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Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of First Order TIE Pilot - Star Wars The Force Awakens
Sixth Scale Action Figure

Hot Toys
Date Published: 2016-01-29
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Introduction

Along with new characters and old faces, Star Wars The Force Awakens brought new designs to some familiar Troopers. Hot Toys is currently shipping the next release in their sixth scale line based on the look of the First Order TIE Pilot.

There's only one version this time around - no exclusives - and he will run you about $200, depending on the retailer of course.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Packaging - ***
Hot Toys is sticking with the basic shoe box design, and the interior cardboard slip cover is much more attractive than the box exterior.  There's also the basic plastic tray inside that holds the figure and accessories, and it's all quite collector friendly. Still, there's nothing here that's particularly exciting or earth shattering.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Sculpting - ***1/2
We got quick looks at this guy in the film, and there are a few screen captures out there to help determine the accuracy.

A number of fans pointed out how much the new military designs looked like 'iTroopers', with a lot of similarity to an Apple product. I'd have to agree with that in general, and specifically with this character. The altered helmet and armor design, with its sleek lines and super gloss finish, screams modern, and if you put an iPhone in his hand it would look right at home.

That's not to say the design is poor - it's not. In fact, I think that going in that direction, at least generally, was a smart idea.  I like the look here, particularly with the helmet and chest controls.

While the old pilot had both breathing ports hooked up to a hose, this guy only has one. I suspect that's a question best left unasked, since the real answer is probably as simple as 'it makes him look different'. The helmet has very clean, smooth lines, and the smaller details are sharply cut to stand out in the sea of black.

The majority of the detail work is on the chest panel, although even here there aren't as many small extras as you might expect.  Overall it looks good, but there is one oddity that is worth pointing out...but might be absolutely on purpose and screen accurate.  The silver bar or 'switch' across the center block is crooked. When I first noticed it, I thought it was a manufacturing error, attached poorly at a slight angle. But when I looked at prototype photos, I noticed it was exactly the same. I couldn't find any good screen shots of the panel itself (all the shots I found were in the cockpit where the camera was focused on the head and shoulders), but I'm going to give Hot Toys the benefit of the doubt here and assume they did this on purpose.

I suspect some people will complain the helmet is too small. That's actually a nice change of pace, since the normal complaint with any helmeted figure is that it's too big. Scale looks fine here to me, based on the overall design.

My personal nit to pick is with the hose itself. I assumed it would be made from a fairly soft, pliable material, but it is not. It is very hard, very stiff plastic, making it difficult to adjust and pose the helmet. There's supposed to be a wire in there, but I wouldn't get too crazy trying to alter the look of the hose itself. More on that topic in the Articulation section.

He stands at almost exactly 12" tall, and will fit in just fine scale-wise with other Sideshow and Hot Toys Star Wars releases. It's all one big happy family!

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Paint - ***1/2
I have often worried that Hot Toys could never make the 1966 Batmobile, because they would never be able to produce the super high gloss black paint job necessary in a consistent and error free manner.  This figure proves me wrong, and I'm quite happy about that.

The armored sections - helmet, shoulders, torso, gauntlets - are a very hard plastic with a very high gloss finish.  The color and finish are consistent and clean, and look terrific.  You will see white spots in macro photos, caused by two issues.  First, the high gloss finish is HIGHLY reflective, so any light source, even a dim, distance light source or a initially reflected light source will in turn reflect off the armor. Second, dust.  This thing is a dust magnet, and every little piece of lint and fluff floating in the air will be attracted to it. I was wiping it down regularly, but it has only a minimal effect.  In hand it's not an issue, but in photos the spots can be visible, and it's important to note that they are not part of the paint job.

Like with the Sculpt, I have one issue to address with the paint.  In promo photos, the red coloration of the lens on the helmet was made to appear quite obvious.  In reality, it's very hard to notice the red tinge, but it is there.  You'll have to get the light just right to see it though, and I wish it was a bit more apparent.

BTW, the most common screen cap you'll see of this guy (including the one I shared in the Sculpt section) shows him with red stripes on the front of the helmet.  That would be the Commander, not a regular pilot like this guy.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Articulation - ***
The underlying body - the TrueType - is a four star design all the way. Generally, it has all the joints and articulation you could want, and it takes natural, flowing, life-like poses with ease.

But when you add in armor, you always add in some restriction. With this figure, the lower legs waist, and torso joints all still work quite well, thanks to less armor in these areas and a nice design.  Even the boots, which could have tied up the ankles, are made from a soft enough material to allow the joints a wider range of movement.

The shoulders and elbows are pretty good too, and it's really only the neck and wrists that will cause you grief. Both of these issues come from the harder plastic pieces.

For the wrists, it's all about those gauntlets. They reach down over the wrists and to the hands, and because the hands swap pretty easily, tilting them left/right or side to side tends to pop them off.

The joint with the most trouble is the neck. As I mentioned earlier, the hose connecting the helmet to the panel is very hard plastic, with almost no give. While you can move the head into different positions, the hose tends to force it back. Worse, even when the head is completely straight, the hose wants to force it off the figure's right side, creating a weird alignment problem between the head, neck and shoulders. Experiment a bit and you'll find ways to compensate, but it's still a basic issue that could have been avoided with a softer, more pliable hose.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Accessories - **
This guy is quite light when it comes to extras and accessories. He does have a reasonable assortment of hands however, including a set of fists, a set of gun grips, a set of relaxed grips, and one set that has a tighter gripping right and a splayed left. They swap pretty easily, and there's a couple extra wrist pegs just in case.

He has his own special high gloss blaster, with some nice silver metal detailing on one side. There's a nice use of matte and gloss finishes, and the additional silver color adds some pop. He doesn't have any sort of holster for the gun, however.

Finally, there's a pretty standard display stand with a hexagonal base and crotch support. It includes his name plate and the Force Awakens emblem.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Outfit - ****
The costume is quite nice, and has a very realistic appearance thanks to these modern micro fibers.

I've discussed the various pieces of outer armor extensively, and don't have much to add.  The outfit also consists of his belt, complete with several sculpted pouches, his boots, and his underlying jumpsuit.

The belt and pouches look good, and the belt is easy to adjust on his hips.  The jumpsuit is a highlight thanks to the extremely realistic nylon material they've used. The small buckles, zippers and tiny stitches are all nicely in scale as well.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the costume overall is the boots.  The recent soft boots that we got with Vader and Solo were too soft - the leathery material bunched up in weird ways at the ankles. Here, the material is more rubber-like, but still very soft, and allows the ankles a good range of movement without a weird appearance.  In fact they are a terrific sculpt, albeit a bit on the basic side. Too bad they didn't use this same material for that damn hose.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Fun Factor - **1/2
There's not a lot you can do with this guy, even though he is nicely articulated.  Without a TIE Fighter, he's just sorta standing around. You'll pose him once or twice, find a look you like the best, and he'll stay that way a long time.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Value - **1/2
The price point does reflect the slightly more basic nature of this figure and the lack of accessories. Rather than the usual $220 - $230, this guy can be had at full retail for $200. I have some sponsors selling him as low as $190, and that's a decent value. If Star Ace or ThreeZero were putting this guy out at $200, you'd get quite a bit more with him, but this is Hot Toys, and they've established themselves as the Ferrari of sixth scale, which allows them to charge a bit more.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Things to Watch Out For -
The instructions warn against going too nuts with the neck joint to avoid damaging the hose. It didn't seem like that would be particularly easy when I was handling him, but it's worth keeping in mind.

The instructions also note that none of the armor is intended to be removed.  As if kitbashers are going to worry about that.

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Overall - ***1/2
This is not a bad figure - but it can be a boring figure. As much as I like the new design (as well as the old), the reality is that he won't have much to do on the shelf.  He doesn't have a lot of accessories, and while the gloss black looks sharp, it isn't exactly attention grabbing.  Thankfully, his price point reflects the fewer accessories and likely lower demand, making it tough for a Trooper junkie like me to pass him up. Had the price been closer to average for a Hot Toys figure - say $220 - he would have ended up losing a half star overall. But they tried to compensate, at least a little, and that's a rarity with Hot Toys.

While he'll make for a more complete collection, less obsessive fans are likely to pass him by. It's understandable, and isn't likely to have any effect on Hot Toys' plans to produce every possible Trooper variant in every movie before they're done.  And yes, I can even imagine a Commander version coming out, although I hope it isn't for quite some time.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - **
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- has him at just $190.

- is also at $190.

- comes in at $200.

- Sideshow has him for $200.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Hot Toys hasn't released a ton of First Order product yet (my Kylo is on it's way, and I have the Trooper two pack here still to check out), but they did ship the FO Stormtrooper late last year.

They have hit the older films hard, with Darth Vader, Tatooine Luke Skywalker, Luke in his Stormtrooper Disguise, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Han and Chewbacca all from the Original Trilogy. If you'd like a bit more of a regular Stormtrooper, they've done him as well, along with a Blackhole version. Sidseshow has helped out this year as well, with their Hoth Han, Hoth Luke, Tauntaun, Speederbike, and Scout Trooper.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
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First Order TIE Pilot Force Awakens action figure by Hot Toys

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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