Hello everyone! My name is Mike and this is my first entry as a Cantina Cast blogger. I thought I would introduce myself as a Star Wars fan by interweaving my personal history with one of the aspects of the franchise that appeals to me most — action figure collecting — with one of the current ‘controversies’ that exists within the modern Star Wars toy collecting hobby. The controversy to which I am referring to is: ‘Hasbro’s decision to now produce the vast majority of the beloved 3.75-inch action figures in the 5 point of articulation (5POA) style,’ rather than using the super-articulated (SA) method of design and production.
Born in 1976, some of my earliest memories feature Star Wars action figures. I cannot say I remember the first two films that much — other than my infant sister crying in the theater during Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back — but, thanks to photographs, I do remember playing with figures from both Episodes IV and V before the age of 5. One Christmas, I received the Death Star playset AND the Millennium Falcon, in addition to all the figures that were available at that time. I cannot recall the special feelings these figures gave me, but I can remember taking one or more figures with me everywhere, leading all of my older cousins to designate me ‘the Star Wars kid.’
Despite the constant play and travel, the only figure I can ever remember getting damaged was when I sat on my Episode IV Luke Skywalker, and snapped his bright yellow hair-adorned head clean off. My aunt repaired the farm boy by driving a straight pin through his head and into the torso. Problem solved. Despite that incident, the vintage 5POA figures were very sturdy (and remain so to this day), and unbeknownst to me at the time, were perfectly designed for kids to be used as toys. Imagine that!
As a now 40-year-old man, I have reacquired most of those vintage action figures (I, too, suffered from the mom-donating-the-old-toys dilemma faced by many individuals my age). These figures sit on shelves now, and very rarely get played with. I say, “very rarely” not because I play with them, but because my 2 and half year-old daughter loves to go into my home office, and pull certain figures off the shelf, and play with them — the vintage Wicket and Bossk are her favorites.
Being the obsessive control freak that I am, early on, I thought that I could minimize her play with my vintage figures by starting a collection of her own (as any parent knows, this was a poor plan — the stuff a kid can’t touch is always more desirable!) This was before Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and Force Friday 2015, and there were not many figures to be found in stores, so I jump started her collection by giving her some of my figures that I did not keep on display — largely figures from the modern toy line, meaning figures released since the year 2000.
One figure that she particularly liked was 2009 Ahsoka Tano from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Collection.
I happened upon this figure in a Walgreens in 2014 on clearance. I did not open it for the longest time, but my daughters incessant ‘Open it’ led me to do so. I gave it to her (without the accessories, of course) and let her go. I had previously given her several of the newer Star Wars Saga Legends and Mission Series 5POA figures, but this was her first super-articulated figure. A few hours later, as I was cleaning up her toys in the living room, I found Ahsoka and literally cringed as she had basically contorted the figure into a pretzel. I quickly straightened Ahsoka out, and put her away.
A few days later as Maggie was playing with some of her toys, including the Star Wars figures, I noticed that she had Ahsoka in hand and was again, twisting and bending her into some strange shape. “Maggie,” I called to her, “You have to be careful with Ahsoka.” She was a year and a half old at the time, and this did not register. This scene played out several more times over the course of a few weeks, and finally, I quietly removed Ahsoka from her collection. Luckily, I was able to replace it with the 5POA Ahsoka from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens line a few months later, and added many, many more 5POA figures from that line to her collection, spanning the entire saga.
Even though her collection has expanded to rival that of any near three-year-old, I have refrained from giving her any more SA figures (except the Star Wars: The Black Series Leia Boushh (3.75-inch) and Mara Jade — she loves those two!) She loads up her Phantom with two Ezra Bridgers, Princess Leia, Mara Jade, and then rotates between Kanan, Sabine, Hera, Yoda, a vintage Walrusman, or Maz Kanata — all 5POA with the exception of Leia and Mara — and has great fun as I smile and think: ‘I got her hooked…’
I say all of this leading to the following conclusion on Star Wars collecting — most action figures are toys, produced for children. There is a plethora of collector-focused lines, from Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series (6 inch) to the newer (and AMAZING!) S.H. Figuarts line out of Japan. Hasbro is attempting to provide collectors with a super-articulated 3.75-inch line, although admittedly, the availability is low; but I personally have no issue, whatsoever, with the fact that the majority of Hasbro’s offerings in the 3.75-inch scale are the more retro 5 point-of-articulation style.
My story, I suspect, echoes the story of many individuals my age, where it was the action figures more so than the movies that really implanted the love for Star Wars. As a 4 or 5-year-old, I did not notice or care, that my figures had limited articulation. And only as an adult, watching a child play with action figures, do I realize that the 5 point-of-articulation design is much more sturdy and able to withstand the play habits of a child — as a toy should.
Let’s pause for a moment, consider the 5POA choice, and realize that the availability and durability of these figures will allow the love of Star Wars to germinate and grow in a new generation — allowing our beloved franchise to continue to thrive beyond the original trilogy generation.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!
Jett, out. *