Welcome to Figures & Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy. From product reviews to informed editorials, these are most definitely the articles that’ll make you want to strike a pose.
At my local Target, toy vehicles based on Rogue One were already on the clearance aisle the day after Christmas, with the massive AT-ACT down to $150, from $300. I presume they’re not moving particularly fast, and further presume that perhaps the darker nature of the movie means that kids (or their parents) aren’t rushing out to grab all the new stuff. Without spoiling Rogue One if you haven’t seen it, the story is pretty much a closed loop without a lot of room for further adventures (so far, anyway…there can always be retcons, alternate universes and what have you), so that might limit the imagination some. But damn it, they are still new Star Wars vehicles, and when I was a kid, that was cause for celebration even when it was something Kenner had just totally made up (I’m looking at you, Mini-Rigs).
Hasbro sent me the three key new vehicles to review (there is not, as far as I know, an actual toy of “Rogue One” itself in this scale), and I’m here to tell you whether or not they’re worth your while, clearanced or otherwise. Let’s start with the TIE Striker.
Assembly is really quite simple, with just a bit of strength required to fully push the wings into place. I haven’t collected the 3.75 inch figures in a while, so I don’t know if the TIE pilot is new or not, but he looks like a standard original trilogy TIE pilot. His helmet is non-removable.
Continuing a trend I first noticed in The Force Awakens vehicles, the TIE also has a slot in the canopy to stash his gun. This is a very kid-friendly gimmick that I highly approve of, and wish I had had in my childhood toys.
Unlike all other TIE toys, the Striker does not feature pop-off wings. Instead, the wings raise up manually, and then drop down when you press a button on the back. Simple and effective.
Is it just me, or does it look kinda like a sad puppy from the front? Regardless, the one design flaw is that it has no landing gear or flat bottom, so it just sort of rolls around, even with the wings down.
A major new gimmick in the Rogue One line is the inclusion of QR codes that unlock special effects in the free downloadable Hasbro Star Wars app. Properly done, this allows you to make mini-movies of your toys on a smartphone, with official Star Wars sounds and images added in. But because my phone’s camera is terrible and I am old, this aspect somewhat eluded me. Your kid will figure it out, though.
Now, let’s talk about the Nerf dart gimmick on all these toys. I thought it would be a terrible idea; even as a kid, I prized accuracy in my toys, and brightly colored foam missiles ain’t that. (I do appreciate that once they’ve been fired, you become a literal Nerf herder trying to pick them all up.) Surprisingly, it’s a feature that works really well. On the TIE striker, the launcher is about the size and shape of a regular TIE laser cannon anyway, and on the U-Wing, the Nerf launcher is completely retractable. Also, the darts hit really hard–I fired one at myself just to test, and it briefly stung a little. You could shoot your eye out…almost.
The U-Wing requires a bit more assembly, and be careful with it–I had to take one of the jets on and off maybe four times before it snapped in place correctly. Match up the front ends first.
In the movie, the U-Wing is a troop transport. The toy, however, seats one figure. Just one. With a little black rubber band of a seatbelt. It’s a bummer they couldn’t at least have fit K-2SO in there as well.
And we need to talk about the included Cassian Andor figure…
He’s terrible. Bad eye painting, bad “sculpt” that I suspect was a laser scan unmodified by any clean-up work afterward. I defy anybody who did not already know to be able to tell this is meant to be Diego Luna. But his gun does fit in his holster. There’s also a place inside the ship to stash it, again a move I applaud.
The U-Wing does have retractable landing gear, which is nice. It also retains the primary gimmick from the movie of having wings that can sweep all the way back to more of a Y shape.
Neither vehicle comes with stickers: all the detail is sculpted or painted. There’s something to be said for that.
Yes, the U-Wing should be much bigger than a TIE. It’s an okay toy, but as the alleged onscreen U-Wing it’s gonna bum some kids out.
Let us move along to the big kahuna. The piece de resistance, er, empire. The AT-ACT.
The extra “C” in the name stands for “Cargo,” and indeed, this massive metal quadruped comes with a removable cargo container that doubles as a mini-base.
There isn’t a crate that does this in the movie, but it adds play value. There’s a small missile launcher and a winch that you can use if you want to make Jyn Erso pull a Luke Skywalker move and rappel up. Figures are supposed to grab the line with their hands, which would cause hella rope burn.
Speaking of Jyn, she’s one of three figures that come included, and while I’ve ragged on her headsculpt in the larger figure line, it looks more like Felicity Jones in the smaller scale. The driver, whose kind of halfway between a Scarif Shoretrooper and a Biker Scout, has a plastic skirt piece that makes it difficult for him to do THE ONE JOB HE HAS…namely, sit down in the cockpit.
Since all Stormtroopers are bad at their jobs, that makes a semblance of sense. As for the Imperial R2 unit…he lacks holes in his feet.
The AT-ACT is smaller than previous AT-ATs, and sculpt-wise, it’s hard to recommend it over them. However, the value of this thing is in the gimmick, and it’s a good one.
That app you download to scan the QR codes? It also makes the Imperial Walker actually WALK. And not just walk, but walk with full screen-accurate lumbering sounds, move its head (clockwise or counter-clockwise), make pew-pew sounds and red laser lights, and fire Nerf darts. Be careful around curious pets, because before the Nerf missile fires, a small door in the AT-ACT’s head opens up automatically, and your furry friend might be curious…and, I hope, able to get out of the way in time to not get hit.
The walker doesn’t pick up its feet very much, so you’ll get better movement on smooth surfaces. Eventually, though, it makes its way across the carpet. Controlling it with your phone is super fun, but in case you live in a Luddite household, there are buttons on the toy itself that control the same functions. Just be sure you have four D batteries and a very long screwdriver to open up the AT-ACT’s butt.
These panels lift up to offer more standing room, or store weapons/stowaways. There are stickers, but good luck getting them where they’re supposed to go if you have big, grown-up hands.
Yeah, I also have a Krennic figure, and yeah, his eyes are really badly painted too. Comes with the territory these days.
There’s no denying that this is a really fun toy. Even my sick wife got out of bed to play with it. But is it $300 worth of fun? That’s a tougher call. For a kid with $300, if it’s this or a PlayStation, they’ll want the PlayStation. For an adult, if it’s this or a Hot Toys figure, we’ll generally get the Hot Toys. I’m sure Hasbro priced it as cheaply as they could manage, what with the Bluetooth connection and all, but in the end, it is a Star Wars vehicle, and that’s such a leap from even the older, bigger ones that it’s hard to endorse. As I said upfront, though, my local Target had one marked down to $150, and that price is right.
If you’re the sort of collector who keeps things in the box, I shall feel very sorry for you if you own one of this. Sending it around the house making the real pew-pew-pew noises is the sort of thing that will make your grown-up ass feel like a kid at Christmas again.
Images: LYT for Nerdist
Luke Y. Thompson is Nerdist’s weekend editor and toyaholic. Tweet to him @LYTrules.