Thursday, August 9, 2012

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,867: Bib Fortuna

BIB FORTUNA  The 2004 Redeco
Original Trilogy Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 84715 No.      85381  
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: OTC-31
Includes: Stand, blaster, cloak
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: Fall 2004
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio:      Bib Fortuna screens those who try to enter the palace of Jabba the Hutt, checking to see why they want to see the crime lord. He has worked for the Hutt for decades, until he is tricked into allowing Rebel hero Luke Skywalker inside. When the Rebels are freed at the Great Pit of Carkoon, Bib escapes from the sail barge before it is destroyed.   (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo area.

Commentary: As I go through my figures, I actually have a few I didn't open-- I got to a lot of these lately, like Bib Fortuna here.  It's a 1997 mold which was repainted in 2004.  Many fans don't realize it's been repainted, because they have better things to do with their time.  At first glance, the 6-jointed alien from Jabba's palace is identical, but there were a few deco changes-- many of which are under the cloak.  The silver paint on his wrists and chest are much more muted now, the cloak is a richer black rather than a dark grey, and his pants are very dark grey rather than blue.  Articulation is as great as it ever was-- the only freely moving parts are the shoulders, the neck, hips, and waist are basically blocked-- so he's a statue, really.  The cloak clamps over the figure, so it's ugly, and it hinders movement too.  There's a big seam up the sides, a common practice in the 1990s before Hasbro realized "Oh, we can just mold it as a solid piece with no leg joints?  The leg joints are a waste of time and effort?  Well, good for us!"

The face paint of the 2004 version is much  better than the 1997 release, but an entirely new Bib Fortuna sculpt released in 2006 trumps them both.  While more of a statue, the proportions and pose are more in line with current figures than these two older releases.   I would not consider the 2004 release an essential purchase-- mine was boxed up until July of this year-- but it does indeed skirt the criteria of "just different enough to make you mad."  Side by side, it's a different figure-- but nobody will notice it except variant hounds.

Collector's Notes:  This figure is basically worthless today on eBay, generally going under $5 packaged with a few specimens hitting $10.  What's really interesting, though, is the 2004 lineup in the context of today's line.  Hasbro made a "premium" super-articulated line-- the very first Vintage figures-- at about $9.99 each, while a series of roughly 40 repaints hit stores for kids at $4.99 each.  The split, at the time, seemed odd and as we transitioned to 100% of the figures getting significant articulation improvements, it seemed a little goofy.  However today, as collectors demand super-articulated everything, a line split with $5 or $6 kid-friendly figures and $10 collector-friendly figures might actually be a good idea if the economics add up for Hasbro.  There's no reason for a figure with three or four meaningful joints to cost $10.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,867: August 9, 2012

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