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By Thomas Wheeler

Why separate this figure from the others I've reviewed recently? Simple
- he's part of the newest "Vintage Original Trilogy Collection" assortment of Star Wars figures packed into a plastic case and packaged on a duplicate of its original packaging from the original line from the 1970's and 80's.

Now, for most of these, the price tag is enough to keep me away. But I like the Biker Scout. Always have. This character - actually, Imperial trooper division would be more accurate - was introduced in RETURN OF THE JEDI, as the pilots of the Speeder Bikes that went screaming through the forests of Endor in one of the great chase scenes in all of the Star Wars movies.

Although having the basic white armor with black undergarment design of Stormtroopers, there were some significant differences. For starters, there wasn't as much armor. The arms and legs are not as armored as a Stormtrooper. Secondly, the helmet is distinctly different. This design, although seemingly new at the time of Return of the Jedi, can also be seen among the Clone Troopers of Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith, so if one wants to assume the timeline of the Star Wars universe, this helmet design has actually been around for quite some time.

For the record, the Clone Troopers on Kashyyyk basically looked like Biker Scouts with camouflage-patterned armor, and I really wish Hasbro would get around to making figures of them.

The Biker Scout design has always been popular among Star Wars fans as something close to the Stormtroopers, still clearly an Imperial, but different enough to be quite interesting in its own right.

And one reason I was willing to spend a little extra money and get this particular figure is that decent versions of this figure have been darn few and far between. The last 3 3/4" one that I recall came with a Speeder Bike, and while a fairly decent figure, was so pre-posed in the legs for sitting on a Speeder Bike, and as such more than a bit bow- legged, that when he stood, he looked as though he'd just gotten smacked by an Ewok or something.

This Biker Scout is much better. He stands well, and is extremely well- articulated. The head is a ball-and-socket assembly, and the figure moves at the arms, elbows, wrists (gloves, anyway), mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. I was a little surprised that he doesn't turn at the waist, and perhaps he's supposed to. There's a slight "wash" of paint on the mid-torso piece, and I wonder if the figure was assembled before this was fully dry, and he's stuck. But I'm not about to force it and then break the figure to find out.

The Biker Scout comes with a tiny little pistol which does fit into a holster on his right boot. How well it will actually stay in there is anybody's guess. Personally, I recommend stashing it safely in a Ziploc bag.

The only faults with the figure are that I could really do without the spray of "dirt" paint on the boots, although I've certainly seen worse, and the black on the upper arms has been hand-painted, and inevitably, this is going to come out sloppy. Again, I've seen worse, but I really don't like it.

The packaging is overblown. I don't know why Hasbro can't just release these figures as part of the standard Saga Collection. It's amusing, in that it is an effective replica - at least the front of the card - of the original card from the 1980's, right down to the use of the Kenner logo. That's something that doesn't turn up much these days.

The rest of the assortment in this series includes Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing uniform, a Tusken Raider (listed as "Sand People"), Greedo, and Han Solo with his trenchcoat from Return of the Jedi. All of the figures, including the Biker Scout, are improvements over their originals as far as sculpt, design, and articulation are concerned. No big surprise there.

There's an offer - Collect all five, send in proofs of purchase or something, and you can get a special limited edition George Lucas in Stormtrooper Armor figure. Of course, that's going to mean opening these figures, and I question to what degree most of the people buying these figures will be willing to do that. These are clearly intended more as collector figures. I suspect that if anyone really wants the Lucas Stormtrooper, they'll do their best to buy two sets.

For myself, I'm content with the Biker Scout. The other figures are cool, but nothing I feel I really need for my admittedly selective Star Wars collection. And I could honestly care less about the Lucas-as- Stormtrooper figure.

The Biker Scout, as a trooper, is not surprisingly one of, if not the most popular figure in this assortment, as there's probably a number of fans out there who are willing to buy multiples even at the higher price to "army build" a bit.

But I'm pleased to have the one, and of any of these new "Original Package" Star Wars figures, I would certainly recommend the BIKER SCOUT to any Star Wars fan. It's a very cool and impressive rendition of a popular Star Wars Imperial Trooper. Definitely recommended!