Written by Matt "TechChucker" Anderson
I lucked out stumbling upon this figure in my local Walmart. Typically, my town is the last to get anything, and I miss the exclusives that everyone is dying to get. Not this time. Today's review is of the Walmart Exclusive, Star Wars Black Series Imperial Shock Trooper from the Star Wars Battlefront video game by EA. I'll be honest, I'm pretty critical in my rating of this figure. Before I get into it, however, I must stress that this is a must-have if you're any sort of Star Wars fan. There are many issues with the figure that just had to be pointed out, but in the end, the figure is still a must-have.
This figure has some great articulation, but there are some big issues that could have easily been addressed with minor sculpt changes. Easily the figure could have gotten four, possibly five stars had it not been for these issues, but they are unforgivable. In all, there are a total of 29 points of articulation on this figure, quite standard for a Hasbro figure. By far, the star of this figure is the neck articulation. On paper, there's nothing unique about it, a single ball joint with a hinged disc joint at the base. In the end, it's not an articulation success so much as a sculpt success. They really designed the size of the ball and the sculpt of the head so well that you have an immense amount of usable articulation. You're going to have a lot of fun posing the troopers head alone.
I wouldn't specifically call the wrist articulation great, but interesting. The left hand has the standard Hasbro peg joint along with a disc joint with the standard wrist curl. The right hand, however, is equipped with a hinged disc which is rotated 90 degrees. It works, and it provides a nice bit of uniqueness to the typical figures from Hasbro. It would have been nice to have some extra hands that provided both sets of articulation for both hands, but I'll take what I can get (and complain about it online). I wish I could stop here and call it good, all the articulation you'd expect is there and would have been decent. Whoever designed some of the sculpt really messed things up, causing me a lot of frustration. The shoulders by far, are the worst part of this figure. The joints are standard with a ball and hinged disc joints and would have been perfectly acceptable had it not been for the armored plates glued to the top of the shoulders. These plates prevent almost all range of motion outward. No amount of twisting and turning will make it any better. You could pry the plates off and restore the articulation, but who wants to do that? One so inclined could trim some of the extra plastic off and re-attach. I would have preferred Hasbro did that in the first place.
Certainly, there are plenty of good aspects to the articulation on this figure, but the choices made in the sculpt drastically affect the overall articulation. The elbows and hips are casualties of these bad choices, in addition to the already obvious shoulder debacle. Overall, the articulation should have been much better. I have little patience for sculpt choices that hinder the articulation so much. As noted, the head articulation is amazing, and the rest is decent, so don't let this stop you from buying the figure (let the prices on eBay deter you instead)
When sculpt choices hinder articulation you're going to lose a lot of credibility. If this were a statue, the figure would have a much higher rating from me. All is not lost. I love the helmet. The helmet is very detailed. In some ways, however, the best part of the helmet is what you do not see. How they chose to sculpt the helmet proved invaluable to the articulation. Overall the sculpt is quite visually appealing. At a glance, you'll not notice any major flaws that look out of place. There are really nice details throughout the figure that I think most will appreciate. Differing left and right knee pads, as well as a very nicely sculpted utility belt, are nice details I overlooked while the figure was in the box. A closer look reveals a pliable holster that actually holds one of the two included guns.
In hand, the figure starts revealing its shortcomings. The feet are way too narrow. This causes an already top-heavy figure to be somewhat harder to stand. I'm not a huge fan of the pointy look of the toe of the shoes either; I would have preferred a more square look to the feet. It seems this boot style is in line with the video game version of the character, but this is something I'm sure most would easily have forgiven had they changed it to increase the stability of the figure.
A few of the articulation issues are caused by the raised plastic ridges on the top and bottom of the biceps and thighs. They may look nice, but it causes such an articulation disaster that they just weren't worth adding to the figure. They should have reduced the overall height of these ridges on the arms and lowered the thigh sculpt a bit and they still would have kept the game look integrity.
Overall, the figure has some nice detail work in the sculpt, but there are just too many unforgivable choices made that I cannot give this figure a good review on the sculpt. The red paint app is what lured me to this figure. There's no real shading or dry brushing that I can see, but the paint design is just sick. The detail work on the helmet is executed perfectly. Throughout the figure the lines are clean except in a few areas. I noticed the knees have a little red paint bleeding into the white and I noticed on the back of the belt some red paint specs that I cannot get off.
Truly the only issue I have is in the change of paint color on the belt. The front is all red, but the back turns to an ugly yellow which is actually two different colors in one splotchy area. More paint on the front of the belt would have really made it pop. The buckle is simply red as are all the pouches and belt. The video game is pretty much the same, but it would have been great to see a little more detail on some of these pieces.
In addition to the strong paint job they did on the helmet, the Shock Trooper comes with two very well painted guns. The longer of the two guns got the better paint job with a nice gunmetal gray dry brush. The smaller gun still has a really nice paint job, it is more black than gunmetal gray. Perhaps some extra paint details would have been even better, but not critical. Ensure you check all the boxes in your store (if there are still any left) to get the one that has the better dry brushing on the weapons. There is a distinct difference from package to package on the gun paint apps. The Imperial Shock Trooper is based on a character in the newly released (November 17th, 2015) Star Wars Battlefront video game by EA. Hasbro did a really good job with the likeness. A closer look at the video game version and I can see why they made some of the sculpt decisions they did, but they also didn't need the plastic ridge accents I talked about in the articulation and sculpt sections. The helmet is nearly spot on, and I applaud Hasbro. They really did a good job getting this figure very close to the video game version.
The Hasbro packaging for the Black Series figures is nice, but a little more artwork would be cool. The packaging is great for those who display the figures in the package, or for those who like to take their figures out and then put them back in. The rectangular shape is clean and great for stacking if you have lots. If you keep your figures in the package you'll be happy with this packaging, though the cardboard is a bit flimsy and easily crushed or bent. I passed on several at my store that was nearly obliterated in shipping.
Overall, I'm torn on this figure. It looks great, but the articulation frustrates me to no end. If you can find it in the wild, snatch it up. This figure is flying off the shelves right now. It seems everyone thinks this is going to be a real money maker on eBay. Right now they're going for $40 or more so get it now while it's still selling for under $20 retail. It's a must have simply because of the cool look, but if you can't find it, the regular First Order Storm Trooper is still pretty nice and relatively easy to find.