Scene: Battle of Hoth
Mission: Ground assault on the Rebel base
Work In: Teams of two
Must Destroy: Rebel power generators
“AT-AT drivers have all the skills necessary to propel the massive AT-AT walkers into battle. Working efficiently in teams of two, the drivers also operate the walker’s laser cannons to take down Rebel snowspeeders and destroy Echo Base’s shield and power generators.” -Excerpt from the package back.
Back when the Power of the Force 2 version of the AT-AT driver was released single-carded in 1998, I thought it was a great sculpt. And well, for the time it was great…but times change, and our standards for detail keep rising and rising. Thankfully, The Black Series AT-AT Driver is towards the top of the heap. There’s plenty of sharp details on this figure such at the control box attached to the chest armor, or the well-defined shoulder armor. And check out the microscopic texture on the harness straps! They’re so fine that you can barely see it in some of the photos that accompany this review. The hoses that connect the control box to the helmet are also worthy of mention as I feel they are perfectly done and in scale.
The helmet itself is perhaps the only thing that I have a slight issue with. While this is an excellent sculpt of the AT-AT driver’s helmet, it still feels slightly off. The “face” part of the helmet seems a little too flat, and it doesn’t seem to match the curvature of the “real” thing. Another nitpick is the fact that the crotch section of the figure is backwards! If you look closely, you can see that the hips and the crotch pieces aren’t flush with each other, and that the front of the crotch area is rounded and bulges outward, while in the back it’s flatter! If you look at the prototype photo (the photo found on the card back), you can see how this area should look. Overall though, this figure looks fantastic, and it’s easy to look past these minor details.
The AT-AT driver has eleven points of articulation: ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, angle-cut elbows, cut wrists, hips, and ball-jointed knees. This is actually way more than anything I expected for an AT-AT driver–the ball-jointed shoulders especially. Sure, this figure isn’t capable of great looking action poses, but as a pilot figure, this guy rocks! He can get into a sitting position rather well, and this arms are well articulated to grasp controls or hold the included blaster. The ball-jointed neck works great as well, and now I wish my TIE Fighter Pilot had one too!
The AT-AT driver comes with the standard Imperial blaster and action figure stand. The blaster is standard stuff and I’ve got no complaints. The stand has the Empire Strikes Back logo embossed on its surface and the name of the figure printed at the front. The foot peg ensures a sturdy place to put your figure.
Then we have the exclusive mini hologram figure. Each figure in The Black Series will come with one randomly packed, though it seems that good-guy figures will come with good-guy holograms, and bad-guy figures will come with bad-guy holograms. There are 12 different holograms in all, but so far I’ve only got 8. Darth Vader came with my AT-AT driver and he looks pretty spiffy in a somewhat decent action pose.
Of course, I would have preferred a non-action-posed hologram Vader, but what we got is okay. I have to admit that I was stoked that Hasbro was including a little something extra with their figures, but I kind of wish they weren’t as action-posed as some of them are. But in the end, I’m glad they’re there, and I like the way they’ve been integrated into the packaging.
I so want to give a higher score in this department, but there are just too many little things that bother me. I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to color accuracy, especially when it comes to the little things like buttons and switches. The biggest inaccuracy on this figure is the paint job on the control box. Quite frankly, the POTF2 version is more accurate. It’s too hard to describe in detail what is wrong, so I encourage you to look at the photo on the bubble insert.
You can plainly see that the figure’s control box is missing some silver and black paint in crucial areas. The helmet also exhibits some small inaccuracies such as the placement of the red dots above the eyes, and what’s up with the brown-ish spots on the helmet ridge?? On the plus side, the details on the back armor look terrific
The Black Series goes back to a more rectangular cardback and retains the edge-to-edge blister that Hasbro has been using since the ROTS and animated Clone Wars figures. Thankfully, the tape holding the edges of the blister has been reduced, so it is now possible to get the figure out without even dealing with the tape. The blister itself is more rectangular this time, but is still rounded on it’s surface. This makes it a bit harder to stack the packages on top of each other, but if you store your MIB figures in boxes then this won’t trouble you too much.
As for the actual card back, it tapers off a little at the bottom so that it is not truly rectangular. The front of the card continues the retro feel of the Original Trilogy Collection, but this time the silver lettered “Star Wars” goes straight off to the sides instead of creating a frame around the figure. This packaging also continues the use of a background image that compliments the scene or movie the figure is from. I’ve always liked this as you can potentially cut them out and use them as a background for displaying your figures. Plus, it just helps make the packaging feel all that more special and individualized. Another nice touch is the color-coded upper left corner of the card front which tells you which episode the figure is from. This helps make it easier to find new figures at the store and it has come in very handy.
The back of the card has a bevy of information. An image of the character from the movie is in the upper right corner while below it is a full body shot of the action figure. To the left is information about the character, plus little bits of data relating to the character such as “Mission: Rescue Han Solo”. It’s a nice addition and they’re kind of fun to read. Below that are cross-sell images of other figures in the line. In the bottom right corner is a window displaying the included hologram figure, which adds to the cool factor of the overall look of the card. What can I say? I like this packaging, and I think it’s some of the best I’ve seen since the Freeze Frame series.
Despite some paint issues and a backwards crotch, this figure is my favorite from the Battle of Hoth wave. The sculpting is some of the best Hasbro has done, and the articulation is great for a pilot/driver figure. Plus, it’s just darn cool to add another great Imperial figure to the collection. This is definitely a must-buy for AT-AT fans, and I feel that it’s the standout figure of the wave. Now where’s my super-articulated snowtrooper, Hasbro?!