Star Wars: The Mandalorian “Vintage Collection” Imperial Troop Transport by Hasbro

Feels like it’s been a while since I checked out a Star Wars vehicle, and I’ve got quite a stack of them from the Vintage Collection, piling up in the corner and waiting to be opened. One of the ones that had me the most excited was the Imperial Troop Transport from The Mandalorian. Of all the fan service that Disney could have packed into that series, who would have guessed that one of the biggest would be a nod back to an old Kenner toy? And this is after the Troop Transport got a previous nod (and toy) in the Rebels 3 3/4-inch line. The ITT has become one popular little vehicle. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid, but my best friend did and I loved playing with it, despite it’s boxy and impractical design it somehow quickly became iconic to me.

And boy does this thing look great in the vintage packaging! Mine arrived a little rough around the corners, but hey… IT’S VINTAGE!!! Getting beaten up in shipping gives it character! You get shots of the toy in action on the front and back panels as well as some close up shots on the side panels. The ITT comes nearly fully assembled, so you can get a pretty good idea of the vehicle’s size before you even open the box. And yes, that means it can go back into the box for storage, which is always a HUGE plus for me with these Vintage Collection releases. It’s also worth noting that there are no electronic features, so if you like pretty lights and sounds, you’re out of luck. On the other hand it also means you don’t have to have any batteries handy, either. I really think they missed an opportunity at packing in a Remnant Stormtrooper with this vehicle, but I’ll have more to say on that later. For now, let’s open this baby up and check her out!

Based on its appearance toward the end of The Mandalorian Season One, the Imperial Troop Transport takes the old Kenner design and peppers it with realism. And rather than beat around the bush, let me just toss out the best and worst things about the ITT right away: It’s got some amazing detail and it’s too small. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is quite as nice a piece as the Rogue One Hover Tank, but that vehicle is damn hard to beat when it comes to its weathered paint scheme and its great attention to even the tiniest details. The Transport comes pretty damn close, though. For starters, the sculpt is packed with all sorts of little hatches, panel lines, vents, piping, and everything the design needed to make it look like a real vehicle. Coupled with the greasy and grimy paint weathering, this cool deco goes a long way to convince me that this is a relic of the old Empire that’s been dragged back into service by the locals to try to maintain a scrap of power and bully the population. Much like the grubby Stormtrooper armor worn by the Remnant, this thing has seen better days, and it seems like the days of Imperial disciplined maintenance are a thing of the past.

There aren’t a ton of features on the outside. There are a pair of blaster cannon protruding from slits in the cheeks of the cab, and there’s a turret on the top that can rotate. That’s pretty much it. The vehicle does have some concealed wheels on the bottom, so it will roll, even though it’s intended to hover. It’s a shame they couldn’t have done something similar to the old Kenner Landspeeder and made them a little springy to improve the hover effect, as the simple engineering on that toy still impresses me and I think that would have been a cool feature here. If you flip the vehicle over you can check out all the amazing detail packed into an area you that you are likely never going to actually see, and that’s pretty cool! There are a series of vents, which I presume are repulse engines of some kind and a bunch of other bits and bobs.

The back of the vehicle opens up to reveal the interior and allow the Stromtroopers to burst out with E-11’s blazing. It seems like it would have made more sense to have the back drop down like a tailgate, giving the troops a ramp to descend, but I guess this design affords the disembarking troops some protection from strafing fighters.

The interior is also accessible from the top, which lifts off to reveal more amazing detail. The deck plates are fully sculpted and there’s a section over the cab that reveals some of the inner machinations of the vehicle. I suppose this could serve as a service hatch. There are some other features inside that we’ll check out in a bit. As a stand alone model of the Troop Transport seen in the series, I have no complaints at all, as this thing is absolutely gorgeous. But at this point, I’m going to grab a bunch of Stormies and we’re going to see how things go down hill once we start playing with it.

The cockpit opens up via the two side doors and… Wow is it cramped in here! It took some doing just to get the Stormtroopers seated in a reasonably convincing manner. There’s a ton of great detail in the cabin, but it’s tough to appreciate it because of the crazy tight quarters. I really wish the top piece that came off included the top of the cab as well. That way I could position the drivers better and maybe even get their hands on the steering yokes. I could also get to see all the work that went into sculpting this area. Such a simple change would have made a huge difference. I do like how there’s a window between the cab and the back compartment, and they did a great job detailing the interior of the doors.

The ITT is most known for the human pockets on the sides, which betrayed the true purpose of the toy being to hold figures. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone owning SIX Stormtroopers to fill it up! I mean, holy smokes were some parents made of money??? But now I’m all grown up and I can buy as many Stormtroopers as I want. Who thought it was a good idea to have troops exposed in these side-pockets, rather than ride inside the armored transport is beyond me. I imagine this thing pulling up to deploy with six corpses slumped in the compartments. But I do like how they incorporated it into the show and had the troops pouring out of it. I think I actually said out loud, “Cool! So that’s how that works!” My cats were confused and unimpressed. Only two of these compartments open up, which is INCREDIBLY cheap for a toy that costs this much. How does seventy dollars buy me only two opening hatches? The doorways leading inside from each side pocket are also very small, which would be forgivable if you climbed up some stairs to get out through it, but the way it is you really have to use your imagination to make it work. And I’ll tell ya… imagination is made for $20 Troop Transports. Not ones that cost this much, Dammit!

There’s a hatch on the top that opens so you can have a Stormtrooper poke his head out, maybe as a spotter or something.  Unfortunately, doing so really shows off the limitations of that turret. The opened hatch blocks its line of fire, and while we’re on the subject notice how if they started firing that thing it would head-shot all the Stormtroopers on the sides of the vehicle! It all harkens back to the running theme of this review… the ITT is too damn small.

As we saw, the back opens up to allow troops to disembark, but the hatch is so low they can’t even stand up under it. It’s hard to believe stumbling out of this thing at a low crouch is an ideal way to enter the heat of battle. And what you’re seeing is also the same clearance as exists inside the vehicle with the top closed. That means the Stormies can’t even stand up in this thing when it’s buttoned up. So let’s go inside and have a better look.

There are some cool ideas going on in here. Firstly, there’s a weapons rack for your Stormy’s guns. I wasn’t really able to make it work very well. Also, the toy is $70, could you not fill the rack with some guns to pad out the value??? There are folding seats inside, which is a neat, but it’s so tight inside that there’s barely room for two occupants to sit opposite each other. It works better if you stagger. The seats are also so low that they have to sit awkwardly or with their legs all the way out. Needless to say, a Stormtrooper can’t stand in here with the top on and so the whole thing just feels very limiting and not a lot of fun. Now, I understand that Hasbro frequently down scales ships to make them work, but the ITT isn’t an example where that should have been necessary. I feel like if this thing were 10% bigger it would have made all the difference in the world. And considering that it has no electronics, no pack in figures, and not a lot of play features, it seems like they should have been able to make it bigger within the price point.

I suppose the Imperial Troop Transport makes a worthy display piece if you want to throw some troops on it and display it on your shelf. But if you’re hoping to have any fun playing around with it, you may want to keep those hopes in check. It’s clear Hasbro put a lot of love and craftsmanship into the sculpt and paint, but then they stumbled at the finish line by under scaling it so much. And I honestly can’t see where all the money went with this toy. Hell, the Rogue One Tank was overpriced too, but at least it had a lot more complexity to it. Keep in mind, I only paid $50 for my Troop Transport, and it still feels like too much. When I had a hankering to review a Star Wars vehicle today, I probably should have gone for the Black Series 6-inch Scale Snowspeeder. It was a much more impressive toy, and I kind of feel bad that I bumped this one ahead of the line.

Star Wars Vintage Collection: R2-D2 (“Jabba’s Sail Barge”) by Hasbro

Way back in October of 2010 I scored Hasbro’s awesome Jabba’s Throne set and ever since then I’ve been meaning to rebuild my once great collection of Jabba’s denizens. In the years since, I’ve been picking them up here and there, but mostly relegating them to storage totes until I could get motivated to start opening them and piecing the display back together again. Well, cleaning out the Toy Closet this weekend, I stumbled upon some of those figures and have been putting them aside so I can start opening them and looking at them here. And so, the first feature of this week’s Toy Closet Finds, might seem like an unlikely start, but I felt like opening me up an R2 figure and he just so happens to be the version from Jabba’s sail barge.

God, I love this packaging and it’s a crying shame that Hasbro is doing away with it this year. As superficial as it sounds, the vintage packaging is probably the only reason I even look at the Star Wars pegs anymore. Of course, I don’t buy a lot of them because it actually makes me sad to open them, and that’s coming from someone who usually doesn’t give a crap about tearing open his action figures. I’ve managed to shake a lot of the hold Star Wars figures have had on me since I was a kid, but even I can’t resist the appeal of the figures when they’re carded on pure nostalgia. When Vintage Collection came back I started to buy doubles, but space concerns being what they are, that strategy couldn’t last. And so, even now, I don’t want to open this figure, but like taking off a band aid, I’m just going to do it fast so it doesn’t hurt so much.

It has been AGES since I bought an R2 figure. In fact, the last one was probably the one from the Original Trilogy Vintage Collection, and I never opened it. It’s still stacked on a shelf with the other VOTC figures sealed in the clamshell. Having been out of the Star Wars scene for a while now, I couldn’t begin to follow all the repacks and slight modifications R2 figures have gone through over the years. Thankfully, I don’t have to, because this R2 is a completely new figure. That means this little droid should be a whole lot better than the last one I opened, right? I was pretty anxious to play around with him and see what Hasbro has done with him lately.

Make no mistake, this R2 is full of gimmickry, a lot of which intrudes on the articulation and aesthetics of the figure, so before we get into those, let’s start with the sculpt first. R2 has always been one of those figures that looks perfectly fine to me until the next release comes along and emphasizes everything that was wrong with the last one. That having been said, I think this one looks pretty solid. It seems like there’s still a little room for improvement on the dome, and I wish Hasbro could figure a way to not have seams running up the sides of it. But the body has all the appropriate sculpted panel lines, vents, ports, and doo-dads, front and back. For some reason the cables on R2’s feet have always been a sticking point with me and his figures, but they look good here. On the downside, he’s way too big for the Vintage Collection 3PO, but then I wasn’t a big fan of that figure anyway. That’s about as far as I can go without starting to talk about the gimmicks so let’s get to them.

Hasbro tried to make this a pretty versatile representation of R2 as seen in Return of the Jedi. In addition to the obvious drink tray and serving arm, he has a retractable servo arm, a sensor scope, and a lightsaber. About the only thing missing from the movie is the Ewok zapper and the buzzsaw.  Easily the most unsightly of the gimmicks is the servo arm, which is poorly concealed behind the lower blue horizontal servo arm on his chest. In the movies, this blue piece is the actual arm that closes up flush with his body. In the figure, the whole panel opens one way and the servo arm swings out the other way. Considering the door doesn’t close properly and it isn’t screen accurate, I’d rather Hasbro left this one out and went with one of the vertical arm hatches instead.

The third leg gimmick is bewilderingly tied in to the sensor scope. To extend the leg, you have to put the sensor scope into the open panel on R2’s head and push it all the way down. The scope conceals nicely, but if you leave it in there you can’t turn R2’s dome. You can, however, use the scope to extend the leg and then pull it out to regain dome movement. Because the two gimmicks are connected, in order to display the sensor scope extended, R2’s dome has to be centered and the third leg has to be retracted. That having been said, the scope looks really good and since it just sits in the socket, you can rotate it. The lightsaber… wait isn’t that Obi-Wan’s lightsaber? Ahem… the lightsaber also just sits in the same socket as if R2 is preparing to launch it to Luke.

The drink tray is definitely the coolest piece of all the gimmicks, but then I guess it’s more of an accessory than a gimmick. It’s wonderfully sculpted and far surpasses the crappy one that Hasbro released previously. It sits snugly on R2’s shoulders and the drink serving arm plugs right into the socket on the top of his head. Amazingly enough, the drinking glasses are actually removable.

I won’t deny this is an ambitious and, in some ways, fun little figure. He will definitely look great dispensing drinks to Jabba’s minions, but I was also hoping this R2 would be a definitive version and clearly he’s not. I think Hasbro packed a few too many gimmicks into him and the figure struggles under the weight of its own over-engineering. But I think in the end, it’s the loose front servo arm hatch that bugs me the most about him. Ah, but a little super glue should soon fix that.