Tag Archive: Star Wars action figures

Netflix is now carrying a new documentary television series that delves into the creators behind some of our favorite toys from the recent, and not so recent past.  The Toys That Made Us features four episodes in its first season of streaming, each focused on a toy line that should bring in a good cross-section of fandom.  The choices for the first shows include Kenner’s vintage Star Wars action figures and playsets, Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, with an emphasis on the 3 3/4″ line of action figures, Mattel’s Barbie, and the Mattel’s Masters of the Universe No doubt Barbie and G.I. Joe should pull in the older crowd, while the latter half of G.I. Joe and Star Wars will pull in the kids of the 1970s and early 1980s, and Masters of the Universe the kids of the 1980s.

Not a show for kids and not another show about toy collectors, the series devotes plenty of each hour to interviews with designers, marketing, other businessmen discussing the nuts and bolts of negotiating deals, like the lawyer for Kenner discussing the greatest toy deal negotiation ever, and the later not-so-great negotiation because of a loose-lipped CEO.  The Barbie episode features a Barbie expert continually bashing the character as a “hooker” as if she has some sort of love-hate relationship with the doll.  But the politics of toymaking is interesting fodder for the right audience.  Should it be a surprise that toymakers have the same ugly corporate politics, the downsizing, the layoffs, and the takeovers, like every other company?  Prepare yourself for several CEOs and designers as they tiptoe, or not, around decisions and employers they wrestled with in the past as toys and brands came and went.  The creators look back both with nostalgia and anger at the former toy companies that eventually terminated their employment.  So look for an unusual take on these toys and these companies.

The next four episodes will be launched on Netflix later this year, and include Hello Kitty, Transformers, Star Trek, and LEGO.  Sometimes what the show chooses to tell is as interesting as how the show tells it.  The eight toy lines chosen no doubt came from the producer’s own focus groups, like the ideas behind some of the toys they discuss.  If The Toys That Made Us really is a one-time thing, someone else should come along and continue the idea with all the other major brands and influences.

We want to see an episode on Marx toys, including little toy soldiers and the 12-inch action figure series.  We also want to see a history of the broad Mego line of figures, Hot Wheels, Stretch Armstrong, and Big Jim.  How about companies like Fisher Price, Playskool, Playmobil, and Radio Flyer?  A series like this needs to cover more “recent” but still classic toy lines, too, like My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch Kids, Strawberry Shortcake, and figure out a way to capture famous classic toys like Spirograph, Tinker Toys, Play-Doh, Etch-A-Sketch, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, and the ultimate multi-license toy, Viewmaster.  How about a tour of the Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers factories of the past?  Who put out more great board games than these companies?  It’s easy to imagine entire episodes on the history of games like Clue/Cluedo and Monopoly.  And how about featuring a current game company that’s been around for decades, like Wizards of the Coast?

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TIE fighter

If you remember the 1970s, you may remember the first time you saw the catalog for Star Wars toys–an insert in any and all Star Wars vehicles, playsets, and large-sized action figures.  Hasbro has published the complete, first catalog for Episode VII of Star Wars, and as we expected from the preview we discussed last week here at, plenty of dollars will be spent at midnight, September 4, 2015–“Force Friday”–as the new line of toys spreads across the country.  As much as for its groundbreaking space fantasy films, Star Wars is known for its landmark toy and collectible merchandising.  Look before Star Wars and nothing compares.

Below, we reprint the new catalog so you can start making your want list.  But first, do you remember the first Star Wars catalogs?  Just compare what was offered for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back fans to what will be available to the latest generation of Star Wars moviegoers.  Not much has changed, has it?

You’ll find 3 3/4-inch action figures, even the first of the 12-inch line of figures, vehicles, lightsabers (although the new line could merit its own catalog), and then those… other items you can’t quite explain.  Like Star Wars plastic model kit vans from the past, or now… is that a Chewbacca Furby?

Here are both the catalogs from Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and the latest–the catalog for Episode VII, The Force Awakens:

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With less than two weeks until the opening of Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, Florida (August 23-26), Gentle Giant, the toy company transmogrifying small Kenner classic action figures into giant-sized collectible figures has announced its exclusive figure for this year’s show: Lando Calrissian.  Originally the 3.75 inch figure released during The Empire Strikes Back original run of action figures, this Lando is a whopping 12 inches tall.  Why make small-sized figures bigger and not update the original designs?  Why not?

The Lando figure will be released at $75, similar in price to previous figures in the Star Wars Classic Vintage Jumbo figure line.  The large figures were scanned from the original Kenner figures and reproduced faithfully as a larger collectible.  The Lando includes his vinyl cape and blaster, just like the originals, as well as that classic Lando moustache and charismatic smile.

The figure also comes packaged on a 1981-style, The Empire Strikes Back-inspired blister card, featuring original front design, in a re-sealable plastic outer clam shell to help protect and display the figure.

Gentle Giant is offering a special pre-order opportunity here.  At that price point you might not want to collect the whole set, but if there was a single figure that is particularly nostalgic for you, this may be the way to enjoy it all over again.  And if you really do want to build a complete set, you have another opportunity:  At Gentle Giant’s display at Comic-Con this year, they displayed a giant Cantina Playset, inspired by the Sears Roebuck cardboard playsets of the early days of Kenner Star Wars toys.  For the next four days you can enter a drawing to win that prototype.  All the information is here.  Note that they are not giving away any of the figures, just the cardboard backdrop cantina set.

The 2012 Comic-Con exclusive is still available at Gentle Giant’s website for $80–the large boot variety Snaggletooth figure in jumbo form.  The original little figure was pretty rare and second only in desirability to a Boba Fett with firing rocket, and only included in a Sears Roebuck Star Wars Cantina Adventure playset.  The grail of original collectors, this is another cool figure in the jumbo line.

Unfortunately my favorite figure is already sold out–this Chewbacca figure, but I’m sure a Boba Fett would be fun to get, too.

Or an original Luke.  Or  this Ben Kenobi…

Or… (all the figures so far available in the jumbo line can be found here).

C.J. Bunce

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