I had a new Gentle Giant mini-bust show up yesterday. It was a SDCC exclusive, and I think it turned out quite well. Here’s a (admittedly shitty) picture of it.
Now, before you ask, yes, that is a bust of Boba Fett. And before you get too confused, let me note that white Boba Fett collectibles have become increasingly common over the last few years. In 2011, Hasbro offered a white Boba Fett as a mailaway figure, and just last year one was offered in the 6-inch scale as a Walgreen’s exclusive.
But that’s not all! Around the same time as the Hasbro mailaway, Lego offered a promotional white Boba Fett figure, and more recently than that Sideshow Collectibles produced a 12-inch figure of him.
Now, you might be asking, “Why is Boba Fett white in all of these collectibles?” To that, I respond, “Oh my God, you can’t just ask someone why a Mandalorian is white.” If you were looking closely, you might have noticed that most of those products were labeled as “Prototype Armor.” Now, that might conjure up images of, say, the concept art of Ralph McQuarrie or Joe Johnston. If that’s where your mind went, well done! Indeed, in Boba Fett’s earliest concept art, his armor was white.
That said, if you look at the details of the collectibles, you’ll notice that they don’t line up to those concept drawings. While there are numerous collectibles out there based on these drawings, the ones shown above are essentially just Boba’s film armor colored white. The early concepts are well on their way to becoming the Boba Fett we know and recognize, but are of course different enough for companies like Hasbro and Gentle Giant to go produce collectibles based specifically on them.
There is a fairly simple answer to the question of what my newest bust is based off of, but I’d like to give some backstory first. See, Boba Fett originally wasn’t going to be a bounty hunter. He was going to be a “Supertrooper,” and the white color of the design was meant to reflect that. As time went on, however, they moved away from that idea and more towards having him as unique character. It was around that time (June 1978, a smidge over a year after the release of the first film) that a screen test was put together to showcase Fett to Lucas and his compatriots. The official Star Wars website went and made some of the footage from that test available in this video.
The video is hosted by Ben Burtt, who was the sound designer for the Star Wars films, and Boba is played by Duwayne Dunham, who would be an assistant film editor for The Empire Strikes Back. If you watched the video, you’ll note that the concept for Boba has already shifted, and though his costume is white plans have already been made to change the colors closer to what was seen in the films. Though the screen test was never meant to be viewed by the public, it was pretty well known by fans, even before that video was released for the test’s 35th anniversary. It was Boba’s look in this test that inspired all of those collectibles up top, but very few of them are actually truly accurate to the test. You see, when that video was shot, Boba’s costume wasn’t yet complete. It’s not made obvious in that video, but when doing the screen test, Boba’s cape hadn’t been finished. The crew scrambled, and created a replacement out of what they had handy: a Star Wars towel. The exclusive edition of that Sideshow Figure is, to my knowledge, the only collectible to keep the towel, the rest change it to a cape more in line with the movie version (which is absolutely terrible IMO, towel forever).
Now, I’ve essentially answered told the story the title suggested, but in the interest of completeness I’m going to go on a little more. You see, when that screen test was shot, Boba was being designed as a character who could help build hype for the new film. In the video, Ben Burtt explicitly mentions that they wanted him to be able to make public appearances. Well, he did. Boba Fett’s big public debut wasn’t in The Empire Strikes Back, but instead in the San Anselmo Country Fair parade, in September 1978, walking along with Darth Vader. His look had changed drastically from that first screen test three months earlier, but it wasn’t 100% where it would be at for the film. There’s a fun interview with Dunham, who wore the suit again for the parade, over at starwars.com, regarding his experience in the costume and working on the films.
Though that was Fett’s first public appearance, it wouldn’t be the way most people were introduced to him. Before TESB, Fett appeared in the animated segment of the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s widely hated, but its animated segment is somewhat more warmly remembered. Lucas has said in the past that he’d like to burn all copies of the special, which only aired once, but that hasn’t stopped it from leaking on to Youtube. If you feel like watching the animated sequence, I’ve attached a copy of it below. Of note to this article is that Boba Fett is once again in another color scheme, this time some ridiculous pastels, and that several companies have gone and made merchandise off of his look here.
It was a long road to get to Boba Fett’s final film look in The Empire Strikes Back, and thanks to the character’s enduring popularity collectibles have been made based off of every step along the way. It can be a little fatiguing even for the most die-hard of Fett fans. God help us if he ever shows up in a new outfit for a spin-off.
-I do enjoy Boba as a character, though my primary Fett display is somewhat modest compared to the rest of my collection. The newest bust does fit right in, however.
-Yeah, it’s an even crappier iPhone shot. It’s got a Holiday Special color scheme maquette in there, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered, honest.
-I mentioned that collectibles had been made on every step from concept to screen for Fett, but I never showed one based on that parade. Well, there is one. Jakks Pacific made a 20-inch figure of it as an exclusive at this last SDCC. Fun stuff.