Saturday, December 4, 2010

Concept Figures Time Tells Us We Can Live Without: Deluxe Luke Skywalker Desert Sport Skiff!

The Good: Interesting idea, Initially fun for play.
The Bad: Figure looks nothing like Luke Skywalker, Springloaded features wear out easily, Yellowing, Poor construction.
The Basics: An initially cool idea (if not execution) Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff has shown its weaknesses as time goes by.

Star Wars action figure collectors seem to fall in with a niche of action figure collectors that I've only otherwise recognized with collectors of superhero action figures, which is exemplified by an acceptance - often an eager one - of concept figures. Concept figures use obscure iterations of recognizable characters and make them into action figures. So, for example, I was surprised to discover that the incarnation of Wonder Woman from the Elseworlds volume Amazonia (click here for my review of that!) who was basically a carnival sideshow attraction, had been made into an action figure. With Star Wars figures, some of the most popular concept figures include toys based upon Ralph McQuarrie's original sketches for Star Wars or the George Lucas as a Stormtrooper convention exclusive figure. But the concept figures for characters that did not appear in the films arguably got their start with the 1996 Deluxe Power Of The Force line, which featured three different concept figures, one of which was Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff.

The 4" Deluxe Luke Skywalker figure is a mixed bag and while initially, the figure might have been rated higher, years and play have revealed the faults with this toy, making it much easier to pan now.


The concept behind the Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff appears to be that while Luke Skywalker was growing up on the desert planet of Tatooine, he needed a way to get around. The concept of the Desert Sport Skiff appears to be a miniature version of one of the floating skiffs that Jabba the Hutt used. The personal sized one comes with weaponry, a control panel and, of course, Luke Skywalker. Colored to look weathered, the Desert Sport Skiff is arguably the most tricked out, weaponized floating skateboard in the history of the galaxy.

The Luke Skywalker figure that comes with the Desert Sport Skiff is abysmal. This was made during Kenner's obsession with beefing the characters up. As a result, Luke is wearing a recognizable costume from Star Wars: A New Hope (namely, his white outfit he wears on Tatooine and most of the Death Star scenes), but the person underneath it looks almost nothing like Luke. With an upper body that makes Luke Skywalker look like the Terminator, this is Luke Skywalker on steroids. Luke has no real neck and looks like a body builder and his legs look like those of a professional footballer.

The detailing on the costume is fair. Luke is painted to have molded and colored details on his belt and the boots look like wrapped cloth, which is how they appeared in the film. But Luke's hair looks plastered down and cut like the Incredible Hulk. Still, Kenner got the eyes mostly right as they are bright blue.

But what it truly off about the Luke figure that comes with the skiff is the hole in Luke's back (which does nothing, nor connects to nothing with this toy) and over the years, Luke's white wrap outfit has yellowed. The yellowing of the plastic was an unfortunately common problem with the Kenner Star Wars figures and it is little surprise that this Luke has yellowed as well. This Luke stands 3 3/4" tall.


The whole reason to buy the Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff is for the accessory. The Dessert Sport Skiff is a 5 3/4" long mini plane with a 6" wingspan. The brown and gray device is intended to look like a hovering platform which may speed Luke around the desert and what it has going for it is the coloring. In addition to having snazzy racing stripes, the Desert Sport Skiff has tiny dots all over it which insinuate it has been beaten by the desert elements and the coloring details are good . . . at least on the main body.

Unfortunately, the main body comes with two black side cannons, a missile and the control panel stand. All of these are monotonally cast in gray-black plastic which contrasts the main body of the skiff. At least the control panel has a sticker to denote that.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff is fair in that regard. The figure is mildly articulated, with only swivel joints at the groin socket, shoulders, waist and neck. Oddly, this Luke Skywalker balances well off the skiff and because the skiff has two pegs on the aft quarter specifically designed for this figure (and enough to prevent subsequent, properly proportioned Lukes from using this accessory), he stands on the Desert Sport Skiff perfectly.

Unfortunately, the Desert Sport Skiff is poorly constructed. First, the skiff has spring-loaded wings which pop out on the touch of a button. Unfortunately, that spring wears out very quickly, which results in a far less dramatic result than one might want after only about twenty uses of that function. But more than that, the Desert Sport Skiff features the side cannons which are long and look like laser guns. But, they are so long that the minimal attachment they have to connect them to the main body of the skiff makes them flop in unfortunate ways. This, sadly, also makes for a far less dramatic impression while one is playing and the more times one removes the side cannons, the worse the problem becomes.

What increases the figure's playability, though, is the launching missile. The Deluxe Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff features a central firing missile which may be activated at the touch of a button. So, with Luke on the Skiff with his hands on the controls (the way Luke is molded this is the precise way he is intended to be), one may still load the missile into the front of the Skiff and press the button below him, which launches the missile. Sadly, this function, too, degrades greatly with time. Initially, mine launched over a foot, but now, the missile only fires out about six inches before falling. Luke's Desert Sport Skiff went from being a great long-range assault vehicle to a serious liability!


The Luke Skywalker is part of the Power Of The Force Deluxe four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was exceptionally common. This was a pegwarmer at the time, largely because it was massively overproduced and fans were still note sure about the concept figures. Now, this remains one of the Kenner failures as even years later, it is hard to find it for more than its initial release price. Investors took a bath on this one and it seems as people notice theirs yellowing, this is not a figure most fans are replacing.


The Deluxe Luke Skywalker's Desert Sport Skiff figure is not an essentially bad idea, but it is a pretty poor execution of the concept, which has only gotten worse with time. If it weren't well balanced and actually have some decent playability, it would be a complete lemon.

For other Deluxe and concept Star Wars figures, please check out my reviews of:
Han Solo With Smuggler's Flight Pack
Boba Fett With Missile Launcher


For other toy reviews, please click here to visit my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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