REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS "BRAIN INVADERS" DVD 2-PACK WITH AHSOKA & CLONE TROOPER SCYTHE
It's still possible to be surprised in the action figure world. Granted, it doesn't happen all that often. It used to be -- before the days of the Internet -- that you could walk into a toy store and toy department, and be genuinely surprised by some new item. These days, you've generally got word about some new item two months before there's any chance you'll see it in the stores.
But sometimes, there's still a surprise. For instance, recently I came across a couple of two-packs of STAR WARS action figures from the CLONE WARS series, each of which also included a DVD of an episode from the show. They caught my eye, because each set had an individual character, and a distinctive Clone Trooper, and I do try to pay attention to the Clone Troopers.
The sets were marked as Walmart exclusives -- but I didn't find them at Walmart. I found them at Ross, which has increasingly become a very interesting place to not only find action figures, if in somewhat limited supply, at very reasonable prices, but every once in a while, something turns up there that just never quite made it to its original intended destination for whatever reason.
This has been the case with any number of G.I. Joe items, several Power Rangers, and now, these Star Wars sets. I certainly never remembered seeing them at Walmart, and given that, as I said, I do tend to keep an eye out for new Clone Troopers especially, I found it difficult to believe that this was something that I had somehow missed entirely.
As it turned out, I hadn't. For whatever reason, these two sets had just never made it to Walmart, and somewhere along the way, Ross had acquired this particular inventory. I'm certainly not complaining. I got them for a good price, and something like this is certainly a preferable outcome to the toys being discarded or destroyed or some such.
The two sets include Ahsoka with a Clone Trooper named Scythe, and an episode titled "Brain Invaders", and Obi-Wan Kenobi with a different Clone Trooper, and an episode titled "Legacy of Terror".
This review will take a look at the former set, featuring AHSOKA TANO, CLONE TROOPER SCYTHE, and the "BRAIN INVADERS" episode. To start with, let's see what that specific episode entailed, with a little help from Wookieepedia, then have a look at the characters and figures.
"Brain Invaders" is the eighth episode of Season Two of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series.
The official plot summary for the episode read: "When Geonosian brain worms take control of their supply ship, Ahsoka and Barriss must battle to stop the vessel from unleashing the deadly plague upon the galaxy."
Padawans Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee are selected to transport medical supplies to Mace Windu on Dantooine from a station near Ord Cestus, while Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Luminara Unduli and Ki-Adi-Mundi prepare to deliver Poggle the Lesser to Coruscant. At the same time, a group of clone troopers are resting outside the Progate Temple, where a brain worm hatches from its egg and enters into the nose of one of the troopers, Scythe. Moments later, the company is awakened and informed of their new errand mission to Ord Cestus. They follow the Padawans aboard the medical frigate TB-73, with Scythe at the rear carrying more brain worm eggs in his backpack.
After the frigate jump into hyperspace, Ahsoka and Barriss lie in their beds, but Ahsoka can't sleep. She thus suggests to Barriss that they should go eat, and they head off to the mess hall. Meanwhile, Scythe enters the troopers' sleeping quarters and releases some of the yellow eggs; the worms hatch and find their way into the noses of the sleeping clones. While the Padawans are eating, Scythe leads two infected clones to kill the ship's pilots, taking control of the bridge. Two other possessed clones enter the mess hall and attack the Padawans, who eventually manage to knock the troopers unconscious. An instant later, two more clones, Trap and Havoc, come through the door. The Jedi question them with lightsabers drawn, but the troopers say they don't know what is going on, and put their guns on the floor. The Padawans then deactivate their lightsabers, and the four of them decide to check if they are still in control of the bridge. After Barriss fails to contact the bridge via comlink, the two Padawans and Trap set off to go there, while Havoc stays to watch the unconscious clones.
A different place in hyperspace, Jedi Masters Luminara and Ki-Adi inform Anakin and Obi-Wan that the medical frigate did not check in on time. Anakin starts to worry for Ahsoka, but Ki-Adi suggests they should focus on interrogating the so far uncooperative Poggle.
Concurrently, the infected clones aboard the medical frigate engage the autopilot and security shields, blocking the way for Ahsoka, Barriss and Trap. Barriss tries to override the shield controls, but Trap then fires his blaster at her. She manages to deflect it and disarm him, noticing that he too is infected by a brain worm. He throws himself at her, and she ultimately has to kill him in self-defense. Ahsoka manages to kill the brain worm which has emerged to take possession of Barriss.
The Padawans decide to contact Master Fisto and quarantine the ship, but on their way they come across the cargo hold, where the infected troopers are releasing a brain worm into another trooper. They are spotted and realize they are outnumbered, so they escape through the ventilation system. From there, Barriss goes to disable the thrusters, and Ahsoka heads to the communication room to send a warning to Kit Fisto. Ahsoka tells Fisto about the worms, but he insists that the frigate docks anyway in order for the worms to be taken out by a sanitation team. Ahsoka also contacts Anakin, updating him on the situation.
On her way to the reactor, Barriss gets temporarily incapacitated by an electric trap and is exposed to a newly hatched brain worm by the troopers. After finishing her transmission, Ahsoka is surprised to see Barriss standing beside her. The possessed Barriss attacks her, and after a brief fight, Ahsoka manages to escape into the ventilation system.
In the meantime, Anakin angrily goes to interrogate Poggle, using the Force to try to make him talk, but this doesn't work; he thus hits Poggle and proceeds to Force choke him. After getting the information he needs, Anakin informs the other Jedi about the brain worms, contacts Ahsoka on her comlink and tells her that the worms are affected by cold temperature, and that she should rupture the coolant system. She does this, releasing freezing air into the ship, just as it comes out of hyperspace. While the clones get weakened by the cold, Barriss finds Ahsoka's trail again and confronts her inside the bridge. They fight, but Barriss and her worm are eventually taken out by the cold. Regaining her own will for a moment, Barriss begs Ahsoka to kill her, but Ahsoka can't bring herself to do so. Barriss attacks again, but Ahsoka manages to kill the worm as it protrudes from Barriss's mouth.
The frigate docks at the station, and Kit Fisto boards it with two clone troopers. They find the two frozen Padawans lying on the ground, still breathing, and brings them to the infirmary. When Ahsoka wakes up, Anakin is waiting at the end of her bed, and assures her that everything is alright, and that Barriss and the troopers were saved. Fisto explains the parasite's origins, and he and Anakin theorize this was likely how the Geonosian recaptured their planet: Anakin remarks the troops of Geonosis will have to be warned, so such an incident doesn't reoccur.
Once Fisto has left, Ahsoka tells Anakin about Barriss begging for death under the worm's influence, and wonders if she should have killed Barriss, since had they failed, her refusal could have resulted in the entire medical station being infected. Anakin consoles her with the knowledge Barriss only thought her death was necessary to stop the worms, and that she did the right thing in sparing her friend, since it is a Jedi's responsibility to save as many people as they can.
Okay -- I can't say this episode would be among my favorites. I'm not really into horror motifs, and a story like this crosses that particular line. But that doesn't mean I'm going to turn down some cool action figures, since there's nothing really about them, aside from a couple of easily removable accessories (more on that later), that reflects the nature of the episode.
Let's consider the two individual character. First up, AHSOKA TANO:
Ahsoka Tano, nicknamed "Snips" by her master, was a Togruta Jedi Padawan during the Clone Wars, the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Tano was assigned to Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker by Jedi Grand Master Yoda, and showed an eagerness to prove herself worthy to be his apprentice. Tano was involved in the defeat of the Separatist army on the planet Christophsis, and was important to Republic efforts during the Battle of Teth. Along with Skywalker, Tano was instrumental in acquiring the Republic's safe passage through Hutt Space, due to her part in rescuing the son of Jabba the Hutt, which ensured an alliance between the Republic and the Hutt clans.
Along with her Master, Tano proved a key figure during the events surrounding the Separatist superweapon, the Malevolence, a ship capable of destroying entire Republic fleets with its dreaded ion cannons. Partially due to her involvement in the crisis, the Republic was able to destroy the superweapon, removing yet another advantage possessed by the Separatists. Later, Tano would duel the feared General Grievous himself, becoming one of the few Jedi to survive such an encounter with the cyborg.
Along with Mirialan Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, Tano was involved in the failed Republic effort to foil a mission mounted by Dark Acolyte Asajj Ventress to rescue Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray and engaged the Dark Jedi in an extended duel. Later, she was a key figure in the rescue of Jedi Master Aayla Secura during the Sky Battle of Quell, and later participated in the defense of the planet Maridun, where Separatist General Lok Durd attempted to use an experimental weapon on the planet's inhabitants. Notably, Tano helped to ensure that the deadly Blue Shadow Virus was not released into key Republic systems by the Separatists, and also fought in the Battle of Ryloth, helping to eliminate the Separatist blockade surrounding the planet and allow invasion forces to land, during which she led a squadron for the first time.
Later on, Tano was assigned to guard duty in the Jedi Temple's Archives after her mishap on Felucia. However, she and Skywalker went to hunt for deadly bounty hunter Cad Bane at Devaron to retrieve a stolen Jedi holocron. Then, the two halted a plot by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who was secretly Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, to twist the minds of Force-sensitive infants.
Ahsoka Tano was discovered by Jedi Master Plo Koon at the age of three during a mission to Shili, and was raised in the Jedi Temple. Tano considered Master Koon to be among her oldest and dearest friends by 22 BBY and felt a large amount of gratitude to him for discovering her Force sensitivity and ensuring that she would be given a home at the Jedi Temple. Tano was assigned to the Clawmouse Clan with many other Jedi Initiates that she would live and train with. While a Jedi Initiate, Tano received training in sand levitation by Grand Master Yoda.
Tano was a talented student and was promoted to the rank of Padawan earlier than normal by Master Yoda, and assigned to Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker in hopes that it would teach Skywalker a greater sense of responsibility.
The Jedi Council hoped that as Tano became more independent, her Master would learn to let go of his problematic sense of attachment. They sent the Padawan to the planet Christophsis to join Skywalker, hoping to aid him in the current battle and pass on a message that Kenobi and Skywalker must return to the temple. Though it was presumed she was going to be Master Obi-Wan Kenobi's new Padawan, she revealed that she was assigned to Skywalker.
Unfortunately, Separtist General Whorm Loathsom had activated a deflector shield and had his droid army advance behind it, negating the use of cannons. Master Skywalker and his new Padawan tried to figure out how to get inside the shield and destroy the generator. They hid beneath a box and waited till the droids and tanks passed before they carefully sneaked in. Unluckily, they accidentally bumped into a droideka. Tano was intent on fighting, but Skywalker insisted on running. He told her to stop, allowing the chance to slash at the rolling droid as it passed them. When they reached the generator, Tano accidentally tripped a number of sensors, alerting retail droids to their presence. Skywalker distracted the droids while Tano planted explosive charges on the generator. One of the droids approached her from behind, but she managed to slice it in half with her lightsaber.
Unfortunately, the droid's "body" rolled over more sensors, alerting more of the droids. Seeing her Master outnumbered, she saw that he and the droids were underneath a wall with a convenient hole in the middle. She used the Force to bring down the wall. Skywalker passed through it, while the droids around him were crushed. Tano activated the charges, blowing up the generator, enabling artillery to finish off the droid legions.
Despite Skywalker's initial reluctance to take a Padawan, he and Tano quickly found common ground, which left Yoda wondering whether the responsibility of mentoring a Padawan would actually calm Skywalker's wild ways, or if he would simply pass them on to his new charge.
One cannot help but wonder what happens to her by the time of Star Wars Episode III, a movie she definitely does not appear in.
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done. It occurred to me when I purchased this set that I did not previously have a figure of Ahsoka Tano. Although I am hardly a completist when it comes to the Clone Wars line, given the prominence of the character in the series, not to mention her absence in Episode III, it seems appropriate to add her to my collection.
The figure is not especially large, but neither is Ahsoka. The figure stands very slightly over 3-1/2" in height, and is very slender in build.
Ahsoka has reddish-orange skin, with short tentacles on her head rather than hair. They have a black-and-white zebra-stripe pattern to them. Ahsoka has a human-enough-looking face (which is more than can be said about a lot of the aliens in Star Wars), with ornate, off-white markings tattooed on her face.
Ahsoka comes across as looking a little underdressed for a Jedi. Then again, I always thought it was pretty silly of them to be charging into battle looking like they were wearing oversized bathrobes. There's something to be said for tradition, certainly, but there's also something to be said for practicality.
Ahsoka is wearing a dark brown halter top, a fairly short brown skirt with a belt and an ornate panel down the front, light tan leggings, and brown boots. She also has high brown gloves, with exposed fingers and thumbs.
The outfit is very nicely done on the figure. The skirt is made of actual fabric, so it doesn't impede the figure's articulation in the least. The ornate panel hanging from the belt has been very nicely sculpted and detailed. There are small buckles on the outsides of Ahsoka's boots that have also been very neatly sculpted and painted. The markings on Ahsoka's tentacles, as well as the tattoos on her face, and the usual facial details such as eyes, have also been very neatly painted. This really is a superb figure.
Articulation isn't bad, either, lacking only in one area. Ahsoka is poseable at the head, arms, glove tops, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. You've probably noticed the omission. Ahsoka is not articulated at the elbows. However, given how exceptionally slender her arms are, I think it would've been nearly impossible. Her arms are slightly pre-posed, her right elbow a little more bent than her left, but it's not bad, and I wouldn't describe it at all as any sort of hindrance.
Ahsoka comes with her lightsaber, with a bright green blade. She has a little trouble holding it, as her hands are quite small, but it's not impossible.
Now, let's consider CLONE TROOPER SCYTHE. Here's the background on him:
CT-9544, nicknamed "Scythe," was a clone trooper who served under Lieutenant Trap in Tango Company. He had a tattoo of a tiger skull on his forehead.
While on Geonosis, he was the first clone to be infected by a Geonosian brain worm. He then boarded the Pelta-class frigate, TB-73, and went into the barracks, releasing more Geonosian brain worms infecting the remaining clones. Scythe then took Ox and Edge to the bridge to kill the clone pilots. Then under the orders of Scythe, Ox and Edge went to the mess hall to get rid of their Jedi Commanders, Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee.
Later he, along with Edge, pinned down an uninfected clone trooper while the infected Havoc used one of the brain worms to infect the final clone on the ship. After Offee tried to reach the bridge but was stopped, Scythe took another brain worm and infected her. Eventually, Scythe and the rest of the crew were freed from the infection when Ahsoka ruptured the cooling tanks.
Scythe carried a DC-15S blaster carbine, and was featured wearing a back pack. He wore Phase I Armor that had blue markings, a large blue X shape on his chest and bore a striped sigil on his armored shoulder plates that resembled a stylized tiger face.
Obviously, apart from this backstory, Scythe was one more of the innumerable clones grown from the genetic make-up of bounty hunter Jango Fett, by the cloners of the planet Kamino, that comprised the Grand Army of the Republic.
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done. There are several sets of distinct Clone Trooper body molds out there, some better than others in my opinion. Fortunately, Scythe uses what I regard to be the best of the lot. At the very least, it's the most effectively articulated.
Scythe has a removable helmet. This isn't something that all Clone Troopers have, but Scythe has a slightly more distinctive countenance than most. Yes, there's some truth in the statement that all clones look alike. It probably drives them a bit nuts, too, which is why some of them go to the trouble of growing facial hair, changing their hair color, or getting tattoos.
Scythe just plain shaved his head, and then got a small tattoo on his forehead. Supposedly it looks like a tiger skull, but it's so small that it's difficult to make out that level of detail. I find it interesting that the Star Wars galaxy apparently has some animals in common with Earth, while any number of others are -- perhaps fortunately -- only found in a galaxy far, far away. I wouldn't care to meet any of those critters from the Geonosian arena in Episode II, would you?
The helmet that Scythe wears is a standard issue "Phase I" helmet, and is a good fit. One of the things that the Clone Wars line has succeeded in that the movie-based line had a little trouble with, was in getting a good size for removable helmets. It was always easy to tell which of the movie-based Clone Troopers had removable helmets, because their helmets were almost comically too big. In the Clone Wars line, the size between a removable helmet, and a helmet that IS the head of the Clone Trooper, is a lot closer.
Scythe's armor is mostly white, although as mentioned in the background information, he has these large, pointy-tipped swaths of color, a steel blue shade, crossing his chest and back in an "X" shape. His shoulder armor also has dark blue stripes on them, with an insignia that looks a lot more like a tiger face. This also appears on his belt buckle, which has been painted the same dark blue. As far as I can recall, this is the first Clone Trooper I've seen where JUST the belt buckle has been painted.
Scythe's paintwork is very neatly done, even the black undersuit sections, a detail area that I have seen painted rather sloppily from time to time. That's definitely not the case with Scythe.
The figure is superbly well-articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. The mid-torso articulation point blends in superbly well with the armor design.
Scythe comes with a blaster, as well as a backpack. This is a nice little piece, partially made from plastic, with a fabric top, and plastic straps to fit over Scythe's arms.
There is one other accessory to mention. The figures also come with several of these Geonosian brain worms that are the focal point of the episode. Scythe is pretty well entangled in one of these right in the package. One can almost imagine opening the package and hearing him yell, "Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!"
These brain worms are pretty much what they sound like -- little worm-like things, yellow-orange in color, and sort of twisted and coiled up. And yeah, they're sort of creepy-looking. Fortunately, they're not permanently attached to the action figures, and can be easily removed, unless you really do intend to somehow re-enact the episode.
The figures also come with cards, display bases, and a plastic die in order to participate in the Galactic Battle Game which continues to run through Star Wars action figures.
So, what's my final word? I have no idea why these toys never made it to Walmart. They're recent enough, with a 2011 date on the package. It's a shame they never made it to their original intended destination, but I am delighted that they have turned up at Ross. These fine figures definitely deserved some sort of release, and they have received it.
And if you're any sort of Star Wars Clone Wars fan, you'll want to bring them into your collection. It's an excellent figure of a very prominent character in Ahsoka Tano, and a never-before-produced-as-a-figure Clone Trooper with Scythe. Both figures are very well made and nicely detailed. It's a really great set.
The STAR WARS CLONE WARS "BRAIN INVADERS" SET featuring AHSOKA TANO and CLONE TROOPER SCYTHE with DVD definitely has my highest recommendation!