I'll admit as I have before, that I tend to like Clone Troopers (especially the Episode III versions) a bit better than I like Stormtroopers. I think the armor design and the helmet design are more impressive, and I like the fact that the Clone Troopers gave their armors different color patterns depending on what division or legion they were in.
But that's not to say that I have anything against Stormtroopers. They're cool, and fortunately, toywise, there are Stormtroopers out there that are just as well articulated as the best of the Clone Troopers. I suppose my one minor gripe is that the basic Stormtroopers all pretty much looked alike. They didn't have the rank or division color patterns on their armor, probably because it wasn't something George Lucas had thought of at the time of the Classic Trilogy. Or if he had, probably couldn't afford it, since the Stormtroopers weren't CGI creations the way the Clone Troopers were.
Now, that's not to say that there wasn't some variety in the Stormtroopers, but it came mostly in the form of entirely different armor designs. We had the Snowtroopers of Hoth, the Biker Scouts on Endor -- there was some variety there. Subsequent comic books gave us some further variations, some of which have made it into action figure format over the years.
And now we have a couple of new contenders, thanks to the development of the STAR WARS: FORCE UNLEASHED video game. These are the EVO Trooper and Jumptrooper. Let's start with the EVO Trooper.
Force Unleashed is one of the most highly anticipated Star Wars video games of all time. Since I'm unfortunately not very good at video games, I didn't know all that much about it. Fortunately, my online research shows that: "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed tells the story of Darth Vader's secret apprentice as he hunts down the remaining Jedi. Set in the dark times between Episode III and Episode IV, the story explores the aftermath of Order 66, which called for the immediate execution of all Jedi, as well as the rise of Darth Vader leading into the Original Trilogy. According to Gameinformer's exclusive interview with the project lead, Darth Vader is training the apprentice with the ultimate intention of him and his apprentice overthrowing the Emperor and ruling the galaxy, with Vader now as the master."
The game's developers or connected companies include, of course, LucasArts, who is developing the game, as well as Dark Horse Comics, Lego, Del Rey Books, and Hasbro. In case you have trouble figuring that out, that means that along with the video game, Force Unleashed is going to have a tie-in comic book, Lego sets, a novel, and of course, action figures -- which are already out and proving to be extremely popular, especially "army builders" like Imperial troopers, and certainly including the EVO Trooper.
So what, specifically, is an EVO Trooper? According to the package card, "Trained to survive in the galaxy's most treacherous weather conditions, EVO troopers are equipped with enhanced armor that can deal with extreme heat, acid rivers, and lightning."
Now, consider some of the harsh worlds we saw actually portrayed in the Star Wars movies. The harsh deserts of Tatooine. The frozen vastness of Hoth. Everybody's favorite party planet, the lava world of Mustafar. Now figure that there are worlds in the Star Wars galaxy that are likely WORSE than that, that still either have some sort of indigenous life on it that the Empire wants to bring under its rule, or some fool colonists stupid enough to set up homesteads on a planet like that, and the Empire's got to check up on them. So you send in the EVO Troopers, equipped to handle any environment, any weather condition...
I have little doubt that George Lucas would have liked to have done more with his Stormtroopers in the movies. But there's only so much you can do, even with enhanced special editions. Fortunately, there are other outlets. And a well-crafted video game with ancillary material is certainly one of them. One thing I admire about LucasFilm. They keep a tight rein on their source material. If it isn't something that they think fits, then it doesn't happen. And if it does meet their criteria, they'll support it and even declare it "canon" even if it wasn't in one of the six movies.
I'm sure that Lucas would've loved to have some up with some incredibly hostile world that maybe the Rebellion managed to use as a hidden base, figuring no one in their right mind would think to look there, and -- surprise! -- here come the EVO Troopers. But that sort of thing just wasn't in the budget.
And, as much as I personally may like Clone Troopers over Stormtroopers, no Star Wars fan would rightly pass up the EVO Trooper figure -- and given how hard he's been to find, not many have been, either. Probably doesn't help that there are some people doing some army-building out there.
What we have here clearly has the Stormtrooper as its inspiration, but it's just as clearly a more ruggedly-outfitted soldier.
Let's start with the helmet. The two eyes in the helmet are somewhat larger than those of a standard Stormtrooper. They're almost a single piece, vaguely reminiscent of a Clone Trooper in that regard. The "jawline" of the helmet is larger and wider, and lacks the ridged "mouth" area of a typical Stormtrooper. The sides of the helmet are more complex.
Two hoses run from the helmet to a small pack on the chest, which has a third smaller hose that runs from the pack to the side of the armor. One would assume that this is some sort of breathing gear with the two main hoses, and that the third hose going into the side of the armor possibly represents some sort of cooling/heating function designed to regulate the body temperature of the trooper in harsh environments. Speculation on my part, but it makes logical sense.
The chest armor of the EVO Trooper is more ridged than that of a Stormtrooper, and looks somewhat thicker. The shoulder pads and knee pads are notable for being grey, not white, and having small perforations in them. An interesting figure note -- the Jumptrooper has the same feature on his shoulder and knee pads, and yet the figures do not use the same molds. Both are entirely unique figures.
There are metal bands around the EVO Trooper's wrists both connected to small devices, purpose unknown, although the raised one on the left wrist looks like it could be used as some sort of sighting device. Maybe a directional finder. You're wandering around on some of these extra-harsh worlds, I don't doubt that it's easy to lose your sense of direction.
The boots are a tad thicker than normal, and also have small devices coming out of their sides. My one gripe with the figure is that some sort of dirt or some such has been sprayed on the boots. Of course, Star Wars can get away with this practice a little better than some other lines, and for all I know, this could be meant to represent corrosion.
The figure is really a superb piece of work visually. It's an excellent design that clearly represents a more advanced form of Stormtrooper, and it's not hard to imagine that the design elements are intended for survival on particularly nasty planets. The paint work across the board is neatly done, even in some areas where on some other trooper figures it's been fairly obvious that certain elements were painted by hand, and not always all that well. There's no indication of that here. The paint work is excellent.
There's not a lot of color on the figure. He's mostly white, black, and grey, except for the rust-colored spray on the boots. There is a little red-curved stripe on the front of the helmet.
Articulation is excellent. The EVO Trooper pretty well comes in at "Super-Articulated" levels here. He is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, and ankles, with multiple points of motion at most areas of articulation. Better still as far as I'm concerned, the helmet is not removable. It IS the head. I know sometimes it's cool to be able to remove a Trooper's helmet, but in my opinion, that tends to result in an oversized helmet, and a rather odd look for the figure when he IS wearing the helmet, which is how I prefer them to be. Better if the helmet is just the head. I don't need to see Jango's head one more time anyway.
Let's discuss the weapons and accessories. The EVO Trooper comes with a large backpack that I assume is at the very least a communications unit, given the presence of a small antenna in the top. What else it might contain -- food, medical supplies -- is anybody's guess. The backpack is nicely designed and fits well on the figure.
He also comes with two small pistols for which he unfortunately lacks holsters, and a large gun with a plastic-molded strap designed to look like woven fabric. This is not a blaster. According to the text on the back of the card, "Each EVO Trooper's FA-3 flechette launcher fires shards of metal capable of hitting multiple targets.
Now let's consider the Imperial Jumptrooper. You know, it's really amazing to watch Imperial Jumptroopers in action. They all line up, Emperor Palpatine walks in, he yells "Jump" and they all respond in perfect unison, "How high, sir?!"
So, what actually is a Jumptrooper? According to the text on the package card, "Equipped with jet backpacks, Imperial jumptroopers burst through the air in short spurts. Their long-range rail detonators eliminate all enemy targets from any vantage point. As the Emperor extends his iron-fisted rule, jumptroopers join Imperial forces from Outer Rim planets to more central locations like the Death Star."
And no, I don't recall seeing any Jumptroopers on the Death Star. Then again, it was a BIG space station...!
One of the first questions one is likely to as upon purchasing the action figure is -- where's the jet backpack? Unfortunately, the figure doesn't apparently come with one. I honestly wondered if perhaps it had been removed from the package, or somehow never inserted in the first place. However, the Jumptrooper does not come with any sort of jet pack.
The reasons for this could be rather varied. Since the game isn't out yet as of this writing (and since I doubt I could play it well enough to even be certain when a Jumptrooper would turn up in it), I have no way of knowing what their jet backpacks look like. Perhaps they are too large to have fit on a single carded figure, although the description of them "bursting through the air in short spurts" would seem to indicate that the jet pack isn't necessarily a large piece of equipment.
Funny thing about that description, from a real-life standpoint. Futurists from decades past who thought that we Earth folk would be zipping around in jet packs by now apparently failed to consider one significant little factor -- a jet pack that can be reasonably worn by a human being cannot carry enough fuel for more than, indeed, a "short spurt". For a publicity stunt, they're fairly interesting. As a legitimate mode of transportation -- forget it. Although the fictional technology of the Star Wars universe is well in advance of our own, and one has to believe that their jet packs are capable of a great many "short spurts".
Ultimately, the reasons are no doubt budgetary as to why the Jumptrooper figure does not come with a jet backpack, and really, it doesn't detract from the fact that this is still an immensely cool and impressive action figure. As far as I'm concerned, it's one less accessory to lose track of.
One sort of wonders what sort of planetary environment Jumptroopers would be best suited for. I don't think a lot of the worlds that we saw in the Classic Trilogy would work all that well. They're probably just sink in the sand of Tatooine or the snow of Hoth. Probably slam into trees on Endor.
I tend to believe that even if George Lucas had developed Jumptroopers during the time of the Classic Trilogy, and could've worked out a reasonable way for them to display the capability that gives them their name, he would have been hard-pressed to find a use for them. As good an explanation as any as to why we didn't see any of them in the movies, I suppose, for you continuity freaks out there.
Visually, the Jumptrooper takes its cues from the Stormtrooper, but also is clearly a more advanced and specialized trooper, and even has a hint of Biker Scout in him.
Let's start with the helmet. Although clearly Stormtrooper inspired, the eye lens of the Jumptrooper is larger than that of a Stormtrooper, and although there are two clear "eye areas", the lens is a single piece, almost looking more Clone Trooper-ish, but not quite. In a bit of a carryover from the Biker Scouts, there is a visor around the eyes, protecting the top and sides somewhat. On the one hand, this seems practical. If you're bouncing around in "short spurts" of flight, you don't really want the sun in your eyes. On the other hand, this design seems to negate peripheral vision, which might be a bad idea. I, for one, would want the widest field of vision possible, in case something large and possibly fatal was going to cross my path.
Nevertheless, it's a cool design. The jawline of the helmet is wider than a conventional stormtrooper, and the ridged "mouth" area slightly smaller, although it is present, unlike the Jumptrooper's video game colleague, the EVO Trooper. There is more sculpted detailing on the sides of the helmet than that of a traditional Stormtrooper, as well.
There is a single hose running from the center of the "jaw" of the helmet, to the center of the chestplate. The purpose of this is unknown. Are the Jumptroopers able to fly high enough to require a built-in oxygen supply? Perhaps they are best suited to worlds with thin atmospheres to begin with. A second hose, molded onto the figure, runs from the center of the chest around the side.
The arms of the figure are somewhat different than a traditional Stormtrooper. The shoulder pads are grey, and seem to have perforations marked in them. There is no other upper arm armor, again seeming to take a bit of a cue from the more lightly armored Biker Scouts. The lower arms are more conventional in appearance, close to those of a Stormtrooper, as are the fully armored legs, although the knee pads, like the unusual shoulder pads, are grey and also seem to have perforations in them.
It's worth mentioning that both the Jumptrooper and EVO Trooper figures have these grey, perforated-looking shoulder and knee sections, although they are not the same mold. Both figures are unique unto themselves.
The Jumptrooper's boots have a light spray of brown on them. Personally, I hate weathering effects, although Star Wars can get away with it a little better than some other toy lines.
The torso armor is more detailed than that of a standard Stormtrooper, as is the belt, which has two large pouches to the side. There's a small pack on the back, definitely not the jet backpack, but attached to it, molded to the figure, is what looks like a small coil of rope. That's an interesting addition to the standard equipment of a Jumptrooper. I suppose if he really miscalculated a jump and landed in a tree and blew out his backpack, it might be of use, but you'd have to wonder how someone with that bad aim got into the Jumptroopers in the first place.
Overall painted detailing is excellent. I've encountered far too many Star Wars figures that have had occasionally sloppy detailing for one reason or another, mostly hand-painted. There is no evidence of that here whatsoever, and the figure does have some pretty intricate details painted on him. And they are all painted very neatly, right down to the little curved red stripe on his helmet. I'm not sure what this is for. The EVO Trooper has one, too, in the same place.
Obviously, the Jumptrooper isn't a particularly colorful figure. He's mostly white, with grey and black detailing. But that's what you expect from Imperial troopers, regardless of their specialties.
Articulation of the figure is excellent. No pre-posing here, and the Jumptrooper is pretty well in the "Super-Articulated" range. He is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. Most of his points of articulation have a multiple range of motion. Even better,t he helmet is not removable. It IS the head. I know sometimes it's cool to be able to remove a Trooper's helmet, but in my opinion, that tends to result in an oversized helmet, and a rather odd look for the figure when he IS wearing the helmet, which is how I prefer them to be. Better if the helmet is just the head. I don't need to see Jango's head one more time anyway.
Any complaints? Just one. A slight structural glitch. I noticed that the crotch piece didn't quite fit into the lower part of the figure as flush as it should, at least not based on the picture of the figure on the back of the package. (I did briefly wonder if it was deliberate to the design -- it's not.) As far as I can tell, this piece is inserted to, at least to some fair degree, hold the legs in place. And it does so admirably well. There's nothing wrong with how secure the legs are, or their articulation. The figure's legs move well, not too loosely, nor are they frozen in place.
But this one piece just doesn't quite fit as it should. I don't believe it can be pulled out, nor can it be pushed further in. And I've only seen one other Jumptrooper in the stores (he and the EVO Trooper are predictably extremely popular), and that Jumptrooper had the same situation. I have to believe, unless at some point I see a dozen or so of them all in one store, that this is just some relatively minor flaw in the final production. Fortunately, it doesn't affect the function of the figure, and it doesn't even really affect the look of it that much. It just sort of looks like an extra ridge in the armor, if in an odd place.
Let's discuss accessories. The Jumptrooper is fairly light in this respect. He comes with a nice display base, and a handheld weapon that I believe to be the "Rail Blaster" described on his package card. While not much larger than the blaster rifles that have come with such a host of Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers over the past few years that I think Hasbro could qualify for a defense contract just based on the number of these things they've had to produce, the weapon that the Jumptrooper comes with is distinctly different in appearance. It's not a standard blaster.
So what's my final word here? Regardless of whether you're interested
in the Force Unleashed video game, if you have any interest in Star
Wars figures, and especially like the Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers
as I do, then you will certainly want to add the EVO Trooper and Jumptrooper
to your collection. They're both unique and distinctive Star Wars figures,
brand new entries in the ranks of the Stormtroopers, and are both just
plain extremely cool and impressive. The STAR WARS FORCE UNLEASHED EVO
TROOPER and JUMPTROOPER definitely have my highest recommendation!