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By Thomas Wheeler

So everyone I knew that collected Star Wars figures was telling me how spectacular the new Commander Gree figure was. More articulation, an entirely new sculpt, more accurate to the movie character than the original, all sorts of things.

I admit, I was a little skeptical. Additional articulation didn't necessarily impress me. I've always been abundantly impressed with the amount and design of the articulation in any of the so-called "Super-Articulated" Clone Troopers. Frankly, I had two concerns that I suspected might have outweighed any advantages to the new Gree:

First, the figure had a removable helmet. Look, we KNOW what all the Clone Troopers look like under their helmets, and the problem with doing a removable helmet is that frequently, the head ends up looking pretty disproportionate when it's wearing the helmet. I didn't want to see that. And sometimes it's not the best fit in the world, either.

Second, a fair number of newly sculpted "human" figures (and a few droids) in the Star Wars line were coming up pretty short and skinny compared to their predecessors. The reasons this was happening were rather varied, and I won't get into them here, but the evidence was -- well, certainly evident here and there. The last thing I wanted was a short Gree.

However, I was being assured right and left that this new Gree was NOT short, that the additional articulation, especially in the upper legs, did not detract from the look of the figure, and neither did the helmet. Okay, maybe I should consider him. I started to see him in the stores, and as much of a side-by-side visual comparison as I could make, he didn't seem any shorter than a standard Clone Trooper figure, and the overall design did look very decent, and entirely compatible with existing Clone Troopers, which was the biggest factor of all for me. So, I brought a Commander Gree home.

A little character background. Commander Gree was in charge of the Clone Troopers on the planet Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld, under Jedi Master Yoda. This was one of the conflicts portrayed at some length in Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. It was also prominently featured in the video game Star Wars: Republic Commando. Here's a general overview of the battle:

Kashyyyk was considered a major navigation hub for the southwest quadrant of the galaxy, and as such it was strategically important system which had long been a target for the Separatist military. After a number of probing attacks throughout the war, the Separatists finally decided on a full-scale invasion of Kachirho, a city in the Wawaatt Archipelago. This was to serve as a literal beachhead into the rest of the forest-covered planet Kashyyyk.

The invasion plans were discovered by Republic Clone commandos, and the Jedi council decided that while the Republic's forces were spread thin, Kashyyyk was too important a system to ignore. Yoda agreed to go to Kashyyyk, as he was well known to the native Wookiees.

Prior to arrival of the Republic's main taskforce, a number of small black-ops missions were carried out by the Clone commandos of Delta Squad, including the rescue of Grey Rockey and General Tarrful, the destruction of the Separatist forest base (which was to serve as a beachhead for the Confederacy) and the destruction of an enemy-held bridge at Kachirho. Their missions helped lay the groundwork for the large landing of clone infantry and armor that would defend the city and also destroyed key Separatist positions and supplies that would have cemented a Separatist victory.

A detachment of the 501st Legion cut a swath through the Separatist blockade to make way for the reinforcements. After eliminating the enemy's frigate defenses, a boarding party managed to land in the command cruiser. While sabotaging the inside of the cruiser, the boarding party also came across a holocron containing the droid's ground battle plans. They were able to bring it back to their command cruiser. Using these plans, Republic tactitians set up a battle plan to counterattack the Separatist invasion. As the back bone of the invasion was NR-N99 Armored Tank Droids, powerful vehicles would be needed. Juggernauts and AT-APs were elected as the most capable vehicles. A contingent of Dwarf Spider Droids was also to take part, so AT-RTs were assigned as well.

Master Yoda went to aid in the battle as the overseer of the defense of the planet, and Luminara Unduli had brought with her the specialist infantry and light vehicles of Commander Gree's 41st elite along with a considerable amount of armor, consisting largely of Juggernauts and AT- APs. Also assisting in the battle was General Quinlan Vos, Commander Faie and their 191st Engineer Corps, arriving from Boz Pity. This force was integrated with the large number of Wookiee warriors and deployed amongst premade trenches and other defenses along the beachfront. Air support was also provided. Wookiee flying vessels, including the Gnasp Fluttercraft and the Oevvaor Catamaran, originally used for racing, fishing and other peaceful activities, were armed with machine guns and light cannons, providing a staunch air force. The army was led on the ground by the Wookiee General Merumeru and the Jedi Commanders Luminara Unduli and Quinlan Vos. Commander Gree and Yoda planned the defense from a command post high above the beach.

The Separatists also attempted to attack and destroy a key Kashyyyk oil refinery. The 501st, just touching down from the space battle, defended the refinery with the help of Yoda.

The Separatists launched their attack, making use of a large number of light amphibious Tank Droids, infantry carriers and MAF gunships to storm the beach in the hope of overwhelming the defenders. Also, they used the mighty HMP Droid Gunships to provide air support. Although there were agile Wookiee Catamarans and Gnasp flyers defending the planet, they were too lightly armed to battle the Droid Gunships. Hence, the Separatists ruled the skies. However, the Republic's entrenched positions and clearly more powerful armor seemed effective in repelling several days worth of attacks.

During the battle, Yoda conferred with the Jedi Council on the matter of Palpatine and his growing power. Mace Windu expressed concerns that Palpatine was plotting to take control of the Senate for his own ends. The council agreed that if Palpatine was discovered to be plotting against them, they should arrest him and take control of the Senate to ease a transition into a less corrupt body.

On Kashyyyk, Yoda felt the deaths of hundreds of Jedi as a consequence of Order 66 and a raid on the Jedi Temple led by Anakin Skywalker. Yoda was not actively participating in battle and as a result was not caught off guard when Gree and his lieutenant attempted to carry out Order 66. In a single swipe, Yoda beheaded Gree and the lieutenant with his lightsaber.

It's worth noting that popular character Quinlan Vos' adventures on Kashyyyk can be found in the Clone Wars trade paperbacks produced by Dark Horse comics. Definitely recommended reading!

So, okay, Gree didn't end well. I still like the character, and he certainly had a far more distinctive look than most Clone Troopers or Clone Commanders. Whereas most Clones wore predominantly white armor, the only white, and it was more of a pale grey, on Gree, was the upper part of his helmet. He had a bright green visor rather than a black one (night vision capabilities, perhaps? Useful on a dense forest/jungle world.), and his armor was mostly black, green, and green/brown camouflage patterned.

There were other differences. The most apparent of these differences was the presence of two straps, almost looking like suspenders, that went from Gree's belt over his shoulders.

Now, there WAS a Commander Gree figure, a couple of years ago. And in my estimation, it was a very good Gree figure. It had a proper level of articulation and a good color scheme. However, since it used the existing Clone Trooper body molds, the straps were merely painted on stripes. Any number of die-hard fans felt this was a cheap short-cut, and complained about this and what they felt were some other inaccuracies about the figure, based on a character who had certainly been one of the more notable Clones in the movie, and certainly had a highly distinctive look about him.

Honestly, I never had that much of a problem with the original Commander Gree figure. I was pleased to have the character in a reasonable figure form, given his prominence in the movie. But, apparently, someone at Hasbro decided that the time was right to do a more advanced and accurate Gree, and to see if a greater level of articulation could be added, as well.

Hasbro succeeded on all counts. And what we have here is an extremely impressive Commander Gree figure, and as such as extremely impressive Clone Trooper figure.

Now let me say right here that this is not in any way to put down any existing Clone Trooper figures, at least not those that use the best of the body molds available and result in the best level of detail and articulation. They're excellent figures, and I sincerely hope we haven't seen the last of them. I would tend to question whether the new Gree molds could even be used for any other Clone Trooper figures, given that the distinctive straps are sculpted onto the armor this time, not just painted on. This Gree may be an entirely unique figure. So be it. I'm very pleased with it, but please don't think that I am in any way displeased with the rest of the Clone Trooper force that Hasbro has produced. I'm very glad to have all of them.

With this new Commander Gree, we have a figure that made a priority out of, especially, two notable features -- Articulation and Accuracy in Detail. Let's discuss the articulation first.

It would not be unfair to call this figure "Super-Articulated Plus". One of the cool things about the Clone Trooper figures is that it's relatively easy to incorporate a considerable level of articulation, and blend it into the design of the armor so that it's really not all that evidence on the figure. You're not going to hide articulation points as effectively in a Jedi's robes, for example. And Gree has the same high level of articulation in most points as other Clone Troopers -- head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. Where Gree differs is especially at the wrists and legs. Most Clone Troopers have a wrist joint that only rotates. Gree's rotate, but they also have a second aspect of articulation that lets them move back and forth a bit, as well.

Then there's the legs. The loudest complaint about the articulation of Clone Troopers is that their legs are barely movable. This is unfortunately true. However, it's a result of the armor design, and to modify it too much to allow for greater leg movement would ruin the look of the figure. Granted, this isn't as big a factor for me, since my Clones all just stand around most of the time anyway. But I can sympathize with the complaint, and the dilemma of design.

Hasbro found a way to give Gree better leg articulation. Rather than go with the straight back and forth movement, which as a result of the armor design is extremely limited on a Clone Trooper, Gree's legs have what I would describe as more of an axial rotation. They move along a diagonal path, and so are able to move a greater distance, without ruining the design of the armor to accommodate the movement. There's a second articulation point in there, that I haven't quite figured out, that allows the legs to be brought inward somewhat the further "up" the leg is moved.

It's still a little strange-looking. By the time you've moved Gree's legs up to a sitting position, they're very widespread. Now, it is possible to bring them inwards a bit at this point, but the legs are still pretty spread out, and the upper leg armor looks like it's been turned sideways. Still, I have to admit, it's a far greater range of motion than any previous Clone Trooper figure has had. This is the first Clone Trooper figure that can actually sit down.

About the only other visual effect to this enhanced leg articulation is that Gree looks just a little large-hipped and maybe just a trifle bow-legged compared to his peers, when in a standing position. But it's not that serious.

Now, let's talk about accuracy in detail, both sculpted and painted. Here Gree is a true masterpiece. The straps on his torso have been sculpted. That little backpack piece with the antenna that a lot of Clone Troopers come with, and which has a nasty habit of falling out of its clipped in area, has been remade and glued into place. Gree has a few extra accouterments on his uniform, including a small weapon holstered to his left leg.

Let's discuss the paint detailing. This is where this figure could have really gone horribly wrong. While others have griped about articulation here and there, I've griped about paint neatness. I've seen one too many sloppy paint jobs in certain specialized Clones over the years. Thankfully, somebody was really paying attention to Gree. Which is a good thing, because he has a far more complex paint job than the average Clone Trooper. The green detailing on the helmet, including the bright green visor, is dead on perfect. The black and green upper armor looks excellent. The camouflage of the lower arms, lower waist, and upper legs is extremely intricate and very well done. I could do without the few little scrapes of weathering, but they're not at all extensive, and confined mostly to the helmet and shoulders.

Let me make a brief mention of the helmet. This is the last thing that could've really gone wrong. I generally don't like removable helmets because they end up looking too big when they're in place. Somehow, somehow, Hasbro made it so Gree's doesn't. It looks perfectly fine, and properly proportionate.

And heightwise, Commander Gree is just fine. He stands alongside any of the existing Clone Troopers and looks perfectly in place doing so.

This is a very impressive and, in my opinion, rather unusual Star Wars figure. Technically, a Commander Gree figure already existed. I'm not certain that Hasbro can get multiple uses out of these molds the way they have with the established Clone Trooper molds, although it's possible. I honestly think what we have here was some of the creative minds at Hasbro getting together and deciding to do the most ultimate Clone Trooper figure that they possibly could, and correct some of the perceived shortcomings of the original Commander Gree figure.

And in this, they succeeded resoundingly well, without compromising the coolness of the established and numerous previous Clone Trooper figures, which was also a concern of mine.

The new COMMANDER GREE figure from the Star Wars action figure collection most definitely has my highest, enthusiastic recommendation!