STAR WARS Sideshow's second Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot review and comparison - Sat Oct 31, 2020 12:40 am
It has been about two years now, but since this is a relatively obscure product that proved useful in a recent kitbash, I decided to give it its long overdue review. I reviewed the original Sideshow TIE Fighter Pilot HERE, and much of what follows is going to make reference to that figure; in the photos where they appear side by side, the new pilot is the one with the shinier jumpsuit, darker and glossier gloves and boots, and graphite/grey-painted details on the helmet (I will point out all the differences below). While there is nothing on the box to suggest it, this is really the original trilogy TIE Fighter Pilot as spruced up for Rogue One. The "tiger stripes" and other graphite/grey-painted details do hearken back to the Original Trilogy, but the Rogue One design introduced some innovations in other areas. While easy to spot, they are minor enough to preserve the general iconic look of the original TIE Fighter Pilot. Sideshow appears to have succeeded in adapting its original model accordingly. Check out the YouTube video linked at the end for additional inspiration.
Packaging: 3/4 stars
The TIE Fighter Pilot comes in the long familiar two-shades-of-black box with a wrap around cover secured with magnets; open it and you can peak at the set within without unboxing it. To get the set out, open either the top or bottom of the box. The set is housed inside two transparent plastic treys, each with its own transparent plastic cover. The top trey contains the kitted-out figure and the hexagonal base, while the bottom trey contains the gun, stand, and extra gloved hand sculpts. The design works reasonably well, even if it is not very exciting (it is consistent with past practice), and everything is safe and collector-friendly. As noted above, there is no indication that this figure is based on the type's appearance in Rogue One. The title is the same: Star Wars Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot, although the photo of the figure is updated to depict the new product in a different pose.
Sculpting: 4/4 stars
The sculpted detail is excellent overall, and generally identical to the first version produced by Sideshow a couple of years earlier. The most significant departures from the original design are: two additional and identical small black greeblies placed symmetrically at the temples of the helmet; slightly different ear cap greeblies; the use of a Rogue One stormtrooper backplate (with the characteristic indentation running atop the "backpack" section and hole off to the upper right); the use of an imperial belt with (rather than without) utility boxes on both sides of the buckle. Apart from what is noted above, the sculpted detail is exactly the same as in the original set; the gloved hands and boots come from the same molds as before; the same is true for the comm pad showing through the opening on the left sleeve. The E-11 laser blaster rifle is also identical to those Sideshow provided to the previous release of this figure and other imperials. I will discuss the code cylinders under Accessories below. The second Sideshow TIE Fighter pilot appears to be very slightly shorter than the earlier version, but stands about 12 inches tall.
Paint: 3.5/4 stars
While there isn't a whole lot of complexity to paint scheme, the paint is applied cleanly and accurately. The silverish areas appear more realistically metallic than they did in the earlier release. The molded gloved hands and boots are given a darker coloring than before, making them closer in color to the jumpsuit (for which see under Outfit below); correspondingly, the ribbed hoses are now glossier and darker in color than before. Apart from a slight innovation to the button color scheme on the front panel, the most significant change in the paint scheme is the application of graphite grey "tiger stripes" and other details to the helmet. Much of this was already the case in the Original Trilogy, though not applied to Sideshow's earlier release. The imperial "cog" emblems on the helmet are correctly a little smaller than they were in the Original Trilogy and, accordingly, on Sideshow's earlier version of the type. What is inaccurate to both the Original Trilogy and Rogue One here, is the little black rectangle on the "mow hawk" -- this should feature tiny "Aurebesh" symbols providing the pilot's ID number, but here are left plain black. While this is a minor detail, it does make a significant difference in the appearance. (Medicom got this right on their TIE Fighter pilot.)
While it is difficult to see even if you popped off the helmeted head and shined a light into it, the lenses are, as in the earlier version, translucent grey (see my first review linked above for a depiction). This is something we have rarely gotten from Sideshow (more often, but not always, from Hot Toys), and therefore much appreciated.
Articulation: 3/4 stars
Theoretically, the articulation should be as good as that of Sideshow's first release of this type. The armor is relatively limited, and the fabric jumpsuit should not get much in the way. I don't know if this is an issue limited to my figure or present throughout the whole line, but some of the joints (most notably the knees and hips) appear to be quite loose. This is an annoyance when trying to pose or balance the figure. The molded gloved hand sculpts limit wrist articulation, while the molded boots eliminate pretty much all potential ankle articulation. The hoses (breathing tubes) connecting the helmet to the front panel are flexible enough to allow articulation, but in practice they can keep the helmeted head from maintaining a specific desired pose.
Accessories: 4/4 stars
Short of supplying us with some or all of a TIE Fighter cockpit, I think there is very little more that could have been reasonably expected with this set. We get the hexagonal base, stand, additional two pairs of hands (making a total of three pairs: fitsts, grip, and relaxed hands), E-11 blaster rifle, and two code cylinders that go into the pen sleeves that are part of the pocket over the left biceps. The blaster rifle is identical to that supplied with the earlier version of the type and with other imperials by Sideshow, although it is significantly less weathered. The result is perhaps more realistic but certainly less interesting. Technically speaking, I don't believe we have ever seen these pilots sporting guns (or holsters, as in the original release) onscreen, so this accessory is already a bonus. The code cylinders are found with X-Wing pilots and imperial technicians in the Original Trilogy, but appear to have been introduced to TIE Fighter pilots only in Rogue One. These small accessories are well crafted and appear to be screen accurate; they fit snugly into the pen sleeves. While a very minor detail, they are also handy for kitbashing imperial technicians (like the scanning crew found on the first Death Star or the grey- and black-jumpsuit-wearing crew on the Star Destroyers in The Empire Strikes Back).
Outfit: 4/4 stars
Not counting the molded plastic pieces (like the helmet, chest and back armor, gloved hands and boots), the outfit consists simply of the black jumpsuit and belt (with molded buckle and utility boxes). Both feature innovations: the utility boxes, while found with other imperials in the Original Trilogy, were applied to TIE Fighter pilots in Rogue One. Another difference related to the belt is the absence of a holster for the gun with this version of the pilot; however, as noted above, I don't believe these pilots were ever seen onscreen with either guns or holsters. This would make the new version more screen-accurate. Apart from the pen sleeves for the code cylinders, the jumpsuit is structurally identical to that provided for the original version, except that it is made of a shinier nylon-like material. This, too, is an innovation of Rogue One and screen-accurate, even if its unnecessarily changed appearance keeps it from working for standard Original Trilogy imperials.
Fun Factor: 4/4 stars
Despite the film-specific differences, overall the appearance of Sideshow's second TIE Fighter pilot is sufficiently close to the original to allow it to mix with the other Star Wars figures from the Sideshow and Hot Toys lines, whether produced for the Original Trilogy movies or for Rogue One.
Value: 2/4 stars
Retailing officially for $210 USD, not including shipping, this was not a low-priced collectible at the end of 2017. It was a full $30 pricier than the earlier version from just two years before. On the other hand, it is quite good (apart from those loose joints) and (not that I care for such things) a limited edition of 2000 figures; Sideshow allowed only one per customer. Since then, it has sold out, although you might get lucky -- though your wallet would probably suffer. While there have been plenty of minor changes to the set, there is also a whole lot of re-use of molds and patterns, which ought to have kept the price from escalating quite this much.
Things to watch out for
Hardly anything. Due to those looser joints, make sure you balance the figure well before leaving it standing on its own. The code cylinders are pretty tiny, but they do fit pretty securely in their pen sleeves.
Overall: 3.5 stars
Like the earlier Sideshow version, this is a very fine representation of a TIE Fighter pilot. To have been perfect, one might have hoped for improved functionality (fewer restrictions on the articulation and a fewer loose joints). And while the set might resonate less with exclusive Original Trilogy fans, the appearance is so close that it would probably integrate seamlessly even among such discerning collectors. I'm glad I picked it up, even if I would have hoped for a better price and a less limited run (such things not being conducive to army-building).
Where to Buy?
At this late stage, it is basically sold out, although you can probably get lucky at some point somewhere, e.g., on eBay.
For additional inspiration, check out this fan film on YouTube -- although it has some issues, it is very much what should have happened as the Rebel fleet was massing near Sullust, well before it attacked the second Death Star.
As always, what do you think?
#starwars #rogueone #tiefighterpilot #empire #scifi #fiction #sideshow