Monday, January 17, 2011

Kenner Star Wars Large Size Jawa (12" Scale)

This is Kenner's Large Sized 8" Jawa from 1978. He's the last of the twelve that I'll be reviewing on Yesterville. Maybe I'll have to set up a Star Wars Large Sized "family photo" as a finale to finally finishing all the Large Sized Star Wars figures.

One of the great things about the original Star Wars trilogy was the fact that George Lucas didn't feel like he had to explain everything... or give us a glimpse under every helmet or head covering. Who was under the Stormtrooper helmets? Who knows? What does Boba Fett look like? Is he human? Who knows? This was part of the fun of Jawas, too. As a kid, it was pretty fascinating to see Jawas for the first time in Star Wars. Those covered faces, strange voices, and light-up eyes were pretty startling. I always wondered what their faces looked like and if those lights were actually their eyes... or lights that they needed to see with. Who knows?

Kenner's Jawa is a pretty basic figure. He has swivel shoulders, swivel thighs, and swivel wrists. He's really not too different than his 3 3/4 inch counterpart. I am glad that Kenner included bandoliers that could be worn over his cloak this time, though, instead of being sculpted underneath the cloak.

I found this Jawa many years ago at a comic convention, as well. I would always make it my yearly goal to add one more 12" vintage Star Wars figure to my collection each time I attended a comic book convention.

A complete Jawa should include his brown cloak, rubber bandoliers (one piece), and his blaster.


Friday, January 14, 2011

1977 Christmas Sketchbook

This isn't really a toy... but I viewed it as one since it was a Christmas present in 1977. I was ten years old and I loved to draw. So, my parents bought me a sketchbook for all my drawings. I filled this sketchbook with many of my favorite things to draw for about 3 years... until 1980. I've managed to keep it all these years and it's one of my favorite "artifacts" from that time. So, I thought it might be fun to pull out a handful of drawings that might be of interest (or something to laugh at) for other toy and Star Wars geeks, like myself.

It's hard to believe that this sketchbook is over 30 years old. I can remember drawing just about everything in it like it was only a few years ago. This is what I did for fun when I wasn't running around with friends. We only had 2 TV channels, no DVDs, no video games, no books (okay, we had books), and no internet. It was a different time when entertainment wasn't as instant or accessible. Consequently, we made our own fun (man, I'm sounding old) and learned quite a bit doing it.

Because the cover of the sketchbook called it a "Sketch Diary," I really viewed it as such. That is why every drawing was labeled with the date and the age I was when I did the drawing. I'm glad I did.

Star Wars Sandtrooper

This was the first drawing I completed in the sketchbook. It just HAD to be a Star Wars drawing as that is about all my brain had knocking around in it, at the time. This was drawn on Christmas Day, 1977... I jumped right in. These days, I have to circle around a sketchbook for a few weeks before breaking the pristine newness of the book. Don't ask me why.

Nerf Football

One of my Christmas presents made it in as the second entry in my new sketchbook. Gotta love Nerf! This present made me feel like a jock without actually having to catch a real football...which I broke a finger doing later in life.

The Six Million Dollar Man Bionic Mission Vehicle

Another drawing of a 1977 Christmas present. Looks like I ran out of room while drawing the front of the craft. The OSI won't be using this as a blueprint any time soon.

Darth Vader

I was really proud of this one, as a kid. One of my first forays into actually adding shading to something. Don't ask me why I drew it so lightly. I thought "Darth" was Vader's first name.


I remember trying to get every detail right on this one. Good thing I labeled it so I know who this is nowadays.

Evil Lord Vader

Crack!! Need I say more?

Princess Leia

I must have switched to another, darker pencil to fill in her mouth. Otherwise, not a bad likeness for 11.


I drew this one on the day that Star Wars was rereleased in theaters in 1978. Know how I can tell? Magic.

Jaws 2

I remember drawing this one off of a bubble gum card. That is ONE doomed copter.

Kenner Death Star Playset

I remember drawing this one for a specific purpose. Like Ralphie from A Christmas Story, I drew this as a ploy towards acquiring this childhood grail from my parents. Surely, if I had taken the time to actually draw the toy, my parents would HAVE to buy me one, right? It didn't work out that way. My younger brother ended up getting one, instead. You're welcome, Mike... I primed the pump on this one for you.

Think about how crappy the ending to A Christmas Story would have been if it had been Ralphie's younger brother Randy that ended up with the Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning. Just sayin'.

Ace Frehley

Everyone's favorite Rock Spaceman. That thing over his head isn't a dunce cap. He's basking in the spotlight while laying down some classic licks.


This is one of the very last entries in my sketchbook. Yoda was a brand-new Star Wars character, at the time, and needed to be documented for prosperity. Otherwise, how would future generations know about the wise and diminutive Jedi Master?

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through my childhood sketchbook. Sure, the drawings are crude but I always enjoy looking back and remembering all those hours I spent just drawing for myself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kenner Star Wars Large Size 12" Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi

This is Kenner's 12" Large Size Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi from 1978.

Before the Star Wars prequels, we knew that Ben Kenobi had a past as "Obi-Wan Kenobi" but we still pretty much always referred to this character as "Ben." If I'm not mistaken, Luke even refers to him as "Ben" during the entire old trilogy.

At any rate, I have to give Kenner credit for producing a large scale figure of the "old wizard" we know and love. Maybe I'm off base here, but it seems like companies would have shied away from producing toys based on older actors. Perhaps, the runaway sales of all the smaller Star Wars figures gave Kenner the freedom to say, "What the heck!"

Like other characters in the line, Kenner produced a nice likeness to actor, Alec Guiness. He looks older and wise without looking geriatric.

The only time I saw this guy for sale back in the 70s was at a small hardware store that had a very small toy department (our major sources of toys were Kmart, Labelles, and a mall store called Clown Town). We used to ride our bikes to this hardware store to see what new Star Wars action figures might be on the shelf. They only had one of the Large Sized action figures for the longest time... and that was a Ben Kenobi. He sat on the shelf for, what seemed, years. This store also kept an air-popper popcorn popper on the front counter with a well-stocked bowl of buttered popcorn for customers to enjoy. Free popcorn and other things like Wacky Packs and Cracked magazine were other reasons my buddies and I made frequent visits to this hardware store.

I picked this guy up in a trade with a very good friend back in the 80s when collecting Star Wars action figures wasn't near the top of our priority lists. An offer was presented to trade Ol' Ben for a couple of comic books and the deal was made. Ben had a taped up, busted leg and was missing his lightsaber. I've since replaced the leg and given Ben back his weapon "from a more civilized age."

Ben has the standard articulation for the human figures in the line... swivel hips, swivel shoulders, swivel neck, and very limited "click" articulation in the knees.

A complete Ben Kenobi should have his white tunic (with black neck and chest insert), brown robe, two rubber brown boots, and his yellow lightsaber.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kenner Star Wars Large Size 12" Princess Leia

This is Kenner's Large Size Princess Leia Action Figure from 1978. Alright, to be fair, this is a dolly... plain and simple. Sometimes, it takes the manliest of men to succumb to buying a DOLL to complete a collection. Convinced, yet?

Princess Leia was one of the original four large sized action figures (dollys) that Kenner produced alongside Vader, Luke, and Chewie. However, she was marketed towards little girls and not the boys that were typically prowling action figure aisles in pursuit of "plastic gold."

As a kid, she was an easy pass. You could hide a 3 3/4 inch Leia at the bottom of your action figure case, if need be, but a ruler sized Leia was another thing altogether. If one of your buddies were to spot her in your collection, you could instantly become the target of constant ridicule and torture (having a Luke that looked like a Ken doll was bad enough, believe me). She didn't come with any kind of weapon or action feature. In fact, she came with a brush and comb set that allowed little girls to style her hair in several different hairdos. There was even a hairdo how-to booklet that came with Leia. Unfortunately (maybe fortunately), I do not own any of Leia's hair-styling accessories.

Again, Kenner came through with a great likeness that looks quite a bit like Carrie Fisher did at the time. Sure, it's a doll-like sculpt but it does a nice job of looking like the character. More so than many more recent attempts from companies producing six-scale version of Leia. Articulation is fairly limited... swivel hips, swivel shoulders, swivel neck, and maybe a tiny bit of "click" movement in the knees.

I picked this figure up in 1988 at the San Diego Comic Con. I've only recently discovered that she's wearing the wrong shoes. Oh, more thing to track down. (If anyone has a spare pair, let me know.)

A complete Princess Leia should come with her white gown, two stockings, two white shoes, a belt, two donut-shaped rings (that are inside her ANH hairdo), a comb, a brush, and a hairstyling booklet.

I've always thought that Kenner should have included a blaster with Leia. That way, girls could join in the "action figure" fun and maybe, just maybe, a boy or two might have wanted to add Leia and her "Empire Crusher" blaster to their collection. Eh, probably not.

All in all, though, what Star Wars figure line would be complete without Leia? In that respect, I'm very glad that Kenner produced her and she makes a great addition to the Large Sized line-up.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kenner Star Wars Large Size 15" IG-88

This is Kenner's Large Size IG-88 from early 1980. He stands about 15" tall and is scaled to the other figures in the vintage Large Sized line. He was released in an Empire Strikes Back branded box.

IG-88 was the last large-scale figure that Kenner produced when the "Large Sized" line was phasing out as the new decade of the 80s dawned. Consequently, he's the hardest of the large sized figures to find... especially complete.

I've always thought IG-88 was kind of an odd choice to get the sixth-scale treatment in the original Kenner line. In the film (Empire Strikes Back), IG-88 really doesn't do a whole lot... he just kind of stands there and adds an interesting and cool silhouette to the bounty hunter line-up that Vader has assembled. Of course, this is most likely why Kenner chose IG-88 to produce in this scale... he's just plain cool looking... and he's a robot.

I remember seeing this figure on the shelf at our local LaBelle's department store (which subsequently became a different dept. store, then a grocery store, and is currently a Hobby Lobby) back in 1980. The funny thing is, he was always alone. I don't recall ever seeing any other large Star Wars figures on the shelf next to him (I do seem to recall seeing 12" Mego Star Trek The Motion Picture action figures very close by, though.). Maybe being a late release, he shipped by himself... I don't know.

I picked this guy up in the 90's a little bit at a time. I started with the base figure and then added pieces as I found them available. I've found it's fun to collect figures this way, sometimes... "the thrill of the hunt" really comes into play, along with a healthy dose of delayed gratification as the figure slowly comes together.

At any rate, I think he's a great-looking figure. He doesn't have much in the way of articulation, though... swivel neck, swivel shoulders, swivel wrists, and swivel hips. So, he's not much for posing in front of the camera. Maybe he's just camera shy.

A complete IG-88 should include his bandolier, four red grenades (that attach to the bandolier), and two blaster rifles (one very long one and one shorter one).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Almost Vintage: Hasbro Gi Joe Talking Adventure Team Commander (Gi Joe Collectors Club Reissue)

There's something special about a Gi Joe. As kids, everybody had one (or more), it seems. Whether you are an older guy, like myself, or of a slightly younger generation, the world of Gi Joe has been kind of a collective experience for many of us.

Gi Joes started as clothed, 12 inch articulated figures. In the early 60s, wooden artist mannequins served as the inspiration for creating a brand new concept in boys toys... a large, fully-posable soldier. Boys were used to playing with toy soldiers in a much smaller scale but larger clothed soldiers were a new concept. Hasbro, afraid of Gi Joes being called "dolls," prohibited everyone in Hasbro's office from using the "D" word in reference to Gi Joes. They were to refer to Gi Joe as a "movable soldier." They even went so far as to tell their toy reps that if they were caught using the word "doll" to sell Gi Joe, they would have their orders canceled.

Gi Joe was the first true "Action Figure." All the great sixth-scale and smaller figures of today owe a debt to the ground that Gi Joe broke all those years ago.

Hasbro enjoyed enormous popularity with Gi Joe during the 1960s. However, when America became involved in the Vietnam conflict, sales began to wane as Americans no longer wanted to be reminded of the realities of war as they bought toys for their sons. Hasbro, eager to move away from Gi Joe's military theme, released the Adventure Team in 1970. Gi Joe no longer fought foreign soldiers. He fought the elements and anything else Mother Nature could throw at him as he searched for wild animals and even buried mummies. These new Joes also sported "life-like" hair and beards for the first time through an inventive flocking technique.

The Gi Joe pictured is a recent (several years) Gi Joe Collector's Club reissue of the Adventure Team Talking Commander. It is a near-perfect recreation of the 1970 figure... right down to the box. I had an original Talking Commander for a short time in the early 70s. I had received him for Christmas and remember enjoying playing with him that Christmas day. However, I have no memory of ever playing with him after that Christmas. I'm guessing that something was broken (maybe I messed up his pull-string talking feature) and he was returned to the store. Whatever happened to that Gi Joe will always be a mystery to me.

I'm not going to give an overview or review of this figure, at this point. Hasbro used the same body and head mold for almost all of the AT Gi Joes. I'll go into more detail about the figure, itself, in a future Gi Joe post. I have some vintage and quite a few reissue Joes that I'd like to talk about.

A few of the accessories that came with this reissue Joe

When you pull Joe's pull-string, he says one of many different phrases like, "I've got a tough assignment for you!"

I really love these figures. I love that they all used the same headsculpt and it was up to a child's imagination to create the different characters and adventures that these toys went through. Heck, they didn't even have names past monickers like "Land Adventurer," "Air Adventurer," and "Sea Adventurer." They were Gi Joes... and that was good enough for us.