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By Thomas Wheeler

Store exclusive toys are nothing new. I think the first one I ever encountered was a G.I. Joe item at Sears, in the early 1980's. These days, it is not at all uncommon for Walmart, Target, and Toys "R" Us to have exclusive items in any number of different toy lines from different companies -- Transformers, WWE, DC Universe, and of course, Star Wars.

But somehow, it does surprise me when Kmart gets in on the act. In fairness, and meaning no insult, Kmart is not as strong a retailer as they used to be. And yet they do manage to secure a fair number of exclusives, especially, it seems, in Star Wars.

So imagine my surprise recently when I found myself in a Kmart, and here was a Star Wars Clone Wars exclusive figure that I was completely unaware of. Cooler still -- he was a Clone Trooper. Or more precisely, he was a Clone Trooper captain. Obviously, he came with me to the checkout stand on my way out of the store.

When it comes to Star Wars, I have a definite preference for Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers -- as well as the occasional Astromech Droid and Mandalorian. I think they look cool, they're designed well, the articulation design works well with the armor, and of late, I've tended to have a distinct preference for those based on the Clone Wars series. They tend to be more numerous, more diverse, and honestly, relative to some of those emanating from the Saga Legends line, less "battle-damaged" looking, something I'm not terribly fond of.

I'm sure I don't need to extensively explain the Clone Wars animated series to anyone reading this review. It's the superb CGI animated series airing on Cartoon Network, produced by LucasFilm, that fills in the time period between the live action Episode II, in which we were first introduced to the Clone Army of the Republic, and Episode III, in which Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, and the order was given for the Clone Troopers to exterminate the Jedi Order. The series has been hugely popular and deservedly so, and has certainly expanded the ranks of Star Wars characters, Clone and otherwise.

I have amassed a fair-sized Clone Trooper collection from the Clone Wars line, even though I got a bit of a late start on it and wish I could do a bit of backtracking. I'll always gladly add any new, interesting, and distinctive Clones to my collection, and this character that I encountered at Kmart certainly qualified.

His name is CAPTAIN LOCK. Interesting name. The names of the Clones have been a wide and varied lot. Some have sounded more, for lack of a better term, Earthlike than others. Captain Rex, Captain Cody, etc. Others not so much. Gree, Jek, Rys... Then there's those that are almost funny, like Clone Pilot Oddball. Captain Lock -- well, it's an English word, but it's not really a name, or at least not generally a first name. I've known people who had the last name of Locke, but it generally had an "e" on the end of it. In any case, I can't imagine that it's all that easy for the fine folks at LucasFilm to keep coming up with Clone names that are workable, and yet aren't as complex (or potentially scene-stealing) as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, or whatever.

So we have Captain Lock. Okay, so -- who is this guy? The package provided some information, but it was relatively minimal. It states that Captain Lock served under Jedi General Eeth Koth, and he and his troops defended Koth's Jedi Cruiser when it was being boarded by General Grievous.

Fortunately, there's a Web Site out there where one can usually find far more extensive information about practically anyone from the Star Wars universe. And no, it's not WikiPedia -- it's Wookieepedia. And sure enough, it had a fair bit to say about Captain Lock.

CC-4142, nicknamed "Lock", was a clone trooper captain serving under Jedi Master Eeth Koth in Horn Company during the Clone Wars. Around 21 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), Koth's Venator-class Star Destroyer, the Steadfast - with Lock on board - was attacked near the Arda system by Separatist forces led by General Grievous aboard his destroyer.

After a short exchange of broadside fire, Grievous' destroyer forced Koth's warship into submission, and the Separatist troops prepared to board the Republic vessel. To counter the enemy troops during the ensuing engagement, Captain Lock and some of his troops assumed defensive positions at one of the Star Destroyer's airlocks shortly before Super Battle Droids used an armored docking tube to board the ship.

A firefight ensued between the Battle Droids and Lock's men, and during the skirmish, the Captain was contacted by Koth, who was on the cruiser's bridge. Koth demanded a status report, and Lock reported that they couldn't hold their position any longer. The Zabrak Jedi Master then ordered the troopers to the escape pods and stated his intention to deal with Grievous on the bridge. The Captain objected to this course of action, warning Koth of the advancing Commando Droids, but ultimately, due to his conditioning as a clone, was forced to obey the order.

Like all Clone Troopers, Lock was born on the planet Kamino to serve in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. Regarding his personality and traits, Lock showed visible concern for Eeth Koth and objected when the Jedi Master expressed his intention to engage Grievous separately on the bridge of the Star Destroyer. Lock typically used a DC-15S blaster and wore standard Clone Trooper armor with distinctive green markings.

Lock first appeared in the episode "Grievous Intrigue", during the second season of the Clone Wars TV series, in an episode which aired on January 1, 2010. Technically, he was not named in the episode, although he received a name in the corresponding episode guide. The designation "CC-4142" appeared in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars: New Battlefronts: The Visual Guide."

So, how's the figure? Really very cool. I'm delighted to have added him to my collection. The package is interesting, in that it doesn't showcase any other figures on the back of the card. Perhaps this is not too surprising for a store exclusive such as this. It has a huge image of the Captain Lock figure, and a smaller image of the character derived from the Clone Wars series, and the brief character explanation.

The Captain Lock figure uses what I regard to be the preferred set of body molds for Clone Troopers. Honestly, if he'd used the other one, I probably would not have gotten this figure. There's a set of body molds out there, that lacks ankle articulation (which can make it hard for the figures to stand up sometimes, and for whatever reason, gives the figures a much more "rigid" stance. It also has waist articulation rather than mid-torso. Now, normally, I prefer waist articulation, but given the design of the Clone Trooper armor, the mid-torso articulation actually works -- and incredibly enough, looks -- a little bit better. A rare exception in my opinion.

Captain Lock uses the better set of Clone Trooper body molds. This means ankle articulation, a less rigid, more natural stance, and, additionally, the elbow and knee joints don't have the sort of "ratcheting" articulation that the other set of molds uses. So he's able to move better, as well as look better and stand better. Honestly, if Hasbro wanted to just ditch the other set of body molds, I wouldn't complain a bit.

Captain Lock's helmet visor is the more or less "T" shaped visor common to the early Clone Trooper. By the Episode III live-action movie, Clones were wearing a helmet that had more distinctive "eyes" to the visor, and more or less bridged the gap, visually, between Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers. I tend to prefer the Episode III style, but I can understand why, chronologically, it isn't appropriate. And, I have become more accepting of the Episode II helmet, and the Episode III design has started to turn up here and there, mostly on ARC Troopers in the series, and a couple of figures to date.

Captain Lock's helmet is a little more extensive than a typical Clone Trooper helmet, however, in that is has an extension over the visor. This is something that some higher-ranking Clone officers have on their helmets. Commander Cody is notable for it, among a few others.

Additionally, Captain Lock has an antenna protruding from his left shoulder piece. This is something that I have only seen on one Clone Trooper previously, and in fact, that was the aforementioned Commander Cody.

Any resemblances between the two Clone officers ends there, however. Clone Troopers have a wide range of color trims and designs on their uniforms. Initially, it was to denote rank, but it soon became more extensive in design and color, largely to denote specific unites within the Clone Army. Commander Cody's color scheme is yellow-orange. Captain Lock's is green.

Interestingly, it's a slightly different shade of green than I've previously encountered on Clone Troopers before. Some of the early Clone Troopers, during the time when color represented rank and not necessarily unit, had a fairly bright, straightforward green on their armor. More recent Clone Troopers with green trim on their uniforms used a sort of forest green, or something between a forest and olive green. The green trim on Captain Lock's uniform is very much an olive green, almost as if he was dipping into the paint supply for certain G.I. Joe figures...!

In any case, it certainly sets him apart from other green-trimmed Clone Troopers. As one would expect, most of Captain Lock's armor is white, of course, showing evidence of the black "undersuit" around the neck, shoulders, elbows, gloves, hips, and knees. But the figure is primarily white. The green trim can be found in a stripe covering the fin on the top of the helmet, and a narrow area of the helmet around the fin; an indented section on the back of the helmet; the shoulder and elbow armor pieces; the backs of the gloves, a small horizontal stripe on the chestplate; a small mark just below the belt; two small pouches on the belt; diagonal stripes on the upper legs; and the knee sections of the armor.

The antenna is painted dark gray. The extended visor, interestingly enough, is a different color than the rest of the color trim. It's more brownish-green than olive. There is a narrow yellow line at the top where it meets the helmet, and this yellow line also outlines the top helmet stripe. It's some remarkably fine detail work.

There are two imprinted logos on Captain Lock. One is a small white circle on the right side of the helmet visor, that has two parallel diagonal lines through it that match the color of the visor. The other is a curved emblem on the right shoulder, outlined in yellow, with two yellow dashes within it and six below it. It doesn't really look like anything I can readily describe. Captain Lock is supposed to be a member of "Horn" squadron. I suppose it's possible that "horn" in the Star Wars universe has some sort of definition that we don't know about, and this is a representation of it, or it could just be an ornate design. There's no shortage of designs, logos, and emblems in the Star Wars universe that don't seem to translate readily.

Captain Lock does not come with a large supply of accessories. This doesn't bother me. Less vacuum cleaner bait as far as I'm concerned. He comes with a standard Clone Trooper blaster pistol, no doubt the same one listed in his Wookieepedia profile (and one of these days I'd love to know how many of these things Hasbro has made...), as well as a display base, and a plastic die and character card that can be used in the Star Wars Galactic Battle Game that is presently being promoted throughout all Star Wars toys -- including store exclusives, obviously.

Articulation of the figure is, of course, excellent. Captain Lock is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees (including a swivel) and ankles. The impressive thing about the Clone Trooper armor design, and one of the reasons why I enjoy them so much, is how well the armor design works with the articulation design.

Paintwork is superb. This is an area that can sometimes be better. For whatever reason, occasionally you'll find a Clone Trooper where some of the black "undersuit" areas have been painted by hand. This inevitably leads to a certain degree of occasional sloppiness. You're just not going to hand-paint a mass produced action figure and keep it neat every single time. Fortunately, I don't see a single area on Captain Lock that appears to have been hand-painted, and certainly the fine yellow trim stripe on his helmet is impressive. Captain Lock is a good paint example for all Clone Troopers, and for that matter, all action figures.

There is one slight oddball bit of paint. His neck, of course, is painted black, reflective of his uniform. But the ball above it, part of the ball and socket design of the head-to-neck assembly, has been painted in flesh tone. For a brief instant, I wondered if Captain Lock's helmet was removable. But it isn't. Pop off the helmet and the helmet is the head. So why in the world paint the ball in flesh tone? A little more authenticity? I question how many people are really going to check that sort of thing. I'm not complaining here, but it does seem just a little pointless.

So, what's my final word? This is a cool figure. I doubt that Captain Lock is up there in the well-known ranks of Clone Officers like Rex, Cody, Gree, and a few others, but he's a cool addition to the Clone Army of action figures that I'm sure some of us are building. He's a distinctive character, and a distinctive-looking character -- for a Clone Trooper, of course. His color scheme and other uniform details definitely allow him to stand out.

Furthermore, he's well-made, neatly painted, and uses the preferable set of body molds for Clone Troopers. He is a Kmart exclusive, so you'll have to locate the Kmart closest to you in order to obtain him, or have a friend who has one near them help you out. Should he be gone by the time you read this review -- well, there's always the secondary market. At least you now know this figure exists, which is more than I knew when I walked into the Kmart and discovered him! And I'm very glad I did. He's a welcome addition to my Clone Trooper collection, and I'm certain he will be in yours, as well.

The STAR WARS CLONE WARS KMART Exclusive figure of CAPTAIN LOCK definitely has my highest recommendation!