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Update: For the addendum on the Deluxe version, please see Post 21 below.

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Introduction
The boys are back in town, and by "the boys" I mean the Imperial Stormtroopers from the Original Trilogy (or, as I like to think of them, "real Stormtroopers"). More specifically, the Imperial Stormtroopers as seen in Return of the Jedi. Excluding the "Sandtroopers" and "Space Troopers" (which are very similar and, especially in the second instance, differ mainly in sporting extra gear), the dubiously canonical "Shock Troopers" and "Shadow Troopers" (AKA "Blackhole Stormtroopers"), and the strange chrome and porcelain versions (what a waste!), Hot Toys has now produced three different versions of the basic, classic look of the Star Wars Original Trilogy-era Stormtroopers: those from Rogue One, those from A New Hope, and now those from Return of the Jedi, reviewed here. Hot Toys is releasing these in two versions, standard and deluxe. This review covers the standard version (MMS 514). I have a deluxe version on order and will post an addendum (Part II -- see Post 21 below) to cover the extra features after it arrives. While I will be making occasional reference to Hot Toys' other classic Stormtroopers (from Rogue One and A New Hope), I will reserve a detailed comparison for its own separate thread, coming shortly.

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Packaging: 3.5/4 stars
The Hot Toys Return of the Jedi Stormtrooper comes in the long familiar two-shades-of-black shoebox container with removable lid, featuring a fine image of the collectible on its top cover, credits and warning on the back/bottom, and decorated by a cigar band running along near the bottom edge of the lid. This cigar band seems to be more elaborate than ever, featuring color photography of a couple of cut out images of the Stormtrooper figure (one of them is out of view in the photo below) and of the Death Star II docking bay where numerous real and painted-in Stormtroopers had assembled to greet the arriving emperor. It is nicely done and more elaborate than before, although the basic concept is familiar and unexciting. Below the lid lies one of the now standard color cards with an image of the product among others, photoshopped to look like they are firing volleys of blaster bolts at the enemy. As I have written before, the card is a nice, though perfectly unnecessary item. Below that lies a mercifully single black plastic trey with its transparent plastic lid, in which you can find the figure and all of its accessories. Everything is safe and collector-friendly.

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Sculpting: 3/4 stars
We are treated to the usual excellence of Hot Toys sculpting, and they certainly have accumulated a great deal of expertise sculpting Stormtrooper armor over the years. While there is not human face or other biological features to get right and realistic here, there is plenty of detail on the armor and weaponry that needs to be right. As far as I can tell, Hot Toys succeeded in this, and spotted the differences specific to Return of the Jedi armor, like the trim (or lip) on the edges of the torso armor (the chest and upper back plates, the abdomen and lower back plates, the crotch and buttocks plates); the sculpt of the armor is also a little softer than before. These were changes introduced in the Mk II Stormtrooper sets designed but barely used for Empire Strikes Back and produced in large quantities for Return of the Jedi. Another obvious difference is the configuration of buttons on the central panel of the abdominal armor, which is rotated 180 degrees from its original look in A New Hope. The figure stands about 11.75 inches (29.8 cm) and looks to be just a little shorter than the one from Rogue One. Except perhaps for the height, so far, so good.

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The problem is that, like George Lucas himself, Hot Toys couldn't leave well enough alone. I refer to what they did with the helmet, which has been historically the most difficult part of the Stormtrooper's appearance to replicate correctly or convincingly. Like Marmit and Sideshow before it, Hot Toys got the proportions on their first Stormtrooper helmet (from A New Hope) wrong: the helmet protruded a bit too far down in the front (so to speak, it was too "snouty"), and the distance along the "nose" ridge between the lower edge of the sunken goggles and the upper edge of the toothed "frown" was smaller than the distance between the lower edge of the "frown" and the upper edge of the sunken "mouth" (it should have been the reverse). This error (which still allowed for an attractive, if inaccurate helmet sculpt) was then carried over to the Space Troopers, Shock Troopers, Shadow Troopers (Blackhole Stormtroopers), and the various other derivative products. Then Hot Toys fixed the problem, getting the Sandtrooper about right in 2015 (though unfortunately replicating an exceptional costume oversight with the twisted up brow), and getting the Rogue One Stromtrooper right in 2017: the distance between the sunken goggles and the "frown" was now correctly a little longer than the distance between the "frown" and the "mouth." But today, another two years later, we are treated to another Stormtrooper with a problematic helmet. This time Hot Toys has over-corrected their initial mistake (though they had already fixed it since then!) by making the distance between the sunken goggles and the "frown" just a little too long and the distance between the "frown" and the "mouth" a little too short, resulting once again a helmet that is not quite right in its facial proportions and is a bit too "snouty." It is not horrid looking, but you cannot unsee it once you have spotted it (it is more pronounced from some angles than others), and it is quite disappointing, especially as the hurdle seemed to have been surmounted. There are other, less obvious issues with all of these helmets, which are symmetrical, whereas the originals (apparently even the streamlined Rogue One originals) are famously asymmetrical; the molding process for Return of the Jedi produced a narrower and taller-looking helmet, something of which is in fact conveyed in the Hot Toys product. So we are left with a nice but ultimately inaccurate recreation of the characters' appearance in the film; at this price point we might expect better.

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Paint: 4/4 stars
The paint scheme of the set is fairly simple. Stormtroopers have glossy white, black, and grey armor, with a couple of blue buttons among the black ones on the abdomen armor. The paint correctly reflects differences between the characters' appearance in Return of the Jedi (and to some extent Empire Strikes Back) and in A New Hope; for example, the toothed "frown" is now painted black as opposed to grey. The paint application is very precise, and some light weathering has been applied. It is most obvious on the boots and the belt, with some finer or subtler touches on the rest of the armor, all the way to the helmet. The Stormtrooper's blaster rifle is given a very good amount of weathering, perhaps more so than usual with Hot Toys. The helmet is fitted with screen-accurate translucent green bubble lenses, and you can catch a glint of green more readily in this product than the previous iteration (see also the photo under "Value' below).

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Articulation: 3/4 stars
While the underlying body surely allows for virtually unlimited articulation, unrestricted poseability is hampered by a combination of factors. First, Hot Toys continues to supply its products with padding undergarments even where that is unnecessary, as here. Second, although the body armor ought to be virtually identical in shape and size to what was used for A New Hope (both on screen and in the action figures), it is often impeded from a fuller range of poseability when bending at the knees and hips, as different armor pieces run into each other. It would be exceedingly difficult or impossible to get this Stormtrooper figure to sit properly or take a knee; its A New Hope and certainly (with some minor modification) Rogue One predecessors were a bit more poseable, if memory serves me well. This is another disappointment, and I wonder whether the problem might have been mitigated or avoided if only the figure were designed a little taller (with longer limbs, especially legs); it is just a little on the short side anyway. Removing the padding helps, both by freeing up the joints and by maing the overlying pieces of armor more movable. Additionally, perhaps one could transfer the armor onto a taller body or at least remove the unnecessary padding. While I realize that Stormtrooper armor was pretty limiting even in 1:1 scale, a less restricted articulation (without necessitating any modifications) would have been welcome.

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Accessories: 3/4 stars
This is difficult category for evaluation, as the set technically contains everything you see a Stormtrooper wielding in Return of the Jedi (in other words, a blaster rifle), yet it contains so very little. The accessories (really everything that does not come already attached on the body) include: the nicely weathered E-11 blaster rifle, the thermal detonator that attached to the back of the belt, several spare or alternate parts (a couple of spare wrist pegs, a total of seven hands: pair of relaxed hands, pair of fist hands, pair of gun-grip hands, and a single left outstretched fingers hand), a little instruction booklet (telling you how to put the gun into its holster and how to attach the thermal detonator to the belt) mercifully unencumbered by messy tape, and an action figure stand with grey Death Star floor surface and the label "Sith Trooper" on the little sign. Yes, "Sith Trooper." Not that I really care about it, but Quality Control seems to be slipping. I'd be curious to know if anyone else encounters the same oversight. That's it for the standard version, whereas the deluxe version comes with a cool light-up function background (more on that in the forthcoming update).

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Outfit: 3.5/4 stars
Another difficult category to evaluate, as the set features little visible outfit besides the armor already covered above. Underneath the armor, the body is clothed in a stretchy black bodysuit with a back zipper; nothing fancy, but perfectly usable and articulation-friendly; the same cannot be said for the partial padding (like the padded shorts). The covering for the neck (which includes a ribbed collar) seems sloppier than before, although admittedly you are not very likely to see that part of the figure exposed, unless perhaps you took off the helmet to replace it with a head of your choice. Of course, Hot Toys does not really take customizing and kitbashing into account, and there are multiple warnings that the armor and outfit are not designed to be removable, and might be damaged if you do it. That is not entirely true, but proceed at your own risk. The belt and its holster come attached (the belt can be undone with velcro on the back) and the holster can close, even when the weapon is inside it, with a magnetic strap.

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Fun Factor: 3.5/4 stars
Alone or in groups, combined with others from their own line or earlier releases, classic Stormtroopers lend themselves to any Original Trilogy Star Wars environment (in the case of these, especially Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and so much beyond. While they could be better articulated (some of which can be fixed) and proportioned, they are still very good figures and offer plenty of possibilities. Of course, ideally, you would need a bunch, and there the price point becomes a serious issue.

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Value: 3/4 stars (standard); 2/4 stars (deluxe)
The standard version retails for about $190 (USD), the deluxe version for about $243 (USD), not including shipping. Even the lower price is an issue for an army builder character, an issue compounded by the fact that there are aspects to this nice set that ought to have been better (proportions, articulation). That said, I have to admit that at $190 the regular version costs about the same as the Rogue One version from a couple of years ago, and palpably less than a number of other trooper figures we have seen since; while it is not a low price for an army builder, that is something to be appreciated. I cannot quite fathom how what seems like a fairly simple light up display option (3 AAA batteries not included) for the deluxe version would merit a cost difference of $53, and that is all the more disappointing as these background panels are all but useless on their own; you would need two, three, or four next to each other to set up a nice backdrop to one or two figures.

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Things to watch out for
Not much. As always, be gentle with the relatively delicate wrist pegs, and ideally warm up the hands before swapping (that is why I own a hair dryer). The thermal detonator is of the type that can slip off and fall with annoying ease while handling, and since it is not big, it might be easy to misplace. I would keep an eye on the magnetic closure for the holster, just in case some magnet becomes unglued. Be careful with the foldable stock on the blaster rifle -- this is a delicate articulated part. The figure stands and balances pretty well, but take the appropriate precautions against it tumbling down.

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Overall: 3.3/4 stars
The Hot Toys Return of the Jedi Stormtrooper is a very nice set that could easily have been perfect, with but a little more attention to proportion (helmet, height) and articulation (less padding); then the only negative would have been the price, and even that was relatively decent, considering what it might have been. In other respects, like the painting and weathering, as well as most of the sculpting, the set is remarkably well done. If you love Stormtroopers and are looking to build up your ranks, the new product is a good addition to the bunch.

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Where to buy
As always, you can check out various offerings on eBay, or visit the online stores below, among others, but they seem to be selling out fast:

Alter Ego comics for $243 (deluxe)

Big Bad Toy Store for $190 (standard) or $243 (deluxe)

Cotswold Collectibles for $243 (deluxe)

Timewalker Toys all sold out

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Hope this has been useful. As always, what do you think?

Update: For the addendum on the Deluxe version, please see Post 21 below.

#hottoys #returnofthejedi #rotj #starwars #stormtrooper #male #scifi #military
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The Jabba subplot is one of my favorite parts of Return of the Jedi, despite various weak elements and horrid changes/additions brought in by the Special Edition. Fortunately (or unfortunately), a large assortment of Jabba-related characters is only available in the "classic" scale produced by Kenner and then Hasbro (3.75-inch figures), and that allows for the production of vehicles and partial sets to go with said figures. In the past year, we have seen the release of a Jabba's Palace Adventure set (with Han Solo in Carbonite and Ree-Yees), the Khetanna (Jabba's sail barge -- exclusively by pre-order from HasLab -- with Jabba and Yak Face), and now the Tatooine Skiff (without any included action figures). This last was one of two apparently identical skiffs that accompanied Jabba's sail barge, and is intended to be the one carrying our protagonists to their intended place of execution. I think we all know how that panned out.

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The skiff (apparently given the model designation "Bantha-II" by some over-enthusiastic Lucasfilm associate) is an improved and expanded set compared to the earlier Kenner (or was it already Hasbro) skiff from years ago, which was both toyish and undersized. The new skiff appears to be nearly to scale (at any rate, much more so than the old one), features a more ambitious and aesthetically pleasing stand, has more sensible display options and alternatives, and far more detail. It is approximately 40 cm (15.8 in) long, 11 cm (4.3 in) wide, and 10 cm (3.9 in) tall in itself, or 18 cm (7.1 in) tall when mounted on the stand. It arrives in a rectangular box amply illustrated with photos of the product and a selection of appropriate Hasbro action figures (sold separately). Some basic assembly is required, namely attaching the four railings (the fifth one is an alternative), some of the flooring panels, the two-part pair of steering vanes, and control pedestal, as well as affixing the two transparent plastic supports to the sand dune base. There is a basic little assembly guide to help you out if something doesn't make sense immediately. A sharp X-acto knife would be helpful to slice through all the annoying rubbery elastic ties.

For a basic schematic of the skiff, you can compare HERE.

The skiff is perfectly sculpted (from what I remember and have seen in stills and photos), and very nicely weathered for a fairly mass-produced toy. Below is a look at the (I think unseen) stern (rear) of the skiff. Note the nicely detailed and painted shiny metal elements contrasting with the rusty greenish armored plating. You can also see some of the finely detailed controls, which include articulated handles on both sides (they revolve around their axis).

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I suspect that at least in some respects Hasbro had to improvise and imagine things that were not necessarily fully developed for the on-screen model. This was almost certainly the case with the details below the deck and under the storage area cover, seen below.

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Similarly, the details within the bow (front) of the skiff, and below the deck on that end.

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The starboard (right-side) railing can be exchanged with a damaged version of itself, from which hangs a torn cable, from which you could dangle Lando or any figure of your choice.

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For more interactive functionality, you could store various weapons (especially vibro axes) in specially provided compartments within the stern and the bow of the skiff, or inside the storage compartment running along the center of the deck. None of the ones illustrated below came included with the set.

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In terms of articulation, the whole skiff can be made to lean left or right because it is attached to the stand by rotating elements that can turn accordingly. The two-part vanes are also fully articulated. You can rotate them completely around their axis and also at an angle to it, and the fans of the vanes can be moved at an angle to their heads (if that is the term). The skiff can fit all the appropriate figures (in this instance with two substitutes) easily enough, but since it does not have pegs for the feet, you would have a hard time keeping them aboard if you tilt the skiff.

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Hasbro has produced action figures for all but one (the bandit-scarved human) of the characters that belong on the "hero" or "prisoner" skiff, and I am yet to get the pilot, a Nikto called Vedain. I figured that another Nikto, a skiff guard from the other skiff, would make do as a substitute.

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If specieist fans and executives could be ignored (apparently the dogma is that human characters are inherently worthless compared to "cool" or "lame" aliens alike), it would have made sense to add the missing figure to the skiff set -- if Hasbro felt that it would not sell well on its own.

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And don't worry, the gangplank is extendable, ready to serve for cargo loading and impromptu executions alike. Or at least they could try. Note that this (starboard = right) side of the skiff has all the sculpted damage, while both sides have weathering -- this is apparently because it is this side of the skiff that gets fired upon from the sail barge in the film. Speaking of which, perhaps to simplify filming this, in some of the earlier shots in the film the image was mirrored (look at Chewbacca's bandolier and Han's shirt lapel) and I reproduced this trick in my photos (compare the one above to the one below).

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I could not justify spending the money on the Khetanna HasLab set, but this one was a no-brainer to get. I am very pleased with it, with its capacity, and with its details. It is convincing, realistic, interactive, and useful all at once. If Hasbro had come closer to filling out the ranks of the skiff guards on the other skiff (it has made two or three of them, depending how you count), I would have gotten a second set.

Hope this has been useful. What do you think?

Where to buy? Try Walmart, Amazon, or eBay (though that last option might be overpriced). The skiff sells for about $40 USD, at least on Amazon, from where I got mine.

Big Bad Toy Store has it for $42

Entertainment Earth has it for $40

#starwars #hasbro #rotj #returnofthejedi #jabba #tatooine #skiff #set
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NOTE: A few extra goofing around photos added to posts 11 and 15 below.

Introduction

Following upon its recent releases of Luke Skywalker and the Imperial Royal Guard (see HERE) from Return of the Jedi, Hot Toys has now provided Emperor Palpatine to go with them. The galactic emperor comes in two versions, regular (MMS467) and deluxe (MMS468); it is the latter version that I am reviewing here. The difference consists of the larger box and two accessories: the emperor's throne and Luke's un-ignited lightsaber, which come exclusively with the deluxe version.

If you are a hardcore Star Wars fan, it is likely enough that the supreme antagonist of the Original Trilogy would be on your shopping list. Sideshow produced what was a very respectable version at the time, but improved standards and the superior detail and quality of Hot Toys made me break my usual rule of not upgrading and go for this; besides, I did not have Sideshow's throne, which had become rare and expensive, as well as cumbersome and brittle (polystone). So I gave my Sideshow emperor to a friend and lightened my wallet.

I am divided on the character, although he was played masterfully by Ian McDiarmid (all the more so in the otherwise fairly abysmal Prequel Trilogy, which I cannot bring myself to consider canonical). The emperor's character, importance, and even name changed over time as drafts of what became Star Wars progressed. At one time he was the puppet of corrupt politicians instead of a force user; early versions of his name included "Ford Xerxes XII" (1973), "Alexander Xerxes XII, Emperor of Decarte," "Cos Das-hit (sic!), Lord of Alderaan, Consul to the Supreme Tribunal, ruler of the Galactic Empire" (Rough Draft, May 1974), "Son Hhat, a Hhut (Hutt!), Lord of Granicus, Consul to the Supreme Tribunal, ruler of the Galactic Kingdom" (First Draft, July 1974), and was given the name Palpatine, sounding palpably Palatine or palatial or portentiously pulsating only in the first novelization of Star Wars from 1976. You can find more on his evolution into the emperor we know from the Original Trilogy (and beyond -- I will not address the Sidious or, worse, Sheev silliness) HERE.

Lucas did plenty right (at first), dropping overly obvious parallels to ancient or modern leaders, making him a mysterious mastermind, keeping the emperor out of the original film, confining him to a short conversation via hologram in the second installment (until he revisited this and pointlessly extended said conversation later), and presenting him as a relatively diminutive and understated ascetic old man in the third. But then he was also portrayed as a cartoonishly simplistic villain who demanded needless sacrifices for an artsy and ultimately unsuccessful strategy, cackled fiendishly, and thought it a good idea to win their hearts and minds by pitting father and son against each other and demanding that they fight to the death (not to mention that arguably these were, at least in a sense, his own son and grandson). How do you reconcile that with the apparent ability to take over the known universe and bring peace and prosperity with the minor exception of a determined small band of hypocritical and dogmatic terrorists? Perhaps one needs to make recourse to senility... One of the tragedies of the Star Wars saga is that its sophisticated visual appearance does not match its childish simplicity and that if fans grow up and choose to analyze it at any depth, they find it wanting; if they don't, perhaps the stylized and misleading dichotomy of the Star Wars universe has sunk too deep. But we love it anyway and at any rate let's not diverge too far; let's focus on the product at hand.

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Packaging: 4/4 stars

The emperor arrives in a large box measuring approximately 8 by 14 by 16 inches. There is a slip on cover with a frontal image of the enthroned emperor, the Star Wars logo, and the product name and number on the front, and credits on the back. Within lies the box proper, with a large see-through cover on the front and the emperor risen from his throne and about to unleash his force lighting, seemingly in the process of saying "So be it, Jedi..." on the back. Inside the box there are two plastic treys, each with its own see-through plastic lid. The top one holds the action figure, the extra hands, and the hand-held accessories, while the bottom one contains the two-part throne, action figure stand, and a couple more accessories. Nothing terribly exciting in the design and decoration of the box, but it is done perfectly well, and everything within it is perfectly safe and perfectly collector-friendly.

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Sculpting: 3.5/4 stars

I think Hot Toys did an excellent job reproducing one of the facial expressions of the emperor from the film. When I saw the toothy grin on the prototype advertised what seems like many years ago, I was dubious; but the product looks great. The look they chose is one of a sinister grin, looking amused, yet creepy and threatening at the same time. Do keep in mind that it is difficult to capture the quality of the sculpt with justice in photographs, and even more difficult to recreate the exact look from the screen, which has benefited from professional lighting and manipulation in post-production (most infamously the "emperor's slug(s)," though I just spotted a rectangular band of light on the face, produced either by an actual spot light or mirror or in editing); even with two poseable spot lights I was often unable to replicate the right shadows.

If there is any decline in quality from the prototype used for the promotional images, I do not know whether it is owing to a slightly softer sculpt or to a lighter wash used in the paint (I am going to assume the former, but could be wrong -- I am taking off the relevant half point here). The sculpt of the hairs on the head (which we do not see in the film) is perhaps just a little softer than it could have been, given Hot Toys' achievements in that respect. At any rate, the detail is there, and while it is difficult to give it justice in the photos (and angle and lighting play a role), this is certainly the best sixth-scale iteration of the emperor so far. If it leaves anything to be desired, that goes beyond the scope of any figure sporting a single head sculpt: the emperor made a great many different facial expressions in the film, and we get only one: the toothy grin. It would have been nice to see at least a dissatisfied expres​sion(if not a furious one) and a sarcastic mock-commiseration expression. If anything, a neutral head would have been advisable. Generally, that might be too much to ask for, but this is a deluxe product after all. Despite being a short guy who spent a lot of his time seated, the emperor did manage to look down on people (especially Luke) in a number of scenes; looking down in particular is rather difficult to convey with the present head sculpt, no matter how good it looks otherwise.

The tiny details are carried over to the hand sculpts, and the elaborate clasp on the front of the emperor's cloak, while the non-organic pieces (the lightsaber and throne) look machine-like and ever-so-slightly used. The emperor stands almost 11 inches (28 cm) tall.

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Paint: 4/4 stars

Hot Toys is known for its excellent quality paint application, and the present figure is no exception. There are no oversight problems here. It is possible that the promotional prototype had a more delicate wash that intensified the numerous wrinkles on the skin (but I have assumed it is a question of the sculpt above); this seems more subtle and less effective here, although the detail is still minute and impressive. I also wonder if perhaps the color chosen for the eyes is not a tad dark (but I realize it would have been very difficult to reproduce the almost glowing eyes we see in the film). As in the film, one of the eyes appears to be ever so slightly "lazy." The area around the eyes is painted a little darker, which works great for some scenes; in others, they appear to have been artificially lightened in the film's post production, and you cannot replicate that with the figure, except perhaps by editing the photos. The paint application is consistent with whatever is appropriate: glossy eyes and clasp, slightly less glossy teeth, matte metal for the throne, dull pale skin, etc. The crooked wooden cane is perhaps too shiny, although I do not know it for a fact that this is wrong.

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Articulation: 3.5/4 stars

Generally speaking, the articulation of the figure is excellent. It is possible that the typical Hot Toys undersuit (padding) gets a little bit in the way, but not much. The one really disappointing thing about the articulation is the one-piece neck and head. I understand why they went this way (and there seems to be a pattern in this to their recent figures, including Luke), especially given the emperor's wrinkled neck, but it keeps the figure from replicating the character's head gestures to a more significant degree than I expected. I believe a less restrictive design might have allowed even a one-piece neck and head to work better. Apart from this the figure can perform the other movements of the character from the film.

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Accessories: 3/4 stars

By far and away the most impressive accessory is the throne exclusive to the deluxe version of the figure. The throne is constructed of two pieces, the base and the seat proper. The latter fits onto the former, and can rotate around its axis. For its light feature, see below. The overall look and size of the throne appears great, but unless I am missing something, either the throne is not exactly right in terms of size or proportion (is the seat too high and the ceiling too low?) or the figure is just a little too tall or inflexible to comfortably fit on it with sufficient overhead room to match the appearance in the film. If you try to have the emperor sit up to lecture Luke, he will have to either hit or clear the throne's ceiling; also, if you have him lean back into the seat (as he does in the film), it is pretty difficult to have his feet reach the floor. Nevertheless, I should stress that if there is anything off here, it is very minor; additional futzing and patience may yield even better results.

Apart from the throne, the accessories include additional hand sculpts (for a total of six), the twisted cane, Luke's un-ignited lightsaber, and two sculpted bolts of force lighting. There are also a couple of spare wrist pegs (not shown) and an instruction leaflet (likewise). Finally, there is an action figure stand with interchangeable Death Star flooring: the sculpted top of the stand and a removable sand-paper-like sheet with imprinted floor pattern at an angle; the figure stands quite well without the stand. The selection of accessories is comprehensive for the character. If there is any room for improvement, it would have been to add an extra hand sculpt or two. The ones we get on the figure in the box are the semi-relaxed/semi-closed hands that the character has while seated on the throne or walking around the throne room; the right one is also recommended to be used with the cane, but does not work very well for that purpose. There are left and right hands with fairly outstretched fingers to attach the sculpted force lighting, and there are two variably semi-closed right hands with partly extended index finger. It would have been nice to get a left pointing hand (the emperor uses that at least twice on screen) and a proper right hand to hold the cane (though one of the extended index-finger hands works better for that than the hand recommended in the instructions). The sculpted force lighting looks and works remarkably well. It attaches better to the left hand than the right, but if the light hits it (and especially in front of a darker background) it captures it and looks just right, shining and translucent at once.

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Light Feature: 4/4 stars

The actual light feature that comes with this product is confined to the emperor's throne. It is simple but relatively user-friendly and perfectly effective. The underside of the seat features a compartment for the insertion of two AAA batteries (not included), and a tiny switch to turn the electrical feature on and off. For once this is very easily accessible. When it is switched on, the throne's control buttons on both sides of both arm rests become illuminated in the appropriate colors. The buttons are made of colored translucent plastic and look that way even when the light is not turned on. There is also a rectangular white light on the underside of the throne's ceiling. All lights are controlled simultaneously by the single switch on the bottom.

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Outfit: 4/4 stars

The emperor's outfit from the film, however basic, is reproduced in exact and loving detail. It is, on the outside, simple enough: a flowing waffle cotton hooded robe with long draping sleeves. The texture is designed to replicate the look from the film, although I suspect it does not drape quite as readily in this scale. The bottom edge of the robe, the bottom edges of the sleeves, and the edges of the hood have thin wires allowing you to position them for a desired look. The inside of the hood is sown up in such a way that the head would not go too far in (with my figure, I actually wish they had left a little more room inside the hood so I can cast deeper shadows over the face). The shiny molded clasp has been discussed above and can be opened. Looking at the official Star Wars costume book (B. Alinger, Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, San Francisco 2014: 162) I thought the clasp had been placed wrongly (rotated by 180 degrees), but a look at on-set photos revealed that Hot Toys did it right.

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Below the black waffle cotton cloak is a suede robe tied at the waist with a sash from the same material. Some of this was visible on screen in the film. Under that there are black pants and soft dull reddish-brown boots. Insofar as this can be verified, everything appears to be correct or appropriate.

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Fun Factor: 4/4 stars

With so many sixth-scale (or similar) action figures from (or applicable to) Return of the Jedi already out there from Hot Toys and other brands, one should have no problems having fun reenacting the film or creating new scenes and situations with the present product, all the more so because of the throne and other appropriate accessories. Here is a little reenactment sequence from the film...

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Value: 3/4 stars

Between them, Hot Toys and Lucasfilm are among the main culprits for the skyrocketing costs of sixth-scale action figures and accessories, and others have been quick to follow their lead. That said, this extensive and deluxe set is not horribly overpriced, especially by the standards they have already set. The regular version (without throne or Luke's lightsaber) retails at around $220, which is around and near the low end of other protagonist figures from this and other franchises produced by Hot Toys today. This means that if you buy the deluxe version at $315, you pay an extra $95 for the extra accessories, most notably the fully-functional light-up throne. This is certainly not exactly a bargain, but also not as horrendously expensive as it might have been, or as it might become soon enough on the secondary market. For a deluxe set by Hot Toys and licensed by Lucasfilm, the price appears fairly decent, and seemingly more so than many other recent offerings. Still, it hurts...

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Things to watch out for

Darth Vader falling on his face during photography and breaking off one of the tusks on his helmet; failing to find said tusk; detaching a tusk from another ruined helmet and losing that one; having to cannibalize a third... but wait, none of that has anything to do with the product reviewed here. There really isn't much to worry about, and there aren't many small, dangerous, or easily misplaceable parts, so basic precautions should be enough. While the throne is not as brittle and delicate as polystone, I would not drop it. The hands were a bit difficult to swap, but a hair dryer should have helped and despite some impatient pulling, I still did not manage to break the wrist pegs (just in case, they included a couple of spares).

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Overall: 3.67/4 stars

I am very pleased with this figure, and believe it is a better representation of the character than any that has been available in the past -- certainly in this scale. Admittedly, we are stuck with one expression for a very expressive character, but that is the worst that can be said about it. The appearance and articulation are excellent and the choice of accessories extensive and appropriate. We could have used an extra hand sculpt, and a slightly more comfortable fit on the throne, but all in all these are fairly minor disadvantages. But you can draw your own conclusions from the photos and details above (and below). What do you think?

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Where to Buy:

Big Bad Toy Store $315
Or $220 (regular version)

Cotswold Collectibles $314

Timewalker Toys $220 (regular version)

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#starwars #returnofthejedi #rotj #hottoys #emperor #palpatine #review #productreview #scifi #male
Search in: General Talk  Topic: Hot Toys Star Wars Emperor Palpatine (Deluxe) Review  Replies: 89  Views: 1334
Another of my mini reviews on items I have had for a while.  

This time I am looking at my SideShow Speeder Bike and Scout Trooper.  

I thought it would be good to look at these now as the Speeder Bike has just been re-released, and the Biker Scout is about to be re-released by SideShow.  Typical of SideShow that. I looked for ages to get one of these in reasonable condition and at a reasonable price  Rolling Eyes  Rolling Eyes

The bike is in my opinion the best detailed version of the speeder bike available.  Sideshow have gone to great lengths to recreate the engine parts and all the controls, and have also done a very sympathetic job on the weathering.  I am aware that some feel that this version is to small and that the Hasbro bike is proportionally better, however after examining as many screen shots, production pictures, and even reproductions of the artwork used to design and ultimately build the real bikes I think this one is nearer to the original film used props.  I have both this and the Hasbro version, and in truth neither are absolutely proportionally correct, and this is a little bit shorter than it should be, where, according to my calculations and measurements, the Hasbro is wider, longer and has an overall more chunky look to it.

The Speeder Bike comes in several pieces which need to be assembled.  Some of the parts are quite thin and fragile so you do have to take care when putting this together or taking it apart.  The thinner parts around the control handles are particularly delicate, but then the overall look is all the better for them being near to scale sizes.
There are a number of moving parts such as the handlebars and pedals, the exhaust covers at the rear and the fins at the front of the bike which helps in getting some very realistic looking poses with this model.

The bike is supported on a single metal rod which slots into the bike and a weighted base which keeps the bike very stable.  The bike can be angled on the base to get some good action poses as if it is turning etc...  
The base comes with some woodland scenery to cover the black plastic with if you wish, and I have also used the similar base cover from the Biker Scout figure to add to this an completely cover the base the best I can.  You can see in the last pic of the bike on display that I have now also added a 1/6 Black Series Rebel commando helmet too just to add to the effect.

The Biker figure is pretty standard SideShow fare.  The costume is very well recreated and due to the sparser armour and no padded suit the joints remain fairly flexible.  Its a reasonably possible figure and can be made to pose on the bile in any number of convincing riding poses.  It comes with boots for standing and the ones seen here which have the toes positioned to sit correctly on the bikes pedals.  There are also spare hands for relaxed look, holding the handlebars of the bike and the included blaster pistol.
As mentioned the base comes with a a cover to make it look like the forrest floor.  

This figure does not need the bike and it does make a very nice stand alone figure, although it is of course nice to be able to display both together.

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I hope you enjoyed this mini review, and as always any comments are welcome.

Paul

#starwars #speeder #speederbike #bikerscout #scouttrooper #rotj #movie #scfi
Search in: General Talk  Topic: SideShow Star Wars Speeder Bike and Biker Scout  Replies: 41  Views: 566

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