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, March 1, 2013

Land of the Jawas Action Playset

One of the earliest playsets produced in 1978 was the iconic "Land of the Jawas" Action Playset, depicting the Jawa Sandcrawler where Threepio and Artoo were briefly incarcerated after being captured by the Jawas. Of course, this isn't the only toy version of the massive Jawa vehicle - there was a much more expensive radio-controlled Sandcrawler as well - but for kids of modest means this was likely to be the only Tatooine playset they would see during the Star Wars era, anyway.

Box end shows film scene of Jawas and figures arranged with the playset.

Box top with close-ups.

Here we go. Of course, the playset is composed of three main elements - the plastic base, the cardboard backdrop depicting the Sandcrawler, and the plastic escape pod in which Threepio and Artoo escaped the Blockade Runner.

The plastic base features a cave for Artoo to hide in, and of course the ubiquitous "action feature". Turn the lever and the Jawa rotates, tripping a trigger underneath the toy that snaps the small square under Artoo's right leg. If you've positioned the figure just right, it goes flying into the air!

Jawa menaces Threepio near the pod. It's big enough to fit two action figures, provided that they're friendly...

R5-D4 about to get sucked up into the belly of the Sandcrawler - or perhaps he's being brought out for sale? Too bad there isn't a vintage "Uncle Owen" figure, depriving kids of the opportunity to reenact the thrilling "droid purchase" scene!

Tusken Raider is nearby because, well, it's Tatooine, and there were only 21 figures released when the playset came out... and of those, only two were representative of Tatooine natives.

Who's that li'l fella peeking out of the cave? The notorious "vinyl cape Jawa"...! Unlike his much more common cloth-caped brethren, the vinyl cape Jawa is a rare bird indeed. The first release of the figure included the distinctive vinyl cape, which was criticized for being "cheap-looking" since the figure was half the size of the others in the line and sold for the same price. So the cape was changed early on to a "richer-looking" cloth. I've owned this figure since it was new and I have to admit to youthful disappointment with it, envying the cloth-caped Jawas owned by my friends. But I'm certainly glad I held onto him ;-)

The rear of the playset, showing the "manual elevator" which raises and lowers figures from the Sandcrawler.

Plastic pegs are included to fit the feet of action figures, allowing them to stand inside the body of the Sandcrawler.

It's a bit tricky getting figures in there, though, as the back of the backdrop is pretty high.

Copyright info on the bottom of the plastic base. Kenner was obviously an early proponent of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" philosophy, as we'll see in future posts. This plastic element was so expensive to make moldings for, it would be a shame to only use it in one playset... ;-)

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