Crowdfunded Star Wars Rancor Figure Is ‘Surreal’ To Work On, Designer Says

Hasbro designer Eric Franer highlights the articulation of the HasLab Rancor prototype.

Hasbro

Return of the Jedi, the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy, features one of the great movie monsters in Rancor. This enormous beast lives under Jabba the Hutt’s throne room and dines on the enemies of the crime lord until his unfortunate encounter with Jedi troublemaker Luke Skywalker.

Hasbro wants to take your Return of the Jedi screens to the next level with its Black Series Rancor figure, currently available for the back on its HasLab crowdfunding campaign platform. Previously, we’ve only seen digital renderings of the figure, but CNET can exclusively reveal new photos of the prototype in its unpainted (and slightly creepy) form.

If this Star Wars collectible is to be yours, you’ll need to pledge up to $ 350 before the end of Monday, December 6.

This will scale to your 6 inch action figures and tower over them, measuring 17.5 inches in height. The action figure’s arm span is 42 inches and its height increases to 27 inches if you raise your arms. You’ll also have plenty of pose options, as he’ll have 45 points of articulation (so you can have him engulf Luke and get revenge, if you want).

The figure must get 9,000 backers before going into production. As of Wednesday, 5,000 people were on board. If the campaign is successful, the Rancor is expected to ship in the spring of 2023, just in time for the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi on May 25 of the same year.

HasLab Rancor face closeup

Look at this cute little face – the prototype is certainly photogenic. The canon name of the Rancor is Pateesa.

Hasbro

It also has four bonus tiers, but only two have been revealed so far: a 6-inch Gamorrean Guard figure on a cute retro card back if it hits 11,000 backers, and a Rancor Pit Display Coin with skull accessories for 13,500 contributors. We’ll update this article as the other two levels are revealed.

The guy you see in the photos with the prototype is Project Designer Eric Franer, who has built up a stunning portfolio of Star Wars collectibles during his six years at Hasbro. I got to interview him via email about making an epic Return of the Jedi toy, why crowdsourcing was the best option, and his long-standing love for this iconic movie monster.

Thanks for your time, Eric. The Black Series Rancor looks awesome, the most impressive. What prompted HasLab to create this guy?
Franer: Thank you, it is a pleasure to share with you an overview of this exciting project from HasLab. The Rancor has always been on our list of characters we envision following the success of the first Star Wars Haslab – Jabba’s barge.

As I mentioned at Hasbro Pulse Con, I’ve featured the Rancor as a Black Series item for years. To me, the Rancor has been the ultimate Star Wars beast, ever since its debut in the original trilogy. It seemed like the perfect time to bring the Rancor to the line, especially since it will be 40 years since Return of the Jedi came out. I love the character, and it was a dream to work on it.

HasLab Rancor outstretched arm, with designer Eric Franer

Franer holds out Rancor’s arm like a proud daddy.

Hasbro

Why did you go for crowdsourcing instead of a traditional version?
The great thing about HasLab is that it allows us to release dream products like the Rancor. With such a large number, it is not something we would be able to do otherwise. The Black Series Rancor is the greatest Black Series figure we have ever made, and the scale of this figure is a big undertaking for our team.

Between the decor, the articulation and the materials we used, this just wouldn’t have been achievable as a regular outing. We are grateful to have a platform like HasLab to give us the opportunity to create figures and vehicles that would never have been possible otherwise.

Do you remember your first experience seeing the Rancor scene in Return of the Jedi?
I remember watching Return of the Jedi in my living room when I was a kid. My dad had shown me the original Star Wars trilogy, and I was obsessed with the Rancor as soon as I saw it. I actually used up the original Star Wars: Return of the Jedi VHS because of how often I watched that scene.

When I was little I thought the Rancor was real. The design of the creature felt so real to me. The size, the roar, the claws, the teeth, his slimy mouth, everything about him was bestial. I spent the next few years collecting every Rancor toy I could get my hands on. I played this scene over and over, on repeat, because it touched me so much as a kid.

HasLab Rancor waves, with designer Eric Franer

The Rancor salutes its many fans and admirers.

Hasbro

Why do you think he stands out among the biggest monsters in cinema?
The Rancor is so iconic, everything about the design is perfect, from the mockup and stop-motion animation to the sound design. The effects still hold today and that’s because of the incredible artistry that went into the design and the original film. Very few creatures can stand the test of time and still look awesome 40 years later.

The fundraising page says you’ve seen the original film up close and in person. What was that experience like? Is it hidden in the Lucasfilm archives, like the Ark of the Covenant?
Our sculptor Tom had the chance to see the accessory in person. He was able to visit the archives and scan the original prop. I was definitely jealous, but he brought back some valuable references that we were able to use to develop the project, so I can’t be too mad. The archives are amazing – there is so much Lucasfilm history, and the whole place looks like the warehouse the Ark would be in.

HasLab Rancor arm claw

What big claws you have Mr. Rancor.

Hasbro

Tell me about the process of making such a massive figure, from the initial design to the finished product.
We first develop the overall concept of the figure which describes its characteristics, the level of articulation, the collection reference and the distribution of the parts. We are also working closely with our partners at Lucasfilm who are working with us to further develop the direction of the concept. From there we move on to sculpting the figure in function.

It’s important that the product looks and works like our original design, so start prototyping the figure at different stages to see what it will look like after production and make sure we’re happy with the functionality. Once the sculpture is approved, we move on to painting and start painting the model to use as a reference in our factories. We are developing several models to finally end up with a first fully painted prototype in order to be able to review the offer as a whole.

HasLab Rancor fist

The figurine’s fingers are articulated, giving you more posing options.

Hasbro

The drool hanging from her mouth is a beautiful detail. What element of this figure are you most proud of?
The drool is such a fun detail, I’m so glad we got it in there. This is really obvious in the photograph! I am extremely happy with how the head turned out in general, the teeth are beautiful. The range of motion on his jaw, the drool and just the emotion that you can get out of his head is so good. Looks like he stepped out of the movie.

So far you’ve revealed two levels of support – the backdrop to the Gamorrean Guard and Rancor pit setting with bone props. At what point in the design process do you decide on tier rewards?
We decide on tier rewards very early in the process. Like everything we do, we work closely with our partners at Lucasfilm on offerings and development. Since the levels are a bonus for the Rancor, we need to line up early to make sure everything is working and performing the way we want it to.

HasLab Rancor clogs

You know what they say about the big-hoofed Rancors.

Hasbro

If this campaign is successful, the Rancor is expected to ship to backers in the spring of 2023 – around the time of the 40th anniversary of the Return of the Jedi. How does it feel to potentially be a part of this milestone?
It’s surreal to be a part of it. Growing up, honestly, I never thought I would have a career around a property like Star Wars, so being a part of Star Wars history and being able to contribute in any way to that legacy is a great thing. amazing experience and an honor.

We’re so lucky to be able to work on a brand like Star Wars. And okay, it’s a good time for the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, so if there’s a time to do the Rancor, it’s now.

HasLab Rancor, with designer Eric Franer smiling

“Very few creatures can stand the test of time and still look awesome 40 years later,” Franer said of the Rancor.

Hasbro

The photos you took with the prototype appear to have been taken outside of the office. Do you fasten the seat belt to the Rancor when he gets in the car?
Of course, we have to be safe, especially since he’s the size of a child. Always practice safe driving, especially with valuable cargo.


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