Archive for June 2009
In early 1978 a dozen Star Wars action figures standing at a mighty 3.75″ hit suburban malls across the United States. These three — Ben (Obi Wan) Kenobi, Chewbacca, and Han Solo — were among that posse that led the way. Mind you I was only 7 years old at the time. Still, when I first caught wind of these little guys it felt like 40 years lost in the desert had finally come to an end. Salvation had arrived at $1.99 a pop.
The Ralph McQuarrie tribute figures are all pretty hot. But a few like this Concept Snowtrooper and the Concept Boba Fett really stand out. It makes me wonder why the Empire Strikes Back production team rejected McQuarrie’s original Snowtrooper idea in the first place. The Snowtrooper costume design that they went with for the movie was OK — definitely not an improvement over this baddie. Maybe the Hokkaido Ski Instructor look that McQuarrie was leaning towards just didn’t scare enough?
Apologies to Brightblack Morning Light, the band with the coolest name.
The Biker Scouts from Return of the Jedi were probably my favorite part of that movie. And the original 3.75″ figure from Kenner nailed just about every detail of their badness from head to toe. The AT-ST Driver is nice, but could’ve used a little more love. For whatever reason the sculptor decided to give him a tiny helmet and an extra pudgy face. Not exactly a flattering combo.
The vintage Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight figure has a cape that’s leaves a little something to be desired. With Luke’s face and body drowning in its excess, it’s more like a tent than anything else. So hiding the cape was my motive for going with such restrained lighting on this shot. I have to say I dig the results.
Of all the vintage Star Wars action figures, the Walrus Man (a.k.a. Ponda Baba) was probably one of the worst attempts by Kenner to nail down the likeness of a character in the original Star Wars film. Of course nostalgia rules the day and for that reason I still love that figure. But really — he had bright blue limbs, an orange tank-top jumper, and fins for feet. This didn’t come close to resembling the nasty drunk that gets his arm butchered by Kenobi in the Cantina. Kenner eventually redeemed themselves with a gorgeous redesign of Ponda Baba for their mid-1990′s POTF2 line as shown above.
It’s difficult to believe that Boba Fett, a character with only 4 or 5 lines of dialogue, remains to this day one of the most popular characters in Star Wars mythology. How? I think there’s only one reasonable explanation: the dude had one killer outfit. And a killer outfit deserves a killer action figure, as demonstrated here by three versions of the Boba Fett action figure spanning nearly 30 years. The version at left from the mid-90′s has some nice details, but I can’t really get beyond the ridiculous barrel-chested thing (Kenner did this for all the figures in that line). Front and center is the strictly awesome Ralph McQuarrie concept Boba Fett from the 30th Anniversary Collection. But it’s the vintage figure at right that will always be most dear to me. I’ve known it since it first arrived on my doorstep through a free mail-in offer in early 1979.