Toys / Toy Collecting

Star Wars The Black Series Rebel Trooper (Hoth)


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By Hervé St-Louis
June 4, 2021 - 07:29

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The Hoth Rebels troopers appeared in the Empire Strikes Back Star Wars film in 1980 where they were defending the Rebel Alliance’s base against the Galactic Empire’s forces. The Hoth Rebels fought a losing and desperate battle against the Empire while allowing their leaders to escape the planet. These unnamed soldiers soldiered on valiantly for their cause. While there were Hoth Troopers in the old Star Wars action figure line, they were never as cool as these new ones from the Black Series. This figure (the Star Wars 40th Anniversary The Black Series 6" Hoth Rebel Soldier) is a reissue of the original Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Black Series Rebel Trooper (Hoth) figure on a card back instead of a box. Both are the same.

The unique feature of the action figure that makes everyone flip to adulation is the multiple face swap, allowing collectors to army build this legions Hoth Rebel Troopers with unique looks. The figure comes with a second face hidden in its backpack. Swap the younger rebel’s face for the bearded one, you have two different action figures. Put their goggles on, switch the scarf up, down or remove it and you have more individualized looks for you action figure. I wish other army builders came with this feature. I’m not a hardcore fan of Star Wars but I just fell in love with this action figure because of its innovative design. I got two of them and may get two more soon.

As a G.I. Joe Classified collector, I also think the Hoth Rebels would make incredible Cobra Snow Serpents troopers with a little bit of customization. Even if I never get around to attempting this customization, this is still an incredible action figure that I am glad that I got for my collection.

Likeness

The likeness of the Hoth Rebel Trooper is based on the many characters seen in the Empire Strikes Back movie. The non-bearded figure does look like on actor that was on screen and is now featured on the packaging artwork.  Hasbro had to standardize the look a bit which is why the character has a hanging piece of fabric that can serve as an adjustment piece to his balaclava.  The famous pants and odd winter boots are there too. Even the oddly shaped backpack radio is on the trooper’s back.

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Sculpt

My main criticism for this sculpt is the square peg making this action figure’s backpack incompatible with most other 1:12 toys on the market. The antennas and face covering attached to the hat are nice but be careful when handling them.

The sculpt on this toy is impressive and I am disappointed that not more parts from this toy were used to design the Hoth Luke Skywalker. He could have used the legs and parts of the torso and the arms which look much better on the Hoth rebel. Giving generic army-builders great sculpts is a successful strategy as they are often in demand and bought in multiples by collectors.

It is weird though that the Hoth rebel looks so much better than the cheap looking Hoth Luke Skywalker. I would wager that the Hoth rebel troopers are not the most popular characters from the Star Wars franchise by any means. That they were produced as toys multiple times seems more a universe building endeavour and an attempt to scrap for available characters. However, making them look this good, and giving them two good faces is how most toys should be designed.

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Paint

Except for the 3D painted faces there is no shading on this action figure. A few parts have painted applications and detailing. The application is not always good. The edges of 3D sculpted surfaces are not always well applied. On one of my troopers, there was some dirt on the knee articulation that looked like food waste or something nastier. It points to a lack of quality control at the factory in China.

The 3D digital face painting is good, but its application is fuzzy. The detailing is blurry when you look up close.

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Scale

Star Wars Black Series action figures tend to look shorter than other 1:12 lines because few of the characters reach beyond six inches. That’s okay, The Hoth rebel trooper is taller than the Hoth Luke Skywalker but shorter than the Hoth Hans Solo. They look good next to other Star Wars Black Series action figures and lines such as G.I. Joe Classified. However, they do look out of place with most current Marvel Legends toys and anything on the seven-inch scale.

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Stability

The Hoth rebel trooper is very stable and will not topple easily. The ankle swivel helps a lot. Even with the heavy backpack, the figure stands well.

Articulations

The articulations are stiff and not loose. The thighs will not move easily, even though there is a slit on the side of the tunic to allow the legs to move. The arms are easier to move. Unlike the other Hoth action figures of Hans Solo and Luke Skywalker, the Hoth rebels have wrist articulations.

The rebel has a ball joint head that is easy to remove from the chest to allow the scarf to be put in place or removed. The rebel trooper has a butterfly articulation that is a bit stiff. He a single elbow articulatio that also allows the forearm to swivel. The waist can also twist while the torso is on a ball joint. But it’s so stiff and covered by the tunic, so it’s not easy to rotate the torso. There are thigh curls but the one on the right can make the holster snap off. There are double knee articulations and ankle pivot, twist and with up and down motion.

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Plastic

I cannot tell for sure, but it seems that the materials used for Star Wars action figures by Hasbro are of better stock than what they use for their G.I. Joe Classified action figures. The Hoth rebel trooper feels sturdy. There are two parts to the tunic which are in rubbery white plastic. The chest and the backpack are also in white plastic, so do avoid exposing the action figure to direct sunlight to avoid yellowing. There is an antenna on the head of the rebel trooper. Be careful not to break it.

Props

The Hoth rebel trooper comes with a long-range riffle and another gun. The smaller gun fits in a open holster tied to the trooper’s tunic and his thigh. This might limit posability. The other prop is the radio backpack which includes a small opening with a removable panel that hides the second face. The details on the backpack are nice with coloured parts. There are soft plastic pegs that extend from the tunic into the backpack. They do not hold the backpack in place but mimic that function. Watch out for the antenna on the backpack as it can break easily.

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The other prop are the polar goggles that the character can wear. The cool thing about them is that the glass part is translucent green. You can see the character’s head through the lenses. The elastic band on the goggle is cheap and will not last long. He also comes with beige scarf that fits either way on the action figure. If you put the flat end at the bottom, it fits in a thin slot at the base of the chest.

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Packaging

Depending on whether you purchase the Star Wars: The Black Series 6" Hoth Rebel Soldier (Empire Strikes Back) or the Star Wars 40th Anniversary The Black Series 6" Hoth Rebel Soldier (Empire Strikes Back), the package will differ. The 40th anniversary figure is on a card back with an image of a Hoth soldier from the movie. He seems to be the inspiration for the face’s sculpt. The original action figure is in a Black Series box with original grey artwork representing the actor from the movie.

Cost

This action figure is the standard $19.99 USD or $29.99 CAD whether it is the Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Black Series or the reissue. Some merchants do not sell the two releases at the same price point. They attempt to create an artificial demand. Good retailers will sell both for the same price as they are the same besides the packaging.

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Availability

With the reissue, there are plenty Hoth rebel troopers to be found. It is a popular action figure even with customizers. Also, as an army builder, collectors tend to buy at least two so they can feature both faces. However, availability is not an issue, and this figure should be easy to find.

I like this toy a lot. It’s great design and a good way to present multiple troops with enough differences. Imagine if they had provided a third face in the package!

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Notice the odd-looking squint in the bearded Hoth Rebel at the front. That's because the painters used an unbearded Hoth rebel's face instead of the bearded one. Thus the 3D face printing looks odd. What a cool "variant".

Rating: 10 /10


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Last Updated: July 18, 2021 - 15:38

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