SENATOR PALPATINE with Senate Cam Droid
Episode I Collection 2
Item No.: Asst. 84095 No. 84082
Includes: CommTech Chip, Senate Camera
Action Feature: Camera plugs into CommTech Chip
Availability: May 3, 1999
Appearances: The Phantom Menace
Bio: A political and tactical mastermind, Senator Palpatine represents the people of Naboo in the Galactic Senate and engineers his own election as Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)
Image: Adam's toy room.
Commentary: Back in 1999, when the first pictures leaked of Senator Palpatine the fan community's jaw collectively dropped-- which, today, shows how low our standards were. Back then, this was a stunning forerunner of things to come. Senator Palpatine had a better-than-we-were-used-to head sculpt, which even today looks decent. Hasbro did a lot better with exaggerating some features and capturing his likeness as the saga progressed, but this wasn't at all bad-- even his hair color seemed spot-on. Palpatine's unique taste in fashion was excellently represented, and this figure still holds up nicely in the costume department today. His garment has a rich texture and fantastic coloring, all of which the figure captured well. His pants, his vest, nearly every element turned out just great. It didn't hurt that his outfit was one of the more ornate in the series, especially given the original trilogy was packed with earthtones, which were followed by more earthtones. Senator Palpatine could have just as easily been called Senator Fancy Pants. I mean, look at him-- those are some fancy pants!
As far as construction goes, this figure was released right around the time Hasbro was wondering where to take the figure line. He has six points of articulation, and has one hand in a normal "grasping" position while the other is ready to point in order to make an argument or something. Or perhaps he wants his finger pulled. (Don't do it, Anakin!) Since he was released before mega-articulation was even a consideration, he holds together well-- throw him at the wall, fire him out of a cannon, he'll be fine. While his robes are somewhat flexible, they prevent any meaningful leg movement. This figure will not sit without some additional level of physical modification, so yeah, this is diorama fodder. It's one of the prequel era's first really good figures, he's right up there with Darth Sidious and-- at least in terms of his sculpt and design-- Watto. Nearly nine years later, this figure still looks pretty great. If Hasbro cranked him out with a revised head sculpt, he'd look great alongside other figures in the line. Granted, his movement may not be up to modern sensibilities, but he's still a solid toy and he has it where it counts. He's also the only figure that really integrated nicely with his CommTech Chip-- the cam droid accessory plugged into it, basically demanding that you kept the chip around as without it his accessory was pretty worthless. I try to avoid giving out points for effort, but this figure was a shining example of Hasbro really trying its hardest to do a good job in an era where they had a lot to prove to the world and a new generation of kids and collectors. It's too bad a lot of fans didn't enjoy this figure for what it was (admittedly, it isn't as exciting as a Jedi) but it does prove that imperfections aside, Hasbro has been making some really great stuff. (And some turkeys, but this is a good figure, I'm ending on a positive note.)
Collector's Notes: Back in the 1990s, Hasbro didn't have "Saga Legends" or "30th Anniversary" assortments. They had Collection 1, Collection 2, and sometimes they even had Collection 3. The definition for what these were changed over time, and during Episode I it was like this: Collection 1 is main characters and characters with strong kid appeal. Collection 2 is secondary collectors which should have a good general appeal, but not quite that of Collection 1. Collection 3 was collector's figures and generally minor people. Somebody goofed up and decided Palpatine had a decent chance of selling to a wider audience, and well, he sold OK. Not nearly as poorly as some other figures (*cough*Ric Olie*cough), but he was one of the bigger offenders and some fans could find him in certain corners of retail for quite some time. As such, don't pay a premium for him-- but do buy him as he's never been rereleased and there's no reason for Hasbro to bring him back that I can think of. ( MORE IMAGES )
Day 674: March 10, 2008