Resculpts are nothing new to the modern line. We've seen countless resculpts, even so far as including the same character in the same movie year (**cough**Jango**cough**), and while some of these resculpts are simply atrocious concepts, others actually really surprise us (even if it wasn't a figure we were personally jonesin' for).
The Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot resculpt in the Saga line is a great example of how improved Hasbro has become, and how they can really take a figure you thought already looked pretty good, and make it even better – a lot better. Don't believe me? Just compare this new TIE Pilot to either of its previous counterparts (and I thought the bendable knees on the Interceptor, Bomber, and KB Fighter pack-in Pilots were an improvement!?!). This new Saga TIE Pilot shows just how far Hasbro has come in accuracy.
As an army builder, he's a dandy, but he's got some awkwardly lop-sided articulation like many recent figures, and this has knocked him down from greatness. Still he's a fun one to review, so please read on.
Sculpt: First and foremost, and all you really need to know as a “Pro” on this figure, is his AMAZINGLY accurate sculpt. I mean, when I first saw the earliest blurry images of him, I thought he looked ok, but that he wouldn't eclipse the POTF2 sculpt in looks. But much like the Commtech Stormtrooper did compared to the POTF2 Stormies/Sandies, this figure trounces its' predecessors, to the point where they don't mix as well as I'd hoped they would. This is kind of a double-edged sword, since I have my fair share of POTF2 and pack-in TIE Pilots that now look a little odd standing next to these new and superior Pilots. Bummer, but it's bittersweet because of the bitchin' sculpt going on here.
This figure's uniform overall has texture added, which is becoming a Hasbro trademark of late. It really adds a life-like element to them that, while a seemingly minor tweak to previous sculpts, really does add a lot of depth. There are lots of folds and wrinkles in the uniform that really make it appear like it's a lived-in uniform - something that's seen wear and tear from use in “the void” as pilots would say… Or so I've heard. :)
The gloves, boots, and armor plate are all smoother now, and very true to the film's costume. Oddly enough, the character's uniform details are based on photos of TIE Pilots standing at attention in Return of the Jedi, I believe, which is also the image used for the bubble insert. The figure's labeled a Battle of Yavin pilot though. I thought there were minor differences in the uniforms between the two movies, but I may be wrong. Either way, they're minor differences that only the geekiest of us geeks would notice. Hell, I'm surprised I don't even know them off the top of my head.
The sculpt of the helmet and chest box are real marvels, and really deserve the most praise. The helmet appears to be the right “oversized” look, just as these men appeared on-screen in Star Wars. Really amazing looking stuff here. The chest box and air hoses leading up to the helmet are separate pieces, but the hoses fit snugly into 2 holes in the helmet. There is simply incredible detailing on the box, hoses, and helmet that are further highlighted by a paintjob that is marvelously detailed as well.
If you've not already built a TIE Pilot army, you'll be much happier to do so with these guys if you can find enough of them. If you've got a POTF2 army going though, this sculpt's just so impressive that unless you really don't care, you may not want to buy up too many of this guy unless you have enough spare change to do so.
Decoration/Paint Applications: Once again, very top-notch work here, though I must admit that TIE Pilots aren't exactly the most vibrant or elaborately designed characters in the world either. The Empire seemed to build themselves off of bland uniforms… Thank God though, because they look so bad-ass!
This TIE Pilot sports some silver, red, white, blue, grayish, and brownish-red highlights on his uniform and all show up well enough that you should notice them right away, even though they're all pretty insignificant paint details.
The uniform's shade of black is just right, with the boots, belt, helmet, and chest armor having just the right “sheen” to them that make them stand out from the rest of the duller uniform. Oddly, the gloves are kind of in-between the gloss of some areas and the duller look of the uniform suit… This is just right for the look of them from the film though, as I recall. Good work Hasbro! And of course, small silver details like the helmet and shoulder Imperial emblems look great. Very clean and very smooth lines, with no bleeding onto the silver whatsoever. The belt buckle is also more of the same. Great, great, great stuff.
The real details though are in the chest box and helmet eyepieces. The chest box's details are VERY nicely done, with gray dials on the sides, and a square outline on the front, to go along with white, blue, red, gray, and even silver buttons. I mean, they're small, but neat, little details. The hoses are really cool as well, because they have a seemingly grayish wash applied to them, while the raised hose parts seem to be wiped clean, bringing out a very nice depth to the hose sculpt.
The helmet's eye lenses are a PERFECT reddish-brown color. Really nice, intricate detailing here to catch the look of the see-through lenses, which most people best recall seeing in Darth Vader's helmet in A New Hope. It's subtle, but it really makes the helmet stand out as something Hasbro put some nice effort into.
Articulation: This is one of the double-edged swords to the figure, sadly. He's got some good, well done articulation… At the same time, he's got some awkwardly chosen articulation points, along with some non-functional ones too.
Sporting articulation points at the following:
-2 standard shoulder joints
-1 right bicep swivel joints
-2 wrist joints
-2 ball-socket knees joints
-2 standard hip joints
-1 standard neck joint
The TIE Pilot has a respectable 10 points of articulation. There's a number of decent poses available with this much articulation, and his ball-socket knee joints are perfect for having a group of TIE Pilots in a neat “Scrambling” position, as if their Star Destroyer just came under attack, or everyone's favorite Sith Lord was ordering them to follow him to the hangars.
Unfortunately, there are some negatives Hasbro has to suck up to here as well, because they didn't go all-out on this guy like they should've. Perfection was well within their grasp, but they chose to ignore it. Still, for their efforts, they at least get some praise from me… The ball-socket knees, and more importantly, my desire for Hasbro to incorporate the ball-socket joints more often, is really what garners them praise here.
Articulation Issues: Hasbro can make a nicely articulated figure on paper, but they can still manage to make said figure tough to get a lot of cool poses out of. There's no need for this if they'd just start making slightly better decisions when deciding the style of articulation to use. At the very least, they should be mindful of keeping the articulation more balanced - like on Captain Antilles for example, where he had balanced arm articulation (ie: he had 2 shoulder joints, 2 elbow joints, 2 wrist joints)… He was more poseable.
Unfortunately, on the TIE Pilot, he's got a right arm that has a bit of articulation in it, while his left arm is sculpted perfectly straight up and down. Why, Hasbro? What's the purpose of only paying attention to the right arm, and not the left? Personally, I would've given this guy ball-socket elbows (and shoulders too) on BOTH arms, to go along with the glove/wrist articulation. Voila, instantly Super Poseable (mostly) upper-body. Really simple, easily hidden… It'd be great.
Hasbro's strange decision making when articulating figures is really hurting a lot of otherwise great figures, and hurting them where it counts the most - in how well they can be played with (or “posed”, if you're an adult and it makes you feel better).
Again, the TIE Pilot's nice, but imagine if he'd had just that extra little “umph” to him with added arm articulation? He'd go from being nice to being an insanely HOT figure that everyone would be gobbling up on sight. As it stands, I think people are still buying him when they see him anyway. But still, for $5 a pop, just give us something a little better for our buck, is all I'm saying Hasbro.
Accessories : Not that a TIE Pilot had much of anything in the movies as an accessory, but he could've used a little bit more than Hasbro dished out with him, I think.
He comes with the basic rectangular “Star Wars” stand, with little tabs to connect to other stands. Very dull, but since a lot of Star Wars figures CAN'T stand on their own, it's sometimes a nice addition.
The pilot also comes with the standard (resculpted) Imperial Stormtrooper blaster. It's small, flimsy, and easily lost in the seats of your parent's car. Alas, I reminisce that out there, somewhere, probably in a junkyard, is a 1986 Plymouth Caravelle Station wagon with a plethora of G.I. Joe figure weapons. Damn.
Anyway, I'm slightly bummed my TIE Pilot was so lonesome in his packaging, with just these two dark, and boring accessories for companions. My ideal pack-in would've been a really cool “control yolk”, like the Episode 1 Pilot Anakin had, or like the Episode 2's Clone Pilot came with. Wouldn't that've been sweet? Hell, just recast one of those even. Give us a cool little something in there to add to the otherwise dull stand and blaster. Oh well, ideas lost on deaf ears perhaps…
No Waist Articulation? A feature a few figures from the Yavin Wave have failed in is having waist articulation. While this guy's molded separately at the waist, he's not really poseable. With some work you can get him to “twist” at the hip, but he's definitely not meant to do this, and if you try, don't come cryin' to me if his waist peg snaps.
What's the deal here Hasbro? Why not include a joint at the belt line, like most every freaking figure in the modern line has had, so our pilots are able to do the twist? It's a pretty important little articulation point to me, so it was disappointing to find this missing on this figure - especially when it can be so well hidden. I really wish they wouldn't skimp in this area. Drop the stand, if it's that big a deal. I'd rather have a poseable figure than a stand to set him on.
Call me crazy, but I buy toys, not lil' statues, ya know?
Well, another review down the pike… I really didn't mind this figure, but I tend to get rather irritated when Hasbro does NOT give their all to a figure like this. I can see Hasbro not going hog wild on a Senator figure or something like that, but this TIE Pilot could've been this respective figure's final, definitive sculpt. Unfortunately he's just not as perfect as he could be, and should be.
I'm still happy to buy up some extras of him though, and am still debating mixing them in with my POTF2 TIE Pilots. The helmets are the real glaring difference though, and this new Saga version just blows the prior POTF2 one out of the water in authenticity. It's amazing just how “off” that POTF2 headsculpt was, now that I really look at it. So if you're able to, I'd buy at least one just because of how realistic it looks. He rivals my “benchmark” action figures from 21 st Century Toys even, in his amazingly detailed accuracy.