Sunday, 12 January 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: $24.99/£23.99

The end of 2019 saw the world gripped by a new wave of Star Wars mania not only coming from both The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian, but from Jedi: Fallen Order - the brand new video game thrusting players back to fallout of Order 66 and the great Jedi purge. The release of the game was also celebrated as part of Triple Force Friday with a wave of new releases from Hasbro's Black Series line, which also included a few store exclusive releases to keep collectors on their toes. If fans wanted to bolster out their Stormtrooper ranks with Darth Vader's elite Jedi extermination unit, they'd need to visit GameStop to get a hold of the Black Series Purge Stormtrooper figure. In the US the figure was also available to those who preordered the special edition of the game, while in the rest of the world fans unfortunately needed to clamour to whichever online retailer was lucky enough to have it for sale.

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper Box 01

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper Box 02Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper Box 03Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper Box 04Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper Box 05

While exclusives don't tend to see any major packaging changes in the Black Series line other than in very specific circumstances, there are a few little flourishes on the Purge Stormtrooper box that definitely make it stand out from the mainline Black Series figures. First of all is the use of red on the character art used on the front of the box, which usually tends to be done completely in black and white. It's especially striking here because of course it matches the colour of the Stormtrooper itself, as well as adding a huge splash of colour to what's otherwise a very drab-looking box for the most part. Secondly the packaging has the proper Jedi: Fallen Order logo in the bottom corner alongside the Hasbro one, which is only ever really seen with the video game Black Series releases (the same can be said of the Battlefront II ones). The rest of the box is pretty much the same, though of course no specific numbering on the spine to signal that this is one of the line's exclusive releases. The back of the box features a short bio about the role of Purge Stormtroopers, and then inside the figure and accessories are neatly housed on a moulded clear plastic tray.

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 02

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 03Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 04Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 05Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 06

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 07Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 08Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 09Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 10

The Purge Stormtroopers are a brand new trooper variant that first appear in issue 13 of the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic, but were officially named and particularly prominent in Jedi: Fallen Order and its accompanying media. Even among the ever-growing pantheon of black Stormtrooper variants they have a few unique traits that manage to make them stand out. The main one of these is the Airborne Clone Trooper helmet, now sporting a red visor instead of the usual black. Their jet black armour sports a white stripes on the arms and right leg as well as a number of red highlights - such as the shoulder pauldron and Imperial insignia. Purge Stormtroopers also have skirt pieces similar to that of high-ranking Clone Troopers, which like the reuse of clone armour and weapons is interesting as the canon states the Purge Stormtroopers were among the last clones created by the Empire. Hasbro have done a much better job here realising that glossy material of the trooper armour than they have with the standard Stormtrooper figure, and the maroon highlights really add a splash of sinister colour to that rather imposing design. While the red paint application generally seems to be excellent, the white stripes on the arms and leg seem faded straight out of the box and my copy also has some scratch marks on the leg. Thankfully these are mostly hidden by the skirt section, which despite being wholly fabric does a surprisingly good job of holding billowing and windswept poses for action shots. Although it doesn't quite have the same impact as the Deathtrooper design it's still a very effective and memorable Stormtrooper variant, though I wish Hasbro had made the red of the visor a little more visible than it actually is. It's the same as Darth Vader in that most wouldn't probably realise that they're actually red rather than black, but a bit more reflection would have really stood out in that sea of black.

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 11

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 12Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 13Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 14Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 15

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 16Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 17Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 18Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 19

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 20Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 21Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 22

Though there are a few armour changes here and there the Purge Stormtrooper is still just a variation of the line's original trooper body so it shouldn't come as any surprise to hear that the articulation is pretty much the same as well. The Purge Stormtrooper features  swivel hinges in the neck, shoulders, wrists and ankles along with bicep and thigh swivels, double hinge elbows and knees, and a ball jointed torso and hips. The different plastic used for the Purge Stormtrooper overall results in a far more satisfying figure, but there are still a few issues that a mould as widely used as a trooper one really shouldn't have. The shoulders aren't particularly great to begin with as the standard shoulder pad immediately clashes with the torso, but now the right shoulder also has to content with the pauldron completely locking it down into place. This basically means that use of the shoulder articulation is minimal at best, and most of the arm movement available has to instead come from the bicep swivel and elbows - which might be okay if the elbows, despite being double jointed, could achieve much more than a 45 degree bend. It's a shame because compared to this the leg articulation is actually very good, and the flexible ankle joints ensure that the Trooper has really good balance even in wide-legged poses.

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 23

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 24Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 25Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 26Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 27

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 28Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 29Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 30Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 31

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 32Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 33Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 34

The Purge Stormtrooper comes packaged with an DC-15S Blaster and DC-15A Blaster Rifle - both of which were the weapons of choice of Republic Clone Troopers, and thus have been released a fair few times in the Black Series before. Both guns thankfully fit into the figure's hands rather nicely, however in the case of the left hand it might be worth warming it up first to stretch the fingers out and make sure the grip is a little better. Sadly because of the shoulder limitations it's difficult (though not impossible with some perspective trickery) to bring the rifle up much higher than chest level, but this isn't a problem unique to this particular Stormtrooper variant. Rather the real disappointment from these accessories comes from the fact that they're both straight repacks, which for a single store exclusive shouldn't be all that surprising. However in Jedi: Fallen Order the Purge Stormtroopers are adept in both range and close-quarters combat, so it would have been nice to see that reflected in the toy as well. How about instead of the the DC-15S (because who needs another one of those?) it came with an electrostaff instead? It just feels like there were plenty of possibilities with this figure, and Hasbro settled for the easiest/laziest one. Maybe there'll be a second version down the line somewhere with different weapons? Who knows, but for now it might have been nice to have a Purge Trooper that didn't just come with the same things as every other trooper in the line.

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 35

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 36Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 37Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 38

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 39Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 40Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 41Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 42

The Black Series Purge Stormtrooper is a fantastic looking figure that arguably makes a much better Sith Trooper than the ones that appeared in The Rise of Skywalker, mainly really let down by using mould elements that have long since begun to feel outdated. This could have been the perfect chance for Hasbro to rework the standard Clone/Stormtrooper body and bring it closer in line with the recent Clone Trooper commander releases, but that was probably an unrealistic expectation for something that was going to be a store exclusive. The plus side is with new tooling like the Airborne Clone Trooper helmet out there now, we might see some great Clone Wars era releases in the near-future. As a GameStop exclusive and very, very limited (at least if UK release is anything to go by) release elsewhere, if this figure has your interest be sure to grab it while you still can!

No comments: