POTF2 has had a rough ride since 1995.
The second Power of the Force action figure line, nicknamed POTF2 by collectors, brought the Star Wars saga roaring back to toy shop shelves after a ten year absence. The revitalised series featured all-new sculpts offering unparalleled levels of detail and depth, and for those of us young enough to be in the target market these figures presented the first step into a wider world of Star Wars collecting.
Yet at the time, the first generation of Star Wars fans were less than impressed with Hasbro’s offering…
Before The Force Awakens renewed interest in all things Star Wars POTF2 figures were mostly unwanted, selling for peanuts (if at all) on the secondary market. Vilified for their exaggerated sculpts, dynamic poses and limited articulation, the figures have suffered a pretty heavy dose of criticism over the years (some of it even justified).
Yet the relentless ill-will completely misses the point.
POTF2 represents an objective improvement over the vintage Star Wars line. The updated paint applications and sculpting techniques led to ever-improving likenesses, whilst the ‘heroic’ style was in keeping with the popular superhero toys of the time. The accessories took a huge step forward in accuracy, even if some of the guns suffered from being oversized. The figures of Luke, Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi came with realistic looking lightsabers that featured transparent blades – a massive improvement over the vintage figures – setting a template that Hasbro still follows today.
“The biggest discussion we had was about the importance of balancing the needs of collectors with those of kids,” explained Tim Hall, leader of the 1995 Hasbro design team. Their bid to modernise Star Wars figures paid off. Regardless of how the older Star Wars fans felt, POTF2 quickly became the number one toy for the new generation.
In summer 1995 the first wave gave kids the basics they needed to recreate scenes from A New Hope. The collection launched with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, a Stormtrooper, R2-D2, Princess Leia and, eventually, C-3PO.
The last two in particular caused difficulty for collectors to track down as neither was packed in large quantities. Meanwhile Leia, female character that she is, even suffered the indignity of not being featured on the card back – setting an unwanted precedent for #wheresrey 20 years later…
These nine toys provided the new beginning that Star Wars needed. In a period of less than three years between summer 1995 and Christmas 1997 Hasbro produced 101 action figures in all, more than Kenner produced in their entire eight year vintage run. The Star Wars toy line would continue to grow on a scale beyond anyone’s imagining over the next two decades.
When the Power of the Force came to an end in 2000 better versions of all of these characters had been made; yet this first wave remains iconic memorabilia of the time. Regardless of any stylistic criticisms, the success of POTF2 kick-started a toy line that has since gone from strength to strength.
If you’re a modern Star Wars collector you may love the retro throwback 5POA figures, or perhaps your interest peaked with The Vintage Collection. Whatever your preference, we have the first wave of POTF2 to thank for bringing it back.