Yodasnews Review: Obi-Wan Kenobi and ARC Trooper “Alpha” (30th Anniversary Collection)
By Jeff Gouse (SithLord0498)
SCULPT (Obi-Wan Kenobi) – 3 out of 5
After five years, Hasbro finally produced a quality “hero” portrait of Episode II Obi-Wan, and it’s been a long, weird road to this point. First, we had the bottle blonde surfer dude Coruscant Chase Kenobi, and that was a Jar Jar level atrocity. That was closely followed by the still-blonde but now William Petersen (of CSI fame) wannabe Obi-Wan used for the next three versions, and the “rain-soaked” deluxe Kamino Showdown version looked more like a rock star out of a grunge band. And the Clone Wars General Kenobi? Same bad sculpting, and the eyes made it look like he sat on a really big thumbtack.
I think that covers them all. Wow…what a “fun” trip down memory lane.
As for the “Battle of Jabiim” Obi-Wan included in this Comic Pack, it looks as though Hasbro’s sculptors took the basic Revenge of the Sith head and replaced the hair with a finely done AOTC mullet. The dangling lock of hair is a great little touch that adds so much character to the portrait. In any event, mixing the two is the best approach since Ewan McGregor’s face changed very little between AOTC and ROTS.
The hood on the sculpted robe is also fantastic. The sculpted folds and wrinkles work in tandem with the shadows cast by natural light to simulate a very convincing cloth hang on what is really stiff plastic. The same holds true for the “dangling” ends of the robe’s sleeves. Another small positive is that the sculpting of the Force gesture hand is more subtle and relaxed as opposed to stiff and dramatic, and this increases the human quotient in the figure’s appearance.
With so much going for it in the aforementioned areas, it’s a terrible, terrible shame that the rest of the sculpting and design elements completely trash this figure.
For started, Hasbro used their worst robe design here. Remember the Episode I robed Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan figures? The ones with their arms sculpted as robed and then the rest of the robe done as a separate vest-like piece? Well, here it is, rearing its ugly, articulation inhibiting face once more. With all the different methods they have, why this one?!
Strike two is the soft goods lower tunic. Bottom line: it is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! Essentially, it is a dark khaki skirt with two small slits cut in the front. And when I say “cut”, I’m being generous. It looks more like the slits were ripped into the material because there is fraying all over the place. And why bother with an articulation-friendly soft goods skirt when the robe is just going to interfere?
Oh yeah, and the knee and ankles joints on my particular sample are quite loose and wobbly.
Strike three, and this figure’s out of here!!
Only the fantastic portrait and draped hood sculpt were able to save this from the bottom of the scoring barrel.
SCULPT (ARC Trooper “Alpha”) – 4.75 out of 5
If you felt that I pulled a bait-and-switch before by praising the Kenobi portrait before completely shredding the figure, then please allow me to do it again.
I hate how Hasbro used a softer, squishier plastic for the helmet because it sticks to and yanks off the clone head as well (a la Commander Cody), and the range finder doesn’t even move. Oh yeah…the wrist gauntlet attaches poorly without using the included clear band.
But everything else is utterly fantastic and a great improvement over the 2003 Clone Wars version of the ARC Trooper!!!
See…told you it was another bait-and-switch.
All bad jokes aside, those are the only gripes with “Alpha”, the most well-known and well-established of the ARC Troopers. The greatest aspect of this figure is the kama. It’s a work of art, and pictures will not do it justice. You simply have to see it in person to fully appreciate its 3-D lifelike quality. It actually has jagged and “frayed” holes carved straight through the rippling folds of the kama. This truly looks like part of a battle-worn uniform whipping around in the winds of Jabiim.
The clone portrait is one of the older clones, which makes perfect sense in the context of the established continuity. The ARC Troopers were personally trained by Jango Fett himself, meaning they came from one of the original batches of clonetroopers. The Kaminoans also engineered them to allow more independent thought, bringing them closer to Jango’s personality. So it is very fitting that the portrait is extremely close to Fett’s likeness, much closer than other clone portraits.
There’s not too much to say about the rest of the ARC armor except that Hasbro continues to pay attention to the smaller details, something they have done with many of their recent clonetrooper offerings (Galactic Marine, Airborne Trooper, etc.). The shoulder pauldron is removable, which is good because it does interfere with the ball-jointed shoulder movement. Since the pauldron is easily removable, take it off, get the pose in place, and then put the pauldron back on the figure.
The last notable aspect in this category is the wrist-mounted computer gauntlet. Alpha comes with the gauntlet clipped on the wrong wrist, but it can easily be switched to the correct side. There not much to it…just a couple of raised shapes/buttons. But the ambidextrous nature of the gauntlet in addition to the cable that attaches to the rear of the pauldron adds so much realism to the figure. It bends and moves with the figure’s body, and that creates a very three-dimensional flow to the poses.
PAINT APPLICATION (Obi-Wan Kenobi) – 4 out of 5
For a human Jedi action figure, the most vital area where the paint application can either make or break a figure is in the portrait. Gone are the days of blonde mullet AOTC Kenobi, and that alone puts this above all previously Hasbro incarnations of this specific character. The beard and eyes are virtually free of defects as well.
In fact, there are only two deficits, but considering how little paint is needed, that’s enough to drop the score by an entire point. The first is that, while the portrait is cleanly painted, it lacks definition and shading. The hair is one base color as opposed to the subtle shading found in the film. This wouldn’t be such an issue if Hasbro hadn’t proven they can pull off such gradations with their Revenge of the Sith Obi-Wan figures. The second issue is that the feet and the boot tops are clearly two different shades of reddish-brown.
PAINT APPLICATION (ARC Trooper “Alpha”) – 4 out of 5
The best and worst elements of Alpha’s paint application are the same: the dirt and battle-damage deco. For me, the best use of paint application is in the extremely subtle, barely perceptible mud stains on the back of the kama. You can see that it’s there, but strangely enough it is very difficult to see when you’re specifically looking for it. It’s nearly subliminal.
But the mud splotches are the downside. They are too heavy-handed at times, and the most glaring (and point-reducing) example is a particularly thick brownish mud spot directly on the figure’s crotch plate. Quite honestly, it looks like Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo tried to get a little too friendly with Alpha.
Another deficit is an inaccuracy between the figure and the source material (i.e. the comics). Based on the comic included with this set, Dark Horse artists clearly show Alpha with an electric blue kama, pauldron, and armor markings. The figure, however, has a color scheme that is a purplish blue. It’s a detail that will likely go over the heads of the casual fan, but readers of the comic and/or Alpha fans will undoubtedly pick up on this error immediately.
Still, those incorrect armor markings have a very clean application. At no point does the blue bleed onto the white base armor. Additionally, the gauntlet is a sparkling mixture of bronze and gold that stands out against the rest of the figure. Unfortunately, the comic shows it as being grayish, so there’s another inaccuracy.
In the end, Alpha is riddled with color palette inaccuracies, but that is the only problem. The application and use of those colors are flawless. Even the bulk of the weathering and dirt marks are well done. As for “poop smears”, a very small amount of nail polish remover on a Q-tip should take the offending paint spots off with relative ease. Just don’t overdo it.
ARTICULATION (Obi-Wan Kenobi) – 4.5 out of 5
Determining this score was extremely difficult because I had to weigh the potential of the articulation against the reality of the articulation. In the end, the potential weighed more heavily than the reality. I’m a big fan of ball joint articulation in all figures as long as it doesn’t seriously compromise the integrity of the sculpt, and Obi-Wan lacks only the ball-jointed torso. Hasbro included this on the Episode III starfighter pilot Kenobi, so it can and has been done.
The reality is that the articulation’s potential is severely compromised by Hasbro’s design for the robe. It isn’t flexible enough to allow the arms and legs to realize their full range of motion. But that’s a deficit in the sculpt, and the articulation shouldn’t be held accountable. In the past, I have done that, but repeated confrontations with this particular flaw has allowed me the time and experience to realize that the problem rests solely in the sculpting choices.
That being said, you can get some decent poses if you’re willing to push certain joints to the limit, but I think most people will be afraid of weakening and/or breaking the figure.
ARTICULATION (ARC Trooper “Alpha”) – 4.75 out of 5
This would have been a perfect score if Hasbro had included a ball-jointed torso, which would allow more fluidity and naturalism to the poses. Instead, the torso remains straight regardless of how the rest of the figure is posed.
Unlike most troopers with plastic kamas, Alpha’s poseability is actually aided by his. The tattered sculpt has its deepest and widest “rip” directly in line with the backward swivel path of the right-hand side leg. Clearly it was an intentional design feature to allow consumers to at least pose Alpha with his right leg on the ground. And because the kama reaches level to the lowered knee in this pose, it also acts as additional support.
Combine the semi-unleashed leg articulation with the remaining ball joints, and you can achieve a good array of motion in the figure. The knees and ankles work together to keep the foot flat on the surface with the lower leg positioned in a variety of angles. The left arm has just enough motion to grasp the end of the ammo strap that hangs from the pauldron (you can also slip that same ammo strap tab into the belt to create a connected appearance). Head articulation is hindered by both the pauldron and the vice-like grip of the squishy helmet. Again, it’s a design oversight that should not reflect in the articulation grade.
ACCESSORIES (Obi-Wan Kenobi) – 2 out of 5
Honestly, the “Sith mask” alternate head is absolutely incredible! The eyes hold just the right amount of emotion in them considering the context, and the dark red paint on the design and stitching is neatly done for the most part. The sculpting is very impressive as well. If you hold it at the right angle, you can see and feel the faint outline of Kenobi’s lips “beneath” the “fabric”.
But the reason the accessory score falls so low is that Hasbro, in their kitbashing splendor, gave us an INCORRECT LIGHTSABER!!! The cover of the comic book that they included with the figure clearly shows Obi-Wan’s AOTC saber, but they packaged the figure with the ROTS version.
I’m docking so many points not because the accessories are poor (far from it), but rather because Hasbro was too lazy to include the correct ones. We get the wrong lightsaber (bad, bad Hasbro) and a mask that doesn’t appear until a later issue of Republic (not gonna complain too much there…it’s an awesome mask).
ACCESSORIES (ARC Trooper “Alpha”) – 4.5 out of 5
In typical Hasbro fashion, Alpha’s accessories are recycled from the Clone Wars ARC Trooper figure but with upgrades. The ARC blaster rifle, previously an unpainted gun molded in black plastic, now has a few painted areas. The rounded end of the scope sight is painted flat red, and the strap is painted gray as are a few areas on the rifle. The wrist gauntlet is now a flexible and ambidextrous piece as opposed to sculpted permanently on to the left-hand side forearm. And we now have a removable helmet too.
But most of the accessories are confined to the armor, and the whole package feels lacking. These are highly-trained supercommandos, so it seems appropriate to include some unique weaponry such as explosive charges, thermal detonators, etc. I have to remind myself though that this is an already loaded two-pack, so my expectations shouldn’t be quite so high.
“FUN FACTOR” (Obi-Wan Kenobi) – 3 out of 5
It all comes back to that freakin’ robe. If Hasbro had taken a more common route with its design, then the figure’s aesthetic and poseability qualities would increase dramatically, which would in turn make one heck of a fun figure! Fact is you can’t do all that much with this figure aside from moving the head and arms around. You can accomplish a few dramatic poses that will make the figure look good on the shelf, but there is little play factor.
Sadly, a missed opportunity, one made even more unfortunate because it finally gives us a killer AOTC Kenobi portrait.
“FUN FACTOR” (ARC Trooper “Alpha”) – 4.75 out of 5
Alpha works well alone or in the midst of other clonetrooper figures. The articulation manages to conquer any design limitations standing in its way (i.e. the shoulder pauldron), and the poseability options range from stoic and contemplative to dynamic and robust. Having the removable helmet practically doubles your choices because each pose has the option of faceless soldier or the even more unsettling carbon copy human portrait.
OVERALL RATING (Obi-Wan Kenobi) – 3.3 out of 5
OVERALL RATING (ARC Trooper “Alpha”) – 4.55 out of 5
CONCEPT VALUE (or “Is it REALLY worth $10???) – 5 out of 5
This category exists outside the overall rating of either figure, and it is where we will examine whether or not the package as a whole warrants $10 and, more importantly, YOUR $10.
The short answer: “Absolutely, positively YES!”
And if you want the long-winded answer…
This Comic Pack yields two figures, and with prices hovering around $7 per carded figure, $10 is a bargain because there is enough kitbashing and new sculpting in both figure to make these truly unique. Even if Kenobi is sorely lacking in areas, Alpha is a vast improvement over the 2003 version. In fact, he was the sole reason I dropped the cash on this set.
Plus, I think it’s possible to kitbash the ultimate Episode II Kenobi. Try putting this head on the super-articulated ROTS Starfighter Pilot body, get an AOTC saber, and voila! Hopefully the new head will fit on the older neck post.
Then there is the comic book. Regular issues of the Republic series sell between $2.50 and $3.00, so factor that into the overall value of this Comic Pack. For this pack, you are given the first part of the “Battle of Jabiim” story arc in a reprint of Star Wars Republic #55, and it’s a good marketing ploy by Dark Horse. By including the first part, you are met with an explosive cliffhanger (literally) and must read the remaining three parts to see how the story unfolds and what the Sith mask accessory has to do with Obi-Wan.
And it just so happens that you can find the entire Jabiim story arc in this trade paperback: Clone Wars Volume 3: Last Stand on Jabiim. Yodasnews sponsor and official Dark Horse retailer TFAW.com currently has it in stock for $13.46 (there’s a nick-and-dent version too for $7.48 as of June 2).
See how that cross-marketing works? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
And since this was the long-winded answer at the end of a long-winded review, here’s a final picture for your troubles and patience.