Pros : Excellent sculpted screen accurate armour and helmet. Very articulated arms with double jointed elbows. Multiple weapons.
Cons : Leg articulation is a little restricted. Paint errors around the joints. Backpack sits too high and allows you to see it is hollow inside
Our first Imperial Trooper in the Black Series was not your standard obligatory Stormtrooper, instead Hasbro threw us a curve ball by giving us the Sandtrooper from A New Hope in the first wave alongside X-Wing Luke, R2 and Darth Maul.
The figure was packed in the phase 1 matt black packaging with orange highlights and name text. The figure was number #03 in the line and was simply titled "Sandtrooper" later releases such as the variant black and white pauldrons make it necessary to now refer to this as the orange pauldron Sandtrooper.
Out of the box and the figure is hefty but does have an immediate feel of a few joint wobbles. The helmet is really well proportioned and in the main neatly painted with those deep black eye lenses, silver breathing filters and blue tear drops either side of the head. The black rim around the top of the helmet is gloss black - but on the first of these that I purchased there was a scratch on the strip - frustrating, but it gives him character and battle damage.
The rest of the body is as well proportioned as the head. It is also nice to see that Hasbro haven't simply gone with a single Stormtrooper body and dirtied it up. This is a Sandtrooper with the slight tweaks we see on screen like that altered knee panel, the chest armour and stomach panels and the belt which doesn't have that canister on the reverse and black pouches and not white.
Being a Sandtrooper the base white armour, which is cast in white plastic, is weathered with a glorious mottling sandblast effect. To this day it remains one of the best weatherings we have had on a figure The only gripe to be found on the body is around the joints where the white plastic is painted black. This does leave some very untidy lines and on the side of the knees we have a white peg in a black section.
The other huge difference for the Sandtrooper vs the standard Stormtrooper is the backpack. This is packed as an individual piece and it is cast in a softer black plastic. There are painted details in white and grey, but not weathering which does make the backpack look a touch too clean vs the armour.
It slots into a hole on the Sandtrooper's back, there is then a flexible pouch that can be hooked over the shoulder. The fit is quite good but over time the softer plastic can lead this to getting looser.
The backpack does sit a little too high on the figure vs what we see on screen. The top section should be in line with the shoulder. The back pack is cast hollow, most certainly to balance the figure rather than sticking a big weight on the back. By sitting the backpack too high this hollowness also becomes visible when on display which does spoil the look a little.
The Pauldron is an additional part sitting under the head. This is a rubberised piece cast in black with the orange painted on top. The orange paint is bold and bright but is a little ragged at the edge. I really like the added detail of the clasp where the part is sculpted to look like it is being stretched where it fastens front and back.
As was common in the first few releases on the Black Series, the Sandtrooper comes with a whole armoury of weapons to choose from. This multi accessory format, along with the fact more than one appeared on screen, inevitably leads to Army Building and the Sandtrooper was one of the first figures to disappear off store pegs in the early days.
Weapon one is the T-21 Light Repeating Blaster Rifle. This is a hefty piece and comes cast in black with a flexible rubber strap attached. Paint details are added like the brown stock and grey and gold details around the barrel. The weapon fits into the troopers right hand, with a flexible trigger finger slotting into place.
While the strap is flexible, it will only hang a certain way so if you pose your T-21 in other angles it starts to look unnatural with the strap sticking out. This strap does however make the T-21 the one weapon the Trooper can "shoulder".
Weapon two is the DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle. This again is cast in black plastic. The paint apps have been scaled back on this one with only a touch of silver dry brushing towards the barrel.
Like the T-21 this fits into the right hand. Being a slimmer barrel this weapon can also be gripped by the left hand in two handed poses, a much nicer pose for a Sandtrooper on patrol looking for Droids.
And finally we have the trusty E-11 Blaster. This would go on to be re-released with the standard Stormtrooper as well as a number of other releases until it was recast for the Rogue One Imperials.
This is a simple black cast, no paint whatsoever. It too sits in the right hand with trigger finger in place.
The articulation on the trooper is good, but as with any armoured figures the amour does work to block certain movements. The Sandtrooper gas 18 points of articulation, one of the biggest counts to date thanks to upgraded elbow articulation. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulder but are restricted by the shoulder armour which halts the movement about 45 degrees out. The extra articulation comes in here with a bicep swivel and then a double jointed elbow which really helps with weapon and action posing - including the two handed weapon grips we have seen.
The head and torso sit on a ball joint so that the head can be turned and cocked slightly and the waist/torso can swivel and lean all round. The legs are where the movement is most restricted, with the ball joint hips locked in place with those extending thigh armour pieces. Just under this armour is a thigh swivel allowing the legs to be swung out to aid feet positions. The knees are double jointed and the ankles on rockers.
While I mentioned that feeling of loose joints early on, this isn't an issue when you start posing and moving your Sandtrooper. Nearly all the joints are ratcheted, and while they feel a touch loose between each tooth of the ratchet, they are absolutely stiff and solid as you make each movement. Even after 5 years of posing my Sandtroopers still stand perfectly well.
For the Black Series, this is the original army builder. I have three of these, and of course with how the range has grown I now have most of these surrounding Luke's Landspeeder. The numerous weapons and the way the backpack is designed (so it can be left off if you wish) gives this figure multiple different options for display and therefore any army/squad builds can be varied.
Articulation has never got any better than what we see here in terms of number ad types of joints, and the only way the armour issues restricting movement could have been improved would be by sacrificing the look of the figure. The weathering too is impressive, but not the overall paint job with some errors and poor transition between black undersuit paint and the white of the armour.
I score the Sandtrooper a 4 out of 5, he is a few paint strokes and a readjusted backpack away from being spot on.