4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

In the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, author Donald F. Glut offers a paragraph detailing the bounty hunters Darth Vader assembles to hunt down the Millennium Falcon. Bossk, Zuckuss, Dengar, IG-88, and Boba Fett, each are named and briefly described, with Fett receiving the lions share of the attention. But what really stands out in the description of these “amoral money-grubbers” is that 4-LOM, the bounty hunting protocol droid, is not mentioned. Even though 4-LOM appears in The Empire Strikes Back alongside the other hunters named above, the droid was, for some reason, left out of the novelization.

The absence of 4-LOM from the book is certainly odd but luckily the bounty hunter has received other opportunities to shine, particularly in the Expanded Universe. But rather than list all of those stories, or try to paint some all-encompassing picture of the protocol droid’s endeavors, I thought I would highlight one tale from the Expanded Universe that I have always enjoyed, a tale that is specifically about 4-LOM and his partnership with the Gand bounty hunter Zuckuss.

Tales of the Bounty Hunters
The cover of Tales of the Bounty Hunters. 4-LOM is in the bottom left-hand corner.
Photo Credit – Random House

“Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM” can be found in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, an anthology offering short stories about the six fortune seekers from The Empire Strikes Back. Written by M. Shayne Bell, “Of Possible Futures” takes place during and immediately after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. It depicts 4-LOM and Zuckuss traveling to meet with Darth Vader and subsequently determining how they will go about capturing Han Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon.

Now, I do not want to spend the rest of this post detailing everything that happens in the short story, as I would rather encourage you to go (re)read it for yourself. The entire narrative seamlessly fits into the larger context of the film, and even adds a bonus storyline about Toryn Farr (she is the woman from the film who says “Stand by Ion Control…Fire”). But while I absolutely love how the plot unfolds, and the fact that 4-LOM and Zuckuss each receive extended backstories, what I find truly fascinating about the tale is that 4-LOM spends a large chunk of the story attempting to gain intuition.

As a droid, 4-LOM is governed by logic, rationalizing actions and outcomes based on the processes running on his operating system. With his reasoning skills leading him from serving others to the life of a bounty hunter, which his backstory details, we come to learn early in the tale that 4-LOM is studying his partner Zuckuss to discover how to become intuitive. With his Gand partner spending countless hours meditating, “feeling” his way to knowledge, 4-LOM observes, collects and analyzes the raw data to discern how to unlock a process that is beyond reason.

Does this work? Is 4-LOM able to accomplish his goal of gaining intuition? Well, like I said, you will have to (re)read “Of Possible Futures” to find out. Or, perhaps you will just have to wait for me to write a post about “The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM,” something I am considering because it really is a good story with a lot to explore. Instead of telling you what happens, whether 4-LOM figures out how to be intuitive like his partner, I will instead close this piece by offering you these four random facts about the bounty hunting protocol droid:

  1. 4-LOM is a LOM-series protocol droid. Produced by Industrial Automaton to serve insectoid species in the Star Wars galaxy, the LOM-series droids are unique for their insect-like head and notable compound eyes.
  2. The ship 4-LOM and Zuckuss own is named the Mist Hunter. It is a modified G-1A starfighter.
  3.  4-LOM is included as a minifigure, along with IG-88, Dengar and Bossk, in the LEGO Star Wars set Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack. Sadly, Zuckuss was not included in this set, but the Gand, along with 4-LOM and Boba Fett, are included in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Slave I. 
  4. A few years ago I was asked to join a team for a Star Wars trivia night at a local bar and our team name was 4-LOM for the Win. We came in second. I am still bitter.

Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

Star Wars Without End

I spend a lot of time pondering the internals of the Star Wars universe – the characters, events, factions, spaceships, philosophies, etc. – but I also spend quite a bit of time thinking about the Star Wars franchise in general. These days, it’s hard not to think about the trajectory of the franchise since Disney – which purchased the franchise from the original creator/owner George Lucas in 2012 – has been announcing and releasing new content left and right. Movies, TV shows, novels, comics, video games, and more are adding to the already rich trove of stories that populate the universe, while an endless line of new merchandise in every shape and form pops up on a seemingly daily basis. Plus, Disney is building two different Star Wars-themed lands where fans can enjoy “being in” the Star Wars universe.

As a lifelong fan of Star Wars, the fact that the franchise is going strong definitely makes me happy, but this also comes with a catch – too much of a good thing isn’t always great. While I am excited there are new Star Wars stories being told and merchandise being sold, there is also a certain amount of burn out that also comes with all of this. Admittedly, it is a bit odd for me to say this since I maintain this site devoted to Star Wars, but it is also the truth – at times, being a Star Wars fan can be utterly exhausting.

Some of this Star Wars exhaustion is a natural symptom of over-indulgence, a symptom which necessitates moving away from the franchise for a while so I can enjoy it more fully another day. Having a site like this where I write about Star Wars certainly adds to this particular form of burn out, and at times, I have to step away from the computer or notebook, giving myself time and permission to not even think about Star Wars.

I’ve never been to a Star Wars Celebration, the so-called “ultimate fan experience,” and have little desire to attend one. Perhaps someday I will if I’m feeling adventurous and want to put my crowd anxiety to the test.
Photo Credit : Lucasfilm/Disney

On the other hand, some of this burn out is just a general fatigue associated with having to maintain interest in such an expansive franchise, one that is not going to stop growing anytime soon. Just as I look up at the night sky and have difficulty processing the vastness of space, a similar feeling of being overwhelmed hits me when I think about the vastness of the Star Wars franchise, a vastness that encapsulates past, present, and future. While I can appreciate all that Star Wars has to offer, providing fans of every type with something they will love, on a personal level, the more Star Wars grows, the more exhausted I’ve become trying to keep up with it. 

And so, I have found myself trying to reconcile my lifelong exploration of the “galaxy far, far away” with the continued growth of the franchise and the gambit of ways it is making me feel: overwhelmed, exhausted, burnt out, and at times even uninspired and bored. In other words, I have found myself for some time now in the rather peculiar position of trying to decide how I will continue being a fan of the franchise (talk about first world problems). What do I mean by this? Well, it means I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my relationship with the franchise in general, and the content of the Star Wars universe in particular. It means that because I do not have an endless supply of time, energy, and money – especially money – to devote to a fictional universe that will probably still be growing when I am on my death bed that I have to decide which aspects of Star Wars I will continue to participate in/enjoy and which parts I am just uninterested in/do not feel are worth the effort.

Most people know that I’m obsessed with Grand Admiral Thrawn, but I’m also a huge fan of Admiral Natasi Daala who first appeared in the Expanded Universe novel Jedi Search.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm/Del Rey

In truth, this isn’t an entirely new approach to the way I engage with Star Wars. We all have our personal preferences and gravitate towards certain things, and I have always been the type of person who likes parts of Star Wars more than others. Even before George Lucas sold the franchise to Disney I was selective about how I participated in the franchise, what merchandise I bought, and yes even which stories I gravitated towards. For example, I can honestly say that while I am well versed in the stories of the now Expanded Universe (EU; now officially called Legends…bleh), there are some Expanded Universe stories I have never touched and know almost nothing about. Case in point: The Old Republic online game. Perhaps one day I will get around to playing The Old Republic or checking out those EU stories I haven’t read, or maybe I won’t.

Like the Expanded Universe I am already treating the “new Expanded Universe,” the Disney Canon, the same way. While I have done my best to keep up with all of the stories being released, it became very apparent early on that it just wouldn’t be possible to do so. This hardly means I haven’t tried my best, but it does mean that I am well aware there are tales I have missed and probably will never experience. Since I have no interest in subscribing to Star Wars Insider magazine, I miss out on the short-stories that appear in each edition. I have certainly read a few here and there, but otherwise I’ve missed most of them and am not rushing out to read them. This is also true of the discontinued Star Wars Rebels magazine, each issue containing a story in the form of a comic. I’m sure those comics are quite fun, and perhaps I will check them out at some point, but for now I’m just not that interested in going out of my way to read them.

In turn, even of the new stories I have encountered in the Disney canon (and this goes for the EU as well), I’ve absolutely loved some, really disliked others, and have otherwise mixed emotions about a handful. I thought Kevin Hearne’s novel Heir to the Jedi was rather bland, have been underwhelmed by the novels in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath series, felt the Chewbacca comic series left a lot to be desired, and walked out of my first viewing of The Force Awakens asking myself what the hell I had just watched. On the flip side, I really enjoyed playing the now discontinued Star Wars: Uprising video game, absolutely love the Princess Leia and Lando comic series, was blown away by Christie Golden’s novel Dark Disciple and James Luceno’s novel Tarkin, and have really enjoyed the rich layers being added to the canon thanks to the animated show Star Wars Rebels.

The Grand Inquisitor, introduced in Star Wars Rebels, is now one of my absolute favorite characters. I am hoping he will get his own novel or comic series.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Rebels Season 1, Episode 14: “Fire Across the Galaxy”

But just because I love one particular story or dislike another doesn’t mean I find perfection/imperfection in everything. I might not love Heir to the Jedi but there are some very good moments in the novel, The Force Awakens has grown on me over time, the Uprising game was fun but also incredibly tedious, and even though I am really loving Star Wars Rebels I’ve been a vocal critic of the overuse of the Jedi and the Force in the series. For me, being a fan of Star Wars is not a zero sum game, a matter of either love or hate. Rather, more often than not it boils down to shades of gray, the acknowledgment that stories that I feel are wonderful still have flaws, and those I believe fall short do have some redeeming qualities. 

None of this is to say that my particular reactions/thoughts on each Star Wars story, or my moments of exhaustion, boredom and dispassion with the franchise as a whole, must be globally accepted. My personal fandom is no more or less important than any other fan, and my subjective experiences of Star Wars need not dictate the experiences others have. Besides, I can think of nothing more absurd than being a fan of Star Wars and lording my fandom over others. No, I am far more interested in sharing aspects of my fandom with others, engaging people in rich conversation about Star Wars. By maintaining this site, my hope is to always do just that: share aspects of Star Wars that stand out to me – the good and the bad, inspirational and discouraging – and open the floor for conversation. 

And that being the case, I have to ask: what are your feelings and opinions on the current state of the Star Wars franchise? Am I the only one who has moments of Star Wars fatigue and boredom, or are there others like me who are out there? If you care to share your thoughts and feelings, leave a comment. 

Trailers for The Old Republic

While I have only played The Old Republic MMO sporadically, I have never-the-less been stunned by the incredible cinematic trailers that have accompanied the game. So, I decided to collect them all into one spot so people could watch them without needing to do much searching. Enjoy!

Ewoks Battling for Endor

Every time I watch Ewoks: The Battle for Endor I laugh as the movie begins. I can’t help it. You see, in the first minutes of the film, as the opening credits and music are playing, we see three things: a gorgeous meadow on the forest moon of Endor, an Ewok skipping with a little girl, and the same Ewok picking flowers for that little girl. What an opening!!!

And then, all of a sudden, the laughter stops and things get really absurd. An Ewok village is raided by marauders; the little girl’s brother, mother, and father are killed by said marauders; and she, her Ewok friend (who turns out to be Wicket), and all the Ewok villagers are taken captive.

What a way to start a movie for kids!!!

Okay, lets back up for a second.

Wicket and Cindel Photo Credit - Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

Wicket and Cindel
Photo Credit – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

For those of you who are unaware, after Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, the Ewoks were a pretty big deal. Little kids loved them. Of course they did, Ewoks reminded them of their teddy bears. So, riding this wave of popularity, Star Wars creator George Lucas released two made-for-TV movies about the Ewoks. The first, in 1984, was The Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage. The second, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, was released in 1985. Both were nominated for a couple of Primetime Emmys and both won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects. An Ewoks cartoon series was also released, and would air two seasons from 1985-1987.The main Ewok protagonist of them all: Wicket W. Warrick, the same Ewok who discovers Leia in Return of the Jedi.

Alright, here is the deal: the movies and the cartoons are really fun (and somewhat ridiculous), and originally I was going to write about all of them at length for this week of Ewokery. Buuuuuut I really just want to talk about The Battle for Endor. Why? Because it. is. awesome!!! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them all but when I was a kid, I wore out the VHS we had of Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. I watched it so much that I am pretty sure the VHS broke. Thank goodness for DVDs and YouTube!

So it is this point in the post I am going to tell YOU to go watch Ewoks: The Battle for Endor if you haven’t already. Now, Caravan of Courage does take place before it, but you don’t HAVE to watch it to understand what is going on in The Battle for Endor. And, because I am so good to you all, I have provided a YouTube link to the movie all over this post so you really have no excuse.

In the meantime, if you want to wait, or if you happen to be at work right now and can’t hide the fact that you are watching a movie when your boss walks by, I will just share some more little nuggets about the movie that I enjoy or that are just outright ridiculous…or both.

Some reasons I enjoy Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

Along with Caravan of Courage and the cartoon series, The Battle for Endor is part of the Star Wars: Expanded Universe (now called Legends). All take place BEFORE the events of Return of the Jedi which means that at some point Wicket somehow forgot how to speak Basic (English) by the time he is poking Leia with his spear in Return of the Jedi.

Another fun EU fact: the little girl, Cindel Towani, she doesn’t just show up in Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor. She is ALSO a minor character in Tyrant’s Test, one of the novels in The Black Fleet Crisis.

Noa, played by Wilfred Brimley Photo Credit - Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

Noa, played by Wilfred Brimley
Photo Credit – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

Speaking of characters, in The Battle for Endor (but NOT in Caravan of Courage), Cindel’s father is played by Paul Gleason. You might recall Mr. Gleason as the principal in The Breakfast Club. The primary male lead in the film, though, is played by….drum roll…Wilfred Brimley!

Brimley plays a character named Noa who flips between being a mean old man, and a tender old man, in most of his early interactions with Cindel and Wicket. For example, he yells at Wicket and Cindel for building a fire, stating they will burn down the entire forest (never-mind the fact that Wicket is a native and knows what he is doing). Then, next thing you know, Noa has invited them into his home and is building a fire for them in his home’s fireplace.

BTW, Cindel and Wicket escape from those marauders right after they are captured, and they find their way to Noa’s home thanks to a curious little creature named Teek. Besides being REALLY fast, Teek is mischievous and funny, but also tender and caring. Honestly, Teek has always been my favorite character in the film.

Teek!!! Photo Credit - Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

Photo Credit – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

However, I also really love Wicket, mostly because of the strange things he says and the way he acts. Just as Noa flips between angry and tender, Wicket flips between intelligent and childish. In one moment he is showing off his Ewok ingenuity, the next he is is completely helpless having been caught in a trap. Basically, he is the perfect mix of smart and funny, making him easy for little kids to identify with.

But what about the other Ewoks in the movie?

Frankly, the other Ewoks play a very small direct role in the film until the final act begins. I will spare you the full plot summary, but suffice it to say it is in the finale that the Ewoks finally battle for Endor after escaping from the castle they are held prisoner in. Yeah, a castle, in the middle of a very large, rocky plain on the forest moon of Endor.

When the battle between the Ewoks and the marauders plays out, what ensues is a visually stunning, albeit completely one-sided fight. You hardly need me to tell you who wins the battle for Endor. The Ewoks are brilliant in their fight against the bad guys, ranging from tactics that make the marauders trip and fall over, throwing spears at them, and launching explosions from a catapult Noa had sitting around. In fact, the best moment in the fight has GOT to be when one of the Ewoks saves Wicket by launching himself from the catapult, flipping end over end and landing on a baddie. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Ewoks on the attack!!! Photo Credit - Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

Ewoks on the attack…with guns!!!
Photo Credit – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

And with that, I honestly have very little else to say. I grew up loving the movie and I still do. But at this point, I would rather hear what you think about the movie so leave some thoughts in the comment section. And if this is the first time you have seen it, I would love to know what you newbies think!

Also, feel free to leave some thoughts on Caravan of Courage and the Ewok cartoon series!

Check out these other Ewok Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Ewok Week

The Music of the Ewoks

Ewok Jerky

Ewok Haikus

Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly

Fan Feelings on Ewoks

The Scout