Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel
Luke SkywalkerAs Luke battles Darth Vader in Cloud City, he rebuffs Vader’s attempts to make him submit to the dark side. Wounded by Vader, Luke heroically chooses to plummet to almost certain death rather than submit to the dark side. Managing to grab hold of a weathervane, he struggles to hang on until his Rebel friends can rescue him. – blurb from the action figure package.
Character Background: Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel
Now that George Lucas has completed his six-film Star Wars saga set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” we know now that the series’ central character is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. But it was through Luke Skywalker’s adventures as a Rebel pilot and Jedi-in-training that most of us got into Lucas’ space fantasy as we watched him go from the earnest moisture farmer on Tatooine to Hero of the Rebellion and full-fledged Jedi Knight.
Luke, as seen in Episodes IV-VI, is the exact opposite of Darth Vader in the Classic Trilogy; where Vader was initially perceived as the personification of evil and the public face of the Galactic Empire, young Skywalker represents innocence, earnestness, and selflessness. Yes, in The Empire Strikes Back his character is more complex and shows hints that he, too, could follow in Vader’s footsteps. In the Classic Trilogy’s second act, he fails many of Jedi Master Yoda’s tests because he is reckless, impatient, and often angry, traits he obviously inherited from Anakin Skywalker…and traits that could make him vulnerable to the dark side of the Force.
Indeed, Luke’s impatience and recklessness nearly spells disaster not only for himself, but for the entire galaxy. In the third act of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke, haunted by Force visions in which Han and Leia are suffering, interrupts his Jedi training on Dagobah to rescue his friends. Little does he know that Vader – who as Anakin Skywalker had a similar experience in his late teens – is luring him into a trap on Cloud City. Strong in the Force but not able to control it, he takes Vader’s bait and ends up in a fierce lightsaber duel that nearly costs Luke his life.
INTERIOR: GANTRY – OUTSIDE CONTROL ROOM – REACTOR SHAFT
Luke moves along the railing and up to the control room. Vader lunges at him and Luke immediately raises his sword to meet Vader’s. Sparks fly as they duel, Vader gradually forcing Luke backward toward the gantry.
VADER: You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.
Luke answers by rolling sideways and thrusting his sword at Vader so viciously that he nicks Vader on the shoulder. The black armor sparks and smokes and Vader seems to be hurt, but immediately recovers.
Luke backs off along the narrow end of the gantry as Vader comes at him, slashing at the young Jedi with his sword. Luke makes a quick move around the the instrument complex attached to the end of the gantry. Vader’s sword comes slashing down, cutting the complex loose; it begins to fall, then is caught by the rising wind and blown upward.
Luke glances at the instrument complex floating away. At that instant, Vader’s sword comes down across Luke’s right forearm, cutting off his hand and sending his sword flying. In great pain Luke squeezes his forearm under his left armpit and moves back along the gantry to its extreme end. Vader follows. The wind subsides. Luke holds on. There is nowhere else to go.
What follows, of course, is Vader’s traumatizing revelation about his true identity and Luke’s anguished reaction, which gives way to the young Jedi’s nearly suicidal plunge to the bottom of Cloud City.
Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel: The Figure
Coinciding with the release of George Lucas’ Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones in 2002, Hasbro released a wave of 3.75-inch scale action figures featuring characters from both Trilogies as part of the company’s revamped Star Wars collection of figures, vehicles, and playsets.
Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel was figure No. 29 in the 2002 collection, and was intended to be the companion figure for No.30 – Darth Vader: Bespin Duel. As a set, the two toys were designed to recreate the climactic lightsaber duel between Vader and Skywalker in the Cloud City Reactor Control area and its dramatic revelation scene.
Actually, this figure is more of a multi-scene sequence specific one than Darth Vader: Bespin Duel. It doesn’t really come posed as the Dark Lord’s replica does, but rather is packed in a standing position with all the extras (which include Luke’s lightsaber and hand blaster) stored in the carded bubblepack around the figure.
Special Features/Extras: Because Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel depicts the young and impulsive Jedi-in-training as he appears in the final act of The Empire Strikes Back, the figure comes with various accessories that appear in different scenes of the film. First and foremost is Luke’s blue-bladed lightsaber, the one that Anakin Skywalker wielded as a Jedi Knight in the final days of the Galactic Republic…the same laser sword that the future Darth Vader would use against younglings in the Jedi Temple…and would be retrieved, almost casually, by Obi-Wan Kenobi as Vader lay helplessly on the hot ashes of the volcanic planet Mustafar.
Like most Jedi or Sith laser swords issued with Star Wars figures since the mid-Nineties, Luke’s lightsaber’s “energy blade” is made of translucent blue plastic that allows light to pass through to simulate a glowing lightsaber effect. Also, the saber’s handle is nicely detailed, with a black pommel, silver handgrip, and even the beveled emitter shroud seen in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Revenge of the Sith. It can also fit into Luke’s removable right hand or in a two-handed grip; the figure’s hands and articulation points allow for either option.
Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel is also armed with a blaster very much like Han Solo’s BlasTech laser pistol. All Luke Skywalker figures wearing the Dagobah/Bespin fatigues have come with a blaster pistol, although in the past this secondary weapon didn’t have much detailing painted on. Usually blasters were rendered in black or dark blues, but as toy making techniques and tools evolved, even tiny accessories became more detailed. Luke’s blaster features a mostly dark blue/black body with a silver barrel, and it fits in a holster that is molded, not painted, onto the figure’s right hip.
Another accessory included with the figure is the bacta tourniquet Luke wears aboard the Millennium Falcon as Vader’s Super Star Destroyer attempts to prevent the Rebels from escaping from Cloud City. It’s a white and black cylinder that fits neatly on the “stump” of Luke’s amputated hand and has a white and red cable extending from its front. (Bacta, in the Star Wars galaxy, is a healing agent used to treat all sorts of wounds; in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is dunked into a tank full of the stuff after his close encounter with a Wampa ice creature on Hoth.)
Finally, Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel comes with the weather vane he holds on to when he falls from the Cloud City reactor control room and into a chute that nearly sends him into Bespin’s gaseous atmosphere. Nicely detailed with painted-on red and yellow beacon lights, the vane can be attached to a suction cup base that can then be placed on a shelf or other suitable surface to recreate the scene where young Skywalker is hanging on for dear life as he waits for Leia and the others on the Millennium Falcon to rescue him.
Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel has a small button on the figure’s back that triggers what Hasbro calls a “Slashing Lightsaber Attack.” Push it, and the young Jedi-in-training’s right arm will move in a slashing motion.
Detailing: This 2002 figure is at least the third variant of Luke Skywalker in his Bespin fatigues issued since 1980, when Kenner (now Hasbro) released its TheEmpire Strikes Back collection. It’s also the second 3.75-inch figure I own with a detachable hand feature; in the late 1990s Hasbro offered collectors a Luke Skywalker in Bespin Outfit (With Detachable Hand & Lightsaber) as part of its now discontinued Power of the Force line. That figure is much better than its 1980 predecessor; Luke’s hair is no longer yellow but more of a light brown/dark blond shade, and the lightsaber isn’t simply an all-yellow attachment but has detailing similar to the one that comes with this toy.
As mentioned earlier, toy making techniques have been improving, allowing Hasbro to put more realistic details on even small figures of this scale.
At first glance, Luke’s Rebel-issue beige fatigues look very odd, almost as though the figure had somehow ended up in Hasbro’s GI Joe production area by mistake and an overzealous artist in the Chinese factory had painted on a “tiger stripe” camouflage pattern on the uniform. Actually, though, the mottling effect is supposed to emulate the “shadows” in the creases and wrinkles on the fabric of the jacket and trousers Luke wears. It does take some time to get used to this new appearance, but after a while it does look cool as all get-out.
Another striking feature about this figure is the detailing on Luke’s face. Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel shows the character as having gone through hell and back, with reddish bruises on his cheeks where objects Force-tossed at the Jedi by Darth Vader hit their target. He also looks as though he’s in pain; the sculpt is so detailed that one can see Luke’s grimace of shock, fear, and disbelief on his face.
Unlike Darth Vader: Bespin Duel, this figure has lots of articulation points. Not only does Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel have the usual neck, shoulder, and hip joints present in most StarWars figures since their introduction in 1978, but the toy also has movement points at the elbows, wrists, and especially the knees. This allows the figure to:
Hold both weapons at the same time
Hold the lightsaber in a two-handed grip
Hang on to the Cloud City weather vane in a more natural-looking pose
Final Thoughts: Luke Skywalker may not be as “cool” as the cocky Han Solo or as complex as Darth Vader, but he is the stalwart and earnest hero whose adventures we follow throughout the Classic Trilogy, so any time Hasbro makes a figure as well-conceived and made as this one, it’s well worth getting. Not only that, but it can be posed with its Darth Vader: BespinDuel counterpart to recreate one of the saga’s most intense sequences.
As with all the Star Wars action figures, Hasbro recommends this toy for children 4 and up since the small parts pose a clear and present choking hazard, especially for children under 3 years.