RONTO with Jawa
Power of the Force Beast Assortment
Item No.: Asst. 69645 No. 69728
Includes: Jawa, blaster
Action Feature: Ronto can "throw" Jawa from its seat
Availability: Summer 1997
Appearances: Star Wars
Bio: Rontos were large, quadruped mammals that were commonly used as beasts of burden by the Jawas of Tatooine. They are known for their loyalty and strength, being able to carry hundreds of kilograms of weight. They were large enough to frighten off Tusken Raiders, though they were easily spooked by machines, such as speeder bikes. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.
Commentary: Back in 1997, the very idea of a creature assortment was still very exciting-- even if they were mostly based on the Special Editions. The Ronto was one of the first toys made to be specifically from those theatrical reissues, and unlike some of the additions, the design of the creature was pretty cool. Sure, it was an unnecessary addition, but it makes for a nice toy. The dinosaur-like creature was based on the digital models used in Jurassic Park, so it only makes sense that the toy was fairly dinosaur-like in appearance. With moving legs, the figure also featured a "bucking" action where he would fling his head around, and any Jawa holding in to his reins would be sent flying. It's not a perfectly functioning mechanism, but it works well enough. The critter has scaley skin and feels sort of like a toy dinosaur. It's plenty tall and sturdy, so kids would probably enjoy this toy if they're a fan of the saga or not. It simply works well as a toy because it seems Kenner's engineers designed it with the mentality of a plaything first, which is really important to a good toy. It's solid, sturdy, and looks pretty much exactly like it did on film. Aside from adding more articulation, I don't think there's much anybody could do to greatly improve on this, so go get one of the original releases from a few years ago. You'll probably be glad that you did.
Collector's Notes: While it sold very well at first, this was one of many toys to suffer from overproduction during this time frame. It could be easily had by 2000 for $4.99 on closeout, despite starting life at $15-$20. Today it goes as low as a couple of bucks and as high as $15 on eBay. I bought and traded for several of these back in the day because I was intending to make a Christmas card using a landspeeder as a sleigh and the Rontos as reindeer. That never happened, but it's a nifty enough creature to be sure. The Jawa packaged with the toy was an exclusive sculpt, very unique in appearance and never appearing elsewhere. You should get this set.
Day 634: January 30, 2008