It’s been about a month now since I’ve posted a toy review. That’s the longest break I’ve taken since I started this blog back in 2011. For that I apologize to my loyal readers. I’ve been neglecting the site for two main reasons.
1. I’m a little burnt out on writing about action figures. I’ve gotten so many great toys this summer but blogging about them was starting to feel more like a chore than a hobby.
2. I want to focus my creative energy elsewhere for a while. I used to write books and comics and screenplays but now whenever I sit down to write I end up blogging and its becoming a distraction. I’ve decided to tackle comics again. I’m working on reviving a book I used to make in high school, Costello Island. I’ve actually reviewed a couple home-made Costello Island toys on this blog over the years (Lance, Chiliwac, Philipae).
So you’ll see fewer reviews from me for the foreseeable future but I haven’t given up on blogging completely. I’m sure I’ll get the urge to ramble on about toys every now and again…like today for example.
Last Thursday stores all over America (and probably beyond) held midnight events to celebrate the release of the new Star Wars merchandise based on the upcoming film, Episode VII:The Force Awakens. I didn’t bother to attend but I went to a similar event when the Phantom Menace toys came out in ’99. I haven’t been an avid Star Wars figure collector for years and I really don’t want to get caught up in the hype again. I figured I’d probably buy a few of the 6” Black Series figures eventually but I wasn’t in any big rush to acquire them. As for the smaller 3 ¾” figures, I planned to ignore them completely. I already have way too many Star Wars figures in that scale sitting in bins in my closet.
I finally ventured into a local toy department yesterday; nearly a week after the “Force Friday” event. I could see the Star Wars display from across the store as there was a bunch of new signage to draw the eye. A fairly large section of the toy aisle had been devoted to the stuff and I couldn’t help but wonder, “How come G.I. Joe never gets this type of marketing support? Ho-hum”. There were lots of glowing lightsabres and a variety of other merchandise available but very little in the way of action figures which is the only thing I was interested in. There were a few pegs of 3 ¾” figures but I was disappointed to see the Black Series pegs were completely barren. The Star Wars fanboys and scalpers (and maybe even a few kids) had cleaned the place out.
I thumbed through the pegs of the small figures out of curiosity. Nothing caught my eye until I came across a lone Storm Trooper. At least I thought it was a Storm Trooper until I lifted him from the back of the peg and examined him. It turns out he’s a “First Order Flame Trooper”. Neat. As much as I loved the standard Storm Troopers from the original Star Wars I preferred the variations seen in the next two movies. The Snow Trooper from Empire is one of my absolute favorite Star Wars character designs. It’s one of only 3 figures that I kept from my vintage childhood collection (Walrus Man and Ree-Yees being the other two). My brother Doug had an affinity for the Speeder Bike Troopers from Jedi and we were both fans of the AT-AT Drivers. This Flame Trooper reminded me of my beloved Snow Trooper and I had to have it. My plan to ignore the 3 ¾” figures went out the window pretty fast.
I’ll start with the negatives. Articulation. This figure only has 5-points of articulation; the bottom of the barrel for action figures. He has swivel joints at his hips and shoulders and a ball-jointed neck. Star Wars figures have traditionally only had 5-points, from the originals of the 80s right up to the modern figures of the 2000s so I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s just disappointing because in recent years Hasbro increased the posability of their Star Wars figures by adding joints at the elbows and knees. It’s a shame to see them take a step backwards in quality but that seems to be the trend these days to cut costs. That said, I complained about the articulation to Doug and he replied with “Yeah, but don’t you rave about ReAction figures?” Touche. My only other gripe is that this figure doesn’t stand on his own and he doesn’t come with a display base.
Now for the good stuff. I love this design and the sculpt. This figure looks really cool. It fresh yet familiar. The body is very reminiscent of the classic Storm Trooper look except the chest plate covers more area. The head is the piece that makes this figure stand out. He’s got a sliver of a visor but otherwise it’s a featureless helmet. He doesn’t have the “mouth” of the original which is probably why he reminds me of the Snow Troopers. For accessories he has a backpack with a hose that attaches to his flame thrower. Both accessories are two-toned and they attach to him firmly. He also came with a stupid round hunk of plastic which apparently joins with the stupid pieces packaged with other figures to form a crappy robot or something. My piece ended up in the spare parts bin almost immediately.
Lastly I’ll mention the package is quite nice with some original artwork unique to the character. I’m glad I picked this little guy up and I’ll definitely buy him in the larger scale too if Hasbro makes one. 9 out of 10.