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REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS REPUBLIC TROOPERS BATTLE PACK
By Thomas Wheeler

Despite the entirely understandable emphasis on the re-release (in 3D) of Star Wars Episode I in 2012. I am pleased that the Clone Wars line of Star Wars action figures based on the popular CGI series airing on Cartoon Network is continuing. This allows me to continue building my own "Army of the Republic" with some new Clone Troopers, as they enter the line and as circumstances and availability permit.

One of the first featuring the new package design with Darth Maul's ugly mug in the upper right (at least there's no problem discerning the new packaging!). It's a three figure Battle Pack, titled REPUBLIC TROOPERS, and it features two individuals named Hardcase and Cutup, and a third Clone designated as a Bomb Squad Trooper, which in my opinion is vastly overdue for reasons that I'll get into when it's his turn in the review.

Obviously, I plan to address these figures individually, but there is a collective matter concerning all three figures that I want to address at the outset. As pleased as I am to have three new Clones in my collection, I was disheartened to see that all two of them used a set of body molds which I have long decried as inferior. The third uses the "Training Armor" body molds, but it has the same shortcomings. They lack the mid-torso articulation point, which actually works well on Clone Troopers given the armor design, and is more versatile than the waist articulation. Additionally, the elbows and knees have a certain "ratcheting" movement to them which hinders certain poses, and they have no ankle articulation. This can make it difficult to get them to stand up straight of their own accord.

I'm not sure why these molds have been chosen for more extensive use, but I seem to be seeing them, as well as some other shortcomings with other Clone Troopers in individual packages, which I will address as such time as I decide to acquire and review those figures. I find myself wondering a bit if these are less expensive molds to use. I am not blind to the economic circumstances in which we presently find ourselves, but my concern here is that this is the sort of "slippery slope" that it is difficult to backtrack from even if some of the reasons for it -- which I'll admit I'm strictly speculating about here -- should at some point improve. In short, I hope that this isn't just "how it's going to be" for all Clone Troopers from this day forward, regardless.

Now, let's consider the individual figures in this set. We have Clone Trooper Hardcase, who is a fairly standard Clone Trooper with admittedly some distinctive markings on his armor; Clone Trooper Cutup, who is outfitted in the Training Armor that we have thus far seen only on a Clone Trooper name Hevy in figure form, and a Bomb Squad Trooper.

The back of the package presents a superb illustration of all three figures being assaulted on all sides by a large number of Separatist Battle Droids, while they tend to a fallen comrade and while a second Bomb Squad Trooper works on defusing something or other in the background, with explosions going off all over the place. There's a little comment on the package.

Let's start with CLONE TROOPER CUTUP, as he has the shortest character profile, based on what I was able to turn up on him on the Web Site known as "Wookieepedia":

CT-4040, nicknamed "Cutup," was a clone trooper who served during the Clone Wars for the Galactic Republic. As a rookie trooper or "shinie," he was stationed at the Rishi moon listening station, an outpost to warn the Republic of an Confederate attack on the planet Kamino. Around 22 BBY, during a meteor shower, Confederate commando droids infiltrated the station and killed CT-327. Sergeant CT-19-7409 sent troopers Nub and CT-00-2010 to look for 327, however, both were taken by surprise and killed by the droids. CT-19-7409 ordered the other four clone troopers to signal the fleet before the battle droids killed him, although the droids jammed the signal. Cutup, along with fellow troopers CT-21-0408, CT-782 and CT-27-5555 escaped through a ventilation shaft. After coming out the shaft, which led them outside the station, Cutup was attacked and eaten by a Rishi eel.

Cutup was one of the many clones of Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett. He along with the rest of his squad underwent training on the planet Kamino where he and squad were doing very poorly. However after an encounter with Bric, a bounty hunter hired to train clones, he was able to work with his squad and they all graduated and shipped out to fight the Separatists

The escalating war demanded more troopers and many younger clones - including Cutup - were pushed into service in the Grand Army of the Republic. Cutup was stationed on a remote Listening post on the moon of Rishi, which was supposed to warn the Republic Navy in case of a Separatist attack.

Around 21 BBY, while Cutup, along with fellow troopers CT-21-0408, CT-27-5555, CT-782, Nub and CT-00-2010 were inside the station, clone trooper CT-327 was outside guarding the base. Inside the base, while Cutup was arm wrestling with CT-782 and lost, the clones entered a brief conservation with CT-21-0408 and CT-27-5555 about the boring work at the station. Sergeant CT-19-7409 appeared and informed them that some officers will come on an inspection. Soon, their long range sensors detected an incoming meteor shower. The clones raised the defensive shields, which blocked any meteors that land too close, although several striked in the crater plains outside. After a while CT-19-7409 didn't receive any contact from CT-327 and sent Nub and CT-00-2010 to search for him. Both troopers were taken by surprise as Confederate BX-series droid commandos, after they sliced the door open and killed both clones with blaster shots.

The other clone troopers recognized the attack and CT-19-7409 began fighting the droids. The clone sergeant ordered the other four troopers to signal the fleet that they are being attacked, but the droids jammed the signal. CT-19-7409 was quickly slain by the fire of the battle droids and Cutup, CT-782, CT-21-0408 and CT-27-5555 escaped through a ventilation shaft before the door was cut open. After leaving the shaft outside the station, the clones conferred about what to do. Then, a Rishi eel appeared behind Cutup, dragged him away and devoured him, killing him. The three surviving clone troopers were able to retake the station with help of Commander CC-2224 and Clone Captain CT-7567 who had arrived to inspect the outpost.

Cutup was a inexperienced rookie trooper and he was bored with working at the station. He challenged Hevy a lot, but they got along well. He also would aggravate Echo with Hevy, because the trooper was focused on protocols and manuals.

Honestly, some of these Clones die pretty horribly, don't they? The number of Clone Trooper figures I have of characters that have managed to get themselves killed is starting to border on the disturbing. Still, I think this may be the first one I have of someone who was -- eaten!

Anyway, how's the figure? Very nicely done. Although one would assume that Cutup wouldn't be wearing training armor out onto the actual battlefield, I'm pleased to see a second use of the Training Armor, previously only seen on Hevy.

The Training Armor looks like a slightly lighter version of Clone Trooper armor. The helmet is distinctly different, in that it lacks the top fin and much of the detail, and has a wider, translucent yellow visor in the center. The chest armor is similar, but more simplified, and only the front and back of the legs appear to be fully armored. The shoulder armor is actually somewhat larger, but there is no other upper arm armor in the uniform, and the gauntlets are somewhat different, as well.

The color pattern is very slightly different than Hevy's. Hevy has solid green ridged panels on his gauntlets, whereas Cutup has striped green and white. The markings are different, as well. Hecy has a large number "1" on his chest armor, and an even larger "1" on his back. Cutup has a large number "4" in these places. Hevy has the number "782" stenciled on his upper left leg, whereas Cutup has "4040".

It's interesting that these numbers are as intelligible as they are. There is an official Star Wars alphabet font, called "Aurebesh", which does have its own numbers, and they are not equivalent to the numbers we commonly use here on Earth. So how did this happen? Although I don't know offhand if there is any "in-universe" explanation for it, mine has always been that the Kaminoans use their own alphabet for designating the Clones, and their numbers just happen to strongly resemble our own.

Cutup's helmet is removable, and has the standard Jango Fett/Clone Trooper head underneath. The figure's articulation is generally excellent, allowing for the shortcomings I cited earlier, but I'm prepared to cut this one a bit more slack since it's a more distinctive mold. Cutup is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees.

Paintwork is excellent, and about the worst thing I can say about the figure is his helmet doesn't always like to stay put. His accessories include a long blaster rifle.

Now let's consider a Clone Trooper with a lengthier history, the one named HARDCASE.

"Hardcase" was the nickname of a clone trooper who served in the 501st Legion, a unit in the Galactic Republic's Grand Army, during the Clone Wars. Hardcase was present during a hunt for the Confederate General Grievous on the planet Saleucami around 21 BBY. With troopers Jesse and Kix, Hardcase joined Clone Captain Rex on the planet to search for escape pods that had been jettisoned from Grievous' crashed ship. After two commando droids injured Rex, Hardcase, Kix, and Jesse took the injured Captain to a nearby homestead to recover, while they met up with High Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was locating Grievous on the planet. Hardcase continued to serve in the 501st Legion on the Confederate-aligned world Umbara, where he participated in a battle alongside Rex and Jedi General Anakin Skywalker.

After the initial attack on the native Umbarans, another Jedi, General Pong Krell, arrived on Umbara and relieved Skywalker of his duties. Krell took over the leadership of Hardcase and the rest of the 501st troops, and wanted the clones to take over Umbara's capital city. A nearby airbase was resupplying the city's defenses, although after Hardcase and trooper Fives infiltrated the base, Krell's troops forced the Umbaran militia there to surrender, allowing the Republic force to fortify themselves in the airbase. Once Krell's battle group learned of a Confederate supply ship in orbit of the planet, Hardcase and Jesse joined Fives' mission of destroying the ship. The three clones used Umbaran starfighters to board the supply ship. Hardcase wanted to stay behind and destroy the ship's main reactor, while Fives and Jesse depart back to the airbase. Hardcase's actions destroyed the supply ship, although cost him his life as well.

When Hardcase was training on the planet Kamino, his commander told him that while he was growing in his cloning tank, the tank had a leak, resulting in Hardcase acquiring a hyperactive personality.

Around 21 BBY, during the Clone Wars, Hardcase served under the command of High Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi. Chasing after Grievous, Kenobi gathered a team of clone troopers, including Hardcase, to hunt down the cyborg General on Saleucami. After landing on the surface of the world aboard a Acclamator-class assault ship, Kenobi's battle group found the wreckage of Grievous' crashed landing ship, and Commander CC-2224, nicknamed "Cody," told Kenobi that the ship had crashed recently. Kenobi decided to split the group into two teams and ordered Captain CT-7567, nicknamed "Rex," to find the missing escape pods with troopers Hardcase, Jesse, and Kix, while he, Cody, and Crys stayed behind to go through the remains of the crashed ship.

After mounting separate BARC speeders, Hardcase and the team drove through the wetlands of the planet's surface in search of escape pods. Ahead of them, two commando droids were stationed on top of a hill overlooking the clones. Utilizing a blaster rifle, one of the droids shot Rex, knocking the Captain off his speeder. Jesse ordered Hardcase to turn his speeder around and protect the Captain, while he and Kix drove toward the hill from where the shot had been fired. Once the two droids were destroyed, Jesse and Kix rejoined Hardcase, and Kix took the opportunity to survey Rex's injury. He informed Hardcase and Jesse that Rex's injury was severe. Hardcase pointed out that the two droid commandos might have called for backup, and they needed to find shelter for Rex.

Noticing domesticated eopies, Jesse concluded that they were on farmland, which meant there was a homestead nearby. Kix attached a flatbed on the side of his BARC speeder and laid Rex on top of it, before the team drove off to find the homestead.

Soon, Jesse contacted Kenobi and informed the Jedi that Hardcase and the clone troopers had a visual of the escape pod. Grievous was the first to arrive at the escape pod, and Kenobi had already engaged Grievous' forces by the time Jesse's team arrived on their BARC speeders. As Hardcase, Kix, and Jesse fired their speeder's blaster cannons at Grievous' battle droids, the clones spotted an approaching Confederate shuttle in the sky, and Jesse warned Kenobi via comlink. After a nearby Republic AT-TE's guns overheated, Kenobi ordered Cody and Jesse to cover him as he raced toward Grievous. The two engaged in a lightsaber duel as the Confederate shuttle approached them, eventually coming to a hovering stop above the escape pod; Grievous fired his tow cable on the hull of the shuttle and fled in the vehicle. While Hardcase and Kix remained near Kenobi's AT-TE with other clone troopers, Jesse and Cody—aboard their speeders—returned to Kenobi after dispatching the remaining battle droids. The Jedi Master told both clone troopers to contact the Republic fleet and order them to send a transport to pick them all up.

Later in the war, Hardcase continued to serve in the 501st Legion. Under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, Hardcase was dispatched to the Confederate-aligned planet Umbara. The Republic task force sent there initiated an attack to the retake the world and capture its capital city. Aboard a Acclamator-class assault ship, which broke through the Confederate blockade in orbit of Umbara, Hardcase boarded a space gunship, while the clones' leader, Skywalker, boarded. Following Skywalker's lead, whose gunship had landed on the surface before Hardcase's shuttle, Hardcase and his teammates began their initial push against the Umbarans.

Not long after, a space gunship, flanked by two clone Z-95 starfighters, landed near Skywalker's team. The craft carried the stern Besalisk Jedi Master, General Pong Krell, who had been leading another clone battalion on Umbara. Krell told Skywalker that the Council ordered him back to the planet Coruscant immediately. Krell himself would then temporarily lead the 501st Legion on Umbara as an interim. After Skywalker acknowledged Krell, the Jedi Knight left aboard Krell's gunship, leaving the command of his troops to Krell. The stern Jedi Master informed Hardcase and the 501st troopers of his strict beliefs on standard protocol. Following his introduction, Krell ordered Rex to ready all clone platoons, and the teams began to follow the Besalisk Jedi through Umbara's jungle terrain, heading toward the planet's capital city.

To allow his troops to rest, Rex wanted his men to make camp, a decision that was not well received by Krell, who dictated that the platoons of the 501st were crucial to the Republic's success on Umbara. Without resting, Hardcase and the team made their way to the outskirts of Umbara's capital city.

After positioning themselves away from the Umbaran militia, Hardcase and the clone troopers resumed their firefight with the attacking Umbarans, though the Umbara natives began to retreat. Krell believed that his plan to take over the city was compromised and blamed the setback on Rex and his leadership. After a heated debate between Krell and Rex, the Jedi Master took note of the Rex's words, yet the Jedi Master dismissed him and wanted Hardcase and the 501st to continue carrying out his plan of taking over the city.

General Kenobi informed Krell that he was unable to take control of the Umbara capital city because its defenses were being resupplied by an airbase, which was located west of the city. The Jedi Master wanted Krell and the 501st to capture the airbase so that the city's supply lines could be severed. After their conversation ended, Krell ordered Rex to map out the coordinates of the airbase and gather Hardcase and the rest of the 501st troops. Overlooking the airbase on the top of a cliff, Rex noticed the gorge that led to the heavily-fortified base was narrow, which would force the troops to walk in single squads. Rex informed Krell that they could make use of reconnaissance to find an alternate secure path to the airbase, although Krell dismissed the Captain's opinion, as they did not have enough time to find another route. After Hardcase and the clone troopers regrouped at the bottom of the cliff, Rex wanted the men of the 501st to separate into two divisions—he would lead a group of troops, while Fives would lead Hardcase and the other division. While organizing, the clones began to openly speak about their current situation, and opposed Krell's reckless tactics.

Ultimately, the airbase was taken. After the Captain told the Jedi General of their accomplishments, Krell believed that it was luck that saved them, a comment that was dismissed by Rex, who claimed that many of his troops died to take the airbase. Likewise, Hardcase and the rest of Rex's team near him did not approve of Krell's belief.

Though they had captured the airbase, the Republic force did not control it entirely. In an attempt to retake their base, the Umbaran militia stepped up their attack against the Republic force. When both Hardcase and trooper Dogma informed Krell of the attacking insurgents, the Jedi Master wanted the two clones to reconfigure the airbase's security systems and lock them down, and if they needed to, interrogate their Umbaran prisoners. After Rex told Krell that Kenobi wanted to speak with him, Krell departed with Rex and Dogma, while Hardcase left the group to confer with Fives, who was repairing an Umbaran starfighter nearby. Before conferring with Kenobi, Krell's group had not realized a Confederate supply ship was giving the Umbaran capital city supplies. Once Kenobi told Krell and Rex of the ship, Krell wanted to attack the capital city with the remaining troops he had instead of attacking the supply ship. Not trusting Krell's plan, Fives wanted to use the Umbaran starfighters to sneak past the Umbaran blockade in orbit of the planet, board the supply ship, then destroy it.

Taking note of Fives' plan, Rex relayed the information to Krell, who disapproved of the plan, as he wanted all the troops to attack the capital. Rex returned to the troopers' barracks and explained to the others that they had to carry out Krell's plan of attacking the city. Fives, however, continued to persuade Rex, Hardcase, and the other clones present in the barracks that they could use the Umbarans' fighters to infiltrate the supply ship.

Ultimately, Fives defended his own plan and decided to carry it out. Despite Krell's orders, Hardcase and Jesse showed their support toward Fives' plan of using the starfighters. The Umbarans believed Hardcase, Fives, and Jesse's fighters were part of their battle group, which allowed the three clone troopers to fly to the Confederate supply ship unharmed. Once they boarded the ship, Hardcase and the group navigated their way through the ship's hangar hallways aboard their starfighters. After a group of battle droids arrived near the clones' starfighters and began to fire at the intruding fighters, Hardcase dismounted from his vessel.

Despite resistance from Fives, Hardcase ordered the trooper and Jesse to leave the supply ship, as he would stay behind and take care of the reactor. Taking a pulse missile tube that was detached from his starfighter, Hardcase maneuvered around the ray shield to enter the reactor room. As Fives and Jesse began to retreat toward the supply ship's exit aboard their starfighters, Hardcase rammed the missile tube on the side of the reactor, which caused the missile tube to explode. The blast killed Hardcase and started a chain reaction throughout the reactor room which destroyed the supply ship.

Fives and Jesse avoided death and piloted their starfighters out of the supply ship and landed back in the airbase on Umbara. Though they had taken out the Confederate supply ship, which crippled their enemies supplies in the Umbaran capital city, Krell told Fives and Jesse they had committed a crime, and were to be sent to the Grand Army's court-marital for their actions. However, when Krell later wanted the two clones executed for their crime, the Jedi Master was revealed to be against the Republic. After a battle between Krell and the clones, Krell was killed for his treasonous acts, and Fives and Jesse lived.

As a clone trooper, Hardcase's head was clean shaven and sported several tattoos; on the right side of his head, Hardcase had a tattoo that began under his right eye and ran to the top part of his head. His chin also featured similar markings. Hardcase favored the adrenaline-rushing battlefield and had the urge to seek action wherever possible. Because of this, the gun-happy Hardcase was described as a hyperactive clone, who devoted himself to fight when a firefight broke out.

On the field, Hardcase used a Z-6 rotary blaster cannon. Like Jesse and Kix, Hardcase's Phase I clone armor sported light blue markings. Sometime during the Clone Wars, Hardcase switched to the second phase of the clone armor. Much like his Phase I counterpart, the armor set featured blue markings.

Actually, his history is more involved than that. That's the edited version. What the heck, given how quickly we lost Cutup, I thought I'd give Hardcase a break. And at least he died in battle.

So, how's the toy? Very nicely done. The figure sports the "Phase I" armor, with the helmet and visor design first seen in the Star Wars Episode II movie, although the "Phase II" armor is becoming increasingly common in the animated series, as well as the figures. This is the armor with the helmet design as seen in the Star Wars Episode III movie. Obviously, Hardcase lived long enough to make this transition, although this figure reflects an earlier version.

The light blue markings are surprisingly ornate. The area around the visor is striped in blue, as is the top of the fin over the head. There is a curved line, like an inverted "U", on the forehead, and further lines on either side of the front of the helmet.

The narrow blue lines also appear on the upper torso, more or less outlining the chest, with a sort of double line that continues to the side. Also, the recessed area of the back of the helmet is painted blue. It's really a very distinctive pattern that I don't recall seeing on any other Clone Troopers.

The figure is decently articulated, although I maintain my belief that this is the lesser of the available body molds. Hardcase is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. The helmet is not removable, so don't go looking for a bald tattooed head under it. The figure comes with a standard blaster pistol.

Now, let's consider the figure that I really consider the highlight of this set -- the highly distinctive BOMB SQUAD TROOPER.

Why am I so pleased that we have a figure of this? Two reasons. First of all, it's an extremely distinctive Clone Trooper armor color pattern. Secondly, this particular Clone Trooper division has existed in the Star Wars LEGO line for somewhere in the vicinity of a year! And we're just NOW getting a standard action figure of it!?

Don't get me wrong. I like Lego just fine. It's an enjoyable and highly imaginative and creative toy, and I would recommend it for any child. I had a huge supply of it when I was a kid myself, and that was before Lego became themed around any number of in-house or licensed concepts. You bought a pack of bricks and had to make up your own stuff, which I was quite adept at doing. If I had to recommend ONE toy product to encourage the imagination and creativity of a child, it would be Lego.

That said, I don't collect Lego these days. So to see this Bomb Squad Clone Trooper, every time I walked past the Lego section in a couple of local retailers, on my way to the action figure aisle, knowing I wasn't going to find a Bomb Squad Clone Trooper there, was just a little annoying.

When I first became aware that there was going to be an actual Bomb Squad Clone Trooper figure -- well, often my reaction to new Clone Trooper figures might be, "Hey, cool!" In this case, it was, "It's about time, already!"

Let's consider the background of the Bomb Squad Clone Trooper:

Clone ordnance specialists, also known as bomb squad troopers, were specialized clone troopers in the Grand Army of the Republic, trained in ordnance disarmament and disposal. In 21 BBY, four bomb squad troopers were deployed on Naboo when the Republic discovered a secret Separatist laboratory, where the scientist Nuvo Vindi had built dozens of bombs that would release an airborne version of the Blue Shadow Virus. The bomb squad troopers, alongside several standard clone troopers led by Jedi Generals Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, attacked the Separatist laboratory to disable the virus bombs and free a pair of prisoners. During the resulting battle, Vindi activated the virus bombs, but the bomb squad troopers managed to deactivate the bombs before they could detonate, while Skywalker and Kenobi captured Vindi. However, as the bomb troopers were guarding the captured bomb store, Vindi's assistant droid sneaked past the guards and reactivated a bomb, causing the explosive to detonate and leak the Blue Shadow Virus throughout the laboratory. Skywalker and Kenobi however, were able to find a cure on the planet Iego.

Clone ordnance specialists were trained to disarm and dispose of bombs and explosive devices. This was the most dangerous job in the army and it required a gentle touch, steady nerves and a sense of how machines work from the troopers. The troopers served during the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems. Besides deactivating bombs, bomb squad members would also safeguard stores of disabled bombs in hostile conditions, such as during the middle of a battle. Bomb squad troopers wore phase I clone trooper armor, customized with orange markings and a insignia on the left shoulder to signify their bomb disposal role.

In 21 BBY, Republic Senator Padmé Amidala and Gungan Representative Jar Jar Binks discovered a secret laboratory in the eastern swamps on the planet of Naboo, where Confederate scientist Nuvo Vindi had created an airborne version of the deadly Blue Shadow Virus. Shortly after sending a message to Naboo Security Captain Gregar Typho, Amidala and Binks were captured by the Separatist battle droids. However, when Amidala and Binks disappeared, Captain Typho alerted the Republic about the situation on Naboo, and Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were dispatched by the Jedi Council to rescue Amidala and destroy the Blue Shadow Virus. The Jedi took several clone troopers of the 501st Legion with them, as well as four bomb squad troopers.

Aboard several Low Altitude Assault Transports, the Jedi's strike team arrived at the eastern swamps, searching for the missing Amidala and Binks. Upon discovering Vindi's laboratory, the Republic forces attacked. While Skywalker's Padawan Ahsoka Tano—along with the clone troopers and Captain CT-7567—distracted the battle droids, Skywalker left to rescue Amidala and Binks. The Republic strategy was successful: The bomb trooper squad and Kenobi reached the room and found the virus bombs deactivated. However, at the moment when the troopers arrived in the bomb inventory, all the bombs were activated by the fleeing Vindi.

While Kenobi left the inventory to help Skywalker in the capturing of Vindi, the clones began disarming the bombs. After the scientist's capture, one virus bomb was taken by Vindi's private droid, however, Senator Amidala managed to find the droid and recover the bomb. After taking the virus bomb, Tano left Amidala to alert the bomb squad troopers. The bomb squad successfully disarmed the bombs before Vindi remotely detonated it.

However, one bomb squad trooper found out that a Blue Shadow Virus vial inside a bomb had been removed. Vindi's assistant droid inserted the vial in a bomb and detonated it, spreading the Blue Shadow Virus in the laboratory. Skywalker and Kenobi, who were outside of the laboratory when the explosion occurred, obtained a cure for the virus on the planet of Iego.

Bomb squad troopers carried DC-15A blaster rifles with them as protection. As a sidearm, they also were equipped with DC-15s blaster pistols as well as explosive sensors, ion probes and defusing tools like wire cutters to slice the detonators of bombs. This tool was used to great effect on Naboo, as bomb squad troopers disabled dozens of virus bombs with their cutters.

Bomb squad troopers first appeared in "Blue Shadow Virus," the seventeenth episode in the first season of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. The bomb squad troopers later appeared in the eighteenth episode, "Mystery of a Thousand Moons".

So these guys go all the way back to the first season!? And we're just getting them now!? Well, at least we've got one.

So, how's the figure? Well, allowing for the articulation shortcomings of the molds used, he's really outstanding. Most Clone Troopers wear white, with a limited amount of somewhat individualized markings. This tends to make the Bomb Squad Troopers stand out that much more. That line about "orange markings" doesn't really do the design justice. The armor is significantly orange, possibly even mostly orange.

Although the figure has the basic appearance of a standard Clone Trooper, the helmet is mostly orange, with a white "diamond" shape around the face and on the back of the helmet. The shoulder armor is mostly white, as is the upper torso, although these have broad orange stripes on them as well, and part of the back has been painted orange. The lower left arm is mostly white, but the lower right arm is mostly orange. The lower torso and upper legs are entirely orange. The lower legs, that is, the boots, are mostly white, but have some orange trim on them, and the feet are mostly orange.

And it's a really bright orange, too. It's not neon, but it's not at all a subdued orange. If someone asked you for the most basic, bright, straightforward orange color you could come up with -- this is that orange.

The aforementioned emblem appears on the left shoulder armor. It's a black circle, with a black image in the center that looks like a missile-like bomb, with orange and red colors within the circle.

The paintwork on the figure is excellent. Nice neat lines and color divisions across the entire figure. Articulation is acceptable. The Bomb Squad Clone Trooper is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. And for an accessory, he comes with a standard blaster rifle.

My only real gripe is that this figure is essentially an army-builder -- and in my opinion a long-awaited one -- packed in a Battle Pack with two specific individuals. If Hasbro would care to release the Bomb Squad Trooper on an individual card, I would gladly buy a few more.

The Battle Pack also includes cards, stands, and a plastic die for the Galactic Battle Game, which is obviously continuing despite the package design change.

So, what's my final word? I'm impressed. I'd be a little more impressed if a better set of body molds had been used on Hardcase and the Bomb Squad Trooper, but I'm still impressed, and I'm certainly pleased especially with the Bomb Squad Trooper. The figures are all neatly made and well-painted. This is a cool set, which brings two individuals and a long overdue Trooper division into the Clone Wars collection, and I am certain that any Star Wars Clone Wars fan will welcome these figures.

The REPUBLIC TROOPERS BATTLE PACK from STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, featuring CUTUP, HARDCASE, and the BOMB SQUAD CLONE TROOPER, definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!