The Good: Great sculpt, Relatively inexpensive, Decent detailing, Cool feature/accessory
The Bad: Balance issues, Overproduced
The Basics: My love of Hoth-oriented action figures continues with the Deluxe Probe Droid, a Power Of The Force figure with great play potential, despite some balance issues.
[Right before I went to post this, I learned that Irvin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back just died. So, this shall be one of the first of many tributes to the director of one of my favorite films of all time!]
Most people who have seen The Empire Strikes Back will recall that it began with droids being sent out into the galaxy at the behest of Darth Vader in his search for Luke Skywalker. Those droids, the Imperial Probe Droids, appeared to be easily destroyed, but still they remain a fan favorite when it comes to the action figures produced for the Star Wars enthusiasts. Back in 1996 as part of the growing surge of merchandise surrounding the Special Edition releases, Kenner released the Power Of The Force Deluxe Probe Droid figure and it was a hit!
For those unfamiliar with the Probe Droid, these were the black Imperial robots seen on the ice planet of Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back (click here for the film review!). One landed on Hoth, levitated out of its crater and began to scan the planet for lifeforms. Intercepting a signal from the droid, Han Solo and Chewbacca went out to destroy it and in the process, they realized the frozen wasteland of Hoth was no longer safe for them!
The 4" Deluxe Probe Droid figure is a pretty impressive action figure, even by today's standards. This makes it worth picking up and including with any Hoth setting play!
The Probe Droid is a good support figure for anyone's Star Wars action figure collection as it is a generic Imperial toy. While there have been a slew of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and even Chewbacca figures, it is hard to play with more than one at a time without some serious suspension of disbelief. The figure stands 6" tall to the top of its antenna array. This is a decent replica of the black probe droid and it is detailed all over with lights and even a sticker for one of the control panels. It is cast entirely in hard plastic and the plastic actually has black and gray bits in it to make it look more realistically weathered.
This toy is an awesome sculpt, looking precisely like the Imperial Probe Droid. The Probe Droid is exceptional in its coloring detail, with the robot's main eye being a decent contrasting glossy black plastic. Each of the droid's five descending appendages (one hesitates to call them legs or arms, but if one were to, there would be three legs and two arms) are each of differing lengths and positions.
The Probe Droid is detailed fairly well in the molded details, as well as the coloring details. This sculpt includes the tiny gun on the droid's main cylinder and two antenna which are fairly finely detailed.
The Probe Droid is secretly well armed and its only accessory is a two and a half inch long missile that fits in the cannon on the figure's head. When the plastic cylinder is pressed into the cannon hole, the firing button pops up. When that button is depressed, the missile launches about a foot and a half through the air to knock into whatever's there. The missile is an unrealistic puke orange color, but even that works for this figure! Sadly, after years of play, the spring for the missile begins to wear out and now my Probe Droid's missile only launches about a foot.
The four inch toy line was designed for play and Probe Droid is good in that regard. The figure is mildly articulated, but it has only average balance with three of its legs. The Probe Droid has fair articulation and the figure only bends at the ball and socket joints where each appendage connects to the main body! As a result, when the feet (or claws) are moved out of alignment, this figure tips over very easily. The Probe Droid figure comes with only six points of articulation, including the head which rotates 360 degrees.
What increases the figure's playability, though, is the launching missile. In addition to the missile, fans will be pleased that the head is springloaded as well. In the movie, Han blows the probe droid up and the head explodes off it. Similarly, with this figure, there is a lever below the center of the body and when pressed, the head of the Deluxe Probe Droid pops off and goes flying about three inches!
This also exposes the Probe Droid's secret weapon! Under the head is a second pair of guns which may be revealed by pushing the lever up instead of in. That reveals the Probe Droid's secondary cannons and most fans I know got a real kick out of that, including me.
The Probe Droid is part of the Power Of The Force Deluxe four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was exceptionally common. This was a pegwarmer at the time, but only because it was massively overproduced. Now, they have appreciated some, but most will find this is not a great investment figure at all as it was severely overproduced. Even so, as people wear out the springs on theirs, odds are they will pick up replacements of this cool figure.
Despite the coloring issues and the fact that the springs wear out when one plays excessively with the Deluxe Probe Droid, this is still a cool figure which will please most all Star Wars toy enthusiasts!
For other Star Wars toy reviews, please check out my takes on:
2010 Saga Legends IG-88
Original Trilogy Collection Cloud Car Pilot
2008 Legacy Collection Bane Malar
For other Star Wars action figures or toy reviews, please visit my index page for an organized listing!
© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.