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Emperor's Royal Guard

SWVI: Return of the Jedi
by yo go re

Cobra Commander isn't the only one out there who counts on the services of a Crimson Guard.

At Toy Fair 2012, Hasbro showed off a bunch of upcoming Vintage Collection action figures. No surprise there. A few of the figures (such as Aurra Sing and Mawhonic) were released as Walmart exclusives to tie in with the theatrical re-release of Episode 1, but then, in August of that year, they announced that no stores would be carrying the final assortment of figures, and they'd be available online only.

Granted, that's not a huge change in the status quo - it happens so often that we have a name for it. What's different is that this time, Hasbro actually bothered to tell us ahead of time, rather than leaving us hanging. That was nice of them, because it meant I knew if I wanted the Emperor's Royal Guard, there was no point in waiting for it to show up at a real store.

The figure is wearing a heavy softgoods robe that comes down lower than his feet. It's fitted around the shoulders, but splits at the elbows so his arms can still reach out. It's a nice design, and works much better than the prior attempts.

The last time we reviewed a Royal Guard, it was a running change or a repaint or a variant or whatever you want to call it of the Episode 3 Senate Security figure. Now, since we just reviewed a Vintage Collection update of the Senate Guard, you can expect that this figure shares a lot of the same molds, right? Here's a list of the reused parts: none. None parts are reused. Beneath his heavy robe, he doesn't have any of the Crimson Empire-inspired armor, just more robes. You know, like the way a Jedi dresses. He has a softgoods kama skirt hanging from his thick belt, and a cross-draw holster on the right side. The Imperial crest is printed on his arms and back - it's black, offering the only break from all the red red red.

The guard's helmet is removable, revealing the face beneath it. I don't know what I was expecting a Royal Guard to look like, but this isn't it. With his neat hair and his short beard, he looks like a shop teacher. Very avuncular. Maybe being so non-descript is a function of his job: with the helmet off, he could easily go undercover.

The figure may not be wearing the Crimson Empire armor, but that doesn't mean there are no references to the story. He comes with a second helmet and a bit of shoulder armor, both taken from the training uniforms prospective Guards wear while at the Imperial Royal Guard Academy on Yinchorr. They're both new sculpts, and molded from soft PVC that makes them flexible. The helmet is a little too large; there's a lot of wiggle room in the helmet, and it ends up looking too big for the body. Like he's a kid wearing his dad's clothes.

This unnamed guard has a balljointed head; swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles; swivel waist and wrists; and a T-crotch. He's armed with a blaster for the holster on his belt, as well as different weapons depending on whether you're using him in Royal Guard or Trainee mode: as a graduate, he's got the simple and unassuming force pike; from his training days, he has a double-bladed vibrostaff.

As introduced in Return of the Jedi, the Emperor's Royal Guards were intimidating and mysterious, and their crimson uniforms made them stand out from the otherwise black and white Empire. This is the best Royal Guard figure there's ever been, and it's just a shame he was so hard to get.

-- 05/31/14

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