email thomas




















By Thomas Wheeler

Among my favorite Star Wars figures to collect are Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers. A new Stormtrooper of sorts did turn up in the Legacy Collection recently. He's officially listed as a SPACETROOPER, and is the focus of this review.

You know, it makes sense to me that there would be a Spacetrooper. Although by the time of the Classic Trilogy, most of the former Clone Trooper divisions had been boiled down into Stormtroopers and a handful of special outfits like TIE Fighter Pilots, Sandtroopers, Shadow Troopers, and the like (a metamorphosis that I would love to discover the in-universe explanation for, other than George Lucas having a ton more money and technology to use for the prequels than the original trilogy), occasional specialized Stormtroopers did turn up.

And I can see the logic of Spacetroopers. I mean, it is called STAR Wars, after all. And while there's no shortage of fancy spaceworthy flying machines and fighters, one can't help but believe that there had to be some space-trained and space-outfitted "grunts", possibly to man Imperial space stations of lesser impact than the Death Star, or to actually carry out combat operations in space, where if nothing else, they'd present a much smaller target than a TIE Fighter.

Technically, we never saw them in any of the movies. But Star Wars quite probably has the absolute largest "expanded universe" beyond its core material -- in this case the six movies -- of any pop culture concept that readily comes to mind. Just because we didn't see them in the movies, doesn't mean that there weren't Spacetroopers out there.

Now, usually about now in most of my toy reviews, I'd present some character background information, generally with a little assistance from Wikipedia. However, when it comes to Star Wars, there's a better source. And it's actually called -- Wookieepedia. And they have this to say about the Spacetrooper, whose official designation is "Zero-G Assault Stormtrooper"

The Zero-G assault stormtrooper, commonly known as a spacetrooper, was a member of a specialized branch of the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps equipped and trained to capture enemy vessels intact. Their loyalty and skill were second only to that of the Emperor's Royal Guards.

To perform their missions, spacetroopers wore a two-meter tall suit of armor that interfaced with standard stormtrooper armor. The suit provided a hermetic seal against the vacuum of space and propulsion that allowed spacetroopers to move and fight in space for extended periods.

In addition, the suit allowed them to carry heavy firepower, turning each trooper into the equivalent of a light tank. Weapon systems included two shoulder mounted, magazine fed grenade launchers able to fire concussion, gas and stun projectiles; a right gauntlet blaster cannon; and a left gauntlet miniature proton torpedo launcher. Each gauntlet also included laser cutters to penetrate ship hulls.

In addition to the large, boxy armor most commonly seen, spacetroopers during the Thrawn campaign made use of a more form fitting style of armor. This style appeared as a bulkier form of standard stormtrooper armor that afforded greater flexibility but greatly reduced firepower, armor, and mobility. It is unclear if this model of spacetrooper armor replaced the older design or was a variant.

Originating during the Clone Wars, the Galactic Marines tested prototype spacetrooper suits during the Battle of New Bornalex. The weapon systems failed, and the marines were forced to use hand-to-hand combat and succeeded. The Empire corrected the problem with a new armor design by Dr. Nashiak Llalik (based on Llalik's own scrapped pet project Sunder 9 armor) and made use of them.

Platoons of forty spacetroopers were deployed from Gamma-class assault shuttles. Enemy capital ships could be easily overtaken with well organized assaults.

Notable spacetroopers include Rom Mohc, the developer of the Dark Trooper Project.

Spacetroopers, along with representatives from every specialized stormtrooper corps, were assigned to Darth Vader's personal Death Squadron.

Several spacetroopers served in the Battle of Endor, attacking Rebel Ships entering the Second Death Star.

Which brings us around to the action figure. And honestly, we've got a bit of a situation here.

Technically, this is not the first time there has been a Spacetrooper action figure. One was produced for this line in the late 1990's, really not much before Episode I came out. He was a particularly popular figure, along with the infamous Dark Trooper, who came out right around the same time.

That Spacetrooper was not wearing the "large, boxy armor" described in the Wookieepedia entry. The design of the figure was more in keeping with the "Thrawn campaign" version, described as a more form-fitting armor, that looked like a bulkier version of standard Stormtrooper armor. Indeed, a diagram on the Wookieepedia Web Site of this particular version of the Spacetrooper is pretty much a dead-on match for that initial action figure.

However, this new Spacetrooper is not a re-release of the original. Hasbro did recently re-release the Dark Trooper, reportedly with a few modifications, but I never saw that figure, so I cannot personally attest to that. One can understand from one standpoint why the original Spacetrooper would not be re-released.

Although certainly a dynamic and interesting design, the overall detail on the figure, and much more significantly, the articulation, was more in keeping with the time period in which it was released, which -- no offense intended to the figures of that time -- I've still got my original Spacetrooper and I'm glad to have him -- but it was nevertheless more limited than is generally seen today, especially when it comes to the so-called "Super-Articulated" levels of articulation that have particularly been incorporated into select but numerous Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers.

Unfortunately, the new Spacetrooper figure -- doesn't really look that much like a Spacetrooper. What we have here is a Super-Articulated Stormtrooper with some extra gear. Don't get me wrong -- it's a cool figure. But I have a little trouble seeing it as a full-fledged Spacetrooper.

The figure has some interesting attributes, however. For one thing, he has a removable helmet. There's not been a lot of Stormtroopers with this particular feature. Even more interesting, unlike Clone Troopers who have a removable helmet, who end up tending to look rather -- big-headed because of it (and honestly, we know what they all look like under their helmets, so what's the point?!), the Stormtrooper's helmeted head does not seem particularly excessive in size. I'm not sure why. I think it may have something to do with the design of the helmet. Even unhelmeted, the revealed head doesn't look small relative to the rest of the body. Perhaps the helmet has been designed to be thinner than a Clone Trooper helmet, and so is a better proportionate fit.

Then there's the unhelmeted head. This isn't a Jango Clone. Of course, by the time of the Classic Trilogy, not only were there other genetic sources for cloned Stormtroopers other than the late Jango Fett, but there was active recruitment by the Empire for Stormtrooper service. Someone in a Stormtrooper uniform might be a clone from any of who knows how many different sources -- including Jango -- he might also be a distinct individual who signed up or was drafted or whatever. Imagine being the only distinct individual in a squad of clones. Talk about getting sick of your buddies' faces in a hurry.

The design of the head itself is distinctive enough to make me think that this was intended to be -- somebody -- who was maybe featured in a comic book story or game of which I am not aware, and the headsculpt was recycled into use for this Spacetrooper. The face is human, looks fairly young, and has a sort of "I'm ready for this -- I think" expression on his face. The head has a leather-looking helmet that looks like the sort of thing World War I pilots wore, and a swath of brown hair across the left side of the forehead. Like I said, just distinctive enough to make me think it's supposed to be something more than a generic-but-not-Jango head.

The armored uniform is indistinguishable from a Stormtrooper, including the helmet. This was the one disappointment in the figure for me. Hey, I'm always glad to have Stormtroopers around, but this is supposed to be a Spacetrooper, and he doesn't really look the part.

As a Stormtrooper, it's nevertheless an excellent figure. The figure has the "Super-Articulated" range of motion, which means he's poseable at the head, arms, elbows, including a swivel, wrists, mid-torso (worked well into the armor design), legs, knees, including a swivel, and ankles, also including a swivel. The black "undersuit" details are all neatly painted. This is one area where sometimes there has been a bit of sloppiness on both Stormtroopers and Clone Trooper, but not in this instance.

The helmet is that of a Stormtrooper, very nicely detailed and painted, and perfectly sized. I compared it to a different Stormtrooper figure, and it's a dead-on match.

Best of all, in my book, there's no dirtying or weathering paint splattered onto this figure. While the Star Wars universe can get away with that sort of thing better than some concepts (that nevertheless stink their figures up with it from time to time), I still don't like it. I am pleased to see that this figure is "clean".

So where do the Spacetrooper components come into play? The figure comes with a backpack that can be clipped over the standard back protrusion of the Stormtrooper armor. It's an excellent fit, and stays put well. This backpack appears to be a combination oxygen tank and jet pack. Hopefully the two units don't operate from the same source. That could be a little problematic. There is a small rubbery hose that attaches to a hole in the left side of the backpack, and runs up to a small hole in the base of the helmet. This obviously supplies the Spacetrooper with oxygen.

Frankly, from an "in-universe" standpoint, it looks a little hastily-rigged. It's as if some high-ranking Imperial officer somewhere got wind of Grand Admiral Thrawn's Spacetroopers and said, "What's so hard about that?", took a bunch of Stormtroopers, gave them oxygen tanks and said, "Now you're Spacetroopers."

From that standpoint, and considering the size of the Star Wars galaxy, it could well have happened. But I can also well see any number of Star Wars purists seeing this figure and grumbling, "This doesn't look like any Spacetrooper I'VE ever seen...!" Hopefully there will be some others that will come up with a plausible explanation for him.

The explanation on the back of the package card reads as follows: Specialized stormtroopers, dubbed "spacetroopers", are deployed to Zero-G environments, such as areas outside the Death Star's artificially generated atmosphere. They wear specially designed suits that have sealed armor and are equipped with rebreather packs.

Okay, you know, that's not bad. Technically, the previous Spacetrooper figure was from the Thrawn era, which if memory serves, was after the Death Star. Maybe this is what space-trained Stormtroopers wore when they weren't wearing the ultra-bulky suits.

About the only glitch that leaves is that I would think this rebreather hose would really get in the way of the left arm. Let's hope that most Stormtroopers are right-handed, for their sakes.

Accessory-wise, the Spacetrooper comes equipped with a standard Stormtrooper blaster, but also a distinctly larger piece of weaponry, that looks like it could pack one heck of a kick. Accessory hounds should definitely take note. And let's hope that it doesn't have much of a recoil, or the Spacetrooper is likely to find himself propelled half a parsec or so if he fires this thing.

The Spacetrooper is part of a new "Droid Factory" assortment. The Spacetrooper has the head and center leg for R5-A2, an R5-series Astromech Droid that based on the diagram has a white body, and an orange head -- there's an interesting color choice.

So, what's my final word here? This is not a Spacetrooper in the conventional sense. Honestly, I wouldn't mind if someday Hasbro decided to redo the original Spacetrooper figure in a modern format and with increased articulation. That doesn't mean that this Spacetrooper can't fit into the concept. He might well be a Spacetrooper sans the bulkier armor. He might be someone's idea of a Spacetrooper besides Grand Admiral Thrawn. At the very least, he's a good Stormtrooper figure, with plenty of detail, articulation, and some impressive accessories. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

However you wish to categorize him, this figure is an impressive addition to any Imperial ranks, and to anyone's Star Wars collection. The STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION SPACETROOPER definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!