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By Thomas Wheeler

These are reviews of 3-3/4" figures this time around, not my usual reviews on the 12" line. A handful of new figures turned up recently, some of them the tail end of the 2002 line, some of them marked as part of the new 2003 series. They've changed the color of the name panel somewhat. Instead of red, which it was throughout 2002, now it's orange. Just a tip for you shelf-scavengers looking for new stuff.

Among my new finds were a new PADME AMIDALA, a pair of new droids, and an Ewok. Let's take the Ewok first, since he's the only one marked from the 2002 line.

His name is TEEBO, and since he's an Ewok, we pretty much know what to expect -- a teddy bear with attitude. Still, the sculpting is very well done, the detail in the fur is excellent. The headdress -- some sort of animal head -- is well sculpted, and the articulation is more than one might expect -- head, arms, legs -- and wrists! You wouldn't think there would be much you could do with an Ewok to raise the bar over the original ones from the 80's, but clearly there's more paint detail on the face, hands, and feet, and the overall sculpting of the fur is more intricate. If you like these little guys, you'll definitely want Teebo.

Next, let's consider the new PADME AMIDALA, representing the 2003 line. The figure is offically listed as "Droid Factory Chase". But overall, it's a much better Padme than the pre-posed one that came out last year around the time of the movie release, the one that came chained to a post from the Geonosian arena. This one is nowhere near as pre-posed, except for her facial expression. She's got this wide open mouth like she's screaming, and it's a little annoying. It also makes one want to stifle a yawn just a bit if you stare at it too long. Facial expression aside, though, it's really a very decent figure. The only real pre-posing is in the elbows and an unfortunately too-heavy cape. The figure moves at the head, arms, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. The high level of articulation is even mentioned on the back of the card.

Finally we have SP-4 and JN-66, two research droids that unless you bought the Special Edition DVD of Star Wars Episode II, you're going to be going out of your mind wondering where the heck these two were in the movie. They weren't in the theatrical release. They turned up in one of the "extra" scenes from the special edition (and in the novelization, I think it's worth mentioning). They work as research droids in the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan Kenobi went to them first to try to determine the origin of the dart that killed Zam Wesell before tracking down his diner-running buddy Dexter Jettster. Basically, these two look like Pit Droids with attitude. One of them even has spines on his head resembling a Mohawk. One of them has legs and the other hovers, reminding me more than a little bit of the robot VINCENT from "The Black Hole". He comes with a translucent adjustable base which -- all right -- I had a little fun editing out of the picture. He doesn't REALLY hover. Small as he is, it'd probably be a darned nuisance if he did.

What's especially impressive about these two is their articulation. Their heads are on ball sockets and have a wide range of motion. Their necks move. Their arms have elbow joints. Hovering jets and legs move. Nice work for a couple of droids that weren't even "officially" in the movie. I sort of get the impression these were somebody's "pet project" at Hasbro. Fortunately, we all get to enjoy the results.

I'm really not sure what to expect over the course of the year from Hasbro's Star Wars line, but for the most part, it seems to be off to a good start!