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  1. #1

    12-inch Commander Bly reviewed

    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.


    What's Good:

    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.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    I have to take back some of the love for this figure after discovering that the reason the paint was coming off the visor was because they designed it wrong, the eyepieces make it too close to the helmet, so when they scraping it was a sign they weren't designed to go that high. Not knowing they had designed it wrong, I just positioned it like it was in the movie, and last night I discovered that the hinge had broken on 1 side of each helmet's visor! That is totally unacceptable bullcrap. This is a $125 figure, it should at least be able to handle positioning the visor the way it was shown in the film without breaking! And it's breaking because Sideshow got cute and added a bit one can't seen in the film anyway, brown eyepieces.

    That said, I still like the figure quite a bit, but between the inaccurate color and the unusable visors, I would reserve recommendation to others for something so expensive.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  3. #3
    Thorough remarks there, JT....looking forward to seeing for myself this Friday.
    Just a couple of comments on your review...I've seen some "in-hand" shots on line and it's appearing that the waist/crotch straps are coming up short on these figures...not long enough to lay right. Is that the issue you've got?
    Big drag about that helmet hinge....I'll take extra care with that...thanks for the heads-up.
    The color issue is just a bit of a drag...here's hoping SS gets back on track with that by the time Gree comes around.
    I've enjoyed the clones thus far...each one has seen some improvement with each successive release and it sounds like Bly continues that trend. It'll be tough to best Cody for me though...I really like that figure!

  4. #4
    Received mine today...yes, JT...the prominent yellow/brown/gold stripes, whatever the right color palate name is-are just wrong! The Hasbro 3.75 nailed it better. Probably won't send me back cause I know Sideshow isn't going to repaint the thing. A big misfire for the $$$ they charged.
    "In my experience there's no such thing as luck."

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jedibear View Post
    Thorough remarks there, JT....looking forward to seeing for myself this Friday.
    Just a couple of comments on your review...I've seen some "in-hand" shots on line and it's appearing that the waist/crotch straps are coming up short on these figures...not long enough to lay right. Is that the issue you've got?
    Big drag about that helmet hinge....I'll take extra care with that...thanks for the heads-up.
    The color issue is just a bit of a drag...here's hoping SS gets back on track with that by the time Gree comes around.
    I've enjoyed the clones thus far...each one has seen some improvement with each successive release and it sounds like Bly continues that trend. It'll be tough to best Cody for me though...I really like that figure!
    I hadn't thought about it before you mentioned, but yes, the holster to belt straps are indeed too short - not by much, but enough to be further inaccurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonthejedi View Post
    Received mine today...yes, JT...the prominent yellow/brown/gold stripes, whatever the right color palate name is-are just wrong! The Hasbro 3.75 nailed it better. Probably won't send me back cause I know Sideshow isn't going to repaint the thing. A big misfire for the $$$ they charged.
    Interesting way of looking at it. They aren't going to repaint, that is almost certain despite their prototype having a more accurate palette. But for $125 plus shipping and/or tax, I don't understand why you won't ask for your money back if you aren't satisfied. I am very satisfied with mine because I don't give a crap about Bly, but if you do, I would think that's too much scratch to waste on something you're so annoyed by.


    I'm waiting on UPS to email me the return postage email, I've already been approved for the return. I hate this part of the game (and I've had it way too often with Sideshow, when I realize I am so familiar with it), having the product in my hand and waiting to get rid of it, then waiting and waiting and waiting to receive the replacement.

    Who have I had notable troubles with?

    1. - Bly
    2. - Vader
    3. - Hot Toys Iron Man
    4. - Luke Bespin (twice)
    5. - Maul
    6. - Aragorn

    Out of...

    1. Luke ROTJ
    2. Luke Bespin
    3. Luke ANH
    4. Han ANH
    5. Han Bespin
    6. Leia ANH
    7. Leia Boushh
    8. Vader ANH
    9. Stormtrooper
    10. Maul
    11. Obi-Wan ROTS
    12. Obi-Wan ANH
    13. Qui-Gon
    14. Ventress
    15. Palpatine ROTS 2-pack
    16. Anakin ROTS SDCC-exclusive
    17. Lando
    18. Bly
    19. Indiana Jones
    20. Hot Toys Iron Man Battle Damaged
    21. LOTR Aragorn
    22. Gandalf
    23. Frodo
    24. Legolas

    Wow, a quarter of my Sideshow figures have had to be returned! That's pretty awful. I'm grateful that Sideshow stands behind their products, but that's a significant QC failure rate.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  6. #6
    Bly is here, and I got a chance for a quick inspection and a few quick shots...

    He seems like another well-done clone to me. The head portrait has better/cleaner paint apps than Cody did (less "pancake" finish and no weepy eyes from too much clearcoat like Cody had). He also looks "older" too. The yellow "warpaint" is...interesting.

    Both helmets are well-rendered - heeding JT's observations, I haven't forced the visors up too far, but they both seemed to position okay. The rest of the armor looks good - it just needed to be re-positioned and turned correctly, something I do with each clone anyway since the limbs usually need to be turned and positioned correctly as well. It just required a little more caution with the added gear on some of the pieces to avoid snapping those pieces off.

    Now the coloring may be a bit off, but I think the detailing and application is really good. The shading is really well-applied on this one too. As JT mentioned, there are a few of the black marks that look a little "marker" applied, but most look really good...there is actually one on an arm sleeve that looks like a crack (but it's not). While the mottling texture on the pauldron pieces looks a bit garish in photos, it looks fine "in hand" and depending on the lighting conditions really adds some great texture.

    Seems like the perfect clone. eh? Well...there is one thing which may not be an issue to some but for me is really the "dropped ball" of this figure and that's the straps that come off of the waist ammo belt. They are ill-fitting, too short and fastened wrong onto the kama. There is no way to pull them down across the front of the figure as illustrated on the box photos or the film. It's really unfortunate, because as small a detail as they may seem, they really are one of the "signature" looks to this clone commander that set it apart from the others. There have been enough "in hand" photos of this production version appearing around the net to show that it's not an isolated thing, but it happened on all of them.
    So much for sending it back in the hopes of getting a "correct" one... I may get brave enough to try and fix/replace them myself...

    Bottom line for me...another great clone figure from Sideshow with one bad production flaw (the straps), but still a worthy display piece in the "Militaries of SW" collection...here's hoping Gree comes out well too.
    Gotta say...Cody's still the best "Commander" figure so far for me...

    Here's a couple quick shots, with more to come later...
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    ...and here's one with his Jedi General...
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  7. #7
    Starting to really enjoy this one...

    Here's a couple shots of him on patrol....

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8
    Nice shots JB. I *think* the belt is actually a separate piece from the crotch panel and might be able to be worked down a little. I could be wrong though, it could be that they've been glued together. I should have tried to futz with that before I sent my defective unit back.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  9. #9
    I got my replacement Bly yesterday. The DC-15s blaster barrel is misaligned the exact same way. I looked at it more carefully, and it appears that for whatever reason it's sculpted to be 30 degrees rotated off Y-axis, the ribs are flat against the Y-axis so it's tooled for that to be the side, yet the middle detail piece isn't in line with the clip like it should be, the forward tab IS in line with it when it shouldn't be (it should be lower), and the V wire sights should be equidistant from the midline instead of an L shape. This isn't some ultra-fine detail like the corner of the cutout in the back of the helmet, this is a notable thing. And I checked, it's been wrong the whole time they've been releasing Clone Trooper figures! How does Lucasfilm give approval for that?

    The figure's paint is sloppier than the original in subtle ways, a little slop and bleed on stuff that was crisp on my original, and the overspray isn't as even (though that's a good thing on the thigh armor). The body suit also has a lot more twists and loose threads this time, but nothing I would send it back over.

    The alignment on the kama was WAY off and I was really bothered by that for a while. I tried to adjust, the belt is indeed a separate piece and can be moved (though nowhere near low enough to make the holster strap issue look any better) but the kama wouldn't accept the fix. I nearly sent it back, but finally located a small spot at the very back where the belt had been closed over the kama pinching it into the movement of the belt. Once I freed that pinch, it seemed to be willing to take adjustment, though I'll need to double-check when I get home, I had to run out to watch my sister's dog in the middle of writing this post.

    The left wrist peg is split just like the last one, but at this point I don't want to risk an even worse rendition. But clearly there's a problem with QC at Sideshow which isn't reflected in the cost of the figures, and that's something I think they must address to get their SW market back.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  10. #10
    Sorry to hear your replacement ended up with so many issues as well, JT. Guess I'm lucky with this one...other than the helmet visor's limited upper movement and the ill-fitting/too short waist straps, I think the one I received looks pretty good.

    The QC issue does have me concerned, especially with edition numbers creeping up (along with the prices) as well as the number of offerings. Seems like figures always get released in groups instead of more spread out and that makes the chances for flubs in production a bigger possibility. I also think it's probably why Sideshow's longtime weakness is still production paint apps. It's been the downfall of many a decent figure from them (especially the human characters).

    Look at Boba Fett...SS just announced an exclusive edition for that figure at 2000! Wow...I want to remain hopeful that the complex cut-sew and detailed paint apps that the proto are featuring will make it through production with that high of a production number....sheesh, 2000....what's the "regular" number? 5000? Time will tell...

    I just hope that Sideshow will still put out some great clones....Bly is good and a little more complex than a base clone, and the forthcoming Gree will also feature some intense paint apps and additional outfitting that require more attention come production time, here's hoping Sideshow steps it up and doesn't rush it the a half-hearted QC before the major release...

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