REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS REPUBLIC ATTACK DROPSHIP with CLONE PILOT
You know, it's extremely difficult to be surprised in the toy world anymore. What with the Internet and everything else, most collectors know what's coming out months before it actually arrives. I could tell you right now, as if this writing, anyway, what DC Signature Series and Masters of the Universe Classics figures are expected for the next six months or so. It gives a person something to look forward for, even if it kills the surprise factor a little.
Star Wars -- well, it seems surprise here is still possible. I'll admit, as much as I like Star Wars, the action figure line is so massive and diverse that it's nearly impossible to follow it if one is more or less a casual collector of it, such as myself. Generally speaking, I like to pick up Troopers. Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers, that sort of thing. And the occasional droids. But to be even close to a completist with Star Wars, you've got to have an astounding level of dedication and commitment to Star Wars. I'm just not quite there.
Even so, I like to think I'm reasonably informed about it. So it was definitely a surprise recently, when I was out with a friend of mine, and we found a Star Wars vehicle that I was completely unaware of, with a brand new Clone Trooper Pilot figure unlike any I owned. I did not have this. I wasn't even aware of it. I thanked my friend for his discovery and we proceeded with all due haste to the cash register. In a way, it's nice to know that it's still possible to be surprised by the toy section. Especially when the surprise is this cool.
The vehicle in question is called the REPUBLIC ATTACK DROPSHIP, and it comes with its own very distinctive Clone Trooper Pilot.
Now, don't go looking around on Wookieepedia or in the Clone Wars series for the Republic Attack Dropship. Unless LucasFilm has decided to throw it in after Hasbro produced it, you're not going to find it in there. Hasbro has, in recent times, been in the habit of creating relatively small vehicles, that can be piloted by a single figure, to develop a specific class of relatively inexpensive vehicles -- unlike the far larger fighters and tanks and what-have-you that actually are from the CGI series, which as toys, might be outside a lot of people's price range.
While these vehicles may not have any official media presence, they are skillfully designed so that they certainly look as though they could readily fit within the Star Wars universe. They were just, perhaps, used in some battle that we haven't seen. It's a big galaxy. There's a lot of battles.
The Republic Attack Dropship, although a somewhat odd-looking craft, definitely fits the description of "could be somewhere" within the Star Wars universe. It doesn't look the least bit implausible from that standpoint, even if it is a rather odd vehicle.
Generally speaking, I can look at some of these Hasbro-created vehicles, and draw a comparison to something more familiar, something more Lucas-created. Looking at the Dropship from within its package, where it is spread out in its fighter mode, I thought I was going to have a real problem doing that. Then, once I got the vehicle out of its box, and repositioned it into its landing mode, I quickly realized what its closest "known" cousin was. It's a bit of a stretch, but the Dropship has some of the same characteristics as Boba Fett's Slave I.
The Slave I is a very strange vessel. When it's landed, it's essentially sitting on its own engines, and its cockpit is near the top. But once it has launched, the cockpit rotates within the structure of the ship, the engines are now in the rear, and the cockpit is at the front of the ship.
Sort of makes me wonder if the other accommodations on the Slave I work in a similar fashion. I mean, there's gotta be a restroom on that thing someplace...
The Republic Dropship operates in essentially the opposite manner. When it is in its landing position, the Dropship's one-man cockpit is nearly vertical, and at the front of the vessel. When the Dropship is flying in its fighter configuration, the cockpit is on top of the ship, and more or less horizontal.
The Dropship is mostly cockpit. Easily two thirds of this ship is a curved, elongated cockpit with a curved, smoked-glass canopy cover over it. The ship itself is mostly an off-white with burgundy red detailing on it, and the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic on its sides.
There are two small cannons, on large circular mounts, at the front of the cockpit. These rotate individually. There is a third, distinctly larger cannon, underneath the cockpit, which, when in landing configuration, actually acts as a landing post for the Dropship, which comes to rest on this post, as well as the front of the cockpit. It's an interesting design, and one would hope that the Clone Pilot doesn't accidentally press the trigger button for the large cannon while getting out of the ship. I'm not entirely sure what would happen, but I don't think it would be pleasant.
The rear third of the Dropship is mostly the engines, with a pair of relatively short, front-pointing wings. There are two additional blaster cannons back here, facing forward, and the front of the engine systems also contain a couple of spring-loaded missile launchers. Say what you will about this ship being rather small and looking a tad peculiar -- it's armed to the teeth.
The Dropship has a generous number of moving parts. The entire back section moves to allow for fighter or landing configuration, the missiles fire, the canopy opens, and the two front cannons rotate, as does the larger one underneath the cockpit.
But, where do we get the name "Dropship" from? Typically, a dropship is used to drop off troops onto a battlefield. And so is the Republic Attack Dropship.
There is an attachment piece, which fits into a slot underneath the rear section of the vessel, into which two Clone Troopers -- who have quite likely done something to tick off their lieutenant to earn this particular ride -- can be fitted. The Dropship can then carry them into battle, and drop the entire attachment off by squeezing the short wings on the top of the ship, thus delivering the Clone Troopers onto the battlefield, ready to go -- or right after they clean their last meals out of their helmets.
The package description for the Dropship bears this out. It reads: "Republic Attack Dropships swoop into battle to deploy troopers. These compact fighters are armed with cannons and chin guns to drill deep into battle zones. The pilot briefly lands with the ship's cockpit rotated into deploy position to drop up to two troopers into the field before flying back into the air and providing close ground support."
In full fighter mode, the Dropship is about 9 inches long -- including the cannons -- with a wingspan of about 5-1/4". In landing mode, the Dropship stands about 5-1/2" high, and is about 7 inches long, again including the front cannons. It's an interesting and innovative design with plenty of play value, and certainly it fits well within the Star Wars universe from a design standpoint, and Hasbro should be commended for coming up with these impressive vehicles.
Now, let's consider the CLONE TROOPER PILOT. Of course, he was one of the main draws for me to pick up this set. And he has more of an official history, as well.
Naturally, we know a lot about the Clone Troopers. Fast-grown clones of the Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett, the Clone Troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic are the work of the cloners of the planet Kamino. But they turned out a lot more than just average troopers.
Clone trooper pilots were special clone troopers bred in the Kamino cloning centers for the purpose of piloting craft of the Grand Army of the Republic and the early Galactic Empire.
They first appeared at the Battle of Geonosis,where they flew LAAT/i and LAAT/c gunships. Pilots also operated CR20 and CR25 troop carriers. In addition, they flew starfighters such as the V-19 Torrent, ARC-170, and Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing. The pilots who flew capital ships wore a special type of armor instead of the regular one, seen in the First Battle of Mon Calamari, during the Clone Wars. Pilots also knew how to operate all military land vehicles such as the AT-TEs.
Clone trooper pilots were born and raised in secret on the Wild Space planet Kamino, starting from 32 BBY. They were clones of the Human male Jango Fett and were purchased for use by the Galactic Republic. Troopers which demonstrated certain aptitudes were selected for pilot training. They first participated in battle ten years after their creation at the Battle of Geonosis by piloting the Republic gunships. During the course of the resulting conflict against the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the Clone Wars, they also flew the ARC-170 starfighters and V-wing fighters that engaged Separatist forces in the depths of space or the skies of scattered worlds. Clone pilots would also occasionally participate in boarding parties, in orbital battles along with Clone marines. In those engagements, clone pilots carried a blaster pistol, F-187 fusioncutters, and time bombs to wreak havoc aboard enemy capital ships. During ground engagements, they carried "DN bolt caster" plasma disruptors and DC-15S blasters, along with health and ammo dispensers with their fusioncutters to support their fellow clones.
The Grand Army of the Republic pilots participated in many battles throughout the war, piloting gunships to transport troopers and flying V-19 Torrent starfighters to engage Separastist starfighters, especially around 21 BBY.
During the Battle of Coruscant, Squad Seven, led by Clone Commander Davijaan, was instrumental in holding off enemy forces and allowing Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker infiltrate Separatist General Grievous' fleeing flagship, the Invisible Hand, which subsequently led to the rescue of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
These specialized troopers were normally equipped with a bolt caster, a blaster pistol, and a supply dispenser containing five packs of medicine, bacta, and ammunition (when they were equipped with this and on the ground they served as engineers). However, in space they discarded their bacta, ammo, and bolt casters for time bombs.
When Phase I armor was in use, ground and starfighter pilots wore armor that featured yellow markings and specialized helmets. Those who wore Phase II pilot armor were able to customize their armor. The pilots who flew capital ships wore a special type of armor, as seen in the Battle of Mon Calamari during the Clone Wars.
Two sets of Phase II pilot armor were in use as of 19 BBY. The first set, which used a helmet that was not fully enclosed, was the more common set, as it was used by the majority of pilots. The second set, which had a fully-enclosed helmet and armor that looked similar to that of an AT-AT pilot, was mainly used in the V-wing starfighter, which carried no life support system.
Clone trooper pilots were randomly picked from the normal clone ranks to be pilots and technicians. They could drive, fly, and pilot most things in the Republic's arsenal of vehicles, although many were trained to specialize in one particular craft.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive. This particular Clone Trooper Pilot is wearing the Phase II armor, that features the fully enclosed helmet.
The main difference between any Phase I and Phase II armor is the helmet design. Phase I had a relatively narrow eyeslit, a sort of "T" shape reminiscent of Mandalorian helmets. The Phase II opened the eyeslits somewhat, and shows the gradual progress between the original Clone Trooper helmet design, and what would become the separate eyes on the helmet of the Imperial Stormtroopers.
The Wookieepedia entry on Clone Trooper Pilots showed a picture of a Clone Pilot in Phase II armor with the fully-enclosed helmet, and with the exception of the fact that the figure has maintained the traditional yellow helmet trim, whereas the online illustration did not, they're essentially identical.
I'm reasonably certain that the figure is almost entirely new. He has a 2011 date on the bottom of one foot.
The helmet is a fascinating design. Above the eyeslits is a huge visor and helmet portion that looks very much like the sort of helmet that X-Wing pilots wore during the Rebellion. The rest of the helmet is fairly Clone Trooper-ish in design, although there is an extra piece that fits below the eyeslits like a muzzle, and is attached by two small hoses to a pack on the chest. This is very similar to TIE Fighter Pilots, of course. Rather makes you wonder just how scattered the technology became once the Empire took hold.
The mouthpiece, hoses, and chestpiece are a single separate piece, attached to the chest and helmet by two pegs. The hoses are flexible enough to allow for head articulation without difficulty.
The remainder of the Clone Pilot's armor is pretty much basic Clone Trooper. White, over a black undersuit which really only shows at the joints, such as shoulders, elbows, knees, etc. The Clone Pilot is wearing black gloves with white armor plate on their backs. Still, it's a good design, and the Clone Pilot's helmet definitely gives him a very distinctive look.
Paint applications on the figure are superb. Most of these are on the helmet, and are very neatly done. There's also some amazingly fine detail on the chestplate. The remaining trim is mostly the black undersuit, but it's been very well done. I can't see any sign of the sort of occasional sloppiness that can result from hand-painted details, so I'm assuming that this figure was entirely painted through stencils.
Articulation of the Clone Trooper Pilot is excellent. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. No ankle articulation, but these days, that's not too serious. I'm just glad he's poseable at the knees.
The armor design doesn't allow the Clone Trooper figures all that much leg movement, but fortunately, the cockpit of the Dropship has been designed with this in mind, and he fits into it without difficulty. He also comes with a blaster pistol in case he has to enter the battle himself, without benefit of the Dropship.
So, what's my final word? I'm very pleased that my friend discovered this item. I would've otherwise missed it, and that would have been a shame. It's an impressive and certainly unusual vehicle, and the Clone Trooper Pilot is an equally impressive and certainly distinctive addition to anyone's Clone Army of action figures. I am convinced that any Star Wars fan will be very pleased to add this fine vehicle and pilot to their collection.
The STAR WARS REPUBLIC ATTACK DROPSHIP with CLONE TROOPER PILOT definitely has my highest recommendation!