Archive for March 2010
Ewoks can be the source of some serious controversy. Some are quick to point out that their small size and cuddly mojo were simply a ploy to sell tons of toys. I’m more of the mind that (cuteness be damned) they basically saved Return of the Jedi from a relatively thin script and a main cast that was quickly running out of steam. That’s right, I’m taking a stand. Ewoks rock.
If you’re a keen observer, let me save you the trouble of getting cross over the Romba label. Yes, this is actually Paploo with Romba’s headgear and spear. Sometimes Ewoks will do that just to mess with you.
The Squid Head action figure arrived in the later days of the vintage Star Wars action figure line and in my opinion hit a high-water mark for Kenner. A generously detailed sculpt, not one but two over-the-top capes, all finished off with an armored girdle thingy and a righteous blaster. Did I mention the stylie white boots! Pretty much a star achiever from start to finish. Unfortunately the original card sports a weird illustration (or touched up photo) of Squid Head and leaves a little to be desired. But hey in this life we can’t have everything. Or can we?
You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve been on a Darth Vader TIE Fighter tear lately. I’ve been restoring a couple of them and they’re keeping my attention pretty well locked down. I can only say get ready, as this is just the beginning. I’ll likely be tormenting you with TIE fighters well into the next decade.
Anyway, who could blame me? It’s Darth Vader. High priest of the Dark Side and number one administrator of Imperial Smackdownsmanship. If he says build some ships, then brother you build.
Buying Notes on Vintage Darth Vader
A nice vintage Darth Vader action figure is pretty much the alpha and omega of any collection. This is true for the beginner and advanced collector alike. A classic toy reaching back to 1978, the vintage Darth Vader has spun countless revisions and imitations but really has never been improved upon.
So I can’t blame you for thinking about picking one up. But because this item is so popular, it can be rough seas acquiring a good (and authentic) example for a reasonable price. Let’s go over some of the main points to consider before pulling the trigger on a vintage Darth Vader.
Once you’re on board at eBay the first thing you’ll notice is that the key words “Darth Vader” are used and abused ad nauseum to get your attention to buy other stuff. Don’t be discouraged and whatever you do don’t be distracted or tricked into buying something else. Your eyes will quickly learn to ignore all of the nonsense and aim strictly for the vintage gold. The links I’ve provided already do it to some extent, but you may also want to play around with the search engine’s advanced function on eBay to filter out the unhelpful stuff. Be especially aware of the new Hasbro toys labelled as “Vintage Collection”, “Original Trilogy”, etc. Their packaging is cleverly retro and aims to steer the newcomer off course.
Important to keep in mind with the vintage Darth Vader is that you’ve got two accessories to contend with: the vinyl cape and the light saber. Both were easily lost and/or damaged by their original owners so it’s common to see reproductions in the marketplace being passed off as original. There are excellent resources to read through at the Imperial Gunnery forum that will help you avoid pitfalls. Read them carefully. Go here for the light saber and here for the cape. This is also a good time to correlate a seller’s claims of authenticity with their feedback score. Have they sold a ton of toys? Do they score 100% with their buyers? If not, you can think twice about believing their claims. Don’t forget to double check the photos closely. Does the cape look torn anywhere? Do the arm-holes look distressed or sharp? How about that saber tip. Does it look straight and strong or does it like a toddler might have chomped on it for a snack once or twice?
As much as any other vintage figure, Darth Vader was a character that saw heavy play at the hands of us grubby kids in the 70s and 80s. If it’s not mentioned in the auction be sure to ask the seller in a message if the figure’s limbs and head are loose or stiff. Let the loose limbed Vaders go to the diorama builders. You want the guy that’s as close to package fresh as possible. The vintage Darth Vader had very little paint applied by Kenner so not much to worry about there. And chances are if you’re buying a figure with loose limbs there won’t be paint loss.
Feel free to add any thoughts in the comments and drop me a line if you run into any trouble!
The Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight figure tends to cause a major stir among collectors. Why? If you’re not already immersed, let me introduce you to the concept of variants.
Thirty years ago, when the original line of Star Wars action figures was first in production, the toys were made by different factories in a range of countries. In the end the action figures would (mostly) bear the Kenner logo sure enough, but the roads that led to that final package were many. So the toys had variations, some to a greater or lesser extent than others.
The Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight figure is a great example on the plus side. Just to name the biggest issues with this guy… sometimes he was packaged with a blue light saber, sometimes green (less common)… his cape sometimes had a snap (less common), sometimes no snap… and to my eyes the biggest variation of all… sometimes Luke’s head was molded in flesh-colored plastic with eyes and hair painted on and sometimes his head was molded in hair-colored plastic with the whole face painted on. I believe the flesh-colored mold (shown above) is far less common and it’s definitely my favorite.
Anyway, that’s your introduction to variants. Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight is just one of over 90 vintage figures so you can imagine that this study never ends. To those hungry for more I’ll wish you good luck.
Buying Notes on the Vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot
Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot was a toy sold by Kenner from 1978 to about 1985. So there were (and still are) great numbers in circulation, and a fair number of these are still in excellent shape. But keep a few things in mind when tracking one down on eBay.
The Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot action figure probably had more paint applied to it in the production process than any other vintage Star Wars action figure. Face color, facial features, helmet details, vest, chest panel, hands, leg straps, boots. The guy has paint details everywhere. Be sure to see plenty of photos showing that the paint all looks good.
This was an action figure in the true sense of the word. Luke Skwyalker X-Wing Pilot was played with extensively by little kids in the 70s and 80s. If the seller hasn’t already declared that the joints are tight in the auction description, you definitely want to ask before bidding.
Lastly, the figure’s weapon is the Han Solo pistol type of Kenner blaster. Don’t forget: repro accessories suck. Make certain that it’s authentic if possible. You can check out the Imperial Gunnery for some excellent reference on the topic.
Feel free to add any more thoughts on this in the comments section and drop me a line if you get into trouble!
Confound that Amanaman! Of all the trippy creatures born of the Star Wars universe, this guy has to take top prize. Supersized leech? Tempura with an attitude? Tricky to try and ID the inspiration behind Amanaman. Whatever the case, and despite the fact that actually seeing him on screen in the Return of the Jedi is nearly impossible without hitting ‘pause’, his twisted legend endures. A rare and truly awesome vintage action figure.
Buying Notes for Vintage Amanaman
Hunting down the vintage Amanaman is pretty straight forward affair. It’s just a figure and a staff, and one can predict with almost 100% certainty that any existing example that turns up on eBay will be in virtually mint condition. It’s true. Neither the figure itself or his staff were actually played with by anyone, ever. The downside is of course that as a member of the ‘Last 17′ crowd, he can be a bit pricey. Be patient. With a little luck and some determination you should be able to snag one for about 50 bucks.
Now there is one twist: Amanaman was originally packaged with a coin by Kenner. If that’s important to you it may add another $25 your total to make it happen. My advice would be to start with just the figure and add the coin later. If you’re unfamiliar with the Power of the Force coins try buying a more common and inexpensive one first. If you find it’s something to your liking then loop back around and get the coin for ol’ Amanaman.
This one’s collaborative. Many thanks to r2witco of DBSW for contributing the excellent handcrafted backdrop. West Coast loves Star Wars!