STAR WARS Death Star Trooper (Imperial Naval Guard) by Hot Toys (updated) - Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:18 pm
One of the most recognizable imperial trooper type throughout the Original Trilogy and related Star Wars films was the Imperial Naval Guard or Trooper. Mislabeled "Death Squad Troopers" and "Death Star Troopers" by Kenner and Hasbro, these were clad in all black (tunic or jumpsuit, with gloves and boots) and sported large samurai-type "cheese grater" helmets. Although they were among the first dozen "classic"-scale (3.75-inch) Star Wars figures produced by Kenner, to the best of my knowledge they have never been given the higher-end sixth-scale treatment (Kenner, or was it Hasbro, produced a 12-inch version in 1998, but that does not qualify as high end; while it was not bad for its time, its somewhat odd proportions and oversized head and helmet detract from the realism potential).
Some years ago Hot Toys advertised an impending "Death Star Trooper" figure, for example at the San Diego Comic Con and other such venues (see HERE and HERE). Many people, including yours truly, were very excited... and contacted Hot Toys to correct the glaring mistake of placing the imperial "cog" emblem on the tunic (it only goes on jumpsuits). At that time, the project was still a go. Since then, any mention of it seems to have disappeared...
The ironic thing is that Hot Toys has now essentially created the "Death Star Trooper," but failed to actually put it together and release it. The most signature piece, the helmet, was provided as a makeshift drum for the evil Ewok in the recent Endor Leia and Wicket combo set. The helmet is sharply sculpted, weathered, and better-sized than the Kenner/Hasbro version from 1998, although its flared rim does not appear to flare out or as far as it did in A New Hope; but it seems to be more accurate to its appearance in the later films. Parted out, the helmet sold like crazy -- it was certainly the one thing I really wanted from that set, and apparently I wasn't alone. Luckily, in a moment of weakness, I had gotten some helmets from a seller in China on eBay, for prices that I am ashamed to mention -- but were lower than the ones you would find on eBay today. With that, I was well on my way to reconstituting what would (or could) have been Hot Toys' "Death Star Trooper." And in fact one could build him using all Hot Toys parts. While the helmet was not instantly wearable, a modicum of rigging made it so. The chin strap was borrowed and slightly repurposed from the even more recent Mudtrooper set (detailed review HERE). The two-part gloves, the boots, and the belt with holster and laser pistol were borrowed from the Death Star Gunner set (detailed review HERE). The tunic and pants came from the Count Dooku set. The body is a True Type TTM14 (the one that came with the Taylor Kitsch/Gambit head). The head is from the Hot Toys Justice League Superman set. That makes a fully armed and operational Hot Toys "Death Star Trooper" action figure.
Pleased as I was with "my" achievement, I actually preferred some parts from other companies -- like the DID jackboots, the Sideshow gloves (less articulation but more matte, like worn leather), and the TBLeague body (the unsightly M30 works great in clothing). That is what you see in the photos below.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with the way he turned out. Yes, the tunic could have had slits on the front near the shoulders for code cylinders (not used by this trooper type in A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back, but one is seen in Return of the Jedi). Yes, the detail on the "ear caps" could have been more accurate (seven indentations rather than the four bumps -- here the Kenner or Hasbro version was actually better -- although it is conceivable there was some variation among the helmets used while shooting the films), but on the whole he makes for a realistic, well-proportioned, and sharp figure.
What do you think?
Additional photos in Post 15 and Post 16 below. Spin-off photo story: STAR WARS A Happy Endings Story.
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