EMPEROR'S ROYAL GUARD with Force Pike
Episode I Collection 1
Item No.: Asst. 69705 No. 69717
Includes: Force Pike (Freeze Frame in 2008)
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: Late 1997
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
Image: Adam Pawlus' toy room.
Bio: Only the most promising soldiers are chosen to serve as Emperor Palpatine's personal guards. Experts in many forms of combat, both armed and unarmed, they are conditioned to automatically react to the Emperor's will. (Taken from the figure's 2008 cardback.)
Commentary: Bowling pin. Chess piece. Salt shaker. The Emperor's Royal Guard has been called a lot of mean things by fans, most of which were fairly descriptive. Hasbro has never managed to make a new version of the elite red guardsmen look and play as good as the 1983 original, but they've tried to come close. This one has a great helmet sculpt, and that's really the one nice thing I can say about it. Oh, and the Force Pike was short, instead of being too long. There's that too.
With two meaningful points of articulation, this too-tall figure can only stand around and move his arms. That's it. It's a display piece, but since it's so big it isn't a very good one. Figures during 1997 sported very inconsistent scale, leaving us with too-short Darth Vaders and giant Rebel Fleet Troopers. This monster of a figure looks acceptable, and the sculpt isn't terrible, but the detail on the robes and arms is inferior to almost every figure sold that year. It's great that the helmet is glossy and that the rest of the figure isn't, but the problems still persist that it doesn't look like the guy in the movie. The 1983 figure could have one arm hidden under the robe... this one cannot. The original one had cloth robes and could sit... again, this one, not so much. The 1997 Emperor's Royal Guard was a step backward in nearly every possible way, leading many fans to still keep buying the vintage one. This is a figure you'd buy as a curiosity only, and if you do a lot of trading odds are you'll end up with one eventually anyway. Unless you need it for a display, really, save your money.
Collector's Notes: This figure was sold through 1998 with lingering product as late as 2000, and was never reissued after that. A 2002 Royal Guard had plastic robes, but more articulation and a more pleasing size. A 2005 version had cloth robes and loads of articulation, but no Force pike nor any ability to hold one properly were he handed one.
Day 805: July 19, 2008