Sunday, 3 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper

Star Wars Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Although it was only a tiny part of the series overall, the moment when Ahsoka Tano is greeted with a legion of clone troopers with repainted helmets that match her own face markings is synonymous with Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven. Not only is it a key scene where the former Jedi Padawan reunites with her former comrades, but it was a huge part of the season's promotional iconography - making it a sort of "welcome home" for viewers as well. So even though these may have just been nameless clones that eventually fell victim to Order 66, they were a strong contender for action figures - appearing in both Hasbro's Galaxy of Adventures line and of course the Black Series. The latter release, fully labelled as the Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper, arrived as part of WalMart's exclusive (fan channel exclusive outside of the US) wave of Clone Wars figures alongside Ahsoka, the Mandalorian Loyalist and the Mandalorian Super Commando.

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The 332nd Clone Trooper comes in the new style Black Series packaging, consisting of a more slimline box with fully removable plastic and a slanted spine featuring connecting character artwork. Each of these connecting murals depicts a different instalment of Star Wars, so there's one for Clone Wars, one for A New Hope, one for The Mandalorian etc. Each of them also have their own designated colour, with the Clone Wars' being a vibrant yellow. I've also included a picture of all four releases in this wave together, just to give you an idea of how these pictures connect. Note that they encompass every release from that Star Wars chapter rather than just a specific wave, as the Kamino Clone Trooper comes before Ahsoka and Cad Bane after the Mandalorian Super Commando. Each release is also numbered so that you know which order they go in. The front of the box is fairly basic in design, mainly consisting of a large window to view the figure trapped inside. At the top is the Star Wars Black Series logo, with the name of the figure at the bottom in a yellow border. The flat spine continues that window with another logo, whilst the angled spine sports the previously discussed character artwork. The back is mostly designed the same as it previously was, featuring a short character bio and a close-up version of the character art. Open up the box and slide the plastic out, and underneath the window section is a tray holding both the figure and accessories 

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The 332nd Clone Trooper is a repaint of the (also recently released) Kamino Clone Trooper, and together both mark the debut of a brand new Black Series trooper sculpt! Right off the bat the most significant difference with these troopers is that there isn't just a helmet sculpt on a ball joint - there's actually a moulded head sculpt under there that the helmet has been place on top of. The helmet has been glued into place so would take a bit of working to get off, but all you need to do is look underneath where the joint connects to see the outline of the sculpt. The head sculpt itself is an unpainted Temura Morrison head, which must be less costly for Hasbro to produce than a featureless one. A bit strange since they don't intend for you to get at the head, but an interesting change as it does result in a more realistic design with better proportions. The helmet itself doesn't have the same glossy finish as the removable ones on some of the previous trooper figures (Rex, Wolffe etc.), but sports orange paint apps in the style of Ahsoka's facial markings. Both the edges of this and the blue paint apps across the body armour, are purposely jagged to give them more of a makeshift/battle worn look. But the main thing that stuck out to me with the helmet was the visor, which lacks that glossy finish it needs to really stand out. As far as the rest of the body goes there isn't a whole lot to say in terms of sculpt, since it doesn't really feel that different to previously released clone troopers. The armour has that nice glossy shine that matches the onscreen versions, and the moulded sections are all nicely defined despite not having any sort of black wash to bring them out in that sea of white.

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But that brand new body does mean that there's been some notable changes to the articulation. Altogether this new trooper body sports the following;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders
Immediately you can see that the number of different types of joint used on the figure has changed quite significantly. The big improvement here is the head, which sits on a little higher on the neck than the previous mould to give it far better clearance, and on top of that the combination of two ball joints at the top and base of the neck is better preferable to the previous swivel hinge joint. Much to my dismay though the shoulders on these figures are still a problem thanks to those static shoulder pads, but they have at least been changed to a softer plastic so that they bend when pressed up against the torso. On the plus side it means the arm can now raise a full 45 degrees, but the negative is that the bunched up shoulder pad looks really stupid and will almost certainly stress and break over time. The saddest loss of all though are the double hinged elbows and knees, now replaced with basic swivel hinge joints. The extra swivel is nice to have since the previous trooper mould lacked bicep and thigh swivels, but the trade off is now you're only getting a basic 45 degree bend out of both the elbows and knees. Much like the shoulders the hips aren't really that significantly improved either, but really it's only the wrists and ankles that seem to be completely unchanged. While overall I wouldn't say the changes Hasbro have made are completely horrible, I wouldn't say they were the ones the trooper mould desperately needed either.

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The trooper comes packaged with a DC-15A blaster carbine and DC-15A blaster rifle, both standard issue for clone troopers and have been released plenty of times in the Black Series before. However curiously, this new trooper mould also brings with it some new moulded weapons as well! The ones that come with this trooper (as well as the Kamino trooper) are slightly smaller than their predecessors, with more defined details. In the case of the blaster carbine, there's even the addition of a small silver paint app on the side of the grip. While I don't think there was anything especially wrong with the previous versions to warrant newly moulded weapons, but obviously Hasbro did so I have to commend them making the changes. The figure's right hand has a moulded trigger finger to hold the gun firmly in place, and then (after applying a bit of heat to open the grip up a bit) the body of the gun can comfortably be held in the left hand. Unfortunately there's no holsters on this particularly trooper, so no way to store the guns when not in use.

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The Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper figure is a nice release and very fitting to celebrate the long-awaited final season of Clone Wars, but there isn't a whole lot to say about it other than that it's just another clone trooper. The new mould doesn't really completely outclass the original, certainly improving the proportions and articulation in some areas but setting it back a bit in others. As a standard trooper it would have made a nice little army builder, but since this wave was pretty rare and sought after (especially in the US) getting a number of them might prove difficult and/or costly. A welcome release for Clone Trooper collectors and Clone Wars fans in general, but perhaps an easy skip for everyone else. Especially when this mould is going to get repainted to hell and back.

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