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JTA Presents: Evolutions - AT-AT Driver

Welcome to another one of our JTA Presents: Evolutions features! Let’s check out how close or far we are from having an ideal Hasbro 3.75″ AT-AT Driver action figure. Have we arrived at definitive status yet? Weigh in and let us know what conclusion you’ll come to by clicking through and adding your two cents in the comments!

AT-AT Driver

 

The AT-AT Driver is as quintessential of a Star Wars as main characters like Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are. Sure, they don’t have speaking parts, but they provide a look at feel to the background of Star Wars that is inarguable as it is relevant. Members of the Galactic Empire are some of the most adored characters by Star Wars fans. And if you’re a collector, you often obsess about when you’re getting the next Imperial action figure in your collection. In the 3.75” scale, we all have some options, but do any come close to ranking as definitive yet?

 

AT-AT Driver from 1981’s The Empire Strikes Back line.

            

The very first AT-AT Driver action figure came in 1981’s THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK line. He didn’t come with an articulated head, and he felt a tad too short, but he was one of our most favorite Kenner action figures of the entire line. Kenner knew this back in the day, and he’s one of the few figures they carried through to the final THE POWER OF THE FORCE line in 1985. Interestingly, it took a few years in the line’s relaunch before we saw the first modern AT-AT Driver figure, but it arrived in a huge way.

 

AT-AT Driver from 1998’s The Power Of The Force “2” [Green/Freeze Frame] Imperial AT-AT Walker vehicle.

            

In 1998, when Kenner/Hasbro rebranded the modern line as “The Kenner Collection,” they left the comfort of their smaller size products and focused on larger items instead. One of the most anticipated releases that years was the electronic Imperial AT-AT Walker. Based on the original Kenner sculpting, they added new electronics and features that made the toy better than ever. But most collectors were thrilled to finally have an AT-AT Driver action figure, which was one of two pack-in figures released with the vehicle. The figure wasn’t perfect, but it hit the spot as far as most collectors were concerned.

 

AT-AT Driver from 1998’s The Power Of The Force “2” [Green/Freeze Frame] line.

            

Kenner planned for A similar (i.e., nearly identical) AT-AT Driver as part of THE POWER OF THE FORCE “2” [GREEN/FREEZE FRAME] line. But due to awful distribution and product backlog, the Star Wars Fan Club picked up the final wave as an unofficial exclusive. Released early 1999, the new AT-AT was shorter in stature and sported a red stripe on the back of the helmet. There are tooling differences as well, but they’re so similar that most collectors don’t pick up on the fact that the AT-AT Drivers are distinct sculpts. It felt like collectors received more of the same, and they were eager for the next all-new sculpt Kenner/Hasbro would attempt in the future.

 

AT-AT Driver (SAGA 009) from 2006’s The Saga Collection line.

            

Although shorter, collectors felt like they waited a decade before Hasbro released the next AT-AT Driver action figure. But an all-new sculpt did arrive as part of the collector-focused The Saga Collection line in early 2006. The AT-AT Driver in this line sported significantly enhanced articulation, but the “flattened” shape of the helmet and the swivel elbows disappointed collectors a little. Still, this take of the AT-AT Driver took dramatic strides forward to reaching definitive status, but the figure ultimately didn’t satisfy. Interestingly, this sculpt was repainted and used as a pack-in figure for various versions of 2010’s Star Wars [Shadow Of The Dark Side] Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) vehicle, which also saw a few releases in The Vintage Collectioinlcuding the Hoth version and the Endor version.

 

AT-AT Driver (BD49) from 2009’s Legacy Collection line.

            

Initially, collectors believed our long-awaited dreams came true when Hasbro released 2009’s Legacy Collection AT-AT Driver (BD49) figure. Complete with super-articulation and sculpting that impressed on sight, this AT-AT Driver instantly became a collector favorite. But over time collectors began to realize just how off this version of the character was. The much-too-large helmet was annoyingly removable and showed a clone underneath. And much to the dismay of the Star Wars collecting community, they appeared to have a universal epiphany that most of the figure, from head to toe, didn’t match the onscreen character’s proportions, aesthetics, and details all that well. The oversized helmet is especially jarring. And most collectors hoped Hasbro would start a new take on this character from the ground up.

 

AT-AT Driver (SL18) from 2015’s Rebels line.

            

Already well-seasoned in their 5POA approach, Hasbro began selecting some of the Star Wars saga’s most prominent, albeit not knee-jerk, Star Wars characters into the format. AT-AT Driver was one action figure that caught Star Wars collectors off guard. But this new figure finally captured the accurate details and proportions of the onscreen character beautifully. Sadly, it’s the best-looking AT-AT Driver in 3.75” scale. With a pretty decent 6” The Black Series figure under their belt, collectors are hoping and praying that Hasbro shrinks the digital files down to produce a definitive super-articulated 3.75” AT-AT Driver. They just have to watch those lanky legs the 6” version has!

 

AT-AT Driver Group Shot

AT-AT Driver

 

Questions for discussion:

1. In your opinion, do we have a definitive version of this figure?

2. If we don’t have a definitive version of this figure, should Hasbro tool a new figure from the ground up again, or should they tweak a current sculpt to perfect it instead?

3. If the figure ranks as definitive for you, do you want to see it repackaged in vintage Kenner packaging (The Vintage Collection) if it isn’t already?

4. Add any other points of note or interest in the comments about any of these versions of AT-AT Driver action figures.

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