Tatooine Skiff Photosample
Photo samples are prototype models of toys, which are painstakingly constructed by hand for use in promotional and packaging photography. Generally, they were created in the Kenner model shop and then sent out to be photographed. For the most part, standard prototype terminology, including the terms hardcopy and first shot, cannot be easily applied to them, as they usually were creating using a variety of prototyping methods. Whereas some of their parts might be the result of a urethane casting process such as that which is used for hardcopies, others may be proto-molded, or injection molded in plastic using temporary aluminum molds such as the one seen here.

But regardless of what each is specifically made of, the creation of photo samples required a lot of time. Since they may also be used in television commercials or at Toy Fair, they were often constructed as working models, meaning their various action features were functional. Developing a functioning system of gears or levers on the interior of the model was not an easy task for the folks designing and putting these things together.

This model is, of course, of the Tatooine Skiff, a toy that Kenner released as part of their 1985 Power of the Force line. Here you see the top of the model. Many of these parts appear to have been injection molded in plastic.

Here's a close-up view of the back of the model. Notice how rough or imperfectly-formed some of the details are. It's much less refined than were the final production versions.

Another close-up. In this one can be seen one of the action features: the trap door designed to pop open and knock figures over. Keep in mind that this mechanism was likely installed entirely by hand.

Lastly, we have a pair of shots illustrating how the bottom of the production toy compares to its photo sample counterpart. Above is the bottom of the production Skiff. Notice the width of the landing gear and the copyright markings, visible at the above left of the photo.

Now, here's the bottom of the photo sample. Not only are the copyright markings totally absent, the landing gear are substantially thinner. The landing gear of the Skiff were reworked just before it was put into production, so that the toy would be more stable when placed on a flat surface.

It's hard to get a good idea of what this photo sample is simply by looking at photos. However, there's no doubt that it's a significant prototype piece. In all likelihood, it is the model that appears in Kenner promotional literature concerning the Tatooine Skiff; it may even be the very model that was photographed for use on the toy's package.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Vic Wertz
From the collection of: Lisa Stevens, Vic Wertz
Country:United States
Film:Power of the Force
Category:Prototypes / Action Figure Related


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