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Mon Calamari Warrior

SW: Clone Wars
by Artemis

You'd be surprised how often the eating habits of film personnel influence alien races. The "Tin Man" from Star Trek: The Next Generation made noises that were in fact the sound tech's lunch being digested. And the Mon Calamari, when George Lucas picked them out of a bunch of random alien designs and decided that'd be the Rebel fleet commander, were named after someone's lunch. So... well, that's two. Still, at least it's a bit more informative than just starting off the review with the Mon Cal's one great contribution to sci-fi lore, "It's a trap!"

The Mon Calamari are under attack by the Quarren, who have joined the Separatist side in the Clone Wars. Aided by Republic forces, Mon Calamari warriors mounted on trained keelkana fight the attacking Quarrens in a roiling undersea battle.

That's derived from the pre-Sith Clone Wars, I gather, not the current one, so I missed it - I like my Star Wars animated at least a little bit better than the cartoons in breakfast cereal commercials. Still, the Mon Cal and the Qarren (with or without the "u") hate each other's fishy guts, so it's no surprise they took the Separatist revolt as another excuse to kick up a fuss. If they didn't make starships that look amusingly like dildos, I swear both sides in the war would've just bombarded them out of existence on principle. Mind you, they let the Gungans live, so clearly even the Empire was far more tolerant than people think.

The star of tonight's show is just some generic Mon Cal warrior, a counterpart to the same series's Qarren Soldier, so the two figures can kill each other, or perhaps meet behind everyone's backs for Romeo and Juliet-like trysts. There's probably fanfic about that; if not, Rule 35 says there is... now. Anyway, Romeo has all the hallmarks of the Mon Cal as embodied by the famous Admiral Ackbar, with his fish-like head, off-white uniform with a wide, raised collar, and big flappy hands with a vestigial sixth finger; his sleeves also bulge a bit, suggesting the matching big flappy forearms beneath. Unlike Ackbar, who wore boots, Romeo has his feet and lower legs bare, revealing them to be likewise flappy arrangements of cartilage, with six bony "toes" spreading symmetrically ahead of the foot, and fin-like ridges running down the calves.

The uniform, colour aside, is more elaborate and warrior-like than Ackbar's turtleneck skivvy, with a skin-tight bodysuit beneath a thick armoured chestplate, invertebrate-like shoulder plates, and (beneath the skirt) a silver belt buckle made to look like some kind of aquatic insect thingy; reminds me a bit of the "Conspiracy" parasites from Next Gen. The buckle is surprisingly elaborate, considering that it's completely hidden from view unless you go looking up the skirt (the things we reviewers do for you people); also hidden are white spotted plates on the thighs, matching the design on the biceps and the sides of the skirt itself, and tight straps around the bottom of the pants, presumably to keep them from filling up with water. Not sure why that'd bother a water-dwelling race, but whatever.

The head is pretty much Ackbar recycled - fishy jaw, fishy google-eyes, wrinkly skin stretched tight over an underlying cartilage "skull" on top, and a point at the back of the head. It's cast in the basic salmon colour, with some mid-grey spots on the scalp to lend realism. The yellow in the eyes could perhaps be a little neater, but the big black irises convey the proper effect well enough regardless.

Romeo's articulated in almost exactly the same manner as his squid-faced Juliet, although the tilt range of his balljoint neck is highly limited, since the sides of the neck rest pretty much right up against the torso inside the collar. He's got swivel/pin shoulders and elbows, and swivel wrists, for battle-appropriate mobile arms - though oddly, the inner ring of the shoulder joint is off-white like the uniform, not dull grey like the shoulder armour; the sculpt of the armour almost looks like it's supposed to not cover the middle of the joint, but if so, it's a dumb decision, as it mostly just looks crap. Swivel waist, peg hips, and swivel/pin ankles round him out, limiting his action stances as much as they did the Qarren. With the knees completely covered by the skirt, I can't imagine why this guy doesn't have knee articulation, or full-on swivel/pin hips for that matter.

He's got a kind of lance/blaster weapon to put on a show of fighting, though - it fits easily into the right hand. There's also a shield, shell-like akin to the shoulder armour, with a loop on the back that fits snugly over either arm, not so tight as to be difficult to get on and off, but tight enough to grip the limb. And just for kicks, he's also got the Horn of Fishdor, a shelly kind of cavalry horn on a strap which fits loosely around the shoulder, or hangs naturally enough if he's holding the horn in his hand.

And finally Romeo's got his droid bit, the body of R7-T1. As befitting an astromech it's a squat cylinder with panels on the front - to match the triangular eye on the head, the primary panels have an angled design to them, which also makes them stand out nicely from earlier R-series droids. It's got the necessary plug-in points for the main legs - swivels - and the fixed third leg on the base, and on top there's a mound of silver electronic whatnot, into which the head plugs. The inclusion of the inner workings of the head is a nice touch, since - with the limbs being fairly discrete entities - it means that the build-a-figure will look right even if you leave it in pieces, as a disassembled droid.

If you care enough about Star Wars to buy the Qarren - or bought it for the droid bit - you're probably willing to shell out for this guy as well, and he's pretty much the same story: good figure, shame about the knees. He gets a little boost by association with Ackbar - if you wanted, you could have a couple of this guy as the Admiral's bodyguard - but essentially he's just one of those "Who? Oh, one of those" figures that Star Wars has been churning out more or less constantly since 1977 to give fans something to buy besides endless new versions of the main cast.


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