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SW: Heir to the Empire
by Artemis

It's important to be specific - something the Empire didn't realize. After all, if the Imperial Academy had just specified which furry arboreal native species their stormtroopers were useless against, the Empire never would've put all that effort into enslaving the Wookiees while not even bothering to set fire to Endor before setting up camp there. And say you're an Imperial space station commander, a rebel commando team is jet-packing towards your hull with a big-ass space mine, and you call for your spacetroopers. Are you going to get half a ton of invincible death, or a concept artist with a scuba hose? It's an important difference.

Spacetroopers are high-ranking Imperial commandos who wear powersuit armor designed for space combat. These Zero-G Assault Troopers are considered "walking tanks" because of the extensive weaponry built into their suits.

This guy may be a concept artist, but if so, it's strictly an off-duty hobby. This is the "big hulking mech-suited" kind Monkey Boy mentioned back in his review of the other Spacetrooper - Thrawn's answer to Robert Heinlein, a massive, bulky powered suit with a thruster pack on its back, looking considerably more indestructible than regular Imperial stormtroopers (although, being stormtroopers, they probably explode if you kick them, or something).

Star Wars - like similar long-lived 3¾" line G.I. Joe - prefers pretty realistic figures, in terms of proportions, so it's not uncommon for other toylines, which take more liberties with how macho and overblown they get, to make the poor Warsies look a bit anaemic by comparison. Not here - in fact, you really have to see Spacey here side-by-side with a regular trooper to realize how big and bulky he is. Everything's bigger and meaner, with the usual white armour made thicker (especially the blockish legs), reinforced with mechanised joints, and topped off with heavy shoulder plates and a wide, squat helmet reminiscent of a Warhammer 40k Terminator.

That said, the "extensive weaponry" is largely left to the imagination - Wookieepedia seems to suggest that this arsenal was in fact a feature of an earlier model of super-tank-like space armour, while this boy is actually a later, slimmed-down version. Of course, there's still the chance that - theoretically - he has various bits of kit tucked away behind armour panels, but all that's visible are a pair of blasters mounted in retractable housings beneath his vambraces. Oddly, the hands are sculpted as if to hold guns too, extended trigger fingers and everything, though none are provided - maybe they were planned and dropped from production, or perhaps it's just how the suit controls the built-in blasters, slaving them to a trigger-pulling motion in the gloves. Looks a bit odd, in any case.

Lacking more guns as he is, the spacetrooper isn't completely without accessories - in fact, the plastic they saved from more blasters went into the single toy he does get, a big, chunky backpack thruster unit. The figure's back is fully sculpted and painted, with a detailed panel reminiscent of regular Stormtrooper armour but more techy - an interface for the thruster pack, which plugs into three slots around the tech panel. The pack is sculpted with considerable detail, and although it's painted simply, the stark whiteness of the figure overall means that's no drawback. There aren't any directional thrusters, either on the pack or the rest of the figure, just the two main exhausts facing straight backwards - not much good for zero-g maneuverability, but Star Wars already has starfighters behaving like Spitfires, so let's just assume physics has taken a break.

For a blocky, solid-looking guy, Spacey doesn't sacrifice much in the way of articulation. He's got a balljoint neck and swivel/pin sternum, both with good ranges, swivel/pin shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, peg hips, and swivel/pin knees and ankles. That's pretty much the full Star Wars set of joints there. The shoulder plates are mounted on pin joints back near the neck, allowing them to move out of the way of both the arms and the helmet. He's got Iron Man beat there.

This is a Droid Factory series, so Spacey comes with a part of the current droid - BG-J38, a J9 "worker drone" made by the same group (Roche) as 8D8, the long-faced droid torturing the Gonk in Jabba's dungeon. The right leg is extremely thin - its spindly look and overly-complex joints a hallmark of Roche manufacture - and, sadly, has got itself slightly bent in the packaging. It's got a swivel ankle and peg knee and hip, pretty decent for such a fragile part. The final droid will look more or less like an 8D8 with a bug head - the Roche are insects - with a dull tan casing and some exposed silver parts.

Aside from the lack of extra guns, there's nothing to dislike about Spacey - he looks like he should, has excellent articulation, and will be an impressive addition to any Stormtrooper collection.

-- 05/29/10

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