REVIEW: STAR WARS VINTAGE COLLECTION AHSOKA
As popular as the Clone Wars CGI animated series on Cartoon Network is, and as enjoyable and impressive as it certainly is, one thing that can be said about it is -- it has not duplicated the realism of the movies. The characters that appear in the series, especially the human-types, tend to be rather stylized.
The degree of stylization tends to vary. Prominent characters such as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are somewhat stylized. They have larger eyes, and more animated-looking facial features and hair than their movie counterparts. But they're still recognizable. Others, such as Count Dooku, are almost cartoonish in appearance, which I'll admit is an interesting thing to say about an animated character to begin with, but in fairness, Dooku has been taken to a greater animated extreme than Anakin or Kenobi.
Then there's some of the recognizable aliens. Yoda has been somewhat stylized, but not much. Droids, such as R2-D2, haven't been altered to all that significant a degree. And you have characters that never appeared in the movies, but were still introduced in some other realistic format. Characters like Asajj Ventress or the very popular Quinlan Vos first turned up in the Dark Horse Comics series, and were drawn into as realistic settings as the movie basis and the artists could manage. They have since been stylized to one degree or another to fit into the Clone Wars environment.
So now we come to the flip side of the coin. What about characters that were introduced FIRST in the Clone Wars series? What would they look like in a more realistic, more movie-esque environment?
With some characters, this isn't too hard. I believe it was Sideshow who produced a 12" figure of Captain Rex, a prominent Clone Trooper. Now, we know that the Clones are all based on Jango Fett, so it was simply a matter of taking Jango Fett's likeness, based on the actor, and giving him Rex's pale blonde hair.
Then there's aliens such as the bounty hunter Cad Bane. His face is entirely non-human. For all anybody knows, if he turned up in a movie environment, he wouldn't look terribly different than he already does.
But then, there's one character in particular, that one really sort of has to wonder about. Her full name is AHSOKA TANO, and she's been a major player in the Clone Wars series from its inception. Assigned as a Padawan apprentice to Anakin Skywalker, she's been an extremely prominent individual in the series. And although not human, her face still has very human features, and she is, at the very least, humanoid.
Ahsoka never appeared in any of the movies. She wasn't in Episode II, nor was she in Episode III. This leads to the obvious, if unfortunate, conclusion that at some point during the course of the Clone Wars, she was a casualty before the events of Episode III. Whether or not we'll see this play out in the Clone Wars series has yet to be determined.
But the question still remains -- What would she have looked like if she HAD been in one of the live-action movies?
Hasbro, as part of one of the last assortments of their Vintage line of Star Wars action figures, those figures packaged on cards designed to resemble the original Kenner line from the 70's and 80's -- right down to using the Kenner logo -- has decided to answer that question, with a "movie-real" figure of Ahsoka Tano, called simply "Ahsoka" on the package for some reason or other.
Let's consider the history of the character, and then have a look at her action figure.
Ahsoka Tano, nicknamed "Snips" by her master, was a Togruta Jedi Padawan during the Clone Wars, the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Tano was assigned to Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker by Jedi Grand Master Yoda, and showed an eagerness to prove herself worthy to be his apprentice. Tano was involved in the defeat of the Separatist army on the planet Christophsis, and was important to Republic efforts during the Battle of Teth. Along with Skywalker, Tano was instrumental in acquiring the Republic's safe passage through Hutt Space, due to her part in rescuing the son of Jabba the Hutt, which ensured an alliance between the Republic and the Hutt clans.
Along with her Master, Tano proved a key figure during the events surrounding the Separatist superweapon, the Malevolence, a ship capable of destroying entire Republic fleets with its dreaded ion cannons. Partially due to her involvement in the crisis, the Republic was able to destroy the superweapon, removing yet another advantage possessed by the Separatists. Later, Tano would duel the feared General Grievous himself, becoming one of the few Jedi to survive such an encounter with the cyborg.
Along with Mirialan Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, Tano was involved in the failed Republic effort to foil a mission mounted by Dark Acolyte Asajj Ventress to rescue Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray and engaged the Dark Jedi in an extended duel. Later, she was a key figure in the rescue of Jedi Master Aayla Secura during the Sky Battle of Quell, and later participated in the defense of the planet Maridun, where Separatist General Lok Durd attempted to use an experimental weapon on the planet's inhabitants. Notably, Tano helped to ensure that the deadly Blue Shadow Virus was not released into key Republic systems by the Separatists, and also fought in the Battle of Ryloth, helping to eliminate the Separatist blockade surrounding the planet and allow invasion forces to land, during which she led a squadron for the first time.
Later on, Tano was assigned to guard duty in the Jedi Temple's Archives after her mishap on Felucia. However, she and Skywalker went to hunt for deadly bounty hunter Cad Bane at Devaron to retrieve a stolen Jedi holocron. Then, the two halted a plot by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who was secretly Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, to twist the minds of Force-sensitive infants.
Ahsoka Tano was first discovered by Jedi Master Plo Koon at the age of three during a mission to Shili, and was raised in the Jedi Temple. Tano considered Master Koon to be among her oldest and dearest friends by 22 BBY and felt a large amount of gratitude to him for discovering her Force sensitivity and ensuring that she would be given a home at the Jedi Temple. Tano was assigned to the Clawmouse Clan with many other Jedi Initiates that she would live and train with. While a Jedi Initiate, Tano received training in sand levitation by Grand Master Yoda.
Though Tano was a Padawan, she was very skilled in lightsaber combat for someone of her age. She made use of the unorthodox Shien reverse grip during combat. However, she would utilize the standard grip at the insistence of her master. In addition to being skilled in Shien, Tano also received training in Ataru and was learning Djem So under her Master. Skywalker also gave her training in the early levels of Niman as an exercise, as well as engaging in numerous hours of quarterstaff training to prepare her for opponents wielding saberstaffs. Her technique consisted of rapid switches and feints, darting from one side of the battleground to the other to exhaust her opponent. Tano's combat skills were clearly quite considerable, as she was able to defeat three MagnaGuards single handed and at least temporarily hold her ground against Asajj Ventress and General Grievous. At some point during the Clone Wars Tano began to learn Jar'Kai, wielding a yellowish-green shoto along with her original lightsaber. She still sometimes used only her lightsaber, such as when she dueled Skywalker on Mortis before Kenobi arrived, but would use Jar'Kai when facing multiple opponents and was able to hold her own against both Skywalker and Kenobi on Mortis, even though both of her opponents were more experienced warriors than she was.
Tano possessed a strong connection to the Force, and often used it to perform the Force Jump power and other acrobatic feats. Although Tano's Force powers required more training, she was capable of performing extensive telekinetic feats, as seen during the Battle of Christophsis where she pulled down a large wall in order to save Skywalker from a group of retail droids. Tano was also skilled in the use of the Force push power, which she used to save the life of Luminara Unduli.
Tano also had a strong Force sense, able to sense the presence of Plo Koon after his fleet was destroyed by the Malevolence and the presences of the children who were kidnapped by Cad Bane. She also eventually learned the Jedi mind trick.
In addition to her Force powers and lightsaber combat skills, Tano possessed advanced visuospatial awareness, aided by the hollow spaces in her montrals that gathered information ultrasonically. That passive echolocation was a Togrutan ability which allowed Tano to sense the proximity and movement of physical objects around her. She used that to great effect during the Battle of Christophsis, toppling a wall on top of Anakin Skywalker and a number of droids he was fighting, timing it so that Skywalker was cleared by a broken gap in the falling slab, whereas the droids were crushed.
Tano was also a talented pilot and also displayed potential as a skilled war strategist by leading an attack that penetrated a Separatist blockade on Ryloth. Tano was also trained by her master to quickly analyze technical scans of enemy ships.
Tano also displayed skill in hand to hand combat as she was able to easily overpower Cad Bane before dropping her guard and being incapacitated by the bounty hunter. She later used her hand to hand combat skills on Mandalore by single handedly defeating a group of the Mandalorian Secret Service and later holding off several guards and subduing Prime Minister Almec despite being handcuffed at the time. However, on that occasion, she armed herself with one of the guards' shields, which she used to fend them off and defend herself from a stun gun. While she was a prisoner of Trandoshan hunters, Tano was able to kill the Trandoshan hunters, Dar, and his father, Garnac, by only using hand to hand combat and Force powers.
Tano also showed a considerable knowledge of mechanics which she had learned from her Master. She was able to use her mechanical skills to contact Skywalker and save her and Barriss Offee's lives when they were trapped under a destroyed droid factory on Geonosis. She also knew how to repair vehicles. While on Mortis, she repaired the shuttle that she, Kenobi and Skywalker had crashed on the planet. Tano had the ability to understand Shyriiwook, as demonstrated her translation for Chewbacca while captured on the Trandoshan moon.
Versatile, isn't she?
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. If you've wanted to be able to fit this interesting character from the Clone Wars series into your movie-based, more realistic-looking Star Wars figure universe, here's your chance.
Although Ahsoka is certainly humanoid, her race, the Togruta, does have some distinct differences. We first saw this species in the prequel movies in the form of Jedi Master Shaak Ti. They are notable for light reddish-orange skin, and instead of hair, they have these short striped tendrils or tentacles on their heads called montrals. Nothing like the far longer specimens evinced by the Twi'lek race, but still an interesting feature.
Someone must have figured that since Shaak Ti was an entirely workable character in the prequel movies, it was well possible to bring Ahsoka's likeness into something a little more realistic, as well. And it has worked out extremely effectively.
I have a standard Clone Wars figure of Ahsoka in my collection, and the similarities, as well as the differences, are fascinating. I won't bother to comment much on the obvious style differences that are simply a result material. The Clone Wars Ahsoka figure is, as one would expect, more slender, and her eyes are distinctly larger, and her facial features in general somewhat more pronounced.
Let's talk about some of the details that changed more drastically as a result of the transition from animated likeness to realistic likeness. Let's start with the silver jewerly on Ahsoka's head that seems to separate her montrals from her face. It's a good bit more ornate, detailed, and intricate than on the animated-style figure. Interestingly, the striping pattern on the montrals themselves, as well as the off-white detailing on Ahsoka's face, is virtually identical. No liberties were taken here.
The wardrobe is somewhat different, rather drastically in some respects, although in fairness, I haven't followed the Clone Wars series all that closely (Cartoon Network's bizarre scheduling being one reason), so it may be that there is a Clone Wars version of Ahsoka whose wardrobe more closely resembles the realistic figure. As it stands, I have only the one animated-style figure of Ahsoka to work with here.
The animated-style figure of Ahsola is wearing a brown halter top, with a brown fabric skirt, tan belt with an ornate decorative piece draped down the front, fingerless tan gloves, pale tan leggings, and tan boots with a series of buckles on their sides.
The more realistic Ahsoka figure has many elements of this wardrobe, but there are differences. For one thing, she's wearing a full top, with a small hole in the front, and a slightly larger one on the back. But it comes all the way up to her neck, and goes all the way down to her waist, and definitely isn't a halter top. It's sculpted to look rather like stitched leather.
Now, either Ahsoka Tano has worn this outfit in the animated series and I simply haven't seen it, nor do I own a figure of it -- which wouldn't be terribly surprising -- or whomever designed this figure decided that Princess Leia's steel bikini bit in "Return of the Jedi" was enough as far as female heroes showing skin was concerned. I'm a little more inclined towards the former explanation.
Regardless, the detail work on the outfit is extremely impressive, especially as far as sculpted detail is concerned. Clearly, someone was taking the idea of bringing Ahsoka Tano into the "realistic" side of the Star Wars universe very seriously.
She still has a fabric skirt, but the belt is more ornate, really almost two belts combined into one, with more detail sculpted into them. The ornate leather-like piece that hands from the belt is still present and accounted for, and the patterning on it is virtually identical to her animated counterpart.
Ahsoka has a series of brown armbands around her upper arms, something that her animated counterpart distinctly lacks. The fingerless gloves are essentially identical, although they have a little more sculpted detail, and have been given just a touch of painted weathering.
Unlike the animated Ahsoks'a pale tan leggings, this Ahsoka is wearing dark gray leggings, that have a series of diamond-shaped holes down the outsides of both legs. It's an interesting detail, probably one that the animated series would be capable of, but it certainly adds to the realistic intricacy of this very special Ahsoka figure.
The boots are more or less the same, although interestingly, they only have three buckles on each side, as opposed to the animated version's five. However, those buckles have been given a lot more detail than before.
Painted detail on the figure is nothing short of staggering. I never fail to be impressed by how it's possible to paint such tiny, and such precise, eyes on such small figures. Ahsoka also has a small amount of brown lipstick, and the white detailing on her face had to be accomplished within the greatest of precision as well, since some of it represents her eyebrows.
The minute painted details on the costume are remarkable. The buckles on the boots are amazing. There are tiny details on the belts front and back. The armbands and the holes in the leggings cannot have been easily achieved, either. There are even little silver snaps on the back of each armband.
And, Ahsoka is extremely well articulated. In a time when we're sadly seeing articulation actually cut back on Star Wars figures, Ahsoka is very fully poseable. She is articulated at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel) glove tops (representing the wrists), waist, legs, knees (including a swivel) and ankles.
As for accessories, Ahsoka comes with two lightsabers with yellow-green blades. I assume one of these is the aforementioned shoto from her profile. She also has a deactivated lightsaber represented by a lightsaber handle. There are a couple of holes on one of her belts where I believe this could be carried.
A brief word about the packaging. Hasbro has done a nice job duplicating, and of course, expanding upon, the original Kenner package design. The card is mostly black, with the Star Wars logo in a silvery image at the tip, extending around as a border on the card. A central area boasts a second logo in red. All six movies have been represented by this Vintage line, something the original Kenner line obviously never did, and there have also been figures marked for the Expanded Universe, and now, The Clone Wars as well. There is a very nice painted illustration of Ahsoka on the card, so if you want to remove your figure from the card, I recommend very carefully trimming the plastic bubble off with an X-acto knife to preserve the card art. Even the Kenner logo is present.
So, what's my final word? This is an incredibly impressive figure. Ahsoka Tano has become a very prominent character in the Star Wars universe thanks to her continued presence alongside Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars series, and I am certainly not the only person who was wondered, "What would she have looked like in the movies?" This figure is proof enough of that, as well as an extremely effective answer to that question.
This figure is extremely well designed, astoundingly detailed, very intricately, superbly well-painted, and as well articulated as all Star Wars figures should be, and it's a shame that they're not.
If you're a Star Wars fan that's been enjoying the Clone Wars series, and have watched the adventures of Ahsoka, and wondered, "What if...?" -- then you will certainly want to add this figure to your collection. Even if you're not that into the Clone Wars series, this is a remarkable example of an extremely and exceptionally impressive Star Wars action figure. Any collection will be enhanced by her.
The STAR WARS VINTAGE COLLECTION figure of AHSOKA from the CLONE WARS concept definitely has my highest recommendation!