Along with their Darth Vader, Tamashii Nations’ S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper is the second figure in the Japanese toymaker’s inaugural 6-inch scale Star Wars line. While Vader left me disappointed, the Stormtrooper leaves me hopeful for Tamashii’s future Star Wars offerings.
As an import figure collector, I have a very high standard in what I expect from the Japanese toymakers. In reality, they’ve created this high standard upon themselves with their craftsmanship, attention to detail and second-to-none engineering. A character as ingrained in pop culture as the Stormtrooper makes it an easy target, when translated into figure form, for criticism especially if it’s not executed with precision. While Tamashii did a pretty good job of minifying the Stormtrooper, they did miss a few small details that aren’t necessarily deal breakers, but should be pointed out to ensure the little details that matter to fans don’t continue to slip through the cracks in future releases.
The S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper stands in at just under 6-inches tall, making it shorter than both the Hasbro Black Series and Kaiyodo Revoltech Stormtroopers (see photo). This means the figure won’t be compatible with Hasbro’s Black Series figures, but I’m O.K. with that because the quality between the matte-finished Hasbro Stormtrooper and the intricately detailed, glossy armored Figuarts Stormtrooper is night and day so the Figuarts figures will look out of place among the Hasbro figures. While the quality is better, the price is also higher, so the Figuarts figures may not be for everyone.
After years of abuse from fan sites, collectors and occasional trolls Hasbro has been pretty vigilant about nailing their characters in figure form. They pay attention to details and usually include small little bells and whistles features like working holsters or functioning lightsaber ports. Unfortunately, Tamashii isn’t there yet. Like Tamashii’s Vader figure, which did not include a belt clip / port for the unignited lightsaber hilt, the Stormtrooper doesn’t have a functioning holster for the E-11 blaster rifle. Sadly, the figure doesn’t include a holster at all, which is a bit of an oversight. Again, I think this goes back to Tamashii’s lack of experience with the Star Wars line and interaction with its rabid fans who will nitpick the most minute detail and I’m hopeful they’ll get the hang of it after they get a few more figures under their belt.
Despite the subtle oversights, Tamashii’s S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper is the best 6-inch scale Stormtrooper available. The figure is designed well, matches the on-screen character and is loaded with articulation points that are both functional and visually clean (e.g. no visible pin joints). Most importantly, the figure can achieve a number of poses iconic to the character, including standing at attention with cross-gripped blaster pose and the two-handed blaster firing pose. The poses are easy to achieve and hold well without the need of support or a stand. The shoulder armor did take a little getting used to and out of the box looked overly large, but when I compared it to my Hot Toys Stormtrooper it seemed to be scaled properly. I do think the shoulder armor may have been better served sitting on its own between the shoulder and torso socket instead of being attached to either piece, but it still gets the job done for many if not most of the poses I’ll display the figure in so it’s a mute point.
Tamashii included four switch-out hands with the figure, in addition to the clenched fists that come on the figure out of the box, that can be used to grip the included blaster in either hand. The hands also do a good job of gesturing commands or indicating a bad communicator. One of the nitpicks I have about the Stormtrooper is that the included blaster is molded in a single piece. While Hasbro’s Black Series blasters are also a single molded piece, we did see a prototype Hasbro 6-inch E-11 blaster with folding stock at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 so I was really expecting this from the Japanese toymakers, particularly Tamashii. My expectations go back to the notion that the engineers of the Figuarts figures always seem to outdo themselves and that when I’m paying for a premium figure, I want to be wowed. While I was wowed by how tiny Darth Vader looked in comparison to the Stormtrooper, I don’t think Tamashii has hit the sweet spot with the S.H. Figuarts Star Wars line just yet.
Due to licensing restrictions, the S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper is available for sale in Japan only so you’ll need to import one from a reseller if you’d like to add one to your collection. Expect to pay about $40 for the figure.