‘Star Wars’ Collectibles & Toys Review: Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks 6-inch Scale Action Figure Review

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life. – Character biographical blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks

On January 21, 2021, Hasbro released a new deluxe figure, Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks in the new-style packaging for the 6-inch scale action figures based on heroes, villains, and sidekicks from the Star Wars multimedia franchise. Based on the computer-generated animated character introduced in writer-director’s 1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (aka Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), Jar Jar Binks represents what is considered by many fans and critics of the Skywalker Saga to be one of the most divisive characters ever created for that story set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Promotional photo from the Hasbro Pulse website. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

The 6-inch-scale The Black Series Jar Jar Binks deluxe figure is carefully detailed to look like the character from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, featuring premium detail and multiple points of articulation. – Product description blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

Billed by the manufacturer as a “deluxe figure” along the lines of Chewbacca & C-3PO, this 2021 addition to the Star Wars The Black Series collection depicts the character performed and voiced by actor Achmed Best as he appears in the Battle of Naboo sequence in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

This was the only instance in the live-action Skywalker Saga films in which the hapless Gungan – a guileless, big-hearted, and goofy “accidental hero” with a penchant for getting himself in trouble – gets  to be a Star Wars action hero. Accordingly, the big-eared, stalky-eyed amphibian is equipped with a small arsenal of Gungan weapons.

Jar Jar Binks in his only live-action depiction as an action hero. Here, he stoically wields a cesta. Promotional photo by Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

This Star Wars The Black Series deluxe action figure comes with 3 Jar Jar Binks-inspired accessories that make great additions to any Star Wars collection. – Product description blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

The weapons Jar Jar wields here are:

  • A Gungan cesta, which is a kind of spear that can either be used as a two-handed stabbing weapon or a hand-thrown missile
  • A personal hand-held energy shield based on the same tech used to create the larger fambaa-mounted energy shield used in the Battle of Naboo by the Gungan army
  • An “atlatl” throwing stick that hurls energy balls, Gungan weapons that are like sticky grenades designed to short out the delicate electronics of battle droids and Trade Federation tanks

Per David West Reynolds’ Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary:

General Jar Jar

Boss Nass misinterprets Jar Jar’s connections with the newly favored Naboo royalty as maturity and makes him a general in the Gungan Grand Army – much to the dismay of the troops he is to “command.” Jar Jar lives up to their expectations when he panics during combat, falls off his mount, and instantly surrenders when surrounded.  Fortunately, few soldiers pay the new general any attention and, since the Gungans win the battle anyway, Boss Nass is none the wiser.[1]

Though Jar Jar holds the rank of general – a posting that leads eventually to his appointment as Junior Representative from Naboo to the Galactic Congress on Coruscant – he does not wear a formal uniform. Instead, the lanky Gungan wears a kind of brass-colored breastplate over castoff clothes that include a brown sleeveless tank top and old traditional Gungan-style stretch pants. Jar Jar wears no shoes or boots; instead he walks around on his bare but tough stubby-toed feet.

Star Wars The Black Series

Kids and collectors alike can imagine the biggest battles and missions in the Star Wars saga with figures from Star Wars The Black Series! With exquisite features and decoration, this series embodies the quality and realism that Star Wars devotees love. Star Wars The Black Series includes figures, vehicles, and roleplay items from the 40-plus-year legacy of the Star Wars Galaxy, including comics, movies, and animated series. Imagine the excitement and adventure from a galaxy far, far away with figures from Star Wars The Black Series! (Additional products each sold separately. Subject to availability.) – Hasbro promotional blurb touting the Star Wars The Black Series collection

My Take

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

As an outcast, Jar Jar spends much of his time in the Naboo swampland. It’s there that the hapless Gungan encounters a pair of Jedi as they elude enemy forces. – Manufacturer’s product blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

I received my Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks deluxe figure as part of the Caregiver’s assortment of presents for my 58th birthday in March. She bought me this character figure partly because she knew I did not have a 6-inch scale action figure of Jar Jar in my modest Star Wars The Black Series collection, but I suspect that the primary reason is that she loves Jar Jar Binks – he’s her favorite character from the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.

I am not as enamored of Jar Jar as the Caregiver, but unlike many Star Wars fans who grew up with George Lucas’s Original Trilogy, I don’t hate the character, either. When I watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace back in 1999, I knew that he was created as the film’s comedy relief character, just as Artoo Detoo and See Threepio were the Laurel and Hardy element of 1977’s Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2021 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Hasbro did a nice job with the sculpt and paint job (aka deco in action figure lingo) for Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks. The figure is a nice 6-inch scale rendition of the Gungan exile-turned-hero and replicates his gangly, comical features, including the eyestalks with nictitating membranes, the long hailu (earlobes), the orange-hued mottled skin that is suited for camouflage, and Jar Jar’s skinny body and limbs – he apparently does not eat well while in exile, you see – that made him a natural character ready-made as a CGI animated character.

 I have been collecting Star Wars action figures, vehicles, and their accessories for a long time. 43 years, to be exact. I was given my first two 3.75-inch action figures (Artoo Detoo and See Threepio) and the Landspeeder vehicle from the original Kenner Star Wars collection for my 15th birthday in 1978.

Star Wars fans and collectors can display this highly poseable, fully articulated figure, featuring premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection.  – Manufacturer’s product blurb, Hasbro Pulse website

Since then, especially in the 1990s and after Hasbro bought its archrival Kenner Parker from Tonka in 1991, Star Wars figures have benefitted from advances in toy manufacturing and design. With computer assisted design/computer assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM) tools, Hasbro’s U.S.-based designers and China-based factories can now create action figures of various scales that are more “realistic” than their Kenner era ancestors.

Kenner’s first generation figures were nicely done by the standards of the late Seventies and early Eighties, but let’s be honest. The toymaking tools and techniques of the era could not produce small plastic – or in the case of a few droid action figures, vacuum-metal – replicas of humans, robots, or non-human characters seen in the Original Trilogy. Though Kenner got better at creating sculpts of human characters like Han Solo, Princess Leia, or Luke Skywalker between 1978 and 1985, alien and “masked” characters such as Darth Vader and the various Imperial troop variants (Stormtrooper, Biker Scout, TIE Fighter Pilot, and AT-AT Driver) fared better than “barefaced” humans. So did some of the droids, although Kenner opted to do the body detailing of “astromechs” such as Artoo Detoo as wraparound decals instead of sculpting and painting each figure’s “body.”

Another limitation of early Kenner figures was the number of points of articulation (POAS) each character had. Most human and humanoid characters’ figures had five POAs, which are analogous to joints in the human anatomy and allow collectors and kids to pose their figures in action stances. A few figures – the original Chewbacca comes to mind – had only four POAs because Kenner did not add a swivel point at the neck so they could “turn” their heads, and there were a few figures that only had three!

Jar Jar Binks, like most of the figures in Hasbro’s eight-year-old Star Wars The Black Series reflects the company’s efforts to make action figures that are fun for kids to play with but also have authentic-looking detailing and movie-accurate “deco” that appeals to older collectors.

Following trends that began in the early 2000s with Hasbro’s various Star Wars lines of 3.75-inch scale figures (including ones for the original iteration of Star Wars The Black Series), this Jar Jar Binks 6-inch figure has more POAs –  (12) than Kenner’s original Star Wars figures.

Of course, the more POAs a figure is endowed with, the more “toy-like” it looks because the seams in the plastic are difficult to hide. That is true of this figure; those joints, especially the one in Jar Jar Binks’ neck, mars the otherwise life-like look of the character. It can’t be helped though; unless you want to get a totally lifelike but static figurine for display, this is as good as you get for a Star Wars deluxe figure as far as cinematic accuracy is concerned.

Perhaps because Hasbro chose to depict Jar Jar as he appears in the battle scenes from Act III of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars The Black Series Jar Jar Binks has a stoic look that is not as goofy-looking as his more comedic smiling countenance in earlier bits of Lucas’s 1999 film.

The packaging follows the conventions of the style introduced last year. The package’s front features a window through which you see Jar Jar Binks and his accessories – the cesta, the atlatl with its energy ball, and Jar Jar’s energy shield – in their accurately detailed glory.

On the reverse side, we see the usual Star Wars The Black Series “info panel” stuff, with the character description blurb (A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life) printed in English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese along the left side, with a detail from the side panel illustration on the right. Below that, we see that this is figure 01 of this new line from Hasbro, plus copyright and product info in many languages, including Greek, Arabic, Polish, Italian, Greek, Romanian, Swedish, and Finnish.

Although Jar Jar Binks would not have been my first choice had I decided to buy a Star Wars The Black Series action figure from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace on my own (I might have gone for a Darth Maul or Qui-Gon Jinn figure instead), this was a nice gift from the Caregiver for my 58th birthday.

And if truth be told, it’s a nicely done collectible action figure, even taking into consideration those distracting “seams” where the points of articulation are located.

Well, that about wraps it up for this review of a new Star Wars The Black Series collectible figure. I had fun writing it, and I hope you will find it both enjoyable and informative.

Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and find joy in even the small things in life. (Including action figures!) And remember, the Force will be with you…always. 

[1] Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, 2008 edition, pages 43-44

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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