Star Wars Saga Collection: The Battle of Hoth
Hasbro
Released January 2006
Reviewed by Adam Pawlus
Images courtesy of Hasbro
Reviewed on February 1, 2006

While reviewing individual figures was fun, efficient, it was not. So, to give you more review bang for your buck, today we present the entire Battle of Hoth wave from the recently released Saga Collection. These six figures come in new fancy packaging with stands and a bonus holographic PVC figure.

Read on for a reason to go hunting-- or stay home!

Saga 007: General Veers

Brand new sculpt, and the first-ever version of this character outside his armor-- or inside, take your pick. The sculpting is top-notch, with one of the best head sculpts in the line and accessories that snap right into place. At first, it seems ridiculous to assume you can fit the helmet over his hat, but Hasbro sculpted it to fit just perfectly. Without any weird textures (see Admiral Ozzel) or an unusually poofy waist piece (Admiral Motti), this may well be the best ever body to use to make new Imperial officers.

There are, of course, a few drawbacks. One, his blaster really doesn't fit snuggly into his holster-- Hasbro would have been better served to have left out the holster entirely. Two, if you have his arms posed straight, they do hang down at an odd angle. He sports 10 points of articulation, although you may have to fight with him in order to get him to sit down. Still, this is a character known mostly for his standing and talking, so Hasbro did an excellent job capturing the likeness, making sure he can do what you saw him do on-screen, and making a new sculpt figure that's well worth the up-to-$7 you'll likely need to pay for him. Be sure, however, to take a good look at the face paint when you're buying it, as this is an unusual figure in that it was not molded in its flesh color.

We'd go on gushing but we really don't see the need. If you see this figure you should probably buy it.

Accessories: Removable helmet, removable armor, Imperial blaster pistol. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 12 points.
If you have an old version: This is the best version ever. Throw it away and skip lunch so you can buy this one
If you don't have any version of this figure: This is the best one, and one of the finest Star Wars figures ever.
If you only have money for one figure: Buy this, taking into consideration your love of Imperials and your need for a hypothetical AT-AT crew in the future should a new one get released as an exclusive.

Saga 008: Major Bren Derlin

To many fans, this is the modern counterpart to the vintage "Rebel Commander" action figure. To other fans, this is "Major Cliffy," the Star Wars-Cheers connection. To the rest of you, it's just a very good figure.

Hasbro continues cranking out characters from Hoth, which is, of course, a good thing. Major Derlin has been a highly requested figure for years, and a losing choice in Hasbro's own Fan's Choice polls. As such, this is a figure designed with collectors in mind, and according to most reports is the slowest selling of this new series of 8. With some of the best articulation ever and the ability to assume some great poses, it's kind of a shame, although snow-based toys tend to not sell well in some parts of the country, especially the deserty ones that tend to be home to a great many collectors. The sculpting is nearly perfect, right down to the face-- he looks quite young, and Hasbro designed him well enough to assume a variety of poses. As he was seen, like many figures, just standing and talking, he does everything he needs to do.

The figure only has one real flaw, and that's being more of the same, despite being different. Fans have lots of Hoth figures, from Hoth troopers to Hoth Generals, and at first glance a fan may assume this is just General Rieekan with a new head. (Hint: it isn't.) This brand-new figure should be a must-have to bolster your Hoth base dioramas, so pull out your Bacta Tanks and Tactical Screens and go buy yourself a Major Bren Derlin.

Accessories: Blaster pistol. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 10 points.
If you have an old version: Well, you don't, this is a new character.
If you don't have any version of this figure: See above.
If you only have money for one figure: This is the only 100% new character with a new name that hasn't been made, ever-- the Power Droid is a new version of the Power Droid, but there's never been a toy Major Derlin. Collectors on a budget may want to make this their first purchase of this new series.

Saga 009: AT-AT Driver

In the modern line, AT-AT Drivers have been hard to get. In 1998, you could get one with an actual AT-AT Vehicle (if you had $80) or you could get one as part of a Fan Club exclusive which, at the cheapest, would set you back $20. Some of these items could be had on clearance later, but this is the first-ever time Hasbro has offered an AT-AT Driver to fans around the world as a basic figure that can be had for the basic figure price.

The figure itself is very much like the 2004 TIE Fighter Pilot. They have nearly the exact same articulation and are virtually identical in height. As many fans consider the 2004 TIE Pilot to be one of the better figures, the fact that the new AT-AT Driver has a ball joint neck that lets him look up and down should be considered a superb selling point. The sculpt is as good as or better than any Imperial trooper to date, there are folds in the fabric but not so many that it seems ridiculous. There's great detail on the helmet, basically shaming all previous releases of this character as a toy. Heck, it looks as good as Gentle Giant's recently released Bust-Up, and that's one of the best AT-AT Driver anythings ever made.

Are there downsides? Of course! The one thing Hasbro often forgets when making an action figure is that they should be designed as playthings first. The various "waist pieces" or "skirts" tend to restrict movement, and this figure has the pants decoration hanging down much like the Wedge Antilles and Dutch Vander figures. This tends to get in the way of the figure's ability to sit, and as it already has fairly stiff joints, you may eventually get the feeling that you're bending plastic in a way which may cause to to lose the proper form over time. The important thing, though, is that Hasbro did sculpt it to properly fit inside an AT-AT seat. As such, it performs its function quite well.

If you have an AT-AT, you'll probably want a couple to use as drivers for your toys, and should get as many as you have empty AT-AT seats. Otherwise, one should do the trick, if for no reason other than to see Hasbro's expertly crafted ball joints in the knees. Seriously, take a look at these things, they're quite impressive.

Accessories: Blaster pistol. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 12 points.
If you have an old version: Throw them away and buy this one.
If you don't have any version of this figure: Get this one, buy two.
If you only have money for one figure: This is the only all-new Imperial Trooper announced for 2006 so far, so if that floats your boat, you need this one.

Saga 010: R2-D2

Since 1997, Hasbro has tried to make a new R2-D2 pretty much every year. This new 2006 model is based on the 2004 version. This mold is the same as the "Vintage" Original Trilogy Collection release with the panel glued shut (as seen in the Early Bird version), with an added dirt/snow deco. The images of the figure released to the press and on the packaging show a repainted R4-G9, though, so just so there's no confusion-- that's not what this figure is. It also isn't electronic, as Hasbro said when they announced it on their web site.

If you've been buying droids, you know what it is you're going to get. The figure has a light-up eye, a chrome dome, a removable third leg, and when you turn his head, the sensorscope will pop up. He has little wheels under his feet and is based on one of the better R2 unit sculpts. There really isn't much to say, other than it's a good R2-D2 and it's nice to see this figure available by himself for under $10.

His accessories are all recycled from the 2003 Dagobah X-wing Fighter. So if you have bought everything up to this point, this figure's selling points are his base, new paint, and bonus holographic figure. Which is, of course, random.

Accessories: Lamp, case, box. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 5 points.
If you have an old version: This may be a lateral move, as it offers nothing you might not already have from an existing toy aside from paint.
If you don't have any version of this figure: This is probably the best to get at retail price. Much better than the 2005 offerings.
If you only have money for one figure: This probably isn't new and different enough to warrant a purchase, but for fans of R2-D2, if you need an R2, get this one. (And then get the exclusive astromechs.)

Saga 011: Snowtrooper (base reads "Imperial Snowtrooper")

This is the first "kitbashed" figure of this series. Albino Cobra Commander's The Snowtrooper's legs and crotch are from the 1997 Snowtrooper, which was one of the finest figures of its day. The wasitcoat, torso, arms, head, and gun come from the 2003-2004 Saga and OTC Snowtrooper. The new paint is great, and the dent in the helmet is a wonderful added detail. However, the rank markings of an officer are still present, so this isn't exactly a spectacular figure to use to build an army from.

Since you likely have Snowtroopers already, the questions are, do you like the new paint damage marks? Do you think that these legs look better on this body? Do you need new troopers? If so, what are you waiting for? If not, well, there's really nothing that's totally new here unless you need to have multiple versions of all troopers which, well, we can understand and appreciate (and join in on.) While Hasbro still has yet to make a perfect super-poseable ultimate Snowtrooper, this is a fine one for the time being, even if it is yesterday's news.

Accessories: Blaster. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 6 points.
If you have an old version: It's not exactly an upgrade, just a different version.
If you don't have any version of this figure: Get one of these, as it's pretty cool and the helmet ding is a nice added detail.
If you only have money for one figure: Get General Veers.

Saga 012: General Rieekan

Originally offered in 2004 as an "Ultra" figure, General Rieekan was an old Fan's Choice figure that many were delighted to see-- but not so much at $10. For the price of a basic figure, though, your mileage may vary. The figure also has the added bonus of, in hindsight, somewhat resembling former presidential candidate John Kerry.

General Rieekan has returned, but the new 2006 version has a gun and a display base (and a bonus holo figure) while the 2004 version had a big giant map accessory. If money is no object, the 2004 accessory is clearly cooler, and the face is made from a more opaque plastic. The Saga Collection 2006 release looks a little sickly and a little translucent. (He also still looks a little like John Kerry, but we digress.)

If you look at this entire wave and are thinking "I just gotta get a new Rebel figure," get Major Derlin-- he's much cooler, as Cliff from Cheers is a more amusing figure to own than someone who looks vaguely like a failed presidential candidate.

Accessories: Blaster. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 6 points.
If you have an old version: It's the same thing with lower quality plastic for the head and a gun.
If you don't have any version of this figure: Get one of these, as it's cheaper and the tactical map probably isn't worth it to you.
If you only have money for one figure: Get General Veers, seriously.

Saga 013: Darth Vader

If you passed up the 500th Commemorative Darth Vader figure in 2005, you're in luck-- because this is the same figure at less than half the price.

There are some very minor paint changes, but it's the same figure. The removable dome is still here, and falls off if you look at it funny. The awkward cape remains, and so do the crappy shoulder joints that aren't ball-jointed-- unlike the 2005 Evolutions figure or the 2004 Vintage Original Trilogy Collection release. Of course, those figures cost $20 (as part of a 3-pack) or $10 respectively, and this release is a mere $6-$7.

For $7, this is a fine Darth Vader. He has ball jointed knees, and joints at the neck, wrists, shoulders, elbows, waist, and hips. We daresay he's better than the 500th version because his codpiece isn't, erm, shall we say "happy to see you" due to the plastic being bent for so long. If you're willing to spend more than $10 for a Vader, though, you can do a lot better. Still, for many, the Revenge of the Sith figure is a good one as it's easily the best one to sit in a small vehicle. (He fits VERY nicely inside a Jedi Starfighter from Episode III, I must say. This one, well, it's not quite as comfy a fit.)

Accessories: Lightsaber. Personalized display base.
Articulation: 12 points.
If you have an old version: If you have Vader 500 you have this-- and if you have a Vader and you're happy with its articulation, you don't need this.
If you don't have any version of this figure: Easily the best basic Darth Vader ever made in terms of articulation, but watch the removable dome-- it likes to fall off.
If you only have money for one figure: Only get Vader if you really want a new Vader.

Saga 014: Power Droid (base reads "GNK & Treadwell Droids")

This set includes two accessories from basic figures from 1999, together in one package for one low price. The GNK droid was originally available as a Jawa accessory (with different colors and some other changes), and the Treadwell droid was originally sold with Aunt Beru. Both droids are repainted, and GNK is new enough to make this worth a look.

The GNK droid has two holes in his head so you can plug in the sensor accessories. He's now painted brown, and has the same awful "walking" action that nobody liked the first time around. He also has a newly sculpted wire belly chain, of sorts, which we assume means this droid "gets around," if you know what I mean. The "E" on the side of the head is also brightly painted-- obviously a tramp stamp. ("E" for "easy.") Or maybe it's for energy-- after all the Power Droid is meant to be a walking battery. It's cute, colored nicely, and well worth the $6 by himself. $7? Well, he'd need a friend to be worth $7. Luckily, there's one in the box.

The Treadwell droid is really nothing new, aside from new colors. The pearly paint job is top-notch and we have to say really makes the figure stand out. A few intentional paint scuffs makes this figure look right at home on Hoth, be it helping Han fix the Millennium Falcon or just generally mucking about having a good time.

While these are two small figures, they probably provide the best value in the series. After all, what would you rather get for $7-- two droids, or just one? Be sure to pick this one up.

Accessories: Technically none. Personalized display base.
Articulation: GNK has moving legs, Treadwell can swivel at the pole.
If you have an old version: GNK is a different enough figure to justify the purchase, but this Treadwell is really just a repaint-- and not a fancy one, either.
If you don't have any version of this figure: Buy it, and buy two.
If you only have money for one figure: This is a great choice for droid fans, as it gets you two figures to add to your stash and not just one. They aren't the fanciest, but they are quite nice. Also, this figure will be shipping in many, many assortments over the next few months, so you'll have many more opportunities to buy one.

Availability

These figures started arriving in January, 2006. With the exception of the Power Droid, they'll be shipping on and off for quite some time-- as of now, the Power Droid is only slated to ship in one more assortment before wave 5, and then it's anybody's guess. Major Derlin seems to be the prime pegwarmer, followed by General Rieekan.

Fin

With 8 figures, not all of them can be great, but most of them are very good. 3 of the figures are brand new sculpts, 1 is a mishmash of old parts, 1 is redone just enough to be awesome, and the other 3 are old figures that previously sold for $10 or more, now available at a basic price point. What's not to like? New collectors owe it to themselves to get this wave, and old farts should examine them carefully to see if they're new enough to be worth purchasing. Derlin and, technically, the Power Droid are the only new characters, but the new renditions of the classic AT-AT Driver and Commander are easily worthy purchases. General Rieekan, not so much.

Keep your peepers peeled for these and be sure to buy the ones you like on sight. Show the stores that Star Wars is something they don't have enough of by making them disappear quickly.

Our review samples were obtained from Entertainment Earth on January 27, 2006.









 
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