The Empire Strikes Back expanded the Star Wars universe in enormous ways when it debuted in 1980, from the saga’s first on screen land battle to the revelation of a main character’s parentage.
One of the more subtle, yet equally impactful moments of the film has to be the brief introduction of Boba Fett and his crew of bounty hunters. Fans already knew to expect the debut of Boba Fett, but we had no idea the motley assortment of unsavory characters that would be joining him.
In just a few seconds of screen time an entire underworld subculture was introduced, mysterious and intriguing. No explanation was given, no backstory, not even names, but these new villains’ brilliant designs were seared into my 7 year old brain.
One of those new characters is the focus of this edition of the Toy Chest. The battle scarred bounty hunter with a bandage wrapped head and repainted Imperial armor pieces, Dengar.
Acquisition Year: 1980
Acquired via: Christmas gift?
Years In Possession: 40
If having a name that if you swap 2 vowels literally spells “Danger” isn’t reason enough to steer clear of this guy, his grizzled appearance definitely is.
Is he human? Is he part robot? Is he…wounded? Why is his head wrapped up like that? Should he really be out working with a head injury? These are all questions I asked myself the first time I saw Dengar. Long before a younger version of the character appeared in the Clone Wars and we were shown that indeed those head wraps are a fashion choice, there were all manner of fan theories and EU stories about his headgear and face scars. Kenner managed to do a pretty decent sculpt of Dengar’s head and wrappings, it’s one of the more accurate looking human figures they did.
The first time I saw this figure was at a friend’s birthday party. One of his gifts from another kid was a package containing 2 Empire Strikes Back figures. One of them I cannot for the life of me remember, but the other was Dengar. I’m able to remember that because I can still hear the kid who gave my friend that present frantically trying to explain to my him “That’s Dang-gar! His name is Dang-gar!”.
Regardless of how he butchered the guy’s name, I was way more interested in these toys than in playing outside with the rest of the kids. It’s a bit pathetic looking back on it, but my action figures really were my best friends. They were usually way more fun than playing with other kids.
Dengar was one of several figures to come with a very distinctive long rifle accessory that was brand new for the Empire toy line. He shares this same rifle design with the Hoth Snowtrooper and his fellow bounty hunter the intimidating droid IG-88. (None of whom actually had a weapon like this in the film)
In fact this rifle to me is one of the hallmarks of the Empire line. When I think of the ESB figures I always think of this gun. It was so cool looking, nevermind that it was so long and the figure’s arms so unarticulated that it was impossible to have him hold it in anything remotely like a realistic position. Raising his arm to aim that thing always looked ridiculous and made it incredibly difficult to get him to not fall over.
Very much like my Han Solo in Hoth gear figure, Dengar’s skin has not aged well. The paint has faded and discolored considerably, and the white parts of his outfit have also yellowed with age. (Growing up in a house with two parents that smoked did my toys no favors and many of them suffer from nicotine yellowing)
So while Dengar had shamefully short time on screen, we were able to fill out his personality with our own imaginations thanks to this awesome figure.
That’s all for this time gang, thanks for reading. Come back next time and watch this middle aged man gush over childish nonsense while refusing to stare into the oncoming train that is old age.
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