Thursday, June 9, 2011

Podracers Without Pods Just Don't Stand Up: Ody Mandrell & Pit Droid Figures Fall Down!

The Good: Not a bad likeness
The Bad: Neither figure stand up, Simple, Pointless articulations, Low value for cost.
The Basics: Unable to fit easily in a podracer, even if he came with one, Ody Mandrell's sculpt detracts from his most obvious purpose; to sit!

Is it possible to remember back before the hype surrounding Star Wars Episode I and recall what it was like with all of the potentials being limitless? "Episode I" was the Great Unknown, so when new merchandise was released and it sparked theories and debates. A lot of press and intrigue surrounded the podrace scene in The Phantom Menace before the film was released and it was hailed by some as ten minutes of the best special effects of all time. The people who did that tended to backpedal when the scene was revealed as a pointless race that had little bearing on the overall narrative of the film, but still, toys like the Ody Mandrell figure released around the same time as the film let fans and collectors believe the sequence would be huge and important. Sold as something of a mini two-pack, Ody Mandrell comes with an Otoga 222 Pit Droid and is an utterly unmemorable character cast into a completely worthless figure.

Ody Mandrell, one of several podrace pilots who raced against young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace (reviewed here!), was made into a thin, jockey-like action figure. Unique to The Phantom Menace, this podracer is small enough that Hasbro felt they needed to add a second small figure as well and tossed in a little pit droid. Because he was relegated to only the first film, many collectors forget about him or pass his red-carded figure by.

Those who take the time to look over this 4" Ody Mandrell figure tend to pass him by anyway; he is light on details and cannot stand up without assistance. Still, he fleshes out the full Star Wars universe fairly well, but given the lack of unique podracer toys, making more podracer pilots was an odd choice on Hasbro's part.


Ody Mandrell is sculpted in his sleeveless tunic with leg wrappings that go down his legs. His hands are open entirely, so he is not able to hold any accessories, if there were accessories he was sold with to hold! He looks more or less like he did in The Phantom Menace. Basically, he looks like little blue elf. Flatfooted, Ody Mandrell (and his pit droid) fall over. Only the peg hole on the bottom of his foot will allow him to stand erect.

The Ody Mandrell figure stands a slight 3 5/8" tall to the back of his curved skull. Ody Mandrell is appropriately coifed in a simple tunic which is molded to the figure. The figure is cast entirely in soft plastic and the tunic descends into a little skirt. Unfortunately, this "skirt" is just stiff enough to prevent the figure from sitting easily, which is about all the figure is good for. The figure is cast in blue plastic that lacks any surface shading, so he almost looks like an animated character.

This toy is an accurate sculpt, but not a very exciting one. The character the figure is based upon is a CG character and Lucas and his ILM team were still getting such characters realistic-looking when the figure was made. As a result, the figure is only as good as the source material.


Ody Mandrell, being a pilot comes with a helmet with comm system (essentially goggles which fit over the character's eyes) and an Otoga 222 Pit Droid. The goggles are on the figure in the package and are molded to the character's skull so they fit perfectly. Still, the goggles may be pulled off if one wants to take Ody from the racetrack to the bar afterward.

The pit droid accessory is a 2 3/4" biped-pit droid that does little but tip over. Hasbro made it articulated at the hips and shoulders, but the only way the droid does anything but tip over is if it is leaning against something or its articulation is used to put it into a sitting position.

In addition, this figure comes with only the standard CommTech chip for this series of figure. For the "Episode I" figure line, Hasbro toyed with action figures that spoke to those who took them out of the package. Thus, each figure came with a chip that featured an image of the character and a voice chip. When placed on the CommTech reader and read, the CommTech player would play dialogue from Ody Mandrell on it. This chip has phrases in alien gibberish, so it is not worth even recording here. The chip utilizes the actual dialogue from the movie, so it sounds perfectly like Ody Mandrell.


The four inch toy line was designed for play, but Ody Mandrell is terribly lame in that regard. This is a fairly literal thing; the Ody Mandrell figure is very poorly-balanced even when in a flatfooted position. He does not stand up on his own, which makes two figures in this pack that fall right over at the first sign of gravity. Sure, Ody's legs can be spread so he does splits, his "skirt" resists even that!

Because of the balance issues, Ody Mandrell is a poor figure as far as posability goes. He is given only five points of articulation. The lowered flexibility pretty much mandates collectors pose the figure in sitting or using one of the standing pegs on a playset. Ody Mandrell, as an action figure, has joints at the groin socket, shoulders, and neck. There is no articulation in the knees or ankles, which matters less considering that Ody falls over no matter how the legs are posed. The neck turns all the way around, though.

Ody cannot hold any accessories, neither can the pit droid. All they do is fall over.


Ody Mandrell is part of the last of the 1998 "Episode I" collection of four-inch action figures. This series of Star Wars action figures was generally overproduced, but Ody seems to be less overproduced than the initial run and as a result, figures like Ody Mandrell are quite a bit harder to track down than their first wave counterparts. As a result, Ody Mandrell may be found, but he is usually priced above the discount rack prices some of the other figures ended up with. Still, most collectors avoid Ody because of the playability and balance issues.


Unimpressive in every way, Ody Mandrell and his pit droid are two figures for the price of one that remind collectors that sometimes, it pays be be discriminating about the toys they collect.

For other Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace action figures reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
Chancellor Valorum
Ric Olie
Rune Haako
Captain Tarpals
Tatooine Darth Maul


For other toy reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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