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Clone Walker Battle Pack

Lego
by Artemis

There's always been something that bugged me about the Clone Wars - how did Yoda know that's what they'd be called? I mean, sure, clones were involved, but it's not like they were the only naming option; I think "Separatist Wars" has a nice ring to it, with the bonus of being nicely prejudicial from a Republic point of view. Anyway, historians change their minds all the time - the First World War was just "The Great War" until we had a second one. The only logical answer is that Yoda had seen Episode IV; pity he didn't stick around for the rest of the original trilogy, or he'd have realised what Palpatine was up to.

The identical troopers who defend the Republic are thought of by most Core Worlders as little more than living droids, genetically engineered for bravery and loyalty. But their commanders notice that they take names for themselves, bond with their "batchers," and are moved by the same fears and hopes as any young soldier.

Convoluted as the war's name is (come to think of it, "Wars" plural? Do the "Clone Wars" include other campaigns the clones undertook on behalf of the Empire after the Separatists fell? Just curious), it makes perfect sense in reverse - if you're fighting the Clone Wars, you damn well better have some clones. Lego packs 'em in with its vehicles where required, but any commander worth his blocks will want a veritable horde of the little guys, not just the odd driver and gunner - but Hasbro has the exclusive license to market Star Wars figures, and the contract doesn't distinguish between 3¾" and realistic and 1½" and blocky. Lego's solution: very small vehicles.

So while technically this is the Clone Walker battle pack, it's more accurate to regard it as a clone trooper army-builder pack with a walker stuck in to avoid legal action. The pack includes four clones, each the Clone Wars TV series style with full-face helmets and proper heads underneath (rather than the older ones, which had open visors in their helmets and plain black "head" bricks within) - the faces are, of course, identical. Three are the standard clone trooper model, while the fourth, who sports grey sleeves, a techy thingy on his chest, and a tan-coloured helmet marking, is referred to on the packaging as a gunner. I'm no clone expert, but I've seen clones with the same helmet and chest detail in Hasbro's line referred to as a driver; take your pick.

Each clone gets a standard short-stock blaster rifle, and one of them can also be augmented with the ARC gear included in various Clone Wars Lego sets to distinguish officers. Uniquely (so far) the Clone Walker set includes black ARC gear, rather than grey as in previous sets - regardless, it's the same set, with a kama skirt, shoulder pauldron, your choice of rangefinder, visor, or two spotlights for the helmet, and a pair of blaster pistols. I've heard people praise the black gear, but I have to say I find its darkness a bit too stark against the bright white armour - I prefer the grey, but if you've bought Lego Clone Wars sets in any quantity you'll probably have plenty to choose from.

The Clone Walker is a unique vehicle Lego dreamed up on their own, though it obviously owes its design lineage to real Star Wars walkers. It's a two-seater with a laser cannon in the chin, and a pair of flick-missiles flanking the rear seat - they're the newer, stiffer version of the flick missile piece, quite difficult to dislodge by accident (whereas the old ones tended to fall out on their own), but they still fly well if you catch them a good whack with a fingernail. Neither crewman has any controls to work, but on a vehicle this size that's somewhat forgivable. The legs are ratchet jointed at the hip, knee and ankle, although with the limited number of positions on the joints there aren't that many poses you can achieve that'll keep the thing standing upright.

It's not a big vehicle, but it's just big enough to have enough parts to play around with. In fact, after a bit of experimentation, I put together a reasonable facsimile of the single-seater All Terrain Recon Transport (AT-RT) seen in Clone Wars; I'm sure it could be made closer to model using a wider variety of parts, but as a review exercise I'd decided to use only the parts included in a single battle pack.

As an army-builder, the price is a bit steep - the walker is large enough to push the price up beyond what you'd comfortably pay for just the figures. Plus you only get four clones - a nice little squad, but it's not really the kind of bulk you need if you're aiming for a colossal legion of Lego troopers. But whether it's left as is, or modified into something else, the walker is a decent addition to the set, and after all, this is Lego - if it doesn't involve building something, it's been done wrong. With the only other army-building set in sight the mammoth (and very costly) AT-OT/LAAT/c vehicle, these little packs are a good way to build up the army without breaking the bank.

-- 08/30/09


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