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.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Vehicle Maintenance Energizer Toy

The last of the "Accessory" line I'm covering is the Vehicle Maintenance Energizer. And in doing so, I'm bending one of the collecting rules I've established for myself, which is "nothing in the collection that didn't appear onscreen in the Trilogy."

This means no Ewok Battle Wagon or mini-rigs, thank the Maker. However, the VME gets a bit of a mulligan here for me, since it's more likely than the mini-rigs to have been "just offscreen."

Like the other accessories, the VME debuted in 1982 in ESB packaging, but is most often found nowadays in RotJ box.

And once more, there's not a lot of box art to imitate here, just the one image of Chewie holding his hose (!)

But this is where the VME gets interesting - all the fiddly little "hydrospanner tools." Finding a VME that's not MISB but has all the tools with it has to be a rarity - and each of the 8 tools is subtly different. Fortunately, though, loose tools to complete your set are pretty readily available on the secondary market!

My boxed VME came with instructions, to boot. Helpful!

Gotta say that the suction cups are pretty useless in sticking to anything at this point. I pretty much gave up trying to stick one to the X-Wing in the tableau pic.

Another thing that shocked me, frankly, was the price point for this toy. You'll note the "Graham Crackers" price sticker in the first pic that notes a price of $16.95 (!)  Dunno bout you, but that seems pretty pricy to me, when an action figure cost 3 or 4 bucks at most in 1983. I'd have imagined less than $10 as a reasonable price here, but that's just me. And I guess if hydro-spanners are your thing, this is the only way you're gonna get any. Chewie seems to like them, anyway.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Tri-Pod Laser Cannon

The second "Action Figure Accessory" I'll cover on the blog is the coolest one - the Tri-Pod Laser Cannon. First issued in 1982 in Empire Strikes Back packaging, the version packaged in the Return of the Jedi box is considered one of the most common vintage toys. This means that they are readily available at a reasonable price, which is great because it's an awesome piece! 

Of course, a lot of the coolness is due to the fact that the prop on which the toy is based enjoyed some significant screen time in Empire, being featured prominently in the Hoth battle scenes.

A pretty simple box tableau here - just a lone Hoth snowtrooper and his trusty laser cannon. To be honest I'm a bit surprised that the box art didn't include a couple more troopers or maybe even an AT-AT Commander. Originally I'd thought that Kenner was the dictating force behind what ancillary toys were used in the box art, but after asking Kim "The Man Who Shot Luke Skywalker" Simmons this question at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, I have come to a different view... but that's for another blog post :-)

Here's the second tableau - a close-up of the snowtrooper with the "energizer unit" and hose. As shown below, the hose neatly stores away inside the unit.

Original instructions came with the toy, showing in detail how to assemble and disassemble the cannon from its component parts.

The cannon rotates and elevates of course, and makes "machine-gun" clicking sounds (why lasers in the Star Wars toy universe always sound like machine-guns, I have no idea)…

All in all, a very cool little toy. I can see why so many were made - the low-ish price point combined with the significance of the subject must have made it a hot commodity back in the day.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

TIE Bomber Diecast

In trying to maintain a focus on production items, there is inevitably some scope creep. For me this involves some tertiary toy lines like the 12" "Large-Size Action Figures" and on the other end of the scale, diecast.

I still have a few diecast pieces left from my childhood collection - the X-Wing Fighter, Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighter, Darth Vader's TIE Fighter, and Imperial Cruiser/Star Destroyer. So of course I started adding the other missing pieces from the line as I saw them come up. They're mainly easy to find and inexpensive.

So with the other diecast pieces collected, there remained only one - and that's the tough one - the TIE Bomber. Apparently only "test-marketed" in a run of 75,000 pieces (that still seems like a lot to me), the TIE Bomber is undoubtedly cool but hard to find and expensive.

Condition is key for this ship too - the white plastic parts tend to yellow significantly and this can really detract from the appearance of the piece.

So this item was my target to obtain on my recent trip to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. In fact on the Friday night, I'd been having dinner with some of the lads from the Vintage Rebellion podcast when the topic of acquisition targets was raised, and I mentioned that this piece was basically all I was looking for. Later when we got to the room sales, we'd just walked in when Steve S. turned to me, pointed at the floor and said, "there you go Dallas!"

Yes, this lovely TIE Bomber was waiting for me at the very first vendor in the room sales. I foolishly took a quick spin around the room before returning and negotiating a deal, but with that purchase my collecting goal for the weekend was achieved.

As you can tell from the (completely unretouched) photos, this is a pretty nice piece, and I've seen a lot worse ones sell for a lot more money. To me, that's the beauty of room sales - collectors sell to collectors and most stuff is priced realistically. What's even better is that lots of the room sale guys are well-known collectors in the vintage community and that gives some extra peace of mind. I didn't know the person who sold me this piece, but as I handed over my phone for him to type in his Paypal payment address I recognized his name immediately as having been a guest on the Chivecast and a well-known good egg. Cool!

Both wings are identical (as on all the diecast TIE variants) and bear copyright date of 1980.

The Bomber is much larger than Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. I guess that goes some way to justifying the 10x higher cost of the Bomber (!)

I was really happy to pick up this piece and with it, complete my loose diecast run. It's a very attractive ship with some cool features, including the plastic high-detail parts on the hull and the Snowtrooper pilot. It's truly the ultimate production diecast ship!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hoth Wampa

"WAMPA!!!" was the probably the most annoying bit of dialogue ever recorded in the history of Kenner TV advertising... but just imagine for a moment the poor director of the commercial who had to listen to multiple takes...

...which brings us to the toy that was the subject of the commercial, the Hoth Wampa. Originally boxed as simply "Wampa", the toy's packaging was later branded "Hoth Wampa", I guess to put it in context... as if the dead Tauntaun, Luke in Hoth outfit, and snowy landscape didn't do that already.

While the toy's sculpt has come in for some criticism, I happen to like it. The other main issue people seem to have with the toy is its tendency to turn yellow over time. It's tough to find a nice white one, for sure.

On to the recreation of the box art! Unfortunately these less-expensive toys tend not to have amazingly intricate play tableaux, but we can only work with what we have, I guess. Here's the Wampa slappin' a Tauntaun upside the head.

Lifting Luke overhead preparatory to a power bodyslam!

And strutting his somewhat yellowish stuff. I like the Wampa a lot, but it would certainly be better if it weren't so darn yellowed. Or failing that, if it went uniformly yellow instead of having nice white legs :-(

Monday, February 18, 2019

Jabba the Hutt Action Playset

This playset was one of the first boxed items I acquired on my re-entry into the collecting hobby back in the early 1990s. As I recall, I attended a toy show of some kind in Toronto when I was in school there, and a dealer had absolutely stacks of these boxes at his stall. I can't remember what I paid but it was certainly not anymore than about $40. Should have bought all they had, I guess...

In any event, what we have here is the Sears (direct) version of the Jabba playset. This box version wasn't generally available in a true retail sense - I understand that it was what you got when you catalog-ordered the item from Sears. The box itself is pretty plain - two-colour litho, and the same image on the front and back of the box. There's nothing printed on the top and bottom nor on the end flaps.

Here's some images from the small "RotJ" catalogs with a nice tableau for me to re-create... which I am able to do because, back in the 1990s, I personally unsealed and opened up the packaging :-O

And here it is! The string on my production toy is obviously much shorter than on the version used for Kenner's photography, though.

A few words about the "action" feature of the playset (yes, "feature" is singular). The two "outboard" decorative "heads" along the front of the base are connected to the platform pieces on top of the base. When the heads are rotated, the two sections of the platform rotate upwards from the edges, as shown above.

"One look into his glassy eyes and kids will know - JABBA THE HUTT means business!"

And when Jabba means business you get dumped in the pit. Some sculpted detail there - bones, lizards, detritus from past victims, etc.

Copyright info on the bottom of the base. "Made in... who the %^&@ knows?"

As with many Kenner playsets, the Jabba set contains what seems to be an inordinate number of small parts... in addition to the base, there's the hookah stand, hookah bottom bowl, hookah chimney,  hookah top bowl, pipe and string, slave collar and string, and the Jabba and Salacious Crumb figures. Yikes!

Jabba's bong

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Radar Laser Cannon (Tri-Logo)

As I've mentioned before on this blog, a big part of retaining one's sanity (and financial solvency) as a vintage collector is establishing what you will NOT collect. For me, my collecting dead zone has always included the toyetic representations of vehicles that were never shown on-screen in the original trilogy (I'm looking at you, Mini-Rigs).

However, fortunately for me, Kenner released some really cool toys during the Empire and Jedi periods that hit the Mini-Rig price point, but represented some essential items that actually DID appear on-screen. I'm going to cover these in the next few blog posts, and the first one up for discussion is the Radar Laser Cannon.

Of course, this is the crew-served weapon used by the Rebels on Hoth to defend Echo Base from the Imperial attack at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. Note that this is not to be confused with the "other" radar laser cannon that was packed into the Hoth Ice Planet Adventure Playset! This one is much more detailed and has a cool "blow apart" play feature. The one that came with the HIPAP is a one-piece toy, is smaller in size, and is not designed to come apart in any way (except permanently if, for example, your little sister smashed it to pieces).

The "Action Figure Accessories" range is shown on the box side. All from the Empire film, strangely enough.

You can make it "esplode"!

The two box sides shown above illustrate the unusual features of this packaging - it's tri-logo! In the  picture above we see the English logo, with French and Spanish shown in the picture below.

But wait, there's more! Italian, German, and Dutch text are also included under the logos. It's like a mini-European Union on there, pre-Brexit of course :-(

On to my favorite bit - the replication of the box art. Pretty straightforward this time, with only two Rebel Soldiers crewing the Radar Laser Cannon.

My example of the toy came with instructions - notably, in English only...

Copyright information is on the bottom of the toy - notable in that copyright date is 1982, a rather late release for ESB toys. However, in addition to being released in an ESB box, the toy was issued in 1983 in RotJ livery branding, and presumably the Tri-Logo packaging shown came out with the rest of the Tri-Logo stuff in 1984.

trilogo.info hosts a ton of information about Tri-Logo packaging on carded figures, playsets and vehicles, but unfortunately doesn't have any info on these "accessories". I've emailed Joe, the creator and administrator of the site, to see why this might be, and I'll update this blog with anything relevant I find out.

Stay tuned to the blog for more Accessories!