REVIEW: STAR WARS REPUBLIC COMMANDOS FIVE-PACK
I've admitted, more than a few times over the course of my reviews, that I am really pretty lousy at video games. The reason I've felt it necessary to mention this is because while I may not be especially proficient at video games, that hasn't necessarily stopped me from collecting cool action figures based on video game concepts, or becoming reasonably familiar with the concepts behind those video games.
And so, I have no shortage of figures based on Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Halo, even though I've never even played Halo, and the only reason I ever had a successful game of Street Fighter was because I figured out a way for the game to play itself, and then I just sat back and watched. It was sort of like animated professional wrestling...
And then we come to Star Wars. Easily one of the most popular pop culture concepts of all time. Movies, animated series, comic books, novels, action figures, stuff that isn't all that easily defined or categorized -- and video games. And no, I've never played a Star Wars video game. If I tried, I'd probably be the first Jedi padawan in history to trip over his own lightsaber and sever his own leg. I can hear Yoda now. "Clumsy you are. Tourniquet you need."
There's certainly been no shortage of Star Wars video games over the years, and some of them have been fortunate enough to transition into the action figure realm from time to time. Recently, one particularly notable game, called "Republic Commando", which actually goes back a couple of years, saw a special set of action figures released to Toys "R" Us, that featured the entire four-man unit known as Delta Squad, and one Geonosian Warrior who -- given the odds -- probably wishes he was somewhere else.
Let's consider the history of the Republic Commando video game, and then of Republic Commandos themselves, and Delta Squad in particular, within the Star Wars universe, all with a little help from the Web Site known as "Wookieepedia":
"Star Wars: Republic Commando" follows the tale of Delta Squad, an elite group of clone commandos, through three missions during the Clone Wars. Trained in squads of four by Mandalorian mercenaries such as Walon Vau and Kal Skirata, the commandos were more capable than their rank-and-file clone brethren, having undergone live-fire training as opposed to mere computerized simulations. All clone commandos were proficient with a large variety of weapons, computer systems, and demolitions equipment.
The game covers Delta Squad's activities in three locations, the planet Geonosis, a derelict Acclamator I-class assault ship designated the Prosecutor, and the planet Kashyyyk. In each location, the player leads the squad through a series of objectives while battling against enemy forces ranging from droids to Trandoshans. The player is assisted throughout the game by a clone adviser designated CC-01/425, who regularly updates mission objectives as each level progresses.
The game was designed partly to bridge the gap between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The developers stated that whereas the novels and movies are seen from the point of view of the Jedi, Republic Commando is told from the point of view of the troops. This, of course, was before the Clone Wars animated series really got rolling.
The game is set during the events of the Clone Wars that started at the climax of the movie Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. In the game, the player takes command of Delta Squad, a unit of four elite clone troopers. These clone commandos have been specially bred at the cloning facilities of Kamino. Delta Squad is deployed to various locations in the Star Wars universe, including Kashyyyk, Geonosis, and an Acclamator I-class assault ship, the Prosecutor.
In the intro, a Kaminoan, Taun We, introduces the Delta Squad to the player, as well as the war situation, the played character, RC-01/138, (nicknamed Boss) is born into. After a cut-scene of Boss' growth and training and meeting his squad, Delta Squad is then sent to the planet of Geonosis into the war-torn Petranaki arena. The members of squad are inserted to the battle separately, to meet later as the game progresses. On a LAAT/i gunship en route to his insertion point, the player meets the squad's direct command and advisor CC-01/425 through a holocomm unit. The Advisor gives the player information about his/her first mission. As the gunship reaches the drop off point, player gets full control over his/her character.
Now, let's consider what a Republic Commando, or a clone commando, really is, and then have a look at the individual members and figures of Delta Squad. A clone commando, also known as a Republic commando and later an Imperial commando, was an elite soldier of the Grand Army of the Republic and later the Stormtrooper Corps. Often working in groups of four, clone commandos were assigned to carry out covert operations too delicate for regular clone troopers. Covert infiltration, sabotage, demolition and assassination were standard tasks for the clone commandos.
Soon after the Kaminoans began developing the Galactic Republic's secret clone army on their homeworld of Kamino, a special forces unit was conceived as a necessary addition to the overall operational effectiveness of the new military force. Jango Fett, a Mandalorian bounty hunter and the genetic template for the entire clone army, was confident that progeny would be engineered into the best soldiers in the galaxy, but also knew that there were situations that regular infantry was not suited for. As a result, he requested for a special batch of clones that he would personally train as Advanced Recon Commandos. The Kaminoans reluctantly agreed, but due to their disappointment in the failed prototypes, they felt little confidence that the second generation of ARC troopers would meet their expectations. Thus, they compromised with Fett; the bounty hunter would be allowed to train his ARC troopers while the Kaminoans proceeded with their plan to create the clone commandos, otherwise known as Republic commandos.
Unlike the ARC troopers, the Republic commandos would be more loyal and susceptible to following orders without question, yet they would still retain greater ability for independent thought than the standard clone troopers. Thus, they were to be the perfect balance between two extremes. With a greater capacity for independent thinking, the commandos would be better suited to handling delicate missions with complicated objectives. If necessary, they would also be capable of devising their own way for completing missions. By being indoctrinated with absolute loyalty to the Republic, the commandos would not be difficult to control as the notorious Null-ARC troopers were.
The first batches of clone commandos were separated into squads, also known as "pods", of four clones each. In addition to being subjected to the computerized flash-training program, the commando squads were divided amongst the Cuy'val Dar, a group of professional mercenaries covertly brought to Kamino and hired to train the commandos in a variety of ways, such as teamwork, infiltration methods, demolition techniques, assassination and much more.
The majority of the trainers were Mandalorians, such as Kal Skirata and Walon Vau; the rest were mercenaries of different backgrounds. Although Fett's Cuy'val Dar were primarily responsible for the commandos' training, Kaminoan scientists personally oversaw the development of their creations as well. Taun We took a vested interest in the training of Delta Squad's leader, RC-1138, and helped to guide him throughout the first ten years of his life.
When the Clone Wars erupted between the reigning Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the clone commandos had just completed a decade of training and were prepared for deployment into Republic service. The Kaminoans' efforts to breed a special forces unit resulted in a number of small, operational squads, each capable of carrying out self-contained or campaign-augmenting missions. They were also highly trained and fiercely cohesive, yet capable of carrying out a variety of mission profiles.
As the Clone Wars began with its first battle on the Separatist world Geonosis, the clone commandos were among of the first units deployed onto the battlefield, undertaking stealth missions to disrupt and destroy droid factories; Delta Squad was responsible for assassinating Geonosian Lieutenant Sun Fac.
Despite their training as elite soldiers, the commandos were unfit to perform the role of the infantry-based clone troopers. In the aftermath of the battle, squads that survived intact were kept together, such as Delta Squad. Over the course of the Clone Wars, the commandos were set to work in various other flash-points across the galaxy, wreaking havoc on the Separatist forces.
Throughout the Clone Wars, there were many different opinions about the commandos. Some clones were impressed by the commandos' status within the Grand Army and were awed by their skills as a special forces unit. Other clones, especially the ones belonging to the infantry-based units, disliked the commandos and felt that their reputation was grossly exaggerated. Later in the war, many clones grew to hate the commandos' for their delving too much in the Mandalorian culture.
While the clone commandos were generally acknowledged as a superior breed compared to the majority of the standard-issued clone troopers, the only clones in the Grand Army that superseded the commandos in skill and reputation were the ARC troopers.
Delta Squad, the team featured in the video game, was an elite clone commando squad that carried out demanding missions for the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. Comprised of four clones of the Mandalorian bounty hunter, Jango Fett, Delta Squad included RC-1138, RC-1140, RC-1207, and RC-1262—informally known as "Boss", "Fixer", "Sev", and "Scorch", respectively. Delta Squad took their orders from the Director of Special Forces, Jedi General Arligan Zey, along with Zey's former Padawan, Bardan Jusik for the much of the war, and then from Jusik's replacement, Jedi Knight Etain Tur-Mukan. During several missions, the unit was also overseen in the field by clone advisor CC-01/425.
First deployed on Geonosis at the start of the Clone Wars, Delta Squad would go on play an instrumental role in the recapture of the RAS Prosecutor, as well as the rescue of fellow commando unit, Omega Squad. In conjunction with Omega, and working with two of the Null-class Advanced Recon Commandos under the direction of former Cuy'val Dar training sergeant Kal Skirata, Delta would take part in the shut down of a Separatist terror cell operating on Coruscant. The squad would be tasked with locating the Kaminoan defector Ko Sai, though their search would turn up nothing but the scientist's severed head. Delta Squad would again prove invaluable to the Republic in the lead up to the Battle of Kashyyyk, where they were able to rescue the Wookiee chieftain Tarfful from his Trandoshan slaver captors, defend Wookiee villages from Separatist battle droids, and even destroy a Recusant-class light destroyer.
The four members of Delta Squad were born in the cloning facilities of Tipoca City on the planet of Kamino. During their youth, they received flash training much like the rest of the developing Grand Army of the Republic, but the majority of their training came from Walon Vau, one of the seventy-five Mandalorian clone commando training sergeants in the one-hundred-man group known as the Cuy'val Dar. Hand-picked by Jango Fett himself, Vau believed that in order for his commandos to survive in combat, he must train them as harshly as possible—to do anything less would compromise their training. Seen as brutal by many, including his fellow Cuy'val Dar training sergeants, Vau's practices made Delta Squad an aggressive, but supremely efficient unit and they were truly grateful toward the man for making them into survivors. Vau took great pride in his squads' consistently high performance, both in live-fire exercises on Kamino and later during their deployment in the Clone Wars.
During their training, the four commandos adopted names to go along with their formal numerical designations. RC-1138, the squad's sergeant, became known as "Boss", while RC-1140 took on the name "Fixer". RC-1262 earned himself the nickname of "Scorch", following an incident with explosive ordinance that left both 62 and Sergeant Vau without eyebrows for a period of time, and RC-1207 became known as "Sev", short for his designation's final digit, seven.
As I said, the figure set includes all four members of Delta Squad. Let's now consider them individually.
RC-1138—nicknamed "Boss" for his role as the leader of Delta Squad—was an incredibly gifted soldier. Scoring higher than most of his clone commando compatriots during his training on Kamino at a young age, Boss impressed his Mandalorian training sergeant, Walon Vau, with his prowess. Though a natural leader, Boss was relatively taciturn and often when he did speak, it was usually to issue an order to his squad. Boss had earned the respect and loyalty of his Delta Squad comrades, and did his best to repay their faith in him with strong, effective leadership. He cared a great deal for his squadmates, like most other clone commandos, viewed his team as brothers. Interestingly, despite being raised and trained by Cuy'val Dar sergeant Walon Vau, Boss would come to speak with Jango Fett's own Concord Dawn accent and speech patterns—though this trait was common to the flash-learned standard clone troops, as well.
So, how's the figure? Really very impressive. Granted, I have a definite interest in Clone Troopers and the like, and these Republic Commandos fit in well with that mode even though they are something of a breed apart. Their armor is familiar in some respects, but still highly distinctive, and each one has its own markings.
Boss' helmet, like those of all the Republic Commandos, is somewhat similar to those of the first Clone Troopers, and yet has a number of differences. The T-shaped visor is not black, but rather it is bright blue. The fin on the top of most Clone Trooper helmets is absent on Boss, and on all the Commandos, and the jaw area is somewhat larger and more pronounced.
The body armor is similar, and yet more complex. The chest armor is heavier and more detailed. The legs and boots are pretty much similar to those of most Clone Troopers, and the upper arms are also very close, although the shoulder pieces have greater detail. The lower arms are definitely more complex and have more hardware attached to them. The Republic Commandos also do not have belts, and the abdominal region of their armor is somewhat different in design than most Clone Troopers.
Boss' armor is mostly white, with a fair amount of orange trim. Unlike most Clone Troopers, whose color trim tends to denote the division or battalion they're from, all four Clone Commandos in Delta Squad have their own distinctive coloring on their armor.
Boss has a broad orange stripe running vertically down the center of his entire helmet. There is a squared-off patch of orange on the right side of his chestplate, and the right shoulder and upper arm armor are also orange. He has some orange on his left shoulder armor, and his left upper arm armor is entirely orange. There is also some orange detailing around his hands, and four orange dots on the left side of his chestplate.
The figure is superbly articulated, in keeping with what I believe is expected of modern Star Wars figures, especially Clones and other troopers. Boss, and all of the Republic Commandos, which all use the same mold, is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, including a swivel, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles, including swivels. The armor design accommodates the mid-torso articulation very nicely.
Paintwork is neatly done. I believe many of the details were imprinted on, and the black undersuit details near the major joints has also been very effectively painted.
Now let's consider the next Republic Commando -- Fixer! He was the acknowledged second-in-command of Delta Squad, a position he attained due to his reliable nature. A soldier who believed in doing his job by the book, Fixer was gruff and preferred calling his squadmates by their numerical designations while in combat, rather than by their acquired nicknames. His own nickname was a product of Fixer's expertise with technology, and his exceptional skill as a slicer, a talent which he was proud of and enjoyed putting to use. Fixer was usually quiet, keeping his opinions to himself unless called for, and often took it upon himself to curtail the playful teasing of his squadmates Sev and Scorch. Fixer chose to decorate his commando armor with green stripes and markings, and he could fluently speak Basic and significant degree of Mando'a.
So, how's the figure? Just as nice as Boss, of course. Fixer's armor is a combination of white and green. His helmet is white, with a narrow light green stripe running vertically from the back of his head, over the head and to the base of the front. There are two shorter green stripes, horizonal, on the back of his helmet.
Most of his chestplate is white, except for a section in the center of the front, which has been painted light green, and two dark green dots on the left side. The right shoulder piece is entirely light green, while the left shoulder piece has a narrow light green stripe. The upper arm armor pieces are a combination of light and dark green, and there is a significant amount of light green trim on the lower arms.
The abdominal region is entirely dark green, both front and back. The legs are white on the outside, light green on the inside, with curved lines of dark green intersecting these areas. It's really a very impressive pattern, really.
Of course, Fixer is just as well articulated as Boss and the others, and I am just as impressed with the paint work on this figure as the others.
Now, let's consider the third member of the team -- Sev! He was a master sniper, and a fierce fighter who enjoyed the thrill of combat. He decorated his armor with blood-red markings that some had trouble distinguishing whether it was paint he had used, or real blood. Sev possessed a grim sense of humor, and a powerful drive to succeed, believing that any failure of his would be letting down his training sergeant, Walon Vau, and disappointing him. Though he deeply respected and revered Vau, Sev also felt a sense of jealously toward the commandos who had been trained by Kal Skirata, who treated his trainees as though they were his sons. Sev masked these inner insecurities beneath an outward personality of aggressive strength that led the rest of Delta Squad to tease that Sev was a bit of a psychopath, even joking that his cloning tank had been spiked during gestation—Vau even suggested the Kaminoans recheck his DNA for mental aberrations.
Sev maintained a close relationship with his squadmate, Scorch, often trading jokes and quips back and forth at an almost constant interval. Sev found the Wookiee's tendency to blend their technology with the surrounding nature to be strange, though his time on Kashyyyk near the end of the war would give him an interest in acquiring a Wookiee bandoleer. He enjoyed warra nuts, though the spiced kind was known to give him gas if he ate too many—a fact Scorch would tease him about. Sev also intensely hated Geonosians, and kept a count of Geonosian kills as a means of avenging the large number of clone commando deaths in the Battle of Geonosis: he intended to kill specifically 4,982 Geonosians, one for every fallen commando.
So, how's the figure? Very nicely done and very impressive -- if just a tad creepy because of that aforementioned red markings. I wouldn't call it "blood" red. It's more like burgundy. Still, it's pretty bizarre.
Sev's armor is clearly intended to be predominantly white. The only real color pattern that's not part of these red markings is a portion of the chestplate, which has been colored a dark grey. The rest of the coloration, the red, is clearly all Sev's work.
And that red is pretty much streaked and splattered everywhere. I honestly can't tell if Sev was painted through paint stencils, or if these designs were imprinted on the figure. I'm fairly certain that despite their highly irregular look, they weren't done by hand. As chaotic as they are, they're too precise for that.
Sev has red streaks and splatters covering most of the front of his helmet, the upper arms of his armor, large patches near his hands, splatter-like streaks on his upper legs, a couple of marks on his chestplate and knees, and the better part of his lower legs and feet. His -- posterior also has red on it. Not even going to comment on that.
Somewhat unnerving paint job aside, Sev is a cool figure. His distinctive coloration has been very well done, and of course, the figure is as highly articulated as the others.
Finally for Delta Squad, let's consider Scorch! Scorch was Delta Squad's lighthearted wise-cracker, and could often be counted on to crack a joke or poke fun at the situations the squad encountered. At the same time, he was also a competent soldier who served as Delta Squad's explosives technician, a job which he was excellent at, and one he thoroughly enjoyed. Scorch possessed an inflated sense of irony that some mistook as fatalism, and spent much of his time verbally sparring with fellow squad member Sev, playfully maintaining a brotherly relationship of back-and-forth teasing and friendly rivalry. Scorch carried a large ordnance pack strapped to his back and sported yellow-colored markings on his wrist gauntlets, making him easier to identify by his squadmates. His love of explosives also caused him to favor the anti-armor grenade launcher attachment for his DC-17 blaster rifle. Scorch was also fluent in Basic, and could speak Mando'a near fluently.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. Scorch was actually offered individually several years ago, but it only makes sense that he should return in this set. It wouldn't be Delta Squad without him. And I'd have to say that Scorch has the most extensive markings of any member of the Squad.
Really, only the forehead and upper part of the "face" of Scorch's helmet is white. The rest is black. Most of Scorch's arms are black, except for white areas on his shoulder pieces, and some yellow trim on his lower arms and gloves. Most of Scorch's torso is white, although there are black areas to the sides of the chest plate, and the upper part of his back plate is also black. Scorch's upper legs are partially white with yellow trim, but there's also a generous amount of black, and his lower legs and feet are mostly yellow and black, with a bit of yellow.
Given the common black undersuit that all Clones wear, this makes Scorch look very unusual relative to the average armored Clone Trooper, and it makes him stand out even among the other Republic Commandos, with their distinctive individualized armor.
Although more complex in my opinion, Scorch's paint work has been as neatly done as the others.
All four Republic Commandos have a certain amount of painted on battle-wear, mostly in brown, with a little black here and there. I could really live without this, but I'll acknowledge that it's a consequence of the battlefield, and based on artwork that I've seen for the game, it's how they most commonly appear.
All four Commandos come with large backpacks, and it's easy enough to tell which one goes with which Commando, since they're just as color distinctive as the individual armors. Each one also comes with a distinctive weapon, and most of their weaponry is pretty good-sized -- definitely not the standard issue blasters that one usually expects.
Now, I have been neglecting the fifth member of this set, and that would be the GEONOSIAN WARRIOR. I initially thought, at first glance, that this figure was a recoloration of a Geonosian Drone that I got in another Star Wars set a while back. However, it's not. For one thing, this is a Warrior, not a Drone, and for another thing, the Republic Commando set is NOT part of the Clone Wars line, as that other set was.
Technically, the Republic Commando set takes more design cues from the movie-based figures, even though it's based on a video game. Doubtless the character designs in that video game are not intended to resemble the Clone Wars animated series, and so the Geonosians are going to look more like they did in the movies.
Although there are certainly some structural and even articulation similarities, the Geonosian Warrior figure in this set has wings, is slightly taller, a bit stockier of build, an entirely different color, and definitely more detailed than the animated-series Drone figure I have. Which is still a cool figure in its own right, I'm not putting it down. Just making a comparison.
We were first introduced to the Geonosians in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. It's been said that they were based somewhat on termites. They're an insectoid/humanoid species, living in a hive structure and culture on the planet Geonosis. They are the primary manufacturers of Battle Droids for the Separatist forces, and there were strong indications at the end of the movie that they are also assisting with the design of the Death Star.
I could present a fairly extensive report on the cultural structure of Geonosians, but I already did that with the review of the other Geonosian, and honestly, I don't want to extend this review beyond what's really needed, since I'm essentially reviewing five characters in one review. If you want to know more about Geonosians, there are extensive details on Wookieepedia.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. I mostly bought this set for the Commandos, and didn't really expect to be all that impressed with the Geonosian, but he's just as impressive as the Commandos in his own right.
He's clearly been released before, or at least parts of him have been. It took me a while to find a copyright year for him, but once I did, it read 2005. Big deal, it's still a very impressive figure.
Geonosians have a narrow head with a long snout and beady, front-facing eyes, perched atop a fairly long neck. They have relatively squat bodies that include an insectoid-like thorax that resembles a tail, and fairly long, narrow arms, positioned at the top of the torso, and long, narrow legs below. Arguably this is their most humanoid trait. There are two long spikes that emerge upwards from the shoulders. Their hands end in two fingers and a thumb, and their feet have two forward facing toes, and one rear-facing.
Their legs are unusual in that they have two knees each, one bending forward, one bending back. Their entire bodies have an insect-like exo-skeletal structure. This particular Geonosian Warrior has tan skin. Two pairs of narrow wings emerge from the back, near the shoulders. The wings are mostly a translucent yellow.
Geonosians don't wear much clothing, but what they do have tends to be highly ornate. This Geonosian Warrior is wearing a very ornate, dark gold chestplate with several panels that are very ornately sculpted, and a tunic that has similarly ornate panels on it. When you get this set, give it a good study. There's some seriously intricate detailing here that you just don't see on that many action figures these days. There are two spots of color - red painted jewels, one each on the chestplate and tunic.
The Geonosian's exo-skeleton has a rather rough texture to it, which has been sculpted very well. Paint work, although limited, is excellent. And the articulation is remarkable for a figure with such slender limbs. The Geonosian Warrior is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, upper knees, feet -- and the wings!
The Geonosian Warrior also comes with an accessory of his own, a whopping big firearm of some sort that's about three inches long and is enough to make you think that maybe those four-on-one odds aren't as unfair as they may seem.
Interestingly, the one thing this set DOESN'T include is a plastic die and battle cards for the characters to participate in the Galactic Battle Game that's been marketed throughout most of the Star Wars line for some time now. I honestly don't know how many people are actually playing that game, but it does seem a shame to leave a fine troop like Delta Squad out of it.
So, what's my final word? This is a truly amazing set. The Geonosian is a very cool figure, and the four members of Delta Squad make for an amazing gathering of distinctive troopers, both as a unit of Republic Commandos, and as individual characters. All five figures are extremely well made, nicely detailed, and certainly well-articulated. I believe that any collector of Star Wars figures will enjoy having this set in their collection. I know I'm very pleased to have it.
The STAR WARS REPUBLIC COMMANDO five-pack featuring DELTA SQUAD and a GEONOSIAN WARRIOR most definitely has my highest recommendation!