Action Figure Analysis: The Plasticizing of George Lucas
With the reappearance of Star Wars figures in the toy aisles in the mid 1990’s, we saw the return of many familiar faces, and the introduction of new ones. Of course, the mid-90’s also brought about the reemergence of the name George Lucas into the mainstream’s consciousness. After the Star Wars trilogy returned to theaters in 1997 as part of a Special Edition release, many of us were eagerly looking ahead to what would become the Star Wars prequels. New worlds, new characters, new vehicles…the sky was the limit. Of course, Lucas had a hand in the merchandising empire associated with his space opera, but the direction Kenner/Hasbro would take with the action figure line would soon venture into new territory.
In May of 2002, the plastic world of Star Wars figures was shaken up in a big way when Star Wars: Celebration II hit Indianapolis, Indiana.
While the previous Celebration in Denver, Colorado had commemorative items like T-shirts, Celebration II was the first official Star Wars convention to have an exclusive figure. Celebration II coincided not only with the impending release of Attack of the Clones, but also the 25th anniversary of the release of Star Wars in 1977. Naturally, this was cause for much celebration.
Those who attended C-II that year, could purchase the exclusive figure of rebel pilot, Commander Jorg Sacul. Up until 2002, he had never existed (with)in the Star Wars universe. On the figure’s cardback, the following information was revealed about Jorg:
Of course, we know who Mr Sacul is supposed to be. Name-games are common with other members of the crew who have worked on the Star Wars films. For example, Jedi Coleman Trebor’s name is a slight alteration of Prequel Animation Supervisor, Rob Coleman.
Jorg’s biography has some items pulled directly from Lucas’ own life, such as a near-fatal crash that ended up being a life-altering experience.
One of the big selling points of the Star Wars Saga and the Attack of the Clones line in 2002, was the use of Gentle Giant Studios‘ 3-D scanning technology to take digital scans of objects or people’s faces, heightening the accuracy of them in toy-form.
Though Jorg’s head is actually based on a scan that was made of Lucas’, it is the only newly-casted piece for the figure, with the rebel pilot body, helmet, and gun taken from other figure sources (the miniature X-Wing fighter is taken from the Star Wars/Micro Machines line). The likeness is ok, but the head looks a bit too ‘shrunken.’ As well, the paint application around his eyes makes them look smaller than they should be.
After his appearance as a convention-exclusive, George would lay low for 4 years, only to return for a double-dose of exclusivity in 2006.
The first return of George was in the StarWarsShop.com exclusive boxset, titled The Lucas Collector’s Set. This set not only featured a likeness of George, but also of his children Jett, Amanda, & Katie, who each appeared in Revenge of the Sith. Word was, several of the people working on Sith kept insisting that George had to insert himself into his own Universe, but Lucas wouldn’t do it unless his family was in on it too. Once his children were in place, George found himself in the role of Baron Papanoida. Papanoida’s bio is as follows:
For those wondering just where Baron Papanoida is in Revenge of the Sith, he’s chatting with another blue-skinned Wroonian at the Coruscant Opera House (actually, George’s daughter, Katie). They can be glimpsed briefly as Anakin Skywalker rushes through the halls to find Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
There is a fun little ‘easter egg’ that was added to the Baron’s figure, and it has to do with the tip of his cane. A small little indent, and a horizontal ring around the main sphere, makes the tip resemble the Death Star, which has led some to wonder, if the guild baron may have had some hand in its creation.
Unlike Jorg Sacul, the entire sculpt of Papanoida is entirely new. Though it is a nice sculpt (and the detail on Papanoida’s face is much better), the figure suffers as being more of a ‘statue.’ The Baron can’t bend at the knees, and has swivel-joints in his elbow to give him some extra movement. It also is quite a chore just to get his cane to stay put in his hand.
Of course, the Expanded Universe of Star Wars often gives minor characters another chance to shine. 5 years later, in October 2010, Papanoida would appear in an episode of the Clone Wars television series (though not voiced by George Lucas).
While the last two iterations had depicted Lucas as he appeared in the early 2000’s, his next appearance would take us back in time.
As part of the 2006 Vintage Saga Collection promotion, those who collected all 5 of the released figures, could send away 5 proof-of-purchases (along with $4.95 for shipping & handling), and receive a specially-carded figure of George Lucas (in Stormtrooper Disguise). However, this figure’s facial appearance is that of George in the 1970’s, when he was working on American Graffiti, and Star Wars.
The figure’s cardback included the following description:
The sculpting on this Lucas figure is slightly better than Baron Papanoida, and has a much better likeness than Jorg Sacul (who looked like his head got squeezed in a vice). He is also the first Lucas figure to sport jointed ankles. Strange enough, the oddity in the sculpt comes from how the head attaches to the Stormtrooper body. The head is on a vertical pivot, and a horizontal rotation piece under the neck. So, if you were planning to detach the head and place it on a different body, you’re out of luck.
However, just given the amount of articulation, and the quality of the sculpting work done on George’s head, this exclusive figure is a marked improvement over the ones that came before it. This calls for a celebration, so…
*Special thanks to Antonio Capello for helping me obtain the George Lucas (in Stormtrooper Disguise) figure.