Here are five twelfth-scale stormtroopers (there might be additional versions out there, in which case these are the second, updated versions). From left to right: Hasbro Black Series (henceforth, H), Kaiyodo Revoltech (KR), Bandai model set (B), Bandai S.H. Figuarts (BSHF), and the just-released Hasbro Black Series "The Mandalorian" (HM).
Some things to note: KR is apparently now also released under the brand name Animewild; moreover, there appeared substantially less expensive Chinese knockoffs of the original Japanese sets, often inferior in the quality of the materials and paint application. The Bandai model set needs to be put together, a somewhat time-consuming and possibly challenging process. The new Hasbro Black Series stormtrooper, HM, while referencing The Mandalorian series, is essentially a Rogue One stormtrooper, since the shape design is supposed to be identical.
Front. Note the extra low "brow" of H and B, and the higher dome of KR. For some reason, the helmet design of H comes across as the worst to me (strangely, their sandtrooper helmets were very good); B has a fine helmet, but the distance ratio between the "nose" and "lip" areas is reversed; HM's helmet is more specifically appropriate for Rogue One and The Mandalorian; the "nose" and "lip" distances are about the same here, which is not quite right but at least they are not reversed (strangely, Hasbro's 3.75-inch Rogue One stormtroopers were even better in this respect). BSHF's helmet is technically correct, but there is still something that seems a little off with it. Only B's helmet has actual green translucent lenses, but it is not something you can actually notice without taking it apart. KR's armor is not quite bulky enough, while HM's is specific to its source movie/series. KR's helmet is very good in many respects, but something (the high dome?) is a little off.
Back. Note the holes in the back armor panel of H, in the butt armor panel of KR, and in the boots of BSHF, KR's diminutive thermal detonator, and the strangely small trapezoidal designs on the helmet of BSHF. It doesn't show well in the photo, but HM's armor has the movie/series-specific rectangular indent on the top surface of the "backpack" section of the back plate. Also note that the chest-and-upper-back armor assembly is a separate piece that allows for underlying articulation.
Elbow articulation (best: HM and B; worst: H) and neck and upper torso stretch backward (best: B; worst: KR).
Neck and upper torso stretch forward (best: KR, BSHF, and HM; worst: H).
Upward and sideways arm movement (worst -- sideways: H). Note that B and BSHF have shoulder armor designed so that it moves out of the way, while HM's is made of more flexible plastic -- which allows the movement, but if you keep the pose too long, it might remain twisted and require corrective action. KR can theoretically do better with the upward arm movement, but the joint comes apart.
Taking a knee (worst: H). Surprisingly, all five can achieve this pose (this should also cover any question of sitting), although H has the most difficulty getting to it and maintaining it, and needs to twist its torso a bit more than the others. The other four are about evenly matched. Note that B and BSHF have the ability to extend the thigh portion of the upper legs, which provides additional help in a pose like that.
Random action poses. You can achieve these with any of the stormtrooper figures, although some look more natural than others. The overly short neck of B seems to get in the way of a more natural look.
These are the two most recent twelfth-scale stormtroopers, by Bandai (S.H. Figuarts) and Hasbro ("The Mandalorian"). Their release (especially the latter) is responsible for the review. This Bandai is superior to the Bandai model kit (B) in most respects, other than price. For example, it allows more natural looking poses (a surprise to me), and it certainly has improved the helmet. Hasbro's new stormtrooper (HM) has considerable advantages over the older version, both in function and in looks (in fact I dislike the older version so much that I only picked up that one for reference). While its helmet may look a little overly small from some angles (note the difference an angle makes!), that is to a significant degree the result of the partial streamlining of the helmets for the Rogue One film (carried over to The Mandalorian).
The packaging for BSHF and HM. While this is not the focus of the review, I should at least list the differences in accessories: H comes with a standard E-11 blaster rifle and a longer blaster rifle (seen in the first photo); KR comes with a clear stand, extra hands, and both the standard and longer blaster rifles; B comes with a stand (representing just a section of flat black Death Star floor), extra hands, and both the standard and long blaster rifles, plus the more compact laser pistol (that I never remember from the films); BSHF comes with an optional holster, with the standard blaster rifle and with two long blaster rifles of different design; HM comes only with the standard blaster rifle.
So what is the best stormtrooper? I suppose that to some degree opinions would vary, but to me the first Hasbro Black Series (H) is clearly the worst, both in appearance and in function, even if its price point (at least originally) was decent by comparison with the others. Genuine KR were fairly expensive (the knock offs fairly cheap), but the extra-lanky look and the overly high dome of the helmet make me ambivalent as to its viability, although I prefer it to H. The Bandai model kit (B) was fairly inexpensive and came with perhaps the most extensive or varied assortment of accessories, but the mistakes in the helmet design and the slightly too short neck keep it from first place. BSHF is an improvement in appearance and perhaps even functionality on B, but it can be fairly expensive. Finally, the newly-released HM has fewer accessories than any of the others, but has an excellent look (subject to the usual vagaries of Hasbro's paint job and quality control) and functionality, coupled with a relatively low price (just north of $20 USD, it is less expensive than any of the others, except the original price of H and perhaps KR knock-offs). This makes it both an excellent figure in itself and the most viable option as an army builder among the ones reviewed here. In terms of quality and functionality, there is probably a tie between HM and BSHF, but BSHF is becoming both rare and even more expensive. (I have not discussed specific prices, because several of these products are now no longer readily accessible except on the secondary market, and we are no longer dealing with their original prices.)
As always, what do you think?
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