Reader Review: 30th Anniversary "Escape From Tantive IV" Battlepack by Whitewolf

Bespin refugee - April 10, 2007
Battle packs are an ingenious marketing ploy by which Hasbro can move pegwarmer figures by wrapping them up in slick movie-scene packaging (with the rare exception of a few)---and then charging anywhere from $20 to $25 a pop for them. And judging from sales, it works like a charm. When photos of the Tantive IV set first appeared online a few months back, I had mixed feelings about what I saw. The set features Darth Vader, two Stormtroopers, two Rebel Troopers in ANH garb, and an IT-0 Interrogator Droid. The early photos showed two different types of Stormtrooper: a VOTC-style figure and the 1999 POTJ/Georgetrooper-style figure. That caused a slight cringe on my part, considering how badly made the POTJ Stormie is. "Why," I asked myself, "does Hasbro insist on continuing to use such a crappy mold? But this particular battle pack is a prime example of those little fine print statements that read "product contents and colors are subject to change."

What changes were made, exactly? Well...let's start with the aforementioned Stormtroopers.

When we got these in at work a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find that Hasbro had switched up both Stormtroopers and replaced them with two clean versions of the Evolutions/TSC Sandtrooper. Excellent choice for an army builder's battle pack, IMHO. A rectangular tab is in each one's back that can allow the placement of a Sandtrooper backpack, and they come with a belt that I have not seen before. The belt comes with the big black energy clip pouch that would normally hang from the shoulder pauldron of some Sandtroopers. This could allow for a bit of customization as far as the appearance of Stormtrooper squads go. I'm sure SOME version of the Stormtrooper has featured this particular belt in the past, but I don't remember seeing it in recent memory...

The two Rebel Troopers are slightly kitbashed versions of the original 2001 POTJ2 figure. I believe this was the very first figure that Hasbro experimented with in the use of the angle-cut joint that has become a staple of modern Star Wars figures. But instead of the arms being articulated in this way, it was the knees. This allows the figure to assume a down-on-one-knee combat stance, as well as a sitting position, but little else. Standing, the feet are positioned in such a way that the figure is in a strange pose that gives it more of the appearance of leaning into the wind instead of walking. This pose also gives the figure very little stability and is prone to falling down with the slightest bump. The arms are only articulated at the shoulders in the classic Kenner-era style, but the wrists are able to swivel from side-to-side. As I mentioned before, the two Rebels are kitbashed, each one having completely different heads. This was a nice way for Hasbro to give the grunts of the Rebellion a slight variation between otherwise identical figures. The white helmets are removable and have helped answer a long-burning question of mine that has gone unanswered for ages: are the Rebel blast helmets and Death Star Gunner helmets the same thing? The answer is...yes indeedy! The only difference is that a bottom faceplate was added that gives the Imperial version its trademark "underbite." Otherwise, the two are the same prop. Now the universe is a much more understood place for me...

Darth Vader...hmmm. The first thing that came to mind when I took him out of the package was "When did George Foreman play Darth Vader?!" Vader's arms are positioned in such a way that he strikes the exact same pose as Mr. Foreman does on the front of a George Foreman Grill box! Next, on Home Shopping Network, with the Darth Vader Grill, now you too can knock out transfat! guitar.gif I guess now that Lucas isn't making any more Star Wars movies, the Dark Lord has to make money somehow...

This version of Vader is actually a rerelease of a rerelease. This is the old 1999 Commtech Vader that was rereleased during the 2004 OTC production run. My reaction to this figure was underwhelming to say the least...the very least. With 8 points of articulation---all of which are old-style straight-cut joints---and very static pose, he is pretty much a complete waste of plastic as far as I am concerned. For a $20 price point, there are far superior versions of Vader that could have been included with this battle pack. His deactivated lightsaber is even a molded part of his left leg. I just could not warm up to this figure at all.

The IT-0 Interrogation Droid was one of the bright spots in this battle pack. Of course, it is the same droid that comes with the Vader/Rebel Trooper Comic Pack, but in its correct color scheme instead of the weird lime-green deco. Shiny black Imperial paint app with clean white pinstriping, large red photoreceptor, and dripping with all the required torture devices...just what is needed to stalk the prison levels of our Death Star Space Stations and pump Alderaanian princesses full of truth serum. wink.gif It even includes a clear plastic stand to simulate hovering. I missed out on this droid back in the day, so this part of the battle pack was a treat for me. Though I'm not certain if this is considered a figure or an accessory, I am including it in the list of add-ons...

The over-arching saving grace for all figures was the paint app. With the exception of a few tiny smudges here and there (such as on the Stormtrooper helmets above the "brow"), everything was nicely painted. I can't see anything particularly bad in this area. Well done, Hasbro...

The Tantive IV Battle Pack includes a truckload of accessories:

*Removable Rebel "Egghead" Blast Helmet x2
*DL-17 Blaster Pistol x2
*E-11 Blaster Rifle x2
*IT-0 Interrogation Droid
*Droid Stand

This was one battle pack that was hit-or-miss. It had some real gems and some real bombs, so I'll have to go middle of the road on this one. The super-articulated Stormtroopers were awesome, as was the IT-0 droid, but the Vader absolutely stinks. And the Rebel Troopers have just as many good points as they do bad ones. However, if you are army-building Original Trilogy era troops, this is the one to grab...especially for nicely articulated Imperials. Otherwise, this is an assembly of figures that a hardcore collector probably already has from past lines. I recommend it to those who do not have many Stormtroopers or need an Imperial torture droid.

I give the Tantive IV Battle Pack 2.5 Death Stars.
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