Gentle Giant creates jumbo Dianoga for Star Wars 40th anniversary celebration

Star Wars Celebration 2017 is almost here.  This year the convention will take place in Orlando, Florida, April 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center.  Hundreds of exclusive licensed collectibles will be available at this year’s show in light of the franchise’s 40th anniversary celebration.  But Gentle Giant wins the nostalgia award for its choice of throwback exclusive ideas–a reproduction of the Dianoga from the 1978 Star Wars Death Star Space Station playset in a jumbo format.

First unveiled at the Gentle Giant booth at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010, the toy company began to re-create the original line of 3 3/4 Star Wars Kenner action figures in the size of the original large-sized action figures–about 12 inches tall.  The company releases limited numbers of each figure with card backs and packaging reflecting the style of the originals.  The company creates the jumbo figures from digital scans of the small figures.  So if you fondly remember your first figure was C-3PO, you could purchase a giant version of the figure to display, or play with, at home.  We at awarded Gentle Giant’s prototype, rocket-firing jumbo Boba Fett the best action figure release of the year here back in 2013.

So taking the first Star Wars creature toy ever released and offering it again in this anniversary year is inspired.  The Dianoga was the only included figure in any of the regular release original Star Wars playsets–all others had to have been purchased separately (the only other “monster” from the movie to be made into a toy in the early years after Star Wars would be the Dewback).  The Dianoga came with its own “garbage”–three sheets of yellow, blue, and white Styrofoam broken into bits, to soften the fall of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca from their famous fall into the trash compactor.  Gentle Giant advertises this new exclusive release, too, will include foam garbage.

What more could Star Wars fans want?  Originally referred to as the Dia Nogu in one of the draft scripts for the original Star Wars, the one-eyed creature was intended by George Lucas to have greater presence in the film.  Ultimately we see his neck and eye and some of his body underwater after he pulls Luke below the muck.  Kenner designed its own version for the creature from the neck down, including its shark-like mouth, specifically for inclusion in the Death Star Space Station playset.

What remained of the original prop Dianoga built by Phil Tippett, prior to restoration by Tom Spina.

Phil Tippett, designer of the original creature, kept the original prop on display in his office for years, and sold it (after restoration by Tom Spina Designs) at auction via Prop House Auctions in November 2016 for a $50,000 hammer price.  The Dianoga after restoration:

The Gentle Giant figure matches the original Kenner toy perfectly, including the large seam line.  Note: If you’re only a fan of screen-accurate figures, the Gentle Giant jumbo line might not be for you.  The attraction for these toys is purely nostalgia.  The convention exclusive also features a vintage style box that mimics the classic Kenner styling.  The marketing information released this week shows the figure as a 2017 “Convention” Exclusive, which may mean it is not just a Star Wars Celebration exclusive, but may be available at other conventions this year.  So keep an eye out for the Dianoga throughout 2017.

C.J. Bunce

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