Samurai Version Toy Line
BY: Admin • Jun 21, 2019
It has been 40 years since the world was told of a tale from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Eight movies later (counting Rogue One, of course) and there are still more left to tell in the Star Wars saga. The universe has been extended, with old post-Return of the Jedi novels scrapped for the new trilogy, and events in between movies told through animated series.
The franchise has been imagined too many times that it just won’t seem to end. Just look at the toys! Old unopened figures of obscure movie characters can fetch you a fortune. Light sabers are in many fans’ checklist. And also there’s Darth Vader.
Now imagine Vader’s as a samurai warlord. It’s not that hard, given that George Lucas got inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese films. The Sith Lord’s helmet was fashioned after actual Japanese headgear, the kabuto, and it’s widely believed that Date Masamune’s dark armor was the influence for the famous black silhouette.
As for an actual samurai Darth Vader, there’s a toy for that.
Bandai kicked off its Movie Realization line three years ago, with a feudal Japan version of the iconic armored dark lord of the Sith leading the charge with a crimson translucent blade on hand. This particular figure got toy collector and GMA News Online science editor TJ Dimacali hooked on the line that now includes a handful of Storm troopers.
“I’m primarily a Transformers and robots collector, but I love vintage sci-fi. So when I saw the Movie Realization figures, I immediately fell in love with them for their retro futuristic feel,” said Dimacali.
The first Darth Vader sold out quick, and Dimacali thought that was it. Then he chanced upon one at a toy convention for a good price.
“Then I thought he would look better with a storm trooper, so I bought that one too. And what’s a trooper without an officer? Bought! And Vader needs his trusty bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Bought! And of course you need an Imperial Guard to stand watch. Bought! …And it was downhill from there.”
While keeping toys sealed increases their resale value, it’s hard not to bring out the Movie Realization figures out of the box and love the samurai-inspired details up close.
Boba Fett has an armory of knives on his boots, fit for a feudal era bounty hunter. There are also various Storm trooper versions, fashioned as ashigaru or common soldiers armed with flintlocks and rifles, with short-sheathed swords at the left waist completing the standard Japanese warrior battle gear. All other characters, from the imperial guards to the newly released archer version of the Storm trooper have blades, except for the drummer boy tasked to carry a sashimono or clan banner to his back.
“I’ve always been a fan of vintage science fiction, particularly steampunk and atompunk,” said DImacali. “The Star Wars Movie Realization figures seemed to be an intriguing blend of those aesthetics, in an East-meets-West kind of way.”
For his favorite, it’s a toss between the first edition Darth Vader (yes, there are two versions of the Sith Lord) and Boba Fett. “I love all the meticulous detail on the latter, but there’s also something to be said of the simplicity of the former.”
Outside Star Wars, Bandai added a Manga Realization line featuring Spiderman and Iron Man Mark III. But if Dimacali were to choose, he wants Tony Stark’s first ever suit reimagined as a Japanese warrior.
“What I would really want is an Iron Man Mark I in the same Movie Realization feudal Japanese style,” said Dimacali, who has a soft spot for the clunky old suit. “I’m not sure how that would be executed, but I imagine it would be some kind of industrial-looking steam- or coal-driven contraption. I think it would fit right in at the turn of the Meiji Restoration”
Will there be Movie Realization version of the Jedi? Star Wars’ bad guys seem to have more room for reimagination with their armor. Besides, Jedi inner garment resemble old Japanese wear, so it will be a surprise to see old man Kenobi with a blue blade. But why not?
Besides, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming this December, we might have a samurai Kylo Ren in the works, if Bandai is not yet one with the storm troopers at least.