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Aayla Secura's Jedi Starfighter

SW: Clone Wars
by Artemis

Hey look, a Star Wars vehicle that isn't made of Lego! I do buy them sometimes. Well, once or twice. Okay, just this once, and only because of the pilot. Not that it comes with a pilot, but I already had the Aayla figure, so I got this for her as a present... hey shut up! You live in your reality, I'll live in mine.

Aayla Secura's starfighter sees plenty of action during the Clone Wars. The Jedi Knight commands troops during the conflict as a Republic General and flies her fighter on many intelligence-gathering missions and covert operations. One such mission takes her to Trigalis, where she assists Obi-Wan Kenobi in his hunt for Asajj Ventress.

I'm pretty sure we never saw Aayla in a starfighter during the movies (of course, since she wasn't the trilogy's Token Female Main Character, we barely saw her at all), so either this ties into the comics, the Clone Wars cartoon, or some other damned thing (you may gather my exposure to the Star Wars Expanded Universe is limited)... or it's just Hasbro slapping a new coat of paint on an existing toy in the hope of squeezing a few extra bucks out of people. If the latter... well, it worked, but don't tell them - so far "the Women of Star Wars" has been a nicely affordable habit, I don't want to have to start buying giant $200 AT-AT and Star Destroyer toys just because they slap "as used by [insert made-up female character's name]."

This "Jedi starfighter" is the model from Revenge of the Sith - you know, the shit one - when the design focus was all about creating stylistic links to the original trilogy. It's still vaguely pointy, as were the Aethersprite fighters in Attack of the Clones, but in most other ways the "Eta-2 Actis­­-class light interceptor" is doing its darndest to look like Darth Vader's TIE Advanced, with the circular cockpit viewport and the fold-out radiator panels and the targeting computer graphics and so on.

Another link to the TIE line, I'm told, is that they have no shields - seriously, how did the Jedi not see Palpatine's betrayal coming? "Hey guys, we've got this cool new starfighter, the ARC-170, it's got shields, rear guns, missiles and torpedoes, the whole deal... oh, no, they're for the cannon fodder clones. You Jedi, you get this, it's got no shields, no missiles, by the way don't pull the trigger too much, it doesn't have enough power to do lasers and engines at the same time. Good luck!" Morons.

I'll grant that it does look good, which is all a toy really needs to do. As is usually the case with toys the cockpit is oversized relative to the rest of the craft, but not by as much as usual - it's actually a fairly well-balanced recreation, visually, and of a decent size, 12½" from stem to stern, and 10¼" in wingspan. The craft is molded from grey plastic - the cockpit module is unpainted - with the wings decorated in various shades of blue, and black on the techy bits like the twin ion engines and the forward cannons.

The radiator panels are spring-loaded - there's a little lever at the back, between the engines, that when pressed will make them spring open. For display purposes (or play, I suppose, when necessary) it's got two landing legs built into the forward twin hulls - they pull down manually, and there's a slight catch at the bottom of their range to keep them from being pushed back up into the hull by the vehicle's own weight when it's resting on them.

Being a toy vehicle, it has to be able to put someone's eye out, so - although the Actis-class didn't have warheads as standard - there are two spring-loaded missiles built into the outer gun arrays, tripped by buttons on the trailing edges of the wings. They're the usual strength you find in toy missiles in these lawsuit-prone times - strong enough to possibly sting a bit, if fired directly into the eye from point-blank range; from a standing start, the vehicle landed on its legs, they fly about a foot and a half at best before hitting the ground, which is at least respectable, if not really intimidating. Whoever wrote the box text did know the craft wasn't supposed to have missiles, evidently, as they're billed as "firing blaster cannons," but the illusion is kind of spoiled unless you assume that what the cannons are meant to fire is themselves.

The craft has its own astromech droid - the Actis-class has a full-size droid bay, but the toy version doesn't go that far, just providing a molded piece showing the head and "shoulders" of an R2, which is removable, but obviously pointless if it's not in the craft. On the plus side, it's pretty decent so far as a fake droid goes - the body has only a single paint app on it, representing the "chest" connector limbs, but the head is fully sculpted and painted, orange over bronze plastic, with black picking out the main eye and blue the top sensor thingy.

The box doesn't identify this droid, but a quick browse of Wookieepedia reveals it to be R4-G9, or "Geenie" (and also confirms that Aayla did have a blue Actis­­-class, so it's not just Hasbro making stuff up) - evidently Aayla lent her fighter, and its droid, to Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the selfish git never gave either of them back. Well thanks. Geenie wasn't the droid Obi-Wan was using during the opening battle of Sith, but showed up later when he went to Utapau, and she flew the fighter away to divert attention from him. Yes, she's a "she" - I don't know how they tell either. Like Obi-Wan's other (ill-fated) droid R4-P17, she's got the wrong shape of head - R4s have the tall conical head, not the smooth R2 dome - and since it seems unlikely that Geenie, like R4-P17, just happened to have been involved in an accident and was rebuilt by Anakin in an R2's body shell, I think we just have to conclude that George Lucas didn't bother paying attention to his own continuity when he named her.

The cockpit opens, of course, and inside sports a copper-and-black deco job on the pilot's seat, and a smattering of black paint apps on the hand controls and pedals. As the packaging claims, "figure fits in vehicle" - however I'm here to tell you it takes a bit of doing to get her to fit well. I've got the same Aayla figure that's shown in the photos, and between her arms being optimised for holding a lightsaber two-handed, her lekku making it impossible to properly rest her head back on the headrest, and the leather straps hanging off her belt pushing her butt up off the seat, it took a good 10 minutes of prodding and coaxing before I finally got her sitting in something approximating a piloting pose. Also, she's flying the thing wearing high heels? Had they kitbashed together a new Aayla figure with more suitable articulation - parts from the current Aayla, Maris Brood, and Ilum Padme would cover it perfectly - and included her in this set with a single figure's cost added to the price tag, I'd have thought it a good deal.

Still, I don't suppose you can really blame the toy vehicle for another action figure's shortcomings that much - all in all, I'm not unhappy with this fighter. In fact, the primary flaw I'd point to is that it doesn't come with a display stand (and thus no way to display it with the radiators open), which is quite understandable for a toy - it just happens that toys these days are detailed enough that they make fine display models as well. The Jedi Starfighter's a value for money, at least at the price I found it for - it looks good, is sturdily built and should last well, and the action features are pretty neat. So long as you're aware that you're not getting a removable R2 droid, I can't really see any reason not to recommend this.


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