SPEEDER BIKE (w/ REBEL SPEEDER BIKE PILOT)
STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)
“Whipping through the forests of Endor on a Rebel strike mission against the Death Star shield generator, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia battled Imperial scout troopers atop highly maneuverable speeder bikes. Considered ideal reconnaissance vehicles by the Empire and he Rebel Alliance alike, their maneuverability and acceleration is superior to both landspeeders and airspeeders. This particular speeder bike was designed and built based on production sketches found in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Sketchbook.; its creator was renowned Star Wars artist, Joe Johnston.”
Have you ever been so non-started by something that when it came time to do that thing you actually did an entirely different thing for far longer than you’d like to admit before realizing you were actually doing the wrong thing? Because I have, and it was right here, just moments ago, when I was so “meh” on today’s review subject that I actually started up writing a review for *next* Sunday, and even got so far as uploading that review’s photos before realizing my mistake. I’m sure that makes you guys feel real great about having to read the following review that my subconscious clearly didn’t want to write. Well, we’re doing it anyway.
THE TOYS THEMSELVES
The Speeder Bike and Rebel Speeder Bike Pilot were released by Kenner in 1998, as one of three vehicle sets that accompanied the Expanded Universe sub-line of their main Power of the Force line. While the figures were all based on established characters and designs from Star Wars media other than the movies, the vehicles on the other hand were all focused on replicating un-produced concept work from the films. This item is, as you may have guessed, the original concept for the Speeder Bikes that would appear on the Endor sequences in Return of the Jedi, and, as the bio above notes, are based on Joe Johnson’s sketch. In toy form, it’s about 5 inches long, and features a spring-loaded feature that swings the outriggers backward or forward. The sculpt is definitely on the boxy side, which is true to the original sketch overall, but the process of converting the design into plastic form has made it a good deal clunkier. This only increases its relative clunkiness when compared to its film-based brethren. It’s not a bad looking sculpt from a technical standpoint, I suppose. The detailing is relatively sharply rendered, so that’s good. In addition to the outrigger action feature, there’s also a missile launcher built in, for a more offensive set-up, I guess.
Included with the Speeder Bike is its own unique pilot, the Rebel Speeder Bike Pilot. That’s a very unique name, I know. While the Speeder bikes in the final film were an Imperial vehicle, and subsequently had their own specific Imperial pilots, it seems at some point they were supposed to be the Rebels’ proper. This guy’s design is rather different from any of the Rebels we actually saw in the film, with his aviator’s cap and goggles. It’s not that far removed from the WWI/WWII film-inspirations that the movies had, and a similar design element would crop up years later when Marvel introduced Doctor Aphra into the universe. So, it’s not inherently un-Star Wars. The figure stands just shy of 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation. He feels somewhat on the diminutive side for this line, and I’m not entirely sure why. I guess he’s just like that. His sculpt is passable, but compared to the original sketch, it definitely feels like some of the charm of the design was lost in translation. A lot of that coolness factor just feels gone. As it stands he’s…fine. That’s about it. The paint’s kind of the same deal. He’s rather drab and not particularly eye-catching.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The Expanded Universe sub-set as a whole excites me. The vehicles from that set as a whole do not. They’re just kind of bland and not terribly exciting, and they’re certainly not helped by the lack of the 3D back drops. I never had much attachment to this release, which is why I never really went to the trouble of tracking it down. I still don’t really have much attachment. It’s okay.
Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this set. They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.