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REVIEW:STAR WARS CLONE WARS BATTLE PACK - CLONE TROOPERS AND DROIDS
By Thomas Wheeler

In the Star Wars universe, the Clone Wars are that period of time when there was an ongoing war between the Clone Armies of the Republic, and the Droid Armies of the Separatists. Okay, so they were all being duped by the Sith. That came later as far as the animated series is concerned, and that's where these figures that I'll be reviewing came from. But, given the basis of the Clone Wars, when a recent Battle Pack came out that offered Clone Troopers vs. Droids -- well, what could make more sense? Besides, I like the Clone Troopers. So I obtained the set.

The STAR WARS CLONE WARS CLONE TROOPERS & DROIDS set consists of two Clone Troopers representing the 327th Star Corps, a Super Battle Droid, and an oddball thing called a "Retail Droid", whose name actually does have an explanation, besides the astounding irony of a Retail Droid being offered for retail sale.

The text on the back of the package explaining the set is somewhat non-specific, which I found a little surprising. Usually, these sets designate a fairly specific battle event. But here, the text reads as follows:

"Clones and droids battle each other during the Clone Wars. Each Army - human and mechanical - builds its arsenal of skills and weapons throughout the conflict as new challenges arise. The clone troopers of the elite 327th Star Corps, under Commander Bly, clash with their robotic enemies throughout the entire span of the war. The troopers devise new combat strategies as the Separatists develop more powerful droids."

A reasonable explanation, if a little generic. It does mention under the text for the Clone Troopers specifically that the favorite nickname for droids among the Clones is "clankers". Not inappropriate.

So, let's consider the individual aspects of this set, starting with the Clone Troopers. As they represent the 327th Star Corps, I turned to the Star Wars based Web Site "Wookieepedia" for further details.

The 327th Star Corps was an elite corps of Clone Troopers during the Clone Wars. They were one of the most active units in the Grand Army of the Republic, and fell under the 2nd Sector Army and Systems Army Alpha.

The troops of the 327th Star Corps were distinguished by striped yellow markings running the length of their armor and, as a result of Clone marshal Commander Bly's ARC training, his troopers were allowed to don kamas and command pauldrons.

The 327th Star Corps was deployed for the first time at the Battle of Geonosis, and remained active all the way to the last days of the Clone Wars. Jedi General Aayla Secura was assigned to the Corps after her mission to Hypori. Due to his ARC training, Clone Marshal Commander By had misgivings about Secura's Jedi way of doing things, but over time he came to understand her strategies, and the two forged a close relationship.

Under the control of Secura and Bly, the 327th served as the Republic's spearhead into the Outer Rim Territories in the latter days of the Clone Wars. Their name was derived from the actions they engaged in on the Outer Rim, never seeing Coruscant and rarely stationed in one place for more than a week. The troopers of the 327th saw action on such diverse worlds as New Holstice, Arizat, Dromund Laas, and Honoghr.

The corps was deployed in full force during the Republic's five-month siege of Saleucami, which pitted the Jedi and their Clone Troopers against a massive Morgukai clone army. After this, the 327th were deployed to the Commerce Guild purse world of Felucia in an attempt to capture Presidente Shu Mai. Arriving aboard the Star Destroyer Intrepid, the initial days of the assault saw a string of success for Bly and his troops, despite the fact that Shu Mai managed to elude capture.

As the 327th pushed through the planet's southern hemisphere, Bly received Order 66 via a top-secret channel. Order 66 branded Aayla Secura and the rest of the Jedi as enemies of the Republic. Bly and his troopers subsequently killed Secura. Presumably, the 327th went on to capture Felucia, and continued the serve the Empire which succeeded the Republic.

Despite the fact that this entry indicates that the Troopers of the 327th were allowed to wear shoulder pauldrons and kamas, the skirt-like tunics that some Clone Troopers are seen with, the two Clone Troopers that come with this set are not thusly equipped. One might assume that they come from a time before Bly's ARC training had been given to his troopers to full effect, or that these two particular troopers are relative newcomers to the unit and have not yet earned the privilege.

Both figures are fairly straightforward Clone Troopers, but definitely have the yellow detailing denoting the 327th. They have yellow striping on their visors, the helmet fins, and down both arms. I was pleased to see this, as among the Clone Trooper figures for the Clone Wars line, the trim colors available across the collection seem to have neglected yellow a bit. It's a nice change of pace.

The figures are virtually identical, although one has a peg hole in his back that the other lacks. This is due to one of the accessories that comes with this set, which I shall discuss shortly. Apart from this, the figures seem to have common body molds, and it's the best set of them available for Clone Troopers in my opinion. There are several versions available.

This particular set allows for a superb range of motion at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso (an effect that works very well on these figures as it can be worked into the armor design), legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles. There's another set of molds out there that lacks ankle articulation and swaps out mid-torso movement for waist articulation. That part isn't too big a deal, but the lack of ankle articulation makes it difficult for them to stand up sometimes. I wouldn't mind seeing that set of molds retired, and I wonder why it was developed in the first place.

The Clone Troopers' helmets are not removable, but this isn't a big deal. Although the Clone Wars animated series has shown that, although all of the Clones have the same basic "donor" -- Jango Fett -- they manage to have some distinctive appearance through hair color, hair style, or facial hair growth, I don't really regard it as necessary for every Clone Trooper to be able to remove his helmet.

Let's consider the accessories. The Clone Trooper with the hole in his back has it there in order to accommodate a small missile-firing jet pack. The jet pack looks like something that could easily have been invented by either Jango or Boba Fett. The pack comes with two missiles, a short missile which is a "placeholder" as much as anything, and a longer missile which can take advantage of the spring-action. Technically, the missile itself is the trigger, since along its length is a small notch that hooks onto the base of the jet pack. Pressing the missile so this notch dislodges fires the missile.

The other accessory, which can almost be missed in the package if you're not careful, is a "Zip-Line" for the other Clone Trooper. It consists of a small grasping handle, and a length of black string with two mounting handles at either end. The thing is, the string is so woven into the backdrop display of the package, that you almost don't see it, and then sort of wonder if it's just decorative. It's not. It's intended as a functional accessory for the second Clone Trooper. Do not cut the string! It can be removed fairly easily by dismantling part of the backdrop -- which in and of itself is probably worth saving for display purposes, since it presents a nice illustration of a battlefield.

One other accessory note is that both Clone Troopers also come with blaster rifles. Doesn't do much good to be able to swing down or fly into action if you can't shoot something when you get there!

Both of the Clone Troopers are very well-assembled, highly articulated, and neatly-painted, although the black "undersuit" detailing is still apparently being done by hand, which can cause a little sloppiness from time to time, although these two aren't bad at all.

Now, let's consider the Super Battle Droid. In Star Wars Episode I, we were introduced to the Battle Droids. Rather gangly-looking creations, almost preposterously slender, they were nevertheless surprisingly effective combatants. They were also pretty dang easy for the average Jedi to slice into little bits. Understandably, the Separatists developed the Super Battle Droid. If one wishes to make a vehicular comparison, if the basic Battle Droids were Jeeps, the Super Battle Droid was a tank.

The Wookieepedia entry on the B2 Super Battle Droid starts off with a quote from a couple of Jedi. One says, "I see battle droids... and something else!" The other says, "Perhaps the Geonosians have upgraded the battle droids. These may be more formidable." Gotta love that Jedi capacity for understating the blindingly obvious...

The B2 Super Battle Droid was an upgraded version of the B1, with superior armament and armor. They were manufactured after the battle of Naboo proved the need for stronger droids. One fo the main design flaws of the standard B1 battle droid was its reliance on a Droid Control Ship to provide a signal. To remedy this, the super battle droid did not rely on such a signal and had a greater capacity for independence, although it still operated best with a command signal.

The most obvious aspect of the Super Battle Droid was its larger and more heavily armored frame, which offered much more protection from enemy fire. Small dual laser cannons were mounted on their right or left forearms. These forearms could also be replaced by rocket launchers.

The super battle droids were eventually able to express certain emotions, although they had catastrophic grammar. They possessed a more violent temperament than the B1 model, to the point that they would even strike down allied units in order to quickly intercept enemy targets.

The B2 super battle droid was designed by the Techno Union using the existing B1 design as a template. After the prototypes were successfully tested, Count Dooku struck a deal with Poggle the Lesser, Archduke of Geonosis, to mass produce them. During the Clone Wars, the droids would become an important component of the Separatist Droid Army. They participated in most battles in that conflict, including on Geonosis, Muunilinst, Coruscant, and Kashyyyk. Following the end of the Clone Wars, the B2s were deactivated, although they would turn up years later, used by the Galactic Alliance during the Yuuzhan Vong War.

So, how's the figure? Pretty impressive. For one thing, I'm impressed that something this top-heavy with such spindly legs can manage to stand on its own two feet -- and yet it can. This is not only remarkable given that the legs of this figure are totally lacking in either knee or ankle articulation, but even moreso given that the standard Battle Droid figures, of which I have several, have a heck of a time standing up on their own, at least those with similar articulation restrictions. There is more advanced version out there. And the B1's aren't nearly as top-heavy as this contraption. And yet, it stands just fine.

The Super Battle Droid is more or less humanoid in appearance, although it seems a little hard to find it's head. The head is basically the semi-rectangular ridge on the upper front of the torso, and if you study it closely enough, you can see a resemblance to the head of a standard B1 Battle Droid. However, except for this and the legs, that's about as far as the resemblance goes.

The torso of the Super Battle Droid is wide and massive, and is clearly designed to look as formidable as it truly is. You just know standard blaster fire is going to have only a limited effect against this thing.

The arms of the Super Battle Droid are large and powerful, distinctly larger than the legs. They end in claw-like hands. The arms have a surprisingly range of articulation. The arms not only move forward and back, but even outwards, a bit, something I would not have thought the design would have allowed for. They are also poseable at the elbows, including a rotation swivel.

The other remaining point of articulation is the mid-torso, which looks very good and works well into the design of the Droid. The immense torso tapers rather quickly into a fairly narrow waist, and there's a good junction point here where the articulation point can be built right into the design of the droid.

Super Battle Droids apparently come in a number of color schemes. This one is a sort of dark metallic brown-grey, with very pale grey, almost lavender stripes on its torso, arms, and upper legs. The torso stripe has a "V" shape to it. Specifically what this might denote about the droid I am not certain. Two ridged areas on the back are painted in yellow, and have some lettering in the established Star Wars alphabet, commonly known as "Aurebesh", also in yellow. Unfortunately I am not fluent in this alphabet, so I don't really know what it says. If nothing else, there's not enough letters for it to read "Made in China"...

Overall, the Super Battle Droid is an impressive addition to this set, and an impressive figure in its own right. Now, let's consider the so-called "Retail Droid". And really, the initial reaction one has to this thing is "What the heck...!?" The second reaction one has to this thing is that one sort of wonders if one of the reasons for the development of this Battle Pack, which otherwise features previously established figures, or molds, anyway, was in order to bring this robotic monstrosity into the action figure line, since it's way too big to have been carded on its own.

The Retail Droid stands significantly taller than any of the other figures, and its main body, if it were a hollow cylinder, would be big enough to stuff the better part of a Clone Trooper into, and that then doesn't count the lower torso, arms, and legs.

According to information on the back of the package, the official name for these droids was the LR-57 Combat Droid. This led me to information on Wookieepedia, which explains that they picked up the nickname "Retail Droid" in light of the fact that their creator was Retail Caucus.

The Wookieepedia entry goes on to say that these droids were primarily used as sentinels, since they could be left dormant for long periods of time while their sensitive antennae searched for specific types of signals, activity, or other disturbances, which then enabled the droids to be used as autonomous mines, despite the fact that they had blaster cannons mounted on their arms, as well.

Their best known part in the Clone Wars came during the Battle of Christophsis, their homeworld, in which orange-colored LR-57's were used as guards of an energy shield protector. Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano inadvertently stumbled into a droid minefield on their approach to disable the generator. Several of the droids broke through the ground where they had been waiting and met them in defense. Although they outnumbered the Jedi, their sluggish reactions made them easy targets. Half of them were destroyed by Skywalker, and the others were crushed by Ahsoka who pulled a wall down on top of them.

Retail Droids were also present during the battles of Tirahnn and Malastare. According to background information, their design was based on early concept art for the droidekas used by the Trade Federation.

So, how's the figure? Unfortunately not quite as well-balanced as the Super Battle Droid. Granted, it's a lot more top-heavy, and its legs are just about as spindly. There's an interesting leg design, a sort of double-hip, and there's an outward movement as well as back and forth, but it's still a little tricky to find a balancing point. It's not impossible, but generally speaking, the Retail Droid is going to end up pointed somewhat upwards. Maybe not entirely inappropriate given the airborne capabilities of the Clone Troopers, but even so, a little limiting.

The main body of the Retail Droid looks like a giant, futuristic, cylindrical drum. The entire droid is sort of tan-colored. There is metallic copper detailing on the drum-like body, which has two antennae at the front, along with what I assume is some sort of optical sensor. There are three huge grooves cut into the main body, through which are the mounts to the rest of the body. This has resulted in a rather remarkable articulation feature for this figure: the entire upper body rotates on these three groove mounts!

Two robotic arms, each with two blaster cannons at the end, are mounted to either side of the Retail Droid. Curiously, one of these arms is not attached to the droid in the package. It's included among some accessories that are packed separately under the diorama display. The arms do not have any elbow articulation, but their ball-and-socket attachment to the main body gives them a considerable range of motion.

The three torso mounts taper into a narrow, cylindrical lower torso. There is a sort of waist-pivot here, and the legs jut out to the sides.

Overall, it's an impressive contraption, if maybe just a little silly-looking. I still wouldn't want to be caught in an entire minefield's worth of them, though. The toy is well made and decently articulated, even if balance is a bit of an issue. Paint detailing is minimal, but is well done where it is applied, mostly on the copper detailing on the drum, the optical sensor, and red tips to the antennae.

I have to say I am very pleased that none of the four figures in this set have any weathering or dirtying on them. All are clean.

Among the additional accessories to be found in a small plastic bag underneath the diorama set, along with the Retail Droid's second arm, are four battle stands, and four cards to be used in the new Galactic Battle Game that Hasbro has developed to accompany all Star Wars action figures for their current run. There's also a small die. I'm not really one for games that much, so I'm not going to try to explain it, although I will say that the cards are well made, with colorful illustrations, and assorted rankings in various things such as Force Ability, Battle Skills, Intelligence, and even Luck, with symbols that correspond to those on the die.

So, what's my final word here? Hey, here's the Clone Wars in a nutshell -- or a Battle Pack, anyway. Crone Troopers vs. Droids. All of the figures are well-made, well-articulated, nicely detailed, and the Clone Troopers have some cool accessories with them. This is a very impressive set, that might even be regarded as a sort of "starter set" in some respects for someone wanting a bit of both sides of the Clone Wars.

The STAR WARS CLONE WARS CLONE TROOPERS & BATTLE DROIDS BATTLE PACK definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!