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Warwick Davis Autograph (Sitting on Jabba the Hutt)

August 25, 2014

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Warwick Davis got his start at 13 playing Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi. He was apparently just slated to be a background ewok when R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker, who was originally supposed to play Wicket, got sick. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to be able to be in a Star Wars movie at that age. He was still young enough to be interested in the toys, as this letter he wrote to George Lucas after the product attests. He wrote, “I hope this is not too rude of me to ask you, but would it be possible for you to send me the very latest figures and walkers — I was hoping very much that there may be an ‘ewok’ or ‘Jabba the Hut’ (sic).” But despite his young appearance, he was a 13-year-old boy and probably not entirely oblivious to something like having Carrie Fisher as Slave Leia hug him.

I thought this shot of him sitting on Jabba’s tail during a visit to the Sail Barge set was adorable, and an angle of the Jabba puppet that you don’t see very often as well.

Plaster Mold For Vintage Ceramic Jabba the Hutt Figure

August 20, 2014

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I got the ceramic figure above a few years ago (see here for more details about it). It’s one of many fan-made ceramic statues that people made in the 80s. Since they’re unlicensed and individually made, it has been difficult to find any information about them. I know that some of them were apparently made by “Windmill Ceramics” but I dot know if they were responsible for the Jabba figure. And I will say that the Jabba version is considerably less common than characters like Darth Vader or R2-D2. You can find those on eBay any day of the week, but these really don’t come up very often. When I bought this one, I thought it would be fun to collect these figures since they’re all unique and not generally that expensive, but since then I’ve only found one more (a brown one). I haven’t found any in the past 3-4 years.

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That’s why I was very excited when someone kindly pointed me toward an eBay listing for what appeared to be a mold for these figures. Plus, it was only $7. :) I was pretty sure it was the mold for these figures, but when I got it in hand I had no doubt. As you can see, mine fits perfectly into the mold. I have no idea how many of these molds were made, but I can’t imagine that very many of them have survived. It’s a two-part mold made of a chalky white plaster. As you can see below, when you would actually use the mold, it would be upside-down so that the three holes are on the top, and the ceramic “slip” would be poured in there.

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There aren’t any real markings on the mold except for some numbers in pencil and the letters “XJ” in the mold itself. Could the “J” stand for “Jabba?” Maybe.

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The mold seems to be in pretty good shape, although the half shown below is kind of discolored. I did clean up the mold with a damp cloth, but this part didn’t want to come clean. I don’t know if it is feasible, but I’m considering trying to use the mold to make a very small run of ceramic figures. They would of course be properly marked as modern versions to avoid any confusion. We’ll see.

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Displaying the SDCC-Exclusive Black Series Jabba the Hutt’s Throne Room

August 17, 2014

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The SDCC-exclusive “Jabba’s Throne Room” set comes with some fairly elaborate packaging, but its design is not fantastic if you want to just display the figures in the packaging on a shelf. The two obvious options are keeping the package closed (meaning that you can’t see the figures at all) or having it open as in the shot above (which takes up way too much room for the average shelf). Some have just cut the flaps off entirely. There is another option, however. If you bend the front flap (with the rancor pit on it) under the package and the top flap (with the Star Wars logo) behind the back, you can display it fairly well. I also decided to go ahead and remove all of the plastic parts sticking up from the throne and I think it looks quite a bit better. (Although there’s still plastic covering parts of the throne’s surface that can’t be removed.)

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When folded under, the bottom flap sticks out about one inch from the back, so it won’t sit flush against the back of the shelf, but that’s a lot better than the alternatives. I used some black paperclips to hold the flaps in place:

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In the shot above, you can see that I’ve made a few alterations to my Slave Leia figure. This is definitely a work in progress. I replaced the fraying piece of material used for the skirt with a piece cut from the FAO Schwarz-exclusive Slave Leia’s skirt. It’s really too transparent, but I don’t think it looks bad. I also replaced the collar and chain with ones made out of metal. I just used some jewelry crafting supplies I had lying around.

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Leia seems happy about the new additions, anyway! :D How are you displaying this set? Feel free to post links to photos of your own setup!

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Jabba the Hutt Patch Card from Topps Return of the Jedi Widevision Set

August 11, 2014

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You’ve got to hand it to Topps. Trading cards themselves aren’t a new or exciting concept, but somehow they keep adding and changing enough to keep people interested. For this Return of the Jedi Widevision set, for example, the cards themselves are in a “widescreen” format and come in a “Han in Carbonite” box. Plus, the sets also include some randomly selected bonuses in the form of autograph cards, artist sketch cards, and patch cards like this. I got this card on its own from eBay since even if you buy one of the $100 sets you still only have a chance that a particular card will be included.

It’s a tribute to the original vintage trading card packs from 1983 (pictured below), with the Jabba portion represented by a patch that is integrated into the card itself. They also made the other three characters (Vader, Jedi Luke and Wicket). It’s a bit of an odd concept, but I like it.

Modifying the Black Series Jabba the Hutt Figure (Closed Mouth)

August 8, 2014

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Since I have a number of the Black Series Jabba the Hutt figures now, I thought I would try modifying one of them. The retail version of the Jabba figure has a mouth that is fairly wide open, and will open even wider when you use the action feature. But the original prototype we were shown had a mouth that was almost entirely closed. I kind of like that look, myself, so I decided to try and replicate it. It turned out to be not that difficult, but it is does involve some major Face Off-level surgery for Jabba.

First you need to remove the torso from the body, which is just a matter of pulling and twisting. I neglected to take a photo of this step, but there is a clear green plastic ring under his torso that you have to pry up (a small flathead screwdriver would work). That will allow you to peel off his skin. It’s glued in several places, but you can remove it without any damage as long as you’re careful. It fits over him like a sweater, with his arms going through the arm holes.

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Here is what he looks like underneath. It’s the stuff of nightmares, really.

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I will eat your soul!

The head/torso is held together by three screws, indicated by the red arrows below.

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It isn’t glued together, thankfully, so you can get it apart just by taking the screws out.

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Now you can see the inner mechanism. There’s a lever on either side that is connected to the arms and presses on the mouth piece to make it open. There’s also a small spring inside that makes the mouth close up again.

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This is a more complex figure than it might appear at first.

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Your SOOOOOOOUUUUULLLLLLL!

Enough already, Jabba! Anyway, the reason the mouth won’t close more is that there are two parts that stick up on the mouth piece (see below).

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I used a rotary tool (aka a dremel) to grind these areas down, which lets the mouth close further.

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However, I found that even after doing that, the mouth wouldn’t really stay tightly closed and didn’t look that different from the normal figure. So I decided to sacrifice the opening feature to achieve a more tightly closed mouth. I wedged some wadded-up paper and a rubber eraser inside under the jaw to help keep it closed. When you’re done, you can just slip the skin back on, and you don’t really have to glue it again except around the mouth to make sure it stays in position there. You can see a before and after below (well, they’re actually different figures, but you get the idea).

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I’m not sure if the closed-mouth look is necessarily superior, but I do think that the open-mouth version makes Jabba look like he’s smiling. So this is a bit more serious look.

SDCC-Exclusive Black Series Jabba’s Throne Room by Hasbro

August 7, 2014

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I’ve been excited about this set ever since we first learned about it a few months ago. While it was disappointing to learn that the retail version of the Jabba figure wouldn’t be coming with any accessories at all, at least we would be getting Salacious Crumb and Jabba’s throne railing/hooka in this set. But as an SDCC-exclusive I knew it would be difficult and expensive to get. A lot of people looked at how other exclusives had performed in the past (especially the Black Series Boba Fett and Han in Carbonite set from last year) and assumed that this set would be selling for a huge markup. Pre-show orders seemed to bear this out, with eBay orders for the $65 set easily going over $200. I didn’t pay that much, but I did foolishly put in a preorder only to find them selling during and after the show for a lot less. Now you can get them for around $100, or maybe even less. I think there were just too many people scalping the set, causing a glut of them on eBay.

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But enough about all that. Let’s look at the set. In it you get Jabba himself, which is the same as the retail figure. You also get his hooka and railing, and a Salacious Crumb. But the most memorable thing about the set is the packaging, which is made to resemble Jabba’s throne room. We may not have a proper throne for Jabba, but at least he has a cardboard one. And the archway and BBQ rotisserie behind him help add to the mood. The box has two flaps that are held in place with velcro and open up to reveal the top of the rancor pit in front of him. The top flap is of course designed to resemble the large front door at Jabba’s palace. It’s a very elaborate piece of packaging, and huge when opened up, but it’s also fairly fragile. The “teeth” on the upper flap are easily bent and even minor scrapes and bends show up very quickly on the black cardboard it’s made of. So far I have two of these and they both have a number of minor defects — I actually colored in a few spots with a sharpie to hide the white showing through. I think finding a truly mint example will be difficult — especially since you’re unlikely to be able to pick up several and compare them.

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As you can see, Jabba is not only held in place by some paper cords, he also has his tail inserted into some clear plastic that’s attached to the cardboard throne. If you’re careful, it’s possible to get him out without destroying the packaging, although you do need to cut some cords and clear rubber bands. Below you can see the inside of the packaging taken out of the black outer box. They printed the throne graphic on both the inside and outside.

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Of course this just makes the plastic bits stand out all the more, so I decided to see how much of the plastic I could remove without hurting anything. I don’t think there’s any way you can get all of it off, since a lot of it is bonded to the cardboard. I even halfheartedly tried using a hairdryer to see if I could peel it off, but it just looked like it would remove the top of the cardboard as well, leaving an ugly white ring. In the end, I left some of the plastic there because helps you keep the railing and Jabba in place, but I did use a craft knife to cut off the part that covered the tail. So you could make it look like this if you wanted.

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You may have noticed that there’s a cardboard Han in Carbonite to the side. You can actually remove this easily and slide in the Black Series Han in Carbonite that came with last year’s SDCC-exclusive set, but the cardboard holder for it looks rather cheap. If you’re going to use the actual Han in Carbonite, you might be better off removing the holder and just propping the figure up there somehow.

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The initial shots of Salacious Crumb didn’t look that nice to me. He seemed way too gangly. And while I do think they made his hands and feet a bit too big, I actually like him pretty well now that I see him in person.

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He’s relatively well articulated (for a Crumb figure). Here he is recreating an iconic scene from “Mission Impossible.”

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And here he is with his BFF (Bloated Frog-like Fiend) Jabba.

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Aside from the packaging and Crumb, the hooka and railing are the main draws for this set, and they’re not bad. Not great, but not bad.

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The railing actually comes in two pieces that slot together. These seems like a bit of an odd choice, but I suppose there was a reason for it. It looks a little ugly though.

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The hooka and froggy bowl are all one piece, so you can’t take the hooka part off, although you can remove the whole works from the railing if you want.

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Inside you can make out some froggies swimming around (although it’s a bit hard to see in this shot).

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It’s a relatively large piece, as it should be, but surprisingly lightweight. And it only reminds me of how nice it would have been to get a proper throne. They really should have made this set be the retail set (maybe charging $50 instead of $40) and had a real throne for the SDCC version. That would have been epic.

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Here’s a shot of everything out of the package.

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Some people have been asking if the Bib Fortuna Statue that came with the Gentle Giant Jabba the Hutt statue would work well with this Jabba. I would say that he’s too big, but it’s close enough that you could fudge it if you wanted to. For that matter, the Gentle Giant Leia Accessory Pack might work as well (although I didn’t try that).

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So is this set worth the money? For me it is, obviously, since I’m a Jabba super-fan and also plan to make my own custom version of his throne. But for the average Star Wars collector it’s a bit of a harder call to make — especially since we don’t know how many Jabba’s Palace characters Hasbro plans to add to the 6″ line. The problem is that for most people, it’s not just a $25 difference between this and the retail set. It’s more like a $60+ difference, and that’s a bit harder to swallow.

If you want to make a full throne room display, obviously the parts that come with this set are a must. But I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the retail version of Jabba. He’s a very well done figure, and while $40 seems about $10 too much, he’s definitely one of the most impressive entries in the Black Series line.

SDCC-Exclusive Jabba the Hutt Figure Now Available At HasbroToyShop [Edit: Now Sold Out!]

August 4, 2014

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It probably won’t last long, but you can get the SDCC-exclusive Jabba the Hutt figure for retail price (about $65) now on HasbroToyShop.com. Unless the bottom totally falls out of the market, this is likely the cheapest it will ever be.

[Edit: These have now sold out. Only took about an hour. However, HTS has been known to restock, so it wouldn't hurt to check back later if you missed out. Also, eBay prices have really nosedived since SDCC, so it probably won't be hugely more expensive to get it that way if you have to.]

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