Endor...it's a planet known for its Ewoks, its Imperial base, its straight-to-video movies, and...its AT-ATs? Well, if you're a complete and utter Star Wars nerd like me, you have no problem remembering the AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) in its lone scene from Return of the Jedi, lumbering up to a landing platform where it delivered the captured Luke Skywalker to his father (spoiler!!!!) Darth Vader. But I tend to forget that everyone is not as fanatic as me. I love Star Wars so much, I actually liked the prequels. A lot.
So anyway, why all the fuss about an AT-AT on Endor? It's one of the latest exclusive vehicles to hit the shelves, finding a home at Toys R Us. The Endor motif, as opposed to the more familiar Hoth setting, is probably a ploy to get collectors who already own the previous Hasbro AT-AT from back in the Power of the Force 2 line to buy this new one. It worked for me, but only because my old POTF2 walker broke.
And make no mistake, this is pretty much the same ol' walker as the POTF2 version, which itself was a slightly modified version of the old vintage Kenner AT-AT.
Hasbro has re-used old molds for most of the Original Trilogy vehicles in this line, with a few notable exceptions. It's not really a problem, since they typically come with new features, an updated paint scheme, and a heaping bowl of nostalgia. The POTF2 AT-AT differed from the old vintage walker in that it had revamped, more movie accurate "chin" guns; new spring-loaded side guns with launching missiles, a redone cargo area with an electronic console featuring two TV screens; and, least obviously, new footpegs inside to accommodate the newer style figures' feet. The console featured three buttons with walking/crunching sounds, commands from General Veers, and various blaster noises. The chin guns also moved back and forth, and when moved all the way back they produced a blaster noise and a flashing red light.
The Endor AT-AT differs from the POTF2 AT-AT in that it...
has some brown paint smudged around here and there. That, and the TV screens now show Endor scenes instead of the Hoth shield generator and an image of Darth Vader. The General Veers banter has also been omitted from the electronic sounds. Another small item that is lamentably missing from the Endor version is a small string and handle attached to the bottom of the POTF2 walker for Luke to use as a grappling hook. In all, it's not a huge difference, but if you never got the chance to pick up the POTF2 version or it (sniff) broke on you, this is your third opportunity in roughly 25 years to own a spankin' new Imperial walker.
The sculpt and design of the vehicle are not bad, but scale and proper proportion have been sacrificed hugely for the sake of practicality. Hasbro has essentially done this with all their SW vehicles, except on rare occasions when they update an old vehicle with a new or partially new sculpt (i.e. the Dagobah X-Wing and the "large wing" TIE fighter), or when the vehicle is small enough to make pretty much in scale without costing too much or taking up too much shelf space (think Revenge of the Sith's Jedi Starfighters).
With the AT-AT, however, this was obviously not possible.
As one of the larger vehicles in the SW universe, an in-scale AT-AT would probably be about the size of a horse. Think about it: its foot is supposed to be large enough to crush a Snowspeeder, but the foot on Hasbro's AT-AT can barely crush a 3 3/4" figure. The end result is obviously off-model from what you see in the movie, but it had to be done. The cockpit opens up, and can seat two pilots. A large hinged panel also opens in the side of the walker, revealing the aforementioned cargo area and console. There are footpegs for five figures, but four is a crowd. There's also a handle that connects through to the "neck" allowing you to move the head up and down as well as side to side.
All of this is nothing new or surprising to most Star Wars toy fans, and the brown smudging really isn't even enough to make it look out of place in a Hoth display. What is surprising are the pack-in figures, or rather, one of them. In addition to including a repack of the recently released Saga Collection AT-AT driver, the Endor AT-AT comes with a Biker Scout. When the first photos of this set appeared online, it seemed that it was a straight repack of the Power of the Jedi Biker Scout, a figure that has been re-released numerous times despite being relatively mediocre. However, in the midst of fanboy moaning and groaning, it was revealed that this Biker Scout was different. While it utilized the old, awkward POTJ body, its head was brand spankin' new, and controversial at that.
You see, this Biker Scout had a flip-up visor revealing...GASP!...his face! Everyone knows you don't see any Stormtrooper's face in the Original Trilogy, so whose face could be under that flip-up mask? The answer, of course, is the face of Temuera Morrison, better known to nerds as Jango Fett. This is the third time Hasbro has released a figure of an OT character bearing the likeness of Jango even though Jango's visage never appeared outside of Episodes II and III. The first was the Titanium Series Forged Figure Boba Fett, which didn't cause much of a stir since a) nobody cared about the Forged Figures series, and b) one could expect an exact clone of Jango Fett to, well, look like Jango Fett.
It's the next one, along with the Biker Scout, that raised a fuss. The Death Star Gunner was the second figure to get the Jango treatment, and the reason for the controversy is that no SW fans could ever reach a consensus on whether the Imperial troops in the Original Trilogy were actually supposed to be the same clones used for the Army of the Republic in the prequels. By making figures of two Imperial troops bearing Jango's likeness, Hasbro is assuming that at least some of the troopers serving the Empire are still Jango clones. Rather than treat these instances as nifty little easter eggs from Hasbro, fans are livid because there are two very divided camps on the issue of Imperial troops: one which believes the masked troopers of the OT are all Jango clones, and one which believes that none of said troopers are Jango clones. And though there is a perfectly reasonable middle ground (some troops are Jango clones, some are not) and a perfectly logical solution if you don't like it (leave the helmet on), just try telling any of that to a Star Wars fan, and see what happens.
In any event, I'm just glad to have a new Imperial walker after the untimely demise of my beloved POTF2 AT-AT. It's essentially the same old same old, aside from some paint alterations and minor changes in the electronics, but it's nice to see a large vehicle at a major retailer, which up until recently was thought to be a thing of the past.
Which side of the "Jango/not Jango" fence do you fall on? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.