Ahh, Vega. How he frustrated and captivated me in my younger days. I couldn't wait to select him when he became a playable character in Street Fighter 2: Turbo, after he had beaten the crap out of me so many times in the original Street Fighter 2. As it turns out, for all his speed and fancy wall-jumping theatrics, he's actually a pretty difficult character to use successfully. Nevertheless, he's one of the coolest-looking characters in the game, so I was thrilled when SOTA announced that he'd be in Series 2 of their amazing Street Fighter line.
Vega is a matador-turned-street brawler from Spain who serves as a lieutenant in M. Bison's notorious Shadowloo crime syndicate. He considers himself extremely handsome and always wears a mask when he fights to protect his unblemished face. Interestingly enough, Bison originally held the moniker of "Vega" in the Japanese version of the video game, while the Vega we know and love was known as Balrog. Strange, because Vega is a much more fitting name for a fighter from Spain - vega being spanish for field, and Vega being a pretty flowery fighter. Some may think that Vega's purple pants, flamboyant attitude and obsession with vanity point to an interest in "alternative lifestyles", but personally I think this is just how Japanese people view the Spanish. I'm still not sure why he's always beating up girls in the cartoons and comics, though.
Vega has a lot of distinctive characteristics, and SOTA has done a splendid job of translating them from game to figure. He's got his mask, his trademark Wolverine-style claw-glove on his left hand, and a wicked snake tattoo wrapping around his bare chest. Gold ringlets encircle his wrists and left bicep, and his fancy matador's shoes are very nicely sculpted: cartoony, without looking clunky and goofy. Overall, his body sculpt is thin and lithe, but extremely tall, towering over Ryu and Ken despite being less heavily built, just like in the game.
The figure's paint is surprisingly good, considering that my other SOTA Street Fighter purchases have all had various degrees of paint issues. I can't find a single problem with Vega; there's no bleeding or smudging to speak of. The white on his tights and mask is bright and completely free of dirt. His brown shoes feature a black wash to make them look like worn leather, but it's not overdone. The washes on his pants and waist sash are even subtler. His snake tattoo is clean and crisp, and while the complementary yellow stripes that run down the sides of his purple matador pants are a bit less crisp, they're still very well done.
Those stripes do become somewhat problematic though, when you factor in the articulation. Due to the balljointed hips, the yellow line becomes thicker between the waist and the thighs. It can be lined up straight from the front view, but the figure becomes pigeon-toed. A similar problem occurs around the area of the hinged torso joint, which cuts right through the front of Vega's snake tattoo and looks awkward if moved out of position. These are minor complaints though, and the paint is not hindered by the rest of the figure's ample articulation. In all, Vega features a balljointed neck, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps, double-hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists, hinged torso, peg waist, balljointed hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, hinged ankles, and a mid-foot peg. Vega's the first male SF figure to get the double-jointed elbows.
Very few weapons and outside objects are used in Street Fighter, but SOTA has been coming up with nice ways to include lots of accessories with their figures. Vega is no exception. First off, his claw is removable (block 14 hits from him in the game, and he'd drop it), and it's definitely worth noting that it definitely does not suffer from "ToyBiz Wolverine" syndrome. His claws are stiff and straight as a ruler; there's no kid-friendly bendy plastic cheapout going on here.
He's also got an alternate, maskless face and two alternate right hands in addition to the default right fist. One of these is making a clutching gesture, while the other is sculpted to delicately hold the included plastic rose. It should be noted that there's an internet exclusive version of Vega that features a different alternate head: instead of the cocky look of contempt seen on the standard release, the variant features a "claw-licking" head, complete with tongue extended, because as we all know Vega is a sick, sick individual.
I have a little theory about this variant head, and it involves the previously mentioned alternate "clutching" hand. When the Vega prototype was initially shown, the mask appeared to be removable, and SOTA has said that they originally tried to do a removable mask but scrapped the idea because they couldn't get it to look right.
Since all SF figures so far have featured a second, alternate head, my belief is that Vega may have originally been slated to come with the standard unmasked head as well as the claw-licking head and a removable mask. This would give a purpose to the somewhat awkward-looking "clutching hand" which could have been used to hold the hypothetical mask. It's all just conjecture on my part though... I'm just a lowly figure reviewer, after all.
Street Fighter has been seen in toy form several times over the years. Companies like Hasbro, ToyBiz and the late ReSaurus have all taken a stab at the license, but SOTA has given us the best figures, by far. Unfortunately, the line's downfall may be its elusiveness. Many fans are struggling to find the figures at retail stores due to fairly small production runs, and SOTA has mentioned eventually converting the line to online-only sales. It's a shame that such amazing figures can be so amazingly hard to get ahold of.
Ken | Blanka | Cammy | T. Hawk | Vega
Which series better reveals Japanese designers' crazy national stereotypes: Street Fighter or G Gundam? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.