Recently a series of the popular comic-based Star Wars two-packs of figures were released as a Wal-Mart exclusive. One of these sets was the BOBA FETT/RA-7 DROID set.
Is there any character in the Star Wars universe with a more convoluted history than Boba Fett? The famed bounty hunter was first introduced in the Star Wars Holiday Special, in an animated sequence that was the only tolerable part of a show that was such a colossal train wreck that, despite the very surprising release of a Boba Fett action figure as he appeared in that Special, I think George Lucas would rather stage a "Howard the Duck" marathon than let that disaster loose upon humanity ever again.
Boba Fett turned up next in "The Empire Strikes Back", aiding the capture of Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca on Bespin. From there, Solo was frozen in carbonite, whereupon Fett was allowed to take Solo back to Tatooine, back to Jabba the Hutt, to collect the bounty that had been placed on Han Solo's head.
Despite clearly being an unsavory and unpleasant character, Boba Fett proved to be immensely popular with the Star Wars crowd. According to legend, this proved to be somewhat distressing to George Lucas, who decided in the next movie to kill off Boba Fett as quickly as possible. During the fight on Tatooine between Luke Skywalker and a whole lot of Jabba's hired help, including Boba Fett, a still nearly blind Han Solo accidentally jabbed Fett's rocket pack with his weapon, sending the bounty hunter flying uncontrollably into the side of Jabba's massive Sail Barge, screaming hysterically the whole time, I might add, and falling right into the mouth of the Sarlaac. End of Boba, right?
Wrong. The good folks at Lucasfilm found that you can't keep a good bounty hunter down. People wanted more Boba. His origin was speculated about for years, until finally, when the prequel trilogy was being made, George Lucas finally got around to telling an official origin story for Boba Fett. His father, Jango Fett, a well-known bounty hunter in his own right, was contracted by the Kaminoans to serve as the genetic host for the Clone Troopers that would comprise the Grand Army of the Republic. These Clones would be subjected to certain genetic alterations, included accelerated aging, bringing them to maturity in half the time, as well as mental programming that made them more obedient to orders given to them. Jango Fett would also help to train this army.
In return, along with his substantial fee, of course, Jango asked for one thing -- an unaltered clone, to raise as his own son. I suppose being a Bounty Hunter doesn't leave a lot of time to develop the more conventional means of raising a family.
Jango lost his head to Mace Windu in the Battle of Geonosis, and that was also pretty much the last we saw of young Boba Fett. His next cinematic appearance would be in a scene reworked and added to the Special Edition of Star Wars Episode IV, the original movie.
As to what happened during all of those in-between years, a series of a half-dozen "Young Reader" books published by Scholastic outlined how Boba went from frightened orphan to his early Bounty Hunter years. They're good reading, provided your youngsters don't try to take the character as a life example for themselves...
But then there is the little matter of Boba's survival after getting dumped into the Sarlaac's mouth. These days, the most widely accepted story is that Boba's armor protected him from the digestive juices of the Sarlaac, and he was eventually rescued by a fellow bounty hunter, who in turn, of all things, asked Boba if he would be willing to serve as best man at his wedding. Boba accepted.
It's generally accepted, however, that Boba Fett did survive the Sarlaac, despite George Lucas' best efforts to kill him off, and is still out there in the Star Wars galaxy, causing trouble and probably making good money at it.
But there was an earlier "survival" story, presented during the Marvel Comics run of Star Wars comics, and it is the story featured in this particular two-pack of action figures. Although Dark Horse Comics has been reprinting these stories, Marvel apparently having surrendered all rights to them, the story is based on the original Marvel-produced Star Wars title, issue #81, a tale entitled "Jawas of Doom".
The Fett part of this story has a Sandcrawler full of Jawas coming across the unconscious form of Boba Fett, after Fett has apparently been vomited out by the Sarlaac. In the company of the Jawas is an RA-7 Droid, who does the talking in English, for those of us who don't speak Jawa.
The initial assumption, given Fett's armor, is that he is some sort of cyborg. Later on in the story, R2-D2 is also captured by the Jawas, and encounters the still unconscious Boba Fett. He recognizes the bounty hunter, but says nothing. Han and Leia end up in a chase across the desert with the Sandcrawler to rescue R2-D2 just as Boba Fett wakes up. He is temporarily amnesiac, and the RA-7 Droid directs him to defend the Sandcrawler against the intruders.
Fett does so, but starts to regain his memory. The Sandcrawler is on a direct course with the Sarlaac. Han actually tries to rescue Boba Fett, after retrieving R2-D2, but Fett regains his full memory and refuses Solo's aid, just as the Sandcrawler collides with, or is possibly devoured by, the Sarlaac (just how big WAS that critter!?).
Fett's fate is left a little vague, so it's not implausible to think that if you want to string out the continuity as much as possible, Fett was actually eaten by the Sarlaac TWICE, was spat out once, hauled in by the Jawas the first time, and was rescued by his "fellow" bounty hunter the second time. One might think Boba Fett would give Tatooine a wide berth after that.
As to the Boba Fett figure -- well, here is where we need to remind ourselves that the methods for printing comic books in the 1970's and 1980's were not as sophisticated as they are today. Color palettes were more limited, as was the technology itself.
Now, in fairness, the artwork in the comic book is really quite excellent. Penciler Ron Frenz and finishers Tom Palmer and Tom Mandrake did a really nice job. And I'm sure that colorist Glynis Wein did the best job possible within the limitations of the available technology. But that still left is with a bright green Sandcrawler, purple-robed Jawas, and a very -- intensely-colored Boba Fett, and this has been reflected in the figure.
Hasbro has made it a point to try to match colors when they do a comic - based set whenever possible. This started with their G.I. Joe sets, and it continues with their Star Wars sets. And sometimes, the result, while cool, is also a little strange. And that's probably a good definition of this Boba Fett. He's cool, but he's a little strange.
I'm not sure which figure version of Boba Fett was used here. I am comfortable saying that I doubt he was created from scratch for this set. In the first place, I am certain that there are several versions of Boba Fett molds available for use. In the second place, this set is part of a store exclusive assortment, and that would be one more reason to try to keep expenses down.
It took me a while to find a copyright date on this figure, but I finally saw one, very small, on the back of the leg. This Boba is dated 2005. And really, it's an excellent Boba Fett. Very highly articulated, I would say that this figure qualifies as a "Super-Articulated" edition of Boba Fett. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, upper point of the gloves, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. Almost all of these articulation points have multiple ranges of movement -- forward, backward, outward, and/or some sort of swivel movement. The poseability of this Boba Fett is really superb.
As to the color scheme -- that's where things get interesting. Frankly, he looks like Boba Fett would look like if Boba Fett decided to clean and repaint his armor in a brighter color scheme. If you overlook the few brownish orange splats on his uniform -- presumably Sarlaac spew -- one might almost call this Boba Fett "spiffy" -- although probably not to his face.
I wish I still had my original Boba Fett figure from 1980 to make a color comparison with, because this figure looks VERY much like he uses the same color palette. The helmet is a dark forest green, as is the chestplate and feet. The uniform is an appropriate grey in color. The gloves are red, the shoulder and knee pads a yellowish orange. The visor around the face is red with the proper black center. The only really oddball aspect to the color scheme is a bit of white trim on the helmet, which does appear in the comic, but which certainly no other version of Boba ever had.
Boba comes complete with his rocket pack, a small fabric cape, and a blaster. This really is an excellent version of Boba Fett, even if the color scheme is a tad intense. I'd love to know where else this version of Boba was offered, presumably in a more "modern" color scheme, because it would really have to be regarded as the ultimate version of Boba Fett, unless it, too, had some strange color scheme to it.
Now let's consider the RA-7 Droid. According to the New Star Wars Essential Guide to Droids, the Arakyd RA-7 Protocol Droid is somewhat better known by its nickname, the "Death Star Droid". It has gone down as one of the single most unwanted editions of protocol-type droids ever produced. According to the Guide, these things were used as spies by the Emperor. Hidden inside the droid's skull was secret surveillance equipment. The droid's huge eyes could operate almost without light and were able to lip-read, picking up on the faintest whispers.
The droids were routinely given out as gifts to Imperial bureaucrats, who soon learned that the junky droids made poor administrative assistants, but they couldn't just trash them, lest word get back to their superiors that that had spurned a gift from the Emperor. So the droids were routinely parked off in corners and largely forgotten, quietly gathering data and routinely relaying that information to the Imperial Security Bureau.
The nickname "Death Star Droid" was earned because of the sheer number of the things on the original Death Star, following their Imperial officers around. Obviously, these all went up when the Death Star Was taken out by the Rebels. The remainder -- well, once word got around the Imperial bureaucracy that the RA-7's were NOT something you really wanted around your home or office, Imperial bureaucrats found ways to quietly dispose of them. The Guide specifically notes "junk shops and Jawa auctions", which is probably how the RA-7 Droid in question came into the possession of the Jawas in the story.
Now, if you think that Boba Fett was a victim of coloring capabilities of the time -- now, let's be fair. The Death Star Droid that we saw in the first movie was a sort of dull metallic grey. That's not an easy color to duplicate in the comics, at least not back then. And we already had a green Sandcrawler and purple-robed Jawas. So they colored the RA-7 Droid a sort of pale lavendar, I think shooting for as close to grey as it was possible to get back then.
So, of course, reflecting that, but also sort of improving on it, the RA-7 Droid figure in this set is -- METALLIC PURPLE! That alone was just so darn funny, it's one of the main reasons I bought the set. Where else are you going to find a metallic purple droid?
Think I'll assign him to Mace Windu...
Unfortunately, the wacky color scheme is pretty much the high point of this figure, who has a 2007 copyright date on his foot, so I assume he uses the same molds as the more standard-colored RA-7 Droid that was released recently. He's nicely sculpted and very well detailed, but unfortunately he's not terribly well articulated. He's poseable at the head, arms, waist, and legs. I don't see why it wouldn't have been possible to at least articulate the knees.
Also unfortunately, the figure suffers from what I must VERY ironically call a growing trend in Star Wars action figures. They're getting a fair bit slimmer, and very slightly but noticeably shorter. Any newly-created figure is likely to be overall smaller than figures from just a year or so ago. It's being increasingly noticed in the fan community, and the reaction is not a favorable one. Honestly, I don't blame the fans a bit for being upset.
The first figure I picked up that was really noticeable from this standpoint was the CZ-4 Droid. The RA-7 is not as short as him, but he's a fraction shorter than he should be. Ever since this started, I've been extremely selective about what Star Wars figures I purchase, and for the most part, I've been going with Clone Troopers or figures that I recognize as being based on established molds.
However, I don't want to berate the RA-7 too much. He's not as short as some, and while I would've liked to have had more articulation, he's not that bad. Go ask Anthony Daniels how articulated HE was in that gold C-3PO suit. And the metallic purple color is just so hysterical it makes up for a lot.
So what's my final word on this set? Okay, I was probably a little harsher on the size and articulation of the RA-7 Droid than I needed to be, but I do consider these significant concerns with regard to the entire line. He's still cool, and the metallic purple -- well, THERE'S a color you don't see all that often. And Boba Fett, for all of having his own rather intense color scheme, is nevertheless a truly superb figure. As for the comic book, it's a cool story. Maybe it fits in continuity, maybe it doesn't, but it's not a bad read.
Overall, the STAR WARS BOBA FETT/RA-7 DROID COMIC SET certainly has my enthusiastic recommendation!