Figure of the Day: Day 727
5/2/2008 10:13:17 PM | Reported by Adam

TIE FIGHTER Ejecting Wing Panels!
30th Anniversary Collection Toys "R" Us exclusive
Item No.:
No. 87795
Manufacturer: Habsro
Number: n/a
Includes: TIE Pilot figure, blaster
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $39.99
Availability: April 2008
Appearances: Star Wars

Column Notes: It's vehicle week! This week, we focus on the hardware created for our action figures, which gets too little attention. From giant space freighters to tiny bikes, there's quite a large variety of vehicles to be had, and we look at seven random examples over the next week.

Bio: TIE fighters swarm into space to attack the heroic Rebel Alliance forces! TIE fighters are the standard starfighters of the Imperial fleet. TIE Fighter pilots are highly skilled, but they are no match for the daring and resourceful Rebel pilots TIE fighters wage a fierce battle to defend the first Death Star from the Rebel attack. (Taken from the vehicle's box. Yes, every sentence does start with the words "TIE fighter.")

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy room.

Commentary: Since 1978, Kenner and Hasbro have made good business by cranking out various versions of the TIE Fighter. While there's still some debate on what the colors were meant to be on these distinctive craft, one thing is certain: fans love that original white look, even if it isn't accurate. Hasbro has decided to honor the original Kenner look with a number of modern era toys, including a Titanium Series ship and two action figure sized versions of the white vehicle. According to some Expanded Universe sources/toy packaging, the white TIEs are assigned to the Death Star. I guess that's as good of an explanation as you're going to get to shoehorn the Kenner-verse into the modern-verse. Basically what this is, is another grab at the Imperial vehicle fan, and the die-hard TIE fans already have a whole bunch of vehicles already.

As you can see in the picture, there's a "small wings" version and a "large wings" version. The small one was sold in 2007 and was an open stock, non-exclusive release. The big wings one was something of a surprise-- Hasbro never officially announced it, it merely showed up in stores. The big white version is essentially the same as the smaller one, with two major differences. One, obviously, being the wings, and the other being the laser array. The 2007 small winged version has a retooled laser array that removed the large bump which stood in for the LED on the original Kenner releases. The big wing version forgot to include this change, and it goes back to the original laser design used from 1995-2006. Hasbro also kept the same old spring-loaded wing damage mechanism, which seems to have lost a little punch. The larger wings make it hard for the mechanism to fully eject the solar panels, so you might not have as much fun with this particular version as you may have had with the small wing ships.

Keeping tradition, the TIE Fighter has seating for one figure. The hatch is a one-piece design that pops open and allows you to seat one figure within its radioactive lady eyeball-shaped body. Assuming you have a figure that can actually sit down, there's ample room for figures of various shapes and sizes. The included TIE Fighter Pilot (the 2004 mold) fits perfectly inside, and the end result is a pretty strong set for the money. Were it $35, it'd be a killer deal given the small wing version of the ship is $20-$25 and the figure would be $5-$7.

Collector's Notes: In the modern line, there have been many TIE Fighters-- and there were some in the vintage line too. Here's a lineup of what you can pick up in the way of full-size figure-scale TIE toys.

#1- Kenner 1978-1982: Imperial TIE Fighter. White plastic, wings have sticker solar panels. Battery compartment powers a "battle alert" sound motor and a bright red LED. Seating for one. Hatch is two pieces, and the seat can be raised with a small lever. Spring-loaded wings pop out when you push a button down.
#2- Kenner 1979-1984: Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. Same body mold as previous release, but cast in grey plastic. New bent wings pop into place, but the toy is essentially identical to the original save for those new wings.
#3- Kenner 1982-1984: Battle-Damaged Imperial TIE Fighter. Same body mold as original release, but cast in blue plastic. An extra "damaged" panel sticker sheet was also included.
#4- Kenner 1984: TIE Interceptor. Same body mold as previous release, but cast in grey plastic. New bent wings pop into place, but the toy is essentially identical to the original save for those new wings.
#5- Kenner 1995-1997: TIE Fighter. Redesigned version of the original. Wings have now been retooled to feature sculpted solar panels, so no labels are necessary. The electronics have been removed, so the battery compartment is now only a handle, and the laser array has been retooled to remove the LED-- but a vestigial bump remains. The hatch has been retooled slightly, and the seat no longer can be raised or lowered like on the original. This new body would be the standard from which all modern TIEs (save for the Bomber and Vader's) would be based.
#6- Kenner 1997-2000: Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. Bucking tradition, this was a 100% new mold. The hatch was a single piece, there were two firing rockets, and there was a mechanism to reveal two hidden firing cannons. It's also worth noting there's a variation on the firing rockets-- some were unpainted, and some had painted green tips.
#7- Hasbro 2001: TIE Interceptor. The first modern TIE Interceptor used the 1995 TIE Fighter body and retooled versions of the 1984 toy's wings. The solar panels were sculpted, so you didn't have to place on any stickers, and a clear tab was placed on the back for reasons on which I am not yet clear. Toys "R" Us exclusive, packaged with a pilot figure.
#8- Hasbro 2002: TIE Bomber. The first-ever TIE Bomber used wings very similar to those of the Darth Vader's TIE Fighter and a whole new body. It featured seating for one, three droppable bombs, and a pilot figure. Wal-Mart exclusive.
#9- Hasbro 2003: TIE Fighter. Based on the 1995 TIE Fighter, this release featured a retooled body section. The battery compartment would be removed so that a movie-accurate rear section of the vehicle could be used instead. Kay-Bee exclusive with a pilot in 2003. In 2004, the vehicle would be released widely but without the pack-in figure.
#10- Hasbro 2003: TIE Bomber. Based on the 2002 model but with battle-damage paint and a new package. Wal-Mart exclusive.
#11- Hasbro 2004: Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. Recolored version of 1997 vehicle. Missiles are blue, coloring is slightly darker. Darth Vader figure included. Toys "R" Us exclusive.
#12- Hasbro 2005: TIE Fighter. Based on the 2003 version of the vehicle, but now with upsized, very large wings. TIE Pilot figure included. Target exclusive.
#13- Hasbro 2006: Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. Recolored version of 1997 vehicle. Notable in that it has extra dirt and grime while the previous releases were largely clean. Repackaged in 2007.
#14- Hasbro 2006: TIE Fighter. Same as 2005 release, but grey. TIE Pilot figure included. Toys "R" Us exclusive.
#15- Hasbro 2007: TIE Fighter. Based on the 2003 version of the vehicle, but now in white. Body has been slightly altered with a retooled laser array and an all-new, one-piece hatch.
#16- Hasbro 2007: Elite TIE Interceptor. This unique vehicle combines the body of the 2007 TIE Fighter with the wings of the 2001 TIE Interceptor, but it is now cast in a light grey plastic. To add to its distinctiveness, the vehicle has a red horizontal stripe on the wing. A specially colored pilot was also inclluded. Toys "R" Us exclusive.
#17- Hasbro 2007: TIE Bomber. Based on the 2002 model but now in grey, with blue bombs. Pilot figure included. Target exclusive.
#18- Hasbro 2008: TIE Fighter. (The one featured in this review.) Large wings and body the 2005 release, hatch from the 2007 release. White plastic matches the 2007 release. Toys "R" Us exclusive.

As you can see, fans who say Hasbro isn't doing any modern vehicle releases is wrong-- they just aren't all fantastic. I count 14 modern TIE releases, including major variations.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 727: May 2, 2008

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