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Never Forget - The ICMG Petition

Brian's Toys

Clone Commander Cody

Back to the basics here, I’m picking up my review column where I left it with the Coruscant Wave of figures. We’re kicking off with what may have turned out to be the most anticipated figure of 2006, and as such he may have also become one of the bigger disappointments to many collectors in 2006. The figure I speak of is Clone Commander Cody. As the single most asked for Clone from all of last year, you’d think Hasbro would pull out all the stops with him right? Well, you’d be wrong there actually.

Cody has some positives, don’t get me wrong, and Hasbro seemed to be going in the right direction on one hand, yet on the other hand one major flaw coupled with some minor issues have got the most popular Clone from Revenge of the Sith racking up some major complaints around the net, and justifiably so. For some reason Hasbro really knows how to put out a perfect Clone and they just opted not to do it with this figure. One can only fathom why though. If you know what works, why mess with perfection?

Anyway, check out the full review to see just why this figure falls short of greatness. It’s not so far gone that it can’t be easily fixed by a sly customizer, but for the normal collector who doesn’t want to go the extra mile to make something great, there’s reason to be unhappy.

PROS

-Sculpt: As a slight disclaimer, the sculpt on Cody isn’t perfect by a longshot. Actually a couple of the bigger complaints in the “Cons” portion of the review are directly sculpt-related gripes that impact the figure’s overall outcome. The sculpt overall though, for the most part, is pretty decently detailed and captures the uniqueness of the armor that Cody wears in the film as well as the Clone’s likeness. So for that, I want to give it respect where it is certainly due.

Commander Cody is an all-new sculpt, re-using absolutely no parts of previous Clones. In a twist of irony, I actually would’ve preferred seeing some re-used parts on the figure’s legs, or at least his lower legs, but what Hasbro did with the armor sculpt overall is pretty nice. Cody’s duds were unique among his men, and war-torn to show he’d seen some rough action during his tour of duty. There are a number of deep gashes in the armor from heavy combat, and it really helps the armor stand out as a new sculpt compared to all the past Clones.

The figure’s details that change up the armor seem to all have been captured well. The extra details include the bulkier shoulder pads plus the antenna on his left shoulder pad for instance. Also there are is the rectangular chest plate on his left chest, the piece of equipment strapped to his right bicep, and his extra equipment pouches on his Clone utility belt. These are all the kinds of details that mean Cody REQUIRED a new sculpt to be truly accurate overall, and it’s really a good example of why a past Commander figure (Commander Gree) ultimately was such a failure in quality as he too needed a new sculpt to be truly accurate as opposed to a repaint.

Cody’s noggin’ and brain bucket both feature new sculpts as well. The headsculpt of the figure is true to the look of Temura Morrison I believe, and features some additional scarring details that were unique to Cody. They’re raised scarring details too, not just painted on, so that’s a little extra effort for realism. The head though is a tiny (no pun) bit small… as my grandmother would’ve said, “big head, little wit - little head, less yet”. I don’t know how that applies to my review but it’s funny.

Cody’s helmet is a new sculpt too, as his helmet in the movie isn’t anywhere near close to other Clone’s designs. All the little details on it like the added brim/visor, the two antenna on the sides, and the ridges across the top are all there and the piece (removable at that) looks very nicely sculpted to me. Like I say though, Hasbro’s sculpt isn’t flawless and I’ll pick apart what went awry with it later on, as it’s a major flaw to this figure and ultimately his downfall from greatness.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: A good sculpt always needs highlighted with a good paintjob for it to really shine, and Hasbro’s not too bad in this department. They have a usually decent handle on quality control I guess at their factories. Cody may be missing some of the finer details from his outfit in the film, I’m not a Commander Cody expert, but there are certainly a lot of little subtle details on this figure’s paintjob that are worth mentioning as a positive for him.

The orange markings on Cody’s armor are striking and appear to be just the right color/shade they need to be. Hasbro’s got a lot of black marks painted on for a better looking battle damage detail than we saw on last year’s RotS #41 Clone Trooper with his scribble brown markings.

The figure’s head has even and STRAIGHT eyes. This is great considering not many of the removable helmet Clones have had eyes that were anything other than crossed. Cody’s eye paintjob is the 3-layered style with a black pupil, brown iris, and white eyeball. His eyelid is also painted on as a black line across the top of the eyes which actually gives them a somewhat “focused” look. Besides the eyes then, the scarring has a nice brown tone to it to highlight it, and the hair’s actually the molded color of the head with the flesh of the face being what’s painted on (usually it’s the reversal). My sample is even though and no flesh paint got into the hair where it doesn’t belong.

Cody’s chest badge is painted a silvery color very nicely and there’s a few little squares painted blue (3) and red (1) on it just as they should be. There is also a great little detail on Cody’s left shoulder pad where there is some kind of white alien-looking lettering painted on. It’s very detailed work, and I’m not sure what it is/means but it’s very cool to see it.

Beyond that, the paintjob is pretty decent overall. I was disappointed to see that the foot pads of his shoes aren’t painted, and I felt the brown weathering on the shoes was overdone somewhat, but small gripes overall that aren’t really detracting from the figure much.

-Accessories: Cody comes packing a lot of gear actually… Everything from two blasters to a jetpack accessory is here. While reading various forums I have noted some complaints that Cody didn’t come with Obi-Wan’s saber hilt or a miniature holographic Palpatine for him to take his order 66 from… these aren’t bad ideas, but at the same time Commander Cody does come with 4 unique accessories, plus the two standard pack-ins accessories for figures this year. That’s not a bad accessory count when you figure that Cody’s grunt (and a repainted figure at that) comes with nothing but a blaster carbine and an antenna. Now I feel ripped off kind of with all those Clone Troopers I bought.

Cody’s first pack-in accessory is his removable helmet. A fine sculpt as noted above, the helmet is a stiffer plastic than most removable Clone helmets have been. This is good in a way, and bad in a way. No matter what though the removable helmet’s finely sculpted and painted, plus it was just nice to get a removable helmet on a Clone as that’s not something that happens too often really.

One of the helmet’s finest points is its paintjob though. There’s a ton of detail in it from the orange visor to the different shades of grey on the ridges, the back, and the nose piece. The visor is a glossy black so it shines a little bit. There are little orange spiky designs around the “mouth” pieces on the helmet as well, and there’s an incredibly thin stripe across the top and sides of the orange visor that’s barely noticeable. These are fantastic little details all in an accessory, so they’re really worth noting as a positive.

Cody also comes with a nifty backpack/jetpack accessory. It’s small, and it falls off easily so be careful, but it’s true to the figure’s costume as well as Cody’s cartoon incarnation where he used it to fly off after updating the situation to his Jedi General. The backpack is painted nicely as well with some battle scarring and bronze detailing.

Cody then also comes with not one, but two blasters. A Clone carbine and Clone rifle each. This is good because from what I understand/remember, Cody’s seen warring it up with both weapons in the film, but either way you really should get both of these weapons with any Clone you buy I think since you can never have enough of either weapon.

Other pack-ins are then the usual suspects that have come with figures in 2006. There is an embossed stand featuring the film the character appeared in raised on its surface and a silver name of the character painted on the one edge. There is also a randomly packaged holographic miniature figure snuck into the packaging as well. While the stand and miniature are nice, both required molds and effort to be produced and it’s my opinion that the money put into these “gimmick” accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.

-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.

CONS

-Articulation: While I’d love to say that Cody’s articulation count is at least acceptable, I just can’t do that since Hasbro not only has done better with other Clone figures, they also then have those other Clone figure’s parts to re-use on Cody (at least to some extent) if they really wanted to. It’d have been a cheap way to make a highly demanded figure that much better, but Hasbro opted not to go that route, and thus it really hurts the final figure. From what I read online, I’m not alone in that feeling either.

Clone Commander Cody features articulation at:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 ball/socket elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 ball/socket waist joint

With a total of 12 points of articulation, Cody’s got a good count overall but what he sorely lacks are the ankle joints that most every other Clone last year had. Even Bacara had ankle joints last year, and he’s not a well liked figure by many.

What Cody does right though are his arm articulation points. Cody’s shoulders are a point a lot of fans aren’t happy with as they feel he could have had ball/socket shoulders. The extra bulk of the armor though, plus the antenna bit on the left shoulder, all are prohibitive to that style of articulation at that point… So I’m not too upset with that.

Cody’s legs though, even just from the knee down, are a problem… in part, the problems are due to poor sculpting decisions for the lower leg’s pose. The fact of the matter is though, if Hasbro had just re-used the lower legs from another Clone figure (#6 or #41 from last year are perfectly fine options), this figure would’ve had poseability that matched most of the Clone figures from last year and at a fraction of the cost of sculpting a new lower leg. To me it’s just strange not to have done that. And the end result is a figure that suffers from poorly sculpted ankles unfortunately.

-Ankle Pose: That brings us to what I feel is the biggest flaw on Cody, his ankles and lower-legs in general. Hasbro designers decided to give Cody a decent articulation total, but then to throw all the point of poseability out the window for his legs by making his ankles bent and pre-posed.

The pre-posed nature of Cody’s lower legs/ankles puts him into a constant “lean” or lunging look. He’ll never stand at attention with his men, and running poses look a tad awkward with him even because of this sculpt issue. While I’m sure some people are more than content with this, it’s such a silly thing for Hasbro to have done when poseable legs are readily available to them to re-use on this figure.

Poseability aside though, had the Hasbro sculptor simply sculpted Cody’s legs to be naturally in a “straight” position, the ball/socket knee articulation included on the figure would be MUCH more versatile and fun for putting Cody in all the poses we saw him in during his battle time on Utapau or his downtime aboard a cruiser. I’m not sure why Hasbro would want the most asked for Clone for a year to not be their best work, but sadly that’s how it turned out.

-Pinhead: Another issue with the figure’s sculpt that I said I’d touch on later is the figure’s headsculpt. Not to say it’s inaccurate by any means. I find the likeness to be quite acceptable and decent if not great. The problem is that Cody’s noggin’ is more than a bit small. The tiny size of the head is small, I’d assume, mostly for the removable helmet feature on the figure. At the same time the other sculpts of Clone heads with removable helmets haven’t been this small and the helmets have been flexible to fit on them.

With the helmet on the figure looks fantastic… but with the helmet off, honestly I think it still looks good and this gripe isn’t a big one to me personally, but at the same time I do notice the difference and I know Hasbro is capable of doing this because they have in the past. Full size heads and removable helmets (with albeit flimsy plastic) aren’t a fantasy in this line so why they’d abandon it with Cody is a bit beyond me. Again, it’s a weird design decision on Cody that just doesn’t make much sense to me. Much like the ankle joints/sculpts, it just doesn’t seem like the logical choice for the figure.

-Disappearing Head: This complaint isn’t one that I personally have experienced with my Cody sample... but I can see how this is something many others would experience though and I can’t blame them for being irked by it.

The problem is that the new ball/socket heads are just a head popped onto a ball joint. It’s effective and looks good, but it also isn’t sturdy. Cody’s helmet, being a rigid plastic, fits the head snugly and thus when you try removing the helmet that snug fit can easily pop the head off inside the helmet and you’re left wondering how you’ll get the head out of there. My suggestion is some tiny needle-nose pliers (small hobby ones) and some patience unfortunately.

This again relates to the above “pinhead” Con though… why did Hasbro decide to use a rigid plastic for this Clone’s helmet when in the past they always used flexible plastics for the helmets? I just don’t understand the design choice, and the result of the choice is a helmet that is prone to popping the figure’s head off when you try removing it.

Now, as I noted, my sample doesn’t really have that problem… I’m in a lucky minority though I think, and people are experiencing issues with this. Hopefully you won’t but if you don’t own Cody yet it’s definitely something to watch for I’d say.

-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at most all retailers in 2006, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our Revenge of the Sith figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 after tax at most retailers, even the usually stalwart for cheap prices, Wal-Mart. 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. With no retailer seemingly wanting to budge on their standard price, things aren’t looking good for a decrease anytime soon. So keep your eyes peeled for sales because when they happen I’ve noticed that figures that were sitting suddenly fly off the pegs.

The price hike sucks, and what really is tough to accept is that in 2006 we’ve seen many fewer figures with “great” articulation like we saw in last year’s line for ROTS. This decrease in overall “quality” coupled with the price increase just hasn’t sat well with me about this year’s line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.

OVERALL

So that’s Clone Commander Cody in a nutshell for you folks. To tell you the truth, when I didn’t have Cody I was reading the complaints about him online and even defending him to some of my friends because I really thought that the things they mentioned couldn’t possibly be true... and then I got my Cody in the mail. Well, let me just say that I’ve been anxious to buy a 2nd Cody to slap some extra Clone feet onto. I think this is going to be a decent fix/custom, but ultimately the figure will lack a certain level of “perfection” to me that his Clone Trooper casemate has.

Cody’s been incredibly popular this year though, and he’s selling well even though his wave has been shipping for a decent time. I’ve only seen him a few times at my local stores, though our Wal-Mart stores are carrying very little of anything these days. Either way though I can see people are buying Cody but does that mean he’s the final version of the character we’ll ever see?

Personally I actually would gladly re-purchase Commander Cody if Hasbro re-did him at some point. I’m not expecting them to do that though, so hacking up an extra to make him what I want appears to be my only option. Hasbro at least got a lot of the details right about this one though and I’m glad for that. The articulation isn’t horrible, they just shortchanged it unnecessarily. So at least the fix will be a minor one.

So my advice is “buy Cody at your own risk”. Unfortunately, he may underwhelm you when you open him up and start to play with the figure on your desk. He’s definitely not up to par with his troopers or other Clones from the recent past though, and for that he gets low marks from me.

 

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