When I bought the Felucian Battle Rancor, I swore to myself that I wouldn't buy another version of that Rancor sculpt. Let's face it, we all knew that Hasbro would repaint that mold and release it as Jabba's Rancor. But Hasbro released the Battle Rancor first to try to sucker collectors into double-dipping: many would be impressed with the new sculpt and buy the Battle Rancor, then be impressed by the improved paint apps of Jabba's Rancor and buy that one, too. But not me! I knew it was a trap, even without Admiral Ackbar telling me. So I decided that Battle Rancor would be it for me.
But then, Jabba's Rancor was released and I was totally impressed by the paint apps (everything was proceeding according to plan for Hasbro). And when Target started marking them down, I snatched one up, with my dignity in shambles at my feet. But is it worth that loss of pride?
Size: Rancor - 12"; Luke - 3 3/4"
Price: $35 (marked down) from Target
Looks: Rancor Luke
Yup, the paint apps totally duped me into buying this dude. Even my wife, who is usually indifferent to toys, looked at it in the store and said, "Wow, that looks much better than the one you have at home" (meaning, the Battle Rancor). And I agree, it has everything that the Battle Rancor doesn't: dark paint washes to give the sculpt depth; highlights to make details pop; and a lighter wash on the underbelly to denote color variation on the Rancor's hide. There's even a bit of shine added to the skin to give it a slimy appearance. And don't forget the beady eye-glint! If I were to nit-pick, I think there needs to be a bit more red in the coloration, but it looks fantastic regardless.
The Rancor's sculpt is equally amazing. It's the same sculpt as the Battle Rancor, except for the "Rancor Grip" right hand. The skin has a range of amazing textures that vary from elephantine folds on the tummy, to lizard-like protrusions on the shoulders and back, to dinosaurian plates on the lower back and tail. The likeness is pretty much dead-on, too... check out the earring!
But his buddy, Luke Jedi, is a strange conglomeration of screen inaccuracies. The face likeness is actually spot-on (if only the eyes were a little less stark), and I can even live with the inexplicable cloth tunic (even though it should be a bit grayer). But his right robo-hand is blasted open, which happens later in the movie on Jabba's Barge. Points deducted for lazy screen inaccuracies. (At first, I thought that Luke's lightsaber handle was sculpted to the belt of his tunic, but my friend Jason pointed out that you can slide it out. Oops! Regardless, what's Luke doing with lightsabers in this scene?)
Articulation: Rancor Luke
Rancor has lots of points of articulation: hinge jaw, swivel neck, ball-socket shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel wrists, bendy right hand, swivel hips, and ball-hinge ankles. The shoulder sockets are super-weird though. They're so difficult to move that many collectors don't think they move at all. But if you apply enough force, they'll shift with a sickening pop that my wife said sounds like ripping cartilage. (That's two wife references in a single review. She'd better be happy.) I'm pretty sure the figure didn't break, as the arms are still solidly in place. But that extra pain-in-the-assness of moving the shoulders seriously detracts from the score.
Luke has the usual hyper-articulation: ball-socket neck, ball-hinge shoulders, ball-hinge elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, swivel hips, ball-hinge knees, and ball-hinge ankles. I suppose if you wanted to get picky you could say that he should have ball-hinge hips, but they're not really necessary.
Rancor comes with a removable wrist clamp, which is cool, but it has a tendency to pop open. Luke comes with a femur (which is a requirement for this set) and two versions of his signature lightsaber: one ignited, one not. Hasbro should have dropped the lightsabers (since they're not used in this scene) and included a skull instead (you know, the one that Luke throws at the control panel to bring the door crashing down on the Rancor's neck).
Rancor with Luke is a really cool, substantial toy set, and well worth the $35 reduced price tag. The original price of $50 would have scored a 2: that would be a bit too expensive to justify, especially if you already own a Battle Rancor. I've heard of sale prices as low as $20 in some locations, which would have scored a perfect 5.
Coolness: Rancor Luke
The excellent paint apps really make Jabba's Rancor come alive, and the Rancor grip hand is a lot of fun. Despite this, it's the Battle Rancor that gets the Coolness nod for two reasons. One, Battle's Rancor's shoulders don't have the same resistance that Jabba's Rancor has. Since the shoulders are the most important points of articulation on the Rancor, this is a big deal. Two, the paint apps give Jabba's Rancor a weird tacky feel that's slippery at the same time. The Battle Rancor is just straight, rubbery plastic goodness.
As for Luke, he would be cooler if he was more screen accurate. Also, the hyper articulation concept is wearing thin on me. While it's great for posing, it also makes the figure comparatively filmsy. I'd much rather have a few useful points of articulation that don't get in the way of the sculpt and weaken the figure than hyper-articulation on every figure.
This is an undeniably awesome set that falls just short of unstoppable awesomeness. Although the Rancor's paint apps and sculpt are incredible, the stubborn shoulder articulation keeps him from perfection. Luke needs to get on the ball and lose his movie inaccuracies, namely the lightsabers and the fried hand, and grab a skull so that's more appropriate to the scene. Still, this is a great Rancor for us movie monster fans, and I truly believe that this will be the best Rancor that we will ever get, so scoop him up while you can.