As geek collectible companies go, I've usually been satisfied by the license selection and quality of work provided by Gentle Giant. However, their recent line of Jumbo Vintage Star Wars Action Figures has left me baffled.
For those of you who don't know about this line of collectibles, allow me to explain. What Gentle Giant has done is to take the original 3 and 3/4 inch Star Wars action figures that Kenner released during the late 70s and re-release them in a 12 inch scale. In other words, they're exactly like the original 3 and 3/4 inch action figures--same sculpts, same paint schemes, same number of articulation points--except that they're larger. Each figure comes in a larger-scale blister card that's likewise modeled after the original Kenner blister cards. In keeping with the larger size, there's also a larger price tag: Each figure costs either $75 or $85, a steep increase from the original figures' 70s-era price tag of $2.
(Curiously, Gentle Giant is not the first company to do this to the original Star Wars action figures by Kenner. According to the Galactic Awesome! site, a Mexican toy company named Lili Ledy released its own extra-large version of the vintage R2-D2 action figure back in 1979.)
Yes, even this guy got the Gentle Giant Jumbo treatment.
When I first heard that Gentle Giant was doing this a while ago, I thought it was some sort of limited-run novelty and that the line would be limited to figures of only the most popular Star Wars characters: Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, a Stormtrooper, and maybe one or two of the human, non-masked characters. Yet the last time I checked, Gentle Giant has provided Jumbo Figure versions for almost the entire line of figures that Kenner released after Star Wars and before Empire Strikes Back. So far, only two figures from Kenner's line for the first movie don't have Jumbo versions: the Power Droid and Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing Fighter Pilot suit. Thus, 19 Jumbo figures have been released (so far), costing an approximate total of $1425.
Considering how much these Jumbo figures cost individually, I can't imagine why anyone--even the most die-hard Star Wars fan--would want one. For figures that size, they are much less detailed and less posable than other Star Wars figures that are on the market now and are available for roughly the same size (if not smaller) and the same price (if not cheaper). Even Kenner's "Large Size" Star Wars action figures, another line of 12-inch scale figures from the 70s that didn't sell well, were much more detailed than their smaller counterparts. As one toy reviewer commented in his review of the Jumbo Vintage Star Wars Figure version of Boba Fett, "It reminds me of having an oversized pencil, or a big pair of scissors. It's amusing for a few minutes, then you realize you don't have any place to put it."
Gentle Giant's Jumbo Darth Vader action figure, with the smaller Kenner version ...
... And Kenner's original Large Size Darth Vader action figure.
Oh, well. Given how many Jumbo Star Wars figures Gentle Giant has released so far, someone must be buying them. I'm guessing that somewhere out there, a hyper-obsessive Star Wars toy collector is building a Jumbo-sized Millennium Falcon toy or a Jumbo-sized Death Star play set (which would stand over 5 feet tall) for his Jumbo figures.