Star Wars 30th Anniversary figures
Mustafar Lava Miner, concept Stormtrooper, 
Airborne Trooper and Galactic Marine

Hasbro is always looking for different ways to get their Star Wars products into your hot little mitts. I don't say 'new', because many of these marketing gimmicks aren't new, but merely bringing back ideas that have worked well in the past. Nothing wrong with that!

For 2007 and the 30th anniversary of the original film, Hasbro is bringing back character coins. Collectible coins have been used for a very long time as a collectible gimmick to increase sales. I remember as a kid in the late 60's and early 70's getting coins from gas stations as part of a larger set, based on things like the 50 states or the Presidents of the U.S. I loved them then - I love them now.

So along with new packaging, Hasbro is adding large coins in with 60 regular release figures this year, plus up to 20 more exclusives and specials. I haven't bought a regular release 3 3/4" Star Wars figure in months - maybe years - unless it was specifically just to review it. And yet, when I saw these coins, I almost...*almost*...bought the entire first eight figures. I avoided it, but just barely, picking up the four figures in this wave that I thought my son would most like. He and I have a pretty good gig worked out on these kind of figures. Dad reviews them, he gets to keep them.

So tonight I'm reviewing the Galactic Marine, Mustafar Lava Miner, Airborne Trooper, and the McQuarrie concept Stormtrooper. 

Rounding out the eight in the overall wave is R2-D2 (with flaming rockets), a burning battle damaged Super Battle Droid (who can be combined with the R2 to form a mini-scene), Mace Windu and Obi-wan Kenobi. You'll need an album to keep all those cool coins, so Hasbro has also released a Darth Vader figure and coin that come packed with a nifty album with slots for all the coins.

These are just now hitting Target stores, and I've found the album/Vader at Toys R Us. Expect to pay around $7 for the figures, and $10 for the Vader with album.

Packaging - ***1/2
I really like the look of the new packages. The backer cards have a unique die cut that looks good, while the coin and figure are displayed prominently. There's not much waste, and they should stand up to peg wear pretty well. I also like the square bubbles better than the rounded versions, especially for MOCers looking to store them.

Sculpting - Trooper, Marine ***1/2; Minor, concept Trooper ***
Of these four, my favorite is the trooper. Yes, I know, we have a million troopers, but you can never go wrong with adding another slightly different version to the display. This guy has some excellent detail work, right down to a very fine texturing on the itty bitty straps across his chest. The small packs on his belt all have sculpted details, and the head sculpt under the removable helmet is a nice Jango rendition. He stands great on his own, and while I prefer to keep the rubber band in place to hold his blaster, his hands can manage the task without it.

Next up on my list is the Marine. This is a very different version of the clone troopers, and the work on his boots is particularly impressive. There's plenty of texturing and small detail work again, and the Jango head sculpt (yep, another removable helmet), looks good if not great. And no, the heads are NOT identical. I prefer the version under the trooper, but this one works fine.

The Lava Miner actually has a more complex and detailed sculpt than the Marine. This guy has some amazing details sculpted into his breather apparatus, heavy protective gloves, and very cool boots. His biggest issue is with how the sculpt and articulation work together, and I'm not particularly happy with the squatting pose you're forced to use. The thighs are sculpted to always stick out from the body, since there are only cut joints at the hips. This means he'll always be doing some sort of leg bends, and this forced pose isn't the most attractive.

The concept trooper is cool, if you don't already have him. This guy is just a repaint of the previously released concept trooper, and while I like this paint scheme better, the sculpt is just a reuse. His helmet isn't removable, but he does stand great on his own and can hold accessories easily. I'm not a fan of the huge oversized holster, which is easily twice as big as it needs to be and looks ridiculous perched on his hip, but the overall sculpt is solid.

Paint - Trooper, Miner, concept trooper ***1/2; Marine - ***
Hasbro really has improved their game when it comes to paint in this scale. While other companies, like Zizzle, continue to have issues, Hasbro is setting the bar for quality paint in 3 3/4" figures. Let's hope Cards Inc can pull off as good a job with their Harry Potter line (not to mention NECA).

That doesn't mean these are without issues though. The one with the most problems is the Marine. His Jango head shows some slop around the hair line and eyes, and isn't nearly as attractive as the Trooper Jango head. He also has more than enough wash added to his pack, boots, coat and helmet. Yes, a wash can be very helpful, or it can be way over done. This time, Hasbro manages to overdo it.

Fortunately, there's no overdone wash on the other three. The miner has damage added to his boots and other areas of his armor, and this work looks terrific. Tough colors like the silver breathing apparatus and bronze sections of armor are done with good consistency and an even application. Now if he just didn't have to squat like a Sumo wrestler.

Repaints are never great, but at least this repaint of the concept trooper is an improvement over the previous black and white version. The lighter gray really works well with the white, and the fine lines on the armor are extremely clean and neat.

Finally, there's the trooper himself. He has battle damaged added with paint, and the effect works pretty well, although not quite as well as the lava damage on the miner. The orange highlights look terrific, and his Jango head has much cleaner lines than the Marine. They needed to add some paint a bit higher on His paint scheme is a bit busy with all the orange, black, gray and white, but he'll stand out with the other troopers on your shelf.

Articulation - Trooper ***1/2; Marine ***, Miner **1/2; concept Stormtrooper **
Yep, the miner has to squat. I mentioned this once or twice already, but let me reiterate - I don't like it. He does have a great ball jointed neck, and because the breathing apparatus isn't attached to his torso in any way, you can get a terrific range of movement out of the neck. He also has ball jointed shoulders, along with cut joints on the forearms and waist, and pin joints at the elbows, knees and ankles. These pin joints work very much like one sided ball joints, because the limb moves forward and backward on the pin, and the pin inside the corresponding section of the body also turns. If he had ball jointed hips instead of the cut hips (with the sculpt causing the legs to stick out to the sides), he would have been a ***1/2 - **** star figure in this category.

The trooper and marine sport the same articulation, but without the awful upper leg design. The marine scores a bit lower than the trooper because the heavy boots come up over the knees, making them a bit less useful than the regular trooper, and he also seems to have slightly smaller and weaker elbow joints.

The trooper has the best articulation, although it's the same style joints as the marine and miner. The execution of those joints in concert with the sculpt allow for the most posing possibilities. He just needs ball jointed hips, and he'd be perfect.

The concept trooper actually has slightly different articulation than the other three. The neck is merely a cut joint, as are the elbows. While he does have the ball jointed shoulders, cut wrists and cut waist that the others have, he does not have any knee or ankle articulation. By himself it might have not seemed too bad, but with the others next to him, his deficiencies in this category are much more obvious.

Accessories - Trooper, concept Trooper ***1/2; Marine, Miner ***
I've complained plenty of times in the past about not getting enough bang for our buck especially at $7 for a 3 3/4" figure. Fortunately, all three of these do have decent extras, although some do much better than others in this category.

All of the figures come with the new nifty coins. I really, really like these, although they are simply plastic. EDIT: Word is these may be aluminum...but if you're going to make them from such light weight metal, you might as well just make them from plastic.  The point of metal is to have some heft - without any, I'm not sure that there's much point.  Why, back in my day, collectible coins were made of metal, and you have to etch the patterns in them with your own teeth, and we LIKED it! But I can live with the plastic, since these are so well done. Each one has an embossed shot of the character with their name on one side, while the other side has an insignia.  These are different sometimes, other times not.  I thought at first they went with the films - Revenge of the Sith, Return of the Jedi, etc. - but had two from the same film with different symbols, so that's not it.  The embossed characters on the front look terrific, and I think these add-ins are some of the best they've done.  Of course, if you compare them to some of the lame add-ins of the past, it's not much of a contest. 

It's a good thing that these all stand well on their own, because they don't come with display stands. I'm not surprised though, since they had to trade something for the coins if they were going to keep the price in the same ball park.

The airborne trooper Has his blaster rifle, a removable helmet, and a 'purse' that hides a second blaster pistol. This is sort of a James Bond purse (if James Bond carried a purse), that has an indented area in the back to hide the weapon. Cool! Both blasters fit in his hands just fine, but the rifle did have a pretty good bend to it coming out of the package.

The concept trooper is also loaded up with goodies, including a blaster pistol that fits inside the massively oversized holster, a funky lance-like light saber, and his battle damaged shield. All these accessories also came with the original.

The marine trooper only comes with his blaster rifle to defend himself, but he also has the removable helmet and a removable backpack. And finally, there's the miner, who has a long fishing rod style tool that grips a bucket of red molten lava. This bucket can be easily removed from the jaws of the gripper for other display possibilities. I'm not thrilled with the gripper though, since it's tough to get into his hands and tough to get it to stay once it's there.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Yep, these are cool toys. And they are toys, not to be confused with high end collectibles costing ten times as much. While they might not be perfect in all the other categories, they still are a lot of fun, with good articulation and accessories, and some interesting characters.

Value - Trooper, Marine ***; Miner **1/2; concept Trooper **
Seven bucks has been the going rate for SW figures for quite awhile now, and with the addition of the collectible coins, they've helped their cause quite a bit. The Concept trooper is still less than desirable simply because he's a repaint of a figure we already have, but if you didn't buy him first time around, that won't matter a whole lot to you.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much. These guys are built for play, and will stand up to many a Saturday afternoon in the back yard. 

Overall - Trooper ***1/2; Miner, Marine, concept Stormtrooper ***
I really like the coins, almost enough to suck me back in to buying every figure this year. I haven't broken yet, but the simple fact that Hasbro can get me to lean in that direction is a big result.

The figures themselves continue to show how far Hasbro has come with this line since the mid to late nineties. The sculpt, articulation and paint have all become so much better, that it's amazing to see one of these figures next to one of those original versions. All four of these figures are largely troop builders - characters you could have several of (if not dozens) for diorama displays. That may make them a bit tougher to find than the 10 millionth Obi-wan or 2357th Mace Windu.

The airborne Trooper is my favorite of the bunch, and I can see folks picking up multiples to add to the clone trooper army. The paint work on the concept trooper is an improvement for me over the original, but at the end of the day he's still a repaint, and some folks may be less interested because they already have the original. The marine is nice, but probably not one that you'll be writing poetry over, and the miner is hurt only by his ridiculously forced pose.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to the store and pick up the other four figures. Or maybe not. Or call my twelve step sponsor.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt -  Trooper, Marine ***1/2; Minor, concept Trooper ***
Paint - Trooper, Miner, concept trooper ***1/2; Marine - ***
Articulation - Trooper ***1/2; Marine ***, Miner **1/2; concept Stormtrooper **
Accessories - Trooper, concept Trooper ***1/2; Marine, Miner ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - Trooper, Marine ***; Miner **1/2; concept Trooper **
Overall - Trooper ***1/2; Miner, Marine, concept Stormtrooper ***

Where to Buy -
I snagged these at Target, where they were $7 each. I expect to see them shortly at Toys R Us, and I've already found the Vader/Album there as well.

Related Links -
I don't do a whole lot of 3 3/4" reviews, but quite a few higher end items: 
- the last small figure reviews I did were Hem Dazon, Foul, and the Firespeeder Pilot.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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