TIE Fighter (New Larger Scale Wings)
Released August 2005
Reviewed by Adam Pawlus
Photography by Michael Sullenger
Reviewed on September 7, 2005
The saying goes there's only two things you can count on-- death and taxes. Reissues of vehicles and figures should be added to that list, as Hasbro has released the third (technically fourth) edition of the modern TIE Fighter. Back in the vintage days, there was a white TIE Fighter and a blue battle damaged TIE Fighter with special labels. In 1995, Kenner made the $20 POTF2 TIE Fighter, based on the vintage mold without the electronics and with newly sculpted solar panels on the wings-- a very exciting thing for the time. Fans lamented that the "handle" for the battery compartment was worthless, and in 2003, Hasbro agreed by releasing a Saga edition TIE Fighter with a retooled engine as a $30 Kay-Bee exclusive with a bonus TIE Fighter Pilot with articulated knees. The same vehicle would be released in 2004 as part of the Original Trilogy Collection, minus the pilot, and $10 cheaper. This new edition uses the cockpit area of the 2003 and 2004 version with brand new and very large wings-- they're nearly twice the size of the originals! While not exactly to scale with the original prop (and $1600 ICONS model), this is currently, without a doubt, the definitive TIE Fighter.
The set includes two pop-off wings, the original 1996 TIE Fighter Pilot, and no additional accessories.
First up, the pilot.
This figure is nearly identical to the 1996 POTF2 TIE Fighter Pilot. It has the same sculpt, which has no knee joints. It has stiff joints, which is notable as some of the previous recent pack-in pilots were notorious for their ridiculously wobbly heads. While the red isn't as vibrant as some of the earlier releases, fact is you won't notice and aside from the lack of guns, it's identical to what you may have bought ten years ago. The packaging shows the 2004 Saga version, but that's not what you get.
Some fans have cried foul over this, but I personally do not much care. A pilot's duty is to sit in a vehicle, and he does so swimmingly. You can't see much detail when he's in the ship, so it's a perfectly fine pack-in. Although for the cost, a newer, better figure would have made this seem a better value. This is an obvious cost-cutting measure on an item that's already had a few cost-cutting measures, so that's a little disappointing.
This is, of course, what you've been waiting for. The "pod" and the pieces that connect the solar panels to that center piece are the same as the previous two releases, which is to say, they've a few minor changes. The first one-- the one you know about-- is the engine on the back replacing the old "battery compartment." The second, which you may know about, is the label-- again, same as the OTC and Saga editions, and different than the POTF2 one. What you might not know, which I just noticed, was that Hasbro also retooled the laser cannons on the front-- take a look. They're differently sculpted, slightly, and painted a little different than the 1995 release. It's a nice detail that seems to have went completely overlooked in the recent retoolings.
Absolutely new new deco changes have been made since the last time we had a TIE, although there have been some changes (of sorts) courtesy of the larger wings. The ubiquitous spring-loaded wings with "battle damage" are still here and because the wings are heavier, they don't quite blast off so well. The vintage ones had quite the launching power, and the recent modern ones were significantly weaker. As such, the wings don't "launch" off so much as they just, sometimes, limply fall to the side. Ah well, it's expected given the upgrade here.
So for double the cost of the TIE Fighter released not one year ago, you get a figure and two new solar panels-- otherwise, same deal. The price is quite high, all things considered, but it's a nice piece and something we as fans have been asking for since the 1990s.
You get some wings, and that's it.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
This box is just as good as the 2003 Kay-Bee exclusive version. Same basic shape, same basic concept, just large, with the second era of Revenge of the Sith packaging used, so far, on the Battle Packs and Millennium Falcon.
As usual with Hasbro's recent window packaged vehicles, you get a little bit of photo background... this is probably the most minimal of recent ones, though. The one thing you should note, though, is that the sides of the box have giant holes cut in the windows to let part of the wing just out the side. This exposes the actual toy to real "shelf wear" and is the second Hasbro toy in recent memory to commit this sin, the other being Transformers Cybertron Starscream. It's one thing for "try me" packaging but just having bits of the toy stick out so grubby customers can scuff it up and spit in it doesn't have me happy.
It's just showing up and to date I've seen literally but one. The rumor floating around is that the current batch has 5,000 cases of TIE Fighters with two per case. Please note that this, if true, means that the current purchase order for USA Target stores is 10,000 units-- this doesn't include foreign shipments and hypothetical overseas releases. Hasbro rarely lets any item be produced in numbers that low, so at $40 a whack, it's unlikely that Hasbro and Target would allow a cash cow to go out the door this thin.
But Target managed to not make enough of their Lava Vaders and Clone Troopers, and yes, this is something that they could have fixed.
Is bigger really better?
I think so. If money were no object, this would be the best one. If this were an online or Kay-Bee exclusive, the price would even be considered to be good. For a mass marketer like Target, it seems they've discovered that they can charge more and fans won't slow down-- which is unfortunate for a discounter. The toy itself is great, a worthy addition to your Imperial Navy, and it just looks wonderful after years of tiny winged TIEs. You won't be disappointed with this one, although your wallet may frown at you for this one.
(Although for my own needs, I'd probably buy more than one if I was lucky enough to find them and have, you know, the cash for it.)
Our review sample was obtained from Target in LA on August 31, 2005.