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REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS RYLOTH AT-RT WALKER with ARF TROOPER
By Thomas Wheeler

Sometimes I think that if one wanted to be a completist with Star Wars action figures, one would have to be totally dedicated to that action figure line, and nothing else. There are some people who are that dedicated to Star Wars -- and even to Star Wars action figures.

There are others who are dedicated to one particular type of Star Wars action figure. I saw a photograph online one time of someone who was totally committed to Clone Troopers. He had a large table in his home, that was totally covered by standing Clone Troopers. Remember the scene at the end of Star Wars Episode II, where these massive divisions of thousands of Clone Troopers were boarding starships to be sent into battle? This guy had one of those massive divisions. One would hope that, at the very least, wherever he lived it wasn't in a region prone to earthquakes.

Now, I like Star Wars a great deal, certainly, and I also like Star Wars action figures. But I also like a number of other lines, and I can't really be a completist with Star Wars. Nevertheless, if you want to get my attention in the Star Wars action figure world, show me a new Clone Trooper. I'll gladly add a few more soldiers to my Army of the Republic, which admittedly does not number in the thousands.

One such new Clone Trooper came up recently with a Walmart exclusive figure-and-vehicle set from the Clone Wars line, based on the hugely popular CGI series currently running on Cartoon Network. This set is an AT-RT Walker, with an ARF Trooper.

There are two reasons that I have dubbed this a "Ryloth" set in my title. First of all, according to the information on the back, Ryloth is the planet to which this ARF Trooper and his AT-RT are assigned. It reads that this Clone Trooper is assigned to Captain Keeli's unit, and is using his AT-RT Walker to scout across the rocky terrain of the planet Ryloth to gather information about Battle Droids massing there.

The other reason is that this is not the first time an ARF Trooper has been packaged with an AT-RT Walker, and I wanted to distinguish this newest item from that previous release, which if memory serves was designed and colored for use on Geonosis.

Let's consider the AT-RT Walker and the ARF Trooper individually, with a little background help from the Web Site "Wookieepedia". First up, the AT-RT:

The All Terrain Recon Transport (AT-RT) was a one-man bipedal walker used for reconnaissance and patrolling, first by the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars, and later on by the Galactic Empire and Alliance to Restore the Republic and was made in Kuat Drive Yards.

One of several precursors to the AT-ST walker, the AT-RT was 3.2 meters tall and 2.9 meters long, with a saddle-like seat for a single clone trooper driver. Its open cockpit design made the driver especially vulnerable to sniper fire, a notable flaw, but low costs and good visibility of the battlefield made up for this shortcoming. While other walkers like the AT-PT eliminated the flaw of the exposed driver position, the AT-PT was slower, and this made the AT-RT competitive with the former.

The recon walker was equipped with a nose-mounted repeating blaster cannon and mortar launcher, both of which made the walker a formidable anti-infantry unit, although a group of 4 walkers could easily overpower a single AAT. The AT-RT was fitted with a motion detection scanner and sensor equipment capable of providing Forward Command Centers with updated situation reports from the battlefield. Advanced Recon Force troopers were known to pilot these walkers.

Due to its light construction, AT-RT walkers were especially vulnerable to heavy weapons. This led many commanders to use them in fast scout packs or in the role of civilian (police or military) support. Commonly, these walkers operated as picket and pathfinder units.

AT-RT walkers were used on several worlds during the Clone Wars, during the battles such as the Battle of Christophsis, Battle of Ryloth, Battle of Rishi, Battle of Umbara, Battle of Kiros and the Battle of Kashyyyk, and were later used in an attempt to track down Jedi Master Yoda following the execution of Order 66. They also saw action on Outer Rim planets such as the conflicts on Utapau and Mygeeto.

These light-weight walkers would also be utilized in the attack on the Jedi Temple. Over a year later, during an attempt by ex-Jedi Fy-Tor-Ana and Ferus Olin to retrieve a cache of lightsabers from the occupied Temple, AT-RTs would back up teams of stormtroopers that were hunting them. However, it appeared that the AT-RT was phased out in favor of the AT-ST.

Elite Imperial units like Lightning Squadron continued to utilize their AT-RTs during the Galactic Civil War. Modified AT-RTs were also utilized by the Rebel Alliance and fringe groups. Many of these walkers were painted with camouflage to better blend in with their surroundings. A floodlight often replaced the repeating blaster cannon, providing additional aid for the walker on night-time missions, but making the vehicle more vulnerable in the process.

So, how's the toy? Very cool, really. As far as vehicles beginning with the prefix "AT" is concerned, the AT-RT is doubtless one of the smallest. The AT-ST, or "Chicken Walker" as it was sometimes known to fans, which appeared prominently in "Return of the Jedi", is a much larger, and admittedly better-protected vehicle, and has had a toy in its own right, and of course everyone knows about the massive AT-AT's, which quite literally stomped their way across Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back".

But the AT-RT does maintain the concept of a legged, walking vehicle, as opposed to something with wheels or treads. It's a fairly basic, two-legged vehicle, atop which a seat and cockpit are perched. The cockpit has a fairly minimal, angled front shield, handlebars, and a weapons control. There are two antennae behind the seat.

The legs are somewhat spindly-looking, and angled backwards, with two separate knees besides the hip and ankle joint. On the toy, only the hip and ankle are articulated, but this still allows for a considerable range of motion and posing. The feet of the AT-RT are large and relatively flat, giving the vehicle a better sense of balance than one might otherwise expect.

The toy stands about 6-1/2" in height in a fairly standard stance, four inches of which is legs. It doesn't have a lot of moving parts, but what it does have are distinctly useful. Along with the legs and feet, the front-facing blaster weapon has a considerable range of motion, not only up and down, but also side to side.

The color scheme is fairly varied on this particular AT-RT. The front shield is gray, with a dark brown stripe and what look like ram's horns painted on the sides. The handlebars, gun, and antennae are also dark brown. The cockpit area is a blend of gray and orange-brown, with an olive green seat. Ridged panels on the sides of the vehicle near the rear are also green. The legs are mostly gray, with orange-brown feet. Clearly, the vehicle was intended to bear a camouflage color scheme that would let it blend in as well as it could to the environment of Ryloth.

The AT-RT seems sturdy and well made, and isn't so big that it takes up a lot of space for those who can't readily accommodate larger vehicles.

Now, let's consider the ARF Trooper - Advanced Recon Force Troopers, or simply ARF Troopers, were specialized clone troopers that carried out short-range reconnaissance for Jedi Generals and clone commanders.

These clone troopers were often tasked with scouting out the enemy position on the battlefield. Although stealthy and well-trained, recon troopers' duties differed from that of clone commandos or Advanced Recon Commandos as their focus was on gathering information about the enemy or carrying out surprise attacks.

Before the introduction of the AT-RT drivers, ARF Troopers would often be pressed into service in that capacity.

In terms of equipment, ARF troopers were often provided with DC-15A blaster rifles, DC-15S blasters, chainguns, and missile launchers along with thermal detonators. They wore also a light weight recon armor made of plastoid material as well as were equipped with surveillance gear. They would often wear armor that fit the environment of the planet they were on. One such example being the ARF troopers who were stationed on the planet Teth.

In addition, they often rode All Terrain Recon Transports which was often a dangerous assignment as these walkers required their operator to show dexterity as well as considerable skill due to the fact that they were exposed to enemy fire while they conducted their missions. These vehicles meant that ARF troopers often considered themselves a breed apart to other clone troopers as they believed riding an AT-RT was more akin to riding on a living animal rather than driving a vehicle. This meant that their training often started with first riding living mounts before they were allowed to operate an AT-RT walker.

Advanced Recon Force troopers were first introduced during the time of the Clone Wars and like most of their clone brethren; they were created on the planet Kamino which served as their "homeworld" and swore their allegiance to the Galactic Republic. They proved to be valuable assets to the Grand Army of the Republic due to their ability to carry out reconnaissance and deliver accurate, eye-witness reports of enemy activities, without alerting them to their presence.

A pair of ARF troopers were deployed on the planet Teth before the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his apprentice Ahsoka Tano arrived to rescue Rotta, Jabba the Hutt's son.

ARF troopers were also deployed during the Battle of Ryloth, under the command of Jedi General Mace Windu, to scout out the Twi'lek freedom fighters and infiltrate the capital city of Lessu. They were used in a more aggressive capacity, driving AT-RTs to attack the AATs that were firing at the AT-TE walkers, and later were in the charge to retake Lessu.

A number of them later participated in the brutal battles that involved the retaking of the planet Geonosis under the command of Clone Marshal Commander Cody.

A large squadron of Advanced Recon Force troopers led by Clone Commander Trauma and Jedi Knight Halsey were seen fighting at the Temple of Eedit on the planet Devaron around 21 BBY. They managed to kill all of the droids, but they were all killed by a Nightbrother named Savage Opress.

Under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, a large force of Advance Recon Force troopers participated in the Battle of Umbara driving AT-RTs and played a key role in taking out a Umbaran occupied ridge defended by tanks and Umbaran Militia. The Advanced Recon Force took heavy casualties throught out the battle as they were easy targets for the Umbaran Militia.

So, how's the figure? Very cool, but I have to say, I love that line from the profile, "They would often wear armor that fit the environment of the planet they were on. One such example being the ARF troopers who were stationed on the planet Teth."

Yeah, and another of which was Ryloth. Now, I have a number of ARF Troopers in my collection. They really do have a very cool design. I have a couple that are plain white, some with a limited amount of trim on them, and a couple with different types of camouflage.

But this guy? WOW! If the dark reddish-brown camouflage covering his uniform was a brighter shade of red, I'd be inclined to say that he'd had a bad run-in with a candy cane factory.

From head to tow, this ARF Trooper's customarily white armor is covered with a wild, jagged pattern of dark burgundy camouflage. It appears to be imprinted, not just painted on, and I can only imagine what sort of -- however they do this sort of thing -- that must have required. There's a bit of dark gray patterning, as well, mostly smaller squares in some of the larger burgundy areas.

The end result is a very impressively camouflaged ARF Trooper that's almost painful to stare at for any length of time.

This ARF Trooper also has a solid burgundy belt, and the visor over his eye-goggles is also solid burgundy.

What makes the basic look of an ARF Trooper so distinctive. Mostly, it's the helmet, which bears some resemblance to the later Imperial Biker Scouts, which we first encountered in Speeder Bikes on Endor during the events of "Return of the Jedi". The visor, rather than being the "T" shape of most Clone Troopers, has a more goggle-like appearance to it, and a more jutting lower section around the nose and mouth. The top of the helmet sweeps back, but lacks the usual fin of most Clone Trooper helmets, and it has a distinct shade visor over the "goggles".

The figure is also notable for a certain greater leg articulation than most Clone Troopers. One of the criticisms of the Clone Trooper figures -- a criticism which I personally believe is overstated for the most part -- is that they don't have a lot of leg articulation. The ARF Troopers, a number of which have come with vehicles in which they need to be seated, such as this one, have an additional level of articulation, a sort of outward swivel, beyond the basic back and forth movement, that allows the legs to move a bit more than the average Clone Trooper figure, although in my opinion it's a slightly awkward movement.

This makes the legs of the ARF Trooper distinctive, and for some reason, you occasionally get an ARF Trooper that doesn't want to stand up all that well. The feet are very slightly smaller than average, which may be a factor.

These, I hasten to add, are minor criticisms. Overall, the ARF Troopers are all very cool and distinctive figures, and certainly worthwhile additions to any Clone Trooper collection. This one is certainly more distinctive than most, with his wild camouflage pattern.

Of course, he's definitely well-articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles. He also comes with his own blaster pistol, as well as a game card, display base, and plastic die for the Galactic Battle Game that has been promoted throughout most Star Wars action figure toys for some time now.

So, what's my final word? This is a cool set. The AT-RT has not been overused as a vehicle in this line at all, and it's an interesting vehicle. And the ARF Trooper is one of the more distinctive divisions of Clone Troopers, and certainly, this one is really, really distinctive. I'm glad to have it, and I believe that any fan of the Star Wars Clone Wars series would welcome this fine figure-and-vehicle set into their collection. It is a Walmart exclusive, though, so you'll have to track it down there.

The STAR WARS CLONE WARS (RYLOTH) AT-RT with ARF TROOPER definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!