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By Thomas Wheeler

I've become increasingly interested in the various Clone Trooper types, divisions, and individuals being made available in the action figure line based on the Star Wars CLONE WARS CGI animated series, currently airing on the Cartoon Network. Although the figures are not especially compatible with their movie-based counterparts in the Legacy Collection and related lines -- apart from being more stylized in facial features and such, even the Clone Troopers tend to be taller and have more slender builds -- the line definitely has its own charm and has certainly earned its place as part of the overall Star Wars universe.

One recent addition to the Clone Wars collection was designated CLONE TROOPER WITH SPACE GEAR. Well, that makes sense, right? The concept is called "Star Wars" after all, isn't it? And although most of the battles of the Clone Wars took place on the surfaces of various planets, it seems to be that it would behoove Clone Troopers to be prepared for battle in outer space, an inhospitable environment in any galaxy. So I decided to bring this figure in to my collection and see what he had to offer.

Right off the bat I noticed something that was quite distinctive about the figure, and it wasn't the additional gear that made him spaceworthy. It was the uniform markings. Although all Clone Troopers started out with entirely white uniforms, as shown in Star Wars Episode II, the Clones had formed many different divisions and such by the time of Star Wars Episode III, and extensive and ornate markings in a wide variety of colors had become commonplace, even though most Clone Troopers still had predominantly white armor.

The Clone Wars series, which takes place between Episodes II and III, is decided proof that the practice of unit markings and assorted ornamentations is something that began quite early on. The markings of this particular Clone Trooper were familiar to me, and not at all inappropriate.

This Clone Trooper has very dark red shoulder pieces, with an ornate pattern in white on the left shoulder piece, some dark red striping on the helmet, and dark red on his lower legs. The real telling point is the stylized animal face on the "forehead" of his helmet. This indicates that this particular Clone Trooper was very likely part of the same unit that was led by Plo Koon, which staged an attack on the planet Abregado, that resulted in the destruction of several spacecraft and the need for Plo Koon and as many Clones as possible to use escape pods.

There's a Target-exclusive Battle Pack of four figures that includes Plo Koon, a Battle Droid, and two Clone Troopers -- and the Troopers have the same markings on their uniform as this guy.

Here's a little background information on the Battle of Abregado, courtesy of the highly informative Web Site known as Wookieepedia:

The Battle of Abregado was a space battle that took place around 22 BBY during the Clone Wars. Following the defeat of Jedi General Ares Nune's task force in the Phu system at the hands of the Confederate warship Malevolence, Jedi General Plo Koon of the Galactic Republic took several Venator-class Star Destroyers to find and destroy the ship. Koon tracked the Malevolence to the Abregado system, but the warship attacked his fleet with its ion cannons, and the Star Destroyers were left defenseless.

Seeing this as an opportunity for another test of the Malevolence's ion cannons, Grievous ordered the weapon to be fired. The Confederate warship moved to attack Koon's fleet, and because they were out of range, the Republic cruisers were unable to open fire. The Malevolence discharged its cannons; as the wave approached, Koon and the clone troopers braced themselves for impact. The wave passed over the fleet and neutralized the cruisers' shields, and the vulnerable cruisers fell to fire from the Malevolence's numerous laser cannons. Shortly before the Triumphant was destroyed, Plo Koon and several clone troopers were able to flee from the cruiser in escape pods. As Koon's fleet was ripped apart, a debris field—from the wreckage of the three destroyed cruisers—was scattered in the Abregado system. The power of the escape pod containing Koon, Commander Wolffe, Sergeant Sinker, and trooper Boost depleted, leaving the pod without life support or access to communication channels.

Dooku dispatched several boarding craft with rocket battle droids to eliminate the survivors, as he did not want the survivors to inform the Republic of the Malevolence. Only Koon and the three clones in his pod were able to defeat the battle droids who came in search of survivors. Jedi General Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan, Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano, soon arrived in the system aboard Skywalker's personal ship, the Twilight, and they rescued Koon and the clones. The Twilight encountered the Malevolence, but the Jedi and clones successfully evaded a wave from the warship's ion cannons by jumping to hyperspace. Their escape brought the knowledge of the nature of the weapon to the Republic.

A much more comprehensive report can by found on Wookieepedia, but there's enough information there, I think, to indicate that this is a situation in which the average Clone Trooper might well want to be equipped for space survival.

Now, the Target set included the Clone Troopers named Sinker and Boost, and there's no particular reason to believe that this is Commander Wolffe. So let's just say that he's another Clone Trooper from the same division that took some extra precautions, shall we?

So, what all have we got here, really, with regards to the toy? For starters, we have a good, basic Clone Trooper. I have determined that there are several sets of body molds for the Clone Troopers from Star Wars, some better than others in regards especially to articulation. This is one of the best. The figure looks good and is exceptionally well-articulated.

One nice thing about Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers from any Star Wars action figure line is that their basic design lends itself exceptionally well to a high range of articulation. The armor is offset by the black "undersuit", in which the basic articulation can be somewhat concealed. The end result is an action figure that both looks good and moves well. This Clone Trooper is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists (back and forth movement as well as rotation), mid-torso, legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles (including a swivel). The Clone Trooper is one of the few figures around in any action figure line in my opinion that can get away with the mid-torso articulation point, since it can be blended in well with the overall design of the figure. To me, this just doesn't work as well on figures that have to be sculpted to look like they're wearing fabric. It's just too blatant a dividing line, as opposed to waist articulation.

The helmet is not removable, which is one of the things that leads me to believe this isn't the aforementioned Commander Wolffe, who to the best of my knowledge hasn't been made as an action figure -- yet, anyway. One thing I will certainly commend the Clone Wars line for is that for those figures that do have removable helmets, the helmets are no larger than those figures who do not, whose helmets are their heads. This was something of a noticeable matter in the Legacy Collection.

The figure is very neatly painted, which is worth mentioning in light of the fact that I'm fairly certain that most of the black "undersuit" detailing has been painted by hand. This practice, fairly common among Clone Wars Clone Troopers (and elsewhere), tends to result in a sort of inevitable sloppiness. It's just flat out impossible to expect anybody to paint even relatively basic details on a mass-produced line of action figures and keep them all perfectly neat. That's why I say that such details should ALWAYS be painted through a proper paint stencil or mask. But honestly, this one's not that bad at all. They're either getting better, or I got lucky with this figure. The dark red detailing was clearly painted through stencils.

The one paint detail that did surprise me that was apparently done by hand were the little ridges at the base of the helmet on the sides. I've never seen this done by hand before, and I can't imagine why it was done that way here. Credit to whomever did it, they did a pretty good job, but this either took a preposterously fine brush -- not to mention a fine touch -- or maybe they used some of those skinny paint markers that are marketed for coloring in the lines on Gundam model kits...

Now, let's discuss the space gear. While it has been stated that it is possible for Clone Troopers to completely seal their uniforms, in the case of an attack involving gas grenades or some such, it's one thing to seal your uniform and hold your breath until you're out of a given area. It's another to try to survive in space. To the best of my knowledge, Clone Trooper uniforms do not carry their own oxygen supplies.

The basic space gear pack takes the form of a harness that fits over the chestplate and backplate of the Clone armor. I suspect it can be removed, if one so desires, by simply popping the helmet-head off and lifting the harness away. The back section of the space gear pack basically amounts to an extension of the squared off area on the back of the Clone Trooper armor, with somewhat different details. It's a good fit over it, but in and of itself isn't anything all that dramatic, although there's a little attachment hole in it that does serve an additional purpose which I will discuss in a few paragraphs.

The front section is another matter, and is far more ornate. It is a slight extension of the chestplate, but has more details to it. For one thing, there's a blaster holster there. Now, forgive me, but putting a weapon holster that close to what is no doubt some sensitive equipment necessary to the survival of the Clone Trooper just doesn't strike me as a very good idea, even if the blaster is thankfully not pointed at the equipment. Above the holster is a small regulator unit with a fair bit of nicely sculpted and well-painted mechanical detail. Two black hoses extend from this on either side, and meet slightly above on either side of a triangular mask that affixes to the lower portion of the front of the Clone Trooper's helmet. Precisely how the Clone Trooper breathes through his helmet I'm not entirely sure, but that's doubtless some sort of technical detail that's simply not addressed on the toy. I'm sure if it "actually existed", it would work just fine.

There's one more piece of equipment, that can be secured to that little attachment hole on the back of the space gear harness. It looks like a dual rocket jet pack! It also has a spring-loaded missile launcher in its center. What's amazing to me is that even with all of this stuff hanging off his back, it's still entirely possible to get this Clone Trooper to stand up on his own. This overall assembly is definitely the sort of thing that looks like it would be a lot more practical in the zero-gravity environment of space than on any planetary surface.

Along with all of the equipment that he's wearing in package, plus the additional backpack, the Clone Trooper comes with a missile for the backpack, as well as a blaster rifle. And somebody should suggest to Hasbro that they hire a proofreader, because the back of the package card proclaims, next to a picture of the fully equipped trooper -- REMOVALBLE GEAR! That's right -- "REMOVALBLE"...

The text describing the Clone Trooper himself is a little on the basic side, but gets the point across. It reads, "Clone Troopers are outfitted with additional gear when a battle calls for them to leave their ships and venture into the vacuum of space for an extended period of time. Wearing specialized breathing equipment, they can move through space to board enemy ships for attack or seizure." The accompanying picture shows two Clone Troopers of the same division as this one, based on the markings. That fancy shoulder piece is impossible to miss.

So, what's my final word here? Well, if you're looking for an interesting addition to your Clone Wars collection of Clone Troopers, you can't really go wrong with this guy. He has very distinctive uniform markings, and he comes with an equally distinctive assortment of equipment, for some very specialized combat. Additionally, he's a basic Clone Trooper -- he's not designated as any sort of individual, so you can "army-build" him to your heart's content and have an entire division ready for a space battle. I'm very pleased to have added him to my collection.

The STAR WARS CLONE WARS figure of the CLONE TROOPER WITH SPACE GEAR definitely has my very enthusiastic recommendation!