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REVIEW: STAR WARS THE CLONE WARS REPUBLIC SCOUT SPEEDER with ARF TROOPER
By Thomas Wheeler

I'm not a major vehicle collector in Star Wars or really in any other line -- except Transformers where the vehicles ARE the figures -- but I will pay some attention to Star Wars, especially if the vehicle comes with a cool Clone Trooper of some sort.

Such was the case with the REPUBLIC SCOUT SPEEDER, which came with its own distinctive ARF Trooper. For that matter, the Scout Speeder itself was interesting. All too often, when I see a new figure, it comes with a Speeder Bike. Now, I have nothing against Speeder Bikes. They're cool. But -- I also have plenty of Speeder Bikes. I don't really need another one.

First, let's consider the ARF TROOPER, since I've reviewed some previous versions of him before. We can gain some backstory on him courtesy of Wookieepedia.

Advanced Recon Force Troopers, or simply ARF Troopers, were specialized clone troopers that carried out short-range reconnaissance for Jedi Generals and clone commanders.

These clone troopers were often tasked with scouting out the enemy position on the battlefield. Although stealthy and well-trained, recon troopers' duties differed from that of clone commandos or Advanced Recon Commandos as their focus was on gathering information about the enemy or carrying out surprise attacks.

Before the introduction of the AT-RT drivers, ARF Troopers would often be pressed into service in that capacity.

In terms of equipment, ARF troopers were often provided with DC-15A blaster rifles, DC-15S blasters, chainguns, and missile launchers along with thermal detonators. They wore also a light weight recon armor made of plastoid material as well as were equipped with surveillance gear. They would often wear armor that fit the environment of the planet they were on. One such example being the ARF troopers who were stationed on the planet Teth.

In addition, they often rode All Terrain Recon Transports which was often a dangerous assignment as these walkers required their operator to show dexterity as well as considerable skill due to the fact that they were exposed to enemy fire while they conducted their missions. These vehicles meant that ARF troopers often considered themselves a breed apart to other clone troopers as they believed riding an AT-RT was more akin to riding on a living animal rather than driving a vehicle. This meant that their training often started with first riding living mounts before they were allowed to operate an AT-RT walker.

Advanced Recon Force troopers were first introduced during the time of the Clone Wars and like most of their clone brethren; they were created on the planet Kamino which served as their homeworld and swore their allegiance to the Galactic Republic. They proved to be valuable assets to the Grand Army of the Republic due to their ability to carry out reconnaissance and deliver accurate, eye-witness reports of enemy activities, without alerting them to their presence.

A pair of ARF troopers were deployed on the planet Teth before the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his apprentice Ahsoka Tano arrived to rescue Rotta, Jabba the Hutt's son.

ARF troopers were also deployed during the Battle of Ryloth, under the command of Jedi General Mace Windu, to scout out the Twi'lek freedom fighters and infiltrate the capital city of Lessu. They were used in a more aggressive capacity, driving AT-RTs to attack the AATs that were firing at the AT-TE walkers, and later were in the charge to retake Lessu.

A number of them later participated in the brutal battles that involved the retaking of the planet Geonosis under the command of Clone Marshal Commander Cody.

A large squadron of Advanced Recon Force troopers led by Clone Commander Trauma and Jedi Knight Halsey were seen fighting at the Temple of Eedit on the planet Devaron around 21 BBY. They managed to kill all of the droids, but they were all killed by a Nightbrother named Savage Opress.

Under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, a large force of Advance Recon Force troopers participated in the Battle of Umbara driving AT-RTs and played a key role in taking out a Umbaran occupied ridge defended by tanks and Umbaran Militia. The Advanced Recon Force took heavy casualties throught out the battle as they were easy targets for the Umbaran Militia.

So, how's the figure? Extremely cool. I have several ARF Troopers in my collection. Plain white, jungle camouflage, one molded in tan with camouflage for combat on Geonosis -- really, it's a very cool design.

The armor, for the most part, is standard Clone Trooper. It's the helmet that's really distinctive. The helmet is reminiscent of the Imperial Biker Scouts, whom we saw introduced in 1983, but who technically, in the Star Wars timeline, didn't come along until a good bit later. The visor, rather than being the "T" shape of most Clone Troopers, has a more goggle-like appearance to it, and a more jutting lower section around the nose and mouth. The top of the helmet sweeps back, but lacks the usual fin of most Clone Trooper helmets, and it has a distinct shade visor over the "goggles".

The ARF Trooper that comes with the Republic Scout Speeder has distinctive markings. His shade visor is dark red, as is his shoulder armor, which has a white stripe across it, and the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic, also in white, below the stripe.

The figure is also notable for a certain greater leg articulation than most Clone Troopers. One of the criticisms of the Clone Trooper figures - -a criticism which I personally feel is overstated for the most part -- is that they don't have a lot of leg articulation. The ARF Troopers, which have come with vehicles in which they need to be seated, have an additional level of articulation, a sort of outward swivel, beyond the basic back and forth movement, that allows the legs to move a bit more than the average Clone Trooper figure, although in my opinion it's a slightly awkward movement.

This makes the legs of the ARF Trooper distinctive, and for some reason, you occasionally get an ARF Trooper that doesn't want to stand up all that well. The feet are very slightly smaller than average, which may be a factor.

These, I hasten to add, are minor criticisms. Overall, the ARF Troopers are all very cool and distinctive figures, and certainly worthwhile additions to any Clone Trooper collection. I like this one, with his moderate burgundy red trim, and he's definitely well-articulation, fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles.

Paint detailing is excellent, including some pretty small silver detailing on the helmet, not to mention the emblems on the shoulder armor, and the figure seems to avoid the hand-painted detailing of the black "undersuit" that some other Clone Troopers have had from time to time.

The ARF Trooper comes with his own blaster gun, but given the vehicle he drives, he hardly seems to need it. Now, let's turn our attention to the REPUBLIC SCOUT SPEEDER.

Now, whenever possible, I do like to try to provide as much background information on the action figure or vehicle that I am reviewing. I sincerely feel that it enhances both the review, and for the reader who may have just picked up an item identical to the one I am reviewing, or is considering doing so, it enhances their enjoyment and knowledge of the item.

However, in the case of the Republic Scout Speeder, I'm afraid I don't have much. My usual source for information on all things Star Wars is a Web Site called Wookieepedia. Unfortunately, when I entered "Republic Scout Speeder" -- I got nothing. I was linked to several types of Speeder Bikes, as well as to other types of craft that somehow or other contain the name "Speeder", but bear no resemblance to this vehicle.

After doing a little more checking around and making a few inquiries, I discovered that this is a vehicle developed by Hasbro. Back in the days of the original line, there was a series of planned vehicles called "Mini-Rigs" -- vehicles that could have easily fit within the Star Wars universe at the time, but which didn't actually exist within the movies.

Consider this Republic Scout Speeder a modern "Mini-Rig". It's plausible enough, but it hasn't actually appeared in the Clone Wars series. Now, technically speaking, I suppose there's no reason that it couldn't! I don't see anything that would stop LucasFilm from taking the toy and putting it into a future episode of Clone Wars. That doesn't mean they will, but they could.

Apparently there's a couple of other such vehicles in the works, including a "Y-Wing Scout Bomber" and a "Mini-Wheel" for General Grievous. Can't say as I've seen these yet. Think of them as something along the lines of "Expanded Universe" vehicles. They're nothing that couldn't exist in the Star Wars universe, anyway.

So, as it stands, the only information I have for this vehicle is what's on the toy package. It reads as follows: Advanced Recon Force (ARF) Troopers use Republic Scout Speeders on reconnaissance missions. The speeders are heavily armed with laser cannons, later blasters and light blaster cannons. With room for two troopers, the speeders pack a lot of firepower in a compact vehicle.

Okay, so, what have we got here with the Republic Scout Speeder? Well, for one thing, as I said at the top of the review, we've got a very cool small vehicle that categorically does not look like a Speeder Bike. If it vaguely resembles anything it all, it looks a little like a scaled down version of a SnowSpeeder. At least the canopy of the Scout Speeder reminds me of one, with its downward angular look and fairly thick framework. Admittedly, not much else really looks like a SnowSpeeder on this vehicle, but there is a slight resemblance in this regard.

It's also an entirely new vehicle. It has a 2011 copyright date on its base. I knew it was nothing that I'd ever seen before.

The Scout Speeder is 6-1/2" in length, 2-1/2" high, not counting a couple of mounted weapons, and 4-1/2" wide at its widest point.

I'm not entirely sure how effective it would be as a recon vehicle, since reconnaissance generally means going into enemy territory, having a look around, and getting back out without raising a fuss, so you can report back to the rest of the troops that are preparing for battle. This thing is so well-armed it might as well be called its own self-contained can of firefight just waiting for someone to pop it open.

The Scout Speeder rolls on three small wheels, but the stubby wings and fairly large jets in the back tend to indicate that within the Star Wars universe, it would be capable of flight. But heck, show me all that many vehicles in the Star Wars universe that aren't. From Landspeeders to Star Destroyers, it seems like almost everything flies to one degree or another.

The Scout Speeder is largely a framework. It has a canopy over the driver's seat, no real sides to speak of, and an angular platform that includes the driver's seat, controls, front wings, rear wings, and mounts for the engines. There's a platform in the back with a foot peg. This is where the second trooper is supposed to ride, and one would have to believe that this might be considered punishment duty. There's no real protection back there, and only a couple of handles in the top wing to hold on to, and I think these handles are intended to be used as triggers for the weapon mounts on the top wing. So basically, the poor Clone stuck back there is expected to hang on for dear life -- AND shoot.

Not that these are the only weapons. By no means. There are two very long laser cannons mounted to the outer tips of the wings, and two more laser cannons mounted to the canopy. Like I said, this is a reconnaissance vehicle?

The Scout Speeder has an amazing number of moving parts. All of the various weapons rotate. The upper wing turns, as do the individual jets. And of course it has the rolling wheels. The canopy opens, as well.

The overall sculpting is excellent. Hasbro didn't take any shortcuts here. Panel lines, rivets, and all of the assorted gadgetry details that we've come to expect from the Star Wars universe are present and accounted for on the Scout Speeder, even on the underside of the vehicle. The base of the craft is not very thick, and is designed to be sort of a reverse of the top, where the seat is, but the details have been cleverly sculpted to accommodate this, and you don't really notice it at first.

Paint detailing is superb. The Scout Speeder is mostly light gray in color, with some darker gray, specifically the laser cannons and the jet intakes. The driver's seat is a very dark gray. The Scout Speeder also has some burgundy red detailing, the same color as appears on the trim of the ARF Trooper's armor. This mostly appears on the canopy, but is also found on the front and wide wings, and on the engine jets. The emblem of the Army of the Republic is also imprinted in white on the canopy.

The set also includes a battle stand for the ARF Trooper, as well as a card and a plastic die in order for the Trooper to participate in the Galactic Battle Game that has been presented throughout the Star Wars action figure line for some time now. However, I think that driving his Scout Speeder across the game mat would be disallowed.

So, what's my final word here? I'm sincerely impressed. I've always liked the ARF Trooper, and the Republic Scout Speeder is a very cool, small vehicle, that's definitely brand new, and certainly a change of pace from the Speeder Bikes that tend to dominate this size-range of vehicles. I'm very glad Hasbro came out with this interesting item, and I'm always happy to add another cool Clone to my own "Army of the Republic". I honestly don't know offhand if this Scout Speeder has appeared in the Clone Wars show, but even if it hasn't, it's certainly a good fit within the Star Wars universe, and the toy is superb.

The STAR WARS CLONE WARS REPUBLIC SCOUT SPEEDER with ARF TROOPER definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!