The Good: Looks pretty good, Good playability, Does not appear overproduced, Fits both Cloud Car Pilots.
The Bad: Somewhat forced playability issue, Landing gear robs appearance of authenticity.
The Basics: Finally, Hasbro gets around to making a Bespin Cloud Car toy which is surprisingly good and fairly innovative for a Star Wars toy!
2010 saw the addition of several fun Star Wars toys to the Hasbro 3 3/4" toy line. For me, the most notable was one of the few The Empire Strikes Back toys to appear fairly early in the year. That was the Bespin Cloud Car, which finally gave a purpose to the 2004 Cloud Car Pilot (reviewed here!) and was supplemented by the 2010 Vintage Collection (Twin-Pod) Cloud Car Driver (reviewed here!) which was released around the same time. The Bespin Cloud Car toy is a decently strong toy for play and reasonably good for display and while purists may object to some of the aspects which increase play, I found I did not.
The Bespin Cloud Car from the 2010 Hasbro Star Wars toy line includes a feature which allows the two halves of the vehicle to split apart and fly on their own. While this might initially seem like a packaging issue - the toy is more efficiently packaged by splitting it in half - the toy is pretty cool with its dual modes. But while I usually have issues with the idea or execution of concept figures and toys, it is hard to argue with the different modes of the Bespin Cloud Car: the vehicle was seen so briefly in the film and the two pilots for the vehicle makes more sense if there were an independent mode to the ship!
For those unfamiliar with the Bespin Cloud Car, the vehicles appear for about thirty seconds in the middle portion of The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!). When the Millennium Falcon comes in for a landing the floating Cloud City on Bespin after evading the Empire in the asteroid belt, it is shot at by two vehicles. Those vehicles are orange and brown twin pod cloud cars and they act as escort vehicles for ships that are unlawfully entering Cloud City's airspace.
The Bespin Cloud Car is the distinctive orange vehicle with slightly browner accents to it that was seen in The Empire Strikes Back. The Hasbro 2010 mold of the ship features the simple ovaloid shape of the two pods with the raised cockpit hatch on the upper side of each. The two pods are connected by a bar which has detailing that makes it look like the ship has venting in the center. The basic dimensions of the vehicle are 9" wide, 9" long (front to back of pod) and 4" tall (to the top of each cockpit canopy). There are also raised vents on the aft section which one presumes is either for propulsion, steering or intended for some form of exhaust. The back of the bar that connects the two pods has a blue section that is evocative of thruster engines in the Star Wars universe.
The Bespin Cloud Car toy is detailed with several lines that make the ship look like it is assembled from panels and the "welded" look of the vehicle gives it a better sense of realism than some of the Hasbro Star Wars toys or playsets. The panel's "assembled" look from the mold also allows the storage/engine compartment to be hidden better for those who want a more "true to the film" look to the vehicle. But opening the storage compartment - it is hinged on the outer side of each of the two pods - reveals an engine compartment which may also act as storage for smaller accessories that come with figures. The engines inside the compartment are molded with pipes and junctions that make the vehicles innards look cool and they are colored a fairly realistic gunmetal gray and black color. The hoods on the storage compartments snap closed and after a bit of play, I have found mine have not loosened in any significant way.
The Cloud Car's cockpits feature a canopy each that makes them look like they did in the movie. Each cockpit opens on a hinge that allows the canopy to flip up from the front to the back and raising the canopy allows consumers to insert a figure into the cockpit. While many of the new Star Wars action figures do fit into the Bespin Cloud Car toy, the most significant figures most people will want to play with (or use for display with) the Bespin Cloud Car are the two Cloud Car pilots. Both sculpts of the Cloud Car Pilot fit into the cockpit, making it a good accessory toy for either of those figures!
As far as appearance goes, the Bespin Cloud Car only gets marks off for the coloring and for the landing gear. The coloring is decent for the main body of the Cloud Car - it was a pretty bright orange vehicle in The Empire Strikes Back. But the vehicle is too clean for a ship that sails through the air. The front panels which were more brown in the film are barely more orange in this incarnation of the vehicle. As well, the landing gear robs the ship of its realistic look. While the version of the Cloud Car that came out in the 1980s featured large landing gear that pulled out from the bottom of the ship, the 2010 version of the toy has a single landing gear that is at the front of each of the two cones of the Bespin Cloud Car. These landing gear do not fit up inside the ship and offer a seamless, aerodynamic look for the ship that was familiar to fans of the Bespin Cloud Car. Instead, the vehicle now has protrusions which rotate down and support the ship when its backside is flat on a surface. These landing gear do serve the function of stabilizing the vehicle when it is at rest, but they do not fold up fully into the ship. One also wonders why Hasbro decided to add guns to the landing gears, but those are not the worst of the problems with the ship's landing gears.
Like many of the Star Wars vehicle toys, the Bespin Cloud Car does come with accessories, in this case four identical missiles. The missiles are 2 3/4" long and fit in any of the four launchers (one is hidden on the outer side of each of the pods and two are in the center bar). The side launchers are revealed by pressing the pods together, which causes the outer wings to reveal the launchers. Missiles are launched by pressing the missile in, which raises a button on the topside of each launcher, and then pressing the launching button down. The springs in the Bespin Cloud Car are fair, but mine only launches missiles a foot away (36" including sliding on the rug distance).
There are no additional figures or accessories that come with the Bespin Cloud Car.
Despite the lack of realism from the landing gear, the Bespin Cloud Car offers exceptional playability. The vehicle toy rests on the ground (or landing platform, if one has done custom work) and goes "airborne" is seconds. The central bar is practical on this Cloud Car, acting as a rail for the pods to transform it from "peacetime cruising mode" to "blow you out of the sky" mode. The cockpits hold many figures offering a lot of opportunity for play and the separating pods make it so if one only has the one vehicle, they may actually fight with each other! Pretty cool.
The launching missiles only enhance the playability and while the range is limited in objective testing conditions, in actual play circumstances where one is strafing figures below, the Bespin Cloud Car is a worthwhile toy.
The 2010 Star Wars toy line seems to have been fairly limited at Target, Toys R' Us and Wal-Mart stores. The Bespin Cloud Car was found only one per case in a group of vehicle toys that was largely pegwarmers. The result is that the Bespin Cloud Car may seldom be found for less than its original issue price in the $30 - $35 range. Because this is the only Cloud Car to have been released since Kenner and Hasbro revitalized the Star Wars line in 1995, one suspects that it will maintain value and appreciate in both the near and long term.
Star Wars enthusiasts, toy collectors and those who like confounding vehicle toys will all find something to like with the Bespin Cloud Car toy from Hasbro. It is worthwhile and with coloring accents to make it look more realistic, it would be perfect. Not bad for Hasbro's first attempt on it in two and a half decades, though!
For other Star Wars playset and ship reviews, please check out my takes on:
Expanded Universe Airspeeder
Dash Rendar's Outrider
For other toy reviews, please visit my index page for a complete listing of them!
© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.