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Review : Star Wars Black Series Hoth Wampa Exclusive, The Empire Strikes Back, 40th Anniversary


As part of the 40th Anniversary Empire Strikes Back releases for the Star Wars Black Series, Hasbro had planned the Hoth Wampa exclusive originally for San Diego Comic Con 2020. With that event cancelled due to Coronavirus, the exclusive was then sold via Hasbro to coincide with their own virtual convention in September, PulseCon.

Packaging 5.0


For Star Wars Collector of a certain age, the new 2020 Hoth Wampa hits a real sense of nostalgia by recreating the packaging from the Kenner 1980's release. The Wampa is presented as a box but with an enormous front carded piece with the tramlines usually used on carded figures. The header is the vintage Empire Strikes Back logo - as seen on the Kenner release - while the photographs have been done using Black Series figures but replicating the original Kenner images. The box even features the original Kenner logo rather than that of Hasbro.


The box is then finished in a highly reflective foil effect - which itself gives it a feeling of exclusivity, but is the only bit not in keeping with the original. A foil 40th Anniversary logo is applied as a sticker in the top right corner.


The images of the Wampa continue on the sides and back of box and he is displayed with the existing figures of Luke Skywalker and the Tauntaun as well as messages that these are not included in the box.


This European release of the Wampa features a number of over stickers to provide safety and legal information. These do spoil the overall box look as they are not foil finished like the rest of the box. They are also not perfectly positioned with the one on the back fouling the line of the image box above it.



On the left hand side of the box, the design strays a little away from the original by including a pretty indepth piece of background text for the Wampa and his role in The Empire Strikes back. This is presented in an ice blue text box that mirrors the backdrop colours used on the other images.


"Wampas are powerful furred bipeds that dwell in the snowy wastes of the ice world Hoth. These hulking predators have razor-sharp fangs and claws, yet move with surprising stealth, relying on their white fur for camouflage while hunting prey such as tauntauns. A wampa attacked Luke Skywalker outside Echo Base, killing Luke's tauntaun and dragging the Rebel commander away. An injured Luke awoke to find himself upside-down in the wampa's lair, his feet frozen to the cavern ceiling. Luke used the Force to call his Lightsaber to his hand, cut himself free, and severed the wampa's arm with a quick stroke."


The nostalgia wave continues as you unbox the figure, with a brown cardboard inner with the Wampa peering out from a cut out in the front panel .This front panel lifts out revealing the full creature beneath. It is held in check by four ties - one around each arm/leg - and these will have to be cut to free him from the box.



Paint & Sculpt 3.0


Our Wampa is a bulky piece standing 8 inches tall and cast in a white plastic. The sculpt captures a good level of detail in the fur as well as the base features of the head. The eyes are set back and painted black with a yellowy green surround to them. The nose is painted a lighter tone of this yellow and the mouth is fleshy pink with the white teeth painted on top. Grey horns extend from either side of the head and round to the front of the face.


The body is left in the base white colour in the main, but patches of off white are added around the chest, lower arms and lower legs to create some variety. The palms of the hands are painted a black colour and the claws on hands and feet are coloured in the same shade.



This is the exact same Wampa sculpt as was released originally in 2015. The most publicised change is the removal of the blood painted around the mouth o the original release and for that I think the 2020 version is improved.


However, in my view the mouth was much better on the 2015 version being a dark black maw like the onscreen sculpt. The eyes are also a little bit darker and more menacing. The 2020 version does now correctly colour the palms of the hands in the black and the claws are more defined in the darker colour against the fur.


With 5 years development between the two figures you would have thought the 2020 version would excel over its counterpart in every level but that is not the complete case and the perfect Wampa is possibly some middle ground between the paint pallete and decor of the two combined.



Accessories 2.0


The Wampa does not have accessories as such, but does come with a feature that is not advertised on the packaging but is relevant to the Wampa and his limited scenes in The Empire Strikes Back.

You will notice the right arm has less articulation at the shoulder than the left, and that is due to the design feature to allow you to detach it from the body - replicating what Luke did to the Wampa on Hoth. This is achieved via a relatively rudimentary socket - very similar to the joint that would have been used by Kenner back in the day. When the arm pops out you will be left with a ring of "flesh" on the shoulder, although this is not overly well done as they've left a lot of white in the middle. The same flesh decor is on the end of the arm also.


While I don't mind the feature as such, there were much better ways of achieving it and retaining full articulation - perhaps with a swap out bloody shoulder piece with the same ball joint as the arm. The current setup sacrifices too much articulation for a pretty average looking effect.



If you compare the paint apps for the arm separation to the older 2015 version, there is a case that the wound was better painted on the older version than the newer Exclusive. The actual engineering of the arm joint remains identical.



Articulation 3.5


Our bulky Wampa has a total of 17 points of articulation, one more than a standard figure with the two joints in the torso vs the usual one. This doubling up of the body joints is needed due to his girth and fir overlap as the two together provide much needed movement that one alone would have struggled with.


Head : ball joint neck

Body : ball joint torso, ball joint waist

Left Arm : ball joint shoulder, single rotating elbow joint, wrist pivot

Right Arm : rotating peg shoulder, single rotating elbow joint, wrist pivot

Legs : ball joint hip, thigh swivel, single joint knee, ankle rocker


The head is a little restricted due to the overlapping fur so is held in check from extensive movement and can simply look to either side as needed - take it too far and it simply pops off the ball joint.


While it may have been nice to see the Wampa crouch as seen in Empire, the legs just don't have that level of movement and while they are stable and secure, some wider stances are all you can achieve. The left arm is fully mobile for striking down Tauntauns, while the right is held a little in check by the restricted shoulder joint they use to allow the severed arm functionality.



Summary


The Wampa is a figure that was probably do a re-visit and the release corresponds nicely to the 40th Anniversary of Empire and the upcoming Archive releases of Hoth Han and Hoth Luke. The opportunity was there to take what was a solid figure in 2015 and make it awesome. They did this with the box, that hits all kind of nostalgia notes.


The figure inside is less impressive and in some areas looks inferior to the original. The mouth and eyes look better on the 2015 version, while the 2020 Wampa does hit better accuracy with the palms of the hands and the claws.




The sacrifice of the right arm articulation for a poorly executed amputation is still disappointing with the overall articulation being pretty good, albeit no where near the crouching pose we see the Wampa in during Empire.


For me the best thing about this new Wampa - box aside - is what it represents. One of the best things about the Vintage line were oversized figures and mini-rig vehicles like this that you could buy on their own without a figure packed in to inflate the price. I think there is room for this again in the Black Series - even with repacks of say the Tauntaun or Speeder Bike without a figure at the same £30 price point as the Wampa to allow collector to expand their collection.


Taking everything into account, the new Exclusive 2020 Hoth Wampa scores 3.0, predominantly due to that shot of nostalgia from the box design.




For more news, reviews and a full checklist of releases visit our Star Wars Black Series Page






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