Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Figure of the Day: Day 1,136: Snowtrooper

SNOWTROOPER with Imperial Issue Blaster Rifle
Power of the Force Collection 3
Item No.:
Asst. 69705 No. 69632
Manufacturer: Kenner
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster, Backpack, Freeze Frame Action Slide (1998)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: November 1997
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Image: Adam's TV tray.

Bio: The ice planet Hoth was the site of the terrible conflict between Rebel and Imperial forces called the Battle of Hoth. Though the alliance resisted the Imperial assault for a short period, they were eventually forced to abandon the Echo Base headquarters as it became overrun with fearsome snowtroopers, the Empire's elite frozen-weather corps. (Taken from the figure's 1998 cardback.)

Commentary: The first modern carded basic Snowtrooper was not the first modern Snowtrooper-- a few months prior to its release, Hasbro released a really cool crouching version with a Tripod Laser Cannon. This version stood upright and had a really great sculpt for its day, and while it came off as a little tall it certainly looked really cool in an AT-AT. Due to its plastic "skirt" piece it couldn't sit down, but it's not like there were a lot of vehicles requiring this kind of movement anyway. The Snowtrooper can be posed at the waist, shoulders, and hips, with no neck movement or additional articulation. (It was, after all, 1997.)

Like many figures of its day, this release is not perfect, but fairly good. We've since received other super-articulated figures but the first basic release still holds up well in that it's a solid figure that holds together well under rough play. Back when it was first released, numerous fans on forums and Usenet expressed severe distaste at what was called a significant amount of dirt or damage. Looking at it today, it's tough to see where exactly the problem comes from because the figure doesn't really seem all that filthy. The sculpted bits look great, and the armor essentially matches the movie fairly well. With so many improved versions, this one has fallen out of favor, but if you're needing soldiers for massive dioramas this is an excellent and fairly cheap way to pack out the snowy plains on a budget.

Collector's Notes: The same mold was repainted in 1998 for the Toys "R" Us exclusive Millennium Minted Coin line. Parts of this figure were used in 2006 to make another basic carded Snowtrooper figure. The 1997 version was so abundant that around the end of 1998 it was actually possible to get an entire shopping cart full of them for $1 per figure-- and yes, I speak from experience. The figure was repackaged in 1998 with a Freeze Frame Action Slide, which did not provide fans with much (or any) action.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,136: October 21, 2009

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