This pack took me completely by surprise. I really hadn't heard much about it, but when I found it at my local Toys R Us, I knew I had to possess it, despite the $20 price tag. This pack, called Star Wars Evolutions: Clone Trooper to Stormtrooper (there are two other sets available, an Anakin to Vader and a Sith set) is utterly amazing. On the surface it may look like three troop figures, most of which we've seen before essentially, but scratch a little bit and it's so much more.
The idea of the set is to show the evolution of the Clone Troopers throughout the course of the Star Wars Sextilogy (or whatever you call a movie with six installments), so we get a Clone Trooper from Episode 2 (Attack of the Clones), a Clone Commander from Episode 3 (Revenge of the Sith) and a Sandtrooper from Episode 4 (A New Hope). The sculpts initally seem like re-uses, but the new combinations of parts and the re-tooling makes it well worth it. First off, the Ep. 2 and 3 Clones feature removable helmets, so for those of you who still can't find the AT-TE Gunner figure, this set gives you a chance to get that feature, twice over. The headsculpts are different between the figures, and while the Clone Commander features the same head as the AT-TE Gunner, I don't think I've seen the Ep. 2 Clone's head before, though it may be from a figure I missed. The Ep. 3 Clone's helmet fit is somewhat awkward thanks to his shoulder pauldron, but it's a minor nit.
Another bonus in this set is a chance to get a decently articulated Ep. 2 Clone, since the one Habsro released a while ago was pretty difficult to find (I know I never found one). I'm not sure what body this figure uses, but there are definite subtle differences between it and any of the standard Ep. 3 Clone Troopers I've seen. The Clone Commander's body appears to be the same as the Clone Commander figure I reviewed a while back, but with a retooled neck joint to allow for the helmetless head. The Sandtrooper appears to utilize much of the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Stormtrooper's parts, but with a different torso that lacks a waist or mid-torso joint of any kind and has a hole in the back to accomodate the backpack. Kind of a bummer without a waist, but the figure is still very well done.
The paint is pretty inventive for a bunch of guys in white armor, and there's some interesting things to note. First, there's the obvious black accents, which are done very well, with no significant bleed that I can find. Next there's the weathering and battle scars, which on the Clones consists of some dirt and scuff marks on the body and some brownish dust on the boots. The Sandtrooper has some spots that have been given a yellowish brown wash to simulate sand. The little details are all handled pretty well, and I'm happy to report that none of the human heads have crossed eyes. The Clones also get some nice yellow accenting. The Clone Commander in this set is pictured in the Episode Three Visual Dictionary as "Commander Bly" but I have since discovered that the dictionary is inaccurate and this is actually an elite Clone who is under Bly.
The articulation is nothing we haven't seen before, but it's all up to VOTC standards. Balljointed heads, pegged and hinged shoulders, pegged and hinged elbows, T-crotch hips, pegged and hinged knees, and pegged and hinged ankles. The Ep. 3 Clone fares one better with a peg waist. The balljoint on the Ep. 2 Clone's head is a little restricted, which makes me think his head *might* be retooled from a previous figure that may have had a pegjoint in the neck. I can't be sure though. Overall, when you think that not so long ago the standard for Star Wars figs was still the "Big 5" plus maybe a waist, it's nice to see how far Hasbro has come.
If you're still scratching your head as to why this set is so great, let me just say one word: accessories. First off, the guns are all weapons we've seen before, but each one has a new sculpt. Hasbro could have skimped and given us the same sculpts we've seen over and over, but instead we get four all-new blaster sculpts that are more detailed and in a better scale than we're used to seeing. Even the Clone Commander's two tiny blasters that fit in his waist-skirt holsters are different sculpts than those that came with the initial Clone Commander figure. Now that's love. In addition, we get the standard Clone DC-15A rifle and DC-15S pistol (the pistol in particular has some very nice detail), as well as the Sandtrooper's heavy blaster rifle.
All the rifles are painted in gunmetal instead of black, and the Sandtrooper's has a tan strap. We also get a pretty cool backpack for the Sandtrooper. The Ep. 3 Clone's shoulder pauldron can be taken off if you pop off his head, but unlike the initial Clone Commander figure, his waist skirt is not removable (which means the sculpt is not a re-use). Then there are the helmets. The Commander's is actually a different sculpt than the AT-TE Gunner's helm, which Hasbro could have substituted had they wanted to skimp. Instead we get a new (or at least a re-tooled) helmet for the Commander. I saved the best for last, though: The Ep. 2 Clone Trooper actually comes with two removable helmets. One is the standard Clone Trooper helmet from the beginning of the Clone Wars, and the other is the helmet of the Clone Pilot of the Republic Gunships. Meaning that just by switching the helmets, this figure can actually be two characters! How awesome is that?
Most of the new Star Wars merchandise from Revenge of the Sith has left me cold, but one area still manages to sucker me in every time: Clone Troopers. Each of the figures in this set is an excellent representation of the character, and with the new sculpt accessories and removable helmets, how could anyone pass this set up?
What characters do you want to see Evolved? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.