First Released: 1978
Last Released: 1985
Included Accessories: Imperial blaster
First introduced as one of the original 12 Kenner Star Wars action figures that launched the 3 3/4″ action figure standard and helped create the action figure as we now know it, the Imperial Stormtrooper is one of the most iconic and popular figures, of the Kenner line as well as any other.
While relatively immobile compared to more modern figures, the Stormtrooper’s four points of articulation (both arms, both legs) allowed the figure to be positioned in various action poses, something relatively new for the time. Earlier boys’ toys of similar size were more akin to oversized army men or similarly molded cowboys and indians than what we now know and appreciate as action figures. Instead of having to purchase multiple figures in order to obtain each pose you wanted the character in, you could simply move its arms and legs to approximate the action taking place in your imagination, allowing the Stormtrooper to stand at attention, fire at Rebels and alien scum or sit in or pilot any of the many vehicles and creatures available in the Kenner Star Wars line. As the other faceless Imperial minions were not available until at least 1979-1980 (with the introduction of the Empire Strikes Back line of figures), it was very common early on to see Stormtroopers flying TIE fighters and taking up every generic position available until later figures were introduced to swell the Empire’s ranks.
The largest drawback to the Stormtrooper was the fact that most adventure scenarios required more than one in order to not seem awkward or silly. Many parents at the time of its release believed that their children should, at most, have one of each figure produced and not have any duplicates. This flew completely in the face of the fact that the Galactic Empire had a seemingly endless supply of Stormtroopers to use as fodder in whatever ways they saw fit. Whereas the big screen Darth Vader would have squadrons of troops to fire at the rebels as they escaped into the Millennium Falcon on the Death Star, back yard Darth Vader would defeat Obi Wan and then turn to see a single trooper doing his best to route the fleeing Rebels but feebly firing upon a much larger party whose intent was to escape into a ship easily capable of obliterating him (if one of the escaping rebels had not done so already). If this lone trooper survived unscathed, he would either be the luckiest or unluckiest troop alive. Darth Vader would have the choice of allowing an obviously incompetent (in his eyes, completely overworked and out of his depth in ours) subordinate live or, in usual fashion, crushing the life out of him via the Force and then having to take on the entire Rebel Alliance alone. “Dave…you have failed me for the last time. (choking sounds) …oh.”
In later years of the Kenner line most parents’ firmness on the point of no duplicate figures/characters waned, and “army builder” packs of figures, sometimes consisting solely of Stormtroopers, became available. This made recreating your favorite scenes or simply making back yard Darth Vader suddenly have some backup and gain some of the teeth shown on the big screen possible. In my case, I was able to free up the multitude of various aliens, droids, bounty hunters, roguish third parties and completely inappropriately clothed ESB Imperial figures to duties other than foiling the main cast. “Louis, we’re in a desert, why are you wearing your heavy snow gear?” ‘Duty calls!’
In all, the Imperial Stormtrooper was a great figure whose only real drawback was the relatively desperate need for some friends in the same uniform. If you grew up playing with Kenner’s Star Wars line, you will remember exactly how much more cold and calculating this figure could be when you didn’t have to worry about only having 6 targets available to you that you weren’t allowed to hit, lest your job suddenly be downsized. “Well Fred, good job, you got all 6 of the main cast and the Rebel Alliance has collapsed. Since there’s nobody left to stop us this time, we’re going to have to let you go. Sorry.” ‘(choking sounds)(thud)’
Retro Rating: 9/10
The figure is solid, carries a high level of detail and, save its head, is just as articulated as any other figure in the Kenner Star Wars line. While the Stormtrooper was only distributed with a toyline standard Imperial blaster, its open gun hand was capable of holding and utilizing nearly any other blaster available in the line.
Modern Rating: 7/10
The detail on the original Kenner figure is still solid today, even with so many other versions having been produced since the Star Wars toyline’s revival in 1995. There have been many different blasters and accessories distributed with the various subsequent incarnations, but most are incompatible with any figures outside of the original line or wave they were released with, making the original figure somewhat superior in this regard. However, every subsequent version of the figure, even the overly buff 1995 Power of the Force 2 mold, has had more articulation and been more posable.