Saturday, May 26, 2007

Star Wars 30th Anniversary Special - part 26

Here's a look at what is probably the second most well known of the action figures from the original Kenner line, the blue Snaggletooth.

Kenner only made four of the cantina aliens, in wildly different costumes from how they appeared in the movie. They were generally working from headshots, often in black and white, of the characters as they appeared in the film, and had to extrapolate as to what the rest of the character might look like. If you look at the image of the character they ended up calling "Walrus Man," you'll notice they gave him flipper like feet. "Hammerhead" is the most accurate, as they were obviously working from the sketch by Ron Cobb, shown in the post from 2 days ago.

Nobody at Lucasfilm took any exception to Walrus Man's feet, or Greedo's radically different outfit, but for some reason there was a problem with the character that came to be known as "Snaggletooth."

The four cantina characters were originally sold as a set that came with a cardboard backdrop, shown here, called the "Cantina Adventure Set." This set was sold exclusively by Sears for Christmas 1978. The four characters could also be purchased in pairs, without the cheap backdrop, which is how I received mine all those Christmases ago.

The Snaggletooth, shown with the set was how he was initially released, a tall fellow with a blue jumpsuit and silver boots. Apparently this was wrong.

The blue Snaggletooth also appeared in the Kenner catalogue images for the forthcoming "Star Wars Cantina Cafe" playset, seen here as a prototype also with a walrus man with a radically different, and more accurate, color scheme for his costume.

On a different page of that same catalogue, the revised Snaggletooth is shown, with a red jumpsuit, bare feet, and at a stature that would make him about the height of a jawa. This is the figure that would be carded and available in stores (along with the other three cantina characters) in Spring 1979. It also replaced the blue Snaggletooth in later versions of the Sears set.

Why the change? The character, in its revised version, seems to represent a character called "Zutmore," or "Zutton" who appeared in the "Star Wars Holiday Special," only Zutton, or Zutmore wore shoes, and, while on the short side, didn't seem to be a little person in a costume. This is the character in the first movie photo shown here, which was also used on the card for the figure.

The Snaggletooth character is a member of an alien race known as snivvians, at least two, possibly three of which can be seen in the Mos Eisley cantina. One can be seen at the extreme right, sharing a table with a mostly bald human, as Luke and C-3PO walk down the steps into the cantina. This same snivvian/human pair can be seen to the left of Han's booth as the stormtroopers walk past. A second snivvian can be seen on the left of frame, right next to the crocodile-like Sai'torr Kal Fas, as Wuher, the bartender tells Luke "We don't serve their kind here. Another appears at a table with a jawa, and a hooded mouse-like creature called a ranat, all three of whom turn their heads in reaction to Han blasting Greedo. None of these characters is particularly short. The same snivvian, called "Takeel," who was seen standing at the bar next to Sai'torr kal Fas, can also be seen walking the streets of Mos Eisley, with a profound hunchback problem. He is clearly average human height, as is the other snivvian, both of which are shown in the image with members of the crew here. Why couldn't snaggletooth have been one of these snivvians? It's also clear that the action figure's face was based on one of these, wooly haired, "Star Wars" snivvians (most likely working from the second movie photo), rather than the homelier face of the straight haired "Star Wars Holiday Special" snivvian.

I don't have an answer as to why the change was made. All I can say is that both Takeel and Zutton found themselves made into action figures in the modern line, Zutton, again in reduced stature, but at a height that more reasonably represents the character from the "Star Wars Holiday Special." Zutton was also released in the blue jumpsuit and silver boots as part of a Mos Eisley Cantina set that included 2 other characters.

Here are all of the versions of snaggletooth made to date:

Blue Snaggletooth (1978), Red Snaggletooth (1979), Takeel from the "Cantina Aliens" cinema-scene 3-pack (1998), Zutton (2001), and Zutton from "The Mos Esiley Cantina" screen-scene 3-pack (2004).

No comments: