VOTC Luke and Yoda
The original trilogy hits dvd today, so it's only fitting that our
college bum, Sean Teeter, checks in with a review of two new VOTC figures -
take it away, Sean!
I haven’t been motivated to really pursue Hasbro’s Original Trilogy Collection. The OTC line is filled with repackaged Star Wars figures that I already own on and off card –some back from the days of the POTF 2 line. The few new figures released haven’t really been all that much to write home about either, and I’ve only picked up one or two.
Instead I’ve focused on the special Vintage Style figures Hasbro’s released to herald the even further modified DVD release of the original trilogy. They’ve dedicated four figures per movie with completely new sculpts and designs. Han, Obi-Wan, and Leia have been out for a while now –with the boys warming the pegs much more often than the princess—and now the last figure from the first wave has finally started hitting shelves as well: Luke Skywalker. In addition, both Yoda and Darth Vader have just started popping up from Wave 2, the Empire Strikes Back. I managed to snag the diminutive Jedi master, but wasn’t quick enough to get everyone’s favorite Sith Master (other than George Lucas).
So for tonight’s review we have the master and his last apprentice.
Packaging - ****
As I said before, Hasbro’s really got their game on with the collector crowd in this series. The overall card design mimics the vintage cards to a tee. The peg hole is die-cut but not punched through and the bubble has been downsized to approximate the vintage “coffin blister” look.
The graphics on Luke’s card front are directly reprinted from the first wave of Star Wars figures, complete with silver header, bars, full photo art, and the Kenner logo. The back shows the original carded figure and previews of the release wave.
Yoda’s is a direct reprint of his debut card from the Empire Strikes Back release, complete with the red movie lettering.
To ensure the card stays mint, Hasbro has packaged the whole set in a resalable clamshell with the OTC logo across the bottom and embossed Rebel and Imperial symbols at the top. While I’ve seen plenty of these clamshells smashed or scuffed, I’ve also always been able to find one that is in decent displayable condition.
Overall, it is truly an eye-catching piece of work.
Sculpting - Luke: ***; Yoda: *** ½
Mark Hamill seems to be the bane of Hasbro sculptors, as they’ve just had a hell of a time trying to capture his likeness. It might be the way his face changed cosmetically after his car accident before the shooting for ESB started. He went from fresh farm boy to slightly haggard in a few years. In a way though, it worked for the character, especially in the final scenes with Vader. A few years later, Hamill personified a much more mature-looking Luke. While there wasn’t anything drastic about the change, there are definitely three different looks to the Skywalker character (four if you count the heavy make-up version seen in the infamous holiday special).
Either that or he’s just got one of those hard-to-capture Bill Shatner faces.
Meet country bumpkin Luke everyone.
There is a definite Hamill look to this guy, especially when you view him slightly from the side, but there’s just something about that hair along with the slightly open mouth that makes him look a little too farm-boy. Okay, the hair is a pretty accurate cut in the back, but the font is missing the part. Instead the hairline just kind of “mop-tops” its way over. The hand sculpts are decent, as is the chest line. The legs and wrapped boots are really close to the movie costume.
The other little miss has to do with the peg holes in his feet: they’re simply not deep enough to accommodate most of the stands that come with other figures in the Star Wars line. While he can certainly stand on his own, he’ll need some help in more extreme poses, and there just ain’t much there to grab onto the peg.
Yoda’s pretty darn close to the way he looked in Empire and Jedi, but you can tell that the features have been softened a little to compare with the prequel versions of the Jedi master. His hands are nicely done and can hold his cane, or any lightsaber from the prequel Yodas if that’s your wish. The legs are pretty cool
– I believe this is the first look at what Yoda’s legs actually look like, since I don’t seem to recall him ever sporting shorts on camera. The upper body gives him a subtler hunch than other sculpts, including the vintage figure. The lower part of his robes are cloth as opposed to sculpted plastic.
One thing that greatly mares this figure is the pronounced molding line on his head. I’ve seen it on others as well, so I know it’s not an isolated incident.
Paint - ***
This is probably the weakest category for these two.
For Luke, there just isn’t much to paint. His hair and face ops are clean down to the white on his teeth, and the wash on his wrapped boots are nicely done. He just doesn’t have a very exciting color scheme.
Yoda’s ops are pretty clean as well, but the skin wash is just too dark. The Yoda puppet was pretty pale in color, while the prequel puppet and CG Yodas have been darker in tone. This one is definitely more of a prequel skin wash.
The hair is a little sloppy in back but not too bad. His eyes are really clean and have a nice yellow tone.
The finger and toenails are slightly sloppy, but not too terrible.
Articulation - ****
I think I’ve only given a four star rating in this category to Hasbro on one other occasion –the vintage style Han Solo—but if they keep improving on their figures this drastically, I’m going to start doing it much more often. Of course these figures are slightly higher-end than the basic releases, so we’ll have to wait and see what the standard Episode III figure articulation is going to be like.
Like the previously reviewed Han Solo, Luke also has fourteen points of articulation, and ball joints to spare! He has the ball-jointed head, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles like Han, as well as cuts at the wrists. However, his waist articulation is much cooler. Instead of a traditional waist cut, Luke has slotted swivel point in his torso, which lends to some pretty nice posing options, especially since the joint is hidden by his jacket.
Yoda is simply the most articulated version of this character ever produced in this scale. With ten points, he beats out the Yoda that came with Chian. Muppet master has a ball-jointed head and shoulders, as well as cuts at the elbows, wrists, waist, and hips.
I believe the ball-jointed head is a first on a Yoda figure, and for this character it’s almost a necessity for pose recreation. The shoulders are a little tight, but I’m not planning on putting him in too many extreme postures. The angles on the elbow cuts are done well enough that Yoda can cross his hands over his cane as well as hold relatively neutral positions –the left one does work better than the right at just hanging by his side though. The one complaint here is that his hands don’t quite meet up too well when crossed over. This is something the figure in the Yoda and Chian set does better.
The individual leg articulation hasn’t been used on this character since the original vintage release. This is the first modern Yoda to have two separately articulated legs in this scale.
While he doesn’t have ball-jointed knees or elbows like Luke and Han, I can forgive Hasbro for that since it is kind of hard to articulate a character this small.
Accessories - Luke: ***; Yoda: *** ½
Here’s a category where these guys definitely blow the previous three figures out of the water.
Luke comes with a removable belt, soft good jacket, and his light saber. The belt has some decent detail to it and has simple, but clean paint ops. I would have liked a few more things hanging from it, but I can live with it. The jacket is nicely tailored and fits decently with the belt clipped over it. It is definitely a little too big for Luke, but doesn’t look anywhere near as bulky as the reused robe that came with Obi-Wan.
While I can’t be 100 % sure, I think this might be a new light saber sculpt. It not only looks movie accurate, but also has nice clean paint ops on the hilt.
I think Hasbro was a little worried about getting collectors to spend ten bucks on a figure as small as Yoda, so they packed him with a full wardrobe plus. There really wasn’t any need to worry, since Yoda’s as popular as ever.
The Muppet Master comes with a removable robe, belt, necklace, his cane, and a snake. For the most part, they copied the same accessories found with the vintage figure, with the addition of Yoda’s good luck charm.
For my tastes, the robe looks a little too clean. The dirty wash could have been grayer and deeper, and the edges could have been frayed a little. As usual, the robe is also too big for this figure. It doesn’t really hurt the look of the figure, but it does make Yoda look like he’s packed on a few pounds. The robe’s size also prevents the belt from being able to wrap around it, movie-accurately. The belt can reach with some coercing, but just won’t stay pinned closed. I’ve also worried about the belt tearing, so it’s best left around his waist –the way it comes packaged with him.
The necklace is a nice touch. This is something we haven’t really seen on small Yoda figure before, and it works pretty well. His walking stick is a tad soft, and could have been thicker for easier holding. It’s a good thing Yoda can stand on his own since I wouldn’t want too much weight on this thing.
The snake is a little homage to the ones packaged with the vintage Yodas (There were two variations: a the lighter-skinned Yoda came with an orange snake, while the darker Yoda had a brown one). The paint is bare bones as is the sculpt. Hasbro missed a bit, since the eyes and mouth are there, but not painted.
Overall, the sheer amount of stuff included makes these guys a better value than some of the other figures in this line.
Durability/Quality - ***
These guys are pretty solid all around. No problems here.
Value - **1/2
Most of the price is attached to the special packaging of this figure. For those who want to keep their figures on the card for display, the price isn’t as bad, but for those of us who like to display them loose as well, the average pricing on these figures is pretty damn high compared to $4.99 for the basic line. These two fair better than Obi-Wan, Leia, and Han however due to their much better accessory assortment. Let’s hope the other releases follow suit.
So far the cheapest I’ve even seen this particular line going for is $9.99 in store. Look around at Targets and TRU’s. They might not show up for a little bit though due to Hasbro’s horrible distribution.
Amazon.com is probably the cheapest and easiest way to go online at $9.99 a pop. They currently have Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, Leia in stock. Yoda and Darth Vader were in briefly for 24 hours before selling out, but Amazon should have them back in soon, as well as the other Empire figures (Lando and C-3PO).
Overall - ***3/4
Yep, better than three and a half stars, but not quite good enough for four.
The only real draw back to these figures is the price. Most of the time I buy one figure and display it on my diminishing wall space, but sometimes I buy two of the same figure –one for the wall, one to open for shelf display. Usually I can walk away with two figures at $10 or less. For these guys, it’s been twenty bucks a pop since I’m buying two of each. In the end I’m going to spend at least $240 on these guys, not counting shipping expenses and online mark-ups on those I can’t find in stores.
The only thing keeping Luke from a full four-star rating is his head sculpt. His articulation and accessories beat out Han’s easily –in many ways Luke is a better packaged and designed figure than Han, but Solo still manages to retain his looks as well, giving him a cosmetic edge. I originally thought that this figure was going to have cut elbows, based off of early Hasbro design notes, so I’m glad that Hasbro went the more poseable route.
My favorite Yoda figure of all time is still the pale version released in the vintage line, complete with his orange snake. The look and expression captured on that simple figure’s face twenty years ago still looks the best to me. Of course, I’m being a little nostalgic as well, but whatever. This Yoda is a close second though. He’s easily the best designed and best looking Yoda figure in the modern line. However there are a few little things that hold him back from a perfect score. His hands not being able to completely cross over like they should, is just one of those little nits that I can’t help but pick. It’s just such a trademark pose for Yoda that was done better on another version of this figure that I can’t help but remark on it. The skin tone is just too frigg’n dark as well. Yoda was such a pale green that he almost looked silver in the Dagobah moonlight. I could have also gone for a slightly bigger belt on him as well.
In the end these are all very tiny complaints about two excellent figures with some decent accessories. I still don’t like the $10 price tag, but I felt better about spending it on these two then on Obi-Wan, Leia, or Han.
As I said before, I’d love to see Hasbro extend this special treatment to figures from the prequels as well. I think we can ditch the expensive packaging, but I’d love to see some “ultimate” versions of Maul, Padme, Mace, Dooku, et al.
Figure from the collection of