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By Thomas Wheeler

Essentially completing the line-up of well-known Bounty Hunters from the Star Wars saga (although I still want to see Hasbro hake a 12"-scale version of young Boba Fett from Episode 2), the last assortment of 12" Star Wars figures in 2002 featured two of the nefarious Bounty Hunters from The Empire Strikes Back. These merciless mercenaries were Zuckuss and Dengar. And Hasbro proved once again that they are capable of producing really superb 12"-scale action figures.

ZUCKUSS: This oddball bug-faced alien is a native of the planet Gand, and has to wear special breathing equipment when offworld. The figure is superbly done, and comes up a little shorter than a full 12", which is appropriate for this character. Exactly how Hasbro accomplished this I am not certain. It's possible, if not terribly likely in my opinion, that they cast special body parts, but I suspect it is more likely that they used existing body parts from shorter action figures to accomplish this goal. However, I'm not about to try to undo all of the intricate equipment this figure is wearing just to figure that out. It's not worth it.

Zuckuss is very nicely outfitted in a leather-like robe, to which has been attached an assortment of native gear to aid him in his bounty hunting. He also comes with a heavy assault blaster rifle. The figure's eerie alien head has been very well designed. Zuckuss has excellent overall articulation, and movement is not terribly hindered by the thick robe he's wearing.

DENGAR: Trained as an Imperial assassin, Dengar underwent brain surgery that made him a more effective killer. He also has a personal grudge against Han Solo for severe head injuries he sustained years ago. Looks like he never healed very well from them, either. Dengar's face is rather distinctly that of an accident victim.

This is another excellent figure, standing a full 12" in height. His uniform is fabric, with a great amount of flexible plastic armor sewn onto it. Dengar looks like he could use a little Rustoleum, unless dingy brown is the natural color of this equipment. He comes with a very large and long blaster rifle. The facial likeness is accurate and ugly as heck.

The popularity of the Bounty Hunters has been one of the surprises in the Star Wars universe. Reportedly it even took George Lucas by surprise. But there's no denying it. Characters such as Bossk, IG-88, Zuckuss, Dengar, and 4-LOM had all of a few seconds of screen time on the bridge of the Star Destroyer, being instructed by Darth Vader to capture Han Solo alive, and yet each and every one of them, to one degree or another, along with Boba Fett, and prequel Bounty Hunters Aurra Sing, Zam Wesell, and Jango Fett, have been turned into the stuff of sci-fi legend, thanks to their presence and growing histories in role-playing games, comic books, novels, and video games. Amazing especially when you consider that Aurra Sing had all of two seconds on screen in Episode 1, and that was a backshot. With the addition of Zuckuss and Dengar, the main "Empire" group is now complete, and I highly recommend both figures to any Star Wars fan. They are superbly made and will be a definite highlight of any collection.

I shouldn't conclude this review without mentioning the third figure in this particular assortment of 12" Star Wars figures. It's an Imperial Officer. I suppose it's not a bad figure, but it's got three strikes against it. First of all, unlike Zuckuss and Dengar, it's a generic figure, not a named individual. Secondly, it uses the G.I.Joe body. This is not the first time this has happened, although it is a recent development, and I feel it is a poor choice. That body is too slender to fit in with the established size of 12" Star Wars humanoid figures.

Finally, the Imperial Officer has the single silliest-looking head-sculpt I've ever seen that was trying to look relatively bland and human. The facial features manage a weird cross between stereotypical and exaggerated, and the thing has sideburns that would embarass Elvis Presley. I know that the original movies took place during a time when such oddball hairstyles were in fashion, but -- let's just say I'm not surprised that most stores selling 12" Star Wars have a distinct shortage of Zuckuss and Dengar, and plenty of Imperial Officers gathering dust on the shelves.

Still, two out of three isn't bad, and the two Bounty Hunters are definitely worthwhile additions to the Star Wars collection of 12" action figures. Now, about young bounty-hunter-in-the-making Boba Fett...