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Jar Jar Binks

SWI: The Phantom Menace
by yo go re

I'm disappointed. I specifically bought this expecting to get pickles pickles.

A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life.

Yeah he did, and it's kind of depressing. In Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy, set between the original trilogy and the two movies they've released of the new trilogy, the main story is unterrupted every so often for vignettes set around the galaxy. That's where we first met Cobb Vanth, the sherrif dude with the Mando armor from that episode of The Mandalorian, for instance. Anyway, at one point Jar Jar shows up, living as an outcast who's hated by adults (for his role in helping elevate Senator Palpatine to Chancellor and then eventually Emperor) but enjoyed by children (because he acts like a clown specifically to amuse them and make them happy).

...how meta!

It's sort of fitting, then, that this Jar Jar has an expression of weary sadness, rather than the wide-eyed joy he so often displayed in the movie. Maybe it's just that we almost never see him with his mouth closed? The sculpt perfectly captures his big, long, floppy bunny ears, and his pony face, and the eye stalks that allow him to peek above the surface of the water like Mantenna.

At nearly 6¾" tall, Jar Jar is a full head taller than the other Black Series figures, as he should be. He wears what appear to be leather clothes - how do you make leather in an underwater city? One, what animal would have skin like that, and two, how would you ever dry and treat it? I'm suddenly irrationally angry at this space-wizard movie! His skin has small wrinkles and his clothes have big ones, and he looks as accurate to his movie appearance as you expect from The Black Series. Hasbro didn't halfass things just because nerds hate the character.

The paint is great. Heesa colored peachy pinky white, with the wavy red patterns on his skin applied very cleanly. The way the colors fade from one to another is very good, a smooth and beautiful transition that had to cost quite a bit for the factory to get right. The dark colors of his clothes contrast with the skin well, and his nails, both on the fingers and toes (as well as the little spikes on the outer tips of his ears) are a dark grey. The eyes are a yellow-green with vertical slit pupils. Ideally, we'd have something to say about the paint on his teeth or tongue but, well, Hasbro didn't give us those. As we complained above.

His articulation is plentiful. Jar Jar has swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinge knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, elbows, and shoulders, and then balljoints for the top and bottom of the neck. Everything moves well, with no stiff or stuck joints, and nothing loose as well. It's always nice when figures work right without any extra work. The only other thing they might have given him would be poseable ears, somehow, or ideally a moving jaw.

Jim-Jam Bonks is sold as one of the deluxe figures, like General Grievous - or more accurately, like the Gamorrean Guard, because that figure also could have been sold at a normal price. It's not like Jar Jar is any bigger than Chewbacca, so why do we have to pay like $10 more for him? Because Hasbro loaded him up with needless accessories to artificially pad the price. They're all traditional Gungan weapons: an energy shield, a cesta spear, and an atlatl with a (non-removable) booma energy ball on the end. The cesta is long enough that it needs to be assmbled after you take it out of the package, and the hands can hold the central handle of the shield well, but none of these are really worth anything. This is Jar Jar Binks, not Captain Tarpals; he doesn't need an arsenal.

You want to give Jar Jar some accessories, and make him worth the increased price? Take a cue from Jazwares' Fortnite Legendary Series figures and do alternate faces. Give us a smiling Jar Jar. Give us a scared Jar Jar. Give us a Jar Jar who's sticking his tongue out like an anteater. Heck, give us Ahmed Best wearing the Binks-head hat he wore on set so the actors could react to him. You could swap the neck out and do that easy! A figure with alternate expressions would be a ton truer to the character than giving him a bunch of weapons he barely ever used, and a ton more fun to play with.

It's taken 20 years, but Star Wars fans finally warmed to Jar Jar; all it took was for the kids who grew up with him to age into being the driving voice of the fandom (and for those of us who were so old and hateful that we nearly drove Ahmed to suicide to age out). It's like Barney Stinson's theory about Ewoks. You don't need some stupid theory about Jar Jar secretly being a Sith Lord in order to "forgive" him, you've just got to have an open heart and an open mind. It took a long time for him to make it into the Black Series, and while the accessories aren't great, the figure himself is.

Now how about a blue Force Ghost mode exclusive, Hasbro?

-- 05/30/21

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