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Ponda Baba

SWIV: A New Hope
by yo go re

Ponda is you!

A burly Aqualish thug, Ponda Baba smuggled spice for Jabba the Hutt alongside his friend Dr. Cornelius Evazan, a murderous former surgeon Ponda had rescued from a bounty hunter.

Wow, getting totally X-Files on this one: Doctor Evazan's bio is all about Doctor Evazan, and Ponda Baba's bio is all about... Doctor Evazan.

Back when the Special Editions were the worst thing Star Wars fans had to contend with, there was some fan who took it upon himself to properly remaster the DVD releases. Star Wars Revisited improved the picture quality, fixed some minor continuity issues... and for some reason replaced Ponda Baba's severed arm on the floor of the cantina with Doctor Evazan's, because apparently the guy doing it didn't understand what was happening in the scene? Like, there's a fuzzy green alien wearing an orange coat, and a fuzzy green arm in an orange sleeve ends up on the ground, but you think it's supposed to be from the white guy standing next to him? I know it's cliche to say media literacy needs to be taught in schools, but man, colors and shapes already are and some people can't even master that.

Ponda's role in the story existed long before Ponda as a character existed: in the early draft, General Luke Skywalker (filling the Obi-Wan role) and Clieg Whitsun (Luke) go to Gordon Station (Mos Eisley) to look for transport off-world; they go into a bar, are accosted by a group of belligerent aliens, and the elder Jedi is forced to cut them down. At that point the frightening, unintelligible alien was just described as "multi-eyed," so Kenner probably would have called him something other than "Walrus Man."

This figure is, almost entirely, the 2019 Yavin Ceremony Luke Skywalker figure - you remember, the "Luke Skywalkwer"/"Luke Skwalker" one? That's fine, it's certainly close enough to work for the character, but the attempt to "dirty up" the jacket with s few dark spots doesn't work very well, and there should be solid stripes painted yellow down the outside of his legs. Plus, the head simply looks too large: this is sized more for a 7" figure than a 6" figure, which may be a result of just sculpting a head and dropping it on an existing body, instead of doing them both together. The head looks fine, by itself, but on this body it feels out of place and makes the toy worse.

Articulation is predictable, and in this specific case, that's a bad thing. Ponda moves at the head, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. His holster is actually attached to his right leg, rather than just looking like it is, so that's only going to move as far as the soft PVC will allow. When this figure was initially released in a 2021 Hasbro Pulse three-pack, it included your choice of either the normal hands everybody knows and expects him to have, or the hooves/flippers that are only recognized by obsessive weirdos. This release, from a year later, only has the correct pair, not the extras. You know what else it doesn't have? Any way to remove his arm, goddamn! Releasing a Ponda Baba without a removable arm is embarrassingly stupid; Hasbro figured out how to do that in 2004, so why did they forget it years later? Even if all it was was an elbow joint that pulled apart easily, it would be better than this.

Ponda Baba's only accessory is his blaster pistol, which fits perfectly in the holster, or can be held in his right hand. That, by the way, is the reason George Lucas changed the character's hands: there was no way he could believably hold anything with the originals, so George borrowed a wolfman hand from Rick Baker and reshot the scene (and also changed the arm that got cut off from the left to the right). Technically the hands should have claws, but the toy does not.

The series Ponda Baba was part of retailed for $22.99, which is unthinkable. He's not even worth the $10 that discount stores want for him right now. The reused body, the oversized head, the unimpressive paintwork, and the lack of even basic play features mean this is not a good action figure. We expect way, way better from The Black Series, while this is just a black mark on the name. Don't buy it. Don't bother. And since you're not going to be getting Ponda, there's really no reason to get Dr. Evazan either.

-- 04/20/24

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