2004 International Toy Fair New York

See the entire gallery here: Gentle Giant.

Our Toy Fair coverage begins with a visit to Gentle Giant Ltd. Known for the incredibly detailed line of mini-busts, the company plans to expand their Star Wars product line in 2004.

While Gentle Giant had focused on characters from the Attack of the Clones in their first year, fans may have noticed a recent change to the Original Trilogy. We've already seen Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the incredible Grand Moff Tarkin mini-busts, with Greedo and a Scout Trooper due very soon. The trend continues in 2004 with a wider range of characters and extra attention to detail.

The alien element of Star Wars is represented by new mini-busts of Bossk and the Gamorrean Guard. Bossk is as fearsome as ever, with accurate sculpting and armed with a blaster rifle. The Gamorrean Guard will come with a metallic axe blade and shoulder armor. The pig-like creature will also include a slimy-looking treatment to simulate the snot and drool the dim-witted aliens are known for.

As previously announced, the MBNA exclusive Jango Fett chrome bust will be available to cardholders.

Similar to last year's lineup of Clone Troopers, a much-requested mini-bust of a Stormtrooper (based on their armor from A New Hope) will be available this year, complete with a variety of arm poses and weapons. Whether standing at attention, taking aim at a rebel, or marching through the halls of the Death Star, the Imperial army never looked so good.

In addition to the Stormtrooper, his brothers-in-arms were also on display. The Sandtroopers are not just a Stormtrooper sculpt with extra equipment. They are their own unique sculpt, with accurate detailing and additional equipment such as shoulder pauldrons, belt pouches and backpacks. Similar to the other "Troops", the Sandtroopers will in variations. The Orange-colored pauldron version will come with his specific gear. A white-colored pauldron version (Davin Felth to Expanded Universe fans) was also on display, but I was asked to not show him, as he is not yet approved by Lucasfilm. Not only will each Sandtrooper come with his own specific gear, but each will also come with his own specific alternate limbs. For example, the orange trooper will include the rifle shown and a heavy duty rifle, while the white trooper will come with the motivator ring he was holding when he said "Look sir, Droids!"

It has been said that the digital scanning that Gentle Giant uses for their line of mini-busts is just a tool for the sculptors, not meant to replace the skills of the artists themselves. Never has been this been more true than in the Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot sculpt. Since obviously there is no way to scan actor Mark Hamill from the 1970's, the skills of the sculptor was needed. The likeness is truly remarkable from the hairstyle, to the cleft chin to the helmet's interior padding.

Another bust on display which I was asked not to show is a C-3PO bust, which will be 24K gold-plated because it's "really the only way to do him justice."

Speaking of helmets, the Star Wars Armory Vault will become available in fall 2004, with a new line of 1/6th scale high-quality and unparalleled detail. Measuring roughly 6" tall, each helmet will come with a support base, which may differ from what is shown in the photos, and will span across the entire Star Wars saga. On display were Luke's X-Wing pilot helmet, a generic X-Wing Pilot helmet, and Darth Vader's helmet. Also of interest is that each helmet will be made from a different material, depending on what is appropriate for each character. For example, the X-Wing pilot helmets will be made from plastic, while Vader's mask will metal. A poster showing 17 different helmets was on display, although I'm told there are well over 50 helmets already in the works, with more to come. These will be packaged in pairs, and the first set will include Luke's X-Wing Pilot helmet and a TIE Fighter Pilot helmet, something that has been much-requested by fans. Any resemblance in scale to Hasbro's 12" figure line is purely coincidental.

Another new line from Gentle Giant is the Star Wars Micro-Bust Kits also called "Bust-Ups." Priced at mere five dollars, these small scale models capture the same detail as their bigger brothers, but at a fraction of the cost. These kits will be released in waves of six, as a special theme. The initial theme will be the "Heroes of the Rebellion" and will include Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda (in his Attack of the Clones pose), and C-3PO. The second assortment will be based on the "Sith Lords" and will include Darth Vader, Count Dooku, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Sidious, a Royal Guard, and Darth Maul (who was not on display, but I'm told looks fantastic). Also on display were Jango Fett, Boba Fett, Bossk, 4-LOM, Stormtroopers (who will come in different pose/weapon combinations), and Clone Troopers (one of the few micro-busts that share the same pose as the mini-busts and will come in white, red, yellow, and blue.) I asked about a green micro-bust, but was told that he was not available as this time.

Speaking of the blue Clone Trooper, Gentle Giant gave away a free sample of the Lt. Clone not only as a Toy Fair 2004 exclusive, but also as a way to make up for the problems with the mini-bust from last year.

Lucasfilm allowed for a bit more creative freedom in this line, which Gentle Giant has used to come up with a few interesting base designs. C-3PO takes an oil bath, the Fetts sit atop a pillar of flame, and Han and Luke include a Medal of Yavin. Also on display were Luke and the Emperor's Royal Guard, but I was asked not to show those, since they are still being tweaked and are pending approval.

The packaging shown may change when this line hits stores in September, but the plan is keep a similar style to Kenner's vintage line of action figures, a common theme for the fall, when the DVDs are released. The lower left corner is designed to be a window to see the set inside, although it is possible that collectors will get duplicates. The idea is that fans will be able to trade the micro-busts with their fellow collectors in order to acquire unique pieces, and to build a community among collectors similar to the trading cards of the past.

Another new line on display was the maquettes based on characters from Cartoon Network's Clone Wars animated micro-series. Five maquettes make up the line, but only Asajj Ventress, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Padmé Amidala were shown. A red ARC Trooper with both weapons blazing makes up the line, but was not on display. Look for a few additional changes such as the head sculpt on Yoda and Padmé will come with fur-lined gloves and boots, similar to the lining of her cloak.

The last new item is a series of statues, all from the Original Trilogy. Prototypes of a newly-sculpted Chewbacca and an unfinished C-3PO were shown, and also an amazing prototype of a Sandtrooper on a Dewback, which was taken directly from the 3D model used for the Special Edition movie, complete with C-3PO's footprints in the sand. The first item that will be released in this line was not shown, however, but it will be Luke Skywalker on a Tauntaun. If you think these statues look like they are scale to the Hasbro's Unleashed line, then that's purely coincidental.

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