Written/Created by: Matt
Posted on 3.13.03.

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Through some miracle, I happened across an unused 'Jabba The Hutt' Play-Doh playset from 1983. There's some purchases that are best considered at length, but a Jabba the Hutt Play-Doh kit? That's an impulse buy. If I had given this thing any more thought, I would've probably remembered the zillions of available reasons why I should've saved my money for more important things. As much as I like Jabba Play-Doh, there's plenty things more important than twenty-year-old clay. My purchase was swift and quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid heralded for it's 'quick rip' feature.

I had seen this set advertised as a kid, but never had the chance to pick it up. Toy stores usually stocked all the Play-Doh stuff in the toddler section, and there was no way I was going to waste my limited-time visits to Toys R' Us in the Bert & Ernie aisles. I sacrificed Play-Doh for a greater good. Still, I've always regretted not getting one of these, and that's why I had to buy it now. We're so very rarely given second chances. I doubt God or Zulu are going to let me go back and time and let me restart the day where I hit a dog with my car and drove into a tree in a panic. They're pretty picky with what they let you rectify. Eh, whatever - aren't we supposed thank goodness for small favors, anyway? Having the opportunity to buy old Play-Doh certainly isn't a big favor. Thank goodness for Bib Fortuna clay molds. Thank goodness for Star Wars Play-Doh.

The kids on the box looked like they were having fun. I wanted to have fun. Seemed natural. In this article, we'll be taking a closer look at the original Jabba the Hutt Play-Doh playset, complete with photos of the 'figures' you're allowed to create, and as an added bonus, three randomly inserted references to cheese. Try to spot them. It'll be like Where's Waldo, only without the glasses and the clever hat. You won't really win anything by finding the three cheese references, but the victory does have a few coups. If you're successful, and somebody later asks you how your day went, you're free to answer with: 'Pretty good, I read about cheese three times today.' C'MON IT'LL BE GREAT.

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The set looked pretty good - enough parts and pieces to appear like a quality item, but nothing too fancy, which would've been an unnecessary expense for the people of Play-Doh Village who knew that whomever bought this set was only doing so because it has a big slug from Star Wars on the box. There were several plastic molds with which you could create eight different characters from Return of the Jedi, along with a playmat, a wooden roller, a small 'Skiff' shuttle toy, some pieces of cardboard to keep everything in-place within the box, and oh yeah - Play-Doh. Three cans of the stuff. Sounds generous, right? Well, I suppose it was generous...20 years ago. Now?

Yes, I had three sealed cans of twenty-year-old Play-Doh in front of me. Red, yellow, and blue. I hadn't given up hope that somehow, the cans were sealed well enough to keep the Play-Doh from drying out. Like Obi-Wan's theory that he could handle training Anakin Skywalker just as well as Yoda, I was wrong. First off, the lids on the cans had all but solidified on there. Took a good ten minutes to finally pry them off. Actually, that wasn't a good ten minutes at all. Very, very bad ten minutes. When the dust cleared and I looked inside the cans, I was treated by a sight only curators of ancient Egyptian tombs were previously privy to. The Play-Doh had mummified...

It's almost like some great work of natural art. I feel like I should've mailed these clumps to a museum, preferably for a small fee. Keep in mind, the overall mass of the Play-Rock is only around 50% of what it used to be, and is literally harder than a diamond. Now we all know Play-Doh is nontoxic, and truth be told, I've eaten enough of the stuff to know which ones tasted most like chicken. But this? This definitely looks toxic. I wouldn't go near the stuff. Not even with magnificently masking ketchup. Provolone cheese has the smell and consistency of baby spit when chewed. I was crushed.

I really wanted to do this article today, so I ran to the grocery store at 9 AM to buy new Play-Doh. I don't know why they stock Play-Doh, but I'm not asking any questions. Speaking of questions, I'm sure the checkout lady wanted to ask me a few. After all, it was 9 AM, and here I walk in, unshaven and wearing mismatched shoes to buy a package of Play-Doh from a grocery store. I'm sure she thought I was going to use the stuff either to make voodoo dolls or to lure small children into my car. After she handed me my change, I could feel her eyes following me as I walked towards the exit. The sad thing is, I'd much rather her think I was a pedophilic kidnapper than a guy in his mid-20s who needed Play-Doh to make Gamorrean Guards out of on a Thursday morning.

After grabbing a healthy dose of the color of your choice, you fill the molds with Play-Doh, roll off the extra clay, and pull out your new figure. I'd forgotten Play-Doh's magic ability to form new colors by mixing two of the other ones, and I'd be totally lying if I said I didn't spend a little too much time trying to create hibachi brown. Regular brown looks too girl-next-door for me. I decided to use Jabba's mold first, considering that it's his playset and all. Attempting to match his rather marbleized skin tone, I mixed some brown with a whole lotta yellow. In the process of kneading it together, I rolled off several small sticks so I could write words on the table in Play-Doh. They weren't naughty words, so I don't really feel guilty about it. Here's how Jabba came out...

Not so bad, right? For a Play-Doh mold, the resemblance is striking. If you look closer, you'll notice that the mold also included a spot for you to create Jabba's little monkey pet, Salacious Crumb. I used green for his figure, and he came out looking a lot like one of those mint chocolate cookies. As I found out, he still tasted like Play-Doh. I was curious to see if the likenesses of the other character molds were as on-the-mark. It took a lot of time and effort, but I finally got the compound into all of the other crimson containers...

Let me tell you, this was no easy task. I didn't want to dog it with the colors, so I sat there for an hour debating whether or not Squid Head would mind wearing a flamingo pink evening gown. I bought a Play-Doh set that came with a bunch of colors, but you never quite get the ones you really need. Plus, it's fairly difficult to get just the right amount of one color into a mold for the character's details, especially if you're being distracted by the imaginary floating head of your mean dead uncle who shouts 'I told you you'd never amount to anything!' perpetually. When you're old and playing with Star Wars clay, those kind of verbal jabs really hit home.

Getting the figures out was another problem. The instructions suggested that you use a ball of Play-Doh to pick them out with, but that never works. You don't have many options besides using your fingers and hoping you don't misshape the molded figures too badly. Also consider that these molds are sized for five-year-old hands, not the big ape paws I've gotta use. The cards were stacked against me, but I persevered. Swiss cheese's flavor is most commonly described as 'nutty' by chefs. Here's the rest of the figurines...

Gamorrean Guard: These were the stout, brute, pig-faced guards of Jabba's Palace. They didn't contribute much to the movie aside from giving the creature effects team an excuse to spend an afternoon cooking up drippy fake snot. In the film, Gamorrean Guards have jade skin, but most of it's covered up in darker war clothes. I overlooked that, and the changes are pretty noticeable in the Play-Doh version. The black clay was supposed to mold over his pants, but instead, it looks like he took a turkey out of the oven five hours late. I give myself a 3 out of 10.

Han Solo, In Carbonite: You'll probably remember this - the Han 'statue' that came as a result of those dirty Ugnaughts throwing him into the Carbon Freeze Chamberô in The Empire Strikes Back. I think my figure reflects the real deal quite well - I mixed some white and black together to get the 'metallic' effect, and even used a toothpick to make his facial features appear more brazen. I suffer for my art. 8 out of 10.

Princess Leia: This figure represents Leia as she was after taking off the mask from her bounty hunter disguise. Once Jabba caught wind of her intrusion, he put Leia in a bikini and presumably had tail sex with her several times. Unfortunately, in the transition to Play-Doh, Leia doesn't look too great. They seemed like a good idea at the time, but I think I was a little off with my color choices. Looks more like Sissy Spacek from the prom queen scene in Carrie than a girl who's about to kiss a slimy Han Solo. This one's even worse than the Gamorrean Cook. 2 outta 10.

Tessek: Odd choice. Tessek, or 'Squid Head,' only appeared in the movie for a few seconds, and really didn't do anything but twiddle his fingers on the sail barge. There had to be better character choices to pattern molds after. Tessek presented a few other problems - there aren't many Play-Doh colors that apply to him. He's sort of beige/grey with beige/gray/brown clothes and a beige/gray/brown/blackish cloak. I'm not a clay wizard, I can't make those colors. My version of Tessek came out looking like Play-Doh Leia's ugly cousin who idolizes and envies her. I'm shamed by my skills. 2 out of 10.

Luke Skywalker: Okay, all things considered, I think I did a fine job. Sure, my version has a mane and the starting effects of the bubonic plague, but at least it looks like Luke. I don't know if it's as easily seen in the photo, but the mold places Skywalker in the suspicious position of crotch-grabbing. He's going for a lightsaber of a different kind, roofles giggles. Guess he was a bit taken with how sexy his sister looks as an albino in a pink jumpsuit. 6 outta 10.

Bib Fortuna: Ah, Jabba's second in command. Bib was an alien of vaguely humanoid shape, only with large tentacles growing off the sides of his head. Though he's gray-skinned, I felt that I had to make Fortuna more in-your-face to do him justice. Well that, and I really wanted to use the violet Play-Doh. I decided to make his trademark flowing robes magenta, because out of all the characters I'm making, Bib would probably be the least offended by it. I like him enough to give the figure another '6,' but if I had any class, I'd deduct two points for the sloppy blue spots on his clothes. I ain't got no class.

And those are your fingers. Conspicuous by their absence are more popular characters like Chewy and Boba Fett, but if Kenner and King Play-Doh wanted us to make clay Tesseks, I'm sure they had a good reason.

This wouldn't be much of a playset if they didn't give you anything to do with your new friends, and that's where the plastic Skiff toy comes in. Now you could recreate the fantastic scene where Luke was going to be fed to the Sarlacc Pit....in Play-Doh! That's another small favor - make sure you thank goodness. The playmat itself depicts the colorful motif of Jabba's throne room, complete with the big man's dais and that trap door that leads to the downstairs dinosaur. The toy Skiff has moveable sails and little pegs for you to stick the clay characters onto, which boosts their ability to stand under their own power by a cool 2%. To make mine stand up involved turning everyone's legs into a glob of spherical clay substantial enough to support their torsos. It made everyone look like shitty melting people, but at least they were standing.

I admit, my recreation of the film would've carried more emotional weight if Luke was up against villains who weren't hot pink or carrying burnt turkey dinners. Still, I like my version of the scene better. I can smash everyone at a crab mallet at any given time and tell Yoda that there's a new Force in town.

Meanwhile, Jabba passes the time by molesting Princess Leia. That scene used to disturb me, but it loses something in the transition to Play-Doh. Jabba looks more like he's eating an oversized Star Wars ice pop than attempting to tongue an Alderaanian dignitary. Ice pops are fun, but I don't think Jabba's gonna break out with the celebratory 'Bo Shudas' over this version of Leia. Muenster cheese has an edible orange rind and a soft white interior.

All in all, I've got no complaints. Play-Doh's fun enough on its own - once you add in character molds to make Gamorrean Guards and Jabba's little monkey, it's an afternoon of the 'time flies' variety. Though the set doesn't come with any of those cool devices that let you create strands of star-shaped clay macaroni, it does come with a shitty toy plane. That's good enough for me. I wouldn't recommend going out and paying the inflated collector's price for this kit, but if anyone ever gives you the choice of receiving this or a t-shirt with an iron-on representing your astrological sign, take the Play-Doh. Take the Play-Doh, man.



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