|Unproduced Rebel Commando Micro Collection Sculpting|
|Many collectors are familiar with the five never-released Micro Collection playsets that were in development by Kenner when the company cancelled the entire line. They are the Hoth Bacta Chamber, Bespin Torture Chamber, Death Star Throne Room, Jabba's Throne Room, and Jabba's Boiler Room.
The other Micro Collection item that was in development at the time, but has never been widely known to the public, is something identified in Kenner correspondence as "SW Micro: Set #2 ('83) Figure Promo Special." According to the Kenner document in question, it would have contained six figures: three Biker Scouts and three Rebel Commandos. No playset is referred to in the document.
What exactly this "Figure Promo Special" was meant to be is a matter of some debate. My personal feeling is that it was a mail-away offer in the vein of the earlier Micro Collection "Build Your Armies" offer. That would explain the "#2" in the documentation after "SW Micro Set," this being the second figural mail-away offer after Build Your Armies. But if that's the case, what did Kenner expect kids to do with the figures once they had them in hand? After all, there was no Endor-themed playset to use them with. Did Kenner intend to ship them with a small base or backdrop? Or maybe they were to come with a sort of playmat, similar to the one shown in this Micro concept item? It's impossible to say at this point. All we know is that they planned to offer the figures as part of some kind of special promotion.
Oh, the document in question is pictured above. In case you're wondering, the "R.R." abbreviation stands for "Rocketbike Rider," Rocketbike being an early title for what became known as the Speeder Bike.
At any rate, what you see here is the sculpt for one of these Rebel Commando figures. It's sculpted in a rather odd green wax, which of course is appropriate for a figure representing a forest fighter.
Speaking of the forest, you can see that the base bears some pretty interesting detailing meant to represent foliage.
Kenner utilized the services of an outside contract sculptor for the creation of this Rebel Commando figure and at least one other. This sculptor, who lived in the New York area, vividly recalled creating them over twenty years later when I met him.
What's even better, he still had his personal molds for the two figures he worked on. You see one half of the mold for this figure above.
What makes this mold distinct from the great majority of other Micro molds that have surfaced is its composition--it's made from plaster rather than silicon. The sculptor in question preferred to make his molds from plaster because the material allowed him to make revisions to the figure directly in the mold. He did this by actually carving into the plaster.
Here's the other half. The big round shapes are the keys, which allow the mold halves to be accurately aligned.
Here you see the mold fully assembled, ready to receive the casting material. It has an interesting third portion that serves as a sort of cap and includes a wide gate through which the casting material could be poured. Note that "Rebel Commando" is both scraped into the surface and written on the mold in pencil.
I don't believe these molds were created in order to produce 4-up hardcopies; rather, they served to preserve the sculptor's work in case the finished sculpt happened to be either damaged or destroyed. In fact, no hardcopies of this figure are known to exist.
Above you see our sculpt beside a brown version. The brown one is made from the same type of wax as its green brother, but as you can probably tell its detailing is a good deal more crude. If you look closely at the photos, you may be able to see the remnants of this brown wax in the mold. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the only thing ever cast out of this particular mold.
Incidentally, the rifle held by the green figure is made of Dynacast, and is probably virtually identical to the one seen here. It wouldn't surprise me to find that Kenner created the rifle in-house and sent Dynacast copies of it to the contract sculptor in order to insure they got the look they wanted.
Collecting is a funny thing: Often, when you get deep enough into it, the process becomes less about getting stuff than about assembling information and recreating stories. This post is a good example of that. Both wax items shown here turned up years ago with a Kenner sculptor. The mold was found nearly ten years later with an entirely different sculptor who lived in an entirely different part of the country. It was literally pulled out of a drawer by a buddy of mine who was snooping around the guy's workshop. And the paper document was found in yet another part of the country with a retired Kenner employee who'd long since forgotten what it even represented. But it all adds up to....something.
|Description by:||Ron Salvatore|
|From the collection of:||Ron Salvatore|
|Film:||Return of the Jedi|
|Category:||Prototypes / Micro Collection|