Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker and Wampa by Hasbro

I’m patiently awaiting the arrival of new 6-inch Star Wars Black figures, so in the meantime I thought I’d deal with some unfinished business with one of the older Deluxe sets. The Luke and Wampa two-pack has been sitting around here waiting to be opened for months now and with all the pictures of snow lately, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a look! Oh, but don’t expect any pictures of these guys in the snow. I live in Florida and lately my idea of chilly weather is when it plunges into the low 60’s. Brrrr. Seriously, I don’t even own a jacket.

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The package is similar to what we saw with the Hoth Deluxe set. It’s a boring black box with a huge window that offers a great look at the toys inside. They were kind of going for a diorama display what with Luke hanging upside down in the box, but it really doesn’t work for me. It’s collector friendly, but I can’t see any reason to keep it so it’s going into the bin. Let’s start with The Wampa!

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I’ve owned several of these snow beasts before, including the original Kenner version, The Saga Collection release, and the 30th Anniversary Collection version, but they were all scaled to the 3 3/4-inch range. This guy is obviously a lot bigger and overall he looks pretty good. Every inch of this guy is covered in sculpted fur and I really dig the way the articulation cuts are sculpted in a jagged fashion to accentuate the fur. He’s got huge hands perfect for swatting Jedi off their Tauntauns and big, powerful feet to help stabilize him in various poses. The fur is a mix between white, yellowed, and a little grey. It looks OK, but it isn’t an exceptional paint job, especially not for a figure that’s this big.

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The beastly portrait is passable, but again nothing to get excited about. This guy scared the living shit out of 10-year old me when I first saw him in The Empire Strikes Back and I think they did a decent job sculpting his ugly mug here. I do kinda wish they made the mouth an actual hole like with the Kenner version. For some reason that aspect of the toy really creeped me out. I used to try to make him eat the figures’ guns. As with the rest of the figure, the paintwork here doesn’t add a lot. The blood around the chin and teeth is weak and the yellow and gray paint around the eyes and nose doesn’t hold up. The Wampa may impress with his size and heft, and I think this figure could have been something special with a really good paint job, but as it is, it’s pretty average at best.

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Another gripe I have against the Wampa is that Hasbro opted to make his right arm removable, which in itself is not a bad idea, but they did it in a way that limits the shoulder articulation in that arm. Instead of a ball joint, you just get a rotation. This is a case of the gimmick not really being worth the sacrifice of articulation, at least not to me. Besides, which, there’s really no reason they couldn’t have made the arm removable and kept the ball joint. Hasbro does it for Marvel Legends Build-A-Figures all the time.

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With that having been said, the articulation here is still overall excellent. The other shoulder features a rotating hinge and the same in both elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. There are swivel cuts in the thighs and lateral rockers in the ankles. There are two ball joints in the torso and another in the neck. When you get down to it, the Wampa is capable of doing just about any pose I would want him to do. Alright, enough about this snowy beast, let’s take a look at Luke…

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With four versions in the 6-inch Black line, Luke Skywalker has had his ups and downs. I think the X-Wing Luke was fantastic, the Jedi Knight Luke was disappointing, and Bespin Luke fell somewhere in between. This one lands somewhere between Bespin and Jedi Knight. It’s passable in almost every way, but it doesn’t do anything to make it stand out. The outfit is reproduced with the quilted pattern on the vest and knees, the insignia on the chest and shoulder, and some overall nice rumpling and detail. His belt features not only a working holster for his blaster (complete with retaining strap), but also a hook for his lightsaber hilt. Those two features always go a long way in my book. But are we getting anything here that Hasbro hasn’t done at least as well (if not better) in the 3 3/4-inch scale? I don’t think so.

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And then there’s the portrait. It’s a shame to say it, but I’ve reached a point where I really temper my expectations from the likenesses on these figures. This one depicts Luke with his face all messed up from The Wampa attack with some blood and bruising. This is a head sculpt that I would have been far more forgiving of if it were on a smaller scale figure. Here, it’s just not that great. And once again, the paint quality just isn’t there either, particularly with respect to the eyes. But, oh look! Softgoods! Sure, it’s just a strip of cloth coming off the helmet, but at least they still work it into the line every once and a while. There are no goggles, but I’ll point out that you can take Hoth Han’s goggles and put them on Luke’s hat.

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Articulation here includes rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, but sadly only swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivel cuts at the thighs, double hinges at the knees, and have hinges and lateral rockers at the ankles. There’s a ball joint at the waist and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck. I can get some decent poses out of Luke and the joints all feel good and solid. I’ll also point out here that Luke has an extra pair of pegholes on his feet to help him ride the Tauntaun that came with Han.

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Luke comes with both is blaster pistol and his lightsaber. The blade can be removed. We’ve seen these accessories before. Unfortunately the lightsaber hilt doesn’t have the same nice silvery paint as the hilts included with X-Wing and Bespin Luke. It’s just flat gray. The blade can still be removed.

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It probably sounds like I don’t much care for these figures, but that’s not really the case. It’s a fun set and I don’t think either one is terrible, but at the same time I think these figures illustrate how frustrated I am sometimes with the 6-inch Black line. Neither really show the true potential of the larger scale figures. I’d say the Wampa is mostly let down by the mediocre paintwork and well-intentioned gimmick. Luke, on the other hand, perhaps by the fact that Hasbro has done this figure at least as well in the smaller scale Vintage Collection line. I’m not sorry I picked up this set, it’s a nice companion to the Deluxe Han and Tauntaun, I just wish Hasbro would invest a little more work into this line to make it as great as it could be.

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Star Wars “Saga Collection:” Rogue Two Snowspeeder by Hasbro

Ahhhh, The Force Awakens has got me with Star Wars toys on the brain again, but not entirely in a good way. I’ve had a blast looking at the 6-inch Black figures last week, but watching reviews for some of the other stuff is really pissing me off, especially since I have some of it on order. The particular offender of this new batch of toys is Poe Dameron’s X-Wing, which sadly looks like a piece of crap when it should be the flagship toy of the line. This caused me to go digging through closets and totes and come up with some Star Wars stuff that I’ve been meaning to look at forever. Today is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge of a Feature, because I’m looking at a vehicle and two figures, all from separate eras of Hasbro’s Star Wars line, but which go so well together. Let’s start with this awesome little ship…

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Released as part of Hasbro’s “Saga Collection” back in 2006, this Rogue Two Snowspeeder was a Target Exclusive that featured some really snazzy diorama packaging and what I believe was the first action figure of Zev “I found them!” Senesca. This beauty was from a time when Target was doing a lot of Star Wars exclusives around Christmas, (Gotta take a look at that Imperial Shuttle someday!) and I remember heading out one day with finding this ship as my sole goal in life. Luckily it was pretty easy to find. In fact, the Target I went to had two whole endcaps full of these things. I’ll note here that I have no idea what happened to poor Zev. He’s probably at the bottom of a Tote somewhere, but he was never the selling point of this set for me. Ironically, one day I will come across him and proclaim… “I found him!”

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The Snowspeeder is excellent and hails from a time when Hasbro really knew how to make great looking and fun vehicles without breaking the bank on the price point, or even having to invest a crazy amount of effort. The ship features some solid paint apps with nice weathering and just a few tampos to depict markings on the hull. The detail in the sculpt is impressive and everything about this toy reminds me why this is one of my favorite Star Wars ship designs. I can still feel what it was like to take my vintage Kenner Snowspeeder out into the backyard and crash it into the snow. Good times! I live in Florida now, so no snow, but boy do I have good times when I bust out my Sandcrawler!

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For a small ship, the dual person cockpit has plenty of room for both pilots. Sure, if you open up the canopy it looks like Luke has to pilot it with his feet, but with the canopy closed they look great in there. Lest my point is too subtle, you can barely fit the one figure into the Force Awakens X-Wing without buttering him up and forcing him in there. Heh. That’s how you get him in. You use the force! Ahem… Moving on…

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Hasbro didn’t futz around with any unnecessary electronics on this thing and in my mind that’s always a good thing. Instead, there’s just a few solid play features. The air brakes open up, the gun on the back rotates, and there’s a folding landing gear on the bottom, which is lowered with a lever. That’s it! Simple and fun! Imagine that? Not even a firing missile!

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While not having Zev with the ship irks my OCD a bit, truth be told I ditched him in that Tote so many years ago, because I wanted to give this ship to Luke and Dak, inaccurate hull markings be damned! And those are the two figures I usually have manning the cockpit.

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Luke is from the “Saga Legends” line from not too long ago. It was the one that included those stands that worked with some kind of collectible card game, because let’s face it, kids can’t play with action figures unless they have cards with rules and all that jazz, right? Riiiiight. Despite the silly pack in, this is one of my favorite Luke Skywalker figures in the 3 3/4″ range. The detail is so impressive, right down to the little hooks and pouches on his belt and the helmet is just amazing for this scale. When I often talk about the 6-inch Black Series not being a big enough improvement to justify the larger scale, this is the sort of thing I’m talking about. This is just a great little figure.

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He also came with a removable helmet, a lightsaber hilt, and the grapple hook he used to take out the AT-AT Walker. The grapple gun isn’t the best of accessories, but hey, they tried. About my only gripe here is that I don’t seem to recall the saber including a blade and that kind of stinks. Maybe I’m wrong, though.

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Dak Ralter, Luke’s trusty (and ultimately doomed) gunner, was originally released as part of the “Vintage Collection” back in 2010 and again in the 3 3/4″ Black Series last year. Crazy enough, I have both of them, probably because I forgot I had the first one, saw the new one at the store and said, “heeeey, I need that guy for the backseat of my Snowspeeder!” That’s cool, though, I always had a thing for the Rebel Pilot figures and you can never have too many of them. While I was never thrilled with the somewhat bewildered look on this guy’s face, it’s still hard to argue with how much detail is in the facial sculpt here. It also represents another great rendition of the Rebel Pilot Suit in this scale. The helmet isn’t as impressive as Luke’s but still damn good. He comes with a blaster and a rifle. Neither did him very much good when the AT-AT Walker foot crushed him. Canon tells us he was killed instantly when the blast hit the cockpit. I’m not so sure…

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I feel kind of mixed about featuring a great toy like this to try to prove a point, but anger fueled me to write it. This Snowspeeder retailed for around $30 and even back then I thought it was a great deal. Now, I’m looking at Poe Dameron’s X-Wing at $50 and I think it’s outrageous. Yeah, I get it, there’s inflation and all that, but the state of Hasbro’s 3 3/4″ Star Wars line in light of how huge this new movie’s release is going to be is really disgraceful. And I can’t get behind people talking about vintage charm when it comes to the new line. Just look at this Snowspeeder. Even the original Kenner release had electronics and this one doesn’t. You see, it’s simpler, but the quality and fun is there. The guns aren’t all warped right out of the package because of shite plastic, the scale is good even if not entirely accurate, and it’s clearly designed to interact well with the figures. Is that so much to ask, Hasbro? Really???

 

Star Wars Black: IG-88 by Hasbro

So many figures to cover, so much unfinished business. I decided to go with Star Wars Black today, as I’m down to the last figure in this most recent wave of Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars series and I saved my most anticipated figure of the assortment for last… It’s everyone’s favorite assassin droid bounty hunter who’s head moonlights as a bar fixture in Mos Eisely. The one… the only… IG-88!

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Behold.. packaging! It’s a souless black box that holds my figure and saves Hasbro a lot of money that they would otherwise have to spend paying artists to make an attractive, presentable box. But at least they pass the savings on to us. Well, not really. It’s still a twenty dollar figure. Er, this is awkward. Let’s just open him up and check him out.

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Right off the bat, I’m going to say that this figure is a totally mixed bag for me. The sculpt is pretty good, albeit maybe a bit soft. It shows all the little bits and bobs from the on-screen prop, but it still kind of just looks like an up-scaled 3 3/4″ figure. One thing that I do think is particularly cool is that it actually has the holes in the head and I think this is the first time we’ve seen that accurately reproduced in an IG-88 action figure. The bandolier strap is a separate piece, but it pegs into his shoulder to keep it straight and it does include a functional scabbard on the back for his vibro axe. Yes sir, in terms of sculpt there is a lot to love here.

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What’s not to love is right in line with my biggest fears about this figure and that’s that he would turn out a mushy, soft plastic mess and that is sadly pretty close to what happened. His thin arms and legs are bendy plastic, which doesn’t effect the arms much, but it’s terrible for the legs. It takes a ton of fussing to get him to stand as straight as he can, and that ain’t saying much. It’s tough to tell if that’s just because the soft plastic is warped or if one leg is a smidge longer than the other. Either way, it’s annoying and getting him to stay upright without a figure stand can be frustrating.

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For a design that is basically a stick figure, IG-88 features some impressive and fun articulation, and here’s where he gains back a lot of my favor. The arms rotate at the shoulders and have lateral movement there as well. There are also rotating hinges in the elbows, which are hidden so well, I didn’t think it was even there at first. The legs feature a standard t-crotch at the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs and ankles. He can swivel high up in the chest and has an ab-crunch, as well as a rotating neck. He’s a tough cookie to get standing, but I’m certainly happy with the poses he can pull off. The wires also seem to have enough slack to allow for a decent range of movement.

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IG comes with three weapons: A blaster, a rifle and a vibro-blade. I already mentioned the scabbard on his back can hold the vibro-blade, but it can also hold either one of the weapons. Pegs on the wrists allow IG-88 to “hold” his guns in those static claws and it works extremely well. How the hell do you get him to hold his blade? I have no idea. I pretty much just sits on his back for show.

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I was going to beef about his size, especially when I remember the old Kenner figure to be so tall. But then looking at some pictures of the Bounty Hunters in Empire Strikes Back made me think IG-88 wasn’t so tall after all so I guess the scale works well enough.

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Forming an opinion on this guy was a veritable roller coaster ride. The sculpt is solid enough, I love the articulation, the weapons are cool, I only wish he were stable enough to stand straight. What saves the figure is the cool dynamic poses you can put him in, which look fine and distract me from the fact that he leans to the side when not in action. I own the Vintage Collection version of this figure, which has comparable articulation, but it’s still carded, so I find it quite the novelty to have an IG-88 that can actually do stuff.

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Han Solo and Tauntaun by Hasbro

The first Wave of Deluxe figures from Hasbro’s Star Wars Black line was 50-50 for me. I loved the Scout Trooper on Speeder Bike, but was not so crazy about Jabba. The third and fourth releases in this size assortment are both Hoth themed, giving us Han Solo and a Tauntaun, which I’m looking at today, and Luke Skywalker and a Wampa, which oddly enough doesn’t seem to be included as part of the assortment, so I guess these are shipping separately, two per case. Hoth tends to be one of my favorite scenes of the movies as far as toys are concerned, so I was naturally pretty excited to get this set.

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The box is more or less identical to the style and deco used for the last two Deluxes. It’s black and bland and boring, but it does a nice job of showing off the toy inside. I don’t mind it, because it doesn’t make me feel bad about ripping it open and throwing it away. But hey, I always thought Tauntaun was spelled Taun Taun. As in two words. Maybe that was just me. Let’s start with the Han figure.

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Han comes all bundled up for cold weather in his blue parka. Yes, BLUE! Just like it should be! Now, I’m not going to join in the age old nerd debate over what color it really was, nor do I care. Kenner made it blue and that’s what I’ve always gone by. I spent a hell of a lot more time playing with that action figure than Han had screen time wearing the outfit, so that’s the color that is burned into my brain. I like the way the outfit is executed, with the vest-style portion sculpted onto buck and the sculpted arm-sleeves. The lower part of the parka is soft plastic and attached under where the belt sits, so it all looks like one jacket, even though it’s a composite. The sculpted detail throughout the costume is quite good. The parka is textured and has the quilted pattern on the shoulders, which also appears on the knees.

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The portrait isn’t terrible, but I think the likeness is only recognizable to me because of the iconic outfit. I don’t see Gentle Giant’s name on the packages anymore, so I’m guessing that partnership has ended. I’ll concede that the likness should be better in a Collector’s line produced at this scale, but at the same time, I’m not really taking issue with what we got. It’s OK. I do like that they took the time to sculpt the scar that Ford has on his chin, but then I think they usually get that bit right. The head has the hat sculpted onto it, but the hood is it’s own piece that can be taken off completely. It tends to ride off the shoulders if I don’t keep pushing it down and the split up the back is a little unsightly. The goggles are also removable and in fact come separate in the box. They look great warn up on the cap with the hood on and look fine worn around the neck. They don’t look so great when placed on Han’s face. I think Hasbro should have made these out of clear plastic and painted the rims and strap as the painted green lens doesn’t look terribly convincing.

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Articulation is right in line with what we’ve been seeing in this series. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows. We usually get the same in the wrists, but in this case you just get swivels at the ends of the gloves.The lack of swivels in the biceps is a tad disappointing. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, have swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint at the waist and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck.

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Han comes with the same gun belt used for the first Han release, which means it is removable and it does feature a functional holster for his blaster. It never occurred to me that he used the same belt in the movie, but I guess it makes sense. I also really dig this belt a lot. It wears well on the figure and the holster with retraining strap is great. The gun is the same DL-44 blaster that came with the original Han figure. It’s still a decent looking gun and he can hold it in either hand.

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You also get his binoculars, which is a nice try, but not a very useful accessory. He can wear them around his neck, but they pop out pretty far. I tend to prefer to put them over his shoulder. They seem way over-sized and will likely wind up in my Tote of Forgotten Accessories. The scanning unit would have been a much better accessory.

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I do have one major bone to pick with this figure and that’s the scale. If you stand Hoth Han next to regular Han, he’s considerably taller, which is absolutely ridiculous. Hasbro has had problems with scale in this line before, one which we’ll see more of when Leia in Boushh disguise ships, and I find it to be a sloppy and unacceptable oversight in this type of collector line. Fortunately, my Han will probably spend most of the time astride his steed, so it won’t be as noticeable. Which brings us to…

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…the Tauntaun! And I have some real mixed feeling about this guy, mainly because he really does feel like an up-scaled version of a smaller toy. Although even that statement is somewhat generous because the Vintage Collection Tauntaun looks to be a far more complex sculpt than this guy. But that’s just me going by pictures, because I don’t have that figure in my collection. I think my biggest issue with this new and larger version lies in the body. The fur looks too smooth and plastic and there isn’t a lot of depth to the sculpt. It’s a nice, big impressive piece, but I think Hasbro could have done a better job with the paint and fur.

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The rest of what’s here is pretty good. I like the head sculpt a lot, especially the sculpted detail in the horns and the painted detail on the eyes and mouth. The saddle is nicely done as well, complete with detailed gear. It pegs into the body of the beast, so it is removable. The stirrups are designed to work well with the figure and Han can sit in the saddle in a convincing manner, even if his butt doesn’t want to go all the way into the seat.

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Tauntaun’s articulation includes hind legs which rotate at the body and have rotating hinges at the ankles. The front legs rotate at the body and the neck is ball jointed, but mostly just moves side to side. Oddly enough, there’s no hinge in the jaw. Hey, Hasbro… why does Bossk get a hinged jaw and not this big guy? The articulation feels lacking, but then when you compare this piece to the Speeder Bike or even to Jabba, both at the same price point, I’m not sure it’s fair to complain.

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I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m disappointed in this set, but then I have learned to temper my expectations from this line. It’s a solid release, not a bad value at the price point considering how big the Tauntaun is, but there’s certainly opportunity for improvement, especially when you can argue that both figures have been done at least as well in the smaller 3 3/4″ scale. The truth is, I’m still excited to get the Luke and Wampa set and if Hasbro wanted to get us a 6-inch Scale Probe Droid and throw a snowy-repaint Chewy in there, I’d happily buy that too.

Star Wars Black: Bossk by Hasbro

I know, I know. Yesterday was May the 4th aka Star Wars Day, but I really wanted to wrap up my Age of Ultron Trifecta. I’m making up for it today with a long overdue revisiting of Hasbro’s 6-inch Black line. Man, it feels like forever since the last time I checked out a figure from this series, and it has been a while: Back in January when I featured the Tie Fighter pilot, to be exact. Some of that has to do with me skipping a few figures along the way, particularly the Yoda and one of the colored Clone Troopers. Even this current wave wasn’t a complete buy-in for me. I can’t even remember exactly what four figures comprised the case, but the only two I picked up were Bossk and Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise. I decided to go with Bossk first because… well, it’s Bossk and it was really never a contest. Sorry Han, we’ll check you out next time.

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I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, so let me just take this opportunity to say how happy I am that Hasbro started getting into the Bounty Hunters early on with this series. Yeah, we’re still waiting on some staples of the line and there are plenty of characters (or versions of characters) that we should probably be getting before a one-line-wonder like Bossk. On the other hand, anything that brings me closer to a complete set of 6-inch Bounty Hunters makes me happy. Oh yes, kids, 6-inch Dengar better damn well be coming! Anyway, I like Bossk and I always have. If for no other reason, it just tickles me that his outfit is a reused costume from the 1968 Doctor Who story “The Wheel in Space!” That’s just rad!

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It’s probably most appropriate to start with the costume because it’s also one of the greatest opportunities this figure has going to the 6-inch format. Sure, Hasbro has managed to cram an impressive amount of detail into some of the flight suits on the 3 3/4″ figures, but the larger scale breeds better opportunities for attention to detail and I think they took good advantage of it with this figure. Bossk’s flight suit is quite complex and that’s certainly reflected here. I don’t pretend to know what all this stuff does, but all the straps and cables, and hoses hanging off of our Saurian friend here looks great. Bossk features that same type of harness that we saw with X-Wing PIlot Luke. It’s a soft plastic rig that connects to the belt and loops around his thighs. It’s all also connected to the hose that runs into his vest. You also get a hose running out of the front of his suit, runs around to the back and connects into his vest, probably to help circulate his lizard juices. The mostly yellow jumpsuit is sculpted to look like its bunched up around his knees and he has those familiar silver bands of cylinders running around his legs. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve grown to accept Bossk’s outfit as iconic and this figure nails it quite well.

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The exposed lizard parts are also very nicely detailed with sculpted scales and the claws on his fingers and toes. Ah, but it’s the head sculpt that really drives the beauty of this figure home. It looks fantastic and the inclusion of an articulated jaw was a somewhat risky and bold choice. Truth be told, it doesn’t open all that wide, but I think that’s what makes it such a neat little touch. And surprisingly, the added articulation doesn’t detract from the quality of the portrait at all, so I think it was a worthy addition.

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The paint on this figure is mostly good. There are some black spots on my figure’s arms, which looks like rubbing of the paint, or possibly transfer from some of the black applications. Aside from that, the detail work around the silver fixtures of the costume is all quite well done and the wash looks pretty good. They also picked the perfect shade of slightly washed out yellow plastic for the jumpsuit. If I had one major complaint it would be that the painted eyes on my Bossk are all googly. Ugh, come on Hasbro, you come so close and then you blow it with the little stuff. Ah well, I suspect I’ll be able to fix that by filling them in a little more with a sharpie, but it’s something I shouldn’t have to be doing on a twenty dollar collectible figure.

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He may have stood there on the deck and did nothing in the movie, but Bossk’s figure still features all the articulation I’ve come to expect from this line. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, have swivels at the thighs and below the knees, and the ankles feature hinges and some generous lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the torso, but it really doesn’t offer a whole lot of movement, the neck, however is both hinged and ball jointed and I’ve already mentioned that sweet hinged jaw. Most of this articulation is as good as it sounds, with the one stand out being the elbows. The way the arms are sculpted doen’t give Bossk a lot of range of motion there.

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Bossk comes with one accessory and that’s his laser rifle. It comes complete with shoulder strap and while it’s a fairly simple sculpt, it looks good and his left hand is sculpted in just the right way so that he can grip it comfortably and hold onto it securely. On the downside, because of the limited elbow articulation, I can’t get him to hold it both hands very convincingly.

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Yes, the 6-inch Black line continues to have its ups and downs, but releases like Bossk pull me in and remind me why I’m collecting this line. He’s a great figure, with just a few little issues here and there, that ultimately makes me all the more excited for the up and coming IG-88 release and I sincerely hope the rest of the Bounty Hunter scum are going to be turning up in the next year or so. Now if we could just get Hasbro to stop repacking figures from the previous wave into the new ones, I could finally go back to buying cases and not having to get individuals or pairs of figures from scalpers.

Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker and Yoda Dagobah Training (3 3/4” Scale) by Hasbro

The last three features have been all about expensive stuff, so I thought it’d be a nice change of pace to go dumpster-diving in the pegs again where all the “common” toys live. Plus, it’s been a little while since I revisited Hasbro’s 3 3/4” Star Wars Black line, so let’s remedy that today! I’m actually doubling up on today’s feature because figures #21 and #22 are designed to go together. Here we’ve got Luke and Yoda from the Jedi training scenes on Dagobah. I think it’s pretty cool that Hasbro has tied these two figures together and released them in the same wave. It reminds me a bit of when they released the four Dagobah themed figures in the Original Trilogy Collection with matching bases and everything. Wow, that takes me back! Anyway, this line has been a total crapshoot of highs and lows, so let’s take a look at this pair and see where they land…

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The next wave will feature a redesigned card, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where I’ll never have to look at these dreadful packages again. As one would probably expect, there’s quite a big disparity between what’s in the bubbles here. Besides being a normal sized figure, Luke has all sorts of extras packed in with him. Yoda on the other hand… well, even with the backpack and a couple of other accessories he seems really small in that big bubble. It’s a good example of how things often cost out across a wave of figures like this. You get a little more with Luke and a little less with Yoda, but if you’re buying both it all evens out in the end. Or at least that’s the idea. I’m going to start with Yoda because there’s not much to talk about so I might as well just to get him out of the way…

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Based on Hasbro’s original pictures I had no interest in this figure at all. The promo pics looked absolutely terrible. However, when I finally saw him swinging on a peg in a store I thought he looked so much better in person. Now that I finally have him in hand I think he’s decidedly mediocre. The head sculpt is actually not too bad, although I think they gave him way too much hair. It looks like someone shaving creamed the back of his head.

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The little softgoods robe is OK for what it is. It’s hard enough to do good looking softgoods clothes on regular 3 3/4” figures and Yoda is so tiny I’m not going to pick apart Hasbro’s effort on the robe. It even has a tiny belt to hold it together. I haven’t taken it off of him, but it feels like Yoda is just sporting a straight up five points of articulation. Again, for a figure this size, I’m not going to quibble.

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Yoda comes with his tiny cane, which he can sort of hold in one hand, and he comes with a necklace thing, which doesn’t look very film accurate on him, but maybe I’m misremembering. He also comes with the backpack for Luke, which we’ll get to in a bit. Also, where the hell is his pet snake??? I WANT HIS SNAKE!!! Alright, enough about Yoda, let’s move on and talk about Luke and…

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OMG, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HIS ARMS??? Yeah, Luke’s got some tragic arms, but as the old saying goes, the road to tragic arms is paved with good intentions… or something like that. That’s certainly the case here. Hasbro wanted to give us a Luke figure with super poseable, double-hinged elbows and even swappable hands. The result is this set of crazy arms. It’s not just me is it? They do look nuts, don’t they? Well, not only do they look really weird to me, but the left arm on my figure keeps popping out at the bicep swivel. They’re also loose as all hell. This wasn’t necessary, Hasbro. It’s an experiment that went horribly wrong.

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It’s really tough to overlook those arms, but pretending we can for a moment, the rest of the figure isn’t too bad. I think the head sculpt is competent, but he’s definitely not dirty enough. He’s got some green smudge on his shirt, but he should be dirtied up more to accurately replicate the scene in the film. It’s also awkward that Luke has so much great articulation in his arms, but the ball joints in his knees allow for so little movement. He can’t even kneel down on one knee. And look at those crazy hip joints with the flesh tone hinges showing through his pants. C’mon, Hasbro… you’re not even trying anymore.

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Luke comes with a removable gun belt with a holster that can fit his blaster. Check out how unbelieveably large his blaster is. It’s ridiculous. He also comes with a lightsaber hilt and a lit lightsaber. The weird thing about that is the hilt is pegged, but there’s nowhere to peg it onto the figure. He does have this weird thing on his belt that looks like it’s supposed to hold something, but it doesn’t, so… FAIL! His extra hands are flat out and are useful if you want to have him trying to lift his X-Wing or move some rocks around with The Force.

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I was hoping there would be some payoff when putting the two figures together, but that’s just not the case. The softgoods backpack is too big and it looks downright awkward on Luke. That belt buckle is freaking huge! It looks like he’s gearing up to jump out of a plane. Remember those Original Trilogy Collection Dagobah figures I mentioned? Well, they did the whole Yoda backpack thing a lot better than this. In fact, let’s do a quick comparison.

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The headsculpt has improved a bit, but I like the mud smeared all over the OTC Luke. I also think the backpack looks much better on the older figures. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that you pull apart and plug his top half into it so it is a cheat.

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As for the Yodas. Man, that OTC Yoda creeps me the f’ck out! I don’t know what it is about it’s head, but I don’t want to look at it anymore. I think I’ll bury him in the back yard. I do like the articulation on the older figure better. The ball joints in the shoulders and swivels in the elbows are pretty cool, even if there is no articulation from the waist down.

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So, this pair was on clearance for five bucks each at an online retailer where I was buying some other figures and I tossed them into the cart. The Yoda is passable, I suppose, if only because I don’t have many versions of him and the softgoods robe tugs on the nostalgia I have for the vintage Kenner Yoda. But even still, I can’t recommend either of these on any meaningful level. In the end they’re just another example of what a wildly inconsistent line this has been. I don’t think I’ve been this disappointed with Star Wars figures since the days of that pre-posed “Attack of the Clones” garbage.

Star Wars Black: Toryn Farr (3 3/4” Scale) by Hasbro

I can’t believe I’m back to doing a Star Wars feature a week, but for good or for ill it certainly seems like something I’m collecting again. Last week I checked out the excellent Snowtrooper Commander and today I’m going to keep the Hoth snowball rolling with a look at Toryn Farr, th communications officer at Echo Base. It’s unbelievable but true, Toryn is proof that there are still characters out there that have yet to get the action figure treatment. It’s nice to see Toryn finally honored with a figure, but at this point if you’re a Star Wars character and your first figure is being released after Bespin Ice Cream Maker Guy, you should probably take it as a slap in the face.

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There’s the packaging. I still think it’s crap. I think the next wave is the one scheduled for a redesign in which we get a diecut card in the form of a Tie Fighter Pilot. I’ve got some things to say about that, but I’ll wait until the packaging comes across my desk first. Anyway, Toryn looks a bit lost in that big bubble and since her two accessories are black, I can barely make them out. But, screw this whole package design, let’s get her out of there…

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I expected Toryn to be a quick and dirty recycle of the Hoth Princess Leia that we got a little while ago in the Vintage Collection line and I was partially right. The body is lifted directly from that Leia and given a slightly darker wash. Oddly enough the hands are both new and the jacket, while very similar in the pattern has a higher collar and a different rank insignia thingy on the left of the chest. I’m not going to pop in the movie and check to see how similar the two outfits were on screen, so just off the cuff let me say that I don’t have a problem with the reuse here. It makes sense that they would both be wearing some kind of standard issue fatigues and the fact that Hasbro bothered to make her a new vest is good enough for me. The new head sculpt is pretty good, especially considering Hasbro’s track record with the ladies. Toryn is sporting some rather intense cheekbones but all in all I think it’s a pretty attractive portrait and a fairly good likeness.

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Since the body is shared with VC Hoth Leia, Toryn features the same mixed bag of old and new articulation. You get ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and neck. That’s all good, but then we scale back with a simple swivel waist and the old T-crotch for the hips. The complete lack of any articulation in the ankles is curious, but considering the character, I don’t know that it’s a critical omission.

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Toryn comes with two accessories, a rebel blaster and a set of headphones. I lost the blaster that came with my Hoth Leia so chances are Toryn’s weapon is going to her. I’m cool with Toryn just sitting around taking calls on her headset. “Hi, you’ve reached Echo Base. We’re under Imperial attack right now and cannot take your call. Please leave a message after the beep.” Not to belittle her job, she did give the firing order to disable a Command Star Destroyer. That’s pretty badass!

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I like this figure a lot and I think it’s plenty cool that Hasbro is still finding characters to produce. I can’t say as I’ve sat around pining for the day that Toryn Farr joined my collection, but then every additional Hoth figure I pick up gets me just a little more motivated to go out to Michaels, get a crap ton of styrofoam, and build an Echo Base playset. I’m also always happy to see another female character get the action figure treatment, particularly when they’re just in a supporting role.

Star Wars Black: Snowtrooper Commander (3 3/4” Scale) by Hasbro’s

Now that I’m all caught up on the Black 6-inch line, I can start picking away at some more of the 3 3/4” figures waiting to be opened. This time it’s the newly released Snowtrooper Commander and I had a lot of trepidation over buying this one. The Stormtrooper and Biker Scouts that Hasbro released in this line were not all that great and so when this guy turned up at HasbroToyShop, I was hesitant to order a full squad without having him in hand first. I wound up ordering a couple along with some other figures and hoped for the best. Well, those hopes paid off because this is a really fantastic figure! Let’s check him out…

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At some point in the near future, Hasbro will be re-branding the packaging on this 3 3/4” line. I don’t know that it will be much better, but I doubt it could be worse. The only good thing I have to say is that the white Snowtrooper stands out nicely against that hideous black card. Also, it’s worth noting that this is a Snowtrooper Commander! It’s been a long time since Star Wars was my number one nerd attraction, so I have no idea what the differences would be between a Commander and a regular old Snowtrooper who is likely to get shot in the face or torn apart by Wampas while storming Echo Base. That having been said, I’ll just be considering these guys my run-of-the-mill cannon fodder variety Snowtrooper.

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And here he is out of the package and ready for action. I gotta say, I love this figure! I don’t know how much of this fella is new and how much is recycled. The only other recent Snowtrooper I own in this scale is from the VOTC line and that one is still carded and packed away in a storage tote. I’m pretty sure the pistol holster on his kama is new, and maybe that’s supposed to be one of the things that sets him apart as a Commander. Star Wars collectors feel free to weigh in and tell me how ignorant I am!

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The sculpting on this figure is fantastic and it really drives home why I love this design so much. It goes beyond my general love of all things Hoth. I think it’s the hood that just makes these guys all the more creepy and sinister looking than your regular Stormtroopers. Also, and I’m not sure there’s any film evidence to back this up, but I always got the impression that these guys were just better in combat than the Stormies from warmer climes. The chest armor is part of the figure buck, but it’s executed well enough that I could have believed it was layered onto the figure. The shoulders are also designed so that the hinges don’t muck up the aesthetics of the armor like it did with the Stormtrooper and Biker Scout. Everything about this figure shows care and forethought and, at the same time, beautifully showcases all the bad decisions Hasbro made with those other two figures.

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There’s obviously not a lot of paintwork here, but what there is of it is crisp and clean and so much better than the hack job they did on the recent Stormtrooper release. Look at his backpack and you’ll see two tiny hits of gold paint… there’s no other gold anywhere else on the figure. They busted out that color exclusively for those two little bits. That’s so cool!

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The articulation here is pretty solid with my one gripe being the continued use of that pesky T-crotch, which in this case is less of an issue because the plastic kama inhibits the leg articulation quite a bit. Otherwise, it’s all good. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows and swivels in the wrists. You also get rotating hinges in the knees and ankles, a ball joint in the lower torso and again in the neck.

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Snowy Commander comes with two weapons. First you get a little pistol, which looks a bit too much like Han’s blaster for my liking, but who am I to scoff at an extra pistol, eh? It also fits snugly into the holster. The other weapon is the newer version of the E-11 Blaster that includes the folding stock. It still impresses me that Hasbro was able to do that on such a small scaled weapon. Sure, it tends to fall apart at the hinges, but I’m impressed nonetheless.

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And so the 3 3/4” Black line continues to be a total grab bag of wonderful surprises mixed with crap. Buying this line is like reaching blindly into your bag of Halloween candy and hoping to pull out an Almond Joy and not a handfull of razor blades. This figure is every bit as polished as the Stormtrooper and Biker Scout were sloppy and shameful. As you can see, I quickly picked up a couple more and I’m hoping that a simple squad of four will be enough to satisfy me. But if I ever see another one of these guys hanging on a peg in the wild, I doubt I’ll be able to walk by without tossing him in my cart. And if Hasbro can upscale this guy and give him a softgoods kama and a few more tweaks, I’ll be really happy to get him in the 6-inch scale too!

 

Star Wars Black: Darth Vader (3 ¾” Scale) by Hasbro

If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to work one Star Wars feature into each week when possible. I’m doing this not only because getting a box of my old vintage Kenner figures has rekindled my love for the stuff, but also because I have a heck of a lot of Star Wars figures sitting in a pile in the corner waiting to be opened. The 3 ¾” Black line has been hit and miss with me, but mostly miss. Nonetheless, it’s figures like Vizam that give me renewed hope. Today I’m opening Darth Vader because I really need another Vader figure… yeah, like I need a barbed kidney stone lodged in my urethra. Even after my great Star Wars toys purge from a few years back I still have tons of Vaders. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from picking up this one last Christmas when Amazon was practically giving them away with a qualifying order.

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There’s the packaging and man do I love it. No, wait… love isn’t the right word. Oh yeah, now I remember… I friggin hate it because it looks like garbage. Normally we can rely on the clear view of the figure to help elevate the presentation, but here we have black Vader against a black card. It doesn’t help. I should probably note here that this is Vader from The Empire Strikes Back, specifically inspired by the “We’d be honored if you would join us” dinner party scene. But before you get the cold sweats and flashbacks to the scene specific figures of the Attack of the Clones days, fear not. The specificity of this figure mostly relates to the accessories. I hate to admit it, but even though I own a hundred Vaders in this scale, it’s been so long since I got a new one, I’m rather excited to check this one out.

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And here he is out of the package. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this figure before and I’m pretty sure I own it already. He’s got a few strange quirks about him, but I still dig him a whole lot. For starters, the use of soft goods here is excellent. The cape feels really good and falls about the figure as well as a 3 ¾” scale garment with almost no weight to it can be expected to. But it’s the addition of the second layer of cloth underneath that really makes this guy stand out for me, particularly the way it’s fitted under the shoulder cowl and belted. The cape comes attached via a hole that passes through the neck post, but I found it to fit better if you pass the post between the cape and the neck chain. The helmet looks pretty good to me, but I’m not one of those people who could point out all the differences from one movie to the next. It does have a very nice “new car” shine to it and that makes me happy.

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The figure does have a couple of minor setbacks. First, the middle of his cowl seems to be pushed in. It looks like a bantha kicked him right in the plate there. I’m not sure if that’s a problem with just mine or with all of these figures, but it’s hard to ignore it. It doesn’t look as bad when viewed from an angle, but I can’t not see it when viewing the figure dead on. The other issue is the head, which tends to pop off rather easily. I tend to have to push down a bit when turning it to keep Vader’s noggin from separating. I think it has to do with the cape material being between the head and body.

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The articulation here is Ok, but not great. The shoulders and elbows are ball jointed and there’s are swivels in the wrist and again in the neck. Vader can also swivel at the waist. Alas, Hasbro is really sticking to the T-crotch design and it feels rather backward when compared to the rest of the figure’s articulation. I’d blame it on this guy being a repack, but the T-crotch has also been plaguing the Vintage Collection too. Beyond that you also get ball joints in the knees and ankles. Vader isn’t exactly an action star, so he’ll still be able to do most of what I want him to, but I would have enjoyed the ability to get him into a wider stance.

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Vader comes with three accessories: His lightsaber, a swap-out hand with effects part, and Han’s blaster. The lightsaber is pretty self-explanatory. It looks good, but it is one solid piece, so you can’t detach the blade for a deactivated hilt and even if you could there’s no place on his belt to peg it into.

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The other two accessories are meant to recreate the dinner scene at Cloud City where Vader deflected Han’s laser blasts and then force-yanked his gun away from him. I give points to Hasbro for trying something here, but in all honesty I don’t think it works. Effect parts are often hard enough to pull off in larger scales and here it just doesn’t look anything like what it’s supposed to. As for the blaster… I recently realized that the Han that came with my Legacy Falcon doesn’t have his anymore, so I was able to hand it off to him.

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There was a time when I thought I would rather stub a cigar out on my genitalia than buy another Darth Vader figure. And it’s very probably that this exact figure is already somewhere in one of my storage totes. Now, with all that having been said, I do like this figure quite a bit. It’s not perfect, and I’ll concede that’s kind of disappointing. How many decades has Hasbro been making Vader figures in this scale now? You’d think they could finally produce one that hits all the right points. An update to the T-crotch really would have been a welcome improvement and it takes a lot of effort to futz with his cape to make it look just right. Otherwise I’ve had some fun playing around with him, and now I think I’m going to stand him up on the shelf in front of my Imperial Shuttle because I have no idea where the Vader went that came with that ship. He was definitely worth picking up on the cheap.

Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 3

It’s day three of vintage Kenner Star Wars goodness. In case you’re just joining us, these features were inspired by the fact that I got a box of some of my old Star Wars figures shipped down to my from my brother. I’ve been going through them and matching up weapons and cleaning them up. Some of them are in pretty poor shape, while others aren’t half bad at all. To kick things off, I decided to focus on figures from my absolute favorite scene in any of the Star Wars films: The Battle of Hoth. Today we’re going to check out the unsung heroes of that battle, Unnamed Rebel Commander and Unnamed Rebel Trooper!

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Oddly enough, I have no memory of actually getting these figures, which leads me to believe they came to me through one of two great Christmas winfalls of Star Wars figures. Yes, there were two Christmases where I gave “Santa” a list of figures I was missing and my poor parents had to go hunt them all down.

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The Rebel Commander is a really cool figure, but I don’t think I was all that keen on him back in the day. Nonetheless, he got used a lot. My Falcon spent a great deal of time marooned on Hoth and the Rebels took up using it as a base of operations. Rebel Commander set up shop in the back and became a permanent fixture. I remember that I eventually adopted the name Cliff for him because his mustache made me think he was Cliff Clavin from Cheers. Of course it wasn’t until much, much later that I learned John Ratzenberger actually played a Rebel on Hoth. Was this figure supposed to be Bren Derlin? If not, that was some crazy coincidence!

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And then there’s the Trooper. Man, I wanted to build a squad of these so bad. Even as a kid, I loved the idea of having troop builders, but my parents sure didn’t. Getting them to understand that I needed multiple Stormtroopers and Rebels for my battles never did fly. All my attempts were met with, “No, you have this guy already. Get someone you don’t have!” How the hell did they always know? Anyway, I was a tricky little snot and would ask my grandparents for figures that I wanted multiples of and every now and again it worked. Still, I don’t think I ever had more than one Rebel Trooper. Now that I have my own monies and a little something called Ebay, maybe I’ll grab another couple of these guys.

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It’s interesting to look at my old toys from a toy collector perspective. I never noticed until looking at these figures now that there was a wee bit of shared sculpting going on. The vests, the belt the pants, there’s a lot of similarities here with enough unique detail and paint to make it work wonderfully. At 9-years old I certainly never gave it a second thought. Of course, the Commander is smart enough to know that you’re less likely to be shot by wearing mostly white on an Ice Planet (they didn’t make him a Commander for nothing) while his poor Troopers in their tan vests are getting picked off by snipers left and right. In retrospect, I think it’s a bit odd that the Commander came with a backpack and the regular Trooper didn’t. Of course, Kenner remedied that with an accessory pack a little later on.

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While I probably didn’t give it much thought back in the day, I find the weapon choices for these two a bit odd. The Commander comes with the same carbine that Hoth Luke came with and the Rebel Trooper came with a pistol that would be recycled for many of the Bespin figures. It seems like the Troopers should have had the rifles and the handgun should have been given to the Commander. Of course, the flipside to that was Kenner giving the Snowtroopers giant rifles when they should have just had E-11 Blasters. There’s just no pleasing me, I guess.

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And that’s pretty much the extent of Kenner’s Hoth figures on the Rebel side. Yeah, they also did the other Medical Droid, RX-7, but sadly he wasn’t in the box. Maybe I’ll replace him later on down the road. Having this team of figures together again already has me on the hunt for one of the three Hoth Playsets because I’d really love to get these old friends up and on display somewhere. One thing’s for certain, getting this box of old figures has really kindled a fire under my somewhat misplaced love for Star Wars toys, so don’t be surprised to see more of it featured around here in the weeks ahead.