Author Topic: New JD Review: TVC Wave 3 - Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)  (Read 1100 times)

Offline Jesse James

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New JD Review: TVC Wave 3 - Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)
« on: February 4, 2011, 10:08 PM »
The Vintage Collection
Wave 3 (Return of the Jedi)
Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)


Since I can't find anything from Wave 4 (2011 Wave 1, the Attack of the Clones figures), I decided to try to finish some of the Return of the Jedi wave figures because A) they're getting talked about a lot in our forums, and B) they're all pretty great.  But each has its nuances that are fun to point out as positives and negatives.  Today I'm going to look at one of the tougher to find figures from the wave (which is tough to find overall) that I think everyone universally agreed is a great figure.  We're going to examine Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight), who takes a figure from just the previous year, and somehow manages to blow it out of the water.

Now let me start by saying that I personally loved the figure from last year.  It took Hasbro eons to actually update Death Star Duel Luke Skywalker, and when they did, they made some cool updates.  However, the figure had drawbacks.  First his arms and legs are a little thick, especially his shoulders which made him look much broader than Hammil's build was back in 1982/83.  But Hasbro did some great stuff though as well, like the interchangeable chest plates so you could have him buttoned up or with his shirt partially undone.  Also his left hand sculpt is fantastic for the scene where he takes his saber back from Palpatine.  I also think it's a pretty decent headsculpt, but that seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

Jumping forward though, it's clear that Luke got a major makeover at the end of 2010.  First, Hasbro went with a ground-up reworking instead of re-using parts like the last version.  Also they really wanted to work on the character's likeness, and finer points of the costume, and the effort shows.  Then the articulation...  Let's just say they bumped it up a notch and only removed one point from the last figure.  But he's not perfect, as no figure ever is really it seems.  This one's flaws don't seem to be keeping fans from loving it though, so read on and let's disect this update, and wait for the variant that has the shirt flap open and a little bit messier hair style.  :)

PROS

-Sculpt:  What can you say?  At this point, Hasbro loves to make collectors collectively mess their pants when they update a figure, even if it's one we just got a year before.  Sure, you may be annoyed that you're buying the same guy, again, but when they manage to truly knock your socks off with the second (or more) effort, you have to cave and buy it I think.

In Luke's case, it's pretty night and day with the previous incarnation.  First, the costume's much more accurate.  It's a tigher fitting costume than the previous figure displayed, and the sculptor caught every detail of that, with folds in the appropriate places like the elbows, knees, hips/crotch, etc.  Really though it looks a lot tighter fit to the new sculpt, and that's just how it should be.

Little details are enhanced as well.  The small pouch on Luke's right hip for instance, where he keeps his Mentos, "The Fresh Maker".  Also the two silver dots on the belt, the clips on the left hip for his saber, and even getting the belt buckle right (the previous figure's wasn't accurate).  They're a lot of little details right on the belt that are updated and much improved.  The costume even has a superior "texture" sculpted to it.  It looks more like a spandex-like material, for a form-fitting outfit, compared to the texturing sculpted into the previous incarnation. 

The headsculpt I think is a little debatable as to which you prefer...  Luke's head looks a little large on the Vintage sculpt, and something about the last figure I really liked, but I think the likeness in the face is superior and the hair is sculpted a little more naturally, a good bit more depth to it, and looks great. Ultimately I give the nod to the new headsculpt as the superior one, and I think most will agree, but I still think the 2010 figure does look decent as well. 

Overall though, this figure is pretty night and day to the previous one, and I actually liked the previous one (I was in the minority though).  I like, and miss, the removable chest pieces though.  I think that could have been, and should have been incorporated into this figure, especially with Hasbro's currently high prices on these figures, and retail asking above the MSRP in the majority of cases out there at the stores.  Anything $7.99 or up should really deliver a lot to you in terms of the toy you get.  In this case, I can see Hasbro scupting a new torso with the shirt flap open and getting people to buy it again, and that's frustrating.  We should get both with one figure at $8+ a pop.  At Toys R Us prices, the figure should walk, talk, and clean your home.

-Accessories:  The accessory count for this Luke isn't especially high, however it delivers the things you should demand with most Jedi characters, and it delivers an extra bit that is simply appreciated.  Could they include a blaster?  Sure, and it'd be appreciated, but it's not a necessity.  Going back to the sculpt, the only "extra" accessories I really would've liked would've been the interchangeable chest pieces, and that's really more part of the figure's sculpt than accessories to me, but I digress.

Luke comes with:
  • Lightsaber (Ignighted)
  • Lightsaber (Hilt w/Peg)
  • Imperial Binders/Handcuffs

It's only 3 accessories total, but it all makes sense with the figure, and is appreciated in a time when you don't always get the unlit saber hilt.  All Jedi should have that, but they're not really standard issue.  The only other thing one could've, maybe should've hoped for, is a cloth Jedi cloak...  However, to this costume, it's not really accurate either.  I guess we'll have to wait for the actual Vintage sculpt with the vest to maybe get the cloak. 

You do get the binders though, so you can recreate your favorite father/son moments, and you can have your favorite wrinkly old mentor with a bondage fetish remove those binders.  That's cool.  Or at least you have extra binders for your favorite Rebel figure to get captured with.

Overall though, that's 3 accessories which is about right for the character, in that specific costume.  If there's any gripe, it's that the paintjob on the saber's hilt is actually noticeably less crisp and carefully applied than the previous figures (despite being the same sculpt).  I just swapped accessories between the two.  You really notice it on the copper ring area and the copper button to ignite it though.  No biggie.  Enjoy.

-Articulation:  Here's where Hastro decides to spice things up a little bit.  And I'm not talking a little bit, but actually significantly.  That's not easy to do in the modern age where Super Articulation now is competing with Super Duper Articulation. 

The Clone Wars line introduced us to the ball/socket wrist joint.  It's impressive.  It helps a soldier figure hold his rifle in a much, much more realistic pose.  It helps Jedi hold their lightsabers in a myriad of stances.  It makes figures look like they have an incredibly compound fracture if you bend it all the way one direction or the other, but suffice it to say it adds a surprising ammount of movement to the hands.  It's unheard of in the realistic line though...  till now.

Hasbro wasn't done there though.  The ball/socket joint has become an increasingly used point of articulation on figures in both lines.  It helps characters ride certain vehicles or creatures more realistically, and it REALLY improves how a figure can be posed kneeling, sitting, or doing Yoga.  This Luke received both sets of these additional articulation points, and only at the cost of one torso ball/socket joint.  It's a trade-off I guess.

Luke features articulation at:

  • 2 Ball/Socket Shoulder Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Elbow Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Wrist Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Hip Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Knee Joints
  • 2 Ball/Socket Ankle Joints
  • 1 Ball/Socket Neck Joint
  • 1 Cut Waist Joint

That's a total of 14 points of articulation, and all but one of them are ball/socket joints to boot.  Talk about poseability!  This guy's like Gumby.  He's also articulated just right to ride a newly sculpted Speederbike, which we've been asking about here at Jedi Defender since before it was the cool thing to do! ;)  In all seriousness though, this figure has G.I. Joe levels of articulation going on, and then some.  I miss the ball-jointed torso somewhat, but at times that doesn't look great.  Ironically though it didn't look bad on the last figure, so I do miss that point of articulation on this character.

People really underestimate what the hips and wrists add to a figure too, especially a character who wields a saber.  Luke can have this awesome 2-handed, over-the-head, swinging pose with the saber just like when he's giving his Pop the smackdown...  Other than the chest not being accurate to that scene.  Still he can do that pose.  And like I said, the hips are great for all kinds of action poses, or riding a future Speederbike and looking quite realistic on it.  Here's to hoping for that.

-Versatility[/u]:  This is a weird one to list, but it's applicable to certain characters who have very subtle costume differences.  OK, so Hasbro didn't give us the interchangeable chest plates, but that doesn't change that fact that they now have a pretty perfect base to do a number of Luke figures from Return of the Jedi that only require a single piece new tooled, or some new accessories or whatnot.

Luke could get a new torso, and you've got Death Star Duel Luke with the open shirt-flap we've mentioned a couple times already.  You also have then a possibility of Hasbro sculpting a new torso to include the vest from his time on Tatooine at the beginning of Jedi, or they can add softgoods vest like the last Tatooine version of Luke from that film.  I'd prefer the latter really, as I like the movement of the softgoods.  Likewise you could then just add the poncho, a belt, and a helmet, and you've got a new Endor Luke using the new sculpt.  Unfortunately his head is too large for Endor helmets, so that'll need addressed with a bigger bucket, or a smaller head.

The point boils down to this figure being versatile.  Hasbro made a really solid base to work with on future minor differences, and so that means any future figure should really be the definitive version of that minor costume difference...  we hope.  Some accessory changes, and a new torso or softgoods, and you've got 2 or 3 new Lukes you can whip up.

CONS

-Paint Aps/Decoration:  Here's one area where I was actually pretty disappointed with this Luke figure, and collectors should be too.  First, figures are anywhere from $7.99 to $10.99 at retail right now.  That's obscene, but Hasbro's still skimping on paint applications in the production process to save a buck.

What really stings though, is that this Luke has barely any complex paint applications at all.  He's the man in black.  He's really not colorful at all, so why would you cut anything back then?  Every little thing wrong is going to get nitpicked by me, and it should be. 

First on my sample, the hair got a darker wash of brown paint to tone down the light color (which I don't think is as accurate as a little darker hair color in the first place).  The wash wasn't controlled well though, and bled onto the figure's skin a number of areas, and it shows pretty obviously.  His eyes and eyebrows are painted nicely, and even, but the hair's wash bleeding everywhere detracts from that a good bit, so I was disappointed with that from the start.

Upon closer inspection then, I noticed how sloppy the one pop of color on the costume was then.  There really is only a couple small points of silver on the belt, like the buckle and the saber clip.  All of it is sloppy.  The silver of the buckle bled onto the pants, shirt, and belt, that surround it.  The clip for the saber looks horrible and bled a lot onto the pants.  Both buttons are painted much larger than the button's sculpt actually is, it appears.

The paint applications are simply a let-down on a pretty flawless sculpt.  A lot of my disappointment ties to the price though.  $7.99 or up shouldn't see these kinds of flaws.  I can see cutting back on some aps though, but not doing a sloppy job on the ones that you do add.  Not for $8 or more.

-Distribution:  I'll keep this short and sweet, but ultimately the Return of the Jedi wave of figures has had some of the coolest figures in 2010 in it, yet it's been distributed horribly.  We're into February now, and Jedi wave stopped shipping back in December for my area.  That means almost 2 months now of not one new figure on the pegs here locally, but that Wave 3 never came close to satiating demand.

That's simply poor distribution it seems, which can be attributed to retail being clogged with Revenge of the Sith Clone repacks nobody really cared to have, and retailers cutting back for the holidays ending at exactly the wrong time.  Hasbro may need to step in and remove some of the clutter before we see any of these great figures in any quantity though.  Hopefully they'll get to that soon because I'm 2 waves behind.

-Figure Design:  Here's something I just don't quite understand about Hasbro, and it's frustrating because as a customizer I see a lot of how figure's are designed from taking them apart.  I'm going to use this point to compare this Luke, to the Wave 1 Bespin Luke specifically.  They're designed completely different from one another, and I don't know if Hasbro would ever give a reasonable explanation why.  The Bespin figure seems vastly superior.

First, this Jedi Luke actually is the first time, in a LONG time now, that I have seen Hasbro make a figure where you can split the torso into two pieces.  He's made using the more rigid ABS plastic, and to get the torso apart you bascially have to crack it open.

In contrast, Bespin Luke is one solid poly-vinyl piece of plastic.  It pops apart easily at the torso joint, and onto the lower torso.  It's really quite neat, and seems like it would take far less labor to construct the figure.

Second though, the lower torso of Luke is also this 2-piece style, and that means at the waist joint, the movement isn't as fluid.  My Luke actually sort of catches and can be difficult to pose because of this design change from the Bespin figure, which I think is a big step backwards.

As noted, it's got to take more labor to construct the Jedi Luke figure than the Bespin Luke.  It also takes more molds, as the torso is now two halves instead of one piece.  Two molds = more money invested.  The two rigid torso parts (upper and lower) also make for a looser fit at the waist.  It's very strange, and Hasbro hasn't done figures like this in quite some time unless they have a ball/socket waist joint.  Even then, they're not always done this way.

I don't know if this is a materials cost issue, or what.  I'm disappointed Jedi Luke isn't designed EXACTLY like Bespin Luke though.  It's hard to understand why they changed it though.  They may have a good reason, or maybe not.  I'd hoped we'd seen this style go the way of the dinosaur though.  I guess not.

-Price: 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, however many retailers are a full dollar above that, or all the way to $10.99 at Toys R Us!  That's pretty disturbing and it's certainly made me cut back in how I collect. That's a good bit of money for a little bit of action figure, generally. The lack of large or extra 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 (though we're now seeing them bump up another $1 at these retailers like Target), 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, though at this stage I say it's more like $2 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 another figure off the review shelf and onto the dusty mess of a display shelf I have going till I can get my permanent set up ready.  I'm glad I got this figure when I did, as I probaby got him at the nifty prices retailers were running up to Christmas, and wish I'd bought a 2nd.  Right now though, buying one isn't even an option in my area as the Return of the Jedi wave of figures are almsot all long gone.  Woof's around now and again, but even he's not that common.

This is a Luke a lot of people had hoped for, for years.  People just weren't happy with the figure we got last time around, and while it was pretty neat to me, and I will always harp on missing that chest piece being absent on this new one, it really fails compared to the new Jedi Luke.  Hasbro pretty much hit a home run here.  That said, he clearly has flaws, and if he comes out again anytime soon you'll be likely paying more for him than before.  That stings.  It doesn't matter how good a figure is, if it costs too much for the hobby to even be considered affordable.

I'd like to see updates to this figure's torso though, like mentioned in the review.  I think he has a good chance at being a fantastic base figure to knock out the little costume differences Jedi Luke has going on.  I just wonder if when the different variations come out (It's bound to happen), will figures cost $20 a piece?  We'll see.

Wrapping it up though, if you don't have this figure, I feel for you.  Like I said, I wish I'd had a chance even to get 1 or 2 more of him.  I'd love to update my Endor Luke at least, using this guy.  Hasbro did a good job on the figure, they just need to make the line more affordable I think, at this point, and get these figures out there to people too.  There's definite demand for many from this wave.[/list]
2011 Rebel Fleet Trooper Gets My Seal Of Approval!  But Where's The Friggin' Holster On Him!?
Jedi Defender.com Contributing Editor, Twitter @JediDefender & @Jesse_James77

Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: New JD Review: TVC Wave 3 - Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)
« Reply #1 on: February 5, 2011, 12:02 AM »
Great review Jesse.  The only real gripe I have with this figure is that he did not come with a softgoods cape.  I think that would've been a nice homage to the Vintage Jedi Luke...which is what this line is supposed to be about.
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: New JD Review: TVC Wave 3 - Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)
« Reply #2 on: February 5, 2011, 12:08 AM »
I agree, sort of, but only because I always like accessories...  especially compared to the Legends and stuff with all the gear they have.  The Vintage figures can seem sparse by comparison.  The only thing is, this is a figure pretty specific to the Endor capture onward...  or Home One.  The Jedi Luke needs the Jedi vest thing too sort of.  I figure we'll get that and the cloak with it at some point.
2011 Rebel Fleet Trooper Gets My Seal Of Approval!  But Where's The Friggin' Holster On Him!?
Jedi Defender.com Contributing Editor, Twitter @JediDefender & @Jesse_James77