A regularly updated blog about my vintage Kenner Star Wars toy collection. Some stuff that I've recently acquired; some stuff that I've had since I was a kid. Some rare, some common, but all sharing the warmth, charm and character of the "first generation" of Star Wars toys - the ones we played with as kids in the late '70s and early '80s.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

TIE Interceptor Vehicle



The original TIE Fighter has spawned many variants throughout the Star Wars universe. Some are unique, like Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. Some are unusual, like the TIE Bomber. Some are just ridiculous, like the triple-winged TIE Defender abomination and the preposterous TIE Crawler. But hands down, the flat-out coolest of the TIE Fighter variants is the TIE Interceptor.

My own example of the toy is boxed in Kenner RotJ packaging, the only way these toys were packaged in North America. Let's have a look!

The side of the box demonstrates the "wing pop-off" feature common to all TIE vehicles in the Kenner mini-action figure line - the TIE fighter (and its Battle-Damaged variant) and Darth Vader's TIE Fighter also share this feature. 

This kid seems super-enthusiastic about popping those wings off!

The box bottom repeats the image from box front, along with the legal text.

Box end is just a close-up of the main image and illustrates the electronic features - the flashing laser light and "battle alert sounds".

My recreation of the box front image. Lucky Stormtrooper is saluted by Vader as he's about to take off in this awesome vehicle. His buddies and some Emperor's Royal Guards look on with envy. 

"Hey!" TIE Fighter Pilot is a bit miffed that the Stormtrooper is in his seat. It's a bit confusing to me as to why Kenner didn't use a TIE Fighter Pilot figure in the box art. After all, you'd think Kenner would take every opportunity to promote a variety of figures in the collection. The TIE Fighter Pilot was released in the ESB wave so he certainly would have been available for use in the box art for a toy that was only released with RotJ. Another mystery that may never be solved, but my money is on a rush job where the Kenner folks forgot that they had a TIE Fighter Pilot figure available for use.

Copyright and patent information appears on the battery cover on the underside of the toy. Interestingly, the copyright date is noted as 1978, when the toy was actually released only in 1984. Presumably this is due to the part itself fitting all variants of the TIE Fighter toy.

However... looking back at the original TIE Fighter we see slightly different information - copyright is to GMFG Inc. rather than Lucasfilm Ltd. as on the Interceptor. One other fun fact to note is that the central pod is identical on all Kenner TIE variants with the exception of colour (original TIE white, Darth Vader TIE "evil grey", Battle-Damaged TIE blue-grey, Interceptor dark grey) and the slotted top hatch that appears on the Battle-Damaged and Interceptor variants. 

It still lights up!

Battery compartment. Watch out for dead and leaking batteries here, and corrosion in toys you might pick up second hand.

Cockpit view.

I rearranged the tableau with our friend Mr. TIE Fighter Pilot in his rightful place.

Here's some more beauty shots of this very cool looking starfighter.

Again, I have to say that this ship is by far my favourite Kenner TIE variant and is one of my favourite Kenner vehicles, period. The angular, aggressively cut-out wings and wing cannons are menacing in the extreme. The toy has had some longevity in the toy aisle, too - Amazon shows a Power of the Jedi version as well as a special 30th anniversary "elite TIE Interceptor". All pretty neat but the original is still the greatest, whether flown by a TIE Fighter Pilot or by a mere Stormtrooper!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Patrol Dewback Figure (Collector Series)

Now that winter has fully arrived here on the Prairies, it's nice to revisit a nice warm desert planet... and the Patrol Dewback is certainly one of the best ways to evoke that dry heat of Tatooine.

Usual Kenner box packaging with a great movie still of the Dewback lizard and Stormtrooper rider.

This example was part of the 1983 "Collector Series" reissue, and clearly was a peg-warmer even back then, judging from the "Super Savings" sticker marring the box front :-(

Some helpful play tips here: "All four legs articulated for action poses." A bit optimistic, perhaps, since the legs only swivel on their hip joints.

Look at this kid's eyes as he's playing with the Dewback. Talk about intense!!

Tableau replicating the box cover, as we love to do around here.

"Ain't nobody here but us Rebels!"

I have to hand it to the Kenner designers once again for the clever "trapdoor" feature they incorporated on the riding beast toys. Such an elegant design solution to the problem posed by the straight legs of the mini-action figures.

Stormtrooper on "Dewback tack repair" detail. It's getting harder to find loose examples with complete and intact reins and saddle.

Copyright notice on the bottom of the toy. Not that I've checked, but it seems to me that this is one of the few shout-outs "Kenner" gets on action figures - especially in "by its div." nomenclature. It's usual to see GMFG (General Mills Fun Group), CPG (Consumer Products Group) or even LFL (Lucasfilm Ltd.)... I'll have to check on the Tauntaun and Rancor to see if they have similar markings. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

AT-AT All Terrain Armored Transport

In the middle of a summer heat wave, one of my favorite things to do is sneak down to the cool basement and get out some toys. Last night I finally had a chance to do just that.

The AT-AT (in Canada we say "at-at" not "ay-tee ay-tee") has to be one of the most recognizable vehicles from The Empire Strikes Back - if not the entire original trilogy. I've blogged about this vehicle's poor cousin - the Hoth Ice Planet Adventure Playset - but this is the real deal. Still not quite in scale with the 3 3/4" mini-action figures, but still a monstrously large toy, probably the largest in the entire Kenner line, at least until the Imperial Shuttle came along.

It had a massive pricetag to go along with that imposing presence, too - the remnants of the sticker on this box indicates a price of over $46. That may explain why I never had one as a kid ;-)

Although I have had two loose examples of the toy in my collection for some time, I acquired this box only recently. As you can see, it's a bit beat up, but nice AT-AT boxes seem to be hard to come by nowadays, and the litho on the front still looks pretty good.
This box is the second issue from 1982, featuring a "special accessories" offer sticker and including a set of weapons, backpacks etc.  This box also has the "Rebate" sticker in place.

As usual, I've replicated the box art in a tableau. I think that as the Kenner line gained popularity and larger, more expensive toys went into production, the art department lost their inhibitions about portraying realistic play scenarios in the box art and just went nuts. Did they imagine that a typical kid would have 9 Snowtroopers? But in any case, I love these images; they are so cool, and so evocative of the time.

Snowtroopers ready to disembark. Not sure how, as they're still almost 20 feet off the ground with no ladders in sight...

The rest of the squad tries not to get stepped on...

Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot with grappling hook, one of the accessories included with the Survival Kit Offer. The "rope" wraps around the friction-buckled belt and is tied on the other end to a soft plastic two-pronged grappling hook.

Many parts of the toy are individually part-numbered.

AT-AT Commander and AT-AT Driver survey the situation.

Part number also on the canopy.

Front view of clear plastic "chin guns" and swivelling "head guns".

These guns are often lost. Reproductions are available but should be properly marked to avoid confusion with original parts.

The right side of the toy was also authentically styled to the movie vehicle.

AT-AT Drivers replicate box art.

Another often-lost part: the battery cover inside the toy.

"Pistol grip" controls movement of the vehicle's "head". Button activates light, sound and motion feature - the chin guns move back and forth.

Bottom view of head with chin guns and bulb cover (centre).

Removing the cover reveals the bulb.

The cover is another part that's often missing from toys found in the wild. Reproductions are available and complete the toy nicely. However, it's important to ensure that reproduction parts are properly marked to avoid confusion in future. In this case, note the indistinct part number on the inside of the cover... a sure tip-off that this is a repro cover, as originals have a crisp raised number. Sharpie "R" added just for good measure ;-)

Setting up the box-art scene and taking these photos reminded me why I love this hobby so much and why blogging is so much fun. There's nothing like the tactility of actually setting up the toys to reconnect you with the joys of childhood play. This is especially true of toys like this AT-AT that I could only dream of owning as an eleven-year-old kid!