Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Penultimate A New Hope Figure (For Now): The Power Of The Jedi Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper Mostly Succeeds!

The Good: Good balance, Good sculpt, Generally decent poseability
The Bad: Some playability issues, especially with the accessories.
The Basics: The Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper is a great sculpt with excellent coloring, but the limited flexibility and warping of the blaster rob it of perfection.

As I finish the current box of Star Wars action figures I have sitting around, I am almost out of A New Hope action figures. Down near the bottom of my current assortment, I found a figure that does not deserve to be considered low at all: the Power Of The Jedi Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper. The figure is part of a neglected line that released Prequel Trilogy and classic Star Wars Trilogy figures after The Phantom Menace came out and had a bit of a merchandising bomb. Even now, though, the Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper remains one of the Sandtroopers worth picking up both for the quality of the sculpt and the coloring, though there are a few very minor issues with the accessories.

For those unfamiliar with the Sandtroopers, they were seen on Tatooine in A New Hope (reviewed here!) where they are searching for C-3PO and R2-D2. While Sandtroopers scour the foreground near the escape pod the droids took to the desert planet, a Sandtrooper cans the horizon with electrobinoculars. This is that Sandtrooper, so why it is called the "Cantina Showdown" Sandtrooper is something of a mystery to me.

The 4" Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper figure is fairly cool and is one of the most detailed Sandtroopers on the market, though there are newer ones that have more articulation. Some of those newer ones might have the articulation advantage, but they are hardly as well-colored.


The Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper is the standard Stormtrooper with the added shoulder guard and sand-weathered look to indicate that this is a working clone who does not sit around his Star Destroyer! The figure stands 4" tall to the top of his head. This Sandtrooper figure is dressed entirely in his white Stormtrooper armor. This one does not feature a removable helmet of any sort and he is cast in a fairly neutral stance, which lends him well to many different scenes or play options, provided they are in a context where he is reasonably dirty.

This toy is a wonderful sculpt, looking precisely like Sandtrooper did in the films, though the truth is it is pretty easy to get a Sandtrooper right given how this point Hasbro had pretty much mastered the Stormtrooper sculpt! This Sandtrooper is molded with two distinct elements: the belt and the shoulder guard. The figure is largely cast in solid plastic, but the figure includes a more detailed belt in the midsection that has two pouches molded to it and this element is in a softer plastic. Also in the softer plastic is the black and gray shoulder guard which helps distinguish this as a Sandtrooper and identifies, presumably, which unit the trooper is with.

As for the coloring, the Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper is wonderful in his coloring detail, especially in the fact that it is not monotonal. This Sandtrooper is molded with white plastic with flecks of brown and black in the actual plastic. I either lucked out and got the most incredibly detailed one or Hasbro was so attentive to the detailing of this figure that the front is dirtier than the back! Regardless, the figure has a dirty look from the base up and then the front of the legs and chest have brown splotches meant to represent sand that has gotten on the armor in more significant patches. There is also a sand patch on the figure's left shoulder, so this looks very worn and weathered. Outside that, the coloring details are simple and good as the white Stormtrooper armor that helps define the Sandtrooper is only accented by black and gray accents at the joints, eyes, gills, etc. This Sandtrooper is so well-colored, though, that the breathing ports actually have a touch of silver! This is an amazingly detailed figure for the coloring details.


The Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper, well-equipped Imperial trooper that he is, is endowed with three accessories, plus his Jedi Force File. Hasbro included a blaster, a backpack and the electrobinoculars with this Sandtrooper to make him distinctive and dangerous. The backpack is a 1 3/8" tall, 1 1/8" wide black pack with tubes, canisters and mechanical detailing molded onto the surface. This presses into the back of the Sandtrooper and fits there perfectly. However, because the back of the Sandtrooper's belt features the canister on it, the backpack inhibits the rotational motion of the Sandtrooper's legs and waist. The backpack is molded to fit around that canister, but it essentially locks the figure's lower articulation up. The backpack is accented with gray for a few of the canisters, but lacks the brown for the weathered look. What the backpack has that most of the Sandtrooper figures lack are ports and pegs for the blaster and electrobinoculars, respectively.

The electrobinoculars are a 9/16" by 9/16" white plastic pair of binoculars that look weathered and worn. The bottom of the binoculars plugs into a peg on the left side of the backpack and I was surprised by how securely they can remain there. When not there, the electrobinoculars may actually fit into the Sandtrooper's hands in a one-handed or two-handed grip. The figure is designed so he may actually hold the electrobinoculars up over his eyes and he looks good with the accessory there.

The blaster is the 1 1/8" standard Imperial blaster. This was not at all unique to the figure and was cast in gunmetal colored soft plastic. All that makes it distinctive is that the "power cell" on the left side of the blaster barrel allows it to plug into the right side of the backpack. This raises one of the few serious issues with the figure. The gun is so flexible - and does not include anything to make it look weathered - that is pops out of that port very easily. It also looks pretty ridiculous while it is there. That said, at least it is in correct proportion to the rest of the figure. That makes it a step up from many of the earliest Star Wars figures!

As part of the Power Of The Jedi toy line, the Cantina Showdown Sandtrooper comes with a Jedi Force File. This is a tiny fold-out magazine which describes Sandtroopers, his enemies and allies and offers ideas for play with the figure. This is a pretty cool idea and appeals to trading card collectors as well.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and the Sandtrooper is decent in that regard. The figure is well-articulated, but is not as articulated as most of the new figures, which is a little disappointing as is the fact that the backpack inhibits his articulation. He comes with eight points of articulation and he is even able to stand when his feet are moved a little out of flatfooted position, because of how well-balanced the figure is. He has joints at the groin socket, shoulders, elbows, neck, and waist. All of the joints are simple swivel joints, including the shoulders. The Sandtrooper is able to do more than simply look through his electrobinoculars. At the same time, because the elbows are molded bent, the Sandtrooper his less incredible for his blaster. He looks fair with his gun, as opposed to the newer ones which look like they are ready to fire their weapons frequently.

As well, the legs cannot be spread much apart because the Sandtrooper tips over very easily when moved too far out of alignment. To compensate for this, he has holes in either heel to make him stand on the pegs that adorn some of the Star Wars playsets. With such possibility, this is a very easy Sandtrooper to recommend! Still, it is hard not to wish he had a little more articulation.


Sandtrooper is part of the expanded saga Power Of The Jedi four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was fairly common. Still, the Sandtrooper was part of the earlier line of the Power Of The Jedi figures and remains one of the harder ones to find. Even so, it is not a terribly good investment because the Sandtrooper has been cast several times, both before in the Power Of The Force Sandtrooper (reviewed here!) and after in the current Vintage Collection.


Despite not being a great investment or improved upon in the current line-up for the figure's articulation, the Power Of The Jedi Sandtrooper is still worth picking up!

For other Power Of The Jedi Star Wars action figures, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Saesee Tiin
Bespin Guard


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

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

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