Hasbro Reveals Kenner-Style The Retro Collection The Phantom Menace Action Figures

By Adam Pawlus — Tuesday, December 12, 2023

...and they're OK. Hasbro gave Gizmodo the debut, and The Phantom Menace Goes All the Way Retro In These New Star Wars Toys where you can flip through a 6-pack of figures that the article says is $60, which is cheaper than the $70+ 6-packs on the market today. In a previous fan stream it was said the set would be exclusive to Target, but Gizmodo makes no mention of the retailer. Given the glut of store exclusives in closeout shops now, I could see some plans changing.

The set contains six figures: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, and a Battle Droid. Rather than her Padmé Battle Dress, Queen Amidala is in that red dress we saw in most of the marketing materials. If you're going to make a six-pack of figures from the 1999 movies, plus or minus Anakin, this is who you should pick. (I'd probably have swapped out Jar Jar for Anakin but I won't deny that Jar Jar is a more interesting looking action figure.)

So how are they? If it's really only $60, I think it will be a good set and let me tell you why.

Obi-Wan Kenobi looks like Hasbro took the Duel on Naboo figure from 2012 and just put it through a retro AI filter. They sculpted his Padawan Braid rat tail as part of the torso, but the figure's costume coloring, sculpt, and general pose don't feel quite right for "Kenner." It looks a little closer to a mid-1990s Jurassic Park human figure in some respects. I don't think it's going to be anybody's favorite - it does show some forward thinking of how a Kenner figure may have looked just before the first prequel hit theaters, and I'm eager to compare it to other figures I've had since the 1990s. Honestly, it's not that far off from Titan A.E. stuff.

Qui-Gon Jinn has a cloak and lightsaber. I can't tell if he's also posed like an existing figure, but I'm keeping my eyes on this one. He looks pretty good from the picture with a decent head sculpt and the kind of detail we've come to expect. I think he'd sell well if they sold them individually.

Queen Amidala was a figure we didn't get in 1999 - she would be released later in Power of the Jedi, or if you liked fast food you could get her at KFC. That figure had no articulation, and this one tries some new stuff - she has the "robe pants" like we saw on The Emperor, Anakin Skywalker, and more recently Mon Mothma and Morgan Elsbeth. Her arms swivel, but she has some shoulder armor with an element that hangs down her chest, which is not an element I remember seeing in the Kenner action figure days very much. There's a lot of paint, the sculpt is good, and honestly I'd have been pretty happy had this exact figure come out in 1999. She might be able to sit on the Episode I Royal Starship throne, unlike Hasbro's official one from way back when.

Since Diamond Select has 12-inch Jumbo figures out, they suckerpunched Hasbro when it came to the retro Darth Maul. Theirs was less chunky and had a vinyl cape. Hasbro's has horns that seem a little undercooked, with make-up that seems about on par with what we got in the 1990s. It doesn't seem like a Kenner toy of old, but it does look like it would be more fun to play with thanks to his jointed parachute pants leg. I'm looking forward to this one, but his lightsaber hilt looks like they're trying just a little too hard to keep the vocabulary of the 1980 Bespin Luke hilt. By 1983 Hasbro was increasingly likely to paint a figure's accessory, as seen on Logray and later, Amanaman. But it's Maul, so it's cool.

The Battle Droid is cheap. And I mean that - back in 1999, Hasbro put in a 5-jointed Battle Droid in place of CommTech chips in markets where they decided it wasn't worth bringing the technology out, so people got a whole dang figure instead of a tiny display base, for roughly the same price. This figure is why I hope this set is only $60 - if everybody else is "worth" 12, this one does seem a lot more like the old freebie. The backpack seems to be part of the torso, with the only paint on the figure being his two eyes. Despite the value complaints, the figure looks to be Hasbro's sturdiest Battle Droid to date and I appreciate how he - and Maul, and others - have poses that are more than just Bespin Luke's "hands at the side." A bent elbow gives the hapless cannon fodder more personality, and I really like that.

Rounding out the set is George R. Binks - er, his son, Jar Jar Binks. He looks like he got some more budget - there's more paint, cute Kenner eyes, a nice smile, and he seems to have a lot more paint than the other figures. His pose looks much more Kennery than a lot of our recent releases, with one hand just kind of hanging there and another designed to hold the borrowed blaster. This looks like the real deal, or as close to the real deal as a CGI character from 1999 can be translated to a figure in 2023 designed to look like something from the early 1980s. I have no idea if they were all sculpted by the same person or not, but Jar Jar seems to be the best one here, or at least will be the first one I open when the set arrives. He looks like fun.

Because the 2012 3D theatrical rerelease of The Phantom Menace resulted in new vehicles that cost more than the secondary market prices of the 1999 vehicles still glutting the market, I'm assuming this set and any 25th Anniversary product might not be met with open arms next year. I love these goofy things, but I also admit what I wanted were more toys that looked like they belonged in the mid to late 1980s, like The Book of Boba Fett. I would have bet money we'd see Andor or Rogue One figures to cash in on the baby Gen Xers or elder Millennial fandom, and I am unsure if Gen X styling applied to baby Zoomer movies will click. But I'll buy it because above all, these look like fun toys that I want to play with and that's why I'm still buying this stuff and writing about it for 28 years. Or I just have deep, deep emotional issues.