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Special 100th Figure Review:
PotJ Rebel Fleet Trooper

I’m surprised to say that we’ve actually made it to a milestone in JediDefender.com’s review column: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Figure Reviews! This review is our 100th we’ve done here at JD, and so we thought it might be fun to do something a little different and special. I’m dusting off a figure on my shelf that was something of discussion back when it was first released. If you know me, you know the obvious choice for a 100th review would be the Power of the Jedi Rebel Fleet Trooper.

But why go back to such an old figure to review it, you may be wondering? Well, the story goes that I was fairly sharply critical of this figure at the time of its release while others thought it was a gift from plastic heaven. The Fleet Trooper certainly was an upgrade over his Power of the Force 2 counterpart, no doubt. How could you really do worse considering the first figure’s buff awkward sculpting, inaccurate decoration, and height that rivaled modern day Wookiee figures! Still, Hasbro let me down by pre-posing the Fleet Trooper’s sculpt despite above-standard articulation for the time. They also tanked some key “fun” features that were lacking on this figure but available on others. Add to this a pistol that was comically under scaled, some action figure innovations borrowed from other toy companies that had already abandoned their concepts, and a magical holster, and the figure had some flaws.

An upgrade, for certain that cannot be disputed... but decent? In today’s modern line, this is an army builder long over-due for super articulation (or darn close to it) and some better accessory totals and sculpting. Hasbro has snubbed the Rebel Armies for far too long, and this figure is a good place to start resculpting out in Pawtucket!

So without further ado, read on for the full review. Hide the kids, lock up your wife, batten the hatches, tote the barge, wear clean underwear, and for the love of god remember that just because something is sculpted better doesn’t mean it can’t be a better toy!

PROS

-Improved Sculpt: Without a doubt, the driving force behind most people’s approval of the “new” Rebel Fleet Trooper was simply that the figure looked better than its predecessor. How could it not have achieved this though? I mean, the POTF2 line put out some horrific sculpts, especially in its first 2 years, but the first Fleet Trooper ranks even today as one of the worst looking figures of all time, modern or vintage. So is sculpt really a FAIR means of judgment on the quality of a new Fleet Trooper figure? I don’t believe so.

The new Fleet Trooper’s sculpt featured some great details, and actual accuracy… For instance the shirt under the vest is sculpted to show how it buttons up the right side of the character’s body. The collar is sculpted closed and high on the character’s neck as well and there are lots of wrinkles and folds to kind of show the lax quality of the ill-fitting uniforms of the Alliance.

The figure’s pants are sculpted with lots of detail as well featuring baggy pockets on both legs, and lots of loose folds in the look of the fabric as well. There’s not much texturing in the pants or shirt sculpts, but they were more “Imperial” looking costumes in that they didn’t look like they were a coarse material such as a Jedi’s robes.

The figure’s helmet and vest were nice sculpts as well, especially the vest. The helmet was just decent to look at for its time more than anything was. The vest looked weighty though, and caught tons of detail otherwise tough to see in the film. There is a light checkered texturing to the vest that’s tough to see and the pockets are all over the vest (as they should be) and sculpted to look as though they’re weighted with equipment the trooper carries inside each one. A ton of detail to observe in the accessory alone really.

Now the sculpt is pretty good, but is it perfect? Far from it. There are a number of flaws to the figure’s sculpt, most of them rather silly little things that just appear overlooked. Some are just not attractive details on the figure at all. That’s all saved for later though.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: The sculpt is complemented with a pretty decent paint application care of Hasbro factories overseas. There are a few minor flaws, namely the lack of paint on the silver “clip” boxes on the character’s belt. I was a little disappointed at this since it would add some color to the figure, but at the same time there is a lot more I disliked than a couple dabs of silver missing on the figure so I am willing to look beyond that.

The nice part of the decoration was that it was accurate, for the first time. The POTF2 Fleet Trooper got the shirt and vest colors down right, but the pants were based on aged footage of the original Star Wars film where the pants had a tan tinge to them. They’re actually a light grey… Where all the other inaccuracies on that figure came from is anyone’s guess.

On the 1999/2000 Fleet Trooper, Hasbro nailed the colors down right though. The blue shirt is just the right, incredibly light, shade of blue it must be. The pants are a nice light grey just as they should be. The boots are charcoal grey/lighter black shade, and the soles of the boots were actually painted plain black, so there’s some contrast there to show a sculpt detail you might not notice otherwise. The vest is simple black, and the helmet is white with a black visor. There is one flaw on the visor as well (should have a white bottom strip to it), but again it’s something I tend to overlook during criticism of the figure.

The figure’s head is painted with fairly “generic” colors… Brown hair, brown eyes (done in Hasbro’s 3-layered paintjob style for eyes), brown eyebrows. The chinstrap for the helmet is black and white, as it should be, and doesn’t stray onto the face, nor does any of the other paint aps on the head. In general, the paintjob is good and represents the character accurately.

-Removable Vest: This “Pro” is kind of a tough one to gloat about because it’s a double-edged sword. The vest is removable, but only in that it can be pried off the figure if you try, but it appears to me that it wasn’t INTENDED to be removed. The plastic used for the vest is rigid in quality, the arm holes are fairly tight around the figure when the vest is on, the arms don’t really position in a way that’s conducive to easy removal of the vest… So yeah it’s only removable “from a certain point of view”, as they say.

That said, the idea is cool. If the vest were more pliable or the arms more poseable, or whatnot, the vest would come off really easy and the figure would have more army building potential. There is a downside to trying to remove the vest I’ve run into as well in that when you do it seemingly stretches the figure’s arms apart some, and he doesn’t seemingly hold his blaster with 2 hands anymore because now the arms are warped apart too much. Hardly a positive, but I’m trying here.

-Price: Here’s a hands-down positive - the figure cost me just $5! The POTJ line kicked off with some outrageous prices, carry-overs of Episode 1 figure pricing it seemed in the $7 price range per figure. POTJ dropped though, and by the line’s end (when the Fleet Trooper came out) they were down around $5. I found them in abundance at Toys R Us in particular for that price on numerous occasions.

Compared to 2007, $5 looks like a godsend for an action figure in this line. It’s what I pay for other toys but Star Wars seems to be riding a popularity high and price hike to go with it, and it’s tough to tell if it will ever go away. Oh the days you could walk out of the store with 4 figures for a $20 or so. Good times.

-Availability: If you wanted him, he wasn’t hard to find… That’s good right? Eh… whatever.

CONS

-Sculpt Flaws: The sculpt is good, yes, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to cite some flaws with it, and there are a number of flaws on this figure despite it being an obvious improvement. The sculpt issues vary from small to the kind of things that really bring a figure down in my book.

First the figure’s shoulders where the arm sockets are sculpted in a way that they look ok with the vest on, but they look a little bulky and oversized for the torso sculpt without the vest. It’s like the arms are too big for the body where they are joined and it just disappoints without the vest on… Not a huge deal to everyone.

The face sculpt is really undetailed and cheap looking as well. There’s something about it that fans have never really been wild about, and it didn’t help that Hasbro sculpted the figure to be very generic to the point of not resembling any Trooper seen in the opening sequence of Star Wars. Later on this figure would see 2 head variants that were a little better and 2 (complete with removable helmets it seems) more are planned for a battlepack set in 2007, but the version we’re reviewing had a very dull headsculpt people would’ve liked to have seen done differently.

Next, the figure’s holster is sculpted to the right thigh which was pretty standard at the time as there were none of these hanging separately sculpted holster goodies we get these days. That’s not bad in and of itself, but what is bad is that it didn’t function to hold a pistol, but that it also didn’t have a strap sculpted to show it attached to the belt… It just hovers there on the figure’s thigh, oddly, without anything running up tot the belt at all, and that just is one of those sculpt flaws that was seemingly overlooked. Hell, even a strip of brown paint would’ve helped this mistake some.

The big flaw, and the sculpt flaw that really kills this figure for me, is the pre-posed nature throughout this figure that hurt it for poseability and how it displays in general. Starting with the feet, Hasbro saw fit to sculpt the left foot so it’s tilted backwards a bit, and the right foot is tilted forward a bit. The way the feet are set up then require the figure to be in a semi-walking pose at all times, regardless of any leg articulation Hasbro added. That’s a big disappointment.

Even more disappointing than the feet though was the atrocious caved-in chest sculpt Hasbro gave the figure so he’s forever locked in an arm’s forward position. The shoulders are sculpted so they’re hunched forward and the chest is sort of caved-in, so that the figure’s arms come together so he can hold a pistol with 2 hands. The body looks terrible without the vest on though, and the figure looks a little awkward with his arms at his sides, with or without the vest. The sculpt really then limits your ways of posing this figure without him looking strange. It’s either pistols up or nothing at all and that’s a shame the figure got limited like that by it’s sculpt.

-Accessories: Accessory count really bummed me out since you basically got a vest and a pistol you needed a microscope to find. The difficulty removing the vest also impacts the accessory total since it’s rough to even count that. The pistol really irked a number of people though and it still does to this day since Hasbro still uses this tiny, undetailed, sculpt when they’ve got a vastly superior and accurately scaled blaster for the Fleet Trooper that they can use (came with the 2003 Captain Antilles figure).

The vest looks cool though off the figure, definitely a sharp sculpt there and a worthy piece, but this is a figure that could’ve come with a removable helmet, better pistol, vest… Had Hasbro felt generous as they did with the Bespin Guard that came out just before the Trooper, they could’ve given us a scanner pistol even. Alas you got a bit less and even the pack-in standard Force File for the POTJ line was omitted from this figure’s wave!

-Non-Removable Helmet: A major gripe of mine at the time was the lack of removable headgear, especially when Hasbro had been making big leaps in the department of helmets being a separate accessory in this line! The Bespin Guard had a removable hat of all things, X-Wing Luke (and previous pilots) had come with removable helmets that even had see-through visors, the Mon Calamari Officer even came with a removable helmet and these guys were hardly even noticeable in the movies!

The big gripe against my campaign for a removable helmet at the time was that it couldn’t be done because of the chinstrap it would require… The irony here is that a short while later we have a Fleet Trooper styled helmet with a chinstrap, X-Wing helmets with chinstraps, and so on and so forth. I guess that argument didn’t hold water.

What was more disappointing to me though was that the helmet was separately sculpted, and yet not removable. It plugged onto the head and got glued on. Some argued that it was an additional cost to sculpt the helmet separately but since the helmet is a separate piece already, this was a weak argument at best… Quite simply, the lack of a removable helmet was just a disappointment when it was being used routinely on other figures with helmets, from Jek Porkins to Sebulba the Pod Pilot, and it hurt the overall quality of the toy.

-Non-Functioning Holster: Like the helmet issue, working holsters were in their infancy, but were possible and Hasbro had given them to better figures. The 1999 Cantina Han we’re all sick of was the first to get this spiffy feature, and boy was it a welcomed improvement to action figures. It truly set the bar to a new standard in detail and fun to get this feature.

Hasbro saw fit to omit this from a trooper figure, and that just struck me as disappointing as well. The holster would’ve simply required a different means of sculpting so it was concave and could hold the pee-shooter the figure came with. At least people could’ve hidden the horribly sculpted little gun they got had the holster worked.

This again wasn’t a matter of a feature that added cost to the figure, it was a matter of just not taking the time to add it into the design of the toy, and that is an issue that hurt the figure overall. A simple thing that adds a lot to the toys we get now, so I’m always thankful when I see it on any new figure!

-Articulation (Style & Count): The articulation on the POTJ Rebel Fleet Trooper was a little above normal in overall total points of articulation for this point in time. However, the pre-posed nature of his sculpt hurt any poseability you maybe gained from additional articulation. At the same time Hasbro pretty much didn’t articulate the upper body at all, and omitted the waist joint on a figure for no apparent reason. The Fleet Trooper’s arms stood to gain a lot from some elbow joints at the very least.

The style of articulation used for the legs was also a negative issue with the figure. The angle-cut articulation style was abandoned by the company Hasbro borrowed it from (21st Century Toys and their 1:18 scale military line of figures). Some hinged knees would’ve improved poseability and really allowed for more poses, at least of the legs themselves, than what Hasbro used in the design.

The articulation count on the Rebel Fleet Trooper is:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 swivel wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 angle-cut knee joints
- 2 swivel boot-top joints
- 1 standard neck joint

That adds up to a total of 11 points of articulation on the POTJ Rebel Fleet Trooper. A nice total on paper, but the angle-cut knees really limited what you could do for poses. It is stuck between kneeling poses or standing poses. The bent ankles of both feet hurt those standing poses tremendously though.

The lack of arm articulation in general is disappointing as well. The angle-cut articulation point works a little better at the elbow joint these days, and any articulation on those arms would’ve helped the figure pose in some way other than holding a pistol out with 2 hands. Still, the sculpt of the shoulders and how the figure is designed in general really limit how you can pose him so he looks “natural”. Articulation in general was not what the totals added up to on this figure, folks. Improvements on the Fleet Trooper seemed to be one step forward with two steps back.

-Stiff Vest: The “removable” vest was a big letdown for one reason alone, and that’s the rigid plastic Hasbro used on the vest. The irony with this negative is that the original Fleet Trooper actually featured a vest that was easy to remove and made of a quite pliable plastic. It was much easier to remove than the POTJ figure’s vest, go figure.

Still, the vest is sharp looking so don’t get me wrong. If Hasbro does resculpt the Fleet Trooper down the road, they did a bang-up job catching the little details of the costume, and that’s sculpting I’d LIKE to see carried over. I can do without the horrible posing of course, which is again a part of the problem trying to remove the vest from the figure! Still though, a pliable plastic has been used on countless accessories, sometimes to our chagrin, so it’s quite ironic that a removable vest would be so difficult to remove.

Food for thought, Bespin Han in the POTJ line had a separate sculpted coat. His coat is made of a more pliable plastic than the Fleet Trooper’s vest, and isn’t removable. Sometimes you just scratch your head and wonder, “why?” on this stuff.

-Packaging: Just to add insult to injury I thought I’d keep my review to its normal format and include the packaging as part of it as well. Generally I only discuss packaging when it’s “good” but I have to say that this is one time I’m going to criticize the packaging for what it was. POTJ was one of the ugliest lines of packaging ever in the modern line, and I don’t know many that disagree with me on that.

The image of an Episode 1 Jedi popping out of a Vader head, it all just seemed mismatched and overdone. The green was a little obnoxious, and people were sharp to complain about the packaging when it was first unveiled. The POTJ packages were, at the time, a change of pace from a sea of red we had become accustomed to, but that wore off pretty fast for carded collectors I think.

For me, I opened everything in Power of the Jedi as I do with most everything, but even I was really down on the packaging of the day back then.

-No Force File: And one last thing that was disappointing about the last couple waves of Power of the Jedi in general were the lack of a pack-in that we’d gotten throughout the line. The pack-ins for the day were the “Force File”, a little pamphlet of images and information about your figures and the Star Wars universe. They were actually kind of cool, if not cheap. If nothing else it would’ve been nice to have them for every POTJ figure, not skipping out the last couple of figures.

I really would’ve dug the information in the Imperial Officer and Fleet Trooper’s files though. Hell I’ve even used these things for customizing inspiration since some of them introduce unique looking characters (photo-shopped images and stuff). They were neat, so it sucks the Fleet Trooper didn’t have one, and that is just one more flaw to a figure with more flaws than most are willing to see.

OVERALL

So that is it. We’ve got 100 figures reviewed and I’ve got more work to do. Right now I’m enjoying a slight break in new figures to write things up on, but I’ll be back to it after 2007 waves start shipping.

It’s hard to believe I actually wrote this much about toys, but that’s ok. This is how I set out my format for reviews and I stick with it. I figure writing was something I was adept at in school and when JediDefender.com offered me a gig doing it about something I enjoyed at their site I was happy to join up with Scott, Matt, and the gang at the time. It’s been fun, and I look forward to the wares Hasbro throws our way in the future.

Sometimes Hasbro hits, sometimes they miss. Entire years of collecting can be filled with ups and downs in this line. The POTJ line was really high on collector’s lists. It featured tons of figures people had wanted for ages, and there really weren’t all that many letdowns in the line overall. The Fleet Trooper made a number of people happy but it was a figure I had looked forward to for so long, and Hasbro decided to try to be innovative with articulation and pre-posed sculpting (something that wasn’t common at all at the time).

The POTJ Fleet Trooper turned out to have some little nuisances like the floating holster. It had some major issues like the pre-posed body and feet. The removable helmet and holster were also big flaws on a figure in a line where anyone with a helmet seemed to have a removable one, and working holsters with scaled blasters were a great new trend. The Fleet Trooper maybe was nice to look at in sculpt and decoration but it certainly leaves a lot to be desired as an action figure.

Like all Rebel Troopers (Endor, Hoth, Fleet, etc.), Hasbro’s not too keen on doing up new ones it seems, but hopefully this is a figure they revisit, as I hope they revisit all the Rebel Trooper types. If the Evolutions concept was still around it would be the most ideal 3-pack of Troopers I believe.

Either way, the Rebel Fleet Trooper is a figure still needing a resculpt from the folks in Pawtucket these days. It’s an army builder that would look fantastic with the articulation levels and details Hasbro can incorporate these days. Let’s just hope it’s sooner than later! It’s a rebel drought out there on the pegs.

(Disclaimer: Don’t have a meltdown if you do like this figure and disagree with the above sentiments. Reviews are done in fun, and also to bring about my own views of any action figure and how I view the modern line and issues of quality. I can’t make your figures disappear just because I don’t like them, so all is well. Have a nice day ! )

 

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