Okay, so I found the playset at Wal-Mart a couple of hours ago and I just had time to sit down and really look at it, assemble it, and so on. So, I wanted to give everyone a quick heads-up as to the dimensions of this thing, what I think the shortcomings are as well as the high points, and my overall satisfaction with it.
First of all, the thing is about as big as it looks in the photographs we've seen. Looking at it from the front area (the spot with the door at the base) here are the dimensions:
-14" from the left edge of the magma to the front point of the doorbase
-10.25" from the front point of the doorbase to the right side of the magma (although the "lava plume" extends this to between 2 to 4")
-5.50" from the bottom of the base to the top of the catwalk on the front above the door
-10" from the bottom of the base to the lip of the volcano
-13" from the front point of the base to the back of the volcano lip platform (not including the arms that jut out)
-16" width from one side of the magma at the base to the other (left to right)
-Each of the arms that jut out from the back are 10" long themselves and the little fins on the end are 6.25" tall
-The entire playset is 22-23" long, 14" high, and 21" wide at its highest measurements in every direction
(keep in mind these are all estimates)
The quick and dirty review...
The figures: about what you would expect, quality-wise, from the Deluxe assortment. The lightsabers are like those included with the Basic assortment (meaning the hilts are painted, but they are one piece). Articulation is standard at the neck, shoulders, waist, and hips. One thing I did notice is that the plastic used for their legs is hollow, which kind of bugged me.
Obi-Wan looks exhausted but he doesn't have any kind of burns on him (although his "skirt" looks a bit ragged) and his stance is relatively neutral. It's about the level of an Episode I figure in terms of quality molding, so there you go with that.
Vader has tons of little nicks and cuts sculpted into his arms and chest, but the paint doesn't bring them out at all; they're just little sculpted details that aren't highlighted. One particularly deep cut on his right arm could have shown seared flesh, but no dice. The head sculpt is right out of the Episode I era (it reminds me of the Cinema Scene Qui-Gon, as far as the facial expression goes). It's not nearly as bad as the Swoop Anakin or Deluxe Anakin(s) from Saga, but it's not as acceptable as the Tatooine Attack Anakin from Saga either.
And no, his eyes are not yellow, which disappointed me, but I haven't seen the film yet, so it could be accurate at that point.
The problem with the figures is that once again, Hasbro has used the rubber bands to the detriment of the actual toy. First of all, each comes packaged holding the other's saber, but the rubber bands have warped the hands to such a degree that putting the lightsabers in their hands is impossible (especially for Obi-Wan, who can't hold a saber in either hand; Anakin can at least hold it in one). This to me is just simply unacceptable in this day and age. Not to insult anyone who collects ships/playsets boxed, but when it's called a "PLAYSET", I don't think that the presentation of the figures in the window should go beyond what the old Joes used to do with the little window card thing. How can you have the "Final Duel" when neither of them will hold their sabers?
Okay, the playset itself. First of all, the Vader Table does attach to the back of the hallway facing outward, and the Battle Arenas (up to 3) can attach to the front of the playset. The little discs (I don't know what they're supposed to be) sit rather precariously on the lava plume (which thankfully is the cover of lava, unlike the photos which showed it as white) and the top part of the plume spins around rather freely. The plume and its top are held in place by little metal rods (think Unleashed) with rubber covers over them to keep the fit tight but removable.
The magma balls are hollow and there are two of them. The little eruption action works okay, but if there is anything in the actual volcano, the lever (done to look like rock) sticks out at an odd angle on the left side. The color of the top and bottom parts of the volcano mountain are uniform in color (again, unlike some photos I'd seen) and although you can see the "seam" between the two, that is expected I suppose.
The arms are pretty interesting and thankfully the collapsing mechanism seems to work a lot better than the horrible collapsing catwalk on the Episode I Theed Hangar playset. The playset comes with these little "ropes" with wrist cuffs on each end so you can hang Vader or Ben off the bottom of the platform for "mid air dueling." These actually work pretty well, as the clips fit securely around either Vader's wrist(s) or the upper left arm of Ben's (due to the fact that his wrists are thinner than the clip). The clip on the other end of each one can be clipped onto a small piece that juts out on the inside rung of either playset arms (which I have just seen in the "Art of" book referred to as "Collection Arms" or something).
The problem that these arms cause is that they extend so far past the back of the playset itself, they cause the set to tip a little bit backward due to the extra weight. It doesn't cause it to fall over or anything, but there is a lean to it that shouldn't be there. Right now, I have the arms kind of lightly pressed against a wall to support them without putting something under them, but I'll probably be removing the arms completely when I put it up for display, which sucks.
The "lava pool flip" thing is pretty corny, but it does have a rather gory spoiler on the flipside. Basically, you can send Vader sliding down the side of the volcano and he will fall through the lava trap door. Mine doesn't automatically flip to the other side, but when you do flip it, instead of just red lava with bits on rock in it, you have red lava, bits of rock, and a single black glove reaching out. I found that very cool.
The backside of the playset is pretty much empty. The way the top part of the volcano hooks onto the bottom part makes a kind of shelf in the interior though, so I guess you could do a little scene or something in there if you were so inclined. There isn't any detailing on the walls though (like the Arena had), so you'd probably need to dress it a little. The hallway is cool, with a slight dip near the end of one end, and is what it is: a hallway under a volcano.
One of the things that struck me as kind of neat has nothing to do with the actual playset actions themselves, but the way the mountain seems to be molded. I got a really big sense of deja vu when I saw it all put together, because the angles of the mountain are very similar to the vintage Dagobah playset. It's not exact or anything, but the proportions and what is elevated, where holes are, and so on are similar.
Overall, I thought it was a decent toy for the price, although I was a little disappointed with the balance issue and the almost total inability of Vader and Obi-Wan to hold their respective (or each other's) lightsabers due to Hasbro and their stupid little rubber bands warping the hands. With kids being more interested in video games these days, I don't think a lot of them will give a damn about this piece, and a lot of collectors will probably leave them boxed up, but that being said, I had a bit of fun playing around with it. Plus, I'm sure I'll be fiddling with it even more next week once I've seen the film and know what those big ass "collector arms" are for, where stuff happens in the film, where the hallway goes, and so on.
So was it worth 30 bucks? If you're going to open it and display it, I'd say yeah, probably. It's not a vintage Death Star or anything like that, but it's still a nice piece that has some fun features. I'd actually rank it as a better piece than the Arena (on a whole) because it's more than just a facade, it doesn't rely on stickers and cardboard cutouts (a pet peeve of mine) for ambience, and it was cheaper but just as well constructed and designed (if not moreso) as the Arena.
There you go. Anybody have any questions that they would like to ask about it for things I didn't cover in my (ridiculously nonlinear and disorganized) review?