The Expanded Universe is something Hasbro doesn’t like to trek into very often. Past experiences have taught us nothing conclusive though. While Shadows of the Empire was a dismal retail failure, Clone Wars was for the most part a wide success. Other attempts at touching on the EU figure potential have hardly been fair measures of how well figures from games, novels, comics and other sources would actually sell. Figures like the 1998 line were popular but most areas didn’t receive them in any real quantity either. The McQuarrie Concept Trooper did well at retail but again it suffered from scarcity.
Hasbro decided to test the EU waters once more in 2006 though with a couple figures. The first of which has arrived to much fanfare from the various forums - some good and some pretty vocally bad. Like Expanded Universe material or not, eventually I think Hasbro has to tap it somewhat to keep the line going on a fresh level, and the first figure from The Saga Collection to check this out is Scorch (Republic Commando) out of the “Geonosis Wave”.
So who is Scorch? Well, you had to play the Republic Commando video game on X-Box or read the Republic Commando novels to actually know who this trooper and his comrades in arms actually are.
The reasoning for the figure appearing in the Geonosis Wave is that the game actually starts on Geonosis as the Clone Commandoes embark on a secret mission while the battle rages elsewhere. It’s kind of odd Hasbro put the figure out now, as the game has fallen out of the limelight and the second novel hasn’t been as widely acclaimed as the first. Still though, despite the figure not having current media to really support its release, there’s been a whole lot of talk going on about this figure... So how does he meet fan expectations? Well who cares! How does he meet MY expectations, that’s what is important here. And if you read on you’ll see what my emotional rollercoaster was on this one. Suffice it to say, he’s far from Clone perfection unfortunately.
-Sculpt: Hasbro’s pretty great about not letting us down on a figure’s sculpt in general for the past 5 years or so at least. It’s always a nice positive to list up for Hasbro and pretty uncommon when they let us down unless they give a wildly exaggerated pose to a figure. Scorch is no slouch for detail either and is everything you could expect if you’re actually familiar with this figure in any way. There-in lies the problem with EU figures though, eh?
The armor is unique among Clones, so if you are familiar with the Commandoes you’ll notice the detail differences you’d want. For instance the thicker look to it is captured fairly well with this figure’s sculpt, and little extras like the forearm “melee blades” you use in the game when you’re out of ammo are there if you have a keen eye to notice them. The elbow pads extend past the elbows rather than form to them and look really nice and different.
The legs look almost like a standard Clone’s armor though the sculptor put the thigh straps on the figure (more than we could say for our Commander Gree we got) for his extra accessory. The body armor has more raised surfaces and bulk, lines for detail, and the character underneath the armor (what you can sort of make out of his body glove anyway) indicates a “muscular” build compared to regular Clones.
The helmet is full of detail, and completely unique among Clones. There are many small vents, panels, lines, raised, and lowered surfaces throughout the helmet’s design and the sculptors seemed to capture it perfectly. For sculpt accuracy the Commando Scorch figure is a fine match to all references of the character from the game and novel covers, and definitely a positive start for the EU litmus test.
-Paint Aps/Deco: While I’ve seen some complaints that Hasbro could have done a better paint number on the Scorch figure I really think that he’s pretty full of varied paint applications for a mass production toy. There’s many unique color applications, lots of patterns that are fairly intricate, and plenty of detail paint applications to keep the eyes moving over this figure while I inspect it.
The armor of the Clone Commandoes is unique for each member of a Commando team. Scorch’s paint design is dark grey and yellow over the white base of the armor. The yellow and grey stripes on the feet, legs and arms are really nicely done and even. The paint doesn’t really bleed on the different colors and looks pretty nice and colorful. That definitely makes for an attractive figure on the pegs, and can draw your attention from some of the potentially more dull looking characters you may see on the shelves.
The helmet’s mostly grey around a white face. The vibrant blue of the “T” visor on the helmet really stands out though and is a trademark look to the Clone Commandoes so the way Hasbro pulled off this detail looks nice, albeit it a simple effort on their part.
The figure’s smattered with battle scarring of varying types. I like that Hasbro took the time to, instead of just little brown scribbles, actually put on some battle damage patterns and varying colors to the damage. For instance there are reddish-brown marks all over the legs and torso from combat experiences. On the helmet though, there is clearly a series of claw marks of some kind down the left side of the face, and they’re a darker colored damage. There are similar damage marks on the right side of Scorch’s helmet then as well in the same color.
The paint applications are fairly complex for a Hasbro paintjob using lots of different colors. The stripes aren’t simple on the armor and look very nice and even. The black of the body glove stands out nicely, the yellow pops on the figure, and the details of the damage and visor really look cool so Hasbro gets props for a good overall paintjob on this EU morsel.
-Accessories: What’s a Clone Commando if he isn’t packin’ all the gear you’d expect out of the galaxy far, far away’s equivalent to a Navy SEAL (or SAS for our Brit readers)? Well the big H makes sure that your Scorch is armed from head-to-toe in the true Mandalorian style.
Scorch comes with the now standard personalized and embossed stand, and a randomly packed holographic miniature figure. The stand is nice with “Star Wars” embossed on the top and silver lettering on the front indicating the character’s name. The holographic miniature figure was a strange idea and personally I could do without these as they certainly have cost something to produce and I’d sooner that went into the figures instead of gimmicks.
The gear that Scorch needs though is simply fantastic. All new sculpts of a backpack, heavy blaster weapon, and packs of ammo for his right thigh are all great, and the accessories are painted quite nicely to boot. All the gear is made to fit the figure snugly, and accurately to the gear the character carried in the game and just how he carried it too.
The pack and thigh ammo are particularly nice. The weapons Scorch has, as a Demolitions expert, are bulky explosives. The “tube” ammo packs fit to a hole on Scorch’s thigh where the thigh straps are sculpted on. They look great on the figure and they don’t look bad off him either if you want your Commando low on ammo. The pack Scorch comes with has similar ammo tube items, handles, lots of panels and a ton of depth and detail sculpted into it.
The backpack looks like it actually has a functional purpose for the trooper and sports just a ton of detail. While a tight fit, the pack is secure to Scorch’s back by a smaller hole than his thigh ammo pack. Both the backpack and thigh pack are painted yellow, black, grey, and white just like the Clone figure’s paintjob overall. One of my personal favorite details to the backpack in particular are that it features a groove where the Clone’s helmet rests back into incase you want your Clone lying prone. The pack doesn’t interfere with the Clone’s helmet tilting back into it then, and that’s either just excellent detail captured by the sculptor or some innovative thinking on the fly on his part.
And what Clone Commando is complete without his boom stick? I speak of course of his blaster. In the Republic Commando video game, the Commando’s sport a blaster rifle that is modular in design. You can get the attachments to take it from a standard automatic blaster, to a sniper rifle, to a heavy weapon, etc... Scorch has a blaster that is sculpted to have the “heavy weapons” attachment on it. It’s been so long since I played this game I can’t even recall what it is, but it goes “boom” really loud.
The blaster’s a fantastic sculpt itself and seems to be accurate in every detail to images of the gun in the game. There’s silver paint highlights on the blaster, and a wealth of detail that makes you envision a really advanced weapon compared to the regular Clone’s blasters.
Commando Scorch is packin’ gear out the whazzoo and it’s all accurate and detailed. I think the figure has what you should expect since it’s what he has in the game, but it’s also just nice to get a figure with this much stuff because Hasbro’s gotten away from wowing people with extras. Of course, repaints of Scorch are almost a given too, so did they really take much of a risk with all of this figure’s gear anyway? Yeah, I don’t think so either.
-Packaging: The Saga Collection packaging for each figure is an interesting mix of styles. You can definitely see some elements of the ROTS line mixed with elements of the OTC line, and that makes for a unique package on the shelves. I really enjoy the black cardback with silver lettering, and I hope it’s something Hasbro is willing to stick with for a long time to come.
I also highly enjoy the unique backgrounds for each figure. Pulling an element from the OTC line, the new Saga Collection packaging uses a film shot that pertains to each unique character, and really individualizes the figures. This is drool-worthy for the carded collector and it makes even the die-hard openers want a figure here and there to keep carded just because of how special the backgrounds are.
The bubble is a little closer to the ROTS line in its overall size and shape, but should lend itself more to staying mint for the carded guys. There’s also an insert depicting the specific character and the character’s name, packaged into the bottom of the package just as the Revenge of the Sith figures had. The insert features the bold blocky silver lettering of the Saga, and lets fans know that this is the universal collection of figures encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.
There’s a lot to like with this packaging so I hope it stays as the standard for a while. I would say that The Saga Collection and Original Trilogy Collection will go down as some of the most liked packaging by collectors for quite some time if Hasbro gives it a while, and this is coming from a guy that rips almost everything off its card at some point or another.
-Articulation: Unfortunately, all good things must come to and end and Republic Commando Scorch’s fun just hit a brick wall. So far in 2006 there’s been one constant letdown and it’s the level of articulation we’ve seen. We got a decrease in quality with less articulation in almost every figure they’ve put out so far this year, and we’ve seen a $1 price increase at almost every store. So far things have just been a huge downer with how Hasbro has handled poseability. I’d hoped it was a fluke and that a lot of these figures were just old hat leftover from the OTC line, but figures like Scorch are sore reminders that we just aren’t getting the quality this year that we got in 2005.
As a Clone, Scorch should be as near to super articulated as possible… I could forgive lacking ankle articulation even, and this figure’s lack of ball/socket shoulder joints as well, but unfortunately the legs on Scorch are almost straight out of the 1995 Stormtrooper figure from the POTF2 line. Right down to the freaking pose even! There’s no knee joints, and that alone will earn Scorch a negative. Ironically I was impressed with the upper body’s articulation in early photos and I still am. I think it’s passable really. But when I finally got the figure and there was no way to pose the figure’s legs, I was unfortunately let down by a figure I was greatly anticipating this year.
Republic Commando Scorch sports articulation at:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 ball/socket elbow joints (very nice effort there)
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 ball/socket waist joint
That’s a weak showing at only 10 points of articulation total on Scorch, and without knee joints the figure is just not a very poseable army builder. Combine that with a pre-posed leg sculpt I’m going to tear into shortly, and that’s not a good thing.
Had Hasbro simply loosed their fingers on their corporate wallet a little and just given this figure knee ball/socket joints, the Commando would easily have gone from a bad review to an overall positive one from me. It’s so disappointing when Hasbro gets so close with a figure like this but still manages to undermine it by omitting something so simple for them to accomplish. It’s also omissions like these knee joints that makes me wonder if we weren’t getting asinine gimmicks like mini holographic figures, would we have gotten the knee articulation on this guy.
Even with the minis, we should have gotten knee joints. In this day and age, no figure with unobstructed legs should have articulation on his legs that doesn’t go beyond the last Kenner figure of 1983. Hasbro, quite simply, can do better for us... And when you KNOW they’re going to release the other Commando figures by simply repainting this sculpt, it’s doubly irritating that they didn’t just do this figure to perfection like they should have. Once again, the consumers are shorted on quality, even with a price increase this year. Where’s the justice?
-Loose Waist Articulation: A complaint others have noted on forums I visit, and one I can’t help but notice myself, is an odd “loose” quality to Scorch’s waist/torso articulation. My Scorch can hold his poses though so this is hardly a huge negative to me, but there waist joint is certainly not as tight as it is on the super articulated Clone Trooper sculpt.
The joint is loose though. I can sort of flip the figure around just by shaking it. It’s very strange, a minor point to me, but a negative irregardless. It’ll be interesting to see if this is fixed in future releases of this figure (I’m assuming repaints when I say that). Otherwise it’s nothing major for me to deal with so no big deal.
-Pre-Posed Legs: A bit more irritating than the waist is that the sculptor, while doing a phenomenal job overall, decided to sculpt the legs on Scorch in a “walking” pose similar to the 1995 POTF2 Stormtrooper. The legs are not horrible for posing but they’re also not straight neutral legs. Without knee articulation though, the legs are a weak point on Scorch irregardless of how the sculptor made them.
I’m a huge detractor on pre-posing anything on a figure though. I’ve loathed a figure with a “leaning” torso sculpt in the past. The POTJ Bespin Guard comes to mind for that, or the Lt. Faytonni Outlander figure for instance. Posed legs are something Hasbro’s generally gotten away from but they still sneak into the line now and again. Articulation solves the problem though. Save posed sculpts for Unleashed and pump articulation into the basic line... I hope Hasbro sees the light someday.
-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at some retailers, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our ROTS figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 at most retailers with only Wal-Mart sticking to a $6 or less price point right now. Hopefully Hasbro and Retail will see the light that price increases in this day and age means that people may become more tight with their spending.
I know a price hike will affect my buying habits, and I’ll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. I’ll cut back on army building, custom fodder buying, and other areas that I otherwise maybe would have spent more freely. That $1 or $2 starts to add up over 60 or so figures though. Hopefully at least Target will adjust to compete with Wal-Mart in the near future, if nothing else, and we all maybe will have more to spend on more figures.
(As I write this, Wal-Mart decided to jack their prices back up over $6 a figure, and Target is seemingly acknowledging this with jacking their figures back up to $6.99 a figure. To you, the reader, I highly suggest you buy online from one of JediDefender ‘s many wonderful sponsors. At this point, brick & mortar retailers are just giving us every reason not to deal with them for the toys we want between zero products on the shelves and prices that are just obscene once we actually do find something)
So where does Scorch (Republic Commando) stand here then? Well, for this reviewer’s dime, I was highly disappointed that Scorch turns out to be probably the least poseable Clone since the 3-pack Deluxe Clones. Probably more comparable to Commander Bacara though... A figure Hasbro could have done better but simply didn’t.
Anything in armor like this should simply be super articulated or really close to it. Hasbro has no excuse not to. The Commandoes are characters that solely revolve around action. I opened Scorch with the kids and the first words out of the youngest one’s mouth were, “Why doesn’t the Commando move like my Clone?”, and honestly I can’t give him an answer why. There is no reason other than Hasbro cheaped out on Scorch... Were they afraid of the figure’s ability to sell? I simply don’t know.
That’s not to take away totally from the figure’s numerous positives too. It’s accurate looking, painted great, armed up nicely... I love the arm poseability, I think it’s quite well done, but the figure just fell flat because you can’t play with it like you should be able to. I hope should Hasbro do the assumed repaints on this figure, that they make new legs for him and scrap these ones. That’s probably asking too much of the company, but one can hope for them since it’s pretty likely we see this sculpt again at some point. It’s so close to being a truly great figure that I really hope they do up the ante on this one.
The Scorch figure has been impossible to find since its release. I got mine from a local buddy who hits the stores quite early, and I’m very appreciative to Dave for that. The figure was hardly a fair test of the Expanded Universe market by Hasbro since its status of a Clone Trooper almost pushed its sales on that merit alone. It’s good seeing a new (and from a video game, my favorite EU media too) Expanded Universe figure in the line though from someone who likes a lot of the various EU sources out there. There are a lot though who aren’t fans of Expanded Universe, and I think other figures like Foul Moudama may be a better example of how well non-movie figures will sell.
Anyway, my final opinion is that, unless you’re a Commando fan, or an EU fan in general, or a completist, I wouldn’t highly recommend Scorch. He’s not the best Clone figure out there, not by a long shot, and the sheer headache of tracking one down may simply not be worth it to you unless you have a vested interest in owning this character.
If you are a Commando fan, this may very well be your only chance to own a character from the game. If you want to see more EU in the line, figures like this need to do well for it to happen. If you are a completist, you have my sympathies because I am too and life sure is hell in this hobby, isn’t it?
Scorch reships for a while though, the year is young, so don’t panic yet folks. Pick one up if you feel compelled to do so... If you’re not a fan or obsessive compulsive, you can easily pass on the Republic Commando Scorch, and you won’t miss a single thing, I guarantee it.