Star Wars is pretty much everywhere once more, and that’s no more obvious than in Bandai’s Tamashii Nations listings. Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers have been out for a while, both in regular movie versions as SH Figuarts and Meisho Movie Realization versions as samurai, SH Figuarts Luke Skywalker has just been released, and it’s not long until Darth Maul joins the SH Figuarts line, but Bandai aren’t resting on their laurels.
To accompany the Stormtroopers as footsoldiers we’ll soon (well, next year) be getting Clonetroopers and, curiously, Federation battle droids. I say curiously because the battle droids have long been consigned to history even though they had regular roles in the Clone Wars cartoon series. They just never made good action figures , and it’s kind of strange Bandai would pick them rather than keep
ing focused on the original trilogy and maybe the upcoming films (though I suspect Hasbro has that locked quite heavily contract wise if they’re sensible). Still, the droids seem really well articulated, which could make them pretty interesting to handle and finally make up for the poor showing we had from Hasbro. As the droids can also fold up for transport as they appear in Phantom Menace I’d really like it if Bandai continued their creation of sets and had a rack to hang a bunch of droids from. One can but hope.
The Clonetroopers also look really well articulated, at least as well as the already-released Stormtroopers (video review soon, I promise!), and are really nice and clean, matching their Attack of the Clones appearance which Bandai seem to be aping in some of the promo material. I’m really pleased that the prequels aren’t being ignored and, with any luck, we’ll see plenty of variants over time in terms of colour and armour. If they start making Revenge of the Sith figures, with numerous Phase II armour variants, I will happily set fire to my Hasbro 3 3/4″ Phase II Clones.
Representing the Original Trilogy’s part of this line is the Biker Scout with his speeder bIke. This is a massive deal to me as, being an old man, I got to see Jedi fresh in the cinema and had the Kenner Biker Scout & his bike, and fell in love with the desi
gn something chronic. The Scout looks to have the same articulation as the Stormtroopers, and looks perfect with the bike, which will no doubt benefit greatly from the attention to detail that the SH Figuarts line benefits from.
And then we have the Meisho Movie Realization figures designed by Takayuki Takeya. Boba Fett, billed as a ronin bounty hunter (like Gen in Usagi Yojimbo if that’s a reference that makes sense to anyone), suddenly appeared at the beginning of August and is set for release in November. His colour scheme is the familiar mix of green and grey with yellow flashes, but everything else has changed with the switch to an outfit matching that of a samurai in full battle dress. Continuing the theme started by the Ashigaru Stormtrooper his blaster has been switched for a flintlock rifle that heavily resembles his blaster, and he now carries a sword which looks to be a wakizashi rather than a katana.
An inevitable inclusion is the Sandtrooper variant of the existing Ashigaru Stormtrooper, coming in the form of the Teppō Ashigaru Sandtrooper who comes with a recoloured pauldron, new backpack and a couple of new weapons: a flintlock long rifle and a massive handheld cannon, the Teppō (or Tanegashima) from which this figure gets its name. It’s an interesting way of handling a variant on the base body, and covering the two heavy weapons that generally come with Sandtrooper toys (the heavy blaster & repeating blaster).
Finally we have Bandai’s latest announcement for their Meisho Movie Realization line, Takeya’s version of the Emperor’s Royal Guard, the Akazonae Royal Guard. Bright red and sporting an interesting weapon design replacing their force pike, these look absolutely stunning. They appear to use the same base as the Ashigaru Stormtrooper but with huge changes to the armour along with the addition of a cape. I’m not much of a fan of the cape that Samurai Daisho Darth Vader came with, but I like the way Takeya has handled the Royal Guard’s signature cloak. Hopefully both are removable without looking odd.
All of these Star Wars goodies Bandai is throwing our way are great to see, especially as they’ve focused primarily on the villains of the films, I just hope they get to keep going with the line, especially the Imperial and Clone troops.