Super-Deformed Jabba the Hutt’s Throne Room Garage Kit by “Monstar Shop”
I first discovered this model kit a few years ago when a painted one appeared on eBay UK. The seller wanted quite a bit for it, and it seemed expensive and risky to ship it to the US, so I passed. A while later, another appeared on eBay UK, but the story was pretty much the same. Until recently, those were the only two examples of it I had ever seen. For posterity, here are pictures of the kits I saved from those auctions (click to enlarge).
I recently returned from 3 weeks in Japan, during which I regularly monitored Yahoo! Auctions (Japan’s equivalent to eBay). I was mostly looking for the sterling silver Gamorrean Guard ring from JAP Inc. to go with my Jabba, Bib Fortuna, and Rancor rings, but didn’t have any luck there. However, I did stumble upon a listing for this very model kit — in unassembled form, no less. The opening bid was low, and I was hoping that it would be obscure enough that I might get it cheaply, but it ended up going fairly high (around $150). Still, it was considerably cheaper than the asking prices for the completed sets above, and for me having the unpainted version was actually more appealing. It came with about 37 different pieces, as you can see below. I’m certainly capable of painting something like this, but an unpainted version has got to be pretty rare at this point, so I decided not to. However, keeping it in its completely unassembled form doesn’t appeal to me, since you can’t appreciate it, so I just prepped and assembled it enough to allow me to display it as you see in the first photo above.
(As an aside, it’s not easy to buy things on Yahoo! Auctions if you’re a foreigner without a permanent address in Japan. First of all, you basically have to be physically in Japan since the vast majority of sellers won’t send anything outside the country. You have to be able to read and write Japanese, since the website and all communications with the sellers will be in Japanese. And in most cases you have to be able to make a bank transfer to a Japanese bank, since Yahoo’s Paypal equivalent won’t work with non-Japanese credit cards. Luckily, I met all of these requirements while I was there, so I was able to get a couple of things. I don’t have a Japanese bank account anymore, but many ATMs in Japan allow you to insert cash and make a transfer that way.
There are some companies that will bid on things for people living outside of Japan and act as a go-between for payment and shipping, but they are expensive and can also be a little tricky to use. I did try it once, but given the extra expense I’m not sure I would recommend it unless it’s something you absolutely have to have.)
Finally finding one of these kits really made me want to figure out where and when it was from. I was pretty intrigued by it, since it seemed so polished for an unlicensed kit and because it was such a mystery. I couldn’t find any mention of it online, and I’m usually pretty adept at researching things like this. I did finally find a reference to it in a collection of Star Wars clippings posted by Chris Georgoulias (the ad can be found on this page). It’s difficult to make out much detail, but it clearly appears to be the same kit. The ad is dated early 1997, so it’s at least that old. They list the maker as “Monster Shop.”
The guy selling one of the painted kits above on eBay told me some interesting things about it, although I have no way to verify any of it. He said that the model he was selling was used as a display model by a shop in Manchester England that was selling the kits. The owners of that shop told him that the kit was originally from the early 80s and was made in Japan. Later in the 90s a UK firm supposedly acquired the rights and started making them again (although I question whether there were actually “rights” to acquire for an unlicensed kit like this — unless he just meant that they bought the molds.) Since the only examples of this kit I’ve found have been in the UK and Japan, it might support some of what he said.
The bottom of the throne has the words “MONSTAR SHOP” (“monster” spelled with an “A”) on it, but no other markings or dates, and I can’t find anything definitive about who or what that is. I don’t know if it was made in Japan originally, or if it was imported to Japan from the UK. I’d really like to figure this out. I’ve sent emails to various places, including the website mentioned in the clipping above, but haven’t had any responses as of yet. Add a comment or send me an email if you know anything.
Some shots of the individual figures follow below. They’re obviously quite exaggerated in a manner similar to the puppets used on British TV show “Spitting Image.” But they also could be seen as fitting the Japanese “super deformed” (or “SD”) style. They’re really quite high quality for a kit of this nature. The sculpts are well done and there are basically no problems such as air bubbles. There was some extraneous resin on the bottoms of several of them that I removed with a rotary tool, but that was about it. The resin is fairly light but extremely strong — I packed it well, but I was still very impressed that absolutely nothing broke on the way back to the US. Even the very thin pieces like Boba Fett’s antenna. Click any of the images below to enlarge.
One final note. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that one of the painted models above has an R2-D2 figure but no Boba Fett, while the other painted model is identical in its composition to the one I have. In addition, the model in the ad clipping has the same models as in mine, plus an additional one at the bottom right that appears to be a Gamorrean Guard, although it’s quite hard to make out. I don’t know how to account for these differences. Is my set missing something, or were other figures added later on? The mystery deepens…
[EDIT: I received the following info from Steve York in this thread on Rebelscum.
Here’s the history behind the kit, it was made by master garage kit model builder Eiichi Mogi and his company MONSTER SHOP, probably in the late 80s or early 90s. He was an incredible sculptor and caster, you won’t find a single air bubble in any of these pieces which is just crazy rare, and a really crazy high quality resin was used. Its a beautiful set unpainted after getting to inspect one.
He sells exclusively at WonderFest, a yearly hobby show, and Creature Features would host him in Los Angeles over the years where he would sell his models, hence the Toy Shop ad. From what we can tell (memories are hazy) the Boba Fett was done first and in greater quantities, then the Jabba set. The R2 unit seen in that painted set is not one of his pieces. Though a Gamorrean Guard is pictured on the box for the Jabba set, it was not included as it wasn’t finished, and on the box it looks like an early sculpt.