Cliffbee.com: Clone Trooper / ARC-170 Starfighter (blue 501st legion version) Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Clone Trooper
Series: Star Wars Transformers
Allegiance: Galactic Republic
Function: Clone Trooper
Alternate Mode: ARC-170 Starfighter



STARFIGHTER MODE
Height: 5.5cm Length: 20cm Width: 19cm

   A dark blue and beige Star Wars fighter plane with a distinctive shark mouth theme on the front, which is reminiscent of a WWII fighter plane. The two colours form a tiger stripe theme, with blue stripes on the beige fuselage and beige stripes on the blue wings. The paint job on the shark mouth is great, complete with eyes, teeth and nostrils! Not that sharks have nostrils, but we'll let that slide since the overall effect is wonderful. This toy is actually a repaint of the "standard" ARC-170 seen in Episode 3 of Star Wars, representing the 501st legion of Clone Troopers - under the personal command of Anakin Skywalker. There's a whole backstory to it, but basically their signature colour is blue, hence this rather nifty repaint.

   There are big black missile launchers underneath the wingtips which sport dark red missiles, along with small guns on the tail, one on top and one at the bottom. There are jets engines at the base of his wings, with silver and black intakes at the front. He has three canopies, with a small white Clone Trooper which fits inside the central one. The front and rear ones don't open, although all of them are transparent plastic with blue ribbing. The rear one faces backwards, for a gunner to operate the rear guns (another WWII style feature). There's a burgundy R2 unit moulded into the roof between the central and rear canopies. The wings stick out to the sides (did I mention this guy has a lot of WWII fighter elements?) with panels that lift up on tip and bottom, forming a star-like cross section. All of these elements work well together, visually, with the possible exception of the missile launchers on his wings, which look like they've been added for the robot mode. They don't look bad in my opinion, but they detract from the rest of the visual layout a little.

   The play value here is great for what is essentially a deluxe. The guns at the back turn from side to side and lift up/down. The central canopy opens as I've already mentioned, allowing the Clone Pilot mini figure to sit inside. The wing panels can stow or deploy while the missiles fire quite well, and won't fire unless you want them to. The launchers can turn around but the attachments are designed so they snap back into the facing forward position easily and don't flop around. He lacks any sort of undercarriage but then this is a space based fighter so it's a fair assumption that it launches directly from a mothership or spaceport in zero gravity which would make wheels all but useless.

   I really like this plane mode, and it's a large part of the reason I picked up the toy. The WWII fighter stylings are cool, and the shark's mouth motif is awesome - making this repaint more of a WWII homage than the plain beige version of the same vehicle. The play value is great and the vehicle holds together quite well for a SWTF. This particular configuration (501st legion) is from the Star Wars expanded universe, so it's not something we actually saw in the cinema, but as a Transformer fan I like the paint job enough that I bought it as a Transformer rather than as a Star Wars vehicle.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Collapse the wing panels and detach the missile launchers. Unclip the robot legs underneath, allowing clearance for his wings. Lift the arms out from within the jet engines, fold the wings down. You can now split the front out to either side and swing the robot legs down in to position. Rotate the waist, extend the legs and fold down his feet. Slide the arms up, rotate the down and swing the intakes forward to form shoulders. Position the fists, split the sides of the rear, fold the central part of the rear back to reveal the head and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 17cm Width: 16cm

   The beige of the fuselage is now clearly dominant here although the blue tiger stripes are still prominent and the wings which hang out to the sides behind his arms are mainly blue. His arms are black while the head is a white Cloner Trooper helmet (as seen in Star Wars Ep. 3) with a black eyestrip and yellow eyes on the helmet similar to those on the front of the jet. The white head doesn't really work with the beige, but I can understand why the awkward contrast is present. Other than this slight misstep, it's a good colour scheme. Personally I would have preferred a beige head, but since the head is meant to resemble a Clone Trooper's helmet it's locked in as white. The Transformer fan in me (which made the decision to buy this figure) accepts the Star Wars subline has to adhere to the realities of the Star Wars mythos.

   Tying into the Star Wars theme, this robot has been designed to fit in to a pre-existing vehicle, but it still works as a robot, unlike some of the Star Wars Transforms with heads that are awfully organic. The helmet makes this fairly straightforward, but I'm not worried that it achieves it by default. The downside is that he ends up with quite a bit of kibble (having said that, there's essentially no kibble on jet mode, which is nice). The halves of the front hang off his shoulders as long armour plates while the sides of the rear stick up from his shoulders at about 45 - they're almost shoulderpads but not quite. The central tail section is the worst offender, sitting behind his head, and unlike the panels, there's no armour or shoulderpad excuse. I wouldn't say the kibble is a serious shortcoming, since only the latter piece can't really be justified, but the kibble is still significant.

   Despite the kibble there are some great visual elements here, such as the wings, the central canopy on his chest, the jet intakes on his shoulders and the jet thrusters which sit behind the shoulderpads. The tiger stripes do their bit for the cause, as well. The torso is slightly narrow and the groin is rather narrow, but the wide wings help to hide this - it doesn't stand out. The missile launchers are huge in his hands, which detracts a little, I find he looks better with one left aside so they don't overwhelm the toy so much.

   As in jet mode, the Clone Trooper has good play value. He can wield his missile launchers in either hand - although they're huge guns, both are longer than his arms. The missiles fire in this mode, as you'd expect. You can detach the guns from the back of the plane and plug them into the outsides of his shoulders, if you like. This isn't an intentional feature, rather a side effect of the designer using the same style of connection in several places. The shoulders swing and lift out to the sides, the elbows are hinged with rotators above them and there are also rotators in the wrists. The shoulderpads do get in the way of his shoulders a little, but with a little work there are quite a few decent arm poses available. His waist rotates but the head is fixed. His hips swing and lift out to the sides while his knees bend and have rotators above them. The knees joints are quite low, he'll look weird if you try a running pose, although walking poses work well enough. The ankles are hinged, giving enough latitude for stable leg posing, and there are heelspurs.

   An unusually strong robot mode for a Star Wars Transformer thanks to the distinct paint job and some nice details such as the jets on his shoulders and the wings. The helmet is close enough to robotic that he has something to offer to fans of giant robots - a failing of most of the "human" SWTFs. I really like the way the stripes work here and the play value is quite satisfying. There's a little bit of kibble and some artefacts such as the white head and giant missile launchers, but overall I'm quite happy with this robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although this is a repaint of a a different Clone Trooper toy, with a resculpted head.

OVERALL

   A really nice transforming mech with a cool theme, the 501st legion Clone Pilot is obscure enough for those with a only casual interest in Star Wars to be able to appreciate it as a Transformers rather than a Star Wars toy. The jet mode's WWII fighter theme is really cool, the paint job is lots of fun. The robot mode looks like a robot rather that some guy in a robosuit. The play value in both modes is quite satisfying. Recommended if you like the SWTFs or WWII fighters - 8.5/10

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