|Kenner Change Notice for Vinyl Cape Jawa|
|People who love piecing together Star Wars toy history love internal Kenner paperwork. Sometimes a single piece of paperwork can shed light on a mystery that collectors have been trying to solve for years.
Well, where paperwork is concerned, it's hard to get more iconic than the piece you see here. And I do think "iconic" is the right word -- because this item not only provides new insight into one of most famous of all action figure variations, it redefines our very sense of it.
Let me explain: For years it was believed that the Jawa figure, first released in 1978, was intended to come packaged with a vinyl cape, and that the cloth variation was the second, modified iteration of the toy.
It turns out that's not exactly right. As revealed by this "change notice," the figure, as sculpted, was intended to have no cape at all. The vinyl accessory was added very late in development, after the earliest injection-molded examples had been created, in order to make the toy more salable. That's the significance of the "marketing addition" note you see in the "REASON FOR CHG." area. In other words, the marketing folks thought the figure needed spicing up. Probably, without a cape, it looked pretty meager and uninteresting sitting inside of that little plastic blister bubble.
This makes for a pretty interesting developmental timeline. It's known that the earliest mock-up Jawa was made from a common brown sock; it was clearly thrown together with the idea of a cape in mind. But when it came time to sculpt the figure, Kenner had contractor Bill Lemon carve the distinctive Jawa robes right into the figure's form; his sculpt even includes those familiar bandolier straps crisscrossing the character's chest, a detail that is not visible on the standard cloth-caped version of the toy.
Sure enough, the earliest known two-dimensional representation of what became the final Jawa figure -- and likely one of the graphical inputs from which Lemon worked -- indicates that no cape was intended for the Jawa. This is in contrast to the similar blueprints concerning Ben Kenobi, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and the Sand Person, all of which specify that the figures were to come with "capes." (You need to look closely at those old photos to see these notations, but I promise you they're there. All mention capes except the Jawa.)
Amusingly, when I wrote the Archive description for the Jawa blueprint, some 15 years ago now, I noted, "It's just too bad that the blueprint makes no reference to the vinyl cape it was to come with."
Well, now I know why!
Also notable is the fact that the 12-back blister card makes no mention of a cape coming with the Jawa, even though it does in the case of Ben Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia. In the case of the Sand Person it simply mentions that the figure was to come with a "sand fighting costume," whatever that means. It's possible there was some indecision regarding the Sand Person's outfit too. But if so it must have been resolved earlier than it was in the case of the Jawa, because the blueprint for the Sand Person does mention the cape.
Above you see the blueprint image alongside the painting from the Early Bird envelope and three shots of the figure -- one without cape, one with vinyl cape, and one with cloth cape. Note that the Early Bird image is very similar in most respects to the blueprint; not only does it show the bandoliers, it shows the squarish lines delineating the figure's crotch area, a detail not visible when the cloth cape is present.
Of course, at some point soon after the change to a vinyl cape was made, another change resulted in the switch to the familiar cloth cape. Maybe a change notice for that modification will turn up someday.
The story of how collector Ross Cuddie unearthed this piece of paperwork and a few others of near equal significance is an Archive entry in and of itself. Here's Ross' version of the tale:
Back in the mid 2000's I was spending roughly 2-3 hours a night searching through ebay for truly miscellaneous items. This was before, or before I knew about, ebay saved searches. :( I had recently started to look for old Toy Fair dealer catalogs, and Prequel trailer reels and it was one of those searches that brought me to the result with the following header:
I'm happy to say I was one of the collectors to whom Ross showed the paperwork at Celebration, and I think it's fair to say we all flipped when he pulled it out of the Priority Mail envelope he had it stored in. We knew it was legit when we recognized the familiar names of former employees scrawled in the sign-off areas. Here's a snap I took of Ross right after we looked through the material.
Much respect to Ross for making this incredible find and for sharing it.
|Description by:||Ron Salvatore|
|From the collection of:||Ross Cuddie|
|Film:||A New Hope|
|Category:||Prototypes / Product Concepts|