Back when I was a young lad, there was an independent toy store downtown. I can clearly remember the day I peddled my bike down there and was confronted with that massive box containing the brand new AT-AT Walker from The Empire Strikes Back. Keep in mind that it was rendered a lot bigger by the fact that I was so young. Even if I had the $50 that it cost, no small sum in that day, I could never have gotten it home, and so that toy became the main focus of my attention until Christmas came and I found it under the tree.
Naturally, that AT-AT got beaten up pretty bad over the years. I would later replace it with a POTF2 one and again with the TRU exclusive, Endor Walker, both of which I sold off a few years ago when money and storage space were getting tight. I rarely ever have seller's remorse when I unload stuff, but in that case I sure did. I'm not sure if it was because it was a favorite toy as a kid, or because it was from my favorite scene of any of the Star Wars movies, but I knew I'd have to get one again at some point. Thankfully, Hasbro answered the call with the release of this ridiculous behemoth. Right now my only regret is that I don't have the old, puny one for some comparison shots.
As many of you may know, I am not an active Star Wars collector anymore, but when I liquidated my collection, I kept certain things, and every now and then Hasbro unleashes something new that I just can't resist.
The box was waiting on my doorstep when I got home from work, and man was it huge. When I ordered the BMF Millenium Falcon, it was shipped to me in the manufacturer's case box, but the AT-AT came with that box in a bigger box with added packing. A little quick work with a trusty razor blade and soon I was confronted with the toy's true box in all its glory.
Its a real shame I can't keep the packaging, because it really is nice. I love the colors, as well as the cut-out windows that show off the included figure and speeder bike. The artwork on the front is fantastic (although I could have done without the image of the Clone Trooper on my Original Trilogy toy), and the back panel shows a photo of the toy and calls out its many features. Its just the sort of thing that will get kids drooling in the toy aisles. Hasbro really knows how to design superb packaging when they want to, and this box is clearly proof of that.
Unfortunately, as with the Millenium Falcon, the toy requires some assembly steps that really can't be undone, and as big as the box is, once you have this thing together, its too big to go back inside for storage. I suppose I could flatten it out and slide it behind something, but in the end I'll probably just wind up chucking it.
That's not to say the AT-AT is tough to assemble. Basically all you have to do is connect the front piece of the hull and head and then snap on the legs and feet. There's also a bag of parts, some of which are optional. There aren't all that many stickers, and even most of those are optional laser blasts. You can easily have this thing out of the box and ready to go in just ten minutes or so. Also included in the package is a repack of the recently carded AT-AT driver figure, a speeder bike, toy catalog, instruction sheet, and sticker sheet.
The AT-AT requires three AA batteries, and I highly recommend putting them in last, lest you want to be triggering off all sorts of sounds while you're cobbling the beast together. You'll also need a philips screwdriver to open the battery panel, and there's a well concealed on/off switch under the hull, which was conealed well enough that I thought my AT-AT was broken after I put the batteries and was getting no sound.
The legs on this AT-AT are very similar to the original Kenner toy, in that they possess powerful ratchet joints in both the upper legs and knees as well as the ankles. They can be loud and annoying when you are posing the legs and you have to use a good deal of force to work them, but its a good trade-off to making sure that your AT-AT won't be collapsing due to loose joints after a few weeks of play. I'm happy to say that this is one sturdy toy. But then for a hundred bucks it certainly should be!
The sculpt is really amazing and far more proportional to the actual studio models. Keep in mind this is still a toy, built primarily with play value in mind, so its not perfect, but its still far closer to the old Kenner toy. Externally, the head features the most improvements, especially in the protruding viewport (which is clear, red tinted plastic), and the actual rubber used for the neck. The cheek lasers are actually firing missiles, but the missiles look enough like guns so as not to ruin the effect. The chin lasers are similar to the older Kenner toy, in that they light up and can be made to alternately fire by working a control on the bottom of the head.
The hull has some weathering spots, but on the whole its fairly clean. Thankfully Hasbro didn't attempt to add snow or mud effects, so you can use this AT-AT to invade any climate-specific planet in the Star Wars universe. The extra stickers that I mentioned earlier are there if you want to add more laser scorching and battle damage.
I will say that the struts connecting the inside of the legs to the feet seem a bit out of place, and they tend to disconnect when fiddling with the feet, but you can leave them off if you so choose. The inner "claws" on the feet can also interfere with each other if you have the Walker's legs straight up and down. It seems better to pose it with each leg slightly forward or back. The feet are also hollow, so you can simulate crushing your figures (I recommend Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks) with glee!
Next time, we'll look inside and I'll get into the various features, electronics and we'll see just how many figures this thing can actually hold!