Geek of the Day
Barry the Bachelor
Start your own Cult
by Noel Wood
But in researching what people read on this site, it seems everyone loves STAR WARS. Even me. Yeah, I spend a lot of time bitching about Episode One and talking about how fucking retarded the Ewoks are, but I still love it. Recently I've kind of rekindled my love for Star Wars, particularly the original trilogy, as I've uncovered some old paraphernalia that has got me jogging down memory lane. I've also managed to learn that all those red-carded Power of the Force™ figures everyone advised me to hang on to and leave in pristine condition almost a decade ago have turned out to be worth almost exactly nothing, so I can't even unload the suckers on eBay without taking a big loss. Lord knows I'm not even going to attempt to find out how much those goddamn Episode 1 figures I blew a month's rent on a month before the movie came out are worth, because I really don't feel like getting all depressed on a Friday afternoon.
While rekindling this love, I managed to run across a handful of characters that I had all but forgotten about my fascination with, even though in reality they're pretty goddamn useless. I'd pay top dollar to get a hold of these guys' hapahazardly-molded plastic versions, even though they didn't have 1/1000th of the story value of a Han Solo or an Obi-Wan Kenobi. So here, I've decided to toss out a few of those inconsequential characters and give them a much-deserved little tribute. All of these characters are from the original trilogy, so don't expect to see any Pod Racers or Geonosians in this bunch. Oh, and don't bother writing me to out-geek me on any of these entries, because while I've recently had my passion rekindled for all things geek, I really don't care that much. And besides, if you really want to bitch, go back and read my Dragon*Con article. Then come bitch to me. I'm sure you'll have a lot more ammunition.
So here are those characters that helped round out the Star Wars Universe, in no particular order. Enjoy:
Any time there's a list like this, Lobot should always be the first mentioned. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this Cloud City denizen. Sadly, I have never actually owned an action figure in his likeness, either from the original Kenner series or the newer Power of the Force line. I'm not sure why, but I seem to recall that he was pretty hard to find once he was released in the late '90s. Anyway, the story behind Lobot was that he was a former criminal who became a cyborg upon condition of his release. He is Lando Calrissian's closest compatriot on Bespin, and appears to be pretty loyal. It was Lobot's command that freed the rebels from the clutches of the Empire in ESB. The weird thing wrapping around the back of his skull is apparently a device that ties his brain directly in to the city's central computer system.
Speaking of this guy, does anyone else ever wonder what exactly happened to Cloud City after ESB? I mean, Lando just gets up and leaves, joining the Rebel Alliance. He doesn't appear to hand over control of the city to anyone in particular, and considering that Lobot here is the only other character of note in the whole place, it doesn't look like there was anyone really capable of running the day to day operations. I like to believe that if you were to go to Cloud City today, it's like a giant non-stop frat party, with Ugnaughts getting tore up off Jawa Juice and dancing around like little drunken Leprechauns.
Oh, and when ESB was first released, I remember reading something about "Lobot and the Ugnaughts" and thinking this was some takeoff on the story of Jason and the Argonauts. I was probably just being silly, though.
For some strange reason, Bib Fortuna has always fascinated me. Maybe it's that cool outfit, maybe it's those creepy teeth, maybe it's the big long tentacles on his head. Once back in the video store days, Bobby, Chad, and myself created a shrine to Bib Fortuna. Included in this shrine were not only some quotes from the man himself, but the Bib Fortuna Theme Song™ as well, sung to the tune of Isaac Hayes' classic "Theme from Shaft". If I recall correctly, these were sample lyrics from the song:
Who's the Twi'lek with tentacles
draped down his neck?
...or something like that. It's been a while, and was probably best left forgotten. But sure enough, we seemed to have an almost unhealthy obsession with the man who coined "May Jabba no Bother" in ROTJ. We often were found discussing the potential back story for this fella, regardless of how stupid it sounded. Hell, I remember the day Bobby and I went on a several-hour-long quest to find the elusive Bib Fortuna action figure, which led us to almost every mall in the Metropolitan Atlanta area before finally finding a couple of case-fresh beauties at the overpriced FAO Schwartz.
But really, who was Bib Fortuna? Well, apparently, he was Jabba's right-hand man for many years, serving as his majordomo. Unfortunately, he helped lead to Jabba's demise as well, allowing Luke Skywalker access to Jabba's palace after succumbing to a Jedi Mind Trick. Along with the rest of Jabba's ill-fated regime, he became lunch for the Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon. Somehow, like our friend Boba Fett, he seems to deserve better.
Terry provided his own little tribute to the Bibster recently with this Photoshop masterpiece:
I know, I know. The Tusken raiders aren't nearly as inconsequential as some of the other characters in the movies, as they turned out to be a major thorn in the side of Luke Skywalker in A NEW HOPE and, if you're looking at the Prequels, turn out to be a major catalyst in the development of Darth Vader. But overall, they really didn't have that powerful of an effect on the outcome of the STAR WARS saga. But whatever. They're here on this list because I friggin' love these guys.
You see, some years ago, about four friends and myself decided that for Halloween that year we were all going to dress up as Tusken Raiders. And we weren't going to do any of that pussy store-bought shit: We were going to start from scratch. We discussed a lot of possibilites on how to actually pull it off, but eventually decided the best result was going to be achieved using old bathrobes and ace bandages as our primary construction materials. Fast forward a few weeks later, with the holiday looming upon us, and suddenly our numbers are thinning. Someone drops out because they can't make the party, someone skips on the idea because of funds, et cetera. Finally, by the night of the party, there was only one person from the group that was enterprising enough to actually pull off the feat: yours truly. And I'll retroactively apologize to Chad for the night I put the costume together, because we were working at the video store that night. Or at least he was working. I was too busy stapling Rit-dyed bandages to a rubber mask and cutting up some leather belts I had purchased from the thrift store that afternoon. Anyway, I pulled it off, and while this was before the internet was quite the resource it is today, I still did a pretty good job of getting it accurate. I recently dug up some old photos, and found some images of me in this getup:
So since that year, when I devoted all that time to these vicious desert dwellers, I've been partial to them. I've also always liked the way they're presented in the movies too. They're not called "Tusken Raiders" by Tattooine's people in the original trilogy, but by the more derogatory "Sand People". This always seemed kind of like a racial slur to me, and I guess to Mr. Lucas as well, because in Episode 2, He has Cleet Lars refer to them as "Tuskens". That has always bothered me. I can't really explain why.
No list of inconsequential Star Wars characters would be complete without the inclusion of the fattest pilot in the Rebel Alliance, the one and only Jek Porkins. Hell, the Jek's a mere formality. Until his likeness was molded in plastic by Hasbro a few years ago, nobody even knew he had a first name. Or a rank, for that matter. This guy somehow managed to work his way up to Lieutenant. I'm guessing that the Rebel Alliance, being contantly shorthanded, was a little less stringent on their physical requirements than, say, the U.S. Military. All we knew him as was Porkins. Or Red Six. Or "that fat dead pilot".
And really, what kind of cruel joke was it to name the guy Porkins to begin with? I mean, you cast the one fat pilot, and you give him a name suggesting he's a bit piggish. No respect. None at all. So to pay my respects, here is the entire bulk of Porkins' lines from the battle of Yavin, where he fought hard and gave his life for the cause of the Rebellion:
"Red Six standing by."
"I'm right with you red three."
"I've got a problem here."
"I can hold it."
"No I'm alright, I'm alrightaaaarrrrrggghhhhh.... "
Hasbro really showed that they really had no shame when they finally got around to releasing the Porkins figure. I mean, I remember joking that they should release a "Useless Rebel Two-Pack" with Porkins joined by Luke's Hoth gunner Dack. But alas, they finally ran out of useless characters to produce, and they could only really do so many varations of Boba Fett before even the hardest core fans quit buyin' 'em, so I guess it was only a matter of time. Well, at least I thought that Hasbro would eventually get every useless character molded in plastic, but there's some that just seem to have escaped somehow:
Okay, well, that's not entirely true. There was an Imperial Dignitary figure made for the original release of RETURN OF THE JEDI, but they're fairly obscure because of a lower production run and can be pretty hard to find. I'm mainly referring to the later figures, where Hasbro has toyed with the idea of making a Dignitary figure by releasing a "fan poll", but it has yet to come in to fruition. So it may be a while before you get more weird purple-cloaked guys to hang out with and whisper sweet nothings in your Palpatine figure's ear.
Just briefly seen in ROTJ in like two scenes, these guys remain somewhat of a mystery. Apparently they serve as trusted advisors to the Emperor, although in some of the lore that's been written about them suggests that they all have secret desires to usurp the power of the man in command. Alls I know is that they look cool as hell, decked out in their long purple cloaks with weird headgear on. I really wanted to write more about these guys, but there just isn't anything else to write. They truly earn the title of inconsequential character in the Star Wars Universe.
Not much is known about Bo Shek. I mean, he's a human, we're pretty sure about that. He's an astronaut, as shown by his very NASAesque helmet that he totes around. He somehow is responsible for the services of Han Solo and Chewbacca being offered to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, as he is seen talking to Chewy right before the deal is made. But one thing I can surely tell you is that he looka an awful lot like Kids in the Hall troupe member and openly gay performer Scott Thompson:
And really, that's it. I really don't have much else to say about the guy other than that. It's probably not a good comparison above because for some odd reason it's really hard to find a good picture of Scott on the web, but humor me and use your imagination.
There's only one more guy I gotta mention before wrapping this whole thing up, and no list of great inconsequential Star Wars characters would be complete without him:
Okay, we don't really know if the device our friend here is carrying is actually a homemade ice cream machine, but something lets me rest easier at night imagining this guy hauling around a gallon of heavy cream, a bag of ice, and a pound of rock salt. Sure throws me back to those hot Independence Days of my past where We'd make tasty frozen confections and shoot off heavy explosives.
So that about wraps it up. Keep these folks in mind each time someone shows off their Darth Vader action figure collection or starts running off the lines of Boba Fett. Without these folks, the Star Wars Galaxy would just be empty, and we just can't have that, can we?
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