Toy Review: Sideshow Collectibles Bomb Squad Clone Trooper
For many collectors, Star Wars is the license that got them into collecting action figures. Since there's hardly been a time when Star Wars figures weren't being made, the fanbase has a real affinity for lesser-known characters getting their moments in the clamshell spotlight. The less screen time a character has, the more fans want a figure to commemorate his obscurity.
Though there's been no shortage of clone troopers over the years, the various divisions of the Grand Army of the Republic have hardly been part of the on-screen action. Sure, we've seen countless grunts on the frontlines in both the films, games and television series, but it's rare to spend any significant amount of time with specific divisions like the airborne or scout troopers, or even the ordnance specialists. That's why it makes complete sense Sideshow Collectibles' latest figure would be based on a trooper that was seen just twice during the six seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Debuting in "Blue Shadow Virus," the 17th episode of Clone Wars first season, the Bomb Squad Clone Trooper arrived on the scene to aid Obi-Wan in diffusing the poisonous explosive devices created by Dr. Nuvo Vindi. Differentiated by the orange highlights on their Phase I armor, the ordnance specialists are the latest in Sideshow's continuing line of Republic troopers. As such, there are many similarities to other figures in the design and execution.
The Bomb Squad Clone Trooper looks like he's seen some things on the battlefield. The paint app (by Dave Whitford) features the orange markings that separate these clones from the rest of the soldiers in active duty, but it's also severely weathered, giving the impression that his diffusing skills may not always have been on point. On screen, it's very rare to see any troopers in anything but the shiniest armor possible. In figure form, the illusion that these characters were actually involved in a years-long war is appreciated. It's a level of detail could easily be taken for granted, but offers the figure more personality just with one glance. That's a good thing since so many other elements are identical to the rest of the existing clone army.
Head to toe, almost every bit of armor is identical to that found within the rest of Sideshow's clone offerings. For the most part, the tooling is sharp, but it would have been nice to have a solid head/helmet. As it stands, the helmet is actually hollow, and while it doesn't detract from the build, it is weird that the head has almost no weight to it. The shared armor aesthetic isn't necessarily a strike against the sculpt (by Paul Harding) though. The clone army is an army, and it makes sense from a production and manufacturing standpoint for the Republic (and Sideshow) to merely adapt the same armor sets into what's needed. Our own real militaries do the same thing. There's a standard issue for a reason. But what sets soldiers apart is the accessorization based on their specializations.
Included with the Bomb Squad trooper is the familiar DC-15S Blaster Carbine (the one we've seen the units wielding for decades), the DC-15A Blaster Rifle with Optional Spear Attachment, a pair of wire clippers, and two Blue Shadow Virus bombs. There are also 13 different hands, two sets of feet (one for standing, one for "action" poses) and a backpack. The wire cutter and bombs are a nice touch, though there was a manufacturing issue that lead to the decals being put on incorrectly. Still, it's not something that detracts at all from the overall design. In fact, had it not been pointed out to me, I would never have noticed.
The wire cutters are interesting, as it makes sense for this particular unit to carry them around. However, the bombs feature removable cylinders rather than wires, so the wire cutters raise more questions than answers. Maybe I'm just over-thinking it, but wire cutters don't really seem to solve the problem the Blue Shadow Virus presents. Anyway, with the guns and bombs and the bombs and the guns, you can get fairly creative with the posing. The same can be said of all the different hands included, which give you a cool way to create a signal system between your figures, or have a little battle of Clone Trooper rock, paper, scissors.
There's a lot of articulation with the trooper, but he does have a hard time staying in any one pose on his own. There is a stand included, which is more than serviceable for upright use, but if you want to put the clone in any of the action poses, things are a little more of a challenge. Unless you've got him leaning on something else for support, it's nearly impossible to keep him in a kneeling pose. This is especially true when he's got anything in his hands, which throws the balance off slightly more. Even with those issues, the stretchable fabric under his armor does afford the Bomb Squad soldier terrific range of motion. Additionally, each extra hand and foot has its own peg, so accidentally snapping one off should never be an issue with so many on hand. That said, the ankle slots were a little loose, and were a little problematic when posing, but if you're patient, there's a lot to work with.
It's not without its flaws, but the Bomb Squad Clone Trooper is a worthy recruit into Sideshow's replica Republic forces. Army builders will be happy with the end product, as it give them another division of the clone army ranks to represent. Since the Bomb Squad Clone Trooper does include the basic armaments as well (and since the more standard Sideshow Clone Troopers are a little harder to come by these days), with the added benefit of a unique paint job, there's still appeal for more casual collectors, too.
The Bomb Squad Clone Trooper is available for pre-order now for $149.99. You can find it at Sideshow Collectibles here: http://bit.ly/GetBombSquad. This figure was provided by Sideshow Collectibles for review.