaster. The 1” black plastic gun fits loosely in Luke’s right hand and is disproportionately large there. There are no coloring details on this gun to make it at all distinct for the toy. Contrasting with the Tauntaun’s detailing, the gun is distractingly simple.
The Tauntaun that comes with the Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun has unfortunately low playability. First and foremost, the balance for the Tauntaun is absolutely terrible. Because the toy lacks any sort of support for under the feet (this is way too big to simply plug into the usual pegs playsets have – and it lacks the holes on the feet for that sort of support), it must stand on its own. Unfortunately, with its feet in an ideal spread, flatfooted, this is a ridiculously tippable toy. Oddly, when Luke is on its back, the Tauntaun stands better.
Second, the Tauntaun is not the most articulated toy in the Star Wars toy line. The tail is inflexible and the Tauntaun has only five points of articulation. There are simple swivel joints for the legs, arms and neck. The mouth is molded open and is not jointed to close.
The Tauntaun comes with an additional playability feature, though, and that is an action feature. The bedroll that is on the back of the saddle may be depressed to cause the legs to move. The pressing of the button creates a running motion as the left leg of the Tauntaun comes back and the right leg rotates forward. This is cute, but makes it harder to put the Tauntaun in a better pose with its legs closer together.
Like most toys in the Power Of The Force toy line, the Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun toy was overproduced by quite a bit. Demand for the toy was easily met and while the price once peaked at about three times the original release price, the value has since plummeted. Given that there is a brand new Tauntaun toy, it is unlikely the Power Of The Force version will ever rebound in value. In other words, this is not a great investment figure. That said, the Tauntaun looks good even with newer Star Wars figures and toys, so if one does not want the expense of hunting down the new Tauntaun, one option is to pick this toy up cheap and outfit it with a newer, better, Luke figure!
The Luke Skywalker And Tauntaun toy and figure set was very much a product of its time. While its detailing was impressive in 1997, the lack of playability now makes it a tough sell to more discriminating toy enthusiasts. If you find it cheap or just want a Tauntaun to play with, this might fit the bill. But for serious collectors, there are newer and better options that one should avail themselves of.
For other Star Wars toys and playsets, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Saga Legends AT-AT
30th Anniversary AT-AP
Shadows Of The Empire Swoop Vehicle
For other toy reviews, please be sure to check out my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the toys I have reviewed!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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