IG-88. A blink-and-you-missed-him character in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, all this big lug really did was stand there.
His action figures, for the most part, have typically reflected that stillness: they were tall, upright, and featured very little motion. At some point, however, somebody at Hasbro must have decided they really liked IG-88, and wanted to see him represented in action figure form much like he was often represented in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars (i.e. books, comics and videogames). So you got the Unleashed IG-88, lurching forward out of a flaming inferno, guns raised and theoretically blazing. There was also a version of IG-88 released in the short-lived Titanium "Forged Figures" line, and it too was much more animated than the IG-88 seen on film. Now, the culmination of all of Hasbro's relatively youthful IG-88 love has finally arrived in the Vintage Thirtieth Anniversary Collection line of figures.
Known as VTAC among the nerdlingers, this is the third installment of Hasbro's "vintage-style" figure collection.
Preceded by the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection (VOTC) and the Vintage The Saga Collection (VTSC), the vintage collections are characterized by featuring updated, super-articulated sculpts of popular characters in throwback packaging made to mimic the old Kenner figures of the '80s. The packaging even says "Kenner" on the front. The cardboard cards are then heat-sealed in a big ol' clamshell so that they don't get damaged. As you might imagine, all this packaging mumbo jumbo comes at a price (and pisses off people like our own yo, who hate clamshells), and the vintage-style figures are getting to be around a little less than twice as much as your typical basic figures at retail. In some cases this can indeed feel like a rip-off (especially when a vintage-style figure shows up in the basic line a few years later) but in many cases, the figures are so cool-looking that it's very hard to resist.
And thus, we're back to IG-88. When I mentioned that the vintage-style collections focused on "popular" characters, you must remember that "popular" becomes an increasingly flexible term when you're into the third series of a line. When we're talking Star Wars, the core cast is relatively small: Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C3P0, R2-D2, Darth Vader. You then have your second-tier characters that are still important to the story:
Obi-Wan, Lando, Yoda, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers. Now, that may seem like kind of a large cast, but keep in mind that all of these characters were given the vintage treatment in the first series (VOTC). So it's natural that the follow-up series would have to dig a little deeper. The third installment features six figures, three of which are variations on main characters (Luke, Leia and Han), another is a variation on the Stormtrooper theme, and the other two are bounty hunters. Those last two (Bossk and IG-88) may only have a few seconds of screen time in the films, but their interesting designs and professions have made them quite popular among fans.
The first thing you notice once you free IG-88 from his expensive plastic prison is that he's finally as tall as he should be.
The previous IG-88 figures were tall, but not nearly tall enough. This guy dwarfs his predecessors. The second thing you notice is how much of IG-88 is made up of separate sculpted pieces. IG-88's ammo belt is a separate sculpted element, and that's nothing new, but so are the fuel-tank looking doodads around his torso, and the shield-like pieces on his thighs, and the wires snaking down his legs. This is by far the most accurate version of IG-88 yet, and there are lots of details that haven't been present on previous IG figures. Check out the little knobs coming off the back of its upper arms, and the third "finger" that curves out from the bottom of his wrist. All in all, this guy is packed with neat little details.
The paint is fairly simple, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are a couple of different dull metal shades for the body, with some flat grays here and there. There's a very conservative rust wash on certain parts of the body, and some little red dots accenting where his "eyes," which led the crew to refer to him as the "flute droid," poke out. IG-88's guns also have paint apps, which is a bit of a rarity in the realm of SW figures. There's a light silver dry-brushing over the black plastic, and it ultimately looks pretty good.
Articulation is another place where you can really see what went into this guy.
He may be the most articulated SW figure ever, unless you count FX-7 (the medical droid with dozens of tiny arms). IG-88 has two joints in his elongated head, peg shoulders, peg biceps, pegged and hinged elbows, peg waist, t-crotch hips, pegs at the thigh "shields", pegs at the thighs, pegged and hinged knees, and pegged and hinged ankles. For those who still don't understand the concept of "pegged and hinged" it's a peg joint right above a hinge that provides a range of movement similar to that of a balljoint. Since they act like a balljoint, some people consider a pegged and hinged joint to be a single point of articulation. So depending on your calculations, IG-88 has either 19 or 25 points of articulation. Quite a nice bit of movement for someone who doesn't move an inch while on camera.
For accessories, this bounty hunter droid gets his standard rifle,
as well as his Imperial blaster, which has been missing from the last couple of IG-88 releases. He also gets a vibro-blade, which was shown as one of his weapons in the Star Wars Visual Dictionary. It clips onto his removable ammo belt, which features some non-removable thermal detonators (also from the Visual Dictionary) and a mystery holster that doesn't seem to fit with either of his firearms. Still, it's the thought that counts. Rather than hang loosely, the belt has a peg that plugs into a small hole on IG-88's right shoulder blade.
I always felt that IG-88 received almost too much fan service in the Expanded Universe. In the film, he's one of a menagerie of oddball bounty hunters. In the EU, he's one of four identical androids - designated A, B, C and D - all sharing the same consciousness, that take over a planet in order to start a robot revolution (the one working as a bounty hunter was IG-88B). The IG-88A consciousness would eventually upload itself into the second Death Star, which I always found a little silly. Still, if not for those kooky EU tales that have to make every tangential character pivotal to the main storyline of the films, there might not have been such an amazing action figure of IG-88. While it's easy to call most of the vintage-style figures overpriced, IG-88 shows that it's possible not to feel completely ripped off. The complex sculpt, great articulation and decent complement of accessories make him one of the best all around SW figures of all time.