REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS AT-RT VEHICLE WITH CLONE TROOPER BOIL
Admittedly, I was very pleasantly surprised when I came across a new crop of Clone Wars vehicle-figure sets. One of the sets that caught my eye was an AT-RT Vehicle, with a substantially recolored ARF Clone Trooper with the rather dubious name of Boil. I'll have more to say about that later. For now, let's have a look at the vehicle.
The AT-RT, as much as anything, looks like a significantly scaled down version of the AT-ST, which was first seen jogging alongside the massive AT-AT's in "The Empire Strikes Back", and later had a more prominent role walking, shooting, and tripping through the forests of Endor in "Return of the Jedi".
Let's see what the highly informative Star Wars "Wiki"-style Web Site, Wookieepedia, has to say about AT-RTs...
AT-RT stands for All-Terrain Recon Transport. It is a one-man walker used for reconnaissance and patrolling, first by the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars, and later by the Galactic Empire, and by the Alliance. It was made in the Kuat Drive Yards.
One of several precursors to the AT-ST, the AT-RT stood 3.2 meters tall and was 3.9 meters long, with a saddle-like seat for a single clone trooper driver. Its open cockpit design made the driver especially vulnerable to sniper fire, a notable flaw, but low costs and good visibility on the battlefield made up for this shortcoming. While other walkers like the AT-PT eliminated the flaw of the exposed driver position, the AT-PT was slower, and this made the AT-RT competitive with the former.
The recon walker was equipped with a nose-mounted repeating blaster cannon and mortar launcher, both of which made the walker a formidable anti-infantry unit. The AT-RT was fitted with a morion detection scanner and sensor equipment capable of providing Forward Command Centers with updated situation reports from the battlefield. The preferred drivers of AT-RT's were Advanced Recon Force, or ARF Troopers.
Due to its light construction, AT-RT's were especially vulnerable to heavy weapons. This led many commanders to use them in fast scout packs or in the role of civilian (police or military) support. Commonly, these walkers operated as picket and pathfinder units.
AT-RT walkers were used on several worlds during the Clone Wars, during the battles such as the Battle of Christophis, Battle of Ryloth, Battle of Bakura and the Battle of Kashyyyk, and were later used in an attempt to track down Master Yoda following the execution of Order 66. They also saw action on Outer Rim planets such as the conflicts on Utapau and Mygeeto.
These lightweight walkers would also be utilized in the attack on the Jedi Temple. Over a year later, during an attempt by several ex-Jedi to retrieve a cache of lightsabers from the occupied temple, AT-RT's would back up teams of stormtroopers that were hunting them. However, it appeared that the AT-RT was eventually phased out in favor of the AT-ST.
Elite Imperial units such as Lightning Squadron continued to utilize their AT-RT's during the Galactic Civil War. Modified AT-RT's were also utilized by the Rebel Alliance and fringe groups. Many of these were painted with camouflage to better blend in with their surroundings. A floodlight often replaced the repeating blaster cannon, providing additional aid for the walker on night-time missions, but also making the vehicle more vulnerable in the process.
So, how's the vehicle? Extremely cool. Based on the pictures contained in the article, Hasbro has done an excellent job rendering this vehicle into the Star Wars world. I'm also convinced it's a new vehicle, as it bears a 2010 copyright date on it. The AT-RT stands about seven inches high -- nearly eight if you count the antenna in the back, and has a nicely designed seat for the driver, and overall superb detailing.
There's no shortage of moving parts. It has two additional "knee" joints on each leg, and these do not move, but the feet are articulated as well as the hops. This allows the AT-RT to be posed in a number of positions, and still maintain its balance. The blaster cannons up front rotate, and the handlebars are also movable.
The main color of the AT-RT is a medium tan, with areas of brown, including some camouflage up front. This struck me as a somewhat unusual color scheme. According to the back of the package, this is an AT-RT from a battle on Geonosis, something not mentioned in the Wookieepedia history. Given that bizarre world, the color scheme works well.
There's also some lettering on the sides of the front of the vehicle, which is in the alphabet most commonly used for Star Wars. Dubbed "Aurebesh", it is an actual font. While it might be a stretch to say that the language is necessarily the same, it is possible to use this font to type words and have them appear in these Star Wars letters. I was hoping that the letters actually translated into something, and weren't just a random typing of letters. As it turned out, they do spell out something. Specifically, the AT-RT bears the words "BUG STOMPER" on each side. Not inappropriate given (a) the side of this thing's feet and (b) the insectlike nature of the inhabitants of Geonosis.
Now, let's consider the figure that comes with the vehicle. He is an ARF Trooper, which stands for Advanced Recon Force Trooper.
ARF Troopers are specialized clone troopers that carried out short-range reconnaissance for Jedi Generals and Clone Commanders. The perfect pair-up with the AT-RT really. These clone soldiers were often tasked with scouting out the enemy position on the battlefield. Although stealthy and well-trained, their duties differed from that of clone commandos or ARC Troopers as their focus was on gathering information about the enemy or carrying out surprise attacks.
ARF Troopers were often provided with DC-15A blaster rifles, and wore a lightweight recon armor made of plastoid material. They would often wear armor that fit the environment of the planet they were on. This explains why there have been two ARF Troopers prior to the one that came with this set, one in standard white armor, and another in jungle camouflage.
The most distinctive thing about ARF Troopers is their helmet. It looks very similar to the helmets that would later be used by Imperial Biker Scouts, or Scout Troopers, which makes sense, given their function within the Empire. However, the helmet is a little more stylized, with a somewhat larger visor over the eye pieces, and a sort of upward sweep to the back. Apart from this, the armor is essentially identical to that of a standard Clone Trooper.
The ARF Trooper that comes with the AT-RT is an individual, not just a generic trooper, and his name is Boil. Now, I realize it must be a problem to come up with names for all of these clones, but come on -- one would hope that there's some definition for the name within the Star Wars universe that we're not seeing, because otherwise, the poor guy is named after either a food preparation procedure, or an unpleasant medical condition.
Boil's history in the Clone Wars is considerable. His entry on Wookieepedia is lengthy, and interesting reading, and also far too long to list in its entirety here, but I'll hit the high points.
After the outbreak of the Clone Wars, Boil was among the troops dispatched to liberate the Twi'lek world of Ryloth from the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Led by General Kenobi and Commander Cody, Ghost Company was assigned to destroy the Separatist proton cannons based out of the city of Nabat. Assigned to scout ahead, Boil and another Clone Trooper named Waxer stumbled upon a young Twi'lek girl named Numa, who assisted them through the city.
Later in the war, a rebellion occurred on the planet Geonosis, where the first battle of the war had taken place. The native Geonisians, led by Poggle the Lesser, constructed new droid factories and began producing battle droids for the Confederacy. In response, the Republic launched an attack on Geonosis, hoping to capture Poggle the Lesser and destroy his new factories.
Boil, wearing the armor of an ARF Trooper, accompanied the strike force alongside Kenobi and Cody. It was soon revealed, however, that during the landing, Kenobi's gunship had been shot down and had crashed five kilometers away from the clones' position.
In order to rescue Kenobi, Cody called Boil and Waxer and ordered them to check the crash site for survivors. The two troopers made their way through the battlefield to the downed gunship and opened it, finding Kenobi and one other trooper injured, but alive. Provided with covering fire, the two clones were able to escort the third trooper and Kenobi to Cody's position.
Wookieepedia lists Boil's personality as being a very by-the-book trooper initially, easily annoyed when things went against his beliefs. He initially didn't have much compassion for the Twi'leks of Ryloth, but after meeting and spending time with young Numa, eventually developed a greater sense of compassion. Although the figure's helmet is not removable, Boil followed the practice of a lot of clones, trying to adopt some semblance of individual appearance, by growing a mustache and changing the color of his eyes.
So, how's the figure? Extremely cool. I'll admit that it was the ARF Troopers that originally got me interested in acquiring some of the Clones from the Clone Wars line, as opposed to the movie-based line, in the first place. They were just so distinctive. And certainly, Boil is a little more distinctive than some.
His armor is the same tan color as his vehicle, and has brown camouflage scattered on it. The belt and visor around the eyes are also brown. The armor has orange markings on it, reflective of the fact that Boil is part of the 212th Attack Battalion, under the command of Commander Cody and General Kenobi. These markings are on the collar, shoulders, elbows, knees, tops of the boots, and stripes down the sides of the torso.
There is a tiny little image on the right side of the visor, that I initially had trouble making out. It was a green-blue in color, and I finally realized that it was a cartoonish, almost anime version of a young Twi'lek's head. This is obviously a personal little tribute to Numa, the Twi'lek girl that he met on Ryloth. On the figure, the image is barely 3/16 of an inch wide, and yet is extremely well detailed, with a black outline, outlined eyes, blue-green skin, white in the eyes, a brown headband, pink mouth, and the head tentacles that Twi'leks are known for. The style is extremely anime, but looks good, and for a highly detailed image this small to be imprinted so effectively on what has to be an awkward spot on the helmet is pretty impressive.
Boil comes with a blaster rifle, as well as the needed accessories for the Galactic Battle Game presently being promoted in Star Wars toys. The figure is, of course, superbly articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, including a swivel, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, including a swivel, and ankles. Additionally, the legs move outward, something unique to the ARF Troopers, which allows him to be seated on the AT-RT a little more effectively.
Paintwork is generally excellent. Boil has a camouflage pattern unique to himself. It's entirely different than that shown by the Jungle Camouflage ARF Trooper. There are a couple of minor glitches, a little orange paint chipped off one shoulder, and a bit of excess black around one lower arm, near the black "undersuit". Interestingly, though, it's obvious that the black detail was sprayed on, rather than painted by hand. Sprayed on through a proper paint stencil is always preferable. In this case, someone's alignment was just a little bit off. It's not too bad, though, and I'll still take it over hand painting.
And, for those interesting in, shall we say, an enhanced display, the box folds out into a diorama of Geonosis. Instructions are provided on the package.
So, what's my final word here? This is a cool set. It features a nicely done distinctive vehicle, and a certainly very distinctive and very well-made ARF Clone Trooper, even if he is saddled with a debatable name. The figure and vehicle are part of a series that seems to have about five different items in it. I would also recommend the Freeco Speeder with the Cold Weather Clone Trooper, and the Mandalorian Speeder with Mandalorian Warrior -- if you can find that one.
But, if you're looking to build your Grand Army of the Republic, with some distinctive Clone Troopers, and maybe give them some decent hardware to work with, you really can't go wrong with this set!
The STAR WARS CLONE WARS set featuring the AT-RT VEHICLE and ARF TROOPER BOIL definitely has my highest recommendation!