Rewind to Force Friday, 4th September 2015, and an absolute avalanche of Star Wars 6" Black Series exclusives were revealed. One that stood out was the Entertainment Earth Imperial Forces 4-pack, and after a couple of months wait - this has finally arrived at Mephitsu Towers for review and entry into our Archives.
The first thing that will frustrate Mint in Box collectors is that this is yet another size and type of box to fit into your collection. The nearest comparison to this box would be the Amazon Exclusive Evolution of the Stormtroopers - but where as the Amazon box folds in on itself with 2 figures per side, this one is simply a flat box with four windows and in my opinion would display much better.
The box itself is the same height as a single boxed figure, but it is not quite the same length as four boxes together. Again this means it won't stack or line up with a collection of other MIB Black Series figures. The design principle remains the same as the other releases, with a black box and overlaid with grey lined artwork of each character cut into a triangular section under each window. The character name is picked out in bold red text, and in dual language. The top of the box front also holds the Star Wars logo. One interesting point is that each window seems to be printed with some black hatching around the guns - this is something we haven't seen (or I haven't noticed) on other releases, and am not sure why it is there or what value it adds? The exclusive nature of the box is marked with a simple yellow Entertainment Earth sticker in the top right corner.
The right hand side of the box follows the red side panel theme. It is unnumbered, and instead of naming the set it lists the four figures the box contains. Round the back and the rear is split into four panels, one for each figure, which contains a brief sentence or two about each character in four languages. Underneath each of these is another very feint grey lined drawing of the character.
The box opens at either side, and the whole inner tray slides out as one piece of perspex and behind this is a full length red background cardboard piece.
Like the Amazon 4-pack, there is nothing new in this box in terms of figure sculpt and articulation. The only differences are in paint applications. I am therefore not going to full review each figure, but rather link you into to the initial release review and then talk a little about the differences and my impression of each figure.
Personally, I was a little disappointed when I saw the White pauldron Sandtrooper was part of this set. I was kind of hoping we would see this in a deluxe box with a Dewback at some point. That being said, it does nicely wrap up the Sandtrooper variants from A New Hope and uses what is still arguably the best figure sculpt we have had in the series to date.
By using the 2013 Santrooper sculpt, you do get the double articulated elbows which have been dropped on the later 2015 Force Awakens figures. You also get the backpack and all three weapons that have been packed with the Orange & Black versions. The weathering is just as strong on this figure although there seems to be some odd orange eye liner under each eye of the helmet which I think is meant to be a build up of sand. My one gripe is that the white paint on the Pauldron isn't overly crisp at the edges, but you can probably put that down to the harsh Tatooine sand-storms.
All in all, this figure is really good and a worthy inclusion.
OK, so I admit I had to go and have a look round Google to understand the origin of this figure. On the rear of the box it talks about these being Special Forces troopers who are trained to work in Volcanic areas, and my Google searches turned these up as more commonly known as Magma Troopers and possibly drafted from the Emperor's Royal Guard, hence the Red Armour. The Magma Troopers were taken from the Expanded Universe - the same EU that has apparently been turned to Legends by Disney?
So all that aside, this is still a nice figure - utilising the Wave 3 Stormtrooper sculpt and again retaining that double elbow articulation. He comes with a standard issue blaster and rifle and with a working holster for the blaster. The red is really well done, and is much nicer and deeper in tone when you have it in hand vs any photo you may have seen of this figure, including mine. It is also neatly applied without any discolouration between armour and joints that we have seen on the white troopers.
I do like this figure. In fact I like it much more in hand than I did when I originally saw the set. I do however think I need more than one to display to distinguish them as a Special Forces squad. As much as I am liking the Magma Trooper, I do still believe there were better options to fill this slot in the box. A tweaked Shadow Trooper for example would have fit really well on display with the previous Shadow Squadron release, or perhaps even a tweaked White Stormtrooper with 501st blue markings - that would have been brilliant.
Now, I think Oxixo is the biggest let down in this set. Again, I had to Google who Oxixo actually was and it turned out he is a creation of Hasbro, originally used in the 3.75" Star Wars line in a Battle over Endor set. Oxixo was meant to be a pilot who fought in the Battle of Endor.
Oxixo is a very simple variation of the original Tie Fighter Pilot. And to be fair, there is very little variation to speak of. The key difference is a silver panel on the helmet into which is a series of zero's. There is also one extra silver line on the chest box.
This is too lazy for my liking. Collectors are paying a lot of money for this set, more so in most cases than 4 single figures due to the premium most retailers are putting on this to make a profit after ordering from EE. For this investment I want a better figure than a Tie Fighter Pilot and a silver stripe. If a Tie Fighter Pilot was the direction, why not go for something more EU like Baron Fel with his white vest and straps, and red piping to the uniform? Or even a Rebels Baron Valon Rudor with his greyer uniform and red pin striping.
Oxixo is supplied with his E11 blaster, and that annoying holster that doesn't look right unless you hide it round the back. Articulation is identical, and the figure still suffers from a lack of stability and is very difficult to stand naturally.
I am really surprised it has taken so long for Hasbro to give us another R2 unit having had the R2 sculpt since 2013.
R2-Q5 is an Imperial R2 unit, and appeared briefly in Return of the Jedi aboard the 2nd Death Star. Like many fleeting characters in the Star Wars films, he was given a bigger role in a number of Expanded Universe publications including thwarting IG88A's infiltration of the 2nd Death Star, and acting as a messenger for the Emperor himself.
R2-Q5 is presented in this box set in a sleek black finish, with orange panels and details. Sadly, most of these panels are not crisply painted and there is a soft look to the edges. There is also lots of detail missing which could have been brought out with some subtle dry-brushing in a gun metal paint. The big miss is to not include all the accessories (except maybe the lightsaber) that came with the original R2-D2 release. Granted R2-Q5 was never seen using rocket boosters or the scanner attachments, but am sure he has them and it would have been nice to give fans the option. All the panels on the dome open, but are useless without anything to slot into them. The panels do also open on the front, and within each of these is the laser welder and computer connection. Like it's wave 1 counterpart, this R2 unit retains the two or three logged stance - the third leg being wound down using the dome.
I have absolutely no problem with multiple R2 units, it's par for the course with any Star Wars line. But when we get them, they should be crisper in the finish and be stacked with either accessories or some other feature to make up for their dimunitive size. In a box set of this type and price, R2-Q2 unfortunately doesn't offer good value and is a bit of a let down.
Now I have this set in hand, it is definitely a box of two distinct halves.
The Sandtrooper is the stand out figure, even though his inclusion feels like we may ave lost an opportunity somewhere down the line for a Dewback. The Magma Trooper looks awesome, and I assume was chosen for his looks. As pretty as he is, he is still very niche and I have the niggle that there were better options.
The Tie Pilot Oxixo is a lazy repaint, and could and should have been so much more... Baron Fel for example.
And the R2-Q5 is quite poorly executed close up and let down with a lack of all those awesome R2 unit accessories we originally saw in wave with R2-D2.
All in all this will come down to cost, and if you can get this set for sub £70 then you will be happy to have some niche variants to expand your Imperial forces. Anything over £70-£75 and it doesn't feel like value for money, considering for the same price you could buy four new single figures.
I have no idea if EE wanted a 4-pack, or even specifically asked for the format and the figures included. You have to feel like they got the raw deal vs the Amazon 4-pack and may have been better going down the route of a single figure like Kmart, Walmart and Walgreens.
Considering everything, and assuming that the price on this should sit around £75, then I score this set a 3 out of 5. It has merits, but on the whole feels like a wasted opportunity for what could have been some awesome EU based figures.