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Joker Squad

SW: Legacy
by yo go re

Not to be whore for Entertainment Earth or anything, but they really do manage to pull down some excellent exclusives, especially in the Star Wars line. They may not get the flood of things that Wal*Mart does, but their stuff's cool. They're the ones who brought us the Crimson Empire set, for instance, and now Legacy's Joker Squad.

The Stormtroopers of the 407th division - Anson Trask, Sergeant Harkas, Jes Gistang, Hondo Karr, and Vax Potorr - are sent to take down one of their own. The 908th division is going to defect to former Emperor Fel's side against the current Sith regime. The 407th is ordered to stop the defection, and Sith Lord Maleval joins them to ensure that they finish the job. Trask's first mission as a Stormtrooper challenges his ideals as well as his courage... and has dire consequences for the rest of Joker Squad, as well.

This set is basically three figures, and that's how we're going to review it. When you have a box with five Stormtroopers in it, you don't expect a lot of variety. The boys are all based on the superposeable Stormtrooper body, which is a fine choice: it would be stupid to offer any less, when the molds already exist, right? Plus, you already know what to expect: a body that stands just over 3¾" tall, has balljointed ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, torso and neck, plus swivel hips and wrists. The sculpt is still fairly sharp, so it's good to see the molds aren't wearing out too fast on this one. More Stormtroopers! More, I say! Hang those who talk of less!

It is interesting, though, that troopers in the Legacy era wear the same armor as they did in the Rebellion era - it only took three years to go from the original Clone Trooper armor to a pseudo-Stormtrooper, but 156 years after that it still looks the same? That's a stretch. A simple bicycle is pretty much engineering perfection, but even those have changed somewhat over the years. Today's model doesn't look like one from the start of the 20th century, you know?

The Jokers have removable helmets, and not a one of these guys is a Jango clone. We start with Sgt. "Hardcase" Harkas, the leader of the squad. He has reddish-brown hair and a full beard, and when his helmet's on, he can be identified by the dusty yellow stripes running down his arms. Next there's Anson Trask, the story's POV character, a recruit newly assigned to Joker Squad. Though he seemed to have a little faux-hawk in the comic, apparently this figure is suffering from helmet-head: his hair is plastered on his forehead.

Hondo Karr is rumored to be an ex-Mandalorian who was conscripted into Joker Squad. He looks slightly like a longhaired Luke Skywalker, with blonde hair mashed down against his head and falling past his collar. He's also a fan of knives, so his figure includes a dagger (taken from the G3 Cobra Trooper and its many permutations). On the other end of the follicle spectrum, we have the completely bald Vax Potorr, a former thief who knows how to barter for anything the Jokers need.

So those are the first four members of Joker Squad - but the set includes five. The last one is Jes Gistang, and that's undoubtedly the one most people will be buying the set for. Why? Well, because she's a she. Jes Gistang is the first-ever female Stormtrooper! Well, first ever official female Stormtrooper. Put "female Stormtrooper" into Google and you'll get tons of unoffical results. Make sure Safe Search is on.

Anyway, since Jes is packing a pair of girlnads (the physiological opposite of "brovaries"), she gets an entirely new sculpt. Thankfully, the design manages to avoid being a stripperiffic breast plate with a bare midrif and high heels. And she also normal-sized breasts! She's just a slightly more slender Stormtrooper with a narrower waist - mixed in with the boys, you'd never even notice her. And that's the way it should be.

Beneath her helmet (same mold as all the others), Jes has slicked-back red hair, which is either pulled into a small ponytail or she has a ducktail back there. She is apparently wearing bright red lipstick, which is pretty much the only concession the figure makes toward her being "girly." It could be worse: at least the helmet doesn't have Leia-style hairbuns molded on the sides.

Improbably, Gistang is the squad's heavy gunner - the weapon she uses in the comic gets only four shots out of an entire power pack. The figure comes with a huge bazooka of a blaster, a pre-existing mold that previously came with... I forget. A clone, probably. All five troopers come with the standard blaster, as well, though Jes is the only one who can't stow it on her belt.

Lord Maleval is part of Darth Krayt's New Sith Order - rather than following the Rule of Two, Krayt started the Rule of One: thousads of members, all serving the Sith order itself. The One Sith comprises dark side users from throughout the galaxy, all active at the same time. And since the ancient Sith race were apparently red-skinned, they all get Darth Maul-style tattoos. It was true for Darth Talon, and it's true for Maleval, as well.

Krayt isn't the humans-first speciest that Palpatine was, so Darth Maleval isn't human. In fact, he's a Quarren - also known as "the squid-lookin' guys who aren't Mon Calamaris." He wears a long black cape, which on this figure has wires at the neck and in the lower hem so you can pose it however you like. That's always a fun feature! His cloak also has a hood that you can pull up over his head - and it works a lot better than the ones on the Imperial Knights.

Maleval has a softgoods skirt, with fairly plain pants and boots beneath that. His armor is rather creepy, with heavy shoulder pads and an emblem of a single slitted eye in the center of the chest. It's all a dark metallic grey, which makes for a very dreary look overall. Not that that's a bad, thing, though! He should look funereal. It's not like Vader wore fancy neon colors or anything.

Against all that black, Darth Maleval's bright red skin really pops. His hands have three clawed fingers each, and his face has thin black lines. The head may or may not be a new mold: I don't have any other Quarren figures to compare it to, but the face tentacles are posed in the same manner as the Clone Wars figure, so if I had to guess, I'd say it's repurposed from that figure.

Maleval's articulation is just as good as the Stormtroopers, though his legs should probably be just a bit wider to get the feet flat on the ground. Rather than wrist articulation, he has swivels higher up the forearms, where they're nicely hidden by his clothes. He's armed with a red lightsaber (though his hand is open too wide to hold it, so save those rubber bands) and his electrowhip. No, it's not a lightwhip, it's just a normal whip that he can send an electrical charge through. The body of the whip is just string, held in place by a removable plug.

The Joker Squad exclusive box set is a unique offering and gives you a lot of good figures for the money. However, you really have to think it would have been better served by being a comic pack rather than a big box. Let's be honest: the only reason you're going to want to buy this is to get the 100% unique female Stormtrooper and the creepy Sith lord. Yes, the various Stormtroopers are nice, but not necessary. They're just going to end up being vanilla Stormies fighting Han and Luke, but Jes Gistang and Darth Maleval are the stars. Plus, if it had been a comic pack, you can have actually gotten to read Legacy #4, and find out what happened.

-- 01/16/10

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