By Julian H. Betancourt
All Images and Layouts © and ™ Sandtroopers.com, and cannot be reproduced without the express written permission of Sandtroopers.com. E-mail dustrho@sandtroopers.com with requests.

 
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE: RETURN OF A GIANT
 
Appearing for the third time in toy history, Hasbro re-released the colossal Imperial Shuttle vehicle as an exclusive to Target stores during the second half of November, 2006
 
Moderately priced at just $59.99, this time around the 3 3/4" scale vehicle also included two previously offered  figures: Darth Vader from the VOTC line and the Royal Guard (Coruscant Security) from the 2002 Saga line. Although word had it the ship wasn't supposed to be out until Black Friday, some lucky collectors were able to get an earlier taste of the toy, finding it on store shelves a week or two before its rumored released date. Others having Target's DPCI number 087-06-0483 were able to "break the law" and have the ship brought out from the stockroom and sold to them. Noticeable was a pink label applied to the shipping cases which read:
 
LIMITED TIME ONLY
STREET DATE: 6:00 PM ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25th
 
Such specific release date was due to the fact the Shuttle was pictured in Target's Sunday ad and sufficient amounts were needed to satisfy customer demand.
 
   
 
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE 2006: PRICE IMPACT
 
This "new" release came only four short years after Hasbro sold the exact same vehicle in 2002 for $120.00 as an FAO Schwarz exclusive and without any pack in figures. The considerable difference in price created some controversy among previous Shuttle owners, feeling misguided and expressing their frustration and distrust towards future, so called "exclusives", an important reason for them to have spent so much for the toy the first time around. On the other hand, a greater number of previous owners fell in love with the massive vehicle all over again, seeing it as a chance to build up a Shuttle fleet at low cost. Needless to say for the first time buyer it was also a great opportunity to add the vehicle to their collection while still having some cash left in their wallet. It was a indeed a sweet deal and by year's end it became even sweeter as the Shuttle saw its first 30%mark down. That was a mere $41.88 for the lucky collectors that found it.
 
 
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE 2006: THE BAD
 
The Shuttle had a lot going for it. Its authentic design, impressive size, outstanding window box/graphics, included figures and the fact Christmas shopping was in full bloom with lots of parents picking them up for their kids were all pluses making the ship a best seller. Nonetheless there were unpleasant surprises with the vehicle, issues which were never corrected dating as far back as its first release. Here are the main let downs to keep in mind when purchasing the ship. If one could live with them, the Shuttle surely was a pleasant buy:

Mold/Paint: The vehicle uses the same mold as its 1984 vintage counterpart, which is also the same unimproved mold also used on the FAO Schwarz version from 2002,  however this 2006 version boasts sloppier weathering paint decorations. The random weathering wash can be way too heavy and "runny" in some areas or too light in others. As far as the mold itself is concern, the vehicle again lacks the button-operated electronic laser battle sounds the vintage version offered and while the rear battery compartment still opens up, it is merely an open storage area for figures and/or their weapons.

Wing operation: The side wings are adjustable, folding up for landing and downward for flight mode. However, both side wings are connected via an outdated internal ratchet mechanism, running through the body of the shuttle that allows them to open simultaneously to an impressive 3 feet of space. In many instances, this system fails to properly operate, either having each wing moving independently and/or folding up unevenly, sometimes being a noticeable distance away from the center top wing or leaning up against it. If that's the case, opening the vehicle might be needed in order to readjust the ratchet mechanism. Since the wings appear in some cases to be a couple of clicks apart from being aligned with each other, one could manually force the uneven wing another click, but the gears are so big they might break thus one have to be careful if attempting to do this.

Foot Pegs: Dealing directly with the fact this is an exact reproduction from the original 1984 mold, the vintage size foot pegs provided are too big to allow for the insertion of smaller peg holes found in modern figures, even the ones offered with the vehicle. If one wishes to have the two figures attached to the vehicle's foot pegs, the peg holes need to be enlarged, either by using a small drill bit or a blade.

Wing Cannons: Once again the Wing Cannons are placed upside down. The cannons should be at the top of their discs, pointing forward when the wings are down/flight mode. In turn this allows them to be turned upward when the ship is in land mode with its wings folded. Since they were erroneously positioned, this cannot be accomplished unless they are pry open and placed correctly. Not being glued but rather press-fit together helps. You can refer to my pictures showing how to safely accomplish this.

   
 
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE 2006: BOX VARIATIONS
 
It didn't take long for eagle-eyed collectors to notice a peculiar variation dealing with the placement of the two figures included in the package. Here is what it boiled down to:
 
- Darth Vader and Royal Guard side by side: Vader to the left side of the box's window, Guard to the right.
- Royal Guard and Darth Vader side by side: Guard to the left side of the box's window, Vader to the right.
 
While it didn't seem hard to find either version, a higher number of boxes having Vader to the left side of the window was reported. I noticed this as well, finding it less common to spot the box with the Guard on the left side.
 
Here is the datestamp for each version I saw. The datestamp could vary depending on different finds:
 
* Vader/Royal Guard: C005A62631
* Royal Guard/Vader: C005A62431
 

IMPERIAL SHUTTLE 2006: PROMOTION
 
The Shuttle made a rare appearance on the small screen as part of the retailer's TV ad showcasing their limited edition products. Among a "Hello Kitty" pendant and other items, the funky musical commercial prominently presented several Shuttles flying across the screen with lots of snowflakes coming out of their engines. The vehicle was also promoted on Target's Sunday newspaper ad. Here is the picture of the ad showing the Shuttle:
 
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE 2006: SPECIFIC MEASUREMENTS
 
HEIGHT: 22" tall ( From handle trigger to top of center wing)
WINGSPAN: 28" or 3' (tip to tip of side wings)
BODY LENGTH: 17" (nose tip to engines) 
BOX DIMENSIONS: 17 1/8" X 14 3/8" X 19 7/8"
 
 
IMPERIAL SHUTTLE 2006: FINAL THOUGHT

F
or collectors that already had the 2002 FAO release, $60.00 to spend on the 2006 version of the vehicle was easily avoidable since as mentioned, both versions were the same. However, if one was to consider the lower price, the two included figures and the fact the box and graphics were all new, adding the updated box version to one's collection was not a bad decision.

It was obvious the vehicle's reasonable price tag greatly influenced on its rapid sales. It also proved that Hasbro is actually able to offer a large collectable at a competitive price. By doing so their product can move quickly and collectors can be satisfied. From a sales standpoint hopefully the maker saw the positive impact the Shuttle had. Hopefully they will take that under consideration for future releases, offering collectibles everyone can afford by pricing them accordingly.