Action Figure Analysis: The Costumes of Padme Amidala, from The Phantom Menace

15 years ago, millions of Star Wars fans walked/ran/skipped their way into cineplexes, to feast their eyes on what was considered The Second Coming to one of the biggest series in history. May 19, 1999 in the US, marked the official release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Of course, what followed was a money-making summer for the film, but it gained a reputation throughout the fandom, that it didn’t live up to the hype that had been festering within fans for 16 years. George Lucas’ return to the Director’s chair for the first time in 22 years, resulted in a film that some said was ‘wooden.’ As well, the performances by Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best were heavily criticized. Then again, most of the fandom seemed eager for the Dark Side to overtake the Galactic Republic, as displayed by many complaining that Lucas had killed off the Sith Apprentice Darth Maul too early.

15 years later, though many cannot let go of the hate flowing through them (I made my peace with the prequels long ago), one thing that has stood out through the prequel trilogy, are the many and varied outfits worn by Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman).

Trisha Biggar served as Costume Designer on all three of the prequels, weaving designs that seemed different, yet familiar. George Lucas’ eye as an anthropologist was also there in Trisha’s costume work. One can see many different cultural staples in each of the outfits Portman wears.

In one of the commentaries for the Original Trilogy, Carrie Fisher jokingly commented how “her mother” in the prequels got all these different outfits to wear, and in the 1977 film, A New Hope, Fisher’s role as Princess Leia Organa, only produced two.

As we close in on May the 4th (be with you), and the upcoming 15th Anniversary of the May 19, 1999 release of The Phantom Menace, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane, and look at the various outfits worn by Padme through the course of the film.

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Queen Amidala (Theed Invasion)

From The Power of the Jedi Line (released in 2000)

The first costume we see Padme in in The Phantom Menace, is one of the most ornate. However, given its largely plastic nature, Padme comes off more like a statue than a figure. Her articulation is limited to her arms and neck. Though the most interesting thing, is that they have given her legs and heels under the skirt.

Given the majority of the costumes that Portman wore in the film, it was this one that made its way onto many different ads and products during the 1999 product blitz.

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Queen Amidala (Royal Decoy)

From The Power of the Jedi Line (released in 2001)

I was at first unsure about including this figure, as it is not actually Padme, but her handmaiden Sabe (played by Keira Knightley), acting as her decoy. The overly-elaborate outfit worn by Sabe seems much heavier in appearance than the previous outfit. As well, neck articulation is hindered by the plastic simulation of cloth around her head. The figure is also one of several that does not come with any accessories.

However, the figure makes up for this, by including elbow joints with the figure, allowing her to bring her hands together in the more humbled pose we saw in the film. The outfit would even be included in the 12-inch doll line, known as The Queen Amidala Collection.

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Rabe (Queen’s Chambers)

From The Original Trilogy Collection Line (released in 2005)

Like the Royal Decoy figure, the figure of Rabe is not the Queen per se, but in the escape from Naboo, Padme dons a robe similar to the other handmaidens, in order to protect herself.

Even though the figure is classified as Rabe, she is more enigmatic in her sculpting, and doesn’t appear to resemble actress Cristina da Silva.  As well, all the pictures of Rabe on the original figure’s packaging, show Amidala in the outfit. So, that is another reason I have included her in the list, as there has never been an official Padme Amidala in Handmaiden Disguise figure released with this wardrobe.

The figure has very minimal articulation, with only the arms and Rabe’s right elbow allowed movement. There is also a nice gold wash on the figure that looks really nice when the light catches the paint just right. The extension of the right arm, is for the figure to hold the Naboo blaster pistol included.

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Padme Naberrie

From The Phantom Menace Line (released in 1999)

One of the first female figures release in conjunction with the film. Claimed to be a handmaiden the Queen wished to send with Qui-gon on his mission to find parts to repair their ship, Padme aroused little suspicion wandering the streets of Mos Espa, but did catch the eye of a little slave boy named Anakin Skywaylker.

Padme (Naberrie) is one of the few figures from the original Phantom Menace line, that has not been remolded/resculpted since her first release. I personally felt the figure could do with a resculpt, to add more articulation, given that Padme is in this outfit for a good amount of screentime in the film. As well, her neck is a little thicker than later figure iterations.

Padme came with a View Screen that was used during the podrace in Phantom Menace.

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Queen Amidala (The Phantom Menace)

From The Legacy Collection Line (released in 2008)

Nine years after The Phantom Menace was released in theaters, one of Padme’s most elaborate costumes was released in action figure form. The figure was included as part of a three-figure set titled Evolutions. The sets would show everything from the evolution of Stormtroopers, to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.

Though a layered outfit like some of the previous releases, Hasbro gave this version of Amidala more articulation, including  ball-hinged neck, shoulders, elbows, and even a swivel waist. They even attempt to simulate on the smaller scale, the threaded features hanging down from her headdress.

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Queen Amidala (Coruscant)

From The Phantom Menace Line (released in 1999)

When addressing the Senate regarding the blockade of her planet, Padme appeared in this costume that seemed largely inspired by an Eastern-style of dressing.

The figure’s release came during the fall of 1999, and served as more of a statue than a figure. The figure has only 3 points of articulation, and was often hard to have stand on her own feet. As well, no weapon was included in her packaging.

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Queen Amidala

From The Vintage Collection Line (released in 2012)

To coincide with the release of The Phantom Menace in 3D, Hasbro released a new set of figures for the film. The line was a mix of new and resculpted figures, and with the Post-Senate Amidala figure, the last of Padme’s outfits had been rendered in 3.75″ scale.

Many could find the outfit easy to miss, as it comes following the inability for the Senate to act on the Trade Federation’s blockade. Figuring that the Senate and the Courts are of no help, Padme decides to return to Naboo, and take matters into her own hands.

Even though her outfit looks cumbersome, Hasbro has added in articulation in the figure’s waist, and even her elbows. For good measure (even though Padme did not brandish a weapon with the outfit), she comes with a Naboo blaster pistol.

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Queen Amidala

From The Legacy Collection Line (released in 2009)

The best title distinction for this figure would probably be Queen Amidala (Travel Gown). Padme wore this outfit when traveling aboard her Royal Starship, back to Naboo. While wearing it, Padme asks Jar Jar Binks to help enlist the Gungans to help then take back the City of Theed.

Much like the other Queen Amidala figure released in The Legacy Collection line, this one contains many of the same articulation points, along with a Naboo blaster pistol for a weapon.

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Sabe (Queen’s Decoy)

From The Power of the Jedi Line (released in 2001)

Just like the previous Royal Decoy figure, Sabe returns again, this time in a more mobile outfit, but still retaining the white makeup and red markings that are worn by the Queen. For the remainder of The Phantom Menace’s assault on Theed, Sabe would wear this outfit, which helped fool Nute Gunray into thinking Sabe was the Queen, allowing Padme to get the upper hand against the Viceroy.

The figure has a rather awkward arm configuration, as Sabe is mainly meant to be holding a Naboo blaster in both hands. Even in her packaging, this was how she was depicted in the plastic bubble on her card.

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Queen Amidala (Naboo)

From The Phantom Menace Line (released in 1999)

Released 3 weeks before the film’s US premiere, this was the first official Queen Amidala action figure, with her wearing her handmaiden disguise. The outfit was seen, when Padme steps forward to personally request of Gungan Leader Boss Nass, to help her people. Released a few years before the trend of 3D facial-scanning, Hasbro’s sculptors did a pretty decent job capturing Portman’s likeness.

Of all the different outfits, from The Phantom Menace, it would be this one that would see several iterations over the next 13 years. The first re-release of the outfit would come in 2000, with a cloth skirt, and an ascension gun from the film. In 2012, the Movie Heroes line would update several figures from The Phantom Menace, including Padme in this outfit. That iteration would give more articulation, though the coloration on Padme would come off making her look more pale than the previous figures.

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Queen Amidala (Celebration Ceremony)

From The Original Trilogy Collection Line (released in 2005)

Once the Naboo and Gungans have reclaimed their planet from the Trade Federation, a celebration is held in Theed, with Amidala presenting Boss Nass with the Globe of Peace, signifying a new chapter in the planet’s history.

The design of this outfit is airy as well as regal, but does have some problems with the figure. It’s often hard to get the figure to stand perfectly straight, given the fluffy-looking translucent plastic, as well as the pose of the legs underneath. However, there is nice detail in the royal crest on the dress, and in the golden headpiece on Padme’s forehead. Gold accents are even in the paint on her shoes.

Much like the Rabe figure, this one has one elbow joint, this one in her left arm, that allows her to hold out the Globe of Peace accessory she comes with.

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It only took 13 years, but almost all of the costumes related to Padme Amidala from The Phantom Menace, have been immortalized in 3.75″ action figure form. If one looks over the various figures, they paint an intriguing tapestry of how Hasbro evolved in their production and articulation on these figures. But of course, this was just the first of three films.

This installment of Action Figure Analysis did take me back to May of 1999, and a particular event. I remember the anticipation for Episode I, and even the midnight release of the film’s action figures at my local Toys R Us in Waterloo, Iowa. When the doors opened, people quickly began to fill up shopping carts with action figures, dolls, vehicles, and any new merchandise they could get their hands on. Of course, by the end of the night, not a single Darth Maul was left on the pegs.

While many choose to wish the film (let alone the prequels) didn’t exist, one can’t help but feel the prequel trilogy helped breathe new life into Star Wars. It’s a good bet that without those three films, The Clone Wars animated series (both in 2003, & 2008) would not have been made, and we wouldn’t be anticipating the 2015 release of Star Wars: Episode VII. One can only wonder if JJ Abrams and his team will give us a character with as many costume changes as Portman had throughout her time as Padme.

*In the next installment of The Costumes of Padme Amidala, we will look at the costumed figures of Senator Amidala, that appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.*

 

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About MWH1980

Growing up in the state of Iowa, one would assume I'd be enamored with pigs and corn. Well, I wasn't. Instead, I grew fascinated by many things that were entertainment-related. Things like movies, animation, toys, books, and many more kept my attention. This blog I hope to use to express myself regarding my varied obsessions. (P.S. There's no Photoshop involved in that Gravatar-I really am holding an Oscar)

2 responses to “Action Figure Analysis: The Costumes of Padme Amidala, from The Phantom Menace”

  1. Donna says :

    Do you have two of each figure? One for the above photos and one still in the original package?

    Like

    • MWH1980 says :

      No. I did away with that for much of my collection, or I’d have no extra room. Figured if I was going to get the figures, they were going to be displayed.

      Like

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