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Return of the Sith Clone Troopers
Clone Commander, Quick-Draw Clone Trooper, AT-TE Gunner

Our very own College Bum, Sean Teeter is back tonight with another ROTS review - last time it was the worst of the bad guys, and tonight's it's the attack of the clones!  Take it away, Sean...

Not only do these guys have a movie and a TV series to their names, but thereís a whole frigginí war named after them. Thatís right boys and girls itís time to send in the clones. No matter how cool or well-designed individual figures may be, most of the time youíll only being buying one of them Ėtwo at the most if you like to display both carded and un-carded figures. Youíll only need one Kit Fisto to get smacked around by Palpatine, or one Dooku to take on Obi-Wan and Anakin, but youíll need more than one clone trooper. Hell, youíll need tons of the little buggers for display, and thereíre several different varieties out there in the Hasbro line. Not counting the deluxe and multi-pack figures coming soon to a shelf near you, there are over half a dozen different troopers within the first 56 basic figures, not to mention the up-coming Target exclusive figure.

Tonight Iíll be covering the more common Quick-Draw Clone Trooper, as well as the harder-to-find AT-TE Gunner and Clone Commander. Do these figures have what it takes to be decent troop builders? 











Packaging - ***
Iíve got a love/hate thing going on with the new packaging. While I absolutely dig the design of the card and bubble, as well as the excellent backer-card art, I find the taped blister edges a bit sloppy. You still have to rip the blister off of the card to open them, so why not just stamp the entire thing on like all previous carded figures, as opposed to just the top? The die-cut design while visually striking also seems to attract stress damage more, compared to the rectangular cards. For those of us who collect carded figures this is going to be a pain in the butt. For you variation collectors out there, some of the Vader helmet artwork is tinted purple, the rest blue. No word on whether one is rarer than the other. 

Thereís also good news for MOC collectors, now that the Protech Star Case 3 is out Ėspecifically designed for ROTS cards. There are a few eBayers selling these things at a little over a buck each in wholesale lots. They do look really striking on display nest to the previous designs. Target is also selling 5-packs of ROTS Protech cases, however according to some buyers, the card backs do not fit too well in these, and the tops get folded.

Sculpting - ***1/2
All three of these guys are pretty solid in the looks department, but then again the basic clone fashion is the precursor to the classic Stormtrooper chic seen throughout the original trilogy; Hasbroís had plenty of practice on the basic body armor over the years. 

The helmets are pretty accurate across the board; each with their little differences. The Gunnerís helmet is obviously a tad bigger than the other two in order to accommodate the sculpted head it fits over. The Quick-Draw and Commander figures have the same helmet, but the Commander has sculpted pegs on each side to hold the binoculars. I really like the sliding and adjustments you can make with the slotted binoculars, so Iím willing to put up with the permanent pegs as opposed to having holes on the sides of the helmet and pegs on the binoculars. The belts are also different on each figure. The belt pouches are bigger and more pronounced on the Gunner in comparison to the Quick-Draw figure. The Commanderís belt is sculpted as part of the removable skirt, and looks close to Gunners. The Commanderís waist is kind of tiny to allow the belt to fit properly so you might not want to display him naked, unless you give him another belt to cover his shame.

The back panels are different on each figure as well. The Quick-Draw figureís is small and relatively flat, the Gunnerís is broader across the back, and the Commanderís is really large. He also has an extra back canister sculpted at the bottom of his back armor plating to go with the one on his belt.

The Commander also has an extra bandolier sculpted onto his right bicep that looks pretty good. The right forearm instruments (I assume wrist communicator and whatnot) are sculpted the same on each one, but seem to be placed slightly different on the Gunner. Also different for the Gunner is the placement of his peg holes. The holes in the Commander and Quick-Draw figures are in the middle of the sole to accommodate the ankle articulation. The Gunnerís holes are located near the bottom of the toes, which makes me wonder if theyíre made to work with an upcoming AT-TE Tank vehicle. Weíll have to see.

The Gunnerís actual head sculpt is a pretty decent likeness of Temuera Morrison, but I donít really like the slightly open-mouthed look theyíve given him. As opposed to staring down droid armies with steely determination, it looks more like heís asking ďDude, whereís my AT-TE?Ē

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are pretty clean all around, but these guys are almost all solid white anyway. Itís not that hard to screw up a clone trooper, but Iíve seen it happen. The red highlights on the Commander are pretty clean with little or no bleed. The black detailing is basically cookie-cutter on each figure and perfect. 

The paint job on the Gunnerís sculpted head is really clean, but the placement of the eyes only adds to that half-baked look. The Gunner is also the only one to have painted details on his back panel.

For all you variation hunters out there, there are a lot of people selling on eBay and other places who are trying to hawk ďrareĒ variant figures with brown eyes. Their usual line is that the regular figure has black pupils and that the solid brown eyed ones are worth more because of their scarcity. I own three and Iíve seen at least six others in person at various stores. Combined with all the ones Iíve seen pictured in online auctions, I have yet to come across one with black eyes. They all seem to be brown.

However, if youíre really into paint variations and errors check the helmets out instead. There are a few out there missing the grey stripe that runs across the back and around the sides. This is usually covered by the secondary helmet anyway, so you wonít really notice it on loose display. Iíve included pictures of both helmets for the heck of it.

Articulation - Commander: ****: Gunner; Quick-Draw: *** Ĺ
Overall, these guys have some of the best articulation to be found in the Hasbro line. Each figure has thirteen points of articulation. The Commander and Quick-Draw clones have ball-jointed heads, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles, as well as cuts at the hips and wrists. The Commander has no action features to muck up his moves so you can basically put him into any position you want. The skirt does limit the legs a bit, but you can rearrange it a bit, or just take it off. The Quick-Draw clone may have the same articulation, but the action feature limits it a bit. While you can still put him into almost any position you want, the right leg is a bit stiff and the right shoulder joint is a bit loose when it comes to exact poses. The action feature itself isnít so bad. Squeeze his legs together and he raises his right arm. He can raise a gun, point, or give a weak karate chop if you wish. The design of the action feature barely impairs the movement of the joints, which is the second best kind of action feature. The best kind for me is to have none at all, but I have to admit that Hasbro has done a pretty good job at most of the ROTS stuff. Some of them are actually kind of fun for once. The knee joints on all the ones Iíve opened were so tight that I wondered if they were solid knees at first. It felt like I almost had to break them in order for the joints to move at all.

The Gunner is slightly different in design. The upper body is a complete disappointment after seeing the other two clones. He has no ball joints in his arms at all. The shoulders, elbows, and wrists are all pegs basically. This design is very reminiscent of the red Saga Clone Trooper. The head is ball jointed, but is limited under the helmet. The legs however are the best of any ROTS figure so far. The Gunner has ball joints at the ankles, knees, and hips! These are true ball joints too, not the half-slotted ball joints found on the VOTC Luke and Han figures. Iím not sure, but this might be a first in the 3 ĺĒ Star Wars line on a basic figure. Itís a real shame Hasbro didnít do the rest of the body like the other two troopers; he would have been even more mobile than the hard-to-find super-articulated figure from the Clone Wars line. 

One thing all three of these clones are missing is some sort of waist articulation. The VOTC Stormtrooperís was great, and I see no reason why it couldnít have been used on at least the two without action features.

Accessories - Commander: ****; Gunner; Clone: *** Ĺ
These guys are pretty solid in the weapons department Ėin fact, after you buy half a dozen or so clones; youíve got the start of your very own mini-arsenal going on.

The Quick-Draw Clone comes with both his heavy and small blaster rifle and two removable shoulder plates. One armor section is solid white; the other has the Imperial insignia on it. The inclusion of both weapons was a great decision on the part of Hasbro, making this soldier the first clone trooper to come with both weapons. You get to pick light or heavy infantry for this guy. The guns are shot in black plastic, with the butt of the heavy rifle sporting brown ops.

The shoulder armor is okay, but looks a tad bulky compared to the sculpted section on the right shoulder. The sections fit fine but impede the left shoulderís ball joint. Of course the armor just pops off if you raise his arm too far sideways. I would have preferred a removable helmet instead.

Luckily we get just that with the AT-TE Gunner. The Gunner comes with a shoulder pad, removable left shoulder armor, removable helmet, removable helmet covering, the smaller blaster rifle, a blaster pistol, and a sculpted base. The base is the same one found with Ki-Adi Mundi, Luminara Unduli, and Aayla Secura. The paint job is similar to Ki-Adiís with a green floor and brown highlights, but the green seems brighter. The shoulder padding is a separately sculpted item that can be removed, but only if you pop off the trooperís head, left arm, and right forearm. The head and forearm joints are relatively easy to pop on and off, but the peg in the left shoulder takes some pressure. Just donít snap it off by accident. You can also remove the outer section of the helmet, leaving just the standard clone dome. If you want to convert your AT-TE Gunner into a standard trooper, itís that easy! The outer helmet piece is pretty thin, and the black paint on the side dots is a little sloppy, but the idea works pretty well. The small blaster rifle is the same one found with the Clone Pilot figure; it has a larger trigger guard to accommodate the cloneís trigger finger. The pistol is basically the same Biker Scout model found with the red and blue Royal Guard figures. The pistolís sculpt is nice, but doesnít fit either of the Gunnerís hands too well. The removable shoulder armor is better scaled than the Quick-Draw trooperís, but is only connected by one peg instead of two. Needless to say it comes off quite easily.
It says ďwith battle gearĒ on the Clone Commanderís card and Hasbro isnít kidding. The Commander comes loaded with two blaster pistols, a heavy blaster rifle, a grappling line, a line hook, and removable gear including skirt with dual holsters, shoulder padding, and helmet-mounted binoculars. The binoculars mount to two pegs on the sides of the helmet. The slotted holes work well for general adjustments. The shoulder padding can only be removed by popping the head off. The sculpt job looks great, and thereís no bleeding to be found with the red paint ops. The large red pad does hinder the left shoulder movement a bit though. The skirt looks pretty good but the paint ops on the sculpted pistol holsters are a bit messy. The skirt really cuts down on leg movement, but can be opened in the front and adjusted slightly. The figure has a small waist compared to other clones, so he looks a little goofy if you completely remove his kilt. The pistols appear to be a new sculpt job and look pretty decent, if a little thin. The grips are a bit tiny and the trigger guards leave little room for the index finger. Thicker grips would have made them much easier to hold. The heavy blaster rifle is the same one that comes with the Quick-Draw trooper, but doesnít have the brown-painted stock. The grappling line has a plastic clamp on either end and is basically twice as long as the figure itself. Personally I think Hasbro could have made the rope line longer since thereís not much grappling to do with such a short piece of cord. The line hook works alright and has a handle for figures to hold onto. Basically the whole line set covers the same amount of ground a clone trooper could probably jump, so it seems a tad unnecessary with such a short length. 

Durability/Quality - ***
These guys are really solid. The Gunnerís forearms pop off pretty easily, but you can always have them on the losing end of a confrontation with General Grievous. Just donít twist his shoulder pegs too hard.

Value - ***1/2
You can get these guys for under $6 at most stores and thatís an excellent price for any one of these three. Now the real trick: first you have to find them. The only army builders Iíve seen in abundance at one given time are battle droids and Clone Pilots. Occaisionally youíll find a few Grievous Bodyguards hiding in the back, but kids and collectors alike just go through the clone troopers like popcorn.
The Commander and AT-AE Gunner are only starting to be widely released now so theyíre still a bit tougher to find. Iíve seen all of them at TRU, Targets, and Walmarts. K.B. Toys and K-Mart have them as well, but will cost you a buck or two extra, so be sure to shop around. Theyíll be a tad higher online, especially those at the beginning of their run.

OMGCNFO.com has all three of these figures listed at $7.50 each, but they run out of stock frequently.
Amazon.com has had these figures in at $6.99 or less. They go in and out of stock all the time so check back often. 

Overall - Clone Commander: ****; Quick-Draw Clone Trooper: *** ĺ; AT-TE Gunner: *** Ĺ
These figures are excellent by themselves, but as army builders theyíre freakiní awesome. If I had the funds I would fill a whole shelf with these guys storming across a battle-field in as many battle positions as I could think of. Theyíre just damn cool.

The Commander would be absolutely perfect with ball-jointed hips and waist articulation, but Iím really jazzed by the look of this leader. The amount of work on his movement and accessories is above and beyond Hasbroís past efforts efforts.

The Quick-Draw trooper is held back a bit by his action feature, but it barely hinders him in the end. The Gunnerís disappointing arm articulation still works for a handful of great poses, but he could have easily been so much more.

Judging from the basic ROTS figures in release Hasbroís really been bringing their A-game to this line. I canít wait to see their work on the Evolution Multipacks. The previews Iíve seen on most of their future releases just look great. This isnít to say thereís room for improvement. One just has to glance at the rather poor-looking Amidala or the goofy spring-uni-legged Palpatine with lightsaber action to know that Hasbroís not quite there yet. However they are a hell of a lot more hit than miss these days and each wave just seems to get better. I predict Hasbroís Star Wars line will be a true force this year in the world of action figures and not just because theyíve got a huge movie to back them up. They just keep getting better at combining decent sculpting with good articulation, and itís really showing. 

So now that Iíve sucked up for a whole paragraph, can I get some freebees Hasbro? I promise not to review the ROTS Amidala figure publicly. : )

Score recap
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation -  Commander: ****: Gunner; Quick-Draw: *** Ĺ
Accessories - Commander: ****; Gunner; Clone: *** Ĺ
Durability/Quality - ***
Value - ***1/2
Overall - Clone Commander: ****; Quick-Draw Clone Trooper: *** ĺ; AT-TE Gunner: *** Ĺ



Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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