The Good: Very cool design, Well-detailed, Neat battle function
The Bad: A little fragile with the aft vents, Minor figure discoloration.
The Basics: Great for play and display, despite a few minor problems, the Power Of The Force Imperial Speeder Bike toy holds up even after years of play!
Back when Kenner was reigniting interest in the Star Wars franchise in the mid and late 1990s in preparation of the prequel Trilogy, there quickly came a clamoring for vehicles and toys that interacted with the standard 4" figures beyond space battles. It is pretty natural, then, that one of the very first vehicle toys that Kenner would make would be the Imperial Speeder Bike. This was one of the first vehicle and figure combinations the company tried and its success spurred them on to a whole line of action figure and vehicle combinations that has continued even now that Hasbro runs the Star Wars toy line!
The Imperial Speeder Bike was first seen in Return Of The Jedi (click here for that review!) on Endor as the Imperial forces zipped through the trees on them. As they do in the movie, the Kenner-produced Imperial Speeder Bike toy blows into pieces so they have decent play value for fans of the films. Moreover, despite only a few functional problems, this toy is awesome and fun to play with!
The Imperial Speeder Bike is an open vehicle with a single seat to hold a driver, much like a hovering motorcycle. Unlike, however, the Swoop Bikes from Shadows Of The Empire, these are lighter, faster and far less durable than the gang-oriented vehicle. The Imperial Speeder Bike is a brown and black vehicle that is light, has an underside cannon and pedals which hold the speeder off the ground when this is properly assembled.
The Imperial Speeder Bike features aft vents which simulate thruster engines when one gently pushes down on the speeder's pedals. This makes the flaps lift up in back and appear to be going fast. The vehicle comes unassembled in three parts which snap together with surprising ease. The vehicle, which is 8" long, 1 3/4" wide and 2" tall features an elongated neck which ends in a head with steering vanes for balance. A single pilot may sit on the Imperial Speeder Bike and the toy comes with one such pilot.
The detailing on the Imperial Speeder Bike is very good. Primarily colored dark brown, the Imperial Speeder Bike features smoke "wear lines" which make it look like exhaust has colored the main body of the vehicle. As well, consumers are required to apply decal stickers for more symbols and these are brightly colored enough to stand out on this vehicle.
Assembly of the Imperial Speeder Bike is simply a matter of setting the forward vane in a groove and then snapping the seat/handle assembly onto the top of it. In the back there is a button which one depresses to unlatch the seat assembly and holding it down while one positions the top portion helps limit the wear on the toy. All of the parts snap in easily and the directions are quite clear on how to assemble the vehicle. As well, the instructions show the proper placement of the vehicle's decals that must be applied by the consumer.
In the case of the Imperial Speeder Bike, there is only one real accessory: the Imperial Speeder Bike pilot. The Imperial Speeder Bike pilot is just like the one from the film, armored like a Stormtrooper in white and black, but with a special visor-like helmet that is distinct. The Speeder Bike Pilot looks very much like an Imperial soldier and with its smaller canister on the back and more distinct use of armor, it looks lighter and more maneuverable. The 4" figure is very light on the details, though it does appear to have one of the speeder bike pilot's guns molded into the holster on his right boot.
As for the figure's coloring, the figure looks cleaner than the Imperial Speeder Bike! The figure comes with seven points of articulation - groin socket, knees, shoulders and neck. The knees are hinge joints and the head is on a hinge that only allows it to move up and down (nodding) as opposed to side to side. The figure fits on the Imperial Speeder Bike and does not stand when off the vehicle.
Unfortunately, like many of the Kenner figures who were cast in white plastic, the Speeder Bike Trooper has discolored over the years and the legs on mine are slightly yellowed.
The four inch toy line was designed for play and the Imperial Speeder Bike is excellent in that regard. The blowing apart function, makes for a pretty cool feature. At the back of the Speeder Bike is a button which, when depressed, causes the Imperial Speeder Bike to blow into its three pieces and throw the pilot off. The fact that the pilot is removable enhances the play experience. However, because of the straddling position, almost no figures outside this specific pilot will fit on the Imperial Speeder Bike.
The Imperial Speeder Bike is part of the Power Of The Force collection, a series of Star Wars toys that was exceptionally common, even for the Imperial Speeder Bike. Still, the Imperial Speeder Bike sold quite well at the time and there were very few that had to be clearanced. Instead, the playability of the Imperial Speeder Bike has proven its worth over time and many people who actually take their Star Wars figures out for play purchased more than one of these vehicles.
The Imperial Speeder Bike is one of the better vehicle toys, but because the pedals frequently detach from the aft flaps there is an annoying design flaw that play enthusiasts have to wrestle with. That, combined with the yellowing figure, robs the Imperial Speeder Bike of a perfect rating, though it is still a fun toy.
For other Star Wars deluxe figures, please check out my reviews of:
Mynock Hunt 3-pack
Darth Maul With Sith Speeder
Deluxe Yoda With Force Powers
For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.