Since its debut in 2007, the battle pack line of sets has only grown in popularity – and in price. The very first pair of sets featured clones vs droids, and with each consecutive year it has switched between that and rebels vs imperials. For the first time in 2012, the two have been combined. The Lego 9488 Elite Clone Trooper and Commando Droid Battle Pack includes both clone and droid minifigures. But does this combination work? And was it worth its weight in… well, plastic? Read on to find out more!
The MSRP of $12.99 on this set didn’t surprise me. I knew it was coming based on the fact that the prices for these battle packs have increased by a dollar each year since 2010. With only 98 pieces in the set, you’re paying about 13 cents per piece. Interestingly though, if you take a look at the piece count of past battle packs, it has mostly increased with each consecutive year. Surprisingly, this makes the price hikes a little more acceptable. I imagine that if Lego were asked about the price increases, that would be their justification. But here’s the other side of it consumers need to be aware of: the set’s size after being built. I’ve come to realize that the piece-to-price ratio is too arbitrary when it comes to determining whether or not the set is “worth it.” The size of the actual sets in the battle packs (excluding the minifigures) have been fairly close, meaning that a higher piece count doesn’t translate into a larger set. So is this set worth its weight in plastic? In short, no.
Design and Build
Even though the piece-to-price ratio is on par with past battle packs, the set itself is a let-down. It is, without a doubt, a scaled-down version of the AV-7 antivehicle cannon, which was seen during the Battle of Christophsis in the Clone Wars film. The build was an utter bore. As I built the set, nothing really stood out to me. It just felt like something that was slapped together. You start off building the base of the cannon. Then you start on the cannon itself, and then four pointless, stubby legs. There is absolutely no point in giving the cannon legs, as it hardly sits one standard Lego brick off of surfaces. It also felt like Lego was squeezing in as many extra pieces as it could to up the piece count. For example, on the base of the cannon, there are two 1×2 dark red plates that are used instead of a single 2×2 dark red plate; in the cannon, a 1×1 black brick with a vertical bar is placed next to a 1×1 gold cone when a single 1×2 brick could have been used.
In terms of features, there is, as with almost every Lego Star Wars set since 2009, a flick fire missile, which is located under the cannon. The cannon can be moved up and down, and the legs can be moved from side to side. The feet on the legs can be moved up and down. Oddly enough, instead of using locking hinges, the hook-and-bar hinges are used for the feet. Surprisingly though, the set can still stand up without the legs collapsing in on themselves. Oh, and did I mention the clear 2×2 cylindrical brick they placed on the underside of the set too? There isn’t much point seeing that the set can stand on its own, so it feels like yet another pointless extra piece that was thrown in.
While the set isn’t really worth its weight in plastic, the pieces used to make it are fairly valuable and useful (if that’s any consolation to the price). I suspect that a Lego enthusiast out there could build a superior alternate model with the given parts in one or two sets. I may even give it a shot once I’ve got the time to tinker around with it. Some valuable parts in the set include the 1×1 bricks with hooks and the upside-down L shaped plates with studs on both the top and sides. I may not like the set itself, but it is a treasure trove of parts. Below are a couple of images; the first is of some parts I think are of value/worth pointing out. The other is of the extra pieces you get in the set.
For me, the redeeming feature of this set is the minifigures, hands down. I can’t say it enough. Lego has been stepping it up continuously when it comes to minifigures, and these do not disappoint. The set includes an ARC trooper, an ARF trooper, and two commando droids.
Let’s start off with the ARC trooper. In the Clone Wars TV series, ARC troopers were introduced in the beginning of Season 3. Their helmets are a hybrid of Episode II and Episode III helmets and certain parts of their armor are reinforced (such as the chest and shoulder areas). Lego shows this perfectly in the ARC trooper included in this set. The helmet is shaped very much like the Episode III variant, and it still sports the little extended fin on the back of the helmet, a feature of the Episode II variant. There is very detailed printing on the front of the torso, which depicts a gray layer of armor and ammo pouch over the usual white clone trooper armor, characteristics we’ve seen on all ARC trooper armor in the series thus far. There is back printing too, but that isn’t any different from other clones. The ARC trooper’s “backpack” is also included, which is another calling sign for ARC troopers. The legs even sport some great printing. This level of detail is what I simply love about minifigures. There are two newly introduced accessories for the ARC trooper, too – a pauldron and kama made of cloth! It’s a change that’s been long overdue. The plastic pauldron and kamas restricted mobility in the legs and some in the arms. The new design actually allows your minifigure to sit down and grants a greater range of mobility to the arms.
The ARF trooper is very well done. Compared to the ARF trooper that was included in the battle pack from last year, this one is not much different when it comes to the core aspects of the figure (the helmet design, armor, etc). However, enough changes are made to it to differentiate it from its 2011 counterpart. The very first thing I noticed was the printing on the helmet. It is significantly more detailed, with all sorts of symbols and emblems that show that the clone belongs to a particular squad. There are some more subtle changes made to the bottom rim of the helmet that I find appealing. The torso isn’t much different from a standard clone’s torso, aside from the dark-red colored arms. This completes the ARF trooper’s look in my opinion and really makes him stand apart from the regular ARF trooper.
Lego droids aren’t typically too interesting to fans or collectors just because they all seem to have the same, boring build that leaves very little room for the sort of detailing minifigures enjoy. In this case, however, the droids get some love, too. Commando droids have been around in the Clone Wars series since Season 1. Four seasons later, Lego finally makes them into minifigure form. A new head sculpt was created just for the commando droids, while the rest of the parts are dark brown variations of pre-existing pieces. The torso is a standard battle droid torso, as are the arms. The legs are from super battle droids. As I said earlier, given the fact that they are droids, not as much detail can be put into them as standard minifigures; even so, Lego found a way. Commando droids have red glowing lights on the left side of their chests, and that was printed onto the torso. This is also the first time that I’ve seen printing on a droid’s head, and like the printing on the clone minifigures, the printing on the droid’s head is spot-on.
Each minifigure comes with a blaster. The two commando droids come with blaster carbines, the ARF trooper comes with a blaster rifle, and the ARC trooper comes with twin blaster pistols. The ARC trooper comes with tons of other miscellaneous accessories: a cloth pauldron and kama, four dark red visors and four dark red rangefinders. Initially I thought that the visor on the ARC trooper looked silly, but after some time it’s grown on me. Reminds me a little bit of Episode III Commander Cody, actually.
Oh, and fun fact! With this new dark red visor, you can make your Commander Fox minifigure (from set 7681 Separatist Spider Droid) more accurate! Get him a black kama too (whether it’s this new cloth one or the black plastic one from the 8014 Clone Trooper Battle Pack) and your Commander Fox is a spitting image of the TV series version! Pretty cool, huh?
Ultimately, I was disappointed with this set, not because of the price, not because of the piece count, but because of the lack of effort and creativity Lego put into the set. Sure, the set has a very nice collection of rare and useful parts, but part of the reason any army builder buys these sets is to also acquire a good number of vehicles suited for mock battles. Having an army of speeder bikes and walkers is cool. Having a bunch of these awkward little cannons is not. The only real redeeming feature of this set is the minifigures. If you’re really into the figures and don’t mind using the set for spare parts in some custom creation or what have you, I’d recommend getting this set – otherwise, I’d wait until it goes on sale, to be perfectly honest.
-printing on minifigures are top-notch; details are true to the TV show
-treasure trove of rare/useful parts
-poorly built set
-pointless play features