Hasbroís been generous to the army builders in 2006. The Utapau Clone was out in good quantity and a smash hit. We got a ďnewĒ Sandtrooper that I still wonít pass up when I see him on the pegs, heís just that good. The Firespeeder Pilot is a hit, Sun Fac is arguable a figure you should want multiples of, the Royal Guard is back on the market at least in blue flavor. Theyíre all solid to frigginí incredible figures to boot. 2006 has been expensive for those who amass large troop formations for certain.
Then, the Endor Wave arrived and it got even worse! The wave unveiled a resculpt of an Imperial Trooper nobody really notices or pays much attention. He just wasnít a figure many people cared about. The original wasnít bad (for its time), but once again Hasbro shows just what they can do with a basic figure, and how badly you need some resculpted figures and you donít even realize it. I speak of course of the all new Imperial Death Star Gunner.
This guyís POTF2 figure was a dime a dozen and most people just didnít even pay attention to it when it came out. It looked nice, it stood thereÖ It wasnít like the gunners were standouts in the film though and the figure just kind of went by the wayside it seemed. Still, Hasbro saw fit to resculpt him and really up the ante on this one with all the trimmings it seems. Read on to see what they give us right, what they couldíve done better, and if thereís any major flaws worth noting on this guy. So far though heís an army builder fans canít get enough of, myself included. Hell, heís 2 figures in 1 evenÖ thatís spiffy stuff folks, so read on.
-Sculpt: The POTF2 Death Star Gunner was, at the time, a fairly accurate looking figure and one of those few early figures that still hold up semi-well compared with newer figures. That said, Hasbro blows the old figure out of the water in terms of detail with this new Death Star Gunner, and heís full of little extras that collectors of action figures/toys in general are able to appreciate.
The figureís costume is fairly strictly based on the Gunners as they appeared in Return of the Jedi with its armor-less black jumpsuit and the oversized black helmet. Hasbro saw fit though to include the armor and a removable helmet as accessories so weíll comment on those later.
The figureís body/costume is sculpted with loads of detail. There are tons of wrinkles and folds showing the loose fit of the jumpsuit, and it may look familiar to you because it mimics almost perfectly the jumpsuit of the Imperial ďOfficerĒ figure from the POTJ line. Itís kind of an Imperial standard uniform in the films and itís neat seeing the details captured on these background characters so they match. The pockets on the sleeves are there, as well as the pockets on the tops of the thighs. The figureís costume is sculpted so it looks like it is bunching up at the tops of his boots, his knees, his elbows, at his underarms, and other spots where it makes sense for the fabric to be folding due to body movement. There is also a fine texturing sculpted into the costume. Itís subtle and hard to see but itís definitely there and adds a little extra ďlifeĒ to the figure.
The gloves, boots, and belt are fantastic little sculpt details themselves. The boots for instance feature tightening straps sculpted into them at the top outside of each boot. The gunnerís gloves/hands are sculpted to hold a blaster rifle snugly, and they are sculpted to extend back over the forearm slightly giving some depth and the appearance of real gloves pulled on over a personís hands. The figureís belt features a newly sculpted holster that is a positive unto itself and works like a charm (unlike the VOTC Stormtrooperís).
The headsculpt then is the final feature of this masterpiece, and itís great for what it is. Hasbroís sculptors give a nod to real world military details by sculpted a ďfire hoodĒ onto the Gunnerís head. The cowl/hood pulls tight and formfitting to the characterís head and over the characterís chest some. Itís reminiscent of the hoods used by heavy artillery crewmen from World War 2 aboard battleships or working the big railway cannons. Itís a cool little extra detail for military buffs such as me.
If thereís a complaint to be made about the headsculpt itís the fact Hasbro used a Clone likeness as opposed to some generic schmuck, and for me that is a complaint Iíd like to lodge. In my little Star Wars world the Clones die out with the Clone Wars, but thatís neither here nor there. The headsculpt Hasbro does deliver is a spot-on Clone likeness and itís very nice and neutral. With the right paintjob it actually would easily pass for a generic character, but the paintjob is very Clone-ish and thus itís clearly a Jango Fett baby under there. A great sculpt though from head-to-toe, even if you donít agree with the choice of headsculpt, so kudos for greatness to Hasbro.
-Paint Aps/Decoration: Paint applications on Imperials are usually fairly sparse and sporadic, but Hasbro usually does the sculpt justice and the gunner is no different. I will say I could stand a grey suited variant on this figure though, so Hasbro if youíre listening, you have a deco variant to offer a more A New Hope-ish variant of this figureÖ if you want. Itís easy money guys, easy money.
The figureís body overall doesnít have much paint to speak of, however the gauntlets are a nice glossy black and stand out against the dull black of the jumpsuit and the boots. The boots themselves are definitely a DIFFERENT shade than the cloth jumpsuit as well but not a gloss black. Theyíre just noticeably different in color which shows some kind of paint difference there, and it stands out just enough to notice.
The Gunnerís belt features a silver buckle, thatís about the most color you see from the neck down actually. I think that the only think Hasbro couldíve done differently wouldíve been adding Imperial logos to the shoulders, however the ball/socket shoulder articulation prohibits that somewhat and itís not something that was certainly on this characterís costume.
The gunnerís head features the Clone flesh tone painted nicely on my sample and not bleeding onto the black of the fire hood. The eyes are painted nice and evenly, with no ďcross-eyedĒ look like is prone to the Clone figures with removable brain buckets and thatís a plus if youíre going to display him helmetless. They used the 3-layered eye paint application too with a pupil, a red-ish (staying consistent I guess) iris, and then the white eyeball, and a black line for an eyelid that helps define the eyeball. The last paint detail on the head is the small bit of hair showing from under the fire hood, and itís painted black and even on my sample without straying onto the flesh color.
Of the handful of this figure I have seen though there is one flaw - for some odd reason none of them have eyebrows. A hazard of firing the big lasers of the Death Star perhaps? Singes your eyebrows off if you get too close maybe, I donít know. Either way it looks kind of funny, as though they take fashion tips from Whoopi Goldberg or something. A minor flaw though really to me.
-Accessories: The Death Star Gunner comes packing some nice extras. I actually expected a figure without a removable helmet so that alone was a nice surprise, but Hasbro also included a removable armor piece and a blaster to slip into his nifty little holster. Itís a good bit of gear for a background army builder, and itís all appreciated stuff.
The blaster is a simple Imperial E-11 rifle that comes with a lot of different figures. The nice thing for the blaster is that it has a holster it slips into perfectly, and the Gunners were sporting blasters in Jedi it seemed so itís accurate to give him this little piece, and it adds that bit of ďactionĒ to a figure too for the kiddies. All good stuff.
The armor piece is a cool little extra because it actually looks quite nice and it helps make this figure fit in as an ďA New HopeĒ Gunner as well. The armor is everything the armor for the General Veers figure should have been but wasnít. Itís a simple 1-piece that slips on over the figureís head and just rests there, but it HAS A BACK TO IT, which is a step above what Veers got. Itís simple black but nicely detailed with itís sculpt. This armor would look good on other Imperial figures that are armor-less as well, like your POTJ Officers maybe, if you wanted them to look more battle-ready perhaps, or whatnot.
Lastly the figure features, of course, his trademark helmet. The helmet accessory was a real shock to a lot of people because gunners never took them off (that we saw) in the film, and so nobody really expected to get Imperials with removable headgear like this. The helmet is a key trademark of the Gunnerís costume so the sculpt has to be pretty spiffy, and Hasbro doesnít disappoint again. The communicator on the side features a thin antenna and a number of painted buttons/details sculpted on it and painted with appropriate red/blue colors that stand out on the black.
The helmetís other paint details include a silver Imperial emblem and a brown single lens that runs around the front. The unique look of the protruding ďmouthĒ piece and the neck extension are there in perfect detail and the little bucket fits snugly on the figureís head but is easy to remove without popping the head off in the process.
Other pack-ins then are the usual suspects that have come with figures in 2006. 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 itís my opinion that the money put into these ďgimmickĒ accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.
-Removable Helmet/Armor: As noted above, itís simply a nice positive to get a removable helmet on any figure, much less armor as well. The helmet and armor are great in and of themselves, but the extra positive they lend to this figure is that the armor makes for a figure that more closely resembles the Gunners from A New Hope, while an armor-less Gunner is what we see in Return of the Jedi. Both are fantastic to display apart or together.
Even without the helmet you once again have a very unique looking figure that displays well on its own. Perhaps theyíre the space equivalent of ďpowder monkeysĒ, running ammo to and from the gunnery lines. Perhaps theyíre a damage control team member suppressing a fire from damage during battle. The figure lends a lot to play and imagination, even for a somewhat big kid like me. The fact is though, that the armor and helmet accessories themselves are a major pro besides just being nice extra accessories. You have to love it when Hasbro goes that extra length in giving us a quality action figure with little things like this.
-Articulation: The gunner isnít a perfect specimen of articulation on an army builder figure, not by a longshot, but at the same time the articulation is what Hasbro should have as a bare minimum standard for the line in this reviewerís opinion. Itís understandable that it costs (I read the Q&Aís believe me) more for articulated figures, but given what other companies achieve (with many MANY more parts per figure), I know Hasbroís capable of improving their ďstandardĒ for articulation in the modern line and giving us better toys.
OK, off my soapbox there, the Death Star Gunner certainly is a good figure for poseability and articulation. Hasbro dished out pretty thorough arm and leg articulation alike, and it delivers a figure you can have fun sitting around playing (posing, for you mature folk) with.
The Death Star Gunner features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 angle-cut elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 standard waist joint
Thatís a grand total of 12 points of articulation on the Gunner and it covers all the ďnecessitiesĒ for articulation as I see them. Elbows, knees, and wrists being the ones sometimes omitted from a figure in one form or another.
The poseability is fantastic though. I have my couple gunners running in a scrambling pose for their battle stations, at the moment. I like displaying them at ease though with their helmets under their arms as well, maybe holding their armor in one hand also. They look great though as if theyíre attacking with their blasters, or just getting blown apart by a lucky shot from a Rebel Pilot. Theyíre quite poseable is the point, and the ball/socket knees on these figures are proof positive why ALL Star Wars figures, regardless of what they did in the film, or how background they are, should have knee articulation along with arm articulation.
The articulation is all well hidden also, which is mostly a testament again to the figureís sculpt. The little things like the pin for the shoulder joints being shaved down, the ball joints being recessed into the sockets, and the way the folds blend the angle joints into them as just part of the sculpt, all helps to make the figure aesthetically appealing along with being a fun and functional toy. Hasbro has me hooked on this figureís poseability in every way, so itís fine work by the H this time.
-Improved Functional Holster: The holster on the Death Star Gunner is actually a small, but important improvement over past figures. The first working Imperial holster was on the VOTC Stormtrooper of 2004. The holster for Imperials is somewhat small and simplistic, being just a black leather sack more or less.
The VOTC Stormie holster holds an Imperial blaster sort of like a key going into a keyhole. The result was a failure though, and the blaster sticks out awkwardly and isnít too pretty to look at.
The new Death Star Gunner features the same holster style keeping with the Imperial standard I guess, but Hasbro reworked the holster to fit a blaster and hide it perfectly. There is a specific way the blaster fits in, but itís a little thicker and more concave so the blaster sits down in, and is covered completely by the holster instead of protruding out the false back. Itís a major improvement over the old design and Hasbro deserves some acknowledgement for the effort as they saw a problem and certainly fixed it just fine.
-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 itís 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. Thereís also an insert depicting the specific character and the characterís 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.
Thereís 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.
-Questionable Headsculpt: As noted in the sculpt portion, there is some dislike of the choice of face Hasbro ran with that is underneath the helmet. This is, on the whole, a minor flaw with a figure of this greatness though. For my tastes as a collector I much prefer any removable helmet to no removable helmet, so the headsculpt underneath was more a nuisance to me than anything. I was just happy to get the helmet to come off as it does and felt that was cool unto itself.
The face underneath the dome is one that many fans donít care for. Hasbro took it upon them to put a Cloneís mug on under there instead of a generic face, and thatís ruffled some feathers. Personally Iím not a big fan of Clones in the Original Trilogy despite anything Lucas claims as his intention, so I agree that I wish Hasbro had gone with generic under there than running with tying the two trilogies together themselves.
That said, itís just as easy to display the figure with its helmet on for people unhappy with the face sculpt they chose to do so, and you still have a great looking toy. Hasbro appears to be running with the Clone thing too for other figures in the future so itís not going to go away for those who donít like it I guess. Iím with you on the issue however Iím such a fan of removable headgear on figures that I am not against it enough to hope Hasbro stops making removable helmets. I just wish theyíd go with different faces under there.
-Missing Eyebrows: So far with every sample Iíve seen of the Death Star Gunner (not that Iíve seen a ton of them mind you), there is a glaring paint flaw without the helmet on the figure. Each of them is missing eyebrows for whatever reason. The way it looks is kind of comical and itís definitely something you notice, but in the grand scheme itís a flaw that doesnít hurt my opinion on this figure in the slightest. Hasbro has me hooked and even eyebrowless I love this figure.
The ďConsĒ were going to be short if I didnít mention this though, so itís something to gripe about other than price.
-Availablity: The Endor Wave in general has had some questionable distribution, at least in my neck of the U.S., and thatís made finding a lot of Death Star Gunners a difficult task for people. Itís made finding a single Death Star Gunner hard for people as well. Unfortunately so far the gunner hasnít gotten packed a bit heavier, but itís early so we could see this figure sneaking out in greater quantity.
That said, so far the situation (at least for me) has been fairly bleak for finding Death Star Gunners in great quantity. I certainly would like to buy a good many more than I have found, but my area is clogged with older pegwarmers and itís slow going for certain waves these days. Obviously this is a flaw for this figure right now. Pack an extra gunner in and leave out maybe a Jerjerrod (he seems to be the stinker besides the repack Emperor) and youíd be helping the problem a good bit I think. At least it would be a start.
-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 Iíll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. Iíll 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 arenít looking good for a decrease anytime soon. So keep your eyes peeled for sales because when they happen Iíve 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 weíve seen fewer figures with ďgreatĒ articulation like we saw in last yearís line for ROTS. This decrease in overall quality coupled with the price increase just hasnít sat well with me about this yearís line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.
The Death Star Gunner is a wrap and I have to say that this is up there as one of my favorite figures of 2006 so far. I was really shocked that Hasbro took this kind of time and effort with such a background trooper as the Gunner. They really outdid themselves and this is obviously a vast improvement over the POTF2 figure.
The sculpt is amazing, but not SO much that you donít want your POTF2 figures next to it. They blend in behind the figure very well, and will help flesh out your Emperorís Arrival diorama youíve got cooking. You will clearly see though that one figure just outclasses the other in every way and your old Gunners are now stuck with being filler pieces.
The articulation is just what it needs to be, and should be on many other figures but unfortunately isnít yet. Hasbro nailed it though and didnít go overboard but still delivered a very poseable trooper for collectors. The removable gear gives you a couple display options too, and maybe will push the guys who never buy multiples to want an extra or two for their different display values.
The figure features all the articulation, working holster, removable armor and helmet, sculptÖ Itís just a lot to love and makes you not mind the price hike gripe quite as much even. This is definitely one of my favorites of 2006 thus far though, and worth having a small group if not a large army of them, if you can find them to buy. Iíve only seen a handful so far as of the writing of this review, but hopefully more are in the pipeline for folks to find.
My hat is off to Hasbro for a job very well done on the new Gunner though, heís a resculpt I didnít realize I wanted, but glad I got. Thanks to the folks at Hasbro for this one, itís fantastic.