McQuarrie Concept Stormtrooper (Fan's Choice #4)
Released November, 2003
Reviewed by Adam Pawlus
Photography by Michael Sullenger
Reviewed on November 12, 2003
Always a source of joy is Hasbro's irregular Fan's Choice offerings. With the first three polls yielding a much desired remake of a classic toy and two highly anticipated aliens, it seemed the Imperial and Rebel factions that were at the forefront of Star Wars might have gone forgotten. Thankfully, this wasn't the case for long, as we are now being offered a McQuarrie Concept Stormtrooper.
The figure includes a base, a glow-in-the-dark lightsaber, a pistol, and a shield.
One thing Hasbro is good about is pulling out most, if not all, of the stops when making each and every new Fan's Choice figure. With the Duro, they added a holster and fantastic sculpting. Amanaman received a large amount of unexpected extras. Ephant Mon was just a huge toy at a low price. Now, Hasbro decided to make a figure based on concept art that's far superior to any figure based on the final movie version that has yet appeared in stores. While it isn't identical to the artwork that the great Mr. McQuarrie painted over three decades ago, it's very, very close.
It's both nicely detailed and quite plain all at once. His helmet is the first thing that will grab most fans' attention, as it really does look like an elseworlds version of the genuine article.
The most obvious thing to strike most fans will probably be a sinking feeling that something is missing. The black stripe above the eyes, a sort of an equator-meets-eyebrows line of paint, has been on nearly every Stormtrooper and Clone Trooper toy since day one. The concept design didn't have, it, and neither does this toy. Under high scrutiny, the helmet seems like very few changes were made from the original artwork. A few bits are painted on the painting, but not on the toy, and there seems to be a little ridge where the brow originally was, and this is absent on the toy, which has more of a flat helmet closer to the final design. The "mouth" was painted silver on the toy instead of a grey color, and for some reason, this just looks a little cheap. Still, there's no doubt as to what they were shooting for and the helmet is acceptable as is. A better mouth, though, would have made a big difference.
The figure itself is sculpted to be more striking than the original design. The pecs of the armor are very nicely defined, with angular edges instead of the smooth designs of the original. The waist is very thin, and on my sample, seemed to separate from the bottom at the point of articulation on the waist. This may be limited to my sample, but it does make the figure look a little bit wonky. A small circular bump on the toy was actually an indentation on the original design, but odds are most people won't even notice. You'll also notice a holster was added to the toy-- a really big one-- that can hold the blaster without a hitch. It is a little big, but it doesn't really take away from the figure's overall look.
The legs seem to be on track, perfectly replicating the armor as originally intended, even the shoes seem right on the mark. The arms are nearly exactly what they should be, although some patterns appear on the shoulders of the original design that don't seem to appear on the figure itself. Hasbro wisely opted to make a few changes here and there, or they just ignored the painting. Either way, the end result is a figure that's nicely sculpted and one of the finest figures ever in terms of articulation.
Jointed at the neck, elbows, hips, and waist with ball-jointed elbows, Hasbro managed to make the joints especially difficult to see, with the exception of the waist. The arms are sunken in a little so they don't stand out like they did on the last regular Stormtrooper figure. The figure can do everything it should, and can be posed to look a lot like the one from the painting from which this figure's design came. Kudos on a job well done, Hasbro.
As it's a mostly white figure, the figure should be a fairly gleaming shiny white. My sample seemed to be discolored slightly upon purchase, with a slight unintentional dirty color of plastic. If this is intentional, I don't know, but Hasbro really needs to work on getting a nice, clean trooper out there if this was an accident. The blacks are fairly even where they should be and for the most part everything is within the proper lines. The mouth, as noted previously, is hard to see with its silver coloring and just doesn't look as good as it could have.
Overall, it's a great addition to the line and it fills a section of the line we rarely see. There have only been a few other figures based on classic Trilogy concepts, so seeing this is a real treat, even if it isn't the most authentic recreation of the design originally seen in the artwork.
This set includes a shield, a base, a lightsaber, and a pistol.
First, the base. This figure can stand on his own without a problem, and this is the first-ever Fan's Choice figure to include a stand. The stand is brand new and is meant to represent a section of the Death Star. It's unpainted, and considering what this package includes for $5, is a good stand... but you can't help but wonder what a little paint could do to bring out all the grooves and vents so nicely crafted into the design. The Stormtrooper plugs right in, and it's easy on the eyes. It's everything a base should be.
The shield is unique and more or less an original Hasbro concept, at least as far as I can tell. I can only recall seeing it from the side, so Hasbro's original design complete with the most convincing "damage" I've ever seen. To look at it or to feel it is to see what looks like simulated burns, quite possibly the best looking ones I've ever seen out of Hasbro. This is one of the few times I've looked at a piece of plastic and said "what the heck happened with this?" It's convincing, and the patterns on this shield look pretty great. Odds are I'd have just gone with a flat boring shield with an Imperial logo, so score one for Hasbro's designers.
The pistol looks a lot like the vintage Bespin Blaster crossed with the Clone Trooper pistol. It's a nice weapon that appears to be yet another original Hasbro design. It fits in well with the more striking, fluid designs McQuarrie was known for, so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. If anything, it's a great extra because the original painting doesn't even show a pistol.
Last but certainly not least is a brand new lightsaber. It's one big piece, so there's no removable blade this time. As the original Hasbro design indicated, the final release does have a glow in the dark core that glows quite nicely if placed in a dark room. As I do not have access to black light, I don't know how it works under those circumstances. The sculpt is good, the bulb-like bottom of the blade seems to recall the original designs quite nicely, so what's not to love?
Hasbro took a good figure and gave it great accessories. The end result is a mighty fine toy.
Unlike many previous Fan's Choice figures, this one goes out of its way to tell you it was, in fact, a Fan's Choice on more places than just the sticker.
The bubble was retooled slightly to better hold the sticker in place, and the gold stripe on the left reads "Fan's Choice #4" instead of the movie title we usually see in that location. The back of the package also makes it a point to explain what this figure design is and where it came from, which is a pretty important thing to do when releasing a toy in a movie toy line that has nothing to do with what appears in the final movie.
So far, this figure is slated to appear in a few more cases this year, and will hopefully eventually trickle out for all fans to see. Right now, though, they aren't exactly common, but they are hitting stores in the USA.
This is a figure that's sure to please fans of the Empire, fans of Fan's Choice, and fans of obscure characters. It seems to be a better toy in terms of play than a lot of figures Hasbro makes, and the great selection of accessories is sure to please even the crustiest fanboy.
While it isn't a perfect translation of the painting, it's close enough to count. Hasbro tried, and did a great job with what will hopefully be the first of many more McQuarrie-designed figures. After all, if you've seen the Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2, odds are you're hoping to see them in plastic soon, too.
Buy this if you see it. Because if you don't, you'll be sorry-- it's a great looking figure at a great price.
Our sample was obtained from a local Toys "R" Us in November 2003.