Star Wars purists might be interested to hear that in 2013, Lego released an expansion set for the 2012 Jabba’s Palace set. The history of Lego’s development of Jabba’s Palace provides insight into the release of the 2012 revised set and the 2013 Rancor Pit expansion set.
Lego’s first attempt at recreating Jabba’s Palace was released in 2003. The main set contained 234 pieces and sold for $30. Notably, this version of Jabba’s Palace was the first Lego set to be released with Jabba the Hutt, Princess Leia in her slave outfit, the Gonk Droid, and B’omarr Monk. Two expansion sets were available: Jabba’s Prize, a 39 piece set sold for $6.99, including a carbonite Han Solo (no minifigure), Boba Fett, and the Gamorrean Guard. Also available was Jabba’s Message, a 44 piece set sold for $6.99, including Bib Fortuna, R2-D2, and C-3PO.
A few notable figures were missing from Lego’s original Jabba’s palace. First, the Rancor. It is befuddling that Lego saw fit to release obscure characters such as the Gonk Droid and B’omarr Monk, but not to release an important plot character such as the Rancor. Also, Han Solo frozen in carbonite is included but Princess Leia dressed as a bounty hunter to rescue Han is not included.
In June of 2012, Lego modified and re-released the set of Jabba’s Palace. The palace set contained 717 pieces and cost $200. The modified set included Han Solo in carbonite and minifigure, Chewbacca, Bib Fortuna, Princess Leia dressed in Boushh disguise, Gamorrean Guard, Oola, B’omarr Monk, Jabba, and Salacious B. Crumb. Like the original Jabba’s Palace, the set did not include the Rancor. In addition, the set did not include R2-D2 or C-3PO. The absence of R2-D2 and C-3PO was a controversial move because to some, the original sets had greater value than the re-release without the droids, given their key role in the plot.
The addition of minifigures for Han Solo, Oola, Chewbacca, and Leia in disguise were improvements, but considering the price and piece count, the set still seemed devoid of the significant Star Wars scene content and rather like a child’s playset rather than a collector’s piece. Apparently this sentiment was held by enough critics. After the new year Lego also released a Rancor Pit set, which cost $60, and contained 380 pieces. This set was spot on with the minor inaccuracy that the Rancor’s head couldn’t touch the ground with the gate piercing its skull. For ease of use, the gate Luke uses to crush the rancor was hinged to the rest of the set and the gate had a red pull bar, which enabled users to release the gate.
The Rancor Pit set added a chamber that connected under Jabba’s trap door from the 2012 Jabba’s Palace set, making the combination a more true reflection of the movie. A combination of the two sets was an improvement over the 2003 Jabba’s Palace, if for no other reason than that the Rancor had never been released previously. Collectors had R2-D2 and C-3PO from other sets and could bring them into the 2012 Jabba’s Palace for effect, but not the Rancor.
Selling the Rancor Pit separately from the Palace was certainly a smart economic move because Star Wars enthusiasts who bought the 2012 palace probably found the Rancor Pit a necessary expansion. In terms of the quality of the Jabba’s Palace set, however, it seems unfortunate that Lego made the initial set less complete and less interesting. Another 2013 re-release was the mini set including R2-D2 and C-3PO with their escape pod from the Tantive IV. Were enthusiasts surprised? Not in the least.
The re-release of the R2-D2 and C-3PO mini set seemed to have been Lego’s attempt to provide buyers with the droids they failed to include in the 2012 Jabba’s Palace. What does Lego’s carefully timed release of so many aspects of Jabba’s Palace and related scenes in 2012 and 2013 indicate? Potentially, it means the development of the desert scenes from Star Wars.
If Lego intends to turn the Jabba’s Palace scenes from Star Wars into a new series of Star Wars Lego sets, one hopes that the company will release a set of the jail cell in Jabba’s Palace where Chewbacca and Han Solo were held in the movie, a set of the front door to Jabba’s Palace including a corridor into Jabba’s chamber, and the dungeon of holding cells where R2-D2 and C-3PO are taken. It would also make sense for Lego to release a mini figure expansion set including all the characters in Jabba’s chamber room that were not included in the Jabba’s Palace set. With re-releases and expansions to previous sets, the future seems bright for Lego Star Wars.