Tuesday, November 27, 2007

AT-AT Driver (ESB 1980-82)

The AT-AT Driver is one of those many instances where Kenner made something that, inherently, you had to buy something much more expensive to play with. In this case, an AT-AT. In the waves of figures from the first movie you had Luke in his X-Wing outfit.

The Driver came on an ESB and then a ROTJ card, and came with a blaster rifle that could be slung over his shoulder. Like many of the Imperial helmeted figures, his head did not rotate - that's why the AT-AT's did, heh, heh. The only variation in this figure was that the Imperial logos on his helmet came in two different shades of red.

Before Kenner/Hasbro had come out with the new, same-scale G.I. Joe line, they still did not include pertinent figures like the AT-AT Driver with the actual AT-AT. While they never did this for the original Star Wars line, they did do it for G.I. Joe figures starting in 1982. When Star Wars figures were again made starting in the 1990's, there were no end to the ones that came with vehicles. The reissued AT-AT vehicle came with both the AT-AT Driver and the AT-AT Commander. If you got both of these figures and your parents still didn't get you an AT-AT, call them up right now and tell them how they ruined your childhood.

Why should you get this figure? Five reasons:

1. Getting this (and especially getting this and the AT-AT Commander) gave every kid hope that his parents would get him the AT-AT just to make things right with the world.

2. Every helmeted bad guy figure was inherently cool. Boba Fett. TIE Pilot. Death Star Gunner. All cool.

3. As a kid, that rifle with the bandolier was a big deal, plus it was actually a different mold than any other rifles. Heck, just having rifles now instead of the pistols from the first movie was cool!

4. How else will you act out the scene where the Driver aces his parallel parking test?

5. Even though he truly went with an AT-AT, you could still use this figure with every Hoth playset or homemade cotton-ball scene you had, just because he was white. Of course, the black figures are great too, I'm not trying to discriminate here.


AT-ATs (All Terrain Armored Transport) were built in the Kuat Drive Yards to the specifications of the Imperial Department of military research. They evolved from the walkers seen as early as Episode II: Attack of the Clones. They landed using drop-ships (never shown in the movies) and were well-armored except for the neck and underbelly. This is why an AT-ST can be seen in ESB - they were to stop underneath attacks.

According to stats, an AT-AT could hold at least 40 stormtroopers, or 2 disassembled AT-STs, and the AT-AT could kneel to get any vehicles out on a ramp. The pilots wore survival suits similar to a TIE Pilot's because an AT-AT was not climate controlled. The Drivers underwent continuous training and simulation because of the difficult conditions and terrain they could face.

Interesting film facts:
- It is has been said that whenever the film makers made an AT-AT move the wrong way, Lucas had it shot in the leg to cover up the fact.
- The animators studied the movement of elephants to make the AT-ATs walks.
- LucasFilm was sued by Lee Seiler who claimed they based the design of the AT-AT on his Garthian Walker he drew in 1976 or 77. However, he couldn't produce his drawings, and his copyright was filed a year after ESB came out.

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