The Plastic Pre-Life of Jar Jar Binks: Jar Jar June Day 20

Mommy, where do Jar Jar action figures come from?” It’s a question that parents the world over DREAD being asked by their kids. Of course, the answer is, “When a Lucasfilm and a Hasbro love each other very much, they go to a factory in China and come home with a brand new Jar Jar figure." Today’s installment of Jar Jar June will cover some of the Jar Jar pre-production figures I’ve picked up over the years, and just for kicks, I’ll work backwards from “newest” to oldest. (If you’d like a refresher on the history of Jar Jar action figures, there’s always this…and this article at Behind the Toys goes over the Star Wars action figure creation process very nicely.)

       Senator Jar Jar engineering pilot/first shot, final engineering pilot, production figure (2002)

What a shame—this Senator Jar Jar figure is sculpted really nicely, but the horrible static pose ruins everything. The one on the left, the engineering pilot, is cast in whatever leftover pieces of raw plastic the factory had, and his ears aren’t even glued on:
Aside from his non-production colors and unglued ears, what gives him away as a “first shot” is the lack of peg-holes and copyright info stamped onto the bottoms of his feet:
If you look closely at the leg on (our) left, you can even see a little stray pellet of plastic attached to his leg. I guess Senator Jar Jar shops at the same shoe store as Boss Nass!
The center figure above, the final engineering pilot, is basically an unpainted version of the production figure, and has peg-holes and copyright info stamped into his feet.

       Power of the Jedi Tatooine Jar Jar final engineering pilot, production figure (2001)

This final engineering pilot has peg-holes and the copyright info stamped on him, but looking closely at the production figure, he’s a slighly different color (unpainted color) than what was released. When I first got this wayyyy back in 2001 or 2002 or whatever, I was really surprised that the tongue was painted…there’s somebody in a factory somewhere whose job it was to paint Jar Jar’s tongue. Honest work is honest work, I guess.

       Gungan Cannon and Jar Jar first shot, production figure and cannon (2000)

I really love this one. No copyright info stamped anywhere on the figure or cannon, and the texture of the plastic is exactly like little green plastic army men, or cheap little farm animals or dinosaurs that everybody had as a kid.

The colors are great—I’d love a super-cheapo Star Wars action figure line that was like this; one color, unpainted plastic. Sell them in plastic bags in dollar stores!!
I’d love a Skittles rainbow of these things, but I’m not holding my breath!

                             Jar Jar Figural Eraser hardcopy (1999)

This one drives me insane—because I don’t even have the actual eraser that was produced!! The guy I bought this from in 2005-2006 is a reputable Star Wars collector, but even he didn’t know what this pre-production figure was. For the longest time, I thought it was a hardcopy for a piece from a game of some kind, but realized in the past couple of years that it was part of the production process for the Episode I “Figural Eraser” line.
I can never find the actual eraser for a reasonable price—it always seems to be part of some eBay lot containing a bunch of other junk for $30 or whatever, and I can’t justify that for an eraser. The search continues…

Episode I Jar Jar Dynacast hardcopy head, engineering pilot/first shot, production figure (1999)

If you know somebody is going to get you a birthday present no matter how much you protest, you may as well tell them what you’d like instead of getting something dumb…And both this hardcopy head and first shot of the original TPM Jar Jar figure are a result of this pragmatic strategy. I got them for my birthday in 2005 or so, and they were from The Earth Toy Mall in Cincinnati, so I know they’re legit.
This hardcopy head is made of dynacast, which is a really brittle plastic. It was produced as a reference for the factory so that they could make sure the production figure matched the original wax sculpt. The ears are also unglued on this one:
Without the paint, you can really appreciate how fantastic the original sculpt was for this Jar Jar figure. I never really think of myself as a “collector”—more as “a fan who collects stuff that I’m a fan of”—but this is probably one of the most “important” pieces in my Jar Jar collection; it’s as close as I’ll get to the beginning of the production process for my favorite JJB figure.

I really like the earth tones of the engineering pilot figure in the center of the picture above. He also doesn’t have peg-holes or copyright info stamped anywhere on him:

And that’s all of them…for now. Back in the early/mid-2000’s, the overwhelming Jar Jar hate kept prices on pre-production figures of him lower than those for most other characters, but that mixed blessing seems to have ended. If my inability to find reasonably priced Jar Jar pre-production figures these days means that more people are beginning to warm to him, then I’m all for it!


yesterday:                                                              tomorrow:
LEGO Loves Jar Jar                                                    ?

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