Power of the Jedi Tour 2001: Wizard World

Hasbro put the finishing touches on its successful Power of the Jedi Tour at Wizard World 2001 in Chicago with a flurry of new figures that will certainly give collectors something to look forward to in the coming months. This was the third and final leg of a three-stop tour that began in Shreveport, LA, moved on to the massive San Diego ComicCon, and concluded this weekend in the Windy City. As you are about to see, Hasbro continues to reach new heights in their movie-accurate detailing, with a batch of toys that will make even the strictest carded collectors buy an extra to open.

The Hasbro team taking their valuable weekend time for us included from left to right, Paul Palmer, Randy Shoemaker, Jeff Popper, Paula Sacchi and Brian Parrish. This was Paul's fourth show this season, having made all of them including GenCon, where they announce any new figures.. Randy is a Star Wars Brand Manager and this was his first show. Jeff and Paula were both in San Diego as well. Brian is a toy designer who had worked on the new Amidala Decoy and Eeth Koth as well as Aurra Sing and Shmi. Brian is also one of the core team that moved from Cincinnati to Rhode Island this year. Randy is new to Hasbro and was excited about his role on the team.

Hasbro Q & A

Paul Palmer kicked off the Q & A with a short presentation on this summer's Power of the Jedi tour. Though Audrey introduced Paul and warned that no questions could be answered, which of course included Attack Of The Clones toys, the last slide they showed had just one thing on it "2002". It must have been left over from another presentation.

In my book, Hasbro has been keeping one of the best guys from the tour in Brian. Not only has he been on the team since just after the release of the buff figures in 1995, he is very knowledgeable and well spoken. Specifically, I thought he did an excellent job of communicating that many decisions that are made in the toys have real and defendable basis for them. Even though at times, as a collector we may not feel there is any reason for it. A perfect example was a question about why the new Zutton had bending knees, while so many other figures do not. The answer was that there wasn't need for special arm articulation on him, while there was a need to let him sit on a chair in the cantina.

Recapping the big week we just had, Hasbro showed slides of their announcements by news channel this week. Amidala Decoy on selected fan sites, FX-7 and Zutton on Starwars.com and Rebel Fleet Trooper and Imperial Officer on their site. What looked initially like last minute announcements, clearly were designed to support this multiple channel release week.

The funniest thing that happened during the presentation was Audrey knocking over a cup of water onto the notebook keyboard, Brian looking on in horror, and Steve Sansweet coming to her aid.

Collectstarwars.com has the entire Q & A transcribed and it's worth your while to read it.

Eeth Koth
The venerated Jedi Master looks to be ready for battle, equiped with the new style lightsaber - nicely textured for a more "energized" effect. The figure has swiveling elbows and a joint in the right wrist for serious lightsaber-weilding action.

Rebel Fleet Trooper Tantive IV Defender
Not too many figures in need of a resculpt quite as badly as the Rebel Fleet Trooper. While many were glad to have any version of this trooper at all, the original (neck-less) figure was pretty poor even by early POTF2 standards. Comparing this new soldier, in all his articulated glory, with the old really demonstrates just how far Hasbro has come in the sculpting and detail department. The Fleet Trooper comes equipped with a painted two-tone pistol and sports knee joints that allow for the familiar crouching position used to defend the hallways of the Tantive IV in A New Hope. Details like bulging vest pockets and a snug chin-strap add to an already impressive piece. Diorama builders are going to love this guy!

Imperial Officer
Another diorama favorite - the jet-black Imperial Officer is troop-builder that collectors have been waiting on for a long time now. The uniform, true to the movie, is rather Spartan, though the details really shine where it counts. Imperial insignia on the shoulder, silver belt buckle, high-gloss boots, and the officer's cap all pull together to create a slick, rather sinister, package. Best of all, the elbows swivel to allow for the hands to clasp behind his back for a fantastic "standing at attention" pose. Ten hut!

Queen Amidala's Decoy
You certainly don't have to like gaudy gowns to appreciate the wardrobe sculpt on the Queen's Decoy. You can practically count the feathers on her! Splashes of color accent an otherwise drab (but accurate) paint job. The powdered face is particularly effective given the muted pallet used on this figure. Again the elbows swivel and allow for limited movement.

Snaggletooth has never looked uglier. With a face only a mother could love and an outfit straight out of Michael Jackson's closet, Zutton is an alien no cantina is complete without. Perhaps most amazing is how vinyl-like the bright red jacket appears - the creases and folds are just amazing. Gold pin striping and glossy gloves round out one of the great figure outfits to come from Hasbro in quite some time. Zutton also continues the trend of having jointed knees and comes with a two-tone pistol (not seen at the show, but recently shown in the picture over at Star Wars.com) made for his ankle holster. He'll also be packing an impressive bazooka-like weapon (for occassions when the pistol just ain't cuttin' it). The astute will notice that his belt buckle is the same design as the original vintage figure.

The Doctor is "in". As you may have expected, this droid is going to be the perfect addition to the Bacta Tank Luke playset. Sporting more robotic arms than you'd care to count - all of which featured bending elbow and shoulder joints - FX-7 has detailing to spare. Small knobs accented with bits of red and blue, the dull blue plastic gives off just the right amount of reflection to give the illusion of brushed metal. Notice too just how snugly the based of the medical droid fits into the Bacta Tank pad - just like a glove (clearly designed for each other). Speaking of the Bacta Tank, these photos also show the red tint that has been added to the tank glass, which is quite a nice effect.