Ok, so, I know a new Star Wars movie just premiered a few days ago. However, since not everyone has seen it yet, and I cannot possibly discuss it without spoiling some things, I will continue my previously planned series. This time out, we’re discussing my favorite BEASTS from the original Kenner run of Star Wars toys. I would like to thank my Talking Toys co-host, Taylor Lymbery, for reminding me that beasts DO belong in their own category. (Check out Taylor’s art work at www.TaylorLymbery.com).
What is a beast, exactly? I’m glad you asked. In toy terms, a beast is a toy that is representative of a larger-scale animal, human-size or larger. Typically they can be ridden by the regular characters, and sometimes they cross over into action figure territory. We’ll discuss that more a bit later. Kenner didn’t give us many beasts in the original Star Wars line, but the ones they DID give us are outstanding.
For the original Star Wars line the choice is easy, since there is only one beast to choose: The Patrol Dewback!
This thing is amazing, especially when you consider it was released in 1979!! The skin is textured to indicate scales, and the paint job is amazing, with a transition from green to white on the underside. The dewback has 4 moveable legs which work VERY well, and you can move the head by swinging the tail, or move the tail by shaking the head! BRILLIANT!!! To get the figure to sit “on” the dewback, Kenner made an interesting choice: You stick the figure into a hatch on the back of the beast and they stand inside. It’s not elegant, but it IS ingenious, and it works remarkably well. The saddle that came with the dewback does a great job of hiding the hatch, so you don’t notice that the figure’s legs won’t straddle the dewback’s back. Factor in the yellow eyes with painted irises, and Kenner absolutely nailed it the first time out.
When it came time for The Empire Strikes Back, we really only had beasts available for one location: Hoth, the ice planet from the beginning of the film. It would be tough to make a space slug at a scale that would be affordable, so Kenner opted to give us the Wampa and the Tauntaun. We actually got TWO Tauntauns, because after the original one came out, Kenner did some tinkering and the result was an open-belly Tauntaun that you could stick Luke inside to keep him warm on those long Hoth nights. The sculpt was the same, the only difference was the belly was hard plastic originally, and was soft plastic with a slit in it on the next one. I love the Tauntaun, which is why you get to see a picture now.
However, since I would be forced to choose between the original and the open-belly Tauntaun, I’m choosing to not choose, and instead I’m choosing the Wampa!
There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, look at this guy! He’s awesome, with spring-loaded arms that would clamp down on his prey with HUGE paws, he’s a dangerous character. Never mind the fact that his face looks like he’s about to cry, the horns make him fearsome. Sadly, the white plastic will yellow and fade over time, but I won’t hold that against him. The second reason is simple: If it wasn’t for the Wampa toy, we would never have gotten the weird kid yelling “WAMPA WAMPA” in the commercial for the toy that aired on Saturday mornings. Did the kid think that was the noise it made, and the director didn’t know any better? If you’re not familiar, here’s a video:
Creepy, right??? That’s enough of a pop-culture nugget to warrant Wampa’s inclusion on this list, in my opinion. And since it’s my blog, that’s all that really counts, right?
And now we come to the Return of the Jedi line, and the beast to end all beasts. No, not the Ewoks. I’m talking, of course, about the Rancor. The best beast with the best name ever. There are those who might think that Jabba deserves this honor, but most people consider him more of a large action figure. In my opinion, he’s a beast, and a darn good one, but nothing can compare to the Rancor. I got this for my birthday, and I still have it to this day, and he has remained in great shape. The joints are still tight, and he can still chomp on my Gamorrean Guard. Oh, you didn’t know he could chomp? Where have you been!!!
Seriously, this is the most film-accurate sculpt we got from Kenner, and the scale is exactly right. My ONLY quibble is the fact that his nails are the same color as his skin, but I can get over that pretty quickly when you account for the fact that he has NO trouble standing on his own, and that is a real feat when you look at the dimensions of his arms and legs. His teeth are painted off-white, which is appropriate, and his beady little eyes are appropriately creepy. Plus, he is HUGE!! This toy is so cool that even my girlfriend wants one of her own, and she only tolerates Star Wars for my sake! What better recommendation can there be for a toy!?!?
So there you have it, the beasts of Kenner’s Star Wars, as ranked by me. Next month, I will weigh in on my thoughts on The Force Awakens, and maybe even talk about some of the toys. Probably talk about some of the toys. Yeah, I’ll talk about some of the toys.
Until next time, May the Force of Others Be With Us All
Jeff can be heard weekly on Assembly of Geeks (www.assemblyofgeeks.com) and on his own podcast network, MarvinDog Media (www.MarvinDogMedia.com) where he hostsThe Pilot Episode, Talking Toys with Taylor and Jeff, and Bantha Banter: A Star Wars Chat Show. He is also co-host of Comics With Kenobi with fellow CWK blogger Matt Moore, and part-time co-host for Coffee With Kenobi, which you have already found if you’re reading this blog. You can contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.Powered by Sidelines