Deluxe Clone Trooper - with Speeder Bike
Contains 1 Trooper, 1 speeder bike in 2 pieces, 6 pieces of removable armor, 1 blaster, and 1 electro grenade
Sculpting - 10 out of 10
While not accurate to the likeness of clone template-actor Bodie Taylor from AOTC, the face does look like a person cloned from Jango Fett. Considering this is a deluxe figure - which usually means low-quality sculpting - there's a level of detail put into this figure and his ride that rivals anything Hasbro has put out in the Star Wars line. With his armor off, there's so much sculpted detail in the body suit that you almost pity the poor designer who put this intricate detail in all these parts. With his armor on, he looks like a clone trooper. The armor is sculpted a little soft but that's entirely excusable in this set - sure it could be sharper, but it gets the message across accurately and effectively - even the gimmick arm has nice sculpting except for the plunger post sticking out the figure's back. Only the neck is detail-free, it's merely a flat black post with a head attached, but it's no big deal.
The speeder bike is a new sculpt and comes across almost flawlessly. Even on the front end which is made of that soft rubbery plastic, there's no fudging or weakening of lines. The bike is just great right down to the handful of dents and blast marks. Not a vast improvement over the 20-year-old ROTJ toy, but that's only a testament to the great sculpt on that old Kenner toy - up close though, the difference is in the details and that's where this new one really shines.
Pose - 7.5 out of 10
Perhaps I'm being a little generous on this issue since he is in the ultra-wide speederbike-riding pose, but I'll take what I can get. The figure has a very wide stance, a noticeable tilt in his torso, his right ankle is bent forward, his left elbow is bent at 90 degrees, and his right arm sticks out to the side at maybe 30 degrees. The permanent bend in the left arm and right ankle is a bit of a bummer, as it was on the first two Clone Trooper figures, but the gimmick arm's distance from the body isn't so bad. The pose seems to be that this figure about to lob a grenade while riding his speeder, but there's actually some room for variation - I even found a cool standing action pose.
The "riding the bike"pose is adequate and since the controls are bent anyway, you can even sorta get the figure to hold both handles at once. The tilt in the torso makes it a little difficult to find a normal-looking pose on the bike when holding both handles since the design main pose calls for the right arm up and back holding the grenade above and behind his head.
Paint - 9.5 out of 10
Another area where deluxe figures usually fail, this Clone Trooper may not have the most paint but what he does have is quite good indeed. The hairline doesn't quite stay inside the lines but this is barely noticeable. The figure's eyes are really good work, small whites and small red pupils - yes, red pupils, it looks cool - and it all stays in the right place; the eyebrows are also nice work, not too thick and in the right place for once, they even follow the contours of the face like they should. There are a pair of white logos on the biceps and a small red Republic logo on the chest that are all painted dead-perfect, a wonderful surprise.
The half-point deducted comes from the painted codpiece and other permanent armor pieces above the legs which are painted white on top of the black plastic - a very difficult task to pull off right. The problem is that the armor here is painted in a shiny white paint, but this doesn't match the slightly duller white of the leg armor and removable armor pieces. This is very minor indeed, especially when the white paint is applied so neatly, but between the barely-noticeable hairline and the armor color there is room to say it's not a perfect ten.
Articulation - 7 out of 10
Let's face it, when you have a pack-in figure meant to ride a speederbike, you are destined to get less-than-perfect articulation; under the circumstances, this figure fares pretty well considering that limitation. More generosity? Certainly, if it were just a regular figure, but for what it is, I don't think so. The figure has 9 or 11 points of articulation depending on your POV about the knees - there's standard articulation at the neck, left shoulder, and hips, along with a swivel wrist, swivel knees and hinged knees; no waist articulation though. The right arm has a gear-driven shoulder that can be posed pretty much like a normal shoulder if you ratchet the arm through the gearing to the desired position; the right elbow is a free-floating hinge that is very loose.
Like I mentioned in the pose section, there's enough articulation to get a few cool action poses on or off the bike thanks mostly to the knee articulation. The removable armor doesn't hinder the articulation much unless you put it on wrong. I would gladly sacrifice the gimmick for more articulation on this figure, but it is not to be.
Accessories - 10 out of 10
This is where your ten bucks feels most well-spent. Let's concentrate on the little stuff first. The figure comes with the same blaster as the Clone Pilot figure except here it's molded in a metallic, very dark gunmetal bronze color - nice enough detail, nothing to write home about and maybe 15% bigger than it should be in my book. Then there's the electro grenade, a metallic dark gray disc-shaped mine with translucent blue electro-effect sculpted surrounding the outside that was seen in one of the cut-scenes of Episode II; the bottom of the grenade has some of the electro-effect painted gray which is a little weird. The electro-effect is maybe twice the size of the grenade and the figure holds onto the outer edge of this stuff until you push the post in his back in, then he flings the grenade to the ground or 2 feet away depending on how he's holding it.
The removable armor pieces are nicely sculpted and all but the helmet are regular plastic, the helmet being the rubbery stuff. It's all molded in white and snaps on (and off) the body nicely. Each piece is side-specific, the thigh pieces are obvious, but inside the shoulder pieces are an "R2" and "L1" to designate which shoulder they go on... get it wrong and the arm articulation pops them off or doesn't work right. The helmet is the only piece of armor with any paint, it has the standard Clone Trooper gray and black details which are applied neater than on the preview Clone Trooper. The armor fits smartly on the figure though the thigh armor looks too big compared to the skinny movie version.
Finally, there's the big dog, the main event, the best deluxe accessory ever; of course I refer to the AOTC version of the beloved Republic/Imperial speeder bike. While the original Imperial speeder bike, which turns 20 this year, was a fantastic toy and a very good likeness, it is time Hasbro put it out to pasture and replace it with a better model. That original toy had a spring-loaded T-bar to hold vintage figures to the top of the bike, spring-loaded legs attached to moving flaps to simulate hovering, and a button shaped like a folded canvas poncho to blast it into 3 pieces; this new version has no T-bar, no poncho, and no blast-apart gimmick - instead we trade in that stuff for increased detail quality and toy stability. The new bike comes in two pieces which assemble smoothly, however the bubble tray bends the soft-plastic outriggers a little causing the left side of the front to droop slightly -- some hot water should take care of that. From a distance, there is almost no difference between these two speederbike toys, but up close there's no doubt which one has more detail, this new bike has accurate handlegrips, rubbery hoses, darkening around the leading edges, and even an improved blaster cannon. Unfortunately, the spring-loaded legs were attempted again, and unlike its predecessor, this new version cannot stand on its own: the springs aren't quite strong enough and the feet are a little too far back for proper balance so even with the rider sitting it usually plops forward. There was no mention of this feature on the instructions anyway, so it's no heartbreaker; what is mentioned however is the ability for the bike to be stowed in the Republic Gunship. This accessory is a very good toy and a nice rendition of a favorite Star Wars vehicle.
Final Score - 10 out of 10
Sure the math doesn't technically add up to a perfect score, but this set is easily top of the deluxe heap and possibly the best Star Wars toy of 2002. I hope Hasbro decides to re-release it with a Clone Trooper that has a normal chest and arm, added articulation, and a special hip articulation to let him stand normally, but until that happens, this is going to be a tough act to beat. Don't miss the Deluxe Clone Trooper, this is a must-have set.