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By Thomas Wheeler

It really shouldn't be any surprise that this assortment of action figures from STAR WARS EPISODE III has more Clones in it. I mean, they're clones! Pay a Kaminoan enough and he'll grow as many for you as you want. But these latest entries are more than just clones -- they're distinct Clone Commanders that were seen in the movie, leading troops to various world, guided by the Jedi, until that nasty Special Order Number 66 came through.

First up we have COMMANDER BLY. This is the Clone Commander assigned to Aayla Secura's detachment. He's a fairly straightforward Clone Commander, with some additional hardware on his uniform. His uniform is mostly white, but has some distinct and rather extensive yellow highlighting on it. He's wearing a shoulder harness and "apron", first seen in the adventures that followed Episode II, mostly worn by the specially-trained ARC Troopers.

One thing needs to be noted here -- this is the first time I've seen evidence of HAND-PAINTING figure segments on a Star Wars figure. This practice has been used on G.I.Joe for some time. And maybe I just haven't been all that observant about the Star Wars line -- nor am I completist with it. But for the life of me, I can't understand why this is done AT ALL. It HAS to be some sort of moneysaver, but the end result is not always good. I don't care if you're the best artist on the face of the planet, there is simply NO WAY for a person to HAND-PAINT the same set of details on ANY given action figure REGARDLESS of what line it comes from, and have it come out as consistently neatly as spray painting through a stencil. Somewhere on that figure is going to be some measure of sloppiness. The paint is going to dry badly and/or thickly, it's going to obscure much of the sculpted detail within the painted region, or it's going to slop over and past the area that was means to be painted. It looks sloppy, it looks unprofessional, and it should be stopped. PERIOD!

And, sure enough, it's glaringly obvious that the straps on Commander Bly's "apron" have been hand-painted. The additional staggering irony here is that the dings and "damage" to his armor have been SPRAY-painted! The action figure world is in enough trouble these days without turning out sloppy products.

So much for my editorial, for all the good it will do, but I can't let this sort of thing slide. Apart from this, Bly's a good figure. Good overall range of articulation, and he looks "different" enough from previous Clone Commanders or other Clone Troopers to be a really distinctive addition to the collection.

Of course, if what you want is "different", then we come to COMMANDER GREE. This is the Clone Commander that was assigned to Yoda, on his excursion to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. And this is a very different-looking Clone Commander.

There is in fact very little of the traditional white armor on Commander Gree. Really just around the faceplate of his helmet. And even that's different. It lacks the usual black visor region, instead presenting one of bright green. Some sort of night-vision feature, perhaps? Gree's uniform is mostly dark green, in color similar to the AT-RT Driver. But there's a lot of black trim on it, as well.

Gree has an excellent level of articulation, and yet his stance is a little odd. He doesn't quite stand up straight, and I'm not entirely sure why. The figure doesn't appear to be pre-posed, although it does look as though one leg sticks out to the side just a little more than the other. Still, this is a minor point on an otherwise excellent and distinctive figure.

My only other negative comment has to do with packaging. The way that the figures are mounted to the plastic interior of the bubble is ridiculous. I actually had to remove Bly's hand, which was holding a pistol, to get his arm free. Gree's legs were so trapped in his packaging that I had to cut the plastic to get him out, and Lord only knows how they got him in there in the first place. I really don't see the necessity of designing such elaborate restraint measures. What are these figures going to do -- escape? This isn't "Small Soldiers", okay?

I know I've griped a bit in this review, but I do believe there are some problems, especially the hand-painting situation, that need to be addressed, as publicly and as loudly as this web site allows, in the hope that someone who really can do something about it will hear what's being said and look into it.

That having been said, I'm NOT displeased with the figures. On the whole, Hasbro has done an excellent job with their Star Wars Episode III line, and new Clone Troopers and Commanders are always welcome. They're well- designed, well-articulated, the articulation is generally concealed to a degree by the armor design, and in the case of Bly and especially Gree, their individual designs present very distinctive representatives of the Clone Army.

I'm very pleased to have them both, and they both have my enthusiastic recommendation for anyone who enjoys Star Wars action figures!