Gentle Giant Studios raises the bar again this year with their new line of products. The new additions to the Star Wars line of mini-busts, bust-ups, statues, and maquettes left over jaws dropped wide open in shock at how beautiful they were. However, we were not able to photograph anything in the showroom, due to the fact that many of the items were prototypes and/or still waiting for final approval from Lucasfilm.
We were however, provided with a Press Kit CD which contained photos of the showroom, minus the controversial pieces. This gallery can be viewed here. What we CAN do is tell you about what we saw, thereby share the excitement.
Starting where it all began, the mini-bust line will have several exciting new additions and a few pieces that go back and re-visit some classic favorites. Princess Leia in her Boushh disguise was shown, along with her head variant. A new Han Solo was on display, decked out in his classic smuggler outfit from A New Hope. Showing HUGE changes from last year, the Sandtrooper looks better than ever, and will come with multiple limbs to create several different poses. Also be on the alert for a white-pauldroned Sandtrooper (Davin Felth, for EU fans) who holds onto a small motivator ring and says "Look sir, droids!" New versions of Yoda and Darth Vader will also join the line in 2005, although there is some confusion as to which film serves as the source material. The new Yoda especially is truly a sight to behold, and if this is just a prototype, I can't wait to see the final version.
Over in the statues line, the Sandtrooper on Dewback was on display, and we were told the long-delayed Luke Skywalker on Tauntaun would be delayed again. But the most amazing new addition to this line is the Scout Trooper on Speeder Bike. Reminiscent of a drag racer leaning on his hot rod, the Scout Trooper takes a break from the chase and leans back to relax against his Speeder Bike. There are no support rods of any kind, so the bike itself literally appears to be hovering above the ground! Very cool!
The figure statues on display included C-3PO, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader, which caused some discussion as to the minute details found on the statue, and those that could be added before final approval. Another statue on display was Darth Maul, fullty cloaked fom his appearance on Tatooine. We were told that Ray Park (the actor who portrayed Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace) was scanned by Gentle Giant, and the hood of this statue was scultped over the resulting head sculpt. So could a hoodless statue or bust be far behind?
Over in the Clone Wars Maquettes line, three new items will be added, bringing the line to a total of eight pieces. Animated versions of Anakin Skywalker, General Grievous, and in a surprise (yet logical) move, a double maquette starring Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee all look as if they jumped off the small screen. No more are planned in this line, but if the demand is there....
The Star Wars Armory line of mini-helmets will be delayed yet again, due to issues with the bases and also the addition of a mannequin-like supporting the helmets. More on this soon.
Saving the best for last, the Bust-Ups will be continuing in 2005. Series 1 and 2 have proven popular enough not only with collectors, but also customizers, who has used this line for their own creations. Series 3 will focus on the Bounty Hunters, and will include Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Bossk, Dengar, 4-LOM, and Zuckuss. Aware of growing concerns with the number of variants in this line, Gentle Giant assures us there will be a limited number of them in this assortment.
Series 4 will literally make you drool! Based on characters from Revenge of the Sith, nothing Gentle Giant has produced to date can prepare you for this series, it is simply remarkable. Anakin Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine are both wearing their cloaks, and the hoods are removable. This may change, but let's hope not...the sculpting on Palpatine's head is pretty detailed. Obi-Wan Kenobi is very impressive, right down to the last detail of his lightsaber. Darth Vader has a more static pose, but is surrounded by a ring of flame, creating a very dramatic pose. Yoda is captured in a pensive moment, complete with his signature Gimer Stick. Missing from the display were General Grievous and a Clone Trooper.
With series 5, Gentle Giant plans to return to the creative bases for the Bust-Ups line. While many characters wear cloaks and long robes, thereby neccessitating a cutaway appearance, they prefer to make more stylized bases like the Yavin Medeal of Honor or C-3PO's oil bath, or even Boba's flames. No clues on which characters will be in this series, but this line only gets better each time around.
On the non-Star Wars side of life, several other lines of licensed product were also on display, but we were asked to leave them a mystery for now. Some items included in the Press Kit CD are from Harry Potter, the Matrix, and Death Jr. You can check out that gallery here.