It’s been 22 long years since we last saw our heroes on the big screen in Return of The Jedi. But on Dec. 18, one of the most — if not THE most –famous franchises in movie history is returning to theaters in the much-anticipated next chapter of their story with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Over the next 20 weeks, we will celebrate the franchise by looking back and ranking the best of the best moments in Star Wars history
Despite sometimes being picky and detail-obsessed, Star Wars aficionados have developed some tough scar tissue relating to retroactive edits to their favorite film franchise. Now, however, it seems there’s a new frontier to cross, as rumors are bouncing around that the perpetually perturbed power of political correctness could relegate the iconic, cosplay-spawning image of Princess Leia Organa in the revealing gold bikini she wore as Jabba’s prisoner/slave in Return of the Jedi to the same IP purgatory as Clive Revill’s version of the Emperor, Sebastian Shaw’s Anakin Skywalker, the Ewok “Yub Nub” song and the shot that Han used to most definitely shoot at Greedo first.
According to the rumor, Disney, due to changing sensibilities, is looking eliminate Slave Leia completely from its merchandising plans. While it was probably safe to assume that we would never again see a female Star Wars protagonist dressed in quite that way, the grain-of-salt gossip seems to imply that Slave Leia swag will be a thing of the past.
Thus, in light of the possible extinction of the vast array of Slave Leia stuff, we thought we would take a lighthearted trip through the realm of merchandising, a practice the great philosopher Yogurt claimed was “where the real money from the movie is made.” We’ll be avoiding the super-expensive statues and obvious stuff like women’s cosplay costumes to focus on the important stuff and absurd curiosities.
15. MIMOBOT Slave Leia Flash Drive (Mimoco)
Don’t let those stunning, sassy anime-esque eyes fool you! Once you’ve managed to get her home, there’s more to this beauty than meets the eye; 8 GB worth, anyway. While she may be reluctant to admit that scruffy-looking nerf herders are her type, she’ll have no reservation about hooking up … or, rather in to a local USB to back up precious data such as any hidden technical readouts to powerful, but oddly volatile planet-pulverizing Imperial boondoggle battle stations.
14. Star Wars Slave Leia Car Decal (Fan Wraps)
What better way to tell the world that Alderaanian princess’ captured by giant gangster slugs and enslaved as an object of ill-gained opulence are totally your thing than by decorating it obscenely all over your car?! Moreover, lest any laypeople unacquainted with the concept of Slave Leia be confused by your whip art, this decal set also provides you with some valuable context-establishing Star Wars logos to accompany the images of these scantily clad visions.
13. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ Collector Glass (Burger King)
While Jabba the Hutt may be the center of focus in this collector glass — one of four offered by Burger King contemporaneously during the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi — the image of Jabba’s favorite, briefly held dais ornament is quite prominently displayed … at least from the torso up. Regardless, this earliest of appearances of Leia in her slave outfit on merch may not be the most explicit, but the image of the Gamorrean Guard restraining her by the arms while they both stand there does add some gravity to the princess’ dire situation.
12. Star Wars: Power of the Force II (Kenner)
While the legendary vintage 1978-1985 Star Wars Kenner action figure line covered a wide variety of main characters and blink-and-you-miss-them obscure ones, Leia in her slave bikini never quite made the action figure cut. However, in 1997, some 14 years after the original release of Return of the Jedi, Leia as Jabba’s prisoner finally received her proper debut in the famed 3 ¾” action figure line. Released in a few packaging variations over the course of two years, this figure might be a bit anatomically disproportionate, but it was still decent, considering that it came from an era when Star Wars action figures made our favorite characters resemble maniacal, monkey-faced steroid cases.
11. Star Wars Wacky Wobbler (Funko)
This bizarre bobble-head gives us a solid bodily representation of our apprehended heroine before going so far to add the puzzling pièce de résistance of an enormous noggin that, like some nerdy Mona Lisa, may have been artistically rendered to seem simultaneously inquisitive and disgusted. Unlike most representations of Slave Leia, she seems to be without her capture collar and chain, indicating she’s free of Jabba’s slimy, sluggish mitts, possibly ready to take advantage of the Tatooine suns to catch up on some tanning.
10. Poptaters Mr. Potato Head (PPW Toys)
It’s difficult to discern exactly which specific demographic was targeted when conceiving the idea for this starch-filled sexiness. While the image of Leia in her slave outfit is currently experiencing a radical contextual change in perception, it is undoubtedly an iconic source of adolescent lust for quite a few generations of fans. However, the folks behind this Mrs. Potato Head rendition seemed to embrace every version of Leia when they jumped on the Star Wars merchandising bandwagon, including the one you’d least expect to see in potato form.
9. Star Wars: Unleashed (Hasbro)
This 2003 figure from the “Unleashed” line of reasonably-priced ($19.99) mini-statues is posed victorious on what appears to be the edge of Jabba’s skiff. Leia’s weilding her commandeered axe weapon while striking a confident, and somewhat sultry, pose. Sure, it probably represents the epitome of the current criticism, but that doesn’t negate the fact that this is a gorgeous masterpiece in plastic.
8. POP! Star Wars (Funko)
Unlike the aforementioned Wacky Wobbler bobble head, this Funko POP effort does not indulge in any pretense of realism. While the scantily-clad nature of the Slave Leia iteration is still in full effect, the unrealistic style, coupled with the signature Funko black button eyes, turns Leia from “sexy” to “cutesy”. Additionally, with the body standing at full attention with her arms on her hips, sans chain and collar, it also belies any perceived notion that she’s being held against her will to anyone or anything. Whether or not that’s good enough for Disney’s alleged new anti-Slave-Leia mandate remains to be seen.
7. Star Wars: The Legacy Collection (Hasbro)
It had been about eight years since the Star Wars 3 ¾” action figure line released Leia in her slave outfit when this upgrade hit in 2009. It was a remarkable improvement in terms of anatomical scale and articulation. Interestingly enough, it was also given a swappable lower torso, allowing it to achieve the iconic on-screen pose, sitting alongside Jabba. It is arguably the best Slave Leia figure, outside of the stratospherically expensive statues.
6. Star Wars: The Vintage Collection VC88 (Hasbro)
Hasbro used quasi-vintage style packing for their 2010-2013 run of figures. Yet, this line actually took them deeper down into the recesses of the Star Wars continuities with characters from not only the movies, but Expanded Universe and even some representing deleted scenes. In this case, Hasbro (for the second time in this particular line,) recycled the mold of the aforementioned Legacy Slave Leia and slapped on a scarf, goggles, and a robe to represent a deleted scene from Return of the Jedi set on Tatooine in which our heroes are caught in a sandstorm on their way back to the parked Millennium Falcon, just after the big rescue effort from Jabba’s clutches. Underneath the robe, it’s still a proper Slave Leia figure.
5. Star Wars Family Car Decal (ThinkGeek)
This sticker set offers quite the array of character choices, which might just make these representations ambiguous enough to quell the curiosity of strangers with ill-intent. Of course, one of those character choices is none other than Slave Leia. In a family with multiple females, it could be potentially awkward deciding exactly WHO is supposed to be bikini-clad Leia. At least with the original trilogy dominance in this set, they won’t be forced to decide who’s Jar Jar Binks.
4. Be the Character Apron (Icup)
Here’s an item for the self-appointed barbecue gourmet who thinks that the logo, “Kiss the Cook” is far too subtle. If the new crop of naysayers railing against Slave Leia think that the rendition objectifies a woman’s body, then this apron could very well be considered “Exhibit A.” Sans personifying attributes like head or arms, but prominently displaying a sexy torso with the indicative slave chain, the image gracing the front of this piece of protective fabric seems to focus on the attributes that have made the Slave Leia rendition such an iconic example of adolescent hormonal tumult.
3. Men’s Princess Leia Bikini T-Shirt (Look Human)
It could be the case that those kooky cooks wearing the “Be the Character” Slave Leia Apron were looking for a (semi) socially acceptable way to wear it out and about in public. Well, thankfully, the libidinous prayers of those fashionably challenged have been answered with this Slave Leia men’s t-shirt. These shirts will undoubtedly be perfectly complementary with demographics who pair crocs with socks.
2. Star Wars: The Black Series 6″ #05 (Hasbro)
Hasbro recently shifted focus away from their traditional 3 ¾” line in favor of the 6” figures. Launching that scale in 2013 in The Black Series, the Slave Leia iteration was perplexingly selected to serve as Leia’s big 6” debut. Unfortunately, the toy’s ensuing public presence generated a great amount of controversy this past summer; notably from an indignant Philadelphian named Fred Hill, who, taking the position of an outraged father of two young daughters, thought the figure was inappropriate to be hanging on toy shelves. Consequently, a media firestorm ensued, which may have acted as a catalyst in the recent backlash.
1. Princess Leia Slave Pet Costume (Official Star Wars)
In a bizarre way, there is something oddly apropos about this item taking the top spot in my collection of Slave Leia curiosities. The controversy about Leia’s gold bikini seems to stem from the idea of a character (Princess Leia) considered to be the prototypical liberated female film protagonist being thrown into chains and turned into a sex object, despite it being part of an elaborate ruse in the plot, leading to Leia actually killing her captor in an empowering act. Seeing the sexy concept of Slave Leia made into an innocuous joke with this dog costume shows how a subject as politically potent as this can be rendered harmless with the magic of irreverence.
Have any important/insane Slave Leia swag that needs mentioning? Drop down to the Rancor pit that is our comments section and let us know!
Previously in 20 Weeks of Star Wars …