REVIEW: STAR WARS VINTAGE COLLECTION REPUBLIC TROOPER
It's no secret that when it comes to Star Wars, my main emphasis is on troopers -- Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers, that sort of thing. The armored figures are generally very well made, and -- at least until recently -- were among the best articulated of the Star Wars figures, and the articulation design worked well with the armor design.
I hadn't been one to collect the so-called "Vintage Package" design, that was designed to look like Star Wars figures as they were offered during the run of the Classic Trilogy -- complete with Kenner logos -- since I didn't really feel like paying for figures which I already had just because of a nostalgic card. Even though I'll admit to being old enough to remember when these toys came out on these packages the first time around...
But there was a group of these Vintage figures, that didn't quite make it out to the retail outlets -- which included an all-new Trooper from the era known in the Star Wars Universe as "The Old Republic". This figure is known as a REPUBLIC TROOPER, and when I saw the images of him, I knew I wanted to add him to my collection.
Let's consider a bit of what the Old Republic amounts to in the Star Wars universe, and then have a look at the Republic Trooper, and his figure.
In the Old Republic, which existed 25,000 - 1,000 years before the events of the movies, the Jedi are numerous and rule the galaxy, serving as guardians of peace and justice. The Tales of the Jedi comics series takes place in this era, chronicling the immense wars fought by the Jedi of old, and the ancient Sith. The Knights of the Old Republic series and the multiplayer online video game; Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place during this time, as well as the Darth Bane series. The Sith Era takes place during this time.
In the Knights of the Old Republic video game, The story of this game takes place approximately 4,000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire. Ex-Jedi Darth Malak, a Dark Lord of the Sith and Darth Revan's former apprentice, has unleashed a Sith armada against the Republic. Malak's aggression has left the Jedi scattered and vulnerable; many Jedi Knights have fallen in battle and others have sworn allegiance to Malak and Revan.
The game opens with the player's character—the player can choose a face and be male or female (canonically a male)—awakening aboard the Republic ship, Endar Spire, which is under attack by Malak's forces. The player's character gradually gathers companions and pieces together his or her past while attempting to stop Malak. While taking refuge at the Jedi Academy on Dantooine, the player's character learns to be a Jedi, discovers a "Star Map", and learns of the "Star Forge", the probable source of Malak's military resources.
The player's character and his or her companions search planets across the galaxy—Dantooine, Manaan, Tatooine, Kashyyyk, and Korriban—for more information about the Star Forge. Through the course of his or her travels, the player will eventually discover the character's true identity - the brainwashed Darth Revan, whom the Jedi Council on Dantooine took in and subjected to memory modification so that he would no longer be a threat to the galaxy. Darth Revan had been injured when attacking a republic planet because Darth Malak turned his guns on his former master. Because Bastila Shan was aboard Revan's ship with a Jedi strike force, she was able to heal him and bring him to the Jedi Council on Dantooine. Her actions lead to the force bond between her and Revan, which plays a role later in the game.
Depending on the character's alignment, upon ultimately reaching the Star Forge he or she either defeats the Sith (the light-side path) or usurps control from Malak (the dark-side path). A light-aligned character is hailed as a savior and hero; a dark-side character stands before the remaining Sith forces as the new Dark Lord of the Sith.
In the online "The Old Republic" video game, the story takes place shortly after the establishment of a tenuous peace between the re-emergent Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, 300 years after the events of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games, and more than 3,500 years before the events in the Star Wars films. The Jedi are held responsible for the success of the Sith during the devastating 28-year-long Great Galactic War (which led to the Treaty of Coruscant prior to the "cold war"), and thus choose to relocate from Coruscant to Tython, where the Jedi Order had initially been founded, to seek guidance from the Force. The Sith control Korriban, where they have re-established a Sith Academy. The game begins 10 years later as new conflicts arise.
So, where do Republic Troopers fit into all of this? Republic troopers were special forces of the Galactic Republic created to deal with threats from the Sith Empire following the Great Galactic War.
During the Great Galactic War, Republic troopers were deployed throughout the conflict against the Sith Empire which had returned from its long periods of exile. These soldiers fought in engagements such as the Battle of Bothawui where a detachment served under Jedi Master Belth Allusis who died heroically against the Sith onslaught. Their deaths served as an inspiration for the Galactic Republic who had previously been fighting a losing war and gave them hope due to the heavy losses they inflicted on the Imperial Army. Another squad of troopers also fought in the Battle of Alderaan when the Empire invaded the peaceful world.
Following the Treaty of Coruscant in 3,653 BBY, an uneasy truce was formed between the defeated Galactic Republic and the ascendant Sith Empire . In anticipation of future conflict in the event the truce collapsed, the Republic military began developing elite Republic Special Forces units to counteract the military might of the Sith. Members of these elite strike teams were selected based on their martial prowess, discipline and high morale.
In past millennia, the Jedi Order had participated in the defense of the Republic alongside regular military units. Over the generations, the Republic military had cooperated in military operations and strategy with Jedi. However, following the upsurge of anti-Jedi sentiment following the Sacking of Coruscant, the Jedi had withdrawn to Tython, leading to decreased Jedi presence within the Republic. Such developments led to the increased deployment of regular Republic forces in defending the remaining Republic territories.
They saw extensive service during the Cold War and were often deployed in small units to the most dangerous battle zones. When operating solo or in groups, however, the trooper could still be a terrifying opponent to the enemies of the Republic. Such was their reputation that they generated fear even among Sith combatants.
During the course of their career, troopers were able to specialize in different battlefield doctrines. One specialization adopted by certain troopers was that of the Vanguard. These soldiers went into the battlefield wearing unstoppable advanced heavy armor along with an utterly fearless attitude. They were among the first and best line of defense in the Republic military. They proved to be steadfast warriors who ignored personal risk whilst going into the line of fire in order to divert danger from allies or innocents. In combat, they had a tactical role which was inherently dangerous though Vanguards had uncanny survivability due to their expert defensive tactics along with the equally advanced technology at their disposal.
In contrast, the other specialization were Commandos who were trained in advanced assault tactics and weaponry. They charged into the battlefield where they made use of massive blaster cannons in order to devastate their enemies with overwhelming and brutal firepower. It was their high-powered hardware that allowed them to dominate the battlefield where they were capable equally of taking out enemy bunkers with focused firepower or driving back an Imperial assault with concussive bolts. Commandos were able to lay waste to all foes that fell within their range and many of the greatest victories of the Republic were attributed to the decisive actions of these troopers on the battlefield.
Envisaged by Republic military planners as the most advanced force in the Galaxy, Republic troopers were trained and equipped to face a wide variety of foes, environments and situations. Since the Great War, Republic engineers had developed heavier and more powerful blaster rifles. This trend inspired a galaxy-wide shift towards the use of more versatile arms. Since it took a great deal of strength and skill to operate these weapons, they were rarely used outside the military. Due to extensive action in the Great War and the subsequent Cold War, the Republic military was constantly pushed to design more powerful capable blaster rifles every year.
Their defensive armor was specially designed to provide maximum protection and flexibility for a wide range of environments. It was also capable of withstanding anything from laser fire to bomb blast. The design of their armor appears to have serve the basis of the armor donned by the clone troopers millennia later during the last years of Republic.
Troopers attached to Special Forces were known to be issued BT-7 Thunderclap rapid assault ships. With training and proper use of these powerful weapons,the Republic Troopers are an elite force to be reckoned with.
So, how is the figure? Absolutely outstanding. I think it's a real shame that this figure isn't more readily available than it is, because the Republic Trooper is a real show-piece of a Star Wars figure done exactly right, and as a trooper, is doubtless a figure that any number of collectors would like to "army-build" to some degree. Heck, I wouldn't mind a couple more of them myself.
The thing about the Star Wars universe is, unlike the Star Trek universe, or for that matter any other futuristic science-fiction space-fantasy tale that somehow makes use of Earth, the Star Wars universe can state that its spacefaring technology has existed for literally thousands of years -- and get away with it (and still claim that its stories happened "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...").
As such, there's no need for the Republic Troopers to look "primitive" next to their more contemporary "relatives" such as Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers. That they preceded them by several thousand years doesn't really matter here. They're still wearing very sophisticated-looking armor, that is very clearly the ancestor of the Clone and Stormtroopers that we know so well.
The helmet clearly resembles those of its descendants. There is a T-shape to the eyeslits, with a few extra notches in it. It has a very wide jaw/collar, and a visor over the eyeslits.
Somewhat to my surprise, the helmet is removable! This was actually an accidental discovery on my part while I was photographing the figure for this review. It surprised me, because generally I'm better than this at spotting removable helmets on Star Wars trooper types. But the helmet is such an excellent fit against the neck, and doesn't look the least bit oversized (an occasional problem with some removable helmets), that I didn't even think to check.
The head underneath the helmet looks more than a little like Jango Fett, despite the time period this character comes from. It's a human male, fairly tough looking, with short-cropped black hair, and a couple days' growth of facial hair. The head is very neatly and effectively painted. There's a little pale streak of paint along one side of the head that goes up into the hair. I'm honestly not certain if this is supposed to represent some sort of scar, or if it's just a paint glitch. I'd need to have another Republic Trooper to verify that, but since I plan to display him with his helmet in place, it's not that big of a deal to me.
The Republic Trooper is wearing a black undersuit, which works very well with the action figure design, as the undersuit parts can be located where the articulation is, and as such the armor design does not need to be "cut up" for the sale of articulation.
The armor is primarily white, but it is far more ornate than those of Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers. Carefully segmented lines of dark grey and a sort of brick orange are prevalent on every piece of the armor. What's especially impressive about this is that the armor is not just randomly painted. These are very specific, precise colored areas, many of which are actually sculpted into the figure, and then painted.
Moreover, they are just as impressively painted. The paint stencils for this figure must be some very interesting production equipment. Absolutely nothing on this figure looks to be hand-painted, which is as it should be. And the painted detail is astounding. Along with the very intricate, almost symmetrical camouflage, there is a dark gray band around the right boot, which has a series of white details. Another piece, a strap hanging around the chest of the figure, a separately molded piece, has several lines of the brick orange color painted into it. There are fine white circle outlines painted on the shoulders, and even these line up with sculpted detail on the figure. You can study this figure for an extended period of time and just keep finding more and more intricate, painted detail.
The strap across the figure's chest also includes an angular plate that fits over the left shoulder. This plate is dark grey with brick orange trim. The Republic Trooper also has two holsters, one on each side, to carry weaponry.
The Republic Trooper comes with three weapons: a blaster pistol, a small knife -- both of which would fit well into the holsters -- and an immense blaster rifle. I'd go so far as to call this thing a cannon. It's shoulder-high to the figure and looks like it would pack one heck of a kick. One hopes that blasters don't have a lot of recoil, or this poor guy is going to get knocked back twenty feet every time he fires it. All of this weaponry is very nicely made, distinctive to the figure, and very highly detailed.
Articulation of the Republic Trooper is just as spectacular as the painted detail. At a time when the main Star Wars line is actually cutting articulation, the Republic Trooper shows how things should be. This figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, including a rotational swivel, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, including a rotational swivel, and ankles, including a rotational swivel.
This is not the first figure in the Star Wars line representing the Old Republic. There have certainly been others. So your Republic Trooper will feel right at home. Even if you don't have any other Old Republic figures, however, he's still a good fit alongside any other group of armored Star Wars troopers.
So, what's my final word? If you're a fan of Star Wars action figures, you seriously need to track down this figure. I have dozens of Star Wars armored troopers, both of the Clone and Storm variety. I am pleased with all of them, really. But the Republic Trooper, I have to say, is a truly outstanding standout. Wherever and however you can track down this figure, I can promise you will be abundantly pleased with him. Or them, if you're really determined and fortunate enough.
The REPUBLIC TROOPER from the OLD REPUBLIC, by way of the STAR WARS VINTAGE COLLECTION, definitely has my highest recommendation!