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Entertainment Earth

Chewbacca

Just when you thought Hasbro couldn’t up the stakes a little more with their action figures, they manage to surprise you a little bit more. I remember in 1998 how stoked I was that Luke got moving elbows on a figure, or how the Cantina Band had that innovation… Flash forward to nowadays and Hasbro’s new bar-setting super articulation is filled with hidden ball/socket joints. And it’s damn tough to imagine improving that, right?

Well Hasbro manages to improve it and then some with the latest review from the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection! Chewbacca is maybe the finest figure (at least in the top 5) ever made by Hasbro, as this is truly a definitive incarnation of a character in plastic. Intricate doesn’t begin to define the detail in this figure, as Chewie has never looked so great. Throw out all your previous versions of the character because they’re chump change by comparison.

This figure innovates in ways the line hasn’t seen. It’s really something to behold and Hasbro deserves some serious praise. If every figure were this detailed, well they’d have a lot of figures to just re-release instead of resculpting.

But this isn’t a praise-fest exactly. VOTC Chewbacca had a couple flaws that you just weren’t quite sure of till you got this and opened it. In the grand scheme they’re probably minor gripes, but gripes nonetheless that Hasbro could’ve easily fixed. Read on and catch all the juicy details on this figure. It easily ranks in my top 5 all time Star Wars figures in my collection, and that includes a double telescoping Luke figure I have, so this one’s just amazing to me!

PROS

-Sculpt: The VOTC line’s the premium for everything, supposedly. Sculpt, articulation… It’s supposed to be the best of the best at all of these design aspects. Chewbacca is maybe the finest example of all 12 of the VOTC figures though, as he truly epitomizes the concept of detail in a Star Wars figure. I’d say Ephant Mon is the only figure that comes close to Chewbacca here as far as sculpt goes, and that’s saying quite a bit I believe.

VOTC Chewbacca is like any other Chewie in that there’s no real costume, just a lot of hair. How do you sculpt that hair though and make it look really great? Looking back at the POTF2 Chewie figures and such, it’s been difficult to really capture the long hair of the Wookiee and make it look realistic. The Cloud City Chewbacca from 2002 started toying with “hanging” hair that hid some of the articulation points and things, and VOTC Chewbacca exploited that in the extreme.

This figure’s joints are almost perfectly hidden by all the clumps of fur sculpted to hang down. The sculptor also took note that Chewie’s hands are especially furry with long strands hanging down off them hiding his big mitts. Close inspection of the hands reveals fur texturing sculpted into the palms, claws on the tips of the fingers, and the perfect grip sculpted into both hands to hold his Bowcaster accessory.

Chewie’s draped fur sculpting off his arms and hands reveals gaps in the fur strands for extra realism, and the draping fur extends at various points of articulation to hide the joint. This is especially true at the elbows, knees, and ankles… Well actually, honestly, everywhere. Where it really is great is in the torso though, as Chewie has multiple joints there that you barely notice at all even upon close inspection. OUTSTANDING work by the sculptor here.

Chewie’s only “outfit” is his bandoleer around his torso. The satchel and ammo are a separate sculpt of the figure itself, and the bandoleer’s glued to the torso then. Slight disappointment that it’s not a removable piece. Still the fact it’s sculpted separately of the body of the figure means it looks raised, and much more realistic than past Chewbacca figures. Plus the bandoleer has tons of detail, as each ammo clip looks like it could be removed from the band, there are buckles on the satchel/pouch, clips, pins, and other details all over the place on Chewie’s only clothing piece.

Lastly Chewbacca’s headsculpt is based on his Return of the Jedi look… His hair is kind of teased and poofier than in the other Star Wars films. This is good for a ROTJ Chewie but we’ll have to hope a new head is made for the A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back look of the character.

The mouth of Chewie is sculpted open, but not terribly so and since he’s often seen with his mouth open slightly it’s not a bad/deterring feature of the sculpt and gives it a little life actually. On a human character this is a much more distracting sculpt detail I feel.

In general though, VOTC Chewbacca is the ideal sculpt on a Star Wars figure. It’s really outstanding to look at, hides the articulation perfectly, and works great with the figure’s design. There are tons of details to find like Chewbacca’s intricate eye detailing, or the padded feet/toes, the claws on the hands and feet, or the bandoleer. There’s just tons of detail to find and enjoy on this figure. Easily one of Hasbro’s best looking figures to-date.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: Chewbacca’s sculpt gets a pretty nice array of colors to complement all those details. This is great because Chewie is really a colorful character if you look at the costume closely. Lots of varying shades of brown, blonde, grey, and other colors are mixed in his fur, but on a subtle level for them all. Capturing that has been difficult for Hasbro in the past it seems.

The fur itself features blonde highlights on the brown base color mostly on the torso but some on the arms/legs as well. At various points a darker brown/grey shade is faded into the fur, and stands out nicely. It gives some age to Chewie who is pretty old it seems.

Chewbacca’s hands/feet have some paint detailing that’s tougher to see. The feet feature a light brown shade for the cat-like “pads” on his toes/soles where his skin shows through from the fur. The claws on his hands and feet of course get a dark brown paintjob as well to help them stand out some.

The bandoleer is the most separate color detailing of the character. The leather strap of the bandoleer is a brown color to simulate that leather. There are silver details for the ammo clips that doesn’t bleed onto the brown, and the silver also gets dabbed on little rivet sculpt details and metal clip details. The satchel itself is a lighter and more worn looking brown color to simulate old leather. There’s a dark brown wash on it to help that “look” come out as well.

Chewbacca’s head then features his trademark blue eyes. Sunken deep within the face sculpt, the eyes are pretty small and surrounded by a dark brown. There is just a hint of blue behind the black of the pupil and white of the eyeball. It’s a nice little paint application and tough to see without close inspection.

Chewie’s mouth features an off white for his fangs with a light pink dab to highlight his tongue that’s just barely visible. It’s all very nice and accentuates the incredible sculpt just as it should. This is pretty premium as far as paint applications go, and far surpasses any previous Chewbacca figure by a mile.

-Articulation: Hasbro’s super articulation is really ideal when you see it. Ball/socket joints everywhere and few collectors thought it could be improved upon. Well Hasbro showed you can always improve when you try hard enough with VOTC Chewbacca, as he features the most poseability any Star Wars figure has ever seen to this point.

The innovation here is Chewbacca’s torso articulation, which is actually 2 separate points of articulation that move sort of like the human spine moves. It’s even designed similarly, and really it’s just impressive the way it functions and adds to the figure’s poses you can achieve. You can really get some dynamic action poses out of this figure.

VOTC Chewbacca features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 ball/socket elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 2 ball/socket ankle joints
- 1 standard neck joint
- 2 ball/socket torso joints (yes, 2)

That’s a total of 15 points of articulation, making VOTC Chewbacca the most articulated Star Wars figure up to his release. It’s really just an outstanding count and the “neutral” sculpting of the character overall means you can get some pretty cool poses going with Chewie.

So far I’ve had him in every fighting pose I can imagine. He looks great running through Bespin Corridors, kicking AT-ST Drivers out of their walkers, chilling in the Falcon or fixing something that’s broke. He’s really an ideal figure for all scenes and the articulation is the key factor to that. Kudos again to Hasbro for making such a fine figure, and just a fun toy to play with as well. A perfect complement to your Han figures.

-Scale/Height: In this day and age, Hasbro’s taking a harder look at making sure the bigger characters get bigger figures and Chewbacca is an impressively large action figure this time around. They’re no strangers to this but it’s nice to see the trend continuing.

Chewie’s height has him tower over most average sized characters, and even Vader is shorter (as he should be really) than the mighty Chewbacca. Leia is dwarfed by the Wookiee and looks great standing with him on Bespin Gantry, and Han’s just right to be standing alongside his furry friend. Sometimes Hasbro misses a little on the scale of figures but so far Chewbacca they’ve managed to get down just right.

-Innovative Design: The people who worked to put this figure together really deserve a pat on the back due to the amazing work they put into giving this figure some extra innovation. The ball/socket joints that make up most of the poseability of Chewbacca aren’t really new, just greatly appreciated. It’s more the way they hid all the various points of articulation with the sculpting, and the extra effort put into the torso.

The sculpting innovation is the fur over the joints. Hides it perfectly and goes the extra mile to make sure this figure looks as pretty as it is fun to play with. Hiding joints in fur hasn’t been easy for Hasbro in the past so they did great work on this one.

The torso articulation though is just amazing. The various pieces of the torso are sculpted as hollow rings. Running up the center is a rigid plastic rod basically that comprises a center point to hold all the torso pieces together. The figure is able then to flex around the center rod/post in the torso, and so the two torso rings in the center actually are able to flex around just like the spinal cord moves on a human being. It’s simply an incredible concept on a toy this small. With the fur sculpting it hides the articulation perfectly and you barely notice the joints are even there. Just a very innovative and uniquely made Star Wars figure.

-Packaging: The packaging on the VOTC figures is probably the most ornate and eye-catching package for a Star Wars figure to-date. While the basic OTC line that shipped alongside the VOTC figures was nice, the VOTC definitely drew your attention as being something special.

A downside to the dazzling packaging was the cost, which like other features I’ll touch on that shortly in the “Cons” portion, however it was a cost a lot of people were willing to bite for “ultimate” versions of various figures.

The packaging is a recreation of the original vintage Kenner action figure cardbacks from the 1970’s and 1980’s. If you were like me, and can recall these figures adorning your local toy store (Ah, Children’s Palace… The days when a trip to the toy store meant something), then you no doubt have a feeling of nostalgia, just as Hasbro intended. The old style cardbacks are nice to see on the pegs, and they really do catch the eye like no modern packaging has been able to.

While Hasbro went to great lengths to recreate the front of the packaging, the back of the packaging was a modern style displaying 3 other figures from a specific wave. The waves were broken down into a Star Wars wave with the original Star Wars style card, an Empire Strikes Back wave styled accordingly, and then a Return of the Jedi wave.

Hasbro’s work to recreate the cardbacks was nicely done, and appreciated. This has so far been the only packaging I’ve wanted to save really. And Hasbro made saving the packaging easy if you were careful in getting the figure off the bubble, as they included a reseal-able protective clamshell over the figure’s card/bubble. Just perfect for keeping everything minty fresh, aside from that X-Acto knife slice along the bubble to get the figure out.

The end result is some nicely displayed toy on the pegs. A full set of the 12 VOTC cardbacks looks really nice displayed amongst your figure collection.

CONS

-Accessories: The one disappointment with Chewbacca is the accessory count in the package. That’s not to say that Chewie doesn’t come with the right gear exactly, but that Hasbro could’ve given us something extra without adding cost to the figure at all and they chose not to.

The figure comes with a bowcaster, which is just the piece he should always come with of course. The blaster is a nice sculpt, has a green strap painted on it cast in a gunmetal color. The bow comes in 2 parts as well with the front piece needing slipped into the front of the weapon. The plastic is a bit flimsy unfortunately.

The accessory Hasbro failed to deliver was a removable bandoleer. The piece on the figure is glued to the torso and if you remove the bandoleer you see it’s got posts on it that fit into notches sculpted into the torso of Chewie. The bandoleer itself is a separately sculpted accessory though, it’s just designed so it locks into the torso and leaves gaps if you decide to remove it.

Hasbro could’ve easily delivered a completely removable satchel, the piece itself is a separate sculpt afterall. They chose to make it a permanent part of the figure unfortunately, and that is definitely a flaw in my book. Along the lines of a glued on helmet or some such, it’s definitely disappointing.

-Rubbery Weapon: As noted above Chewie’s bowcaster’s made of an incredibly flexible plastic. This is partially for the front span to be snapped into place on the figure, but it is a bit distracting and warps the weapon in his hands over time.

The last couple bowcasters we got were a pretty solid piece of plastic so I’m not sure why Hasbro went with a flimsier bit on this one. The result is a slight disappointment but nothing that cannot be worked with. It’s still better than Amanaman’s limp staff. I still can’t get over that getting past the Quality Control center.

-Retail Cost: Without a doubt, and probably the worst aspect of the VOTC line, is the cost that came with each figure. Some have been lucky to buy their VOTC sets on clearance, however most people paid the retail price which came to approximately $10 per figure or so. Not the cheapest price to pay for a single figure.

The cost of the figure can be blamed on a number of reasons. The VOTC line was touted for its “limited” nature, for instance, driving up costs due to lower production runs. The packaging was ornate, recreated by hand, and it required a lot of extra work for it to be done appropriately. The coffin blisters on the packaging even, to recreate the vintage look, were also “special” and added very slightly to the packaging costs. The special protective case surrounding the figure also would’ve been a noticeable increase in overall costs in producing these figures also. And that’s really only starting on where increases in costs could be hiding with the VOTC figures over basic modern figures.

I personally feel that VOTC figures are no more intricate or complex in their design than a basic figure is, as far as costs go. If you put VOTC on basic cardbacks, and at basic production numbers, you’d see a figure that would sell profitably at a basic figure’s price. But with the packaging, you have something that, unless it becomes the line’s standard, it definitely inflates the production costs of the figures.

The cost seemed to noticeably hurt the VOTC line as well, as it also has hurt the Ultra/Deluxe lines over the years. $10 is a lot to pay for a figure, and it showed at stores that ordered the VOTC line heavily like Wal-Mart who couldn’t move the later waves out quickly. I love the VOTC concept though, and think that either a better price or case ratios would have alleviated all issues with product movement.

OVERALL

So that puts the lid on VOTC Chewbacca, and what an outstanding figure. Hasbro’s really dished out the best figures for the last wave, which actually is pretty bad when you think about it. The last wave of the VOTC suffered getting to the pegs because of the glut of the first two waves at stores. Some area’s saw very few of the Return of the Jedi figures, mine included, so finding what you want may be difficult.

Chewbacca is one of those few figures though that I actually think you would be doing yourself a favor if you were able to get it even for a couple dollars above retail maybe. Or at least looking for it online for it’s max retail (these were $13 at KB Toys) plus shipping costs. The Chewbacca figure is definitive for this character, and really it sets the bar for perfection in the modern line a little higher as well. Hasbro has really broken new ground with this one though, in terms of sculpting, articulation… It’s really not like any figure in your collection.

It’s curious to me why Chewie got the extra mile with him, even above the best of the VOTC line I believe. I think the greatest reason is the costume/character. He’s a tough one for Hasbro to do right in any scale it seems, as all his 12” figures have been lackluster, and none of his earlier 3.75” figures have really been outstanding either. We have the perfect Chewbacca body though, now all we need is head variations for his different looks throughout the trilogy.

The bandoleer is a disappointment to me, but the only one I really note as a major flaw at all. Otherwise you get a pretty solid figure with this one, even despite the high price of these “premium” figures. If you haven’t got VOTC Chewbacca you’d do well to track one down, trade for it, or just get one however you can. It’s well worth the effort to find him.

 

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