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Mandalorians & Omega Squad

SW: Republic Elite Forces
by yo go re

Just having an army doesn't accomplish much; you need someone to train them. And just like everything else about Star Wars, the Expanded Universe took care of that.

A secret army of clone troopers is being engineered on Kamino, created from the genes of Jango Fett, a Mandalorian whose combat skills are exceptional even among the great Mandalorian warrior society. Special clones are created to command these soldiers, but they must be trained to become leaders. Fett seeks out the very best Mandalorian warriors from every corner of the galaxy. These sergeants will train the commandos to fight and lead, and instill in them the Mandalorian values of iron discipline and loyalty.

This set - Republic Elite Forces: Mandalorians & Omega Squad - is an Entertainment Earth exclusive, and was only sold with its companion set, Mandalorins & Clone Troopers. The figures come displayed in a remarkably boring box, a horizontal display with a ton of wasted space. Thanks for giving me more garbage to throw away, Hasbro. Anyway, once you manage to extricate the figures from their plastic trays and rubber bands, are they any good?

Everything in the life of Llats revolves around battle and war. He has studied and memorized the campaigns of all the great Mandalorian leaders of the past, and uses these as lessons to enhance the clone troopers' fighting skills.

Llats Ward. His very name screams "I'm a real word spelled backwards." Basically, he's a green Boba Fett. Well, greener. Or maybe it's just an optical illusion based on chromatic induction. Boba's jumpsuit is light gray, while LLats' is darker; technically that should make Llats' colors look brighter, but since the grey falls into the same temperature range as the green, it all blends into a single hue - and thus, he looks to be greener overall. His kneepads, shoulderpads and the trim on his helmet are all a thin yellow, and he has a bantha skull painted on his chest. He's got a brown utility belt of some sort, and a slightly tattered cape.

The figure's helmet is removable, and the face is most definitely not Temuera Morrison. Is the face based on someone real? A Hasbro employee, someone's friend or family? I don't know, but it definitely has the same "real" look we've come to expect from the Star Wars toys - not the slightly exaggerated features of GI Joe or the hot tranny mess that was Indiana Jones. Now, admittedly, he does look a bit too young to be an old warrior, but maybe he's just a really dedicated student.

Llats is built on the same body as the Animated Debut Boba Fett, which means he has the same goofy right arm, with the cords running over his elbow and thus a strange assembly of joints to accommodate it. The torso is a new sculpt, with some kind of ammunition across the belly. If this wasn't Star Wars, we'd say they were shotgun shells, but that's too low tech. The figure has a working holster with a small pistol, and a large blaster rifle - the same kind that got distorted to be the Spacetrooper's clunky thing.

Rav is a sharpened battle instrument, attacking with surgical precision and stunning efficiency. Jango handpicks her to assist in the training of the clone commandos, where she hammers their independent natures into razor-edged power.

Here it is, the reason anyone spent $70 on 14 figures, a female Boba Fett. Okay, so her name is actually Rav Bralor, but the fact remains: it's a chick, it's wearing Mandalorian armor, it's something that's never been done until now, and the only way to get in on the action is to buy 12 superfluous toys. She's wearing red and black armor over a gray suit, and has a blue cape spreading out behind her. Of course, because she's a gurl, the armor strapped to her legs just "happens" to take the shape of thigh-high stripper boots. Yeah, that makes sense. Other than that, though, Rav's armor is pretty much a "one size down" version of the boys'... other than the breastplate. She's got a tactical belt, and there are spikes molded on the armor going over her feet, so don't think she's not dangerous.

Rav's helmet is the same mold as all the other removable Mandalorian brain buckets, so it looks comically oversized on the figure. The plus side? Like we said, it's removable. Don't like it? Don't use it. The head beneath is sculpted well, looking feminine without needing to be "pretty." Quote unquote. Rav's got brown hair with a gray streak running through it, and she's pulled it back in a very battle-friendly braid. This is clearly a woman who would kick your ass.

Bralor is smaller than the other toys in the set, but she doesn't suffer in the articulation department. Like most modern SW toys, she has a ball and socket head, balljointed shoulders, balljointed elbows, swivel forearms, swivel waist, swivel hips, balljointed knees and balljointed ankles. There's a hole in her back for a backpack, but she doesn't have one: her only accessories are two kinds of blaster pistol.

Brotherhood, stamina, loyalty. These are three pillars upon which B'arin Apma rests his entire life. These are also the three main tenets that he drills into the clone troopers he trains as essential to a superior soldier as marksmanship and courage.

B'arin, here, isn't just a repaint of his pack-fellow Llats - because while Llats was based on a Boba Fett, B'arin is based on a Jango. Two Jangos, in fact. The upper body comes from 2002's "Kamino Escape" Jango Fett (the one we used for the removable helmet Boba Fett custom), and the lower body is taken from the Jango in the Evolutions multipack. His armor is all done in shades of grey, so he stands out from the usual technicolor Mandalorians. He's also the only one in this set to get a jetpack instead of a cape - it's the "Boba" style pack, with a tall rocket in the middle, and it plugs into his back.

Beneath the removable helmet, B'arin Apma is a lily white dude with poofy hair and a pencil-thin goatee/soul patch thing. Either that or he has a brown tattoo on his chin. If this one's based on someone real, he needs to learn how to grow a real beard. The big Rick Astley hair makes the helmet fit very tightly, butat least his nose is flat enough to not distort the front of the mask too much when it's on.

The mold's mixed lineage becomes super apparent when you look at the articulation. The legs have swivel-hinge ankles, swivel-hinge knees, swivel hips and a swivel waist. Good start, right? Well, the arms only have plain swivels at the shoulders and the elbows. Wow. That's the difference six years can make. The head is a balljoint, so at least that's an improvement. Befitting the old arms, the figure has the same pseudo six-shooters that Jango enjoyed.

This elite clone commando squad wears black armor, unlike most other commando squads. They are originally from different squads whose ranks were ravaged during the Battle of Geonosis. Those who survived were combined to form the Omega Squad.

The four clones in this set - Omega Squad - are repaints of four clones from another set - Delta Squad. They've all been done in blacks, just like the Shadow Stormtroopers, but otherwise the figures are identical. And in fact, for the most part, they come from the same mold: big thick armor, with swivel hips, shoulders and wrists, balljointed elbows and chest, and a ball and socket neck. It's not great, but it's sufficient.

What differentiates the Omegas from one another are their weapons. Each has a backpack and a stocky blaster rifle, but they get individual attention. We'll just got left to right through the box and take a look at each one.

Omega 1 gets the plain gear. An unmodified rifle, an unmodified backpack, and nothing else. Aww, poor guy. He's not special enough to be specialized. The rifle can be stored on the backpack: just clip the magazine into the brackets on the bottom.

Omega 2 still has the plain rifle, but his backpack has the addition of some kind of scanning equipment or something. It's on a pivot, and reaches up over his right shoulder. He's also wearing survival pouches strapped to his left shin.

Omega 3 not only has an extra-wide backpack with odd grey risers, he gets a new right leg. Rather than being the same mold as the other three figures', this one has sculpted straps and a hole in the side, where you can plug in the included canister rack. Additionally, his gun is a different type, with a big anti-armor attachment.

Omega 4 is back to the plain rifle and unadorned body, but at least he gets an ornate backpack. Like 3's, it's wider than the rest, but it's capped by a wire frame. It looks like an antenna, perhaps - maybe he's the team's radio man?

You know, you have to wonder where Jango Fett found all these Mandalorians to train his clones. Wasn't he the last of them? And even then, he wasn't a true one, just an orphan picked up in passing. The actual Mandalorians were long dead by the time Jango would have needed school teachers; and technically, since the bio for Omega Squad mentions the Battle of Geonosis, Jango would have been dead, too. Huh. Maybe it's similar to the way more and more Jedi are revealed to have survived Order 66 all the time. Anyway, Omega Squad (and their instructors) show up in the Republic Commando series of novels, if you're interested in following their continuing adventures. Yes, it would have been preferable if you could get the important figures by themselves, but the set is still a decent offering.

-- 04/25/09

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