I love me some big lumbering alien beasts. Unfortunately when Lucas released the special editions of the original Star Wars movies those beasts were the thing that seemed the most out of place. As I mentioned in my Wampa post a couple of days ago the special editions did provide some great new scenes. Most of the good ones were the subtle ones that you wouldn’t even notice until you see screen to screen comparisons. Some effects shots looked great. The Wampa for example was enhanced by the added footage though I believe most of the picks ups for him were practical shots; guy in a suit type stuff. The really noticeable stuff takes place early on in the series on Luke’s home planet of Tatooine. When the storm troopers are combing the desert looking for the escaped droids, computer generated Dewbacks were added. I loved the idea of dewbacks from the original movies though they were barely seen and the action figure was underwhelming. Back then it just wasn’t feasible to realistically create big lizards for the troopers to ride around on so the dewbacks were pretty static in their movement and not given much screen time. The special editions gave the dewbacks a chance to shine and show off their great design but I think they stand out like a sore thumb in that old footage. The ronto didn’t even appear in the original trilogy of old. I don’t know if this was a creature Lucas had dreamed up and designed way back then but couldn’t afford/pull off at the time or if they were newly designed for the special editions. It doesn’t really matter one way or the other, I like them. They’ve got a great look to them that borrows from many real world animals which adds to the ronto’s believability. They’re shown as a beast of burden, lugging freight for the jawas through the dusty streets of mos eisley. The problem again is that they seem glaringly out of place in A New Hope. In Phantom Menace sure, but in the originals the Ronto looks like the afterthought that it was.
Thought the ronto may not have always worked on celluloid they work great in plastic. The ronto is an excellent toy. It’s maybe not quite to scale but it’s still a good size and looks even bigger when shown with jawas. Toy lines always seem much more epic in scale once you throw in some vehicles, playsets and oversized beasts. I loved all that stuff as a kid and they greatly enhanced the playing experience. As an adult collector I don’t really have room for playsets and vehicles so I’m forced to pass on cool stuff like the Joe’s headquarters the P.I.T. that was released in conjunction with the first G.I. Joe movie. I can always justify buying a beast though because they’re more action figure than vehicle and because they’re awesome. The ronto has posable legs, neck and ears. He got a pegged saddle so that a jawa can stand on his back and hold the reins. The ronto came with a jawa rider which is great because you can always use more jawas. The sculpting is great and the paint aps are well done providing depth to what could have been a very flat beige toy. From what I recall back in the late 90s when I was buying this thing was that the price point wasn’t crazy either. Sometimes these larger toys can really break the bank but I think the ronto with figure was only about twenty bucks. I don’t know what they go for now but if you can, grab a ronto for yourself. 8 out of 10.