Review: Star Wars Black Series 3.75″ Starkiller (Galen Marek)

So I’m one of the handful of people who thinks Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was not only a just fun game, but a really fun game with an engaging story and great characters. Sure, the player character was a little bland on the surface and obviously overpowered, but I actually think Sam Witwer’s great performance gave Starkiller a sense of depth that the main story only really hinted at (though the novelization did a good job of capturing it). When the first trailer for the game’s sequel came out, I was freaking stoked. Then the game came out, and it was a short, dull, repetitive imitation of the original with a half-assed story that squandered its promising potential and ended on a terrible note that was quickly swept under the rug of Star Wars canon once it was clear that the series was not getting a third installment. What the second game did give us, however, was a very iconic look for Starkiller (or, rather, his clone) that Hasbro decided to make a toy of for the tail-end of the Vintage Collection. Along with some of the other last-minute TVC releases, Starkiller (with the subtitle of Vader’s Apprentice) got re-released in the Black Series line as one of the final Hasbro figures from the old Expanded Universe, this time under the title of Starkiller (Galen Marek).

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Appearance

For the first game, Starkiller (or, if you prefer his real name, Galen Marek) donned numerous outfits fitting to each level, and never really had a properly iconic look; his standard apprentice gear was a bit too generic, and his kickass Jedi robes were only in action for a short amount of time. His clone had the same penchant for outfit-swapping, but his look from the trailer and promotional materials quickly became his iconic outfit. However, in a very interesting decision, Hasbro decided to combine his two major in-game looks: his TIE pilot suit that he wore for most of the first half of the game, and the weird armored robes that he wore for the last half of the game. This is accomplished by some swappable clothing bits that I’ll go into detail on later.

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The CGI models for Starkiller gave him an exact copy of Sam Witwer’s face, and the toy reflects that… fairly decently, I’d say. It more or less captures Witwer’s very angular features, but the likeness isn’t really there. The extremely pointed eyebrows don’t help much, making him look more like a Vulcan. Mine also has a weird paint error on the hairline, but it isn’t too noticeable. It’s not a bad likeness, and if nothing else, it’s certainly better than Bastilla.

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The rest of Starkiller’s base body is pretty well-detailed, looking like a rather convincing grey jumpsuit with fairly clean paint applications and nicely-tampographed Imperial logos on his arms. The suit is opened a bit, revealing his blue shirt underneath in what I think is supposed to be a visual homage to Luke’s clothing damage in ROTJ. The rest of his optional clothing/armor bits are very well-sculpted and have some very nice paint apps, particularly all the pouches and buckles on his loincloth-belt-thing. His chest armor also has some neat detail that makes it look used and worn.

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Articulation

Starkiller, both the original and his clone, are known for crazy, acrobatic combat moves, particularly with his lightsaber(s). Unfortunately, Starkiller is severely limited in his articulation, owing primarily to his awful, awful T-crotch hips. Some particularly good figures in the Vintage Collection line were designed with ball-hinge hips, which seemed like a sign that Hasbro was finally upping their standard for 3.75″ Star Wars figures, but clearly these were just flukes. If anyone needed proper, dynamic articulation, it’s Starkiller. Sadly, he’s stuck with the standard minimum: ball jointed head, ball-hinged shoulders, elbows, and knees, swivel waist, wrists, and hips, and ball-hinged ankles with no tilt.

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The wrists are another particular offender, as Starkiller’s signature style is holding his lightsaber(s) in reverse grip. The best way to pull this off would be to allow the toy’s wrists to bend backwards, a point of articulation seen on many figures in the line, but Starkiller is stuck with a basic rotation. I can maybe excuse the hips, but he needed the extra wrist articulation. 

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Accessories

As dual wielding lightsabers was the gimmick of TFU2, clone!Starkiller gets his twin blue-bladed lightsabers in two sets: ignited and, uh, unignited. Both sets of hilts are uniquely-sculpted and have a good amount of paint and detail, and his hands grip them nicely. I do wish the blades were a bit more of a vivid blue as opposed to the weird grey-blue. Also, it would’ve been kind of cool to have optional red sabers, as he used in the cutscenes for the first half of the game.

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The bulk of Starkiller’s accessory count is comprised of his multiple outfits, including: a standard belt with leg-strap-things and a small backpack thing for his TIE pilot suit, and a larger belt with pouches and a loincloth, chest armor, and two wrist armor parts for his late-game outfit. Nothing is too difficult to take on or off, and the only disassembly required is popping off his head for the chest armor. Both waist pieces, however, severely restrict his hip movement even more than it already is, so posing this guy fully-outfitted in either suit is a near-impossible challenge. At the very least, though, both outfits do look rather good and mostly accurate to the in-game models (though the late-game outfit shouldn’t have the visible Imperial logos). Also, each waist/belt piece has two pegs for his deactivated lightsaber hilts. Yay for weapon storage!

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Overall

I’m very disappointed in this figure. It’s so close to being the perfect representation of Starkiller from TFU2, but the lack of basic articulation just kills the toy. The swappable outfits are a neat idea, but ultimately unnecessary as neither outfit matches up to his most iconic look from the trailer (that, ironically, was never in the game itself), and both outfits only serve to further hamper his articulation. The only time this figure really looks good is when he’s standing still, but Starkiller pretty much never stands still. This really is a mixed bag of a figure with more bad than good, but for fans of The Force Unleashed, this really is the only (and last) chance we’ll ever get for a decent Starkiller toy, now that the games and character have been rendered non-canon. For that fact alone, I am at least glad to own this toy.

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Where to Buy

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