The Good: Good sculpts, Cool accessories, Decent base
The Bad: Cheap cardboard backdrop, Poor figure balance
The Basics: Three intriguing aliens from the Cantina scene in A New Hope make their action figure debut in a three-pack with Labria, Nabrun Leids and Takeel!
Some toys are difficult to review because the whole is different from the parts. In the case of three packs from the Star Wars action figure line - they were quite popular in the "Power Of The Force" series - this has led me to be less-than prolific in reviewing them. In fact, before this "Cantina Aliens" three-pack, the only other ones I have been able to muster up the will to review was the Death Star Escape Three-pack and the Mynock Hunt (reviewed here!). While that one had an obvious flaw for those who hung onto theirs, the Cantina Aliens three-pack is a nice set whose flaw is only revealed by opening it up and playing with the figures inside. These figures, which are pretty impressive sculpts with good accessories, are plagued (two out of three) with an inability to stand unaided outside their packaging.
The Cantina Aliens are creatures seen in the Cantina scene in A New Hope (reviewed here!) when Luke and Obi-Wan met with Han Solo to procure passage on the Millennium Falcon. The scene included a slew of background aliens used to flesh out the feel and scope of the Star Wars universe early in the film. The aliens Labria, Nabrun Leids and Takeel were aliens seated around the Cantina that the camera caught for a few frames each. These aliens now occupy a section of the Cantina together in the Cantina Aliens Three-Pack, accompanied by a plastic base with a cardboard backdrop that plugs into the base.
The 4" figures are rather cool and they are a good concept. Moreover, the three pack lends the idea of increased value in the pack. On its surface, this might appear to be an above average action figure set, despite the cardboard backdrop interacting with the plastic figures. And generally, this is a cool set of figures, so long as one has the playset to plug their feet into.
This is a set of three action figures and a "playset" (or more accurately a play environment). The Cantina Aliens fits the 4" figure line and the three alien figures each come with a single accessory. The Labria figure is an alien that looks fairly devilish with horns on its head and a wicked smile. It is clad in a tunic with a detachable cape that does down to his ankles. The figure stands 4" tall to the top of his horns. This creature has pretty decent detailing, though the toothy grin on mine is sloppily painted with little definition between the teeth and pink lips. The sculpt incudes such details as the scarf Labria wore and silver cuffs on his wrists. He has piercing brown eyes which are marred only by the fact that the pupils are white instead of black. The costume detailing is cool in that it includes a tunic shirt that descends below the waist, necessitating the use of soft plastic for the "skirt." Outside that part of the tunic and the cape, Labria is made entirely of solid plastic and is very sturdy.
The Nabrun Leids figure is a distinctive four-armed alien who was seen briefly at the Cantina bar and is well-cast here. Its head is essentially a gas mask and it is wearing a jumpsuit so it appears as if it is a pilot. This creature has the appropriate four arms and stands 4 1/8" tall to the top of his beehive head. Nabrun Leids is light on surface details, so it looks like he is a very clean version of the "scum and villainy" found in the Mos Eisley Cantina. The pearlescent white plastic that makes up Nabrun Leids does not discolor over the years, which is nice as well. The extension of the breathing apparatus and lower arms on the figure are cast of a softer plastic than the rest of the body, though the legs have some flex to them as well. The costume is detailed - appropriately - only with black patches that could be pockets.
The Takeel figure is the cow-like creature seen drinking after Han shoots Greedo and tosses the bartender some money for his troubles. This figure is also dressed in a tunic that descends below its waist and is made of flexible plastic as a result. Takeel looks like a white cow with a mop of red hair and this figure actually has some accents of color in the hair which help imply that it is curly like it was in the film. The red tunic sets him apart from most every other Star Wars figure as well. The shortest of this alien trio, Takeel stands only 3 1/2" tall and his black eyes and skin tones illustrate a level of detailing Hasbro was capable of at the time, but seldom bothered with. It is nice to see that they did in this case.
As for the background play environment, the base is a 9 7/8" inch long by two inch wide section of imitation rock flooring that has a slot in the back. The slot is just wide enough for the cardboard back that has the mural of the interior of the Cantina on it. The cardboard backer is problematic because it is easily bent, but by this time Hasbro designed it so that it came completely ready for play. It does not need to be cut out at the bottom to fit into the slot. The base has three plastic pegs which fit the holes in the figures' feet and allow them to easily stand on the base.
One of the nice things about the Cantina Aliens Three-Pack is that each of the aliens comes with their own accessories. Of course, they are woefully inappropriate for the figures - at least as they were depicted in A New Hope - but they look good, can be held in at least one hand each and offer increased playability. For authenticity, these aliens ought to have come with drinks; glasses filled with whatever each was drinking in the Cantina. As it is, they all come with guns. One supposes this allows them to hold their own better in play against, say Stormtroopers, than a drink would, but the authenticity suffers some.
Labria comes with a three-quarter inch blaster that can be held in either of his hands. Similarly, Takeel comes with a small blaster pistol (1 1/8") that is actually a Cloud City blaster for those who have other Star Wars figures. It fits in either of his hands and looks natural enough there. The obviously customized weapon is the blaster rifle Nabrun Leids is holding. This 1 7/8" double-barreled blaster has two grips, one for each hand on Nabrun Leids' right side. Because of the way the grip for the upper hand is extended out, this weapon may only be held in Leids' right hands. It looks very cool there, though!
All three weapons have a fair amount of surface details molded into them, but they are cast in monotonal black plastic that is lacking in any coloring detail to make them look worn or used before this encounter in the Cantina.
The four inch toy line was designed for play and the aliens fit that well and the play environment is a good idea. Still, the figures are poorly articulated and later sculpts - there are later sculpts of Nabrun Leids and Takeel if memory serves - improved upon them a bit. All three aliens lack significant articulation to make them interesting and only Nabrun Leids has the ability to sit down well, though none have knee articulation which would make sitting look more natural. Fortunately, all three figures have foot pegs so they can stand on the play base easily enough. Still, the figures come with only six points of articulation each (save Nabrun Leids, who has the extra two arms which move), all of which are simple swivel joints. They have joints at the groin socket, shoulders, neck and waist. The elbows do not extend, so all arm posing is straight-armed.
The fundamental problem with these figures, though, is that outside their foot pegs, only Takeel is able to stand up. Nabrun Leids is terribly balanced and Labria falls right forward from a flatfooted position. One might pop his cape back and lean him on it for support, but he looks ridiculous that way.
The Cantina Aliens play environment is part of the Power Of The Force four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was incredibly common. Still, this three pack was much less produced and remained valuable in that regard. Given, though, that these three aliens are in no way indispensable to the Star Wars Trilogy, many collectors passed them by. Still, they are pretty wonderful for those looking to display a more diverse sensibility of the creatures of Star Wars.
Balance issues aside, the Cantina Aliens three-pack is a worthwhile pack of Star Wars figures and one that has generally retained its value because the figures inside have not been overdone in the various collections since. Worthwhile for any fan of Star Wars toys, but more casual collectors are likely to find more faults than good here.
For other Star Wars: A New Hope figures in the "Power Of The Force" line, please check out my reviews of:
Death Star Escape 3-pack
Luke Skywalker In Stormtrooper Disguise
For other toy reviews, please click here to visit my index page on the subject!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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