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WOOKIEES - THE BIG WALKING CARPETS OF EPISODE III
By Thomas Wheeler

Even though it wasn't quite as crucial to the plotline of Revenge of the Sith as the Ewok battle was to Return of the Jedi, George Lucas still gave us a major treat in the final Star Wars installment by taking us to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk and letting us witness a major battle between the Wookiees, including Chewbacca, and the droid forces of the Separatists, with some Clone Troopers and Yoda thrown in for good measure.

I was very pleased with this. I figured it was the least we were owed after Lucas allowed Chewbacca to be killed off in a novel that takes place after the movies, and handing us those rather ridiculous Ewoks (whose more annoying, them or Gungans) in Return of the Jedi.

Hasbro, in turn, has given us no less than five Wookiee action figures. One of them, designated "Wookiee Warrior", was part of the "Sneak Preview" set, and I reviewed him a while back. Let's take a look at the other four now.

WOOKIEE WARRIOR - Entirely different than the Sneak Preview figure of the same name, it could readily be argued that this figure, or more accurately, figures, would make great army-builders, for those so inclined. The Wookiee Warrior is a very straightforward figure. He's a large, basic Wookiee, with a simple orange harness with silver and gold details.

There are two distinct color versions -- a more traditional medium brown with dark brown and black highlights in the fur, and a very pale tan, almost beige, version, with the same dark brown and black highlights -- almost makes him look calico. If one of these is scarcer then the other, I don't know about it. I've seen both fairly readily available wherever Star Wars toys are sold.

The articulation is quirky, but decent. The figure moves at the head, arms (forwards, backwards, and outwards), has the "diagonal-cut" enbow articulation, moves at the wrists, waist, legs, and has a knee pivot, but the knees do not bend. The feet are somewhat pre-posed, requiring a certain stance.

The figure has a spring-action feature called "Wookiee Battle Bash" -- sounds like the Wookiee equivalent of a professional wrestling pay-per- view...! Anyway, you squeeze the legs together and the figure's waist turns and his arms flail back and forth. Some things haven't changed in twenty years, for those that remember Super Powers. Fortunately, the spring-action feature isn't a major hindrance to articulation.

Accessories include a firing bowcaster (slip the missile into the knob and then give it a push at the other end), a very ornately designed shield, and a weird-looking hand-weapon of some sort which I'm sort of assuming is the Wookiee version of a blaster.

The character description on the back of the card reads, "The Wookiees are intelligent, fiercely loyal and exceedingly strong. When their peaceful home planet of Kashyyk is enveloped by the Clone Wars, these ferocious warriors fight the Separatist incursion."

Definitely a cool figure, in either color scheme, and certainly recommended.

TARFFUL - Only two Wookiees are actually referred to by name in the movie - Chewbacca and this guy. I don't really know if he's some sort of Wookiee leader, although I think it's reasonable to assume he's at least some sort of general, or whatever the Wookiees would call a warrior commander.

He's quite ornate, really. For one thing -- he has these really long dreadlocks hanging from his head. How'd you like to braid a Wookiee? I wouldn't know where to start, frankly. And he has fairly ornate chest armor. The figure stands slightly taller than the Wookiee Warriors, and obviously as such taller than most of the figures in the Star Wars line. He's a full 5" in height!

The figure is molded in dark brown, with paint-wiped yellow trim in his fur. He is articulated at the head, arms, elbows (sort of), waist, legs, and a knee-pivot. Although it's not advertised as an action feature, if you move the waist to the right, it springs back. Do this with his arm extended, and Tarfful here could probably swat down just about anybody in the Star Wars line.

The action feature that IS mentioned on the package is "Firing Bowcaster", but really, it's the same accessory that comes with the Wookiee Warriors. Tarfful also comes with a blaster rifle.

His character card reads: "The heroic Wookiee Tarfful helps the Republic forces when the Separatist droid armies invade his home world of Kashyyyk. Serving under the command of Yoda, Tarfful fights valiantly to keep his planet free."

Yeah, and he and Chewie also save Yoda's bacon when the Clone Troopers turn against the Jedi...

CHEWBACCA - Here's a secret Chewie's been keeping from us all these years... by the standards of his own people, he's a scrawny runt. Well, maybe "runt" is too strong a word -- but he's definitely scrawny. Maybe that's why he left Kashyyyk and hooked up first with Lando Calrissian and then later, by the time of Episode IV, Han Solo. I mean, think about it. You're over seven feet tall. You weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of let's say 300 pouds or so (500 if you get your fur wet), and you're STILL being mercilessly teased by your peers for being so skinny.

Heck, I'd leave, too. Go hang around humans. They're shorter, a lot less hairier, and you can rip their arms off if they make you mad. Just snarling at them puts them off.

Chewbacca still comports himself well in the battle against the droid army. The figure is pretty decent, if a little overly-laden with action features. The overall detail is excellent. Really, when you compare this to the first Chewbacca from 1977 -- well, there is no comparison. It's things like this that make me wish I had a time machine to take some of these things back to the designers of the past and show them what Star Wars would one day become. Anyway...

The figure's action feature is called "Wookiee Rage". Squeeze his legs and his arms shoot up and his head is supposed to shake. The problem is that the head is very loosely articulated. making Chewie seem like he has a bad case of Parkinson's. The arms are a little too tightly articulated for the feature to really be that effective, but in this case I'm not complaining. I've heard some collectors complain about how really loosely the arms on some other figures with similar action features are, and they've as much said that it ruins the figure for them.

Honestly, I've never understood action features in figures. I think such things are better left to the child's imagination.

Chewbacca is decently articulated. The head doesn't move much, but he's poseable at the arms, swivel elbows, wrists, legs, and swivel knees. He comes with a blaster rifle with a bowcaster attacked to the top of it, but there's no launching feature with it. It does include a strap so Chewie can wear it.

Chewbacca's profile card reads: "The Wookiee warrior Chewbacca battles beside fellow warrior Tarfful to save their home planet from the invading Separatist forces. Yoda leads the courageous fight to save Kashyyyk from domination."

It's worth mentioning that the original actor in the Chewbacca suit, Peter Mayhew, reprised his famous role for this movie.

Overall, I'm very pleased with these figures. Hasbro has done a good overall job on all of their Star Wars figures this time around, and the Wookiees are certainly a very cool part of the Episode III collection. I recommend all of them for any Star Wars action figure collector!