Star Wars is an indelible part of my DNA. I grew up with the original trilogy, had piles of Star Wars toys, watched Ewoks and Droids on Saturday mornings, ate 3-POs cereal, and even had Meco's Star Wars Disco 8-track.
There are about a billion things cool about the Star Wars universe. Aliens, spaceships, pirates, bounty hunters, laser pistols, lightsabers. It was as if the minds of young boys were tapped for everything they liked, and it was splashed upon a silver-screen canvas. No wonder an entire generation, and subsequent generations, have gone ga-ga over it all.
Listing my favorite things about Star Wars would take days, so I'll focus this article on one particular favorite thing. Stormtroopers.
Even their name is cool: "Stormtrooper" - especially to a kid with no knowledge of military history or terms. I had never heard such words: "Stormtrooper, Skywalker, Vader." WOW!
My Stormtrooper army is small, and actually has two rebellion "spies" in it's midst, but that's okay. The goodguys always win, so who cares...what? When? Where? The bad guys win at the end of Revenge of the Sith you say? Don't get me started... *grumble grumble*
This guy here is a Dark Trooper, or Space Trooper. His character first appeared in the video game Dark Forces. I have never played the game, but he's a cool design and a cool re-imagining or expansion on the Stormtrooper concept. Originally released as an action figure a decade ago, and highly sought after by collectors, he was re-released last year as a fan's choice. I don't know which fans voted where, but I'm glad they did, because I would never have had him otherwise. His weapon is terribly ugly, and looks more like a bundle of plumbing supplies than a weapon of mass destruction, but I can overlook that, and/or stick some random Star Wars weapon in his hand to make up for it. His jetpack is also removable, which is pretty keen.
Next up is the McQuarrie concept Stormtrooper. This is the first release, from 2004. The first action figure representation taken straight from the concept artwork of Ralph McQuarrie, this Stormtrooper was envisioned with a blast shield, holstered pistol, and lightsaber! Just imagine if Stormtroopers weilded lightsabers. That'd be pretty neat! This figure was a must-have for me back when first released, and fortunately for fans the figure was re-released recently along with many new McQuarrie concept art based figures, including Snowtrooper, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader himself.
Next up is Han Solo in Stormtrooper disguise. This figure helped launch the "new" Star Wars action figure merchandising juggernaut of 1995 that has yet to slow down to this day. He was actually a mail away promo from Froot Loops. I bought four boxes of Froot Loops that year, and still have another Han still sealed in his tiny mail-away box.
Luke in Stormtrooper disguise came a couple years later. Getting him was a no-brainer.
Here's the guy that started it all, at least as far as Stormtroopers are involved. He is not my original Stormtrooper, but a reasonable replacement I found a couple years ago at a garage sale.
My original Stormtrooper action figure was found on my way to school, in the empty overgrown field separating my neighborhood from my elementary school. I still remember the excitement of finding an honest to God Star Wars Stormtrooper action figure, and the fear I held all day that someone would walk up to me and say "I lost a Stormtrooper! Help help!"
I was an honest enough kid to know that if that happened, I would return it to it's rightful owner. I was also a greedy enough kid to figure if I kept my mouth shut about my discovery, then no one would be the wiser and "finders keepers losers weepers."
Also from around the same time as the 1995 Power of the Force line comes this Stormtrooper. He originally came with a big backpack/weapon/claw thing that I have since lost (good riddence) but, for the time, he was the best Stormtrooper being made. His plastic isn't all white, he has a speckled "dirty" look to him, and of course he suffers from the 'roid pecs the 1995 line is (in)famous for, but all in all he ain't a bad 'trooper.
Finally I leave you with the At-At driver from the late nineties. I loved the consistency of design between Stormtroopers, Tie Fighter pilots, Speeder bike troopers, At-At Drivers etc. from the original trilogy. They all felt like they truly belonged to the same armed forces, and all their armors and equipment came from the same weapon's manufacturer. Sadly I just don't feel there was enough consistency between trilogies, and I don't feel like the Clone Troopers of Episode 1 though 3 could really "evolve" into these guys. As such, I have yet to purchase a single clone trooper action figure. I read somewhere that McQuarrie was hired, but almost as soon backed out of the design project during production of the new trilogy. He probably saw coming what all the fans felt after seeing the movies. Smart man.
Oh yeah - I forgot to mention that the McQuarrie concept Stormtrooper's lightsaber glows in the dark. COOL!!