Originally posted on December 27th, 2016.
New releases have been trickling out of the Star Wars camp for a couple of months now and it looks like we now have another “new” pair – Ezra Bridger and Death Trooper. But wait a minute, you say, wasn’t Ezra like a trackset exclusive and didn’t Hot Wheels just release a 2-pack with a Stormtrooper (Battle Damaged) and a Death Trooper…?
Why yes dear reader, you are correct…to an extent. Ezra’s first release was as an exclusive with the TIE Factory Takedown trackset. (This is the Ezra I own.) You can pretty much find these in any Walmart for about $25 alongside the Throne Room trackset featuring Jedi Luke. (By comparison, the other 2 tracksets with exclusives – Starkiller Base Battle w/ Finn and Rancor Rumble w/ Gamorrean Guard – have yet to appear in stores. Tip: Buy these off Amazon, not eBay, they should be cheaper.)
At some point within the last several months, there was a Blast & Battle Lightsaber Launcher released with Ezra. So far these seem somewhat rare…I see the Luke and Vader Launchers fairly regularly at Barnes & Noble but I’ve only seen the Kylo and Ezra sets once or twice at a certain B&N. This is the exact same vehicle packaged with the trackset.
And then lo and behold, right here on the cusp of 2017, I see an Ezra Bridger packaged singly up for sale on eBay. Why I didn’t jump on it then and there is beyond be – it was Christmas Eve and everyone was kind of busy and when I went back to buy it about 24 hours later, all 8 (or 12?) were SOLD. Agh! So why did I need this one? The casual observer might not notice, but the astute character car collector should see the difference…the single version features 2 large “scratches” across the hood….that’s right, battle damage, the factor that most official titles fail to distinguish. So yeah, I missed out, but you better bet I’m searching for “hot wheels ezra” every hour. Normally I’d be inclined to dismiss this scarcity as temporary seeing as how the characters from the TV series are among the most abundant, but then I got to thinking about Sabine Wren, who’s become one of the toughest non-special releases to find in retail.
Alright, so moving on to the Death Trooper, we have a similar but, well, opposite situation. If you read my post on “upcoming character cars” I discussed in some detail how some vehicles would be released both within 2-packs and singly without any difference in name, however, one of the cars would have “battle damage” decor. I first noticed this in the first wave of Force Awakens vehicles where Rey and Flametrooper were packaged together. A little later, when Flametrooper was released as a single, it included obvious battle damage.
These suspicions were rekindled when the first batch of Rogue One character cars dropped. Among them was a Stormtrooper & Death Trooper 2-pack. The Stormtrooper was clearly intended to appear battle damaged, though it wasn’t as obvious with the Death Trooper. After some time though, I definitely noticed some faint “scratches” on top and a general sort of worn and used look. When it was then rumored that the Death Trooper would appear singly, it was like a light bulb went off and I was sure that this “new” release would be a “clean” version of the Death Trooper.
So far, this appears to be true!
I haven’t ordered the Death Trooper yet – some of these eBay sellers charge such ridiculous amounts of shipping that I really try to combine whenever I can, so I hope to take care of these 2 in one fell swoop.
So it’s not the most exciting news to close out 2016 with…would’ve been nice to see a Rogue One 5-pack or something, though we’ve still got plenty to look forward to with cars like Imperial Guard, Rancor, and Carbonite Han almost sure to debut before too long, plus whatever else Hot Wheels can re-interpret from Rogue One. On the one hand I’m not sure how convinced I am that they can churn out interesting and memorable cars for the main human cast of Rogue One – Bodhi, Cassian, Chirrut, and Baze – but they could do some cool stuff with what little of the “Partisans” we saw, specifically the cyborg-like Saw and of course the Chewy-wannabe Moroff. I mean really, we’ve seen cars like Maz and Sidon Ithano and “red-arm 3PO” front and center on shelves while characters like FREAKIN’ FINN were tucked away in a trackset in relative obscurity! This just shows us that Hot Wheels is anything but predictable when it comes to these cars!
Got any new info? Know a place where I can score a new “battle damaged” Ezra? Need some help finding your favorite character cars – Star Wars or otherwise? Let me know!