Review of Star Wars Shadow Trooper
1/6 scale action figure
Hot Toys

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

A review of the Shadow Trooper sixth scale action figure from Star Wars by Hot Toys:

It was with much excitement that fans met the announcement of Hot Toys getting the Star Wars license last year. While they had worked with Sideshow on Star Wars releases in the past, this was their chance to control the entire process. Personally, I couldn't wait...and what was the first figure in this brave new world to make it into my hands? The Shadow Trooper. Yea, I felt exactly the same way.

Maybe because both Medicom and Sideshow have already done their own versions of the Blackhole Stormtrooper, Hot Toys went with the alternate label "Shadow Trooper". I'm not a big EU guy, but I believe Blackhole Troopers were simply Shadow Troopers that worked for Agent Blackhole, making the names interchangeable in this particular context.

Comparisons between these figures are inevitable, although it's been a number of years since either was released. I have both, but only had access to the Sideshow version when shooting the photos, and I've included him him in a couple shots. I'll be mentioning where the pros and cons are with this figure versus the other two.

You can get this guy for around $220, depending on the retailer.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Packaging - ***1/2
It's a standard shoe box style, with the usual inner plastic trays and cardboard insert cover. Nothing super special or surprising there, but it does keep everything safe and sound, and it's all quite collector friendly.

There are several pieces of plastic inserted between various parts of the armor, most likely to avoid scratching or rubbing during shipment. Considering the high gloss finish, that was probably a smart idea.

Star Wars packaging tends to be dull thanks to Lucas Film, who dictate the parameters within which the licensor must work. I gotta give Hot Toys credit for getting around it a bit and including a very cool reverse 'shadow' of the character on the front of the package.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Sculpting - ***1/2
In hand, this is most certainly the nicest Blackhole/Shadow Trooper we've gotten. The quality of the sculpt is not just due to proper scale and proportion with the majority of the outfit, but the level of fine detail in much of the work.

A great example of this is the grills in the front of the mask. These are extremely well done considering the scale, and the helmet can easily be mistaken for a full sized replica in a photo.

Of course this dude stands about 12" tall - he's sixth scale, after all. That makes him fit in nicely with any of the many Sideshow figures, and you can see in the photos the he's almost exactly the same height as their Blackhole trooper.

Internal proportions are a little off here or there, but it's very minor. The helmet might appear a bit large to some people, but I think the size is on par to the real deal, where a helmet on a human head can always look slightly large. They've done this on purpose, as there's no head underneath  to create an issue.

The armor looks and feels fantastic. In hand, it's definitely an improvement over the old Sideshow version, although I can't say that it's that big of a difference between the quality here and what we've seen on their more recent trooper releases. If Sideshow did this version today, I'd expect something very similar with the overall armor.

One of the key improvements is the chest piece, which wraps around the body here. On the old Sideshow version (as well as some others, like Boba Fett), the chest armor was too flat and splayed out. That simple change makes a massive difference in appearance, particularly in hand.

I did have one minor nit. I think the feet are a tad small, although the feet on most Sideshow troopers are clearly too large. Here, the small feet are juxtaposed against the large helmet, making both seem more extreme.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Paint - ****
Unlike the previous iterations, this version comes with a very high gloss black finish. They've added in wear and tear, which looks great and seems to be at the appropriate spots where rubbing and damage would most likely occur.

This same type of wear is included on the back of the hands, giving the overall figure some consistency. There is no wear on the pauldron though, making it stand out a bit when in place.

Small detail work is great, but I'm not completely sold on the gloss look. It's a nice change of pace from the earlier matte finishes, but something about the aesthetic doesn't quite sit right with me. I'm not deducting for it, because the more I worked with it the more I liked it, but as I said - I'm still not quite completely sold.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Articulation - ***1/2
As you might expect, while the underlying TrueType body has all the same amazing articulation, the armor can be a bit restrictive.

The helmet pops onto a very complex ball jointed neck that has  a ton of potential. The helmet sits pretty close to the armor though, so just how much tilt and lean you can get out of this joint will be limited.

There's actually a soft rubber ring around the shaft of the neck post. This keeps the head from sitting down too far, particularly when the pauldron is in place. If you remove the pauldron, you can also remove the rubber ring, and the helmet will rest closer to the shoulders. Or, you can leave it in place - I thought it looked good sitting up a bit higher too, and it allows for a greater range of movement.

The hands swap easily, and there's a couple extra posts just in case. I really do wish they'd get to the point where every hand is supplied with it's own post.

The body is nice and tight, and I had no trouble getting decent poses and keeping them over time. He stands great on his own, and can compete in the local Stormtrooper Dance Off.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Accessories - ***
Here's where this figure seems pretty light, particularly considering the price point.

He does come with three sets of hands, plus one extra. He comes wearing a pair of relaxed hands, and there's a pair of fists and gripping gun poses in the box. They added in one additional left, in an open sculpt, useful for all sorts of poses.

He also has his blaster, complete with fold out stock. While I feel that the Sideshow blasters have been great, I have to give the edge to this one. It just looks a little sharper and cleaner at the edges, and the stock feels stronger and more durable. Scale is great of course, and it fits nicely in either hand as well as the leather holster.

He has the small cannister-like pack that fits on the back of the belt as well. This attaches with two metal hangers, and works great.

This guy comes with a pauldron and two ammo packs, which was a very, very smart move on Hot Toys part. Why? Because the previous two versions that were released by other companies do not have these features. This allows you to buy this version even if you have the other two, and make it stand out quite clearly on the shelf.

The pauldron is cloth, not plastic, and the packs are formed leather. The cloth looks much better than any sort of sculpted version. They all attach tightly and easily, but are equally easy to remove. I prefer how he looks with them in place, but either way he'll be great on the shelf.

The only additional accessory is his stand, with a base designed with a grated floor and a crotch support. It looks fine, but isn't critical since he does stand fine on his own. It's all about consistency in your display, and while I don't normally use the stands, I would be very displeased if they weren't included.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Outfit - ****
There's something about the detailed sculpting, mentioned earlier, that really makes this armor pop. Previous releases were good - this one is great.

Let's start with the underlying body suit. It's a nice tight fit, and is consistent and clean. Not much you can say about a body suit.

The armor fits over top nicely, although you will find yourself forever readjusting it constantly.  The one area where I found it the most annoying was the ankles. The calf armor tends to ride up, and the fit over the ankle joint is tight. If you don't remember to readjust it, you'll have a weird exposed ankle post.

There's also larger gaps in some areas, like the shoulders. The downside is seeing the underlying body suit - the upside is a greater range of movement for the effected joints.

I'm also counting the belt as part of his outfit, and it's quite nicely done. There's Velcro in back that allows you to easily remove it and replace it, but the holster is a permanent riveted piece. The holster is leather, with a magnet holding the strap in place over the gun. It's all very high quality, and I had no fear of damage when inserting or removing the blaster.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Fun Factor - ****
Troopers are always fun, even when you know they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if their life depended on it. The articulation, combined with the terrific sculpt and paint, make this guy great for posing and displaying, and you'll find yourself re-arranging him routinely. Just don't call it 'playing'.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Value - *1/2
While I like this figure very, very much - I suspect that the normal Stormtroopers will be the best produced to this point - I have to say that this guy is NOT a good value. Even the regular white versions are twenty bucks cheaper, so you're paying a premium just because this one is a different color.

Even at $200, I'd be having some issues. There aren't a ton of extras here, and the majority of them (the hands, the blaster, the packs, the canister) will be used over and over again, spreading out their fixed cost over many more units than usual. The same is true of the uniform, including the belt and armor.

Let's not forget that these are also army builders - you want us, as collectors and fans, to buy a whole bunch. That's going to be much more likely at a more sensible price point, say $160, $180 tops, than a price that's just as high as most other one-and-done figures.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. It is easy to work with the hands if you can manage to keep the wrist posts inside the forearms, since the black body suit wraps around them. It's not impossible to get it back inside, but it's easier if you don't have to.

When swapping the hands, I recommend laying the figure down, bending the elbow, and then attaching the hand. If you simply try to hold the arm while pressing the hand on, you'll have trouble with the armor slipping around, and could even tear the shoulder armor loose.

Finally, the canister that attaches to the belt in back does so with two metal hangers. I'm very happy to see them use metal, and they work really well, but you'll want to take care not to scratch the plastic armor underneath.

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Overall - ***1/2
This is the best Stormtrooper produced in this scale to date. Yes, I said that. But part of the reason that's true is because it's been years since Sideshow produced an actual Stormtrooper - we've had this seemingly unending parade of Clonetrooper variations the last couple years. If you compare this armor to the current Sideshow Clonetrooper armor, there isn't that big of a difference. I don't expect the white versions to be any different, so if you were on the fence about them, consider this a recommendation.

What that also says is that this Shadow Trooper fits in better, style and quality wise, with the more modern Sideshow releases than their own version. That's particularly good news if you missed out on the previous Blackhole trooper.

Holding both figures at one time, it was easy to see and feel the greater quality and detail in this Hot Toys version. They were smart adding in that pauldron and the ammo packs, giving people who are on the fence about picking this one up that extra incentive.

I'm not thrilled with the price point, since I want to be able to pick up every trooper version and at $220 a pop, that wouldn't be possible. I'm hoping that as they move forward, they give us some relief.

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

Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow has him for $220.

- or you can search ebay for a bargain.

Related Links -
While this is the first official Hot Toys Trooper (that I've received anyway - the regular Stormtroopers are shipping internationally as well), other companies have produced their fair share in this scale.  I just reviewed the Captain Rex from Sideshow, and they've also done the 501st, Veteran, and 'shiny, the Sandtrooper with the Dewback, the Sargent Clonetrooper, the Shocktrooper, the Utapau Trooper, the Imperial Stormtrooper, and even Obi-Wan in his trooper armor. And one of my favorites - the Snowtrooper. And if you'd like some other troops, remember there's also the Droids, the STAP, and the Rebels!

Medicom has done plenty as well, including this Clone Trooper Captain, 501st, Sandtrooper, their own Blackhole TrooperShocktrooper and regular Stormtrooper.

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Star Wars Shadow Trooper action figure by Hot Toys

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

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