Friday, 22 November 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Commander Fox

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Release Date: October 2019
RRP: : £20/$20

Triple Force Friday has come and gone, and while it primarily celebrated the 2019 Star Wars trifecta of Jedi: Fallen Order, The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker it still had plenty of other surprises from across the Star Wars universe. Clearly eager to gear fans up for the imminent return of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Hasbro continue to bolster their grand army of the Republic with the release of Black Series Clone Commander Fox. Designated number CC-1010, Commander Fox led the shock troopers stationed on Coruscant – upholding the law in the Galactic City and thus becoming one of the most decorated soldiers in the military. Though he appeared in several episodes of the show, perhaps Fox's most significant role was his involvement in the capture of Ahsoka Tano after she was framed for the bombing of the Jedi Temple by rogue Padawan Bariss Offee. Like Commander Wolffe, Fox was released as a GameStop exclusive in the US and then a shared exclusive in the UK and other parts of the world.

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While some Triple Force Friday releases such as the First Edition wave and Carbonized Collection received special packaging, Clone Commander Fox comes in the same basic "phase 3" Black Series packaging collectors have been accustomed to for the last few years. As a store exclusive it lacks the numbering usually found on the spine of mainline figures, but other than that it's very much the same as always. The new artwork for the packaging is excellent as always though, and looks great both on the front of the box and on the back alongside a short bio explaining Fox's place in the Star Wars universe. Inside, the figure and accessories are stored on the usual plastic tray.

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As per typical Star Wars shock trooper attire Commander Fox's armour is predominantly red, with that classic trooper white retained on the chest plate, shoulder pads and lower legs with additional accents on the arms and helmet. The helmet itself is of Phase 2 design with an additional visor piece extending outwards, much like Gree and Cody's helmets. The range finder has also been replaced with a smaller antennae piece. Fox's left shoulder pad proudly displays the insignia of the Coruscant Guard, and then finally he also features a soft goods skirt piece like the ones seen on Rex and Wolffe. But while there are naturally a whole lot of similarities between Fox and the other clones released in the Black Series, the colour scheme and other minor touches go a long way to make him feel a bit more unique than he is. With so many clones having mostly white armour the overpowering use of red here immediately makes Fox stand out from the crowd, and details like the Coruscant Guard insignia have been beautifully applied. Like on the other Clone Commander figures the usually pristine white armour has been scuffed up for that extra bit of realism, and the splashes of brown paint go rather nicely with that red body. So although Commander Fox may just be a repaint/minor remould, Fox definitely special.

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An area where Fox is not so different to his brethren though is articulation – after all it's exactly the same base mould under there so why should it be? Altogether the figure has a ball jointed head with swivel hinge neck, ball jointed torso, swivel hinge shoulders, wrists and ankles along with doubled hinged elbows and knees and a single swivel waist joint. There's some stiffness across the board when it comes to joint tolerances (not all that uncommon in the Black Series as a whole) and the elbows don't bend quite as much as you might expect them to, but all in all the Clone Trooper body still manages to impress after all this time. The only real point of contention is the shoulder pads, which are used across a number of different characters and in every case just get in the way when it comes to outward arm movement. On characters like Fox and the Mandalorian where they need to bring the arms up a certain way to properly position their rifles, it can get a little irritating. Shoulder armour seems to have become my one biggest gripe with Black Series engineering as a whole, so I do hope it's something that does get an update somewhere down the line.

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Since Fox never took his helmet off onscreen there was no real reason for Hasbro to include a sculpted head underneath, so instead the helmet is a solid piece much like it is with General Gree or Boba Fett. The benefit of this is that the helmet sits comfortably on the body and there's no issue of the head being visible from certain angles like there is with Captain Rex. Of course it does mean that Fox is immediately down an accessory, but Hasbro have compensated for that with a few extra weapons to ensure the good commander is sufficiently armed. On top of the twin DC-17 hand blasters included with Rex and Wolffe, Fox also comes packaged with both standard and long-range blaster rifles. While the hand blasters are simply moulded in a dull black plastic, the unique weapons have also been given a wash of silver paint to help bring out all that moulded detailing. When not in use, the hand blasters can of course be stored in the holsters on either side. While it's quite easy to feel fatigued by all these clones coming with the same accessories, I don't personally see it as a problem given they'd be standard issue weapons. My bigger issue continues to be the lack of trigger-ready left hand, which makes holding a weapon in it (specially for dual-wielding) not look anywhere near as good as it should. It is thankfully however perfectly suited for holding the larger rifles, as (with a bit of persuasion) it can get a good grip on the extended barrel sections. Both are far more interesting weapons than the standard pistols, and that little bit extra to make Fox feel all the more unique.

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Usually when a toy line is constantly churning out repaints that isn't a good thing, but if Hasbro want to keep pumping out all these different clone variants then I (along with many other Star Wars collectors) am more than happy to keep buying them. Black Series Clone Commander Fox is another excellent addition to the line's growing ranks of named troopers, and with a fairly significant role on The Clone Wars definitely one that deserved to happen. While the clone trooper body may not be perfect (please do something about those shoulder pads Hasbro), it still manages to be one of the better moulds in the line despite the constant reuse. Thanks to the colours and minor mould differences Fox really stands out against his clone brothers, and in the absence of his own platoon would look pretty great leading some Battlefront Empire Shocktroopers in their place. With Commander Bly confirmed to be joining the line very soon, here's hoping this clone renaissance continues into 2020.

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