Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Almost Vintage: Hasbro's Modern Vintage Star Wars Action Figures

The original 12 Kenner Star Wars action figures hit all of my nostalgia buttons full-force. It was the greatest thing to be a kid when the first Star Wars movie hit theaters and the first action figures started hitting toy shelves. It was a "magical" time.

I'm a vintage toy collector but I'm also an illustrator, as well. I've been working on some sketch cards for Topp's upcoming Empire Strikes Back Widevision card set and it has had me dwelling on that galaxy far, far away a bit more than usual. This has led to some discussions about Star Wars toys with fellow blogger Chunky B at Eclectorama.

We both thought it would be fun to find the best looking and best articulated modern versions of Kenner's original 12 action figures from 1978. I've started a meager collection of counterparts for some of those original 12 figures and a stray figure or two that weren't in the original 12. It's great to have them hanging around on the drawing desk for inspiration. I haven't collected these small figures since the Power the Force line back in the late 90s. So, it will be fun to dig back through the last 10 years of Star Wars action figure evolution and pick out my favorite doppelgangers for the original 12. I know that Chunky B and myself may have differing opinions about the "best" figures but I'm sure we'll probably end up choosing at least a few of the same figure for our modern vintage original 12 collections.

Hopefully, this will end with 12 great little versions of the first 12 Star Wars action figure characters and a detailed run-down of which figures were chosen and why. A custom, vintage-inspired stand to display them on may also be in the works. Stay tuned.

To see my past feature on the original 12 Kenner Star Wars action figures go HERE.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kenner 12" Star Wars Large Size Stormtrooper

Kenner released this Stormtrooper as part of their 12" Large Size figure series. Every Star Wars figure line needs a trooper and things were no different back in 1978 or '79.

Stormtroopers were integral to the Empire's plan for galactic conquest. Their look was iconic and somewhat mysterious as we never really saw them without helmets in the original trilogy. Later they would be defeated by teddy bears with sticks, but in the first Star Wars film, they were deadly (just ask Aunt Beru) and definitely to be feared. Their skull-like appearance made them pretty scary to kids seeing them for the first time. There were even playground debates over whether they were robots or not.

Kenner produced the 12" Stormtrooper in very close fashion to the way they produced the smaller, 3 3/4 inch version. Both versions share almost the same articulation... cut shoulders and cut hips for leg movement. That's it. The 12" trooper also has limited wrist articulation that allows his hands to swivel, slightly. Neither feature any head movement. So, Stormie here has a bit of the Batman film syndrome. In other words, he can't turn his head and must turn his entire torso (or body) to look a different direction.

Despite his lack of articulation, I'm sure kids still had quite a bit of fun with him. I didn't have a large size Stormtrooper as a kid. This guy was purchased at a Comic Convention many years ago. It was the first one I had ever seen and I counted myself very lucky to come across him. Of course, these days, this figure can be found quite readily on Ebay, fairly inexpensively.

The Stormtrooper didn't come with much in the way of accessories, either. He has his blaster rifle and a loop of string at the waist for him to store his gun when he's not turning rebels and old people into scorched piles of bones and bile.

I really love these old Star Wars toys. Back in the days before home videos, toys were the most tangible way for kids to relive the films and having a neat toy like this Stormtrooper went a long way towards feeling like you had a piece of the movie at home with you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kenner 12" Star Wars Large Size Boba Fett

This is Kenner's 12" Large Size Boba Fett. He was released in 1979, at a time before his film debut in 1980's Empire Strikes Back. He had previously played a part in the animated segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special that had been shown on TV a year or two previously.

So, when this figure was released, we didn't have much of a clue who the character really was. There was quite a bit of hype around the character before the release of the Empire Strikes Back which included this figure and the now infamous "rocket firing" 3 3/4" Boba Fett that could be had by sending in enough Star Wars action figure proofs of purchase.

Kenner must have decided that they weren't putting enough play features into the figures of the Large Size figure line when they designed Boba Fett. For one, he was designed with quite a bit more articulation than any other figure of this line before. Boba Fett has lateral shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee ankle articulation that most of the other large sized figures were missing. He was articulated more like a 12" Gijoe from this era rather than something more akin to Ken and Barbie like previous figures.

Boba features a see-through eye feature that was, seemingly, borrowed from Kenner's own Six Million Dollar Man figure. He also sports quite a few more accessories than was typical for this line. Another fun feature is a missile that can be removed from his backpack and hooked onto something like a grappling hook. A string attached to the "missile" allows Boba to hang or glide along the string.

This particular figure was our childhood Fett. It first belonged to my brother and then, eventually, became mine through a trade of some sort. My folks hated it when we did that. So, this guy is far from mint and has more than a few problems. One of his hands was torn off and then glued back on. His backpack is also missing one of the prongs for winding up the black cord that's attached to his missile. If you look closely, there's even glue on his face, presumably from "Operation Hand Reattachment."

I always felt bad for the wookies that gave their lives so I could enjoy this toy.

This particular figure is complete, however, which is no small feat with this guy. He had quite a few accessories to lose over time. A complete Boba Fett should include his gun, belt, wookie scalps, shoulder cape, removable backpack, and a rubber tipped missile with attached string and loop.