Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 1

While it hasn’t been opened since April of last year, The Vintage Vault used to be a regular facet of FFZ. The moniker generally denotes a feature where I drag out something from the 70’s or 80’s. Traditionally, a lot of the source material was fueled by my late night drunken Ebay antics and it’s proven to be a fun way to pad things out when I’m low on new receivings. Well, I’m not really low on new stuff to look at now, but I did recently get a box shipped up to me from my brother in NJ which contained some old friends, including a bunch of Kenner’s Star Wars figures. I had actually written this stuff off as lost when I made the move from NJ to Florida back in 1995. Looks like the boxes never made it onto the truck and they were safe and sound all along. I’m going to parse this stuff out a little at a time and today we’re starting out with some figures based on my favorite part of all of Star Wars: The Battle of Hoth! Let’s check out Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in their Hoth Outfits and the Tauntaun!

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Why do I dig The Battle of Hoth so much? Because Hoth is the only real example of a pitched ground battle that we get in the Original Trilogy. There are trenches and battlements, artillery and iconic vehicles. It’s all so exciting and gritty and awesome. Plus, Luke getting lost and Han going to rescue him is a wonderful device to establish what close friends these two characters had become since the end of A New Hope. It’s just great story telling. Hoth was also a pretty big step for the Kenner Star Wars line because it further established the practice of selling multiple versions of a single character just because they changed their clothes. Sure, we already had Luke and X-Wing Luke, but now we had Hoth Luke, Hoth Han, Hoth Leia, and it went on and on. It was a beautiful way to milk parents for more money by making them by the same characters over and over again.

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Han Solo in his Hoth outfit is probably one of the most iconic figures in the line for me. That’s an odd thing to say, since I had been collecting Star Wars figures since the original 12. Nonetheless, as a kid I played with this figure a lot and often he was my “go to” Han. I don’t remember why that was the case, but maybe it was because the dog ate my original Han figure. My Sheltie had an addiction to chewing on Star Wars figures and I used to drive my parents nuts by having to replace them because they were decapitated or mangled in some way.

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Needless to say, I love everything about this figure. It recreates Han’s rugged Hoth gear quite well from the quilting on the leggings to the pockets on the jacket. The BLUE jacket. BECAUSE HAN’S HOTH JACKET WA BLUE, RIGHT? The way they did the hood with the goggles sculpted on top of his helmet was really cool too. I especially loved the fact that his right arm slightly bent like the one on the original Han figure. Someone at Kenner understood that Han should be perpetually holding his gun like he’s about to shoot from the hip. That’s awesome.

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And for the love of God, he’s got a functional holster! It’s a 3 ¾” action figure from 1980 with a functional holster!!! Granted, it didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to, but hey, it definitely held his pistol and that was good enough for me. Ahh, Hoth Han Solo… I love ya, buddy. You were a big part of why a ridiculously disproportionate number of my play scenarios involved fighting Imperials on really cold planets.

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Moving on to Hoth Luke and holy crap, this is still one great looking figure. I never had the attachment to this version of Luke like I did Hoth Han, but looking at him now, it’s hard for me to understand why that was the case. There’s a lot of companies these days trying to release dumbed down sculpts and trying to mimic the “retro” style, but look at this figure and tell me that this sculpt isn’t packed with detail. He’s got all the quilting on his sleeves and jacket, the bands wrapping his boots, the binoculars around his neck and equipment on his belt. I also dig that his goggles are down around his neck to differentiate him a bit from Han. This figure is downright awesome! Hell, even the scaling is right, as Luke is a little shorter than Han.

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The one thing I never quite understood about Hoth Luke was his gun. Kenner gave him a sort of carbine, unlike anything he ever used in the movie. It didn’t bother me so much as a kid, because I liked that it had a strap and you could sling it across his shoulder. I also thought it odd that they didn’t give him a lightsaber, since he made such prominent and memorable use of it in the Wampa Cave. Speaking of Wampas, I was really hoping the Wampa figure was going to be in this box somewhere, but no such luck. Dammit, I’m going to have to go buy a Kenner Wampa on Ebay now, aren’t I?

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And then there’s the Tauntaun. I can remember getting this figure and freaking out over how cool it was. Admittedly, that seems kind of silly now, but steeds weren’t a common thing in the original Kenner Star Wars line. We had a Dewback, but we never got a Bantha. Besides, Han and Luke riding the Tauntauns is such an iconic image that you just had to have one for the figures. Besides, it’s still a really admirable sculpt and a great looking toy. Mine is the original solid belly version and of course he’s missing his bit and reins, but otherwise in fairly good condition. At one point, I owned two of these, but the damn dog chewed the hands and feet off of one. I used to lay it somewhere in my battlefield and pretend it was dead and rotting. I was a messed up kid.

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The Tauntaun makes use of the trapped door gimmick so that the limited articulation figures could still mount him. It’s the same design used for the old Dewback. The saddle features sculpted fake legs on the sides to give you the illusion that the figure is straddling the beast. It’s not terribly convincing, but who cares? The figures still look great riding this thing.

And, I’m way over my limit, so I’ve got to break here. I’m a harsh editor. Tomorrow I’ll be back and we’ll check out some more of Kenner’s Rebel Alliance dressed in snuggly warm clothes.

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