Action figures are probably the most iconic Star Wars collectibles out there. Purchased by both collectors and children alike, there’s probably nothing (outside maybe Lego sets) that hold the same kind of universal appeal. That said, not every action figure, or action figure collection, is created equal. If you ask collectors what the best action figure collection in the last 15 years or so was, you’ll probably hear two answers said more than anything else: The Vintage Collection, which ran from 2010 to 2012, and the Thirtieth Anniversary Collection (TAC), launched in 2007 to celebrate, what else, the thirtieth anniversary of A New Hope. Now, if you were to ask me my personal favorite, I’d answer TAC in a heartbeat. It’s quality of figures might not be at quite the same level as The Vintage Collection, but it didn’t have nearly the same distribution issues that plagued The Vintage collection late in its run. It has my favorite packaging of any line in recent years (though I understand The Vintage Collection’s appeal to the older fanbase), and the assortment of figures produced, the variety of great accessories, and a solid pack-in take the cake for me. Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Not all the waves were easy to find. One of the most popular waves wound up being extremely difficult to find, to the point where at least one of its figures sells for over $50 on the secondary market. If you couldn’t get it from the title, I’m talking about Wave 5.
Wave Five was kinda groundbreaking, in that it was made up almost entirely of Expanded Universe characters. Expanded Universe characters had gotten figures before, but they were fairly few and far between. There was a collection of Expanded Universe characters back in 1998, featuring characters from Dark Forces, The Thrawn Trilogy, and Dark Empire. The Shadows of the Empire multi-media project spawned some figures based on that, as did the Clone Wars project between 2002 and 2005. It was 2007, however, where the EU really got a chance to shine. Hasbro started producing their comic packs, sets of two action figures and the comic issue that inspired them, which, while great for EU representation, was limited to characters that appeared in the comics. Wave 5 blew the door open on EU representation, making it almost mainstream. It featured characters from Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars micro-series, Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars: Visionaries. This was the first truly modern wave of figures to be centered around EU characters, and a lot of collectors were excited. Hasbro, however, was a little trepidatious. Since the EU hadn’t been called on to carry a wave in almost a decade, there was real doubt as to how well the wave would sell. As such, the figures weren’t produced in great numbers, with none being featured in carry-forward case assortments (At least, as near as I can tell. I’m like 99% sure that none were, but since I can’t find every case revision for the subsequent waves I don’t want to swear to it). The figures wound up being hits. None hung around on the pegs, and it, along with the comic packs, that served as a harbinger for increased EU representation. 2008 featured waves based on The Force Unleashed and Tartakovsky’s micro-series, Toys R Us got an exclusive EU wave in 2010, and EU figures were sprinkled throughout The Legacy Collection, The Vintage Collection, and The Black Series.
I’m gonna go through each figure in this wave, giving some basic information on them and if/how I came to acquire them. It should be a good time. All of the photos will be taken from Rebelscum’s excellent Photo Archives.
Roron Corobb was featured in the Clone Wars micro-series. Originally, he was part of a contest run by Cartoon Network; he, along with Foul Moudama and Voolvif Monn, were each potential candidates to appear in Chapter 20 of the series. Fans would be able to vote to decide the winner. Voolvif Monn won, and it wound up being unfortunate for him: both Moudama and Corobb went on to appear in the third season, and both wound up with much larger roles (of course, both of them were killed by Grievous, whereas Monn’s death wasn’t shown, so maybe it’s a wash). All three wound up receiving action figures. Moudama actually showed up in 2006’s The Saga Collection, as a rather lazily thrown together figure, but Corobb showed up in Wave 5 as a rather well put together action figure. His articulation isn’t quite up to par with today’s standards, but he sure does look pretty cool to me. I don’t own a copy of Roron; at the time of Wave 5’s release I hadn’t quite finalized my collecting focuses (I was 12, that’s pretty reasonable), so if I ever did have a shot at him I passed. I’d certainly like a copy now, and thankfully Roron can be found for less than $15 on a good day. Voolvif Monn got his action figure in Wave 8 of TAC, making the contest winner the last of the lot to get his action figure. Funny how that is, no?
Yoda and Kybuck is just old-school cool, man. It’s hard to imagine Hasbro trying to include such a big accessory as the Kybuck in a basic figure nowadays (or should Yoda be viewed as the accessory?). The size of the bubbles in The Vintage Collection would have made something like this pretty much impossible. Another figure from the Clone Wars micro-series, I can’t really stress enough how much I like this thing. I apparently wasn’t alone, as the powers that be over at Hasbro went and re-released this in The Legacy Collection over a year later. I found this figure, along with most of the other figures from Wave 5 that I wound up purchasing, at, of all places, a Kohl’s. I had been seeing on Rebelscum that despite the limited toy selection at Kohl’s, they would get pretty steady shipments of Star Wars action figures, and that since no one ever thinks to check there for toys, it could actually yield some pretty decent finds. I got my folks to take me over, and boy did that pay off. I got almost everything I wanted from the wave there, and it probably ranks as my top action figure find ever (not that I actively keep a list, or anything). Anyway, this is an easy one to find on the secondary market for cheap, probably due to that later reissue. If you want one, it’ll set you back around $10.
The third and final figure based on the Clone Wars micro-series, this Anakin is based on its last few chapters, where he goes on a “spirit quest” of sorts on the planet Nelvaan. It’s a nice figure, but probably the most boring of the wave. I do like that Hasbro bothered to give him a little stump that you can put on instead of his cybernetic hand (watch the series). I don’t own one, but I do own a later version of the figure: Hasbro went and repainted this one for an Order 66 set that came out a year later. He doesn’t have the tattoos or stump, but came with a soft-goods outer robe. It’s a pretty nifty figure, actually. If you want this one it’ll run you around $10 on eBay, that Order 66 set goes for around $20.
Darth Revan was easily the most sought after of this wave. If you can’t tell by that sticker, he won a fan’s choice poll in 2006 and thus was produced as an action figure by Hasbro (technically Quinlan Vos won, but since he already was getting made in a comic pack Hasbro made Revan the winner). Fans were very excited to get Revan, and he flew off the shelves. It’s unfortunate, then, that the figure is a bit of a misfire. His legs aren’t articulated (not a huge deal thanks to the robes), but worse was that Hasbro really botched the head sculpt. Instead of sculpting Revan’s mask, which you can see in the art on the cardback, they went and sculpted the Sith Mask and painted it in Revan’s color scheme, based off of a fan mod for the game. He also, when the hood is removed, has an unsightly bald head that isn’t exactly what fans were hoping for. They don’t ruin the figure, but for something that was a fan’s choice winner, they should have done a better job. Revan just won the fan’s choice poll for Hasbro’s six-inch line, giving them a shot to correct their mistake. I hadn’t played through Knights of the Old Republic when I found Revan that fateful day at Kohl’s, but he looked cool and I knew he was rare, so I picked him up. This was a wise decision, as I fell in love with the game after I finally played through it, and Revan now sells for over $60 on eBay.
Malak was Revan’s apprentice in Knights of the Old Republic, and fans were very pleasantly surprised to see that they would be released concurrently. Malak is a good figure, but not quite perfect. He comes with a removable jaw piece, which is really quite cool, but in order to make it removable it wound up looking a little oversized. His cape, depending one who you ask, is too long, but I found some pictures that make it look about the right length. His articulation is not perfect, but not bad either. The biggest problem, amusingly, is that he’s actually undersized. Malak is a big guy, 2 meters tall (about 6’6”). The figure isn’t small relative to others, but it definitely isn’t as tall as it should be. I got him at Kohl’s, having already purchased Gentle Giant’s Darth Malak bust (again, having not yet played the game he first appeared in at that point). Again, I’m glad I did, because Malak now sells for around $30 or so. (Also, I love Malak’s card art. Looks pretty sweet).
When I first heard about the wave, you can bet your butt that Pre-Cyborg Grievous was my most anticipated figure. I had loved the look in Visionaries, and that Hasbro was actually making a figure of him was very exciting. His figure is, ultimately, a mixed bag. His articulation is not very good at all for a 2007 figure, but his sculpt makes up for that. I’ve seen some complain his stance is too wide, that’s understandable. I do really like his accessories, particularly how his sword fits into a sculpted on hilt. The boldest thing Hasbro did here was make his helmet removable, giving fans their first look at General Grievous’s original face. In short, it’s ok. They probably should have focused on making sure his helmeted look was solid, but I still applaud Hasbro for going out on a limb. I’m still very glad that this figure exists, and that I own it (Kohl’s, once again). He eventually got packaged with one of the best regular Grievous figures in a Toys R Us exclusive two-pack, but he’s still a valuable figure. That two pack sells for around $50, and this figure by itself I’ve seen go for $20-30 or so.
One of collectors’ favorite things about TAC was the Ralph McQuarrie signature series. Each wave in 2007 contained one figure based off of his concept artwork (look here). Most had fairly straightforward names: Concept Darth Vader, Concept Boba Fett, Concept Chewbacca, etc. Starkiller Hero owes her unique name to Hasbro just not being sure what to call her. When McQuarrie created the piece of concept art that inspired this figure, the script for Star Wars as we know it hadn’t quite come together, so this figure is as much a concept version of Luke as it is for Leia. Hasbro wound up going with “Starkiller,” because at that point in the drafts the main hero had that last name. It’s a fair enough compromise, if you actually care about the genesis of the name. Either way, this is a really nice figure. The accessories are great, the articulation is pretty good, and it looks fantastic. By the time I visited Kohl’s, this figure was already missing. It would be a while before I got Starkiller Hero, but eventually I found her on one of my more regular Wal-Mart runs. Coincidentally, when I found her there, I saw nothing else from Wave 5. Funny how that is.
Wave 5 really helped the EU get mainstream collectible coverage. More than that, it represents my favorite wave in my favorite action figure collection, and holds a lot of memories for plenty of people. Things like my find at Kohl’s are the reasons why I collect: not just to have the item, but the story behind them. The excitement of finding something rare, knowing that you’ve used the tools at your disposal to get what you wanted, the thrill of the hunt, to put it somewhat hyperbolically. 2007 really was the high point of action figure collecting for me. Every figure I wanted, I was able to find in stores or get online at retail. I don’t think that’s happened for any collection since then, be it thanks to me not being able to get out and look, or Hasbro’s crappy distribution (seriously, my Wal-Mart has had the same 3 action figures and nothing else for like 2 months. C’mon). Forgive me for waxing nostalgic, but, to me, this is what collecting is all about. Finds like the one I had, memories like the one’s I’ve made. When you look at it from the end, it may seem silly, but it’s not about the end. It’s about the journey to get there.
– Speaking of me not being able to find figures I wanted to, I never saw any of Toys R Us’s 2010 EU wave, so the only figure from that I own was one that got reissued a bit later. Shame, they made action figures of the Solo twins in that wave and they sell for like $50 now. Guess what I’m not going to own until I have a job that pays more than minimum wage?
– Depending on who you ask, there are two more figures in this wave. Hermi Odle and C-3PO and Salacious Crumb both shipped for the first time in Wave 5’s case, but they fit in with Wave 4’s Return of the Jedi theme. Rebelscum didn’t include them as part of Wave 5, so I decided not to. In short, I own neither, Hermi is massive and cool, C-3PO is gimmicky but kinda fun.