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Willrow Hood

SWV: Empire Strikes Back
by Rustin Parr

Sometimes folks ask me what I'm after in a toyline, and my answer is "universe building." I want as many characters as possible from a property/franchise/toyline and in all reality no line will ever come close to what Hasbro has accomplished with Star Wars; Ice Cream Maker Guy is exemplary of this.

Willrow Hood works for the gas mining company on Cloud City. When the Empire seizes control of the city, Hood destroys a computer memory core to prevent the Empire from discovering information about secret transactions with the Rebels.

They call him Willrow Hood, why? To hide the truth! This is a guy. A guy with an ice cream maker! As I understand it, this dairy-lover was just one of many scrambling extras on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back until a trading card was released with a screengrab of Lando running through the Cloud City halls. Because of that image, attention was drawn to this dude in a jumpsuit carrying an off-the-shelf, kitchen-top ice cream maker ("Crap! The Empire! They'll never take my ability to make various iced creams at a moment's notice!") meant to be generic space tech and, seeing that indeed it was just an ice cream maker, an internet sensation was born. And by gum... Hasbro actually made him! I ask you, I challenge you, I dare you to point me in the direction of another company that has become so dedicated to a line, and has been able to carry it so long, that they actually get away with releasing what is for all intents and purposes a practical joke. [*ahem* --ed.] This is just plain cool.

And as if that wasn't enough - the guy even gets an entirely new sculpt! With 14 points of articulation! Balljointed ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders and head with swivel wrists, waist and T-crotch hips. That's more than most non-main-character-new-sculpts get, but are undoubtedly present to allow for maximum runnage! I feel like the potbelly is a little too exaggerated on the figure and the chest too narrow, but who gives a damn? This figure exists. If I have one complaint it's the likeness, the actor has a more circular head and less of a Pompadour than the figure, but again, who gives a damn? This figure exists!

Two accessories are included, the always necessary but rarely on-screen blaster and, of course, the most important accessory in the history of Star Wars - the Ice Cream Machine. It appears to be a solid piece and even has a rebel insignia on the bottom to prove its anti-tryannical ice cream contents, the most delicious of all ice creams. It can be a bit of a task to get ICMG to securely hold the ICM but it can be done, primarily through pinning the ICM to the torso with the arm in a V shape.

It's not the best toy ever made, and it's not without its flaws, but this figure is sort of badge for both Hasbro and for collectors. It's a thank you to us for sticking by the line for 15 years (oh hell yes - it's been 15 years! If you haven't already you owe it to yourself to read yo's discussion of what those early years were like. So much nostalgia for us long-termers!) and a thank you to Hasbro for keeping the line running for so long and for listening to our requests. Willrow Hood - you are why I love collecting action figures.

-- 05/01/10

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