Yodasnews Review: Commander Gree Helmet (Scaled Replica)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: May 6, 2008
In the era of the Special Editions, Riddell, a company synonymous with NFL helmets, made its mark on the Star Wars merchandising universe with a small line of scaled helmet replicas. At the time, the quality was at a level commonly seen only with extremely high-ticket items, but the price was surprisingly collector friendly. The standout piece was Darth Vader’s helmet, which could be disassembled into the three parts and held a slew of accurate details built from a variety of mixed media. Even the Stormtrooper helmet possessed an intricately detailed interior that had never been seen on-screen.
Alas, the line did not have a long life span.
That is until the waning years of Master Replicas’ Star Wars license. The company acquired the old Riddell molds, re-released them, and then expanded upon the line. Sadly, their imminent loss of the license meant this renaissance was fated to end almost as quickly as it had begun. Toward the end, Master Replicas churned out multiple variants of the Phase II helmet (i.e. – Episode III version), presumably to produce a large surge of products as quickly, easily, and cheaply as possible.
Today’s review gives an in-depth look at the most unique of the Phase II variants—the scaled replica of the helmet belonging to the ill-fated Commander Gree.
Presumably scaled down from the molds used in the construction of the Studio Scale Clonetrooper helmet, the level of detail in the scaled replica’s sculpting is impeccable. The edges are crisp and cleanly cut with no unintentional jagged edges or soft corners. Much like the original scaled Stormtrooper helmet, the greatest attention to detail on Gree’s helmet is found in an area that cannot be seen when attached to the display stand—the components of the helmet’s interior. This includes the breathing filter, ridged tubing, cables, padding, and earphone speakers. Most impressive is the material used for the padding. It is an excellent scaled down representation of a full-size helmet’s padding.
PAINT APPLICATIONS: Excellent
An area just as exceptional as the sculpting is the work done on the paint applications. Part of what made Gree’s helmet so unique among the clonetroopers was the sparkling metallic paint used for its green and silver colors. Master Replicas matched the CGI model as closely as possible but modified it into a pristine version as opposed to the battle-worn screen version. Also, the main green stripe and the wider portion on the skull cap have both been executed with crisp borders and no detectable bleeding or smudging.
Now, things move into the more specific areas of the helmet’s paint applications. Particularly impressive is the vocal annunciator, represented by the two micro-grille pieces beneath the arched mouthpiece. What first appears to be a small-scale weave of metal filaments turns out to be a painted two-dimensional black and silver pattern—an astonishing optical illusion. Another such illusion (albeit a more subtle one) is the dark frog-like pattern of spots on the cranium and cheekbone sections of the helmet. They have been applied with such a degree of subtlety that one knows they are there but the eye (and camera lens) has a difficult time locking in on them. The third specific area can be found on the mechanical pieces inside the helmet. They are the weakest of the paint applications due to a heavy-handed black wash, but this isn’t detrimental at all because they are not visible when the helmet is being properly displayed.
The last aspect in this category is not necessarily a paint application but is closely related to the unique color scheme of the helmet. That aspect is the plastic visor. It is a separate piece fastened to the replica from the interior, allowing it to be flawlessly recessed into the face of the helmet. While it lacks any transparent qualities, the opaque visor perfectly replicates the reflective mirror-like properties of the CGI model and is one of the most noticeable features of the replica.
DISPLAY STAND: Excellent
While more than adequate for their time, the Riddell helmets’ display stands were, by today’s standards, vanilla and uninspired. Master Replicas wisely chose to keep what worked but vastly improve what was lacking. In terms of the same, they continued the ball and socket locking mechanism used by Riddell down to the most exact detail. What has changed is the elimination of the raised Imperial or Rebel insignia and its replacement by a plaque face which flows naturally from the main disc-like base. Printed on the smooth face are the episode title, product name, Republic insignia, and both the Lucasfilm and Master Replicas logos. The last feature of the display stand is the inclusion of three disc-shaped foam skids on the underside of the base, arranged in a triangular pattern to prevent the stand from sliding on the shelf.
CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS: Average
This is the only weak area on the entire product, and it doesn’t even reveal itself until handled. Rather than using die-cast metal or high-quality plastic, Master Replicas opted to use a very lightweight plastic that feels extremely cheap to the touch. The best comparison is that it feels like an only slightly higher quality than that of a Halloween candy pail. Giving the benefit of the doubt to Master Replicas, this may have been a way to keep the MSRP in the $50 range. However, Riddell used a more durable material on their products (Darth Vader’s helmet for example) and still kept it at a reasonable price. More likely, Master Replicas was feeling the crunch of their expiring license and cut corners to accelerate production.
This ordinarily would not be an issue because the visual quality is unharmed and the price is appropriate. Unfortunately, durability is a factor here. Locking the ball into the helmet socket requires a decent amount of force, and the plastic creaks under the pressure—especially in and around the blunted fin at the apex of the helmet. Even more alarming, the creaking sounds awfully similar to a breaking sound. That is something consumers won’t want due to the end of Master Replicas’ Star Wars license. Replacements are not possible.
Collectors can compensate for the company’s shortcomings here by exercising care and caution when working with the socket.
OVERALL RATING: Excellent
Poor material choices aside, Master Replicas did a phenomenal job on the Commander Gree scaled helmet replica. The paint applications and sculpting are virtually flawless and faithful to the source material. The great attention to detail exercised in creating the interior of the helmet catapults this product into the upper stratosphere of accuracy and should be a major selling point.
Unfortunately, the end of Master Replicas’ Star Wars products means the Gree helmet is in a highly limited supply. Recent announcements indicate that Gentle Giant will continue this line and re-release some of the Master Replicas helmets at the start of their tenure. However, there is no guarantee that the price will stay in the same price bracket or if Gree is even on their radar. If you are fortunate enough to find one of these helmets at a reasonable price, buy it immediately and without hesitation.