Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Figure of the Day: Day 1,271: Death Star Trooper

DEATH STAR TROOPER with Blaster Rifle
Power of the Force Collection 3
Item No.:
Asst. 69705 No. 69838
Manufacturer: Kenner
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, blaster, freeze frame slide
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: June 1998
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Grand Moff Tarkin created this select force of soldiers to defend the galaxy's ultimate weapon, the Death Star. These elite troopers manned the gun towers during the Battle of Yavin, a conflict that resulted in the Death Star's destruction. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam's yard.

Commentary: For whatever reason Hasbro waited until 1998 to make the Death Star Trooper, the last of the "original 12" vintage-era action figures. The figure that finally made it to market was a really odd one, showing elements of great sculpting and total phoning-it-in all in one hard-to-find action figure. Since it was released in 1998, it's necessary to say that the sculpting quality and articulation of this figure are on par for its day. There are 6 joints, which was typical, and the outfit was designed nicely. There are folds in the outfit and a few wrinkles, giving the figure a slightly more realistic look than we had come to expect at the time. The texture reflected the light nicely, and while the boots weren't particularly shiny they did look OK. His pose was a little strange, legs slightly bent and a little hunched over, but odds are it would have worked out well had Kenner ever made a control station or playset for this figure to hang out on. Just standing by himself he looks weird-- weirder still with the blaster, as seen in the picture.

Most worthy of discussion, though, are this figure's accessories. He had a removable helmet-- downright unheard of for a Star Wars action figure in 1998 that wasn't some guy in a disguise. Underneath he has sculpted hair and what appear to be some sort of headphones or mufflers or whatever. It's neat, and a nice detail we don't usually see even today. The gun, on the other hand, was stupid then and it's hilarious now. Rather than give this figure a normal small pistol, he received what was the largest Imperial toy blaster available. Originally sold as the big gun for the TIE Fighter Pilot in 1996, this weapon went immediately into junk drawers or under couches. Naturally, Hasbro made this the sole weapon for this otherwise pretty swell figure. He can barely hold it, he certainly has problems aiming it while standing, and it's just big and dumb. It's a shame, because this would have been an otherwise decent release.

Collector's Notes: This was part of the last wave of the "Galactic Assortment" (or "Collection 3") that shipped to retail stores in 1998. The other new figure in the wave was Ree-Yees (yes, only two new figures) and both proved quite difficult to find in the wild. Time has made them cheaper, but at the time they were the cause of much stress for the figure collector. A super-articulated and taller version of the figure was made in 2007, and basically improves on this release in every possible way. The 1998 Trooper is more of a curiosity today than anything else, so buy it only if you're a fan of figures from the pre-prequel era. I personally like it but I admit that it has been lapped by future developments. The same figure, complete with gun, came as part of a Death Star accessory set exclusive to Target stores in 2002. It's worth noting this was the last wave (to date) of accessory packs.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,271: April 28, 2010


Peter in Japan said...

His original name was Death Squad Commander, which was coined before the word "Right Wing Death Squad."

Jerry Cann said...

This guy was such a profound disappointment when he was released. After such a (seemingly) long wait for a key character, to have this as the result was a real let down. The gun can be swapped out, but the goofy pose was awful. The 07 redo is miles better but has issues of his own. Maybe we'll get a definitive version someday...

EDDIE said...

I got several of these when they were repackaged for the 2002 Target-exclusive accessory packs. Oddly enough, next to the Biker Scout pack this was THE hardest one to find in my area. But I suppose people were still jonesing for a Death Star Trooper to build an army of...the 1998 Freeze Frame release was so pitifully distributed I never, ever saw it at ANY local store.

D'arthtagnan said...

The charm of this figure was his custom potential. Until the Endor battle packs, the only black uniformed Imperial officer figures available were the three head-variation jumpsuit guys. This DS trooper was the only one with a proper black imp officer uniform. Lop of jumpsuit blonde guy's head and add it to this DST body. Now you've got the dude who tells Vader, "She'll die before she tells you anything.", on the blockade runner. He's even trotting, like he's trying to keep up with Vader's stride. Use the brunette with the sidburns, and he's the officer in the detention block. Put the DS heads on the jumpsuits, and they can fix your TIE fighters in the hanger or something.

Boba Fettuccini said...

My Target must have held on to these things forever, because I picked up the accessory pack version in '04 or '05. I personally love it. He's currently posed on my Death Star Escape Cinema Scene pack baseplate/background running down the hall, for which he is perfectly posed for.