There are no greater words I love to hear that "Toys R Us Exclusive." Tack on STAR WARS to that and now we're cooking with gas. The STAR WARS BLACK SERIES 6-inch figures have truly redefined collecting from the storied franchise. Obviously as a kid, when there were only 3 & 3/4" figures to choose from, I took what I could get on birthdays and Hanukkah. However, there were so many figures and lines by the time I was in my twenties that it was impossible to keep up with them all. Especially peripheral characters that took up all of two frames of film in one of the movies. Although I remained a STAR WARS loyalist buying just my favorite characters from the prequels, there was nothing that I "had to have." Then the BLACK SERIES came along and filled a major void and suddenly I was back collecting STAR WARS figures again as they were truly meant to be collected. Like George Lucas talking about his films, my vision of the perfect STAR WARS figure could not be made years ago because we had to wait for the technology to catch up in figure making. Well, its caught up and it is a glorious time especially with a good two years of BLACK SERIES collecting of core characters in waves of four leading up to EPISODE VII characters for the most anticipated movie in cinematic history.Now, because of the movie and the plethora of new characters, this marketing blitz has opened the door for major retailers to slap the old Exclusive sticker on a BLACK SERIES figure, sit back and count their money. Today AFJ takes a look at the TOYS R US EXCLUSIVE FIRST ORDER SNOWTROOPER OFFICER and it is definitely one of my favorite new figures from Episode VII. Basically, this new piece is a Variant figure before the regular version hit the market which is a rarity in and of itself. Normally, a Variant figure (*a figure with a slight difference from the "regular" figure) is shipped randomly in cases of the regular figure leading us collectors to hunt them down. Now, TRU is basically saying, "This one is the different and special one and you can buy the regular SNOWTROOPER at a later date." Crazy right? But it has worked big time and Junkies have been after this figure like Boba Fett trying to carbon freeze Han Solo and bring him back to Jabba's Palace.
First off, I always dug the look of the SNOWTROOPER'S in ESB when the stormed the frozen planet of HOTH. They were Stormtroopers but equipped for the extreme cold so we definitely know that there are going to be some very chilly scenes in the new film. Plus the trailers have shown a lot of snow and even one of the Exclusives out there, the K-MART KYLO REN (STARKILLER BASE) figure, he has snow on the bottom of his robes and is standing on the white stuff. So obviously you remember what the original SNOWTROOPER looked like, barely any black like a regular Stormtrooper with that cloth and leathery hood in the front that draped down to their mid-chest. They also had what looked like some kind of comms system in their chest/stomach area. They were designed to blend into the snow and not be seen but now if it is at all possible, they look even more stealthy than ever.
The new helmet is super sleek and stylish and reminds me of Vader's helmet because it looks like it goes on in two pieces. There is an ever so subtle slit of black where the trooper sees out of which immediately reminded of the cyborg look of ROBOCOP. The chest piece on these new SNOWTROOPERS looks to be much more solid than the old ones. Just above the belt line appears to be the comms system and above that, some type of glyph space language is clearly written out. The Variant part of the figure that would make it different is the red pauldron on the right shoulder that defines the trooper's rank. The bright red pauldron does a nice job of offsetting the high MR. CLEAN shine of the Trooper. Around the waist is an old school style utility belt of sorts that reminds me of the old Batman utility belts. The pouches are quite large and generous and I always am secretly hoping that inside the pockets is a grappling hook. I've been obsessed with the accessory since Luke & Leia swung across the Death Star in Episode IV.
Around the legs, it is almost as if it is the bottom half of a trench coat without a top half. It appears that these flaps are specifically designed to wrap around the thigh and calf muscles as a sort of insulation while maintaining movement and fluidity. The knees and boots have a sort of reinforced armor that reminded me of those stupid shin guards I had to wear as a kid in pee wee soccer. However, these are super hard and look like a blaster shot would bounce off of them. The same thing goes for the gauntlets on the wrists of the Trooper but not quite as thick but just enough to quickly move direction with their rifle. Speaking of the rifle, the Zebra looking apparatus looks awesome with its sight and scope and could easily be camouflaged into any standing snow banks. Plus it's short enough that it appears to be easy to run with and fire. We'll have to wait for the film to see how it translates on the big screen. I really like the added bonus that you get to snap on yourself which is a very compact futuristic (duh) looking backpack. It almost appears to be small enough to be a HALO parachute or something but it looks too high tech for something as pedestrian as jumping out of a plane.
THE REGULAR BLACK SERIES SNOWTROOPER COMING SOON!
I am not nuts about articulation on the BLACK SERIES figures but there are enough of the joints present to not cause any major complaints. I particularly like the movement in shoulders and around the wrists so that you can pose the figure as preparing to fire. Speaking of which, I really dig the sculpted right hand that has the fingers made perfectly to hold the trigger on the understated firearm. The mix of glossy for the parts that appear to be put on separate if this were a real-life apparatus has a high gloss finish that I love and the helmets really sells me. Its modification and hybrid look are seriously cool and make the SNOWTROOPER that much more ominous and drone like. Its as if these Troopers have no soul because the eye slit is barely there. The rest of the figure has a nice matte finish which even when catching light has no glare off of it which would make it easy to blend into a big pile of the white stuff.
Overall, I am very impressed with this new iteration of the classic SNOWTROOPER. The iconic look from Hoth is updated beautifully for 30-plus years later. It is an evolved look of the trooper that I would compare, and I know this sounds strange, to the evolution of the television set. All of the clunkiness and parts that we didn't really need years ago are now sleek and stylish and have room for more movement and versatility and don't take up as much room. It all flows and is uniform without any extra parts that would be a pain to get to if you say, needed something from the belt or backpack. The price tag at TRU if you are lucky enough to find one on the pegs is $19.99 but those rapscallion scalpers have cleaned out a lot of stores forcing you to head to eBay and pony up close to $40 before shipping. Maybe the plot of EPISODE VII is that THE FORCE AWAKENS to a world without scalpers.