Protomolded Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight Action Figure
Perhaps no Return of the Jedi action figure gave Kenner's designers more headaches than Luke Skywalker in his Jedi Knight outfit.

To start with, the character was originally sculpted wearing flowing robes reminiscent of those Obi-Wan is seen wearing in Star Wars. Why this happened has not, in my view, been adequately explained. But I think there are three reasonable possibilities:

1) This was the original, Lucasfilm-authorized design for Luke as a Jedi Knight, and we've just never seen evidence of that, despite the extensive extant material related to the ROTJ design process;
2) Kenner misinterpreted Lucasfilm reference material, perhaps mistaking a different character's garb (Anakin's?) for Luke's; or
3) Kenner's designers (somewhat shockingly) just totally winged it and sculpted the figure based on nothing more than intuition and assumptions regarding what might be in the final film.

But I have to confess that none of these theoretical explanations satisfies me. I think it'll remain somewhat mysterious until a piece of printed documentation surfaces that throws further light on the subject.

After the "robes" snafu, legendary toy sculptor Bill Lemon had a pass at the black-outfitted version of the character. Lemon, who sculpted in a hard material called acetate, delivered a fairly accurate, though somewhat stiff, sculpt, which is reflected in surviving hardcopies. That, too, was rejected, and the figure was entirely resculpted in wax.

All of this revising meant that, at a time when most of the 65-back figures were far along in the developmental process, Luke Jedi was still "up in the air." That last bit is in quotes because it says just that on an internal progression table related to those figures, of which I have a copy.

Anyway, what you see here is a protomolded example of the final Luke Jedi sculpt. Well, it's mostly protomolded: its head is actually cast in Dynacast, i.e., it's a hardcopy.

Why is the head made from a different material? Well, I think that's reflective of still more revisions. Several differently sculpted Luke Jedi heads are known to exist, and internal photographs suggest still others. I believe the head was reworked a number of times, and that this was responsible for the variable character of this prototype's composition.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Broc Walker
From the collection of: Broc Walker
Country:United States
Film:Return of the Jedi
Category:Prototypes / Action Figure Related


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