The more I think about it, the more I realize that Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the original trilogy movies. Not only did it feature two of the coolest vehicles (the AT-ST and the Speeder Bikes), but it also introduced one of the best-looking characters, the Emperor's Royal Guard.
The Royal Guard is Coruscant's most elite security force. During his rise to power, Palpatine seized control of all senate security, consolidating the blue senate guard and his own crimson personal guard under his direct authority.
Now, think about this. People have body guards to protect them from threats that they themselves can't handle. Mike Tyson's body guards need to be bigger and tougher than he is. So, considering how powerful the Emperor is, what kind of bad-to-the-bone hardasses must be under that red armor?
We got to see the Royals' stylistic roots in Episode 2, with the blue-suited Coruscant Guards, and the stylistic evolution continues with Episode 3's Senate Security.
The new version of the armor is even closer to the familiar crimson design than before - gone are the twin rows of feathers on the helmet, replaced with a single centurion-style crest. Additionally, the formerly exposed face has now been covered by a black plastic shield, making the wearer anonymous.
The Guard is wearing a real cloth robe, which wraps around him nicely. Now, obviously it doesn't look as good as a molded plastic robe would, but it serves its purpose well. He's more poseable than any Guard - Senate or Royal - before him, with joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, gloves, waist, hips and knees. The neck, shoulders and knees are all balljoints, allowing for maximum poseability.
The Guard comes with two weapons: a large rifle that can be slung over his shoulder and a pistol that holsters on his hip. Both are decent, and the Guard can hold both nicely. Overall, this is a good figure, and the only thing that would be better is if Hasbro made one of his red-suited descendants in the same style.
Oh, wait, here's one now.
There are two versions of the figure: a cerulean Senate Security Guard and a ruby Royal Guard. Both are assigned the same number in the series - #23 - so it's not two separate toys, but one with a great variant.
From the neck down, the Royal Guard is identical to his comptriot - same sculpt, same articulation, same accessories. The Paint's different, as is the color of his robe, but that's a given. He's got the classic sleek helmet, making him a perfect addition to even non-prequel diaramas.
My favorite feature is found beneath the figures' robes. For the first time, we see the Guards' armor in action figure form. The tough, interlocking plates are lightyears ahead of what the Stormtroopers wear, but they were never seen in the films - so where'd the design come from?
A few years ago, Dark Horse Comics put out a series focussing on the Emperor's Royal Guards and what became of them after Palpatine's defeat at the hands of Luke Skywalker. The six-issue Crimson Empire revealed a lot about the Guards' training and mentality, and showed, for the first time, what they had on under the robes. The designs, by Paul Gulacy, were quite impressive, and Hasbro has done a pretty good job of re-creating the look. It's not exact, but it's obvious what they were aiming for.
don't have any silly action features, which is good, and while they stand well enough on their own, Hasbro included a display base with each of them. It's a technological bit of flooring, probably a building on Coruscant, and is designed to fit together with similar bases in several different ways, though none of them line up seamlessly.
So with this figure, you've got your choice of Classic or New Coke - red or blue variants to your heart's content. In any color, this is a good figure, one wll worth adding to your Star Wars collection.