Star Wars Toy Review: Tauntauns?

by Jonathan Brown

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Star Wars: The Vintage Collection
Tauntaun
by: Hasbro
4” Scale
$24.99 at Target, a bit more online these days

Let’s get this out of the way immediately.

I am an idiot.

Target had, on the same shelf, side by side, the Vintage Collection Tauntaun and a nice little playset with (mostly) the same Tauntaun plus a Hoth geared Han Solo and a Hoth Trooper. The price for each of these items? $24.99.

Just to be completely clear about this: I willingly chose a nostalgic box over 2 perfectly good Star Wars action figures that matched the theme of the Tauntaun I was buying.

To say that I’m a sucker for the vintage style packaging is a bit of an understatement at this point. I’ve picked up Boba Fett, Vader, 4-LOM and a couple of others that are nothing but re-packs of figures widely available in different packaging at a lower price. I lust after the TRU Exclusive Y-Wing and the K-Mart B-Wing every time I see them. Those black, flimsy card backs and the sultry vintages boxes are a hell of a motivator to me and I’m barely old enough to have seen the classic figures in stores!

Hasbro has definitely caught on to a gold mine with the Vintage Collection and, even though I’m extremely disappointed with myself for wanting it, I’m really happy to have this Tauntaun and it’s sexy container. Is there any way that Hasbro’s brand new Tauntaun can live up to the expectations created by a $25 price tag?

Packaging

The packaging

The packaging

Since it was the reason I opted out of two perfectly good action figures I better have some great things to say about the box, right?

The Tauntaun comes all by his lonesome in a vintage-style box with some really nice shots of the animal and some sold separately Hoth geared figures. It’s a re-creation of the classic box with a minor change: Han isn’t riding the Tauntaun on the new box, instead it’s Luke standing beside the animal. This is probably so there’s no confusion when Little Rupert dumps out the contents and finds himself figure-less.

I can’t say enough how much I love this style of packaging. I want to line every shelf in my house with various Vintage Collection boxes and cards. I want to build a bed out of them and sleep there every night. I want to sew them together with plastic twist ties into a dress for Lady Gaga. If every toy line I collected came in packaging that I felt this strongly about I would need a storage locker or an out-building just for them!

Sculpt, Paint, Looks

Don't mind me, just riding my snow lizard.

Don’t mind me, just riding my snow lizard.

I’ve read in a couple of different places online that this is a 100% brand new Tauntaun sculpt. If you compare the new one to the old one, even just in pictures, it’s ridiculously obvious that this is true. The older Tauntaun looks like a simplified, smoothed out cartoon while the new one has detailed fur all over the place.

Everything that I identify a Tauntaun with is present from the forward-facing horns to the baby T-Rex arms to the vacant, dumb eyes. It’s only when you compare this new figure to some of the older versions that you realize just how much was missing from previous Tauntaun toys. Things like the little claws on the underside of the legs or the extra straps on the saddle that truly keep it in place.

There’s some nice, subtle painted details that make the Tauntaun look like he’s been wandering around in the snow for a while. His fur is coated in a light wash that brings out the details and gives him life without hiding any of the sculpt.

The only thing this Tauntaun is missing sculpt-wise is an opening belly to store Luke inside of until Zev Senesca finds him in the morning! Interestingly enough, there is a separate part that’s glued in place in exactly the spot where you’d expect a belly-hole to be. Oh Hasbro, you wily minx, is this a sign of a variant to come?

Articulation

First he borrow's Han's close now Lando borrows his tauntaun

First he borrows Han’s clothes, now Lando borrows his tauntaun

Mr. Tauntaun has quite a bit more articulation than I thought he’d have:

Ball / Swivel head (huge forward/back range)
Swivel / Hinge T-Rex arms
Swivel / Hinge hips
Swivel / Hinge ankles

You can get a lot of different poses out of the Tauntaun thanks to these joints but, unfortunately, you can’t really get him to balance in a whole lot of them. With careful tweaking it’s possible to balance the Tauntaun pretty stably on his 2 legs but it doesn’t take much to knock him right over. It only gets worse once you add a rider since the slightest shift of their weight can send him toppling forward or back.

I believe this could’ve been fixed by giving the Tauntaun knee joints of some kind and/or weighting the tail a bit more and giving it a ball joint. Then you could better copy the way real creatures like Kangaroos move and balance with their tails. As it is I had to use the Tauntaun’s tail as a 3rd leg to get him to stay upright for all of the pictures.

Accessories

The Tauntaun only comes with 1 thing that could be considered an accessory and that’s his saddle/harness. The harness is held on with little rubber buttons that pop on and off with a little effort, it feels secure once you plug it in and doesn’t move more than it should. There’s a lot of really nice detail to the pouches and straps of the harness although I am a little sad that none of them open.

Value

That's no Pokemon

That’s no Pokemon


Have I finally found a toy that even I can’t possibly justify the cost of?

This Tauntaun is really nice. He feels solid and really well made and he’s 100% new from head to toe. I know this has to have skyrocketed the cost to get him to the shelves. I still have a really hard time believing that $24.99 isn’t a price that’s inflated because Hasbro and Target know their audience is filled with rabid fans who’ll snatch up everything they make regardless of price.

The proof is right there on the shelf. If Hasbro can sell an item that’s 2 action figures and a Tauntaun for the same price as the exact same Tauntaun in a nicer box then the only conclusion I can draw is that Hasbro is screwing with fans. As long as we’re willing to shell out a conservative estimate of $10 extra (a low price for 2 Star Wars figures) for a box they are going to keep on taking our money.

You can add on to all of that info that this Tauntaun is now a few years old and somewhat hard to find. I guess in some ways this vindicates my purchase since there are other collectors just as silly as me who would pay a premium to get the sexy black box.

Summary

I want to justify my Tauntaun. I want there to be a good reason for me to own the one that came in a cool box. I want to come up with some kind of explanation, not just for you guys but for myself, as to why I passed up 2 perfectly good 4” figures to get a box that’s sitting on the top shelf of my closet.

I can’t do that.

I’m a bad example. By choosing the Vintage Collection Tauntaun over the one in the 3-pack I’ve sent a strong message to Hasbro that, as long as they can copy the packaging of the toys I had (or wish I had) as a kid, I’ll keep on overpaying for them.

The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with the Tauntaun himself. In fact the Tauntaun is absolutely the best version we’ve ever gotten and, if you don’t mind futzing with him for a while to get him on his feet, there’s no reason a fan of Tauntauns shouldn’t own one.

Just try to be smarter than me and pick up the set that’s a better value!

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