Yodasnews Review: AT-AT (All-Terrain Armored Transport)
Vintage Collection (2010) – The Empire Strikes Back
Review by Mark Picirilli (Yoda027) and Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Photography by Mark Picirilli (Yoda027)
Photographic Composites by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: July 13th, 2010
Head and Neck
Projectile Launchers (x2)
Chin Guns (x2)
After thirty long years, it’s here. The big one. No, the BIGGEST one. The one for which we’ve all been waiting: Hasbro’s massive reimagining of the AT-AT. This iconic vehicle (much like our first glimpse of a Star Destroyer) immediately imprinted itself into our memories and imaginations. As opposed to the Star Destroyer’s explosive “guns blazing” arrival, the AT-AT’s deadliness showed with its slow and deliberate steps, the march of a relentless and nearly unstoppable titan.
Oh, the Empire strikes back indeed!
Before we continue with our in-depth review of this gargantuan behemoth, we here at Yodasnews would like to offer our sincerest thanks to Hasbro and their representatives at Hunter Public Relations for providing us with this most generous gift. It is a positive sign when a large international company such as Hasbro takes the time to acknowledge the hard work of collecting sites like ours and others including Yakface, Jedi Temple Archives, and Rebelscum. We may regard their Star Wars line as the highest priority, but the reality is that Star Wars is only one small cog in their vast catalog of merchandise. For them to work so closely with us shows they recognize and appreciate our contributions and support as well as those of our readers.
Plus, offering such an expensive sample demonstrates Hasbro’s confidence in this vehicle. Actually, can we even consider this a vehicle? This new AT-AT is more like a massive playset—a collector’s centerpiece and a rallying point for an army of Imperial and Rebel action figures. You know what…let’s keep it simple and just say “vehicle” for the purposes of this article.
Yodasnews now joins our fellow fansites in celebrating the arrival of the new flagship in Hasbro’s Star Wars universe with our in-depth review of the All-Terrain Armored Transport.
CRAFTSMANSHIP (Sculpting and Painting): Excellent
A 3.75 inch scale vehicle’s success depends not just on its playability but on the quality of its craftsmanship as well. These are all topics which we will examine. First on our agenda will be Hasbro’s work in the areas of relative proportions.
The main body looks to be the appropriate shape, height, and mass as the filming models. Additionally, each leg segment—or its thighs, calves, and feet if you will—also looks as accurate as can be expected on this type of product. In fact, the only demerit with proportions rests with the head. The head is simply too bulky and compressed. The heads on the filming models are longer and leaner. While there is no reason for the inaccurate length, the bulkiness of the head was probably a design compromise in order to accommodate the cockpit’s carrying capacity. Our friends at Jedi Temple Archives seem to have arrived at the same conclusion. The same assessment can be made for the oversized guns on each side of the head. Their inflated size was likely necessary in order to include the spring-loaded projectile launchers.
Probably the best praise we can give Hasbro on this matter is that the AT-AT is frightening close to an authentic scale. A freeze frame review of Episode V on DVD shows Luke being the same height as the larger bottom pad of the AT-AT’s foot. The action figure version of Luke matches the height of the small upper pad. That is about as accurate as the scale can be without building a toy that is simply unrealistic and unwieldy in size.
Although there was Hasbro’s G.I. Joe USS Flagg carrier in the 1980s…
Every once in a while, Hasbro releases a product that just leaves us speechless at their near-obsessive attention to detail. These are often the toys we cherish most and consider to be mass market works of art. Hasbro’s sculpting of the main body and legs of the AT-AT are incredible examples of such work. Is it 100% perfect? No, of course it’s not. Only a direct reproduction from the original molds and by the original builders could hope to achieve that level of perfection. For an action figure playset, it is mind-blowing—especially when you consider Hasbro kept it at the same MSRP as the original AT-AT (or Mini-Me as it can now be labeled).
Starting with the panels, Hasbro made sure to get the number, sizes, and placements as close as possible to the filming model. The body’s bulkier center chamber has a large raised panel extending nearly the whole length of the chamber with a smaller panel in the upper corner. Hasbro did an excellent job replicating this pairing. In fact, Hasbro’s team went the extra mile and included the correct number of raised dashes that run vertically between the smaller panel and the bottom of the body. For those who are curious, the number is eleven.
A side note needs to be made about the small panel on the rear-most segment of the body. Hasbro placed a hinge on it to create a flip-up panel. This may seem like creative license, but actually it appears to be a sly and quirky nod to the corresponding panel that pops off the AT-AT that is taken down by Jansen’s “good shot” with the tow cable.
While on the subject of dashes and tic-marks, let’s examine the two rows of notches that run across the length of all three segments (chambers) and across the upper portion of the center chamber. Hasbro nailed the sequence on both rows in addition to accurately sizing and spacing the recessed notches. The sculptors did take some creative liberties here and there, but they are minor and mostly amount to additional lines etched into the body and an extra panel or two. These flourishes enhance the aesthetics of the vehicle because they give the body a more technological and battleship-like appearance.
Moving around to the little-seen rear of the AT-AT, Hasbro’s team does not disappoint us. There are several benchmark features that needed to be successfully simulated in order to be considered accurate to the filming model at this product type and price. These features are: the overhanging “awning” (for lack of a better word), the two large flaps, the vents in between the awning and flaps, and the teardrop construct in the bottom center. Hasbro succeeded in nearly all of these areas, and those points in which they fell short are of no consequence. Properly scaled, the flaps are remarkably detailed with precisely shaped and spaced rivets.
Including little touches like rivets are always wonderful to see on toy reproductions of mechanical constructs. Too often these fasteners are either painted on haphazardly or simply ignored. Hasbro took the highest road possible here, and the results are most appreciated by discerning collectors. Also noteworthy is how accurately Hasbro replicated the vents above the flaps. Again, sizing and layout are pitch perfect for a toy of this type, and the sculpting is just as clean as the rest of the body. As for their inconsequential “miss”, it’s the teardrop piece. It’s a little too wide. An important observation for the sake of thoroughness, but it has absolutely no negative effect on this product at all. Hasbro did alter the sculpted elements surrounding the teardrop, but they are not important to our assessment. All that needs to be said regarding them is that Hasbro kept the area looking appropriately busy.
Hasbro’s work on the AT-AT’s legs is most impressive as well. In addition to the aforementioned success on their proportions, the levels of accuracy found in various key elements are excellent for a mass produced toy. The raised panels on the feet appear faithful to the model as do virtually every panel on the legs. Also, the piston found on the inner side of each “ankle” is as accurate as possible. Rather than sculpted directly onto the vehicle, the pistons are separate pieces that consumers need to attach, and that boosts their aesthetic quality.
However, the legs are not without flaws. The circular gears (or joints if you prefer) are pretty good but have a couple of misses. The curved groove arcing across the radius of each circle is properly placed, resulting in an excellent imitation of the gears’ crescent moon design. Unfortunately, the sculpting on the panel overlapping each circle is plainly sculpted with neither the appropriate contours nor accurate placement of the two shapes on them. Additionally, the toes appear too small and bulky when compared against images of the model. However, this may be a mere trick of the eye.
What do these gaffes mean for the legs? It’s simple. The legs sport amazing sculpting with a multitude of highs, but they fall short of matching the work done on the main body. Therefore, the success or failure of the legs’ sculpting is relative and depends on the tastes of individual collectors.
At last, we come to the AT-AT’s head, which was previously indicated as the weakest area in terms of proportions. Now, it is time to assess the quality of its sculpting. Because of the distorted proportions, it will be difficult at times to properly assess if Hasbro successfully replicated the details. However, these elements will be examined as best as possible.
While shorter and wider than it should be, the AT-AT’s red-tinted “windshield” is quite accurate. The surrounding frame is properly shaped with etched panels that correspond to reference images. The area that can best be described as the nose of the Imperial walker features four groups containing raised and recessed panels, and each group is a spot-on—albeit proportionally distorted—match to the ILM stop-motion model. The bulbous half-spheres on which the side cannons are mounted as well as the etched panels filling the sides of the head are impressive too. The same praise can be given to the panels hanging off the sides of the head or the AT-AT’s “jowls”.
The twin heavy blaster cannons serve as the “teeth” of the beast, and they are as good as they can be due to Hasbro’s inclusion of a pump-action feature which allows the user to make the cannons alternate in their movements. Again, this is a matter of function and playability over aesthetics, and it was an appropriate decision by the design team.
The one area which cannot be forgiven is the misshapen side cannons. While the proportions are understandably skewered due to the firing mechanism within, the design is seriously “off” when it comes to the guns. The cannon system on the screen-used AT-AT has two distinct guns. The first is the larger cannon which houses the firing projectile on Hasbro’s vehicle. The second is a smaller yet nearly equally as long cannon mounted above the first cannon. Hasbro’s version isn’t even identifiable as a cannon. It looks more like a thick hinge.
Before moving on to the interior of the AT-AT, there needs to be a quick note about the paint deco on the AT-AT. This will be a brief section because there is very little paint on the vehicle. All one will find are various shades of gray. Where there is paint, it has been cleanly applied and earns high marks. The problem is that this looks like a freshly-built machine. All of the AT-ATs seen on Hoth are heavily battle damaged—especially on the feet and lower legs. Hasbro does include 20 battle damage decals that allow a degree of individual customization. Still, decals do not replace good old-fashioned weathering via paint, which Hasbro has proven it can do on other toys.
While this may be a pessimistic prediction, it would not come as a surprise to see a battle-damaged re-release a year or two from now which will have the paint deco that this one should have had. Anyone who doubts that, just remember the “Endor” release of the older AT-AT with the dirt and grass deco on the feet.
In fact, there is already another release of this vehicle slated to arrive simultaneously. It will be a Toys R Us exclusive. The vehicle will be the same, but the packaging will be a reproduction of the vintage Kenner release from 1980. So plan your purchase accordingly.
The interior of the AT-AT was largely unseen in the movie, so Hasbro really had carte blanche in terms of taking creative liberties with their design. Therefore, these areas will not be judged against the ILM models but on their own merits instead.
The speeder bike storage area includes two periscope-like display screens with handles for the troopers of choice. The screens are provided via decals, and the mechanisms themselves are intricately sculpted and without any paint applications. Furthermore, the screens are moveable to allow for some variation in one’s display. The speeder bike can be set up two different ways depending on what one wants the bike to do when the push button release is triggered. The bike can be snapped in place, which results in the bike remaining secure when the hatch drops and the tray ejects. The alternative is to not snap the bike in place, which results in the bike flying out of the AT-AT when ejected.
As for the speeder bike itself, Hasbro saw fit to include one with the AT-AT. This is undoubtedly a generous inclusion considering the twin-bike Blizzard Force battlepack, the set from which this bike was taken, retailed for $20+. It is a typical speeder bike, so there is really nothing more that needs to be said about it.
The cockpit mixes screen accuracy with creative license. As briefly glimpsed in scenes of General Veers inside his AT-AT, the dark gray circular construct against the back wall is a good approximation of the filming set. The sculpting is weaker here with softer detailing, but it’s not a major element of the vehicle. It is window dressing at best, so no negative marks there. Probably the most impressive sculpting in the cockpit is the intricate detail found on the ROOF, which can be seen when the top hatch is opened to allow access. Hasbro deserves kudos for their inclusion of such detail.
The major element inside the cockpit is the massive tactical HUD through which General Veers or the new Vintage Collection AT-AT Commander can survey the action. The focus of the grainy video feed is naturally Echo Base’s main shield generator, a vital target if Lord Vader is to start his landing. The display itself is a large decal placed over a transparent piece of hard plastic. There are two smaller dark gray screens adorning the upper corners of the HUD, and they too have decal screens—one of a Snowspeeder and the other of an AT-AT foot (???). There is one quirky addition to the HUD which just catapults its quality through the roof. Hasbro has been known to add messages written in Aurebesh, the written language of the Star Wars universe. The HUD is filled with directional and tactical messages written in Aurebesh. Rebelscum’s staff members took the time to translate each message, so as a sign of respect for that tedious work, the translations will not be printed here. Rest assured, they exist.
The troop hangar bay within the main body is a spacious two-level area where the bulk of the figures can be placed. Actually, the hangar technically has three levels because the large panel that folds down to allow access contains several foot pegs. These are only revealed when the door is down. Quite simply, the AT-AT’s storage capacity is huge and comparable to Hasbro’s AT-TE vehicle from 2008. All totaled, there are over THIRTY foot pegs in the AT-AT!
Inside the bay, one will find a computer console against the front wall. Put a figure or two there and pretend they’re controlling the cannons attached to the pop-up handle that controls the articulated neck. At the other end of the upper deck are two more screens similar in design to those in the speeder bike bay. This time, they rise up from the floor rather than down from the roof. The quality, details, and decal elements are the same.
ELECTRONIC EFFECTS: Excellent
Controlled by top mounted buttons, the AT-AT is fully-loaded with electronic sound and light effects, and it quite possibly contains the most sound effects ever found in a 3.75 inch scale vehicle. In addition to the obligatory walking and blaster sound effects, there are over two dozen phrases that are loudly and crisply projected from the vehicle’s front speaker. The phrases are broken into four categories: Darth Vader, General Veers, Imperial officers, Imperial troopers.
Darth Vader’s audio clips are:
General Veers’ audio clips are:
Imperial officers’ audio clips are:
Imperial troopers’ audio clips are:
The AT-AT has several light effects as well. The main HUD inside the cockpit has a blue light projecting up from the bottom center, which can be seen in the earlier picture of the cockpit. There is a red light inside the troop bay on the wall behind the two gray consoles. Last but certainly not least is light-up feature on the main forward cannons.
Aside from the special features already described, there are several more action features that enhance the already-saturated playability factor of the AT-AT. Although many features were mentioned in earlier categories, they have been factored into this category’s score. Hence, it gets an “Excellent” rating.
The best place to start is with the articulated neck. As mentioned earlier, it is controlled by releasing the handle at the top of the transport section. This handle allows vertical and lateral movement of the head. Additionally, the legs are fully poseable with hip, knee, and ankle articulation. A clicking sound accompanies each movement. This is perfectly normal as it is merely the sound of the gears clicking into place. The joints are quite sturdy, so one should not be fearful of breakage—unless of course you’re the aggressive type. This particular sample was tested by letting two 7-year-old children “have at it” with the vehicle, and it survived.
There is also a retractable rappelling line mounted on the lower deck of the troop bay. Obviously, this is included so that Luke’s famous grenade throw can be replicated with action figures. As with the speeder bike ejection feature, the line is triggered by a push button.
EASE OF ASSEMBLY: Excellent
Assembly is very straight-forward thanks to the clear directions on the instruction sheet. A word of caution: make sure you get it right the first time. There was an unexpected element of the assembly process. Once the vehicle is put together, it appears as though it is set for good. Specifically, the head and neck felt permanently attached once they were locked in place. There is no “release button” to be found here. Just take your time with the assembly. It should only take around eight minutes, so a little extra care and time isn’t going to waste a whole afternoon.
OVERALL RATING: Excellent
The bottom line is that no review, image guide, or video production can do justice to this vehicle. For those who thought Hasbro peaked with the AT-TE and redesigned Millennium Falcon back in 2008, the new AT-AT debunks that theory. Hasbro upped the ante again. If you love Star Wars, then this is THE MUST-HAVE ITEM OF THE YEAR! Perhaps, we daresay, the must-have item of your entire collection?
Just make sure you have enough room to properly display this vehicle.
Examining every facet of this newly-designed AT-AT resulted in the most fun we’ve had working on a review in some time. One can literally spend several hours playing with it and have a completely new experience each time. Add other Empire-centric vehicles and action figures into the mix, and the possibilities feel limitless.
And that declaration is for the adults!
Kids will find even more pleasure and excitement in the AT-AT. While the movies and TV shows are a major element, it is also toys like this that keeps Star Wars alive for younger generations.
After you enjoy our final images, be sure to check out the following video in which the 7 year-old daughter of Yodasnews’ owner shows off some of the AT-AT’s features. After all, there’s nothing like seeing a toy like this than through the eyes of youth.