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Jabba's Throne Room

SWVI: Return of the Jedi
by yo go re

The Black Series has apparently been a good success for Hasbro, because they're expanding it. The first series of Deluxe figures also includes our first distinctly non-humanoid character, Jabba the Hutt. But before he showed up in stores, he was available at SDCC.

Smoking his hookah pipe, Jabba the Hutt enjoys music and dancing in his palace, surrounded by criminals, bounty hunters, and his monkey-lizard, Salacious Crumb. When he receives a request to free the carbon-frozen Han Solo, Jabba quickly dismisses the idea and returns to his entertainment.

Jabba the Hutt entered George Lucas' Star Wars story before the second draft, in a note about an unwritten scene: "Jabba in prison cell." By the time he finally did appear in the scripts, the character was described thusly: "A dozen or so gruff and grisly pirates
approach the ship. The grossest of the slavering hulks is JABBA THE HUTT. His scarred face is a grim testimonial to his prowess as a vicious killer." There was no indication that he was anything but human, which is why prominent character actor Declan Mulholland was cast to play him, and why he was given a full, complete costume - Mulholland wasn't just a stand-in for special effects to come later, he was Jabba. But his scene was cut from the movie (there were camera issues, and the same plot points - "Jabba wants his money" - could be delivered in the Greedo scene), and by the time they were ready to bring Jabba back for RotJ, George had decided he wanted something more exotic, and that's when the big slug came in.

This figure is based on the classic 1983 puppet, not any of Jabba's later digial incarnations. That's fine by us, because unlike Yoda, digital Jabba never managed to look better than the puppet. The toy has the huge ugly mouth and the asymmetrical nostrils, and enough wrinkles around his eyes to make Steve Buscemi jealous.

The sculpting on his head and shoulders is outstanding! There are large rolls of fat, numerous thin wrinkles in the skin, and incredibly fine cracks that all add up to a very realistic texture. He's even got drool spilling out of his mouth, a pointy tongue, and random warts and fleshy lumps all over. It's a perfectly gross presentation!

Unfortunately, the rest of the body is not as great as the head. The intense level of detail on the top of the figure is not matched by the bottom. The shapes are rougher, the lines are thicker... basically, while the head looks like something that could have come from Sideshow Collectibles, the body looks like an upsized version of the PotF2 figure. Okay, maybe not that bad, but there's a definite disconnect between his halves.

There are some nice sculptural touches to be found, however. For instance, the anchor-like symbol of Jabba's crime family branded on his right arm, or the octopodine suckers that denote the part of him that would come in contact with the ground (but come up onto the front of the toy slightly, since the character is reclining on his side). The actual underside of the toy is slightly concave, so he's only in contact with the ground at a minimal area. They did not choose to give him the "scar" on his tail that was, in reality, a split in the latex and fiberglass body of the puppet that was dressed up to look intentional.

Like most Jabba toys, this one is mostly a dark green, with a lighter beige on the face and the underbelly. He gets some brown drybrushing to add detail and texture to the body. His mouth and nose are dark red, and his eyes are two shades of orange. The drool is a thin white, and his tattoo/brand is either dark pink or pale red - your choice!

Even without a movable tail of any sort, this is still the most highly articulated Jabbe the Hutt ever. He has a swivel... uh, waist, I guess? A horizontal swivel through the center of his body. Of course, if you turn it the paint won't line up right, but there's really no way around that. Other than that, he has swivel/hinge joints at the wrists, elbows and shoulders. When you move either arm up and down, it also makes his mouth open and close - the entire upper body is covered in a thin layer of rubber that flexes as the jaw moves. We really hope this doesn't deteriorate in a few years; normal plastic and a normal hinge would have been preferable. It also would have been great if Hasbro had taken a cue from NECA's Mogwais - this Jabba face is just crying out for articulated eyes! How cool would that be?

If you buy Jabba in the store, this is where the review ends: you get Jabba, nothing more. The SDCC version brings us a little extra, starting with everybody's favorite Kowakian monkey-lizard, Salacious Crumb.

Basically the Star Wars version of those asshats who have been harassing Zoe Quinn because of lies her ex-boyfriend told (an obviously impartial source) or going after Anita Sarkeesian because she compiled a list of verifiable facts, it was Crumb's job to A) make Jabba laugh, and 2) piss off everybody else by being an annoying little turd. Also like the people attacking Quinn and Sarkeesian, he has no discernable testicles - just a smooth, pale lump where a contributing member of society would have genitals. Seriously, his rump and the underside of his tail are given pale paint, but then it instantly turns to pink when you get to the seam separating the front from the back. He's mostly pink, with darker fur on his shoulders, yellow eyes, and black beak and fingernails.

Crumb's articulation is as good as a figure of this size and design could reasonably hope to be. He moves at the hips, shoulders, neck and tail, and all six joints are swivel/hinge combos. When Dan Mitchell sculpted this little sidekick, there would also have been wrists and elbows, but Hasbro removed those before production. He has a giant mouth set in a wide frown, and his neck is a pile of gross wrinkles. Salacious Crumb has always had a very "Jim Henson Creature Shop" look about him, and this toy duplicates it well.

Normal Jabba costs about $40. SDCC Jabba cost $65. So does that mean we're paying $25 for Salacious Crumb? Hardly! The set also includes the ornate railing that Jabba leaned against to hold himself up. Okay, that doesn't sound like much, but it's straight out of the film, and it's more than the normal version comes with. It's about three-quarters as long as Jabba himself, and is 2¾" tall at its highest point. It's made from two sections that plug together firmly. Why? Must have been to get it out of the molds.

At one end, you'll find Jabba's two-level hookah: the top is the stuff he smokes, while the bottom is where he keeps the Klatooine paddy frogs he likes to eat. And would someone care to explain why, exactly, this set does not come with a loose frog for him to hold? You could even put it in his mouth! There are two of the little creatures molded into the surface of the water brandy that Jabba's chef kept them in to make them docile, but a separate one would be nice, too. The two clear domes are given translucent green paint on the insides to suggest the materials within, and are separated by an ornate golden rim. There's a golden pipe (which can fit into Jabba's left hand) attached to a clear, flexible tube coming out the top, and the entire thing can be removed from the railing if you want to.

Now, depending on how you care to count, there's one more thing in this set to help offset the extra $25 you had to pay to get it: the packaging. Taking a cue from Mattel and their ornate con boxes, Hasbro gave a few of their exclusives packaging that was useful for something besides looks. For instance, the Transformers Dinobots set folds out to form the Autobots' G1 Ark headquarters, while Jabba's box opens up to reveal his throne room.

The figure and his railing both sit on a raised cardboard platform that represents his dais, while the sides and back of the tray are printed to look like the interior of his palace (and in what is just a spectacular "eff you" from Hasbro, there's a special slot on stage right where you can put the Carbonite Han Solo we should have been able to get last year but couldn't, because "FREAKING TAKE PREORDERS" is too complex for them to understand).

And on top of all that (or "in front of all that," as the case may be), the front flap of the box is printed with the grating that Jabba uses to drop people down to the Rancor! This is an entire diorama!

Star Wars Black Series Jabba the Hutt doesn't feel like he'd be worth $40. But as a convention exclusive, with the addition of Salacious Crumb and all the scenery (both 3D and printed), $65 doesn't seem too bad. Now I just need a Slave Leia to go with him.

Her and a block of Carbonite.

-- 08/31/14

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