Admiral Ozzel: [appearing onscreen with Captain Piett] Lord Vader, the fleet has moved out of lightspeed and we’re preparing to…
[Ozzel stops, and suddenly begins to choke, clutching at his throat]
Darth Vader: You have failed me for the last time, Admiral! Captain Piett?
Captain Piett: Yes, my lord?
Darth Vader: Make ready to land our troops beyond their energy field, and deploy the fleet, so that nothing gets off the system.
[beside Piett, Admiral Ozzel utters one last strangled gasp, and falls over dead]
Darth Vader: You are in command now… Admiral Piett!
Admiral Piett: Thank you, Lord Vader. – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Admiral Piett – The Quiet (and Scheming) Career-Climber
On July 13, 2018, Hasbro released the six-inch Star Wars The Black Series Admiral Piett action figure as an online exclusive. Originally available only on Canada’s EB Games’ website, Admiral Piett made its way to other online emporiums, such as Entertainment Earth, Walmart, and Amazon, mainly through third-party sellers who bought the figure of the career-climbing Imperial officer introduced in 1980’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back as captain of Darth Vader’s flagship and is promoted to flag rank when his superior, Admiral Ozzel, performs badly in the eyes of the Dark Lord of the Sith.
An ambitious Imperial officer, Piett rose through the ranks to captain and was assigned to the Super Star Destroyer Executor, Darth Vader’s flagship. When Vader strangled Admiral Ozzel, Piett was granted a battlefield promotion to admiral — and given a grisly warning of the penalty for failure. – Character blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Admiral Piett
Based on Admiral Firmus Piett (Kenneth Colley), this figure was originally priced at $19.99 when Hasbro released it almost four years ago. It depicts the calculating, efficient, and loyal Imperial officer – the only one of Darth Vader’s military minions to appear in two Star Wars films (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) – no easy achievement considering the Darth Lord’s unforgiving nature and lack of tolerance for failure.
Darth Vader: Yes, Admiral, what is it?
Admiral Piett: The Emperor commands you make contact with him.
Darth Vader: Move the ship out of the asteroid field so that we can send a clear transmission.
Announced by Hasbro as an “online exclusive” in May of 2018 and released two months later, Admiral Piett is, like Grand Moff Tarkin, a six-inch scale of an Imperial senior commander who interacts with the imposing and much-feared Darth Vader. The difference is that while Tarkin – played by the great British character actor Peter Cushing – was at least co-equal to the Dark Lord in the chain of command in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Piett is clearly Vader’s subordinate. He runs Vader’s flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor with icy-cold efficiency and issues commands to lower-ranking officers with confidence. Yet, in the presence of his overlord, Piett is sometimes ill-at-ease because he knows that his life is in the hands – or Force grip – of Vader. One misstep on Piett’s part can be fatal.
Hasbro’s Admiral Piett figure – which had an original manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $19.99 but is often offered for sale at higher prices – is a decent representation of one of the few Imperial officers brave enough to walk into Vader’s meditation room while he is either commuting with the Dark Side of the Force or – briefly – without his helmet and breath mask on.
In his red-and-black Star Wars The Black Series packaging, Admiral Piett stands bareheaded (odd, because he always wears his Imperial officer’s cap onscreen), with his two accessories (the aforementioned Imperial officer’s kepi-style cap and a Blas-Tech DL-21 blaster pistol) off to his left (our right) in their own compartments within the transparent front panel.
The figure is nicely sculpted and painted, and we see that Piett has brown hair – cut in a conservative style to reflect his status as a Fleet Admiral. Piett’s pale skin and hazel eyes are also nicely depicted, giving his Star Wars The Black Series a lifelike – and coldly menacing – mien.
Costume designer John Mollo’s Wehrmacht-inspired gray Imperial officer’s uniform is perfectly replicated here, too. Piett is – figuratively – dressed to kill in the classic pressed, tailored tunic-and-matching trousers (with matching kepi) outfit worn by the Empire’s officer corps. Piett also wears a black belt with silver buckle and black knee-high officer’s boots. The outfit also features the 12 red-and-blue rank tabs (six red, six blue) worn by Imperial Fleet Admirals on Piett’s tunic, as well as three code cylinders that look like silver pens.
What’s in the Package?
- Admiral Piett Action Figure
- Officer’s Cap
- BlasTech DL-21 blaster pistol
Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series Admiral Piett is a nice rendition of what George Lucas categorized as a “villainous sidekick” who is not quite as prominent as a “big bad” like Darth Vader or the Skywalker Saga’s supervillain, Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious), yet has a bigger role onscreen (in two movies, at that) than anonymous Imperial officers or stormtroopers.
As I mentioned earlier, Admiral Piett’s Fleet Admiral uniform is nicely replicated in the figure’s sculpt and paint job. Hasbro’s product designers take full advantage of the modern technology available to design and manufacture life-like action figures that closely resemble the heroes, villains, droids, and galactic denizens of the Star Wars galaxy.
Of course, viewers of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi well remember that Firmus Piett is an Imperial flag officer. He participates in at least two major battles against the Rebel Alliance in those two films, but he’s always either on the Executor’s bridge or visiting Vader in his private quarters. He’s never seen leading stormtroopers on Hoth (like General Veers) or Bespin’s Cloud City; he is in command of Vader’s Imperial Death Squadron – not an Imperial ground forces commander.
Yet, Hasbro equips Admiral Piett with an Imperial issue BlasTech DL-21 blaster pistol, even though the good admiral is an opportunist who manipulates his way up the command ladder by allowing his superiors – including the unfortunate Admiral Kendal Ozzel – to commit “suicide by mistakes” in front of Vader.
My guess is that Hasbro knows that kids who play with their figures rather than just displaying them want to give characters something more action-oriented than merely saying “As you wish, my Lord” to Darth Vader. As a result, Hasbro saw fit to give Admiral Piett a DL-21 blaster pistol, but without a holster to store it in when he’s not using it for target practice or blasting away at those pesky Rebels who dare challenge the Empire.
(This explains why Hasbro also equipped the Star Wars The Black Series figure of Grand Moff Tarkin with an IT-0 interrogation droid, although we only saw Darth Vader using that particularly nasty-looking torture device on Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. No kid who plays with Star Wars figures wants a villain – or hero – action figure without a cool accessory.)
So, yep. Admiral Piett comes with a blaster pistol.
The only other accessory included with Admiral Piett is his Imperial officer’s cap. Its grey color matches that of Piett’s Wehrmacht-inspired admiral’s uniform and bears the silver round insignia sported by all Imperial officers’ kepis.
Back in the 1980s, when Hasbro’s erstwhile competitor Kenner had the license to make Star Wars toys and games, there were no Admiral Piett action figures made. Instead, as part of Kenner’s 1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection, a generic Imperial Officer figure (with a dark green-gray uniform and a stormtrooper’s E-11 blaster) was issued.
It wasn’t until 1998 after Hasbro bought Kenner – and its lucrative Star Wars product license – in a series of buyouts and mergers, that Piett was given his own action figure. I probably have one because my friend Rogers Perez kindly gave me many of his extra action figures in the late Nineties, but if I do, it’s in a box somewhere.
Compared to the 1980 era Imperial Commander Kenner action figure that could be used, in a pinch, to represent the character, this Star Wars The Black Series Admiral Piett is a vast improvement over the original.
For instance, whereas Imperial Commander, like most of the human/humanoid characters, only has five points of articulation (POAs), Admiral Piett has 24. This allows kids and collectors to put the six-inch scale action figure in lifelike poses that aren’t possible to replicate with first-generation Star Wars mini-figures.
Of course, since points of articulation have either hinges or ball sockets and have visible “seams,” there are some tradeoffs.
Yes, 24 POAs allow you to pose Admiral Piett in more ways than you could do with either Imperial Officer or Captain Piett (both of which have only five points of articulation). You can have Admiral Piett wield his DL-21, stand at parade rest or with his arms akimbo, or just look like he is issuing orders on Executor’s bridge. So, that’s pretty darn good, especially if you’re the “let’s build a cool diorama” type of collector.
On the other hand, unlike those astronomically expensive figures that are made to look exactly like your favorite action hero or even adult superstar, mass-market action figures with all of those POAs look, well, like toys. Nicely rendered and accurately detailed ones, to be sure, but toys nonetheless.
For collectors who like to keep their figures in the box – whether for convenience or in the hope that the still-in-the-original-package figure will accrue value in the collectibles’ marketplace – this Admiral Piett offering in the nine-year-old Star Wars The Black Series line is a nice and solid addition.
As is the case with even the new style of different color boxes that was introduced in 2020, Admiral Piett’s black-and-red Star Wars The Black Series packaging follows the line’s livery tradition of featuring a “window” on the box’s obverse side that lets you see the figure inside. My only quibble with that is that instead of showing the admiral with his kepi on his head, he is shown bareheaded, and the cap is tucked away in its own “pocket” – just above one for the DL-21 blaster pistol – in the window.
On the lower right-hand corner of the box front – from our perspective – there’s the traditional silver gray-on-black portrait of the character – here it’s Admiral Piett – drawn to closely resemble actor Kenneth Colley in his Imperial uniform.
A larger rendition of this drawing is printed on the reverse side of the Star Wars The Black Series box, opposite the character biographical sketch that says, in English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese:
An ambitious Imperial officer, Piett rose through the ranks to captain and was assigned to the Super Star Destroyer Executor, Darth Vader’s flagship. When Vader strangled Admiral Ozzel, Piett was granted a battlefield promotion to admiral — and given a grisly warning of the penalty for failure.
Whether you choose to open Admiral Piett’s Star Wars The Black Series box to show him off in an action pose (you might want to consider a figure stand to support him, as posing him is a bit tough without one) or keep him safe – and complete – in the original package, this action figure makes a fine addition to anyone’s Star Wars collection.
Well, that about wraps it up for this review of a new Star Wars The Black Series collectible figure. I had fun writing it, and I hope you will find it both enjoyable and informative.
Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and find joy in even the small things in life. (Including action figures!) And remember, the Force will be with you…always.