REVIEW: Rebel U-Wing Fighter

September 30, 2016 – The long-awaited U-Wing Fighter is here. With a rather high retail price of $49.99 and collectors’ concerns about the addition of a Nerf-firing cannon and its movie accuracy, the question for many is: Pass or buy?

The box for the U-Wing Fighter measures about 16 1/4"W x 14"H x 3.5"D.

The box for the U-Wing Fighter measures about 16 1/4″W x 14″H x 3.5″D.

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AESTHETICS

Aesthetically, this is a beautiful and uniquely designed ship. The sleek, low-profile canopy, the forward-swept wings (thus the “U-Wing” moniker), and the hefty quad engines immediately draw your eye in. The details in the molding and the simple paint application (streaks of blue, yellow-orange, and gray here and there) make this an appealing vehicle to add to your collection.

The ship is just begging to be picked up and inspected. If you are a fan of Star Wars vehicles, this is one sleek and exotic vehicle you will likely want to add to your collection. Better yet, the wings can be posed anywhere from 90° (facing forward) and swept back to about 225° (left wing)/325° (right wing).

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As for the two large Nerf projectiles (almost 3 inches long) and the cannon, don’t let those stop you from buying the vehicle. They are cleverly hidden in the belly of the ship and, we dare say, add to the playability.

Even from this close side-view, you cannot see the red Nerf missile cleverly hidden in the drop-down cannon.

Even from this close side-view, you cannot see the red Nerf missile cleverly hidden in the drop-down cannon.

The slider is perfectly positioned in the rear, so that your thumb can open and retract the wings while the vehicle is in flight.

The slider is perfectly positioned in the rear, so that your thumb can open and retract the wings while the vehicle is in flight.

DIMENSIONS AND FEATURES

Despite early rumors to the contrary, the U-Wing Fighter is not intimidatingly large. When the wings are swept forward, the dimensions are 21 inches (53.3 cm) long from wing-tip facing forward to the rear engine cowling. The ship is about 9 inches (23 cm) wide from left to right engines, and it stands less than 4 3/4 inches (12 cm) tall when the landing gear is down.

The U-Wing is easy to assemble. It also comes with instructions to download a "StudiosFX app" to make special effects and videos with the ship.

The U-Wing is easy to assemble. It also comes with instructions to download a “StudiosFX app” to make special effects and videos with the ship.

Playability value is high, thanks to the following features:

● Four retractable landing gear: two beneath the cockpit and two in the bottom engine cowls
● Spacious cockpit with hinged canopy
● Two red Nerf projectiles (under 3 inches each) which are easy to load and fire and which have a surprisingly long range of fire
● The spring-loaded cannon can be manually retracted and hidden inside the fuselage. A single large button behind the cockpit allows the cannon to drop. Pressing the button a second time will fire the projectile.
● Each wing measures about 15 inches (38 cm) long from base to wing tip.

The belly of the ship hides the cannon-firing mechanism and the Nerf projectile.

The belly of the ship hides the cannon-firing mechanism and the Nerf projectile.

In addition, a 3.75-inch action figure (Captain Cassian Andor) comes with the vehicle. This may be a positive or a negative, depending on how critical you are of the figure.

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On a positive note, Captain Andor is a new figure which comes with one accessory. The small gray blaster can be placed in a holster permanently molded to his leg, or the blaster can be awkwardly placed in his C-cupped hands, thus pointing any which way but forward.

The brown leather-like jacket, the khaki slacks, and the large belt (it’s actually a painted replica belt, not an accessory you can remove) remind us of Indiana Jones. But no matter. The figure easily fits into the roomy cockpit.

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On a negative note, the figure has only five points of articulation: The head swivels 360° and both legs (at the hip) and the arms (at the shoulder) swivel fore and aft. Furthermore, the paint application is a bit sloppy as our version had cockeyed eyes. From a distance, this appears to be Captain Cassian Andor. Upon closer inspection, it looks like Al Pacino.

Nevertheless, the inclusion of the action figure is appreciated. It helps to justify the cost of the boxed vehicle (MSRP $49.99) and increases playability.

SOME CAUTIONARY NOTES

The very strength and appeal of this vehicle – the long, elegant wings – are also its greatest weakness. Regrettably, the wings are far too thin and will almost certainly begin to bend and droop over time.

If you stack 10 sheets of paper together, that is about how “thick” the wings are. It’s as if Hasbro altogether forgot to attach an underside to the wings, of equal thickness.

Assembling the U-Wing is straightforward and easy. Just be careful not to damage the long, thin wings.

Assembling the U-Wing is straightforward and easy. Just be careful not to damage the long, thin wings.

It could be that Hasbro wanted to shave costs, so it reduced the amount of plastic in the long wings. Or it could be an engineer’s solution as to how to easily open and close the wings with a single lever: The lighter the wings, the easier to manipulate.

And that’s a pity. The wings need to be sturdier for rough play by kids. Or to prevent scalding accidents when, a year from now, we find ourselves boiling water in a hazardous attempt to reshape the wing tips.

Finally, let’s talk price. An MSRP of $49.99 is a rather steep climb from the $25-to-$30 range of not too long ago. Current sale prices of $44.99 (at Target) and $44.88 (at Amazon right now) help. The inclusion of Capt. Andor (let’s say he’s worth $8.00) brings the ship-only cost to about $37.00.

Is it worth it? It depends if you’re nuts for all things Rogue One-related or if you really appreciate collecting Star Wars vehicles. If your answer is “Yes”, then the vehicle is probably a good value. Just don’t pay full price.

In this resting position, the U-Wing is  21" L x  9" W x 4.75" H.

In this resting position, the U-Wing is 21″ L x 9″ W x 4.75″ H.

TIP: Use Target’s digital coupon this week ($10 off for Star Wars purchases of $50 or more, or $25 off for Star Wars purchases of $100 or more, excluding Legos and clearance items). Certain other stores, such as ToysRUs, will also likely honor the Target coupons if you ask. Also, don’t forget to see if the clerk will stack the coupons (i.e., use both).

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