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AAT/Battle Droid Commander

Star Wars Transformers
by yo go re

One of the good things introduced to the world by The Phantom Menace was the Trade Federation's Battle Droids and, by extension, all the Battle Droids' various vehicles. The one-man STAP, the giant multi-troop MTT and the mid-sized AAT.

Battle droid commanders drive Armored Assault Tanks (AATs) onto the battlefield to fight the Republic forces. The tanks are equipped with cannons and missile launchers, but these advanced versions have an additional weapon: the battle droid commanders can quickly change the tanks into enormous mechs that will easily overwhelm an opponent!

The AAT began development as a low-flying helicopter gun, but that changed into a hover tank as things progressed. And you have to admit, seeing these things drifting over the fields of Naboo wouldn't have been half as cool if they were flying. The front of the tank is shaped like a shovel, while the back just hangs out over empty air like a HISS tank or something.

To fake the "hover" part of "hover tank," this one has four rolling wheels hidden on the bottom. They sit pretty far away from the chassis, so that it looks like there's a gap between it and the ground. The main turret rotates, and pushing a button on the top makes it fire the main gun like a missile. Hey, still better than making the gun super thick and firing a missile out of it, right? And though the Star Wars Transformers no longer come with tiny pilot figures, the gunner's hatch on top can be opened.

Changing the AAT to an oversized Battle Droid is slightly complex - in a good way. You can't really tell just by looking how to convert him, and we always like that. There are a few steps not included on the instructions, however: first of all, there's a flap under the gunner's seat that can be opened and folded down to cover the droid's butt so you don't have to see the insides of the toy (balljoints and such); secondly, you can adjust the kibble on his hips so that it doesn't stick out so far. It's still blatant kibble, but it's not quite so bad after you push it in. Even Hasbro's stock photos of the figure don't get these things right, so the only way to find out is trial and error.

If you ignore all the tank kibble hanging off his back, this really does a nice job of duplicating the Battle Droid's familiar look. Of course, part of that is surely that they're robots and it's a robot, and that the tank is the same color as the droids, but hey, whatever it takes. The arms are blocky and end in two-fingered hands, but the legs are more tubular than usual and have big duck feet. There's a yellow dot on his chest and yellow on his head, denoting that he's a Commander.

The head looks pretty good at a glance, but upon reflection, it doesn't really look right for a Battle Droid - it's far too detailed. It has the right sort of "puppy" shape, but rather than being a smooth ovoid, it's got an angled nose, sunken eyes and defined cheeks, none of which are true to the design. Why? It's already a robot, it doesn't need to be "robotified."

Articulation is pretty good, but could be better. The droid has a swivel neck, balljointed and ratchet shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed and ratchet hips, swivel thighs, hinged and balljointed knees, and hinged ankles. It sounds good, but the arms don't move forward as far as they should. All the tank's weapons become guns for the robot, too. The smaller guns can be pulled off the struts that support them to become blasters, or the main gun can be held as a rifle.

Despite all the liberties taken with his robot design, the Battle Droid/AAT is one of the better Transformers Crossovers. And lucky for you, it's been released several times, so you should be able to pick one up without having to pay too much - you'll even get your pick of several different paintschemes! We like the tan one, obviously, but they're all fundamentally the same. And you know it would have been awesome to watch one of these things stomping on Gungans.

-- 06/12/12

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