Thursday, April 18, 2013

SWU Reviews - The Vintage Collection Weequay (VC107)


By: David Delgado
The 107th figure in The Vintage Collection, labeled simply as "Weequay" (just like in the original vintage Kenner line), is easily one of the very best releases in this marvelous assortment. And as lovers of this line are well aware, that's saying quite a lot. It represents everything that's been so awesome about The Vintage Collection: premium articulation, gorgeous packaging, and splendid attention to detail. Weequay is one of those figures that truly looks as if the character jumped straight off the film screen and into that plastic bubble to join our collections. Read on to find out why Weequay is an absolute must-have!

Weequay (VC107)
Year Released: Late 2012
Assortment: The Vintage Collection (Wave 16) [online only]
Description: Celebrate the legendary Star Wars saga that changed the universe forever! This collection brings to life the incredible story of good versus evil that captured our imagination and took us to a galaxy far, far away. Iconic Star Wars heroes and villains are captured with incredible detail and premium features to commemorate each epic tale in the Star Wars saga. May the Force be with you!
Overall Rating: 5

One of my favorite things about The Vintage Collection is the fact that it's given us so many wondrous (and in most cases long overdue) resculpts of memorable Return of the Jedi characters, most of which made their initial plastic debuts in the original Kenner toy line. Return of the Jedi may be my least favorite of the three Classic Trilogy films (I actually prefer The Phantom Menace too by a slim margin, but that's for an entirely different write-up), but it probably contains the most brilliant array of fantastic looking characters, particularly among the various alien species it introduced to the saga. (How awesome has it been seeing the Weequay take center stage three decades later in The Clone Wars under the leadership of the incomparable Hondo Ohnaka?) VC107 Weequay will no doubt claim its rightful place as one of the greatest Return of the Jedi action figures ever produced. I might be a little biased here. This particular Weequay henchman has always been my favorite "Jabba goon," largely because I have fond 90's kid memories of playing with the first modern-era release of the character back in the Power of the Force 2 line. For whatever reason, he and Ponda Baba were always my go-to bad guys and could often be found in the cockpit of my TIE Fighter shooting at the heroes. (It doesn't seem to be acknowledged all that often, but those of us who grew up in the 90's definitely retain a certain degree of Kenner nostalgia too!) So even though it's a pre-posed nightmare that's been rendered obsolete for many years (yet oddly saw consistent re-release in various formats all the way up until around 2008), I'll always have a soft spot for the POTF2 Weequay figure. I think that makes this long-awaited resculpt all the more special and exciting! VC107 Weequay is a delightful action figure. If there's ever been a resculpt worth waiting a decade and a half for, this is it right here!

Let's start at the top. Weequay's headsculpt is phenomenal and succeeds in a number of ways. Hasbro has a history of knocking Return of the Jedi alien likenesses out of the park dating back to the earliest modern lines with great releases such as the Power of the Jedi Mon Calamari Officer and Saga Ephant Mon. The level of detail is astounding; every wart and wrinkle is captured flawlessly, and those wincing black eyes make him look really intimidating. One of the figure's most impressive features above the neck is a remarkably effective wash of light gray paint over the thick brown facial skin that adds an incredible level of realism to the finished product. One of my very minor nitpicks about this figure is that this terrific detail wasn't applied to the neck and hands as well (at least on my sample), which comes across as a little bit inconsistent. While the overall paintjob is still very, very good, the neck and hands appear more glossy than the face does as a result of omitting the gray wash. The Weequay braids look great, and the hair color is an exact match to the character's appearance in the film. Weequay physiology seems to vary greatly among individual members of the species. The Weequay skiff master in Return of the Jedi (who was also released in The Vintage Collection making its highly anticipated "character debut" back in 2011) has quite an oblong noggin almost like that of a Crystal Skull alien, whereas the Weequay characters we see in the Prequel films and The Clone Wars completely lack this striking characteristic. This particular Weequay character seems to fall somewhere in between. His skull is bigger/longer than that of Sora Bulq or Hondo Ohnaka, but definitely much smaller/shorter than that of the skiff master. Such variation within Star Wars species isn't uncommon (eg Aqualish, Gran, Trandoshans) but certainly noteworthy as we examine the latest action figure release of a character belonging to the Weequay species. Weequay have had decent representation in the action figure lines over the years (I think Tas Kee or Que-Mars Redath-Gom should be up next to give some more love to the "Preequay" characters).

The remaining 90% of the VC107 Weequay sculpt is every bit as impressive! While the character's outfit might be relatively simple by Star Wars standards, not a single detail has been overlooked and it's incredibly well done. The highly realistic texture of Weequay's horizontally ribbed leather tunic is one particularly impressive feature, along with the separate faded metallic armor piece strapped to the upper torso. (Obviously all this stuff I'm describing is still plastic, but the sculpt succeeds in making it all come across in a very realistic fashion.) Weequay's black belt is outfitted with various pouches and a nifty gold buckle in the front. Some collectors might complain that there was no working holster included for the figure's blaster pistol, but this would have detracted from the figure's mindblowing screen accuracy; the exclusion of this common feature is definitely for the best in this case. Moving onto accessories, Weequay includes his iconic skiff guard vibroblade weapon in addition to a skiff guard blaster pistol. That's one more accessory than he needed; the blaster pistol is an awesome extra for Hasbro to include here, especially when the original vintage Kenner figure didn't come with one. The vibroblade is a very detailed sculpt cast in a solid gray plastic. Oddly, the POTF2 figure came with an Imperial blaster rifle in addition to the vibroblade. The pistol included here that was seen with several of Jabba's skiff guards during the Carkoon confrontation makes much more sense even though this specific character never used it on screen.

Weequay features the awesome premium articulation we've come to expect from figures in The Vintage Collection. It's a really cool thing to be getting background skiff guards with fourteen points of articulation (and mostly ball-joints) - who would've thought that would ever be happening? Weequay's complete articulation count is listed below:

-1 ball-socket neck
-2 ball-jointed shoulders
-2 ball-jointed elbows
-2 swivel wrists
-1 swivel waist
-2 swivel hips
-2 ball-jointed knees
-2 ball-jointed ankles

The functionality of the ball-jointed shoulders is somewhat limited by the sculpt of the shoulder armor. The arms are unable to move all the way up to the sides; the best way to describe this limitation is that there are ball-joints present, but the shoulders function more like traditional swivel joints. This isn't a big issue at all because the rest of the articulation in the arms still allows Weequay to easily hold the vibroblade with both hands (without the terrible pre-posing of the POTF2 figure and its subsequent re-releases). 

One flaw and one flaw alone robs Weequay of total action figure perfection (and I'm still awarding the figure a "5" nonetheless). It's an issue we've seen with numerous figures in the last few years as ball-jointed articulation has become a standard in the realistic format lines, and Hasbro just can't seem to figure it out. I'm referring to mismatched joint paint. Fortunately, it doesn't affect Weequay's elbow articulation, but mismatched paint is clearly visible in the knee and ankle articulation. When the rest of a figure is so flawless, it's upsetting to see such a simple detail overlooked. Perhaps if The Vintage Collection distribution wasn't as horribly mismanaged as it was, this glorious final wave (which was only made available online) could have reached regular retail, the issue could have been spotted, and a running change could have been possible in later shipments. Unfortunately, all of our Weequay figures will have glaring gray lines in the middle of their light tan pants whenever their knees are bent for various action poses.

Mismatched joint paint issue aside, I can't say enough about what a magnificent action figure Weequay turned out to be. If you only buy one skiff guard figure ever (I can't imagine why this would be), make it VC107 Weequay! I'll even go as far as saying if you only go after a single figure from this online exclusive wave of The Vintage Collection, make it this one. Weequay is terrific from head to toe, and a must-have for fans of Return of the Jedi and the battle above the almighty Sarlacc. (And if he was in a different era, Hondo would be proud to have him as part of his crew!) In these "dark times," figures like Weequay remind us why Hasbro makes our Star Wars figures.

Review by David Delgado


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