Army builders rejoiced at the line-up Hasbro unveiled to us for Revenge of the Sith. Hasbro was dishing out articulation galore, and they werenít exactly skimping on the variety of troopers either. Within a short time, the Clones had 3 distinctly different figures even! If anything, we only had to worry about availability and boy was that a legitimate worry. Some people have still yet to see certain figures that debuted on April 2nd. I for one have never seen an AT-TE Gunner on the pegs and only have my handful of them through trades or by the kindness of our goodly forum members.
Still, Hasbro hit many nails squarely on the head with their army builders as far as how they turned out. One of the best representations of Hasbroís army builder efforts in the ROTS line was without a doubt the Royal Guard (Senate Security) figure. Not just one figure though, but Hasbro went the extra mile by running a variant figure alongside the other, for an army builderís delight! Couple that with tons of articulation, lots of accessories, robes that even the staunchest detractors of softgoods seem to appreciate, and youíve got yourself 2 distinctly unique figures that are worth having at least a half dozen of each to escort your Senators!
The Royal Guards come in blue and red flavors, as well as sporting unique head/helmet sculpts that distinguish each color just a little bit further. Hasbroís foresight into the demand of both variants seems as though it was a bit off, to put it mildly, as itís one of the hottest figures since its release date. But weíll take a look at all facets of the faceless guards and see what worked with them, and also what brought them down a peg or two, as always. Read on, and check it all out...
-Sculpt: If Hasbro doesnít blow your mind by the amount of work they put into this figureís sculpt, not too much will impress you. Whatís more, Hasbroís sculpt is often hidden by the cloth robe accessory the figure comes with as well, obscured from view and if you donít open your figure you may not even know what detail lies underneath!
Hasbroís sculpt under the robes has roots in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars as well. This isnít the first time though, as they actually included detail sculpting under the robes of the Senate Guard from the Power of the Jedi line as well. The sculpt is that of the ďKarnor JaxĒ character who hails from a comic series ďCrimson EmpireĒ. The sculpt features all the detailed armor drawn in the comic, to show what it is the Emperorís guards are sporting that makes them a bit tougher than they may appear.
Hasbro goes full steam capturing every detail of the ribs in the armor, the straps that hold it to the characterís body, and even sculpting a nicely detailed belt with a working holster for a blaster pistol to conceal under the robes.
The figureís boots alone are a plethora of detail. The boots are a thigh-high leather boot, and feature red armor shin guards very similar to the chest/shoulder/body armor piece with ridges and grey straps that show how theyíre held to the figureís footwear. The boots also feature a tread sculpted to the soleÖ A small detail to catch, but it just wows me to know Hasbro sculptors thought of it as they did.
The body-suit of the character, which could easily then go unnoticed, is sculpted to fit tight to the suit, just as an Imperial Stormtrooperís body-glove may contour to his body. There is ample texture detail sculpted into the outfit making it that much more detailed, and a grey strip is raised from the glove and runs down the figureís thighs into the boot. And along with the body glove, the figureís hands are also sculpted well, with a separate right trigger-finger, and ample folds and wrinkles in all areas to add realism to the figure.
The same overall sculpt is utilized between both variations of the Royal Guard figures however the helmets are distinctly different. The blue guardís helmet features ridges on the left and right crown that run back the helmet some, while the red guardís helmet is smooth and reflects the same helmet worn by the Emperorís guards in Return of the Jedi as well as the last two prequel films.
Both helmets are accurate, and look absolutely fantastic. Short of them being removable revealing some person underneath, it just doesnít get much better than these two figures. Hasbro has a winner, and this figure could easily be reshipped in both versions and still sell well. A ROTJ Guard with pike would actually be a welcome re-release figure down the line at some point if you ask me.
-Articulation: Equally impressive is the Guardís level of articulation. Heís capable of holding his rifle accessory with both hands, holding his blaster pistol/sidearm, carrying a pike accessory if you have one handy, standing at attention/guard for any VIP, and Iíve found a wide variety of great action poses (running, fighting, dead, whatever!) with my samples. Hasbroís done well on articulation with army builders in the ROTS line, at least in the initial figures that shipped for the April 2nd release date. The Royal Guardís seen no different treatment.
The Royal Guard has articulation at:
-2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 angle-cut elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 standard waist joint
- 1 ball/socket neck joint (restricted movement however)
The figureís 12 points of articulation total make it a worthy army builder for certain, and as said Iíve personally found that I can get it into a number of action or neutral poses. It is, however, a little disappointing that the figure doesnít have the ball/socket elbows possessed by other army builders in the ROTS line. That small detail would have enhanced the poseability of the figure even further, but itís a small slight on an otherwise fantastic figure to play with/pose.
The Royal Guards in both their colors turn out to be some of the better articulated figures in the ROTS line though, actually. Short of the Clone Troopers, theyíve been rivaled only by some of the Collection 2 Jedi Knights as far as their articulation is concerned, and even then the figure passed most of them on accessories as well. That makes for one fantastic figure, and itís no wonder he was the one all the fat smelly guys pushed little kids out of the way on April 2nd to buy them all up. I guess their ďscalper sensesĒ were tingling about this guy and they just knew he was gonna be tough to find for many.
-Paint Aps/Deco: The paint applications of my samples are a mixed lot. Thereís some positive just in the sheer diversity of the colors, the details, and the like. Iíve also noticed negative aspects of the Royal Guardís paint, mostly in a certain level of sloppy paint application between all the samples I have seen. Iíll touch on that in the ďConsĒ portion though.
On both variants of the figure, paint varies only in color, but is applied the same way, to the same spots, on both variants. The chest/shoulder armor and shin guards of both variants is painted with a glossy color (red or blue depending on the figure), to highlight the same glossiness of the figureís helmet. The straps to the armor pieces on both figures also feature straps that are painted grey, and the grey really sets them off from the rest of the characterís color.
The characterís belt is painted silver, with brown details like various pouches around it, as well as a nicely sculpted holster for a pistol. The brown of the pouches and holster really set it off, and the holster even has a thigh strap that is painted brown with silver highlights for rivets and the fastening buckle. All great little paint details that show all the little details the figure has in its sculpt. Once again, as with the sculpt, the figureís paint is often obscured by the robes but Hasbro has taken extra efforts to paint the figure in a realistic fashion.
As these details were all touched on by Hasbro, so was the figureís boots. Painted a glossy black, they really stand out, as does the armor, against the flat colors of the figureís body-suit.
The helmetís of both figures feature only a painted visor, and itís probably the best application of paint as none of my samples features paint straying onto the helmet at all. This is good since most people will display their figures with the robes on I would think, and thus the helmet is where your eyes are drawn immediately.
As mentioned, the figureís paint has its flaws though. Mostly straying from lines, or misapplication, but thereís a lot of diversity in color and lots of detail that Hasbro painted on this figure that you may not have seen on many other action figures. The paintjob deserves positive mention for that, most certainly.
-Accessories: Armed to the teeth, I can only say that thereís one accessory for this guy that Iíd have liked to have seen, and Hasbro didnít include. Thatís for later, but why he didnít come with it is a bit of a mystery. For what he does come with though, he certainly deserves merit.
The Royal Guard variants each are equipped with a rifle, which I believe is just a reuse of the POTJ figureís rifle mold, and they also feature a pistol not unlike the POTJ Bikerscoutís little sidearm blaster. The pistol fits neatly into the functioning holster on the figure as well, so thatís always an added plus, and the rifle has a sling for hanging on the figureís shoulder. The pistol was the surprise to the figure though, and one not many people expected. Itís neat seeing just what the Royal Guards have hidden under the robe incase using the force pike isnít the prudent course of action. I guess they subscribe to Soloís ideal of having, ďa good blaster at your sideĒ, even within the Empire.
The figure also features a softgoods robe that isnít too complex or sewn very much. It simply goes over the figureís neck and is only removable by popping the figureís head off which can be a bit tricky. The softgoods robe is a huge step forward over the previous Royal/Senate guards in the modern line. Their sculpted robes were often just inhibiting to any potential articulation they did have, and on some figures Hasbro simply sculpted them to be little salt shakers and nothing more. Itís nice to see the fans of cloth accessories and articulation, get their day in the sun with this figure. The robe doesnít look bad at all either, with it being a fairly loose/thin material with nice texture to it. Itís a win-win for everyone in my opinion, and looks great on the figure.
And finally the figure features a base sculpted to look like a shipís floor plates, or a hallway in a building. Itís fairly simplistic and has been re-used in the ROTS line now with several figures. Itís painted with several colors and can interlock with other similar bases. The end result is basically just that you get a base, which isnít ever a bad thing unless itís interfering with getting more articulation or another better accessory for the figure. I will say though, these bases donít connect side-by-side well, like I would like them to.
-Sloppy Paint Applications: While I loved the figureís paint applications overall for the diversity of the colors and the like, my samples have got noticeable paint straying, or spots completely missed on the figure. Itís a simple quality control issue Iíve noticed with the Royal Guards, and some turned out to have pretty great paint applications, but Iíve also seen more than a couple with major mishaps in the painting process.
My red guard Iím looking at now, for instance, has got no paint on probably 1/3 of his right shoulder pad. Itís easily noticeable and looks fairly bad. Also I see the grey of the thigh stripes and black of the boots has strayed onto the figureís leg. Thereís straying of the armorís paint all over the body of the figure, and I see paint from the armor straps that sloppily strayed onto the figureís body.
I love the amount of paint they put into the figure though. Thereís a lot of varying colors there, but Hasbro just didnít seem to closely monitor how well the paint was applied to the figures so it stands out as a fairly bad job when compared to other figures in the line. Hopefully any future production and release of these variants will have a better overall paint application, because itís certainly got a lot of color to it!
-Rubbery Accessories (Again): Unfortunately, Hasbro continues to let fans down again and again by not simply using a more rigid plastic with many of its accessories. The Royal Guards fall prey to this pitfall with their rifles, which are bent straight from the packaging and itís tough to get the figures to hold the guns without them bending as well. My red guardís rifle has a nice bend that formed from having it slung over the figureís shoulder for instance. I like getting the rifle, but at this stage of the game I find these bendy weapons to be excuseless.
This isnít a minor gripe either. Hasbro knows this is a problem in the line, and they refuse to remedy it. There is no rubbery accessory in the G.I. Joe line, so Hasbro CAN do better than this, yet they simply donít. Itís not an issue of safety standards or anything else, itís simply a cheap plastic and I hope they try to fix this issue in the near future. Itís one that has needed addressing from the company now for a long time. Hell, I still want replacement staffs for my Amanaman figure! Hasbro needs to get on the ball with using the proper plastic for these accessories though. One rigid enough for the weapon to hold its shape would be rather nice.
-No Pike/Staff: The best, most memorable sequence with the Royal Guards in ROTS was probably when Yoda first entered Palpatineís office to confront him, and completely owned two red-robed guards by force slamming them off the office walls knocking them unconscious. The guards that Yoda made look foolish were brandishing the ďforce pikeĒ weapon we see used throughout the Saga by these elite troops, and yet the ROTS variants neither one come with the weapon.
I think that it wouldíve been ideal had the figure come with it, even if it was a reused sculpt from one of the previous Royal Guard figures, and Iíd have preferred it over the base myself. The figure just seems naked without this weapon though. I hope at least the red-robed variant re-ships some day with a pike accessory pack-in.
-Availability: Easily one of the worst features of the Royal Guard variants is that neither one has been terribly easy for everyone to find. It seems every area had a wildly varying report of which version was the easier to find, though I think the red variant would be the hotter of the two due to it also being a classic trilogy character (and an upgrade) technically.
People seem to want more of both variants of the Royal Guard. While itís supposedly reshipping, itís still a tough figure to find overall. Hasbro grossly underestimated how popular this figure would be, and itís just not seen the supply necessary to meet its demand. Rumors about the figureís scarcity, coupled with both variants shipping at once, also fueled the Scalpers in their hunt for both versions as well, making it just that much more difficult to find on the pegs. So, the end solution here is that Hasbro needs to get this figure out in higher quantities, one way or another. A case packed full of Super Articulated Clonetroopers, AT-TE Gunners, and the Royal Guard variants would be a hot item at retail, and until Hasbro sees this the demand for all these figures is going to remain high and the response to meet it very, very, slow.
My gripes at the end there havenít slowed me down from wanting about a dozen of each variant. Iím up to a couple of the red variant, and Iíve managed to track down 6 of the blue. Thatís not a bad start, but Iím on the waiting list for more of these figures along with a lot of other collectors out there. Hasbro, you make them and Iíll buy them. If they were easy enough to find Iíd certainly be picking even more of them for customizing as well.
But, as of the writing of this review, even with a few being spotted in reshipments, theyíre still incredibly tough to find for many, so hopefully Hasbroís just working to remedy that. The Red Guard is certainly a figure I could see being re-released in the basic line as a Return of the Jedi figure, and I think it would even be nice to see the Blue Guard again as well, and maybe even released with an Episode One style helmet (open-faced helmet). Beyond the availability issues, the rifle was the big disappointment with how flimsy and rubbery it is. Hasbroís got a long ways to go with fixing the accessories in this line though it seems.
The figure is great to me though, and none of my gripes are anything too major to sour my opinion on either version. The Royal Guard is ranking easily as one of my favorites from the ROTS line-up as well. Posing the figures, having them fight Jedi, having them just flank your favorite Palpatine figureÖ Itís just a really great figure, either color you find. I recommend picking up a nice army if youíre an opener. Help your buddies find them if you know someone in need though because this is a figure everyone should have one of to enjoy.