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Japanese Power of the Force 2 Figures (Jabba the Hutt, Slave Leia, Rancor Keeper, 8D8)

June 22, 2012

I mentioned earlier that I’ve had some trouble finding Jabba-related products during my stay in Japan, but I did find this figure going cheaply on Yahoo! Auctions (the default auction site in Japan, much as eBay is in the US). You’d be forgiven if you were a little confused by the picture above, since it looks exactly like the US version of the POFT2 Jabba and Han Solo set. In fact, that’s exactly what it is, with one difference. If you look on the back, you’ll notice that there’s a sticker on the bottom right with some Japanese on it. That’s the only thing that distinguishes this from the normal American release.

They made completely new boxes for the European version of this set, for example, but apparently all they could be bothered to do was slap some stickers on the existing American toys when they sold them in Japan. And in fact that’s how Star Wars figures have been sold in Japan for quite some time. There were some companies like Popy that did make their own original packaging back in the days of the vintage toy line, but even in the 1980s Takara was selling Kenner figures with just a sticker stuck on the back of the package. As someone who enjoys collecting foreign versions of toy packaging, I find this disappointing. I’m sure it probably saved money, and perhaps the market in Japan wasn’t big enough to warrant making new packaging. I’m guessing that it’s also due to the fact that Star Wars collecting in Japan is mostly driven by adults rather than kids. They probably figured they didn’t need to bother coming up with packaging that might appeal more to Japanese kids, since they weren’t going to buy them anyway. Japanese Star Wars enthusiasts might even think having the same packaging as the US was cool.

The sticker describes the product as a “Star Wars Creature Figure.” I find it interesting that they decided to use the English word “with” in the title (“Jabba with Han Solo”), especially since they’re not just copying the English title (which, after all, is “Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo”). The word “with” is used in Japanese in some cases, so it’s not totally strange, but it’s also not standard usage. I wonder if they weren’t sort of playing up the foreign nature of the toys by using an English word in the title like this.

Under the name is a message that reads, “Move Jabba’s head and his tail will move” (I can’t help but think of this German ad when I read that…) The rest of it is just safety warnings and the like. Pretty boring stuff. I can’t help but think that Hasbro Japan could have added a bit more explanation in Japanese about the characters, etc. Wait, Hasbro Japan? Before buying this, I didn’t even realize that there was such a thing. Turns out there’s a good reason for that — Hasbro pulled out of Japan in 1998 (shortly after this came out), leaving Tomy in charge of distributing some of their products.

I was surprised to find these figures for sale at store in (somewhat) rural Japan. It was a place that sells DVDs, comics, and toys of various kinds, and they had a bin of Star Wars figures on sale for 200 yen apiece (about $2.50 given the current exchange rate). These are very similar to the Jabba figure above in that they’re just the US releases with stickers on the back.

I haven’t heard much about people going out of their way to collect these Japanese versions, and it’s not surprising since they’re really not that interesting compared to the foreign variations that have completely different packaging. But since I’m here and they were cheap I figured I get a few just to have them. And I’ve just realized that I’ve never posted entries for the American versions of these figures, which I will have to fix when I get the chance.

I was amused to see that Leia is called “Leia in Slave Girl” in Japanese, which is either an incomplete sentence or some sort of Engrish. Again, it’s not just a translation of the English, though, which is “Princess Leia Organa as Jabba’s Prisoner.”

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