Okay, I caved a few weeks ago and blew money on the two sets I really wanted (they're $26 apiece at Wal Mart by the way), justifying spending money on a hobbie I'm trying not to spend any money on by figuring these would be long gone later on (and I do have
the money now... I'm just supposed to be saving).
Anyway, the two sets I got were the episode III and IV sets. Here are some things I've noticed/opinions on them:
the ANH set features two awesome figures, two crap figures, and a metal box. This set is only justifiable if you view it as paying VOTC prices for Vader and the Sandtrooper and $6 for a can and two seriously ugly statues.
So first, the bad:
Early Bird Leia is a theoretically nice statue, but the face is really pretty sloppy and (like nearly every attempt at Leia) a poor likeness, and the hands are sculpted for holding a gun (and is inaccurate as she never used an E-11 in this pose... and neither POTF2 version of the game-hunting blaster she sported really fits in this figure's hands and it looks ridiculous as it's half her height anyway). She's just a little bit too tall to be very good for looking like she's giving R2D2 the message/death star plans (but she sort of works for it and is in a decent pose for the scene). Overall this is a pretty terrible figure.
VOTC C3PO is a horrible figure and Hasbro needs to melt the mold and recycle it already. Worst C3PO ever
Now, the good:
The sandtrooper is not a VTSC reprint as much so as one might think (though that's not really a good point neccesarily). The torso, head, and helmet are different sculpts; the torso seems Commtechish with different-shaped upper chest armor and a bit of shoulder molded on (which results in arms that stick out a lot more- again, Commtechish). The head is a very pale and (I think) new sculpt of Jango/the typical clone head- his skin is decidedly the wrong tone for Jango though, unless this clone is an albino. The helmet is a good sharp sculpt but also very bendy, and looks more like the commtech helmet than the VOTC/TSC helmet (perhaps it's the same one from George Lucas?) The "commtechish" appearance means he'd look even better standing with a group of old commtechs than VOTCs/VTSCs do, if you wish to consider that a plus.
The Sandtrooper also features a white pauldron (the only version/rank that hasn't been produced recently) and absolutely no dirty markings. This lack of grime means he's an instant stormtrooper, too- just take off the shoulder pauldron (you don't even have to pop the head) and the backpack.
Another awesome thing I discovered right away, though, is that the Jango head has a much smaller post than any other stormtrooper. In fact, it's juuuuuust slightly bigger than the VTSC Han Solo (and presumably VOTC Han Solo, and by proxy TSC Han Solo who has the same size as VTSC). Custom city, and very easy, and looks nice.
Vader is also outstanding, and is the ultimate ANH Vader. He's based on the evolutions Vader obviously (who had nearly perfect articulation), but he features certain changes which make him a good match for the different ANH design: he has a new torso with a tunic sculpted over his shoulder armor, and stripey gloves (both with excellent grips by the way- no TSC lightsaber dropping action going on here). The head change disappoints me; they've used a "younger" Anakin head instead of the ROTJ version despite that Vader was only four years younger in ANH (and never had his helmet off anyway). It's not bad, and it's kind of cool in an Expanded Universe way, but I would've preferred the same evolutions head.
One bad thing about Vader is that his softgoods are a lot clumsier than other recent Vaders. they're pretty wrinkly in the package, the "skirt" tends to stick up around the waist for some reason, and mine had some fringe in the middle of the skirt sticking down below the belt (though the belt is seperately sculpted so I was able to tuck it up in there. Additionally bad is that there's something screwy about Vader's shoulder hinges- the piece connected to the torso isn't round, This doesn't affect the articulation, but you wind up with a bit of an odd square piece and a little gap when you move Vader's arms up. On the plus side, they finally wised up and got rid of the silver neck rope that pretty much every Vader since 2005 has had.
The Episode III set is possibly the best buy, with four figures ranging from excellent to okay, lots of articulation going around, and two nice softgoods cloaks (especially Yoda's- more on that in a minute). Oh yeah, and a can. From worst to best:
Mace Windu is reprinted wholesale from the ROTS line minus any accessories but his lightsaber. He's ugly, but his headsculpt is pretty nice, he wields his lightsaber pretty well, and it's one of the less horrible/better functioning action features out there for what it's worth. However, I found this figure was much, much nicer looking when I stole the cape enclosed meant for the Anakin figure and put it on this guy- the sleeves hold his arms in place a little bit, it covers up the ugly articulation, and it makes for a more scene accurate Mace. He can be pretty decent depending on what you want to do with him, and he can also make some pretty good custom fodder (and the head's peg size is identical to ROTS Pilot Gear Obi Wan's, if you feel like headswapping).
The AT-RT driver is pretty good for the most part. He has a fairly decent sculpt/typical clone aritculation (which is to say super articulation with hard-to-use hips) save for a swivel waist rather than a ball jointed waist; he seems to be identical sculpt-wise to the ROTS figure. He has two accessories, a removeable chestplate (which I had no idea was removeable until I looked the figure up online) and a blaster. the blaster's strap is misshapen and doesn't seem to hang right for wearing the gun or holding it level... additionally this guy must be left handed, since he has an open right hand. Ehh. He features no color scheme save for some tan, spotty looking boots... are they supposed to be dirty/sandy? Only if he stepped in knee-high quicksand and was otherwise mostly clean.
Yoda is surpisingly pretty cool. I've felt for a while that this figure had pretty decent articulation, but it conflicted with his plastic cloak. No more, because this time around he has a groovy little cloth coat (according to RS it's from VOTC Yoda). This cloak makes him able to make full use of his arms and legs and look pretty decent for lightsaber fights, hopping around, hanging off ledges, or just standing around and gabbing. The cloak makes all the difference in this case, and I've seen no better episode II/III Yoda.
Anakin kicks butt and frankly is a big part of why I caved on this set, having never bought the evolutions set (but now I still need an episode II Anakin...). I don't think he has any changes this time (and unlike other figures, sports most of his accessories... no mechanical hand, but the mechanical hand was kind of superfluous considering the only time it was seen in episode III was when he was shirtless in bed/having nightmares); instead of the shiny funky evolutions cloak, he comes with the same one as TSC Obi Wan and Anakin, and it looks prety nice on him if you know how to make these cloaks lay the way you want them to (namely the trick for getting the hood to lay down right by folding it down halfway).
The boxes are fairly nice, with paintings of different poster art (for III it's the movie poster, for IV it's a nicer picture than the movie poster that I've seen printed on a few other pieces of merchandise, like puzzles). They're not especially good as figure carrying cases unless you want to leave the tin set figures on their odd-sized double cards though. They can theoretically hold DVDs, but only if you don't mind having to force the case in and out because the edges on the box along where it closes are just a liiiiiittle too small.
The cards are simplistic, with an OTC/TSC-like Logo and lines around the package, a plastic bubble designed to hold two of the figures (two in each half of the can), and some boring suff printed on teh back (a character headshot, a scene from the movies, and some TSC-esque text like "Stolen By: Jawas" and some cheesy summary of what the character was doing at one point in the given movie. The boxes holding the cans/cards are extremely boring, with two open plastic sides and some cardboard with gray and black portions, messy looking Action Packed dark red text saying "comemorative tin collection", a picture of the can printed on the box, and the Star Wars logo/episode number in opposing corners. The boxes look truly boring when you take the can out, and the can is smaller than the boxes, supported by styrofoam and carboard corner pieces for some reason (I think it's so that the box designs can extend far enough to be displayed past the can rather than on top of it).
Sorry about that. Move along.