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REVIEW: THE LATEST 3 3/4" STAR WARS FIGURES!

Four new Star Wars figures hit the shelves recently, and I managed to locate them one afternoon at a local Target. My local comics shop wanted these to sell, in exchange for store credit, so I bought all four -- and of course a couple for myself. But before turning them over, I thought I'd offer a review of all four of them.

One I did not buy for myself was the new Jar Jar Binks. This was not out of any dislike for Jar Jar or Episode 1. I have no problem with either. And I'll admit the picture of Jar Jar on the front of the "Jedi Force File" is excellent, showing a fairly serious-looking Jar Jar. Too bad the same can't be said for the figure, which is designed to have his arms raised to place on either side of his head while he sticks his extremely long tongue out. No wonder he talks funny. If I had a length of tongue in my mouth like this, I'd probably sound a bit strange myself. At any rate, the figure was just a little too odd -- not to mention rude -- for me to spend six bucks on. I suppose they could have packed the tongue separately in the bubble, but that likely would have made for even worse jokes, so let's not even go there.

Jar Jar comes with an accessory, a "folded up" Pit Droid -- that does not unfold into a full droid -- of the type that gave him a fair amount of trouble in Watto's shop until Anakin Skywalker told him to punch its nose to shut it off.

The other three figures are all from the Classic Trilogy, and all are quite good. There's a new Lando Calrissian, given the subheading of "Bespin Escape". It's been a while since we've seen a Lando Calrissian figure, and this one's a winner. He's dressed in his familiar bright blue shirt -- a color seldom seen used for clothing in the Star Wars universe for some odd reason -- and his dark blue trousers. The likeness is excellent. The figure is a little too pre-posed for my tastes, with the legs positioned for running and the arms positioned to hold a blaster gun which the figure does come with. The figure does not appear to have any additional articulation beyond the usual arms, legs, waist and head. Some more recent Star Wars figures have had extra movement at the elbows or wrists to allow for further positioning, but this is not the case with Lando. He's designed for one thing and is a little too pre-posed for my tastes.

There is one high point, and this might also explain why he's a little lacking in extra articulation, which would require extra money, and that is Lando's cape. It is fabric, not plastic like the first Lando in the modern Star Wars series from several years ago. And the lining of the cape is very ornate and appears to be embroidered as such, not printed. It's impossible to tell from the sealed package how the cape is attached to the figure, but presumably it is somehow. It doesn't look as though it would come off to be used on another Lando. So, what you've got here is a great cape and a superb facial likeness on a mediocre figure that's a little too specifically posed.

Next we come to the latest in a growing line of aliens that have been appearing in the Star Wars figure universe, and thank the Force for that. We really don't need any more Lukes, Hans, Obi-Wans, or Qui-Gons, even though I'm sure we'll get them. But as long as they know their place and as long as we get other interesting characters, I guess I can endure that. This alien is called Tessek. He's a Quarren, and back when Star Wars aliens were given more descriptive names instead of fancy alien names he was known as "Squid-Head". Quarrens are from the same planet as Admiral Ackbar's people, the Mon Calamari. Tessek, as an individual, according to his Force File, worked as an accountant for Jabba the Hutt. The photos on the Force File look like they might have been some sort of screen test. This character was not that prominently featured in any of the Star Wars movies. The figure itself is excellent. Very well sculpted head, that can't have been the easiest job in the world, ornate plastic robes, poseable legs under the robes, an ornate breastplate/belt of some sort, and he comes complete with a small blaster pistol. Overall, it's a superb figure, and better still, of a new character.

Finally we have a new droid -- sort of. Although clearly derived from previous molds, the overall look is decidedly different from any previous incarnations. This is R2-Q5. He's a droid in the same motif as the popular R2-D2, but this one is representative of the R2 droids purchased by the Empire. That doesn't make R2-Q5 a villain -- he was just programmed that way. And certainly painted to look the part. This R2 unit is black, with goldish-tan highlights. Can the comical R2 droids look menacing? With this paint job they certainly can. There have been several versions of the R2-D2 molds. We get our money's worth with the one used to make R2-Q5, in that it's the one with the retractable third leg. The last R2 droid we got, the rare blue R2-B1, had no third leg. This was supposedly compensated for with an abundance of equipment. I won't even get into the ridiculous R5-D4 that was little more than a droid-shaped missile launcher, something that droid never did -- although he did blow his top rather well in the movie. R2-Q5 does come with one accessory, anyway -- a decent-sized and presumably holographic (transparent) red sculpture of the second Death Star, on a clear pedestal.

One thing -- there's a typo on the front of the Force File. This droid is supposed to be an "Imperial Astromech Droid". Instead the first word is spelled "Imperal". Hire some proofreaders and stop relying on the "spell-check", willya, Hasbro (and the rest of the overly computerized world)? I mean, when I find typos in paperback books, that's inexcusable. I've heard that the typo has been corrected -- leading variation hunters to get both versions, of course -- but it never should've happened in the first place. I mean -- THREE WORDS on a line and they botch one?

Frankly, I'd like to see maybe a three-pack of R2 droids in the 12" scale. We know they've got the molds, and they've already given us R2-D2 and R2-A6. They could do R2-B1, R2-Q5, and that red R2 unit whose full designation escapes me that came with the Naboo Royal Starship.

This latest assortment has been generally well-received among Star Wars collectors. For me, Jar Jar was a pass just because it was a little too weird, but kids might get a kick out of it. Lando is iffy because of the pre-posing, but overall the figure looks cool, and the cape is excellent. Tessek and R2-Q5 I had no hesitation about purchasing.

As with any new Star Wars assortment, it tends to be in scarce supply initially while the collectors get theirs. But persistence and a little good timing should pay off for you if you want these figures, which have been reported at both Wal-Marts and Targets, and as a whole, the Star Wars line remains one of the best action figure lines currently available.