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Never Forget - The ICMG Petition

Entertainment Earth

Naboo Soldier
(Royal Flight Crewman)

Coming up this week for review, we’re going to kick off the Endor/Naboo wave or “End-Boo” as we’ve been calling it around JediDefender of late. I figured I’d start off reviews of this wave with the figure that has probably caused the most controversy out of the lot. I speak of course of the Naboo Soldier… or Flight Crewman… Or whatever he is. Nobody seems to know. What fans seem to agree on though is that if Hasbro can make this guy, they can give us any figure we want, Ice Cream Maker Guy included!

Sure he’s a human, sure he’s in a bland outfit, sure he doesn’t come with a lot, sure he was in (arguably) the worst film of the 6, but is he a GOOD action figure? That is always what the argument boils down to I believe, and the Naboo… guy… has some fine points I believe. He also let me down in ways I didn’t expect after seeing early photos of him. Read on for the full review because this is a figure that you may want to know some of the little details about him before you buy.

PROS

-Paint Aps/Decoration: The figure’s colors and decoration match up well to the photos of the character(s) it is based on, and that’s about what you should expect with this figure. Hasbro didn’t go out of their way to dirty him up or anything, but then again they weren’t dirty in the films either as they were a polished military character from a fighting force that was supposedly rarely used… Hasbro does impress with some small paint aps that are nice to see though and this gets the extra nod from me for quality.

For instance the way the belt’s brown is painted so that it appears to be looped through the yellow fabric of the character’s tunic is a nice little touch and took some effort. Also the belt buckle itself is a silver center ringed with a bronze-ish color on the outside. It’s 2 separate paint aps and a detail Hasbro probably could’ve skipped with just one blanket silver or bronze paint ap, but they went the extra mile on it.

The figure’s color seems spot-on to the reference image as well, a nice match, and short of the folks at Hasbro giving us a running change in red (also pictured), the figure’s outfit is pretty straight forward for them to deco… The boots are simple black, nothing fancy.

The figure’s eyebrows and hair are all nicely painted a plain brown, with no straying onto the face of my sample that I can see. The eyes get the 3-layered treatment common on Hasbro figures these days, and look sharp and no “cross-eyed” syndrome either. The neck post is painted and matches the head’s skin tone as well, which has been a flaw on some past figures, so it’s nice to see it done right. Overall the paint aps are what they should be, and look very sharp.

-Articulation: The Naboo Soldier is beyond dull but yet he outclasses some of the most desired figures we got in 2006’s line for articulation. Veers, Derlin, and even Commander Cody and Commando “Scorch” got a screw job on articulation, compared to the Naboo Soldier. If you can’t see the irony in all that then I don’t know what to say. Hasbro are just so very weird about which figure gets the beefed up articulation and which one gets a point cut here and there.

I mean, Scorch doesn’t have any knee articulation but this guy does? Cody’s maybe not one I should list since he has it but he just can’t use it well, while this guy poses better than Cody does… It’s just mind boggling in a way.

Anyway, the Naboo Soldier features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 angle-cut elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 pin-swivel (NOT ball/socket) knee joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 standard waist joint

The total articulation chimes in at 12 points, which is pretty damn good in 2006 since Hasbro has seen fit to cut articulation on figures that really deserved it this year. It’s funny how in demand Derlin was from the collectors but a guy from Naboo who nobody wanted gets the leg articulation. Very strange.

Either way, the articulation is appreciated and there is a lot of motion allowed here for cool poses. The pin-swivel knees were deceiving in early photos of the figure though and implied ball/socket knees. Not the case however, and the pin-swivel knees are much less versatile for posing, so there is a flaw there I didn’t foresee on this figure unfortunately. Something of a letdown for this collector. But the articulation isn’t bad and makes for a fairly fun figure to pose and play with.

If the other two or three styles of Naboo military figures were this much fun, I think I’d actually dig seeing them resculpted. Panaka, the Naboo Soldier, and the Naboo Royal Guard were all letdowns for me, but with this poseability those figures could all be great I believe, and given they were all more noticeable in The Phantom Menace, I’d have rather seen them resculpted first actually.

-Accessories: The Naboo Soldier comes packin’ the gear he pretty much should come with. There is a weapon and Hasbro saw fit to sculpt a removable helmet as well making the figure a little higher in quality in that regard. I’m a huge fan of removable headgear if you weren’t aware.

First up is the Naboo guy’s blaster. The sculpt is re-used from Episode 1 figures like Panaka and the Naboo Soldier. The gun is a good sculpt, to-scale, features a lot of detail and Hasbro goes at it with some nice paint applications too by giving it silver highlights and such. The weapon was nice in 1999 and holds up today. These guys didn’t have guns in the film for the most part till the end, so Hasbro could’ve slipped in captured Droid guns or something if they wanted. Overall it’s a fine choice.

The second accessory is the helmet. It’s reminiscent of Earth flight crewmen helmets like you see on aircraft carriers for instance. The helmet’s sculpt is obviously all new, and very nicely done. It fits snugly onto the head of the figure, it has raised and recessed surfaces sculpted into it. There are even fabric-ish parts sculpted onto it showing it’s not a full “hard” helmet, and more leaning towards that “flight crew” helmet look in its detail.

The real neat detail on the helmet is the paint aps given it. The brow of the helmet in particular features some funky alien writing/logos for whatever. There is a yellow top painted on and silver details painted on the earpieces of the helmet. The detail is pretty nice on this accessory and like I said, any removable headgear is appreciated out of Hasbro.

And of course the figure also comes with the usual pack-ins too for figures in 2006 that add absolutely nothing to the toy but somehow wind up costing the fans more at retail. There is an embossed stand featuring the film the character appeared in raised on its surface and a silver name of the character painted on the one edge. There is also a randomly packaged holographic miniature figure snuck into the packaging as well. While the stand and miniature are nice, both required molds and effort to be produced and it’s my opinion that the money put into these “gimmick” accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.

-Packaging: The Saga Collection packaging for each figure is an interesting mix of styles. You can definitely see some elements of the ROTS line mixed with elements of the OTC line, and that makes for a unique package on the shelves. I really enjoy the black cardback with silver lettering, and I hope it’s something Hasbro is willing to stick with for a long time to come.

I also highly enjoy the unique backgrounds for each figure. Pulling an element from the OTC line, the new Saga Collection packaging uses a film shot that pertains to each unique character, and really individualizes the figures. This is drool-worthy for the carded collector and it makes even the die-hard openers want a figure here and there to keep carded just because of how special the backgrounds are.

The bubble is a little closer to the ROTS line in its overall size and shape, but should lend itself more to staying mint for the carded guys. There’s also an insert depicting the specific character and the character’s name, packaged into the bottom of the package just as the Revenge of the Sith figures had. The insert features the bold blocky silver lettering of the Saga, and lets fans know that this is the universal collection of figures encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.

There’s a lot to like with this packaging so I hope it stays as the standard for a while. I would say that The Saga Collection and Original Trilogy Collection will go down as some of the most liked packaging by collectors for quite some time if Hasbro gives it a while, and this is coming from a guy that rips almost everything off its card at some point or another.

-Customizing Fodder: Hasbro delivers a dull figure sure, but the Naboo dude is probably one of the blanker sculpts out there for customizers to work with. The body is so plain and dull it’s good for random civilians, pirates, other Naboo people, or whatever. It really is one of the more ideal blank looking figures to make your own creations from.

This is maybe not the best “Pro” for everyone but from a customizing POV it’s not bad. The articulation on it is a plus here too because you get a nicely poseable toy to work with as well, which not all fodder is this “friendly”. So that’s a plus and may help move the figure at retail more than people realize.

CONS

-Sculpt: Early photos of the Naboo Soldier really had people scratching their heads. The figure had been rumored and I think most of us expected a resculpt of one of the existing Naboo Troops out there already, which were more noticeable. When we saw the figure though, fans let out a big “WTF?!”, as not only did you get one of the dullest looking characters but Hasbro’s sculpt seemed off somehow. It just looked like it came from another era of figure making yet the articulation said it was all new.

The sculpt impressions everyone got initially were that the figure was bulky and with a pinhead. I can safely say that this isn’t 100% the case. The head isn’t tiny, and the figure isn’t oversized, but there is a distinct “blocky” look to it. It’s not horrid, so don’t get my criticism of this figure wrong here, I don’t loathe the sculpt entirely. It just is distinctly different looking and overall it lacks the sculpting detail other recent figures have.

A good comparison I had to notice the differences were in the recent Death Star Gunner, which I love, and this figure. The Gunner has everything this figure lacks. For instance little things like the way the ball/socket shoulder joint was “shaved” down so it wasn’t a big ball popping out at the shoulder. The Naboo guy’s shoulders seem larger and more rounded and awkward looking.

The fabric of the costume is another area I felt lacked detail… For instance on an Imperial figure in recent time, the costume is sculpted smooth, as it should be, but there is a HINT of fabric texturing in there. The Naboo dude has nothing like that though and simply has a smooth sculpted costume which is accurate from a distance but up close you should see those little TINY texturing lines I believe. Nothing overboard mind you like Ozzel’s uniform was sculpted, but just a hint of it like on Jerjerrod or Veers for instance.

Another gripe I’ve got is the figure’s hands. Sure it may seem minor to some, but the hands aren’t sculpted to hold the accessory well, and that’s disappointing for certain. The sample I have drops his blaster pretty readily when I bump him because the hands are stretched around the grips. It would’ve been great had they designed the hands to hold the weapon securely is all. It’s a simple matter of sculpting them around the grips really.

The shining spot of the sculpt is the headsculpt. It is A) not a “pinhead” like so many people felt it was going to be. That’s simply not true. It’s proportional, the blocky look of the body I think is what made the head look odder in photos. And B) the likeness to the reference photo they used for the character is SPOT ON. If Hasbro could get likenesses like this for main characters, nobody would ever complain about how Luke or Han look tot hem. It really is one of Hasbro’s better face sculpts overall, but the sculpt in general of this figure falls short of the standards Hasbro have set themselves.

It’s a rare thing for me to criticize this, but now is the time I’m afraid. Still, it’s not nearly as bad as early photos implied either, so fans shouldn’t necessarily judge this figure anywhere but in person too. It is passable, but just not the H’s best work.

-Knee Problems: The articulation points at the knees are a nice plus, but in early photos I had my hopes set high for ball/socket knee joints and what we get is the pin-swivel knees that some figures have. That’s not all though, as the knees lack the range of motion they should have, as they aren’t sculpted to bend all the way backwards.

The pin-swivel joint’s range of motion is that the knee has the movement of a basic hinged knee joint, but the entire lower leg also spins/swivels 360 degrees as well. The ball/socket allows for the leg to move any direction at the knee though, and thus a better range of motion. This means a general lack of poseability compared to a true ball/socket joint of course, but the real nuisance is in the sculpt of the back of the knee.

The knee’s movement backwards for a sitting position for example, is hindered by the fact that the leg isn’t sculpted to allow the hinge full range of motion. It’s really difficult to describe in words, but basically you couldn’t get a fully bent knee pose out of this figure for sitting, kneeling, or whatnot. The issue is a simple matter of sculpting it a different way, nothing major, but for some reason this figure lacks the poseability it should have because of just a design flaw.

It’s nice to have the knee joints at all, believe me. That’s been a sore spot all year long really. The only gripe really is that the design allows for limited movement of the legs compared to other figures with poseable legs, and that’s disappointing for sure.

-Character Choice: The resounding gripe among collectors against this figure is that nobody really was asking for this figure to be made. Nobody I’ve ever seen anyway, and I wager you can’t come up with many names (if any) that said, “Yes, I really want the Naboo Flight Crew guy more than anything!” out there in collector-land.

The Naboo Soldier falls short of nearly any Original Trilogy Army Builder in terms of demand, and even the other Naboo army builders seem to have more backing for resculpts than this figure did for getting a first sculpt. Hasbro also seemingly loathes giving us the duller characters of Star Wars and only slip them in sporadically, and many I believe feel that the Naboo Soldier wasted a spot that could’ve been filled with something more in demand by the fans.

To each their own though, and this guy has his fans out there I’m sure as well, but they’ve got to be the vast minority. A dull figure from a semi-hated film is a recipe for pegwarming I’m afraid.

-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at most all retailers in 2006, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our Revenge of the Sith figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 after tax at most retailers, even the usually stalwart for cheap prices, Wal-Mart. Hopefully Hasbro and Retail will see the light that price increases in this day and age means that people may become more tight with their spending.

I know a price hike will affect my buying habits, and I’ll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. I’ll cut back on army building, custom fodder buying, and other areas that I otherwise maybe would have spent more freely. That $1 or $2 starts to add up over 60 or so figures though. With no retailer seemingly wanting to budge on their standard price, things aren’t looking good for a decrease anytime soon. So keep your eyes peeled for sales because when they happen I’ve noticed that figures that were sitting suddenly fly off the pegs.

The price hike sucks, and what really is tough to accept is that in 2006 we’ve seen many fewer figures with “great” articulation like we saw in last year’s line for ROTS. This decrease in overall “quality” coupled with the price increase just hasn’t sat well with me about this year’s line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.

OVERALL

The final opinion I give on this figure is seriously mixed… To be honest, I don’t MIND the figure all that much, but it’s not the best figure of the year or even going to crack my top 10 I’d guess. He’s just something different, and even I have to admit that despite his army builder status he’s as boring a character as Hasbro could’ve put out on the market. There is a lot of ground I would’ve liked to have seen covered ahead of this guy for certain.

The articulation is above average for 2006 though, that’s a major plus for me. The removable helmet’s great. The sculpt, while inferior to many figures this year, isn’t as bad as the early photos implied it to be and has its charm and uses for customizers even. Beyond that though, the character choice is already seemingly dooming this guy to be a pegwarmer, as he’s the only Naboo figure I see steadily at stores (and this wave JUST started shipping), plus his tie-in to a film that hasn’t put out the most popular figures hasn’t helped him much either.

Who wouldn’t have rather seen a new sculpt of ANY of the 3 styles of Rebel Soldier, or a new Imperial Naval Trooper, or AT-ST Driver, or a generic Officer? These all just seem like better choices, much less all the collector-demanded characters like Ice Cream Maker Guy, Hermi Odle, and others. Heck the Naboo wave could’ve used new sculpts of the Jedi too over this guy.

So I’m not sure what to say exactly. I bought a couple of this guy but won’t be building armies with dozens of him for sure. I know some people will hate buying 1 of this figure much less multiples. Some may want a couple extra for customs, and it’s not a hard figure to do that with. Check this figure out at the stores, look it over, and decide from that if you can stomach plunking down $7 for him. I don’t mind the couple I have, but I’m done buying this guy at this point unless he’s super cheap at some point.

 

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