Reader Review: 30th Anniversary Bantha Battle Pack By Whitewolf
Bespin refugee - May 05, 2007
So many reviews and too little time. May/June 2007 is proving to be the beginning of an absolute deluge of new 30th Anniversary merchandise. Wave 3 is beginning to hit stores, as is Wave 2 of the Comic Packs. The much-sought-after V-Wing Starfighter (or as I call it, the A-Wing with spoiler attachment) and Sith Infiltrator are also beginning to show up in great numbers. Tensions are high within the SW collector's world in the pursuit of virtually non-existent figures and vehicles (except on eBay...surprise, surprise), and our wallets are threatening to divorce us! Ah...we all love our hobby, don't we?
Plodding along among all the V-Wings and McChewies is one Battlepack that will definitely make you do a double-take when you see it: The Bantha. Though the packaging is the same height and width as a standard Battlepack, its about as deep as two vehicle boxes put together. Not a massive box, but definitely not small either...
Part mastadon-part goat-part platypus, the Bantha has become as synonymous with Tatooine's little corner of the Star Wars universe as Jawas, Mos Eisley, or that whole who-shot-first thing between Han Solo and Greedo. We all know the backstory behind these pack animals, so I'll spare you the long, boring Tusken/Bantha sybiosis explanation. Think "a cowboy and his horse," and you get the picture...
What to say about the Bantha...hmm... It's furry. And not only is it furry, but it seems to have a nice spiral perm to boot! The fur on the Bantha really does have the same texture as a poodle's fur. With all the stuff in the news lately about dog hair being used on fur coats...makes me wonder. But seriously, I'm not really crazy about this crimped-hair look perhaps because I'm too used to previous incarnations of it having straight fur. I think what Hasbro was attempting to go for here was more of a matted look, where the fur looks unkempt. But the end result is a tad too "Fee Fee" IMO.
The beast's head is nicely detailed, but it does have its shortcomings. The large horns are painted in a nice natural paint app, bringing out shadow and ridges along the surface of them. The eyes are actually two individual plastic pieces glued to each side of the Bantha's head. The "skin" around each eye is a very dark grey and is a stark contrast to the nearly white cheese-cloth material that the fur is attached to. It simply makes the animal look strange, but if you comb (did I say comb?!) the fur over the eyes, it helps to blend them into the rest of the fur coat. Articulation is next to nothing, with the four legs moving about 30 degrees back and forth. And yes, those are elephant feet under all that hair! Oddly, the platypus-like tail actually has a joint that allows it to rotate side to side, but the tail itself is not posable. And before anyone asks...no this is not a new sculpt. This is nothing but a rerelease of the 1998 Bantha that most of us already have in our collections. Let's take a 9-year-old toy and make it an Exclusive, so we can put a 62% markup on it. Okaaaay...
The Bantha doesn't really come with accessories of its own, unless you consider its saddle gear as an accessory. It' one piece that fits around the animal's torso and is adjustable in much the same way a belt is. The saddle bags and all other accutraments are all molded onto it and cannot be removed.
Now we come to the part where Hasbro could label this thing as a Battlepack: the figures. 4 Sandpeople and a Massiff come with the Bantha. (reviewer's note: the episode of Family Guy comes to mind here where Peter talks about conducting the Tusken Choir, but I digress). 3 of the Sandpeople and the Massiff are from the 2002 AOTC line and have very little paint app variation from the originals. The 4th Tusken is the 2006 VTSC version. Pegwarmers, the whole lot of them...
The AOTC Tusken has pretty standard articulation with one odd angle-cut joint in the right elbow, but none whatsoever in the other arm. The Massiff itself is not posable except for the mouth. The female and child are some of the biggest wastes of plastic I've ever seen, but because they were seen on film for a few nanoseconds, they had to be given the action figure treatment. Very limited articulation, and the whole "papoose" thing leaves a huge gaping hole in the female's back. Come to think of it, both the female and child look more like they belong in Stargate SG-1 rather than Star Wars...given the extremely ornate (and vaguely Egyptian) headdresses. And finally, the VTSC Tusken is the Bantha's appointed rider...mainly because he's the only one who has enough articulation to be seated atop the creature. Awesome articulation in this figure, but that's to be expected from any Vintage figure.
Am I pleased with the Bantha? Well...yes and no. A lot of thought went into the packaging, and the pack-in figures. But like nearly all other Battlepacks, its simply repacking pegwarmers in a slick-looking box to boost their appeal. And like most Battlepacks, it fell short of the mark...especially with a $45 price point to add insult to injury! My Bantha will most likely be given a spot in my display case...but that is where he will live out his lifetime, untouched and rarely glanced at. If you already have a Bantha from back in the POTJ days, this is not something you need to break a leg trying to track down. Besides, Banthas always follow in their own tracks to hide their numbers, remember? This is a Battlepack aimed at collectors who either missed out a decade ago or for those who don't have many Sandpeople and want to get a whole "tribe" of them in one shot.
I give the 30th Anniversary Bantha Battlepack 3 Death Stars.
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