The Big AT-AT: Greatest Toy Ever?

This year Hasbro introduced a brand spanking new version of the classic Star Wars vehicle, the AT-AT. It followed on the heals of several other big sized toys for their 3-3/4ths scale action figure line (the most notable being a humongous Millennium Falcon) and it was the perfect release because it tied into the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. I’ve wanted the thing for the last year, but financial problems kept it out of my grasp. The only hope I had was getting it during Christmas. To make things even more complicated I wanted the Toys R Us edition that came in a vintage style box. Yeah, I’m that guy.

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This post is essentially my love letter to Hasbro and explaining why this toy is so great. I’m going to be covering a lot of stuff that has been pointed out long ago in the initial reviews of the AT-AT, but I figure that I pull in enough non-super toy fans that might have not seen this sucker before. Now, please join me on a tour of one of the greatest toys of all time.

Cat (Topper) included for scale purposes. Plus he's adorable.

Cat (Topper) included for scale purposes. Plus he's adorable.

Inside the box.

Inside the box.

First up, I should mention how easy it was to get this thing put together. There were only a few pieces that needed to be assembled, and best of all, the plastic ties that have plagued parents and toy collectors alike are gone! Instead, there’s these paper ties and are far less annoying and far more bio-degradable.

The AT-AT came with one figure, which is kind of sad considering how much this sucker costs (over 100 bucks), but it does come with a speeder bike. Hasbro is slick when it comes to this stuff, because just this year they released a new version of General Veers and re-released great versions of the snow troopers and AT-AT drivers.. They also had two exclusive multi-packs at Target that helped compliment the vehicle, so all in all its a collectors dream/nightmare for their wallets.

Paper ties. Greatest invention ever.

Paper ties. Greatest invention ever.

Now for the AT-AT itself. The head of the beast is similar to the original version of the Kenner/Hasbro AT-AT, though much larger. Back are the chin guns that fire with the help of electronics (and they light up!). The spring loaded missiles/guns on the sides are back as well. A new and super cool thing about the head is that you can see through the canopy into the cockpit. The geniuses at Hasbro didn’t have to do this, but they did and it is a really sweet detail.

All it takes for me to fall in love is a blue light.

All it takes for me to fall in love is a blue light.

The head/cockpit fits several figures, though the more you put in it, the more cramped it gets. As a collector, I like being able to fit a few guys in there. I don’t know if kids will pack them in like sardines, but they could if they wanted to. The best feature about the cockpit is the light up battle board. Push a button and hear some dialog from or inspired from Empire Strikes Back.

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Now you might have noticed a strange thing on the back of the AT-AT. You can pull out these guns out of the top (which are clearly not seen in the film). They serve a purpose other than giving more guns for the kids, you can use them as a handle to control the head of the AT-AT. While it doesn’t work as good as the original, but that’s to be expected the way it’s put together.

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The troop compartment is much more spacious than the original and technically consists of three levels, though it’s not practical to pose figures on the bottom and the top one is only a half level. The whole interior is just loaded with pegs for posing purposes and in a first for Star Wars, there are safety railings! I guess the Empire cares just a little bit about their Snowtroopers falling and trying to get workers comp.

I’m a huge geek for “realistic” detail, so I love the ladder. I also dig the fact that the button used to activate the electronics inside the troop compartment is on a computer console and that there’s a window looking into the speeder bike bay.

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Another nice addition, though one that I’m never going to use because I don’t “play” with my toys, are the troop lifts. There’s one on each side and they hold two troops each. There’s a wheel that you turn in order to lower and raise the platforms. I find it especially cool how the fold up and are mounted in the sides when not in use.

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My favorite feature of the troop compartment ties into my love of little details and the fact that I’m an uber nerd. At certain times in the electronic sound/light cycle, a red light pops on in the troop compartment. This is reminiscent of the red lights in real military vehicles like helicopters and planes as a signal it’s time to deploy. It’s fairly bright and I’d kill for one of these things in my clone gunship.

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There’s a hatch that opens up on the bottom and a string that dangles down from it. The main reason for this hatch/string is to replicate Luke’s brave ride up to the AT-AT and his grenade toss inside of it, but I suppose you could also imagine that it’s an emergency exit or another way for troops to disembark. Either way, the string is connected to a motor that will winch it up when its pulled all the way down. It’s kind of slow and super noisy, but it’s a great feature for kids.

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The rear (or butt) opens up and houses a snow themed speeder bike. A push of the button will eject the bike a bit so you can manually take it out of its housing an launch it. There’s even room in there for a few dudes once the bike is out, even better is there’s a couple of screen things if you want to imagine that there’s some sort of battle stations back there. While a bigger troop compartment would have been nice, the speeder bike is such a nice addition that you can’t hold it against them for putting it in there.

As you can no doubt tell I’m in love with this AT-AT. It’s one of the best Star Wars vehicles ever, in fact I’ll go out on a limb and say it is the best Star Wars toy ever. While I love the big Millennium Falcon, the only thing that limited it was what made it so great in the first place, it’s size. It would be much more difficult for a kid to “fly” their Falcon around than it would be for a kid to move the AT-AT around in a room. Don’t get me wrong, these things are nearly equal in the awesome department, but a bit more practical playability and my leaning towards all things Empire edges out the big AT-AT as greatest Star Wars vehicle and perhaps greatest toy of all time.

Where I got all the figures for the ultra toy nerds: 2 Snowtroopers came from the re-release in the basic figure assortment this year, 2 others came from the Attack on Hoth Target set along with the super rare Hoth AT-ST driver. Two of the Snowtroopers are from the POTF2 line. General Veers came from the ESB vintage style line this year, 2 AT-AT drivers came from a Saga release a few years back, and 1 came with the AT-AT. Speeder Bike Pilot (I know, he’s not a cold weather one… shame on me) came from the Wal-Mart exclusive AT-ST from ’09.

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  • Hdawger

    I’m going to stick with my assumption that…..my xbox 360 is a better toy. Go figure.

  • Vincent

    I don’t really consider video games toys. They’re media.

  • The At-At is a thing of nerd beauty!!!

    I don’t even collect Star Wars, but I feel like I should own one. I probably should have taken advantage of the opportunity to pick one up on sale, but in reality I don’t really need one, plus I don’t even know where I’d display it.

    The paper ties are a nice alternative to those damn twist ties. They’re easier to cut and have the benefit of not being around for the next thousand years or so. I usually used a pair of scissors or wire clippers to get ‘em off, its much easier, and some of the bigger twisty I always saved to use with wires or whatever might need a twisty.

  • Hdawger

    I consider anything that gives me amusement a toy.

  • Wow… I could say a lot of things right now. But I don’t want to insult anyone’s mother.

  • Stanley Johnstone

    If they would have had blogs back in the 50’s when I was a little boy, I would have written how wonderful my 22 was for Christmas. Not sure little Stevie would have agreed though

  • I was hoping to pick this up at Target for 50% off on their after Christmas clearance. I should have picked it up when I saw it at 30% off. And your review has made me want it more.

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