The Vintage Collection
Wave 3 (Return of the Jedi)
Klaatu (Jabba's Palace) "Woof"
The latest Vintage Collection wave of figures is simply outstanding. It's the kind of thing that makes tears well up in a collector's eyes at its grandeur, and at the same time also shed a tear or two over the end of "themed waves" from Hasbro starting the wave after next. Hasbro said, "Hmmm, what do fans want from Return of the Jedi?", and some guy replied, "Everything! So let's see if we can squeeze it all into one wave!", and it seems like they actually tried to.
Today's latest review (yeah, I'm trying to be regular again. I took action figure critiquing fiber I guess) is from one of Jabba's goons from the Return of the Jedi wave by the name of "Woof
", or "Klaatu (Jabba's Palace)
" for you old school guys, and it's pretty interesting. There is a lot to love here, and not a lot to hate, and Hasbro's also knocking out one of the background schlubs from the Palace that has yet to get a modern figure. I remember picking this guy up in 1984 or 85 at Gold Circle (were these anywhere but Pittsburgh even?) near Pittsburgh, simply for his furry skirt.
He was a figure I loved back then, for no good reason I can point out really, and so I had some hopes set for what Hasbro would deliver in 2010. Hopes like that can ruin your impression of a second effort though. Read on, won't you?PROS
: I like to think that I know costumes of OT characters fairly well. I always thought that I knew the little details well, and that Hasbro couldn't really surprise me much with any character. I find that I'm wrong in that assumption though. With every figure they dish out these days, I'm seemingly always surprised that I never noticed some small detail on a costume that Hasbro's now catching.
That seems to apply to Woof here. For instance, he seems to be wearing the body armor thing that Bib Fortuna had, or something similar, and it's just hidden by his vest pretty much. And his holster wasn't something I'd noticed before either, or his leather wrist guard on his right hand. Little details are really caught by Hasbro these days, and it's making for amazing sculpts like this.
One of my favorite aspects of the character's outfit are his pants though. They're really sculpted intricately with lots of folding, and look like worms more than pants. Hasbro gave his shoots a little effort too, more than just simply smooth feet that are largely hidden. Instead they sculpted some leather flaps and straps, and soles on the bottom. His leather belt belt has some texturing to it too, which reminds me so much of the faux leather bit that was on the actual vintage figure's cloth skirt, and was a nice touch by Hasbro. However if you really like the tiny details, look on the flap of his belt that extends out from under his holster where it seemingly buckles? Hasbro added tiny holes like the belt can be let out some, just incase Woof bulks up I guess. That's a nice attention to detail.
The rest of the costume features the routine buckles, straps, texturing, and tons of wrinkles as well. It's really great, and shows how apparantly non-fitting Woof's outfit was. He has a very "pirate" look to him, and still remains one of my favorite Jabba goons for some reason. He's probably boring to most, but I love what Hasbro did, and I'm sure you will too, even if he's not your favorite character.
The skin of the character is where the sculpt shines though. The head is new, though it's very similar to the last "Green Nikto" figure we got, but it's a new sculpt for sure. There are lots of details to his skin's texture, then the small horns and spikes on his face, and even tiny details like the pinholes for his ears or his nostrils. You really can't say anything bad about the artist's sculpt of this character. It's a home run. Take it off your shelf and examine it NOW, and appreciate what a mass-produced work of art this actually turned out to be.
: It's not often these days that you can gloat about a character's accessory count, especially since Hasbro has gone to the "coffin" blisters for the Vintage Collection of figures. It's just a fact that you'll generally get less, especially as they want to keep the figures with actual vintage counterparts close to their original look and card/bubble dimensions.
With Woof though, we get a good bit packed in there. He features a removable helmet, vibro-axe/pike, blaster pistol (which may, or may not, be a new sculpt... I'm not 100% sure on this one), and you also get a removable bandolier accessory. The last one was really unexpected and I thought it was stuck to the figure till I actually had him in my posession.
Every piece features paint aps too, which for accessories it's less common. You often just get a cast piece, no detail added to it, but Hasbro gave a little effort to this character's hardware. The pike is cast in a bronze-ish color with a metallic flake to it int he plastic, and they dabbed silver on the blade and a wire extended on the back of it. The paint's a tad sloppy, but nothing major and likely just my sample is this way.
The pistol and bandoleir are similar in that both are a cast color, then have silver highlights. The bandoleir has small silver tubes painted on it, and the pistol got silver details added to both sides of it above the trigger.
The gem piece is his helmet though. First, Hasbro sclupted this piece very fine, so that it sort of adheres to Woof's head ridges a little bit so that it sits a little more snug on his melon. It's a nice effort, and while the helmet still will fall off easily if you're not careful, the ridges do help it stay on somewhat. Take your figure's helmet off and look inside to see this nice extra effort because it's something the company does more often these days. Check out Imperial kepi hats for instance, or other headgear. It's a major plus for having your figure's gear stay on better. What's cooler though is that the stitching/string design sculpted on the helmet got a light pink-ish paintjob on the string part so that it stands out from the helmet, and makes the knot on the nose-guard stand out a little bit.
All in all though, that's 4 separate accessories, and all with paint applications of some sort. Some are more intricate than others, some seem better applied than others, but the detail is there and it's appreciated on the figure, let alone the gear the figure comes with.
: Hasbro's doing better here and Woof is no exception. Hasbro made sure this guard can do his fighting well with even your best Jedi or Scoundrel figures, and that's the way it should be. It's actually become rare for Hasbro to not go borderline "super articulation" on any figure in the basic line, and that's very much appreciated by the collecting community. It's a trend I hope never leaves the modern line.
Woof sports articulation at:
- 2 Ball/Socket Shoulder Joints
- 2 Ball/Socket Elbow Joints
- 2 Cut Wrist Joints
- 2 Cut Hip Joints
- 2 Ball/Socket Knee Joints
- 2 Ball/Socket Ankle Joints
- 1 Ball/Socket Neck Joint
- 1 Cut Waist Joint
For a total of 14 points of articulation, that's a pretty sharp total for a background goon. Not long ago, this figure would've lacked most articulation from the waist down, or would've had angle-cut elbow joints. These days, Hasbro's delivering figures that truly are the definition of "action figures", and even the obscure guys. As a collector, these are interesting times for us. When so many have left the hobby, the hobby is delivering probably some of its finest work routinely. Those who left are missing out.
I've had Woof doing everything from the Macarena to fighting with some Comic Pack Mandalorians on my desk. He's been shooting, using his pike, standing around drinking from R2's tray, and even sitting on my monitor's base. This figure's another fun one to play with, or "pose" if you prefer.
: I'm going to give Hasbro a nod for what they did on Woof, but this is the one area they didn't go all out with this figure, and it shows here and there. But what they did do was kind of neat, and done well. Breaking it into both a positive and negative aspect is the best way for me to go then.
First up, his skin gets the most detailing. It's cast in a lighter green than the previous Green Nikto we got, and so that sets him apart. It might be too light, which I can't tell by production photos because he looks dark in the film, but in the lighted archive images of just the actor in the costume standing there, he looks lighter (not quite as light as Hasbro got him, but lighter than the film images of him). Hasbro did a light yellow-green brush to detail raised areas of the sculpt like the bumpy texture of his skin, but at the same time they gave an off-white detail to each "horn" on his cheeks, brow, and chin. Likewise his hands got a similar treatment, but his very sharp fingernails/claws got shiney black paint ap details on them, which really stand out against the lighter skin texture. His eyes also got nice solid flat black paint aps, which didn't stray on my sample at all.
Klaatu's costume is a mix of good and bad, however. The pants have a lot of cool shading/washes to highlight the many folds of the worm-like pantlegs. It was a very detailed sculpt, and so the washes only serve to highlight that. Woof's shoe's also got the soles painted black, as well as the tip of the toes. I always love when Hasbro paints the shoe soles on a figure. It's a nice extra and adds a bit of realism.
Jump to the upper body though, and Hasbro abandoned a lot of the things that were working on this figure's decoration. That's where the negatives come into play.
: How can you not love this line's packaging? Even as a non-carded collector, I'm tempted to buy figures and leave them packaged. I've always opened and pitched, it's been how I've done things since some years ago I realized carded collecting was a virtually futile effort, reinforced by Hasbro's love of repacking virtually everything they ever make. The Vintage Collection gets even the most stalwart opener to take a second thought about opening that toy though.
So far I've not kept anything carded except a Rocket Firing Fett, but I am on an effort to save the cardbacks of every figure I buy. It's a work in progress to try and preserve them, but I'm trying. At least they're flat and don't take up a lot of room.
Still though, there's something about the Vintage packaging that was really special. It's colorful, it's bold, it's uniformed, it's diverse, it's iconic, and it's expanding with this line to encompass the prequals. There is a lot to love and Hasbro knows it.
The obvious drawback is the space on the blister to add extra gear. We were given so many great characters wth great gear for the last 5 years. Changing to a small coffin-style blister meant less cool pack-ins. Hasbro has kept up somehow and given us decent gear with some figures, but others are getting the shaft and it becomes somewhat noticeable. Other figures seem like they've come with quite a bit though.
They have to get high marks all around for what they're doing with this line's packaging designs though.CONS
-Missing Paint Aps/Deco
: Unfortunately Hasbro did cut some corners on a fine sculpt. Maybe when you have so much detail, you simply can't afford to go crazy with the tiny paint details, but then sometimes they stand out. On Woof's upper torso, this is unfortunately the case.
First, his belt isn't a bad deco, and reminds me so much in terms of color, the old faux leather belt strap on the vintage Klaatu's furry skirt. It was, of course, sewn to the fur and removable, but the colors seem exactly the same despite this new belt being molded piece of plastic. It's kind of neat, but that doesn't mean a little paint wouldn't have helped both his belt and his leathery-looking vest. But more than the belt, it's the vest that lacks the details.
The vest has ties, straps, and buttons, all of which went without any paint applications. The vest also lacks any kind of a wash, which I think a light one would've gone a long way towards highlighting all that texturing detail.
There is also a difference in color between the sleeves, and the shirt, though it may not be totally inaccurate. It stood out though, and so it's worth noting here I believe. Still though, these are small issues to me. The rest of the deco is pretty decent, especially these days, and so I'm not terribly bummed by the corners they chose to cut.
: What's a good review without a good major gripe, and with this line (and lately, the line in general), the price is pretty out there. $7.99 is the base price for The Vintage Collection. That's a good bit of money for a little bit of action figure, generally. The lack of accessories, and the easy comparison with figures right on the pegs beside any Vintage Collection figure really makes you question some purchases.
When compared to Legends and Clone Wars figures, which are all to be $6.99, and then the fact that they come with their Galactic Battles card, stand, and dice, and that Legends figures feature a mix of extra weapons as well... well how can you not compare? They're all Star Wars figures obviously, so you really can't help but look and think that the Vintage Collection is at least $1 overpriced.
Since prices jumped above $5.99 though, I've been pretty focused on doing my army building and custom fodder buying when there are sales. Sales don't always hit when you want them to though, so you're stuck shelling out quite a bit or cutting back. Myself, I've largely cut back. Figures I'd have not thought twice about buying 2 of in the past, I now put one back. Army builders I'd have bought 20 of (I'm, sadly, serious about that) I now only buy a couple of, or wait for sales all together. It's a rough time out there to afford the hobby, so price factors into the review I'm afraid.OVERALL
So that wraps up yet another figure from the Return of the Jedi wave, and I have to say, it's even better than the Ackbar I just reviewed. Maybe it's his more "action-y" nature? I don't know. But I really thought that Woof/Klaatu (Jabba's Palace) turned out fantastic. He's pretty much poseable for any action pose you want, or just standing around guarding stuff, and he looks like a tiny Sideshow figure to me. That's the mark that Hasbro has set standards that are as high with their 3.75" line as the companies that make what people call "high-end" type collectibles... Well, I suppose some would argue that 12" figures aren't, but at their current prices I think they are.
Anyway, the point is, people sometimes turn their noses up at the modern line because it's not expensive enough, it's produced in large quantities, and it's not generally difficult to find in toy aisles. These figures are really little works of art though. Every sculptor at Hasbro is doing some knock-out work. The only time they seem to drop the ball is on nailing down specific human character likenesses, and if you think it's easy to sculpt Harrison Ford or Mark Hammil, guess again. Human likenesses are probably among the more difficult things to get accurate, much less have them translate to accurately to such a small scale.
So when you get these incredibly accurate figures like this, even if they're not human, it's really remarkable how good they look these days. You have to appreciate the guys doing the work on them. So obviously I'm impressed here, even gushing, and recommend you pick up your Woof today. I'm seeing him more and more on my trips out. There are two figures from the Wave I don't see often, but this one's available I'm finding. He's good at $7.99 or $6.00, so I wouldn't hesitate at either price.