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Welcome to the third in a series of recollections from Fantha Tracks regular contributor Paul Naylor. In this memoir, Paul recounts the trials and tribulations of collecting autographs of our favourite heroes and villains.

Prologue

“Bounty hunters. We don’t need their scum,” said Admiral Piett in The Empire Strikes Back, referring to a motley crew of greed driven misfits onboard an Imperial Star Destroyer, tasked with tracking down Han Solo and co.

While Piett felt aggrieved to be in the company of the galaxy’s merciless menagerie, the audience were intrigued by the brief glimpse of six badass fortune seekers.

There was an armoured and bandaged swoop jockey named Dengar and sinister assassin droid IG-88. And of course, fan favourite Boba Fett. But it was the other three of the group that I would encounter some 35 years after the filming of that brief but memorable scene took place.

Whilst one bounty hunter would go on to assist in capturing Han Solo – spoiler alert, Boba Fett – another faired less well in the first Star Wars movie. Poor Greedo was ‘fried’ in Mos Eisley Cantina in an altercation with Solo, but the actor was very much on good form when I met him.

Episode 3: A bounty of hunters

September 28, 2014, Stoke Con Trent, North Staffs University, Stoke

Having tracked down Boba Fett actor Jeremy Bulloch some 18 months prior, when the opportunity presented itself to add Bossk, 4-LOM, Zuckuss and Greedo to my son Matthew’s autograph collection in one visit, well it was a no-brainer.

North Staffs education hub is a relatively short distance from my Shropshire hometown and around 45 minutes after setting off we joined a lengthy queue on an unseasonably hot and sunny day.

This was the first such event for the city, and the name is fab isn’t it? Stoke Con Trent. I love that. Indeed this remains one of my favourite experiences from my autograph collecting adventures.

Eventually we got out of the blistering heat and into the venue and made our way to meet our first bounty hunter of the day – Bossk actor Alan Harris.

What a lovely chap. Alan chatted with us for ages, recounting many of the roles he had in four Star Wars films, but mostly we talked about The Empire Strikes Back.

As well as the Trandoshan Bossk, I am sure many of you reading this know that Alan was fitted with the prototype Boba Fett costume for reference shots, played Bespin Security Guard Merril and was the body cast used in place of Harrison Ford for Han Solo’s Carbon Frozen likeness.

Obviously it was Ford’s head used in the composite frozen block, but Alan enthused to Matthew about how he was effectively filmed escorting his own body from Cloud City’s carbon freezing facility to Fett’s unmistakable spaceship Slave-1.

Matthew loved hearing the stories and was in awe of meeting Bossk in the flesh – so to speak.

Just a hop and a skip from Mr Harris’s table and we were in the company of two more bounty hunters – 4-LOM actor Chris Parsons and the ever so lovely Cathy Munroe who portrayed Zuckuss.

Probably because their vintage action figures were released in the same wave – albeit with their character names transposed – it seemed somehow appropriate that they were available to chat with together.

Chris chatted about playing 4-LOM, doubling for Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and playing K-3PO – the white protocol droid on Hoth’s Echo Base.

Cathy was superb with Matthew. Like a favourite aunt and school teacher rolled into one. Cathy talked about the claustrophobic masks she wore playing Woirkettle and Zuckuss and then posed with Chris and Matthew for a photo.

We turned our attention to meeting Greedo. Actor Paul Blake was just finishing off a porkpie when we wandered up to his table.

Paul was hugely entertaining – indeed he has been on all occasions that I have met him – and extremely enthusiastic about his Star Wars experiences.

Judging by Matthew’s signed photo, I think we know what Mr Blake thinks about the adjusted scene featuring the Rodian bounty hunter and Han Solo.

Regardless of who shot first, Greedo will forever be regarded a classic character and a fine addition to my son’s collection of signed photos.

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