REVIEW: STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION CONCEPT SNOWTROOPER
A very interesting new Star Wars figure from the Legacy Collection caught my attention. It was officially designated as a "Concept Snowtrooper". What was interesting was that it did not appear at all to be a figure based on the concept designs of Ralph McQuarrie. Honestly, to me, it looked a lot cooler.
Now, don't get me wrong. I have all the respect in the world for Mr. McQuarrie. The man is an astoundingly talented artist, and his early concept design work for the Star Wars universe is very rightly legendary.
However, this Snowtrooper was not a McQuarrie design. It was based on the designs of another artist who worked doing concept art for the Star Wars movies, by the name of Joe Johnson. Now, in fairness, we know what a Snowtrooper looks like -- and this isn't it. However, in and of itself, it's a remarkable design, very interesting, and for those who want to get a little creative with their collection, it could certainly be worked in -- somehow! There have certainly been enough armor and helmet designs, mostly courtesy of the wide range of Clone Troopers we've seen, to allow for this design in there somewhere.
However, as his official designation is "Concept SNOWTROOPER", that's what he'll be called for this review. What you and your imagination may come up with for this figure apart from that is your business.
While I wasn't able to find out that much about this artist Joe Johnson, there is of course no shortage of information about Imperial Snowtroopers available. Snowtroopers, also known as cold assault stormtroopers, were Imperial stormtroopers trained to operate in arctic climates. Some snowtroopers were deployed under Death Squadron's Blizzard Force, as well as other arctic forces.
The snowtroopers were the successors of the clone cold assault troopers and the Galactic Marines under Clone Commanders Keller and Bacara, respectively, during the Clone Wars.
Snowtroopers were utilized on many different icy worlds, including the Imperial garrison on the planet Akuria II. Their most notable conquest was at the Battle of Hoth, where the Imperial Blizzard Force defeated the forces of the Alliance to Restore the Republic and overran Echo Base.
Snowtrooper armor was well suited to the climate extremes of frozen worlds such as Hoth, Rhen Var, and Toola. Unlike other troopers, snowtroopers wore a white, rugged body glove, in which provided better camouflage, and provided thermal insulation from the cold. Over this was an eighteen-piece outer shell altered to include more powerful heating and personal environment units, and an airtight fabric oversuit for additional protection from the cold. To facilitate breathing in extremely cold or dangerous atmospheres, a breather hood enveloped the snowtrooper's faceplate and fed into the suit liner. Each trooper was equipped with terrain-grip boots, a standard utility belt containing high-tension wire, grappling hooks, ion flares, additional blaster ammunition, a survival kit, and ration packs.
Their helmets had built-in polarized snow goggles. The chest plate worn by the snowtroopers was constructed of a plastoid composite armor. Near the center were all of the controls for the completely self-sufficient troopers' life support systems. These included an external temperature monitor, power cell monitor, and the controls for the suit's heater. The troopers' backpacks housed the main heating unit, main power cell, communications unit, and a homing beacon. The pack also had the ability to work as a power source for other equipment. Snowtroopers could survive up to two weeks in even the harshest frozen environments on their internal suit power and supplies. They also wore white heated pants with pockets.
That's a Snowtrooper as they came to be in the movie, and as such by extension officially in the Star Wars universe as a whole. And of course we all know what they looked like. The heavily armored, almost entirely white uniform, with the tunic-like skirt below. Some impressive capabilities are listed here above, as well. And they certainly made an impression when they came on the scene in "The Empire Strikes Back."
How does the Concept Snowtrooper fare in comparison? Well, not too badly, really. The overall design looks as though it could certainly have the same capabilities as an "official" Snowtrooper. However, the design is also vastly more ornate than what the Empire came up with.
The text on the back of the card for this figure reads, "In this concept art by Joe Johnson, the Imperial Snowtrooper wears armor with features that are reminiscent of armor historically worn by samurai warriors. The gear has stylized elegance while still protecting the trooper from blaster fire and extreme cold."
That's not a bad description. Of course, one has to doubt that someone from "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" would even know what a samurai warrior is. However, there are certainly similarities.
The concept art shown on the package pictures two Snowtroopers, and they look somewhat different from each other. Although the basics of Johnson's design are present in both, the particulars between the two do differ. It's a black and white illustration, so it's hard to tell what sort of color scheme Johnson might have had in mind, but even there, the two Snowtroopers are not identical.
The figure comes across as interesting because it's sort of an amalgam between the two, giving it a distinctive look of its own.
Could this design have worked as a Snowtrooper in the movies? Honestly, I'd have to say probably not. It's a cool design, but it's a little too ornate for Imperial troopers. The Empire tended to be pretty utilitarian with their soldiers. Clearly they wanted their arctic soldiers to be well taken care of -- look at that list of features in the armor! But at the same time, the Snowtrooper armor, like the Stormtrooper armor, wasn't especially ornate. Most Imperial troopers had cool designs -- Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers, Biker Scouts, TIE Fighter Pilots, AT-AT-Drivers -- but there was a limit to how really ornate any of these designs got. And this Concept Snowtrooper is just a little too fancy.
To use some imagination, I can see this figure as an individual character, maybe a bounty hunter that specializes in cold weather work. Or I can see him as a member of some sort of elite force, limited in number and specially trained for the most hazardous of arctic environments or missions, where a standard Snowtrooper just won't quite do. But as a standard Imperial Snowtrooper -- not quite.
The helmet is an impressive design. Very unlike the Snowtroopers that we're familiar with, it has a single large goggle-like visor in the front. The helmet has white flaps along the sides, and a ridged dark blue flap in the back. That's one of the key distinctive components to this Concept Snowtrooper -- he has a number of areas of dark blue ridged armor. I think this is especially where the "samurai" comparison comes from.
The helmet has a dark blue "brow", and a red triangle on the "forehead". The lower face is covered, with a black ridged oval at the base that is probably what the Snowtrooper speaks through.
The torso is very heavily armored. The shoulders are dark blue, and not ridged. The chest and back are armored in white, with some ridged dark blue on the sides. It's clearly intended to look like a very thick, protective armor. The figure comes with a fairly large white backpack and snaps into place very securely.
The upper arms are especially "samurai" looking, with more ridged dark blue armor. Around the elbows and fingers, some non-armored areas are evident, and these are pale grey in color. The lower arms are white armored pieces, with a bit of flare at the elbows. The backs of the gloves have white armor pieces, as well.
The Concept Snowtrooper figure is wearing a thick white belt, with dark blue ridged armor hanging to the sides, with a holster on one side. In this, as much as anything, the figure looks less like a Snowtrooper, and more like an ARC Trooper from the days of the Clone Wars.
The Concept Snowtrooper has a long, white tunic, made from fabric, hanging from the belt all the way to the ankles. It's the same sort of fuzzy fabric that turns up every so often when Hasbro wants to give a figure in this size-range a fabric robe or whatever. Honestly, I don't tend to think that fabric parts in this size range generally work all that well. They just usually don't look that good. I am of the opinion that fabric parts should be reserved for larger figures that can wear them more plausibly.
However, in the case of the Concept Snowtrooper, it works out rather well, since it makes the fabric tunic look as though it's made from a rather thick fabric, and as such nicely protective. Although it does hinder leg movement somewhat.
I did have to look under the tunic to see how the legs were designed. The Concept Snowtrooper has pale grey trousers and thick white boots, with dark blue trim at the knees and further down the boots. None of this trim has the samurai-like ridges. I should point out that all of the dark blue trim on this figure does have a moderate metallic finish to it. The bottoms of the boots have a series of silver spikes sculpted and painted into them, for better traction over icy terrain.
Articulation of the figure is superb. The Concept Snowtrooper is very fully poseable at the head, arms (including outward movement), elbows (including a swivel), wrists, waist, legs, knees (including a swivel) and ankles (including a swivel). He's obviously an entirely new figure, out of necessity, and has a 2009 copyright date on the bottom of his foot to prove it.
All of the painted detail on the figure is superbly done. I see no evidence whatsoever of hand-painted detailing, as sometimes will crop up on the occasional Clone Trooper and others. And some of the detail is quite intricate. There are tiny little red marks on an indentation in the chestplate, for example, and tiny little raised areas on the backpack that also had to be painted red. The belt has these little silver buckles on it.
As I said, this Concept Snowtrooper is a good bit fancier than any usual Imperial trooper, and that is certainly reflected on the figure in both the sculpted and painted detail, and the paintwork is exactly as it should be. Here's a good figure that Hasbro could use as an example of how it's supposed to be done, paint-wise.
Additionally, and significantly, the Concept Snowtrooper is the proper HEIGHT. Too-short human and human-alien figures still turn up in the Star Wars line every so often. Fortunately, the Concept Snowtrooper does not suffer from this shrinkage. He measures up to any other Clone Trooper or Stormtrooper (or Snowtrooper) you'd care to set next to him.
Accessorywise, he comes with a silver blaster pistol of a distinctive and unique design, and it fits nicely into the side holster on the left leg.
So, what's my final word here? This is a cool figure, and not just because he's a Snowtrooper. I'm generally not one for the "Concept Art" figures, because they don't tend to mesh all that well with the rest of the Star Wars universe. And although AS a Snowtrooper, this guy's probably a little too fancy, his overall design does work well with others. I can see him more readily a part of the established Star Wars universe than I can many of the other "Concept" figures that have come along in this line.
As such, the CONCEPT ART SNOWTROOPER from the STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION definitely has my highest recommendation!