This particular Clone Trooper was first introduced in the original animated Clone Wars series, I suspect because it was far easier to implement a cadre of them there than in any sort of live action.
Consider for a moment that between Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers, we have specialists for a great many different planetary environments. Sandtroopers are well-suited to desert environments, even if there's little visual difference between them and Stormtroopers. Snowtroopers were geared specifically for the frigid expanses of the planet Hoth, surely not the only "winter wonderland" of a planet to be found in the Star Wars galaxy.
But what about underwater? We know there are several aquatic-based species in the Star Wars universe. The Mon Calamari, such as Admiral Ackbar's people. The Quarren, perhaps better known as Squid-Heads. Kit Fisto's race, and indeed it was under Kit Fisto's command that the Scuba Clones appeared in the original animated series. So why weren't they ever in the movies?
Well, let's consider for a moment that underwater filming isn't the easiest thing in the world to accomplish. Just ask James Cameron. I'd say between "The Abyss" and "Titanic", the man's done his fair share. Now, that's not to say that there weren't underwater scenes in the Star Wars movies. In Episode I, we were treated to a trip to the underwater city of the Gungans, followed by a dramatic departure from that same city and the presence of some increasingly large and nasty wildlife.
But that was pre-Clone Trooper, and I have little doubt that there's a substantial difference between presenting the underwater Naboo equivalent of "Wild Kingdom", and staging a pitched underwater battle when Lucas already had the mandate out that he wanted all Clone Troopers to be CGI. That was doubtless enough of a challenge for the good people at ILM without having them do a swimming battle along with it.
So, the SCUBA CLONES would end up making their debut in the original animated Clone Wars series, and it would take a while after that for them to appear in toy form.
Precisely WHY it would take so long I'm honestly not sure, except perhaps that unlike most other Clone Trooper divisions, the Scuba Clones were different enough that they couldn't readily use that many previously established molds. To what degree that was honestly a factor, I can't be certain. It's simply a theory.
What is NOT a theory is how well-received this new Clone Trooper has proven to be. With the arrival of new Star Wars merchandise at most mass retailers, consisting of racks of new figures from both Clone Wars and the Legacy Collection, and no shortage of impressive new vehicles, all designed to latch on to a hopeful new resurgence in the popularity of Star Wars with the new Clone Wars series, the Scuba Clone has nevertheless proven quite difficult to come by.
I'm hopeful of adding a few more Scuba Clones to my collection. I'm not especially optimistic of doing so in the immediate future, but really, only one is needed for review purposes, so let's have a look at him, shall we?
As I said, the existence of underwater-specialized Clone Troopers makes good sense, when you consider first of all the other specialized Clone Troopers (or Stormtroopers), and secondly when you consider the specialized nature of certain planets with sentient life inhabiting them.
However, in some respects, the Scuba Clones are going to have to be even more specialized than most, and indeed they are, and it gives them a more distinctive visual appearance. The case in point is this -- Can you wear a suit of protective armor in an arctic environment? Yes, of course you can. Can you wear a protective suit of armor in a desert environment? Certainly. You might hope that said armor in either situation includes some sort of internal heating or cooling elements, but wearing the armor isn't really going to impede your ability to carry out your duties any more than it would in any other less extreme environment.
But underwater? Brother, you'd better be one heck of a swimmer. Wearing a suit of armor in a large body of water -- probably not the best idea in the world. And somebody along the way of Clone Trooper Specialties figured this out, and designed the Scuba Clones accordingly.
The Scuba Clone is not as heavily armored. He is wearing a helmet, torso armor, and high gloves and boots. However, his upper arms and upper legs are not armored. They reveal the somewhat ridged black undergarment that I assume is standard issue for most Clone Troopers.
The helmet design is definitely from the Episode II era, or early days of the Clone Wars, as evidenced by the single narrow eye-slit as opposed to the somewhat more open and almost two-eyed approach of Clone Troopers from Episode III (which frankly I prefer). However, the bulk of the helmet is black, like the undergarment, with only the faceplate and helmet ridge being in the traditional white. Furthermore, rather than spreading out into a "mouth" near the base of the helmet, the vertical part of the visor tapers inward to a breathing mask with two hoses that attach to an oxygen backpack (more on that in a couple of paragraphs).
Even some aspects of the armor are different. While the shoulder pads and torso seem to be pretty much "standard issue", although the torso looks a little thinner, the backs of the gloves and boots, while otherwise fairly standard in appearance, have very distinct fins on them, not unlike, but more pronounced than, the fin on the helmet. Looks like they took a lesson from Aquaman here or something.
The Scuba Clone comes with two swim fins for his boots. These snap simply onto the peg holes in the bottoms of his feet. Unlike a typical swim fin, which might have three "webbed toes" in it, these fins have only two. Still, I'm sure every but helps.
Which brings me to the backpack. This is a fairly large, sort of trapezoid-shaped apparatus, with two holes hear the top for the oxygen hoses attached to the breather mask on the helmet to fit into. To either side of this backpack are two short wings, with two missile-like jets attached to them. There's a fair bit of markings on these, with the Imperial symbol used on the backs of the wings, and a strange sort of sea-serpent-like creature marked on the sides of the jets.
Interestingly, the jets are removable from the backpack. I'm honestly not sure if this was part of the toy's assembly, or is intended to represent an actual function of the figure. If the latter is the case, I would surmise that it is possible for the jets to get the Scuba Clone to the scene of a battle quickly, and then be jettisoned when they have run out of fuel, or perhaps even used as some sort of torpedo. Meanwhile, the main backpack would remain in place and continue to serve as the Scuba Clone's oxygen supply. This is all purely speculation on my part.
The articulation of the figure is excellent. The helmet is not removable, which is fine with me. There's only so many times a person really needs to see Jango Fett's face before we get the idea already. The Scuba Clone is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. Most of the articulation points have a multiple range of motion, swivels and pivots as well as the usual back and forth motion, giving the Scuba Clone an excellent level of articulation overall.
I would only comment that the Scuba Clone I picked up seemed a little lopsided in the torso, and was reluctant to be "centered". I don't think this is a common problem with all Scuba Clones. At least one other individual with whom I communicated online didn't report a similar situation. I'll want to buy at least one more Scuba Clone before I rule it out as a common problem, however. It is correctable, but I remain a little concerned about stress on the plastic of the articulation joint.
The only other item of note is that the copyright date on the bottom of his foot reads "2008". Proof, if any further was really needed, that this is an all-new Clone, and the first such in some time, really.
The Scuba Clone does not come with a lot of accessories, at least that he's not supposed to be wearing. Technically, the backpack and the swim fins count as accessories, but he will usually be wearing these. He does come with a huge rifle, almost as long as he is tall. Part of me wonders how effective such a huge weapon would be underwater. Then again, I have absolutely no idea what the effect of an underwater environment would be on light-based weapons such as laser blasters, and frankly, Star Wars has taken more than a few liberties with certain laws of physics anyway, so who cares? It's an impressive weapon regardless.
The newly designed package cards don't give really extensive biographies, although for the Scuba Clone, it does state that these troopers accompanied Kit Fisto when the Republic sent military support to the Mon Calamari, who were under attack by the Quarren. It's worth mentioning that you can also get a Mon Calamari Warrior and a Quarren Soldier in this same assortment, so all you'd really need to do is dig up a decent Kit Fisto figure and you can restage the whole battle if you want.
The Legacy Collection also features a new element in the Star Wars collection. It's called "Droid Factory". Each figure comes with a part or two with which to construct a droid, and for these first assortments, they're all Astromech Droids. Which means I'm likely to be trading for parts. The Scuba Clone comes with the head and center leg of an Astromech Droid called R4-J1, who appears to be a green and beige Astromech Droid with the sort of trapezoidal-shaped head, rather than the more familiar dome. Droids like this were seen in the movies.
So, what's my final word here? Regardless of my opinion of the style of the Clone Wars characters, and my dislike of the "Legacy" name, I am sincerely pleased to see a new resurgence in the Star Wars toy world. While I will continue to be rather particular about who and what I pick up, and imagine I will continue to have a distinct preference for the realistically-styled Troopers, Star Wars as a whole remains an immensely cool and impressive concept that deserves to fare well in all of its various forms -- movies, books, TV shows, and of course, toys.
Certainly the Scuba Clone Trooper seems to be a popular fellow, if online reports and my own experience with this first one are any indication. Hopefully he will remain available for some time, and become a little less difficult to obtain. His popularity is certainly understandable, and those seeking him should not give up. This is an extremely impressive figure that will be a welcome addition to any Clone Trooper action figure army, and any Star Wars figure collection.
The STAR WARS SCUBA CLONE TROOPER definitely has my highest enthusiastic recommendation!