Friday, March 12, 2021

Rebel Yell

When it comes to Star Wars, the Stormtrooper is probably one of the most iconic characters and designs that come to mind. Whether it was because of their striking white armor or their apparent inability to hit their targets, they were one of the most memorable parts of the original movie. While this is all and good for these soldiers of the Galactic Empire, the same couldn’t really be said of any of their Rebel counterparts.

While they didn’t look as cool as Stormtroopers, Rebel troopers do have their place in the original Star Wars trilogy. While their record on the battlefield isn’t very impressive, I do feel that they do deserve some sort of shout out for their role in the ultimate defeat of the Empire.

Rebel Fleet Trooper

This was the first proper Rebel trooper we were introduced to in the opening scene of Episode 4. Unfortunately they didn’t make that big of an impression as they were basically mowed down by Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers as they boarded the Tantive IV in search of the stolen Death Star plans.

It wasn’t the best debut for these guys. I even remember finding their uniform rather goofy with their oversized helmet that made them look like mushrooms. And if that wasn’t bad enough, despite being one of the first “characters” to be introduced, they were left off the first original 12 action figures produced by Kenner way back in 1977. In fact, I may be wrong but I don’t think these guys ever got a proper release in the original vintage line.

Since the original line though, there have been versions of this guy made, but the only one that really interested me was his most recent release under the Black Series line. Fresh off an appearance in the closing minutes of Rogue One (where unfortunately they were once again being sliced and diced by Darth Vader), Hasbro released a 6” action figure of the Rebel Fleet Trooper. And to their credit, they did a pretty great job with him. The figure sported a little more updated articulation (butterfly joints!), a detailed face print and even came with a tiny drive containing the stolen Death Star Plans. 

This was 100% nostalgic plastic goodness, that got a lot of Star Wars collectors pretty excited. For a guy that was basically blown up on screen, he was the most sought out figure in his wave and was a rather difficult figure to acquire, at least in my area. Fortunately, I was able to get mine eventually and all was good.

Rebel Commander (Hoth)

The next major Rebel Trooper we were introduced to was the Rebel Commander in Episode 5. And just like the Rebel Fleet Soldier before him, his basic claim to fame was being defeated by Empire forces as they invaded the Rebel base on Hoth during the first major battle in The Empire Strikes Back. Unlike the Fleet Soldier though, this guy did get a vintage action figure. And it was a toy that I have a pretty significant nostalgic attachment to.

See way back in the 80’s my dad went to the US on a business trip with the promise of returning with my very first ever Star Wars action figures. Of course while he was gone I had visions of the epic battles I would re enact with my brand new Luke Skywalker, Hand Solo, Leia and Vader figures. But when he returned, he handed me Dengar, Hammerhead and a bunch of other third string characters. Of all the characters he brought home, The Rebel Commander was the only clear cut “good guy” of the bunch, so for some time, he was my de facto favorite figure.

In 2020, Hasbro finally got around to producing a modern 6” version of this guy for the Black Series. And just like the Fleet Trooper, they went all out when it came to this guy. A major plus point for this toy was that it came with an additional face plate (that neatly stored inside his backpack) and movable accessories (goggles and face mask) to maximize the ways he can be displayed. This made him the perfect figure to troop build on the shelf. And fortunately Hasbro was banking on collectors doing this as he wasn’t particularly that difficult to find.

When he was announced though, anticipating a high demand, I promptly pre ordered myself a Rebel Commander (now properly called the Rebel Soldier - Hoth) online on Bigbadtoystore, which turned out to not be a very smart decision. He was originally supposed to be available in August 2020, but for some reason, BBTS’s stock got constantly pushed back. In the meantime, he went on sale on Amazon so I decided to get him there instead. I still opted to keep my original pre order though which finally arrived in Feb 2021. While I don’t generally troop build, I figured that given the multiple display options, it wouldn’t hurt to have two of these guys in my collection.

Rebel Commando

The final Rebel Trooper worth mentioning is the Rebel Commando. These were the guys who fought the Empire in Episode 6 on the forest moon of Endor. And unlike the Fleet and Hoth soldiers, these guys actually did defeat the Empire, granted they had an army of furry bears warriors to help them out. I remember really liking this specific trooper, with his vintage figure being one of my favorites.

As of this writing Hasbro has yet to announce a Black series Rebel Commando, but I’d imagine that it is only a matter of time with the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi just around the corner. Hopefully when they do make this guy, he will have similar display options as the Hoth soldier.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. I know there are other variants of the “rebel soldier” out there, but these in my opinion are the main three worth writing about. Collectively they may not be as flashy as their Empire counterparts, but I personally am a fan of these guys. And I know that at the start I joked about them basically being fodder for Stormtroopers, but in all seriousness, they really are important. I mean how can you have a Rebellion without any Rebels?