‘Star Wars’ Collectibles & Toys Review: Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Rebel Soldier (Hoth) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Figure)

Rebel Soldier (Hoth) comes in a “cardback” package based on the 1980 3.75-inch action figure released by General Mills-owned (and early Lucasfilm licensee) Kenner Toys. Spun off by General Mills in 1985, Kenner was acquired by Tonka in 1987, thus becoming a division of that company until Hasbro bought Tonka in 1995. Kenner operated as a division of Hasbro until 2000. Photo Credit: Hasbro, (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

REBEL SOLDIER (HOTH): After the battle of Yavin, the rebels fled from the Imperial Starfleet, seeking a new main base of operations. They settled on the frozen Outer Rim world of Hoth. – Hasbro character description blurb

On June 1, Hasbro introduced a wave of Star Wars The Black Series 6-inch scale action figures based on characters from 1980’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in “Kenner” branded cardback packaging to commemorate the film’s 40th Anniversary. This new batch of figures consisted of:

  • Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder)
  • Lando Calrissian
  • Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot
  • Rebel Soldier (Hoth)
  • Artoo-detoo (R2-D2) (Dagobah)
Rebel Soldier (Hoth) comes with a nice assortment of Alliance-issue weapons and cold-climate gear. Photo Credit: Hasbro, (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

40TH ANNIVERSARY FIGURE: Celebrate 40 years of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with this Rebel Soldier (Hoth) The Black Series action figure featuring 1980s-inspired design. – From Hasbro’s official website

The 2020 Star Wars The Black Series Rebel Soldier (Hoth) 6-inch scale figure is a descendant of Kenner’s 1980 Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) from the 3.75-inch scale Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back line (1980-1982). That figure was Kenner’s first “army-building” figure for the Rebel Alliance and did not represent a particular “named” character from The Empire Strikes Back. In many ways, this was a counterpart for Kenner’s equally anonymous Imperial Stormtrooper figures, which were the only “army builders” in the Star Wars collection from 1978 to 1980.

A carded Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) action figure from Kenner’s 1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection. This is from the Brian’s Toys online vintage figures listing and is “out of stock,” having been sold for $289.99. Photo Credit: Brian’s Toys

Though the 2020 Star Wars The Black Series Rebel Soldier (Hoth) cardback packaging uses the same movie still from The Empire Strikes Back and Kenner’s vintage 1980 branding, including the black-red-silver coloring of the card and the distinctive Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection’s logo, the two figures are as different as night and day.

Taking the obvious difference in scale aside, Hasbro’s Rebel Soldier (Hoth) has a slightly different name (Hasbro shed the Battle Gear from the figure’s label) and comes with more Rebel-issue weapons and even a balaclava face mask to protect the anonymous Rebel trooper’s lower face from the cold arctic winds on the ice planet of Hoth.

Is Rebel Soldier (Hoth) afraid of COVID-19? No. That’s not an N-95 mask; it’s a Rebel Alliance issued balaclava. Photo Credit: Hasbro, (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Though the original 3.75-inch action figure was a welcome addition to any Star Wars collector’s army (it was suitable for posing on various Kenner Hoth-based playsets and even the Tauntaun creature); you could buy a bunch of them to create battle scenes, and if you sent away enough “proof of purchase” seals to a P.O. Box in Young America, MN, you could acquire the Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Action Figures Survival Kit accessories that included two backpacks based on the ones used by the Rebels at Echo Base. Thus, you could customize your Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) or his C.O., Rebel Officer (Hoth Gear) and recreate the battle in the snow on Hoth by pitting your Alliance troops against the AT-AT (Imperial Walker) and Darth Vader-led Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Gear) squads.

Vintage commercial from 1980 touting Kenner action figures from The Empire Strikes Back.

The problem was that Kenner’s original Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) didn’t really have any accessories beyond the blue-colored “Bespin Blaster” (aka the BlasTech DL-21 blaster). The coloring of the arctic combat uniform always looked a bit too full of browns and didn’t quite match the look of Rebel-issue cold weather gear, and – of course – the figure only had five points of articulation.

Of course, if you were savvy enough to save your empty cardback packaging and clipped proof-of-purchase seals to send back to Kenner for such goodies as the Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Action Figures Survival Kit, you could get replicas of non-standard equipment, such as the A-280 Blaster Rifle and other pieces of survival gear. (The kit also included the blue Jedi training harness worn by Luke Skywalker on Dagobah to carry Yoda during his training sessions on the boggy planet, breath masks for three figures, and other equipment.)

Here’s the offer as it appeared on the reverse side of a Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back action figure’s cardback. Photo Credit: theswca,com

What’s in the Package?

The new figure from Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series is essentially a bigger, more refined version of the company’s Star Wars Vintage Collection’s 3.75-inch scale Rebel Soldier (Hoth) from 2018.

This figure does not represent a “named” character, but rather one of the many Rebel Alliance soldiers played in director Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back by Norwegian troops hired as extras during the film’s location shoot in Finse, Norway.

VINTAGE-INSPIRED PACKAGING: Star Wars The Black Series Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40TH Anniversary 6-inch-scale classic Star Wars figures feature original Kenner branding (Each sold separately. Subject to availability.) – From Hasbro’s official website

This Rebel Soldier (Hoth) is ready to defend Echo Base from Imperial invaders! Photo Credit: Hasbro, (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Rebel Soldier (Hoth), like most of Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series figures, is sculpted and painted to accurately portray this anonymous Rebel Alliance freedom fighter as seen in the “Battle of Hoth” sequence in The Empire Strikes Back. All four limbs have multiple points of articulation that allow you to place the figure in remarkably life-like poses, and the Rebel trooper’s face is so detailed that you can see a fiercely determined expression on it.

Rebel Soldier (Hoth) comes with:

  • Adjustable goggles with green polarized lenses
  • A Rebel-issue survival backpack
  • A balaclava
  • A DL-21 blaster that can be stored in the holster on the figure’s right hip
  • An A-280 blaster rifle

My Take

Photo Credit: Hasbro, (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

PREMIUM ARTICULATION AND DETAILING: Star Wars fans and collectors can display this highly poseable (4 fully articulated limbs) figure, featuring premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection. – From Hasbro’s official website

If you are a regular reader of my reviews of Star Wars The Black Series action figures and other Star Wars collectibles, you know that I’ve been a collector since I was a teenager in 1978.

You also know, I think, that since I received a small batch of these 6-inch scale figures for Christmas of 2017, I have been impressed by the attention to authentic Star Wars movie details and character likenesses that Hasbro lavishes to its action figures, both in this scale and the more familiar (to me, anyway) 3.75-inch one.

I like the look of Rebel Soldier (Hoth); the uniform he wears looks like it could blend in with the arctic landscape of the Rebels’ Echo Base on Hoth, as well as the nicely-rendered details of the figure’s face and assorted gear. This figure is so well-done that I’m even considering taking Rebel Soldier (Hoth) out of the cardback and posing him with the Snowspeeder, its Dak Ralter figure, and the Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) figure I bought along with the vehicle on a floating shelf somewhere in my study.

Of course, I might not do that and just keep the figure in its nostalgia-evoking “Kenner” branded 40th Anniversary packaging, even though the Amazon employee at the Amazon Fulfillment Center where my Rebel Soldier (Hoth) was shipped from wasn’t particularly careful with how the figure was packed. The cardback packaging was none-too-gently stuffed into a box that was just a bit too small for it, so it’s dogeared and not in “mint” condition.

Oh, well. It is what it is. I’m a bit upset by that, but it could have been worse. The figure and its transparent bubble pack are fine, and I don’t plan on selling my collection any time soon, so I’ll just enjoy my new figure and not obsess about the crease in the cardback.

Well, this wraps up another review of a Star Wars The Black Series figure from the The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary collection. I enjoyed writing it (even though I did so during a rare bout of insomnia), and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and remember: the Force will be with you…always.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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