January 12, 2013

Tekken 3 x Star Wars - Nina Williams "red card" figure

Star Wars Power Of The Force

Tekken Namco Action Figures
This must be one of the coolest and most unique promotional figures Namco has ever created for any of their games. Check out why, after the jump...

Star Wars Kenner Hasbro Blister Packaging
Tekken Merchandise Figurine
Nina Williams Figure Tekken Collection
The tiny figure itself isn't even detailed enough to bear more than just a vague resemblance to Tekken 3's Nina, it's the packaging that sets it apart from the usual promotional stuff. Mimicking the infamous 'red card' packaging of the mid-90s Star Wars "The Power Of The Force" action figure line, it copies replicates recreates every aspect of the original packaging, from the color scheme, the character portrait on the front and character profile on the back, to the actual typography and layout. This is done in such a witty way that it almost comes off as a parody of the original design. The signature Darth Vader helmet cut-out was replaced by a very familiar looking gold Heihachi Mishima trophy. Each of the Star Wars figures came with a special accessory, briefly described in words below the character portrait - the accessory-less Tekken characters instead got their own joke-equipment description: "Nina Williams with Hyou Gara" (which AFAIK is Japanese for leopard and is, of course, referring to her leopard print top), "Kazuya Mishima with Tekateka skin" (?), "Heihachi Mishima with Tongari hair", "Angel with saintly white wings", "Anna Williams with sexy china dress", "Ling Xiaoyu with cute rips" (??), "Paul Phoenix with Cyou Nekketu Konjyou" (???), "Hwoarang with cool jacket" and "Mokujin with leaves"... all hilariously random. Even more hilarity ensues when you read the obligatory age warning. The one on the Star Wars figures goes: "WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts. Not for children under 3 years", whereas the Tekken version says: "WARNING: COOKING HAZARD - Melting parts. Not for eat under 900 years"... haha lol, you Namco. I can't help but feel like that's something Harada would have put there.
Oddly enough, Namco decided to keep the eponymous red lightsaber (hence "red card") of the original card's design, without replacing it with something more Tekken-y; so here we have Nina Williams... right next to a Star Wars lightsaber, in 1998. It would be 10 years before a Namco franchise collided with the Star Wars universe again, when Vader, Yoda and Galen Marek joined the cast of SoulCalibur IV in 2008.
Since these figures were never actually sold in stores and only given away as prizes in Japan they have always been extremely rare. Furthermore, each of the figures was also released in both an all gold and an all silver colour variant which are particularly hard to come by today. I for one have several unopened boxes of the normal paint version, but was never lucky enough to find the gold or silver ones anywhere.

Look at the pictures above to compare the much larger Star Wars original with the roughly 6.5" Tekken 3 parody knock-off, and read below for the history of the original 90s Kenner/Hasbro toys in an excerpt from
"A Guide to Hasbro Star Wars Figures and Toys from 1995 to 1999" courtesy of CollectoRama News.
Tekken Figures Collection Merchandise Prize Good
In 1995, Kenner relaunched the Star Wars toy line, which had a successful run in department store toy aisles from 1978 to 1985. Interest in Star Wars from collectors had waned during the late eighties and early nineties, but as the Star Wars generation grew up and had kids of their own, there was a demand for merchandise once again. Kenner started out slowly in 1995, with the release of a handful of 3 3/4" action figures of the core characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader. Action figures in this small scale were the most popular of the original Star Wars toys during the initial run, and Kenner kept to the tradition, with updated sculpts of the characters. The response was so overwhelming that Kenner continued production of more characters, and began producing vehicles and some of the larger "beasts" featured in the films.
The new line of toys quickly became one of the top brands in sales volume, with the line continuing today as strong as ever. Collectors now differentiate between the toys released during the original films, known as "vintage" (1978-1985) and "modern" (1995-present). The modern line can be further broken down by certain lines. From 1995 to 1999, Kenner (which would become Hasbro after a buyout during this time) released toys and action figures under the "Power of the Force" brand, and issued dozens of characters from the classic trilogy. Because Kenner also issued vintage figures under the "Power of the Force" brand in 1985, collectors refer to the new figures as the "Power of the Force 2" (POTF2) line. Between 1995 and 1999, Hasbro issued "Power of the Force 2" figures on several different cardbacks and themes. At first, figures were sold on cards with a large red laser stripe behind the figure. This packaging became known as a "red card."
Tekken Arcade Prize Good Figures Limited Edition
Small picture above courtesy of Tekken Maniax, rest by me. Excerpt from "A Guide to Hasbro Star Wars Figures and Toys from 1995 to 1999" by CollectoRama News.

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