As promised, it’s the second part of the weekend where I cross a long coveted toy off my list and add it to my collection. Can this thing possibly live up to nearly 30 years of expectations?
Wow, this thing comes in a pretty big box! One might say an unnecessarily big box, because about half of it is just for presentation. There’s a gigantic window to show off the Skiff, which is mounted against a cinematic backdrop, with a little pop-up Sarlacc on the bottom. Alas, it’s the shitty ret-conned Sarlacc that looks like Audrey 2 from “Little Shop of Horrors” and not the cool foam-core-sand- vagina used in the original movie. The included Luke Sywalker figure is posed standing at the bow of the Skiff with lightsaber drawn. The back of the box has some stills from the movie as well as a big photo of the toy to point out the various play features. The side panels show the scene from the movie recreated with figures, which is very cool.
If you’re a mint-in-box collector you probably love this packaging, if you’re not, then get ready to have some fun getting the toy out of the package. The Skiff is held on with super, double-enforced zip-ties, which are wrapped inside some kind of impervious, clear zip-tie sleeve. I can’t recall ever encountering these things before, but they’re the kind of things the FBI would use to take Hannibal Lecter into custody. They are literally thicker and stronger than a lot of parts on the actual toy. I had to pull out the heavy duty wire cutters to get the toy free without risk to the railings. When you do finally get the Skiff out, you find that the Luke figure is secured to the railing with a cthuluesque web of twist-ties that cannot be cut because they’re so tightly woven around the frail plastic railings. I’m not going to crap all over what is a beautiful presentation on Hasbro’s part, but I would have preferred the toy come in just a regular box so I could pop it back in to store it, not to mention avoid having to deal with all the twist-ties. Still, it was damn tempting to try to save the box, but space concerns being what they are, I had little choice but to pitch it.
Once the Skiff was out of package, freed of all its tethers and in hand, I have to say I really am thrilled with this thing. Make no mistake, it’s a very simple toy, with no electronic lights or sounds or any of that jazz. There are a few play gimmicks, and we’ll get to those in a bit, but none of them mar the toy as a display piece. Sure, the Skiff is not exactly to scale, but it’s certainly close enough that you can load it up with all the key figures from the scene. I can comfortably fit three of my Skiff Guards as well as Luke, Han and Chewie. The sculpt and coloring on the toy are both particularly well done. There’s a lot of black, weathered paint laid over the greenish plastic as well as some silver metal rubbing. You also get a few well-placed laser blasts sculpted into the mold. For a late 90’s toy, refurbished using the mold of a mid 80’s toy, Hasbro did a very nice job on this piece. It not only holds up well, but I’d say it even surpasses some of the Star Wars toys we’ve seen in recent years.
My favorite action feature on the Skiff is the retractable landing gear. Not only does this feature allow you to stand it so it’s “hovering” off the ground, but it’s so well integrated into the toy and allows the vehicle to stand quite well. A clear stand would have been cool, but I appreciate that the legs are molded to look like actual landing gear the vehicle might have and they are actually deployed by one of the levers at the pilot’s station! I can’t think of too many Star Wars toys where the vehicle’s actual controls perform a function on the toy. The other lever deploys the gangplank, which once extended all the way drops the tip down to eject the prisoner. I could have done without the floppy end gimmick, but otherwise I really dig the gangplank.
Other action features include levers on the back that turn the two rudders in unison, two drop down side railings, and a spring-loaded deck plate that actually ejects a figure off of the Skiff. There are also some holes in the center block on the deck, which I presume are for storing the guards’ force pikes. Overall, I think my only gripe here is that I would have liked some more foot pegs on the deck. Thankfully, I have an neigh endless supply of blue tack.
As mentioned, the Skiff comes with an “Exclusive Luke Skywalker” figure, which is appropriately enough, the version of him in his black Jedi garb. The figure seems to be actually kit-bashed from parts, both old and new. I’m pretty sure this was the only version of Jedi Luke with the blaster damage to his right hand, although it’s just a black paint smudge. Besides the normal five points of articulation, Luke also has hinged knees and a swivel cut in his right wrist! The POTF2 line was not always kind to Luke in terms of likenesses, but this one really isn’t too bad. In fact, the only real problem with him is his bizarre, giraffe neck. I thought that design might have been to accommodate a plastic cloak on another release, but I’m not sure. He comes with his green lightsaber, which makes me wish I had saved the clear rubber band, because he doesn’t hang on to it very well.
It’s hard for a toy to live up to more than 25 years of nostalgia and anticipation, but the Skiff here didn’t disappoint me… not one bit. It was pretty easy to find one, once I decided to buy it and all told with shipping this little beauty set me back only $40. Not bad at all for something I’ve wanted for so long. It may be crazy to compare this simple little toy to Hasbro’s more recent Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, or even the new Slave-1, but it goes to show you that certain toys can still get me all hot and bothered over the Star Wars franchise, no matter how many times I try to swear off collecting it. Hmm… I never did own one of those B-Wing fighters… I always wanted one of those…