Star Wars “30th Anniversary Collection:” V-Wing Starfighter by Hasbro

It feels like a long while since I’ve looked at a 3 3/4-inch Scale Star Wars vehicle, especially if you exclude the whole 5-POAPALOOSA I did for the opening of The Last Jedi. Let’s face it, Hasbro doesn’t do a lot of these anymore and when they do, they’re a far cry from what they were in the glory days. Unless you want to count a certain Sail Barge Experiment that’s going on right now. Anyway… A couple of weekends back, I spent Saturday morning going through one of my Star Wars totes. I was expecting it to be mostly figures, but there were a few surprises buried in there, and one of them was this cool Starfighter that was released as part of the 30th Anniversary Collection, one of the last of Hasbro’s Star Wars lines that I collected with excitement and fervor. I was surprised to find that I never gave it a proper review here, so I set it aside for a day just like today!

The Alpha-3 Nimbus Class “V-Wing” Starfighter made its appearance at the end of Revenge of the Sith, escorting Palpatine’s shuttle to Mustafar. I’ll confess, this last point came up in my research and I didn’t remember actually noticing them when I watched the movie. For a long time, I just assumed this ship was based off an Expanded Universe design from The Clone Wars, or a concept that never actually got used. One bit of credit I’ll always give to the Prequels and Clone Wars era, is they featured some pretty cool ships, many of which were given the royal treatment by Hasbro to become excellent toys. Anyway, I think this ship was released a few times, but I got the 30th Anniversary Collection version. I was never a big fan of the package design, but I think I bought just about everything this line put out. The package indicates the ship being flown by a standard Clone Pilot, and that’s the figure I’ve used for my pictures, but I’ll point out that Hasbro did release an official V-Wing Pilot as part of an exclusive multi-pack and that one wore a black flightsuit. The V-Wing requires a bit of assembly as all of it’s wings have to be attached, as does the front section of the hull. It’s probably more than I’m used to seeing in this size toy, but nothing too complicated.

To say that this is a distinctive design is quite the understatement! I suppose you could argue that there’s a little bit of A-Wing in here, at least in the ship’s main body, but this one is more elongated and has a much sharper taper, like the head of a spear. Also, I’m a big fan of ships that have different configurations for landing and flight, and as we’ll see in a bit, the V-Wing very nearly takes this idea to the extreme. The basic layout follows the usual Rebel/Republic ship formula with a single-pilot cockpit positioned in front of a socket for an Astromech Droid. In this case, the Droid’s head is permanently attached to the ship, so you cannot provide your own. His head will, however, swivel, and if accessorizing is your thing, he’s painted to match the hull of the ship. And speaking of paint, the deco on this ship is absolutely gorgeous. In addition to the red and off-white coloring, you get some yellow markings, scorch marks, and a lot of silver scrapes and weathering. I think you could argue that Hasbro overdid it a bit with the silver scrapes, but in this case, I think too much is better than nothing. Comparing this ship to Hasbro’s super-clean modern offerings is like comparing apples and oranges.

When landed, the V-Wing rests on three landing struts, the rear two are integrated into the collapsed wings, while the front retracts into the primary hull. There are three sets of articulated wings, one set on each side and another set mounted behind the top of the cockpit. All of these have textured heat radiating panels on the interiors. I really dig the armored-up look the V-Wing sports when it’s all closed up and landed.

From the back, you can see the V-Wing’s dual vertically-stacked thrusters, as well as a pair of articulated rudders that flank the engines. The V-Wing is not capable of Hyperspace on its own, but apparently could be adapted to take a Hyperspace Ring like the Jedi Starfighters. When the ship is ready to take off, you just fold in the front landing strut and press in the upper engine to deploy the wings.

And man, does this thing look awesome with the wings deployed! They spring open like scissor blades and really show off the sleek and aggressive design of the hull. They also reveal the banks of missiles that are positioned on each side of the cockpit area.

The missiles are cool in that they actually look like missiles and not the usual simple rods that we see in a lot of Hasbro’s ships. They have pronounced fins and the tips are painted red. Paint applications on missiles! These truly were wondrous times! There are buttons positioned at the top of the wing mounts which will fire these and they shoot pretty damn far!

The cockpit looks nice and snug, but there’s actually plenty of room in the compartment for the Clone Pilot figure, and I imagine most other normal humanoid figures would fit fine as well. The cockpit is hinged at the back and there’s a little slot at the front to help open it. Fun fact: The V-Wings sacrificed life support for maneuverability, hence the importance of the sealed flightsuit. The eye on my Q7-Series Astromech is a tad wonky, but otherwise the paint on him is pretty good, and I really appreciate the fact that his head will swivel.

About the only downside of this beautiful ship is that it doesn’t come with a way to display it with the wings open. There is, however, a useful cluster of pipes sculpted on its undercarriage near the back. I was able to make it work fairly well with a flight stand that Mattel used to sell for their DC figures.

If you’ve been with me for a while, then you may have heard me talk about my Great Star Wars Purge that happened around 2009 or so, where I liquidated a huge portion of my Star Wars collection. I can still remember getting ready to add this one to the selling pile, but relenting at the last moment. It might have been because it was still a relatively new purchase at the time, but now that I’m holding it in my hands again, I think it was probably more about just how unique and special this ship’s design is, and how well Hasbro carried it off. It’s hard to think of too many ships in this class since that have turned out this well. It’s both a fun and great-looking toy, and it’s been rescued from the storage tote and now displayed on my shelf once again!

GI JOE 30th Anniversary Collection: Sky Striker by Hasbro

So, remember that one item that I found at Marshall’s last Friday that was worth standing in line for? Yeah, this was it. I’ll have you all know that this purchase represents a personal defeat for me. I often run checks on my collecting habit versus my sanity just to make sure that I haven’t gone overboard. One of those checks is having the rationality to determine whether I have somewhere to go with a particular piece and I’m not turning into one of those hoarding freaks you see on TV. I have very specific boundaries set up over where my toys live and where the rest of my home begins and with the exception of a couple of items I have displayed in my library, those boundaries have held fast. The reason I never bought the Sky Striker when it was originally out on shelves was because I knew I had nowhere to go with it, and I suspected that once it was built, it wasn’t going to go back in the box for easy storage.

Nonetheless, when I saw it sitting there alone on the shelf at Marshalls on clearance, I couldn’t resist taking it home. That may seem odd, since I’m certainly not a very big GI JOE collector these days, and before today, I haven’t picked up any of the 30th Anniversary stuff, except for a lone Destro figure. I attribute my lapse of reason to the fact that when I was a kid, I fell in love with the Sky Striker from the old Sunbow cartoon and I absolutely adored the original toy. So, yeah, I guess I’m blaming nostalgia on this one. It’s hard to believe I don’t do that more often.

The Sky Striker comes in a sizeable box with some wonderful artwork and a little window cut out to show off the Ace figure. I love this kind of packaging over window boxes, mainly because it’s durable and so long as the toy inside doesn’t require a lot of assembly, you can use these boxes to store the toy when you aren’t displaying it.

Hmm… so much for not requiring a lot of assembly. As sizeable as the box is, it’s pretty easy to tell when holding it that it isn’t as big as the Sky Striker. Open it up and you can quickly see that the wings, rear fins, engines, and the entire cockpit and nose portion of the aircraft aren’t attached. That was the first thing I noticed. The second thing? Holy shit, that’s a lot of stickers! I love stickers. Part of me was content to leave this thing boxed until sometime in the future where I might be in a bigger place and have more room to display stuff. But how could I resist all those stickers? There are over 30 “No Step” stickers alone! Mmm… stickers. Either way, I haven’t even seen one of these babies since I last had my original some 20 years ago. I was super anxious to get it together and check it out. As suspected, this jet is not designed to come apart once it’s together, so sadly I’ll wind up trashing the box.

All slapped together, I spent the better part of my Sunday morning with a pot of coffee and stickers while FigureFeline made a nest out of the box. We were both in heaven! There are a bunch of optional swap-out stickers so if you want to buy more than one of these, you can customize them quite a bit, including different color striping and different art for the tail fins. Ok, that’s the last time I talk about stickers… promise!

So, how different is it from the vintage toy? The body is molded in grey plastic rather than white, which is a big plus in my book. Besides looking more realistic to me, I don’t have to worry about it yellowing. The rear fins are black, and the canopy is no longer tinted, but it does have a nice painted frame. The inside of the cockpit has been retooled to fit the newer size figures. The rear seat has been taken out completely, the cockpit is more detailed, and let’s face it, Short Round said it best, “Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones! No. More. Parachutes!” I can’t say I’d quarrel with any of these changes. They’re either improvements or understandable sacrifices.

The one change that I wish Hasbro had taken out remains true to the original toy. Yep, I’m talking about the fact that the wings are tied to the same mechanism as the landing gear. New Sky Striker has the same slider lever on top that converts the wings to the swept back position and also retracts the landing gear. It never really bugged me as a kid, but it kind of bugs me now.

Naturally, the Sky Striker comes with Ace and unfortunately I’m not real crazy about him. I appreciate the insane amount of work Hasbro put into the layers and complexities of his flight suit, but in the end he just looks like a kit-bashed mess to me. The flight helmet is particularly awful and I hate the yellow plastic they used for the visor. The 25th Anniversary Ace was no prize either, but I’ll likely wind up swapping him out into the pilot’s seat when I finally find some way to display this thing, just because that’s more akin to the Ace I knew and loved.

While the new Sky Striker has its share of tweaks and bobs, it is at heart still the same old toy and It’s remarkable how well it holds up today. This toy is an iconic thing of beauty and it looks quite majestic standing on the edge of my desk waiting to take off into battle. It really brings back the memories of my buddies and I flying our Sky Strikers around the backyard doing airstrikes on Cobra fools. Even at the original MSRP of around $35, I thought this thing was reasonably priced, but Marshall’s had it for ten bucks less so all the better. I’m sure as hell not sorry I bought it, even if it did take over an hour of reorganizing to make room for it on the shelf next to my BMF Falcon, AT-AT and Slave-1.

Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collection: Darth Vader’s Sith Starfighter by Hasbro

Holy hell, folks, we’re actually going to talk some Star Wars this week. It doesn’t happen that often here on FigureFan. Why not? Well, I hit overload on Star Wars a few years back and stopped collecting it with any real gusto. I even wound up unloading about three-quarters of my ludicrously huge collection to make room and generate a little extra cash. Obviously, I still pick up a Star Wars figure or ship here and there when it strikes my fancy, but I sure don’t focus on it like I used to. Nonetheless, I was taking a pass through my toy closet this week, looking for things to feature here during this slow week, and I thought I’d give Star Wars some much needed love. Let’s start out with Darth Vader’s Jedi Starfighter.

The ship came out boxed as part of the 30th Anniversary Collection. The packaging is ok, but it followed after the Original Trilogy Collection, which featured some amazing vintage-style packages that I don’t think can ever be outdone. The deco here gets the job done, but I think the best thing about it is the amazing artwork of the ship on the front. Look familiar? Sure it does! This Sith Starfighter is just another in a looong line of repaints of this heavily reused Jedi Starfighter toy. I first bought this style of ship back when it was originally released as Obi Wan’s Starfighter in the Revenge of the Sith line. I didn’t have any desire to own the slew or other repaints until this one came out. It’s pretty much an Expanded Universe ship as Vader never actually piloted it in the movies, but it seems logical enough that he would have made use of this design in the years before the Tie Fighter came into service. Despite being named as Darth Vader’s personal fighter, I actually use this as a general Sith fighter and wound up giving it to my Galen Malek figure.
I absolutely love the design of this ship. It’s intended to be a transitional design between the Jedi Starfighters seen in Attack of the Clones and the Tie Fighters that would appear in A New Hope. I really dig the segmented front window on the cockpit that would become the iconic Tie Fighter windshield, as well as the way the wings deploy to hint at the solar panel wings of the subsequent Imperial fighter design. There are dual barreled wing-mounted cannons as well as a firing torpedo on each of the wings. Underneith you get retractable landing gear, which supports the ship nicely, but only when the wings are folded up. The ship supports an Astromech droid and actually comes with a convincing enough dummy droid head that can be removed to reveal a socket that holds an actual Astromech figure. I always thought that was a cool option. The cockpit flips open and is roomy enough to hold most figures, but as I mentioned above, mine is reserved for Galen Malek.
Beyond the design of the ship, what really grabbed me about this particular release was the fab repaint. The ship is two-tone black and gunmetal grey, which just looks badass on this design. What’s more there’s some brilliant weathering done on the wing symbols and along the paintwork on the front of the hull. Granted, I don’t buy a lot of Star Wars ships these days, but I’ll still say that Hasbro could benefit from checking out some of this work and implementing it on their newer releases. Naturally, you also get a sticker sheet, which is great for me because applying stickers is something I always love to do. It lets me bond with my new toy.
The Sith Starfighter set ran me $20 back in the day. I don’t think it’s been re-released, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find on Ebay. Nowadays vehicles in this size class go for between $25-30, so even if the price is inflated, you’ve got some wiggle room before you’re paying more than it would be on the shelf today. It’s a great looking piece and loads of fun to display and play with. If you want a great little starfighter with an amazingly cool deco, this is definitely a ship you want in your collection. And screw Vader, I’m sure you’ve got a couple of other Sith figures kicking around that would like a ride of their own.

Star Wars 30th Anniversary Collection: Hoth Patrol Battle Pack by Hasbro

I’m really not supposed to be buying Star Wars stuff until the new toys start hitting in August. Yeah, there was Zuckuss, but I rationalized him as a one-time slip up to a promise I made myself. Well, here’s another slip up, because the clearance price of $12.48 for a Wampa, Tauntaun and Luke figure seemed like too good a deal to pass up. Now, after the fact, it became clear that my excitement over great value blinded me a bit in the store, because when I got this set home and opened it up, it didn’t seem like such a great deal anymore. I don’t necessarily regret buying it, but its all in all its a pretty shabby assortment of toys.

As mentioned, the pack consists of a Tauntaun, Wampa and Luke Skywalker in Hoth gear. The package is standard for the 30th Anniversary Collection with a TRU Exclusive sticker on the window. It features a large window that shows off the figures nicely and has a cool ice cave motif inside that makes them look really nice in the package. The box is also very collector friendly as you can just slide out the tray and pop out the figures, and put them back again without tearing anything up. There’s surprisingly few rubber bands holding them in, and even without them, the figures fit snugly in place.

We’ll start off with the Wampa, because he is without a doubt the best thing in this box. He was originally issued back in the 2004 Saga Collection as a single carded Ultra Class figure. Despite being a bit long in the tooth (ha ha), his overal sculpt and articulation still hold up pretty well. His fur has lots of sculpted details and he even has pads on the bottoms of his feet. His shoulders and hips have rotating joints and he’s double jointed in the torso to give him the ability to twist a bit. His head will also turn, although not all that much. Hasbro may have gone a little overboard with the paintwork when dirtying this guy up, as he looks a tad too yellowish, but that may just be me. The blood around his mouth is a nice touch, though. The Wampa comes with a joint of meat and his right arm can be pulled off to simulate Luke’s barbarous lightsaber attack on this poor, harmless animal.

Moving on… the reuse of this Tauntaun is quite simply inexcusable, as its the one from the Power fo the Force 2 collection. Yeah, he’s stamped 2003, but I remember this sculpt and I know better. That’s right, folks, Hasbro reached all the way back to 1997 for this toy, and unfortunately it really shows. The sculpt isn’t horrific, but it looks really soft and dated. If Hasbro was insistant on reusing this mold, they probably could have saved it with better paint, but no such luck. The paint work is equally dated and has that grey, heavy handed wash that looks just terrible and yet characterized so many of the POTF2 toys. Even the white “snow” speckling on it doesn’t look good. The bit and harnass are separate and removable, and in case you’re wondering, he doesn’t have the split belly feature. This beast is a passable place holder if you are completely without a Tauntaun or are hoping for an updated release around the corner, but otherwise, you can do much better. I should note, that it is vastly improved if you happen to own a Hoth Luke that is capable of properly riding him. And that brings me to…

Luke Skywalker in Hoth gear. The sculpt on Luke actually isn’t bad at all, but this figure was a really poor choice for this pack because he doesn’t have the sculpting or articulation that would allow him to sit on the Tauntaun. Seriously, why would you include a mount and a rider in the same package that weren’t made to be used with each other? You can actually get Luke to sit on the Tauntaun, but you have to bend out his legs and force him on and it doesn’t look at all natural. His articulation is not only dated, but weird. He has this crazy, primitive joint in his neck that allows him to look up and down, but looks really strange. He has universal joints in his shoulders, rotating joints in his hips, but that’s it. Luke comes with a lightsaber and a useless pair of goggles that he cannot even wear. Wow. You can also remove the scarf hanging off his hat, but why? Unlike the other two figures, I can’t place this Luke anywhere, so if you can, please help me out. I’m pretty sure it isn’t the 2004 Saga Luke that was meant to go with the Ultra Class Wampa, but then I could be wrong. It just seems like a real oddball figure.

The original retail on this set was $24.99 and I’m sorry, but at that price, this set was a rip off. I do realize that these Battle Packs are designed by Hasbro to give them an outlet for cashing in on older stock. Its also a pretty good way for kids and new collectors to get toys that are otherwise not on the shelf anymore. But here’s another good way to do that: Ebay. Even still, Hasbro could have done much better when making the selections for this one. Actually the whole set would have been vastly improved with a more context appropriate Luke. At the clearance price of $12.48 its a little better. The Wampa alone would probably sell for close to that nowadays, but anything more and it would be stretching it.