The Good: Amazing coloring detail, Good accessories, Good articulation
The Bad: Cloth element is clunky, Poor balance, Some problematic articulation.
The Basics: The new Star Wars Vintage Collection Jar Jar Binks figure is good, but not nearly as flawless as many other figures in the Vintage Collection.
When it comes to the Star Wars Saga, it is hard to think of a more reviled character than Jar Jar Binks. After all, the six films and assorted animated works feature willing participants in death squads, planetary destruction and genocide, but Jar Jar Binks has the misfortune of being an ethnic stereotype and just someone who was thrown in to amuse children in the audience. That has not stopped various companies from merchandising Jar Jar Binks and the Gungans of Naboo. The latest Jar Jar Binks figure is the Vintage Collection version of the character and it is, despite the unfortunate mix of plastic and cloth (or, more accurately, vinyl) elements, this is one of the better versions of the character that Hasbro has yet made.
Jar Jar Binks, of course, is the gangly amphibious sentient lifeform from Naboo who has his largest role in The Phantom Menace (reviewed here!). Helping Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn escape the Trade Federation and then rally his people to join the mammalian sentients of Naboo, Jar Jar Binks is a kind of wacky character who spoke poorly, but became sympathetic to Anakin and Padme.
The 4" Vintage Collection Jar Jar Binks is the latest version of this figure from The Phantom Menace and if one wants a Jar Jar Binks figure, it might well be the best.
The Vintage Collection Jar Jar Binks figure stands 4 1/8" tall to the top of his head and he looks just like the familiar Gungan. This version of Jar Jar Binks is made of hard plastic for the main body and legs, soft plastic for his big, floppy ears and hands, and vinyl for his “skirt.” Unlike some versions of Jar Jar Binks from The Phantom Menace, the new Vintage Collection version of the character has a vest that is molded on and is thus unmovable. This seems odd, especially in contrast or comparison to the vinyl skirt he wears.
This sculpt of Jar Jar Binks is a good one, which makes sense given that the character was a virtual character (molds based on virtual characters should quite precise). This version of Jar Jar Binks features the character with his three-toed feet, two legs, long arms with long fingers ready to grasp either of his accessories with decent muscle definition. He has a very elongated neck, which is something many of the other sculpts of Jar Jar Binks have not gotten quite right. This is the most proportionately correct version of the character yet! What impressed me were the character’s ears. Jar Jar Binks has finlike ears that flop off the back of his head. The Vintage Collection Jar Jar Binks features fine boning and tiny spines at the ends of the fins that are incredibly detailed. Even his eye stalks look good!
As for the coloring detail, the Jar Jar Binks colored very accurately, except on the joints. His arms feature the character’s tattoo-like detailing which is incredibly fine work. His eyes and ears have wonderful shading that goes from pink to the cream color on the underside with a realism not previously captured by Jar Jar Binks figures. The outfit is monotonal, mostly dark gray on the bottom and light gray on the top and – despite my dislike of the vinyl skirt, the color matching for the cloth elements and plastic ones are some of the better attempts in the Vintage Collection line. Unfortunately, Hasbro was very sloppy on the joints. When one bends any of the joints this figure has that are hinge joints (knees, elbows, shoulders), they expose different colored plastic and it looks terrible. The knees are unforgivably bad in this regard; one cannot pose the figure in a decent way and have it look good.
As a rebellious Gungan ready to throw off the shackles of the Trade Federation, Jar Jar Binks needs very few accessories. He comes with only two: a Boomer wand and an electropole. The Boomer (wand) is a 1 1/2” tall scepter that has a translucent blue ball atop it. The bronze handle is detailed with an ornate grip that almost makes one forget that the top half of the scepter is an explosive device! This wand fits in either of Jar Jar Binks’s hands and looks good there, despite how it lacks shading subtlety or variation.
The other accessory is the Electropole. The Electropole is a 4 3/4” tall staff with a “C” about halfway up it. It has two handles which break up the bronze staff and are appropriately colored black. This version of the Electropole is a little more detailed on the business end, with a little bit of ribbing that makes it look like more than a simple, plain staff.
The four inch toy line was designed for play and Jar Jar Binks is fair in that regard. The Jar Jar Binks figure has mediocre balance and when it tips over easily, it is hard to rectify the problem. The reason it is hard to rectify is because the ankle articulation allows for rotation, but not bending (like a hinge). In order to try to balance this version of Jar Jar Binks, one must usually bend the knees and that, alas, opens one up to the annoying coloring issue with the figure. The figure does have holes in the bottom of his feet to allow him to stand tall on any number of playsets in outlandish poses or attach to pegs on vehicles.
Jar Jar Binks has pretty impressive articulation, though, which makes it a draw, even for those who already have a prior Jar Jar Binks figure. He has hinged ball and socket joints at the knees, elbows and shoulders, as well as a ball and socket joint which allows a great range of motion for the head. The wrists, groin socket, ankles and waist each have simple swivel joints. The lower portion of the neck is on a hinge joint, but it does not seem to be actually functional!
The Jar Jar Binks is part of the Vintage Collection line that was released in 2012 and he was re-released recently as Hasbro blows out the last of the Vintage Collection. The Jar Jar Binks is Vintage Collection figure VC108 and is a decent rendition of the figure for sculpt and coloring. However, because of the lack of popularity for the character and the sheer volume of Jar Jar Binks merchandise on the market, it is virtually impossible to believe that this will be a worthwhile investment figure.
On the surface, the Jar Jar Binks Vintage Collection figure is a good one, but it falls apart upon closer – and more discriminating – inspection.
For other Vintage Collection figures from The Phantom Menace, please check out my reviews of:
VC73 Aurra Sing
VC82 Daultay Dofine
VC85 Quinlan Vos
VC86 Darth Maul
For other Star Wars toy reviews, please check out my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.