Sunday, May 6, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 365: McQuarrie Concept Boba Fett

BOBA FETT McQuarrie Signature Series
30th Anniversary Collection McQuarrie Signature Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 87500 No. 87240
Number: 30-15
Includes: 2 heads, blaster, flame projectile, collector coin
Action Feature: Swappable helmets, stomach opens to reveal gun
Retail: $6.99
Availability: April 2007
Appearances: n/a

Bio: Boba Fett was one of the first new characters to be designed for The Empire Strikes Back. The costume began as a Mandalorian supercommando suit and went through various designs, as well as being aged, dented, and painted to give it a battle-scarred appearance. It's final look hides a plethora of built-in weapons - and the identity of the ruthless bounty hunter it encases. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: In the cockpit of the 1996 Shadows of the Empire (later Power of the Force) Boba Fett's Slave I vehicle. Other images from other sources around Adam Pawlus' place.

Commentary: Few things excite collectors as much as the prospect of a completely new Boba Fett action figure. Every few years, we get a new one-- and it's always an exciting time. In 1995, days after Christmas, the first modern one hit stores in limited numbers. In 1996, we got a retooled version based on The Empire Strikes Back to be followed by a "Deluxe" offering with a giant jet pack in 1997. In 2000, we were shown the 300th Edition figure. In 2003, we got a new one that had rockets blazing and flames shooting out the back. In 2004, we got the spiffy (and now largely considered to be the definitive) figure from the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection. In 2006, we got a mishmash of the 2003 and 2004 versions. But it's 2007-- and it's time Hasbro gave us a new take on the most popular bounty hunter in cinematic history.

This one is based on several pieces of concept art for the character, putting together some of the more memorable (and in the case of the alternate head and gut gun, more forgettable) aspects of this character's birth. As a white trooper-style figure, this Mandalorian Supercommando could be army-built were one so inclined, as it's generic enough to make it easy to imagine having an army of these guys fighting Jedi and Rebels. The figure itself is a strong combination of things fans like-- loads of articulation, tons of parts, and just enough decoration to be considered classy. The figure is close to super-poseable-- basically, it has all the joints you could want except for ankles. So there's a total of 12 worthwhile joints here, which is pretty much plenty. Ankles or an added knee joint allowing lower leg rotation would have been cool, but there are sufficient features on this figure to make such requests sound like we're just never able to be satisfied. (Which we can't. And I'm OK with that.)

The figure's parts are worthy of mention. First, there's the gut gun. This built-in feature is rubber-banded shut when you open the figure, and it's a little tricky to flick it out. When you finally do, you'll see that it's a little disappointing, and, sadly, probably not worth having included in the figure. It's just an extra little feature that shows Hasbro designers are willing to innovate and try new things (that's good) but for some reason, the thin walls around the waist joint allow the figure to be split apart very easily with virtually no force (that's bad).

Of course, that's one bad feature-- the rest are largely good. The flame projectile plugs in to a gauntlet, which doesn't look at all excessively large. Usually you end up with ridiculously oversized parts so you can work in a feature like this, so it's nice to see Hasbro make it look good without having to junk up a figure. The holster is sized appropriately, and his nifty pistol fits right in without any real problems. The heads pop on and off easily, and hey, that's pretty awesome. (Actually, it's kinda like getting two figures in one.) The sculpt is subtle, and Hasbro did us a solid by not cheaping out and repainting an older mold white and claiming it's based on a preproduction costume. Huzzah and kudos, Hasbro.

Collector's Notes: This figure was the second figure in the McQuarrie Signature Series, the first being a Stormtrooper released weeks earlier. This figure was, obviously, well-received upon launch and will continue to ship for several assortments to fill demand. More Boba Fett figures are on the way in 2007. A redeco of a previously released figure in cartoon colors is coming this Summer, with a reissue of the VOTC figure coming in the Saga Legends line. It's a good year for Fett fans!

Of course, there are still at least two more "conceptual" Boba Fett figures left to do, now that we have to get really specific about these things. One is Proto Fett, the costume used in pre-ESB photography with brown gloves, a yellow gauntlet, and slightly different coloring. (This was the basis for the two 1979 figures and the packaging.) It also has the little flame thrower on the left wrist. This one I'd peg as likely, and the first POTF2 one seems somewhat based on this (or these) design(s). Another is the white costume used for various film tests at Skywalker Ranch. This one seems like if you took the VOTC figure and painted it white, gave it other guns, a different rocket, and a new helmet, you could probably do it pretty easily. It doesn't seem overly likely though.

If you stick to the artwork, there's still other helmet designs, like the one with the poncho and lots of other variations that could make for some fun action figures. I for one would be happy to see these. If Batman can have a bazillion costumes, why not delve into the archives and crank out a new style of Boba Fett every year? It'd be better than getting the dull 2006 version again and again. And then there's the vintage 12-inch coloring. Or the comic coloring-- which would be really slick, really. (But it's a lot like the 12-inch figure.) All I'm saying is they can probably squeeze another four to six figures out of the concept designs.

Day 365: May 6, 2007

Other: This article celebrates one whole year of daily postings in Galactic Hunter's Figure of the Day feature. At this time I have no plans to stop writing new entries, but now is a good time to point out what will and won't make the cut for future installments of the column.

We will continue to focus on the modern movie-style action figure line, which means we will not be looking at animated style action figures or the seven unique silver (or other metallic colored) promotional figures. We will not look at vintage (1978-1985) figures or the figures from the 1995 Classic Four Pack, which featured 4 remakes of vintage action figures.

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