Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hoth After The Empire (Apparently) Pissed All Over It: The Hoth Battle Playset Ages In Unfortunate Ways!

The Good: Good detailing, Fun, Generally good playability.
The Bad: Extreme discoloration of plastic! Lack of a firing cannon on turret
The Basics: I never would have guessed that I would not recommend the Power Of The Force Collection Hoth Battle playset, but it aged exceptionally poorly!

Sometimes, I wish when I was reviewing toys, I could see the future. Conversely, I suspect that some of the toy manufacturers are thrilled that I do not have clairvoyant abilities. To wit, had I reviewed the Hoth Battle playset when Kenner originally released it a decade and a half ago, it probably would have gotten a solid 7/10 rating. Unfortunately, digging it out for review, I discovered, much to my horror, that it has yellowed something fierce! There’s no way I can even recommend this terrible-looking playset now. Moreover, it makes it impossible for me to recommend the new upgraded Hoth battle playsets with their turrets and base; I cannot be sure that, too, won’t yellow horribly.

The Hoth Battle is a key scene in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!) wherein the Rebels on the frozen planet of Hoth get their butt’s kicked by the Empire. Between the shield generator getting blown apart by the advancing AT-ATs and the turret stations being unable to breach the AT-AT shields, the Battle of Hoth was a decisive victory for the Imperial forces.

The 1997 Kenner Hoth Battle includes both the turret station and the shield generator, attached to two separate pieces of base that helps to create a Hoth trench!


The Hoth Battle playset is an all-plastic representation of two sections of Hoth Rebel trench. Both pieces feature a narrow trench with a wall of snow on one side and then the featured component behind it. The two sections may be placed side by side to act as a single section of Hoth, or separated to create an extended play environment supported by imagination. Unfortunately, both sections are cast in white plastic that has become terribly yellow over the years. While the elements that are painted, the power cords and boxes, and dirt on the ground in the trench where the Rebels ran, remain pure to their original coloring, the snowy parts that dominate this playset are universally, tragically, sickly yellow.

Measuring 6” wide by 9” deep by 7” tall when properly assembled, the turret portion of the Hoth Battle playset features the small gunner’s building that the Rebels used to attack the AT-AT’s unsuccessfully. The turret is easy to assemble and may only be applied to the base one possible way. The turret has a door and a hatch on the top that allows one to put characters into the building and have them pop their head out of the little fortress. This incarnation of the turret has the cannon on it, but it does not launch a missile. Instead, there is a simple sliding lever on the bottom that makes a rolled plastic flamebolt appear at the end of the cannon. This, alas, looks cheap and it looked cheap even when it was first released.

The shield generator half of the playset is 10 1/4” deep (with the cannon pointing forward perpendicular to the rest of the base) by 5” wide by 3 3/4" tall. This part of the playset features a cannon that launches a missile and the three-part shield generator. The shield generator (which was pretty large in The Empire Strikes Back) is not at all in proper proportion to the turret.

There are no decals to apply to this playset.


The Hoth Battle comes with only one real accessory, the missile launcher with its spring-loaded missile. Even after all these years, the launcher fires the 4 3/8” white plastic missiles over three feet! This missile launcher delivers a force sufficient to knock over action figures or menace vehicle toys in play! The plastic may have yellowed on the base, but not on the missile and the spring seems as tight as ever!


The Hoth Battle is pretty fun, despite its age and the yellowing issue. In addition to fitting four to seven figures (there are no foot pegs, but between the trench and the turret there are a number of places to stick figures), the launching missile on the cannon (not the turret!) is pretty cool. It’s almost adequate defense for the shield generator. When you want the shield generator to explode, simply press down on the lever on the back of that portion of the playset. The shield generator breaks into three pieces and if you really smack the lever, they can even get airborn!

In addition to loading up figures in the Hoth trench, you can easily move figures in and out of the turret, making this a very cool playset with enough to keep fans busy for a few minutes. If the yellowing were not a factor, it would make this playset one of the better ones for support in a display setting.


The Hoth Battle was introduced as part of the Kenner Power Of The Force Star Wars toy line in the 1997 as one of two playsets. These were overproduced, but not nearly as much as the 1996 line up’s. With newer premiums that have made the turret in scale and included more, the Hoth Battle playset has depreciated some in recent years. As fans start to notice them yellowing, though, I suspect the unyellowed ones will begin to fetch a premium price.

However, for those buying this playset, be sure that it has not yellowed! That means keeping it mint in box is not likely to be an option for serious collectors any more.


The Hoth Battle became an eventual disappointment, but the yellowing of the plastic is severe enough to make it impossible to recommend this playset.

For other Star Wars playset and vehicle reviews, please check out my takes on:
Power Of The Force Detention Block Rescue
Jango Fett’s Slave I
Saga Collection AT-AT Imperial Walker


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

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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