So when the Revenge of the Sith toy line kicked off on April 2nd we were deluged with vehicles at a nice range of price-points. From the $30 ARC Fighter to the $15 BARC Speeder we were given a lot of diversity, and letís face it, Revenge of the Sith as a Star Wars film probably had more vehicle variety in it than any of the other 6 films. It at least came really close, and with all things Clone being the hot potato, you knew weíd get some with that theme. The AT-RT stood out as the best in my eyes though, and consumers seemed to agree with that vehicle selling out faster than the other smaller ones seemed to at first.
The AT-RT had a fatal flaw thoughÖ its pack-in figure. That isnít to say that the pack-in for the RT was any worse or better than other pack-ins for this line. ROTS has had some of the least impressive pack-in figures to-date, and I actually can say that I wish the days of POTF2 were back, or back for at least what you used to get tucked into the box with your ship.
Hasbro took a different road with ROTS though, sculpting all-new figures for their vehicles and beasts, but the figures lacked quite a bit in articulation and some lacked a bit in their overall aesthetic appeal. In short they were made for their respective vehicle and nothing moreÖ statues. Jump to August í05 though, and Hasbro remedies that problem for the pack-in AT-RT driver by giving us a doozey of a carded figure that CAN ride the vehicle properly since they went nuts with his articulation! What can you say except thanks to Hasbro for this one because they tossed us a bone here. Heís not a figure without flaws, but heís a figure with few, and a Clone, so heís grand to me.
-Sculpt: Comparing this figure to all resources I have available at my fingertips right now, I canít see a flaw on this figure. If anything, it proves how the pack-in was slightly off in that his chest strap was actually the sling on his rifle and not part of his uniform, so Hasbro did improve over the pack-in figure by quite a big inaccuracy.
The sculpt has all the sharp lines that raised Clone armor should have, and it shows the differences in where the ďchinksĒ in the armor are at on the RT uniform compared to Clone grunts (I had #6 Clones riding my little RT squad actually, since I disliked the pack-in so much). I was surprised it was so different even beyond the major differences in the helmet designs.
The sculpt of the figure shows a variety of details like a ďgarterĒ ammo belt of some sort on his left thigh for instance, various pouches and keypad looking devices on his belt, and a backpack very reminiscent of the ones Scout troopers wear on Endor that was missing on the pack-in figure. Very strange.
There are traditional details too that weíve come to expect on these armored minions. The now commonly seen ďribbingĒ sculpt on the bodysuit is at every exposure between armor plating as well as the ribbing on the neck that disappears up into the helmet. The feet have the neat treading sculpted into them as well, giving them that extra detail from the side when youíre inspecting a figure standing on the shelf.
The helmet is where the sculpt shines though, with its unique smooth faceplates, and the raised lenses around the eyes. The brim of the helmet is subtle but finely sculpted, and the antenna on the helmet is very thin and flexible, looking much more realistic than the pack-in figureís antenna.
The figureís hands are both nicely sculpted as well, however the right hand is opened quite a bit for some reason. I can get the figure to hold a gun, and he has his right hand posed sort of ideal for a pose where heís perhaps ordering someone to go a specific direction (like, ďgo over there!Ē kinda thing), however he is prone to dropping his rifle accessories since he doesnít have a firm grasp on the trigger. A minor flaw at best, but thought Iíd mention it, as it is a little weird. The sculpt could be for holding the giant cannon accessory he has, which weíll touch on, but seems unnecessary for that.
-Paint Aps/Decoration: I canít find much fault at all with the AT-RT Driverís paint applications, and thereís actually quite a diverse amount of color to a guy that didnít get a lot of screen-time. The sample I have in front of me is the variation that has the white face (released later), and is supposedly the corrected paint application. Personally, Iíd take both helmet paint variations just for army builderís sake, but thatís where a mistake doesnít bother me too much.
The body of the figure features a lot of black paint detailing between the plates of armor on the figure. The paint doesnít stray onto the armor at all anywhere and looks very sharp. Thatís just as it should be. My figure has a series of red dots on his chest too which look like a nice touch. Not sure what they indicate but they are nice and all in a tight series of lines and symmetrical.
The thigh strap of ammo on the figureís left thigh is painted tan and it being painted a separate color really sets it apart from the rest of the figure. The boots of the figure are seemingly cast in white (from the shin armor down), and painted with a faint green color that is different from the rest of the figure. The effect looks like a hastily camouflaged paintjob that the Clone did himself, and looks really rather cool and realistic. Reminds me of the white-washes allied and axis forces did to their helmets in WW2 as a means of improvised camouflage.
The helmet is where the majority of the paint details come into play though, as is the case with most Clones so far. The paint on the helmetís face is very thin and Iím not sure how accurate that is, but it looks nice. The white definitely shines through it though, unlike on the pack-in figure which had solid green on the face. The back of the helmet is completely white save for one black mark. The cheeks feature small black lines as are seen on other Clone helmets as well.
The top of the helmet has a solid green with 2 nice, straight, white stripes running from the brim in front to the ridge of the helmet in the back. The lenses are black, and painted straight and true which is always a plus. Short of the soles of the shoes being painted grey like other Clones have, this is pretty good. I also just noticed a mark of blue on some piece atop the backpack. Itís actually a fairly large mark of blue so this even surprised me just now as Iím looking at the figure. Itís just a nice, colorful figure on the pegs and all the paint seems nicely applied, so thumbs up for that.
-Articulation: After Commander Bacaraís release, I really thought that Hasbro was on a downward turn for Clone Troopers of any kind much less a figure that only rode a vehicle briefly on-screen. Hasbro renews my hope that they arenít going to start skimping on articulation with everything though by dishing up a pretty much super articulated AT-RT Driver.
The AT-RT Driver features articulation at:
-2 ball/socket shoulder joints
-2 ball/socket elbow joints
-2 standard wrist joints
-2 standard hip joints
-2 ball/socket knee joints
-2 ball/socket ankle joints
-1 ball/socket neck joint
-1 standard waist joint
Thatís a whopping total of 14 points of articulation folks, and a lot of them ball/socket joints. Of course, I could say that ball/socket waist articulation was a must here, but I can overlook that for sure since itís really nice to have but this figureís still incredibly poseable.
The articulation allows for a number of quality poses for battle. Firing poses, running poses, the all-important dead poses, among others. The figure is even poseable enough to hop up on the AT-RT vehicle and ride it, which is a pro unto itself.
Iíve said it before and Iíll say it againÖ This is what the standard should be on at least 80% of the modern Star Wars line. Even obscure background aliens deserve this kind of articulation just to keep Star Wars competitive on the pegs with other toy lines. Hasbro can do this, and should, and Iím happy as can be to see they didnít cut corners on the AT-RT Driver like they did with Commander Bacara or the Neimodian Warrior.
-Accessories: Hasbro not only dishes out a quality figure in every major point on articulation, sculpt, and paint, but they also arm the guy like Rambo! And they give him new gear at that, no re-used sculpts here at all.
The first accessory that will catch anyoneís eye is the ďcannonĒ. Itís basically the reason this figure is in the Collection 1 line instead of Collection 2, as itís simply an oversized Clone Rifle that fires a red projectile. Thereís your action feature folks, and thankfully itís not stuck to the figure so you can just toss this one in the customizing bin and be done with it.
The cannonís good for the kiddies, but for the more discerning tastes of the ďadultiesĒ, well itís a lame looking gun. Weíd be up in arms (hah, ďup in armsĒ, get it?) if this was all he had, but thankfully Hasbro saw fit to dish him up another firearm.
The next accessory then is his ACCURATE gun. And itís a 100% new sculpt. The AT-RT Drivers have a completely unique weapon, which looks sort of like the gun the Clone Commandoís use in the game Republic Commando. At least to me it looks like that modular gun from the game anyway. In the film the RT Drivers have these weapons slung over their backs as they tromped the swamps of Kashyyyk looking for Yoda. The sculpt of the accessory is fantastic, with lots of detail to it. Iím assuming it is to-scale, and as a nice extra the Hasbro designers made it so the gun has a functioning sling that snaps to a button on the front and you can hang it over your RT Driverís back as heís on his own patrols. The thing is even painted silver on two buckle details on the strap, making it that much more realistic. A nice accessory no doubt.
And thereís still one more accessory. Hasbro saw fit to include a ďBattle DamagedĒ chest plate that snaps on snugly to the figure over his normal armor. I love this! While the armor isnít terribly thin, itís also not terribly large, and it fits tight on the figure so it doesnít look too awkward on him or anything. This kind of accessory makes me really think that the AT-RT Drivers had a bigger role in the film at one point or another, and got cut, and thus we get this fantastic figure with lots of detail. I mean, we didnít even see them fight but yet we get a removable chest piece for the figure, complete with its own special paintjob to show the armor damage.
Lucasís decisions are our rewards I guess! I somehow think weíd not have even gotten an AT-RT Driver carded if it wasnít for an edit somewhere at Skywalker Ranch. Of course maybe Iím wrong and Hasbro just really thought their own work on the AT-RT pack-in sucked so they did just throw us a bone hereÖ I donít know. Iím happy though and hope they plan on resculpting more of those pack-ins now (***cough***BARC Pilot***cough***).
-Can Sit on a Vehicle: With some care in your posing of the carded figure, you can get him to ride the AT-RT vehicle if you choose to. His legs are sculpted though, so that the armor presses together a bit much. This means that the armor at the lower torso and on the leg is sort of forcing the legís sockets ďoutĒ. You run risk of tearing the leg socket, so Iím going to say now that your decision to pose the figure on the RT is AT YOUR OWN RISK!
My figure has gotten loose at the hip joint from posing him riding the AT-RT, and for this reason I wonít pose this figure too often like that, or if I do Iíll be incredibly careful. That hip joint could tear easily though if you arenít careful. But if you get him on the RT, he looks good riding it! A lot better than the pack-in, and Iíve gotten my figure in some cool firing poses from the driverís seat as well as just having him climbing up into the seat (very cool looking and likely how Iíll display it on my shelf actually).
If Hasbro had sculpted the armor a LITTLE more creatively, the figure would more easily sit. For instance I noted earlier that my #6 Clones had been doing temporary RT duty until this new figure arrived. They have a wider hip joint and are more suited to kneeling. Another choice wouldíve been giving the figure ball/socket hips ala the AT-TE Gunner, though thatís a bit more work than just tweaking the sculpt some.
Iím content with this as-is though, and Iíd take a dozen more of this figure at least, if it were available here.
-Ability to Sit: As I noted just above, tweaking the figure slightly in its sculpt wouldíve been all it took to have this figure sit perfectly on the AT-RT without fear of breaking it. The reasons Hasbro does what it does are vast and confusing. Thinking about it too long is bound to cause a nosebleed, and this really could be nothing they even considered (especially if this figure wasnít intended to be the AT-RT Driver at first, but rather the ďTurbo Tank DriverĒ he was originally listed as).
In the end though, the figure couldíve stood that extra space at the armor to sit on his mount. The figure can sit there though, I have one sitting like that right now on an AT-RT, but I stress that the figure could break and my samples legs are definitely looser after I take him off and put his legs back as they should be. They tighten up as the plasticís memory takes shape, but how this will affect my AT-RT Drivers over time is unpredictable. They could break tomorrow for all I know.
-Action Feature Gun: While I see the point of the action feature gun, it still is a useless accessory in my view, and barely pushes its projectile 5 inches (if that) when used. The gun is merely a comically oversized Clonetrooperís rifle (sans any real detail), and really I think the AT-RT Driver wouldíve been just as good as a Collection 2 figure if distributed well enough.
The more detrimental thought I have with the action feature gun is that it took away from the figure itself. Perhaps this gunís tooling and construction is the difference between standard waist articulation and ball/socket waist articulation on this figure? Itís possible for sure that this may be the caseÖ or it may not. Itís all speculation of course, and I am still happy with the figure even with this useless accessory and without ball/socket waist articulation. I just know it took some effort to make this wasted weapon, so I feel that is effort that can be better served elsewhere. Again though, this is a minor negative against an otherwise fantastic figure.
Now all you need to do is track AT-RT Drivers down. I hear this is becoming easier for many, but like oh-so-many other figures and items, Iím on the later end of finding stuff, so these are still toughies to track down in my area. Still Iím glad I found the two I did and hope I can get the variation too just for some diversity.
The figure is a great example of the high quality that the Revenge of the Sith toy line has seen fairly routinely. Not every Clone has turned out this nice even, so heís a nice late surprise in the line. I look at figures like this though and then think back to 2002 when Hasbro took the line to an all-time low in my opinion with their pre-posed figures and gimmicks-galore. Oh how sweet it is that they turned a major corner in í04 or so, and saw fit to carry it on through Revenge. A lot of the figures today are making it onto my all-time best figure lists.
So, buy the AT-RT Driver up if you see him. Heís worth having an army of, and hell I think the AT-RT is worth having at least 3 of, if not more. So that means everyone should have a good 10 AT-RT Drivers running loose around their vehicles. I simply have to give props to Hasbro again for putting out another nice Clone Trooper, and decking him out with great gear too. Heís one of those figures I canít help but mess around with here at my desk, and thatís a sure sign of a winner in this line in my view.