When Kenner issued General Madine as part of its first wave of Return Of The Jedi 65-back carded figures in 1983 the resulting action figure followed the company’s hit-or-miss track record of movie-likenesses, with only a vague resemblance to the actor Dermot Crowley who played him on screen. Instead of Crowley’s fair beard and hair, Kenner opted instead for a thick grey Kenny Rogers-style beard and mane! … [Read more...]
Vintage Star Wars (1977–1989)
Whilst George Lucas' surprise box office smash Star Wars movie may have reinvented the science fiction genre, the collection of Star Wars action figures also spawned its own sub-genre in the field.
Since the advent of the recent Star Wars prequel movies (which did not always thrill hard-core fans of the original series), the collection of Star Wars action figures has been subdivided into three distinct eras: Vintage (1977–1989), Neo-classic (1990–2000) and Prequels (1999–present). The vintage era covers the three original movies - Star Wars (aka A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Vintage action figure collectors have targeted Star Wars figures for investment purposes for many years, but many more choose to focus on them because of sheer nostalgia and a real love for the series of movies. It may seem strange today when every cinema release is preceded by a huge merchandising campaign, but when the Star Wars action figures first came out, giving fans the opportunity to recreate scenes from the films and even invent adventures of their own at home, it was an entirely new movie merchandising concept!
It’s a strange thought now, looking back at the original Star Wars trilogy, but Darth Sidious aka Dark Lord of the Sith, the biggest baddie and antagonist of the entire series, didn’t have any live action screen time until Return of the Jedi in 1983 (although a hologram did make a flickering appearance in the earlier The Empire Strikes Back). The archetype for hooded evil, Emperor Palpatine was played by Ian McDiarmid, who has had the very good fortune to reprise his role in all three of the … [Read more...]
When Kenner started out on its 3 ¾ inch Star Wars action figure adventure in 1977 the popularity of the movie caught the toy company by surprise. It would be unthinkable today, where a marketing frenzy surrounds every film released with a potential toy franchise, but back then Kenner were so unprepared that they were unable to deliver any Star Wars action figures to toy stores in time for Christmas! The solution they came up with would become the stuff of collector legend - Kenner pre-sold empty … [Read more...]
This blog has been running a little low on girl power recently, so let's fix that right away with a truly wonderful vintage figure from Kenner's legendary 3 ¾ Star Wars line – Princess Leia Organa sporting her Endor combat poncho. It's a staggering thought today, but of the entire list of 93 characters immortalised in the original Kenner line, Princess Leia is the solitary female. As if to make up for this, besides her iconic white robed figure as she appeared in Star Wars, Princess Leia was … [Read more...]
I seem to have added quite a few aliens from the original Star Wars trilogy to my vintage action figure collection this year, particularly henchmen of Jabba the Hutt seen fleetingly in the palace scene and the various guards riding the desert skiffs in the Sarlacc Pit Battle scene in Return of the Jedi. Whilst these figures may have enjoyed only split seconds of screen time, they were still important players in the imaginary Star Wars universe created by kids back in the day. Bewilderingly, … [Read more...]
One of the most well-loved of the minor characters in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is surely that of the cannibal Queequeg, the archetypal “noble savage”, and dab hand with a harpoon. It's no surprise, therefore, that during pre-production of Return of the Jedi the crew nicknamed this Weequay skiff guard “Queequeg”. After all, he brandishes a harpoon-like pike weapon, swaggers up the deck of a Desert Skiff like a pirate on a sloop upon the high seas, and even forces Luke Skywalker to walk the … [Read more...]
Few characters in the original Star Wars trilogy have divided fans more than the Ewoks, with those that love 'em on one side, and the rest of us, who would happily throttle the flea-bitten teddy bears, on the other! Unfortunately, they're rather hard to avoid in Return of the Jedi. I do confess, however, to actually rather liking this vintage Kenner figure of Logray, the Ewok Medicine Man - and not just because he looks like a sinister version of Garfield the cat! Logray is impressive as one … [Read more...]