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REVIEW: STAR WARS DISNEY PARKS EXCLUSIVE AMBUSH AT STAR TOURS SET
By Thomas Wheeler

I make no secret of the fact that two of my favorite places on the face of the planet are Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to visit both theme parks on multiple occasions in my life, although I have not been able to do so for either park in -- well, far too many years, in my opinion.

One of the most popular attractions in both parks has long been a ride called STAR TOURS. Developed in conjunction with LucasFilm, this ride, based on Star Wars, of course, is a real kick for any Star Wars fan.

In Disneyland, Star Tours took over a spot in Tomorrowland formerly occupied by a ride called Adventure Through Inner Space. This was a very cool ride in my opinion, presenting the illusion of being shrunk down to study the molecular composition of a snowflake. However, the ride's technology had become increasingly outmoded, and the ride itself was becoming increasingly disrespected by some of the rowdier park guests, unfortunately. I can understand on several counts Disney's desire to replace it.

In Walt Disney World, Star Tours exists in the Hollywood Studios theme park. In my opinion, it's one of the highlights of what I consider to be the least of the four major parks on the Walt Disney World property. The Hollywood Studios have always struck me as Disney's attempt to emulate Universal Studios -- something they didn't really need to do. Admittedly, two of the most popular rides in Hollywood Studios -- the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, with its high speed drop, and Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, which contains loops -- are not rides where you will find me. I don't mind roller coasters, but I don't do loops or sheer drops.

The outdoor presentations for Star Tours in both parks is quite different. In Disneyland, since Star Tours took over an existing building, Disney painted a massive Star Wars type mural on the wall of the facility. In Walt Disney World, since it was a new construct, and in the Studios park, they made the exterior of the building look something like a soundstage -- although you could hardly miss it with the full-size AT-AT stomping through the Endor Forest set outside.

Inside, both the California and Florida attractions became far more similar. Guests appeared to be in a spaceport, following a queue to their Starspeeder transport vehicle, which would take them on a leisurely tour of the moons of Endor. A display screen presented videos of other destinations that the Star Tours company visited, using footage from the movies. In the initial walk-through room, there was a Starspeeder vehicle being worked on by C-3PO and R2-D2, both of whom spoke to the crowd. The second walk-through room was a droid maintenance bay, where the maintenance droids also spoke to the crowd, as they worked on repairing various other droids, including several of the familiar astromech types akin to R2-D2. It was an effective presentation, and as much as possible made guests feel as though they were part of the Star Wars universe.

Of course the final stop was the ride itself: The Starspeeder 3000, which was in reality a multi-passenger motion control device that could hold about 40 people. Guests boarded, buckled in, and a protective shield dropped down to reveal the cockpit, and a screen which was supposedly the front window of the Starspeeder. Here, guests were introduced to a droid named Captain Rex -- no relation to the Clone Wars character of the same name, although that is where the clone got his name. The droid told guests that it was his first flight, but that there was no cause for concern.

Yeah -- right. Things pretty much went awry from the start, with Rex taking the Starspeeder out the wrong exit, after something of a plummet through the terminal, and then he managed to miss Endor entirely, flew through a field of comets, and then managed to get the Starspeeder involved in the battle of the Death Star. The motion control simulator, of course, made Star Tours much more than just a movie experience.

Since 1987 in Disneyland, and 1989 in Walt Disney World, this ride entertained guests at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. But between technological advances, the existence of the prequel movies, and perhaps an increasing feeling of repeat park visitors of "been there, done that", as well as improved relations between Disney and Lucas, it was decided to overhaul the attraction.

So why am I discussing all of this in an action figure review? Well, this will be no great surprise to you, but Disney does a good business selling Star Tours/Star Wars souvenirs. Both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Star Tours attractions have extensive gift shops right next door to them, themed to Star Wars. And many of the souvenirs available are specifically themed to Star Tours, and aren't available anywhere else.

And that includes Hasbro-made Star Tours action figures. Now, there have been Star Tours action figures in the past. But with the overhaul of the attraction, it was decided to produce some new action figures that were specifically representative of the overhaul. One of these is a four-figure set called AMBUSH AT STAR TOURS, which features DARTH VADER, BOBA FETT, and two very exclusive figures known as IMPERIAL SKYTROOPERS.

One of the main focuses of my Star Wars collection is troopers. Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers, that sort of thing. So when I learned about these unique, exclusive Imperial Skytroopers, I was very interested in them, obviously. And now, I have them, and can review them for you.

But how do Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and these Skytroopers fit into the revised Star Tours attraction? That's a fair question.

In order to keep the Star Tours attraction as fresh an experience as possible for park guests, Disney has developed a very interesting solution. There are multiple possible rides. The way the ride works is that it is more or less divided into several sections. Each section can have one of several options presented. It's possible, ultimately, for there to be fifty-four different Star Tours rides as a result. And Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and these Skytroopers definitely get involved. Let's consider what the overhaul to the Star Tours attraction has transformed it into, and how the ride now operates. I should mention that if you're planning a vacation to Disneyland or Walt Disney World in the near future, and you'd rather wait until you actually go on the Star Tours ride to see what it's all about, then you might want to skip the next section and just head down to the paragraph that starts with, "So, how are the figures?" Because I will be giving away extensive ride details.

Now dubbed "Star Tours: The Adventures Continue" -- note the use of the plural there -- Disney announced that Star Tours at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios would be closed in October 2010 for total renovation and would re-open in May and June 2011 as Star Tours II. The updated ride system would consist of a high-definition video, an improved motion simulator, as well as several other newly added special effects. A later teaser picture depicted a red-colored "StarSpeeder 1000" spacecraft.

In May 2010, Disney announced exact dates for the closure of Star Tours at both parks, both earlier than the originally announced October 2010 date. Star Tours closed on July 27 at Disneyland and closed on September 7 at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

On June 11, 2010, at the "What's Next?" presentation, Disney announced that the re-imagined attraction would take place between episodes III and IV of the Star Wars film series and would be named Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. They also premiered an image showcasing the StarSpeeder 1000 flying through Coruscant.

On September 24, 2010, two new characters were revealed for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The first one was Ace, the new pilot, and the second one was the Aly San San spokesdroid.

On February 11, 2011, Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP and Senior Creative Excutive of Walt Disney Imagineering, revealed that more characters would be encountered on the ride including; Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Imperial Stormtroopers, "Skytroopers", Admiral Ackbar, Yoda, Princess Leia and Chewbacca. He confirmed on April 1 locations that guests could visit on the new attraction. Destinations include Tatooine, Coruscant, Hoth, Naboo, Kashyyyk, and the Death Star as it orbits Geonosis.

The attraction in Florida began soft openings on May 14, with the official opening on May 20, 2011 at midnight. The attraction in California began soft openings on May 20, with the official opening in the morning of June 3, 2011.

According to the "opening crawl" that preceded the attraction's inaugural opening; after the Dark Times began following the events of Episode III, Captain Antilles had dispatched C-3PO and R2-D2, the series' protagonist droids who were placed in the custody of Antilles by order of Bail Organa, to assist in the inauguration of the spaceline. The seemingly close relationship between the Rebel Alliance and the Star Tours agency caused the Galactic Empire to believe that both entities were in a partnership, and thus has since monitored the agency's actions over the years.

Similar to the functionality of the previous attraction, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue places guests in the role of space tourists en route to a pre-determined destination. The queue is designed to resemble a spaceport terminal: posters advertise voyages to different planets, and a large LCD screen informs riders of the benefits of booking flights with Star Tours. The screen displays information in spoken basic language and Aurebesh. The queue is populated with Audio-Animatronic characters, including Mon Calamari officers, C-3PO and R2-D2, that interact with one another and to guests. Also visible in line is Captain Rex from the original attraction, who in accordance with the new timeline of the rides hasn't been used yet, is defective and is being sent back to a factory to be fixed. He will occasionally have a power surge and deliver a line from the first Star Tours.

Television monitors show C-3PO, who has been assigned to maintenance on the StarSpeeder that guests are about to board, is inadvertently trapped in the cockpit. Following this, Ally San San presents an instruction video to the guests on how to fasten their seat belts and where to place their belongings. Once the doors to the Starspeeder 1000 open, guests enter one of several ride simulators. After the doors close, C-3PO complains to R2-D2 about the misunderstanding, but is ignored when the StarSpeeder begins to take filght.

The ride sequence itself is randomized. This type of experience is known as a "Choose Its Own Adventure" because it has a branching narrative, but the system has control rather than the participants. This gives Star Tours the advantages of being both highly repeatable and constantly surprising. Even though guests can experience 54 different journeys, the main priority (delivering the Rebel spy to safety) is accomplished no matter what the sequence is. The Rebel spy's identity is chosen at random from among the guests on the attraction, and their picture is presented during the ride.

There are eleven random segments of the film - two opening segments, three primary destination segments, three hologram message segments, and three ending destination segments; when combined, they allow 54 different possible ride experiences which are presented in the ride:

Initial segment: The Starspeeder 1000 takes off, although C-3PO protests he is not the captain. As the ship is about to leave the Star Tours terminal, two scenes may occur:

First, Darth Vader, Imperial Stormtroopers, and skytroopers arrive to arrest the Rebel spy aboard the speeder. Vader uses a Force-grip to keep the speeder from escaping. The Starspeeder fires its lasers at the Sith Lord, who deflects them with his lightsaber, allowing the shuttle to make a rapid exit backwards out of the hangar, with TIE Fighters chasing after it.

Or - An Imperial probe droid detects the presence of the Rebel spy onboard the Starspeeder. At the same moment, Han Solo, facing detention by the Empire, opens fire on a platoon of Stormtroopers and races up the boarding ramp of the Millennium Falcon. The ship lifts off and launches out of the hangar with the Starspeeder in hot pursuit. After a few maneuvers, the Falcon jumps away, the Starspeeder shoots down a couple TIE Fighters, takes a few shots at a Star Destroyer, then jumps to lightspeed.

After jumping into lightspeed, three segments are possible:

First - The Starspeeder almost crashes on Hoth, where a battle between Rebels and Imperial AT-ATs is happening. After entering the combat zone against orders, the Starspeeder crash lands in the snow, teetering on the edge of a cliff. The ship falls over the side and rides the canyon like a luge, launching off another cliff into a deep canyon. R2-D2 re-engages the engines and the Starspeeder rockets back into space.

Or - The Starspeeder reaches Tatooine and takes part in the Boonta Eve Podrace, along with the ever-cheating Sebulba. During the race, the Starspeeder collides with a podracer and the two become stuck together. The race concludes with the podracer-enhanced Starspeeder overtaking Sebulba, then jettisoning the podracer and flying back into space.

Or - The Starspeeder lands on Kashyyyk, as Imperial jet speeders hunt it down through the lush Wookiee forest.

Following this, the Starspeeder heads back into space, where a holo transmission of either Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia or Master Yoda orders the Starspeeder to take the Rebel spy to a safe location. Despite C-3PO's protests, R2-D2 takes the speeder to one of three different outcomes:

First - The Starspeeder reaches a besieged Coruscant, where the last forces of the CIS are facing the Army of the Republic's Clone troopers. Weaving through dogfights, Republic Cruisers, and buzz droids, the Starspeeder then plummets through the planet's atmosphere and into the bustling sky traffic of the city planet. After several near misses, the Starspeeder careens to a halt on a landing platform, nearly hitting a fuel tanker before crashing into the traffic control droid.

Or - The Starspeeder makes it to Naboo, which is under attack by the last Trade Federation armies. After a fight in the sky over Theed, the Starspeeder plummets into the depths of the planet and arrives near Otoh Gunga (with a brief appearance by Jar Jar Binks). As the speeder travels through the planet's core, carnivorous fish attack it. The Starspeeder then surfaces, skipping off the water and into a repair hangar filled with Starfighter debris. The Starspeeder smashes into the long tail of a Naboo fighter, breaking the windshield and angering the repair droid that falls into the cockpit.

Or - The Starspeeder discovers the still uncompleted Death Star orbiting Geonosis. Ambushed in the asteroid field by Boba Fett aboard the Slave I, the Starspeeder dodges laser fire and exploding asteroids before venturing into the Death Star. Escaping through a hangar bay, the Starspeeder is confronted again by the bounty hunter. Fett launches a sonic bomb, which is deflected back by a laser blast from the Starspeeder. The explosion cripples the bounty hunter, allowing the Starspeeder to jump to light speed. It reaches the Rebel fleet, and lands onboard the Mon Calamari Cruiser, where the Rebel Alliance leaders await to offer congratulations.

Sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe someday I'll get to experience it -- several times over, hopefully. And you can see where Vader, Fett, and these Skytroopers come into the scene.

So, how are the figures? Extremely cool, and I'm very glad to have them. The set comes in a box that is distinctive to Star Tours and doesn't really resemble any current or even especially recent Star Wars action figure package design. The main color of the package is black with stars in the background. Both the Star Wars and Star Tours logos are used, as is the Disney "Mouse" emblem and a logo proclaiming the set to be an "Authentic Original" to the Disney Parks.

A picture on the back shows Darth Vader on board a hover platform, with Boba Fett flying to one side of him, and the two Skytroopers on the other. The hangar bay for Star Tours can be seen in the background. Text for the Star Tours attraction reads: "Since 1987, Star Tours has offered daily flights from Disney Parks to a galaxy far, far away, Celebrate the relaunch of Star Tours in 2011 with this commemorative set."

As for the set in particular, the box describes Ambush at Star Tours as "The Star Tours Agency strives for relaxing getaways, but you never know when your journey might be delayed by Imperial entanglements with Darth Vader or Boba Fett."

Yeah, talk about turbulence... Let's consider the figures individually, starting with:

DARTH VADER - Certainly one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars, and one of the most recognizable in pop culture in general. Thanks to the prequel movies, we know that Darth Vader started out as Anakin Skywalker, a young slave boy on the desert world of Tatooine, before being discovered by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and taken to Coruscant. Although Qui-Gon perished not long after, Skywalker's training was taken up by Qui-Gon's former padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Skywalker fared well, and was highly skilled, but remained headstrong and occasionally morose. He and Kenobi became embroiled in what would be known as the Clone Wars, and were regarded as two of the top warriors in the conflict.

But dreams of the deaths of loved ones haunted Skywalker, and eventually were a catalyst that turned him to the dark side, under the tutelage of Chancellor -- soon to be Emperor -- Palpatine, himself a Sith Lord. Skywalker would be given the name Darth Vader, and not long after, as the Clone Wars were concluding and the Jedi Order was slaughtered, Vader would face his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, on the volcanic planet known as Mustafar. Vader lost, his body horribly damaged as a result of the battle and the environment.

Emperor Palpatine would see to it what Vader was rebuilt as a fearsome cyborg, and for decades Darth Vader served as the Emperor's strong mailed fist against any insurrection against the Empire, including the Rebel Alliance. Ultimately, it was the refusal of Vader's son, Luke Skywalker, to join him and the Emperor, to stand strong against the Sith, that at the end, turned Vader against the Emperor. He would destroy Palpatine, but at the cost of his own life.

However, obviously at the point of the Star Tours attraction, which takes place between Episodes III and IV, Vader is still loyal to Palpatine and a willing representative of the Empire.

The figure of Darth Vader included in this set, with a date on the bottom of its boot marked 2005, is obviously not new, but I suspect it would be a little difficult at this point to come up with a completely new and distinctive Darth Vader figure. There have been so many over the years, and unlike certain super-heroes that have gotten away with variants and multiples, Vader is not as inclined towards extensive wardrobe changes.

The figure stands taller than average, which is appropriate, of course, and measures about 4-1/8" in height. The figure selected for this set is, for the most part, a good one, although I have to say I'm not as impressed with the arm articulation. The arms move forward and backward, but not outward, and the elbows feature that decidedly annoying "diagonal cut swivel" motion that perhaps is an easier assembly than something more extensive, but ultimately the arms really only look good when posed straight, at a very slight angle, or fully bent, and tend to swivel around into positions that, in this case, make one wonder if something's gone seriously wrong with Vader's cybernetics. Granted, this design is preferable to no arm articulation, but it's still weird.

Detail work on Darth Vader is exemplary. All of the little mechanical details on his chestplate and belt are not only sculpted with great precision, but fully painted in silver, red, and green. The paint work is exceptionally neat, and I can only guess what the stencils for this must look like.

One curious paint detail is a hand-painted swipe of silver on the upper right arm, specifically the shoulder plate, and a little below. I really can't fathom why this is there. I don't think it was an accident. Perhaps there is something in the Star Tours attraction itself that would explain this, I really don't know.

The rest of the figure, of course, is black, but even here there's a bit of variance. The helmet and boots, for example, have a very glossy finish, whereas most of the rest of the figure is a bit more matte.

Darth Vader has a cloth cape with a silver cord that fits around his neck, and a cloth tunic that hangs from his waist. The figure is very nicely articulated at the head, arms, elbows, glove tops, waist, legs, and knees, which also include a rotation at the boot tops.

Darth Vader comes with two accessories. One is his red-bladed lightsaber. The other is an entirely new piece, a Hover Platform. Since Boba Fett and the Skytroopers can fly, Vader needs some way to keep up in order to challenge the Star Tours Starspeeder. The Hover Platform is an impressive piece, measuring about 4-1/4" in diameter, very nicely detailed, mostly black with silver detailing, and blue details on the underside that represent the hovering capability, and a slot in the top for the control stick, as well as a foot-peg to keep Darth Vader steady on it. It's a nice piece and a unique vehicle/accessory to the set.

BOBA FETT - The galaxy's most notorious and dangerous Bounty Hunter, Boba Fett is a mercenary, not likely caring all that much about the politics of the Empire or the Rebel Alliance, just working for whomever pays better, although he certainly has historical reason to hate the Jedi.

Boba Fett is the son -- sort of -- of famed Bounty Hunter Jango Fett. Jango accepted a contract to be the genetic foundation for the Army of the Republic, and made his residence on the planet of Kamino, which was home to the mysterious Kaminoans and their cloning facility. Along with his considerable fee, Jango requested one thing from the Kaminoans -- an unaltered clone. Most of the clones produced by the Kaminoans had accelerated aging, so that they would reach maturity within a decade, and mental programming to make them follow the orders of their commanders without question.

The unaltered clone Jango requested would age at a normal pace, and not have any special mental conditioning. Jango named the clone Boba, and raised him as his son, obviously teaching him the ways of a Bounty Hunter, and doubtless some level of Mandalorian culture, given the distinctive Mandalorian armor that both Jango and later Boba Fett would wear.

Boba was abruptly orphaned at roughly the age of ten on the planet Geonosis, when Jango got involved in a battle between the Jedi Knights and the Clone Army, and the Separatist forces represented by the Droid Army and the Geonosians themselves. Jedi Master Mace Windu removed Jango Fett's helmet -- with Jango Fett's head still inside it. Young Boba Fett was seen grieving his father in the aftermath of the battle.

What happened next is something of a mystery. There was a series of "Young Reader" books which followed Boba's life from that point on to young adulthood, and the character has also appeared in the CGI-animated Clone Wars series. Suffice to say he's not a terribly likable kid, but he has had the chance to confront his father's killer. In both the books and the animated series, young Boba kept company with other Bounty Hunters, where he doubtless received further education in becoming a Bounty Hunter.

By the time of the Classic Trilogy, Boba Fett's reputation spoke for itself. This was not a man you wanted to find out was after you. About the only thing you could do was hope that Fett had been ordered to bring you back alive, and make it easy on yourself and give up.

The character first appeared in an animated short that was the only high point in the galactic-level train wreck known as the Star Wars Holiday Special. Subsequent to this, he turned up in the second film, "The Empire Strikes Back", and was an immediate hit. His popularity was reportedly something of a mystery to George Lucas, who honestly didn't like the fact that such a dastardly villain was a popular character -- which is why he had him tossed into the mouth of the Sarlaac in "Return of the Jedi" -- in a most undignified fashion, I might add. But even that didn't stop Boba Fett, and given his inclusion in the prequel movies and other media, I think it's fair to say that Lucas finally realized that there was just no keeping this Bounty Hunter out of the spotlight.

Since the Star Tours event takes place between Episodes III and IV, I think it's reasonable to assume that this is a relatively young Boba Fett, no longer a child, clearly, but having established a sufficiently impressive reputation to be hired to accompany Darth Vader. Given that in Star Tours, the Rebel Alliance has been established, and we hear from such characters as Admiral Ackbar and Princess Leia, I think we can assume that the time frame is skewed a little closer to Episode IV than III.

The figure is superb. As with Vader, it dates to 2005, but it's still extremely impressive. One thing that I've tried to look for with modern Star Wars figures based on characters that have had any number of versions over the years is, for lack of a better term, the most ultimate version possible. For me, that means the best detail, the best articulation, no pre-posing, no exaggerated physiques, a good overall size -- and this Boba Fett figure meets all of those criteria. If you want the best possible Boba Fett action figure, I'd say this is what you want.

The figure stands an appropriate 3-3/4" in height. The head is represented by the dark green helmet with the red-framed, T-shaped black visor on the front, and the small antenna on the side. Boba Fett is wearing a light gray jumpsuit with dark green Mandalorian-style armor on the chest, back, and -- lower torso. This is somewhat less extensive armor than most Mandalorians, but it seems to work for him. He also has dark gold armored shoulder pieces and knee pads. A Mandalorian emblem can be seen on the left shoulder, very neatly imprinted on the figure.

Boba Fett has heavy brown gauntlets with gray gloves. These gauntlets contain weapons of their own. He also has a thick brown belt with many pouches, and his uniform has more such pouches of its own. Let's face it, the man is a walking arsenal. He has fancy gray shoes that I'm surprised don't say "Reebok" on the side or some such. Boba Fett is also wearing a small, rather tattered green cape over one shoulder, that for the figure has been made of fabric and pressed into a sort of "draped" look.

Of course, Boba Fett can fly, thanks to his jet backpack, which is included with the figure, and he's armed with his own personal blaster rifle.

The figure is superbly well detailed and painted, and certainly very well-articulated, fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, including a swivel, glove tops, waist, legs, knees, including a swivel, and ankles, including a swivel. Like I said, this is really the ultimate Boba Fett action figure. Extremely impressive.

IMPERIAL SKYTROOPERS - One of the reasons I rather like Clone Troopers a little more than Stormtroopers is there's a bit more variety within the established framework. Clone Troopers have a wide variety of color details to their armor, depending on which unit or division they're serving with, and there's also quite a number of specialized Clone types. Over the course of the Clone Wars series, we've also gotten to know a good number of individual Clones, who have distinctive markings on their armors, as well.

Not so much with Stormtroopers. Admittedly, George Lucas filmed the Classic Trilogy first, so that technically Stormtroopers came before Clone Troopers, even if it was the reverse of that in the "actual" Star Wars timeline. And so, the Stormtroopers as first presented to us all looked identical, in their stark white armor with a certain amount of black detailing.

Over the next couple of movies, we'd encounter a few limited variations. Snowtroopers, Biker Scouts, but nothing all that extensive. Certainly nothing like what the Clone Troopers have given us.

According to the "in-universe" storyline, Emperor Palpatine transformed all the various divisions and units of Clone Troopers into the all-white Stormtroopers, supposedly as some sort of representation of post-war unity or some such political drivel. Everybody get your new Stormtrooper helmet and then report to the quartermaster for a coat of whitewash. Still, it was as effective a way of any of explaining why all the Stormtroopers tended to look pretty much alike after all the variety of the Clone Troopers.

The Clone Troopers, of course, were cloned from Bounty Hunter Jango Fett. It's been indicated that by the time of the Stormtroopers, there were many that were still clones, either of Jango Fett or of other qualified genetic donors, but that the Stormtrooper ranks were also filled out by non-clone recruits. Still, there was a certain sameness about them, as witness by Princess Leia's remark when a disguised Luke Skywalker rescued her from the holding cell on the Death Star, "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?" Was it sarcasm -- or a legitimate observation...

Although the Stormtroopers themselves didn't see a lot of variety in the movies, the "Expanded Universe" media has given us some interesting variants, between books, comics, video games, and other sources. There have been Shadow Stormtroopers, Flamethrower Troopers, Spacetroopers -- and we've been fortunate enough to see some of these as action figures. And now, we have the Imperial Skytroopers.

I couldn't find any significant backstory about these guys. There wasn't anything on "Wookieepedia" about them. I imagine they were created specifically for the Star Tours attraction, and haven't seen use in any other form of Star Wars media -- yet, anyway. But I think it would be fair to describe the Skytroopers as Imperial Stormtroopers who more or less are dressed like Stormtroopers, but have been given a little additional ornamentation to their armor, as well as having been fully trained in the use of a personal jet pack that's secured to their backs. There are two Skytroopers in this Star Tours set, and they were one of the main reasons I wanted this set.

The figures, like Fett and Vader, date back to 2005. This is not a problem. It was right about this time that Hasbro started releasing what were then known as "Super-Articulated" versions of some of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe. The articulation of Star Wars figures has always been a little variable, even in modern times. Maybe the elbows and knees would be articulated and maybe they wouldn't be. Maybe the waist turned and maybe it didn't. But with the "Super-Articulated" figures, you knew you were getting the most movement possible.

Obviously, the figures are, for the most part, Stormtroopers. They have predominantly white armor, with evidence of a black "undersuit". One of the cool things about the Stormtroopers and Clone Troopers from a figure standpoint is that they are particularly well designed to be made as action figures. The articulation can be incorporated into the design of the character very effectively.

The Skytroopers have several notable things that set them apart from Stormtroopers, however. First of all is an added feature to the helmet. Two hoses extend from the helmet's "jaw", right at those two little plug points that never seemed to have any real purpose on a standard Stormtrooper helmet. These hoses extend down to a small white pack near the chest, with some very neatly painted detail on it in red, gray, and black. I'm assuming this is an air supply in case the Skytrooper should suddenly become an impromptu Spacetrooper, at least for a limited time.

There is also some extensive gray trim on the Skytroopers' armor that one does not find on the all-white armor of a typical Stormtrooper. There is a vertical stripe over the top of the helmet, that fans out a bit in the back, the jaw of the helmet is also gray, There are gray patches on the shoulders that taper down into stripes, two stripes on each lower arm, two narrow stripes on each upper leg. Gray knees, narrow stripes down the front of the legs, and gray feet. Most impressive is the very tiny detail at the base of the gray section of the left knee piece. A series of little circular rivet-like details, painted in white. Eyestrain, anyone? Still, very impressive to go into that much painted detailing. And overall, the striping certainly makes the Skytroopers look distinctive.

Of course, you can't be a Skytrooper without a means of flight, and the Skytroopers each come with a distinctive jet pack that clips to their back. It's nothing especially like Boba Fett's backpack, although some of the principles are doubtless the same. It looks a bit more sophisticated than that. The backpacks are white, with a limited amount of gray and black trim, and work very well with the design of the armor.

Each Skytrooper comes with two weapons, a standard blaster pistol, and a longer rifle. The Skytroopers are, of course, superbly well-articulated, and are fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso (which works very well with the armor design), legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles (including a swivel).

So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely delighted to have this set. One of these days, I'd like to think I'll be able to return to either Disneyland or Walt Disney World, and experience the revised Star Tours attraction. It sounds like it's a lot of fun, and I'm sure I'd enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to have these figures. As Disney Parks' exclusives, these aren't figures that you'll be able to run down to Toys "R" Us or Walmart and purchase. But if you're fortunate enough to be planning a Disney Parks vacation, then you should be able to obtain them. Or perhaps you know someone who is that would be willing to do you a favor. Ultimately, there should be a way.

And I believe that any Star Wars fan would be delighted with this set. Although Vader and Fett are technically reissues, both are excellent figure versions of these characters -- especially Boba Fett -- and any Star Wars action figure collector will want to add these impressive, exclusive Imperial Skytroopers to their collection!

The STAR WARS Disney Parks' Exclusive set -- AMBUSH AT STAR TOURS, featuring DARTH VADER, BOBA FETT, and the IMPERIAL SKYTROOPERS, definitely has my highest, most enthusiastic recommendation!