Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Kick-ass Kwanzaa! Sweet Solstice! Rockin’ Ramadan! Lovely Life Day! Wicked Winter! (“happy holidays” is lame—better to be ridiculous than generic!)
Star Wars “Fighter Pods”—sure, they’re a supreme rip-off, but sometimes a set is irresistible…like this one:
Ahsoka! Goldie the treacherous Astro Droid! Holographic Leia! Kid Ani! a Naboo Starfighter! SOLD! As for the actual “game”, who cares?! How much of a “rampage” can you really have with a poor man’s cross between Beyblade and Squinkies?? I just want the figures and ships, and it feels like the “game” aspect is what Hasbro uses to justify these being sold for absurdly high prices ($3 USD for 2 tiny figures??? WTF), and preventing them from filling some capsule-toy vending machine at the more reality-based price of 2 for 50¢.
Though it’s kind of a drag to have another Darth Maul instead of a more obscure character from The Phantom Menace, apparently, Hasbro didn’t think that Jira would move too many units. Whatever. Darth Maul, Ani, and the Naboo Starfighter do form a nice little TPM sub-theme.
Though some of the ships in the Fighter Pods line don’t translate so well in these scrunched-up, super-deformed versions, the N-1 Starfighter works great in this style. Anakin fits inside, though opening the ship reveals how it’s basically lower-quality than even a Happy Meal Toy:
Despite the rip-off pricing, I’m glad I got this…I don’t think we’ll see a year like 2012 again, when there have been more Phantom Menace-based toys on shelves than at any time since the semi-innocent days of 1999-2000—and that’s kind of sad. Not that I don’t roll my eyes as I rifle through peg after peg of the over-produced and still omnipresent TPM figures from nearly one year ago—preventing newer Star Wars figures from making it to retail, and causing people to (unfairly) resent TPM even more than they did before—but it’s shame that Hasbro couldn’t have squeezed out a few more interesting items (like an action figure-scaled Bongo) instead of putting out the same Obi-Wan Kenobi figure…in four different packages…all at the same time. It’s official: The Second Golden Age of Phantom Menace Toys is pretty much over. Instead of ending on that bummer note, maybe this group shot of TPM Fighter Pod figures will bring a wan, bittersweet smile to your face:
"Don’t forget us when your fancy Episode VII comes out!!"
BEWARE the ghoulish gallop of the HEADLESS GUNGAN!! Happy Halloween!
How about a speed-round of Phantom Phindz?
Yeah, I’ve covered both of these figures before…but not for half-price! I had gone to Toys R Us about a week and a half ago, and saw a full case of the wave these are part of. Although I knew I wanted additional Vintage Jar Jars, I thought I’d wait for a sale, and my gamble actually paid off for once—two days later, Toys R Us started a “Buy One, Get One Free” sale on Star Wars figures! Sorry, BOGO50% off and BOGO75% off, you’ve been destroyed by a superior bargain. When I made it back to the store the day after the sale started, everything else from the wave was gone but these two. I’m sure most Star Wars “fans” made it into the aisle and slumped their shoulders in rage and bitter despair when they saw that the only thing left was the glorious Gungan, but obviously, not me! $10 bucks for 2 figures is a superb deal these days, and the sale lasts through the beginning of November.
My wife and I were at this weird and huge flea market/antique mall outside of Buffalo, NY last week, and of course this Hungry Hero Jar Jar jumped out at me when I passed the booth he was in. What was annoying was that there was no price on him, and nobody that I could see manning the booth. Though I already have HHJJ , I never had the little green chubas that came with him; when I bought mine at retail in 1999, some chuba thief (ironic, isn’t it?) had robbed Jar Jar of them…but what do you expect when they’re only attached with velcro? After we were almost done, Valerie said that she had second thoughts about passing up a pair of earrings she’d seen, and I waited in the car while she went back in. She came out carrying Jar Jar and the earrings she’d wanted, and right there on the spot, we renewed our wedding vows. Not really, but I would’ve!! It was very sweet of her.
The reason we were in Buffalo to begin with was to check out the Buffalo Comicon, which was apparently super-successful…and super-crowded. There wasn’t a whole lot of what I was looking for there, but when I saw this Anakin soap dish for a measly buck, I wasn’t leaving without it—he goes so well with our Jar Jar soap dispenser that it looks like some haughty European designer renovated our bathroom.I might have to hire an attendant to dispense towels.
Now THIS is soapdishing! (???)
Everything is explained here, by Adam at Nilbog’s Storybook Land:
Now THIS is Podracing!
Only one word can adequately describe Adam’s actions: WIZARD.
Gasgano’s rating: 4 THUMBS UP
You know what? I typed out and then deleted the original title of this post, because I just couldn’t go with “Makin’ Whoopee with Jar Jar Binks!”. Even I have standards. Instead, a barely-there pun using Whoopi Goldberg’s name…clumsy, inelegant, and dumb, but at least it doesn’t make me cringe or die inside.
When the Celebration VI exclusive Jar Jar whoopee cushion was announced, I instantly started thinking about how I’d get one, as I wasn’t going to Celebration VI. You may remember my pathetic open plea on this very site, which surprisingly actually ended up working! A really nice guy named Jarrod grabbed Jar Jar for me after seeing my post, sparing me from cut-throat, cold-blooded eBay profiteers. Jarrod, I think Qui-Gon Jinn was talking about you when he said, “He gives without any thought of reward”—thank you again! (and thanks to Karen for putting the word out, too).
I was pleasantly surprised with the high quality of the Jar Jar whoopee cushion—part of me had feared that he’d just be some cheap piece of garbage made of stitched-together carpet remnants and stuffed with a used sandwich baggie as a “whoopee cushion”, or almost as bad, some mangy, threadbare thing soaked in gasoline that you’d win at a traveling carnival. But no, he’s really nicely made, and was manufactured by Comic Images, the same company that puts out a host of other stuffed animal-ish Star Wars merchandise.
The actual whoopee cushion stuffed inside of JJB’s plush body is a perfect color, as it matches the chubas that came with the classic "Hungry Hero Jar Jar". I half-heartedly started to blow into it, but had a moment of clarity and realized that I didn’t really give a damn about the whoopee cushion function, and decided not to bother filling it with my acidic spittle. As admirably ridiculous as the concept of a Jar Jar whoopee cushion is—and I hope it provides hours of fun for kids—-I just can’t imagine placing this on somebody’s chair and rubbing my hands together gleefully as I wait for them to sit down. Hasn’t poor Jar Jar suffered enough at the world’s hands without being sat upon for cheap laughs??
It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized what this Jar Jar reminded me of—
…a Pound Puppy, just like the ones my sister had when we were kids! In a more perfect world, they’d launch a whole line of whoopee cushions in this style: “Gaseous Gungans”! The “gross-out toy” genre of the 80’s is back in full force with The Trash Pack, so why not give every kid on the planet a chance at a flatulent Boss Nass?? Yet another missed opportunity, Lucasfilm. Look, even George Lucas himself loves this thing:
(picture from the twitter of @lfensterman)
I don’t know how well the Jar Jar Whoopee Cushion sold at CVI; a quick look at eBay completed auctions had them going for between 30-50 bucks, so maybe they were a hit. I wish more Star Wars licensees would realize that with the right concept and quantities, Jar Jar (and other neglected prequel characters=most of them) items are viable products. Until they do, here’s a picture of Whoopee Cushion Jar Jar about to eat a bone, since he vaguely resembles a Pound Puppy:
Do you remember the brief, probably never-to-be-repeated (more on that in a future post) Phantom Menace wonderland back in January/February? Fresh new TPM products on store shelves, Jar Jar Binks pens in Cheerios, goofy glorified tops with Sebulba stickers on them in Happy Meals? Ring a bell? One of the few TPM-branded things I didn’t buy back then was the Toys R Us exclusive “Podracer Pilots” 5-pack. Not only did I already have all five figures in it, but the price was nuts—it vacillated between $24.99 and $29.99…for five old re-released and unchanged small-sized figures. The only thing “new” about it was the five Podracing flags included, and though I held that set in my hands many times over the past 6 months or so while in TRU, I could never justify spending that much money for a few flimsy flags.
Dropping the price of the set to $12.79 creates a ton of justifications, however— “I’ll always regret it if I don’t get the flags for those podracers!” “I can always use back-ups of these figures, since some of them have really small parts that are easily lost!” “$12.99 for five figures is insane 1978 Kenner pricing, and only a FOOL would pass it up!” But I still had some weird reservation about buying it until my wife rolled her eyes and grabbed it off the shelf, muttering something about me bringing it up out of nowhere in two years—“Do you remember how stupid I was back in 2012 when I didn’t pick up that podracer set? It haunts me to this day.” (that kind of thing happens in our house more than you can imagine.)
If you don’t have any of these figures, this is an absolute steal at $12.79 (it’s at or around that price until September 22, 2012), as a single Star Wars figure will run you around $9.99 these days. This would make a great Christmas or Hanukkah present for Star Wars-loving girls and boys; if I was like 7 years-old and ripped the wrapping paper off of a box of five outer space weirdos with removable goggles and guns, I’d be thrilled. It’s too bad Hasbro couldn’t have thrown Ody Mandrell in this set, as he’s the only previously-produced podracer that wasn’t available at retail in 2012.
The figure that has aged the worst in this set isn’t Gasgano, who has some of that “Kenner Charm” that the original TPM figures have—though his arms fall off even faster than the original 1999 release—but Teemto Pagalies…though there are exceptions, most of the 2002 Hasbro Star Wars figures are deeply flawed as toys and “collectibles”, and poor Teemto suffers from a really awkward sculpt. Clegg Holdfast is the best figure in this set, and easily could’ve passed as a “Vintage” figure slapped on one of those beautiful black and silver cards. Mars Guo and Dud Bolt, who came out together in a 2-pack in 2006, still hold up well. The flags are ridiculously cheap, consisting of a plastic stick and some razor-thin sheets of acetate, so I’m glad I didn’t spend 25 bucks for this set just to get them!
(l. to r.- Mars Guo, Gasgano, Dud Bolt, Clegg Holdfast, Teemto Pagalies)
For whatever reason, this set is still at full-price on tru.com, so you’ll have to make a trip to an actual TRU to get this fantastic bargain. My only regret is that I didn’t stare into the cashier’s eyes while paying for this and declare, “Now THIS is PODRACING!”
Sometime after The Phantom Menace came out—I can’t remember the year, it could’ve been any time between 2001-2005 — boxed bundles of overstock packs of Star Wars “Collectible Card Game” cards started showing up in Toys R Us stores. As any habitue of TRU stores over the past decade or so can tell you, it’s pretty common to see this kind of product; some unknown third party company buys up excess warehouse lots of different cards, throws them in a flimsy package, and sells them to TRU as a discount item. What’s not so common is for the packages to be masterpieces of cosplay gone horribly wrong:
Before descending into the madness of this box, I should point out (why?!? I’m not on trial here!) that I’ve never played a Star Wars CCG, though I have hundreds of the cards…I just don’t have the patience for it. In the days before every Star Wars image you could think of was readily available online, CCG cards were a good photo source for tons of super obscure characters and objects—I’m pretty sure I have one called “Blue Milk” that’s just a picture of Aunt Beru’s Tupperware pitcher. This package contained all-Phantom Menace cards, I think they were from a game called “Young Jedi”.
The seedy company (no name or copyright information appears ANYWHERE on the box) that put this out surely wanted to avoid a lawsuit from Lucasfilm, while still screaming “STAR WARS!” to any potential consumer—so they showcased the worst cosplayers that the former Soviet Bloc had to offer. I really wish I could remember what year I bought this—upon looking at the box, you’d think, “oh, it’s obviously supposed to be Revenge of the Sith imagery,” with the flames and General Grievous-esque dude on the lower left…but I seriously think it was released closer to Attack of the Clones, and all the cards were TPM-based; it’s also possible that lower-left dude is supposed to be a Clone Trooper. There’s also the back of the package, with an altered SR-71 Blackbird that’s clearly supposed to be Queen Amidala’s Royal Starship:
WTF. I could swallow the three knock-offs of Amidala, Anakin, and the Clone Trooper/Grievous(?) on the front, but that ship is over-the-top. “AXIS”?? They’re flying for Hitler now?!? What kind of Star War is this????? I’d like to imagine that this packaging fell through a dimensional rift from one of those dime-a-dozen alternate history realities in which Germany won WWII. “Herr Lucas, the Fuhrer finds your Prequel Trilogy WUNDERBAR! He especially loves your Jira character, the sand witch who can detect weather changes in her bones!”
Until I found this in a box in our basement last week while searching for something else that I never ended up finding, I hadn’t laid eyes on this package since I bought it, whenever that was. I was probably too bowled over by the bizarro cosplayers to really look closely at it before, but if I had, I would’ve discovered that in the alternate reality that this package came from, journeyman actor David Keith was flying the Queen’s AXIS starship in service of the Third Reich!!!:
Wow, Leibniz was right, this reality really is “the best of all possible worlds”. I like my Phantom Menace free of any Nazi associations, thank you very much!
Is anybody going to Star Wars Celebration in Orlando this week and planning on visiting the Celebration Store? I hate begging for favors, and really, I hate even asking for them, but the prospect of missing out on this makes me sick:
It’s a Jar Jar Whoopie Cushion, and it should be obvious why I’d want something this ridiculous. It’s $20 in the Celebration Store, and if anybody’s willing to grab it for me, I could paypal you $35 in advance—20 + 10 for shipping (I think you can ship it directly from the CVI Store?) + 5 bucks for your trouble…and of course full credit in the inevitable TPM:TH post about it! If you can help me out, leave a comment here or on the FB page. Thanks,
Welcome to the 100th post on TPM:TH! It’s not like any 13 year-old with a smartphone can’t make 100 posts on tumblr in the space of a few days, but I feel like most of the time, I’ve tried to put some effort into this. If you’ve been reading all along, thank you for sticking around—I really appreciate it.
You may remember Part 1 of the TPM Holiday Decorations, and while I took everything seen in Part 1 down months ago, the contents of the room featured in Part 2 have stayed exclusively TPM since January. It wasn’t easy finding other places in the house to store away the huge Hasbro Millennium Falcon and AT-AT in the meantime, but keeping them in there would’ve killed the Prequelicious mood. A lot of Star Wars fans have a “Star Wars Room”, but I’m not sure how many people have one that’s solely comprised of TPM stuff —and this isn’t even all of it (If you do have an exclusively TPM room, please send me pics, and I’ll post them here). I usually rotate the contents of this room out a few times a year; doing that keeps things fresh, and it prevents stuff from being stuck unappreciated in a lonely box somewhere in our dank basement. Though I’m changing the room over to a particular “All Star Wars” theme that I’ve wanted to do for awhile (which wasn’t possible before this year), I’ve loved walking into this room and being bombarded with The Phantom Menace every day.
You can check out The Phantom Menace Room in varying degrees—if you just want the casual tour, watch this video (for best effect, go fullscreen):
…but if you’d like a more immersive experience than some shaky-cam video can provide, click on any of the photos below for an album containing detailed pics. There are few things more satisfying than covering the top of a credenza with cheap 13 year-old kitsch that was ultimately available for pennies on the dollar at closeout stores. If you have a question about any of the items pictured below, don’t hesitate to ask— I’d be more than happy to answer!
"Welcome to Club Kenner, Mr. Binks. We’ve been waiting a very long time for you to join us."
A lovely day for a Gungan Patrol…
” …? “
Captain Tarpals doesn’t hold a grudge!
When I first heard about Hasbro’s Star Wars “exclusive” from the 2012 San Diego Comic Con—the Carbon Freezing Chamber Multi-Pack with “Frozen” Jar Jar Binks—I was torn. On one hand, of course I wanted it, because 2 of the 7 figures included were brand new JJBs; on the other hand, I wondered if buying a product like that just fed the Jar Jar Hate Machine™. Ultimately, I figured what the hell—if George Lucas can laugh off the original piece and display it at LFL, it was fine to include in my own collection.
Seeing that I had no plans to be at the San Diego Comic Con, I was left no other choice (other than the bloodsucking profiteers on eBay!) than to watch Hasbro’s website like a hawk for 3 days directly following Comic Con, refreshing their “exclusives” page literally every minute during business hours. My vigilance/madness paid off, and the Carbon Freezing Chamber arrived here at the end of last week. I’m mostly going to talk about the Jar Jar/TPM-related aspects of this set, since you can read about the rest of it on a million other websites and blogs.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, there are a couple of different gimmicks at work in this set. The first is that the top of it has graphics that look like the floor of the Bespin Carbon Freezing Chamber from The Empire Strikes Back; you pull open a panel and can slide your packaged Jar Jar in Carbonite figure up through the opening, as if he’s just been frozen and packaged for retail in some underground Ugnaught sweatshop. The second gimmick is the art on the cardbacks for 6 of the figures (one for each movie), which use a rejected design concept that Kenner had considered using in the 1970’s. I’ve long been interested in the pre-production/behind-the-scenes history of vintage and modern Star Wars toys, and so it’s neat to see this design being used, but the figure selection (outside of Jar Jar, of course) is kind of uninspired…but more on that in a bit.
The two Jar Jar figures look great. Carbonite Jar Jar is way heavier than I expected; maybe not “I can break your window if I throw it at it”-heavy, but I was expecting something light and hollow, like a bird’s bones. Looking at the two cardbacks side-by-side, it’s pretty obvious that Kenner made the right choice in 1977-78 in going with the black and silver cards. Though Star Wars was such a phenomenon back then that the blue and white cards probably would’ve ended up being iconic just because they were ‘Star Wars’, what they went with is so much more simple and striking. It is too bad that the photo on the Carbonite Jar Jar card isn’t what Hasbro went with on the general release “Vintage Collection” Jar Jar card, a neutral photo of him on a Kaadu, because this one is more “Jar Jar”.
Going back to what I said about the overall figure/character selection being uninspired, there you go…3 of the 6 are generic troopers. Though I get that these figures weren’t made for this set (all 6 of them aside from Carbonite Jar Jar are being released at retail on black vintage cards and the blue cards from this set), if they had wanted to increase the “wow factor” of this set, Hasbro would’ve chosen a memorable character from each film and put them on classic vintage cards. I would’ve gone with Jar Jar for TPM, a brand new Count Dooku for AOTC (or maybe a “smiling” Kit Fisto), a brand new Chewie for ROTS, Leia in her classic duds for ANH, a brand new Yoda (that actually LOOKS like Yoda) for ESB, and kept the ‘electrocuted’ Vader for ROTJ.
Still, the figures they included are all decent and worth having, if not thrill-a-minute exciting. The Clone Lieutenant from AOTC and the Shocktrooper from ROTS are just nicely repainted updates to previously released figures, as is the Sandtrooper, though he’s the nicest one Hasbro has ever released. Bespin Leia is good to have in “super-articulated” form, though I still think this one is a solid figure. The “electrocuted by Force Lightning” Vader has a cool translucent head that you can see his skull through, but Hasbro has used that trick at least once before…and I’m pretty sure the old one glowed in the dark.
Carbonite Jar Jar is made up of two pieces; the inside part pops out, and the reverse side is sculpted to look like “melted” Carbonite, though the Jar Jar figure doesn’t fully fit inside of it:
In this picture, you can also see the biggest flaw on this new Jar Jar figure: his distractingly unpainted knee-joints!! I try to overlook things like that on 4” action figures most of the time, but it really detracts from what’s mostly otherwise a great figure. Jar Jar has 15 points of articulation: a ball-jointed head, a jointed neck on his torso, ball-jointed shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist and legs, ball-jointed knees, and jointed ankles. Other than those knee joints, his paint job is fine except for the absolutely weird dark brown skin patterns they put on his arms. I’m glad he got his proper yellow eyes this time, but I think he’d look better with smaller and slit-like pupils. His cloth “skirt” allows him to sit easily, which is helpful for sticking him in a vehicle. With the right paint-job, this figure could be PERFECT. I hope that Hasbro repaints him in the future, but even in his current state, he still captures the spirit of Jar Jar better than any figure has since 2000.
I had also thought that this Jar Jar was going to re-use a lot of parts from the “Movie Heroes” Jar Jar that came out earlier this year, but no:
The only parts that look to be shared between the two figures are the waist/crotch part and maybe the upper legs. Though the heads look to be the same at first, I literally examined them very closely under a bright LED light, and they have different mold-lines; they may have come from the same original sculpt, but the mold was different (does a complete mental breakdown begin with or end at a forensic investigation into Jar Jar Binks toys’ heads?). I was also surprised at how much taller the Movie Heroes Jar Jar is than the Vintage JJB (you can also see the grody skin patterns/Gungan liver spots on Vintage JJB’s arms in this pic):
How crazy is it that there were only 2 different Jar Jar figures released from 2002-2011, and this year alone, there have been 3?? I would be pleased as punch (am I suddenly 80 years old?!?) if next year, Hasbro threw a “Senator” robe on this Jar Jar and put him out during AOTC 3D’s theatrical release. Though I really hate action figure “exclusives” because of the artificial elitist “I have this and YOU don’t!” fanboy mentality they feed into—I think if you collect something that’s regularly bought at Target, Walmart, or Toys R Us, you should be able to get all of it there—the Carbonite Jar Jar is a fun curio to have, though hardly essential to anybody’s respectable collection of Star Wars figures. Maybe in some bright and shiny future, Carbonite Jar Jar will serve as a puzzling artifact for enlightened Star Wars fans who wonder why anybody would ever want to entomb such a classic and beloved character in Carbonite!