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REVIEW:
THE NEW STAR WARS STAR TOURS ASSORTMENT!
By Thomas Wheeler



There's a group of Star Wars figures out there that don't get a lot of
notice. I'm not sure they were even counted in the tally towards the
recent release of the 500th Star Wars action figure, the packaged Darth
Vader with his meditation chamber. But most die-hard Star Wars fans will
say that these figures are part of the Star Wars collection. It also
helps if you're a Disney fan, since these figures are Disney theme park
exclusives.

They're based on the popular STAR TOURS ride, which is located in
Tomorrowland at Disneyland, and the Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney
World. The ride is basically identical, even if the outdoor facade is
different. The Disneyland ride is a simple entrance. The ride occupies
the space formerly used by the Adventure Through Inner Space. In Walt
Disney World, they had a little more room to design a specific outdoor
environment, and it's hard to miss, given that the ride's entrance
features a massive AT-AT stomping through the forests of Endor. Granted,
it's designed to look like a stage set -- this is the Studios, after all
-- so there's a bit of "intentional bogus" to it that I've always found
disquieting, but it's still pretty cool.

The Star Tours ride itself is a motion simulator. There's a robot pilot,
named Captain Rex, that is supposed to take you on a gentle tour of the
Endor moon, home of the Beanie Babies of the Star Wars set, the Ewoks.
Instead, you end up right in the middle of a -- well, on the other hand,
why spoil the ride for those of you that haven't been on it?

However, at either park, just making your way through the line can be
interesting. You first go through what looks something like a spaceport
terminal. C-3PO and R2-D2 are nearby, working on a damaged StarSpeeder,
the same type of vehicle that you'll be "flying". Next, you make your way
through a maintenance bay, filled with a phenomenal range of droids. Many
of these are recognizable as R2 units and other familiar droids from the
Star Wars universe. Others appear to have been created specifically for
the ride itself.

Here's a trivia note -- some of these droids used to be the singing geese
on the attraction "America Sings", before they were, shall we say,
plucked down to their robotic roots and given some droid-like
enhancements more in keeping with the Star Wars world. In fact, the "G"
in many of the droids whose names start with "G2" stands for "Goose".

These droids can be just as entertaining as the ride itself, and on a
busy day at the Disney parks, there's a good chance that you'll be
spending more time with the droids than you will on the actual ride. And
in the Disney-MGM Studios, the Star Tours ride is about the only
attraction that's worth one's time, unless you feel like losing your
lunch on the Rock-n-RollerCoaster or your sense of equilibrium on the
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. And I, for one, do not.

So it's not especially surprising that among toy collectors, there was a
substantial demand for action figures of these droids. A couple of years
back, Hasbro finally got together with Disney and Lucas, and started
making exclusive STAR TOURS action figures as part of the Star Wars
action figure line. They would be exclusive to the large souvenir shops
that are conveniently placed near the exits to the rides in both parts.

And the latest assortment just came out. Special thanks to a friend of
mine who lives close enough to Disneyland to frequent it often enough to
obtain these droids for me. Let's consider them individually:

3T-RNE - Although he doesn't have the same sort of "binocular eyes" that
many of the "former geese" like robots have, he does appear to have come
from the same stock. His eyes are actually a little creepy, a sort of
squinted, bulbous, yellow and red "Darth Maul wannabee" look to them. Is
this a Sith droid? What's he doing in a repair shop? Actually, he's
described within the concept as a "trainee".

Kidding aside, Hasbro actually does a really good job with these. They're
not quite to scale with standard Star Wars figures. They'd have to be
made too small if they were, but they still look cool, and given that
most of these droids are pretty "bare bones", not unlike C-3PO in Episode
I, that's going to require quite a bit of sculpting and delicate
painting. Although it would be nearly impossible to duplicate every
single wire and every little exposed whatayacallit on the circuit boards,
Hasbro does a good job of capturing the essence of the droid very effectively.

G3-5LE - Now, this one has more of the typical "binocular eyes" that a
lot of the repair droids on the Star Tours attraction seem to have. But
he's also traded in his legs for treads. This probably lets him rove
around the machine shop a little bit better, and his lower overall
profile for not having legs probably gives him better access to those
short R2 internal systems.

MSE-1T - Okay, here's an interesting specimen. This doesn't look anything
like any of the previous Star Tours droids, and is there something
faintly -- Mouse-like about that head? And that name -- "MSE..." Come on,
who are we kidding here?! Fortunately, the same individual who sent me
these droids sent me the background to this one, in an article from Jim
Hill Media. Apparently this droid is actually some sort of parasite
droid, that just skitters around the place at random. He was actually
built from a model train engine. Needless to say, the toy is rather
significantly out of scale compared to the others. But there's also no
denying what that headpiece looks like.

As you can see from the pictures, the toys are packaged on a slight
variant of the "Classic" package remake that Star Wars figures were
packaged on in 2004, a black starry background with silver lettering and
trim. But the package also has the Star Tours logo, and the recommended
age label is inside a Mouse logo. The back of the package card has the
"Disney Theme Park Edition" logo on it, as well as a brief explanation of
the Star Tours ride, rather than a profile of the individual droids. It reads:

"The fate of the Star Wars universe is in your hands! Whenever your plans
call for intergalactic transport, call on Star Tours for state-of-the-art
travel excitement. Tour the galaxy aboard the STARSPEEDER 3000 and
experience the expertise of the sector's newest and most reliable droid
pilots!"

I definitely recommend these droids for anyone who seeks to be a Star
Wars completist, or just likes cool Star Wars droids. Granted, they're
not easy to come by. Unless you know someone who frequents the Disney
parks or you're planning a trip there yourself, it won't be easy. There's
always eBay, if you don't mind the probable expense. I honestly don't
know if Disney sells them online. But they're still cool droids, and I'm
pleased to have them as part of my Star Wars collection, and I hope you
have enjoyed this review!