I have a confession to make: Although I own close to a thousand Star Wars figures and collected them most of my life, I never bought a Walrus Man before. I thought he was stupid in Ep. IV, and the POFT2 He-Man physique Ponda Baba didn’t exactly compel me to buy him. But! After Walrus Man was featured on Robot Chicken Star Wars, I fell in love with this (now comically tragic!) character. So I was excited when a new Vintage Collection Walrus Man was announced, but didn’t expect to find him since he’s exceedingly rare at retail. I haven’t written a Vintage Collection review since my Serving Droid R2-D2 review almost a year ago, but I was so thrilled to discover this guy at K-Mart I figured I’d break my streak. For the first time I have a Walrus Man action figure all my own–and lucky me, he’s so perfect I doubt I’ll ever need to purchase another one…
The first area where Walrus Man really excels is in his selection of accessories. Every accessory you would want for a Walrus Man action figure is present and accounted for. Change-o bloody upper-arm stump? Check! Likewise bloody dismembered lower-arm with furry hand attached? Check! Change-o hands of both the furry and flipper varieties? Check! Blaster pistol with working holster for possible future revenge against Obi-Wan? Check! Walrus Man even has a bar glass to drown his sorrows after having his arm amputated! Considering the high retail price-point for Vintage Collection figures ($8-$10), this is one of the few this year where enough great accessories were included that I don’t feel like Hasbro is ripping me off a bit.
Those hoping to get Walrus Man posed up doing ninja kicks are going to be disappointed with his leg articulation, but for the rest of us he has all the articulation we’d ever want in a Walrus Man toy. Walrus Man has 14 points of articulation including neck, waist, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, wrists, ankles, knees, and legs. (His change-o body parts have the same articulation as his standard body parts as well.) For a guy who stands at the bar, does nothing, and gets his arm chopped off, I really don’t see any need whatsoever for more articulation than this. Some people may complain about the lack of ball-jointed legs, but I’m perfectly content with the amount that he’s got.
Sculpting and paintwise, Ponda Baba is absolutely perfect. This figure is about as drastic an evolution from that wacky 1978 Walrus Man figure shown on the back of the package as you can get. The colors chosen are accurate, and there’s no paint-bleed or slop of any kind on this figure. The Hasbro Star Wars factories do their job flawlessly time after time, and I wish that the Hasbro Marvel Universe factories were half as consistently precise with their paintwork.
While not directly pertaining to the quality of Ponda Baba, I think it’s worth mentioning that he’s going to look even better next year when he can be posed next to the Vintage Dr. Evazan coming out. We haven’t had a new Dr. Evazan figure in well over a decade, and we haven’t had a good Dr. Evazan figure ever, so it’s going to feel and look pretty special to finally be able to have excellent versions of Walrus Man and his partner in crime to display together for the first time.
Truthfully, the only minor nitpick I have with this figure is that while the flipper hands are a wonderful addition, the fingers on them have been sculpted too tightly to hold the bar glass. Since he only has the flipper hands until his arm is cut off in A New Hope, it would have been nice if he could be posed holding the glass with his flipper hands instead of his furry hands. Not exactly a deal-breaker, but it’s a minor annoyance.
It also still bothers me that the Vintage Collection cardbacks don’t include a bio for the character you’re buying. You and I may know Ponda Baba, but little Jimmy and his mother may not. With obscure characters like Bastila Shan coming out now, bios would be a virtue.
While not a fault of the figure directly (and it won’t figure into the his grade), the case-packs and distribution of this figure and wave are extremely poor. Considering how awful Star Wars distribution has been this year, I’m fearful of Ponda Baba (and his case mates Bastila Shan and Echo Base Trooper) being crazy difficult to find at retail and commanding insane prizes online like Wedge Antilles. Hasbro struck out in every conceivable way at getting new Star Wars figures into stores this year, and the result is unhappy collectors and pegs flooded with Clones and Sandtroopers. I really, truly hope that Hasbro does a better job with the line next year and doesn’t just flood pegs with Episode I merchandise that will gather dust for centuries.
Ponda Baba is currently shipping in only one revision case assortment of the Vintage Collection at one-per-case with no future inclusion in any cases announced, so he’s essentially impossible to find at retail so far. Here’s some online options for Walrus Man:
Entertainment Earth has an interesting 12-figure case assortment containing Bastila Shan, Walrus Man, Keylan Farlander, a Rebel Fleet Trooper and an Echo Base Trooper for $109.99 with a bunch of others figures. If you want the whole wave it’s not a bad way to, since you’re getting these at the retail price of about $9 per figure (cheaper than Toys R Us and K-Mart!), and there aren’t any real ‘dud’ figures in there like Dengar or Sandtrooper.
Big Bad Toy Store also has the same revision case available at the same $109.99, and also has it in-stock right now.
The best price I could find for an individual Ponda Baba by scouring the Internet was about $18 with free shipping on Amazon for Walrus Man. It’s not the best price ever, but with no case assortments including Ponda Baba planned for the rest of the year, he may end up super-expensive like Wedge for quite some time, so this may be an okay deal in comparison.
Overall: This is unquestionably the definitive Ponda Baba. Seriously, I will never need another Ponda Baba figure again (unless Sideshow puts out a spectacular 12″ version). You can nitpick the small stuff like the flipper hands not holding his glass or his leg joints not being ball-jointed, but when it comes right down to it this is an all-around excellent action figure in terms of sturdiness, paint, sculpting, accessories, and articulation. If you want the best Ponda Baba out there, this is the figure for you, as I doubt that there will be a better 4″-scale version of this character made in the next decade, if ever.