Explore the evolution of clone trooper gear through the years.
Star Wars Inside Intel is a StarWars.com feature where Lucasfilm Story Group member Emily Shkoukani, whose job is to know as much about a galaxy far, far away as possible, explores obscure facts about Star Wars lore and continuity. In this installment, Emily explores the evolution of clone armor…
“You fought in the Clone Wars?” Luke’s question to Obi-Wan was the audience's first introduction to both clones and a “Clone War” back in 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope; it would take another 25 years before George Lucas was able to realize a clone army on screen in 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and then delve even deeper with the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. While most people expected to be captivated by epic battles during these supposed Clone Wars, what fans didn’t expect was to become attached to the clones themselves and their surprising individuality. With seven seasons of The Clone Wars and now a Disney+ spinoff series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, the clones’ armor has evolved to showcase each of their unique abilities and identities.
When audiences first met the clones in Episode II, they were wearing Phase I clone trooper armor. This stark white and streamlined armor evoked that of their clone template, Jango Fett’s Mandalorian armor. Made up of 20 pieces of plastoid-alloy composite, the Phase I clone trooper armor featured the iconic T-visor helmet, a utility belt that could carry spare blaster magazines, food rations, and other miscellaneous equipment, and boots with high-traction soles. Despite the sturdiness of the Phase I armor, it was soon cycled out for Phase II.
The most notable difference between Phase I and Phase II armor was the helmet. Although the distinctive T-visor remained, the breathing apparatus on the helmet received an upgrade and now featured two breath filter vents that could also be hooked up to an air-supply hose if necessary. Additionally, due to the clones being created in secret and their armor crafted by Kaminoans, some upgrades favoring a humanoid body were necessary to keep the troopers comfortable.
A new helmet and some ergonomic upgrades weren’t the only changes seen with Phase II. This was when specialized clones began to take the battlefield and individuality began to don on the clones themselves. Elite clones like Advanced Recon Commandos (ARCs) were specially trained in combat and were the best of the best. These clones were signified by their ARC pauldron and often seen with equipment specific to their mission, such as polarized macrobinoculars and hazmat helmets. Notable ARC troopers were Rex, Echo, and Fives. Other specialized clones included clone pilots that wore a gray flight suit and featured a front-carry forced oxygen rebreather; shock troopers, typically seen on Coruscant, had red accented armor and patrolled public plazas on the ecumenopolis; and scout clone troopers, which were outfitted with camouflage armor and an adapted visor for greater visibility.
But as mentioned, a clone’s individuality also began to breakthrough as their armor evolved with designs and symbols decorating their panoply. The most striking design came toward the end of the Clone Wars when Anakin Skywalker’s 501st was split -- with half of the legion being diverted to help Ahsoka Tano and her mission on Mandalore. In honor of their former general, clones of the newly designated 332nd painted their armor in visage of Ahsoka. Then came the Bad Batch.
Specialized in every way, from their DNA to their distinctive gray and red armor, the Bad Batch were a unique group of clones originally consisting of Hunter, Tech, Wrecker, and Crosshair. These four clones were genetically enhanced by the Kaminoans, each with mutations that made them exceptional at a particular skill such as tracking, technology, strength, and sight. These clones were of the most individual of the identical copies amassed during the Clone Wars.
Sadly, as the Clone Wars came to an end, a majority of the clones lost their uniqueness to Order 66 and the inhibitor chip they unknowingly carried in their brains. With their personality fading, the clones' armor reflected that. As seen in The Bad Batch, the clones who’ve “executed” Order 66 have returned to the plain white armor they once wore...
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