"Clone Wars" toys rock -- except for the tiny pieces
When "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" movie came out this summer, it was widely panned by critics and fanboys who said it wasn't up to par with even the prequel movies in the mega-series. (Flashback -- movies released between 1999 and 2005 told the story of how Darth Vader came to be. The movies from 1977-83 tell the saga of Vader and his kids, Luke and Leia).
Whether you like "Clone Wars" -- and the six boys ages 10 and under that I and three other parents saw the movie with really liked it -- or not, one thing is for sure: The toys have always been really cool. I mean how could you not like your very own lightsaber?
Since "Clone Wars" is becoming a show on the Cartoon Network and it premieres at 9 p.m. Friday (this one must not be for kids), it seemed the right time to test out the toys. My testers were my two sons, 10 and 6, who have helped me out with other tests here, here and here.
Ultimate Lightsaber (ages 6 and up, $34.99): Let's get this right out in the open -- making your own lightsaber is way cool for a kid. With the one pack, you can be on the dark side with a red or be a good Jedi with purple or blue. Putting the pieces together was easy for 6-year-old hands. Here's the one hard part: Putting the crystals in the handle to generate the right colors is tricky and we all needed to do it a few times to make it work right. And some of the pieces are quite tiny so you wnt to keep this away from the under-3 crowd. But this would work quite well with a Star Wars costume this Halloween.
Clone Trooper Voice Changer Helmet (ages 5 and up, $29.99): This would be great for Halloween. Both boys loved talking into the adjustable helmet that can fit tots on up to adults (yes, I tried it!) If you press a button, it can talk for you or you can talk through it to say what you want. (There also is a Darth Vader version). But if you are giving it as a gift, don't show it to the kid in the box, put it together -- NOW! It took about 30 minutes to figure out how all the slots work together and that was after reading the directions. Trust me, put it together now so you don't face any disappointment on Christmas morning.
Galactic Heroes Game: Anakin Skywalker vs.Count Dooku (ages 5 and up, $15.99): The kids really liked the game which has you battle the forces of evil as Anakin Skywalker or joining the dark side as Count Dooku. Both boys thought the rules were easy to understand for this 3D game. If you have as many Galactic Heroes characters as my 6 year old does, you can interchange them and make up your own battles. But this one would certainly keep the kids occupied.
The Legacy Collection Build A Droid and Clone Wars characters (ages 4 and up; start at $6.99): The boys enjoyed the various action figures as they found some of their old favorites like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in new rags. The Clone Wars figures aren't totally different from previous action figures -- in some cases it seems like just the packaging is different. But some new characters are introduced from the movie and show, including Ahsoka, Anakin's padawan, who comes with Jabba's baby. As usual, watch out for the tiny pieces (we had trouble putting in one of Anakin's artificial hands and it kept getting lost on the coach). But it's worth a look through all of them to see if there is a new one to add to your kiddo's collection.
-- Sherry Robinson