Pros: Nice rendering of Wicket; slightly better Leia
Cons: Still a bit too girlish for some boys' taste
Princess Leia and Wicket the Ewok:
The Ewok named Wicket was the first of his clan to find Princess Leia after she crashed a speeder bike in the dense woods of Endor. Their friendship allied the Ewoks and Rebels so that together they could help defeat the evil Empire. - From the Hasbro product packaging blurb
Even though many of Hasbro's Star Wars action figures are primarily marketed for male fans of all ages, it's fair to say that the space fantasy's female fans also enjoy buying and collecting toys and memorabilia from that "galaxy far, far away." The Pawtucket, R.I.-based toy manufacturer, as did its former rival-turned-merger victim Kenner before it, has released various product lines based on the Classic Trilogy's Princess Leia Organa, ostensibly with unisex appeal in most cases, but sometimes, as in the case of the four sets of The Princess Leia Collection, more "girly-girl" themed.
When the Princess Leia and... sets were rolled out in 1997, Hasbro still used the Kenner label on its Star Wars collectibles because fans identified the Kenner name so closely with Hasbro's once-deadly archrival. (When Kenner introduced the small Star Wars action figures in 1978, their success nearly killed Hasbro and its dominance of the toys for boys market. In an ironic twist, it was Hasbro which had coined the term "action figure" to describe its GI Joe toy; the marketing division was well aware that no self-respecting boy would be caught dead with, gulp! a doll.) As it happens, The Princess Leia Collection was one of the last "Kenner" lines before Hasbro did away with the label altogether in 2000.
As the name of the product (Princess Leia and Wicket the Ewok) clearly states, this 2-figure set comes with Princess Leia Organa as she appears in the Classic Trilogy's final Episode Return of the Jedi, and the young Ewok she first encountered after a hair-raising speeder bike chase-and-crash sequence left her stranded in the forests of Endor.
Here, Leia is wearing a homespun dress (dubbed by Kenner/Hasbro as an "Ewok Ceremonial Dress") rendered in a hybrid fashion; the upper torso and sleeves are sculpted/plastic in earth tones and whites, while the longish skirt is made of cloth and also done in Mother Nature-invoking earth tones chosen deliberately to contrast with the cold, harsh, and fascist black, reds, and whites used by the Galactic Empire.
On her feet, Leia wears sandals rather than the Rebel issue boots she normally favors.
Because this time Leia shows more "skin" - not as much as in the Leia as Jabba's Prisoner slave-girl outfit - there is a slight improvement in the detailing. It's not as impressive as in later figures made from better molds, but it's a tad nicer than its Princess Leia and R2-D2 counterpart. We get a rare figure with Leia's long brown hair down - it comes down to Leia's waist and has two braids on either side that are mostly plastic but end with "hairlike" fibrous material to make them look a bit more life like.
As many collectors will tell you, getting female characters' faces "right" on these small figures is tough, but even though this 1997 figure is still a lot better than a 1995 or '96 variant derisively known as Monkey Faced Leia, it takes a lot of imagination to say, "Hey, that looks a lot like Carrie Fisher." I mean, it sort of does, but there are other, far better figures that more closely resemble the young Ms. Fisher in her Star Wars years than this one.
The articulation points are, sadly, very limited. Once again, Hasbro/Kenner give her figure only the basic neck, shoulder, and hip joints (these last being hidden under the skirt), so Leia can only be posed in a few stances that look nearly natural.
Once again, unlike most Princess Leia action figures, this one doesn't come with a blaster. That's fine with me, since in some scenes of this section of Return of the Jedi Leia isn't in any action scenes; those are relegated to her twin brother Luke Skywalker and the other Rebel heroes.
Then, of course, there's the Ewok known - never in the film itself but in the credits and other media - as Wicket or (as a tip of the hat to the actor who plays him) Wicket W. Warrick.
For some reason, with rare exception Hasbro seems to get aliens and droids to look really good, and Wicket is no exception. Even the most casual viewers of Jedi can see just how close the resemblance the figure bears to its "real-life" incarnation; from its orange-brown hood to its "metal-tipped" spear accessory, every detail of the figure captures the inquisitive, friendly, yet brave nature of the young Ewok warrior.
Like all Ewok figures that I've either owned or seen, Wicket has his own posability issues. His short arms and legs naturally negate any joints at the knees and elbows, and the hood, which was designed to cover up unsightly seams in the Ewok's costumes, precludes any movement of the head, so there's no articulation point at the neck, either.
The other limitation Wicket has is that he can't hold his spear in a two-handed grip. He can hold the weapon in either hand, but not in both at the same time.
The durability of the figures ranges from average to good depending on who the end user is. If you buy this for a child in the suggested age range of 4 and up, chances are that Leia's dress will get dirty and head and limbs removed unless the "youngling" is not into rough pretend play. Older kids - especially those into collecting - may have to sometimes dust the figures if they take them out of the package, or else Leia's dress will collect dust and dirt and will require gentle washing. Also, Wicket's spear could get lost easily if not carefully placed in one of his hands and kept there. If kept in the package, the figures - barring a fire, flood, or other major disaster - should last a lifetime.
Although there are better Leia Organa figures out there - including a somewhat similar "Freeze Frame" batch one with the Ewok Ceremonial Dress - fans of 2-figure sets really can't pass this one up. It's not perfect and doesn't, like the Cinema Scene packs, recreate a scene from Return of the Jedi, but the figures aren't terrible. And even though it's a "softer side of Leia" figure aimed not-quite-exclusively at the girl-fan market, it's still Star Wars-y enough for most collectors to purchase.
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.