Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Thinking Bigger

As a toy collector, I never really saw myself as much of the diorama display type. I was perfectly happy having my action figures neatly standing side by side in semi dynamic poses on a neutral shelf. There was one character though that I felt needed more though, I mean just how exciting can a solitary giant slug look on display? And so that’s what drove me to start “construction” on my Jabba’s palace diorama.

Two years later, I think it’s safe to say that I managed to put up a fairly decent set up for my intergalactic crime lord. One major obstacle I had to overcome were key characters in Jabba’s palace that were either too expensive to obtain or not released yet by Hasbro. For this problem I came across a viable solution, 3D printing. Sure I couldn’t really print out some fully poseable action figures. But there was a wealth of character 3D models online that could be downloaded to produce in scale statues to fill out my diorama.

It was through this method that I was able to add Salacious Crumb and the Max Rebo Band to the display. With those guys done, I started thinking about what else I could add using 3D printing. And I started thinking bigger.

There was one major character still missing from my set up, and that was Jabba’s pet Rancor, the giant reptilian beast who lived underneath his throne room, waiting for his next meal to unceremoniously drop in from above. A few months ago, it seemed unthinkable and quite costly to print out an in scale Rancor, but little by little I started to see more people online doing exactly that. And so I started joking with my friend who does all my 3D printing and asking him when he was gonna do one for me. Eventually though, he called my bluff and actually printed one!

And so I had to put my money where my mouth was. I decided to bite the bullet based on the following reasons:

1) The chances of Hasbro actually making an in 6” scale Black Series Rancor were pretty much slim to none.

2) And if they did do one, it would most likely be a crowd funded Haslab project which would most likely cost 4 or 5 times more than what I was quoted for this 3D printed one.

3) I was confident that my go to artist friend could make this 3D printed Rancor the most kick ass looking Rancor in existence, or at least better and more detailed than anything Hasbro would be able to mass produce.

But the most important reason was that who the hell wouldn’t want such a beast in their Black Series collection. Certainly not me. So I gave the go signal to proceed.

Despite its size, it was a fairly straightforward process. It was printed and painted up in a span of two weeks and pretty soon it was the crowning jewel of my display. Standing at around 18-19” tall, this guy is a beast! And as an added bonus, the Rancor does have some basic articulation, moving jaw, arms, wrists and ankles, which is perfectly fine with me. It was definitely love at first sight.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for my 6 year old daughter who freaked out when she first saw him! Eventually though she got over the initial shock and has accepted her new baby brother!

Anyway, after the initial excitement settled down, I noticed two details missing from the model, first was the earring that was attached to his left….ear? And the other was the manacle on his right arm. Unfortunately the 3D model didn’t really come with either of these details, and so I decided to make them myself.

The earring was fairly straightforward. Paperclip wire, masking tape and some black and gold paint. Fortunately the sculpt actually had an “ear”. I had to bore a little hole to attach the earring but it worked out fine in the end.

Now the bigger challenge was the manacle. First of all I had one major obstacle. While it would have been much easier to create a manacle that was one piece. I couldn’t remove the Rancor’s hand, so slipping in a whole manacle wasn’t possible. Instead, I had to make an open one that I could just wrap around the Rancor’s wrist and glue shut. So with that decided, I went to work, using mostly materials I could find around the house.

For the base of the manacle I used a toilet paper roll center and some unwound paper clips to serve as extra support and framework for the chain links. The original plan was to work with a material I had previously used, air dry clay. I figured that I could sculpt the manacle around the toilet paper roll, paint it and call it a day. Unfortunately, this turned out a little bit more challenging than I thought.

Apparently using the air dry clay to make a square control panel for the carbonite display was a totally different animal from trying to sculpt an entire manacle. The clay proved to be harder to work with as it was more crumbly than I remembered. Eventually I managed to get something done and painted it up. But I wasn’t very happy with the end result. As the clay dried, it kinda straightened out the manacle, so even with the paper clips inside for added stability, the manacle looked just too clunky on my Rancor’s wrist...so I decided to go back to the drawing board.

For my second attempt, I decided to just ditch the clay altogether and just keep it simple...using layered masking tape. Using this method, It wasn’t too difficult to come up with a thinner but arguably more solid and flexible manacle.

Finally to fasten the manacle to my Rancor’s wrist, I used more paper clip wire which worked out perfectly. And so with that, my Rancor was good to go!

Oh and as for my first attempt at a manacle, my daughter was very happy to keep it as her own. So at least my efforts weren’t totally in vain.

Anyway to end this post I just wanted to share some interesting Rancor bits I just learned a few days ago. Apparently Jabba’s Rancor had a name, and it was Pateesa. And not only that, the poor Gamorean that fell in the pit with Luke and was eaten by the Rancor was named Jubnuk. And get this, apparently at least in the pre Disney Star Wars canon, he actually survived! He was recovered alive from the dead Rancor’s belly! Apparently his armor saved him from being completely crushed. Well I guess if Boba Fett can survive the Sarlaac…...

And one last thing, just recently during an online event, Hasbro mentioned that their next Haslab project would be 6” Black Series related...and they said that it would NOT be a vehicle. And given that they also announced an upcoming Bib Fortuna figure, speculation is high that they WILL be releasing a Black Series Rancor figure! Anyway, even if they do, I am quite happy with what I have and will probably pass on anything official. That is unless of course they add the Rancor keeper Malakili and slave dancer Oola as stretch goals….then I guess I’ll just have two Rancors in my collection!