Star Wars Black: Zuckuss by Hasbro

I’ve been waiting for it ever since the beginning of the Black Series, and now I’m almost there! Hasbro has finally delivered on a complete run of the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back in the 6-inch scale.¬†And while Admiral Piett may not need their scum, I absolutely do! I’m still hunting down Dengar, so in the meantime I might as well open up the penultimate bounty hunter release and Disney Store exclusive, Zuckuss. This guy arrived a bit before Christmas and got lost in the insipid miasma of the Holiday Season, and I’m more than ready to check him out!

I was pretty vocal in my anger when I saw that Hasbro agreed to license out Zuckuss as a retailer exclusive release. Making it tougher to get a complete set of these guys is just bad business. But as it turns out, Disney Store exclusives are pretty easy to get, and I don’t mean because I live just a few hours away from Disney World. Nope, I just hopped on the store website and had no problem getting him sent. They were even running a free shipping special for the holidays! If only Hasbro’s own site would make it this easy to buy their regular releases!

And damn, don’t he look cool! Zuckuss has been the subject of some truly memorable figures over the years. Even going back to his Kenner mail-away when he was called 4-LOM. I had no idea who he was when I first saw that commercial, but once he showed up, I knew it was five proofs-of-purchase well spent. His 4-inch outing in the Legacy Collection was pretty damn rad too, so I had high hopes for the 6-inch Black Series version, and I am not disappointed! Interestingly, there are a number of key design differences between the two figures, and from some cursory glances at pictures of the original costume, I think this is probably the more screen accurate, but I’m not about to jump down that rabbit hole of nitpickery. I will say that this figure looks great and features some nice improvements over his most recent 4-inch predecessor.

First off, the cloak goes back to full soft-goods like on the original Kenner figure. The Legacy figure had only a partial cloth cloak and sculpted sleeves. I also really like the material they used. It feels soft, but it looks like whatever that heavier and grimy material was that they used for the costume. The coloring makes it look appropriately greasy and the speckling looks pretty damn good too. The fit isn’t perfect. It does look a puffy around the arms, but I can’t say that’s not entirely inaccurate. His harness features sculpted pouches on the front and back as well as some light wash to give it a little wear and tear and make it look like leather. The biggest difference in design between him and the Legacy figure is the backpack. That one was silver and more rounded, this one is a dark metallic color and more squared off. It also has a little black hose running from it into the harness that looks like it could serve no possible purpose.

The head sculpt is right on the money. The wrinkled segments in his head look fantastic and contrast beautifully with the large silver compound eyes and the the breather piece covering his lower face. Indeed the silver paint they used is quite striking. The tubes coming off his head look like umbilical cords and I love the way the same lumpy organic stuff partially covers his breathing canister. I honestly have no idea what’s going on with Gand anatomy here, but it looks gross as hell, and I mean that in every good possible way.

As for articulation, it’s impossible to see what’s going on under that robe, as I’m not prepared to take it off, but what’s here feels pretty similar to what we usually see on the 6-inch Black Series figures. There are cuts in the lower cloak, so he can still get some pretty good range of leg movement too. I will note, however, that the left elbow on my figure is rather loose.

Zuckuss comes with one accessory, and that’s his very distinctive blaster carbine. I swear this was one of my favorite guns from the old Kenner line and even after all these years, I could still spot it out of a lineup. OK, maybe that’s not so impressive since I still have the Kenner figure on my shelf, but I do love the design so much and it’s cool to see it blown up to the 6-inch scale and even featuring some additional paint apps for the stock. They also sculpted his left hand as the gun holding hand, which lines up better with his iconic pose from the film. And despite him just having three big fingers, he can hold it surprisingly well.

For a guy who had a few seconds of screen time, it’s stupid how happy I am to have this figure. He’s always been among my favorite Star Wars alien designs and I’m doubly happy that my 4-LOM doesn’t have to be alone any longer. And speaking of which, after the wonderful job that Hasbro did with 4-LOM, it’s nice to see Zuckuss arrive with an equal attention to detail and execution. I think this is one of the rare exceptions where Hasbro made good use of the larger scale to deliver a truly better figure. Everything just came together beautifully. And as I put these figures together I realize more and more how badly IG-88 needs a re-do for this series, because he’s the only one in the bunch that falls shy of excellence.

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Star Wars Black: Bespin Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian by Hasbro

I don’t usually like to combine reviews, it messes with my OCD, but I’ve got to start making some exceptions because I’m so far behind with opening figures. And since I happen to have three Bespin-themed figures from The Empire Strikes Back lying on my 6-inch Black Series Pile of Shame, I decided I’d just go ahead and check out all three today! So let’s take a trip to Cloud City and open up some Star Wars figures!

And here are some quick packaged shots, although I’m not sure why I bother anymore, because at this point these are pretty standard stuff. Black boxes with mediocre monochrome character art, red inserts, and some pretty bland multi-lingual bios on the back. These are collector friendly, but I’ve never felt bad about pitching these boxes into the trash once they’ve been opened. Han is in what is considered his traditional Bespin Outfit, whereas Leia is labeled as Bespin Escape so as not to confuse her with the regal red gown she wore for part of her stay in the City in the Clouds. If you’re keeping track of the numbers, Han is #70, Lando is #39, and Leia doesn’t get a number because she’s a Target Exclusive. Let’s start with Han!

Han’s outfit in A New Hope is what I consider his most iconic look, but this outfit from The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because I played with the Kenner’s version of this Han so much as a kid (owing mostly to my dog chewing up my original Han Solo figure), or just because Han is so damn cool and better fleshed out as a character in Empire. Either¬†way this is my preferred look for the lovable Space-faring Scoundrel. The outfit is simple enough: tall black boots, brown trousers with yellow piping up the sides, a white shirt with a flap-down collar, and a jacket. My figure has some odd glossy patches on the jacket, which I’m writing off to some kind of QC issue. It’s not the first time I’ve had that happen, and while it doesn’t bother me too much, if I can find him again for cheap, I’d probably try for a better one.

The sculpt features all the wrinkles and rumples I come to expect in my 6-inch plastic outfits, along with some sharp tailoring detail and stitch lines. The jacket features the usual soft plastic vest with the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. All this is great, but the real showpiece for this figure’s outfit is the low-slung smuggler’s gun belt. Thanks to some nice paintwork, it has a great weathered leather look to it and the holster features a retaining strap that pegs into the holster to keep Han’s trusty blaster in place.

The Black Series portraits have been all over the place, but when it comes to the humans. They started strong with that original X-Wing Pilot Luke, but since then they’ve been mostly mediocre at best. Here’s a figure that starts to buck that trend. The likeness is pretty damn good, and I’d say it’s easily the best (Harrison Ford) Han this series has put out yet. Not only are his facial features spot-on, they even got the scar under his lower lip right. The figure also uses the new(ish) printing method for the eyes, eyebrows, and lips. The hair sculpt is great and I love how his bangs hang down over his forehead. The only downside here is the weird choice to use a gloss finish for his hair, which makes it look wet under bright lights.

And of course, Han comes with his trusty DL-44 Blaster. We’ve seen this accessory before, so there’s nothing new to say, other than his right hand is perfectly sculpted to hold it and you can thread his trigger finger into the guard. Let’s knock out articulation here too, because all three figures have the same basic poseability. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There are ball joints in the torsos, and the necks have both ball joints and hinges. Moving on to Lando…

Here he is in his classic Empire outfit and looking as dapper as ever! Lando’s outfit is even simpler than Han’s, as he’s just sporting a pair of blue trousers, a lighter blue tunic-like shirt with puffed out sleeves and a black collar, a wide belt, and shiny black shoes. Hasbro didn’t have to do anything amazing to make this outfit work, and they sure as hell didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Lando looks fine, but I put off picking this one up because he didn’t look terribly exciting in the pictures and in hand, he really isn’t terribly exciting either.

I will take a moment to bitch about how ridiculous it is that they gave him a sculpted plastic cape, and I think that one issue is a big reason why I dragged my feet on buying him for so long. FOR F*CK’S SAKE ONE OF THE 3 3/4-INCH BLACK SERIES LANDO FIGURES HAS A F*CKING CLOTH CAPE!!! Hasbro, do you even realize how insane that is? It’s not just an aesthetics issue for me, but I’d like to be able to pose him without a plastic wrap-around cape hindering his articulation. There’s just no excuses for this. Hell, at the price point, they probably should have included both a cloth and a plastic cape. What an enormous fail!

The portrait here is fairly solid, although this is an older figure from before Hasbro started stepping it up with the portrait sculpts and using the new printing techniques. Reviewing Lando with two new figures is an interesting experiment as to just how jarring the new figures will look when displayed with the older ones. Honestly, while the difference is night and day, I don’t really have a big issue with the way the figures look together. The likeness to Billy Dee is definitely there, and while the paint is a lot more flat and cartoony, I don’t think that it looks particularly bad.

Lando comes with two accessories. The first is his little communication device, so he can tell his citizens to evacuate the City and take the ice cream makers to safety. This is a pretty cool little bonus item and his left hand is sculpted so that he can hold it well. It would have been nice if there was a way to attach it to him somehow, because I’ll probably not display him holding it and I’m afraid it’s going to end up getting lost.

While not really an accessory, I do like that they sculpted the control panel on his right wrist. I think this is what he used to secretly signal Lobot. It’s a nice little bit of attention to detail.

And finally, Lando comes with a DH-17 Blaster. We’ve seen this sculpt before, but who’s going to complain about getting another one of these cool weapons? Not me! I love this design and I dig the silver paint applications. Let’s round out this trio with Leia…

I saved Princess Leia for last, not because she’s the best and not because she’s a bad figure, but just because I have so little that I can possibly say about her. This is the outfit she gave up her gown to wear so she would have something a little more sporty to run around in. It’s essentially just a white jumpsuit with some sculpted padded areas and it has got to be one of the most boring outfits worn by any of the main characters in the film. That’s not to say it’s bad. Hasbro did what they could with it and it looks fine. I just think this costume was a really odd choice to go with before giving us a proper Bespin Leia in her red gown. It’s also kind of strange to have this one on the pegs so close to the release of the Hoth Leia, because at a casual glance the two figures could look somewhat similar. On the other hand, is it possible that this is the first time Leia has been released in this outfit? I know that I never owned this version of her in figure form before, so that would be something.

Bland and simple outfit aside, the real selling point of this figure is the portrait, which is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it a great likeness, but the printing used for the eyes and lips looks great. They even did a beautiful job with her rather unique hairstyle. As much as I love this head-sculpt, it makes me sad that they did the A New Hope Leia before they got their shit together like this. Because as much as I said Lando looked fine with the two newer figures, putting this Leia next to the previous ones really shits on the old portraits.

Leia comes with one accessory and that’s her E-11 Blaster. Again, we’ve seen it before, but I’m always up for adding another to my collection. Now I find myself wanting to pick up another one of those 3PO’s clogging up my Walgreens and chopping it up to put on Chewie’s back.

While I clearly had a few nits to pick with some of these releases, truth be told these are all solid figures. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that Han and Leia are both excellent. They show some great progress in the head sculpts, and while there isn’t anything here that couldn’t have been done as well in the 3 3/4-inch scale, over the years I’ve come to accept that most 6-inch Black Series aren’t being designed to take advantage of the larger scale. And while Lando’s plastic cape will forever be a blight on him in my eyes, he’s still a decent enough figure and I’m ultimately glad I got around to picking him up. Now I just need that proper Bespin Gown Leia… and Lobot and a Bespin Guard, and some Ugnauts, and a Cloud Car Pilot, and…

Star Wars Black: 4-LOM by Hasbro

I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say the Bounty Hunters from The Empire Strikes Back are one of the sub-groups that I’m the most excited to see completed in the 6-inch Black Series. Hasbro started out of the gate with a Boba Fett in the very first wave, but after that it took us a little while to get Bossk and IG-88. I wouldn’t have bet money on the next release being 4-LOM and yet here he is, the fourth Bounty Hunter from The Empire Strikes Back to hit this line.

4-LOM, or Zuckuss if you’re Kenner old school, comes in the typical Black Series packaging. Yeah, it’s kind of boring, but the black and red deco has grown on me over time. Like all the bit characters from Star Wars, 4-LOM has been retroactively credited with a backstory. In this case the package says a glitch allowed him to break out of his protocol droid programming and become a Bounty Hunter. Back in the day, I always just assumed he was a droid owned by Zuckuss to help him hunt bounties, and I tend to stick with that idea in my head canon.

Whatever the case, I always thought 4-LOM was a bad-ass looking droid. Sure, he’s sporting a design that is very close to the standard protocol droid, but there are some key differences. Plus, Hasbro really stepped up to the plate to point them out and even toss in some improvements over the two 6-inch Black Series C-3PO figures they have released so far. The legs look identical to me, as does the pelvis, but that’s where the parts recycling seems to end.

For starters, the arms are new and actually feature elbow articulation this time around. Yup, that was a pretty big sticking point with me on the previous 3PO body. Now, granted, there isn’t a huge range of motion in those joints, but the fact that it’s there, complete with little tracks for those hydraulics to slide on, really impresses the hell out of me. At the same time it makes me wonder why they invested the extra work into 4-LOM and not into a main character like 3PO. Sure, the hydraulic on my figure’s right arm seems to prefer bending instead of sliding in the track, but I still appreciate the effort. Apart from the added articulation, the arms look mostly the same, although there is new sculpting in the shoulders and the hands are now designed to hold a weapon. The rest of 4-LOM’s articulation is identical to the C-3PO figure and I’ll refer you back to that review for the details.

Also new are both the torso and the exposed midriff circuit area. 4-LOM still features the familiar protocol droid concentric circles design in the middle of his tummy, but he looks like he has two sets of chests. The coloring on the body is very simple, as it’s all done in a matte black with a lighter gray used for the midriff, and an orange rust wash to pick out the details. He also has a red stripe of paint slashed over the left side of his chest.

The head sculpt is quite a little masterpiece. I’ve always loved the idea that Industrial Automoton would just tweak a standard protocol droid body and slap a Gand head on it to make it more familiar to that species of clientele. The detail in the facial sculpt is absolutely superb and I love the translucent green plastic they used for the giant compound eyes. It’s still amazing to me that a line that still struggles with producing basic human likenesses can turn out something so good when it comes to the aliens and masked figures.

4-LOM comes with his rather distinctive, and rather long, blaster rifle. It has a very thin profile and features a folded bi-pod under the barrel, which cannot be articulated. I really dig how well 4-LOM can hold this thing and even the stock is a perfect fit to get him into a firing position where he’s aiming right down the barrel.

I don’t think I was expecting to enjoy 4-LOM nearly as much as I do, and yet I’ve been messing around with him ever since I opened him up. The extra articulation is certainly a welcome surprise, but beyond that everything about this figure just comes together so perfectly. That’s the thing with the 6-inch Black Series. There are so many figures that could be done better and mediocrity often rules the day, but when this line is good, it’s really really good! Now bring on Zuckuss and Dengar!