It seems fitting that on Black Friday, this would be my purchase. I've never seen this guy at retail, but Amazon had him at a lower price than most stores: $17.99. That seems a lot, certainly, for those of us who remember figures being $5-$8, but comparably, it's not a bad deal. The most similar line I collect, WWE Elite, has an equivalent level of detail and accessories, yet reuses body parts, and runs about $20 per figure. Masters of the Universe reuse parts constantly, yet go for $27 and up. Star Wars Black hasn't reused any parts yet - though it will, as we'll see. For an all-new sculpt, loaded with accessories and detailed paint apps, featuring lots of useful, hidden articulation, $17.99 is a steal these days.
Not only are the primary paint ops on this guy clean, but he also comes with two different colors of dirt blasted on him - one more brown, and one slightly pinkish around the joints, where you'd expect sand to cake on. It's a great effect, and this figure really does look dirty. He also comes packing, with a Sandtrooper grenade rifle, Stormtrooper rifle, Stormtrooper blaster pistol, orange pauldron and backpack.
In case you were wondering, the head pops right off to remove the pauldron and make a regular (albeit really dirty) Stormtrooper. The only thing that keeps this from being a perfect army builder is the lack of alternate pauldrons, like black and gray. I don't think that's hurting sales any, as this is the hardest figure to find in the first series, not just because of army building potential but also because I'm guessing he was the most expensive to cost out and is probably shortpacked. This will be made up for in series 2, which features a clean trooper who'll presumably use the same sculpt and have less paint and accessories.
The backpack easily goes on and off, plugging into the "O" shape all Stormtroopers have on their backs. A small pouch attached to it goes over the Trooper's shoulder, which is mildly annoying.
The scale seems consistent, with nice big helmets that you can imagine heads fitting under. The joint parts are a bit thin, making you think this is one skinny dude under the armor, but those bits are hidden in most poses. Packaging is the same as on Darth Maul, with the exception of what I can hardly call a bio - this trooper is summed up by his incompetence, rather than, say, his talent in realizing droids were in the escape pod.
Articulation: this guy has a ball-jointed neck, mid-torso, shoulders, wrists, and hips. Double jointed elbows and knees; cut joints mid-bicep and upper thigh. Ankles have forward-back hinges and side-side rocker joints. For easy play I might have preferred smooth ball joints on the elbows and knees rather than ratcheting hinges, but for holding a pose, they do just fine. He can even do the figure-four leglock.
In all, I am very, very happy with this figure. He has the level of detail and accuracy you hope for in a movie toy, along with the dirty washes that McFarlane Toys introduced to make figures look more battle-hardened. His accessories give him a variety of looks, and if he were a mini-statue, you'd still think he were cool even without all the hidden joints. The highlight of the line so far, and possible figure of the year - if you have any interest at all, don't pass this guy up.