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Yoda

The VOTC line kicked off with some pretty weak efforts, and if you didn’t know what was to come, you maybe weren’t looking forward to the line based on the “Star Wars” wave. There certainly were plenty of misses there to shake one’s confidence in $10 figures after all. The Empire Wave has its flops too with C-3PO being the worst figure in the entire line, hands down.

When people heard Yoda was part of the VOTC line, and also a new Yoda from the classic trilogy was due out in the basic OTC line at half the price, a lot of people were scratching their heads. You’d think the $5 figure is the obvious choice right? Well, I’m pleased to say that BOTH figures gave collectors a unique option. One catered obviously to the fan of an aesthetically pleasing figure to place on their mantle and enjoy from afar. The articulation was so-so, it was mostly a statue, but looked great. The VOTC figure however delivers a Yoda with articulation that surpasses all Yoda figures prior, and a plethora of accessories giving a nice nod to the vintage figure, plus a couple extra pluses you can look forward to.

Sure some may not like cloth accessories on a figure in the 3.75” line, much less Yoda who’s about 1/3 the height of an average figure, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone feels that way, and many of us prefer that poseable, “all seasons” Yoda. And for those who disagree, the basic OTC Yoda was a very acceptable alternative. Check out the full review below and you’ll see just what makes the VOTC Yoda a special figure and worthy of purchasing no matter how many Yoda’s you may own.

PROS

-Sculpt: Yoda has had some real iffy history with his likeness in the past. A lot of people say the “Flashback” Yoda is the best in accuracy. Others like the vintage figure more, maybe for Nostalgia. The character’s looks seem to really appeal to every fan differently, but for my money I really like the VOTC Yoda and feel it captures the likeness of the most famous Muppet in history quite well.

One of my favorite elements to this Yoda is that, for the first time on any Yoda, we see what Yoda’s basically sporting under his robes. The figure’s full legs are sculpted in all their tiny boney green toothpick glory. This is a first for Yoda figures, and the uniqueness of it is that it gives a little extra look at what Yoda’s Species looks like… I’m not sure if Hasbro was taking liberties or if Lucasfilm told them how to sculpt it, but it turned out unique to me and I like it. Oddly though, Yoda doesn’t wear pants, but instead a brown diaper wrap thing. Weird.

Yoda’s legs, hands, and head, are all sculpted quite well though featuring lots of skin texturing details, wrinkles, muscle tone on his calves (he looks like he can still hop around and whip butt like in the prequals), and generally a lot of realistic details. Yoda’s face is a neutral expression and very nice. The likeness, while some may not like it, seems pretty spot-on to the puppet to me and I like it a lot. The neutral expression is great, and it’s not got a specific element of anger, frustration, happiness, etc. It simply appears like Yoda’s listening, and looks really nice. His wispy thinning hair is sculpted on subtly around his head, and everything seems in place for a nice likeness on this figure.

Yoda’s costume is nice as well, if not a little simple. The sculpt encompasses just the shirt, but there’s a lot of detail and life there as well. There’s a thick texture sculpted to the shirt giving it a “woven” fabric look common of Jedi robes and tunics. Simple and humble looking. Yoda’s shirt texturing also blends nicely with the softgoods “skirt” the figure has and the texture of the fabric, so that’s nice.

Yoda’s hands, while they aren’t much to write home about, are nice because there’s some extra effort with them. Each digit is sculpted to be separate of the other, and looks pretty nice and realistic that way. Each digit (and his 3 toes as well) end with a distinct claw, and in general this figure just is nicely detailed and I feel rivals the OTC figure in its quality sculpt really.

-Paint Aps/Deco: Yoda’s paint applications are pretty varied and detailed. From the grey hairs on his head to the yellow-ish claws on his toes, there’s a number of different colors and paint application styles on the figure that highlight the sculpt pretty well.

Yoda’s skin for instance on his head, legs, and hands, is cast in a green plastic but there’s a darker wash over it that shows the depth of detail in the sculpt. The hands and feet of course feature paint details highlighting the claws. Yoda’s shirt also gets a wash, but not a clean wash. This wash is to highlight the sculpt and show grime/dirt… Yoda’s a swingin’ bachelor on Dagobah and doesn’t have a washer I guess to do his laundry, nor does he have anyone hanging around to smell him. The wash is nice though, and again highlights sculpt details you may otherwise miss. It’s not overdone in the slightest either.

Yoda’s head has similar paint details to the rest of the figure. The head features the same wash the rest of the skin has, and it highlights the figure’s sculpt tremendously. The figure’s hair is painted with a thin grey-ish color, possibly more than one color actually, and the effect is that the hair is thinning as you can see his noggin underneath faintly. Yoda’s eyes are tiny, as his lids are slightly shut, but you can see the whites of them with a dark pupil in the centers, and the application on my figure is even and straight with no straying of paint where it shouldn’t be. A very nice paintjob to highlight a detailed sculpt in my opinion.

-Articulation: Hands down this is the most articulated Yoda ever, and while it’s possible to improve upon it in some ways, I think that the figure is a nice poseable version of the character that has been sorely lacking in the line. Unfortunately no plans for a Prequal Yoda this poseable are known, but given his action scenes in the prequals I think that it’s in order at this point.

Yoda features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulders joints
- 2 angle-cut elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 standard waist joint
- 1 ball/socket neck joint

With a total of 10 points of articulation on a figure about 1/3 the size of an average figure, that’s not too bad. He’s smaller than R2-D2 for god’s sake! One could argue that he could use ball/socket elbows, and perhaps knees, and I do think it’s possible for Hasbro to do this. At the same time, I find that any Yoda this poseable is nice to have. You can, if you were so inclined, have Yoda hold a lightsaber even, which is more than some basic figures can do.

Yoda’s good for all kinds of poses from his scenes on Dagobah though as well. Standing sternly with his cane in both his hands telling Luke “do, or do not…” is probably my favorite pose. I’d like a backpack to put him in though, cloth preferably, and a super poseable Dagobah Training Luke for him to ride on would be nice. Still, I’ve found that this Yoda surpasses all others for poseability, so even though Yoda didn’t do much on Dagobah you could have him kicking butt if you wanted to since this pintsize is more poseable than most basic figures are these days. That’s a good thing no matter how you slice it.

-Accessories: The VOTC line has been a bit disappointing for accessories. Most figures came with what they required, and that was about it. And some figures didn’t even come with what you maybe wanted like Princess Leia. Yoda though comes packing tons of items that are not just iconic to this character, but which also pay homage to his vintage figure as well.

First up in Yoda’s arsenal is probably the single item that fans will love or hate on this figure, but at the same time it’s the one accessory that really makes you think of the vintage figure when you see it. It’s Yoda’s cloth coat. Hasbro included an update to the coat this time around though by weathering it with brown “stains” here and there that look believable and improve the coat’s modern look with film accuracy in mind while maintaining a vintage feel. Where people may find fault with the coat though, is in the “bulk” of it, and how it looks on the figure. There, people may have a point in complaining.

Next up, Yoda sports 3 accessories to complete his outfit; his cane, “flute” necklace, and a belt to hold up his skirt. The cane is a gnarled piece of wood with a nice sculpt to it, and no noticeable paintjob. It’s nice, and simple, and what Yoda needs to get around. Yoda’s flute necklace is a new piece to the figure, and barely even noticeable in the films as something he has on. I’ve heard it mentioned as a flute but honestly I don’t know what it is. The “flute” has a slightly dark paint wash on it though to highlight some of the details of it, and that’s a nice little extra. And lastly the belt is a simple removable item from the figure’s waist on his inner-robes. There’s a couple pockets, a little texture. It’s nice, and adds to the figure’s value to me.

The last piece though, and one that ties this Yoda directly to his vintage counterpart, is the coiled snake accessory. The original figure came with an orange, or slightly less common brown snake that was sculpted to hook over his shoulders nicely. The VOTC Yoda pays homage to the original figure by including a snake accessory but giving him an updated paintjob to look more realistic, and a coiled sculpt. The sculpt, I’ve come to assume, is so that it can either coil around one of the gun barrels of Luke’s X-Wing fighter, or it can coil around Luke’s arm as one did while he was removing snakes from the engines of his X-Wing when preparing to depart. The snake is a great accessory though either way, and it’s a nice sculpt with some texturing, a yellow color, and nice brown stripes detailing it some. It looks good lying around or hooked to the aforementioned spots. As a nod to the figures that formed a lot of our childhoods too, it’s a nice piece to have and I appreciated getting it as a pack-in with Yoda.

-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

-Bulky Coat: First gripe, and probably the foremost complaint anyone can make about VOTC Yoda is that his coat is definitely a bulky winter coat for a guy living on a swamp. The coat is appreciated but Hasbro seemed to drop something in the design phase whereas they got it right on the vintage figure ironically. The coat is just too big for the figure it seems, and that makes “posing” the figure more difficult as well as having to get the coat to look even somewhat normal.

It’s possible, it just takes a bit of work, and ultimately it never looks great or anything like the VOTC Lando’s cape looks. A lot of the problem with the coat is that Hasbro has extra fabric to the coat and it’s sewn in assumedly strategic spots that are to make it look better… but ironically they, and the extra bulk, make it look worse.

Still, Hasbro neglected a second belt on the figure that goes OVER the coat, and that doesn’t help the figure’s coat look too great either. It’s a major detail on Yoda’s costume too, which is why it’s hard to believe they missed this. I’ve got a fix for it if you’re willing to do some searching though, read the next “Con” to see what I’m talking about.

-No Outer Utility Belt: The second flaw as I saw it, and one I don’t notice people complaining about as much (at all really) is that Yoda actually wears a utility belt OVER his coat, not under it. I’m not sure if Hasbro thought that was too much or if the belt they made was good enough, but I’m sure it’s a detail of the character they missed either way, not to mention that the original vintage Yoda had a belt over his cloak that is correct.

The fix? Simple… Find a vintage Yoda belt, as the belt is accurate really, and fits the VOTC Yoda, OVER his cloak where it belongs, quite nicely. It also helps to keep the cloak’s bulkiness down somewhat, so it sort of serves a dual purpose here that benefits the looks of the figure.

I just happened to have a vintage Yoda belt extra in my vintage accessory bin. It’s not a terribly uncommon accessory, and if you find a Yoda missing most everything but the belt it can be had for a fair price all in one. You may even prefer the vintage coat on the new figure actually, as it’s substantially less bulky itself.

For me, I’m going with the vintage belt on the figure though, as I think it looks quite nice and only adds to the figure I have. Still, the lack of a belt is a real headscratcher from Hasbro. It is part of Yoda’s costume, and I’m surprised they missed that.

-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 have bought 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 the VOTC figures are not any 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

My overall impressions then on Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Yoda are pretty happy overall if you couldn’t have guessed by now. For my money, the VOTC Yoda surpasses the OTC Yoda, yet at the same time I have found that I like using the OTC basic Yoda combined with the Dagobah Luke figure as it was meant to be. The VOTC Yoda I display more with other figures, and should I ever decide to do a fixed Dagobah scene as a display some day, the VOTC Yoda is the figure I’ll happily use in it.

I am a little bummed there’s no backpack for the VOTC Yoda to ride in though, as I noted before. A cloth Luke pack would be nice for this figure, perhaps packed in with a new poseable Dagobah Luke figure at some point. I’m really jonesin’ for that obviously.

Either way though, the VOTC Yoda is a nice start to a more poseable set of figures for Dagobah scenes. I feel that Yoda fills the void of any Dagobah Yoda you may need, though how many are you really going to want at any given point?

With poseability, nice cloth accessories and features (nice enough anyway), a great sculpt and paintjob, lots of accessories… VOTC Yoda is one of the line’s hits, and a must-buy to me no matter how many Yoda’s you own by now. Pick one up if you have the means.

 

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