It’s Sci-Fi Friday !
Spring 1977. Manhattan Island.
6 friends emerge from their subway trip smack dab into a purse snatching in progress. Instinctively they give chase to the thief and corner him in a dead-end out-door parking lot. Police arrive and the boys quickly head for their destination, the Loews Astor Plaza movie theater.
Yeah, that happened. It was a memorable real life adventure to have on the way to viewing Star Wars, which turned out to be the defining fictional adventure of the 20th Century.
Detour aside, we managed to get seated in time to read the serial inspired crawl and feel the imperial cruiser roar from the back of the theater and over our heads.
Who to my wondering eyes did appear…
As the tale unfolded, I remember how surprised I was to see my favorite Hammer Films actor, Peter Cushing, turn up on the screen. Cushing had long ago established himself as a determined Dr. Frankenstein and agile Van Helsing in Hammer’s reinventions of monster movie classics. By 1977 he had also played Doctor Who in two films (Dr. Who and the Daleks, Dalek Invasion Earth 2150) and was an icon of the horror and science fiction genres. So, even his smattering of screen time in Stars Wars added an air of class and extra level of menace to the narrative. This was a serious bad guy, willing to obliterate the innocent “blue marble” Alderaan just for sport.
Therefore, it’s hard to believe that in the avalanche of nearly 100 Star Wars action figures released by Kenner in the ensuing decade, Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin character never got his turn as a collectible toy.
Super Size Me…
Enter Gentle Giant Ltd. to remedy that oversight in a big way. The company, known for their high quality product sculpts for Diamond Select Toys, has its own line of Star Wars figures. They’ve previously released a The Empire Strikes Back styled DarthVader, and Cloud City based Leia Organa. Although based on the beloved 3.75 inch originals Gentle Giant’s Jumbo Kenner counterparts stand an impressive 12 inches tall.
This grander Grand Moff will be released in January 2022 but is available to pre-order as a limited edition exclusive from Entertainment Earth, or directly from Gentle Giant for members of their 2021 Premier Guild. It comes in a classic blister card display, with collector friendly resealable casing.
Other Jumbo Star Wars figure preorders include a beskar and cape clad Mandalorian, and an SDCC 2021 exclusive Return of the Jedi 4oth Anniversary Boba Fett.
I later learned that the Hammer and genre film cast connections went even deeper than Mr. Cushing. Though voiced by James Earl Jones, it was former Frankenstein Monster David Prowse physically portraying uber villain Darth Vader, and Peter Mayhew, the automaton minotaur in Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was in the Wookie suit. Well… the only thing that could have made it better was if Michael Ripper was underneath the Greedo mask.