Hasbro has increasingly referred to their vehicle-with-figure assortment as "Mini-Rigs," and for a while it seemed baffling why. These vehicles were mostly bikes and guns, not exactly tiny versions of big-screen vehicles or off-camera hardware. Well, we got a couple of samples-- Y-Wing Scout Bomber and a Republic Scout Speeder-- and we will kindly eat our words now. Each vehicle includes an exclusive Clone Trooper figure and includes play features generally unseen in Hasbro's vehicles of this size. They're small, fun, and are arguably more than worth your cash if the word "mini-rig" gets you excited.
UPDATE: Added some notes on weapons storage and compatibility with other large vehicles.
Click through for images and impressions, after the break.
I also found the new B-Wing today-- the Kmart exclusive, $39.99 Vintage-boxed B-Wing-- and find these way more exciting. More on the B-Wing later this weekend.
The vehicles are loaded with play features, some of which were not expected and Hasbro oddly didn't play them uo. For example, fans of G.I. Joe may recognize a standardized and interchangeable weapons system similar to the "Sound Attack" gimmick in the early 2000s, which is also similar to the Mini-Cons and Energon weapons used in Transformers. Hasbro neglected to make a big stink about the feature (like, for example, Transforemrs MechTech this year) but it turns out the Y-Wing bomber had some weird holes on the side of its engines which were designed for the cannons on the vehicle's main body, or from other vehicles sold separately. It's an amazing fun feature that reeks of actual honest-to-goodness toys, which have been sorely lacking across the board outside of Transformers or younger kid lines like Imaginext these days.
I basically went bonkers on Twitter upon receiving these in the mail. Unlike many vehicles, which aspire to recreating a film design, these are crazy new additions to the galaxy with just one goal: be a neat toy. Unlike the boring, dull BARC Speeders (excepting the Obi-Wan Kenobi Sidecar version or the Jess rolling wheel version) these things DO stuff. I loved the Freeco Speeder, but compared to the Mini-Rigs of the 1980s and the 2011 mini vehicles, it's pretty dull. These are a little bigger, a little meatier, and with these two at least, there is a capacity for more than one figure, AND you finally get an enclosed seating area for the pilot. I can't tell you how happy this all makes me as a dyed-in-the-woll toy junkie. It's like the Ghost of Kenner Past invaded the vehicle engineers and not just the toy packaging department.
In addition to the featured vehicles, Hasbro rereleased the Cad Bane Pirate Speeder Bike (which is a perfectly nice-looking toy) and the Naboo Star Skiff which, up until just now, was Hasbro's finest modern take on the 1980s-style Mini-Rigs vehicles. Other new releases include the Separatist Droid Speeder, Castas' Speeder Bike, and a new mini General Grievous Attack Cycle. (Other vehicles shown at Toy Fair 2011 like Boba Fett's Bike and a mini Attack Shuttle have not yet been solicited by Hasbro to customers, as far as we can tell.)
Y-Wing Scout Bomber with Clone Pilot
The Y-Wing Scout Bomber was more or less a surprise, showing up in the assortment with no previous announcement or fanfare, and was solicited under a different name. At just under 9-inches long, it is wonderful. Any animated astromech droid fits in the socket which, for some reason, is opened in the back exposing the individual inside. You could put a trooper in there too, but it looks strange and I don't quite grasp why it wasn't filled in. The guns on the astro socket are also moveable, it can slide around on a track on the back of the vehicle.
Much like the ISP-6 (Imperial Shuttle Pod) there's a rear window in the cockpit area, letting the pilot look out at his droid or whatever's behind him. Also notable (and not necessarily ideal), the nacelles are articulated and for safety reasons, removable. Collectors may wish to crazy glue the things down, but they are moveable if you're so inclined. Each nacelle has a small hexagonal hole on the side to hold the weapons from the front of the ship, or from other mini-vehicles as shown below.
In addition to the guns, each nacelle has a dropping bomb. You push a well-hidden button, and it drops-- simple, gravity does the job nicely.
As a kid, one of the things I would frequently do whenever I got a new small vehicle with seating for two would be to grab R2-D2 and C-3PO to see if they could use it, as I was a pretty big fan of the Droids cartoon as a wee lad. Due to its design, this ship is ideal for such a pairing as the seating area fits pretty much any reasonably-sized figure comfortably, and the astromech socket is as close to literally being made for R2-D2 as any seat can be.
UPDATE: The Y-Wing also has a pair of small pockets next to the driver's seat for blaster storage. Also, many of you asked me to tell you if this can fit in the front section of the Republic Fighter Tanks. Of course not. That's ridiculous.
The Clone Pilot will be featured in an upcoming Figure of the Day, but it's basically the Jess body with a new helmet design. Why they didn't call him "Warthog," which seems to be who he is, is beyond me.
Republic Scout Speeder with ARF Trooper
The Republic Scout Speeder didn't quite get the sudden recent burst of attention as the Y-Wing Scout Bomber, largely because we saw it in February and it didn't make a giant splash then. It turns out that this is another excellent little toy-- it has three rolling wheels on the bottom, so you can actually roll it around on a flat surface. This sort of thing is generally lacking in Star Wars vehicles, the recent Jedi Turbo Speeder and Swamp Speeder come to mind. Its deco is simple, and it matches the aforementioned Swamp Speeder nicely with a red deco, Republic symbol, and the usual grey and silver highlights.
The reasonably small 6 1/2-inch vehicle has seating for one, but a bonus gunner station on the back allowing you to take another clone for a ride with you. Unlike the Y-Wing, where R2's absence is a little more obvious, the subtle gunner platform melts into the vehicle so if you only have the one figure, you won't necessarily feel as if you have an incomplete toy on your hands. Seating for two has been pretty rare on these smaller vehicles, so I'm thrilled to see Hasbro include extras so you can actually bring other toys to the table rather than just use what came in the box.
The little ship as six gun sockets, and six guns-- you can move them around to outfit this vehicle any way you see fit, or you can steal them and hand them off to other vehicles like the Y-Wing. (As I don't have the other new mini-vehicles just yet, I'm not sure quite which ones will be compatible with this new, unnamed system.) Two long cannons, two shorter ones, and a couple of smaller weapons are included. The second-smallest gun looks like it borrowed a design from an X-Wing cannon, which is always a nice little bonus. Like the Y-Wing, no assembly is required beyond putting on the optional extra guns. A sticker was placed on at at the factory.
In addition to the six rotating guns, the gunner's platform and engines are able to turn slightly. This toy provides more oomph than most of Hasbro's other toy vehicles at the price and gives most if not all of the vintage Kenner Mini-Rigs a run for their money in terms of play value. Granted, this one costs more, but such is the march of inflation tied with the increasing needs of the Chinese manufacturing classes. At $15-$20, it's a good piece.
So there you have it! Two new tiny vehicles, shipping online or to stores near you. The good thing-- or bad thing-- is this really shows a different mentality when it comes to design. If you look at the comparison shot at the top of the page, you can see that vehicles like the Naboo Star Skiff-- previously one of the best of the line-- still looks good, but the tiny Mandalorian Speeder Bike has gone from iffy to downright awful by comparison.
These are available from our sponsors at Entertainment Earth, which is where I got mine.