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REVIEW: STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION AT-ST VEHICLE WITH DRIVER
By Thomas Wheeler

Initially offered as a Walmart exclusive, the Star Wars Legacy Collection saw the popular and well-regarded AT-ST vehicle added to its ranks.

AT-ST stands for All-Terrain Scout Transport. AT-ST's are an Imperial vehicle. They are somewhat more colloquially known as "Chicken Walkers" (although whether the Star Wars Universe has any actual chickens is probably open to debate), and are rather embarrassingly known for taking a serious beating at the hands of those little Endorian furballs known as Ewoks.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of information to be had about AT-STs, thanks to a little online research. Just as a segue, one source even included this quote: "AT-STs will no longer be deployed on planets with an abundance of trees or other known obstacles such as rock-wielding primitives." - AT-ST Service Manuals, post-Battle of Endor

The All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) was a bipedal walker used in rudimentary form by the Galactic Republic during the late Clone Wars and, later and more extensively, the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War.

Colloquially known as a "chicken walker" because of its shape and walking motion, the AT-ST was a heavily armed light ground combat vehicle. It was equipped with a chin-mounted double medium blaster cannon, a concussion grenade launcher on the starboard side of its head, 2 durasteel feet with claws, and a blaster cannon on the port side. It was designed to be a recon hit and run vehicle. It was lighter than its bigger brother the AT-AT walker and could withstand standard blaster fire, but was vulnerable to heavy laser fire and missiles.

The chin guns had an effective range of two kilometers and were used for anti-vehicle attacks, while the blaster cannon and grenade launcher provided close-range protection against infantry and light emplacements.. AT-STs were piloted by a crew of two drivers.

The bipedal propulsion system was one of the primary weaknesses of the AT-ST. While on even terrain the walker could achieve over 90 kilometers per hour, but on uneven or shifting terrain a walker could quickly become unbalanced enough to fall over

Early on in the Clone Wars, engineers at Rothana were busy developing a new bipedal walker, known as the All Terrain Scout Transport, following their construction and testing of the AT-XT. The AT-XT enjoyed moderate success during its somewhat brief operational time, but was rarely used during the war.

The earliest models would be deployed by the Grand Army of the Republic during the latter stages of the Clone Wars. The conflict would also see the debut of several other bipedal walker designs, like the AT-RT.

Under the Empire, Balmorra was the center of AT-ST production. The AT-ST was later viewed by Imperial commanders as a highly versatile weapon, excelling against infantry and lightly armored vehicles, but also useful for protecting vital units and patrolling hostile areas.

AT-ST's were used by Blizzard Force during the Battle of Hoth. The Blizzard Force AT-ST was especially modified for polar climates, as were all the vehicles used on Hoth. It was equipped with ground penetrating sensor equipment that could detect instabilities in the permafrost and relay information back to the heavier vehicles, thus ensuring they avoided unstable ground. The walkers had a unit insignia consisting of a horned helmet. In the Battle of Endor, AT-ST's were deployed by the Empire against the Rebel and Ewok ground troops. The walkers were very effective against these troops, until many of them were destroyed by Ewok traps and another AT-ST hijacked by Chewbacca with the help of some Ewoks.

The AT-ST's problem with shifting terrain was demonstrated during the Battle of Endor, when Ewoks released a large pile of logs and stones to roll down the hill into the path of an AT-ST. The walker was unable to handle the rapidly shifting ground, and despite attempts by the pilot to stabilize the vehicle, it fell on its side and was destroyed. The Ewoks also used strategically-positioned logs hanging from trees to eliminate several other walkers. The Imperial Remnant would go on to use AT-STs, though not as extensively.

From a cinematic standpoint, the AT-STs did indeed debut during The Empire Strikes Back. More scenes with the AT-ST were filmed for the original trilogy movies, but it was decided that the AT-ATs would be more impressive and that the AT-ST would look better in close quarters, so it ultimately saw more time in Return of the Jedi.

The AT-ST model received some cosmetic changes for its extensive appearance in Return of the Jedi, thus explaining the minor differences in the models used for the two films.

The book "The Essential Star Wars Guide to Vehicles and Vessels" is somewhat more complimentary to the AT-ST, and draws comparisons to its larger cousin, the well-known AT-AT.

Light scouting and perimeter vehicles that were used by the Empire, the two-legged All Terrain Scout Transports are small, agile walkers. Their primary uses include scouting, perimeter defense, and support for Imperial troops and AT-AT walkers.

AT-STs rely on agility rather than heavy armor for defense. The two-legged drive system means that they are more easily unbalanced than AT-ATs, but they are considerably faster, with a top speed of ninety kilometers per hour. They are devastating in combat, especially against infantry troops and light repulsorcraft.

AT-STs have a crew of only two persons: a pilot and a gunner. Armor plating protects the entire command cabin, with closable viewports for both pilot and gunner. As in the AT-AT, a holographic targeting system provides a 360-degree view of the battlefield as well as range and targeting information.

The head can turn independently of the drive and leg mechanism to fire in all directions. The primary weapons are chin-mounted twin blaster cannons with a maximum range of two kilometers. AT-STs are excellent patrol vehicles and often are deployed alone for scouting and reconnaissance duties. They can provide covering fire for advancing ground troops, and the drive unit allows them to work through terrain that would stop traditional repulsorcraft such as combat landspeeders. When they are used in conjunction with AT-AT walkers, their maneuverability allows them to cover the larger walkers' flanks.

Okay, so, how's the vehicle? Really an extremely impressive piece of work. It's a brand new vehicle, not any sort of rehash whatsoever, at least based on the 2009 copyright date stamped on it. The vehicle stands about 12-1/2" in height, which is pretty big for a vehicle scaled to 3-3/4" figures. One nice thing about it is that it doesn't take up a lot of floor space. Its height is its largest measurement. It's about 7-1/2" deep, and about 6" wide at the feet.

Articulation is impressive -- and how often does one discuss articulation on a vehicle? Each leg is mounted on an extending post, although for the sake of the AT-STs balance, it's best to keep these posts close to the main body of the vehicle. I think the extenders were put in just in case you should happen to want the vehicle to do its log-rolling impression the way one of them did in Return of the Jedi.

Each leg has five points of articulation. Those of you who may recall the rather limited articulation of the original AT-AT vehicle back in the 1980's will doubtless be impressed. The AT-ST is very nicely poseable at the point where the extender meets the main lower body, at the point where the extender attaches to the leg -- let's call this the hip; a point at the back of the leg; a point further down the leg; and the foot. The two points where the extender connects to the main lower body and the leg have a rotation as well as a swivel.

For being a rather top-heavy sort of vehicle, on two rather ungainly-looking legs, the AT-ST maintains a surprisingly good sense of balance. It well readily stand on any smooth surface, even low carpet. I suspect that although it has a considerable range of articulation, it might be rather limited in the number of poses it can assume and still maintain its balance. However impressive the toy might be, I don't think it includes any gyroscopic stabilizers or whatever the Empire used to keep these things upright.

The AT-ST is molded in a medium grey with a slight hint of beige to it, entirely appropriate for the vehicle. Thankfully, as far as I'm concerned, weathering details have been kept to a minimum, really just a little bit of sprayed-on tan dirt around its feet and joints.

Overall sculpted detailing is superb. The surface widgets and gizmos that one expects from a Star Wars item are all present and accounted for. Some of the detailing even had to be assembled along the way. I was especially impressed with the guard rails along the top of the vehicle.

The top of the vehicle is connected to the base and legs by means of a black hinge point. Intentionally or otherwise, it is fairly easily detached. It also snaps right back in place with no difficulty, so this isn't a problem. Provided you're not in the habit of turning your AT-ST upside down on a regular basis, this shouldn't be an issue at all.

Of course, the top of the AT-ST is where the pilot and gunner operate. Hasbro has done a superb job with the overall detail here. The guns on the sides of the vehicle rotate, the chin gun turns and pivots, the viewports open independently, as does the crew access on the top of the vehicle. For that matter, the entire roof of the vehicle pops open for play access!

I can't help but wonder -- whose idea was it in the first place for access to the cockpit to be on the roof of this thing!? I mean, how does anybody even get up there in the first place?

The cockpit is a nicely detailed area. Even the underside of the roof section has a generous amount of sculpted detail. The cockpit includes two seats, assorted sculpted controls, and some colorful printed labels that have been affixed to the walls of the cockpit for added detail. The seats have been painted a steel blue in color.

There's an additional accessory that comes with the AT-ST as well, something that probably wasn't in the original Imperial specifications, but which certainly adds a certain amount of play value. The chin gun can be swapped out for a larger unit that looks like a larger, double-barred gun, but which is in reality a double spring-loaded missile launching system! Let's see those runty furballs stand up to this!

The AT-ST comes with a figure -- not surprisingly, an AT-ST Driver. I wasn't able to track down as much information on them as I was on the vehicle itself, but I was able to locate some details.

Technically, AT-ST Drivers came from the ranks of Imperial Army Pilots! Somehow, that surprised me a little bit. My online research also determined the following: AT-ST pilots were trained to have an incredible sense of balance and terrain, due to the All Terrain Scout Transport's bipedal locomotion instability compared to the quadruped AT-AT.

They wore black boots with a black bottom and a gray jumpsuit with pockets. Their helmet was open-faced with a chinstrap. Goggles were attached by a strap to the back of the helmet, but some chose not to wear it. They wore limited shoulder and arm armor, and long black gauntlets. Both shoulder portions of their jumpsuit had the Imperial emblem in black. They also had harnesses around their shoulders and waist, and they also carried concussion grenades, a blaster pistol, a blaster rifle, emergency flares, spare ammunition, a comlink, and two thermal detonators, which were coded with blank keys in case they fell into enemy hands. Because their armor was designed to allow unrestricted movement, they were only armored on their upper body and head. They wore a light chest armor plate under their jumpsuit.

So, how's the figure? Er -- well -- he looks good. The uniform is nicely detailed, and certainly accurate. It has an Imperial emblem on the upper left arm. The figure has a removable helmet, and the helmet itself is superbly detailed, complete with a little antenna, and very nicely painted. The facial features of the figure are nicely sculpted and very neatly painted.

However -- articulation, I have to say, is lacking. Granted, the figure hails from 2004, based on the date stamp on the boot, but even by then, we were seeing a higher level of articulation in many if not most Star Wars figures, especially the humanoids. Now maybe I've just gotten a little spoiled by my "super-articulated" Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers, but the AT-ST Driver doesn't even have knee articulation, and his elbows are preposed, and really only have swivels. The gloves rotate for a certain wrist articulation, but that's not much help. He's also poseable at the arms, head, and waist. He comes with a blaster pistol of a fairly standard type. I wonder how many of these have been manufactured by now, given the number of figures they've come with? It's got to be a staggering number.

Now, arguably, he CAN sit in the AT-ST. The seats are designed so that the seat is just about on the floor of the vehicle. There's no need to bend knees even if he could. Even so, from an articulation standpoint, the figure is something of a disappointment. He looks good, he has a good height, he's nicely detailed, neatly painted -- he just doesn't move as much as I think he should.

So, what's my final word here? Okay, I'll stop picking on the AT-ST Driver. Technically speaking, he works for what he needs to do. And if that's not enough, there's no shortage of other Imperial troopers out there. But let's focus on the vehicle. It's fantastic. It's superbly well designed, accurate to the one from the movies, has tons of moving parts and features, plenty of "play value", is well detailed, and seems sturdy enough to tolerate a good amount of activity. And, for we collectors, it looks great on display, too! I'm very pleased that I brought it into my collection. And so will you be, I am sure.

The STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION AT-ST VEHICLE definitely has my highest recommendation!