The Emperor - Kenner - Vintage Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Collectible News, Photos, and Reviews

JTA Presents: Evolutions: Emperor's Royal Guard

Welcome to another one our JTA Presents: Evolutions features! Let’s check out how close or far we are from having an ideal Hasbro 3.75″ Emperor’s Royal Guard action figure. Have we arrived at definitive status yet? Weigh in and let us know what conclusion you’ll come to by clicking through and adding your two cents in the comments!

Emperor's Royal Guard

 

The regal Emperor’s Royal Guard is a favorite character amongst most Star Wars collectors. The character’s long crimson robes are striking, the shiny helmets capture your attention, and the intimidating force pike warns you not to provoke them. Always a “go to” character in many Star Wars lines, from the vintage Kenner era to the post-George Lucas era, Kenner and Hasbro released a half dozen unique sculpt of the Emperor’s Royal Guard throughout the years (and re-released a whole bunch of them multiple times as well). Nearly every version pleases at some level. And some are better than others. And then there is the debate of whether these characters should come with a removable helmet or not. Let’s see how close we are to a definitive Emperor’s Royal Guard 3.75” figure in our Star Wars collections!

 

Emperor’s Royal Guard from 1983’s Return Of The Jedi line

            

There’s a consensus that 1983’s vintage Kenner Return Of The Jedi Emperor’s Royal Guard figure remains one of the best iterations of this character to date. Collectors are often most impressed with how well Kenner cut the soft-goods for a fitted and screen-accurate drape of the robes. What’s more, Kenner added the soft-goods which provided a layering to help keep the outer soft-goods in place (the magic of felt against felt) as well as give a texture that possessed the same aesthetics of the costume in the film. Collectors still hail the vintage Kenner Emperor’s Royal Guard as one of the best versions of the character to date, and it’s unlikely that some collectors feel it can be bettered.

 

Emperor’s Royal Guard 1997’s The Power Of The Force “2” [Green/Freeze Frame] line.

            

Perhaps the most prominent action figure disappointment of the Emperor’s Royal Guard was the version produced for The Power Of The Force “2” [Green/Freeze Frame] line. With a hulking full frame and a much-too-intense stature, everyone purchased 1997’s POT2 [G/FF] Emperor’s Royal Guard, but with it came buyer’s remorse. With a design not too different than a saltshaker’s, the simple Emperor’s Royal Guard ultimately didn’t meet too many fans’ expectations shortly after its release. By today’s standards, the figure is an eyesore.

 

Royal Guard (Coruscant Sentry) (’02 #19) from 2002’s Star Wars “Saga” [Phase I] line.

            

As we prepared to see Attack Of The Clones in theaters, we learned that we’d see some Original Trilogy characters return. The Royal Guard was one of them, but this time they served as security guards for the Senate as well as performing overall sentry duties for Chancellor Palpatine on Coruscant. Hasbro went with a simplistic approach to the figure’s articulation, but you could blatantly see how far they’d come with sculpting the figure’s likeness. The Royal Guard (Coruscant Sentry) (’02 #19) figure had some wonkiness here and there, but collectors were eager to use this version for Original Trilogy purposes on their display shelves. The red wasn’t as crimson as we would have liked to see, but the sculpt was more of a priority.

 

Royal Guard (III 23) from 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith line.

            

Hasbro returned to the days of the vintage Kenner era with the Revenge Of The Sith Royal Guard (III 23) figure. Part of a running change with the blue Senate Guard, the Royal Guard, captured the magic of well-fitted soft-goods with a shiny red helmet and a new cool Expanded Universe take on the body underneath the robes. This version didn’t come with the much-needed force pike, but we did get a strapped blaster rifle instead, and many collectors were happy with that inclusion. Sadly, the figure has swivel elbows, and you can’t achieve all of the poses you want to because of this articulation.

 

Emperor’s Royal Guard (VC105) from 2012’s The Vintage Collection line.

            

Everything changed for the Emperor’s Royal Guard with the release of The Vintage Collection version. Hasbro thought outside of the box with this release and added a whole other character beneath the robes, based on the Crimson Guard comics. The figure isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but Hasbro accomplished something extraordinary with this figure. Sadly, Hasbro abruptly canceled The Vintage Collection, and this figure didn’t meet the demand of the marketplace. Thankfully, with great jibing from Jedi Temple Archives to Hasbro, Hasbro made a slightly revised version of this figure available in the dreadful Walmart exclusive The Black Series [Phase III] 3.75” super-articulated line.

 

Emperor’s Royal Guard from the Star Wars [The Last Jedi] Emperor Palpatine/Luke Skywalker/Emperor’s Royal Guard TARGET exclusive three-pack.

            

With Force Link and 5POA, Hasbro made longtime collectors’ lives miserable. Despite this, they made some rather fantastic Original Trilogy characters in the simplified format. And one of the better ones is the Emperor’s Royal Guard. The figure is not much more than a helmet, robes, and body. And this very elementary approach worked well for the figure. You obviously cannot pose the figure any way you wish, but it doesn’t look too shabby on your shelves guarding Emperor Palpatine. And the figure comes across as very screen-accurate also.

 

Emperor’s Royal Guard Group Shot

Emperor's Royal Guard

 

Questions for discussion:

1. In your opinion, do we have a definitive version of this figure?

2. If we don’t have a definitive version of this figure, should Hasbro tool a new figure from the ground up again, or should they tweak a current sculpt to perfect it instead?

3. If the figure ranks as definitive for you, do you want to see it repackaged in vintage Kenner packaging (The Vintage Collection) if it isn’t already?

4. Add any other points of note or interest in the comments about any of these versions of the Emperor’s Royal Guard action figures.

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