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, 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!


  1. As with many of the larger toys back then, I got my AT-AT from a flea market or yard sale, and of course the guns were missing, the cockpit cover was missing, the side door, etc. But, the motors still worked, so I took two wood, red tinker toy sticks and they fit perfectly into the chin gun holders, and fashioned some side-blasters the same way, and ta-dah! :) Every winter I'd take it out on the front lawn, spend all morning setting up Echo base in one of my mother's gardens (covered for the season, so the snow made a little mountain, and then attack with the AT-AT. Little snowballs took out the Rebels one by one... Miss those days!

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  3. Great review of this vintage classic (and photos!). Was curious if you would consider giving permission to repost it on my blog http://cosmictoys.ca/blog/news/

  4. Sure thing, thanks for visiting!

  5. Great thanks, is there a way I could send you an email?

    1. I've added a "COntact Us" gadget over at the side >>

  6. I've dropped you a note with my email address on your website. Cheers!

  7. Although you might have already noticed, the bulb in the At-At pictured is incorrectly inserted - it's around the wrong way! It needs to be reversed so the bulb contact will meet the battery contact on the At-At.

    Nevertheless, this is a great blog - and I love the restaging of the original box art images. Really terrific stuff. :)

    1. Thanks for the tip on that, Johnny! Will address that tonight.

      Glad you're enjoying the blog!

  8. Never mind the 9 Snowtroopers - who even had two At-At Drivers? Indeed, I can only recall ONE kid I knew who owned the actual At-At! :)

    Kenner's 'aspirational' box art is still awesome, though. Compared to today's elaborate digitally crafted box art for children's toys (particularly 'action' toys aimed at boys), it's actually an honest depiction of the actual physical toy (albeit in a 'play' environment).