Expert in Killing and White Uniforms
The Black Series 6-Inch Assortment
Item No.: Asst. A4301 No. A4305
Points of articulation: 22
Includes: Pistol, rifle, grenade launcher, backpack
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: July 2013
Appearances: Star Wars
Verdict: Just buy it, you know you're going to. There's room for improvement, but let's not kid ourselves about this being anything other than Hasbro's best-ever Sandtrooper in any size. The figure is easy to nitpick because it's loaded with details and features which should make fans both happy and agitated all at once.
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Bio: Imperial Sandtroopers fall prey to a Jedi mind trick that makes them ignore the two droids they are searching for. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)
Hasbro's Stormtrooper and Sandtrooper designs in 3 3/4-inch have been stagnant since 2004, so this one is a big jump in a new direction. For the first time ever, Hasbro incorporated the diamond knee plate on the left leg, plus surprising details like an ammo pouch that hangs over the shoulder and is removable (as it's connected to the backpack). For the first time ever, the shoulder armor are separated pieces which hang on the arms - this gives the figure a very different look and feel, and I would argue that while more authentic, it looks less stable. It's really nicely done, and in terms of most movie details like the stomach armor and (for the most part) the helmet, everything's where it should be. The subtle cloth pinch on the pauldron was also expertly created, so Gentle Giant and Hasbro should be proud of this one.
Articulation is strong, with roughly 20 points. For a Hasbro figure, this 6 1/8-inch release is great - most of it is nicely integrated into the design, but there are several visible pegs which knock this one down a few notches. A leg has two pegs each, one of which is bright white in an area of black which stands out like a sore thumb. The white pegs in the white armored regions are clearly visible, but are not quite the eyesore from a distance. Of course, the pegs are here for a reason - the range of motion is exceptional, the various poses the figure can make are uncommonly great and the Sandtrooper wins the crown for the best range of movement in this line so far. If you pop off the head and remove the pauldron, it gets even better.
I have yet to find the figure's "sweet spot." He's toppled over a few times and could really use a display stand, but I should note that this line does not have a consistently sized peg hole. Some are the same size as Marvel Legends, and some are the same size as vintage Kenner figures.
The other visible "pin" is one that could've easily been avoided - the figure's belt is a separate piece which wraps around the torso. The peg is on the very front, and Hasbro probably could have placed it on the back of the figure, or adjacent to (or under) the ammo pouches on the side. Placing it front-and-center is distracting, especially when this also just happens to be the worst-painted region on the figure so it really does tend to draw the eye.
It's great for a 1.0 product - I assume the inevitable Sandtrooper redeco will be even better. On the whole, everything is where it should be and nothing is particularly sloppy or off. A few areas were missed - possibly it was rushed, I have no idea. There are some pegs on the legs which are white in a sea of black, and there's a region around the ankles that's left unpainted which should probably be black. For lack of a better term, let's call this the "socks." Hasbro was very inconsistent about decorating this region on smaller figures, but on a larger release it's a little more visible. The soles of the boots aren't painted, which isn't a problem as such - but the 1996 Sandtrooper did have painted soles, so uh, what gives?
The level of dirt is pretty evenly sprayed over the figure and on the whole looks great - but some dark muddy patches look funky, and the colors tend to separate on the belt giving it some darker brown spots that seem out of place. It's possible that we're just butting up to the limitations of what you can do on a $20 action figure, but the cheaper figures rarely had this problem. It really does look bizarre that the dirt wouldn't collect in the grooves of the belt. That's exactly what I would expect to be even dirtier.
Accessory deco is good. The basic Stormtrooper gun is unpainted black plastic, but the grenade launcher has some gold, brown, and grey while the other rifle has some silver brushing on it. The decoration on the backpack is normal - some grey, some white, and mostly black plastic. It ain't bad.
With three guns and a backpack, the Sandtrooper earns a gold star. The only way it could be better is if it had the moving bipods of last year's vintage figures, but the decision to give us three guns instead of one really good gun was a smart one. If you buy two or three of the figure, you can display your own little squad. It's great.
The figure has zero problems holding any weapon in his right hand - the trigger finger is perfectly sculpted, and the bend-and-swivel wrists allow for some two-handed poses. The guns are a little rubbery, which makes it harder to get a really good pose - if the hands are in place, it's possible that you, like me, are a putz and the gun is bent a bit. Die-cast metal accessories would have been really helpful here, but that sort of thing is uncommon and Hasbro's focus here seems to be on plastic with (in a few cases) a little bit of cloth. Other than tossing in a grenade or some other goofy accessory, there's little room for improvement.
One area where the sculpting of the accessories seems unfinished is that there are various tabs on the weapons and no corresponding holes on the backpack. It seems Hasbro and/or Gentle Giant intended to let weapons be mounted on the backpack, but the final product has no such compatibility. It might be my imagination, but it's just one in a series of details that makes me think that this figure - while awesome - came out a little undercooked.
This is Hasbro's first (of no doubt many) white-armored faceless soldiers of death in the 6-inch scale. It is Hasbro's first complete rethinking of the trooper buck since 2003/2004, with bend-and-swivel "ball" joints being traded in for double knee and double elbow joints, hidden biceps, and rock-and-bend ankles. Compared to what we were getting in 3 3/4-inch, this thing is streets ahead.
While Luke may be the best figure in wave 1, this is the figure that will be the most popular. Boba Fett managed to cover up several of the articulation quibbles (like visible pins) quite nicely, and I'm curious to see if the Wave 3 Stormtrooper will contain any refinements or just be this figure with a few minor changes.
There are toys, and there are plastic men made for adults to pose on their desks at work - this is the latter. Do not buy it for your children. This is for adults with too much money and teenage sci-fi fans that are still closeted toy collectors who will throw down words like "it's a collectible" and "it's for mature fans" when you and I know it's just totally cool to buy this stuff because you want it.
He can straddle the Matty Collector Masters of the Universe Classics Panthor with no trouble, which means that this figure should be Dewback-compatible if/when Hasbro gets the urge.
Small - it's smaller than a vintage cardback! It's still 9-inches tall, but as it's slightly narrower you can fit more in less space - kudos, Hasbro. Minimal tape, rubber bands, or other fasteners mean you can cut the tape and have this figure outside the box in seconds. The box format reminds me of German Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures.
It looks like the other figures in the line - it's uninviting. It feels as if Hasbro has been borrowing Mattel's aesthetic, which is likely dictated by lack of budget, as a mandate to give collectors boring and uniform packaging. More colors, please.