As much thought was put into Cartoon Network's Clone Wars cartoon as was put into any of the movies, which really means that the characters all have rich and involved personal histories that most folks will never learn about. Everyone you see on screen for even a second has a name, a past and a reason for being at that place at that time. Of course, George "Everyone Says Exactly What They're Thinking and Feeling" Lucas may be the only one to ever know it all.
A century before the Clone Wars, this 2,000 year old bounty hunter went into hibernation to recuperate after being tortured by Mandalorians. Awakening shortly after the Battle of Geonosis, Durge learns that the only Mandalorians still alive are the Clone Troopers, which were created from Mandalorian Jango Fett. Durge joins the Confederacy to enact his revenge upon Jango Fett's clones. His swoop bike is a high-performance craft with exceptional speed and challenges even the most skilled pilots. Simple vehicles, they achieve their performance through a combination of repulsorlift and turbothrust engines.
Boy, Durge is going to feel stupid if he ever learns the truth: that Fett wasn't a Mandalorian, just an orphan adopted by the mercenaries. The real Mandalorians have been dead for years, leaving someone who was only a child when they passed as their last reminder. And even he was dead by the time Durge awoke. See? There's that unknown backstory again.
This is Durge as we first meet him, mounted on his swoop bike and ready to face off against the clone troopers. Durge's gray and black armor is quite impressive, looking alien without ever really looking unrealistic. He's got two blasters that fit in the holsters on his hips, a rifle and a technological backpack. There are various weapons on the armor, and the pack looks like it has fold-out rockets - all things he would need to take on someone in Mandalorian armor. Big Star Wars fans will, I'm sure, recognize the bantha-skull insignia on Durge's chest, though explaining why it's showing up here should be interesting.
At 4¾" tall, Durge is a big fellow. To accomodate the swoop bike, Durge moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, hips and knees. It's a fine selection of articulation, made even better by the fact that so much of it is balljoints. Durge's neck looks a little bit too long, but then again, it looks that way in the cartoon, too - he is an alien, after all. He sits on his bike well, and the torso joint makes him look just as natural sitting as he does standing up.
The swoop bike is a nice update of a vehicle that first showed up in Lucas's last big multi-media push, 1996's Shadows of the Empire. 9¼" long, this green speedster has obviously seen some rough use: the paintjob is worn and there are a few bumps and dings on the chassis. The set includes a 7½" battle lance that can be attached to the bike, and there is a holster for Durge's blaster rifle on the left side of te craft. There are a few guns mounted on the swoop as well, and red symbols painted on the silver scratches. Neither Durge nor the swoop bike have any additional "action features," which is good - nothing to get in the way of the toy.
After getting the ARC Trooper, I was afraid that the Clone Wars figures would all be sub-par. Durge is entirely different, a great toy with a lot of playability. That he's got such a cool presence and comes with a wicked vehicle are just bonuses. Durge looks great on his swoop, great off it, and is an example of the things Hasbro can do right when it tries.