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Tag Archive: Kenner Star Wars


Anyone who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy also grew up with the Kenner line of action figures and other toys.  Eagerly awaiting kids learned about each new figure and each new ship and playset via commercials during Saturday morning cartoons.  They also learned about them in the Sears and JC Penney Christmas catalogs and mini-catalogs that accompanied certain ships, games and playsets–making checklists from the catalog for Santa was a key component of being a kid.  Over the next two days an auction house in Valencia, California is selling off a Star Wars fan’s ultimate dream collection.  At its Vintage Toys and Collectibles Live Auction, auction house Prop Store is auctioning off a spectacular collection of the Star Wars toys most kids from the era are familiar with, plus many of the rarer toys and prototypes that were known for decades to exist only through rumor and occasional obscure references.  Among the collection is a high-quality collection of nearly 100 pieces from Lucasfilm executive Howard Kazanjian.

Long before the latest Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill mentioned in interviews that certain Lucasfilm professionals received the line of new tie-in toy products as they were rolled out.  He mentioned that his kids enjoyed most of them, and he’s joked about wishing he’d saved some in the original boxes because of the sale prices some achieve today.  Kazanjian was also on that distribution list, and he maintained the toys he received in the mail for 40 years, some boxes were never opened and remain in near mint condition.  Prop Store’s auction catalog is incredible, a full color book of photographs and descriptive information almost as exciting as the auction itself–an extraordinary trip back through time even if you’re not able to drop $5,000–minimum–on a rare vinyl-caped Jawa or Yak Face variant action figure.

Bop bags, a Luke headset radio, Give-a-Show projectors, all the ships and action figures you remember, and trading cards are just the beginning,  The auction is featuring the rare Cloud City cardboard playset kids first saw in the Sears catalog–the only early playset that included four action figures (currently bidding at $400).  There’s the radio-controlled Sandcrawler (currently at $2,500), rare plush toys each starting at bids in the thousands of dollars, and all but the rare IG-88 figure in the large-sized version that was created for the key characters to match up with G.I. Joe and The Six Million Dollar Man.

But the 3.75-inch action figures make up the bulk of the toys hitting the auction block today.  The rare vinyl-caped Jawa even before the auction starts is already bid up to $6,000 (all bidders must pay the strike price plus more than 20% of the price for now-standard auction house fees).  An original R2-D2 is at $4,000, and if you want one of the rare “Power of the Force” Yak Face figures, it’s going to cost you more than $8,000.  At the end of the initial run of The Empire Strikes Back, I remember an entire wall of Yoda figures at my Target store being sold on clearance at fifty cents apiece.  That action figure type in this auction has already been bid up to $1,000.  In hindsight the figures on that clearance display were worth a small fortune.

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Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner previewed the near future for Hasbro licenses and products at New York Toy Fair 2018 this weekend, including the creation of a new initiative called HasLab.  According to the company, HasLab will be an avenue to bring “dream projects” to fans.  In essence HasLab is a financing vehicle whereby fans willing to prepay for an item can do so via Hasbro’s new online crowdfunding.  As with other Kickstarter or Indiegogo platforms, if the presales don’t meet the demand target, buyers won’t be billed for the product.  But if the target is met, buyers will be charged and the production will proceed.  First up?  Apparently Star Wars fans have been clamoring for a classic Kenner 3 3/4 scale version of Jabba’s Sail Barge from Return of the Jedi.  

Although diehard fans have been building scale versions for their action figures for years, including most recently via 3D printing, Hasbro displayed its mock-up at the show this weekend.  On the design side, to create the Sail Barge (called The Khetanna in the books), Hasbro tapped Mark Boudreaux, principal designer on Star Wars for Hasbro and one of the creators of the original Kenner Millennium Falcon, and designer on other toy vehicles from the Star Wars line including the AT-AT, X-Wing fighter, and Boba Fett’s Slave 1.  Modeled using Lucasfilm digital archives and set photos, the final toy is expected to be a little more than four feet long.  It will feature classic Kenner style packaging, a 3 3/4 scale Jabba the Hutt figure, and lots of features.  The required target to proceed is 5,000 units, and the base purchase price is $499.99.  As of this morning 611 backers have contributed, with 44 days left before the program is closed.  Check out the details at the new HasLab website here.

The mock-up of the ship definitely has echoes of the original Star Wars Death Star playset. And it has the historical feel of an early clipper ship, including a brig in the lower deck.  Here is a video preview of the Sail Barge playset:

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One thing missing from the latest round of Star Wars toys is the miniature catalogs that were included in playsets and vehicles back in the 1970s and 1980s.  These were not only features of Star Wars toys.  Other lines, such as LEGO brick sets, included similar booklets.  As a kid you either learned about the next round of Kenner toys from commercials tucked between Saturday morning cartoons or the big deal for all kids each year–the Sears and JC Penney Christmas catalogs.

Along with the inserts and catalogs, kids would learn about new toys from other sources, like advertisements in comic books, magazines, and even local newspapers.  It’s these advertisements that Star Wars fan and chronicler Philip Reed has collected for his next book about toys.  Now fully funded is his latest Kickstarter campaign, A Galaxy of Action Figure Savings–a companion to last year’s Collect These Figures and Accessories–a 96-page hardcover book loaded with more newspaper ads, toy photos, commercial screenshots, and images of related marketing materials.

We’ve read Reed’s eighth of now nine books on the history of toys, last year’s Collect These Figures and Accessories, an unofficial overview interspersed with trivia and close-up photos of marketing materials and the actual trilogy tie-in toys spanning 1977 to 1986.  It’s easy to spend hours gawking at these artifacts of the past again, comparing prices, and studying those items that may or may not have made it to store shelves.  But fair warning, comparing the costs of action figures to today’s prices is a bit depressing.

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Star Wars Celebration 2017 is almost here.  This year the convention will take place in Orlando, Florida, April 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center.  Hundreds of exclusive licensed collectibles will be available at this year’s show in light of the franchise’s 40th anniversary celebration.  But Gentle Giant wins the nostalgia award for its choice of throwback exclusive ideas–a reproduction of the Dianoga from the 1978 Star Wars Death Star Space Station playset in a jumbo format.

First unveiled at the Gentle Giant booth at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010, the toy company began to re-create the original line of 3 3/4 Star Wars Kenner action figures in the size of the original large-sized action figures–about 12 inches tall.  The company releases limited numbers of each figure with card backs and packaging reflecting the style of the originals.  The company creates the jumbo figures from digital scans of the small figures.  So if you fondly remember your first figure was C-3PO, you could purchase a giant version of the figure to display, or play with, at home.  We at borg.com awarded Gentle Giant’s prototype, rocket-firing jumbo Boba Fett the best action figure release of the year here back in 2013.

So taking the first Star Wars creature toy ever released and offering it again in this anniversary year is inspired.  The Dianoga was the only included figure in any of the regular release original Star Wars playsets–all others had to have been purchased separately (the only other “monster” from the movie to be made into a toy in the early years after Star Wars would be the Dewback).  The Dianoga came with its own “garbage”–three sheets of yellow, blue, and white Styrofoam broken into bits, to soften the fall of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca from their famous fall into the trash compactor.  Gentle Giant advertises this new exclusive release, too, will include foam garbage.

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Hey, it’s the annual Star Wars celebration–May the 4th or May the Fourth Be With You.  So if you see a stormtrooper patrolling your town today you know why.

We found some fun collectibles you may want to check out beginning with John Tyler Christopher’s variant cover for Han Solo, issue #1 (pictured above).  Many Marvel Comics Star Wars monthly series since January 2015 have been producing variant covers to simulate the classic Kenner Star Wars action figures, and Christopher’s is the latest.  Check out his website today for more information on how to pick up your copy.

Toy company Gentle Giant has some cool offerings this week.  Gentle Giant is the company that re-created classic Kenner Star Wars 3 3/4 action figures in a large sized 1:6 scale format.  We discussed the best of these here at borg.com back in 2012. Gentle Giant has great discounts on its Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia in Hoth outfit, Biker Scout, Wicket Warrick, and the Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot.

Biker Scout Gentle Giant

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