Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Echo Base News Reviews - The Search for Luke Skywalker

Today Echo Base News reviews The Search for Luke Skywalker, which is pretty much the best exclusive since last year's Hoth themed Ultimate Battle Packs. And if you haven't already heard, this new Tauntaun is awesome. The pack-in figures are pretty great too. Read on to see if this is a set worth securing for your collection. Spoiler alert: It totally is.

Includes: Han Solo’s Tauntaun, Han Solo, Hoth Rebel Soldier
Accessories: (Han Solo’s Tauntaun) removable saddle; (Han Solo) blaster pistol, removable helmet; (Hoth Rebel Soldier) blaster pistol, blaster rifle, scanner, removable helmet, removable backpack
Articulation: (Han Solo’s Tauntaun) ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, swivel hips, ball-jointed ankles; (Han Solo) swivel neck, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed knees, ball-jointed ankles; (Hoth Rebel Soldier) ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, swivel hips, ball-jointed knees, ball-jointed ankles

To accompany the Target exclusive Luke Skywalker’s Tauntaun currently retailing for $24.99, Hasbro also released a Target exclusive The Search for Luke Skywalker Battle Pack that includes Han Solo’s Tauntaun and two premium pack-in figures, which is currently retailing for…$24.99. Sounds pretty silly, huh? Well although Luke Skywalker’s Tauntaun alone is pretty overpriced, it’s great to be getting such a wonderful value for this exclusive Echo Base-themed Battle Pack.

Easily the best store exclusive since last year’s Defense of Hoth and Assault on Hoth Ultimate Battle Packs (which were also exclusive to Target), this set includes everything you need to recreate the search for Luke Skywalker from the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. Thus the name, “The Search for Luke Skywalker.” Duh. So what are we getting in this set that makes it so darn groundbreaking? Well without a doubt the main reason to purchase this is for Han Solo’s Tauntaun. At long last you can officially retire your Power of the Force 2 era Tauntauns, because this new sculpt completely blows the old one away. Like so much of what Hasbro has been producing for the Star Wars line over the last few years, the Tauntaun looks like it leaped off the screen and straight into our collections. The detail that’s gone into this thing is amazing. Everything from the windblown fur to the ‘four-nostriled’ face looks 100% movie accurate. I would argue that the paint aps/deco on Han Solo’s Tauntaun is slightly inferior to that of Luke Skywalker’s Tauntaun (which I’ll be reviewing later this week). But that doesn’t at all mean that this isn’t an outstanding looking toy; it really is. And let’s not forget the fantastic looking removable saddle! Every last buckle and strap on this thing is recreated to perfection in 1:18 scale, and the saddle alone is a thing of plastic beauty.

The upgraded articulation also makes a tremendous difference. I appreciate that Hasbro included just enough articulation to make this a fun toy capable of achieving numerous action poses, but didn’t go overboard with it, which would have potentially detracted from the Tauntaun’s overall aesthetic quality. One example of too much articulation in a beast that I could cite here to make my point is the horse that Hasbro released in the Indiana Jones deluxe line back in 2008. It’s an excellent toy, but the knee articulation looks a little wonky and I think it could have done without it. Ah, the Indiana Jones line….good times. Anyways, back to Star Wars and back to this review. If there’s just one minor but noteworthy flaw I can find with the new Tauntaun, it’s that Hasbro put all that effort into the removable saddle, but didn’t separately sculpt the straps around its head and tail. It would have been nice to be able to take everything off for a ‘naked’ Tauntaun, if you know what I mean. Okay, getting weird, but still, I think you know what I mean; a wild Tauntaun roaming the Hoth tundra. This little flaw is not at all a deal breaker though.

Oh wait, I still need to cover the two figures included in this set that make it such a great value. For this release, Hasbro has reworked the Hoth Han Solo figure originally released in the Vintage 30th Anniversary Collection back in 2007 and given it a wonderful blue paintjob (seriously, the coat may be brown, but this paintjob looks very very good this time for some reason), softgoods skirt, and ball-jointed hips. These tweaks effectively allow Han to ride his Tauntaun in search of Luke Skywalker. I’ve always found softgoods to be hit and miss in the Star Wars line, but I think they actually turned out extremely well for this figure. The material is great and matches the color of the rest of the outfit. It really worked out nicely. If there’s one flaw it’s that the skirt could be a little bit longer, especially in the back. Also include in this set is the same beardless Hoth Rebel Soldier we’ve seen released a few times in the last couple years. It’s a super army builder though so it’s nice to see him again, and this time he include a nifty scanner thingy that he was originally supposed to include when he was scheduled to be a running change for the Hoth Rebel Soldier basic figure back in The Legacy Collection in 2008. Not much else is new with this figure, with the exception of what seems to be a much more detailed paintjob on his blaster rifle, which is nice. This isn’t a big deal or anything, but it seems odd that extra time could be put into making this improvement to the Hoth Rebel Soldier’s same old blaster rifle, and yet no detail has been added to Han Solo’s blaster pistol, which is just plain black.

If you call yourself a fan of The Empire Strikes Back, buy this set. It’s just barrels of fun, and Luke Skywalker (who oddly isn’t even in the line until 2012) needs saving before he becomes a space popsicle. And if you didn’t catch it all these times I’ve said it, the set is just a fabulous value, especially when you consider that a single Tauntaun is currently on shelves in the same store for the same price. Strange. But hey, I’m not complaining. And I actually bought Luke’s Tauntaun and felt no remorse at all, which I guess just proves how awesome this new Tauntaun is. Original Trilogy fans rejoice! The Search for Luke Skywalker is a must-have.

Review by David Delgado.

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