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.
11 thoughts on “1998 Star Wars Expanded Universe Luke Skywalker (Dark Empire) – Dragon Fortress Reviews”
In 1998, I was a Star Wars buying fool. The end of ’97 and first four months of ’98 were simply awesome as Hasbro was pumping out new figures by the truckload and most of them were stuff we’d never seen before. Stores had huge Star Wars shelves and you could find pretty much everything within a couple of weeks of the first sighting. Then, though, the figures stopped selling.
I remember it was shortly after the Removable Helmet Vader wave came out. Hasbro simply pumped out too many repack cases and too many cases of the yellow series 2 or whatever they were called that had a bunch of poor sellers in it. Basically, retail backed up and the rest of the awesome stuff planned for release in ’98 basically became impossible to find.
I bought this figure, along with the rest of his wave, the Luke Blastshield wave and Ree Yees/Death Squad Trooper from the Star Wars Fan Club because they were about the only ones who stocked them. It sucked to pay so much more for them. But, all my local stores were so packed with figures, they couldn’t put another case on the shelf if they had to.
Hasbro had to reboot the line to start ’99 (I bought that wave at etoys.com of all places!) ahead of Episode I. Then, around 2000, all the overstock from ’98 and ’99 got dumped at Toys R Us for a buck per figure. Many, I bought a lot of army builders then.
I really liked this figure and the Clone Emperor because they were different. They looked Star Wars even though they never appeared on screen. That’s one of my issues with the sequel films is that many of the designs aren’t “Star Wars-y” enough. But, that’s a rant for another time.
It’s great to see a review like this as it brings back such different memories for me.
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Thanks for the kind words and the great comment, Mike! It’s really cool and interesting to see that time from someone else’s perspective.
Do you usually shy away from Expanded Universe stuff in favor of stuff that was actually in the films as a rule?
I was in junior high in 1998, and was an avid ToyFare reader. I remember seeing so many cool Star Wars toys in that magazine, including this Luke, the Clone Emperor, and the Removable Hat Vader. I really wanted the Vader, as my 95 version was beat up and couldn’t hold his lightsaber anymore (if he ever could). But I couldn’t find that figure ANYWHERE. All we had on the pegs were tons of Bossks (nice figure, but you only need one) and other c-listers.
So, it was around early or mid 98 I gave up on Star Wars and just concentrated on Beast Wars, the 97 Joes, and Lego. When 99 hit, I saw TPM on opening night, but the movie didn’t do enough for me to want the toys. I didn’t get back into Star Wars toys until Attack of The Clones (before I saw the film), and I bought that first Jango Fett with removable helmet, holsters for his blasters, retractable grappling hook, and missile firing jetpack (with optional non-missile attachment to make it more film accurate). That figure blew my mind and got me back into SW. Though, at that time, it was find to find good toys of OT characters, which was a bummer.
Can’t go wrong with Beast Wars 😉
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Life gets crazy, update the blog when you can. Always cool when you post. Anyways, like many 90s toys these Star Wars figures are well made but don’t get much collector love. They’ll never be as iconic as the 70s stuff but they aren’t ridiculously expensive either. Honestly, I’d love more collectors to just buy these things up and give them to kids. Action figures cost too much these days and toys were meant to be played with.
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Thanks for the comment, and for always being so supportive, Matt!
I actually love that idea. Maybe this year around the holidays we can both buy some of these up from local toy shops, comic stores, and eCommerce sites who have overstock from the 90s speculator craze, and give them to kids who need toys for Christmas. The biggest bonus is that these figs will fit RIGHT IN with what Hasbro is doing now, so they won’t be obsolete or seem weird.
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Man, I wanted the expanded universe stuff so bad, back in the day. I got a few figures when they first started (vader with ridiculously long saber, R2, 3P0, and Fett) but I didn’t keep up. A friend of mine did, and MAN he had a ton! The expanded universe stuff really caught my attention though, because it was all new territory. I had wanted that particular Luke back then, but never got it. I did nab the newer one with the clone Emperor, though! Still love that figure. And the Emperor….well, his cloak is super useful.
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I love both of those newer Dark Empire figures, man! They are excellent. I never found this one back in the day, either, but I always wanted him– so it was kind of a “no brainer” purchase for $6 shipped, still carded.
Most of my SW collected focuses on EU stuff. If it’s from the comic packs, from one of the TV shows, based on a novel, or a concept figure, it is the kind of thing that interests me. I actually think the age of comic packs was my favorite time for Star Wars figures. Shame we never got Jaxxon, though. 😦
I couldn’t find any of the late 90’s EU wave in stores and it led me to stop buying Star Wars until episode 1, then I saw The Phantom Menace and lost enthusiasm again until Attack of the Clones. It just an up and down cycle for me.
Anyway, I got most of the 90’s EU figures a few years ago, buying some dude’s collection for cheap. I still don’t have Leia or the Dark Trooper (who was actually reissued).
I only read DARK EMPIRE a few yeas ago, too. I thought it was kind of bad.
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I bought the first Dark Empire again a couple years ago to re-read it, and, yeah. You’re right. The cover art is gorgeous, and some of the concepts and designs are really cool, but it’s not a great story.
And what you described with TPM happened to me. I did buy toys from both Episodes II and III, but was always more interested in the line when it was branching out into weirder things.
I got the reissue Dark Trooper and am happy about that, but I still need to track down Leia at some point.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Star Wars toys are my favourite figures. It isn’t even a close race. Good to see them on the blog. They’re cheap enough to build legions of them, yet are always high quality. Potf was a really great time, it was good to go back to basics, compared to today, which never has time to breathe.
The best of the EU figures has got to be the weird disguised Chewbacca, with a cybernetic eye and a buzz cut! If I gad to sum up the 90s in one figure, it would be him.
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Thanks for stopping by, George. I think there’s a compelling argument to be made that the entirety of the 3.75″ Star Wars line from the 70s to now is one of the best, if not the best, lines of all time. There’s just such a huge variety of cool stuff out there. And yeah, the modern line does feel rushed and frantic, somehow. There are still some great figures coming out, though.
Also, Chewbacca as Snoova is a personal favorite of mine, too! You have good taste.