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Jawa & LIN droid (Tatooine Scavenger)

SWIV: A New Hope
by Artemis

There's just something about a hidden face, isn't there? Even though it wouldn't make one lick of difference, you just want to know what's under the hood. How messed-up is Cobra Commander's face? What kind of being is Orko? Is Shadow Weaver a ragged witch, or a complete hottie? (The former, sadly.) And, of course, just what the hell is a Jawa anyway?

Bands of Jawas scavenge Tatooine for discarded droids and machinery to repair and resell. One of the droids that the Jawas show to Owen Lars during the sale of C-3PO and R2-D2 is a LIN mining and demolition droid created to lay mines and perform demolition operations.

They're little rodent-like thingies, according to The New Essential Guide to Star Wars Species - it's always the tie-in books that go and spoil the fun. Either that, or it's when a TV series gets a movie, and feels it has to go and reveal something important, like Kenny's face (at least the film was good regardless) or whatever the hell it was the X-Files movie revealed. Something about goopy clones in tubes, and Scully seeing an alien for the billionth time and still not believing in them.

Anyway, the Jawa. This isn't the first Jawa figure - but of course, nothing in Star Wars hasn't had an action figure made of it, unless it's only just been invented; I even still have one of the original Jawa figures - but as sculpting, painting and engineering move on apace, it's not a bad idea to go back to old favourites now and then to see what current action figure technology can do for them. This little guy stands 2¾" tall to the top of his peaked hood, and he's quite a good example of packing a lot of effort into a small space.

The main robe is understated but quality work, with a shallow rough woven texture, and both a diluted wash and painted highlights to bring out its texture and shadows where needed, giving it a realistic, grubby look. The lighter "waistcoat" layer is textured the same way as the robe, but just cast in colour with no painting effects - it's largely hidden by the bandoliers though, so its colour simplicity doesn't hurt the figure as a whole.

The bandoliers are one piece rather than two separate loops, which makes it easier for them to sit down realistically over the chest. The two layers of extra bits (bandolier and coat) already bulk out the figure quite enough - not detrimentally so, but it's just as well there isn't more. A light drybrush adds highlights to the pouches and, on the back, the studs and buckles holding the belts on. Both bandoliers and coat are partially held in place by the bottom of the hood, sculpted as part of the head, which is another thing that helps them not sit up too far off the body. Even though the legs are hidden by the fairly inflexible robe, aside from the tips of their toes protruding from beneath the hem, they're fully detailed, with wrapping-bound boots to keep out the sand.

Did anyone else ever think that, if they got the toy of a hooded character, they'd be able to take the hood off and discover the secret? I remember thinking that, with both Orko and Cobra Commander - I was very young at the time, so you'll forgive me being a bit naive. The Jawa's head is all one piece, with the traditional glowing eyes set amid a black "face," covered by the hood. The face has a texture though, revealing it to be a mask composed of wrappings bound around the concealed head - it's quite a neat effect. Although the eyes obviously don't glow, the contrast between their yellow and the black wrappings is strong enough that, under regular lighting with the face in shadow, they do still stand out visibly. Incidentally, the packaging claims that the Jawa's obscured face is due to clouds of insects that swarm around them, which just sounds silly to me - I like the wrappings much more.

Mr. Jawa (or Miss Jawa, for all you can tell, though Wookieepedia informs us that Jawa females other than Shamen are treated largely as chattel, so this one, apparently outfitted for scavenging duties, is almost certainly a male) is quite well articulated for a figure this size. The neck is a balljoint, with good ranges of turn and up-down tilt, though the way it rests against the bandolier straps on the shoulders limits side-to-side tilting quite severely. Add to that a swivel waist, swivel/peg shoulders and elbows, and swivel wrists, and you've got a Jawa who can do pretty much everything a Jawa needs to do.

The Jawa has two accessories, a blaster and a droid caller, both of which fit neatly into holsters on his belt - they tend to make the arms sit out wide a bit, but it's not a huge problem, and can be overcome with clever posing. Both are just simple black plastic, but they fit well into the Jawa's hands, ideally the droid called in the left, the blaster (presumably a droid-stunning ion blaster rather than a pukka weapon; Jawas apparently are quite pacifistic, and don't go armed as a matter of course) in the right, which has an extended trigger finger for the purpose. Oddly, the holsters are reversed - the droid caller goes in the right, the blaster in the left. The head can be popped on and off its balljoint neck without causing any damage, allowing the bandolier and coat to be removed with a bit of effort; the loose hood on the head looks a bit incongruous atop the thinnish robed torso, but leaving one or other of the two layers on mitigates that, so if you have more than one Jawa you can vary their appearances. Doing so does put some stress on the coat and bandolier, so it's not something you'd want to do repeatedly to one figure, for fear of breaking something.

There's also a medallion, or some such thing - a silver coin about an inch and a half across, which is the kind of thing some executive probably thought would be a neat "collectable" to put in with an action figure, but which no-one out here in reality has any use for whatsoever. It's got the Jawa and the LIN droid (of which more in a moment) on one side, and the Jawa Sandcrawler on the other. Goddess help anyone who actually collects these; mine's gone straight into the drawer.

Jawas wouldn't be Jawas if they weren't scavenging something (and a midget figure on its own would be pretty poor value for the standard Star Wars figure asking price), so this one comes with a droid - one of the line-up offered for sale at the Lars homestead, LIN-V8K.

The packaging just bills it as a LIN droid, which is fair enough - there aren't any distinguishing features on this kind of droid to tell one from another anyway. Built for laying explosives in mines, the LIN "demolitionmech" is dominated by its reinforced shell, which has to be tough enough to withstand potential cave-ins and rockslides. A mine-layer arm, sensor cluster, and communications aerials extend from the shell's single opening - on the real thing (so far as Star Wars is "real") they can retract back inside the shell, but on the toy that's sadly not possible, though all four pieces are removable, so if you want a "retracted" LIN, just take them off and pretend.

The shell is smoky black, but transparent when the light shines through it the right way, revealing the rough form of the technological whatnots inside. With the arm and sensor removed (the aerials, being straight, don't get in the way) the shell can be lifted up off the droid, revealing its innards for all to see. The basic white-gold plastic is augmented by silver and copper paint apps, enhancing the look of the sculpted technology - it's at its best when half-seen through the shell, but laid bare the droid doesn't look too bad either.

There doesn't seem to be anything that corresponds to the mine rack shown on the Guide's blueprint, but that could be dismissed as the droid not having any mines in it at present - if it had any when the Jawas scavenged it, they'd surely have removed them. Underneath there are two treads, very much like those on a Treadwell droid (the "mobile tool kit" ones), which makes sense since on both the fictional production line and the real-world film location, the same tread assembly was used for both droids.

Compared to the physical prop used on the films, the LIN toy has only one major difference: the toy's sensor "head" is much bigger than it should be. That's unavoidable - at this scale, a realistically-sized one would simply be too small to carry any kind of detail, so it's an easy discrepancy to forgive. Other differences are quite minor, and simply the result of this being a small plastic toy rather than a full-size prop.

The sensor head can be turned 360°, but it's not really a joint - it's just that the head fits into a circular socket. It's too tight to really turn in place, but it's a simple matter to lift the head out and put it back in facing a different direction. The only genuine articulation on the droid is its mine-layer arm, which has swivel joints at both the "shoulder" (inside the shell) and the upper of the two "elbows." Oddly the two joints offer a much greater range of motion upwards, rather than down towards the ground - the shoulder's forward range is naturally limited by the shell, and the elbow only goes forward as far as a 90° angle between the upper and lower arms; in the photo with the collection number on it, that's as far forward as the arm will go. In the other direction the shoulder can raise the arm just past the vertical, while the elbow goes back easily far enough for the droid to smack itself in the head.

Overall, it's a pretty great "figure" - unambitious, it may seem, but let's be honest, the droid it's representing was nothing spectacular itself; really, it was only notable because it was a trundling dome that make people wonder what the heck it was for. I'm probably the harshest critic this figure's likely to encounter - I bought the set for the droid, not the Jawa (who's in a drawer now), and I already liked the droid itself before setting eyes on the toy. And I'm perfectly happy for this to be the LIN in my droid collection, so there you go. One down, one hundred seven to go...


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