#2408: Crowd Control Stormtrooper

CROWD CONTROL STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Feared throughout the galaxy, Stormtroopers are elite shock troops deployed in support of both ground forces and the Imperial fleet. They are responsible for policing Imperial outposts and territories, accountable for sustaining Imperial control in even the most dangerous sectors. This can be a challenging and often deadly assignment for the most reliable shock troop squadrons. Tough port cities such as Mos Eisley have high populations of outlaws, criminals, smugglers and other anti-Imperial types who create a typically chaotic atmosphere.”

Before making use of the sub-line to get out some larger figures and accessories seen in the film, Kenner’s first approach to the “Deluxe” offshoot of Power of the Force was…well, it was certainly more at home in a ’90s toyline.  The first three offerings (as well as one of the two offerings that followed) in the line were all slight re-workings of previously released heavy hitters, but this time with some big gimmicky gizmo included.  On the positive side, it did give collectors a second chance at a little bit of army building in the form of today’s figure, the Crowd Control Stormtrooper.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Crowd Control Stormtrooper was released in 1996, alongside Han Solo w/ Smuggler Flight Pack and Luke Skywalker w/ Desert Sport Skiff.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  The core figure to this set is effectively the same sculpt as the standard Imperial Stormtrooper figure.  Certainly, that’s hardly Kenner’s finest attempt at a Stormtrooper sculpt, but it was the standard one of the time, being only a year old.  It’s still got all the goofy quirks of that particular release, meaning he’s rather muscle bound and also lacks both a neck and the ability to stand for long periods of time unassisted.  The one change this release makes to the sculpt is adding a port to his back so that he can make use of his big gimmicky gizmo.  The other change is a paint change, rather than a sculpt change.  This guy has the same basic paint elements as the regular release, but with a bunch of flecks of dirt all over the body now.  I guess this guy’s been a little worn-in.  Or maybe he’s a really early preview of a Remnant Trooper!  That’d be something!  Whatever the case, he kind of reminds me of cookies and cream ice cream.  The supposed main selling point of this set is not the figure, of course, but rather the Crowd Control pack he includes.  It’s big, and it plugs into is back, and it has some moving parts.  I’m not entirely sure how this monstrosity is meant to aid in crowd control, but this is the Empire we’re talking about here; they tend to go for the crazier, mad-genius-style solutions to things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Growing up, these deluxe figures always baffled me a little bit.  I wasn’t really alone on that front, I suppose.  Now that I’m an adult, though, and I’ve really gotten into appreciating PotF2 for what it was, they’re kind of key to that appreciation, because what else sells the true ’90s-ness of the early line better than these guys?  This guy also benefits from really being the only one in the first set that makes any sort of internal sense; a Stormtrooper with an extra gimmick really isn’t that far out there.

This guy came from my friends at All Time Toys. 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.

#2401: Sandtrooper

SANDTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Their remote location makes the spaceports of Tatooine havens for the varied masses from across the galaxy. At the seedy Mos Eisley spaceport, this variety is more than evident at the main hangout, Chalmun’s Cantina. The most loathsome of Mos Eisley’s population can regularly be found there, including imperial sandtroopers, who are deployed by the Empire to quell outbursts with brutal efficiency. In the days before the Galactic Empire, the spaceport of Mos Espa hosted a similar reputation as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” From the outdoor markets to the junk shops – overseen by the gambling crimelords, the Hutts – Mos Espa was a place where a nine-year old boy could learn the ways of the universe.”

Hey, remember how I’ve got all these Power of the Force figures I can review?  Great, I don’t have to remind you why I’m doing this review, then.  I’ve looked at all manner of Stormtrooper variants, many of them from this very line, but today I’m kind of doubling back and looking at a variant of a variant.  Oh man, how crazy is that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Sandtrooper was released in 1998, accompanying a 3D display diorama of the Mos Eisley Cantina.  He was the actual figure used to sell a bunch of cardboard, wrapped in cardboard.  Neat trick, I suppose.  We had gotten a standard, run of the mill Sandtrooper in the main line, but this one aimed to be different enough to make collector’s buy.  Guess it worked.  According to expanded universe materials, this guy actually has a name.  He’s Davin Felth, the trooper who says “Look sir, droids!” while they’re searching on Tatooine.  And now you know that.  Don’t you feel like your life has meaning now?  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He uses the same head, torso, and pelvis as the single-carded Sandtrooper, but gets a new set of arms and legs.  It’s still the super goofy PotF2 trooper build, but by this time things were starting to be a little bit more toned down.  Those arms and legs are definitely less bulked up compared to prior troopers.  His pose is also a more neutral one, but, in an interesting turn of events, he’s not really able to do anything but hold that one neutral pose.  He looks like he’s standing guard (which makes sense for the playset he came with), meaning he’s designed to hold his weapon in a non-battle stance.  He can’t actually hold it by the handle, due to the relative posing of his arms.  The paint on this guy is also toned down from the prior Sandtrooper.  He’s still got a little bit of weathering, but it’s nowhere near as intense.  His pauldron has changed colors to mark a change in rank, with it being white instead of orange.  For some reason, the black section has also changed to a light grey, which is an odd choice.  Moving further down, the figure has also lost the black detailing at the elbows that prior troopers had, which does look a little weird.  The Sandtrooper was packed with a blaster rifle and a patrol droid (missing from mine) which plugged into his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As part of my goal of getting all the figures from the PotF2 line, I’m having to track down some of the more odd-ball releases as well, which includes this guy.  I ended up getting ahold of one from a loose collection that was traded into All Time, though he was missing the droid piece.  He’s not a bad figure.  I actually like him quite a bit, certainly more than I was expecting to.

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys.  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.

#2394: Garindan – Long Snoot

GARINDAN — LONG SNOOT

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Garindan, a Kubaz informant, works only for the highest bidders – usually the Empire or Jabba the Hutt. Garindan followed the young Skywalker and his mentor Ben Kenobi through the alleys of Mos Eisley.”

You know what I’ve got a pretty darn sizable backlog of?  Power of the Force.  It would probably be a good idea to use this time to cut through some of that backlog.  So, uh, I guess I’ll do that.  Let’s have a look at Long Snoot, officially named “Garindan.” Fun fact: through the miracle of stock audio and heavy audio processing, Garindan was actually voiced by legendary actor John Wayne, in what would officially be his final “role” in a film before his death.  That’s right, this is a John Wayne figure….yeah, it’s still probably not enough to make anyone care about a Garindan figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Garindan was released in the 1997 assortment of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  This was Garindan’s first time as a figure, which is not a huge surprise, what with him being a pretty darn minor character and all.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has the usual 6 points of articulation, though it’s worth noting that the articulation is all pretty restricted by the plastic cloak.  This early in the line, the figures were all still kinda bulky and roidy, so Garindan is definitely not an exact match for what we see of him on screen.  By virtue of so much of the sculpt being hidden under the cloak, he doesn’t look terrible, but he’s certainly not going to fit in with anything outside of this particular line.  This cape piece is suitably dramatic looking, so I can almost forgive how much it restricts the figure.  Other than the cape, the one piece that really defines this guy is the head; Garindan had a fairly distinctive look to his noggin, and the figure does an alright job of recreating that.  It does make it look a bit more like a straight alien face than a mask, as it appeared to be in the film, but in Kenner’s defense on this one, there were hardly the same resources available for checking the screen accuracy of a very minor character in 1997 as there are now.  There’s another pretty cool touch to this figure, which is almost hidden under the cloak.  Rather than giving this guy the usual dual grip hands, his right hand actually has his communicator sculpted into it.  Usually, I’m not a fan of sculpting accessories into hands permanently, but it actually works pretty alright for this guy.  Garindan’s paint is pretty simple, and pretty drab, truth be told, but it gets the job done.  Garindan was packed with a blaster pistol, and, depending on which version you got of him, a Freeze Frame slide.  Mine doesn’t have the slide, so I guess I’ll just deal with only having the pistol.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have Garindan as a kid, but my cousin Rusty did, actually as a “this is close enough” replacement for Darth Vader, who was a little hard to find.  I myself was never too impressed with this charade, but I was lucky enough to have the real deal, so I guess I was a little biased.  I ended up getting this one from a small collection that got traded into All Time last fall.  He’s alright; nothing terribly exciting, but honestly there are some features I had forgotten, so it was cool getting to look at him up close again.

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys.  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.

#2380: Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet

LUKE SKYWALKER w/ BLAST SHIELD HELMET

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Aboard the Milllennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker is instructed by Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the art of lightsaber battle and the ways of the Force.”

At the end of 1997, Kenner reworked their standard Luke Skywalker head for their Power of the Force line, in an attempt to bring him more in line with, you know, a real person, and not some sort of He-Man knock off.  The following year, they got to work making this new version of Luke the new standard, which included going back and updating their take on “Farmboy” Luke.  Apparently they really liked this updated Farmboy Luke.  In fact, they seemed to like him so much that they just kept releasing minor tweaks to the mold, just all over the place.  Lets, uh, look at another one of those, I guess?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Luke Skywalker with Blast Shield Helmet was released in 1998 as part of the Power of the Force line.  This figure is designed to replicate Luke’s appearance while on the Millenium Falcon before they get brought in by the Death Star.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Construction-wise, this figure is more or less identical to the Luke included with the Purchase of the Droids set.  The only real difference between them is the belt piece.  While the Droids set version has a pair of binoculars on his belt, this one removes them.  Yay?  It’s different?  Technically it’s less?  Honestly, though, it’s not a bad sculpt, and a definite improvement on the original ANH Luke from the line, and this was the first single-carded release, so it was a valiant idea.  The figure’s paint does change things up a bit as well.  He’s decidedly got a cooler-toned color scheme.  I’m not sure if that was an intentional thing, but it fits with him being on the Falcon as opposed to on Tatooine.  Luke is packed with his father’s lightsaber and the blast shield helmet he uses while training.  It’s too bad they couldn’t also throw in the training drone, but I suppose this isn’t a bad little assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this figure as a kid (Gunner Station Luke was my on-hand version of this mold), and I can’t really say I had much of an undying need to get one, but as I’m trying to make my way to a complete run of Power of the Force figures, I have to pick up these guys at some point, right?  This one came in with a bunch of others at All Time last summer, and I used some trade credit to pick him up.  He’s not a bad figure, but it’s not easy to get particularly excited.  Just wait til I get to all of the other versions of this mold…

#2366: Jabba the Hutt (w/ Han Solo)

JABBA THE HUTT (w/ HAN SOLO)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

For the (first) Special Edition release of A New Hope, one of the primary new features was the re-insertion of a cut scene from the original film, which would have introduced viewers to the gangster Jabba the Hutt two films earlier.  In the scene as it was shot, instead of the huge slug we’d all come to know, Jabba was portrayed by actor Declan Mulholland, who was pretty much just a guy in a lot of furs.  For a number of reasons, the scene was excised, and its important bits were retooled into Han’s confrontation with Greedo, leaving Jabba as an ominous figure not fully realized for two more films.  When the scene was added back in, a Jabba more in line with the creature seen in Jedi was digitally added in to replace Mulholland (something Lucas has maintained was always his plan, though Lucas isn’t exactly the most trustworthy source on such things, since he frequently claims that whatever the current final product may be was always his plan).  Ultimately, thanks to the Greedo scene still being there, the scene’s kinda redundant, slows down the movie, and removes a chunk of Jabba’s menace, and to top it all off, the Jabba CGI model is just nowhere near as convincing as the puppet was.  And that’s not even touching on that magical CGI leap that Han has to take in order to jump over Jabba’s tail… Where was I?  Right, the toys.  They made some toys of this absolute masterpiece of a scene, and I’m taking a look at them today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Jabba and Han were released as one of the Power of the Force II line’s creature sets in 1997, in order to coincide with the release of the Special Editions in theaters, alongside the similarly Special Edition-inspired Ronto with Jawa and Dewback with Sandtrooper.

JABBA THE HUTT

The main focus of this set to be sure, this Jabba was the only release of the character in the PotF2 line, and is notable for being the only one to be directly based on the CGI model of the Special Edition.  Small victory there; it wasn’t allowed to spread any further.  The figure is about 4 inches tall by about 7 inches long.  His only really reliable movement is at the shoulders; there’s joints at the mid-section and in the tail, but they’re all linked together in a mechanism-driven movement, which doesn’t really have much motion, truth be told.  I think some more straight-forward joints there would have been better served.  As it stands, he actually can’t even properly get into his basic RotJ sitting pose, which is a bummer if you want to make use of him in the Jabba’s Palace playset.  The sculpt on this guy is clearly tailored after that previously mentioned CGI model, which is evident from Jabba’s slightly skinnier proportions, especially in the head, and his larger eyes.  The texturing on his skin also has that same sort of droopy, almost melted quality of the early CG model.  I guess you can’t really fault Kenner on that; he’s possibly a little better looking than the source material, truth be told.  Jabba’s paint work also draws a bit more from the updated design.  While the original Jabba model had the sort of two-toned thing we see going on here, it was far more subtle.  For the CGI look, it became more pronounced, and that was further emphasized on this guy.  It’s not *awful* but it becomes even more noticeable when compared to his vintage counterpart, which didn’t go for the two-toned thing at all.

HAN SOLO

The creature sets liked to throw at least one standard figure into the mix, and I guess you could do a lot worse than a standard Han Solo.  That’s what this is: a pretty standard Han.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation (no waist joint for this guy).  His sculpt comes from the same basic lineage as the standard ANH Han from the beginning of the line, but he’s a lot like the Gunner Station Han, in that he tones down a lot of the previous Han’s wonky proportions and pre-posing.  Honestly, where it not for the leaps and bounds made by the Cantina Han two years later, this would easily be the best ANH Han in the PotF2 line.  As it stands, he’s at least in that nice mid-ground spot.  Honestly, it’s kind of a shame he only came packed in this set, because I’m certain it led to him getting far more overlooked than he should have.  I certainly did.  His paint work is probably his weakest point.  For some reason, he’s awfully pale, and my figure also has a stray mark of brown across his cheek, which is more than a little distracting.  Han included a unique version of his blaster, which was in a dark blue this time instead of the usual black.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember seeing this set when it was, new, but even as a kid, I wasn’t much of a fan of the updated Jabba, so I never did get one.  That said, I’ve been filling in my PotF2 collection a lot recently, and ended up with the Jabba’s Palace 3D playset, but no Jabba to go with it.  Luckily for me, All Time got one of these traded in, and so I’ve finally added it to my collection.  There’s not really much to write home about on either of these figures, but they do have sort of this quaint “wow, we didn’t know how far the edits would eventually go” quality about them.

#2239: Stormtrooper

STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Within the Death Star, a group of Imperial stormtroopers are in hot pursuit of Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, as they attempt to return to the impounded Millennium Falcon. But the heroic escapees blast away before the shock troops have a chance to return fire.”

Throughout the entirety of the vintage Star Wars line, we got exactly one basic Stormtrooper.  Just one take on a design that was present across all three of the original films (in the line’s defense, the same can be said of Darth Vader and Chewbacca; if the design didn’t drastically change, Kenner didn’t do a new figure.  Only R2 and 3PO got by, largely do to new gimmicks introduced in the later films).  For Power of the Force II, the same was almost true.  We got the standard Stormtrooper in ’95, and that steroid abusing fiend was it for four years.  But, just as the line was winding down, we managed to get an honest to god update, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Stormtrooper was released in 1999 as part of the Power of the Force II Commlink assortment which was at stores alongside the Phantom Menace product.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that articulation count correctly; this guy’s probably the most articulated standard release figure that the PotF2 line ever put out.  Not only does this guy get actual, proper knees, he also gets cut joints at the elbows, and even a universal joint on his neck.  He can look up!  It’s a long way from the vintage Stormtroopers and their complete lack of neck articulation, I’ll tell you that much.  This sculpt would end up re-used more than a few times going forward, including for the Marvel Comics-styled trooper I looked at a little while back.  While I was a little down on that figure (due largely to it being released 7 years after this one), in the context of the line that spawned it, it’s actually quite a nice sculpt, and it’s understandable why Hasbro clung to it for so long.  The paintwork for the figure is pretty solid, and like the sculpt is generally an improvement over the Stormtrooper that preceded it.  It’s also an early example of Hasbro experimenting with thermodynamic paint, allowing the figure to take some damage to his armor when dipped in cold water.  The Stormtrooper is packed with a long blaster (which, like the Marvel-styled figure, he can’t quite hold right) and a weapons rack to store it on as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The last assortment of PotF2 figures wasn’t one I recall seeing much of (although I did get the Han figure as a kid), so this guy isn’t one I had growing up.  He was added to my collection during one of my big buying sprees of PotF2 figures in late 2018.  He’s sort of an odd figure for the line, because he’s objectively one of the best, but on the flip side, it means that when later versions replaced him, he didn’t have that same nostalgic bend to fall back on.  That being said, he’s still a cool figure.

#2325: Boba Fett vs IG-88

BOBA FETT VS IG-88

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

Boba Fett, infamous bounty hunter and weapons master, vanished from sight after Darth Vader turned over the frozen body of Han Solo. Boba Fett was expected to deliver his bounty to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on the planet Tatooine some time ago. Knowing the value of his shipment and the various hunters determined to take it from him, Fett disappeared into the mists of the galaxy’s Outer Rim to bide his time. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Princess Leia search the galaxy for his ship, Slave I, with the hopes of freeing Solo from his carboinite prison, Fearless, clever, and always full of surprises, even the Empire cannot pinpoint this master hunter’s whereabouts./em>

The battered war droid IG-88 was among the bounty hunters commissioned by Darth Vader to hunt down and capture the Millennium Falcon after the Battle of Hoth. IG-88 is one of five droids created by Holowan scientists, who deliberately programmed the units to maximize their freedom of action in combat. This experiment proved tragic when, upon activiation, the new IG prototypes eliminated their programmers and escaped to fulfill whatever mission lie within their distorted metallic intellects. IG-88’s programming has caused it to value Imperial credits over organic life, making it a devastatingly efficient hunting machine. It is loaded down with a mass of heavy weaponry such as a heavy blaster and blaster rifle as well as a flamethrower, sonic stunner and grenade launcher.

It has been rumored that IG-88 is one of the many bounty hunters seeking Boba Fett and his prisoner. Though bounty hunters rarely break their vocational code by stealing or eliminating one another, the capture of Han Solo promises enough credits to cause most hunters to forget this formality. This is especially true for IG-88, who has little regard for laws, especially unwritten ones. The droid is literally a killing machine and one of the most dangerous hunters in the galaxy. Many consider it the equal of Boba Fett, who is generally known as the most effective bounty hunter anywhere. Upon entering the Tatooine system, Boba Fett was ambushed by the droid in its ship, IG-2000. Certain of his ability to destroy the droid, Boba Fett soon discovered that IG-88 had a few tricks of his own…”

Man, those Kenner cards sure were wordy, huh?  Guess they really wanted to fill this pack’s extra card back space.  Not much else I can add here that wasn’t already said, I guess.  So, uh, let’s look at Boba Fett and IG-88, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

There were two comic packs released as part of the Shadows of the Empire subline of Power of the Force in 1996.  While the other was just slight re-poses of Vader and Xizor, this one paired off a valid variant of Boba Fett with the as of yet un-produced for the modern line IG-88.

BOBA FETT

One of the earliest Power of the Force figures, Boba Fett was also one of the most sought after.  This pack was one of the handful of attempts to alleviate that issue.  He’s really not all that different from the single carded figure overall.  The construction is essentially the same, with the figure standing 3 3/4 inches tall and having 6 points of articulation.  His sculpt keeps the same general aesthetic as both the single card and deluxe releases, but with a slightly different pose.  This one’s got more of a basic “just standing around” pose.  The main change that occurs for this figure is a paint one; while both the single and deluxe releases used the slightly more colorful Return of the Jedi color scheme for Fett, this guy goes with the original, green-heavy Empire design, making this actually the first truly Empire accurate Fett in figure form.  Fett is packed with his rocket pack, scarf/braid, and his blaster rifle.

 

IG-88

IG-88 is the only of the Executor Bounty Hunters not to be released in PotF2 proper, with this being the only way to get him until he got another figure in Power of the Jedi.  I guess getting an IG-88 is worth getting saddled with another Boba Fett.  This figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Unlike most Power of the Force figures (but, by contrast, like a lot the PotF vehicles), IG’s sculpt is actually just slightly retooled from his vintage release.  Given that was one of the very best vintage sculpts, it’s an understandable choice, and also somehow makes IG one of the least dated looking ’90s era figure.  The sculpt has been slightly reworked in order to add a mid-torso joint, bringing him in line with the rest of the figures of the era.  IG-88’s paintwork is pretty decent; it’s more involved than either of the vintage offerings, with a lot of variance to the actual finish of his metal parts.  It looks a little more movie accurate than the prior versions.  The figure is packed with two blasters, one long, one short, both modified to make them easier for IG to hold.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I wasn’t quite on the IG bandwagon when this set was new, I recall my cousin Noah having it, and it stuck in my memory for a while.  When it came time to fill in the holes in my PotF collection, I knew I needed an IG for sure, and was lucky enough for this pack to be traded into All Time early last year, so I was able to grab one.  IG’s definitely cool, and honestly, this Boba’s better than the single carded release, so I’d consider this pair a win.

#2289: Death Star Trooper

DEATH STAR TROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Grand Moff Tarkin created this select force of soldiers to defend the galaxy’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. These elite troopers manned the gun towers during the Battle of Yavin, a conflict that resulted in the Death Star’s destruction.”

The original 12 Kenner Star Wars figures were largely populated by the film’s most distinctive characters, or even a few stand out designs, such as the Tusken Raiders and Jawas.  The slight odd-man out to this line-up was the Death Squad Commander, later renamed the Star Destroyer Commander, a uniformed and helmeted Imperial trooper based on a character that really didn’t get much action in the film proper.  When the line was brought back in the ’90s with an even deeper reach of characters, it would still take most of the run to finally get a follow-up to that original character, this time named the Death Star Trooper.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Death Star Trooper was released in the Power of the Force II line in 1998.  He and Ree-Yees were the only two knew figures in 1998’s final main assortment, resulting in both of them being quite difficult to get at their time of release.  General lowered interest in Power of the Force as well as a reissue of this figure brought his price way down, to the point that he’s pretty much just as easily found as any other figure from the line.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He was an all-new sculpt at the time and….well, it’s certainly an interesting one.  By ’98, the buffed-up, pre-posed look had been pretty much weeded out of the line.  This guy definitely wasn’t buffed up, but somehow he manages to be one of the most pre-posed the line ever produced.  And exactly the purpose of that pose?  Who knows?  He looks like he’s going for a jog or something.  I mean, the Death Star is a pretty big place.  They gotta get around somehow.  Aside from the posing, the sculpt is honestly pretty good, with a solid recreation of the uniform, and even a removable helmet to boot!  Sure, he’s got some wonky headgear going on beneath it for some reason, but it’s still pretty nifty.  His paintwork is fairly basic, but does what it’s supposed to do, and looks pretty decent.  The trooper was not seen armed in the film, but for this figure was armed with a ridiculously large blaster rifle, which despite the pre-posing, he still can’t hold very convincingly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got the original Death Squad Commander, which has given me a soft spot for the general concept of this figure, but I didn’t own this one growing up, largely due to how rare he was at the time.  I ended up getting him during one of my big Power of the Force splurges at All Time.  He’s not anything amazing or special, but he’s at the very least not as boring as some of the other Imperial guys.

#2261: Prince Xizor

PRINCE XIZOR

STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (KENNER)

“Prince Xizor is the head of the galaxy-wide criminal organization known as Black Sun, his power and influence challenged only by the Emperor and Darth Vader. A villainous mastermind, Xizor uses his huge , intergalactic shipping operations as a legitimate front, employing millions of criminals to execute favors for the Empire and carry out its his own evil agenda. His characteristic lack of emotion is due much to his Falleen ancestry which evolved from a species of reptile. Cold and clever, he plots his moves with a diabolical genius and fights with the skill of a tera kasi master, stopping at nothing to get in his way. Those that dare challenge Xizor generally meet with death by his own hand or by one of his myriad of henchmen. His favorite proverb: “To contend with Xizor is to lose”.”

In 1996, the Star Wars expanded universe got its first real time in the public spotlight, courtesy of the multimedia event that was Shadows of the Empire.  A movie launch without the movie, Shadows encompassed books, comics, video games, and of course toys, and told a story set in the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Since it was set between two established chunks of the story, there wasn’t very much at stake just pitting our heroes against Vader’s forces, since we all knew the outcome wouldn’t arise until the end of Jedi.  This meant there needed to be a new villain.  Enter Prince Xizor, a villain whose imposing nature was hindered only by not being Darth Vader in a universe where Darth Vader exists.  Oh, and also by totally having his look stolen by Ivan Ooze a year prior.  Xizor was central to much of the story’s marketing, and wound up with two figures from Kenner for their part of the tie-in.  I’m looking at the standard single release today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Prince Xizor is the final single-carded figure in the Shadows of the Empire spin-off line of Power of the Force II figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  That said, only the arms really have practical movement most of the time, thanks both to the weird braids on the back of his head, and the thick plastic robe that encases most of the figure.  A lot of this Xizor’s sculpt is shared with the two-pack release of the same time, but it remains unique to the character.  That’s…good?  I mean, it’s certainly different from everything else.  That said, Xizor was generally depicted as a fairly skinny guy, and this figure does not follow that set-up.  He definitely falls into that really buff PotF2 aesthetic, and perhaps exemplifies it even more than other figures from the main line.  It’s really only exaggerated by the really bulky robe, but even with that removed, it’s still not great.  I mean…there’s some interesting detail work going on under the robe, so that’s cool, but it’s not like it’s a particularly endearing design.  It’s a relic of its time at best.   The colorscheme is also a definite relic, and easily feels like the least Star Wars-y aspect of the character.  Neither purple nor the pale green feel like the fit the established Star Wars color scheme, especially the colors of the original trilogy era.  The application on the paint is decent enough, but that doesn’t really change how out of place he feels with the others from the line.  Xizor is packed with a pair of shield blades, which can snap together into one larger shield.  They’re nifty enough, and honestly one of the more exciting parts of the figure, because they’re unique if nothing else.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Even as a kid, I never liked Xizor.  He always felt like an intruder, trying to hide amongst the rest of the Star Wars line, but always sticking out.  As such, I never owned him.  But, after managing to get everyone else from the Shadows line, I felt it was wrong for him to still be missing.  I ended up grabbing him during one of my PotF buying sprees last winter.  There were a lot of figures, so I guess that made buying Xizor a little more palatable.  He’s still not really a favorite of mine, and having the figure in hand hasn’t really changed any of my opinions about it or the character, but here it is, I guess.

#2247: AT-ST Driver

AT-ST DRIVER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

The AT-ST, commonly referred to as the “chicken walker” was first introduced into Star Wars in Empire Strikes Back, but really became prominent in Return of the Jedi.  The vehicle would end up being one of the earliest vehicles available in the Power of the Force II line, hitting shelves in 1995.  However, while the vehicle was available right away, it would take a little bit of time for it to finally get its distinctive driver, whose figure I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The AT-ST Driver was added to the Power of the Force line in 1997, unfortunately right after the vehicle he was meant to pilot left shelves, making him a little bit of a tough sell.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  I’ve looked at a fair bit of this figure’s sculpt before, since the torso, pelvis, and legs were all re-used for the 1998 Scanning Crew figure.  He had a unique helmeted head, as well as arms with gloves.  The sculpt is fine, but not really anything to write home about.  I will say that the AT-ST Driver-specific parts made it slightly more exciting than the Scanning Crew, as well as making him a little easier to justify army building with that helmet in place.  As a whole, though, he’s still a little soft an puffy by modern standards.  As with the Scanning Crew, the paint on this guy’s somewhat on the bland side, but that’s due to the film design being a whole lot of grey.  Hey, they can’t all be winners, right?  Otherwise, the goofy aliens wouldn’t stick out and be fun.  The AT-ST Driver was packed with two different styles of blaster rifle, which I suppose is nice of them to include, even if he’s destined to never hold them, what with driving the AT-ST and all.  Still, it’s nice to get something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy from All Time.  I know, shocker.  He was in a collection that got traded in, he was still carded, but his card and bubble were in really ratty shape, so I took the opportunity to grab a “new” one without paying a new price.  He’s okay, but hardly the most exciting, much like the Scanning Crew figure was.  These guys are meant to accent the more exciting figures in the set, but not be the primary focus themselves.  In that respect, I guess they do succeed.