It's amazing what can make a popular character. Take R5-D4. All this astromech droid ever did was pop his cork. And yet he's a readily recognized part of the Star Wars universe.
R5-D4 put in little more than a cameo appearance in the first Star Wars movie. He was the astromech droid selected by Uncle Owen from the Jawa traders, along with C-3PO. But after about twenty yards of trying to head to the Lars homestead, poor R5 blew a fuse or something, and stalled in his tracks. Luke declared that the droid had a "bad motivator unit".
Owen chewed out the Jawas, and C-3PO recommended R2-D2 as a suitable replacement. The rest, of course, is history. A smoking R5 was reclaimed by the Jawas, and was never seen again.
And yet, there have been several figures of this droid over the years. He was part of the original collection from the 1970's. Some years ago, there was an excellent 12" scale version of him. And of course he's been part of the modern collection, although honestly, there's been a serious need for a new R5 for some years, since the most notable previous modern version was this barely-articulated lump of plastic whose main feature was the ability to split his body open to reveal a concealed missile launcher, something R5-D4 never did in the movie - perhaps thankfully given that he seemed to have his fair share of glitches.
R5-D4 differs from the far better known R2-D2 in several respects. Most of his trim is red, unlike R2's blue trim. Granted we have seen over the years that astromech droids can have just about any color combination imaginable. I think about the only major colors I've never seen represented on a droid of this type have been pink and purple, and who knows what would've happened there if R2 had been in the company of Amidala or Leia in less dire times.
R5 also has a different type of head. Instead of the dome of the R2 units, with their one centralized eye and other smaller sensors, R5 has more of a circular trapezoid for a head, with a number of smaller sensors on the front of his head. Somehow, it makes him look less intelligent.
The toy isn't bad, but it could've been a bit better. At least it has some decent articulation, and it doesn't split down the middle to reveal a missile launcher. This at least allows the head to turn. But the third leg isn't retractable. There are several basic astromech body molds out there (this one has a 2004 copyright date on it), and I have no idea what criteria - other than obvious financial considerations - go into choosing which one is used for which droid, but I do rather wish this one had gotten the mold that included the retractable leg. Now, in fairness, the leg IS removable, so R5 can assume his "two legged" status, as long as you can keep track of the third leg, so it's not that big of a deal. Also, all three legs feature small rolling wheels underneath.
Turning R5's head causes a small device to pop out of the top of his head. Is this the infamous defective motivator unit? It is not removable, just so you know.
Now let's discuss painting and assembly. Sadly, R5-D4 is yet another example in just how sloppy the factories in China have been getting. Point #1 - the cables in R5's side feet are glued into place, and there are visible blobs of glue coming out of the slots into which these cables fit. Similarly, a panel on the front of the figure is glued into place with similar residue showing. Point #2 - The sensor/eyes on R5's head are hand painted, and very poorly. It's just these splotches of dark silver paint, and it looks disgraceful.
I almost passed up this droid. But I like the astromech droids in general (I'm still hoping to own Entertainment Earth's exclusive sets one of these days), and the memory of the missile-launching R5-D4 was enough to overcome the paint job on this one - but not by much. This is really disgraceful, and I hope I can find a way to clean it up.
I DID pass up an otherwise really nicely-designed SANDTROOPER that is part of this same assortment for the same reasons, and it's a darn shame. The figure looked to be almost of the Super-Articulated level, basically a Stormtrooper with the Sandtrooper shoulder-pad attachments, but the black uniform detail had been so sloppily painted that I didn't want it.
The rest of R5-D4 is very decent. Of course, they have long-established spray-paint masks for this particular body.
R5-D4's background information reads as follows:
Droid Type: Astromech
Purchased By: Owen Lars
Suffers From: Bad Motivator
Just as Owen Lars purchases this battle-worn astromech droid, the droid's motivator blows a fuse. Disgruntled and dissatisfied, Owen asks for another R2 unit and selects R2-D2 after C-3PO recommends his services. Little down Owen know that his seemingly simple droid selection will turn out to determine the fate of the galaxy...
One word of warning. The antennae on top of the head is not glued in, and can easily be lost. One might wish this part had been glued in, but given the job they did on the other parts that needed to be glued, perhaps it's just as well they didn't. Still, a drop or two of a plastic-safe glue on your own, applied very lightly, may be called for here.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this figure a 8. It'd be a 10 if it had a better paint job and no visible glue residue. And yet, even taking all of that into consideration, it's still an improvement over the split-body missile launching one.
From that standpoint alone, even with its faults, I do recommend R5-D4.
Despite a name that makes a really bad joke ("What was that smell?" "That was a Foul Moudama"), the character is an interesting addition to the collection, for several reasons.
For one thing -- technically, he's from the Clone Wars animated series, even if the figure himself doesn't look it. Foul Moudama was part of the Jedi team that strove to protect Chancellor Paltatine from being abducted by General Grievous in the events just prior to Episode III. Fortunately, the figure isn't designed to look like his animated counterpart. A number of the characters from the animated show were given more realistic renditions as action figures, such as Asajj Ventress and the bounty hunter Durge, and Foul Moudama is one of them.
Secondly -- technically, this figure has existed before. I thought I recognized it. Foul's race is technically listed as "Talz" on the package, but the fact remains that this bulky furball with the weird, four-eyed head and odd little tendril mouth, has been seen in the Star Wars universe before. One of his people was one of the very various barflys in the Mos Eisley Cantina. And in fact, that particular one was made as part of a two-pack, exclusive to the Star Wars Club, a number of years ago, sold alongside a little rat-like alien named Kabe. The big guy's name was Muftak (and special thanks to a couple of message boards for reminding me of the names).
I checked, and sure enough, Foul uses the same body molds as Muftak, even though the copyright date on the bottom of his foot has been updated to read 2005. Heck, Muftak goes back far enough that Hasbro, although they had bought Kenner by this time, was still using the Kenner logo with some of their "boys toys" product, so Muftak's copyright actually says Kenner!
This, however, would explain why Foul Moudama's articulation is relatively limited, since this was before Hasbro started expanding the articulation of the Star Wars line, and why Foul can't hold a lightsaber worth a darn (nothing a little putty can't remedy).
There are some significant differences between the two figures, though, that need to be noted. For starters, Foul Moudama is wearing boots and a Jedi tunic. These are actually separately crafted parts, and done very well. I suspect that the tunic was put into place before the final assembly of the figure, as I can see no way to remove it. There are no clasps or snaps. The boots, on the other hand, have two clasps along their sides that allow the boots to be removed if one so desires.
Now, here's the interesting part. Foul Moudama has an entirely different paint job from Muftak, even setting aside the tunic and boots. And EVERYTHING -- including the boots and the tunic -- are properly SPRAY- painted through a stencil/paint mask. There is NOT -- ONE -- BIT of inevitably sloppy hand-painted detail on this figure as far as I can determine. And this means that new paint-masks has to be produced not only for the body, bot for the tunic as well, including some pretty intricate detailing around the belt where there are three metal something-or-others on either side of the buckle that are painted silver, gold, and copper. And they're spray-painted -- NOT hand-painted. So are four tiny little metal studs near the buckle, as well.
One sort of funny note. He comes with one of the very nice display stands that figures in this Star Wars Saga Collection have included in their packages. Only his feet are so big he can't stand on it. Granted, those feet ARE so big that he needs a display stand the way Superman needs a bicycle. This is not an action figure in danger of losing his balance, believe me.
Foul Moudama's bio information reads as follows:
Homeworld: Alzoc III
Mission: Protect Chancellor Palpatine
Jedi Knights Foul Moudama, Shaak Ti and the Ithorian, Roron Corobb, make a desperate attempt to keep General Grievous from kidnapping Chancellor Palpatine. Their thrilling chase is filled with incredible battles, amazing acrobatics and lots of close calls. In the end, Foul Moudama falls in battle to General Grievous' lightsabers, but his spirit will live on.
Yeah, that sequence was one of the more amazing ones in the Clone Wars animated series, I must admit.
Overall, this is a cool action figure. Granted he's not as well articulated as some more modern Star Wars figure, but he's a distinctive character, a cool Jedi, certainly not another version of Luke, or Han, or Obi-Wan, and he's also a shining example of what paint detailing on an action figure damn well ought to look like and how it should be done. That alone gets FOUL MOUDAMA my recommendation!
Finally, we have a really obscure character from the Star Wars universe:
One of the cool things about the Star Wars line of toys, especially now since the line is off a specific emphasis on Episode III and doing toys for all six Star Wars films as well as Clone Wars and "Expanded Universe", is that Hasbro is not afraid to throw in some really obscure characters, and arguably a lot more often than most toy lines. Oh, there's still a surplus of Hans, and Darths, and Lukes - but how many toy lines are going to give an action figure to a character who got all of three seconds of screen time, which amounted to him poking his head up onto the screen, and looking sideways? Heck, until this figure, we didn't even know what the rest of the alien looked like!
Such is Hem Dazon, patron of the Mos Eisley Cantina where Luke and Obi-Wan contracted with Han Solo and Chewbacca for a ride on the Millennium Falcon. This strange alien with the oblong head and the near-glowing eyes was seen only for the briefest of moments, and really only served to show off the strange clientele of the establishment.
To do a figure of this character, the rest of him had to pretty much be made up, although I'm sure that Lucas approved Hasbro's designs before production (and this assumes that this character hasn't turned up in some comic book or video game adventure that I don't know about). So, what does Hem Dazon look like on the whole? He looks like E.T. with attitude, as much as anything.
The skin tone is very similar to Steven Spielberg's well-known extraterrestrial, the head isn't too far removed from that particular alien, he has long, slender arms, and although E.T. didn't have much in the way of legs and Hem Dazon does, there's still something vaguely reminiscent about those feet.
Now, we know from that one scene in the Senate Chambers in Episode I that, quite probably, the E.T. aliens do exist in the Star Wars universe. Hem Dazon's race could be an offshoot of them. Look at it this way. Hem Dazon is to the E.T.'s what Chewbacca is to the Ewoks - similar, but distinctly larger and quite probably with a lot more attitude.
Hem Dazon's outfit doesn't give much away about his allegiances, if any. He's wearing a dark blue jumpsuit with burgundy shoulder pads and grey trim. He's wearing a grey harness and belt with brown pouches, and a holster for a small blaster pistol that the figure comes with.
It's actually a very nice blaster pistol. Small, but it does fit into its holster, and it's even got some paint trim on it. That's pretty unusual for a small accessory like this. He also comes with a drinking glass and some sort of cylindrical object that could be a barstool.
It's possible that Hem Dazon is some sort of bounty hunter. On the other hand, so many people in the Star Wars universe walk around armed that that's anybody's guess.
Is Hem Dazon a Rebel? Or part of the Empire? This is never specified. I mean, come on, the guy was just hanging around the Cantina because he wanted a drink. I have little doubt that there were plenty of people in the vastness of the Star Wars galaxy who, when it came to the war between the Rebels and the Empire, honestly didn't much care one way or the other. Hem Dazon may well be one of these.
In fact, Hem Dazon's background info on the package card seems to sort of indicate this. At least it doesn't give much away:
Main Hangout: Mos Eisley Cantina
Hem Dazon, one of the more infamous reptile-like Arconas, is enjoying a drink at the Mos Eisley Cantina when trouble suddenly erupts. An old Jedi Knight and a young boy suddenly tangle with two "wanted" men. Using a lightsaber, the Jedi Knight disables both men rather quickly. Being accustomed to outbursts like this at the cantina, Hem settles himself after the skirmish and goes about his business.
So, how's the figure? Well, pretty good, actually. The articulation is about average for a Star Wars figure these days. Ball-and-socket head, arms that move forward, backward, and out to the side, that weird diagonal-cut elbow articulation, wrists (actually where the sleeves end), waist, legs, and ankles, if they can be called that. Hem Dazon isn't QUITE human. His legs are pretty strange. The harness he is wearing is a separate piece, and he also comes with a small blaster pistol, as I already mentioned.
Hem Dazon got lucky. His paintwork is actually the neatest I've yet seen for being done this way, and the paint was not so thick that it obscured sculpted detail, another significant problem with this method. But let's face facts. That doesn't excuse all of the Star Wars and G.I.Joe figures that have been ruined and bungled by this process, and it's still pretty much impossible for anyone, let alone a low-wage factory worker in China, to be expected to hand-paint the details on a small-scale action figure - thousands of them - and have them come out as neatly as they would if sprayed through a proper stencil.
Do I recommend Hem Dazon? Yes, absolutely. He's a distinctive-looking figure, certainly an obscure character that isn't likely to see another figure, and he'll make a cool addition to any Star Wars display, especially if you own a Cantina Set or some such. However, be sure you give the figure as thorough a looking-over as possible when you see him in the store. Give the paint job very close scrutiny so you can get the best possible one.
With that note of caution, though, HEM DAZON most definitely has my