Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 2

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…

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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.

Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues) by Hasbro

Ok, time for another crack at Star Wars Black Wave 3. Han Solo is a repeat and Prequel Obi-Wan wasn’t really my bag. That cuts us down to just two more figures making this assortment a far cry from the line’s first two outings. Ah, but today we’re checking out one that I was actually looking forward to… It’s another Luke Skywalker, and that’s not a bad thing!

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I’m pretty much done saying anything constructive about the 6-inch Black packaging because it’s all been said already. I like it, but now that I know the packages will be changing, I’m not keeping them anymore. This stuff takes up space and space is something I don’t have in great abundance. I will point out my one gripe about the line and that’s Hasbro’s unwillingness to define anything more about the character beyond his or her name. Oh, great it’s Luke Skywalker. But didn’t we get Luke Skywalker? Well, that was X-Wing Luke and this is Bespin Luke. Well why don’t you put that on the goddamn package? Seriously, Hasbro, you’ve built this line on character variants and the fact that I have to insert my own clarifier up there in the title of this post is really aggravating me.

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Straight away I think Hasbro did a nice job with this sculpt. A dude in tan fatigues isn’t exactly the most exciting concept to work from, but that didn’t stop these guys from giving it their all. In fact, there are two things in particular that stand out on this figure. The first is the sculpted detail in the fatigues. They’re rumpled in all the right places, there are seams for the pockets, and if you look closely enough you can even see the texturing of the fabric. Next up, the paint wash works quite well. I’ve gone on record so many times in the past about how Hasbro doing paint washes is sort of akin to turning a 6-year old loose in the kitchen to make a Chicken Kiev, it never works and someone is bound to get hurt. But in this case I think it enhances the figure. Maybe it’s a bit too dirty, but I still dig the way it looks.

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Despite just getting Luke two waves ago, Hasbro delivered a brand new headsculpt for this figure and I appreciate that a lot. Gone is the younger and rounder face from A New Hope and in its place is the harsher and gaunter look that resulted from the Hamill’s terrible car accident. When the first pictures were released I jibed that the portrait looked more like Peter Dinklage than Hamill. I still think there’s a resemblance to little Lord Tyrion, but there’s definitely some Hamill in there too. I’m not quite as impressed with this likeness as I am with the X-Wing Luke, but it still works fine for me.

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Running down the articulation, you get a swivel in the waist and a neck with both a hinge and a ball joint. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and elbows and the wrists have swivels and hinges. The wrist hinges, however, are really oddly positioned on this figure, placing them more on the side of the hand and it makes useful positioning of his hands rather difficult. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and double-hinged at the knees. There are swivels in the thighs and the ankles feature both hinges and rockers. The joints are nice and tight and he is definitely a fun figure to pose.

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Luke’s weapons include his DL-44 blaster and his lightsaber. These are the same weapons that we saw with the X-Wing Luke, which is totally appropriate and both are excellent pieces. The blaster fits snugly into a holster that is very similar to the one used for the Han Solo figure, right down to the working retaining strap. The lightsaber has a removable blade and uses the same style hook and loop to attach to the belt as seen on the X-Wing Luke. I definitely prefer the method of pegging the hilt into the belt. This way makes it stick out too far and looks rather awkward.

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While I would prefer Hasbro concentrate on getting out different characters as opposed to revisiting the same ones so soon, I can’t argue with the importance of adding a Bespin Luke to the collection early on. Some might argue that this one should have been in the first wave since there are no X-Wings for Pilot Luke to sit in, but truth be told I dig that Pilot Luke so much I’m happy we got him too. While Bespin Luke may not be a masterpiece, he is undoubtedly a good, solid figure and he’s a welcome treat compared to the rather lackluster Obi-Wan I looked at last time. That leaves just one figure left in this wave, and I saved the best for last. Next week, we’ll check out the Stormtrooper!

Star Wars Black: Boba Fett by Hasbro

All the Holiday nonsense is finally over and I’m thrilled to be back in the saddle for a brand new year. While I’ll still be pretty busy with work for the next couple of weeks, my schedule has loosened up enough so that I can start digging into some of the figures I’ve been holding off on during the crazier times of last month. I’ve been itching to open up Wave 2 of Star Wars Black ever since they landed on my stoop last month and now I’ve finally got some time to relax for a moment and do just that. Today, I’m kicking it off with a full-on six inches of rock hard Fett. LET’S DO THIS!!!

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After a few weeks of seeing the SWB deco misused on the smaller carded (and mostly shitty) figures, it’s nice to see it again used on the more appropriate collector style window boxes. Wave 1 left me with a real love for this packaging and I’m still displaying those figures packaged for the time being. Needless to say these boxes are totally collector friendly and are just the right size to show off the figure without taking up too much room. Boba is displayed in his tray with his weapons and jetpack spread out beside him. The back of the package has a monochrome shot of Boba talking to Vader and Lando. Man, I can’t wait until Vader and Lando get the 6-inch treatment! Ok, enough about the packaging, it’s time to whip out my Boba.

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Ok, so… WOW! We actually have a 6-inch Boba Fett figure from Hasbro. It’s still taking time for this to properly sink in. Boba Fett is a character that has seen some pretty exceptional 3 ¾” figures over the years, so I had little doubt that his 6-inch treatment would be amazing. And you know what? It is. Yes, when you consider the scale upgrade there are a few missed opportunities here, and I’ll point those out, but it’s important to remember that Hasbro is still working within the confines of a $20 retail budget. There was certainly a give and take with 6-inch Fett’s design, but I think the end result balanced out quite well!

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With that having been said, I think the first thing that strikes me about this guy is the intricacy of the sculpt. The jumpsuit is beautifully rumpled in all the right places and the armor plating is pretty convincing as separate pieces even though they are part of the same sculpt.The pouches all look great and even he even has the tiny sculpted tools peeking out of the pockets on his pants. The waist belt is a separate piece but it blends seemlessly with the figure. It has pouches and a functional holster for his pistol. I’ll get to the pistol in a bit, but suffice it to say it was a cool surprise. I love functional holsters on my figures so getting one incorporated into a Boba Fett figure really rings my bell. I’m also very pleased with the detailing on his left arm bracer where you can see his dart as well as the keypad. I’m not fanatical with my knowlege of Fett’s design and I’m sure the hardcore could pick apart all kinds of little details on this guy, but he certainly does just fine by me.

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Following hot on the heels of the beautiful sculpt is the deco. I’m not just talking about the coloring of the armor, but rather the weathering. Fett’s armor is dinged and scraped in all the right places and the dry brush abrasions look fantastic. Finally, the whole deco is punctuated with some great tampos like the Mandalorean symbol on his shoulder to the insignia on his chest armor. The figure fits beautifully into the “used future” design that makes the Original Trilogy Star Wars Universe such an interesting place to me.

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Hasbro packed some really useful articulation into this figure. The head is both ball jointed and hinged, so you get a nice wide range of motion there. His arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, elbows and wrists, and he has swivel cuts in the biceps. His legs are ball jointed at the hips and double hinged at the knees. His ankles feature hinges and rockers. Lastly, Fett is ball jointed at the waist, just above the belt. It’s a well hidden joint that lets him swivel as well as giving him a little range of forward and backward motion in the torso. Nicely done!

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Is Fett perfect? Nope. And here’s where that give and take comes in. The wookie braids are a little chunky and unconvincing. It seems like they should have been fashioned from softgoods like the cape. At the very least one of them shouldn’t have been left the same color plastic as his jumpsuit. I know what they’re supposed to be, but they look like they’re tacked on like an afterthought. I’ll also throw out there that it would have been cool if his rangefinder had been hinged. Sure, it looks fine as it is, but that seems like it would have been a good opportunity going from the 3 ¾” to the 6-inch scale. Finally, while the double joints in the knees are welcome, taking advantage of them makes the figure’s legs look unnatural, especially the way the knee caps just float. None of these nitpicks seriously detract from the figure, but since Boba Fett has had some truly excellent 3 ¾” figures, I think it’s worth pointing out some areas for improvement on this 6-incher.

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Boba comes with three accessories. First off, you get his trusty jetpack, which pegs into his back. It’s just a solid molded piece of plastic that pegs into a hole on his back. There are sculpted straps to make it look like it’s held on with a harness. I suppose you could argue that Hasbro could have done a little more with it, particularly in this scale. It doesn’t fire a rocket and the little thrusters aren’t articulated, but it looks fine and I’m very happy that it is removable. Somewhere in the delusion center of my brain I am reasoning out that Hasbro made it removable to accommodate the 6-inch scale Slave-1 which is surely coming any day now. Right? RIGHT??? Ok, maybe not.

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Next up is the pistol. Again, this was a total surprise for me because I don’t ever recall any previous Boba Fett (and I’ve owned most of them) coming with a pistol. Did he even use one? Is it one of his dad’s? I really don’t know, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at a pistol with a functional holster. It’s a simple enough piece, but he looks damn cool holding it and when I see my Boba Fett quick-drawing his pistol and wearing the poncho-like cape, I can’t help but get a wonderful “Man With No Name” vibe off of him from the Sergio Leone westerns.

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Lastly is Fett’s iconinc carbine.  It’s made of bendy plastic which helps get the stock positioned into the crook of his arm. You can also just about get his trigger finger into the trigger guard. The carbine has some exceptionally cool weathering and I like the sculpted detail in the stock, but the barrel doesn’t seem quite right. It seems like it should be thicker, at least that’s based on the prop replicas that I’ve seen.

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This Boba Fett was a hotly anticipated figure for me and now that I have finally opened him I can confidently say he’s a great piece. Yes, some might argue (myself included) that Hasbro could have done more with him to take advantage of the scale change, but I keep reminding myself that this is not a $50 Figma or an $75 Play Arts figure. For a $20 figure off the peg at Target or Walmart,  he’s just a great figure and pretty hard for me to put down. Boba will definitely be spending some quality time on my desk before getting relegated to the display shelf in the other room. It’s worth noting that he’s the very first figure I’m looking at in 2014 and I can already tell he’s going to be a strong contender for my Favorites list at the end of the year. Even if you aren’t collecting this line, Boba Fett is the first release that I would recommend people pick up as a stand-alone figure. After all, you can never have too many Fetts.

Vintage Vault: Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back: Bounty Hunters! by Kenner

“Bounty Hunters? We don’t need their scum!”

Well, apparently, I do, because against all reason and sanity, I bought a heap of vintage Kenner Bounty Hunters. It’s been about four years since I kicked the Star Wars habit. Oh, sure I’ve picked up a figure here and there, a vehicle now and then, but they were exceptions. And just because I’ve been pulling some of my left over POTF2 stuff out of storage and maybe buying some of the ones I’m missing to fill out my collection, it’s not like I was going to go back and start buying the vintage stuff again. And then this happened.

This dude at the Toy Show had one serious collection of vintage Star Wars figures laid out on his tables. All of them were in Ziploc bags with index cards saying what they were, and it seemed like all of them were in great shape and complete. He had them all neatly fanned out across two 6ft banquet tables. I think it was the mere spectacle that brought me over and started looking. I picked up a Zuckuss, (or 4-LOM, as Kenner called him) and checked him out. He was in pretty good shape, just a little bald spot on his left sleeve, and he had his distinctive weapon. I flipped him over and saw he was marked $7. Obviously, I’m not up on Kenner Star Wars prices, but it seemed like a good deal to me, or at least it would be for someone looking to buy a vintage 4-LOM.  I most certainly was not.

“Hong Kong. 1980. He’s seven bucks” the guy said, as I was looking at him. “You need any of the other Bounty Hunters?” He was grabbing other baggied figures and putting them in front of me. “You can take all five for $25. They’re all complete. The only one not in there is Boba Fett, I’m all out of The Mr. Fett!” (Yes, he said “The Mr. Fett!” …I liked this guy.) Before I knew what was happening I had Bossk, IG-88, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, and Dengar all in my hands, and I was giving the guy $25. It was like an out of body experience. In a few minutes, I had destroyed four years of abstinence.

It’s a self-contained little sub-group, I told myself. I mean, sure now I’m going to have to track down a Boba Fett to go with them, but that’s it. I have a nice little band of vintage Bounty Hunters to stand on my shelf. But then I’ve already thought about picking up a set of vintage figures to display on my Tattooine Skiff. So at this point, anything is possible.

I’m not going to say my piece about each individual figure here today. I’m saving that for when I can take the time to do some proper comparisons between the vintage figures and the ones that have come since, and quite frankly that’s likely to be a week all to itself.

So there you go. Was it a momentary lapse of reason? Well, I’d love to say I regret buying them. I’d love to say that I got home and dropped them into a tote to forget about them because they don’t fit anywhere in my collection. Instead, they landed on my desk, and that’s where they still remain. No, I won’t lie; it’s a hoot having these guys lined up beside my computer. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of them in person and I thought they’d look dated and primitive, but they don’t. They look great, represent a huge part of my childhood, and I’m actually amazed at how well they hold up.

Tomorrow we’ll keep the vintage ball rolling with a quick look at a piece of G1 Transformers goodness…

Star Wars Vintage Collection: 4-LOM and Zuckuss set (Celebration V Exclusive) by Hasbro

This year, Hasbro decided to have a little fun with one of their Celebration V exclusives by creating this 30th Anniversary Bounty Hunter set. The set includes updated figures of bounty hunters Zuckuss and 4-LOM carded on facsimiles of their original error cards, which switched their names around. It pokes fun at the sometimes ridiculous nature of the action figures that were produced off of characters that fans knew nothing about and often appeared for only a split second on screen. Sure, all sorts of stories and histories have been retconned around these characters over the last 30 years, but at the time they were released nobody could have possibly known that Kenner had named the characters wrong on the original packages. I can still remember getting my 4-LOM mailaway figure before seeing The Empire Strikes Back. I had no idea who he was. I’m pretty sure I wound up using him as a Rebel spy. I even remember looking for him in the movie, expecting him to have some huge role. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even spot him at all.

Oftentimes a big draw of these exclusives lies in the special packaging, and that’s doubly true for this set, since the whole point of it is to recreate the original error cards. The figures themselves are almost secondary to the whole package.

The set comes in a thin, illustrated cardboard sleeve. It’s decorated on the front with pictures of the two original cardbacks against an appropriate star field pattern. The bottom right hand corner has a Celebration V logo with Boba Fett. The sides include a brief synopsis of the history of the original packaging error.

Take the sleeve off and you have the box. The sides show off full size versions of the Zuckuss and 4-LOM cards. The box opens like a book and is secured with velcro tabs. Open it up and it reveals two windows displaying the carded figures inside. The top and bottom of each of these compartments are taped, but with the flick of a razor you can remove the carded figures for closer inspection.

The fronts of the cards are identical to the regular Vintage Collection cards with one exception. The borders used on these cards are actually foil as opposed to just being illustrated to look like foil. These figures also do not have the Free Boba Fett stickers that most of the carded VCfigures have. The back panels of the cards, however are identical to what is seen on the regular VC figures.

The figures inside are each unique in their own way. Zuckuss (or in this case 4-LOM) is the same sculpt as the figure that was recently released as part of the Legacy lineup. The paint job has been changed to match the vintage figure more and the cloth gown has been changed for a material that more closely matches the one used on the original figure. 4-LOM (or Zuckuss), on the other hand, is the same sculpt as the figure released in the Legends line and currently repacked in the Vintage Collection line, only with a cleaner and more basic paint job to better match his vintage figure.


Whether or not you can really consider this set an exclusive is a matter for some debate. It was obviously created with Celebration V in mind, but it went up for sale on Hasbro’s Toyshop after the convention and at the time of writing this article, it’s still readily available. Obviously, either Hasbro overestimated the demand for this set or just decided to produce enough to make fans happy [yeah, unlike the SDCC Sgt. Slaughter figures! -Ed.].

The price on this set is $14.99, which is a really nice deal. It’s about the same price as these figures would cost if you bought them individually off the pegs at Walmart. You’re basically getting the extra special packaging for free and it won’t break your bank if you want to grab a second set for openers.

 

Star Wars Vintage Collection: AT-AT Commander by Hasbro

I really am trying to pace myself on picking up these new Vintage Collection figures. After being away from Star Wars for a while, I’m trying not to overdo it. Nonetheless, I’ve picked up a new one each time I stop in to Wally World to pick up something. Early coverage of the Empire Strikes Back assortment referred to this figure as General Veers, which I think he is definitely intended to be, but I suspect Hasbro went with the more generic “AT-AT Commander” to satisfy the requirements of reusing the vintage card. As far as I’m concerned, it’s Veers.

Still loving the packaging, but then even as a kid, I loved the vintage AT-AT Commander card. Even though it doesn’t show the character, it shows the AT-AT’s and that’s plenty cool and made it somewhat distinctive. As with the other releases in this line, the card features the Free Boba Fett sticker on the front and the back featues photos of the vintage figures and cards. These new vintage style figures are also issued without the clamshells used in the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection. The downside about the new packaging? Yep, it’s so cool, I had to buy two so I can keep one carded.

With that out of the way, the last time we saw General Veers as a figure was in the Saga Collection. Is this new release a major improvement? Well, in some cases yes, in others no. The articulation is a huge improvement, but we’ll get to that a little later. The sculpt on the new figure is excellent. I think the head sculpt is a significant improvement, but the rest of the figure is about on par with its predecessor. Like the Saga Veers this figure has a removable vest and helmet. The helmet is about the same, although the new figure comes with goggles that can be worn over the figure’s eyes or up on the helmet itself.

It’s the vest where I take issue with this new figure. On the Saga figure, the vest included the larger sculpted belt buckle and when it was removed, Veers was in his normal Imperial Officer uniform. His head was even sculpted with his officer’s cap and the helmet was made to fit over it. On this update, the huge belt buckle is sculpted onto the figure, so you can’t fully convert him to his officer’s uniform and he looks rather silly with the vest removed. He’s also not wearing his officer’s cap. Bottom line, I liked the option to go from his field outfit to his duty uniform on the older figure. It’s not a huge deal, and yes, this is still a nice figure. But I like to apply the Hippocratic Oath to figure updates. Hasbro should do no harm, or in this case, don’t go backwards on a good idea. And in the end, my Veers can’t chill with his fellow Generals without feeling like the odd man out.

I wish I still had my Saga Collection Veers to do a comparison pic, but I’m afraid he went with my Endor AT-AT, so we’ll have to just settle for a shot with good old Uncle Ozzel.

The AT-AT Commander’s articulation includes a ball jointed neck and universal joints in the shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles, as well as swivel cuts in his wrists. He has standard leg movement in the hips and he can swivel at the waist. Not bad at all.

Besides his aforementioned vest, helmet and goggles, the Commander comes with a blaster that fits into his sculpted holster.

The AT-AT Commander cost $7.98 at Walmart, which sure beats the $12.99 I was paying for some of the last Vintage OTC figures even without the clamshell. If it sounds like I came down hard on this figure, keep in mind that I still really love this guy and he’s a nice addition to my BMF AT-AT. I just think that Hasbro sidestepped some really good ideas employed in the last release that they should have applied here.

 

Star Wars Vintage Collection: C-3PO by Hasbro

I looked at the Vintage Collection Han and Leia figures together, but I wanted to save C-3PO because he deserves his own review. Yes, he is just that bad. In fact, there’s so much wrong with this figure, it’s hard to know where to start. This figure is poorly designed, poorly executed, and he has a gimmick that doesn’t belong anywhere near a “vintage style” 3PO mounted on an Empire Strikes Back card. In fairness, I knew this figure was going to be crap when I bought him. You can see it right through the bubble. But I figured I’d check him out anyway and at least I’d get a PoP for my Boba Fett mailaway.

One ridiculous thing about this release is that C-3PO was already released as part of the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection on this very same card and so for carded collectors he’s somewhat superfluous. It’s possible that Hasbro was trying to make a mends for the VOTC 3PO, which was also a terrible, terrible figure, but somehow swapping one crappy 3PO for another doesn’t seem like a good plan. Either way, the packaging is the best thing about this figure. The front is nearly identical to the VOTC version. The only real drawback of this figure’s packaging is that the choking hazard sticker is stuck directly on the card, whereas it was on the clamshell of the VOTC release. There’s also the mailaway Boba Fett sticker on the front.

I’ll start with one of the few things I like about this figure, and that’s the coloring. We’ve had plenty of shiny 3PO’s but not too many grubbier ones. This version’s duller coppery finish makes it pretty good for the Tatooine scenes from A New Hope, which begs the question, why put him on an Empire Strikes Back card? The other thing I like about this figure is the articulation. 3PO has a ball jointed head, and universal joints in the shoulders, elbows and knees. He also has swivels in the shoulders and ankles. 3PO has a ball joint in his waist, but unfortunately the back lip of his torso gets caught on the wirey midsection, which makes use of this joint tricky. He’s also pulled apart at the waist a few times while trying to make use of this joint.


This 3PO has some issues with proportions, a lot of which has to do with the gimmick that I’ll talk about in a minute. His upper torso looks a little too wide, but his pelvis looks absolutely huge, which gives his hip joints a weird extra wide stance. I’ll admit there’s some nice sculpting at work, especially the detail on his arms and the exposed wires of his midsection, but that doesn’t help a lot when the proportions look so wrong.

The dumbest thing about this 3PO is that he was designed with removable plates. It’s a gimmick that severely effects the aesthetics of the figure. Since 3PO never appeared like this in any of the Original Trilogy films, it’s obviously a nod to his appearance in Attack of the Clones, but if that was the intention, Hasbro should have saved this figure for an Attack of the Clones card, since they are doing some prequel figures in the vintage style too (don’t get me started on how stupid an idea I think that is!). The face plate, chest plate and right thigh plate are all removable to expose his inner workings. Unfortunately, the face plate and right thigh fall off almost every time I fiddle with him.

In the end, I think this figure is just a bit better than the awful VOTC 3PO, but mainly because that figure couldn’t even get the paint job right let alone the sculpt and there’s absolutely nothing that I like about it. Had Hasbro nixed the idea of the removable plates and improved the proportions, this could have been an excellent 3PO, but then it would have been an entirely new figure. Again, I like the coloring and the articulation at work here, but the rest of this figure is a damn shame.

Star Wars Vintage Collection: Han Solo (Echo Base) and Princess Leia (Hoth Outfit) by Hasbro

I picked up my first figures from the new Vintage Collection today. Actually I picked up two of each, so I could keep two carded. This is something I almost never do, but since I already got on board this whole vintage style figure idea back during the Original Trilogy Collection, I might as well keep going. The first two I’m going to look at are Han and Leia in their Hoth outfits. I also picked up 3PO, but we’ll save him for next time.

The packaging is the real draw here for me. Hasbro certainly knows how to pull on the heart (and wallet) strings of late thirty-something geeks, because seeing these things hanging on the pegs again really is something special. As with the VOTC releases, the fronts of these cards are excellent facsimiles of their early 80’s counterparts. Ok, actually Han is oddly enough an original figure with an original card, but it still looks like something authentic. The backs of the cards show the old figure with the new one (again, except for Han), along with a blurb about the line and some photos of other figures in the assortment. The other big difference is the Boba Fett mailaway advert on the front, which is a sticker and not printed directly on the card. What’s missing? That’s right, the clamshell.

I had mixed feelings about Hasbro abandoning the clamshells they used for the VOTC line. On the one hand, these new released don’t quite look as streamlined next to the VOTC carded figures. Yes, I plan on putting them in clamshells (which Hasbro conveniently sells), but they won’t have the special foil stickers or the embossed “Star Wars” on the back. On the other hand, as we’ll see a little later on the price is significantly lower, so there are some good points too.


Let’s start with Han in his Echo Base outfit, which is basically a Bespin Han only instead of the regular blue jacket, he’s wearing a Hoth style trenchcoat. The trousers and boots are the same as we’ve seen Han wearing as part of his Cloud City outfit. His belt is a separate piece, which includes a working holster for his pistol. His trenchcoat is also a separate piece, which is actually sculpted like a vest, which in conjunction with the figure’s arms is meant to look like a jacket. It works, pretty well, although the illusion crumbles under close inspection around the arms, or obviously if you take it off. Still, I don’t mind it and the jacket features some nice sculpting.

Hasbro didn’t quite get the job done with this figure’s head sculpt, which is kind of strange, since many of the modern Han figures have been fairly good likenesses. This one doesn’t completely miss the mark, but it’s not exactly Harrison Ford either. Fortunately, you can always grab one of your other recent Han figures and swap the heads if you so desire. Of course, that doesn’t help you for your mint-on-card figure.

Han’s articulation is excellent. He has a ball jointed head. His arms have ball jointed shoulders, elbows and he has swivel wrists. His legs have standard rotation at the hips and balljoints in the knees and ankles. Han also has a ball joint in the torso.

Apart from his iconic broom-handled pistol, Han comes with a welding mask and a welding tool. The mask has a handle, so he can hold it up to his face. I think they’re pretty cool accessories to stow away in the BMF Falcon.

Hoth Leia is a very welcome figure, since this version of her hasn’t been done in a while, and I don’t think it’s ever really been done particuarly well until now. Her outfit consists of her Hoth off-white fatigues and gloves with grey boots. There’s a lot of excellent sculpting on her outfit, including wrinkles, stitching and her arm communicator. Her vest is a separate piece, and unlike Han’s jacket, this piece is intended to be a vest so it can be removed without exposing the whole fake sleeve syndrome.

Hasbro has frequently had issues getting Leia’s head sculpt right, but in a bizarre turn of events, they actually did a fine job here. It’s not a perfect likeness, but it’s close (certainly closer than Han’s), and it’s not f’ugly, nor does it look like a monkey. The hair is also well sculpted and the paint apps on the lips and eyes are razor sharp.

Leia’s articulation includes a ball jointed head. Her arms have ball joints in the shoulders and elbows, and her wrists swivel. She has standard rotation in the hips and her knees are ball jointed. She can also swivel at the waist. Leia is missing any ankle articulation.

Leia comes with a standard Rebel-style blaster.

I picked up these figures for $7.98 each at Walmart, which is what regular Star Wars figures have been priced at for a while now. Keep in mind that back when the VOTC figures were released, they sold for around $9.99 to start with, but before the line ended they were up to $12.99 each at a lot of retailers, and that was a few years ago. I realize that they no longer come with the clamshell, but even if you buy a pack from Hasbro, you’re still ahead of the game. I think what I like about this pricing the most is that I’m not paying for an unwanted clamshell on the doubles that I plan on opening. If Hasbro was smart, they’d sell special clamshells with the foil stickers on them, but I’m willing to make do with the generic ones in favor of this price reduction. In hindsight, it’s too bad I didn’t keep the ones from the VOTC doubles that I opened.


Star Wars: Super Deluxe AT-AT Walker by Hasbro, Part 2

Ok, so last time we looked at the packaging and the exterior of the toy. This time, we’ll see what’s going on inside. I’ve had a hell of a fun time digging out my totes of Star Wars figures and setting them up in and around this beast. We’ll take a look at each of the three main components of the AT-AT, namely its head, body and rear garage.

The Head:

The head’s cockpit opens up similarly to the old Kenner toy. You just lift up the hatch to reveal the inside. The early boasting point of this toy’s size was that the head could hold six figures. Can it really? Well, yeah, but only if they’re packed in like sardines. Plus, there are some early reports that the new Vintage Collection General Veers is too tall for the head!

There are two seats for the drivers (but remember, you only get one!) and then six pegs total in front of and behind the tactical screen. The idea here is that you can get two figures in front and two behind. I’d say the maximum capacity of the head without getting ridiculous is more like five, as I can comfortably fit two guard types behind the screen and one in front, or vice versa and have it look ok. Don’t get me wrong, this is a huge improvement over the original Kenner AT-AT’s two-seater roadster head.

The tactical console has a button that will activate a number of phrases, some of which will cause the screen to light up blue. There’s a sticker of the Hoth shield generator that can be applied, but if you choose to leave your AT-AT less scene specific, the light up effect of the screen still looks pretty cool without the sticker. I’m actually considering removing mine. The rear hatch that supposedly leads into the neck is really well done and actually looks like it should open.

There is a concealed handle in the top front of the AT-AT’s hull that works the head movement. When it is concealed, the head locks in a position so that its looking straight. Pull out the handle and the head goes somewhat limp so that it can be moved up, down and side to side by the handle. It would have been cool if the chin lasers could be operated with this device, but those are operated with slider switches under the head itself. The handle also has two fold out cannons so that you can leave it out and it will still look as if it serves a real purpose on the vehicle. That’s a nice touch. There are also three buttons near the handle, which activate different battle sound effects.

All in all, the head upgrade is about on par with what Hasbro did with the recent Millenium Falcon cockpit. Its definitely roomier, fits more figures and adds a load of play value to the toy.

The Body:


The main body of the Walker opens up on both sides in a gullwing fashion. The bottom portion folds down to form a platform with pegs to hold extra figures. These can also be used as boarding ramps, if you have a surface about the right height, as well as staging platforms for the winches positioned on each side for ferrying troops up and down to and from the surface. The winches are mounted on arms that swing out. A single button drops them and a disc can be turned to raise them back up. Each lift can hold two troopers at a time.


The inside cabin features a trench with a ladder on the wall, a lower platform area, and a raised platform area with a console and a window that looks into the rear garage. The console has a button that activates various phrases, some of which cause the red alert light in the cabin to flash. There are plenty of pegs, two side rails, and two removable console posts, that I chose to leave out because they tend to get in the way. The trench leads to the trap door in the belly of the Walker, which also has a winch, and can be used to recreate Luke’s demolition of the AT-AT in the film, or as another venue for getting troopers down to the surface.

Again, the main cabin is a huge improvement over the old toy. Both toys hold a lot of figures, but this one definitely holds more than the electronic POTF2 or Endor AT-ATs and provides a more interesting play environment. The fact that both sides open also makes it easier to get to everything inside.

The Garage:

The back of the walker opens up to reveal the speeder bike garage. A button deploys the platform that the speeder locks into, accompanied by a sound effect. You can also store more figures in here if you choose to leave the speeder out. There are also windows that can be opened on either side to give your Stormtroopers some much needed target practice.

The speeder bike itself is ok, but it suffers from the very flimsy rubbery plastic that make up the handle bars and the stabilizer boom. I definitely prefer the older one I have that’s closer to the old vintage Kenner toy. Either way, the new figures don’t sit all that well on it, but you can work something out if you’re determined enough. Its a nice enough bonus to round out the package, but nothing special.


I will admit, I was a little worried about buyer’s remorse when I pre-ordered this beast, mainly because I just don’t collect Star Wars toys like I used to. It took me a lot of waffling before buying the huge Millenium Falcon last year, but I never regretted that, and the same is true with this monster of an AT-AT. It seems only slightly less substantial then the Falcon, but that’s probably because a great deal of this toy’s size comes from its legs. And to be fair, its debuting on the toy shelves for about $50 less than the Falcon did. Either way, I’d say it was well worth the price and I highly recommend it, unless you’re willing to wait for the vintage style packaging on the TRU exclusive later on down the road. Detractors may well point out that its still not close to scale, but the only time I find this really apparent is when its seen next to the Snowspeeder. As far as the figures go, its plenty big enough!

While my Star Wars collection is a far cry from what it used to be, this AT-AT makes a nice addition to my showpieces like the big Falcon and the Imperial Shuttle. I’m also very glad I hung on to most of my Imperial figures because now they have somewhere to live.

The only thing I’m afraid of now is that owning this is going to pull me back into collecting a lot more Star Wars figures and toys this year than I had previously planned.