Six Years after the destruction of the second Death Star (but thirty-something years and a thousand-something beers before the destruction of the third one), the galaxy is thrust into turmoil. Which was honestly pretty normal at that point. It had been normal since that dorky kid fell into the lava, really.
Anyway, a reborn evil threatens to enslave the galaxy, and the Republic’s third-best-selling action figure – Luke Skywalker – may become their greatest enemy.
Freed from their detention cell, a group of rebels begin their escape from the Imperial planet Byss. But the sudden appearance of Luke Skywalker, who is the only Jedi so he gets to call himself a Jedi Master, could mean unfortunate news for the Rebels.
Has Luke fallen under the spell of the dark side, or do those dark circles under his eyes just mean he needs to drink more water and invest in a better concealer?
So, The Last Jedi came out last month. My last blog post came out before that. This post was originally meant to coincide with TLJ and get me some sweet trend-clicks, but I goofed up on that one.
If you don’t want to talk about Star Wars, that’s totally fine. I get it. You can come back to this whenever you’re in the mood.
If you do want to talk about Star Wars– hello! Let’s look at a Luke Skywalker figure from the 1990s. I think it’s a safe bet, because good ol’ Luke would never generate any sort of controversy… right?
How the 1998 Star Wars Expanded Universe Luke Skywalker (Dark Empire) Entered My Life
Surprisingly enough, this my first Star Wars related review on this blog. These days, I’m not much of a Star Wars superfan, but that wasn’t always the case.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough Star Wars. I was born far too late to see any of the original trilogy in theaters, but that didn’t stop me. There were no Star Wars toys on the market, but I could always go across the street to my neighbor’s house (I mentioned him in this article) and play with the vintage Kenner toys he inherited from his older brother.
I also had a subscription to Star Wars Insider and taped copies of each of the movies, either copied from TV, or taped from VHS rentals from the video store. I had the novels and some of comics, both from Marvel and Dark Horse.
But then, in 1995, something magical happened. Kenner, how owned by Hasbro, launched a new Star Wars: Power of the Force toy line. A Star Wars toy line I could call my own. Sure, GI Joe was dead, and Transformers was on its way out with a brilliant last year of Generation 2, but what did that matter?
I had Star Wars.
I saw all of the special edition versions of the films in theaters on opening night. I played the old West End Games tabletop RPG. I read every book and comic I could get a hold of. Even into my first year of junior high, I was wearing Star Wars t-shirts to school.
So, what converted me from a Star Wars superfan into a guy who couldn’t even be assed to review an old Star Wars toy in time for the premiere of The Last Jedi?
Really, it all comes down to The Force Awakens.
Before TFA came out, I climbed back on the Star Wars hype train at warp factor 9 (Star Trek is still better than Star Wars, deal with it). I bought several toys from the Hasbro TFA line, bought a ton of older Star Wars toys from eBay, and even got into the Star Wars SH Figuarts line.
And then the movie came out.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see it within the first week. Unfortunately, a couple of louts on the Articulated Comic Book Art (ACBA) Facebook group spoiled a key point in the movie. They casually threw out spoilers in the comments on someone’s Han Solo photo, and I just saw those comments while casually scrolling through my news feed. I didn’t even seek them out.
I called them out on it. They called me several choice homophobic slurs. I wasn’t on the Star Wars hype train anymore.
I’ll keep this brief, but that had a big impact on me. That’s because it seemed like Star Wars was now the domain of the kids who bullied me in junior high for wearing Star Wars shirts (shortly thereafter, I switched to Dead Kennedys shirts from Hot Topic).
It was no longer the realm of the kids who read the Star Wars RPG sourcebooks for fun.
But, of course that’s a ridiculous line of thought. I’m no gatekeeper. Who am I to say who’s a real fan? Star Wars has always been a mainstream, obscenely-merchandised juggernaut of a franchise, anyway. I just had an emotional moment, and was trapped behind my own perspective.
Star Wars is for everyone. Now, kids get to grow up with Rey, Finn, Poe, and the little beach ball fellow. All is right in the star war.
So, I saw TFA on DVD. And it was okay. It was like Star Wars: Greatest Hits. I then saw Rogue One, and got more hyped for Star Wars. As The Last Jedi was creeping up on us, I even bought more Star Wars toys.
And I even saw The Last Jedi in theaters. I liked it pretty well. If TFA was SW: Greatest Hits, TLJ was the band’s slightly experimental album that branched off from their core sound a bit. I approve.
So, that brings us here. When it comes to Star Wars, I always favor toys of weird aliens, droids, bounty hunters, or characters from the Expanded Universe (EU). That’s mostly what I buy.
I only really need one Han, Leia, Chewie, Yoda, and Obi Wan Kenobi. But, since Luke is my favorite character, I have way too many Luke Skywalker toys.
Let’s look at one of the weird ones. Here’s a review of the 1998 Star Wars Expanded Universe Luke Skywalker (Dark Empire), which I bought right before The Force Awakens came out, but never futzed around with too much until now.
1998 Star Wars Expanded Universe Luke Skywalker (Dark Empire) Review
Now, on with the review.
This figure was released in the “Kenner” POTF2 line under the “Expanded Universe” banner. Older fans, for the most part, hated this toy line because most of the figures were ripped as hell. Bulky to the max. Hell, the original POTF2 Lando could break a super rare vintage Anakin Skywalker figure over his knee without even ruffling his rubber cape.
I loved those figures. But they show their age now, and are a product of their time– they’ll never be as charming as Kenner’s 70s and 80s output. I freely admit that.
But, by 1998, “Kenner” (aka Hasbro) were starting to dial things down a notch.
May I present to you, the slim and trim 1998 Star Wars Expanded Universe Luke Skywalker (Dark Empire) figure:
This is how Luke appeared in the Dark Empire comic series from 1991, and is supposed to represent his “turn to the dark side” within those ancient, coveted tomes (1991 was a long time ago, ok).
His basic appearance is great, as Luke always looks good in black. He even has some nice blue highlights on his arms to represent comic book shading. The long coat looks sharp, and he casts a shadow as an appropriately “maybe evil, idk” version of the character.
The long coat is a separate piece, and is removable.
Like the Star Wars figures of the time, and like most Star Wars figures now, his articulation is limited. He moves at the shoulders, neck, and hips. But there’s also one more SUPER SECRET POINT OF ARTICULATION:
Can you believe your eyes?? His right wrist can also swivel, because that hand pops off for “severed robot hand” action. Honestly, it’s pretty great. Sure, there was a time where every Star Wars figure had a removable magnetic head, or a set of fully mutilated limbs for “thrown into the lava” action, but 1998 was not that time.
It elevates an average figure into a slightly-above-average figure.
Now, for accessories, Luke comes with a pretty dope red bladed lightsaber and a blaster pistol. The exact blaster pistol that came with the toy isn’t pictured in this review, because I didn’t find it in my Star Wars box after 7 minutes of digging and swearing. But this one’s close enough, believe me.
I’ve always fancied Luke as a guy who’s at his best when he uses all of the tools at his disposal, which includes both space guns and laser swords. So that’s a big plus for me. He also came with a cool cardboard diorama, which I somehow misplaced in the last couple of month.
Finally, let’s take a look at the head sculpt:
In the above photo, you can see him pictured with the Shadows of the Empire Luke Skywalker, who reused the original POTF2 head, and a more modern Luke Skywalker from The Force Awakens line. It’s much better than the older head sculpt, and is kind of a lateral move from the newer one. It’s not great, but you can tell it’s supposed to be Luke.
Okay, one more thing– to me, this represents Luke as he appeared within the pages of the comic. When I was a kid, Dark Empire was legendary to me because of how cool the comic book covers were. The interior art was… not the same. This is Luke from the interior art.
Some time in the mid 00s, Hasbro released a Dark Empire Luke that more closely resembled the comic book covers.
Here they are together:
I like that the 1998 figure is a little more subtle and classy. The newer Dark Empire Luke is just an outrageous cluster of capes and leather, and I love him for it. I see no reason not to own them both.
Verdict: This is a Star Wars toy from 1998. That tells you almost everything you need to know. Although now Hasbro basically sells the same toys, huge missile launchers and all, but charges us more for less-beefy physiques. Where’s the justice in that? So, yeah, maybe you do want this guy. Mildly Recommended.
- Here’s Luke Skywalker at Rebel Scum, where you can see his proper blaster and cardboard cutout
- Here’s Luke Skywalker at The Figure In Question
- Luke at Jedi Insider
- Here’s Luke Skywalker at Adam Pawlus’ Figure Of the Day
- Here’s Luke Skywalker from 2 Live Crew
If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, thank you.
2017 was a hard year– possibly the hardest one I’ve been through. But starting this blog was a huge bright spot on an otherwise difficult year. I’ve met so many amazing people, formed new friendships, and found a ton of great websites to read in my downtime.
I hope to post on this site at least twice a month, going forward. I’ll never be someone who pumps out a huge amount of content. I like to take my time with things and make them something special– special to me, anyway. But, I need to stop being a lazy jerk and post at least twice a month.
Thank you for bearing with me.
I really appreciate you, whether you’ve collaborated with me, chatted with me on social media, left a comment here, or just scrolled through these reviews to look at the pictures.