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By Thomas Wheeler

In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, we are treated to the adventures of heroes such as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi fighting alongside the Army of the Republic against the Separatists and their Droid Army.

Of course, there's an action figure line to tie into all of this, but the question needs to be asked -- how easy is it to build your own Army of the Republic?

Obviously to some degree this depends on how many Clone Troopers you can afford to buy. Certainly there's Clone Troopers available. However, many of these are specific individuals, such as Captain Rex, or they're specialized troopers, such as the Jungle Camo ARF Trooper. You don't want to build an entire army just out of these.

Fortunately, I discovered a recent Battle Pack that addresses this matter very specifically. In fact, the Battle Pack itself is called -- Army of the Republic. It features two standard Clone Troopers in all-white armor, as well as one representative each from the notable 501st Legion, and the 212th Battalion. I'm not sure if four Clones constitute an "army", but it's not a bad way to build one's existing ranks, all in one convenient package.

Let's consider briefly the background of the Army of the Republic, and these two divisions in particular, with a little help from the notable Star Wars informational Web Site known as Wookieepedia.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), also known as the Clone Army or Republic Army, was the main part of the armed forces of the Galactic Republic in its final years, becoming one of the largest armies ever assembled, although not as large as the Separatist Droid Army. After the Clone Wars, it served as the nucleus for the armed forces of the Galactic Empire.

It was created by the Kaminoan cloners on Kamino. It comprised two hundred thousand growth-accelerated clone trooper units and their war machines at the start of the Clone Wars.

After the initial engagements, over a million more clone units were added to the ranks of the army, followed by numerous additional divisions. The Republic spent much of its waning wealth on grand armies and fleets, making it one of the largest militaries ever assembled by the end of the war.

The template for the clones was the bounty hunter Jango Fett, whose only request in return, in addition to five million credits, was an unaltered clone by the name of Boba. After Jango's death, the Kaminoans had to stretch Fett's DNA to produce more clones.

At the beginning of the Palpatine administration (32 BBY), the Republic had no standing armed forces, though the debate about the reinstatement of an army and navy had been ongoing for decades. The only military forces were the Jedi, which kept peace for generations. The Jedi were no army though. At one time, the Republic's military forces were considerable, but in the wake of the New Sith Wars (1,000 BBY), a gradual process of down scaling began, in favor of increased support from the Jedi Order.

More and more often, the Jedi were called upon to act as negotiators with teeth. But as crises piled upon each other, some within the Order began to sense a coming darkness, which their numbers alone would not be sufficient to fight. The creation of a clone army was secretly ordered by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas without the knowledge or approval of his comrades, in response to the growing shadow in the Force, though his army was soon discovered by Darth Sidious who plotted to use the clone army and its emergency codes for his own plans.

Their first engagement would be at the Battle of Geonosis, where it successfully routed an unsuspecting droid army. However, this merely started off the much larger Clone Wars, in which the army took heavy losses.

However, some Jedi such as Bardan Jusik felt that the Jedi Order was actually using it as a slave army, since the clones were not allowed any leave or rest, and had to fight continuously. This eventually led to Bardan Jusik leaving the Jedi Order, disgusted by its actions in allowing the Republic to use a slave army.

Though the clone troopers fought under the Jedi for most of the Clone Wars, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine wrested executive control over the army from the Jedi late in the war, and used the clones to destroy the Jedi Order at the start of the Great Jedi Purge when he created the Galactic Empire on the eve of the war's end. Having declared himself Emperor, Palpatine quickly transformed the clone army into the Stormtrooper Corps and integrated it into the military of his new Empire.

After Order 66 and the Jedi Purge, this lead to a number of clones deserting from the Grand Army. Most of these clones were from the Special Operations Brigade, including the partial Omega Squad, Null-class Advanced Recon Commando and some Advanced Recon Commandos such as Captain Maze.

Before the end of the war, the Sector Governance Decree was issued, which placed governors on every world of the Republic, along with their own force of clone troopers. It also created the position of Moff or sector governor. Fearing for the future of democracy and the Senate's powers, this decision was one of several protested by the Delegation of 2000, but they were overruled. Governors and their clone regiments began arriving on their designated worlds soon after.

The total amount of clones involved in the war is not known, as their ranks were bolstered by new stocks and volunteers as the fighting dragged on. With the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Grand Army of the Republic ceased to exist and was reorganized into the Imperial Army. All military personnel of the GAR were required to swear allegiance to the new government in order to remain on active duty and those that refused were branded as deserters and traitors after which they were hunted down and executed.

During the Galactic Civil War, clones of Jango Fett's lineage made up about one-third of all stormtroopers in the Galactic Empire, but it is not known how many were left from the Clone Wars by the start of the Galactic Civil War. Due to the influx of non-Fett clones and regular humans into the army, the Fett clones, such as Commander Cody, viewed the Stormtrooper Corps as an embarrassment to the legacy of the Grand Army of the Republic.

But, during the time of the Clone Wars series, the Clone Troopers are still viewed as the good guys, and this certainly pertains to the action figure line.

So, how are the figures? Extremely impressive. There are two basic Clone Troopers in the Army of the Republic Set. They are wearing white armor, unmarked by any division emblems or colors, and better still, unmarked by any sort of battle weathering. Honestly, this is one of the reasons I sort of got away from the movie-based line, and into the Clone Wars line. The figures are generally cleaner. Nothing whatsoever against the movie-based line, and it's certainly produced some cool Clones. Interestingly, each side of the Star Wars line has produced some Clones that the other side hasn't gotten around to -- yet, anyway.

Curiously, entirely clean white Clone Troopers are not easy to come by in the Clone Wars line. The first individually-sold Clone Trooper in the Clone Wars line was intended to be a plain white Clone Trooper, but unfortunately, the figure was given an overwash of watered down black paint, in order to make him look --- battle-worn.

Now, I realize that this is a war. It's a dirty business. And I realize that the Star Wars universe tends to have a "used" look to it. One look at the Millennium Falcon is proof of that. But the Clone Troopers certainly don't step out of the Kamino processing facility looking scuffed up, and I'd just as soon they don't step out of the toy factory looking like that, either.

Generally speaking, plain white Clone Troopers -- clean ones -- have tended to be part of multi-packs, or sold with various vehicles. I've been able to round up a few here and there for my collection, and I'm sincerely glad to be able to add a couple more to my own "Army of the Republic" here.

These Clone Troopers are wearing the original style of Clone Trooper helmet, with the T-shaped visor, which was introduced when the Clones themselves were in the Episode II movie. I'll get into more figure specifics when I take a look at all four figures as a group. Now, let's consider the --

501st LEGION - The 501st Legion, also known as the 501st Battalion during the Clone Wars and later known as "Vader's Fist" and the Five Hundred and First, was an elite unit of clone troopers commissioned by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during the Clone Wars that later became a stormtrooper unit. Made up of units like Torrent Company, the 501st fought in many battles, such as the Battle of Teth and the Battle of Coruscant, becoming one of the most well-known legions. In 19 BBY, the 501st became Darth Vader's personal unit as he led them during Operation: Knightfall, in which the clones helped take down the Jedi, whom they believed to be traitors to the Republic.

Following the rise of the Galactic Empire, the 501st transitioned into a stormtrooper unit, like all other clone units. Given new armor and weapons, the 501st faithfully served the Empire, operating under the direct command of the Sith Lord Darth Vader. After the Battle of Kamino, the 501st became the last remnant of the Grand Army of the Republic fully composed of Jango Fett clones, as opposed to the ever-growing and more diverse Stormtrooper Corps, where the Fett clones became a minority with the inclusion of a pool of clones from different templates and birth-born recruits.

The Legion fought in a number of battles during the Galactic Civil War in an effort to defeat the Rebel Alliance and bring peace to the galaxy, although the Alliance ultimately triumphed. Though the 501st was disbanded after the Battle of Endor, the Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn resurrected the designation by forming a new 501st Legion. He also added more diverse recruits to the 501st, including non-Humans. (That must have made for some interesting armor accommodations...!)

The reconstituted 501st was stationed in the Unknown Regions, where they protected Thrawn's Empire of the Hand. Over a century later, the legion was in the service of a new Empire, by then under the rule of Emperor Roan Fel.

When Fel was deposed by Darth Krayt shortly after the conclusion of the Sith–Imperial War, the 501st Legion fell under the control of the Dark Lord of the Sith in the year 130 ABY. Seven years later, however, Fel returned from exile and joined in the war against Krayt in order to reclaim his throne. Under the leadership of General Oron Jaeger, the 501st deserted the Dark Lord's Galactic Empire in order to join the Fel faction.

The 501st is also an organization of Star Wars fans who construct their own armor. They participate in a wide range of charitable works, and even marched in the Rose Parade a couple of years ago. Giving their name some official sanction in the Star Wars universe was a nice gesture on George Lucas' part, even if they were the guys who took down the Jedi Temple and everybody inside.

However, during the Clone Wars, they fought alongside the Jedi same as the rest of the Clones, and there is one representative of the 501st in this set.

So, how's the figure? Very nicely done. Certainly the 501st is a well-known battalion within the Army of the Republic, certainly more so than most, and as such is well-deserving of inclusion into this particular set.

The figure is essentially the same as the other Clone Troopers in the set, except for his armor markings. The 501st Legion is known for dark blue markings on their armor, which in this particular case can be seen around the visor on the helmet, a stripe across an indentation on the back of the helmet, the fin on top of the helmet, and broad stripes down the arms, including the backs of the gauntlets, and the elbow pads.

Finally, let's consider the --

212th BATTALION - The 212th Attack Battalion was a unit of clone troopers under the leadership of Clone marshal commander Cody and General Obi-Wan Kenobi. Troops of the 212th Attack Battalion were distinguished by the orange markings on their armor. The 212th Battalion sometimes worked in conjunction with a second battalion. It was attached to the Third Systems Army and was part of the 7th Sky Corps. Divisions of the 212th Attack Battalion include the Ghost Company, 2nd Airborne Company and Parjai Squad.

Though commanded by Commander Cody, the 212th Attack Battalion was also led by High Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, who developed a friendship with the battalion commander during the Clone Wars.

During the Battle of Christophsis, Commander Cody and the 212th aided Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. After being breached unexpectedly by droid forces, it was soon revealed that one of their brothers was a traitor. Cody helped Rex hunt down the traitor. During the Separatist counter attack, the 212th Battalion, along with Torrent Company, helped beat back droid forces.

In the Battle of Teth, the battalion went with Kenobi to aid Anakin Skywalker and the remainder of Torrent Company, and later helped defeat the droid forces under command of Asajj Ventress.

In the Battle of Ryloth, Ghost Company helped Kenobi eliminate several proton cannons to allow ground invasion forces to land. After encountering starved gutkurrs, the squad created a diversion while Kenobi and troopers Waxer and Boil helped the general destroy the cannons, and the Acclamator assault ships were able to land. The invasion forces were able to land, and marched to the capital city of Lessu and liberate the planet from Separatist enslavement.

On Cato Neimoidia, General Kenobi, Commander Cody, and the elite Squad Seven breached Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray's fortress and secured vital data that began the hunt for Darth Sidious.

When General Kenobi was tasked with tracking down and eliminating the Separatist Supreme Commander, General Grievous, he took two battalions with him to the Utapau system—one of which was Cody's unit. Cody's commandos stormed Grievous's stronghold on the tenth level of Pau City, and kept his droid forces at bay while Kenobi faced the General himself in single combat. The clones would take heavy casualties in the battle, mainly due to the superior numbers of droids, but would eventually gain the advantage.

Although Obi-Wan defeated Grievous, matters took a turn for the worse when Darth Sidious transmitted Order 66 to Cody. An AT-TE walker opened fire on the general, sending him to his apparent death hundreds of feet below. The clones went on to destroy the remaining battle droid forces on Utapau, and, as per the new Emperor's orders, subjugated the planet.

Still, given Cody's feelings about the later Stormtrooper forces, he can't have been all bad.

So, how's the figure? Just as impressive as the other three, with his own distinctive markings, of course. The 212th was known for yellow-orange markings, and in the case of this particular Clone Trooper, they're identical in placement to that of the 501st. Only the color is different. Otherwise, he has the same stripe around the visor on the helmet, a stripe across an indentation on the back of the helmet, the fin on top of the helmet, and broad stripes down the arms, including the backs of the gauntlets, and the elbow pads.

I would surmise that these Clone Troopers may represent the relatively early days of the Clone Wars, when various divisions within the Grand Army of the Republic were staring to use individual colors and markings, but hadn't gotten all that creative with it yet. That would change as the war wore on, as we have certainly seen in the show.

Now, allow me to discuss all four figures as a group. Assembly of the figures is excellent. There's more than one set of Clone Trooper molds in existence, and fortunately, Hasbro used the best set for all four figures here. The figures are very nicely articulated at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles, also including swivels.

There's a second set of molds for Clone Troopers, that lacks ankle articulation, substitutes waist articulation for mid-torso, and has a sort of ratcheting articulation for elbows and knees. The figures tend to look more rigid in their stance, and they don't move as well. I honestly wouldn't mind if that set of molds was discontinued permanently.

I know that I have tended to prefer waist articulation over mid-torso, since there are some figures in some other action figure lines where mid-torso articulation just doesn't look very good. However, the Clone Troopers are definitely on the list of figures where it DOES look all right, thanks to the armor design, and it works superbly well. Really, the overall armor design accommodates being translated into an articulated action figure amazingly well.

Paint work is, for the most part, excellent. I've tended t be occasionally critical over hand-painted details on some of these figures, but I'm not seeing all that much of it on these four, and what there is of it has been very acceptably done.

Any complaints? Not really. A couple of the figures are a little awkward in a straightforward stance, but I think this is a result of how they were posed in their packages causing a slight warping of their limbs. Hopefully it's something they'll overcome in time. I do sometimes wish that toy companies wouldn't pre-pose their figures in their packages, but obviously various marketing departments think it makes for a more dramatic and "sellable" display.

There's certainly no shortage of accessories in the set. Several blasters, several rifles, and a huge, bulky weapon that comes with its own spring-loaded missile, all make sure these Clone Troopers are all properly armed for battle.

And, of course, the set includes a plastic die, battle stands, and cards to allow the purchaser to participate in the Galactic Battle Game that has been marketed in all Star Wars figures for some time now. But more than that, this particular set, and it does seem an appropriate set in which to include it, comes with a Battle Mat to aid in setting up and playing the game!

Previously, the only way to get a Battle Mat was to mail order one, which came with a mail-order exclusive figure by the name of Sergeant Bric (see my separate review). The Battle Mat that comes with the Army of the Republic Set isn't as large, and it's printed on paper rather than vinyl, but it will still work perfectly well, and might well make for an interesting adjunct to the larger mat, if you're fortunate enough to have it.

So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely pleased and very impressed with this set. "Army-builder" sets seem to be something that are few and far between in almost any action figure line that could accommodate them. I'm not entirely sure why this is. But this set is a really great army-builder set. You get two standard Clone Troopers, and one representative each from two of the most prominent distinctive divisions within the Clone Army. All four figures use the best set of molds out there, and come with a nice assortment of equipment. All of that, in my opinion, makes this a really great set for any fan of the Star Wars Clone Wars line to have.

The STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC BATTLE PACK definitely has my highest recommendation!