Great comments everyone - and I agree, it really is becoming a slippery slope, for all the reasons mentioned here. The vintage line has been one of my favorite aspects of collecting since it started in 2004, and the assortment I probably look forward to the most each year. That said, I don't want to see the line migrate to included all characters for $10 a pop. I simply couldn't afford that, and it isn't necessary for me to have the clamshell (or even spiffy cardbacks). Like Brent mentioned, I don't see where prequel figures are "vintage" at all. If they recard using the TPM cardback (or even worse - yawn - the AOTC/Saga cardback), I don't think that really compares to the vintage cardbacks. The reason I purchase extras of the VOTC/VTSC to leave carded is because of the vintage cardback, the spiffy appearance and the nostalgia factor. The other option Hasbro has is creating new "vintage" cardbacks for the prequel characters, making them match the OT ones from the 70s/80s. I don't know if we want to see that either, because it sort of cheapens the vintage line in a way.
Bottom line, like everyone has said here, we can see the vintage quality of figures in the basic line. In fact, we have, and have been seeing it more and more the past couple years. Even though the vintage (and OT) are my favorite figures, I can't say that ROTS Pilot Obi-Wan is any less of a figure than VOTC Han Solo - but I got one for $5.24 and one for $9.99. There are other examples of figures we've seen in the past couple years (Evolutions Anakins, SA Clones - AOTC and ROTS, ROTS Dooku, ROTS Jedi, AT-AT Driver, Leia Boussh, Death Star Gunner, Death Star Trooper, McQuarrie Fett, POTC Cantina figures, Comic Pack Obi-Wan/ARC, etc.) that show we can get essentially the same quality at the basic pricepoint. I don't want to see the basic line turn into the "crap figures" line, and we only get "ultimate" figures if we pay $10 (or more). I think this year is looking like one of the best years yet for Star Wars collecting, and that's because the basic line quality has been/looks to be pretty good. The vintage lineup of course is on the money again, but to see quality through the comic packs, basic line, etc. really brings the whole line up overall. Also, like Jesse mentioned, licensing fees and all that aside, Star Wars really is an expensive line from the whole "bang for your buck" standpoint. Seeing some lines in the same scale for $5-6, and lines that are two to three times as big (or as much plastic used) for $9.99, comparatively Star Wars is a little on the high side - especially when you consider we see 60 basic figures a year, plus all the other stuff. I don't know if any other line can compare with those kind of release numbers in a year (and a non-movie/TV year at that). Anyways, this vintage line is becoming a slippery slope, and I hope we're not showing Hasbro that we'll pay $10 for all figures from now on.