The comic-based sets for STAR WARS continue to be very successful, often presenting characters that emerge from the "Expanded Universe" of Star Wars comics and which might not otherwise see life as action figures. Other sets come a little closer to home.
Wal-Mart commissioned an exclusive set of comic packs from Hasbro in 2008. Each set, as one would expect, features two Star Wars figures and a comic book. The particular set I'll be reviewing here features a KASHYYYK CLONE TROOPER and a WOOKIEE WARRIOR.
This set, unlike some of the others, is derived directly from events of the movies, specifically Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith in this instance. As anyone who has seen that movie knows, I am sure, one of the main battles portrayed took place on Kashyyyk, the homeworld of the Wookiees, as the Army of the Republic, in this case under the command of Jedi Master Yoda, joined forces with the Wookiees to drive the Separatists and their Droid Army off of Kashyyyk.
There are strong reports around that George Lucas really wanted to do this battle in Return of the Jedi, but there was just no way to outfit that many Wookiees. That's how we ended up with the Ewoks. However, by the time of Revenge of the Sith, whatever couldn't be created live on the set could be rendered through CGI computer animation, and I'm sure that included a large percentage of the Wookiees, certain notable personalities such as Chewbacca notwithstanding.
The comic book included with this particular set is the third issue of Dark Horse Comics' adaptation of Revenge of the Sith, with some really outstanding artwork by Doug Wheatley, whom I personally regard as one of the finest artists in the comics world today. He's had quite a bit of participation in Dark Horse's Star Wars comics, notably in the Clone Wars series, and subsequent to the events of Revenge of the Sith, working on the Dark Times series.
The comic book actually chronicles, most prominently, the issuing of Order 66, which turned the Clone Army against their Jedi commanders. However, the book also showcases some of the events of the Battle of Kashyyyk, which makes it an appropriate choice for this particular comics set.
Of particular note is a cameo appearance by popular Jedi Quinlan Vos, who was created for the Clone Wars comics, but quickly rose to such popularity that he received a mention in the movie, and there was talk of hiring an actor to portray him, at least for a brief cameo. Unfortunately, this did not happen, but there was no reason not to present him briefly in the comic adaptation of the movie.
And indeed, in the Clone Wars comics, it was shown that Quinlan Vos was in fact on Kashyyyk when Order 66 came through, and the comics show him surviving it. The movie adaptation is not as generous. We see the events on Kashyyyk, as another well known Jedi Knight, Luminara Unduli, is surrounded by Clone Troopers and gunned down. From there we cut to a scene of Quinlan Vos, standing atop some large machine, somewhat atypically dressed in traditional Jedi robes, a knowing look on his face. In the next panel, the machine is destroyed by Clone Trooper gunfire from a large transport vehicle, and Vos is blown up with it.
So, let's consider the figures that comprise this set, starting with the WOOKIEE WARRIOR. Although not as plentiful in toy production as Clone Troopers or Battle Droids, there have been a fair number of Wookiees produced in conjunction with Episode III.
Now, let's face it, while the Wookiees may not appear to be the most technologically advanced race in all of known space, they are certainly not ignorant of technology. They clearly understand space travel. Chewbacca served as first mate on the Millennium Falcon for years. They are familiar with offworld species such as Yoda and various human types, including the Clone Troopers. The comics have presented Wookiees here and there in any number of situations away from their homeworld. In other words - they're not Ewoks.
It's also well reasonable to assume that they're pretty fierce in battle. For one thing, they have a considerable size advantage. It wasn't until Episode III that we learned that, to some degree, Chewbacca was actually something of a scrawny member of his race. And look at what he was capable of. And while perhaps not inherently ill-tempered, we learned early on that it's not a good idea to upset a Wookiee. They have a tendency to start ripping arms out of sockets when they get mad.
Someone clearly remembered this when accessorizing the Wookiee that comes with this comic set. Hysterically, inserted into his hands are two Battle Droid arms! And from the look of the size of the arm sockets, I'd have to say that what Hasbro did here was to simply direct the factory to take existing Battle Droid molds, and just stamp out a supply of arms to be used as accessories for this Wookiee!
Does that mean he's finished with his battle? Doubtful. I can well imagine that this Wookiee Warrior is well able to swing this droid arms around, extending his already prodigious reach, and inflict a fair amount of damage on his attackers with those droid arms.
The Wookiee figure included in this set is a very solid and heavy fellow - literally. Big, too. He stands a substantial 5" in height. That's huge for a line with a basic scale of 3-3/4". His fur is tan colored, but this is not Chewbacca. He's too burly, for one thing, and his beard and the hair on the back of his head has been somewhat braided. Chewbacca never did that.
The Wookiee is wearing a large harness over his chest and back, which attaches to a belt. There are various slots in the harness and belt that contain small objects which must be assumed to be weapons. In addition to this, the Wookiee is wearing a fabric tunic around his waist.
He also comes with a very ornate and carefully painted helmet, that is mostly bronze in color, but has some gold trim down the middle, and a small circle of metallic green, perhaps intended to represent a jewel, in the center front. Unfortunately, this helmet doesn't want to stay put all that well. It fell off the second I pulled the Wookiee out of his package. Mind you, the Wookiee looks perfectly fine, and just as vicious, without it, but if you want him to keep and wear his helmet, I recommend a few carefully placed drops of Glue.
The Wookiee's articulation is very decent, if not as extensive as some Star Wars figures. And unfortunately, the sculpted fur doesn't really mask the articulation points very well. I do not personally consider this a problem at all, but I know some collectors have a bit of an issue with it.
The Wookiee is poseable at the head, arms, elbows (diagonal cut, something I am not fond of) wrists, waist, legs, and knees. The arms move outwards as well as back and forth, so it's very easy to pose this fellow in a position of holding the droid arms up very menacingly and just daring someone to come at him.
Although I'll admit I bought this set mostly for the Clone Trooper, I have to say that this Wookiee Warrior is a superb figure in his own right, and I am very pleased to add him to my Star Wars collection.
Now let's consider the KASHYYYK CLONE TROOPER. You know, the movie pretty much showed us Commander Gree and those Biker-Scout-like Clone Troopers dressed in their camouflage uniforms. And don't get me wrong, those guys were cool. I was very pleased when Hasbro finally got around to making a figure of that particular Clone type.
But really, it seems to me that we've seen no shortage of other Kashyyyk- based clones since that time, most of which I don't recall from the movie, and most of which have been Target exclusives. There was that recolored basic Clone Trooper from the first Order 66 series. There was the recolored AT-RT Driver from the second Order 66 series. Then there was that boxed set of two AT-RT's in camouflage colors that came with drivers and a Clone Commander. Now we have this guy from Wal-Mart.
It's no wonder the Wookiees fared so badly in the aftermath of Order 66, if there were this many Clones hanging around their planet.
Unlike the rest of the Kashyyyk-based clones, whether in the movie or just the product of subsequent toy-based animation, this particular Clone is not dressed in a jungle camouflage type of uniform. His armor is mostly white, much like the vast majority of Clone Troopers. So, what's he doing on Kashyyyk? Hey, if you're trying to win a major battle, are you going to be all that concerned with how the reinforcements are dressed? If they can shoot, you accept them.
But still, is there a basis for this particular Clone? Actually, yes there is, and it's in the comic book that comes with the set.
One panel, that shows events just as Order 66 is taking effect, but hasn't quite reached Kashyyyk yet, shows the battle on Kashyyyk, as Wookiees and Clones stand side by side against the Droid Army. And there's a couple of Clone Troopers that are dressed just like this figure.
For that matter, standing right next to them is a Wookiee that's dressed and colored just like the ones that comes with this set, and he's ripping the arms out of a Battle Droid. This comic set really is extremely authentic, isn't it?!
So, we do have a Clone Trooper outfitted in the white armor. But he's not entirely typical. He has the variant helmet that we first saw on Commander Neyo, who commander the Speeder Bike division that served with Jedi Stass Allie, until they shot her down, of course. That figure was first available as a Wal-Mart exclusive some time back, and recently became part of an apparently sadly undershipped assortment of Fans' Choice figures that included some other scarce troopers.
The same helmet was used in the most recent Order 66 sets from Target, and according to some online details, is apparently a helmet design favored by Clone Snipers. Precisely what advantage it offers I couldn't really tell you.
Basically what we have here is a slight recoloration of Commander Neyo, although I want to emphasize that this particular Clone is not an individual, but a Trooper. You could have a dozen of these guys if you wanted. The markings on the armor are the same, however, that circle with a line through it and a smaller circle near the top. However, unlike Neyo, whose markings, representing his Clone Trooper Division, were a dark red, are a dark blue on this Clone Trooper, also reflecting the likeness within the comic book.
There are a few other differences. The Kashyyyk Clone does not have the insignia on his chest as Neyo does, and the left shoulder armor piece, which is entirely red on Neyo, is dark blue with a white border around it on the Kashyyyk Clone.
The figures are otherwise pretty much identical, including the placement of the "wear and tear" markings on the armor.
The Kashyyyk Clone is superbly well articulated, poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. Almost all of the articulation points have a multiple range of motion, easily putting this figure into the "Super-Articulated" category.
He is wearing a harness and belt, which can be unbuckled in the back, but I don't recommend doing so. This was a little odd. It came loose at one point, and I noticed that this Clone was quite loose in the mid-torso articulation. Snapping the belt back seemed to offer a certain degree of reinforcement without hindering the articulation. I'm not saying that all of the figures will be like that. I've collected enough Clones and know enough about mass production to know that occasional glitches are unfortunately inevitable. But in this case - hey, if nothing else, why not keep him properly equipped?
Speaking of which, unlike the usual pistol-sized blaster that accompanies most Clone Troopers, this guy comes with a pretty large rifle. And once again, deferring to the comic book, this is the hardware that the Clones shown in that battle scene are depicted as using. Hasbro really paid attention to the details on this one.
So, what's my final word here? Well, really, this is a set that you can't go wrong with, especially if you're into any sort of "army-building" with Star Wars figures. The set offers a Clone Trooper in a paint color scheme that hasn't been seen before, with a helmet that hasn't been seen all that often, with some hardware that's a step up from the usual blaster pistol. That's just about worth it right there.
Then you get a Wookiee Warrior that's nicely made, decently articulated, and comes with some pretty amusing accessories, which admittedly are nicely in keeping with the scenes as played out in the comic book. And Wookiees aren't all that easy to come by these days, at least not in the retail stores.
And finally, you get part of the official comics adaptation of Episode III, superbly illustrated by Doug Wheatley, whom I regard as one of the best in the business. If you missed the rest of the adaptation, it's available in trade paperback format.
Granted as a store exclusive set to Wal-Mart, it might not be that easily found, with likely limited production numbers and a limited release. But if you can find it, the STAR WARS COMIC SET - WOOKIEE WARRIOR & KASHYYYK TROOPER, most definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!