SWOOP VEHICLE (w/ SWOOP TROOPER)
STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)
“The Empire’s broad reach has included thousands of planets in the galaxy. With such a vast territory to police, the Empire often pays bounty hunters huge sums for the capture or elimination of certain “wanted” individuals. The mercenaries favored by the Empire are expert trackers and assassins, dangerous individuals who are highly intelligent and extremely skilled in both weapons use and air combat. A preferred vehicle of many of these elite bounty hunters is the swoop, a brawny speeder craft most often associated with gangs and outlaws such as the Nova Demons and the Dark Star Hellions; its toughness and incredible speed make it a perfect mount for bounty hunters.”
For the most part, Shadows of the Empire’s focus was placed on our recognizable heroes and villains, filling in a few gaps in their personal stories. Totally new concepts weren’t a huge piece of it. Sure, there were the likes of Dash and his ship the Outrider, but they were really just quick concepts thrown together to replace a popular character who couldn’t actually be in the story. There were a few more original concepts, but mostly off to the side, such as today’s focus, the Swoop speeder!
THE VEHICLE ITSELF
Following in the vein of Return of the Jedi’s Speeder Bikes, here’s the Swoop. It’s sort of the chopper of the galaxy far, far away, I suppose. Of the three vehicles offered in Shadows of the Empire packaging, this is certainly the smallest. It’s about 6 inches long and stands 2 1/2 inches tall. The cannon on the side swings up and down, but beyond that there’s no other moving pieces. Not a shock on a vehicle of this nature, though, and its not like the design really allows for them. It’s a decent enough design for a bike in the Star Wars ‘verse, matching up alright with what we’ve seen in the movies, while also not being a total retread. The sculpt is fairly well rendered, albeit perhaps not as intricately as some of the actual movie designs. It lacks some of the smaller details that sold that whole “used future” aspect of the franchise. Still, it’s a visually intriguing design, and it fits well with the rest of what Kenner was doing at the time. The paintwork on the bike is pretty solid stuff. A lot of red and silver, but it looks good, and there’s some pretty cool accent work on the larger sections of the bike. Smaller details are handled via decals instead of actual paint. The decals are fine, but they are a bit less advanced than the sort of thing you’d see now, thereby making them rather obvious. That said, the bike certainly looks better with them than without them. The bike includes a missile for the cannon, which has a spring-loaded feature.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Included with the Swoop is its own dedicated pilot, simply dubbed the “Swoop Trooper.” Very original name there. The package proudly boasts that this figure is exclusive to this particular set, and, unlike a lot of Kenner/Hasbro’s “exclusive” pack-in figures, it actually stuck for this guy. I’d guess that’s largely due to his obscurity…and reminder, this is a Star Wars figure I’m taking about here. The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation. The bike pilots all got extra articulation at the knees, which I was always a fan of, though he does end up losing the waist joint. This figure also has a different neck joint; instead of the usual swivel joint, he’s got a hinge sort of thing, which allows him to look up and down instead. The same joint had previously been used on the Biker Scout from the main Power of the Force II line, and, while I don’t mind it, it certainly made a bit more sense on that figure than it does on this one. The Swoop Trooper’s design was, of course, created wholesale for the Shadows of the Empire event. It’s alright, but, like a lot of the Shadows designs, it doesn’t necessarily fit the classic Star Wars aesthetic, instead falling into more typical ‘90s comics design concepts. It’s certainly not a bad design, but I can’t say it’s a favorite of mine. Still, it’s a decent sculpt of a decent design. I certainly appreciate the presence of some shared armor elements between this guy and some of the other troopers (namely the knee pads from the Biker Scout). In terms of paint, the Trooper is a bit of a step up from the bike, since there’s a bit more going on. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the assortment of browns, as they aren’t a super thrilling combo. That said, application is all pretty clean, and he looks respectable enough.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The Swoop bike was a rather recent addition to my collection. I missed a lot of the Shadows of the Empire stuff when it was new, so I’ve been piecing it together little by little. I found this set at Lost in Time during their winter sale. Since it was like $5, I figured it was worth it to finally grab it. Not the most thrilling thing to come out of the franchise, but it’s another solid offering from Kenner’s ‘90s Star Wars output.