#1857: ASP-7

ASP-7

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“From the newly-created footage in Star Wars: A New Hope – Special Edition.”

Those words are proudly splashed across the front of this figure’s packaging.  Remember when that actually would have excited people?  Remember before Lucas kept changing and changing them, and just generally ruining everything?  Pepperidge Farm remembers.  And me; I also remember, which I guess is more relevant for this site, isn’t it?

The ASP-7 was one of the many additional CGI characters added to the original trilogy during Lucas’ first CG-laden Special Edition fever dream, and is, admittedly, one of the less offensive additions.  He just hangs in the background and carry’s some metal bars around.  At least he doesn’t dance in front of the camera…or shoot first…or sound like Temuera Morrison.  Point is, things could have been way worse for old ASPy here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The ASP-7 was released in the 1997 assortment of Power of the Force II, right on top of that whole “Special Edition” thing.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has…articulation.  An exact count’s a little tricky, because it’s hard to tell what’s actually a proper joint, and what’s an un-articulated joining of the plastic.  The general gist is that this guy’s just not terribly mobile.  His sculpt was an all-new offering, and has remained unique to him.  It is simultaneously a product of its time and completely different than the rest of the line it hails from.  He’s honestly far more screen-accurate than a good chunk of the Power of the Force figures, but at the same time, that’s not saying a lot.  As a mid-90s CG model, the ASP-7’s movie counterpart was pretty devoid of detailing, and was quite rudimentary.  This figure follows suit, so while he may not have the wonky proportions of a lot of his compatriots, he also lacks a lot of the fun detail work that really allows most of the line to shine two decades later.  The paintwork on the ASP-7 is decent enough.  Like the sculpt, it matches very closely to the on-screen appearance.  Those rather generic filler gradients of the animation model come through perfectly clear here.  On the plus side, this is undoubtedly an area where it looks better on the toy than in the movie, because this styling of paintwork is fairly common place, especially in toys of this era, so he ends up looking alright.  He’s packed with a single accessory: a pile of bars, just like the ones he’s seen carrying in the movie.  I don’t think you can come up with a better accessory than that, can you?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The ASP-7 is the penultimate figure in the selection of them I grabbed over the summer during one of Lost in Time’s sidewalk sales.  He was grabbed first and foremost because he was a figure I didn’t already have, but also because, hey, kinda nifty robot, right?  I know the actual review segment here was kind of rough on him.  He’s not the finest offering this line had, not by a long shot.  But, as with so many of the figures in this line, I still can’t help but kind of love this little guy, warts and all.

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#1855: Gamorrean Guard

GAMORREAN GUARD

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Burly, pig-like brutes who favoured axes and other primitive weapons, Gamorreans were often used as muscle by Hutt and other underworld kingpins. Jabba the Hutt employed a gang of intimidating Gamorreans to guard his palace on Tatooine.”

One of the things that makes it so easy to get really, really invested in Star Wars is all of the interestingly designed and individually maintained creatures that serve as little more than set-dressing, especially for the Original Trilogy, where each of them had to be crafted through intense prosthesis or advanced puppetry.  Sometimes, it was even a combination of the two, as was the case for today’s focus, the Gamorrean Guard.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Gamorrean Guard is kind of the Star Wars: The Black Series counterpart to the Archangel I reviewed last week.  He’s the first figure in a sub-set of deluxe offerings for the line.  He’s already been followed by Molloch from Solo (who I’m all but positive will be available at a Target near you for many, many years to come) and will be followed up again by General Grievous some time next year.  The Guard is a Target-exclusive, but it doesn’t look like the others in the line will be.  Time will tell.  The Guard is, of course, based on its appearance from Return of the Jedi.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation, which includes a posable jaw.  I appreciate that Hasbro is continuing to work that feature into the more inhuman figures.  The Guard is actually surprisingly mobile, given his design; Hasbro’s put a lot of effort into giving him the most sensible and efficient articulation possible.  His unique design also warrants a unique sculpt, and, like all of the more out-there aliens we’ve gotten from this line, it’s quite a good sculpt.  Hasbro’s clearly had some fun with this one, and there’s just a ton of detailing worked it, from the slight texturing of the skin to the un-even patch-work stitching of his leather vest.  Elements such as the armored plates on the shoulders, the straps on his torso, and his helmet are separate parts, giving the sculpt a nice sense of depth, and allowing for each of those parts to have all of its proper detailing.  The loin cloth is made from faux-fur, which is a fairly traditional way of handling this part of the design in toy form.  I’m always a little skeptical about the mixed media offerings on Black Series figures, but Hasbro definitely made the right choice here; the fur just wouldn’t have looked right any other way.  The Guard’s paintwork is fairly standard faire for the line at this point, which is to say it’s nicely rendered, and suitably subtle.  It’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it certainly gets the job done.  The Gamorrean Guard is packed with two axes and a staff, as seen wielded by different Guards throughout the Palace sequences of the film, thereby allowing for a bit of army building, if that’s your prerogative.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Guard had, initially anyway, proved rather illusive for a good number of collectors.  He showed up on Target’s site several months back, and people were able to place pre-orders, but those took their sweet time getting out there, and the figures took even longer to make it to store shelves.  I found one a couple of months ago, but I opted to spend the money on something else at the time, and when I made it back, he was long gone.  Fortunately, I lucked into a fresh case of them a couple of weeks ago, while I was out and about with Super Awesome Fiancee.  I like this figure overall.  The Guard was never a particular favorite of mine, but he does translate well to the Black Series style.  I’m cautiously approaching the rest of this “deluxe” line, though.  The Guard feels a little light for the heightened price, and Moloch even more-so.  I worry that Hasbro’s going to price themselves out of this line before they get a chance to really explore the style.

#1854: Captain Rex

CLONE CAPTAIN REX

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Clone Captain Rex served the Republic during the Clone Wars, often taking orders from Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano.  He viewed military service as an honor, and he always completed his mission.”

When The Black Series launched, I was sticking to a pretty firm “no prequels” rule.  Even before breaking that rule so many times over, I had a small few exceptions.  Amongst them was the focus of today’s review, Clone Captain Rex.  Introduced during the second Clone Wars cartoon, Rex has become one of the biggest break-out characters of the entire prequel era, and is, for me, one of that whole shebang’s most redeeming aspects.  And now I have yet another Rex figure.  Noice.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain Rex was initially released as an exclusive to HasCon last year, before seeing a proper release as figure 59 in the main Black Series line-up, hitting stores in the same early 2018 assortment as Island Journey Rey and DJ.  This Rex, like his smaller Black Series counterpart, is based on his design from the end of the Clone Wars show, as they approached the Revenge of the Sith aesthetic.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  All of the prior Black Series Clone Trooper releases I’ve looked at have drawn from the same pool of parts.  This figure, on the other hand, uses an entirely unique sculpt.  As much as I like that old sculpt, I definitely appreciate the changed-up design here, which has sharper detailing, slightly more balanced proportions, and a much more-improved range of motion on the joints.  The articulation is definitely my favorite aspect of the new sculpt, especially the shoulders, which actually slot into the shoulder socket, rather than just pushing upward.  Like Wolffe, Rex features a removable helmet, which is reasonable enough, though I can’t say that Rex’s animated design has translated all that well to the realistic styling.  Fortunately, the helmet is very nicely sculpted and stays on tightly once in place, so you never have to take it off if you don’t want to.  Rex’s paint work is one of the best Black Series offerings I’ve gotten.  All of the base work is cleanly applied, he’s got some pretty solid weathering on the armored sections (though it gets a little heavy on his helmet and the belt), and he even has all of the tally marks, like his smaller version, no doubt tracking his kill count.  It’s a fun little touch, and I’m glad it was included here.  Rex is packed with his twin blaster pistols, which are the same ones we saw with Wolffe, and are a very sensible choice for Rex, since he was usually seen carrying them.  Like with Wolffe, to have Rex properly dual-wield them, you will need to free his left hand’s trigger finger from the other three, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, as noted, I’m a pretty big fan of Rex.  I couldn’t get the exclusive, so I was definitely down for the mass release…or I would have been if I had been able to find him anywhere.  But, try and try as I may, I had no luck with that.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s been working to get out re-freshes of some of the harder to find figures, so I was able to get in on a preorder for one of those.  It took its sweet time to get here, but he was certainly worth the wait.  By far, Rex is the strongest of the Clone Commanders we’ve gotten, and I’m really happy that I was able to get a hold of one.

#1852: General Veers

GENERAL VEERS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A cool and efficient leader, General Veers led the Imperial assault on Hoth, marching his AT-AT walkers across the planet’s frozen plains and destroying the massive generators powering the Rebel base’s protective energy field.”

Star Wars fans love elevating those seemingly minor characters to unexpected heights, and General Maximillian Veers is just another example of that.  The guy’s in two scenes in Empire but he’s perhaps one of the most popular ranking Imperial Officers within the fanbase, and has a fully fleshed out backstory and all sorts of other media appearances.  And now, he’s even got a Black Series figure, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

General Veers is the latest Walgreens-exclusive Black Series release.  Samples have been showing up since early in the summer, but the proper release seems to have just started hitting in the last couple of weeks.  If the precedent set by the other Walgreens-exclusive Black Series offerings is anything to go by, he shouldn’t be tricky to track down.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  Veers, rather unsurprisingly, shares quite a few parts with the Tarkin figure.  Hey, same uniform, and same basic build, so it’s definitely a sensible idea (and also goes along with the Walgreens offerings being heavy on the re-used parts).  The torso’s been slightly tweaked, to ensure he has his proper denotations of rank, and he’s got a new head and some gloved hands.  The head features a pretty solid likeness of actor Julian Glover.  It’s not quite as remarkable as the Peter Cushing likeness, but still very, very close.  The paintwork on Veers is up to the new standard with these figures.  The face is using the printed technique, which works well here, and the rest of the standard paint is fairly sharp as well.  Despite his rather brief appearance, Veers is notable for having two distinct appearances in the film.  This figure’s accessories, a standard uniform cap, and a helmet and chest plate, allow for both of those designs to be achieved with this figure.  I definitely prefer the armored look, which adds a nice unique flair to Veers, but I definitely appreciate the extra parts.  He also includes a small blaster pistol, should you want to make him even more battle-ready.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was pleasantly surprised to find this guy at one of my nearest Walgreens.  Veers has always been a favorite of mine (hey, I fall into that “character-elevating Star Wars fans” category; I won’t deny it), and I was definitely looking forward to this figure.  He did not disappoint.  The dual looks really add a lot to him, and he’s just a very fun offering.

#1843: Lak Sivark

LAK SIVRAK

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“The Shistavanen Wolfman, expert hunter, tracker and Imperial world scout meets the mysterious Rebel Florn Iamproid, Dice Ibegon. The two would eventually become Rebel Warriors and fight in the Battle of Hoth.”

When looking to fill the Mos Eisly Cantina with an assortment of visually interesting creatures, the effects team initially set out creating all sorts of new and unique creatures, the likes of Panda Baba, Momaw Nadon, and even Greedo.  But, sometimes you don’t have time to make an expensive and unique costume, so you just have to make due with an off-the-shelf wolf man costume.  Thus began the life of Lak Sivrak, the cantina patron that George Lucas hates, precisely because he’s just an off-the-shelf wolf man.  For the 1997 special edition, Lak found himself replaced all together, with a totally new alien, but that didn’t stop him from getting an action figure as a consolation prize.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lak Sivrak was released in the 1998 assortment of Power of the Force II figures.  The figure stands 3 1/2 inches tall (because of the slouch) and has 6 points of articulation (unaffected by the slouch).  Have I mentioned the slouch?  It figures somewhat prominently into this guy’s sculpt, which was brand-new at the time, and has remained unique to him.  It’s a pretty decent offering.  As an alien, he’s not held back by this biggest issues that plagued Power of the Force, being far less stylized looking that his compatriots.  Sure, he’s still quite stylized, but he looks less so, and that’s really the important thing, right?  The aforementioned hunch falls in line with the typical pre-posing of these figures, but when it’s applied to a wolf man creature, it’s certainly less noticeable than it would be on the likes of Han or Luke.  Maybe that’s just how he stands all the time.  We don’t know, we’ve only seen him that one time, and he was sitting down.  Weird wolf man posture canon confirmed.  You heard it hear first, guys.  Lak’s paintwork is pretty standard faire.  It’s clean, it matches well with the source material, and there’s enough small detail and accent work to keep him from looking too bland, so I think we can call that a win.  Lak is packed with a blaster pistol, a “vibro-blade” (whatever the heck that is), and one of the freeze frame slides, offering up proof that, yes, this guy really was in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Lak is yet another more recent addition to my collection, though recent is becoming increasingly relative in these reviews.  I picked him up from one of Lost in Time’s sidewalk sales back during the spring, alongside a whole slew of other figures.  He’s nice enough, and has the virtue of being something of a talking point, due to his disappearance during the special editions.  And hey, if nothing else, he’s a pretty sweet Wolf Man figure, right?

#1841: Solo Set

HAN SOLO — MIMIBAN, STORMTROOPER — MIMIBAN, STORMTROOPER SQUAD LEADER, MUDTROOPER, IMPERIAL PATROL TROOPER, & TIE FIGHTER PILOT

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

Solo may not have been quite the box-office-smash that Disney was hoping for, but it’s maintained a nice little following of fans, and by extension has managed to support a nice little selection of continuing merchandise.  While its toy presence hasn’t been quite as pervasive as the three films that preceded it, there are still some fun pieces trickling out.  Target’s picked up a healthy helping of exclusives, including today’s set, a selection of the film’s various Imperial forces, all in one convenient package!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set is a Target-exclusive boxed set, part of Hasbro’s continuing Solo line.  It started hitting retail shelves about two weeks ago, and if other such sets are anything to go by, it’ll be staying on them for at least a little while.

HAN SOLO

It would be a little bit strange to have a Solo set that didn’t include the title character, and as luck would have it, he does spend at least some of his screen time in an Imperial uniform, so he still fits the overall theme of the set.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation (get used to those numbers; they stand true for most of this set).  The sculpt is “unique” in the sense that it’s new to this set, but not totally unique to just this figure.  It’s a solid sculpt, nicely detailing Han’s environment specific armor from Mimiban.  The goggles and rebreather are separate from the main head sculpt, allowing for a fully revealed or fully covered look, which means he can operate both as a Han variant or a troop builder, depending on your fancy.  Also of note, the pre-posed arms, allowing for a proper handling of his weapon.  It’s a nice change of pace after a couple of years of purely straight-armed set-ups.  Han’s paintwork is solid, and pretty straight forward.  Application is mostly pretty clean, and all of the important details are there.  It gets the job done.  Han is packed with a blaster rifle, of a different style than we usually see.

STORMTROOPER

Perhaps the most difficult figure to find in the single-packed assortment was the Mimiban Stormtrooper.  He was a new trooper and he was packed at one per case.  Maybe not the best break-down, but at least Hasbro was nice enough to offer up a straight re-issue here.  The figure’s sculpt has a lot in common with the Rogue One Stormtrooper; no actual shared parts, but a very similar styling.  This new sculpt is pre-posed like the above Han, allowing for a proper rifle-holding pose.  His helmet has been slightly tweaked to add his blast shield, and he also gets an additional cape piece.  His paintwork is suitably muddy for the much more worn-in Mimiban armor, covering him in all sorts of much and grossness.  The Mimiban Stormtrooper is packed with a larger marksman rifle, as well as one of the standard E-11 blasters.

SQUAD LEADER

Hey, remember that awesome Rogue One Stormtrooper?  And then remember the Mimiban Stormtrooper?  Great.  Smash those two together and throw in a shoulder pauldron, and boom, you’ve got this guy.  Not really anything new, but it makes for the best Trooper variant available in the modern line, so I’m definitely counting this one as a win.

MUDTROOPER

Hey, remember the Han figure from up above?  Great.  This is the same figure.  Okay, not exactly.  The helmet and goggles are all one piece, and his rebreather is glued in place.  Throw on a slightly different application of paint on his right arm, and a slightly different blaster rifle and boom, new figure.

PATROL TROOPER

Easily one of my favorite designs from Solo was the Patrol Trooper.  It’s not a huge surprise, given that its really just a take on the Biker Scout, my favorite Trooper design of all time.  The absence of the Patrol Trooper from earlier assortments was definitely my biggest complaint about the line-up.  This figure gets an all-new sculpt, and boy is it a nice one.  The details are really sharply defined, and very accurate to the film.  It’s a slick design, and it certainly translated well into toy form.  The paint work maintains the slickness, with clean application and a lot of smaller details that you might not expect to see on a lower end figures.  There’s a lot of detail work going on there, and it makes the figure all the better.  Since a full patrol speeder seems like a bit much to ask for in this sort of set, the Patrol Trooper instead has to settle for a Biker Scout-esque blaster pistol.  Worse things have happened.

TIE FIGHTER PILOT

Though they don’t figure prominently into the film at any real point, there certainly have to be some TIE Pilots in Solo, somewhere, right?  More importantly, Hasbro had this great TIE Pilot mold sitting around, and had only released it a single time, so I guess they wanted everyone to have another shot at it.  This figure is sculpturally identical to the Rogue One version packed in with the TIE Striker.  Like the Rogue One Stormtrooper, it’s one of the most screen accurate sculpts Hasbro has produced, making it a fantastic offering even in spite of its lessened articulation.  The paintwork is ever so slightly tweaked from the last release, with a small bit of extra detailing on his helmet denoting that this figure is a higher ranking pilot than the last.  That’s a cool touch.  The TIE Pilot is packed with a mid-sized blaster, same as the prior release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Care to guess where I got this Target-exclusive set?  Did you guess “Target”?  Good for you!  You get the FiQ-No-Prize!  I didn’t quite know when or even where this set was hitting, but I knew as soon as I saw that Patrol Trooper that I was getting one.  So…I kinda bought this big set for one figure.  I know, bad Ethan.  In my defense, the Patrol Trooper is really, really good, and I found myself happy with all of the figures included, so I don’t at all feel like the money I spent was wasted.

#1829: Grand Moff Tarkin

GRAND MOFF TARKIN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“As one of Emperor Palpatine’s most loyal administrators, Grand Moff Tarkin devised and administered the construction of the first Death Star battle station. The governor ruled a large section of the Outer Rim Territories, including Tatooine, with an iron fist of terror and brutality.”

Though a prominent character in the franchise’s first installment, as an old guy in a grey military uniform, Wilhuff Tarkin hasn’t been the most toyetic character from the Star Wars movies.  As a matter of fact, Tarkin was the only major character to be completely absent from the vintage line.  His first action figure would come over a decade later.  I’ll be taking a look at that figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Moff Tarkin was released in 1997 as part of Power of the Force II’s second year.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has the usual 6 points of articulation.  Tarkin sported a brand-new sculpt, which would remain unique to him (Captain Piett would make use of a similar selection of pieces, but they were just different enough to be…different).  It’s a decent sculpt, and an early break from the extreme proportions of the line.  I mean, sure, he’s still got a bit more bulk than Peter Cushing ever did, but compared to some of the others in the line, he was downright normal looking.  His face even sports a halfway-decent likeness of Cushing, certainly one of the best human likenesses Power of the Force II produced.  While he lacks some of the sharper detailing that a lot of the aliens from this line got, all of the important details are there, and he certainly still looks respectable.  The paint work on Tarkin is clean and fairly simple.  There’s a little bit of slop on some of the silver parts, but it’s minor.  Tarkin is packed with two different styles of blasters: one small, one mid-sized.  Not bad for a guy who never carries a single blaster in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve mentioned a few times before in these PotF2 reviews that my cousin Patrick and I sort of had this shared collection of these figures.  As such, there are a number of figures I never personally owned, which I still have some memories of.  He had a Tarkin, which was sadly lost on the beach on one of our family vacations.  That stuck with me for a while, and I never did get around to finding my own.  I got this one during a sidewalk sale at Lost In Time Toys over the summer.  Tarkin’s a decent figure.  Sure, there have been better versions of the character over the years, but for his first go, this one’s pretty darn good.

#1810: Admiral Ackbar

ADMIRAL ACKBAR

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE 2 (KENNER)

“A respected member of the Mon Calamari species, Admiral Ackbar serves as a senior Rebel Alliance adviser. He commanded the attack on the second Death Star from aboard his personal flagship during the Battle of Endor.”

It’s a trap!  Sorry, I think I’m contractually obligated to start every Admiral Ackbar review that way.  Just no way of getting around it.   So, now that it’s out of the way, let’s just have a looks-y at this here Admiral Ackbar figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Admiral Ackbar was released in the 1997 assortment of Power of the Force II figures.  He was Ackbar’s second figure, following his original vintage release.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Ackbar was sporting a brand-new sculpt, and as a more inhuman character, he’s got perhaps one of the most accurate sculpts from this era of the line.  There’s a ton of detail going on in the head and hands, and it looks really good.  Honestly, I’m not even sure that more recent figures have topped this.  Definitely some top-notch work going on here.  The rest of the body is fairly basic by comparison, but that’s in keeping with how Ackbar’s design worked in the movie.  His proportions are a little bit bulked up when compared to the movie, which was of course in keeping with the rest of the line.  That being said, he’s not that far removed, and I think some of the differences can be written off as simply making for a somewhat sturdier toy.  The paintwork on Ackbar is actually quite complex for the time.  The head and hands have quite a bit of subtle accent work, making them look more properly skin-like, and accenting the already quite detailed head.  Ackbar was packed with a wrist-mounted blaster.  Fairly certain he doesn’t sport this one in the movie, but I guess we can’t blame them for trying, can we?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ackbar was not amongst the figures I had growing up.  I think I just didn’t really have an appreciation for the character until I was a bit older.  He’s one of the more recent additions to my collection, grabbed during one of Lost in Time’s sidewalk sales.  The figure is definitely one of the best figures from PotF2; his more alien design allows for a figure that’s aged quite a bit better than the rest.

#1807: Rebel Solider – Hoth

REBEL SOLDIER — HOTH

STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION (HASBRO)

In the hiatus between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Hasbro launched a brand-new style of Star Wars figure.  They were higher quality sculpts, much more articulated than the standard faire, and, coolest of all, they had packaging based on that of the old vintage figures.  The Vintage Collection ran for three series of four figures each, one assortment from each movie in the original trilogy.  In 2010, the line was re-launched, with a more expansive selection of figures.  It went on hiatus in 2012, and was in the mean time replaced by the smaller-scale Black Series offerings.  Following the franchise’s 40th anniversary, however, the line has been brought back from hiatus!  I’ll be looking at the first assortment’s one true “vintage” character, the Hoth Rebel Soldier!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rebel Soldier is one of the six figures in the first series of the re-launched Vintage Collection.  He, like all but one of his case-mates, is essentially a straight re-release of a prior figure, specifically the clean-shaven Rebel Soldier from 2010’s Target-exclusive “Defense of Hoth” boxed set.  The figure was meant to see a single-packed release as a running change to The Legacy Collection’s bearded Rebel, but that never materialized, leaving this guy exclusive to a boxed item, and thereby difficult to acquire for the purposes of army building.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  While he’s not quite as mobile as some of the more recent offerings from Hasbro, he’s pretty good for a figure who was sculpted almost a decade ago.  He’s well-proportioned, and his uniform is sharply detailed, matching up well with the film.  The helmet is removable, albeit slightly tricky to get off the first time.  I like it well enough, though I’m not super crazy about the scarf, as it seems to make him a little too specific for army building.  The underlying head is distinct enough to look like a real person, while still being generic enough to allow for some army building.  He’s not bearded, which is good, since most of the Hoth Rebels were not.  The skirt piece is cloth, which looks slightly off when compared to the rest of the figure, but allows for much better posability, so I don’t mind it so much.  The paintwork on this figure is clean, and well-applied.  I generally like to see weathering on these sorts of figures, but for the Hoth guys, it’s not as big a deal, since snow’s trickier.  The Rebel Soldier is packed with a blaster rifle, a pistol, and a survival pack, which is a pretty decent assortment of extras, especially given the smaller available area in the vintage packaging.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Rebel Soldier’s been by far the scarcest of the new Vintage Collection, no doubt due to his army building potential.  As such, finding one wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.  I managed to track one down by scouting out an out of the way Walmart that had just put out its case.  I’m glad I got him, because he’s a really strong figure, and the best Hoth Rebel out there.

The Blaster In Question #0068: First Order Stormtrooper Blaster (Rival)

BlasterInQuestion1

FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER BLASTER

STAR WARS (RIVAL)

RivalStorm1Hold on. We’ve been here several times before, haven’t we?  No, once again, we’re looking at yet another First Order Stormtrooper blaster. What is this, the fourth blaster with this name?  Yes, but with a big difference. Hitherto, all the various Stormtrooper blasters have been standard dart blasters, but this particular iteration is in fact, a Rival blaster. How’s that work then? Let me tell you. Onto the review. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

RivalStorm2Arent you a little big for a stormtrooper blaster? Not you, the reader, was doing a bit where I—  you know, because of the quote from— look, nevermind.  The Rival version of the First Order Stormtrooper blaster was released in 2018 as one of the more “collector’s” style of blaster like we’ve seen with the Boba Fett Apollo reskin and the Deadpool Kronos. Like both previous examples, this blaster comes in a fancy display style of box with lots of stormtrooper imagery, as you’d expect. Unlike the other blasters, though, this isn’t simply a recolor, it’s an entirely new shell, and boy is it a shell. Mechanically speaking, the Stormtrooper blaster works just like the Helios, albeit without the ability to switch the charging handle from one side to the other. Because of this, the body of the blaster has to accommodate the same layout of internals, which is why the stock section looks a little chunky compared to props from the movies. Add to that the barrel and fore grip section which isn’t present on the Helios and you now have a pretty huge blaster.  Not that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, but it does throw a couple RivalStorm3things off just a bit in terms of the design. More of that later. Out of the box, the blaster comes with 2 extra bits that are meant to be slotted into the right side in order to make it more visually accurate to the movie prop. They don’t serve any function beyond aesthetics but I did find it interesting that they are easily removable, I guess if you want to put everything back in the nice display box. There is a scope molded into the body of the blaster so it’s not removable, but it might have been nice if they put any kind of reticle in there at all. As it stands, it’s just a tube. The aforementioned wonkiness in scale probably has the greatest impact on ergonomics. The first thing you notice when picking this up is that the grip is absolutely huge and kind of blocky. I know the Sterling submachine gun has a grip with flat sides, and consequently, so does the movie prop on which it’s built, but some contouring around where the webbing of my thumb sits would have made a big difference here, especially since the Helios has just such contouring, so it’s not an issue for RivalStorm4preserving the function of the blaster. Secondly, because the stock is so thick, the butt plate is much wider than it would be normally. Again, wouldn’t have been an issue with some light contour work, but for now, the wide plate with hard edges along the sides can be unpleasant if you don’t seat it just right on your shoulder. And that’s really all the functional complaints I have about this. I mean, it’s a Helios and I love the Helios. The charging handle on the left side is hinged so it can flip up to be more out of the way for storage or what have you, and is a pretty good shape for being as slim as it is. As a Rival blaster, performance is solid, firing hard and far, definitely something to give your younger siblings pause. The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster comes packaged in its fancy box with the two extra decorative pieces, a 7 round Rival magazine, and 7 special red Rival rounds, you know, ‘cause it’s a laser gun. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I do actually have one more complaint about the blaster, but I saw this one coming the moment I saw it unveiled at Toy Fair. It’s expensive. Really expensive. Such is always the case with licensed blasters. If you want a Helios, you can get one for about 1/4 the price of this. I got mine through GameStop with a bit of a discount, but still, you have to be sure you want this if you’re planning on picking one up. Maybe if you’re feeling crafty, you could paint the white parts gold and have yourself a Captain Phasma blaster. Then in true movie fashion you could never fire it once and then try to apprehend a deserter with a stick. Good choiceRivalStormbox