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REVIEW:
STAR WARS MACE WINDU'S ATTACK BATTALLION
By Thomas Wheeler


There's a very old nursery rhyme out there. I remember my grandmother telling it to me. It went something like this -- "I never saw a purple cow, and never hope to see one, but if I should, I tell you now, I'd rather see than be one." Well, I've never seen a purple cow, but how about some purple-trimmed Clone Troopers?

Don't remember these from Revenge of the Sith? Small wonder. Hasbro made 'em up. When actor Samuel L. Jackson declared that he wanted a purple lightsaber for his Mace Windu character in Attack of the Clones, for what reason other than it setting Mace apart from the other Jedi and it maybe being Jackson's favorite color or something I really don't know, I doubt that he realized that Mace Windu would subsequently be identified very strongly with the color purple.

And let's face it, there's not a lot of purple in the Star Wars universe. I don't recall all that much. Wookiees aren't purple. Greedo wasn't purple. Arguably the most brightly colored aliens we've encountered are the female tentacle-headed Twi'Leks, and we've never even seen a purple one of them, even, although I suppose it's possible. And since this set came out, there was a purple-trimmed Galactic Marine in the Target "Order 66" two-packs that came with -- of course -- Mace Windu, and Wal-Mart even offered a purple R2-style Astromech Droid that was part of an exclusive assortment that was assigned to -- yep -- Mace Windu. Someone needs to have a talk with this Jedi about his color obsession...

Before the Clone Troopers became the Stormtroopers, sometime between Episodes III and IV, and they all got whitewashed for their trouble, it was common practice for their largely white armor to have some sort of patterning on it, in some specific color. The movie Revenge of the Sith clearly showed us Clone Trooper divisions with red trim, blue, yellow, green, orange -- and that pretty much covers the primary and secondary color spectrum. With one exception. Purple.

Although we never actually saw Mace Windu commanding a battallion of Clone Troopers in Revenge of the Sith, and while he actually met his end at the hands of Emperor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker, not as a result of being shot in the back by his own Clone Troopers, it's not unreasonable to assume that at some point over the course of the Clone Wars, Mace Windu was placed in charge of a battallion of Clone Troopers. It's also not unreasonable to assume that, given the color of his highly distinctive and unique lightsaber, if Mace had any say in the matter, he'd probably want his Troopers to have a similar color trim to their uniforms.

No sooner said than done -- at least in a nice boxed set of figures exclusive to Target. And while I tend to be fairly particular about the Star Wars figures I buy, and am by no means a completist, I do like to have the different variations of Clone Troopers, and the idea of purple- trimmed Clone Troopers was just too good to pass up.

The set was simply called "Mace Windu's Attack Battallion", and was given the following explanation: "In a stunning move, the Separatist Droid Army has descended upon Coruscant! Mace Windu leads a battalion of fearless Clone Troopers to battle the Droids. Mace makes short work of the Super Battle Droids as his battalion takes care of the leftovers with their powerful blaster rifles."

Curiously, the box also reads, "As seen on Cartoon Network", with the Cartoon Network logo. And yet these figures are not in the style of any of the Clone Wars animation, and I don't offhand recall any purple- trimmed Clone Troopers in that series. The set includes Mace Windu, a Clone Commander, and three Clone Troopers. Let's consider these individually.

MACE WINDU: Played in the prequel trilogy by Samuel L. Jackson, Mace Windu came across as a generally calm but no-nonsense individual who was completely devoted to Jedi ideals. He believed at the outset that allowing Anakin Skywalker to be brought into the Jedi Order was a mistake, and given the dirty look that even young Anakin gave him, it's maybe not surprising that it was the newly-Sith Anakin Skywalker that was partly responsible for Mace Windu's death. Granted it would not be hard to see Mace Windu as far too unyielding and not particularly friendly, but that doesn't mean he deserved to have his hands sliced off and be tossed out the upper floor of a Coruscant skyscraper.

The figure is -- okay. It's a Mace Windu figure with a rather annoying feature called "Slashing Lightsaber Action", which means the arms are deliberately loosely articulated so that he can appear to be wildly swinging his lightsaber. Turn the figure at the waist and his arms flail around a bit. I've said it before on other action figure lines -- any action feature that hinders the normal articulation of an action figure is NOT worth it.

Mace is wearing a decently made fabric Jedi robe that nonetheless appears to be about two sizes too big for the figure. He does come with a cool purple lightsaber, at least. It's not that bad of a figure, and there have certainly been worse ones (the open-mouthed screaming one leaps to mind), but I can only call this particular figure good, not great.

CLONE COMMANDER: This purple-trimmed Clone Commander isn't given an individual name, somewhat unusually, so we'll just have to call him Clone Commander. It's worth mentioning that the figure is identical to another figure, the Airborne Trooper, that was actually released a little AFTER this five-pack of figures! The Airborne Trooper, although the body is fairly close to a Clone Trooper, has a distinctive and interesting helmet. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit worth a darn. It has to be really jammed down over the head and then pointed downwards a bit to keep the "Jango Fett" head's chin from showing out from underneath.

Then there's the harness and "skirt" the figure is wearing, a one piece thing that included a couple of belts that go over the shoulder, a belt across the waist, and the tunic-like skirt. Hasbro, will you PLEASE put a few bucks into getting some paint stencils made for this thing if you're going to use it again -- because I have never seen such sloppy painting in my entire LIFE! The white paint across the belt is poorly applied and so thickly that is obscures a lot of the sculpted detail. The grey and silver detailing on the front of the belt is done by hand, and not well. Okay -- I'm a professional artist, and a nit-picker when it comes to this sort of thing. But the sloppiness of this one is beyond inexcusable, and Hasbro really needs to get off of this because I've seen kids -- KIDS -- in the stores walking away from Star Wars figures because of this problem. If this figure had been on an individual card I wouldn't've gone near it. I really thought we were getting past this, because the Clone Troopers (in a few paragraphs) are as impressive as they are. Even some of the trim on the figure itself has been pretty poorly done.

I know I gripe about this a LOT, but there really isn't any excuse for it. It's a serious problem affecting a lot more than Star Wars figures, and it needs to be dealt with, corrected, and eliminated. Fortunately, this is a problem that has since been corrected in Star Wars figures to a significant degree since I initially wrote this review.

Now, in fairness, the figure itself, apart from the harness and "skirt", isn't all that bad, helmet fit notwithstanding. Most of it is neatly painted, the articulation is excellent, actually far more than some Clone Troopers and Commanders, and I like the design and the color scheme. If there were some way to remove this reprehensibly-painted piece, I probably would, but I realize that that's not really how the figure was designed to be, and I don't see any clasps on this separate piece that make me think it is removable.

He also has a rather clever accessory -- a pouch that he wears on a strap over one shoulder that has a pistol hidden on the reverse side. And the pistol is removable, although it fits in very snugly. But still - the best rating I can give this figure AS A WHOLE is "fair", although 75% of the blame on that goes to sloppy painting on this separately attached piece, and the other 25% goes to the bad helmet fit. Both of these boil down to nothing more than carelessness from the factories. The figure deserves better, and so do the collectors.

CLONE TROOPERS: Okay, here are the real prizes of this boxed set, and you get three of them in the box. These are some of the coolest Clone Troopers I've ever seen. Honestly, the trim color almost doesn't matter, although that's pretty cool in and of itself. These three Clone Troopers are highly-articulated, highly-detailed, and very neatly painted. I see absolutely no evidence of sloppy, hand-painted detailing anywhere on these figures. And that is as it should be.

These Clone Troopers are wearing a small harness that almost looks like a precursor to the shoulder harness that would later become common for Sandtroopers. There's a small silver plate over one side of the chest, and an extra shoulder pad, done in a near metallic purple.

And that's another interesting aspect about these Clone Troopers' color scheme. Some of the detail work has been done not just in purple, but a very distinct metallic purple. There's a color you don't see very often. Part of the ridge on the helmet, the area near the mouthpiece, and some of the detailing on the belt and the knees, has been done in this color. The "standard" purple detaoling can be found on the chest, shoulders, belt, and boots of these Clone Troopers. There is a bit of grey striping on the arms and upper legs. Every bit of this detailing has been very neatly and properly done. And they also haven't been stunk up with any "dirtying" details!

These three Clone Troopers, and it's pretty cool that you get a sort of ready made, if small, "army" of them in this set, definitely gets a personal rating of "Excellent - couldn't be better - exactly as they should be!"

This set was available before Christmas 2006, and is long gone by now. But you might still come across one at a local toy show, or through some online collectibles store. My recommendation? If you can buy one in person, do so, and be sure you give the Clone Commander a good looking over.

For myself, I mostly wanted this set for the Clone Troopers. The Clone Commander was a colossal disappointment to me, a prime example of one of the biggest problems Hasbro needs to deal with across the board right now. And I'd been looking forward to him, too. Mace Windu's not bad, but he's not the main reason I bought this set. The Clone Troopers WERE, and they are spectacular, so I am not really disappointed with the set on the whole.

As such, and with consideration to the comments I have made in this review, the Star Wars MACE WINDU ATTACK BATTALION Battle Pack does have my recommendation! Good luck finding one at this point, but if you can, go for it! Especially if you're building a Clone Trooper army!