It’s Saturday, It’s July, I’m in Florida and it’s a thousand degrees here. What better way to cool off than by looking at more Hoth figures? Today I’m going to check out some more shivering members of the Rebel Alliance as they try to hide out from the Empire on another one of those delightful sci-fi planets that can only support one climate zone. So bundle up and set your thermostat for Kenner Vintage Goodness! I don’t even know what that means. Let’s just look at the figures…
Yesterday, I looked at Han and Luke and their trusty Tauntaun. Today we’re going to check out Princess Leia and my favorite medical droid, 2-1B. I was originally going to wrap this up today by looking at four figures, but I went long and had to cut it down to two. Gassing on about nostalgia will do that to me. We’re going to start with 2-1B because I have a bewilderingly strong attachment to this figure. Get your blankys and milky babas, kiddies, it’s story time!
It was a fine day in 1981 (maybe 1982) and I went along with my Dad downtown to Bloomfield Ave in NJ to do some shopping. When we were done with what he had to do he relented to my endless pleading and we went to Big Apple Toys. BAT was a two-story independent toy store back at a time when such things still existed. It wasn’t a huge place. It was right there on the downtown drag alongside a pharmacy and other assorted other storefronts. Once inside, my eyes were immediately drawn to a set of figures from The Empire Strikes Back! They were fanned out in a glass display counter, which was usually reserved for a big Smurf Village setup. Now, I’m sure I caught one or two ESB figures on the pegs prior to then, but this was the first time I’d seen so many and all spread out like that. It was amazing. I pushed my nose up against the glass as the saliva pooled up in the corner of my mouth. I explained to my Dad between heaves of excitement what this find meant and he saw where it was going. He said he’d buy me one. Gah! I had to choose. Which one? Which one? Yup, I went for 21-f’cking-B!
Now, this was an odd choice to be sure. Truth be told, as vivid as this memory is, I cannot place it in proper context. Had I seen the movie yet? I just don’t know. I’m guessing not, because if I had why the hell would I pick 21-B? Well, I was always a big fan of the droids and I loved the look of this guy from the moment I saw him. Those two factors alone were enough to make me pick him out. Of course, every new Star Wars figure I got automatically evolved into one of the most important characters at playtime. 21-B became a permanent resident of the Falcon so he was always on hand to patch up the gang when they needed it. And they needed it a lot, because my Stormtroopers could actually hit what they were shooting at from time to time.
From the Left: POTF2; Original; 30th Anniversary Collection
I still love this figure, even though there have been arguably better versions since. For the time, he was a really good treatment of the um… character? Did we even see his legs in the movie? The cool thing about 2-1B is that he was like a real robot because there was no way it was a suit. He had real robot arms and that clear section in the middle that said, “look, it’s not a robot suit!” But I think the real reason I like this figure so much is because he still remains so unique. He has a hose coming out of his face and plugged into his side and that clear middle is like nothing on any Star Wars figure before or since. He even came with a medical poking stick, that I like to pretend was actually some kind of laser gun. 2-1B is just plain awesome and in retrospect I don’t know how he ever escaped my marauding Sheltie. His thin limbs and that hose were just the kind of thing that she liked to tear into pieces.
And that brings us to Princess Leia in her Hoth Outfit. I also remember the day I got her. I picked her off one of the pegs because she was one of the last Hoth figures I needed. I can remember feeling slightly embarrassed for buying her because she was a girl. That was my 9-year old mentality and it’s that kind of memory that probably keeps most brand managers from making a lot of female figures these days. This Leia is a pretty refreshing figure to look back on because nowadays female action figures are usually all tits and ass, but here was a female figure that wasn’t sexualized at all. She’s demure, she’s got a feminine color palate, and she’s got a hint of curves under all that cold weather padding, but in the end it’s just another figure of one of our intrepid Rebel heroes. Ok, she has a tiny bit of a tushie on her, but hey, those Kenner designers had to have some fun, amiright?
Vintage Collection Leia Vs The Kenner Original
As with Luke and Han, I really love the detail on this figure. Her entire outfit has a quilted sculpt and she has her little rank or ID bar or whatever the hell that thing is on the left side of her chest. I don’t think it’s really worth talking about likenesses here, but they did do a nice job sculpting her hair. The paint on mine is a little rough in a few spots. One of her eyebrows is partially rubbed off. One of the nice things about some of the Hoth figures is when the paint rubbed on their boots it just looked like snow. It’s also worth mentioning that Hoth Leia came with a blaster, but sadly I don’t have it anymore.
And that adds two more figures to this Kenner Hoth Retrospective, and I’m not done yet. Tomorrow I’ll be back to wrap this up with a look at the Hoth Rebel Commander and the Hoth Rebel Trooper!