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  1. #1

    Building a Better Boba: The Return of Darklord

    Greetings gang!

    I've been away for a while... but I'm back, hard at work again on a STAR WARS custom action figure project... an all-new BOBA FETT.

    I had been planning this custom for about a year, and I started working on last September. The figure is nearing completetion, and I hope you like it...
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  2. #2
    I’ve always been fascinated with the mysterious STAR WARS character, The Bounty Hunter BOBA FETT. His awesome outfit, and his mysterious ways have made him a legend and a favorite in STAR WARS fandom.

    But it never fails to amaze me how even the tiniest detail on one of his 3-3/4 inch scale STAR WARS Action Figures can make all the difference as to whether or not it truly resembles him.

    I must say in all honesty that I’m of the opinion that NONE of the previous action figure releases of Boba Fett have completely captured the full essence of the ornery, mysterious, gunslinger-hunter that we first saw in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

    Not one.

    What makes this particularly troubling to me is the fact that some truly excellent STAR WARS action figures have been made of some of the other Episode V bounty Hunters (Re: IG:88, Bossk, and the recent, outstanding, Vintage Collection Dengar release)… figures which have all boasted a level of detail and craftsmanship which were un-surpassed anywhere in the Hasbro STAR WARS 3-3/4” scale action figure line. Yet Boba Fett himself has not received this same level of careful attention nor execution.

    Also, call me stubborn, but I am still resisting the continued scale shrinkage of these action figures. For my personal collection (including my custom figures), I therefore insist that (at least primary characters like) Boba Fett be represented in a scale that is consistent with 2001’s Power of the Jedi line. This was the line which (hands down) represented STAR WARS action figure characters with the sharpest sculpts, the most accurate likenesses, the cleanest castings, and the neatest paint decos… at least to my eyes.

    With this series of posts, I’m going to take a brief (and very critical) look at the history of 3-3/4 inch Boba Fett Action Figures.

    Then, at the end of my analysis, I’m going to present a step by step look into the creation of my own brand new customized Boba Fett action figure. I believe I have developed an elegant solution to the problem of presenting this character properly as a custom 3-3/4 inch action figure.

    It is a solution which (after several weeks of intense trial and error and re-sculpting work) comes closest to my preferred version of Fett’s appearance, while still maintaining the super-articulation which we have come to expect from our modern figures.

    So settle in and get comfortable, because this is gonna be very extensive...
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  3. #3
    In order for you to properly understand my critiques of production Boba Fett figures (and the stylistic direction I chose when creating my own custom figure) I think it might be helpful for me to establish how it is that I personally “see” the bounty hunter:

    Well… to me, Fett was about average height (roughly 5 feet 11 inches tall), wiry… athletically built… very much like Bruce Lee was. This was particularly evident in the prototype Fett outfit photos that ILM shot in 1978.

    Later on, during the character’s first film appearance, the most notable thing to me about his look was how sleek and slender he still appeared even while wearing his armored outfit. The costume was elaborate, yet it somehow did not look cumbersome or bulky in the way it sat upon his frame. Also, there’s a reason why Boba is sometimes referred to as “ol’ bucket head”: His helmet… It should look LARGE (even slightly over-sized) above that slender neck and shoulders. It’s the only way a human head could possibly fit in there.

    Appearing as though he could move quickly if he needed to, Boba Fett was simply nasty-looking. Whether pointing his gun at his quarry, or merely standing still cradling the weapon, Fett appeared ready to blast anything or anyone with little provocation. Like a snake, he would move very slowly, and then suddenly STRIKE if he needed to. He misleadingly appeared very relaxed, but he was always coiled and ready for action. He was economical with his words, and economical with his body language (no elaborate posing or “showboating”). And for the sake of his dangerous, no-nonense vocation, his outfit’s color-pallate ideally leaned toward less-color and more stealth / camoflauge. What little color existed in the uniform had been pitted, soiled, and muted over time. Virtually every aspect of Boba Fett’s physical appearance reflected his rugged and violent past.

    With that in mind, here is my analysis of all of the previous Boba Fett action figure offerings that we‘ve had over the years;
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  4. #4
    Vintage Kenner Boba Fett (1979) :

    This figure featured a very nice sculpt for its day. However, it lacked the weathering, articulation, and fine costume details that we take for granted today. It is nice to see the return of this sculpt as a special offer figure of the current 2010 Vintage collection line.

    POTF 2 Boba Fett (1995 -various releases):

    The Power of the Force 2 line launched a new line of STAR WARS action figures after a re-newed interest in the saga during the mid- 1990’s. This Boba Fett figure was one of the characters that everyone hailed as a “grand improvement” over the vintage Kenner version. I respectfully disagreed.

    Yes, there was added detailing and weathering to his costume which was missing before, but to my eyes, this figure was actually a considerable step backward from resembling the on-screen character. At the time, I took to referring to him as “Bulky Fett” since the figure was far too barrel-chested and hulking to resemble the lithe and sleekly-built on-screen character . The figure’s collar armor was so thick and bulky, that he suffered from a sort of “football shoulder pad / no-neck syndrome”

    The overall body proportions of this figure were completely off. And in one aspect or another, these mis-matched anatomical proportions have been a problem that have plagued Boba Fett figures right up until the most recent sculpts.

    POTJ Boba Fett 300th Figure Special Edition : (2001)

    This figure moved a lot closer to Boba Fett’s proper on-screen Episode V appearance. The trouble was, he was a pre-posed figure with a bare minimum amount articulation. I DO have a lot of admiration for the EXCELLENT utility belt sculpt, and the beautifully-detailed wrist gauntlet weapons (the BEST from any Boba Fett Figure) . The backpack was especially nice too (with adjustable rocket nozzels, and removable concussion rocket. Plus the backpack was made from sturdy ABS plastic (versus the soft rubbery PVC plastic of previous releases). This allows the rocket pack’s sculpt details to be much sharper and for the accessory to maintain its shape. I was also VERY happy to see the laser rifle that appeared in The Empire Strikes Back used as this figure’s pack-in (versus the different configuration from Jedi)

    Aside from the pre-posing and lack of articulation, I do wish the paint had been more neatly applied in some areas. Also, the basic size proportions and shape of Boba Fett’s helmet were not yet quite correct…

    SAGA I Boba Fett Pit of Carkoon (2003)

    I thought this version of Fett was a bit too brightly colored in its paint deco… even if it was to represent Fett’s more colorful outfit from Return of the Jedi. The paint was much neater this time around So I really did appreciate that. The figures pper body was still too bulky and the lower extremities were still too small. There was an oddly articulated right knee that looked something like a cabinet hinge. The sculpted plastic side-cape was somewhat inadequate. And the (non-removable) backpack was painted in rainbow colors. Once again, the backpack was molded in sturdy ABS plastic and held its shape nicely.

    Overall, I thought this was probably the most anatomically disproportioned Fett since POTF 2!.

    On the plus side, (in my view) this figure boasted the neatest, cleanest, and sharpest sculpt of Fett’s helmet. I loved the neatness and razor-sharpness of the clean t-visor. I also thought this helmet was the nicest size we had seen from all previous Fetts . The face of the helmet was virtually perfect, but the shape of the helmet profile was The profile shape was still a bit off (overly narrow at the crown and wide at the base). The flip-down rangefinder was too soft and warped its shape too easily.

    Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Boba Fett: (2004)

    Kudos for first super-articulated Fett we have ever had. Once again, this figure represented the more colorful Episode VI costume design. I’m sorry to say the body proportions sculpt continued to suffer: The upper body was still far too bulky… arms and hands were oversized ! Shoulder and elbow ball joints were bulbous. Lower body (pelvis and legs) were proportionately very undersized, and the legs were proportionately too short. The helmet sculpt took a step backward in terms of shape accuracy and sculpt sharpness (not nearly as sharp a sculpt as SAGA I helmet , and the helmet profile was even more incorrect than before).

    Admittedly, the presentation of soft-goods cape was very nice this time around (beautifully deco’ed and cleanly folded for the perfect drape upon the figure). The backpack went back to being soft rubbery plastic, with no working/moving parts. This was a disappointment and a surprise, especially in lieu of the fact that Boba actually employed the use of his rocket pack in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

    This figure featured some very nice, clean, smooth sculpts of the torso and crotch armor sections.

    SAGA 2 Boba Fett Battle of Carkoon: (2006)

    This Hasbro kit-bash combined the over-sized, awkwardly-posed upper body of the SAGA I “Pit of Carkoon” figure with the under-sized, un-even, overly wide-stanced legs of the VOTC Fett.

    The result was a somewhat un-balanced (looking AND standing) figure.

    Legacy Evolutions / 2010 Vintage Collection Boba Fett

    This most recent action figure of Boba Fett presents the bounty hunter’s costume in the colors and details as they appeared in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

    While the big bulbous shoulders from the VOTC Fett have been reduced, the over-sized elbow joints are still a problem. “Gorilla’ arms and hands are still oversized. Narrow stance of the figure is inappropriate, making the character seem even more top-heavy and awkwardly off balance (like if he could easily topple over).

    There is an undersized Boba head sculpt underneath a removable helmet. The Ironic thing about this head sculpt is the fact that despite how anatomically under-sized it is, it still too large for the undersized helmet. In fact, the nose of this head sculpt actually bulges through the soft helmet when worn, warping its shape terribly. Rangefinder articulation offered in previous helmets has been taken away here.

    The Rocketpack has lost all of the articulated parts from previous Fett backpack releases (like removable rocket cone, or adjustable rocket nozzels).

    The paint and sculpt of this figure seem a bit sloppy to me (flash plastic and mold release evident on inner gauntlets and arms. Shoulder armor is warped (giving this figure the football shoulder pad syndrome again. The braided wookie scalps molded to the shoulder armor is a feature left over from the POTF 2 days. And it has GOT… TO… GO!!! The torso armor plates actually look roughly sculpted… not smooth at all.

    The soft goods side cape is far too long and made of a fabric that is heavier than it should be.

    On the plus side: This figure offers a decent sculpt of the utility belt side pouches, and the pants pockets . The Laser rifle pack-in (re-used sculpt from POTJ Fett ) is a welcome return. It is now detailed with more paint AND it is actually molded to be sturdier than before. With some minimal tweaks, it can be worked into an accurate representation of the rifle seen on screen.
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  5. #5
    Clearly, I’ve had issues with virtually every single Boba Fett figure ever produced. There have been pros and cons to each, and certainly no “out-of the park” home runs on any version as far as I am concerned.

    But with the pending release of the beautiful new BIG Slave I Spaceship, I was inspired to stop waiting for the perfect Boba Fett figure and to create it as a custom for myself (before the in-evitable ESB paint deco’ed Slave I debuts).

    In Hasbro’s defense, I quickly realized that Fett’s uniform is so complex and so elaborate, that a 3-3/4 inch action figure along the magnitude of what I was looking for was only ever going to be possible as a “dress up” custom… unlikely ever to be mass-produced by a toy company. This would be a figure where virtually every detail would have to be treated as a separate garment!
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  6. #6

    I wanted to begin my custom figure with a Super-Articulated base figure body that would serve as a nice, clean, starting point for the ornery bounty hunter… a blank slate, if you will.

    The trouble was, NONE of the existing Fett figures fit that bill. In addition to the issues I outlined previously, NONE of them had the anatomical proportions, attitude, nor the neutral stance that I felt was suitable for Fett.


    With the release of Hasbro’s 2009 Legacy Collection, I finally found an action figure that I considered to be an excellent candidate for a Boba Fett base figure body: Imperial Scanning Crewman.

    Here we had an excellent Super-Articulated body, with a really nice balanced anatomical proportion and stance… and a basic STAR WARS jumpsuit sculpt who’s color was a PERFECT match for Fett’s dingy flight suit. There was undoubtedly going to be some serious surgery required to pull this figure off, but at least Boba now had a basic body.

    I gave myself a preview of the overall visual aesthetic of the final custom figure by placing a Boba Fett helmet on the Imperial Scanning Crewman. I must say that even at that earliest of stages, what I saw pleased me greatly.
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  7. #7

    Although, the Imperial Scanning Crewman Base figure had a stance that I thought was great for Boba Fett, the details of his legs were, of course, completely wrong. The pants pockets needed to be replaced with the correct ones from Boba Fett’s jumpsuit (taken from 2010 Vintage Collection Fett).

    Every once in a while, the customizing Gods smile upon me and offer me a gift. This was one such occasion. To my surprise and delight, 2010 Boba's pants pockets were PERFECTLY compatible with the color of the Scanning Crewman’s jumpsuit since Hasbro molded the uniforms of both figures in the exact same color!!! WOOT!!!!

    Then, the lower legs had to be replaced altogether since Fett does not wear tall black boots. That was when I recieved another customizing "GIFT" from the gods. I did not like the lower legs from the Legacy / 2010 Vintage Collection Fett for use on my figure because I found them to be far too frail and thin to be appropriate for Fett’s baggy pants (there's that annoying shrinking scale thing again!).

    But the lower legs of POTJ 300th figure Boba Fett came to my rescue here. And although they were not a 100% color match for the ISC uniform, they were certainly awfully, awfully close! Close enough that no re-painting would be required since the two leg sections would be separated by the yellow knee pads! Once again… WOOT!!

    If you place your thumb between the upper and lower legs sections in this photo (like Boba's knee pad), you can see how greatly REDUCED the color difference becomes in the two shades of grey pants.

    I was forced to re-position the shin pockets that contained Fett’s cutting tools a bit lower to accommodate the yellow knee pads (cut off of POTJ 300th Boba Fett and Dremmeled out to be wearable). But the final look is just dandy!

    Each leg is bottomed off with the ankle cuffs from Legacy / 2010 Vintage Collection Boba. And the boot feet (with correct color, center stripe, and steel toe spikes) were donated by SAGA 2 Fett. Ball articulation of the ankles / feet is fully preserved.

    The original ISC figure’s (below average) height was brought up to a full 3-3/4” inches with this operation.

    When the lower leg section was shaved down a bit to anatomically match the Imperial Scanning Crewman’s upper legs, the result was an absolutely PERFECT pair of legs that did NOT look anorexic, and were still fully articulate!
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  8. #8

    Putting together the articles of Boba Fett’s costume was going to be VERY time-consuming, VERY delicate, and VERY intricate work… a supreme challenge, but ultimately VERY important to me. I really wanted the outfit on my figure to have that “assembled” look that is so identifiable to me as Boba Fett’s signature look.

    I find that when Fett’s various armor sections, garments, and weapons are all molded and / or painted onto the figure (as they are on production figures), much of that “sectioned” look is lost, in my opinion.

    Interestingly enough, virtually EVERY figure that I critiqued before would provide me with vital parts for creating my final custom Boba Fett.

    Here is the rundown:

    I turned to the POTJ 300th figure Boba Fett for his yellow armored knee pads and shoulder armor bell pieces. It was a tricky matter of using a single edge razor to cut these sections out, and then Dremeling them into hollow wearable articles.
    I discovered that when the shoulder bells are molded onto the figure’s upper arms (as they are on production Hasbro figures), there are always going to be three (3) major compromises to the integrity of the overall figure (which I was NOT going to accept on my custom):

    1) The ball-jointed arms range of motion becomes partially impaired.

    2) Un-due bulk is sculpted onto the figure’s shoulders, adversely affecting the slender aesthetic of the character.

    3) The collar armor design is altered so that the outer ends curl upward where they meet the shoulder / arm socket. This is done to create clearance for the bulked-up ball-jointed arm (with the armored shoulder bells molded on).

    The curled-up collar armor (in turn) only contributes to “football shoulder pad and no-neck syndrome”… which significantly reduces the slim, sleek aesthetic that this character is supposed to have.

    By creating the shoulder bells as separate appliances, and then attaching them to the sleeve of a separate soft-goods flack vest garment (as they are meant to be), it was my hope to leave the figure’s shoulder articulation un-obstructed and maintain a slender build to Fett’s upper body.
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  9. #9
    VOTC Boba Fett provided the armored torso plates of the bounty hunter’s flack vest, and the armored cod piece came from POTJ 300th Figure Fett. Once again, each section was carefully cut out of the molded action figure and Dremelled down into separate plates of an appropriate thinness for a figure of this scale. The crotch armor actually needed to be completed with sheet styrene since the figure only provided the raised center section of the cod-piece.

    After looking at every single Boba Fett figure ever released, I came to the conclusion that vintage Kenner Fett had the best, cleanest detailed, and most solid collar armor. After cutting the armor off of a spare Kenner Fett body, I Dremelled it down to an appropriate thinness and cleaned the edges up into a really nice wearable plate.

    The back armor plate (rocket pack mount) was carefully cut off the Legacy collection Fett figure, and trimmed to an appropriate size to fit an Imperial Scanning Crewman’s back.

    Once I created all of these appliances, I did a quick test-fit on the Imperial Scanning Trooper Body (With the helmet) to check on the overall proportions, stance, and aesthetic attitude of the figure.
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams

  10. #10
    Creating the pattern for Boba Fett’s flack vest was a matter of trial and error. But, I produced a paper template quickly enough, and used it to cut out a basic cloth vest. I added small upper sleeve extensions (for the armored shoulder bells to be attached to) and I made a neck hole in the vest with a paper hole-punch.

    Prior to the soft-goods flack vest being permanently glued to the Imperial Scanning Crewman body, I performed a test fit of the armored torso plates onto the vest to check the overall color layout and texture contrasts on the figure.
    -Roberto DARKLORD Williams


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