Vehicle Preview: AT-AT 2010 Edition
7/11/2010 9:36:07 PM | Reported by Adam
Our own Adam Pawlus got an early sample of some new toys. Rather than put together a well-thought-out feature, here are some quick and dirty pictures from Adam's kitchen, and some early impressions. Next up: The big giant AT-AT!

For $100, Hasbro finally gave us an all-new AT-AT. It's much larger than the originals, plus there are several more features and play effects. It's clearly a more expensive piece, so why is it so much better and costs the same as something that was designed around 1980? Frustrating. Above, see a video showing off the new head mechanism. Moving left to right is extremely stiff, but it can move up and down quite easily. The handle is hidden just over the neck, and has integrated flip-out cannons. A neat idea, but the issue with it is that the plastic is quite soft and this feels like it might be one of the first things to decay or break off, the second being the eventual decomposition of the soft rubber neck. (Just a hunch, I could be dead wrong.)

So what can this giant walker do for you? Store dozens of figures, a bike, and stand around. It includes a repaint of the 2006 The Saga Collection AT-AT Driver, and seemingly no blaster for him.

The Really Short Review

Too big to be a "vehicle" toy, this oversized Imperial Walker is better than any AT-AT toy ever released, and is arguably better than numerous high-end replicas. It provides the bang for the buck, you likely will not see any reason not to spend $99.99 or more unless you're broke or hate having fun.

Figure Compatibility

It simply works-- most figures fit the foot pegs, the seats seem designed with the drivers in mind, and there are places for General Veers or an AT-AT Commander to stand around since they aren't sculpted to sit. Like the 2009 Turbo Tank, Hasbro thought ahead and made sure you could use figures in this vehicle even if they weren't capable of sitting down.

There's also this goofy elevator thing. Spin the wheel, and the elevator goes up. It's a cute idea, I guess, but it seems like it's taking up valuable weapon storage space or something. But that's me as an adult looking at it, kids may enjoy it because it's an actual functioning feature that does something and can move.

Deco

While mostly clean, there are some dirty smudges painted on the vehicle's legs. Additional labels are included so you can customize "damage" as you see fit, and a number of panels and other bits are painted in varying shades of grey to make it a little more lively. The front window is translucent red, a huge step up from the stickers used on the past 3 releases.

Mechanisms

The gimmick I wanted to try the most was also the least impressive. Luke Skywalker's grappling hook is an awkwardly shaped claw that has difficulty latching on to an action figure. To activate it, simply pull down on the claw until it hits the floor. Attach a figure, and then you push the button. The video shows that the mechanism makes an irritating noise when going back up into the ship, and let me point out this is not an electronic gadget-- it's basically a wind-up motor, except it's a pull-string.

The toy has a number of sound and light effects, including this one. You push a button, and one of the random phrase/light combinations is simply "red lights!" That's what it says, and that's what it does-- you get more sounds if you keep pushing. Essentially the entire AT-AT approach sequence is on here, much like the 1998 FX X-Wing Fighter had a complete Death Star Trench Run built into it.

Additional sound effects come from three more buttons, which play other sounds from the film. I won't show you them all because, well, I didn't want to spend all weekend on this.

The chin guns are back, and they light up and make sounds when you push a lever. It's basically an improved version of the mechanism we've come to love over the years.

The garage springs to life when you push a button-- the bike flies out backward and you get some sounds. Neat! It's not particularly practical, but it is fun to watch a few times. After that, well, I guess it gets less exciting unless you've been dropped on your head a lot. (No offense if you have.)

The box boasts it can carry up to 20 figures but you can probably fit a lot more in there than that. Six fit in the head section with little difficulty, and the garage and main body are loaded with space.

Finally, the fine folks from Hasbro made sure the large "cheek" guns can fire rockets. Since this is a large vehicle, it doesn't look bulky or awkward, it just looks right.

Scale

It's bigger, and the Snowspeeder is smaller. Is that a cool thing? Yes.

Speeder Bike

The bike itself is nothing special, it's basically pre-assembled except for 3 labels. There are no new mechanisms here, it's basically more of what you are used to. Still, it's a nice bonus, although it would be nice if they put more into the main body (or a new escape craft) than yet another Hoth Speeder Bike. This one is a different mold from the other releases, as it is closer to the Clone bikes in its design.

Verdict

While the Turbo Tank was well thought-out, and the Big Millennium Falcon was really big, the AT-AT actually feels worth the cost. The giant legs pad this, of course, but the overall feel of the vehicle seems to be a better value, even if you aren't necessarily getting the most toy out of Hasbro's boxes here. Assembly is quick, possibly faster than a number of smaller vehicles at a fraction of the cost. As a toy it's too bulky to really haul around, but just like the Falcon it's a wonderful piece that gives you bragging rights. It's also a place to keep your Snowtroopers.

--Adam Pawlus, July 11 2010

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