2-HEADED ANNOUNCER with Jabba the Hutt
Episode I Beast Assortment
Item No.: Asst. 84125 No. 84167
Includes: Gong, Jabba, Chuba projectile
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: Summer 1999
Appearances: The Phantom Menace
Bio: The annual Boonta Eve podrace at Mos Espa is perhaps the most exciting, action packed sporting event in the galaxy. Completing a time-honored race ritual, crime lord Jabba the Hutt bites the head off a chuba and spits it at the traditional gong. The podracers are off! While a two-headed announcer narrates the play-by-play, a young Podracer named Anakin Skywalker races towards his destiny. (Taken from the figure's box.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' toy room.
Commentary: This 2-Headed Announcer is a notable release for a number of reasons. One, it's based on the pre-final-FX actors in make-up rather than the CG creature shown in the movie. Two, it doesn't have a name-- the characters would at one point be known as "Hex & Rex" and later as "Fode & Beed," the latter of which now seems to be the final name. (Also, the colors of the right and left heads swapped between pre-preoduction of the movie and what would be seen on the big screen.) And finally, this is one of very few figures to have two heads. For whatever reason, this is a fairly unusual characteristic in the Saga, so figures like this are an uncommon sight. So given that this figure looks nothing like the final movie product, how is it?
It's OK. A lot of fans don't much care for the four-armed, two-headed, and tail-having alien but it's actually not terrible. The Power of the Jedi version of the character as it appears in the movie is better, but this is a unique release in that we generally didn't get many (or any) concept-based figures in those days, and ultimately that's what this is. The figure represents what the aliens might have looked like if the hybrid live-action/CG creature concept was followed through rather than being replaced with an all-CG design near the final hour. It's a solid toy-- it can stand, it has four articulated arms, it sports three points of articulation for the two heads, and the detail is pretty good given it came from 1999. There are some nice warts and bumps, as well as some decent coloring. The figure is slightly boring in that a lot of it is a pale cream color, which just tends to blend in to the background on a shelf full of figures. The heads are colorful, though, so those will stand out nicely. If you're a fan of toys based on early concepts, this is a can't-miss hit. Otherwise, this is something you can pass on in favor of the later release. It's a wonderful curiosity precisely because it doesn't represent the movie faithfully, but depending on what you dig as a fan that might not be enough for you.
Collector's Notes: The Jabba with Announcer set was quite difficult to get during its initial release and many had to trade overseas to get it. When everything shook out a few years later, the market had more of these sets than it needed and the price dropped accordingly. While it went for up to $50-$60 on the collector's market of 1999, it's a tough sell at $10 today. Some eBay auctions have closed at $6 with no bids.
Day 646: February 11, 2008