WALRUS MAN (Jumbo) (2013)
My brother Doug has made a habit of spoiling me the past couple of years when gift giving situations arrive. For Christmas 2 years ago he bought me the Invid Shock Trooper, a toy I’ve longed for since the 1980s. Last Christmas he surprised me with an elaborately wrapped Land Speed Racer, a toy I lost as a child and always wanted back. And for my birthday last year he replaced another one of my old toys that I missed dearly, a transforming spider named Tenticus. As Christmas 2014 approached he hinted that he got me another gem. I’ll admit I was pretty excited by the prospects. There aren’t too many more long lost toys from my childhood for him to replace. Possibilities that crossed my mind were a replacement Regellian from Mego’s vintage Star Trek line, a replacement B.O. B. from the Black Hole, or maybe even the Kraken from 1981’s Clash of the Titans, another toy I always wanted but never owned. But this Christmas Doug surprised me by going a different route.
The toy he got me looks like one of my childhood favourites but it is in fact a 2013 release. In one of my very first blog posts I reviewed Kenner’s 1978 version of Walrus Man from Star Wars. Walrus Man had a tiny role in the original Star Wars movie. He grunts at Luke in the cantina scene and then Ben Kenobi lightsaber’s his arm off. It’s fair to say he wasn’t integral to the plot. Kenner’s original figure bared little resemblance to the Walrus Man we saw on the screen. Instead of a gray skinned, soulless black-eyed, leather jacket wearing thug with nasty facial hair and tusks we got a cute and scrawny green-skinned, googly-eyed, spandex swimsuit and flipper wearing alien with a bum for a mouth. You’d think that horrible translation from screen to plastic would have turned me off of the figure but for some reason I loved it. Walrus Man was my favourite Star Wars when I was a kid.
I was happy to receive more screen accurate versions of the character years later. He even got a decent alien name in the 90’s, Ponda Baba. I’m a big fan of my 90s era Ponda Baba figures, both the 3 3/4″ version and the 12″ version, but I still have a soft spot for my goofy figure from the 70s too. Those original figures just have a charm about them that can’t be replicated by modern figures. Or so I thought….
A couple of years ago Gentle Giant Studios began releasing perfect 12″ reproductions of Kenner’s vintage 3 3/4″ Star Wars figures. It seemed like an odd move but an interesting one. I figured they’d do a couple of the main characters and that would be that but there’s clearly a bigger market for theses things than I imagined. Gentle Giant is well on their way to releasing the entire line in the Jumbo format with over 30 figures currently available. I actually think the coolest thing about them might be that they come on reproductions of their vintage blister cards. Most 12″ figures come in boxes; a carded figure bigger than your head is not something you see every day. I would never attempt to collect the line because these Jumbo figures are quite pricey (about $100 each) and they take up a lot of space. As soon as I saw they were making Walrus Man though I knew I had to have it.
My local comic shop has a number of these Jumbo figures in stock but I don’t think they ever stocked Walrus Man. If I had seen it in store I’m sure I would’ve pulled the trigger and bought it myself. I could’ve ordered it on ebay at any time but I knew the shipping to Canada would be expensive given its size. Therefore it remained on the “want list”in the back of my mind.
Well I am wanting no more. Doug surprised me with Gentle Giant’s Walrus Man on Christmas morning and I was stoked. This figure looks absolutely fantastic in the same goofy lovable way as the original. It has charm to spare. The figure is an exact oversized replica of the ’78 figure. Everything from the stupid flippers on his feet to the buttocks coming out of his mouth is gloriously recreated in the 1/6 scale.
One thing I noticed about the figure that I didn’t recall from the original is that his bare hands actually look like gloves because they curl up over his sleeves. I compared it to the vintage figure and the sculpting is accurate but the hands weren’t fully painted on the original so the glove-hands weren’t as noticeable.
Part of me is dying to tear this figure open but the giant blister card is just too cool a novelty to destroy. I haven’t yet decided where I’m going to display this toy because I don’t think I can pin it to my wall with a thumbtack like my other carded figures. Regardless of where it ends up it will make for a brilliant display piece. If you had a favourite vintage Star Wars figure you need to track down the jumbo Gentle Giant version. This figure would have ranked highly on my best of 2014 list that I posted last week but I had to omit it because it was a 2013 release. 10 out of 10.