Saturday, October 14, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 161: AT-ST Driver

AT-ST DRIVER with Blaster Rifle and Pistol
Power of the Force Collection 2 and 3
Item No.:
Asst. 69605 No. 69623
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster Rifle, Pistol, Freeze Frame (on later releases)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: January 1997
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Imperial Army pilots were the Galactic Empire's support personnel responsible for the operation and maintenance of a variety of vehicles, such as the AT-AT and AT-ST, within the Imperial Army. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)

Image: The toy shelves of Adam Pawlus.

Commentary: When this figure first hit, people were thrilled. Some thought that the new AT-ST Driver was meant to be director Richard Marquand, who had a cameo as the ground walker pilot. This figure was released roughly 17 months after the AT-ST, at which point it was more than a little tricky to find the then-slow selling chicken walker. The figure itself was a new version of an old favorite, as the vintage AT-ST Driver was an excellent figure for its day. This beefy upgrade added a waist joint and extra guns, and fit in the vehicle quite nicely. (Or nicely enough, as POTF2 figures and pilots were not what you would call "play tested" before release.) The figure was improved on later during the modern Star Wars line, but this first release is pretty gosh darn good-- it stands out as an early highlight of the line, and was one of the first individually carded Return of the Jedi figures. (Actually, #3 if memory serves.) The coloring is great, the sculpt is good, and while it's a little primitive, it makes a great pilot figure.

Collector's Notes: The figure was very popular, and remained so when a Freeze Frame variant came out later-- which it turned out was a little hard to find. Realizing the body was perfect for multiple figures, fans requested Hasbro reuse it to make other characters. Sure enough, they did-- the Imperial Scanning Crew Tech was first released in 1998, and used this body with a new head and retooled hands. The same figure was repainted and released as the Imperial Trooper in 2004 as an unofficial Fan's Choice rerelease. Fans looking for the perfect AT-ST Driver may wish to check out the Toys "R" Us Imperial Forces gift set, or the Han Solo in AT-ST Driver disguise figure from 2004. Which are good, but not perfect-- their goggles can't cover the figure faces like this release can, which for my money makes this original POTF2 AT-ST Driver my favorite modern release.

Day 161: October 14, 2006

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