I'm not going to lie to you… I love the Battle Packs. I buy the heck out of these things. I even bought multiples of the Ice Cream Clones that we had last year. I even bought several assassin droid battle packs, so I take the droids, even though they're fragile and annoying. This battle pack gives us both!
But I'm also one of those people that accuses LEGO of using the higher price-points to make glorified battle packs (I'm looking at you, Geonosian Cannon and Ewok Attack). This year, we got two battle packs. We have an upcoming review of the excellent Endor Battle Pack, which I'm buying up like crazy, and I'm going to take a shot at our obligatory Clone Wars battle pack. So, we're going to go into this asking ourselves… how many more custom clones do we need?
I'm sure for LEGO, the answer is at least twenty more, guessing 1 battle pack and at least 1 custom set a year. Or as their marketing plan most certainly says, "alls your moneys!"
This year marked a different trend in battle packs. Previously, LEGO had been alternating years between the OT and the PT. It was a great system, and kept saturation a bit lower. It also meant that, with a two-year cycle, they always had four different battle packs on the shelves, typically. So if you were tired of Rebel Troopers, you could get Clones. Tired of Stormtroopers (who could get tired of Stormtroopers?), you could go buy droids.
This year, we get one of each, and the sides are split in the battle pack. I suppose that's designed around putting the "battle" in battle pack, but a 2 on 2 fight would more aptly be called a "small skirmish pack." However, I suppose that'd be harder to market. I don't know what the issue was, in the long run. With almost every other toy, you get one thing per pack. Transformers, you can buy some Decepticons or some Autobots. GI Joe? Cobra or Joes. Yes, there were some two-packs, but those are premiums, not the front-line guys. This is even more generic, it's about army building, so you want the basics. You can't do that now.
It also means that this gives us three clone wars packs and only one OT pack. The actual PT movies are given the short stick entirely.
I'm not going to lie to you… the number of custom clones went over the "insane" cliff a couple of years back. We should have probably noticed, but we were buying them up like mad and just laughed it off. But once those Sherbert Wonders hit last year, we knew that it'd gotten out of hand. Outside of the fact that it was about the worst color scheme to ever paint a military uniform, the bigger problem was that they didn't match anything. After all, this is the current landscape of Clone Troopers...
Kind of crazy, isn't it? I remember how cool the first jungle and ARC troopers were, back in the Episode III days. They made a nice little accent to add to the mix. I remember even paying someone to make some little clothy bits for me so I could add a skirt and pauldron to him (though I never did add the purse as well) to my ARCs. Now, the only color that we're missing is purple, and maybe a solid black. My bet is on solid black coming out next year sometime. Black Hole Clone Troopers.
And that's part of the problem with the one-offs, much like the Clone Commanders, in the battle packs. These are intended to "build your army." It says so on the box. But who wants an army that looks like a Vegas revue, and where the armor matches but the color scheme is worse than an explosion at a Crayola factory?
We're now three years removed from being able to get rank-and-file clones from a battle pack. It's worse if you want the Ep 3 style ones, which were last out in number way back in 2007. Instead, we get custom colors, lots of officers, and plenty of flair. Turns out, an army is built in the rank and file, and that's really starting to be a problem in these packs. They hit it well on the Endor Pack, giving us at least one regular clone trooper, but, surprisingly, Regular Clones have been getting the short-stick for awhile, last showing up in 2009.
But, our clones here are both super-unique. We have the new ARC Trooper, with his clothy bits. I actually like the cloth over the plastic, but you get the option for plastic too, since LEGO has never sent you "just the antenna" with any clones. you get them in dark red, which is nice. The real problem is that printed face piece, that looks more storm trooper than clone trooper. Maybe it's like that in the cartoon, I don't watch it, but looks strange next to other clones. The torso is also unique, a bit more general, and we get a couple of tiny pistols.
The ARF Trooper (okay, someone put in the comments what ARF means, because I'm sure it has a meaning, but I feel dirty every time I go to Wookiepedia; until then, I'll assume it's dog inspired) is a recolor of the ARF Trooper in the Skittles pack from last year (you know, the one with the BARC speeder, extending my dog suspicions).
Personally, I like the last one better, mostly because it blended better with existing figures. It's a tiny difference, but the red is more stark. The helmets are still big, and they're molded quite nicely. It looks better than the ARC one does too, at least to me.
Battle droids are a relative newcomer to the customization party. Sure, we had the fancy colored torsos before, but it wasn't until 2008's Magna Guards that we saw a diversion from those. Then, we had the rocket troopers after that, but they were still regular battle droids. Okay, yes, there were those pink monsters from Episode II, but they're more of the thing you put out to confuse your friends that didn't collect Star Wars LEGO back then. We also had the super battle droids, but all they did was get a new arm and frequently snapped where connected, especially those blasted legs.
However, last year's Mace Windu's Fighter threw a wrench in the mix with the TX-20 tactical droid. Here we had a whole new mold, head, and everything. I liked how it looked, I really did, but in the back of my head, warning bells were going off. The "Commando Droids" in this battle pack are the realization of that fear. Before, a droid broke, and I could mix parts from other things. Here? Not so much. I have some brown droids that match nothing else. They also look kinda creepy with those bug-like eyes. Or are they just screwed in?
Battle Droids aren't in quite as bad of shape as the clones, since you can get regular droids in the Battle of Naboo, still easily available, or if you don't like your money, the Battle of Geonosis. And that's the problem with this particular pack… the figures, by themselves, all look cool, but I can't see them in a whole lot of bulk. Who wants a dozen commandos in their army when they can't get the regular guys.
And because this is a "Battle Pack" it has to include something to make it something other than an action figure. For this pack, we get a big tripod cannon with a very tiny gun. After seeing the crazy-long weapons in other stuff, like the spider droid, or even the ships like the X-Wing or the ARC-170, this thing is positively tiny.
Overall, the whole build is just there, and feels exceptionally lazy. It's not impressive, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Yep, that's it. Even for parts, the only really nice thing is that these come with five 1x3 light grey tiles and a grilled round light grey brick. A splash of dark red makes them okay, but hard for the value. If you want the 1x3s, this is the most cost effective way to get them in a set, but they've gotten quite cheap on Bricklink.
You can go sell the clones, but with only 2 clones and 2 droids, this has less value. And that's really the story of this set... like I should like it, but it feels kinda cheap, especially next to the Endor Battle Pack or even the Skittles and Mandos from last year. Certainly the weakest of the current lineup.
What I liked:
- It's a Battle Pack, and these are the cheapest sets to get
- ARF Trooper doesn't look bad
- Tiny little blasters and extra armor parts in a new color
What I didn't like:
- Not a great army-builder set
- ARC Trooper Helmet looks too much like a stormtrooper
- Commando Droids are creepy looking, and use SBD legs, which mean they'll be prone to breaking
- Parts in the set are average at best, other than the 1x3 tiles
- Gun looks like it should be launching T-Shirts into a NASCAR crowd
Verdict: Buy it on Sale. Once.
Pick it up now on LEGO Shop@Home!