Looking back at Christmas 2007, several very interesting Star Wars exclusives showed up at Target stores around the country. Target seems to be very enthusiastic about the Star Wars action figure line. This has hardly been the first series of exclusives they've ever had.
This particular item was designated the AT-RT ASSAULT SQUAD, and was a fairly large set. It wasn't inexpensive, either, and honestly I was a little surprised at the price, until I made a particular realization about some of the contents.
The set includes two AT-RT Drivers, a Clone Commander, and two AT-RT vehicles. These are all items from the era of the Clone Wars, between Episodes II and III, although this particular set specifically cites the battle of Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld, which would place it squarely in the timeframe of Episode III.
I generally enjoy any new product that offers a new version of Clone Troopers. I like the design of the Clone Troopers, especially the Episode III version. I like the assorted divisional markings on the uniforms. And one can hardly deny the fact that most Clone Troopers have an extremely high and very impressive level of articulation, and the design of the Clone Trooper armor lends itself well to if not concealing then at least minimizing the obviousness of most of the articulation points. So what's not to like?
Technically, although the AT-RT DRIVERS (let's start this review with them) use a different set of molds, since their armor is of a slightly different design than the average Clone Trooper, they still manage to have the same high level of articulation. One can sort of see the beginnings of the Biker Scouts in their design, although admittedly not as much as the Kashyyk Elite Clones, which were pretty much camouflage-uniformed Biker Scout Troopers.
The AT-RT Driver figure has appeared before. There was a single-carded version, and then later one of them, recolored with orange trim to represent the troops that appeared on Utapau, turned up in the Target-exclusive "Order 66" two-packs. A third AT-RT Driver, a mostly white one, has also turned up in one of the four figure sets that come with a commemorative metal box.
These AT-RT Drivers that come with this set are clearly reflective of the Kashyyyk forces. Although most Clone Troopers wear predominantly white armor, this was not the case for the Kashyyk forces, who wore a pale green uniform with darker green and brown camouflage, and the visors of their helmets, while normally black on most Clone Troopers, were bright green for the Kashyyyk clones.
And indeed, these AT-RT Drivers reflect that color scheme. They are molded in a pale olive green, and have darker green and brown camouflage patterns on their uniforms. The uniform underneath the armor has been painted in a still darker shade of green, and the eyeslits on their helmets have been painted bright green. There's a small insignia of sorts on the right side of the chest. The end result is a particularly striking pair of AT-RT Drivers with a very distinctive and impressive color scheme.
They're also very nicely articulated. It was honestly very hard to tell from the package whether or not these figures were fully articulated. They were packaged seated in the cockpits of their vehicles. Fortunately, the AT-RT Drivers in this set are fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. Most joints have swivel capacity as well as back and forth movement.
The profile on the package for the AT-RT Drivers reads as follows: These Clone Troopers are specially trained to ride AT-RT walkers and are outfitted with armor and helmets designating them as drivers. AT-RT Drivers are part of the 41st Elite Corps that is sent to Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars.
CLONE COMMANDER - I wish I could say that this figure is as well articulated as the AT-RT Drivers, but he isn't. Now, the best known Clone Commander on Kashyyyk was Commander Gree, who after Order 66 was given tried to dispatch Jedi Master Yoda and lost everything from the neck up in the attempt.
For that matter, this particular Clone Commander isn't even given a name. Why would there be two Clone Commanders on Kashyyyk? Come on, a Commander can't be everywhere. This one was obviously in charge of the AT-RT platoon. The figure is based on an earlier Clone Commander figure, at least if the basic helmet design is any indication, although the previous versions that used this helmet were both molded in white, although their color trims did differ.
This guy has the same fancy color scheme as the AT-RT Drivers. Molded in pale olive green, he has darker green camouflage on his uniform, and the brown elements of the pattern are represented by a shoulder harness and a waist tunic. Really, this Clone Commander looks great.
I wish I could say the same about his poseability. He has a built-in action feature, for starters. I generally find such things annoying, and they're that much more so when they hinder or adversely affect a figure's overall articulation, and this certainly does. Squeeze the legs and the arms raise, presumably to bring a weapon to bear, ready to fire. (And indeed, the Clone Commander does come with a HUGE rifle that actually fires a small projectile.) But this also means that the figure has no waist articulation, and the arms can only move forward and back, not outward.
Then there are the articulation deficiencies that have nothng to do with the action feature. The figure's right elbow has a normal range of motion, but the left elbow only swivels, and is pre-posed in a bent position. Bad enough we have hindered articulation, but it's not even consistent.
The legs have NO articulation at the knees, and only mild articulation in the ankles. Given that the legs are molded slightly bent at the knees, it is extremely difficult to get this figure to stand up on his own without looking like he's somewhat hunched over.
Now, from a practical standpoint, I am well aware of budget constraints, especially on special sets like this, and the need to get as much use out of existing molds as possible. Hasbro even commented a while back that the "Super-Articulated" molds for the Clone Trooper figure were being used to their full capacity. However, I also have to say that given that is has been established that it is entirely possible to create a Star Wars Clone Trooper figure with a full range of articulation, there isn't much excuse for NOT doing so whenever a Clone Trooper, or Commander, is going to appear in a given single-figure assortment or special set. And it can be rather disappointing when something less-articulated turns up.
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that a good amount of work went into this special set, and in designing this Clone Commander, or at least his new color scheme, for him to be part of the set. And the figure LOOKS great. Very neatly painted, nicely detailed, no problems or complaints whatsoever from those standpoints, which in and of themselves are certainly significant aspects of any action figure. In these regards, I am immensely pleased and impressed with the Clone Commander figure from this set. But the limited articulation is a letdown.
His profile reads as follows: Commanders in the Clone Army are bred for leadership positions with more capability for the indepedent thought required for decision making. Clone Commanders assist the Jedi Generals on missions during the Clone Wars.
Now, as to the reason this set comes in a fairly sizeable box, the two AT-RT vehicles that are included.
I'll admit, I haven't been that much of a vehicle collector in Star Wars. I simply don't have the room. I do have the Naboo Royal Starship from Episode I. It's a pretty cool and impressive item. It's parked on the deck of my G.I. Joe Aircraft Carrier. And I'll admit that the various Jedi Starfighters, not to mention Darth Vader's Sith Starfighter, have been tempting. But budgetary and space considerations have simply not allowed. And honestly, I was more interested in this set for the Clone Troopers. But the AT-RT's are pretty cool vehicles.
AT-RT stands for All Terrain Recon Transports. They're a clear precursor to the AT-ST's, the All Terrain Scout Transports, or "chicken walkers" that appeared briefly during the Battle of Hoth during Empire Strikes Back, and more extensively during Return of the Jedi. The gangly, rather backwards-looking leg structure on these vehicles certainly earned them their name, and it's a leg structure that is shared by the AT-RTs.
There are differences, of course. The AT-RT's are not as large as their successors, and they have an open cockpit design that the AT-ST's did not possess.
The AT-RT's did appear in Revenge of the Sith, during a scene when they were trying to track down Master Yoda, in the aftermath of Order 66. Yoda had escaped with the help of his Wookiee allies, including Chewbacca.
An interesting movie note turned up while I was doing a little research on the vehicles: A scene cut from Revenge of the Sith would have shown Yoda distracting clone troopers while Chewbacca removes them from their AT-RT in a manner similar to how he wrests control of an AT-ST in Return of the Jedi.
The two AT-RT's that come with this Assault Squad set are very nicely made. Each stands about 7-1/2" tall, and can accommodate one pilot fairly easily. They have been given a color pattern very much in keeping with the rest of the set. They've been molded in green, and have streaks of darker green and some sprays of a lighter greyish-green applied to them. The end result is a pair of AT-RT's that look very much like they're specifically designated for battle on Kashyyyk.
Now, here's where I think the price tag of this set is somewhat justified, and was something I didn't realize. For one thing, it wasn't all that well spelled out on the box, except for a small and easily missable notation on the front of the box that batteries are required for this set. Why batteries? It seems that these AT-RT's are battery-operated vehicles that can actually walk! I tested one and it actually works very nicely. But this obviously required a little more effort and expense to include the walking mechanism within the toy. Nevertheless, it's a cool feature, and certainly adds some "play value" to the set as a whole. Obviously, it's best to have the vehicles walk across a smooth, level surface. These aren't hill climbers or carpet walkers.
The profile on the package for the AT-RT's reads as follows: All Terrain Recon Transport walkers are used for patrol and reconnaissance by the Grand Army of the Republic. Clone Troopers receive special training to operate these bipedal, one-man walkers, which are armed with a repeating blaster cannon and a mortar launcher.
Indeed, there is a large cannon on the front of the vehicle, and it's on a ball-and-socket articulation point, which allows it a fair range of movement.
Now, it's not terribly likely that you're going to find one there at
this point. But there is always the secondary market. And if you get
the chance to pick up the STAR WARS AT-RT ASSAULT SQUAD, then it most
definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation! On the whole, it's a
very impressive and certainly distinctive addition to anyone's Clone