As well as announcing the upcoming return of Vintage Collection Star Wars action figures at last week’s Celebration, Hasbro also stated that the Fan’s Choice figure poll would, for the first time in a few years, be for the 3.75″ scale.
Exciting times, right? Over the last few years the fan poll has provided us with 6” versions of Darth Revan, Sabine Wren and the upcoming Jaina Solo; all Legends or Disney EU characters and (at least so far) all exceedingly popular.
It’s therefore little surprise that an active part of the fandom have united to push an EU character to the fore once again this year, and among the current front runners is… Jedi Knight Ben Skywalker.
If you’re new to Star Wars you may be thinking “he means Ben Solo, right?”, and well, my friend – you’d be wrong. Allow us to take you on a trip into the old Star Wars canon and meet the other recipient of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s assumed name…
Who is Ben Skywalker?
Introduced in the New Jedi Order book series, Ben Skywalker is the son of Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars Legends timeline.
Born in 26 ABY at the dawn of the Yuuzhan Vong War, Ben spent much of his youth separated from his parents as they fought against the invasion. Despite being kept safe Ben’s abilities meant that he was overwhelmed by the pain of the conflict, and he cut himself off from the Force. It took the return of Ben’s nephew Jacen Solo for Skywalker to open himself up to the mystical energy field again, and under Solo’s tutelage Skywalker became a confident and powerful Force user.
When Solo turned to the dark side and became Darth Caedus he killed Mara Jade, causing Ben to seek revenge, although Caedus was eventually slain by his own sister. Luke was exiled for failing to prevent Jacen’s turn and Ben joined him, with both father and son retracing Jacen’s steps to understand his fall.
Along the way the Skywalkers encountered a group of Sith and defeated a supernatural being called Abeloth. Ben became romantically close with the Sith apprentice Vestara Khai, who eventually killed her master and turned to the light.
And therein ends the legend.
The Name of a Jedi
Despite the precedent set by EU characters winning the Fan’s Choice poll, the potential nomination of Ben Skywalker has caused something of a minor controversy in the Star Wars collecting community. As you may expect (if you’ve been in the fandom over recent years), there’s a divide between the fans that have wholeheartedly accepted the Disney canon and those that are still unsure about it – and no character embodies that difference in opinion like Ben Skywalker.
For one thing, the character’s name was used for Han and Leia’s son in The Force Awakens (quite confusingly, considering neither of them knew Obi-Wan Kenobi as Ben). But more importantly, the choices taken by Abrams and Kasdan in The Force Awakens make it highly unlikely that Ben Skywalker could ever exist in any form in the films, even by proxy.
And so, despite Ben Skywalker never receiving a figure, some of the more vocal members of the collecting community are expressing an overriding resentment towards EU fans for voting for such a ‘protest’ character. This comes despite the success of Darth Revan, and despite Jacen and Jaina having already seen release in the Legacy Collection.
There may be some truth to the ‘protest’ claim. Alternatively it could just be that Legends fans are more organised and more willing to work together. Either way, it’s a campaign that I can’t really fault. If The Last Jedi satisfies the hardcore as well as the public then Legends will become increasingly less relevant, and any protests like this will die down.
That means that there’s a 50/50 chance that this is the last real opportunity fans will get to complete the EU Skywalker family in action figure form – and I know some collecting sites would be furious if that were the case for their most wanted character.
The vote is open from 26-30th April at StarWars.com.