#2226: First Order Driver & Treadspeeder

FIRST ORDER DRIVER & TREADSPEEDER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

Oh, you probably thought I was done with Galaxy of Adventures, didn’t you?  What with the “please buy the line” urging at the end, plus that whole shot of all the figures, and it seeming like I was done.  Well…I kinda thought I was done, too.  But I forgot there was actually one more item in the launch, which is the thing I’m gonna be looking at today.  See, one of the things that was surprisingly absent on Triple Force Friday was vehicles.  With no basic 3 3/4 inch line, we only really had the Vintage Collection to go on, and that was just the two X-Wings.  Galaxy of Adventures did give us one more little reprieve of vehicle coverage, however, with an update on the speeder bike concept, the Treadspeeder!

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

The First Order Driver and Treadspeeder set is the highest price-point item in the Galaxy of Adventures line, following the classic 5 POA-style vehicle packing of “figure and vehicle”.  It’s sold in one of those open style boxes, which is always a little frightening to me, but ultimately mine was in okay condition, so no worries.

FIRST ORDER DRIVER

While the Jet Trooper is the only single-packed army builder at launch, we do get one more trooper, the First Order Driver.  Not a terribly imposing name, but it’s fairly descriptive.  The Driver merges the basic First Order Stormtrooper with a little bit of Scout Trooper.  I’m always okay with mixing in a little bit of Scout Trooper.  It’s worth noting that this particular look stays a little more on-brand than the old Scout Trooper did, making him feel more like a later-era take on the Imperial Patrol Trooper.  Ultimately, it’s a design that’s is distinctly different enough from a standard Stormtrooper to warrant them both getting a release in the line, while close enough that the lack of a basic Stormtrooper at launch doesn’t hit quite as hard.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Structurally, this figure is very similar to the Jet Trooper figure, although it’s worth noting that as similar as parts of them may look, there are no shared parts between the two figures.  I do, however, expect for this guy to have some of his parts re-used for the inevitable standard Stormtrooper.  Whatever the case, the articulation on this figure is essentially a match for the Jet Trooper, meaning that the Driver is quite mobile, which does seem pretty important for a guy who needs to be able to properly sit on a vehicle.  By this point in the reviews, the stylization of this line is pretty cut and dry.  As a masked character, the Driver is slightly less impacted by it, though it’s a little more obvious on him than it was on the Jet Trooper.  Again, there’s a real Clone Wars-vibe on him, especially with the proportions on the body, and the general layout of the articulation.  His paintwork is fairly standard, though I appreciate that he actually has a few little details on his chest piece to differentiate him from the basic Troopers.  The white/black is a clean combo, and while there’s a little bit of white bleed through on the black sections, it’s generally pretty good.  The Driver is packed with a small blaster pistol, and like the Jet Trooper, features a quick draw action.

TREADSPEEDER

The Treadspeeder is an all-new vehicle for Rise of Skywalker (though we’ve gotten a taste of it in a few of the comics ahead of the movie), but it’s not like it’s all that new a concept, and in many ways is following the sequel trilogy of similar story beats for each corresponding movie compared to the original trilogy.  But I won’t complain if you don’t.  Compared to the much smaller, much more nimble speeder bike of old, the Treadspeeder is a big boi, more of a utilitarian tank than its predecessor.  It’s an interesting design element, because other sequel trilogy elements have tended to go sleeker and more futuristic, while this seems more primitive.  Perhaps Kylo’s influence on the First Order is slowing progress a bit?  Whatever the case, it’s a cool design, and a slightly different take on things, which is never a problem.  The actual toy is definitely designed with gimmicks in mind.  The most basic and simple is definitely the rolling wheels on the bottom, which make it a bit more practical than other speeders in that regard.  Of course, since it’s a speeder, the main gimmick is a pop-apart function.  It’s been that way since ’83, and it’s not going to change now.  Pushing the button on the back pops the front plate in two separate directions and launches the driver out of his seat.  It’s a little bit temperamental, and the armor plate has trouble staying in place when you’re not using the feature, which can be a little annoying.  The speeder also has a missile launched built into one side, as well as storage for the driver’s gun on the left side of the vehicle.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so this would be the one thing I didn’t get at the same time as all of the others, mostly because it appears that Walmart isn’t carrying it.  I had looked at it at the same time that I picked up the Jet Trooper, but was ultimately unsure about dropping $25 to try out the line.  After being confident that I liked the line, I tracked it down again, courtesy of Target, who happened to be having a sale on it, which really pushed me over the edge on picking it up.  The vehicle’s not bad.  Not the best vehicle I’ve ever picked up, but not the worst thing either.  The Driver’s another solid figure, though, and I’m certainly glad to have him with my set.

#2035: Imperial Jumptrooper

IMPERIAL JUMPTROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“An elite squadron within the Imperial ranks, jump troopers (also known as rocket troopers) were outfitted with jetpacks and utilized in tight spaces.  They were trained to act in unison, often swarming and overwhelming their targets.”

Since the standard Imperial Stormtroopers first graced the screen back in 1977, we’ve been getting a steady stream of variants on the concept, be they Sandtroopers, Snowtroopers, Scout Troopers, etc.  There have been a few recurring concepts among the non-movie variants.  A popular one is the Jumptrooper, which has found its way into comics, video games, and, most recently, Star Wars: Rebels.  And now, it’s gotten a new figure, courtesy of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Jumptrooper is a GameStop-exclusive offering from the Black Series line, released in the last couple of months.  The Jumptrooper is based on his Rebels appearance, specifically the commanding officer of the squad, as denoted by the colored shoulderpad.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The Jumptrooper re-uses a lot of parts from the standard Stormtrooper figure, which is pretty sensible, given that the designs are pretty similar.  It’s also a pretty solid sculpt in its own right, and certainly a nice starting point.  He has a new helmet, backpack, and shoulder pads, which match well with the pre-existing parts, and also match up well with his design from the show (albeit modified for a more real-world appearance).  Most importantly, though, they set him nicely apart from the standard trooper.  I really dig the changes they’ve made, because he’s just a super sleek looking figure.  The colorwork on the Jumptrooper is subtle, but pretty impressive.  The glossier finish of the armor looks nicer than the matte finish of the original, as do the additional accenting details that the original lacked on the belt and boots.  Throw in a little extra splash of color, and you’ve got a figure that pops nicely on the shelf.  The Jumptrooper is packed with a standard E-11 Stormtrooper blaster and a brand-new style of display stand.  The stand’s not quite as conventional as I’d hoped for, but it can make for some decent running poses once you get it properly seated.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As soon as the Jumptrooper was unveiled, I knew I wanted one.  Something about the design just immediately jumped out at me (heh), so when I found out he was a GameStop exclusive, it was Super Awesome Fiancee to the rescue!  She was kind enough to pre-order this guy through her work for me, thereby making his acquisition fairly painless.  I’m very happy with the final figure.  He’s definitely one of my favorite troopers.

#1909: Imperial Patrol Trooper

IMPERIAL PATROL TROOPER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As the Empire reinforces its hold on worlds across the galaxy, local defense forces are being supplemented – and eventually completely replaced – with Imperial Stormtroopers. To cover distances across sprawling settlements and cities, Patrol Stormtroopers police the streets and alleys aboard swift interceptor speeder bikes.”

Hands down my favorite Trooper design in all of Star Wars is Return of the Jedi’s Scout Trooper.  I’m not alone in this, and the designers behind the various movies and cartoons and the like have made a pretty steady go at calling back to that particular design as we’ve trekked on through the franchise.  Oh, wait, wrong “Star” franchise.  As we’ve warred on through the franchise.  There, that’s better.  Anyway, the latest call back to the Scout Trooper is Solo’s Imperial Patrol Trooper, who is essentially the galaxy far, far away’s equivalent of a motorcycle patrol cop.  The design found its way into the Titan Heroes line pretty quickly, but there’s been more of a wait for the two more conventional styles.  I snagged the big trooper boxed set from the smaller line a few months back, and now I’ve got the Black Series release!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Imperial Patrol Trooper is figure 72 in the Black Series line-up, placing him right after Val from yesterday.  He is, unsurprisingly, from the same assortment, and started showing up at retail in the last month or so.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  The articulation on this guy is some of the best we’ve seen in the line, and I’d certainly say it’s the best we’ve seen on any of the troopers.  What’s most impressive about the articulation and its mobility is just how little compromising they’ve done with the integrity of the sculpt.  At first glance, I was really expecting this figure’s posabilty to be another First Order Trooper situation, where he looked quite nice, but struggled with anything but basic poses.  I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.  Like his basic line counterpart, the Patrol Trooper’s sculpt is a very strong offering.  It’s clean, the details are sharply defined, and it matches up very well with the movie design.  The figure really emphasizes how slick this design really looks, just as a whole.  If there’s one slight down tick on this figure, it’s the paintwork.  There are some fuzzy edges on the transitions from white to black, which were giving me some flashbacks to the First Order Trooper.  That being said, those issues are rather minor in the grand scheme of the figure, and it’s hardly the worst we’ve seen in this line.  Just not quite as good as recent offerings.  There are still plenty of touches that really help the figure, such as the very dark, metallic green for the visor.  Like his smaller counterpart, the Patrol Trooper includes a small Biker Scout-esque blaster pistol, as well as a removable police baton on his belt.  Both pieces can be easily held by the figure or safely stowed on his belt, by which I was very impressed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of all the upcoming Black Series figures, this one was very near the top of my want list.  I’ve loved this design since the moment I saw it, and I’ve been patiently awaiting his release.  I actually saw him at retail twice before getting him as a Christmas gift (Super Awesome Fiancee played the fact that she was getting him for me very close to the vest), but I managed to hold out.  Yay for me.  While there are some quite minor flaws, I am very, very happy with this figure.  Of course, now I kinda want a Patrol Bike to go with him.  Damn you Hasbro!

#1890: Imperial Assault Tank Driver

IMPERIAL ASSAULT TANK DRIVER

STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION (HASBRO)

The re-launch of The Vintage Collection after its six year hiatus was rather soft, with its first assortment being almost entirely re-releases from the Walmart-exclusive Black Series releases.  Only Snoke was new, but, honestly, who really cared that much.  Fortunately, the second assortment has flipped the script, with three new figures and only one re-issue.  I’ll be looking at one of new releases, and perhaps the most popular figure in the assortment today.  Without further ado, here’s the Imperial Assault Tank Driver!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Assault Tank Driver is one of the four figures in the second series of the re-launched Vintage Collection line, and is officially numbered VC126.  He’s based on the driver seen during the Jedha sequence of Rogue One.  It was one of the earliest figures we knew was coming from this line, as it was showcased alongside the line’s first vehicle, the Assault Tank.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  From a sculpting standpoint, the Driver has a lot in common with the Walmart-exclusive Scarif Stormtrooper from the 2016 Rogue One assortment.  Given the similarities of the two designs, as well as the fact that the larger-scale figures did the same thing, it’s neither surprising, nor is it a bad choice.  The sculpt was a pretty strong one the first time around, and it remains so now (in general, those Rogue One sculpts were the best to come out of that iteration of The Black Series).  In order differentiate him a bit from his shore-dwelling brethren, the Tank Drive gets a new headsculpt and belt piece, patterned after his unique armor set.  The helmet is particularly sharp, and ends up being a notable improvement over the somewhat softer Scarif Trooper helmet.  We kind of saw this same thing occur with the main 3 3/4″ line’s versions of these two, so my guess is that the Driver’s helmet just better lends itself to a small-scale sculpt.  The Tank Driver’s paintwork is some of the best we’ve seen from Hasbro, especially at this scale.  They’ve used their printing technique to handle the weathering on the figure’s armor, which gives him a nice, worn appearance, matching the somewhat rundown nature of Jedha as we see it in the film.  It’s similar to, but distinctly different from, how things were handled with the Scarif Trooper, and it really gives the figure a lifelike quality.  The Tank Driver is packed with a standard Stormtrooper blaster. It’s molded in a solid grey, which was the slightest bit of a letdown when compared to the more detailed blaster we got with the Scarif Trooper.  But, if they’re gonna cut paint apps, I’d prefer they cut slightly less essential ones like these.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

He’s been somewhat hard to find, but I actually didn’t have any real trouble with this guy.  He was amongst the first case of them I found, about two months ago.  The Tank Driver is a strong design, and I’ve loved him the two prior times I’ve bought him in figure form.  This guy continues that trend, being another very solid offering in the more articulated Star Wars range.  I hope that going forward, this figure represents the trend of figures to come.

#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.

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

#1675: Range Trooper

RANGE TROOPER

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

“The Imperial expansion requires the settlement of vital operations on remote outpost worlds. These frontier Stormtroopers form a backbone of stubborn defense against would-be thieves and pirates.”

Ah, Hasbro and Stormtrooper variants.  They go together like…well, like a successful toy company and a successful franchise’s totally reasonable way to keep producing new toys of with hardcore fans are almost guaranteed to buy multiples.  One of the classic pairs, really.  Though I am perhaps not as committed to building an army as some fans are, I will admit to being drawn in by just about every new trooper that Hasbro puts out, today’s focus, the Range Trooper, included.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Range Trooper is part of the first series of basic Solo figures.  He’s one of two trooper based army builders in the set, and so far he’s been the easier of the two to find at retail.  This new trooper design is meant for more extreme environments, and from the looks of this figure, he specializes in cold areas.  Why do we get the Range Trooper instead of just seeing the Snowtrooper again?  Well, the best answer in-universe is that this movie’s set more than a decade before the Snowtroopers appear in Empire, and it’s probably fair to assume the Imperials have changed up their gear at least a little bit.  The best answer out-of-universe is that this way they can sell more toys.  Works for me.  Anyway, the figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The Range Trooper’s sporting an all-new sculpt, which seems unlikely to see any re-use going forward.  It’s pretty well crafted, depicting him a reasonably bulked up from the additional padding, and handling the actual details of his clothes and armor quite nicely.  He’s definitely on-par with Qi’ra in that regard.  I like that there are some common design elements from other films, with the chestplate being quite similar to the Snowtrooper piece, and the helmet having a few similarities to the Shoretrooper helmets we saw in Rogue One.  It definitely lends some credence to them being an earlier iteration of the Snowtrooper, and also helps solidify that the Shoretrooper helmets were an older environment-based design that was just slowly worked out.  He’s also got those big honking boots, which we learned from the trailers are some sort of magnetic/gravity boots.  They’re a neat design.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty solid work as well.  It’s a lot of off-white, of course, but there’s some pretty decent accent work on the boots.  I just wish it extended to the fur collar, but alas, he’ll just have to be a little cleaner looking than I wanted.  The Range Trooper is packed with a blaster.  At first glance, I thought it was just the standard E-11, but it’s actually slightly tweaked to have a longer barrel and a further forwards scope.  I guess that helps with the range?  That would make sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Lando, this guy proved a little more difficult to acquire, at least at first.  I was fortunate enough to find him the following weekend, at a Target near my brother’s college.  I wasn’t 100% sure about this design when I first saw it, but I find myself really liking it in figure form.  Perhaps I’ll have to track down the Black Series figure at some point down the line.

The Blaster In Question #0054: First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster (Heavy)

BlasterInQuestion1

STORMTROOPER DELUXE BLASTER

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (GLOWSTRIKE)

stormheavy1Hang on a minute… Haven’t I already reviewed this blaster?  Not exactly.  This is really just another example of Nerf running out of names for their products.  It’s hardly a new problem, just ask the Hornet, Snapfire, or Secret Shot, but this is indeed a different blaster from the previous The Force Awakens model.  Being a Stormtrooper blaster, we already know the accuracy is going to be abysmal, but let’s not start the review off biased.  Who knows, maybe it’s actually ok? 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormheavy2The First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster (I’ll call it the Heavy Blaster for clarity’s sake) was released in 2017 as part of the lineup of Star Wars branded blasters in conjunction with the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  It’s built on a standard electronic flywheel setup, albeit with the magazine sticking out the left side of the blaster instead of straight down.  Functionally it operates just like any of the other semi-auto flywheel blasters out there, but it does it with more pizzaz, just so long as pizzaz doesn’t include good performance (spoilers).  The FOSDHB does the same song and dance that all recent Star Wars Nerf products have been doing lately with the Glowstrike and the lights and sounds.  Pressing the rev switch turns on the UV LEDs in the chamber of the blaster as well as revving up the flywheels.  Pulling the trigger activates the lights and sounds regardless of whether or not the rev switch is pressed.  The lights and sounds are decent but could probably have used just a little refinement.  The lights along the barrel flash in succession when the trigger is pulled, creating a kind of laser pulse effect, but given how spread out they are on this blaster, they feel sluggish especially for something that should be traveling at light speed.  The sounds are similarly disappointing.  It seems like Nerf wanted to set the FOSDHB apart by giving it more than one blaster sound effect which sounds good on paper, but less so from the actual blaster.  Instead of having three distinct and stormheavy4unique blast sounds, the FOSDHB has a single “pew” but it is just randomly modulated into one of three pitches which sounds less like laying down suppressing fire on some rebel scum and more like you just suck at playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  Turns out Stormtroopers cant even hit a note.  (HOOOOOO!) That joke has probably been made at least a million times but I still went for it.  You can’t stop me.  The construction of the blaster is mostly pretty solid.  The stock feels a little flimsy but I haven’t had any actual problems with it yet.  At least it has a nifty feature where it can act as magazine storage if you have a spare lying around somewhere.  The ergonomics aren’t bad but it does seem like this blaster has a more modern style grip on it.  After digging around online, I believe this blaster is built on a Lewis Gun which has a very different grip and stock shape.  The blaster in the film also has a neat foldable stand that extends from the underside to create a mounted machine gun kind of setup.  Sadly, the Nerf version doesn’t have this feature but it does at least have a mounting bracket which can be used with the tripod from the Vulcan or RhinoFire if you have one of those.  I probably don’t need to say anything about this blaster’s performance given the enormous barrel, single set of batteries powering all the lights and sounds as well as the motors, or just the track record of Star Wars blasters’ performances, but I will anyway.  It’s bad.  It’s real bad.  stormheavy3The darts that leave the barrel when you fire are just not motivated at all.  I almost wish that instead of laser pew pew sounds, the blaster just had Alan Rickman’s lines from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  They don’t go far, they don’t hit hard, and by the time they’re out of the barrel, most of the glow-in-the-dark charge has faded.  It’s just really not a great blaster.  I would not recommend this one for use against younger siblings.  It does not have the power to back up how obscenely big and noisy it is so you’re more likely to come across as clownish rather than imposing and scary.  Even after all of these issues, I haven’t gotten to the biggest one of them all, the price.  I don’t usually mention the price of blasters unless there’s a good reason to, and in this case, for a vastly underpowered, unwieldy, pew pew Stryfe, an MSRP of $80 is imbecilically high.  It comes with 4 AA batteries already installed, so I guess you can deduct that from the price, but still.  The FOSDHB comes packaged with a 12 round magazine and 12 Glowstrike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Thankfully, I did not pay full price for my blaster.  As with so many new purchases these days,  this came from ToysRUs, the UK to the toy industry’s European Union.  Based on what was said, we really thought they’d be gone by now.  What was I talking about?  Right, politics, that’s what you want from a toy blog.  This blaster is really disappointing, but that being said, if you want one, TRU still has plenty in stock and they’re getting cheaper, so there’s that.  Now let me tell you about Trump.  What’s that?  Ethan has just informed me that I’m fired if I start talking politics.  I suppose that’s reasonable.  Yay toys!

#1642: Sandtrooper

SANDTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Where would the Imperial forces be without their plethora of environment-specific troops? More importantly, where would toymakers be without and endless supply of Stormtrooper variants to keep selling in rotation from now until the end of time?  They’d definitely have to get a little more creative, to say the least.  Interestingly enough, the Sandtrooper, the very first climate-specific Trooper wasn’t initially recognized as it’s own separate thing for quite some time, so it wasn’t until the ’90s that it actually got an action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Sandtrooper was released in the 1996 assortment of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  As noted in the intro, this was the first time the design was released as a figure.  In fact, it was such an uncharted area that initial releases weren’t even called Sandtroopers.  They were “Tatooine Stormtroopers.”  Pretty crazy, right?  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Given the similarities between the two designs, you might think the Sandtrooper re-used a lot from the basic Stormtrooper.  Not the case, though.  Apart from the head and pelvis, the two figures are unique.  I mean, they still are clearly styled from the same basic look, and are the same figure in differing poses, but the two figures maintain mostly unique tooling nevertheless.  The PotF2 Stormtrooper is, of course, one of the goofiest, most 90s-ified figures in the line, so this guy follows suit.  I will give him this, though: he’s at the very least designed to actually hold his weapon two-handed.  It would be a little while before a standard Stormtrooper got that.  Similarities in design aside, the paintwork is the real dividing line between these two figures.  The Sandtrooper is, appropriately, covered pretty much from head to toe in sand.  Seriously, he’s just a real mess.  The figure handles this very nicely, making use of an airbrushed sort of look, which helps to keep him looking quite worn-in.  You definitely won’t be mistaking these two for each other, even without the orange pauldron.  The Sandtrooper is packed with a removable back pack, and a rather large blaster rifle, that, as noted above, he can actually hold the proper way.  Yay!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Sandtrooper is another figure in the ranks of Power of the Force figures I had access to but did not technically own as a child.  There was one at my Grandmother’s house, meant to be shared by my cousin and me.  When the figures were split up and sent home between the two of us, the Sandtrooper went with my cousin, who’d always been more of a trooper fan than myself.  I got this particular figure from the Farpoint charity auction this past year.  He’s just as goofy as his standard issue compatriot, but that doesn’t stop him from being fun.

The Blaster In Question #0038: First Order Stormtrooper Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1FIRST ORDER STROMTROOPER BLASTER

STAR WARS

stormpistol1One little word sure can make a big difference, especially when that word is “deluxe.”  Yes, this is in fact a different blaster review from last week, it’s not a typo.  So what does the First Order have to offer when “deluxe” is off the table?  Well… not very much, as it happens, but let’s have a look at it anyway.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormpistol2The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster was released in 2015, alongside the deluxe version as a promotion for The Force Awakens.  If you’re not sure what part of the movie it’s from, you can be forgiven for missing it because it doesn’t get a lot of screen-time, but it’s there, I promise.  Now, having just recently The Last Jedi, I can tell you it gets a couple scenes where characters using it are front and center on the screen, so that’s nice.  The blaster itself is almost as basic as you can get.  It is a single shot, muzzle loaded pistol with a little spring loaded priming tab in the back.  While the tab does a good job of maintaining the blaster’s aesthetics even when primed, it does mean the actual size of the plunger tube is severely limited.  You can really get a sense of this by how short and light the priming stroke is.  The outer shell is completely new to resemble the blaster from the film and looks pretty accurate… until you actually hold it.  In the film, the SE-44C blaster, which this is designed after, is built on a Glock 17 pistol.  If you’ve been keeping up with my Star Wars Nerf reviews, you’ll know that in general the Nerf blasters have pretty good ergonomics as they’re modeled after props that used real world firearms.  In the case of the FOSB, the shape is right, but the scale is waaaaayyy off.  It feels tiny in the hand.  As such, the normally quite comfortable grip of the Glock has been shrunk down so it no longer lines up with regular human sized hands.   I understand the reasoning behind it, because otherwise there would be just an unnecessarily large body housing a small internal mechanism.  Sure, they could have scaled up the plunger tube to get more air into the system but that… actually, that’s a good idea.  Why didn’t they just do that?  I guess it’s probably safe to assume that it all comes down to cost cutting measures, as is so often the case.  But hey, at least it comes with a cool attachment piece, right?  I mean, it does come with an attachment piece which clips onto the standard Nerf rail on the top of the blaster, but what even is the piece supposed to be?  As far as I can tell it’s a sight(ish) but it sits in the dead center of the blaster and has no other sight to line up to, so it’s kinda useless.  It’s actually really useless, but its on the blaster in the film, so there it is.  The FOSB’s performance is about what you’d expect for a Stormtrooper’s backup blaster.  Distance and power are lacking pretty heavily from that of a regular N-Strike Elite blaster, but you can usually hit your target if the muzzle is just about 5 or 6 inches away from it, so… yay?  Stormtroopers are meant to be imposing and scary, but a couple shot from this blaster and I doubt you’ll be able to maintain that kind of fear-based dominance over your younger siblings when you bust into their room.  The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster comes packaged with the useless sight/spike thingy and 3 of the red Star Wars branded Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the FOSB at the same time I bought its deluxe bigger brother.  I think having the deluxe blaster there distracted me from how lackluster the pistol was.  I’m not saying I regret buying it or owning it, but for the price, we essentially got a Star Wars logo that came with a free Nerf blaster.