Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,774: Jar Jar Binks (The Black Series 6-Inch)

6-Inch Scale Goofy

The Black Series 2020 Line Look Mustard Star Wars The Phantom Menace Packaging
Item No.:
No. F0490
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #01 - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Includes: Cesta, Atlatl, Gungan Personal Energy Shield
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $29.99
Availability: December 2020
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life. (Taken from Hasbro marketing materials.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: A figure that will invite controversy merely be existing, Jar Jar Binks is one of very few figures in this scale from 1999's Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Along with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, and a Battle Droid, it's an interesting choice - but even more surprising given his design hints that the figure may have been finished quite some time ago, and his price point and extra accessories is, to say the least, curious.

Before we get critical of the why and the how, let's talk about what you actually get - a very good figure. This Jar Jar Binks delivers a good collector's release, but seems to exist mostly through the lens of the time during the prequels. The skin pattern is excellent, the colors are spot-on, and the face is decidedly not wacky. I kind of wish he looked goofier, but there's always a chance for another release with a mini Pit Droid and an alternate head down the road. (Personally, I'd love to see him with the numb tongue face and the dopey thumbs-up, like Gentle Giant did for their excellent mini bust.) The team at Hasbro did a bang-up job making sure he looked like the best-possible-for-2019 (despite his 2020 release) Jar Jar Binks figure, taking design cues largely from the 1999 figure. The skin is right. The vest is right. The pants are right. They painted the claws and toenails perfectly. I daresay it looks more lifelike than the very good-for-1999 CGI model on the big screen.

There are floppy - but not too floppy - ears, and two neck joints. It's easy to groan about Jar Jar getting a 6-inch figure before a second Cantina patron got made, but it's impossible to deny just how well he turned out. The arms alone have a glistening texture that looks better than almost anything else we've seen from Hasbro. The articulation is very appropriate for a couple of years ago, with hands that can easily grip the included accessories, stable feet, and for some reason double-jointed knees. Hasbro has started talking about their desire to hide pins in joints, so these are something of an oddity as part of the 2020/2021 line when troopers and Jedi and other releases were designed to have simpler articulation with a deeper cut when it comes to the leg. Nevertheless, it's good. There's really nothing else here they could have done better as articulation goes.

So far he's our only Gungan in this scale, so it makes some degree of sense that he got an energy shield, an atlatl, and a cesta (spear) in the box - but it would have also made a lot of sense to give him zero accessories, or an alternate tongue-out head. The gear in here sort of shoves him off to the Battle of Naboo, and probably increased his price when there's little reason for him to have been this expensive - even the much larger Chewbacca sold for $20.

I think it was a mistake to make him $30 - time will judge, but so far the $30 price point has been used for bigger guys that wouldn't fit in a normal box. Mr. Binks would fit in a normal $20 box, and the extra accessories aren't necessary - and seem kind of out of place here. There's no reason to sell a figure with more accessories than he can carry when Hasbro is inclined to release multiple versions of core characters, especially not for $10 extra. (I think the $30 Boba Fett will sell fine, but it also should've had more in the box or been stripped down to a $20-$23 figure. Unless the paint job is exceptionally gorgeous, of course.) If you can take aside the strangeness of charging so much more for a figure that's not as big as/bigger than Chewbacca, nor seemingly as complicated, I'd say buy it.

It's a very good figure, and unless Hasbro does a Jar Jar 2.0 - and I hope they do, just for alternate head sculpts and a folded-up Pit Droid - this figure is exquisite. I can fault the price point, but I can't fault the quality. Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,774: February 2, 2021

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