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By Thomas Wheeler

The clones just keep coming, but is that any real surprise? They're
clones! You can just make more of them!

The first Clone Trooper released as part of the Episode III - Revenge of
the Sith line was a nicely designed figure with excellent articulation,
who was equipped with a "Quick-Draw" action that sometimes
overcompensated a bit and tended to make the figure, if he wasn't
carrying a weapon, look like he was trying to hail a taxi. Still a decent
figure, but most collectors were waiting for a different Clone Trooper.

Late on in the Episode II line, Hasbro produced a "Super-Poseable" Clone
Trooper. While the articulation level of Star Wars figures had been
steadily rising over the past couple of years, this figure was really
outstanding. Even more articulation than most 3-3/4" G.I.Joe figures, and
most of that articulation rather cleverly hidden within the design of the
body armor. The figure was also very difficult to find. I only ever saw
one in the stores.

More recently, the Super-Articulated Episode II Clone Trooper turned up
as one of two figures included with a Darth Vader carrying case (that I
think was a Wal-Mart exclusive), and from Entertainment Earth in various
colored sets.

Hasbro also offered a similarly super-poseable Classic Trilogy
STORMTROOPER as part of their Vintage Original Trilogy Collection, the
series that was packed on remakes of the original package cards, and then
sealed in plastic protective bubbles.

So it's no surprise that while collectors, especially "army builders",
were pleased with the initial Episode III Clone Trooper, most were
prepared to wait for the Super-Articulated one that came in a later
assortment, that turned up just about the time the movie was released. At
least that's when I found him around here.

The figure is excellent. Not at all pre-posed, and while some might
expect that the figure would use the body mold of the Episode II Clone
Trooper, since the only real difference is the helmet, this is, somewhat
surprisingly, NOT the case! The copyright date on the bottom of the boot
of the Episode II Clone is "2003". The Episode III Clone Trooper reads
"2004". And that's not the only difference. Although it takes a fairly
close inspection, the details are more precisely sculpted in many areas
of the armor, especially on the right lower arm and the belt. It wouldn't
surprise me to learn that this figure uses SOME parts of the Episode II
Clone Trooper, and possibly from the other Episode III Clone Trooper,
like the helmet, but on the whole, it's mostly a new figure.

One distinct difference is the back. There's a slot in the back into
which a small antenna unit fits. I'm assuming this is some sort of
communications equipment.

The figure is rather lightly armed, coming with a short-barreled blaster
rifle. But he is supposed to be a fairly basic Clone Trooper, and that's
about all he needs to continue the conflict against the Separatists'
Battle Droids, or -- but if I finish that sentence, then I'll blow a
crucial part of the movie for you, and I don't want to do that if for
some crazy reason you haven't actually seen it yet. And you need to.
Trust me. This is the best Star Wars movie ever. Visually, I've never
seen anything like it within OR outside of the Star Wars universe. And
the storyline finally catches us up to the Classic Trilogy, and those
that were disappointed by Episodes I and II will not be disappointed
here. If it's still in the theaters by the time this review is posted --
believe me, I'm no fan of movie theaters myself. It takes a LOT to get me
into one. This one NEEDS to be seen on the big screen. So finish reading
this review and then find out when the next showing is.

Anyway, to continue. The Clone Trooper is advertised on his own package
as having "14 points of articulation." While that's technically true, it
unfortunately makes the Clone Trooper sound like he comes up a little
short compared to other highly articulated toys, like Marvel Legends or
whatever, which routinely advertise on the high side of 30. And granted,
the Clone Trooper is no Marvel Legends figure. But those 14 points of
articulation manage to do a WHOLE lot!

The figure has a ball-jointed head, allowing for a wide range of movement
that would normally give most people whiplash. He's articulated at the
shoulders, which move not only forwards and backward, but also outwards.
The elbows are articulated both with a forward-moving and rotating swivel
capability. The wrists are articulated. There's a mid-torso articulation
that lets the figure bend slightly forward and backward at this point, as
well as swivel around, doubling for waist articulation. The legs are
articulateed, and here is the only point where the figure comes up a
little short. The legs move forward, and a bit backward, but not outward.
Still, the armor design doesn't really allow for this too well, so I
can't fault Hasbro too much. The knees are articulated so that they both
bend and swivel, and finally the ankles, which also bend and swivel. So
like I said, those 14 points manage to make for a really poseable figure!

If I have one complaint about the figure, it's that Hasbro elected to
paint battle damage on it. I HATE this practice. Fortunately, it's not
too bad. It's not as though they dipped the entire figure in some sort of
dry-wash paint. It's really just a few streaks of stenciled-on tan
"dirt". And I've got some cleaners here that should deal with it rather
handily without damaging the plastic. I'm assuming that Hasbro mostly
wanted to differentiate between this Clone Trooper and the "Quick-Draw"
one, but given a choice, if they had to do this, they should've dirtied
that one.

And here's a friendly customization note: If you've seen the movie, then
you know that there's a wide range of color patterns given to certain
divisions of Clone Troopers. The Super-Articulated Clone Trooper is of
the plain white variety. As such, it should be reasily possible, with the
proper picture references (and there's some excellent official books out
there), to make just about any of the divisions. Granted, I wouldn't be
surprised to see Entertainment Earth do just that in a year or so, so you
might want to wait a bit.

Anyway, for those who are enjoying the current Star Wars collection, and
want to perhaps build a small army of Clone Troopers, the one you've been
waiting for is finally out, and he definitely has my strong recommendation!