Saturday, May 7, 2011

Great Accessories, Mediocre Figure, The Empire Strikes Back Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker Still Hangs In There!

The Good: Great accessories, Generally decent playability, Coloring detail
The Bad: Poseability issues, Imperfect accessory, Sculpting inaccuracies
The Basics: The 2002 Luke Skywalker Bespin Duel figure was amazing at the time, but shows its age now in some ways that make it less than perfect!

One of the key questions Star Wars toy collectors face is: "How many Luke Skywalker (Han Solo, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi) figures does one actually need?" As the heroes and primary villain of the Saga, these are the figures which have been recast in so many different costumes and configurations that those who are avid collectors end up with a problematic number of duplicates. One of the chief ones I am on the fence about, but am leaning toward keeping is the 2002 The Empire Strikes Back blue carded Luke Skywalker Bespin Duel figure.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker, at the climax of The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!), Luke Skywalker fights Darth Vader and in the process loses his right hand. Fatigued, almost mortally wounded and thinking himself alone, Luke Skywalker falls to the underside of Bespin where he makes a last stab at clinging to life by clinging to a weather vane. That is where Princess Leia finds him.

The 4" Luke Skywalker figure is the Luke Skywalker that looks battle-beaten and pretty much ready to die. Luke is exhausted and the Bespin Duel sculpt certainly reflects that.


The Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker figure stands most naturally 3 1/2" tall with a very wide stance. Luke in this sculpt is wearing the tan flight suit that he has on when he arrives at Cloud City and this incarnation of it is pretty much filthy. Hasbro's sculpt of Luke features his mouth open in a pained grimace and his hair matted down with a look like he has been sweating for hours. His tan costume is molded with details like the breast pocket flaps on it and his belt is detailed beyond the coloring element; his belt features pouches and his right leg has a holster for his blaster.

As for the coloring, the Bespin Luke Skywalker is a dreadfully dull costume, but Hasbro makes the Bespin Duel version of it interesting by having it not have the monotonal quality of earlier (and subsequent) sculpts. Instead, it is a light tan with darker brown splotches, as if Luke Skywalker has been sweating profusely and is near death in it! The figure features decent coloring aspects, like the belt buckle which is a pretty bright silver (even almost ten years later!).

The Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker is molded to be in an action pose and his eye and nose feature highlights for blood, because Luke had been very much beaten by Darth Vader. Outside that detailing, Luke's flesh tones on his face and hands is monotonal. The lack of realistic flesh tone depth is disappointing, but mitigated some by his realistic eye color and the detail in the mouth where his teeth are white but his open mouth is black, as if his mouth is open and he is screaming in pain. The Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker's hair lacks realistic shading and depth as well.


The Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker is a master of accessories! This one little figure comes with four accessories and they are generally cool. Luke Skywalker comes with his lightsaber, blaster, tourniquet and the weather vane! This is a plethora of bonus accessories for fans of Luke Skywalker or the broader Star Wars universe. The lightsaber is Luke Skywalker's standard blue-bladed weapon and in this incarnation is 2 3/4" long with a silver and black handle. Because this release was made when the Attack Of The Clones figures were in production, it features a 2 1/4" removeable translucent plastic lightsaber blade which allows enthusiasts to have Luke with the lightsaber ready or unprepared! Unfortunately, this style of lightsaber was notoriously breakable and problematic as a result.

The blaster that Luke comes with is a small blaster which looks like the one he had on Bespin. This 3/4" long black plastic accessory features a gunmetal colored barrel which gives it more distinction than many of the early Star Wars figure accessories had. The blaster, like the lightsaber, can fit easily in either of Luke Skywalker's hands or in the holster on his thigh. Unfortunately, because the blaster scope on the side is a little big, it does not fit quite right there.

The tourniquet is a pretty intriguing concept accessory and it fits the figure, even if it wasn't explicitly shown well in The Empire Strikes Back. The idea of a tourniquet for a lightsaber wound is pretty ridiculous, given that lightsabers cauterize the wounds they cause. The tourniquet that comes with the Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker is basically a tube that fits over the right hand of this Luke Skywalker figure. The hand can be removed and the tourniquet fits over the stump even better ñ it is recommended to do it that way so the hand cannot get stuck inside! The white plastic cylinder is accented by black bands and a control panel which suggest that it can apply pressure to the wound. The cylinder ends in a red and white cord which ends in a device that looks like a medical control. This is a surprisingly, almost ridiculously, well-detailed accessory and that alone encourages fans to use it in play.

Finally, the Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker comes with the weather vane that Luke clings to for his life. This comes in two pieces, the base and the tip, but when pressed together, the entire weather vane is 7 1/2" long and ends in a 2" in diameter rubber suction cup. Unfortunately, while the suction cup matches the weather vane well, it is not strong enough to keep the weather vane attached to a surface for very long, especially when Luke is hanging from it. The weather vane is mostly gray and has little red accents to suggest the lights the prop in the film possessed. The weather vane may be oriented one of two ways on the suction cup, but neither the straight down approach or the perpendicular orientation worked to keep it on the walls, desks or windows I tried to hang it on.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and the Bespin Duel Luke Skywalker is generally good in that regard. Luke Skywalker has balance only in a few limited poses, though, largely because Hasbro expected this Luke to be hanging more than standing. In that regard, Luke is a success. This Luke Skywalker is articulated at the knees, groin socket, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. All of the points of articulation are simple swivel joints, save the knees which are hinged joints that swivel giving them an unreal amount of poseability. However, this is undermined by the angle at which the legs meet the feet and the lack of ankle articulation, which forces some very specific foot poses.

The playability is enhanced, though, by two bonus aspects. The first is Luke's removable right hand which simply pulls off or is easily pushed back in. The second is the lightsaber swinging action, which is a button on Luke's back which causes the upper half of the figure to turn, allowing him to bat with his lightstaber or appear to be doing a quick-draw with his blaster!


The Luke Skywalker Bespin Duel is part of the 2002 extended collection (extended off the Attack Of The Clones line and is 2002 Collection figure #29. Luke Skywalker was exceptionally overproduced and demand for it was easily met, largely because this figure was a recast of a very successful Power Of The Force figure which had also been overproduced. As a result, this figure is a terrible investment figure.


The 2002 Luke Skywalker Bespin Duel is another improvement on the Bespin Luke Skywalker figure, but it could be more flexible and the accessories could be in slightly better proportion to the figure. But, because it can be found so inexpensively, it is often worth recommending for a solid Luke figure, if not a great toy in its own right.

For other Luke Skywalker figures, please check out my reviews of:
2006 Saga Collection 005 Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot
2004 Original Trilogy Collection 01 Luke Skywalker (Dagobah)
2003 Original Trilogy Collection #03 Hoth Attack Luke Skywalker
Deluxe Luke Skywalker with Desert Sport Skiff


For other Star Wars toy reviews, please check out my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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