One of the things you'll notice when flicking through the recent (and highly recommended) Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection* coffee table guide is just how many pages are dedicated to everybody's favourite Star Wars rebel Han Solo. A whopping nine pages feature the man himself in all his various costume changes, including this vintage 3¾ inch Kenner version in his Hoth Outfit as modelled in the stunning opening sequence from Irvin Kershner's The Empire Strikes Back. … [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 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!
With the release of the J. J. Abrams' directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December 2015, a new era of Star Wars movies begins with a trilogy of sequels. And with it, a brand new generation of action figure collectors...!
Many of the minor characters in the original Star Wars trilogy suddenly found themselves labelled with brand new politically-correct fancy names in the extended Star Wars Universe when complicated back stories were invented for even the smallest characters with only split-second screen time. Take good ole Prune Face here, for example, who we are now informed is a Dressellian resistance fighter from the planet Dressel whose real name is “Orrimaarko”. Still can't place him? Next time you're … [Read more...]
One of the things that has made Kenner's ground breaking 3 ¾ inch Star Wars action figures so popular with fans of both the original movie trilogy and also vintage action figure collectors today is the company's unstinting attention to detail even with the most minor of characters in the Star Wars universe, some with the merest blink-and-you'll-miss-it split second of screen time! Nikto here, who was first released just in time for Christmas 1983 as part of the Sears Exclusive Jabba the Hutt … [Read more...]
When Kenner launched their first Han Solo 3 ¾ inch action figure way back in 1977 they made one of the very few errors in the company's history, creating a likeness of Harrison Ford with a disproportionately small head. Eager to correct their mistake, the ensuing re-sculpt saw them err on the generous size with the new Han sporting a oddly large bonce. This, of course, is all grist to the mill for collectors who just love tracking down varieties. Alongside the legendary small and big-headed … [Read more...]
During 1978 to 1985 Kenner created over 100 action figures based on characters in the original Star Wars movie trilogy. These 3 ¾ inch Star Wars action figures became legendary and are enormously popular as collectibles even to this day. But for the fledgling collector, where to begin? Concentrating initially on the first twelve releases – known as “12-Back” figures because the original packaging cards featured a picture of all 12 characters in a row on the back of the card – is certainly a … [Read more...]
If poor old Walrus Man was a rare example of a Kenner Star Wars action figure which saw the toy company cutting corners on movie-likeness accuracy in the design, their work on Squid Head shows just how good they could be when at the very top of their game. Making his first outing on the Return Of The Jedi 65 back cards in 1983, this may be a later figure in the Star Wars original trilogy figures, but he's certainly on my list of must-haves thanks to the sheer attention to detail. And if don't … [Read more...]
Whilst almost all of Kenner's 3 ¾ inch Star Wars action figures were pretty accurate movie-likenesses by the standards of the day, Walrus Man here – later revealed as being called Ponda Baba when secondary characters were issued with colorful back stories too - stands out from the crowd as being one of the least like his movie counterpart. Walrus Man's screen time may be brief, but it is certainly a memorable moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi slices off his arm with his light saber during the famous … [Read more...]