12" Bly arrived today, and I just took him out of the box, trying to take my mind off of real-world things. This is my first prequel armored figure (I have Vader and the Stormtrooper with which to compare, as well as light experience with a friend's Utapau Clone).
The figure is quite impressive, although mine has a few QC failures which makes him destined to be a return. The issues are:
- twisted strap glued from holster to belt;
- DC-15s barrel misaligned;
- split left forearm wrist joint.
I like the figure and am looking forward to the replacement. I'd like to point out the flaws and nitpicks before going over what's good (bad news, good news).
Flaws & Nitpicks:
First, let's get the color issue out of the way: the base yellow color seems to be wrong. I'm not a huge Bly fan, I bought this figure feeling this simply had nearly everything a prequel trooper could need - phase 1 and 2 helmets, every weapon including twin DC-17 pistols, the fold-down binoc-visor, a kama skirt, a pauldron (the only thing Bly lacks is Cody's jetpack) - so I don't care whatsoever that the figure's base yellow is more brown mustard than yellow American mustard. That said, some fans who are sticklers for such things, they will have a hard time reconciling this color with the movie character, and I would suggest that stance robs them of easily the best Sideshow Clone Trooper figure so far.
In the grand scheme of things, the only really weak point about the figure is the thigh armor, the paint is ok, but it looks too plain, there's no nicks or notable imperfections except at the very top and bottom. There's actually a blackwash-style paint job there to match the rest of the figure, but on the solid yellow thighs it just disappears.
Both the helmets have the movable binocular visor, and both visors on the underside are squared off as it was when Bly gunned down Aayla, while some of the early character promo pics' CGI shows that visor as rounded off that isn't how it was in the movie, so that itself is not a flaw. That said, they put in eyepieces inside and painted them brown, the fit on both helmets when moving the visor up to the movie position is so tight that it squeaks and rubs a little of that brown paint onto the helmet, which is a tough pill to swallow.
There's a sculpting flaw in the phase 2 helmet, but this is a flaw that Sideshow has been stuck with for every phase 2 clone, the nozzles below the mouth are not only too big, but the opening is supposed to cut at the top straight into the "chin" which Sideshow's sculpt doesn't do, instead they remain round and jut forward to meet the chin. This is a fact, there is no arguing it, the SSC design is wrong, if you disagree you are mistaken, sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but it's just incorrect on all of them and Bly is saddled with that same mistake.
The deco gets a few more nitpicks. The dark stripe on the helmet isn't quite symmetrical and it doesn't continue past the "mouth". The shoes are painted very worn, like Bly has been working in a coal mine, it's a bit overkill.There's no silver on the little ring holding the straps from the belt to the holsters.
The foot joints are a touch loose, I won't be leaving the figure freestanding despite his ability to do so right now, he's already tipped a few times trying it and is too expensive to replace.
The holsters for the DC-17 pistols are essentially riveted to the kama, while in the movie they're clearly free.
Both the DC-15S and DC-15A are sculpted with not enough detail, and the rifle's muzzle is wrong with extra detail I've not seen (although I don't dislike it). The DC-15S blaster is a little inaccurate to boot with a tall angled fin at the midpoint instead of a short horizontal flat tab. And I firmly believe both the DC-15 weapons are too large for their scale. While the DC-17 pistols both sport a ton of silver weathering, the DC-15 weapons sport none which only further accents their plainness.
The thigh armor won't stay high enough up the thigh, the fabric undersuit keeps pulling them back down.
The "ear" pegs holding the visor onto the Phase 1 helmet aren't quite fully inserted so the visor hinges stick out the tiniest bit, this is a really little thing but it was the very first thing I noticed.
And that's about it. Almost all nitpicks, only 1 or 2 notable flaws depending on how you look at it.
Things that aren't bad or good but are noteworthily "odd" maybe:
The character portrait head has a yellow bandaid-type detail cleanly painted and sculpted on either cheek, dunno what that's about, but haven't seen that on any comic incarnation so far, it's a touch odd. Not sporting a scar or stubble or even the right hairstyle, but those are comic elements so they're not required.
Range of motion on the torso joint is quite limited by the tightness of the armor.
The belt slips out of alignment just a smidge whenever handled.
I didn't realize the fabric ammo pouch strap hanging from the pauldron was meant to be attached to the belt, here it's glued to the lower torso armor under the belt.
The holsters are loose, so if you lay the figure down, the left DC-17 especially might slip out and is small enough to get lost.
Both bicep armor pieces and the left forearm were rotated around - easy enough to rotate right, but that's odd, especially if you don't know the character that well.
The first thing that stands out when you get this figure out of the box is how incredibly superior this deco is from any previous SSC prequel Clone Trooper. This figure is about 80% as good as the prototype, you will almost certainly NOT feel ripped off here. Every part has an incredibly subtle blackwash-type paint giving a realistic light reflection; there's no silly plasticky bare white, nor is there the annoying heavy shadowing at outer edges - I hate both of those with a passion, and Bly is entirely free of that crap. There's a heavier spray of black under the pectorals of the chest armor that subtly spreads into the rest of the chest, and it looks really good, not at all cartoony or heavy, but natural. Even the kama gets a weathered dye job, and the pauldron gets a mottled design. Everywhere you look, there are fine scrapes and black smudges. There are a couple black smudges on the chest which don't look as nice as the prototype and a little wax crayon-like, but they're the small exception to an otherwise outstanding piece of weathering.
The deco is also very tight, virtually no slop or bleed on the belt or the armor or myriad of hands. There is a very tiny amount of bleed on the phase 2 visor, you really have to hunt to find it on mine. The head is tight, no probs on the hairline or eyebrows or lips, the eyes have a slight upwards gaze but no annoying catchlight "doll dots".
The armor sculpting is fantastic, sharp and clean, very realistic and impressive. The pauldron looks great, the custom biceps look great, the holsters are sharp, there's a ton of swappable hands and they all look great and have matching paint on their armor (so the right hand looks the same no matter which pose you're using and the left has a different pattern that holds throughout). There's also a second set of feet in an action stance, as with previous clones. The AOTC helmet to symbolize the character's role in The Clone Wars tv show is a great touch, using a logical realistic tack with the paint to fit the rest of the armor.
The elastic fabric bodysuit with its sewn ribs is much nicer than the earlier painted vinyl which looked like a rubber batman costume from the '90s. This moves better and for the most part cooperates better, less blubbery bunching. I worry about snagging, but so far haven't actually seen that happen. I haven't mastered the separate collar so well though, it's the same material but cut and sewn into a loop about 33% taller than the neck, it's supposed to compress into that "hot dog neck" shape but I haven't taken the time to figure it out.
The 3 varieties of blasters work great in the hands, a natural fit on each. The DC-15S blaster has the fold-back stock as a throwback to the original E-11 Stormtrooper blaster, though simpler. The DC-15S also has a nice incarnation of the 2 wires that make up the front sight.
The articulation on the body is quite good, it works well with the armor, which is exactly what SSC had in mind when they worked together to design this armored body. Some of the armor restricts motion, but mostly that's what one would find in the real version (were it not CGI in the films), and there's still a great range from what's there.
Nearly everything in the "good" column here is big deal stuff, lots of top quality work on the deco, and overall an outstanding armor experience. The pauldron, the kama, the bodysuit, the range of motion, all authentic and enjoyable.
So, it's very easy to dig Commander Bly - even at the fairly high price it took him to get to my house ($139 with tax and shipping and a $4 discount from using the last of my points) - the figure has a lot going on, and I think it's the best Clone Trooper Sideshow's ever done by leaps and bounds. Everything that Sideshow has gotten not-so-right on past 12" Clones which has kept me from investing in them has been done right with Bly (except the lackluster DC-15S and DC-15A), such as a top-notch prototype-quality deco finally, and a nice kama instead of a tacky one (sorry Rex). Despite my not caring much about Bly as a character, the figure is a home run and a welcome step above the previous Sideshow Clones.