IMPERIAL SNOWTROOPER (HOTH): Stormtroopers in cold-weather gear deployed from Imperial AT-AT walkers and invaded Hoth’s Echo Base, quickly and ruthlessly taking control of the Rebels. – Product description blurb, Hasbro official website
On Friday, August 28, Hasbro released the latest addition to its Star Wars The Black Series collection of figures commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth). Like quite a few of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary 6-inch scale action figures, the Snowtrooper is not a new offering. Rather, it is a repackaged version of Star Wars The Black Series # 35, which was originally released in November of 2016 along with Princess Leia Organa, AT-AT Driver, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Revan, and Sabine Wren.
Star Wars The Black Series #35 is, of course, a descendant of Kenner’s original 1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 3.75-inch scale mini-action figure Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear). This was the first “specialist” variant of the Imperial Stormtrooper figure Kenner produced, and although many fans referred to the Hoth Battle Gear version as the “snowtrooper,” it was never referred to as such in any canonical material of the times. The nickname stuck, though, even being mentioned as such in the section on Imperial Stormtroopers in the Star Wars Visual Dictionary:
Based on the Republic’s cold assault clone troopers, Imperial snowtroopers are self-sufficient mobile combatants in freezing terrains. They rely upon their backpacks, breath masks, and suit systems to keep them warm. Each suit can last for two weeks on battery power alone before they need to be recharged. – Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary (2018 Edition), page 190
Because the fan-created nickname for Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) stuck and eventually was adopted by the Lucasfilm licensing division, Hasbro – which bought Kenner in the 1990s and eventually absorbed it wholesale – decided to go with the flow and tweaked the original nomenclature accordingly, branding the reissued Star Wars The Black Series #35 as Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth)
What’s in the Package?
40TH ANNIVERSARY FIGURE: Celebrate 40 years of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with this Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth) The Black Series action figure featuring 1980s-inspired design. – Product description blurb, Hasbro official website
The 2020 Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth) is a representation of a “specialist” variant of the Galactic Empire’s elite shock trooper equipped for cold climate warfare on worlds such as Hoth. As mentioned earlier, it’s a reissue of Star Wars The Black Series #35 Snowtrooper, repackaged in a reproduced “cardback” that is based closely on the Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) Kenner action figure’s packaging, even using the same image from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and blending the two versions of the figure’s nomenclature so that they match a bit better.
Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth) includes:
- “Kenner” branded 40th Anniversary cardback packaging with 1980s-style Star Wars: The Empire Strikes livery and the classic blue-and-white Kenner logo
- Star Wars The Black Series #35 Snowtrooper action figure, renamed here as Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth)
- BlasTech E-11 (short barrel) Imperial-issue blaster
- BlasTech DLT-20A laser rifle
Back in 1980, when I was 17, I bought the original Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) action figure for the then-princely sum of $2.49 plus Florida’s 4% sales tax, or $8.14 in 2020 dollars. Like its 1978 Imperial Stormtrooper forebear, this figure was cool-looking but only had four points of articulation (POA) – at the shoulders and hips – and one accessory (a long-barreled Stormtrooper rifle) that looked cool but was actually difficult to use in an action pose.
The figure was uber-cool looking, but it had its share of issues. Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) lacked a swivel point at the neck, you couldn’t pose him in life-like poses; your best bet was to stand him stiffly with his long-barreled rifle pointing down at a slight angle. And the kama that snowtroopers wear as part of their insulation gear was made of the same vinyl-like material used by Kenner to simulate the “capes” worn by such character-based figures as Darth Vader, Princess Leia Organa, and Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi and often came off from the figure’s legs if you weren’t careful. (I hated that removable kama, but I managed to not lose it.)
Recall intense moments from the Star Wars Galaxy with this Star Wars The Black Series 40TH anniversary 6-inch-scale Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth) action figure that includes 3 accessories and features premium deco across multiple points of articulation. – Product description blurb, Hasbro official website
Even though I was reluctant to order Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth) when I saw that the figure was available for preorder at Amazon, it dawned on me that my collection doesn’t include many Imperial characters. I had not purchased the original Star Wars The Black Series #35 Snowtrooper in 2016, and I had already passed on the AT-AT Driver and Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot figures. So after mulling it over for several days, I ordered the figure on August 26.
I wasn’t expecting to get my new Snowtrooper for a while; it was supposed to ship in time for a delivery on the 3rd, but Amazon emailed me to let me know it would be delivered sometime between September 11 and October 1 and to ask if I still wanted it. I hit the Yes, I Still Want My Order option and let the matter stand. After all, it was only a delay and nothing more. To get angry or sad about such a thing seemed a bit much, even in these troubled and scary times.
As with all of the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary figures from Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series, I am impressed by the attention to detail lavished on Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth). The multiple POAs allow collectors and kids alike to pose the figure in realistic action stances, and the sculpt-and-paint job captures every detail of the artistic visions of costume designer John Mollo and concept artists Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston for the arctic warfare version of the Empire’s white clad stormtroopers. From the top of the eerily anonymous snowtrooper helmet and its breath mask to the tips of the rugged ice boots, every detail of Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth) is true to the outfit seen in Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
I also appreciate the fact that Hasbro tried to stay true to the Kenner legacy by blending the original product name and the more current character nickname and labeling the repackaged #35 Snowtrooper as Imperial Snowtrooper (Hoth). That, to me, acknowledges the canon status of the “snowtrooper” label – which, as mentioned earlier, was a fan created name – while still respecting the original name of the 1980 figure.
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 this piece, 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.