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Never Forget - The ICMG Petition

Brian's Toys

Vintage Saga Collection
Sand People
(aka Tusken Raider)

Any time there’s the chance of getting a super articulated “army builder” in the modern line, I usually jump for joy. Army building is one of those aspects of the hobby that really brings a bit of joy to me for some reason. I just don’t know what it is. When the army builder chimes in at a cost of $10 or more though, then I start to regret my impulses to have more than one... and so does my wallet.

With the new Vintage Saga Collection of figures, Hasbro gets a one-two punch on me financially by giving not just one great army builder in the line, but a second that I want more than a few extras of. It’s highly frustrating in one way, since I firmly believe Hasbro can deliver these “super articulated” figures in their basic line if they wanted to and still easily cut a nice profit from them. At the same time I’m a sucker and I bite the bullet on the prices, at least to an extent.

That brings us to today’s review. I’m going to pick apart a figure from the new VTSC line that’s a target for debate on its quality due to it using cloth extensively. I, of course, speak of the new Sand People figure. Tusken Raider, Sand People, Sand Person... whatever. Read on and see how I am going to need a new job to get the number of Sand People I want.

PROS

-Sculpt: Hasbro goes all out with the new Sand Person, making sure to give it a lot of depth by making multiple pieces of the costume “separate” sculpted pieces that are glued to it. The use of softgoods blends in well with the plastic also, and we’ll touch on that more later as I think it’s one of the better examples of cloth working, and giving the figure a lot more playability than traditional plastic sculpted robes.

The sculpt though is great, as one should expect at this point for this price. Starting at the figure’s highly articulated legs under his “skirt”, there’s a nice amount of detail hidden there. The wraps around the Tusken’s feet are full of depth and detail with them looking haphazardly woven around his calves. The Tusken wears a regular looking pair of pants, something of some debate in the past with other Tusken figures. There’s also a nice detail showing just a little of the bottom of the Tusken’s shirt that is tucked into his belt. It’s a nice little extra and fairly unimportant detail, but appreciated.

The torso and arms are full of detail as well, with flowing folds and wrinkles throughout, as well as a nice coarse texture sculpted into the shirt’s fabric that lines up well with the cloth. It helps blend the two styles used to make the figure a whole I think. There are a number of pockets on the Sand Person’s belt that are nicely detailed as well, and show the flaps with buttons on them over it. Additionally the new Sand Person features a nice separately sculpted X-harness bandolier on his torso. The ammo pouches on the harness are each sculpted with flaps, straps, and buttons and it really looks like and impressive lot of detail. On top of that there’s also a crisscross of buckles and holes on the back whereas the sculptors could have just left this area a blank canvas really. The detail is nice, and its “separate” nature makes it stand out more realistically from the figure and looks as though you could remove it if it weren’t glued down.

The headsculpt then is the last bit of the sculpt and doesn’t disappoint at all. The eyepieces on the face in particular have a lot of depth with the “lenses” being recessed into a silver socket. There’s wraps all over the head at varying directions and depths, pins, a sunken “mouth” area with creases, and all the other details. It’s a very nice sculpt overall though, and everything the perfect Tusken Raider should be ultimately.

-Paint Aps/Deocration: Some may say that the paint and decoration of the Tusken should be darker, maybe more brown-ish yellow or whatnot. I for one am pretty happy with the results though and think maybe the others were a bit too brown for my liking. This Tusken features a lot of little detailing and a lot of “wash”. There’s not a lot of complex or elaborate paint, just little details, but they’re all done well and that’s what you should look for I think.

The body overall has a brown wash over it that highlights the fabric texturing and the elaborate sculpt of the figure. The wraps on his calves and feet as well as his hands are a darker color to set them off, but feature a similar wash that really stands out. The figure’s belt then has the pockets painted slightly darker and also features a nice heavy wash of paint over it that shows the grime classic of these desert nomads in the Star Wars films.

The bandolier and belt pouches are also painted with little silver details on the buckles and buttons of the pockets/ammo pouches. The silver is a small touch that is nicely done and stands out well on the figure.

The figure’s head then is where most of the paint variety comes in. The mouth piece is black with a brown surrounding. There are silver spikes and such coming out of the head and face, and then also the eye socket pieces are silver with black lenses painted on the inside. The wraps around the head are nicely painted, and actually look like some are different colors of brown while others are a greyer color. The look is really nice and detailed. The paintjob is, again, what you should expect out of a $10+ action figure... It’s pretty damn good.

-Accessories: As I’ve noted in other VTSC reviews, the accessory count you get with this wave of vintage figures surpasses the VOTC waves by a pretty long shot generally. Hasbro’s gone beyond what the actual vintage figure came with to give you the right accessories for the character rather than basing it on what the original version came with.

The Sand Person comes with 3 accessories while the vintage figure only had 2. The gear included is a Tusken Sniper Rifle, a Gaffi Stick, and a gauze cloth cloak. The cloak is fantastic, and the softgoods in general will get their own “Pro” from me. The rifle’s really the extra piece included though since it didn’t come with the original figure in 1978. It’s appreciated though, no doubt.

The Gaffi Stick and Sniper Rifle both feature nice paintjobs as well. There’s a brown stock on the rifle with gunmetal on it from everything from the scope to the trigger guard. It’s very nicely painted. The Gaffi Stick is painted with a gunmetal blade head on it and it’s better than just getting a brown stick. Neither accessory is a new sculpt but as they say, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, and all that jazz.

The softgoods cloak is really fantastic though. It’s sewn so it fits pretty perfectly on the figure, and rests just right. The gauze material Hasbro used is light and takes shape pretty well. It also looks coarse and heavy like the robes did on the characters in the film but the small weave of the fabric puts it in-scale with the figure in this line. It doesn’t naturally sit well on the figure though, you have to work with the cloak to make it look right, and when you do it looks fantastic I think. I’m a huge fan of cloth on figures too because obviously Hasbro can do it right when they want to. I prefer articulated toys so cloth/softgoods is where my vote goes just about every time.

-Articulation: If the VTSC Sand Person is the worst articulated figure of the VTSC line, well call me a happy collector then. He’s borderline super articulated... I say borderline because Hasbro cut some corners on his elbow articulation for some reason. The angle-cut elbow joint isn’t a deal-breaker though and works well on this figure, it just isn’t as good as a ball/socket elbow, nor will it ever be as good.

The Sand Person features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 angle-cut 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 standard waist joint

That’s a total of 14 points of articulation for our dusty friend, and while the elbows are somewhat limited, they pull off a lot of poses quite well. It’s a little more work to pose the angle-cut joints sometimes but they work ok for the most part and hide well among the folds of the shirt sleeves.

You can pop the figure’s forearms off too, swap the hands around too, and you sort of get a little better poseability out of it as well. Overall though I had a fun time putting my Tusken Raider into all these action poses - attacking Luke, sniping Pods, riding banthas, or just chilling out in the camp waiting for decapitation. The Tusken pulls it all off. Your current Sand Person clan may be a little jealous actually. The figure’s fantastic for poseability though and that’s the driving force behind me wanting to pick these up whenever I see them really despite the price. I just love articulation, and Hasbro makes sure you get a good toy with these vintage figure lines. They’re great.

-Great Cloth/Soft Goods: The Tusken Raider makes good use of cloth/softgoods accessories and features, and it just makes me long to see more cloth in the modern line on figures overall. It’s partly for the poseability’s benefit, but if you ask me I think it looks nice too. It looks like you have a real toy, not a statue. Something about that appeals to me for some reason, since I do look at these as action figures over collectibles.

The material Hasbro used for the Tusken is great though. The thinness of it allows it to move with the figure’s poses well, and sort of “pose” the cloak on him somewhat. The tight weave of the gauze-ish material is really nice and looks in-scale with a tiny figure like this. The color is just right and looks like old desert robes. It’d be nice to recreate this for Tatooine Denizen customs actually if I can find it at the fabric store.

The way the robe is cut and sewn though lets it hang like incredibly long flowing robes, but it still fits snug to the figure so it’s not bunching up like the VOTC Obi-Wan’s robe did. It’s really nice work and deserved its own mention I think because I see some criticism around the net of it. I don’t agree with the critics in the slightest though. I say if you want statues, Gentle Giant covers those pretty damn well. Leave Hasbro to make poseable action figures that maybe have some concessions made for said poseability.

-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 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 with the VOTC line, and they’ll do so again with the VTSC line I’m sure.

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 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.

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. 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, you’ll 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 that’s 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. It’s very eye-catching overall.

-Give-Away Promotion: Along with all these other fantastic features, Hasbro’s dusting off the old “give-away” 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 “Collect Them All!” 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 figure’s tab to mail it in, so you can’t 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 you’ll get a carded George Lucas in Stormtrooper Disguise figure, or “GeorgeTrooper”.

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 “free” figure is a somewhat bogus cop-out sculpt… and who honestly wanted a George Lucas in Stormtrooper disguise for that matter? That’s neither here nor there though.

CONS

-Elbow Articulation: The articulation on the Tusken is pretty flawless overall except that one little gripe; the elbow articulation. Hasbro takes you to the brink of perfection and it’s a little disappointing to me to see that they shorted you on it by not giving you the ball/socket elbow joint, especially when that joint is more versatile for poses and it hides as well as anything else when done properly.

The articulation is somewhat limiting… Not terribly so, and that’s why I’m not really that upset about it. It hinders some posing though I think, namely the next “Con” on the list, and the figure’s arms keep wanting to pop off right at the joint for some reason. Still though, not a huge deal and I think it’s picking nits on a pretty great action figure otherwise. Hey, at least it has elbow articulation, right?

-Rifle Aiming Poses: The negatives are minor little gripes here and there, as I’ve found with most of the VTSC figures so far. With the Sand Person, one of those little beefs I had was with the inability the figure has to really hold the sniper rifle up to his eye properly for sniping.

I can get it partially posed the way I want for sniping but not quite. The hand doesn’t want to clasp the rifle the right way and just sort of sits near it, not holding the rifle while the left hand cradles the barrel. The look isn’t bad, it just isn’t what it could be and I think it’s mostly due to the angle-cut articulated elbows. Like I said, it looks alright, just not great, and the elbow keeps wanting to pop apart while I try posing it. Not a huge deal really though ultimately.

-Rubbery Accessories: A bit more legitimate of a gripe here I think, for some reason Hasbro decided to cheap out on the plastic they used for the Tusken’s rifle and Gaffi Stick. They both are warped and I can’t get either one of mine to get back to their original shape very well, especially the stick which is horribly misshapen.

With other accessories having a much more rigid plastic used for other figures, the flimsy materials used on a $10 figure’s weapons is a bit disappointing. I mean, if a Clone’s rifle isn’t warped due to the plastic’s flexibility, should your Tusken’s rifle be warped? Or if you can get the toothpick thin staff that came with Sun Fac and it’s a nice stiff plastic used on it, should your Tusken’s Gaffi Stick be bent almost in half because it uses cheapo plastic? I don’t believe so and thus this is probably the only real complaint I have with the Sand Person besides the crummy price of the Vintage figures.

Still, if that’s all there is to complain about really, that’s a good figure there.

-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 isn’t the best price for buying multiples that’s for sure. They’re the kinds of figures you want more than one of too for certain.

Why the increased costs? It’s tough to say exactly. The packaging is more ornate and created by hand, that’s 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 line’s costs for packaging, you’d think that at some point the packaging would become a little less “special” financially and cost us less.

The real debate though is whether or not, packaging aside, these figures are “better” than basic figures or not. To me, after what we got in 2005’s ROTS line, I feel that Hasbro can deliver the VOTC/VTSC quality on basic cards for basic prices. Super articulation isn’t 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 I’d surely be putting more money into more figures if the basic line was on par with the Vintage remakes. Unfortunately Hasbro doesn’t seem to have that kind of plan in mind… At least not any time soon, so we’re stuck with $12 when we want decent toys.

OVERALL

So the first real “army builder” of the new wave of Vintage figures has been reviewed and what can I say except now I want at least 9 more of just the Sand Person figure! The Vintage Saga Sand People figure is really a great figure though and worth having a few of at least.

The new Sand Person has articulation galore, softgoods so the articulation actually functions, a great robe you can take off if you’re not happy with it even, two accessories for displaying it differently, lots of detail in its sculpt and paintjob. It’s living up to the standards set in Hasbro’s premium $10 line so far, and I’m on the prowl for at least a few more now.

Go get your figures if you can find them. So far they’re showing up basically everywhere, even KB Toys, I just don’t hear of any of the vintage figures showing up in huge quantities… yet. I really hope this line hits en masse though because everyone needs a chance to get these, and in some quantity too if they want them. Either way though, good luck on the hunt. It’s worth the trip to the store folks.

 

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