REVIEW: STAR WARS THE CLONE WARS "HOSTAGE CRISIS" FOUR-PACK
Granted, my priority with Star Wars tends to be Clone Troopers, and the occasional droid. But I really don't have anything against bringing some Bounty Hunters into my collection, especially if they're part of a multi-pack that happens to include a couple of very cool droids.
Such is the case with the Target-exclusive Star Wars Clone Wars four-pack entitled "Hostage Crisis", based on a particular adventure from the superb animated series airing on Cartoon Network. There's also a DVD with the set, the details of which I will get into later, so you not only get the figures, but some entertainment with it!
The set includes two Bounty Hunters named Shahan Alama and Robonino, and two Commando Droids. I'll be reviewing these individually, but first I believe we need a little background information on the events surrounding the set itself. Many thanks as always to Wookieepedia for providing details about both the events and the characters.
The Senate Hostage Crisis occurred during the Clone Wars, when the Hutt Grand Council hired the Bounty Hunter Cad Bane to organize a raid on the Republic Executive Building aimed at capturing members of the Galactic Senate. Bane sought to force Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to issue a pardon for the Hutt crimelord Ziro Desilijic Tiure, who had previously been arrested and imprisoned in the Republic Judiciary Central Detention Center for his role in the Confederacy of Independent Systems' kidnapping of his great-nephew, Rotta.
Bane formed a team of bounty hunters that included the Jedi hunter Aurra Sing, the Weequay Shahan Alama, and the Patrolian Robonino, along with several droids. After testing his team by pitting them against fellow bounty hunter Davtokk, Bane deemed his accomplices ready for their mission.
Infiltrating the Executive Building and disposing of multiple Senate Commando guards along the way, the team took a small group of senators hostage. Bane trapped Palpatine and Senator Orn Free Taa in the Chancellor's office by having Robonino shut down the building's power.
Bane then issued an ultimatum to the Supreme Chancellor: Ziro was to be released, or the Senators would be executed. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker was still in the building, though unarmed, and was knocked out and captured by the hunters. To secure the Hutt's release in exchange for the senators' lives, Bane ordered Taa to take a pardon disc to the Detection Center to release Ziro.
Taa reluctantly complied and was escorted to the prison by the sentinel droid HELIOS-3D. As final leverage against Palpatine, the bounty hunters set up a system of lasers around the senators that would trigger explosives with the slightest touch, before leaving the building.
Clone Troopers of the Coruscant Guard led by Clone Commander CC-1010 arrived to apprehend Bane's team on the landing platform, but the still-trapped Senators allowed the bounty hunters to escape with Ziro.
Although Bane remotely activated the explosives as payback for the indignities the Hutt had suffered in prison, a revived Skywalker was able to cut a hole around the Senators, and all of them dropped into the room below seconds before the explosives went off.
In case you're interested in enacting more of this episode with action figures, there was a very nice Senate Commandos two-pack a while back, another Target exclusive (see separate review), and I know for a fact that figures of both Cad Bane and Aurra Sing exist within the Clone Wars line. And certainly Anakin Skywalker...! Not sure how many Senators have been produced just yet. I mean, how many kids really want action figures of politicians!?
Now, let's have a look at the action figures in the set, starting with --
SHAHAN ALAMA - Shahan is a male Weequay bounty hunter from Sriluur who was active during the Clone Wars. After being kicked out of a pirate gang, he was recruited alongside bounty hunters Aurra Sing and Robonino by the Duros hunter Cad Bane to see how well they would work together. Bane decided to task them with the capture of the mercenary Davtokk, and the trio successfully carried out their mission. Bane, impressed with the teamwork, formed the three into his new posse, and they traveled to the galactic capitol of Coruscant to carry out their mission as stated above.
Following the raid, which saw Ziro successfully freed and the bounty hunters escape, Bane ordered his posse to go into hiding. Alama traveled to the planet Florrum, where he was attacked by a Confederate frigate and then by nearby Republic forces. He was forced to crash-land on Florrum, where he found the Weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka, who intended to hold him for ransom.
Alama was kicked out of the pirate gang after being deemed too nasty, earning him a bad reputation among other pirates. At some point during his career, he stole a belt from a Twi'lek noble, and somewhere along the way had the arm of a combat droid grafted to his right elbow.
Following the group mission with Bane, Alama revealed that he didn't trust Bane to hand over his share of the credits. Bane ordered Alama and the others to temporarily go into hiding, and the Weequay traveled out to the Outer Rim Territories in his starship. As stated, he was fired upon first by Confederate forces, who mistook him for a pirate, and then Republic forces, who shot him down after defeating the Confederates. Once found by Hondo Ohnaka, the pirate leader suggested that he would hole Alama captive and give him to whomever was willing to pay him the most.
Alama usually preferred to work alone (and given how this mess turned out, one can hardly blame him!), but he also worked well with other such solitary beings. His "excessive nastiness" caused his membership in a pirate gang to be revoked and earned him a reputation as a bad pirate. The Weequay had a sense of self-confidence about him and was not afraid of confronting Anakin Skywalker. However, Alama proved to be vulnerable to certain Force effects, as Skywalker was able to employ a mind trick on the Weequay.
Still, Alama was also observant. During investigations of the sentinel droid that Skywalker had destroyed, he noticed instantly that the droid bore no lightsaber marks. From this observation, Alama quickly came to the conclusion that Skywalker was unarmed.
Alama was a highly skilled tracker, a competent pilot (at least when he didn't have both sides shooting at him), and a proficient gunman, and he acquitted himself as a bounty hunter who was quick with a blaster. For weaponry, Alama carried an LL-30 blaster pistol, a blaster rifle, and a razor net, and he often wore a red beret that he had saved from his tenure as a pirate. He also wore boots of nerf-hide, and a belt that he had stolen from a Twi'lek noble.
So, how's the figure? Not bad at all, really. Nor does it surprise me in the least that this guy was once a pirate. He looks so much the part that he looks like he's trying out for a role as an extra in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I'm not sure if it's the beret, the somewhat ballooned trousers, the high boots, or the somewhat ornate chest and shoulder armor. It's certainly not the droid arm. But in any case, Shahan definitely looks very much like a pirate.
Okay, there's the face. That's a little different. As Star Wars aliens go, Weequays, whom we first saw on Jabba's sail barge in Return of the Jedi, are a relatively humanoid lot, even down to basic facial features. But their skin has a very leathery and wrinkled look. You're not going to mistake one for a human, unless you get the mistaken impression that it's a human who's been out in the sun way too long.
Since Shahan represents the animated Clone Wars line, a few physical liberties have been taken. This is sort of one of the reasons why I tend to prefer Clone Troopers. Although the Clone Wars line isn't entirely compatible with the movie-based line, some of the other Clone Wars figures, based as they are on the stylized look of the characters in the movies, tend to be a little too far removed from their original basis at times.
The Shahan Alama figure looks very much like the character in the animated series. But you wouldn't likely see someone this skinny, and this otherwise humanoid, walking around in the live-action movies.
The head is a good animated-style incarnation of a Weequay. Humanoid, but not exactly human. Most of the basic features -- eyes, nose, mouth -- are where you'd expect them to be, but they are placed in a face that is pushed in and decidedly wrinkled. Shahan has a rather prominent brow, a broad, pushed-in nose, and a distinctly unpleasant frown on his face.
The head is capped by his red pirate beret, and sits stop a tall and rather slender body. Shahan's head seems proportionately a little small for his body, but perhaps this was just a result of the design style. He is wearing an off-white shirt, with rather ornate protective armor -- a separately-molded piece -- covering his shoulders, as well as his upper chest and back. The armor is a pale metallic blue with engraved designs and brown straps.
Shahan's upper right arm does not have a sleeve, but rather is wrapped, and his lower arm is that of the droid arm that he had implanted. It's whitish in color and rather angular in design Shahan is wearing a high dark blue glove on his left arm.
He is also wearing the fancy thick belt that he stole from a Twi'lek. This belt is tan in color, with multiple ridges. His trousers are very dark blue in color, ballooning out somewhat at the knees, and he has high black boots.
Overall, the figure is very nicely made, and well painted where needed. Articulation is also excellent. Shahan is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist (a relative rarity since mid-torso is the norm for this line), legs, and knees. No ankle articulation, but he stands up well enough of his own accord.
For weaponry, the Weequay is holding a nasty-looking silver-bladed knife in his right hand, and he comes with a fairly long, narrow blaster pistol. Overall, he's an excellent figure for the Clone Wars collection. Now let's consider his cohort in crime --
ROBONINO - is a Patrolian, a diminutive and brightly colored bounty hunter with fish-like features who wore an eye patch.
During the Clone Wars, Robonino teamed up with Bossk, but their ship fell apart and they were found by the Black Hole Pirates. Robonino and Bossk then joined up with the pirates. While Bossk found himself an outcast in the gang, Robonino became a respected hacker and earned himself a place on the team. Later, he was hired by Cad Bane for the Senate mission.
During the Senate hostage crisis, Robonino sabotaged the power distribution netwotk of the Senate Building from the control room. He triggered the emergency lock-down in the Republic Executive Building, which allowed Bane to execute the rest of his plan. Robonino was also able to single-handedly defeat Anakin Skywalker by grabbing him from behind and electrocuting him while the Jedi fought Shahan Alama and Aurra Sing.
Once the mission was over and Bane instructed the group to go into hiding, Robonino later ended up on Rodia, where he had modified leftover battle droids to cover his path and conceal his hideout, which was an underwater hub. Due to this, it caused the local wildlife to die, giving reason for Senator Onaconda Farr to summon Jedi General Kit Fisto to sort out the situation. In the ensuing skirmish, Robonino briefly battled and defeated Fisto, but was apparently swallowed by a Kwazel Maw. He was later regurgitated, alive and well, on shore where Fisto and a group of Clone Troopers were waiting for him.
He later escaped, and was subsequently hired by Count Dooku along with another hired gun to persuade senators to change their minds about a bill that was being discussed in the Senate. In a bar on Coruscant, Dooku would again send the two bounty hunters to seize Padme Amidala to prevent her from influencing other senators' thoughts. Even though they failed on this mission, they would attack Senator Organa, only to fail and get arrested.
Robonino was best known as an expert saboteur, skilled at handling explosives which aided him in victories against Skywalker and Fisto.
So, how's the figure? Well -- short. Granted, there's shorter inhabitants of the Star Wars universe, but Robonino is about 2-3/4" in height, so he's not going to be playing whatever the Star Wars equivalent of basketball is anytime soon.
"Fish-like" is an understatement. Some Star Wars aliens can be more readily related to known, real-life animals than others. If you put this Robonino figure in a household aquarium, you'd either have visiting friends wondering what sort of genetic experimentation you were up to, or at the very least, you'd scare the fish into wondering what sort of bizarre mutant you'd just dropped in the tank.
The head looks like a condensed version of any number of tropical fish species that you can find at your local pet store. Robonino is mostly blue in color, with dark blue spots here and there, and pink highlights. His head is very narrow, with a frilled fin coming out of the back, and more frills along the sides, almost like a cross between fins and -- well, sideburns.
Robonino has a short body, with somewhat long, thin arms and legs. The lower arms and lower legs are thicker than the upper arms and legs, no doubt also reflective of his aquatic origins. His arms are actually longer than his legs, although not by much. His hands amount to two long, webbed fingers and a thumb, per hand.
His legs are very odd, jutting slightly forward, then backward, then down. His feet are relatively stubby, with four small toes. His one good eye juts out a bit on a stalk, and is red with a black pupil.
Robonino is dressed in a blue and brown sleeveless shirt, a thick tan belt with equipment pouches, and dark brown trousers that taper right into his boots. He also has a flat, fish-fin like tail sticking out in the rear.
The figure is not as well articulated as some, but his limbs are so narrow that it probably would have been impossible. He is poseable at the head, arms, waist, legs, and feet.
One problem -- Robonino does not stand up well of his own accord. The strange design of the legs and the relatively small feet don't give him much in the way of balance. He's a lightweight figure, which also means that wherever his weight as a figure is distributed, it's going to be pretty overwhelming. And given the angle of the legs, he tends to topple forward.
Now, there is a moderate correction possible. Give him his backpack. Along with coming with a small blaster pistol, Robonino also has a huge tan backpack, with various accessories stacked into it. I suspect these are explosive devices. One word of note -- these tend to pop out, and they're quite small and flat. I might recommend lightly gluing them in.
The entire backpack provides just enough back-weight so that Robonino can stand up on his own. He's still not exactly steady on his feet, and it doesn't take much to topple him, but he will stand -- for a while, anyway.
Stance notwithstanding, Robonino is a nicely designed, certainly distinctive, and well-detailed figure, with a fairly ornate and neatly done paint job. He's a bizarre addition to the Star Wars collection, but an impressive one.
Finally, let's have a look at the --
COMMANDO DROIDS - Cad Bane managed to get hold of a couple of BX-series Droid Commandos for this mission, and they certainly came in handy.
The BX-series droid commando, more commonly known as the commando droid, was an elite battle droid model made for stealth assignments.
These battle droids appeared somewhat similar to the B1-series battle droids, but there were notable changes. The elongated head was shortened to have its original length, and their voices were notably different compared to the tinny tones of the B1's, sounding more akin to the deeper voices of B2 super battle droids.
They had the same operating abilities as regular battle droids, with the addition of infiltration software. This, along with their humanoid shape, which was more proportioned to standard humanoid norms -- such as those of Clone Troopers -- allowed them to fit into a Clone Trooper's armor. In addition to this, the droids were capable of modulating their voices to match that of others, although they could not accurately copy their mannerisms or vocabulary, nor respond properly to unexpected situations outside of combat.
The commando droids were built to be substantially faster and stronger than a regular battle droid, and also possessed heavier armor that was capable of withstanding multiple shots from most blasters. The only real drawback of these droids was that they were far more expensive to produce than the regular infantry. This made the droids a fairly rare sight on the battlefield and this made them to be used exclusively on special and/or critical missions only.
Somehow or other, Cad Bane secured the use of two of these units during his capture of the Senate Building. After killing a contingent of Senate Commandos that guarded the landing area, the two commando droids stripped two bodies of their armor and disguised themselves as the Senate Commandos. They later escaped with Bane and the other bounty hunters.
I'll admit, these two droids were the primary reason I wanted this set. I have no problem with Shahan or Robonino, but I really wanted these droids. They're immensely cool figures, and I have a prior experience with Commando Droid figures. There were three of them in another multi-pack that I picked up a while back, that came with a (badly outnumbered) Clone Trooper, which was also a very cool figure to have.
These Commando Droids obviously use the same molds as their counterparts from that set, but they have an entirely different color scheme. Whereas those Commando Droids, clearly being used specifically by the Separatists, had a sort of pewter-copper color to them, these two Commando Droids are predominantly blue! It's a cool color for them. And, even more interestingly, they each have a distinctive paint job! They are NOT identical. I was amazed at this, because they both have pretty ornate paint schemes that doubtless required entirely separate sets of paint stencils, as well as molding certain parts in different colors for each droid. That's a lot of attention to detail! Needless to say, I'm impressed.
The two main colors used are a medium-to-dark blue, and a very dark gray-blue. For the sake of simplicity in typing, I'll refer to these in the description as "light blue" and "dark blue". See the pictures with this review to get a better idea of the actual colors.
One of the commando droids has a mostly light blue head, with thick dark blue bands extending from his eyes back to what passes for his ears. He also has narrower dark blue lines running over the top of his head. He has a light blue neck and torso, with a dark blue center to his chest, with thin bands of dark blue extending outwards, meeting on the back. His shoulders and a raised portion of his lower arms are dark blue, whereas the rest of his arms are light blue. His mid and lower torso, and upper legs are dark blue, with a couple of thin diagonal light blue stripes on his upper legs. The top part of his lower legs are dark blue, the rest of his lower legs are light blue, and his feet are dark blue.
The other commando droid has a mostly light blue head, with a thin vertical dark blue stripe running over the top of his head. There is a curved dark blue stripe around his -- mouth, for lack of a better term, and he has a thin blue stripe around the top of his head. His upper torso is mostly light blue, with a series of thin dark blue bands spreading out from the base of the neck. There is a similar pattern on his back, but it uses thicker lines. His arms have an identical pattern to the other commando droid. The mid to lower torso is mostly dark blue, but is lighter blue on the sides. His legs are almost entirely light blue, except for a thick patch of dark blue at the top of each leg, accompanied by a thin dark blue stripe slightly below it.
Both commando droids have white eyes, or "photoreceptors", as they are called, with black slits in the middle. This is typical for all commando droids. These two also have a copper-colored sun-like emblem on their chests, with a black ridged circle within the sun, and a small red detail on their upper chests.
What makes these commando droids so cool, beyond how impressive they look? How about articulation! I'm truly amazed at how much articulation could be put into such slender figures. The commando droids are fully poseable at the head (ball and socket design with an incredible range of motion), neck (at the top of the torso), arms, elbows, including a rotation, mid-torso, legs (ball and socket), knees, including a rotation, and ankles, including a back and forth movement on a ball-and-socket design.
As slender as they are, they have an incredible range of motion in their limbs. You can pose these droids in just about any combat position you want. Admittedly, they have relatively small feet, and not necessarily the best balance in the world, but they can hold a wide range of poses "with hand support", like it says on a lot of toy packages. These commando droids -- any of the commando droids -- are some of the most impressively made droids anywhere in the Star Wars collection. To the best of my knowledge, they haven't appeared outside of this multi-pack and the other one I cited, which I think is something of a shame. They'd be great army-builders.
Each commando droid comes with a blaster pistol. According to the information, they like to use E-5 blaster rifles, so I'm assuming that's what these are.
All four figures come with display bases, as well as cards so that they can participate in the Galactic Battle Game presently being marketed in all Star Wars action figure toys. There is also a plastic die included. Buy enough Star Wars figures and you'll have enough bizarre plastic dice to unnerve a Las Vegas casino...
As for the DVD, it technically doesn't include an actual episode from the series. Titled "Bounty Hunters", it is rather a brief retrospective on some of the best known bounty hunters from the Star Wars universe. Amazingly, it uses scenes from the movies as well as the animated series! The live-action footage features the likes of Jango Fett, Boba Fett, Zam Wesell, Bossk, and others. At one point we see Yoda, from the scene toward the end of Episode II, saying, "Begun, the Clone War has", and from there, we switch to the animated series, with profiles of Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, Robonino, and others. The DVD ends with a "Republic Alert" from a Clone Trooper, asking all citizens to be on the lookout for six of the most prominent Bounty Hunters.
The sequences featuring Cad Bane and Aurra Sing, which work together, are among the longest, and do feature footage from the "Hostage Crisis" storyline. It's not a terribly long DVD, but it's entertaining enough, certainly, and well-produced.
So, what's my final word? This is a cool set of Star Wars Clone Wars figures, representing an impressive storyline from the series. You get two distinctive bounty hunters not available by any other means (and there's no shortage of single-carded bounty hunters in the line to team them up with), and you get two exceptionally cool commando droids. Plus the DVD! Overall, I call that an excellent deal, and a very cool set that any Star Wars fan would welcome into their collection.
The STAR WARS CLONE WARS Target-exclusive BOUNTY HUNTERS set, featuring SHAHAN ALAMA, ROBONINO, and two COMMANDO DROIDS definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation.