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Battle Rancor w/ Felucian Rider

SW: The Force Unleashed
by yo go re

The Force Unleashed toys ranged from the very small to the very big. And when we say "big," we mean it!

The Force-sensitive Felucians patrol their jungle homeworld astride ferocious rancors that are marked with luminous warpaint. Together, a Felucian warrior and his rancor mount pose a formidable threat to even the most skilled Sith warrior. Felucia is heavily forested with fungal life forms and immense primitive plants that can be dangerous when disturbed. As one of the planets caught in the Clone Wars, Felucia becomes a battleground between opposing sides, pulling the native Felucians into the midst of the conflict.

This Battle Pack was a Target exclusive, and easily the most expensive of the Force Unleashed action figures. Sure, it's only got two figures - a rancor and a rider - but man, what figures! For some reason, though, it hit a pretty deep clearance really soon after its release, making this one of the best values in the line. Well, presuming the toy was actually any good. Let's take a look.

Rancors are savage creatures that have been domesticated by the Felucians and other species in the galaxy. Only those who are attuned to the Force can successfully tame these menacing monsters. Even when tamed, a rancor can be unpredictable and must be treated with caution and respect.

The rancor was famously introduced in the dungeon beneath Jabba the Hutt's palace, where it acted as a living garbage disposal: whatever he threw down the drain, it devoured. Which was all well and good when what he was throwing down were scantily clad dancing girls, but it probably became problematic when the rancor had to pass Gamorean Guard armor. Pity poor Malakili on those days!

This is the third rancor Hasbro's done - the first was in 1984, the second in 1998 - and it is the best by far. It's always hard to take measurements for creatures that are normally posed hunched over, but figure you'll need at least a cubic foot of clearance space to get him standing up. This is a massive beast. While he doesn't have the "real-feel skin" of the '98 PotF2 version (eeew), the sculpt is very good, with thick, elephant-like wrinkles and large spiny warts. The toenails and talons have cracks running their length, and there seem to be armor plates over its tail. If you look closely at the head, you'll even find small, flappy ears.

The Battle Rancor, as he's known on the box, has very nice articulation. The previous versions were both limited to the Springfield Four, and this version stomps all over that. He has swivel/hinge ankles, peg hips, wrists and biceps, balljointed shoulders, and even a swivel neck. Plus, his jaw is hinged, making this the first rancor in 25 years that hasn't had to walk around with his mouth open all day long.

The rancor's skin is tan, with highlights and shadows airbrushed on. Identifying him as hailing from Felucia, he's covered in periwinkle war paint. You may not think periwinkle is a very fearsome color, but hey, nobody thought blue was impressive until the Picts kicked their asses. The edges of the paint are all crisp, which actually works against it: this is supposed to be war paint, slapped on before going to battle; with defined edges between "paint" and "no paint," it looks more like a mechanical application than something done by hand.

The rancor is wearing a non-removable harness, which loops around his arms and his neck. The harness is used to attach the odd "saddle" - actually more of a platform, built from rough natural materials. There's a slot on the underside sized for the matching tab on the harness, and two indentations are molded perfectly to sit on the lumps on the rancor's spine. The downside is that the lumps it matches with aren't the same ones that are under it when the collar is on tightly: you have to move it forward one space, which leaves it loose. Whoops! The saddle also includes the control system for the rider - apparently you steer a rancor via a pair of hooks lodged in its nose.

And who would try such a thing? Here's the guy now!

Felucians use their natural Force abilities to control their deadly rancor mounts. The native inhabitants of this jungle world expertly wield their bone swords while on patrol, showing no mercy to those who would seek to subjugate them.

You remember that the bio on the back of the package (that's the first italicized section up at the top of the page) said the rancor was being riden/driven by a Felucian warrior. The Felucians have a caste system, divided into warriors, shamans and chieftans, though it's not like there's some huge visual difference between them. Sure, they say this is a warrior, but who actually knows? Whatever he is, he's weird-lookin'!

The figure is 4½" tall, thanks to the weird mask he's wearing. Apparently the Felucians constantly hide their faces, even among each other. So don't assume that this look, with the curved tusks, the bones and the huge plume of feathers, is normal for them. You can't actually see any of his face. A bit of his neck, maybe, but that's all. And because of the mask and huge shoulder armor, the poor guy doesn't even get a neck joint.

Fortunately, that's the only substantial joint he's missing. There are the usual balljoint shoulders, elbows and knees, and swivel waist and hips. The limbs all end in large flat cups with individual suckers, allowing them to stick to things. Er, not the toy, just the characters. The toy doesn't stick to anything. That's why there are pegholes in the feet: so he can stand securely on the rancor's saddle.

In addition to the big suction-cup arms, there are also two vestigial arms branching off near the elbows. These are basically just bundles of tentacles, forming little pseudo-hands at the ends. They allow him to hold the reins - you remember, the ones that hook into the rancor's nostrils? - or the included sword. Well, it's only a "sword" in the same sense that the jawbone of an ass is a baseball bat. The warrior's weapon is a thin elongated skull from some strange animal, with large fangs and a bit of spinal column trailing off theback. The bones are either naturally blue or painted that color, and there's an unobtrustive handle that either tiny hand can grip. If you don't want the warrior to hold it, there's a notch on both sides of the saddle where you can stow the weapon when not in use.

The Battle Rancor set is pretty darn fun. The Felucian is a new alien available nowhere else, the rancor is a total beast, as Shocka would say, and together the pair of them are very cool. The same rancor mold has just been re-released as Jabba's pet, with a black-clad Luke Skywalker, but given the choice, I'm glad I got this one. I'm sure the new version is fine, but this one, with the saddle and the warpaint and the Felucian rider, has the benefit of being something unique. And hey, because of the way it hit clearance, I paid less for this version than I did for the one back in 1998. That's a win, right there!

-- 07/18/09

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