Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Only One: The Kenner Grand Moff Tarkin Remains Worthwhile!

The Good: Decent sculpt, Good balance, Generally good coloring, Accessory concepts
The Bad: Articulation issues, Accessory proportions
The Basics: Kenner produced a Grand Moff Tarkin that has not been redone since they made it in 1996.

In the realm of Star Wars action figures, there are very few figures that have not been resculpted for greater articulation and coloring realism. Perhaps unsurprising, Grand Moff Tarkin is one of those rare figures. A highlight of the 1996 Power Of The Force figure line, Grand Moff Tarkin, Kenner got the figure mostly right and perhaps that is why the figure has never been redone. It's odd, because it's not like Grand Moff Tarkin isn't a popular character; the Mighty Muggs line did one (reviewed here!) and there was a 12" doll, but perhaps that was enough for the fans.

For those unfamiliar with Grand Moff Tarkin, he was actually Darth Vader's Imperial boss in A New Hope (reviewed here!). The military leader aboard the Death Star, Grand Moff Tarkin threatens Princess Leia and orders the destruction of Alderaan.

The 4" Grand Moff Tarkin figure is pretty cool and it fleshes out the full Star Wars universe wonderfully, looking mostly like the oft-neglected character.


Grand Moff Tarkin is an Imperial officer in Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) played by Peter Cushing. The figure stands 3 7/8" tall to the top of his head. He is molded wearing the Imperial officer's uniform that he was seen in in A New Hope. Molded fairly precisely, Grand Moff Tarkin has a fairly wide stance but is otherwise pretty generic for the body of the figure. The head is all that makes Grand Moff Tarkin distinctive. As such, Grand Moff Tarkin has a very angular face and severe widow's peak. The sculpt is pretty amazing, including fingernails on the figure's hands.

Grand Moff Tarkin is less impressive in his coloring detail, especially in the skin tones on his face and hands. The rest of the outfit is bland and this is a very clean version of Grand Moff Tarkin, which makes sense because he was an officer on the Death Star. The skin tones on the face lack any subtlety and the hair is monotonally gray without any sense of realistic shading or depth. The eyes are, similarly, white with tiny black dots with white pupils in them, making it terribly unimpressive in the coloring details. Still, the rank insignias, belt and buckle on the figure are all realistically colored.


Grand Moff Tarkin, Imperial string-puller, requires few accessories. All he comes with is an Imperial blaster and pistol. The blaster - it's listed as a rifle on the package - is a generic weapon that has come with many, many figures from this time. The inch-long choking hazard fits in either hand, but seems more natural in the figure's left hand. This is a monolithically molded black plastic blaster that is simple and not actually in proportion with the rest of the action figure.

The pistol is unique for the figure and it is a small 1" pistol with a very long barrel. It fits in either hand and, like most of the figures of this era, it was slightly larger than it ought to be. It fits in either hand and is a simple black gun that is monotonally cast without any highlights or shading to it.

As part of the Power Of The Force toy line, Grand Moff Tarkin comes with nothing else. The green carded version came with variants in packaging where the photograph was covered with a hologram and later with a Freeze Frame action slide.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and Grand Moff Tarkin is good in that regard. The figure is poorly articulated and lacks significant articulation to make him interesting with his firearm. In addition to low articulation, Grand Moff Tarkin has limited poseability. If the feet are moved even slightly out of a flatfooted position, this figure tips over. He comes with only six points of articulation, all of which of are simple swivel joints. As a result, he has joints at the groin socket, shoulders, neck, and waist. The elbows do not extend.

This is a generally well-balanced figure, but when it comes to posing, it is fairly tippable. Fortunately, there are playsets with foot pegs which fit into the holes in either of Grand Moff Tarkin's feet.


Grand Moff Tarkin is part of the Power Of The Force four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was incredibly common. Grand Moff Tarkin was ridiculously overproduced, appearing on at least three different cards as an identical sculpt. However, because he was only released the one time, his value has been maintained which is better than most of the other Power Of The Force figures.


Grand Moff Tarkin is obscure but worthwhile because Kenner got him so close to right. Even now, this is still a figure worth picking up.

For other Star Wars: A New Hope figures in the "Power Of The Force" line, please check out my reviews of:
TIE Fighter Pilot
Momaw Nadon
Ponda Baba
Death Star Gunner
Cantina Aliens 3-pack
Death Star Escape 3-pack
Luke Skywalker In Stormtrooper Disguise


For other toy reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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

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