AT-AT DRIVER Battle of Hoth
The Saga Collection Basic Figures
Item No.: Asst. 85770 No. 85929
Includes: Blaster, display base, bonus holographic figure
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: February 2006
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back
Bio: AT-AT drivers have all the skills neccessary to propel the massive AT-AT walkers into battle. Working efficiently in teams of two, the drivers also operate the walker's laser cannons to take down Rebel snowspeeders and destroy Echo Base's shield and power generators. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray, with the new-ish TIE Fighter from Toys "R" Us above it.
Commentary: For some reason, the AT-AT Driver has largely been a recipient of "the shaft" in the modern age. The first release was packaged with the AT-AT, which was expensive. The second release was originally going to be sold in stores, but in the USA, was pulled and made a Fan Club exclusive in late 1998. This is the third release, and thankfully, it did pretty well. The first two were bulky but still fairly accurate to the movie, and great sitters. This new one, shockingly, is one of Hasbro's best designed pilot figures. When you first look at it, you might notice the straps around his legs and say "oh, those are going to totally deform if I leave him in a ship." Well, guess what? They don't. I've had one (this one, as a matter of fact) sitting in a V-Wing Fighter for months and just took him out hours before taking the photo, and you'd never know that the plastic was bent out of shape. Most figures Hasbro designs to sit have flaps that stick up or "skirts" that get distorted, and this one works just perfectly.
But that's just the "pilot" aspect of the figure-- admittedly, it's a lower standard, as a figure that really just needs to sit in a vehicle. When he first came out I received a ton of complaints and questions from fans asking when the "vintage" version was going to hit. I asked why, and apparently the fact that the figure was lacking in ball-jointed elbows and ankles was a deal breaker. This, I don't get-- it's a great figure for seven bucks and I enjoy the heck out of it. He has a ball-jointed head, shoulders, and knees as well as normal joints on the hips, waist, wrists, and those cut elbows that some people don't care for. (I prefer the greater range of motion that comes with ball joints, but this is perfectly fine for this figure.) As a pilot, he's perfect. As a trooper, he's very good. I personally can't find much to complain about here (at the time, "super articulated" wasn't as common as it has been in the past year) so I would advise you to buy two or more to populate your various ships. As I've alluded to, since Hasbro has yet to crank out an Episode III-style Clone Pilot with a helmet that covers his whole face, I've been using this as a stand-in and it's not bad. (That style of Clone Pilot has so far been represented by LEGO and Attacktix figure brands.)
Collector's Notes: Aside from the first issue as a carded figure, the figure was released again in late 2006 as a pack-in to the Toys "R" Us exclusive AT-AT vehicle. The figure (and weapon) are the same, the only real difference is that the vehicle version is lacking a display base. Both are awesome. It's certainly possible that Hasbro will someday update this figure out there for those who only buy figures with 14 or more points of articulation, but I wouldn't hold your breath-- I think it's far more likely we'll see a removable helmet version with a Clone head first.
Day 717: April 22, 2008