REVIEW:STAR WARS CLONE WARS ANTI-HAILFIRE DROID SQUAD BATTLE PACK
Although there seems to be a present emphasis on movie-related action figures in the Star Wars universe, especially commemorating the 30th Anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back" in 2010, the figures for the Clone Wars animated series also continue, and this includes a number of fascinating multi-figure "Battle Packs". One of these Battle Packs, consisting entirely of Clone Troopers, so of course it immediately garnered my attention, has been dubbed the "Anti-Hailfire Droid Squad".
The back of the package reads as follows: "Hailfire droids present a significant challenge to the Clone Trooper Army. They quickly establish a special squad to fight these rolling devastators. Bantha Squad includes specialists in heavy weapons, aerial recon, and demolitions. With these combined skills, the squad can pinpoint these droids and attack them with the weapons and firepower necessary to immobilize and demolish them early in any assault operation."
Now, I suppose one logical question to ask is -- what, precisely, is a "Hailfire Droid". The odd thing to me about a Hailfire Droid is that it doesn't look much like a Droid. It's not humanoid. It doesn't even resemble a fireplug. Honestly, it looks a lot more like a vehicle, especially given its size. But it is, in fact, a droid.
When it comes to Star Wars, the Web Site "Wookieepedia" is always an excellent source of information, and it has this to say about the Hailfire Droids.
The official name for the Hailfire Droid is the IG-227 Hailfire-class droid tank. They were constructed by Haor Chall Engineering for the Intergalactic Banking Clan prior to and during the Clone Wars.
Measuring 8.5 meters in height, the Hailfire-class droid tank was a self-aware mobile missile platform capable of destroying enemy vehicles and entire platoons of enemy soldiers. It ran on large, hoop-like wheels on either side of the main armored command module, which enabled it to operate on almost any terrain at impressive speed.
The Hailfire was well-equipped, with missile launchers fitted on each side of its head, with each missile rack carrying 15 guided rocket warheads powerful enough to cause significant damage to enemy targets. A well-placed shot with one of these missiles was enough to destroy a Republic AT-TE walker. Each Hailfire also had a retractable double blaster for use against infantry.
Hailfire Droids first appeared as part of the Separatist Army during the Battle of Geonosis, and as such they did appear in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. During this conflict, they disabled or destroyed numerous AT-TEs and injured or killed countless clone troopers before being destroyed by Republic gunships.
Interestingly enough, the Hailfire Droid has a couple of real-life counterparts, most notably the Russian Tsar Tank, designed in 1914. The tank never made it past the prototype stage, being deemed too unwieldy and vulnerable to enemy artillery fire.
Now, the Anti-Hailfire Droid Squad does not include a Hailfire Droid. But I think it helps to understand just what these Clone Troopers are up against. And there is a Hailfire Droid toy in the Star Wars line. I'm not sure of its present availability, but it should be possible to round it up somewhere, and you might as well make the effort, so these Clone Troopers have something to fight reflective of their designated specialty, besides the illustration of the one blowing up and toppling over on the background illustration.
The set of figures includes two Clone Troopers, an Aerial Recon Trooper, and an unnamed Clone Commander, all operating under the name of Bantha Squad. So, let's consider some background on Bantha Squad, once again with some help from Wookieepedia.
Bantha Squad was established by the Grand Army of the Republic as a response to the destruction of entire platoons in the Clone Army by Specialist Hailfire droids. Assigned to specifically target these droids, Bantha Squad included specialists in heavy weapons, aerial recon, and demolitions.
The commander of Bantha Squad was an expert in the use and application of heavy weapons and demolitions, uniquely qualifying him to formulate successful strategies against Hailfire droids. The troopers under his command used a modified version of the A6 Juggernaut (Turbo Tank)'s heavy laser cannon to bombard Hailfire droids with weapons fire before a final application of explosives.
Bantha Squad also included an aerial recon trooper that would monitor approaching enemy forces from the air and relay the location of Halfire droids to their squad members on the ground.
Bantha Squad clones were outfitted in standard Clone Armor, with light and dark green designs to mark their squad affiliation. The Clone commander wore extra plating on his helmet and body armor, and a kama for anti-blast protection against crippling injury as well as to signify his rank.
In addition to jetpacks, aerial recon troopers wore macrobinoculars on their helmets and carried special communicators to relay key tactical information.
Bantha Squad soldiers were issued the DC-15A blaster rifles, with the more compact counterpart, the DC-15S blaster carbine, assigned to the aerial recon trooper. Jetpacks featured built-in warheads, which caused devastating blasts against enemy units. The squad's clones were each equipped with utility belts, with the addition of holsters for the commander, who sported a pair of EE-3 carbine rifles.
So, with all that in mind, how are the figures? Well, the set as a whole is an astoundingly accurate rendition of Bantha Squad, all things considered, and pretty well all things WERE considered.
CLONE TROOPERS -- There's two of these guys in the set, and I have to say that their markings are very impressive. Green trim is not that common a color in the Clone Wars line, and the shades of green used for Bantha Squad are definitely not going to see them mistaken for Commander Gree and his boys from the 41st. Different color of green entirely there.
The dark green trim is a very dark green, and it appears on these two Clone Troopers around their helmet visors and across the back of the helmets, on their shoulders, elbow pads, knee pads, and part of their boots. The lighter green color is -- not the most appealing color of green I've ever seen. I suppose we could call it "sage" -- it's about the same light green color as certain Halo Spartan figures from that toy line. This green appears on the front of the helmets below the visor, below the dark green detail on the shoulders, on the abdomen, and is also the color of their utility belt.
There is a white insignia that appears on the left shoulder of the Clone Troopers, and is also present on the other two figures. Obviously, this is the emblem of Bantha Squad. But I'm not sure how much it actually looks like a bantha.
Overall, the armor pattern is very distinctive and dynamic, and is easily one of the more ornate among the various Clone Trooper divisions that have appeared in the action figure line thus far.
There's just one -- nagging -- little issue here. The two Clone Troopers use a set of body molds that I really wish would be retired as soon as possible. I've seen it used once before, for a Clone Trooper named Commander Stone, and to be perfectly honest, given how much better the main other set of Clone Trooper molds is relative to this one... well, it's not the best comparison in the world.
Most of the articulation carries over. The Clone Troopers are fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, knees, etc. The waist is articulated rather than the mid-torso. While normally I would prefer this, and honestly, it's an "either-or" option that works well enough either way, the Clone Troopers in general can get away with the mid-torso articulation better than most action figures, because it can be worked into the design of the armor.
But -- there are some flaws in my opinion. The arms and legs have these indentations in them, where the elbow and knee pads "lock" into place in the armor above them. This is both unnecessary, and doesn't do much to enhance the look of the figure. Visually, it cuts into the armor, and makes the figures look somehow more "rigid". Far worse, however, is the complete lack of ankle articulation. This can be exceptionally problematic if a figure is even slightly warped in the foot, as, unfortunately, one of these Clone Troopers is. I'm not saying they're all like that, but there's not much way to correct the matter, and if these figures were poseable at the ankle, as they should be, it wouldn't even be an issue.
Visually, the figures are perfectly compatible with any other Clone Wars Clone Troopers. And complaints aside, they look cool enough, and certainly have a decent range of articulation. But there's enough here that I really have to question the continued use of this set of molds, and possibly even its development in the first place.
AERIAL RECON TROOPER -- Now, here's a cool Clone. I think I see the other visual difference between this set of body molds, which is certainly the preferable one, and the previous ones. The arms and legs aren't quite as absolutely straight up and down, but the Aerial Recon Trooper does seem to have a more natural, realistic stance to him.
The color pattern on the armor is essentially identical to that of the Clone Troopers, except for the helmet. Along with having the macrobinoculars, which are colors in the same light sage green as some of the trim, the color pattern on the helmet consists of a couple of thick curved "swooshes" coming down the front of the helmet from the outer edges of the visor. It's a very cool design.
The Aerial Recon Trooper is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles (including a swivel). The helmet is removable, featuring a standard animated-style Jango/Clone head underneath. I generally tend to find removable helmets on Clone Troopers to be a bit pointless, but the Clone Wars series has shown that the Clones do manage to drum up some visual difference amongst each other with different hair colors and hairstyles, mostly. This particular Clone, though, has a standard head.
The other reason I never liked removable helmets in the movie-based line was because the helmets always ended up looking a little too big, relative to those figures where the helmet was the head. Interestingly, that hasn't been an issue in the Clone Wars line.
The Aerial Recon Trooper comes with a jetpack, of a type seen with a number of figures. It's the same light sage green in color as some of the trim, and has a sort of "placeholder" short missile, and a longer missile which can take advantage of the spring-action mechanism inside the jetpack itself. Technically, the missile is the trigger, since along its length is a small notch that hooks onto the base of the jet pack. Pressing the missile so this notch dislodges fires the missile.
The paint detailing on both the Clone Troopers and the Aerial Recon Trooper is well and neatly done, although there's a little chip of paint missing from the shoulder of the Aerial Recon Trooper.
CLONE COMMANDER - Now here is a very interesting figure. One sort of gets used to a certain almost inevitable sameness among the Clones. I mean, they're clones, they're soldiers -- it's no wonder they paint their armor or they'd really have identity crises. But this particular Clone Commander has more distinctive parts on him than any previous Clone Trooper figure I think I've ever seen in the Clone Wars line.
The Wookieepedia description of this unnamed Clone Commander states that "the Clone commander wore extra plating on his helmet and body armor, and a kama for anti-blast protection against crippling injury as well as to signify his rank." Well, brother, they weren't kidding about that extra plating on his helmet and body armor.
The Clone Commander has very heavy, ridged plating across the top and back of his helmet. This armor plating is painted in the dark green color common to Bantha Squad. He has huge shoulder pieces, also dark green, as well as a somewhat triangular addition to his chest plate. If these guys were going up against anything other than Hailfire Droids, this Clone Commander would probably be regarded as downright jumpy.
The rest of his armor is standard issue, although he does indeed have the skirt-like kama hanging from his belt, complete with two holsters. The kama itself is dark green. The abdomen of the Clone Commander is the lighter green, as are the knee pads of the armor.
The figure uses a good set of body molds, and the Clone Commander is fully poseable at the head (the helmet is not removable), arms, elbows (with a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees (with a swivel), and ankles (with a swivel). The kama makes him just a little back-heavy, but he can still stand up well enough on his own.
As for how I feel? This Clone Commander is a very impressive and very distinctive Clone Trooper action figure, quite possibly the most distinctive I've ever seen, and I'm really glad to have him. But I can't overlook some sloppy paint issues on him, and I sadly have to ding him a couple of points as a result. I'm not sorry to have him. I'm glad he's part of my collection.
As to accessories, the Anti-Hailfire Droid Squad set comes with everything these Clones need to deal with those over-wheeled horrors. Along with the aforementioned jetpack, there's a very impressive assortment of guns and rifles, from small to medium hand-held items to a really long rifle that is definitely going to take both hands. Add to that is the very large and impressive piece, the modified Turbo Tank heavy laser cannon, which in this case has also been modified to fire missiles with its built-in spring action feature. This is a very cool accessory, about the same size as a figure in and of itself, and weill certainly make an impressive addition to any Clone Wars battlefield set-up.
Among the additional accessories to be found in a small plastic bag underneath the diorama set are four battle stands, and four cards to be used in the new Galactic Battle Game that Hasbro has developed to accompany all Star Wars action figures for their current run. There's also a small die. I'm not really one for games that much, so I'm not going to try to explain it, although I will say that the cards are well made, with colorful illustrations, and assorted rankings in various things such as Force Ability, Battle Skills, Intelligence, and even Luck, with symbols that correspond to those on the die. There's one card for each figure.
So, what's my final word here? Paint problems aside, and the use of a set of molds that I'm not terribly fond of, and there are those that would argue that both of those comments amount to a certain nit-picking, this is really an impressive set. It's a distinct Squad of Clone Troopers in one convenient package, ready and armed to go up against their designated enemy. The Clones all have highly distinctive markings that makes them standouts in any lineup of Clone Troopers, and the Clone Commander is certainly one of the most uniquely designed yet seen in the line. Any fan of the Star Wars Clone Wars saga will be very impressed with this set, and very pleased to add it to their collection.
The STAR WARS CLONE WARS ANTI-HAILFIRE DROID SQUAD BATTLE PACK definitely has my very enthusiastic recommendation!