REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS REPUBLIC ASSAULT SUBMARINE WITH SCUBA CLONE TROOPER
I have amassed a fair-sized Clone Army these days. Admittedly, it is not as vast or impressive as some. I have seen pictures of some other collectors' Clone Armies, and they have managed to round up Clone Troopers of various sorts numbering in the hundreds, or more, and have them displayed in tidy ranks across entire coffee tables. One would hope, at the very least, for their sakes, that they don't live in areas prone to earthquakes.
My Clone Army isn't that big. Granted, I believe that those who are able to round up a Clone Army that is that big tend to be very focused on Star Wars action figures. I'm not. I collect quite a range of assorted action figures, and my collection in its entirety is vast. But my Clone Army occupies a couple of shelves on a bookcase -- standing in tidy ranks nevertheless. However, it's probably a bit more individualistic than some. I tend to have one or at the most two of any given Clone division or individual. These days, that's still a good-sized collection of Clones.
But, there's always room for one more. And recently, I added an entirely new Clone to the collection. He was a fairly elusive figure, too. He came with a vehicle, but I honestly believe that it was the Clone that made the set so hard to find. Star Wars collectors like army-builders, and here was an all-new army-builder, somewhat limited in availability because he came with the vehicle, instead of being part of a figure assortment. As it was, I think the main reason that I was able to find him was because someone had opened the box, or at least broken the tape seals on it. I'm not fussy -- once I determined that the set still had everything it was supposed to, I still bought it.
The item in question is called a REPUBLIC ASSAULT SUBMARINE, and the figure it comes with is known as a SCUBA CLONE TROOPER. Let's consider the vehicle first.
Hasbro has gotten in the habit of creating their own line of small vehicles to be packaged with figures, that haven't necessarily appeared in any of the Star Wars movies or the Clone Wars series. Some have. There's a Sith Speeder with a Darth Maul figure out there, and this really did appear in the Episode I movie. But quite a number of the vehicles are purely out of Hasbro's design and imagination.
I don't have any problem with that. I'm certain that LucasFilm maintains approval rights on everything that Hasbro produces for the Star Wars line, and Hasbro has been very effective in creating vehicles that look as though while we may have never officially seen them on either the large or small screens, they certainly look as though they COULD exist somewhere in that galaxy far, far away. The Clone Wars span a lot of space. There's bound to be hardware that we haven't "officially" encountered yet.
Besides, there's probably nothing keeping LucasFilm from using these designs at some point. If they wanted to work this Republic Assault Submarine into a future episode of Clone Wars, I wouldn't expect there's any reason they couldn't.
However, it does make looking up any sort of background information on the vehicle a little tricky. Items that only exist as toys generally haven't gotten much in the way of backstory or show history, and so trying to find something about them on the otherwise highly informative Web Site known as Wookieepedia isn't going to do a whole lot of good. There's just nothing there.
As such, the only extensive background information is what's on the package itself. It reads as follows: "An assault submarine glides through the water piloted by a scuba clone trooper. Marine missions require special methods for assault and reconnaissance, as demonstrated by the Republic's 'Devilfish' OMS (One Man Submersible). The versatile subs can be operated underwater or on the surface of the water. Either way, scuba clone troopers can attack from the sea, firing the sub's torpedo launcher at the enemy."
So, how's the vehicle? Really very impressive. Now, admittedly, when I tend to think of a "submarine", I tend to think of a rather large vehicle that an individual or a crew of people sit in, that entirely seals them off from the hazards of being surrounded by water on every side. This could be anything from massive naval submarines with dozens of sailors to small one-or-two man diving vehicles, perhaps designed for extreme depths, such as those that have visited the wreckage of the Titanic.
But that definition is perhaps a little too narrow, and we also need to consider that the pilot of this craft, the scuba clone trooper, is himself well outfitted for underwater adventures. He doesn't need to be totally encased by the vehicle.
Neveetheless, I'd probably be a little more inclined to describe the Republic Assault Submarine as more of a submersible sled than a conventional submarine. In its basic position, it is just shy of six inches in length, and almost precisely four inches wide, although as we'll soon see that's open to some interpretation.
There is a pair of handlebars in the rear of the vehicle, so essentially, the Republic Assault Submarine is designed to pull the scuba clone trooper along underwater, at a speed he would be incapable of achieving on his own. There is a black-paneled console at the back of the vehicle, and a transparent blue canopy.
Most of the vehicle is a slightly off-white in color, although it has extensive dark red trim. Nearly the entire front of the vehicle has been painted dark red, and there is a series of red stripes towards the back. The Republic emblem has also been imprinted on the vehicle.
The Republic Assault Submarine is a rather stubby-looking item, but manages to be rather angular in its shape. The front tapers outward at an angle, comprising about the first half of the vehicle, and then straightens out for the rear half.
The Republic Assault Submarine does more than just provide transportation. It is a heavily armed craft. There are two cannons protruding from the front of the vehicle near the top, and below these are two spring-loaded missile launchers. The missiles are included, and the activation buttons are rather cleverly concealed on the underside of the craft. Additionally, there are two blaster rifles, which the scuba clone himself can carry and use, which can be clipped to small mounts on the submarine itself.
The vehicle is not lacking for moving parts. Along with being able to be towed behind the craft, the scuba clone trooper can also ride on the vehicle. The handlebars and canopy section can be raised up on a hinge near the front of the vehicle, and the scuba clone can stand on a small platform near the back of the vehicle. I imagine this is how the scuba clone would use the vehicle on the surface of the water.
One can also extend a pair of wings, including the missile launchers, on the submarine. The activation switch for this is actually the platform that the scuba clone stands on. The trick here is finding someplace to grip the vehicle when you activate this, since such huge portions of the underside swing outwards. Safest place is probably one of the two propeller-like engine columns protruding from the rear of the sub,
Activating these wings gives the Republic Assault Submarine a full wingspan of roughly six inches, as well as considerably expanding the width of the field of fire for the missile launchers.
One question that might be asked is -- does it float? I decided to put this to the test, and yes, it floats -- a bit. It rides rather low in the water, but it didn't just outright sink. However, given the fact that there are several metal components in this vehicle -- the spring in the missile launchers and a number of metal screws used in its assembly, I would not recommend it as being any sort of "water toy".
Overall, the Republic Assault Submarine is a very impressive and imaginative vehicle. I really wouldn't mind seeing it turn up in a future episode of Clone Wars. Certainly there's been adventures on several underwater planets in the series, and something like this would come in handy.
Now, let's consider the Scuba Clone Trooper. Unlike the submarine, the Scuba Clones do have a history in the Star Wars universe, during the Clone Wars, and there was plenty of background information on them to be found.
Clone Scuba troopers, also known as clone subtroopers, were elite aquatic assault clone troopers grown on the planet Kamino for the Grand Army of the Republic. Trained in underwater tactics and outfitted with specialized clone trooper armor and blasters, clone Stroopers were deployed on numerous aquatic battlefields throughout the Clone Wars, allowing the Galactic Republic to challenge marine foes on equal footing. Jedi Master Kit Fisto led units of clone Scuba troopers on several occasions over the course of the Clone Wars, with the aquatic soldiers proving invaluable during two battles with the Confederacy of Independent Systems on the Outer Rim water-world, Mon Calamari.
Born on Kamino and genetically identical to their more common clone brethren, clone Scuba troopers were an elite group of clone troopers that underwent specialized training in underwater tactics and weaponry for use against aquatic enemies. Outfitted with equipment designed to allow them to wage war effectively while underwater, Scuba troopers allowed the Galactic Republic to even the odds against aquatic enemies.
Like all clone troopers, Scuba troopers were clones of the Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett, born on the Planet Kamino. While the clones of Fett were all genetically identical, with the exception of the Advanced Recon Commandos, a few groups were selected to undergo specialized training for combat in specific environments, training supplemented by equally specialized armor. Equipped with state of the art aquatic gear, clone Scuba troopers were trained within the oceanic combat simulators of Kamino's cities to battle efficiently underwater.
As the Clone Wars broke out between the Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems in 22 BBY, and the CIS equipped itself with Manta droid subfighters and other aquatic machines—allying itself with marine races such as the Quarren and the Ishi Tib—it became apparent that the Republic would need to make use of its aquatic soldiers and weapons to combat these new foes.One of the earliest engagements that demonstrated the skill of the clone Scuba troopers, was the Battle of Mon Calamari: the Quarren Isolation League had joined forces with the CIS and it's powerful droid army, exacerbating the longstanding tension between the Quarren and the Mon Calamari civil war which the Republic chose to intervene in on behalf of the still loyal Mon Cal people. Under the command of Jedi General Kit Fisto, several Acclamator-class assault ships descended on the planet and an army of clone Scuba troopers followed Fisto into the Mon Calamari sea where they met the droid army in battle. The aquatic soldiers engaged battle droids on foot and on Mini-Sub mounts, bringing down numerous manta droid subfighters and at least one Separatist sub-carrier. The battle soon turned in favor of the Republic when General Fisto destroyed the Quarren's massive "Crab cannon", and with it a significant portion of the battle's Quarren leadership. Afterward, Fisto left his Scuba troops behind on mop-up operations while he personally investigated the presence of the Moappa and instigated negotiations between the newly discovered sentient race and the Mon Calamari.
At a point further in the war, circa 21 BBY, Senator Onaconda Farr of Rodia noticed ecological damage and disturbances to his world he feared was the work of the Confederacy. Requesting a Republic investigation, General Kit Fisto was dispatched to Rodia with a detachment of clone Scuba troopers. Taking a squad of troopers into the water where the disturbances originated, Fisto ordered another squad of Scuba troopers to search the surrounding area, led by a Scuba trooper commander. The commander's men were ambushed by battle droids inside of a nearby abandoned Rodian base, but were able overcome the droids and destroy them. In the water, two Scuba troopers fell to laser cannon fire when the source of the disturbances turned out to be the bounty hunter, Robonino. During the resulting skirmish, the mercenary's hideout was destroyed and Robonino managed to escape, only to be delivered into the Jedi Master's custody by the grace of luck, courtesy of a native Kwazel Maw.
It was also around this point in time that the planet of Mon Calamari came under attack by Confederacy forces for the second time in the war. Directed by the Karkarodon commander, Riff Tamson, the Confederacy again supported the Quarren people in their attack on the Mon Calamari, while several Grand Army units under Jedi Generals Anakin Skywalker and the returning Kit Fisto came to the Mon Cals' aide. Scuba trooper clones under the leadership of Commander Monnk found their skills in just as high demand as they had been during the previous battle on the water world, but victory proved harder the second time. The Republic took heavy casualties during the battle, with the Scuba troopers requiring support and reinforcement from the Gungan Grand Army of Naboo. Even still, it took the death of Confederate leader Tamson at the hands of Mon Calamari prince, Lee-Char, to finally turn the tide away from what seemed like certain victory for the Separatists
Clone Scuba troopers were issued specialized clone trooper armor, lighter in weight than the standard armor made up of a plastoid-alloy composite, which was worn by the Grand Army's ground infantry soldiers. These unique suits were outfitted with aquatic propulsion packs worn on the trooper's back, feet-worn fins, and maneuverability jets built into the armor's shin plates for increased agility while underwater. The Scuba troopers' helmets possessed powerful lenses and sensors that allowed the wearer to pierce through potentially murky water and offered a clear image of underwater enemies, though the internal communications system amplified even the slightest breath for anyone on the frequency. The helmets also featured built in miniaturized oxygen scrubbers, able to extract viable air from the surrounding water once the wearer was submerged, though external oxygen tanks could also be attached. This effectively eliminated the need for the wearer to come to the surface for air, allowing Scuba troopers to remain underwater for length periods of time. Though the Scuba armor had been developed for, and was primarily used by clone Scuba troopers, suits of the armor were also available to members of the Grand Army's special forces for use on aquatic missions, and the clone commandos of Delta Squad utilized the armor during their mission to Dorumaa in search of the rogue Kaminoan scientist Ko Sai. Additionally, clone Scuba troopers were equipped with specialized blaster rifles, similar in design to the clone army's standard DC-15 blaster, that possessed a modified collimator barrel array, responsible for reducing the speed of blaster bolt diffuse in a water environment. Scuba troopers were also issued explosive ordnance designed to capitalize on water's ability to transmit concussive shock.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive, really. This is not the first Scuba Clone Trooper released in the Star Wars collection, however. There was one offered on an individual card several years ago. The Scuba Clone Trooper that comes with the Republic Assault Submarine is a radically different figure, though. So -- why the difference? Did Hasbro make up their own Scuba Clone to go with the vehicle?
No. The difference is that the first Scuba Clone Trooper figure was very close to the Phase I Scuba Clones as seen in the Clone Wars series. The Scuba Clone that comes with the Republic Assault Submarine is based on the Phase II Scuba Clones. This can be verified through the pictures accompanying the Wookieepedia entry on Clone Scuba Troopers which I utilized in part for this review.
For the average Clone Trooper, there isn't that much difference between Phase I armor and Phase II armor. Really, it's just the difference between the helmets that we first saw the Clone Troopers wearing in Star Wars Episode II, which were more or less based on Jango Fett's Mandalorian helmet, and the helmets that we saw them wearing in Star Wars Episode III, which had the larger visors and were an obvious transitional state between the original helmets and their inevitable transformation into Stormtroopers at some point between Episodes III and IV.
Since the Clone Wars series takes place between Episodes II and III, obviously at some point along the way, the Clones have to receive the Episode III-style helmets, and this has been a transition gradually taking place in the series. The designations, in series, are Phase I and Phase II. And I don't really think there was anything sinister about the somewhat more Stormtrooper-ish helmets. The larger visors must allow a wider field of vision, and that's certainly a good idea on the battlefield.
However, obviously, the more specialized Scuba Clones underwent a far more extensive revision. The Phase I Scuba Clones basically looked like more lightly-armored Clone Troopers (which makes sense -- you try swimming while wearing armor) with an air tank, flippers, and a few aquatic adaptations to the armor. But it still looked very much like standard Clone Trooper armor for the most part.
The Phase II Scuba Clones are clearly more specialized. The helmet appears smaller, with a larger mouthpiece for breathing equipment. The visor is not as large as most Phase II armor, but it's slightly larger than the Phase I.
The chest and back armor have been slimmed down from the original, and appear to be more integrated to the black undersuit. There is much more open space on the sides of the armor. There are three small fins on the back of the armor, but this is where the air tank is plugged in, so I don't really think they're there to make him a better swimmer, unless he runs out of air and has to ditch the tank and make for the surface as fast as possible.
The shoulder armor is larger, as are the gauntlets, but there appears to be some sort of jet-like device on the gauntlets, which may well allow for additional underwater propulsion.
There are large armored panels on the sides of the upper legs. This is something that the original Scuba Clone armor lacked. The boots are also clearly more specialized, and like the lower arms, appear to have some sort of jet-like device on them.
The armor is a sort of off-white, much like the vehicle itself. It's an odd-looking color, especially when one is used to the more stark white of standard Clone Trooper armor. The Scuba Clone has dark red trim on the sides of his helmet, a vertical stripe down the front, and dark red trim on the gauntlets and boots, near the apparent jet devices. There is also some dark gray trim on the helmet and legs.
The Scuba Clone Trooper comes with a pair of swim fins. Unlike the more conventional ones that came with the first Scuba Clone Trooper, these are more radical in their design, very long, with a little jagged edge along one side.
The Scuba Clone Trooper also comes with an air tank, a rather strange-looking apparatus with a metallic blue globe near the top, and two metallic blue jets below. There are two hoses which connect to a face mask that can be snapped onto the helmet.
The Scuba Clone Trooper is nicely articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, knees, and ankles. Many of these articulation points have rotational swivels as well as back and forth movement.
Any complaints? Unfortunately, yes. The paintwork was inexcusably sloppy. Fortunately, most of this was with regard to the black undersuit, and I'm a skilled enough painter to have been able to tend to it. And black isn't exactly a hard color to match. But the point is, I shouldn't have had to do this. Somebody's aim seriously needs improving. Additionally, the dark gray trim that appears in a clear indentation on one of the legs is completely missing on the other. That's just plain carelessness.
The figure doesn't have the most even stance in the world, either, but I'm not entirely sure of the cause, whether it's a molding problem, assembly, or what. The right leg is very slightly longer than the left leg, but I'm not quite sure where the problem is, or whether this is something that would be a problem with all of the Scuba Clones.
There's not much I can do about that, but it was the sloppiness of the paint that really bothered me. I know these are mass produced figures and nothing's ever entirely perfect, but still -- there's something to be said for a higher level of quality control.
Nothing wrong with the submarine, though. Everything works, and it was very neatly painted.
The set comes with a card, stand, and die, so the Scuba Clone can take part in the Galactic Battle Game, that's been part of the Star Wars line for quite some time now. I'm impressed that Hasbro has carried it over for as long as they have, even if at this point I've got enough little plastic dice to build a small house for one of these figures, brick by cubical brick. And I'm hardly a completist with this line. Makes me wonder what people who do collect everybody are doing with all these dice.
So, what's my final word? On the whole, I'm impressed. I realize I made an issue of the sloppy paint on the Scuba Clone here, but I would like to think that there are more neatly painted versions out there. I'd been trying to find this set for a couple of months when I finally found it, and I wasn't about to pass it up, and I knew I could retouch it myself. It's still a very cool figure, and the submarine is an impressive vehicle, with plenty of play features for the younger crowd, and a design that works well within the Star Wars universe that's sure to please Star Wars fans of all ages. If, like me, you're building a Clone Army of your own, you'll definitely want to add this vehicle and trooper to your collection.
The STAR WARS REPUBLIC ASSAULT SUBMARINE with SCUBA CLONE TROOPER definitely has my highest recommendation!