Star Wars
Clonetrooper Evolution

The College Bum, Sean Teeter, is back with another Star Wars review tonight - this time it's the Evolution set of Clonetroopers.  Take it away, Sean!

Finally after a long drought, there are new toys to be found! Sin City series two, Mortal Kombat, and a smattering of new Star Wars figures have all hit the shelves within the past couple of weeks. Being the Star Wars nut that I am, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the new releases –especially the Evolutions three-packs. 

I was really happy with the Vader set and finally managed to come across the Clone Trooper Evolutions pack. Out of the three sets currently in production this one is probably going to be the least exciting. We already have a ton of various clone troopers out there including some excellent super-articulated versions for both the Episode II and III style clones.

We also have the VOTC Stormtrooper one of the best troop-building figures out there, except when it comes to price.

With all that in mind these three these figures fall into that same category: troop building. So there will be a demand for these guys regardless of what form they take. The challenge here is to make these particular figures stand out from the dozens of other troop builders already available. So did Hasbro pull it off? 

Packaging - ****
This has to be the nicest packaging I’ve ever seen out of Hasbro. The graphics, sturdy box design, and figure layout is attractively done and makes for an excellent display piece for those MIB’ers out there. There is a spelling error on the front under the clone commander. Instead of saying “THE FALL OF THE REPUBLIC” it says “THE FALL OF THE REBUBLIC”. Go Hasbro!

Sculpting - ***1/2
There doesn’t appear to be anything new or extraordinary with these guys, but how much can Hasbro possible improve on? We’ve had several versions of clones and Stormtroopers, so I guess these three just have to be on par with the more recent versions to earn a good score.
The basic body armor sculpting on both of the clone troopers is the same. The ROTS clone has an additional bandolier sculpted to his left arm (as opposed to the regularly released commanders, who have it on their right). He also comes with the same skirt and shoulder armor found on the red and green commander figures. The skirt is made from a stiffer plastic and is non-removable –cutting down on the range of the leg articulation. The belt is also a bit more detailed with the front loops actually cut out of the plastic. Unlike the regularly released ROTS clone troopers, the basic trooper’s belt is right-side up.

The clone head-sculpts are reused from previous figures. The AOTC head is from the Saga/ Clone Wars Deluxe Clone Trooper, while the ROTS commander has the same sculpt found with the AT-TE gunner.

The Sandtrooper appears to have some reuse as well. The arms, upper torso, and helmet all appear to be the same as the VOTC trooper –which isn’t a bad thing. The belt is missing the back canister to accommodate the backpack, and has two large black pouches on the sides. The one on his right has some decent detail, but the one on the left is just a smooth tab –unlike the POTJ version. On closer examination, the belt is actually removable –there’s a tab underneath the large side pouch. The legs are sculpted into a wider stance than that of the VOTC trooper, but appear to be made from the same parts. The overall body is a tad bulkier –this works out fine, especially with the feet. The peg holes are in the middle as opposed to the heels, and are deep enough to accommodate most stands. 

Paint - ***
There isn’t much to paint on an all-white figure, let alone three all-white figures. The face ops on the clones are decent but not too detailed. Right out of the package, I discovered that the hair on the commander’s head was already rubbed off in some areas from wearing the helmet. The Sandtrooper’s helmet appears to have some rubbing as well, since the black detailing doesn’t completely fill his lenses or the stripe across his forehead. The little indentations around the top aren’t completely filled-in either. 

The yellows used on the two clone troopers are decently applied, but are two different shades. While this helps make these two more unique from one another, it hurts the helmet-swapping a bit between them. There’s some decent weathering on the clones as well, complete with dirt, dings, and paint rubs.

The commander’s skirt looks decent enough, but still suffers from some bleeding around the side holsters.

The dirty wash on the Sandtrooper works pretty well, but is inconsistent. For example, his shoes are sparkling white, while the back of his legs and front torso are pelted with dirt. 

Articulation - ***1/2 
Hasbro had their chance to turn out three excellently articulated figures here. They already had good bases to work off of with the VOTC Stormtrooper and super-articulated clone bodies. However, something happened here: instead of improving on their previous figures (like adding ball-jointed hips), Hasbro takes a bit of a step back.

The clone and Sandtrooper each have 13 points of articulation: ball-jointed heads, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles, as well as cuts at the wrists and hips. The clone commander has all of these too, as well as a cut at the waist. 

The lack of waist articulation on the first two of these guys makes no sense –especially with the torso joints found on the basic ROTS and VOTC troopers. There’s no reason not to include something here, even if it’s only a cut like the commander figure. For him, I guess it’s a step up since the basic clone commander release didn’t have waist articulation.

The joints on some of these guys are really, really tight. I almost feel like I’m breaking the Sandtrooper’s arms every time I try to move them at the elbows. The paint is already starting to rub off the joints in some areas because of this. On the other hand, the hip joints on the clone and Sandtrooper appear to be a bit loose. The movement on all three of these guys’ legs is limited due to the armor sculpting. The commander’s stiff skirt cuts down on the range even more.

Durability - **1/2
While pretty solid all around, the joints have me worried a bit. The loose hips are probably just going to get looser. I’m also worried about those tight elbow joints just snapping off some day. The accessories are a tad on the fragile side as well, so be gentle.

Accessories - ***
I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in the accessory selection that comes with these three. You get three removable helmets, two pistols, one small clone rifle, one long clone rifle, the Sandtrooper backpack, and a large-bored sling rifle.
The pistols are the same ones the red and green clone commanders come with, with some light silver weathering. The two clone rifles are new sculpts, but are very similar to previous weapons found packaged with the various clone figures out there. The long rifle is skinnier in design from its predecessor. While I think it looks nice enough, it just doesn’t match up with the rest of the standard clone armory. It’s also a bit on the fragile side and just comes off looking more like a training rifle for the clone youth brigade. The short rifle is an interesting sculpt –it encompasses both the sculpt of the blaster packaged with the super articulated clones as well as the standard Imperial Stormtrooper sidearm. It has a nice grip and a folded stock underneath the barrel. This little gun seems to be following the evolution theme alongside the figures, which is nice.

The backpack appears to be the same one used with the POTJ Sandtrooper figure, but without the peg and hole designed to hold the binoculars and blaster. It might be retouched a bit in the details. The slung rifle appears to be a new sculpt. I really like the paint ops on this one, but I think a more flexible sling would have looked better.

The removable helmets are probably the biggest draw here especially for the customizers out there. You get the both an Episode II clone trooper and pilot helmet, along with an Episode III clone helmet. With the two clone troopers in this pack alone you can have any combination of an AOTC trooper, an AOTC pilot, a Clone Wars ARC trooper, a ROTS clone trooper, and a ROTS clone commander. While this certainly adds to the coolness factor of this set, the helmets themselves are a bit on the fragile side. Each one is made out of soft rubber. The pilot helmet is an especially fragile item, with its tiny tubes and chest box. The paint ops aren’t as good as they should be either. The yellow stripe up the AOTC helmet is off-centered, which in turn makes the whole helmet look a bit unsymmetrical. Out of the three I saw in store, each package suffered from this paint problem. The Republic crests on the pilot helmet are a tad weak. The ROTS helmet is probably the best of the three, both in paint and design, although it leaves the chin of the clone commander uncovered when worn.

There are a few things missing from this set. First off, a removable Stormtrooper helmet would have really made this trio. Since these guys are all supposed to be clones anyway, we know what should be under that Imperial lid. That would have been an absolute first in the Star Wars line, and would have really helped the uniqueness of this set. Secondly, why bother to re-sculpt two of the clone troopers’ weapons, but leave the third untouched? Those blaster pistols are next to useless grip-wise. I really wanted a new/better version of those. We could have had the POTJ binoculars tossed in here for good measure as well for the Sandtrooper. Last, and most obvious, aren’t we missing a gun? Where’s the traditional Imperial sidearm? Hasbro could have simply repacked one of the VOTC guns with some weathering. 

Value - **1/2
$19.99 is the cheapest you’re going to find this set –and only if you can get it in store. While I had no reservations about snapping up the Anakin Evolutions pack for the same price, I don’t feel that this trio is worth as much. That comes to about $6.67 apiece, which is a bit high for these guys –especially since I bought most of my other clone figures at $4.99 each. I think this feels more like a $16 package, personally. I found mine at Target but they’re also turning up at your other local retailers, although in small numbers thus far. They’ll be a tad higher online as always.

Overall - ***1/4
Since these guys came as a set, I have to give them their final score as a set. While all three of these figures are great troop builders, none of them beat out previously available versions of these troopers. The VOTC Stormtrooper and the super-articulated clones found under the Clone Wars and ROTS lines are better looking and better articulated overall. The ROTS clone commander is still a better figure in my opinion than the one packaged here. While this guy may have a removable helmet and waist articulation, the basic release came with a ton of stuff all on his own, had a more pliable skirt for movement, and didn’t have his chin sticking out from under his facemask.
The Sandtrooper feels like version 2.0 of the POTJ released figure. He’s got ball-joints instead of cuts, but no waist articulation. In general, I will always nail a figure for not having waist articulation unless it has some goofy-ass action feature to muck it up. If that’s the case, then I’ll just complain about that instead. : )

The big draws here have to be the customizing. A few quick helmet swaps and you can prepare your clones for whatever role you want them in. In this capacity, I would have preferred blue highlights to yellow. Not only would it have been perfect for the ARC trooper, but you could have also had a 501st legion clone trooper as well (the group that assaulted the Jedi Temple. What a geek I am . . .). There is a second version of this set being released in the future with a white clone trooper, a commander with grey ops, and a really, really dirty Sandtrooper. Maybe a blue one is down the road as well? Please Hasbro –I promise to buy that one . . . 

The chance to pick up an Episode II clone with decent articulation is always a good thing too, since there was never a wide release of the super-articulated version.

When all’s said and done this is a pretty decent set, but it didn’t really blow my kilt up, so to speak. I already have a legion or two full of clone troopers in my collection. Then again I also have a few dozen Vaders as well, but that didn’t stop me from really digging the Anakin Evolution set. 

I really think it has to do with the figure choice. With Anakin, we still needed a good Episode II and III version, let alone a Vader with ball-jointed elbows. We got all of that. Here, there really wasn’t much to improve on. 

Hasbro has a Sith Evolution set coming up that I’m really looking forward to but that one has a similar problem as well. While there’s certainly room for improvement when it comes to Darth Maul and the Emperor, the basic ROTS Dooku was damn close to perfect. I guess I’ll wait and see.

I’d love for Hasbro to do a few more Evolutions sets. An Obi-Wan set is kind of a no-brainer since the VOTC Kenobi was a disappointment and there aren’t any really good EP I or II versions out there either. A Padme set would be an absolute dream –not just because it’d be three different versions of Natalie Portman, but because there has yet to be a decent damn Amidala figure out there (EP II pilot version excepted). A Luke Evolution pack would also be a cake-walk for Hasbro. Other than that, maybe a Jedi Evolution set with a new Qui-Gonn, Mace, and Yoda. I’m sure none of these sets would stay on the shelves for long if Hasbro chose to produce them. 

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***1/2 
Durability - **1/2
Accessories - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/4

Where to Buy - 
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Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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