Rarely do I walk into a store and have my eyes greeted by the sight of toys that I had absolutely no idea had been released, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday of this week when I ran into the Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 8-Packs at my local Wal-Mart. It’s ironic that I found these packs while I was scouring for new Star Wars Vintage Collection and Clone Wars figures that I never seem to find. It may be some insidious plot by Hasbro to compel collectors to give Fighter Pods a second chance, and I must be weak-minded because it definitely worked on me. I love these little guys now!! I posted the complete Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 Printable Checklist earlier today, and for my first review I’m covering the Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 Imperial Shuttle Pack, with its exclusive Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin figures…
Value!! In a world where a single Star Wars Vintage Collection action figures will cost me $9.99 at most stores (and more at some!), Star Wars Fighter Pods are a shining light of hope in the storm. Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but getting 8 Star Wars figures and a mini-vehicle all for $9.99 seemed like a pipe-dream these days until Fighter Pods were released.
The exclusive items in the Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 Imperial Shuttle Pack are the Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader figures, along with the Imperial Shuttle Pod itself. Grand Moff Tarkin is in a terrific pose, wherein he’s either pondering or scheming some evil plot. Darth Vader is prepared for a furious battle, with lightsaber in one hand and his other clutched to use the Force.
Like all of the vehicles in the Fighter Pods line, the Imperial Shuttle is pretty basic. Even so, it’s exciting that Hasbro has enough faith in the line to release a non action- oriented vehicle so early, even before any kind of TIE Fighter! The Imperial Shuttle can open up to reveal a figure inside, and also can hold and drop a Fighter Pod as a ‘bomb’. It’s fun enough, definitely looks like the Imperial Shuttle, and for about a dollar, who’s to complain?
General Grievous is an all-new mold (as he’d have to be) and is in a cool lightsaber-wielding pose. I was pretty stupefied to turn General Grievous around and discover that the insignia on his cape had been painted on! I own a fair number of General Grievous action figures (realistic and animated), and I don’t believe any of them have the design on the back. It’s pretty shocking that these 1″ Fighter Pods can sometimes manage more detail than you get on a 4″ Star Wars figure.
The pariah of the Star Wars universe, Jar Jar Binks, also makes his debut with a new mold in Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2. It’s the Episode I Jar Jar attire, and he’s posed looking clueless and totally vacant-minded. In short, it’s the perfect pose for Jar Jar. Jar Jar had a couple stray dots of paint on him, the only figure in the pack that did, but he looks terrific for the most part despite this.
Cad Bane is the final all-new figure I got in this set, and he is awesome. He’s got his signature hat and trench coat, and is dual-wielding his blasters in the air. There’s a lot of different paint colors used on this figure, and it really does look fantastic, especially for a figure that’s only an inch tall!
TC-14 is a repaint of C-3PO, but really, what else is there to do with a protocol droid? TC-14 is the friendliest protocol droid we see in the Star Wars Saga besides C-3PO, so the friendly, waving pose is a good match for her.
The Coruscant Guard is another clone trooper repaint, but the paint deco on him is really colorful and fun to look at. Clone repaints are going to be a constant in this Fighter Pods line, but I can deal with that if we get more interesting clone releases like the Coruscant Guard.
You also get 4 clear Fighter Pods with the set, which is a necessity if you intend to play the Fighter Pods game. I don’t, but I’m still glad that the set includes a bunch of pods to add play value and hopefully entice kids to buy this line.
Each 8-Pack comes with a hidden figure packed inside of the vehicle pod. In this case, my Imperial Shuttle pod came with the Qui-Gon Jinn Hologram figure inside. I won’t lie–I like the Fighter Pods hologram figures more than I expected to. I actually think the clear plastic looks a lot better on these cutesy 1″ figures than it does on the 4″ line. That said, I don’t think it was necessary to give us 7 hologram figures in Series 2 that are straight “repaints” from Series 1. One of the packs I passed on had three hologram figures in it, which is just too much. With only 43 figures in this set, one-sixth of them shouldn’t be these cheesy holograms.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 is just now slowly starting to trickle into retail. I found two each of the X-Wing Pack and Imperial Shuttle Pack at Wal-Mart earlier this week, but haven’t seen any since.
For online choices, BigBadToyStore is my personal favorite web-store, as evidenced by the fact that they get about half my paycheck each month. They have all of Fighter Pods Series 2 (and beyond!) available for order right now.
Overall: I think a lot of purist Star Wars collectors may fillet me for this, but I truly believe that Fighter Pods are one of the best Star Wars offerings at retail at this time. Unlike the Hasbro figures, they’re not a nightmare to find in stores, and they’re cheap enough that they’re in a whole other universe of cost from high-end Star Wars collectibles. The Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 Imperial Shuttle is an immensely fun set that gives me an all-new vehicle (that’s surprisingly collector-focused) in the Imperial Shuttle, along with 5 all-new and adorable figures and three interesting repaints. The scheming Tarkin, posturing Cad Bane, and hapless Jar Jar Fighter Pods figures are all priceless. At the ultra-low price of just $9.99 at most retailers, Star Wars Fighter Pods are unquestionably the best Star Wars value on the market, and the very cool Star Wars Fighter Pods Series 2 Imperial Shuttle Pack earns itself a high recommendation.