The Vintage Saga Collection rolls along with another one of the five figures in this weekís review. Iím happy to say up front that the line is impressive overall to me. I donít think I was disappointed with any of the figures, and there were some questionable choices in there to many people. Even the weakest of the lot is superior to many of the VOTC offerings, and thatís a lot to be happy about. Hasbro charges a premium for these so you should get a premium product, no doubt about it.
This week Iím looking at the ďkeystoneĒ figure to the VTSC Series if you want to get the Lucas Trooper mail-away figure. Iím talking about Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot, who is the figure that comes packed with the mail-away form you need to get old George.
X-Wing pilot figures in general have been spotty over the years. Some really need an update, like Biggs for instance with his tiny head, non-removable helmet, and lacking articulation. Others, like Wedge, just got a half-hearted redo in the line with the internet exclusive kit-bashed figure. Luke though has had, arguably, 3 to 4 unique versions of himself in an X-Wing pilotís uniform. The first was a buff POTF2 figure in the outfit pilots wore on Hoth. Obviously, this sculpt is outdated more than anything. A kit-bash of parts was used to make a second Hoth Pilot Luke for the Snowspeeder pack-in. Then, POTJ delivered a newly sculpted Luke which was seemingly pretty scrawny by most collectorís standards, and of course that same figure was re-issued in 2004ís OTC line sans itís Bugs Bunny teeth. And now 2006 rolls around, a new Luke is released, and this time itís a ďVintageĒ figure. How does he stack up? Do we need another X-Wing Luke ever? Yes and no. Read on and see what I mean.
-Sculpt: Everything that every other version of Pilot Luke has lacked this figure more than makes up for it. The detail on the VTSC Luke X-Wing is really superior pilot quality. It surpasses even the ďDutchĒ figure from 2004, which was really a fairly decent figure effort from Hasbro itself. This Luke takes X-Wing Pilot figures to a whole new level though in detail.
First the figureís flight suit is full of detail and life. There are sharp wrinkles and folds throughout the uniform. Details like the sharp pocket lines on the pants, and even the hand pockets on his hips are all there, and theyíre often easily overlooked details on a figure. Thereís bagginess to the flight suit too that doesnít form to the figureís body, and gives the impression that the suit is over other clothing. Itís a very subtle way the figure is sculpted that makes it look really realistic in this scale.
Little details throughout the costume are nice too, like the now standard ďtexturingĒ sculpted to give the fabric some life. Itís not overdone though and very subtle. There are clips and items all around the belt, and something I noticed thatís very tiny but neat is that the belt has actual stitching details to it. Thereís the ďmapĒ item on Lukeís forearm, a separately sculpted leg/thigh strap gear, chest box and oxygen hose, etc. Thereís a lot to like on this figureís sculpt, and itís really something I could go on and on about with detail. Thereís nice thin ribbing details in the flak vest for instance, the raised and lowered buttons on the chest box, the way the chest boxís straps sort of press into the flak vest, etc. Thereís just a lot of good detail on this one. And for the curious, heís short, just as he should be. Mark Hammil is short, his figures are shorter than average. Itís quite nicely scaled... but so was the POTJ sculpt, so itís just what we should expect with Luke figures.
Lukeís likeness is pretty nice as well, and is probably the most pivotal part of any main characterís sculpt. The face is fairly neutral, with a look of concentration to it, and Lukeís hair has a bit of texturing detail sculpted into it. The likeness seems quite nice and superior to the other Luke X-Wing figures weíve gotten. Maybe not the BEST Luke likeness ever in the line, but definitely not the worst, and Iíd say among the better even. The figure is everything we should expect in a premium figureís looks and detail, so thatís good.
-Accessories: Luke comes armed to the teeth actually, and thatís a plus that Iím noticing with the VTSC line overall, as compared to the VOTC line which didnít deliver a lot of gear for the price. The increase in accessories for a number of figures is a nice sign though that at least some of them will come with something extra. With Luke you even get items you donít necessarily need for accuracy as well.
Luke comes with an ignited lightsaber, a lightsaber hilt (with belt clip), a blaster pistol, and a new removable helmet. All four accessories feature paint details, some of them fairly complex, and look really nice. Thatís a lot of gear too, and when you consider that Luke didnít use a saber while in his X-Wing uniform in the films at all, youíre getting two saber bits that really are ďextraĒ. At least the pistol was something the original vintage figure had. The sabers are just icing on the cake then.
Lukeís helmet is all-new though as far as I can tell. Itís cast in a translucent yellow and painted on the outside with all the proper details. A gripe I heard early and can confirm though is that the helmet is really squeaky clean, and as the nerds we are, we all know Lukeís helmet was beat to hell and back before he even got to wear it once, so some dirt, wear, and tear, would have all been appreciated on Lukeís helmet. Iím sure some savvy customizers will dirty theirs up but for the rest of us it looks slightly inaccurate if youíre looking close. Otherwise though, the helmet is really quite nice, fits well, and even features the beloved chinstrap feature that newer removable helmets have sort of made standard.
Lukeís saber accessories are really appreciated even if they werenít necessary. The saber hilt clips to his belt where thereís a tiny hole. You canít even notice the hole too well really when the hilt is off so itís just great. Now your Luke can have adventures BEYOND what you see in the film. Remember playing with your toys and having an imagination? I guess Hasbro does if they included the right items. This is a great figure for a kid even at the inflated price because Lukeís packing everything a kid would want, and collectors will be happy too trust me. The sabers I think are re-used sculpts, but both feature black/silver deco on the hilts, and look really nice (though the hilts arenít identically ironically).
Lukeís pistol then is the last piece. Itís not the best choice of pistol sculpt, as they re-used the Saga Bespin Duel Luke pistol which was lacking detail and a bit bulky looking, but it works well enough. They also made sure to paint the blasterís muzzle silver, a nice extra, so it looks a little better than if it were just a simple black gun pack-in.
-Articulation: Short of thigh ball/socket joints, Lukeís as good as it gets - super articulated all the way and great for action poses or just sitting around waiting for take-off. The VTSC line has been better articulated among itís five figures than the VOTC was among itís twelve total figures, so itís nice to see Hasbro not cutting back on many figures (only the Sandperson, slightly) in that regard. Luke got spared nothing, including a great ball/socket torso joint that is probably hidden better than any ball/socket joint on any other figure.
Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot) sports 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 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 ball/socket waist joint
Now with a total of 14 points of articulation, and most of them ball/socket joints at that, this is a great action figure. As a collector I really do love counting out the articulation points on these figures when I review them. Theyíre fantastic. The poseability you can get out of Luke is most anything you want, for any scene you want, even if you want to just make it up as you go - admit it; you play with your toys too.
Heís a figure that looks good standing around, walking up a ladder into his fighter, lunging with his lightsaber, blasting away with his pistol, running to scramble to his fighter, sitting in a pre-flight briefing, telling Han heís selfish, whatever. This Luke is just fantastic for poseability. Itís everything the majority of the basic line should be really though, so I find it sad we have to pay a premium to get a good action figure. I hope Hasbro puts more SA figures like this out in the basic line routinely. We deserve it I think.
That said, this Luke is pretty much perfect for poseability. While the height on him may deter you from buying multiples, itís good enough you may look past it to have some better pilots in your ranks than what you have.
-Hilt for Belt: Itís a small feature, but one that deserves its own little bit of praise. Luke isnít seen in his X-Wing Flight Suit running around with his saber at all. Not this X-Wing uniform anyway. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke does have a pistol holster and his saber on his belt, but not the basic flight suit he wore in A New Hope. The good people at Hasbro threw the rulebook out the window on accuracy though, as they gave Luke an unlit lightsaber hilt to attach to his belt as noted in the accessories portion.
The fact someone took the time to include the saber, and also make sure it hooked to the belt, these are all nice ďextrasĒ really since theyíre not accurate to this character in this uniform that Iím aware of. It allows fans to decide how they display the figure; it allows kids (and kids at heart) to play with their toys how they want to. Itís just nice to see Hasbro thinking outside the ďaccuracy boxĒ they usually strive for when it benefits the toy. Itís a small positive, but one I noticed and appreciated.
-Packaging: The packaging on the Vintage Saga Collection figures is probably the most ornate and eye-catching package for a Star Wars figure since the VOTC line. While the basic Saga Collection line that ships alongside the VTSC figures is nice, the VTSC definitely draws your attention as something special.
A downside to the dazzling packaging is the cost, which like other features Iíll touch on that shortly in the ďConsĒ portion, however it was a cost a lot of people were willing to bite for ďultimateĒ versions of various figures with the VOTC line, and theyíll do so again with the VTSC line Iím sure.
The packaging is a recreation of the original vintage Kenner action figure cardbacks from the 1970ís and 1980ís. If you were like me, and can recall these figures adorning your local toy store (Ah, Childrenís PalaceÖ 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 do.
While Hasbro went to great lengths to recreate the front of the packaging, the back of the packaging was a modern style displaying other figures from the line. The waves system used for the VOTC line is gone though, and all 5 VTSC figures are pictured on the cardback of any given figure in this wave. No more ESB/SW/ROTJ waves, at least not that anyone is aware of at this point, and not for these 5 figures shipping now.
Hasbroís work to recreate the cardbacks was nicely done, and appreciated. This has so far been the only packaging Iíve wanted to save really. While the VOTC packaging was easy to save though, the VTSC figures are heat-sealed and prone to being basically mangled when trying to open them. If you have extra clamshells from the VOTC line lying about though, youíll still be able to display your cards on a clamshell with your loose figure standing by it quite nicely.
Either way though, the end result is some nicely displayed toy on the pegs, and thatís what really is helping to up much of the costs unfortunately. A full set of the 12 VOTC and the 5 new VTSC cardbacks looks really nice displayed amongst your figure collection though. Itís very eye-catching overall.
-Give-Away Promotion: Along with all these other fantastic features, Hasbroís dusting off the old ďgive-awayĒ gimmick with the VTSC figures. For the second time ever, a promotion for a George Lucas figure is taking place. This time, there is a catch to getting the figure that ties into the ďCollect Them All!Ē mentality.
With the Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot) figure there is a promotional slip. Each figure in the VTSC line then has a little tab you stick to the promotional slip from the Luke figure. You NEED each figureís tab to mail it in, so you canít just send 5 Biker Scouts or whatnot and get this figure. You must buy all 5 figures in the series, put their tabs on the slip, and mail the slip plus $4.95 s/h to Hasbro, and god knows when youíll get a carded George Lucas in Stormtrooper Disguise figure, or ďGeorgeTrooperĒ in the mail.
Really, when you think about it, it at least helps ease some of the cost incurred in buying figures that cost you upwards of $13 a piece. I know my first set of VTSC cost about that much actually, so getting a semi-free figure in the mail is a nice extra, even if the sculpt on said ďfreeĒ figure is a somewhat bogus cop-out sculpt... and who honestly wanted a George Lucas in Stormtrooper disguise for that matter? Thatís neither here nor there though.
-Wide Leg Stance: The sculpt of Luke is really pretty nice with only a couple very insignificant flaws that Iíll touch on now in the Cons portion of the review because they do stand out as negative towards the figure overall. There really is only one actually, and itís the way Lukeís legs sort of bow outward awkwardly.
Itís easy to pose Lukeís super poseable legs so that they donít bow out, so this isnít really even a huge matter, however it seems awkward that Luke didnít just have straight legs. The way itís done, it gives the figure a wide stance as its ďnaturalĒ pose. It doesnít look terrible itself even. It just looks different compared to some other figures. It just strikes me more as odd than anything else. Itís not a big detractor to the figureís looks though by any stretch, so itís just picking of nits really.
-Paint Aps/Decoration: One larger concern I had with Luke was actually the way the paint applications turned out on my sample I obtained. The application was fairly weak at best, and showed a quality level one would not, and should not expect on a $10+ little figure. The flaws on my sample arenít relegated to the way one color or pattern was applied either, but it was all over the place.
For instance, the black straps on Lukeís chest box bleed all over the white flak vest and off the straps. It looks pretty bad when you examine it, and after how many X-Wing Pilots in the line, we really shouldíve gotten better on the pricey one. Another instance is the silver detailing from the little buckles on the belt to the cylinders in the shoulder sleeves are spotty in their application, and not very accurately applied. Itís disappointing mostly due to the price. On a $6 figure Iíd be more forgiving with this Iím sure, but on a $12 (what I paid for my Luke) figure itís easier to gripe about it with some vigor.
To the figureís defense, my sampleís eyes are nicely painted in Hasbroís layered style, and the chest boxís buttons and other details seem nicely applied. Itís not a complete wash, but the bulk of the painting detail just seems sloppy on mine and a little disappointing.
One last deco issue I found is that the color on the two parts of his footwear doesnít match up quite right. On my sample the feet portion of the boots is cast in a dull black plastic on both feet. The boot that extends up the calf on the leg though is painted a glossy black. So the boot goes from a nice shine to scuff right at the ankle. Itís something Iím sure many will overlook but to me it stuck out some. Not great for what you paid.
-Bright Smile: Iím listing this separate because itís a sore spot with Luke X-Wing fans for certain. The teeth on Luke were a major issue when the POTJ Luke X-Wing came out, as they were prominently sculpted to be visible, and the bright white paint on them made Luke look like he needed major dental work right away.
The new VTSC Luke X-Wing now has teeth showing again. Iím not sure why Hasbro WANTS us to see Lukeís teeth this badly, but they do. The teeth on this Luke are much less prominent than they were on the POTJ Luke. What Hasbro did though, was beef them up by painting them white, and like other paint applications, mine is a bit sloppy and the white got on the figureís lips.
In all honesty itís distracting that theyíre painted really. If Hasbro hadnít touched them, youíd never even notice they are that barely visible. Itís a flaw though, so it gets a mention. Itís nowhere near as bad as the POTJ figureís teeth though. Those were horrible.
-Retail Cost: Without a doubt, and probably the worst aspect of the VTSC line, is the cost that came with each figure. The figures in my first set cost me around $12 or so per figure, which isnít the best price for buying multiples thatís for sure. Theyíre the kinds of figures you want more than one of too for certain.
Why the increased costs? Itís tough to say exactly. The packaging is more ornate and created by hand, thatís for certain. The clamshells over the cardbacks for instance, the chrome plated cardboard inserts, the cardbacks that are recreated by hand to be exact replicas of the original vintage figures (in the front), and the coffin-style blisters to mimic vintage looking packaging - these all come into play when factoring in costs.
The figures are ornate, and the use of cloth inevitably increases the cost a little as well. The poseability and whatnot is arguable though, and with the VTSC building on the VOTC lineís costs for packaging, youíd think that at some point the packaging would become a little less ďspecialĒ financially and cost us less.
The real debate though is whether or not, packaging aside, these figures are ďbetterĒ than basic figures or not. To me, after what we got in 2005ís ROTS line, I feel that Hasbro can deliver the VOTC/VTSC quality on basic cards for basic prices. Super articulation isnít out of their grasp. Hasbro simply choose not to give it to us routinely in the basic line. The line deserves it though, no doubt.
For my money, the VTSC level of quality is nice, but Iíd surely be putting more money into more figures if the basic line was on par with the Vintage remakes. Unfortunately Hasbro doesnít seem to have that kind of plan in mindÖ At least not any time soon, so weíre stuck with $12 when we want decent toys.
Despite the couple flaws, and really only the paint applications bothered me, the new Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot figure is just amazing. Itís my favorite Luke figure in my collection now, hands down, and it makes me wish weíd gotten a better Tatooine Luke in the VOTC line now. Win some, lose some I guess.
The X-Wing Luke is fantastic though. The poseability is about as good as it gets, the sculpt is fantastically accurate, and it really blows the other pilot figures out of the water. Now I want a lot more resculpting going on within the Rebel Fighter squads! Lukeís details are great and it overcomes the paint applications pretty easily. The accessories are a great extra as well. Hasbro couldíve just slapped a helmet and pistol in the packaging but they went the extra mile with a lit lightsaber and a lightsaber hilt for the belt, and thatís stars on their crown to me.
I easily recommend picking Luke X-Wing up if you see him. Buy a 2nd or 3rd even for different scenes. Itíll be easy to replace the old sculpts of him with this figure though, and youíll want the form he has to order your George Lucas Stormtrooper too of course. So get thee to the store and get your VTSC Luke, you need this one in your collection.