Clone Commander (Battle Gear)
Released April 2005
Reviewed by Adam Pawlus
Photography by Michael Sullenger
Reviewed on April 20, 2005
Regardless of your opinions on the animated Clone Wars show, odds are you saw and dug the red ARC Trooper with all his wacky hand gestures and general awesomeness. Another thing you can all agree on is that the non-animated version of the Red ARC Trooper was a raging pain in the butt to get, making it one of the cooler yet tougher-to-find variants to be produced by Hasbro. The new Clone Commander from Revenge of the Sith takes design elements from that figure as well as his actions from the show and updates them, providing a really nice update to a really great looking character-- and this time, it's a movie-based item!
The descendant of Jango includes a rappel line set, two pistols, a rifle, a removable "skirt" with twin pistol holsters, and super-posability.
He's super-posable, has a new sculpt (mostly), and doesn't have any action figures. He's a good one, folks.
During the Clone Wars, we were introduced to the second "speciality" Clone, the ARC Trooper. We already had the pilot, and now we've got one of many upgraded Clones from the latest Star Wars movie. This commander's role will be best fleshed out when you see the movie, but you can tell a lot about it just by looking at him. I mean, with all that gear, you know he's going to be cool. Or cool as best defined by a grown man playing with toys aimed at children aged four to eleven.
One of the neatest things on the helmet was the new "rangefinder." Replacing the antenna used for Boba, Jango, and the ARC Trooper is a set of macrobinoculars that connects directly to the helmet and can be raised, lowered, or even removed-- it's al up to you! The deco on the head is great, and while we have heard of some sloppy paint jobs out there, we haven't yet seen one ourselves. The red coloring helps to make it obvious that this special clone has the rank of Commander.
There's a ball joint under his helmet, but it's a little restricted by the pauldron and his gear. So while it can move and move well, it's held back just a little by its own success-- a larger scale figure would have been able to pull this design off just a little better. Of course, this is just one of his joints, he has many.
He's a nicely posable figure, and this is a good thing, mostly. With ball joints at the shoulders, knees, elbows, and ankles, you've got some good articulation here. Add in joints to his hips and wrists, and you can get a heck of a lot out of this guy. There's a catch, though-- much like the neck, the hips are more or less blocked by his waistcoat, although you can bend and manipulate things out of the way. This is an instance where soft goods would have been nice to have, but he can do pretty much everything you would ask of him as is. This may not be enough for you, and if it isn't, Hasbro made sure you can take all this stuff off.
Ain't that something? He's also clean, which is good because it means you can add your own battle damage rather than having it assigned by Hasbro. The sculpt takes elements from the existing Clone Wars Super Posable Clone Trooper and brings in some new bits, building on an already impressive base for the design. The little wrinkles, rips, and tears on the waistcoat are excellent, and the holsters are god-- mostly. We had some white paint bleed on our sample, meaning that there's a slight deco downer here but it's otherwise good.
Finally, we'd like to touch on something that's become an issue in this line, and it's something that was almost unthinkable as something to criticize-- peg holes. There have been some very shallow holes on Clones as of late, and this one is no exception. As such, he might not like your existing stands, especially if the peg is tall. Thankfully, the samples I've been lucky enough to see stand just fine on their own, but for those that like stands, well, you might need to file down a peg or drill a deeper hole. We suggest filing down the peg.
This set includes a lot of stuff.
These are the parts that are not integrated on the figure's design. The two small pistols are new sculpts and fit snuggly into his waistcoat. The rifle is more or less the same design we've been getting since 2002, and it's good-- nothing spiffy, but it's good. There's also some sort of a rappel line thing which is honestly crap. The little hook is a neat idea, but the claws look like they're supposed to attach to some existing thing and I have no idea what it is. Also, the line is super-short-- you could probably jump the distance that teeny rope would let you fly over. Other toy lines have done this better, such as the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. Heck, there was even a Rappel Line Attack accessory pack from Episode I and it was superior to this in terms of functionality.
You might say "wow, that's a lot of whining." It is, but it's whining you can ignore-- these extras are what the kids call "icing on the cake." You could toss these in a box and never see them again and it wouldn't hurt your appreciation of the rest of the figure. It's obvious Hasbro intended these to be for added play value, but as someone with over 20 years experience in trying to figure out how a toy works from a "play" perspective, I can safely say that our labs see this as a failed experiment. This could be because we have no idea what we're doing, but we'll be sure to ask Hasbro at the next opportunity.
These parts are attached to the figure, and are removable if you're so inclined. The binoculars can be raised or lowered over the helmet, the pauldron is a nice little throwback to both the Sandtroopers and the ARC Troopers, and of course, the waistcoat recalls both the ARC Trooper and the Snow Trooper. They really make the figure, because without these parts, it looks like a craptastic, oddly painted Clone. Good work, Hasbro!
New for 2005: the flaming head of Darth Vader.
This is a very ornate package. Despite being somewhat generic across the line, there are numerous layers at work here-- there are two cardboard inserts in the front, a plastic tray, and stickers all over to make this really stand out. The end result is a busy, flaming design you just can't ignore. It isn't as gee-whiz or gosh-golly cool as the packaging used for the Original Trilogy Collection but it looks like the most expensive cardback Hasbro has done to date and the new egglike bubble is a huge departure from the previous two decades and change of product from Kenner and Hasbro. The bubble is much like that of the G.I. Joe figures (two- and three-packs) from 2003-2005 in that the bubble wraps the card, hugging it, where it is taped in the back. This allows you to remove a figure a little more easily, although the folks at Hasbro secured it in more places so you'll probably rip most of these getting the figures out.
While available at some stores on April 2, they haven't exactly become the pegwarmers that the basic figures from the first 24-32 have become in most cases. We've seen these at Wal-Marts, and seen evidence of these at Kohl's. Happy hunting!
You need a commander for your Clones? Look no further! This is a great little figure and he not only looks great, but has no oddball action gimmick and the only bad thing about this figure are some extra accessories you can toss in a drawer anyway. This is a must-buy figure, and if his role in the movie is as good as the rumors say it is, you'll probably need it too. Don't say no to the Clone Commander if you see it on shelves-- if it's $7.99, that's OK-- pay it. You won't be sorry!
Our review sample was obtained from Wal-Mart on April 2, 2005.