Effective armies within the Star Wars universe are often diverse, consisting of many different kinds of troops who occupy various roles. Star Wars: The Last Jedi introduced a few of these specialised units within the First Order army, some of whom appear in 75197 First Order Specialists Battle Pack.
Only a couple of years have passed since the Sequel Trilogy began and we have already seen two Battle Packs focused upon the First Order. Those previous sets were both excellent so I have high expectations for this one, especially since the price in the UK has increased to £12.99 while the US price of $14.99 remains the same.
Please note that this review is spoiler free.
The two First Order Stormtrooper Executioners are currently exclusive to this set so are probably its most appealing feature. Their armour is shared with standard Stormtroopers so the printed designs are familiar but for some black accents on the helmet, torso and arms. I like this colour combination very much and it matches the movie closely, although only the shoulder armour is black in the film so dual-moulding would have been ideal here.
Nevertheless, the detail on the legs and torso looks superb, as usual. I am also very impressed with the helmet as the shape of the mouth has been slightly updated to reflect the design change in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The black stripe looks brilliant too, even from the back and side, although it should extend a little further to connect with the lenses. Presumably this looked strange on a minifigure, hence the alteration.
Each trooper is equipped with a stud shooter and a laser axe. The axe consists of just three pieces but it resembles the weapon from the movie and I like the trans-light blue blades which include two energy ribbons. Furthermore, the blades can fold back to represent a stowed configuration so I am pleased with this design given the absence of new parts.
75190 First Order Star Destroyer included a single First Order Shuttle Pilot and I am glad to see another in this small set, although it would have been more appropriate in a set which actually contains a shuttle! The figure looks marvellous though, wearing a helmet which seems to be the same as that used by Fleet Engineers, albeit with the faceplate raised to reveal a headset and a stern expression underneath.
The black uniform is equally familiar and is also worn by a First Order Gunner in this set. This figure first appeared in the first wave of Star Wars: The Force Awakens sets where it was described as First Order Crew. Unfortunately, the plain design has not been improved since then, although it matches the source material fairly well and I do like the helmet. Even so, it would have been nice to see something different here as these troopers have appeared in four previous sets so are very common.
The Completed Model
Battle Packs are undoubtedly focused upon the minifigures and the models included are usually fairly dull as a result. However, this turret is perhaps more interesting than most. It does not appear to take direct inspiration from anything in Star Wars: The Last Jedi but suits the visual style of the First Order and includes some useful parts, the most notable of which are the eleven dark bluish grey 1x2 roof tiles that were only introduced last year.
The four-legged design reminds me of the turret from 75088 Senate Commando Troopers and this one also includes a laser cannon which is mounted on a Technic pin so moves up and down. The turret rotates on a 4x4 turntable and you can pose the legs to suit the terrain, although a trans-clear 2x2 round brick provides some additional support underneath. A Technic pin and a black bar represent the laser cannon barrels which look good, although I wonder whether the lower barrel is actually a targeting sensor.
A spring-loaded shooter is placed above the laser cannon. The tail of the trans-red missile extending from the rear spoils the appearance of the model to some degree, although it can easily be removed and is useful for play. There is a seat for the gunner and a clip on the side allows you to store a stud shooter but there are no controls which is a little disappointing.
75197 First Order Specialists Battle Pack is not the most impressive Battle Pack of recent years but I am very pleased with it. The First Order Stormtrooper Executioners look fantastic and the First Order Shuttle Pilot is a perfect addition to the set given his rarity. In addition, the laser cannon turret fits with the design of existing First Order equipment and offers reasonable play value as well as a selection of interesting pieces.
However, I am not entirely satisfied with this minifigure selection. The First Order Gunner has appeared in several previous sets, including a Battle Pack, so it would have been nice to see something different. A First Order Snowtrooper or even a Stormtrooper with the updated helmet would have been welcome. This is still a good set though and I certainly recommend it to those looking to bolster their First Order forces.
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