Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Great Idea Goes Horribly Wrong: Time Diminishes The Death Star Escape 3-Pack!

The Good: Cool figures, Neat idea
The Bad: Cheap backdrop, Plastic denatures
The Basics: A great idea, Kenner executes the Death Star Escape poorly with substandard materials that discolor once out of their package.

Sometimes, there is a great idea that time bears out as a less-than-wonderful concept. It is rare that with toys that turns out to be true; after all, a good idea is usually a good idea, end of story. A good idea might be executed as a poor sculpt or a bad idea might be saved by incredible accessories, but usually, a good idea with toys remains a good idea. There are, however, exceptions to this. One of the best examples of an exception with the Star Wars action figures. In the realm of Star Wars action figures, there have been a few glitches that only time bears out. One of them is the discoloration of stormtrooper action figures.

From the earliest Star Wars action figures through now, white plastic figures have discolored and with the Death Star Escape three-pack, this is a defect that cripples the product. Interestingly, it is not only the white of the stormtrooper outfits that discolor in this three-pack and it is not all of the white that turns! It appears Kenner, before it was bought out by Hasbro, partially fixed the problem that has plagued stormtrooper action figures; the soft plastic of the arms, legs and helmets of the stormtroopers in this three-pack are still bright white. The torso and chest portions of the figures, which appear to be molded using a harder plastic, have discolored to a sickly yellow color over the years. Also the gray plastic base in this three-pack scene has begun to discolor, which is a bad sign. In other words, those looking at this toy for quality and for years and years of play fun, will ultimately end up disappointed.

The Death Star Escape was a seminal scene in A New Hope (reviewed here!). The scene included Han Solo and Luke Skywalker disguised as Imperial Stormtroopers. It also included Chewbacca, who was made to look like their prisoner by binding his hands. The Death Star Escape three-pack includes action figures of Luke, Han and Chewbacca as well as a plastic corridor section and a cardboard backdrop of Death Star hallway.

The 4" figures are rather cool and they are a good concept. Moreover, the three pack lends the idea of increased value in the pack. On its surface, this might appear to be an above average action figure set, despite the cardboard backdrop interacting with the plastic figures.


This is a set of three action figures and a "playset" (or more accurately a play environment). The Death Star Escape fits the 4" figure line and the three Rebel figures each come with a single accessory. The Stormtrooper Luke Skywalker is a human, clad in a stormtrooper armor set, comes with a removable helmet and stands figure stands 3 5/8" tall to the top of his helmeted head. Luke's head is all that separates him from a stormtrooper and his eyes are bright blue dots and his hair is matted as if he has just been through the trash compactor. The sculpt actually looks a bit puffy for Luke, more like he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back than Star Wars: A New Hope. He is also a little buff in the chest and his arms splay outward a little more than looks natural. The helmet fits over his head perfectly to complete the ensemble.

The Stormtrooper Han Solo is a human, also decked out in stormtrooper outfit, with a removable helmet and he stands 3 3/4" tall to the top of his helmeted head. Han's head is detailed to look just enough like Harrison Ford to be considered Han, though this is hardly a great likeness. His hair is immaculate, though and his eyes are brown, so the two disguised Rebels at least look decent. Han is less buff than Luke in this casting and his arms are in a more reasonable position. His helmet fits perfectly as well.

As for Chewbacca, this is a recast of the original Kenner 1995 Chewbacca figure, save that the arms have been remade so they converge and the wrists may be bound with the binders that the figure comes with. He looks like a Wookie and he has a fierce, teeth-baring look to him that makes him easily recognizable.

The figures look good, though the years have turned the center white portion of the Luke and Han figures yellow in an unsightly way. As for the background play environment, the base is a ten inch long by two inch wide plastic corridor that has a slot in the back. The slot is just wide enough for the cardboard back that has the Death Star hallway on it. The cardboard backer is problematic because: 1. it is easily bent and 2. it must be cut out at the bottom to fit into the slot. Still, the weakness of the cardboard is not as bad as the discoloring of the plastic that has occurred over the years from nothing more than figures being out of their package. The base has three plastic pegs which fit the holes in the figures' feet and allow them to easily stand on the base.


Luke and Han each come with a stormtrooper helmet which is molded to fit the head of their respective figures. Both also come with Imperial blasters and these one and a half inch black plastic choking hazards are surprisingly bland. Both are light on details and molded in a single color. Still, they fit both hands of both figures, so they are not all bad.

Chewbacca only comes with the binders, which are basically a pair of handcuffs which keep his wrists together. This makes him less of an action figure, but fits the scene perfectly.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and the stormtroopers fit that well and the play environment is a good idea. Still, the figures are poorly articulated and later sculpts improved upon them quite a bit. The stormtrooper Luke and Han lack significant articulation to make them interesting. Fortunately, all three figures have foot pegs so they can stand on the play base easily enough. Still, the stormtrooper figures come with only six points of articulation each, all of which are simple swivel joints. They have joints at the groin socket, shoulders, neck and waist. The elbows do not extend, so all arm posing is straight-armed.

Chewbacca is even worse with the articulation; while he has an apparent neck joint, his head does not turn at all, making collectors wonder why Kenner bothered with even the appearance of a joint there.


The Death Star Escape play environment is part of the Power Of The Force four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was incredibly common. Still, this three pack was much less produced and remained valuable in that regard. However, the denaturing of the white plastic in the figures and base make it a poor overall investment and time has worn down the price on these considerably. This is much better for play and odds are as time goes on, the market will bottom out on this.


The Death Star Escape might recreate a great scene from A New Hope, but the materials make it a poor investment and one that most collectors will end up disappointed in. Those who remove the toys from the package to play with certainly will end up disappointed.

For other Star Wars multipacks or A New Hope figures, please check out my reviews of:
Mynock Hunt 3-pack
Legacy Collection Leesub Sirln
Tatooine Transaction R1-G4
Djas Puhr
Power Of The Force Luke Skywalker In Stormtrooper Disguise


For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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