REVIEW: STAR WARS SCRAMBLE ON YAVIN BATTLE PACK
I'll readily admit to being highly selective about what Star Wars items I bring in to my collection these days. I have a definite preference for the Legacy Collection (nothing against the Clone Wars series, but the two are not entirely compatible toy-wise), and something of a preference for Clone Troopers and Droids, especially Astromech Droids.
But sometimes, something comes along that is of interest outside that basic pictures that attracts my attention. Okay, in fairness, it DOES have a unique and very distinctive Astromech Droid in it. But that's not the only point of interest.
The Star Wars item in question is one of the BATTLE PACKS. These are multi-figure sets that generally feature some sort of large item -- one of the Clone Wars sets features Jabba the Hutt, and I think he qualifies as a "large item" -- or some sort of small vehicle. A couple of the previous sets have had Speeder Bikes of one type or another.
This particular Battle Pack is named SCRAMBLE ON YAVIN. And no, that's not a reference to an egg recipe coming out of the Rebel kitchen. "Scramble" is a military term used in reference to prepping an attack, especially an airborne one. Or in this case, a spaceborne one.
I'm sure we all remember the scenes just before the battle with the Death Star in the Yavin system, when Luke was getting ready to fly off in an X-Wing to join the Rebels in the fight, and was trying to talk Han Solo into doing the same, which he ultimately did, of course, just not at that precise moment. The massive hangar, filled with X-Wing and Y-Wings, was bustling with activity, and it wasn't just pilots.
Any pilot in the real world, especially those who have served in the military, will tell you that a lot of the credit for a successful mission goes to the ground crew. It is these people, who while not directly engaged in the battle, make sure the fighter planes (or X-Wings) are ready, that weapons and other necessary items are transported around and are where they are supposed to be, and even assist the pilots in getting to their vehicles.
Certainly we saw a fair abundance of that in that particular scene in Star Wars. Ground crew were all over the place, as were pilots, droids, and interesting, somewhat boxy-looking transport vehicles, bustling around from one area to another, all in preparation for the battle ahead, against the single largest construct ever built -- the Death Star.
This is the action reflected in the Scramble on Yavin Set. The backdrop of the package shows two X-wings in the background, clearly inside a building, waiting for their pilots and whatever last-minute servicing they may need. The set includes a Rebel transport, a Rebel Ground Crew Technician, an X-Wing pilot identified as Red Leader, and an Astromech droid by the name of R5-K6.
Let's take these items individually, and let's start with the cart. Honestly, I had a heck of a time finding any "official" information about it. And given how meticulously the Star Wars universe has been chronicled, this sincerely surprised me. Maybe I need the updated "New" Essential Guides to Vehicles and Vessels, or Weapons and Technology, or whatever. However, a paging through of the original Star Wars Essential Guides to Vehicles and Vessels, and Weapons and Technology, yielded nothing.
I then turned to the Web Site Wookieepedia, not even entirely sure what to call this thing. The toy set simply identifies it as "transport". So I tried "Rebel Troop Transport Cart", and actually got what I was looking for, even if that isn't its official name.
The Wookieepedia entry isn't much, but it's something. It reads as follows:
Rebel personnel carriers, also called Rebel troop carts or flight crew shuttles, were repulsorlift craft used by the Rebel Alliance.
There was more than one model of personnel carrier. Some were enclosed on all sides except the roof, and others were open on all sides, able to seat two rows of personnel back to back. They transported passengers and cargo around various Alliance installations, and were occasionally used in combat.
During their occupation of the Great Temple on Yavin 4 prior to the Battle of Yavin, the Alliance made use of the open-sided carriers to shuttle pilots and other personnel around the base. During the evacuation of Echo Base in 3 ABY, Rebel transport ships were loaded using troop carriers with enclosed sides. A personnel carrier of this model brought the Rebel strike force to the captured Lambda-class shuttle Tydirium inside the main hangar of the Home One, prior to the Battle of Endor.
"Repulsorlift" means that if this vehicle existed in real life, or if we were somehow transported to the Star Wars universe, it wouldn't actually have the four small wheels on its underside, as the toy does. But, what the heck, until Hasbro can perfect repulsorlift technology in a small scale, I'll be content with this.
The vehicle is really a nicely made item. I think it's unlikely that it could've been sold on its own, as it's not really big enough to warrant that. But making it part of a Battle Pack such as this works abundantly well.
The vehicle is about 5-1/2" in length, and just shy of 3-1/4" wide at its widest point. The seats are a little nondescript, really just two flat rows on either side. Interestingly, the Wookieepedia entry states that the seating capacity was "six, minimum", which means that this was likely open to a little interpretation depending on how many people needed to get where they were going in a hurry, and perhaps the weight capacity of any given one of these carts.
There's a very nicely detailed storage bin in the back of the vehicle, which has two opening doors, and assorted smaller compartments within for the storage of weapons and other items. Probably throw a decent number of helmets into this. The interior space has been more detailed and painted than most of the exterior, and very nicely.
The driver's area is -- interesting. Painted in a rather bright yellow-orange, as compared to the rather subdued tan of the rest of the vehicle, it's designed in such a way that the driver actually stands up straight to drive the vehicle.
There's also no apparent restraints, either, in this standing area. The driver is dependent on a study grip on the handle which operates the vehicle on one side, and a railing on the other side. One might surmise that this is a subtle encouragement to drive safely through the hangar even if you're in something of a hurry. If everybody else is sitting down on this thing, and the driver is standing up, at the front, and in a largely open area, if there's any sort of mishap, he's the one that's going to get hurt.
The underside of the vehicle is the most detailed part, and despite the wheels, it's not too hard to figure out where the "repulsorlift" technology might come from. The wheels honestly aren't especially visible on the vehicle's profile, as the vehicle itself rides rather low. Clearly this is an entirely new item, with a 2008 copyright date on the bottom. While I have no idea how much of a demand there has been for this particular vehicle, I can say that this particular Battle Pack has been in rather short supply where I have looked, relative to other recently released Battle Pack sets. I have little doubt that Star Wars fans who have, perhaps, constructed large diorama displays of Rebel hangars, are abundantly delighted to be able to add this vital piece of equipment to their displays, and I can't say as I blame them.
Plus, it's a cool looking toy, well-made, and nicely detailed.
Now, let's consider the personnel.
REBEL GROUND CREW: This is going to sound more critical, in a strange sort of way, than I mean it to, but Hasbro probably could have made this figure less articulated or less detailed than he actually is, and not a lot of people would've pitched a fit over it. I mean -- he's Ground Crew. As vital as their function is in any military operation of this or similar type, the spotlight doesn't exactly tend to shine on them.
And yet, Hasbro went all out on this guy, who I'm reasonably certain is an all-new figure, as there's a 2008 copyright date on the back of his leg. I'm certainly NOT complaining. Knee joints? Got 'em. Proper elbow joints instead of that blasted "diagonal cut" method? Got 'em. Waist articulation instead of mid-torso, which wouldn't've really looked good on this figure given the loose-fitting uniform? Got it.
The full range of articulation is really pretty amazing. This Rebel Ground Crew figure is fully poseable at the head, arms (outward as well as back and forth) elbows (including swivels), wrists, waist, legs, knees (including swivels), and ankles (including swivels). That's right up there in the "Super-Articulated" category that tends to be reserved for certain Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers, and a handful of major characters, none of which this guy technically is. He even has a removable helmet.
The headsculpt is interesting, especially with the helmet removed. The figure is dressed -- sculpted, really -- to be wearing a loose-fitting very pale tan jumpsuit. The level of detail is really amazing. Along with visible stitching on the seams and pockets and pouches, there's some lightly sculpted lines that make the figure appear to be wearing a sort of corduroy, or at least a very rugged-wear suit, which would be appropriate given his function. There's not a lot of painted detail on the figure, really just the belt, itself nicely done, the buckle, a few little silver gadgets on the belt, and a brown holster.
He does come with a blaster pistol -- please note that the Wookieepedia entry does indicate that the transports and their drivers occasionally see combat. And the only real complaint I can make about the figure is that the gun doesn't like to stay put in the holster all that well.
But really, it's an amazingly good figure, and while I'm certainly not questioning it, I do find myself a little puzzled by it. It's as if someone at Hasbro said, "This really isn't that significant a character, but let's really give it all we've got anyway." Wouldn't mind seeing that as a trend throughout the entire toy world...
I also find myself wondering, just a bit, if perhaps the Ground Crew figure and the Transport vehicle were originally intended as some sort of offering unto themselves, and couldn't really be marketed as such, and so were paired with the X-Wing Pilot and the Droid. That's purely speculation on my part, though, but they're both new items, and very well done.
I also find myself wondering if one of the reasons this set is so popular is because of this Ground Crew figure. He's from a Rebel specialty that we haven't seen before, and is incredibly well made.
Now let's consider the other -- human -- figure in this set.
X-WING PILOT - RED LEADER. According to the character's description on the package: Garven Dreis commands a Rebel fighter squadron during the Battle of Yavin. Capable and respected, Dries is referred to as "Red Leader" by those under his command.
This is a very decent figure. Although we never got that good a look at Red Leader in the Star Wars movie, with the helmet off, the figure's headsculpt does look like what we did see of him.
The helmet is a nice piece of work, as well, very intensely detailed and for the most part, well-painted (the chin strap could've been neater), and with a lowered translucent yellow visor. I suspect that the helmet was probably molded in this color, and all of the other details were painted on.
The body used is an effective and well-articulated version of an X-Wing pilot. It has the same range of articulation as the Rebel Ground Crew figure, although it swaps out the waist articulation for the mid-torso, and the wrist articulation is technically at the tops of the gloves.
However, it's a very appropriate shade of orange, with the off-white, ridged vest, and all of the assorted equipment and accessories hanging off, all nicely detailed and well painted. Red Leader also comes with a blaster pistol.
BUT -- I do have one colossal complaint. The figure is vastly too short. With a copyright date of 2005, it's apparent that Hasbro picked a body from that time -- which still crops up once in a while but not nearly as much as it used to -- where they inexplicably and annoyingly started making most of the "human" figures in the Star Wars line distinctly shorter. And brother, is Red Leader distinctly shorter.
He's easily half a head shorter than the Rebel Ground Crew figure, who IS the proper height for a human Star Wars figure. Red Leader is barely 3-1/2" in height, and when you're talking 3-3/4" scale -- that's huge.
What's almost funny is that most of the shortness comes from his lower legs. If you put Red Leader next to the Rebel Ground Crew figure and measure from the top down, rather than the ground up, Red Leader's overall proportions are ALMOST the same as the Ground Crew figure. Not quite, but almost. Right up until you get to the lower legs, and there's the missing quarter inch.
It annoyed the heck out of me when Hasbro first did this to some of their human figures, and it's something that frankly, I don't care to see ever again. It's one of the major reasons I started being extremely selective with my Star Wars figures.
Now, there's no way to get the other toys in this Battle Pack without getting Red Leader, and I'll give the figure points for articulation, paint, and detail -- but Hasbro needs to put an end to these short guys.
Finally, let's consider the Droid:
ASTROMECH DROID R5-K6:
Okay, in fairness, the R5's don't have the best reputation. The most notable one is R5-D4, who blew his top, literally, when the Jawas were trying to sell droids to Luke's Uncle Owen. Even the Star Wars New Essential Guide to Droids has few kind words to say about the R5's, relative to other R-type Astromechs. But let's assume that there's some decently-operating units out there, and that R5-K6 is one of them.
I think it's safe to assume that this droid uses the same body molds as an R5-D4 toy that was released several years ago. For one thing, they both have a copyright date of 2004. For another, there's just too many common points. A panel on the front of the droid inexplicably glued into place rather than simply part of the body mold (and on R5-K6, it could've been glued a little neater). Turn the head on both droids and his "motivator" pops up. And the center third leg is removable. On a lot of R2's, it's retractable.
So, where does R5-K6 excel?
R5-K6's eyes are very neatly painted. And they came up with a lot more stencils, too, because R5-K6 is very extensively detailed. He reminds me a bit of a very ornate droid that was part of a recent Droid Factory assortment, who went by the name of R2-L3. This R2 droid had a lot more painted detail on him than the average droid, and so does R5-K6.
And his overall color scheme is pretty cool, too. R5-K6 is predominantly red, with some black detailing, much of it outlined in white, and some silver paneling. He's a lot cleaner than his Tatooine cousin, too. Nice to see that the Rebels look after their droids.
R5-K6's head turns, and his little motivator pops out. His legs are also articulated at the "shoulders" and feet, and all three of his feet have rolling wheels.
I have no complaints about this droid whatsoever, although I would make one recommendation about him. The little antenna on the top of his head is removable, and I would recommend securing it with a small drop of glue.
So, what's my final word on this set? I'll admit, it was the droid that drew me to it. I came away resoundingly impressed by the Transport vehicle, and by the Rebel Ground Crew figure. There is little doubt in my mind that these two items, as well as I suspect the droid, are what are selling this set and making it so popular and hard to find as of this writing.
As for Red Leader? Well -- it's a decent figure in and of itself, well-detailed, certainly well-articulated, especially relative to some other figures I could list that deserved more than they got. And the helmet is a real piece of art, seriously. But I can't get my head around that height issue. That was a major mistake the first time it happened.
However, I will not condemn the set for one short figure, who is otherwise very decent, especially when one considers how impressive the rest of the items are, and they are indeed. Any Star Wars collector would be glad to add the Rebel Ground Crew figure, the Transport vehicle, and R5-K6 to their collection, and I'm certainly glad to have them.
The STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION SCRAMBLE ON YAVIN BATTLE PACK definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!