Star Wars Action Figures


Yodasnews.com Review: Stormtrooper (Real Action Heroes)

 By Jeff Gouse (SithLord0498)

 

After an even dozen Sideshow Collectibles 1/6 scale action figures and one Hot Toys Robocop, I have finally ventured into Medicom territory.  Those of you who frequent message boards and/or threads dedicated to this format are undoubtedly aware of the “pros and cons” debate over Medicom and Sideshow, one that involves body types, likenesses, price, and scale.  Now that I own a variety of figures, I can intelligently address these issues in this review, something I was unfortunately unable to do with my Luke Skywalker review. 

There is one thing I want to point out before we begin.  My Stormtrooper came from www.starwarsshop.com and was the “non-mint” $99 version.  For anyone who is either currently wanting to buy one or wants to after this review (there’s a big hint how this review will play out), do not be alarmed by this $30 non-mint reduction.  The extent of my sample’s “damage” was a few scuff marks and a crinkle on the box.  It was closer to mint condition than many action figures sold straight out of the cases. 

However, you’ll want to act fast on that deal.  The non-mint versions are still available as of the writing of this review (Sunday, March 11, 2007), but quantities are unknown. 

But enough e-tailer shop talk.  Let’s get down to business. 

Packaging:  4 out of 5

 

As mentioned in my earlier review of the Yoda VCD figure, Medicom’s packaging leaves much to be desired in the aesthetics department.  All you really get is a black box with silvery text and logos engraved into it.  No biographical write-ups or Photoshop-enhanced product images.  None of the eye-catching good stuff that you find on even the cheapest thrift-store toys.  Medicom’s packaging is just plain boring. 

So why did I grade it toward the higher end of the scale?  Simple.  It does its job, and it does it quite well. 

The tray is easily accessible.  In fact, I would say it is more accessible than Sideshow’s figure trays.  The plastic molding is better fitted to the figure and accessories, which increases how well they are held in place.  Like the majority of 1/6 scale figure boxes, the front panel opens to reveal a window box display of the figure. 

Bottom line: grossly lacking in visual dynamics but does what it needs to do. 

Sculpt:  4.9 out of 5 

“Medicom's new Stormtrooper poseable figure looks so photo-realistic that we actually thought these images were actors posed in suits.” 

That statement is found on the product ordering page at StarWarsShop.com, and it perfectly encapsulates my feelings on the Stormtrooper sculpt.  No need to worry about false advertising there, folks.  This trooper is simple yet extremely detailed at the same time.  Unfortunately, there is little to discuss in this section as the majority of the details are better suited for the “Paint Application” and “Costuming” sections. 

For now, I will just say that I feel this figure has a superior, near-perfect sculpt.  However, collectors have pointed out that Medicom incorporated elements from the Stormtrooper armor in all three Original Trilogy films, making this figure an amalgamation rather than a film-specific rendering.  Personally, I could care less and probably wouldn’t have noticed on my own, but I have refrained from giving the figure a perfect 5 out of fairness.

 

 Paint Application:  4.9 out of 5

Since this is basically a black and white figure, there is little to review in the way of paint application.  What paint there is has been applied in a painstakingly clean manner.  This would easily have been a perfect score if it hadn’t been for one small imperfection.  The black band running across the brow of the helmet has a slight paint smear where the artisans strayed from their path.  I know it may seem like an irritating nitpick, but this is black against white here.  While it’s only noticeable from either close-up or at certain angles, it disrupts the symmetry of the piece. 

Make no mistake, though: these are the cleanest paint applications I’ve ever seen on an Imperial trooper.

 

  Costuming:  5 out of 5

 

This is where the Medicom Stormtrooper truly shines (aside from articulation, but more on that later…). 

The costume is comprised of more than a dozen individual pieces of armor either attached to each other or held in place by gravity and/or their proximity to other pieces.  This is an excellent replication of both the filming costumes and of real-world armor.  Medieval armor certainly didn’t look like a full-body cybernetic suit.  It was worn piece-meal and had its fair share of vulnerable spots. 

The Stormtrooper armor’s vulnerable spots here are the areas where the spandex-like body suit are visible.  To be completely honest, the spandex freaked me out when I first posed my figure.  It makes a very startling, almost-ripping sound when stretched, and I was afraid it was going to tear.  However, the bodysuit has a remarkable amount of flexibility and stays snug to the body in virtually any pose. 

Great attention was paid to the sculpting of the armor, which means the details are as equally impressive as the overall composition.  The ridges and pits are sculpted precisely and cleanly, and the holster is also very well made.  Constructed of soft and oily leather, this fully-functional piece of costuming has a permanently closed strap but is designed in such a way that the blaster is easily inserted and removed.  If only Sideshow had done that for Bespin Han Solo’s holster.  For as fragile as Han’s holster is, the Stormtrooper’s holster is the polar opposite.

 

Seeing this figure makes me wonder something.  What exactly is Sideshow Collectibles’ issue with creating armored figures?  In past interviews, they’ve publicly stated that removable helmets were an issue because either the helmet would be oversized or the head undersized, thereby negating the authenticity of the scale.  To be honest, that company is far from being a master of scale.  Look at Luke’s monkey arms if you doubt that.  Plus, helmets are disproportionately larger by their very nature.  Football helmets certainly look oversized on a person’s body, and that is what you get with the Stormtrooper.  You see the “big head” syndrome with the figure’s helmet, and you see it with the actual filming costume as well. 

My point is that Medicom clearly doesn’t have a scale issue with the helmets in their armored figures.  Darth Vader (either version) is a good example.  I’ve seen many pictures of both, and nothing looks out of place.  It’s about time Sideshow gets around to making these figures.  As for me, though, I’ll be buying Medicom’s armored figures for now even if it costs me $150+ each.  And the biggest reason for that is…

 Articulation:  5 out of 5 

This is the absolute best 1/6 scale body type I’ve come across so far, and I can now understand from personal experience why collectors are so passionate about the RAH body.  Standing toe-to-toe with Sideshow’s Art S. Buck body, the RAH kicks its butt so hard that it’ll make the Kessel Run in less than FIVE parsecs!! 

There were two big positives that I saw in the RAH body right away.  First, you have additional ankle articulation, which allows the Stormtrooper to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground in a wide variety of leg stances.  Sideshow’s offerings do not allow this luxury, which make the figures look less lifelike and severely disrupt their stability.  To be fair, it looks like the Buck body has the same type of articulation but Sideshow renders it unusable by the stiff plastic they use for boots.  There is simply no give to them, so one foot is always resting on its side—not good for stability at all!! 

The Stormtrooper is the only figure I own that is not attached to a figure stand.  Additionally, the figure stands next to my printer, which has a tendency to shake the shelves when printing.  Even then, the Stormtrooper remains in place.  That is the second big positive with the RAH body: a more realistic center of gravity. 

Honestly, you won’t be able to fully exploit the RAH body on this figure because of the restrictive armor.  But that is real-world accuracy right there.  People wearing armor of this style are not going to be acrobats.  Watch any of the original three Star Wars films and look at how clunky and clumsily the Stormtroopers moved. 

After seeing what this figure is capable of doing, Sideshow needs to create new body types if they want to stay competitive.  The only things they have going for them are the various heights of their base bodies, which does give them more accurate scaling between characters.  But a quarter or half-inch here and there doesn’t amount to much when their body types are behind in every other area. 

The final thing I want to discuss about the RAH body type is scale.  The biggest negative I’ve heard about Medicom is that their 1/6 scale is different than other companies’ 1/6 scale.  Well, that is true.  The Stormtrooper is shorter here than it would be on a Sideshow body.  But just how different is it? 

We’ll use Luke as an example.  In Episode IV, Luke was “a little short for a Stormtrooper”, but in the 1/6 scale world, Sideshow’s Luke is roughly a quarter inch taller than the Stormtrooper.  The Medicom figure is roughly equal to the height of Sideshow’s Darth Maul.  But this difference does not mean you can’t display him with other companies’ figures.  He looks just fine next to my Sideshow Luke and Bespin Han. 

Darth Vader is the only figure I can think of that would look grossly out of scale with the other figures.  Personally, that doesn’t bother me because my main use for these figures is creating images in Photoshop.  All the scale difference means is that I resize the pictures differently to compensate.  On the shelves, I could really care less.  In fact, I want a Darth Vader equal to my Sideshow Anakin’s height because Hayden Christensen was not as tall as Dave Prowse, so a shorter Vader makes more sense to me in terms of story continuity. 

Plus, you can always increase the height a little bit through the use of leg extenders, which are nothing more than small donut-shaped plastic rings that extend the length of the legs at the bottom.  Yes, you may end up with monkey legs, but some futzing with the costuming could minimize that.  Various message boards have pictures of the Medicom Darth Vader figures with the extenders on them, so feel free to search around if you’re curious.

  Accessories:  3 out of 5 

This is the greatest shortcoming of the Stormtrooper.  He comes with very little.  Two sets of hands and a blaster that came slightly bent.  No comlink.  No blaster rifle.  No wristcuffs.  On the plus side, the alternate left hand is sculpted in a thumbs-up pose, which looks rather comical on the shelf.  For the price level though, I expected more than the bare-bones we get.  There isn’t even enough to warrant a picture of the accessories. 

Here’s what you get with the Medicom Stormtrooper: 

“Fun Factor”:  5.5 out of 5 

Yet again, I find myself going off the chart a little to emphasize an outstanding quality.  With Darth Maul and Yoda, that quality was the face sculpt.  With the Stormtrooper, it’s the amount of fun you can have.  For most collectors, the fun is in the poseability of the figure.  For me, it’s that combined with how lifelike it can look in Photoshop.

 

  Overall Rating:  4.6 out of 5  

This is where mathematics can fail you.  Darth Maul rated a 4.76, but I consider the Stormtrooper to be a superior figure because it outshines Maul in articulation (again, the RAH vs. Buck bodies issue).  But the lack of variety in the accessories and the “plain Jane” packaging bring the Medicom score down lower than I feel it should be.  Still, consistency is essential when doing a series of reviews that need to be comparable to each other. 

Instead, I’ll just make this plea: Don’t wait around for Sideshow to wake up and decide to make Imperial troopers.  Buy this one now and do it soon to take advantage of StarWarsShop’s fantastic bargain on these “non-mint” versions.  You will not regret this purchase.  Yes, the price is quite high compared to Sideshow’s offerings, but you will be getting a much higher standard of quality.

So until Sideshow can compete with Medicom and keep costs at their current $60 average, Medicom is your answer to 1/6 scale armored characters.