Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Of Many Generic Imperials, The First Death Star Gunner Figure Disappoints By Comparison.

The Good: Generally decent sculpt, All right accessories
The Bad: Low collectibility, Later, better resculpts, General balance issues.
The Basics: The red carded Death Star Gunner is an inflexible, unbalanced, generic Imperial who is fair, but was recast later in a better fashion.

Some of the charm of the Star Wars franchise for those who love toys has to be the Empire. The Empire has legions of faceless, generic warriors and those who either play or display in the Star Wars universe therefore have to have a slew of Imperials that make it realistic that the Rebellion would be haggard. While many fans have their armies of Stormtroopers, TIE Fighter pilots, and Snowtroopers to bury the good guys, there are other, more neglected, villains to be played with. There are Imperials like the Death Star Gunner and in action figure form, these are surprisingly overproduced, at least as far as being recarded and rereleased. There are only actually two sculpts and the first release was the red carded Power Of The Force Death Star Gunner, a figure that is now made quite average by the improved sculpt released only a few years back.

The Death Star Gunner, more appropriately GunnerS, were black-helmeted, otherwise unarmored Imperials who manned the big guns - tower guns and the superlaser - aboard the Death Star in A New Hope (reviewed here!). This guy - is is a man? a clone? a robot? who knows?! - did little but lift levers (for the primary shot) or sit on a swiveling gunning turret with unhelmeted Gunners that looked essentially the same. This Gunner is the gunner which had both a top helmet and a bottom faceguard that entirely obscured the character's face. This essentially looks like a man with a shiny black clam in place of his head.

The 4" Death Star Gunner figure is rather cool, but it has been improved upon by the subsequent Hasbro Death Star Gunner in the Saga line, which is why I ultimately did not recommend this one. Moreover, for those making a vast Imperial army, there is little call for this otherwise generic Imperial and he is largely only good for having an army that (literally) falls down.


The Death Star Gunner is a man (apparently) who likes to blow things up or shoot things from the armored security of the galaxy's largest battlestation. The figure stands 3 7/8" tall to the top of his helmeted head. The Death Star Gunner is dressed in a generic black jumpsuit that makes it almost indistinguishable from Imperial Officers, save that it seems to have a breastplate (or gimp-leather outfit that is stretched pretty tight over the chest). The outfit has no shading or detailing outside a silver belt buckle and an Imperial symbol painted on either shoulder (one assumes it was a patch on the actual costume). The figure is made entirely of hard plastic.

This toy is a decent sculpt, looking precisely like the seldom-seen psychopath for hire. The Death Star Gunner is utterly unimpressive in his coloring detail, as far as tones and shading go, but this is consistent with the source material. These monolithically toned, black-clad gunners lived in the clean environment of the Death Star, so it makes sense that it is very clean and sharp. The detailing of the insignias - there is also one on the front face of the helmet, so perhaps these Death Star Gunners are strange cyclopses who look through the symbol to unnerve their opponents - are nice and well-painted with consistency and a good eye for detail.


Death Star Gunner, generic soldier of the Empire, comes with only two accessories. While it might seem nice and appropriate for the Gunner to come with a giant gunner station or a console, it comes with neither. Instead, it comes with a blaster rifle and a standard Imperial blaster. The blaster rifle was an accessory thrown in with any number of Imperial figures in the Power Of The Force line. The 2 1/8" black firearm has a giant barrel and strap that allows it to be slung over the figure's shoulder, which is good because it cannot possibly hold this weapon and aim it with any amount of realism without tipping over. Because of the figure's inflexibility, it cannot do any sort of two-handed grip and as a result, this is more decorative than practical weaponry. If it could hold this without tipping over, it would be cool. As an ornamental weapon, it makes for a good counterbalance for the naked figure.

The Imperial blaster is a one and a half inch black plastic gun that is light on detailing and absent any color detailing. This fits in either of the Death Star Gunner's hands and looks appropriate there.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and the Death Star Gunner is a little better than fair in that regard. The figure is poorly articulated and he has poor balance. Flatfooted, the Death Star Gunner is forced to lean back slightly, unless one has the Assault Rifle slung over his back, in which case he needs to be leaned slightly forward to remain standing. Bumping the surface the Death Star Gunner is standing upon makes this one tip over pretty easily. It is hard to pose this figure - which was usually seen on screen seated - in any fashion that looks like it is performing any real action.

The Death Star Gunner lacks significant articulation to make him interesting. The Death Star Gunner is barely poseable as his head turns only slightly because of the shape of the back of the helmet, which inhibits movement. He comes with only six points of articulation, all of which are simple swivel joints. He has joints at the groin socket, shoulders, neck, and waist. The elbows do not extend, so all arm posing is straight-armed.

The Death Star Gunner is ideal for use on playsets where one might be able to plug the gunner into the pegs on said playsets. The Death Star Gunner has holes in both of his feet to allow him to be plugged into stabilizing holes. Still, even so supported, the Death Star Gunner cannot usually be posed holding the assault rifle in anything close to a menacing position.


The Death Star Gunner is part of the Power Of The Force four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was incredibly common. The Death Star Gunner was overproduced, appearing on at least two different cards as an identical sculpt. This is the original, red-carded Power Of The Force figure without the Freeze Frame or hologram sticker. Released as part of the initial 1996 line-up, the Death Star Gunner is a poor investment and it may often be found inexpensively and might well be better for fans looking to play than make money eventually off it.


The Death Star Gunner is another faceless denizen of the Empire who shoots things for about five seconds in "A New Hope," yet ended up as several action figures for the die-hard collectors. Only, this Death Star Gunner is a fairly lackluster and unbalanced sculpt, making it easy for more casual fans - or those looking to assemble a more efficient play army - to pass by.

For other Star Wars: A New Hope figures in the "Power Of The Force" line, please check out my reviews of:
Cantina Aliens 3-pack
Death Star Escape 3-pack
Luke Skywalker In Stormtrooper Disguise


For other toy reviews, please be sure to check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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

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