Friday, September 14, 2007

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 64: Star Wars Action Figures (Kenner)


One of the great pleasures of being a kid in the age of Star Wars was the elaborate and amazing action figure product line from toymaker Kenner. These small-sized action figures (usually about 3 inches in height, I guess), were beautifully crafted and most importantly - durable. I still have in my possession over fifty of the figures I played with when I was ten years old, and they might be scuffed or bruised but they aren't missing limbs and for the most part, the paint isn't wearing off either.

I remember back in the day that it was considered expensive when these figures were sold for $3.99 by some retailers. Most of the time - if you were lucky - you were able to purchase Kenner's Star Wars figures for $2.50. I remember desperately trying to complete my collection and get every figure possible, including doubles of some (like Imperial Stormtroopers and the "Star Destroyer Commander.") Even in pre-adolescence, I wanted to build my own standing army, I guess.

Another great plus of the line was the gigantic assortment of figures. There were figures for virtually every character in the original trilogy. I'm not just talking main characters like Han Solo or Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker here, but characters like "Snaggletooth," "Hammerhead," "Squid Head" "Gamorrean Guard" "Cloud Car Pilot" and the like. Heck, anyone remember "Lobot?" Basically, if a character had even a cameo in the Star Wars film, you could possess the action figure. That was mega-cool, as was the fact that the Star Wars figures came with accessories like blasters, or in the case of Yoda, a walking stick (and a snake draped across his shoulders). Those characters who carried light sabers in the films had action figures armed with retractable Jedi sabers. Vader's was red, Kenobi's was blue, and Luke's was yellow. I remember I had fun subbing out the light sabers and giving Luke a red one, and so on.


The Star Wars action figures also fit beautifully in their Kenner-produced vehicles and playsets, which also ran the gamut (from the Millennium Falcon to the bridge of a Star Destroyer to the base on Ice Planet Hoth, to the Ewok Village). Seriously - a person could spend every last dollar on Kenner's Star Wars toys if they were so inclined simply because there was so much of the darn stuff.

I treasure this collection, even though it is mostly played out. I loved Star Wars as a kid, so very little of my collection remains "mint in box."

So anyway, here are some photos of my Star Wars Kenner Collection. They now reside in my home office where I work. It won't be long before Joel is eyeing them up with serious interest, I'm afraid...

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:08 PM

    John,

    Thank you for doing a nice write up about the greatest toy line in human history (and this coming from a HUGE Transformers fan). Kenner Star Wars toys are the standard by which all other toy lines must be measured. Being able to, almost literally, buy a figure of every character in the films was the best part! The vehicles were also amazing. They looked film accurate enough to pass muster but were also usable with the figures and sturdy for play. I still have all of my figures from when I was a kid. They are still in their carrying cases in the same slots I put them in all those years ago.

    Around 1988, I realized that I was a toy collector. I went down to Toy R Us and bought some Kenner Star Wars stuff on clearance to begin my collection. If only I could have afforded to buy more! I passed on a Droid's A-Wing! What was I thinking?!?!? Recently I have been sending my boxed and carded vintage stuff to AFA to be graded and put in acrylic cases. I will have to send you some pictures as they come in. The grading and cases raises each piece to the level of pop art.

    There is just something about those Kenner Star Wars toys that just takes you back. Other toys remind me of when I was a kid, but those toys are my childhood in physical form.

    Chris Johnson

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Chris. I totally agree with you: These Kenner Star Wars toys are like a magical time machine back to 1978-1983. I know that there are more accurate figures out there these days that cater to the collectors market, but these toys are just the tops.

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  3. astrid9:23 AM

    My Luke Skywalker figure used to live in my Fisher-Price dollhouse; though he was slightly smaller than the family that originally lived there, I had lost the Dad so Luke moved in. Since he was shorter than the Mom, he was relentlessly henpecked. She eventually turned him to the Dark Side. :-)

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  4. Darren J Seeley9:04 PM

    I'm very impressed with the Greedo figure; in my youth I had to keep getting Greedo because (at least in my case) his head kept breaking off in the most minor of accidents. I kept gluing it, kept falling off. Then I thought it was funny- not only does Han get the first shot, but he blows off Greedo's head too...

    My childhood friend got the Sears (blue) Snaggletooth. I had the red one.

    I liked the Droid "factory" myself.

    I still have a Bossk unopened in the cardboard backing. Never even tempted to open it. The tape within the plastic seal still holds up the gun too. I learned my lesson after my Boba Fett's paint chipped off. (Although, it make BF look a bit cooler, as it appeared that his armor was 'worn')

    One thing I always liked doing was...well, let's say you had a model car and you didn't know what to do with the plastic leftover after you snaped off all he parts you needed for the model car or boat...

    I broke those up, and suddenly, my SW figures not only had blasters...but night sticks and billy clubs
    (and in one case, Luke got a purple lightsaber)!

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