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By Thomas Wheeler

It could be argued, I suppose, almost by definition, that you can never really have too many clones. At the very least, Hasbro has seen to it that their growing selection of Clone Troopers for the Star Wars collection has been kept interesting. While the basic armor may remain more or less the same with certain notable exceptions, the various color patterns and background stories keep the collection interesting -- especially to those of us who enjoy "army-builders".

Fortunately, Target recently offered an exclusive five-pack of Star Wars figures that offered the opportunity to expand one's ranks of Clone Troopers with a new and interesting batch of figures.

Called BETRAYAL ON FELUCIA, the set featured Jedi Knight Aayla Secura, Clone Commander Bly, and three Clone Troopers. This was also one of the first Star Wars items that I can recall seeing that was in the new 30th Anniversary packaging.

We all remember this scene from Revenge of the Sith. Order 66 had just been given for the Clone Troopers, wherever they were stationed, to terminate the Jedi. In one scene, on a planet that frankly looked like a Hawaiian garden, Aayla Secura was gunned down by the Clone Troopers that moments before had been following her command. An apparently rather vicious bunch, they kept shooting well after she fell. The specific copy on the package itself reads, "The humid, forested world of Felucia is teeming with fungal life forms and enormous plants. Near the end of the Clone Wars, Jedi General Aayla Secura leads a mission to Felucia to rescue captured Jedi and stop a plot to poison the planet. Accompanying Secura is the 327th Star Corps of clone Troopers led by Commander Bly. As the team picks its way through the dense foliage, Bly receives a transmission to enact Order 66. In an instant, Secura is struck down by the troops she trusted with her life."

Let's consider the individual figures:

AAYLA SECURA - Described on the package as "One of the few Jedi to survive the Battle of Geonosis, Aayla Secura has led many campaigns during the Clone Wars. The athletic and graceful Twi'lek has no idea that this mission will end in a deadly and unexpected manner."

As the text says, Secura is a Twi'lek. They're a humanoid species that the movies have shown come in a wide range of colors. The first ones we ever met were in Return of the Jedi. Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt's aide, was a Twi'lek, and an apparent albino of his species, with pale white skin and pink eyes. Twi'lek's are known for having two long tentacles emerging from their head. Another Twi'lek in the movie was Oola, a dancing girl who met a rather grisly fate. She had pale green skin.

Aayla Secura was used extensively in the Dark Horse comics based on Star Wars, and turned up in the second movie, Attack of the Clones. She was known for having turquoise skin and for dressing rather minimally compared to other Jedi Knights. Rather than a robe, she wore a halter top and leather trousers. Fortunately, she could pull off this look.

The figure included in this set has a copyright date of 2004 on its boot, so I assume it's turned up before. However, it's an excellent figure. The design is good, the sculpting excellent, and the articulation is distinctly above average. Aayla is articulated at the head, arms, an upper arm swivel in her right arm, wrists, mid-torso (nicely worked into the design by this being the bottom of the halter), waist, legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles. Most of the articulation points are multi-directional. About the only area where she's not articulated is the elbows, and given her rather slender arms, this would've been tricky.

My one complaint about the figure is with regard to the paint. No, it's not sloppy, as is sometimes the problem. In fact it's very neatly applied. The problem is one aspect of the detailing. Somebody decided to spray a little bit of a pinkish overtone to her skin. This has unfortunately given Aayla a look that I can only describe as: "Okay, this is a human actress painted blue and after a few too many takes on the scene in the jungle the paint is starting to come off." And frankly, it's utterly pointless from two standpoints.

This is supposed to be Aayla, not the actress portraying Aayla. Secondly, there was never any indication anytime Aayla appeared on the screen that she was anything other than very purely blue -- a sort of turquoise, but I'll guarantee you that the makeup artists working on this Star Wars movie made sure that anybody who had to have their skin color changed received a very thorough job. Certainly Aayla was no exception to this.

But there was no indication of that sort of goof on Aayla, and for the figure to give evidence of something like this strikes me as pointless, and ridiculous. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it fairly seriously impacts the overall look of what is otherwise an extremely nice and well-articulated figure of this notably popular Jedi, which is a shame. It's a cool figure, don't get me wrong. But I'm going to look for ways to get this pink paint off.

CLONE COMMANDER BLY - First off, why would you trust someone named "Bly" in the first place? Anyway -- let's see -- we're going to a hot and humid jungle planet with huge flowers and fungus. Let's not only wear armor, let's load ourselves down with as much additional equipment as possible. This seems to be the case for Commander Bly as well as his Clone Troopers.

The text for Commander Bly on the package reads, "Clone commanders were part of ARC Trooper Alpha's advance training program that allowed certain clones to maintain a sense of individuality and independent thinking, critical to the role of leading the infantry forces in battle." Apparently that didn't include learning how to pack for a trip to a jungle planet...

Most Clone Trooper divisions distinguish themselves from one other with color-patterned markings on their otherwise largely identical armor. In the case of Commander Bly and his forces, that color is yellow-gold. Not a metallic gold, really, just a yellow-gold. It can be seen extensively on Commander Bly's helmet, a stripe on his torso, his gloves, and upper legs, along with a few smaller markings.

Commander Bly is also wearing the shoulder harness which looks like a precursor to what the Sandtroopers would later wear in the first Star Wars movie, and a somewhat ragged fabric tunic draped from his waist, held in place by an equipment belt. I honestly dread anytime this piece of equipment turns up, because it seems the paint detailing on it is always sloppy, but on Bly, thankfully, it's not too bad. At least not on this Bly.

He also has two small pistols in side holsters. While I can't quite see slapping a cowboy hat on him and putting him at one end of a showdown along some dusty street in a Western movie, he'd at least equipped for it. There's also a visor on the helmet that can raise and lower.

Bly is well articulated, better than some Clone Commander figures I could name (*koff* Cody *koff*) who have some trouble even standing upright at times. Bly is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, knees, and ankles, and isn't the least bit pre-posed. No waist articulation, which was a little surprising to me, but it's not at all a big deal.

On the whole, Commander Bly is an impressive figure, and a cool part of this collection.

CLONE TROOPERS - The text on the package for these guys reads, "The clone troopers in the 327th Star Corps serve with Aayla Secura during the Clone Wars, under the command of Commander Bly. The troopers have taken part in battles on many worlds including New Holstice, Honoghr, Anzat, and Saleucami."

One might get the impression that they're a little more advanced than the average Clone Trooper, becuse they're also wearing the shoulder padding and the tunics around their waist. But there's an interesting situation here -- one of the Clone Troopers is distinctly different from the other two. To a fair degree, but not precisely, one of them is a mirror image of the other two.

Two of the Clone Troopers have copyright dates of 2004 on the bottoms of their boots. They have a small equipment strap on their upper right arm. The shoulder padding that they wear has a color segment to the figure's right, and a small strap of pouches draped to the left. Their tunics have two long straps visible in the back, leading to a pair of holsters with blaster pistols (this whole bunch could've participated in the shootout at the OK Corral...).

The third Clone Trooper has a copyright date of 2005 on his boot. He has a small equipment strap molded into his upper left arm. His shoulder padding has a color segment to the figure's left, and a small strap of pouches draped to the right. His tunic, whole almost identical to that of his colleagues, is a little less ragged looking, and doesn't have the two long belts in the back, although it still has the two side holsters and pistols.

Additionally, this one different Clone Trooper has a removeable helmet with the "Jango/Clone" head underneath. The other two don't have this feature.

The markings on the three Clone Troopers are ALMOST identical, and reflect to a large degree their Commander. They all have yellow-gold stripes on their helmets, a vertical stripe on their torsos, gold stripes on their gauntlets, and on their shoulders, knee pads and boots. However, the one "different" Clone Trooper has a much wider stripe on his shoulders, and it's somewhat narrower on his torso.

Still, there's no question that all three Clone Troopers are part of the same detachment. I have little doubt that as the Clone Wars raged, troopers would be reassigned to different units, and maybe couldn't be brought up to quite the same "specs" as those that had been on the team longer. Even so, more than close enough.

But it does sort of beg the question as to WHY Hasbro did this. It wouldn't no doubt been far easier to simply make three identical Clone Troopers for this set. Why make one different? There's no real reason I can think of other than they just did it for the sake of a little more variety in the set, and I hasten to add that I'm NOT complaining. Honestly, I think it's a nice touch. As I said, there's certainly no mistaking that all three Clone Troopers are part of the same unit, and if one's a little different, that's kind of cool, actually.

I don't think one need worry about the little pistols coming out of their holsters, as they seem abundantly secure in their holsters. Honestly, I wasn't entirely sure they were removable. However, should they loosen over time, I recommend disarming the Clone Troopers, and Commander Bly, and stashing their hardware in a Ziploc Bag.

The other weaponry includes for blaster rifles, one for Bly and each of the Troopers, and of course Aayla Secura comes with a lightsaber.

The Betrayal on Felucia may have been a tragic incident at the close of the Clone Wars, but the Betrayal on Felucia set of Star Wars action figures is an abundantly cool addition to the Star Wars collection, as Star Wars celebrates its 30th Anniversary. The set is a Target exclusive, and supplies are likely limited, so I hope you can find one as of this writing. It definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!

Now let's consider another Clone-related Battle Pack that turned up at Wal-Mart recently. It's unfortunate in a way, but it's very hard for a toy collector to be surprised anymore. There are so many sources of information -- various magazines, Web sites, message boards, whatever -- generally speaking, a toy collector has a pretty good idea of what toys to expect on the shelves months before they come out.

But every once in a while, something slips through the cracks. Such was the case with this Wal-Mart exclusive Star Wars set.

Unlike most of the Battle Packs I'd seen, which consisted of around five figures and were packaged in a large, rather flat box, this Battle Pack consisted of two vehicles, two Clone Troopers (an immediate attention- getter in my book), and was packaged in a thicker, shorter box than the average Battle Pack. This Wal-Mart in question had two of this item in stock. I grabbed the one that looked to have the better paint job on the Clone Troopers. I didn't see the set anywhere else on the day, and we stopped at a lot of places. It was definitely a new set, since it was in the 30th Anniversary packaging.

The set is called TREACHERY ON SALEUCAMI, and it is based on one of those tragic scenes from Star Wars Episode III where the Clone Troopers are given Order 66, and start gunning down the Jedi.

You may recall a particular scene where a young female Jedi is zooming across a planetary surface on a Speeder Bike, with several Clone Troopers beside her. Order 66 comes through, the Clones drop back a bit, and open fire. The Speeder Bike crashes and the Jedi is killed.

The Jedi in question was named Stass Allie, and she was part of the Star Wars figure line a while back, and she came with her own Speeder Bike. But until now, they hadn't made the Clone Troopers that initially served under her command, and later killed her. That's what this set is for.

Regardless of how their commands went, I like Clone Troopers. And Hasbro certainly keeps turning them out. Fine with me, even if it is the occasional strain on my budget. And one thing I noticed about the Clone Troopers in this particular set was that they were very distinctive. The helmet design was different from any I had previously seen. The color trim on their armor was burgundy, and wasn't all that extensive. A bisected circle in several places, and a burgundy shoulder pad.

The package that this set came in provides some details on the planet Saleucami, but not all that much on the characters, and limited information on the Bikes. The text for the set itself reads, "The planet Saleucami is pockmarked with large craters created by meteors that hit the planet. This barren desert world becomes a place of conflict during the Outer Rim Sieges of the Clone Wars. The Republic ultimately wins the battle to secure this hot, dry world, and a small contingent is sent there to conduct mop-up operations, led by Jedi Master Stass Allie. She and two clones under her command are conducting one of their regular speeder bike patrols when Order 66 is enacted."

The two clones in the set include a specially-equipped Clone Trooper, and Clone Commander Neyo. The details for Neyo apart from reiterating the sequence of events that he took part in amount to "Trained by ARC Trooper Alpha". Well, that just wasn't enough. So I turned to the Web. One thing about Star Wars fans -- they will go into great and rich detail on any character that gets more than a millisecond of screen time, and Wikipedia is not a bad place to find those compiled details. On the subject of Commander Neyo, we have the following:

Commander of the Clone Trooper corps dispatched to Saleucami, Neyo
(CC-8826) and his 91st Reconnaissance Corps were instrumental in the victory over the Separatists. The multi-battalion taskforce was initially led by Oppo Rancisis, who died during the campaign and was replaced by Stass Allie. During the 5-month campaign, Neyo worked closely with Commanders Faie and Bly. Neyo and his men flew BARC speeders to give them extra mobility. Neyo wore distinctive body armor similar to the kind later used by the Clone assassins, although it is unknown if a connection exists between him and the elite special forces unit. Neyo was one of the first 100 graduates from Alpha's training program, and was perhaps the coldest and most laconic of his class.

The body mold used for both Neyo and the Clone Trooper are the same, and interestingly, the copyright date on the bottom of the foot reads 2003. That's technically before any toys for Episode III were produced, so one has to surmise that the body mold used for these figures is one of the ones for the Episode II Clone Trooper. No big deal there, since except for the helmets, there wasn't that much change between the movies, and it's the helmets that make these figures so distinctive anyway.

Commander Neyo is wearing a helmet that, unlike the typical Clone Trooper helmet, does not have a visor that tapers down the middle. Instead, it is angled eyeslits. The helmet was a broader "mouth" than average, and it seems higher placed on the helmet. The Clone Trooper's helmet is similar, but it also has a molded-in-place visor over the eyeslits. According to some online information about the Speeder Bikes themselves, since the Speeder Bikes were so fast, BARC Trooper helmets had a focus visor protruding from the front. This helped the trooper from getting distracted and accidentally crashing or colliding.

Why Commander Neyo doesn't have a similar visor is anybody's guess. "Laconic" or not, maybe the guy's just a showoff.

The set also includes two BARC Speeder Bikes. Speeder Bikes were made popular in Return of the Jedi, of course, in the dramatic chase scene through the forests of Endor. These Speeder Bikes seem larger, and perhaps more powerful than their "descendants". The text on the box reads, "Aratech speeder bikes provide clone troopers with the operational range, speed, mobility, and firepower they need to accomplish reconnaissance and scouting missions with greater efficiency during the Clone Wars."

Right below that there's the hysterical remark, referring to the picture of the two Clone Troopers on their bikes soaring across a grim planetary surface, "Product shown in fantasy situation". No kidding, Hasbro Legal?

Anyway, as long as I was looking up Commander Neyo, I decided to see what Wiki had to say about this particular brand of Speeder Bike: The BARC Speeder (Biker Advanced Recon Commando Speeder) was a fast and armed Speeder Bike used by the Clone Troopers and their Jedi Generals during the Clone Wars. Powered by a repulsorlift engine to keep it hovering, the BARC was piloted by special elite pilots called Biker Advanced Recon Commandos (BARC Troopers). Since the BARC moved at such a high speed, the BARC Trooper's helmet had a focus visor protruding from the front. This helped the trooper from getting distracted and accidentally crashing or colliding.

The front of the BARC speeder is not well armored. In the event of an anticipated crash, the BARC Speeder has an eject option. The BARC was the scourge of the skirmishes among the Separatist Droid Forces. it was armed with two powerful proton torpedo launchers and plasma blasters mounted on the back engines behind the pilot. BARCs were common for anti-personnel missions, and, along with their more heavily armored cousins, the Swamp Speeders or ISPs, accompanied troopers during battles as support. Many Jedi generals chose to ride into battle on a BARC speeder with their mounted platoon behind them.

"Biker Advanced Recon Commando"!??! Wonder if this was one of those times where the abbreviation came before the description.

The Speeder Bikes are pretty good-sized for use by 3-3/4" action figures. They're each 10-1/2 inches in length. As I said, larger than their later counterparts, which makes sense. The Bikes have a copyright date of 2005 on them, and after turning up a picture of the Stass Allie figure-and-bike set, just to verify what I already suspected, the bikes are identical to the one she came with, although the painted details are different. Stass Allie's bike has green trim. The Clones' bikes have dark red trim.

The Speeder Bikes don't really have any moving parts except for two retractable landing gears, but this isn't really a problem. They're still very well made, nicely detailed, and they look cool.

I, for one, am very pleased that I found and bought this set. It's even cool that it was something unexpected. That doesn't happen very often in the toy world anymore. And while the set may not be a surprise to you anymore, having read this review, it still definitely has my highest recommendation. If you're a Star Wars fan, or especially if you're a Clone Trooper collector, you'll definitely want to head to Wal-Mart and try to find the TREACHERY ON SALEUCAMI Battle Pack!