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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

"Droids" A-Wing Fighter Landing Gear Repair/Restoration

A common problem - A-Wing Fighter with busted landing gear. I'd always wanted to add an A-Wing to my collection but quailed at the high prices asked for boxed and even loose examples. Synchronicity intervened one day as I was cruising eBay and found one with broken landing gear in one auction... and a loose replacement part in another. The ship was $50 and the part, $8...

Once everything arrived, the first order of business was to disassemble the ship by removing six screws.

Once it all came apart it was clear that all was not well. One of the landing struts was broken. Out came the cyanoacrylate glue for a repair...

Not good enough, unfortunately. The superglue just wouldn't hold by itself. Time for the big guns...

... JB Weld. This stuff will stick most anything together (except the fairing stays on a 1995 Ducati 900SS/SP, but that's another story).

The JB made "Kwik" work of the repair.

Here's how the ship goes back together...

...carefully laying the engines over the upper ship half.

Landing gear in "down" position.

Screw it all back together...

Voila - one very presentable A-Wing Fighter at a significant discount over buying a mint example. A-Wing Pilot is pretty pleased with his new ride ;-)

How Does This Even Happen? Plastic Reaction in 12" Stormtrooper

One of the survivors from my childhood collection is my large-size Stormtrooper. I have some great memories of playing with him out at my mother's family's farm, especially building a parachute for him out of a handkerchief and throwing him as high up in the air as I could...

So imagine my shock and dismay when I noticed this crazy problem with his hand. I'd never broken the figure, so this wasn't the remnants of an ancient repair... it apparently just happened spontaneously over the 30+ years I've had the toy. I got some sage advice from "Sharp", a senior member on Rebelscum.com, who wrote:

"That's almost certainly a plastic reaction going on there. I'm 99% sure. While I don't know the specific chemistry involved, some of the Kenner softer plastic (hands, bandoliers, etc.) reacted over much time with the harder plastics of the types often seen on the 12" figures. I've seen this on a hundred Stormtroopers and my share of Jawas and Chewies with their bandoliers fused or melted to the body in places where they've been touching for years. This isn't hard to imagine as a great many of the loose examples out there have been sitting absolutely immobile in boxes in attics and such. I've seen MISB 12" Stormtroopers with this type of reaction as well as many whose hands simply fall off the arms. As far as I know, this is no way to keep this from occurring. Needless to say, the folks at Kenner developing these toys were not thinking about the condition of these toys in 30+ years time.

Just another idiosyncrasy that makes these toys so charming!"

Bizarre, eh? Welcome to the world of plastic chemistry ;-)  Anyway, I wanted to post this story as a resource to others who might be searching the Internet for an explanation for this very mysterious issue.

Keywords: plastic reaction, plastic melding, plastic melting, 12" Jawa, 12" Chewbacca 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Vintage-Style ALIEN 3-3/4" Figures from Super7 Arrive!

Yesterday I was having my lunch when the courier truck pulled up. Out popped a mailman and handed me a package that had been a long time in coming...

Back in the Spring of 2013, it was announced that Super7 would be starting production of new 3-3/4" ALIEN action figures "based on" the old unproduced Kenner prototypes. The Internets were abuzz... reactions from ecstasy to nerd-rage with nary a moderate view to be found. Some were excited about finally seeing vintage-style toys produced for this iconic property; others were outraged that commencement of production would somehow devalue the precious remaining pre-production and prototype figures from the late-'70s. Me, I don't see how producing new toys can have a devaluing effect on pre-prods and protos for a line that was never made. If anything, I thought that commencement of new production would increase interest in the unproduced vintage line and maybe even spike values. But what do I know...

Anyway, Super7 marketed the Hell out of the property and did it in very clever ways. At the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, they sold "early-bird kits" that mimicked Kenner's originals for Star Wars. This was essentially pre-paying for the set of five figures - Dallas, Ripley, Kane in spacesuit, Ash and the Alien - for delivery later in the year.

The Early Bird Package envelope
Reverse of envelope
Contents of the Early Bird package
 Super7 also offered a very cool "salesman sample" kit with unpainted "prototypes" of Kane and the Alien. These were available at the Super7 booth at SDCC, in limited quantities. As you might have expected, these sold out quickly (to both fans and scalpers), but were available afterwards on the "secondary market"...
"Salesman Sample" promotional box
Reverse of box
Note included in the box - pretty funny stuff :-)
Kane "sample" - unpainted
Helmet is removable

The Big Chap
Clear dome is removable - inner jaws are movable
Subsequent to all of this, Super7 partnered with Funko on the project, and this development enabled the company to scale up their production numbers significantly, and even reduce the price of the set. As the Internets again exploded with nerd-rage - remember, the new price is less than people paid for their pre-orders - Super7 offered pre-orderers the chance to cancel for a refund if they wanted. For those who didn't cancel, Super7 offered a "secret bonus figure" and the chance to get the figures on blue "vintage style" cards (regular cardbacks would be produced in black). Needless to say I maintained my pre-order status...

Fast forward to yesterday, and the production figures finally arrive:

Ash. Unfortunately Ian Holm, the actor who so brilliantly portrayed the character, apparently refused to grant Super7 permission to use his likeness on the packaging. Lame.

All six figures have identical cardbacks.

Ripley. Very "vintage style" in that she looks pretty mannish. Of course anyone who's seen the last 10 minutes of the film knows that Sigourney Weaver is anything but "mannish"...

Paint app on the face makes her look a bit cross-eyed.

Captain Dallas! My favourite (obviously).
Kane in space suit. Paint app on this figure is very good. The unpainted "proto" really doesn't do the sculpt justice.
 The Alien. An excellent sculpt, very cool figure indeed.

The bonus "Clear Alien", derived from an original production concept for the film. Apparently technical limitations prevented the SFX department from realizing it.

A nice little note included in the shipping box (shown in the first photo of the post). Nice to know we pre-orderers are appreciated...

Well, there you have it. Wave One of the new ALIEN figures. Personally, I really have little to no interest in any action figures but vintage Star Wars, but ALIEN is one of my favourite movies ever and the vintage styling of these toys just sucked me right in... and I suspect I'm not alone. I hope this post will be helpful to those other collectors who are interested in the line, as a photo reference of the production figures as well as a brief history of how they were marketed. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

X-Wing Fighter

"Iconic"! Along with the TIE Fighter, The X-Wing has to be the most recognizable vehicle ever created for the Star Wars universe. Like many young Star Wars fans, I had one as a kid. Not surprising since the X-Wing was one of the three vehicles released in the first wave of 1978 (the others were the TIE Fighter and Landspeeder).

Although I still have my own childhood X-Wing (seen in the photos below) the Canadian Kenner box it came in is long gone (drat!), since replaced with a Kenner US box obtained from an eBay seller.

The box is rather beaten up but I still like it - the "LP" (Long-Play) logo on the box front denotes a "first-wave" (1978) release - as with other Kenner US releases, the later box versions dispensed with the logo. Of course, once the "Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot" was released in the second wave of 21 mini-action figures, the box photo was updated to show that figure in the cockpit rather than the Luke "farmboy".

Naturally, then, I've set up my photo shoot with both versions :-)

Here's my original from 1978. Yellowed canopy (this is common) and dead electronics, but otherwise in good shape and fully functioning. The wing-opening mechanism even works and holds the wings open, which is another item that's prone to fatigue and failure with age and use.

Close-up of the "controls" - from top to bottom: press on Artoo's head to open the wings; slide the switch to close the wings; press the button to activate light and sound feature.

"Kenner Products" copyright info on bottom of fuselage. The ship has been re-released in both PotF2 and  "OTC" (Original Trilogy Collection) versions, with some different paint deco and deletion of the light and sound features. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, "original is best!"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Jabba the Hutt Dungeon Action Playset

One of the later releases from Jedi was the Jabba the Hutt Dungeon Action Playset. Clearly this was one of Kenner's final desperate efforts, as it not only included three action figures, but it also recycled most of its content from the earlier Star Wars Droid Factory playset.

I wanted to spotlight this set in particular, for a few reasons. It features some more of that classic Kenner package design that I can't get enough of, as well as the great "bonus" seal call-out on the front. In addition, this set is probably the most complete playset I have in my collection - as you will see, it includes absolutely everything that originally came in the box (bar the packing cardboard) ;-)

Great honking piece of tape sealing the box, as you often see with vintage Kenner...

"Hey kids! Here's how you can make 8D8 torture Artoo-Detoo!" Step-by-step torture instructions are always helpful.

Free figure offer is prominently displayed. The classic yellow and blue seal on the box front looks awesome as well.

Instruction sheet, reply card and used sticker sheet was also included in the box :-)

Figures in original Kenner baggies. Although the baggies were opened, it was done in such a way as to preserve the original sealed appearance. I love when the original owners do that!

Free figures roaming in their intended habitat. 8D8 is ready to pull down the torture arm, cleverly modified from the factory boom from the original "Droid Factory" playset.

Who the heck are these guys now?? Strangely enough, the Jabba Dungeon set was recycled yet AGAIN with a late release that included three free Power of the Force figures: EV-9D9, Barada, and Amanaman.  I've set them up with the Dungeon to give an idea of what the later PotF set would look like in a play scenario.

The PotF figures do look good, don't they? Even Amanaman is starting to grow on me a bit, but Barada is cool and EV-9D9 is one of my favourites with her cool moving jaw piece. "You're a feisty one..."