I have a passion for collecting vintage Star Wars merchandise from the late 70's. Action figures, comics, trading cards etc - anything related to the first Star Wars movie. But why only until 1980? It's not that I don't love The Empire Strikes Back and beyond (I really do), but there is something about that first wave of Star Wars mania that really grips me, back when it was all fresh and exciting...
Entertainment Weekly recently posted an exclusive image of some artwork by Alex Ross done as an homage to Howard Chaykin's original cover for the Marvel Star Wars comic book. This celebrates the return of the franchise to Marvel after several decades with Dark Horse. This just looks awesome...
The second of Daley's Han Solo trilogy, this was published on Oct. 12 1979. This is the hardcover book club edition from that year.
Again, there is no Empire as the villains and the lack of Stormtroopers and TIE Fighters makes it all seem a bit 'un-Star Wars'. It opens with Han and Chewie hiding out on the planet Kamar and working some sort of sideshow racket; showing 'holodocumentaries' to the primitive natives. When that business venture goes awry they take on a job for a shady employer to ship an unknown cargo. That cargo turns out to be slaves and, not wanting any part of that, our heroes find themselves in a sticky situation as the slavers try to take command of the Falcon.
Intervention on the parts of the Falcon's resident droids Blue Max and Bollux (yes, you read that right) enable Han and Chewie to defeat the slavers and make for the Planet Bonadan where their treacherous employers intended to meet their contact for payment. Han is up for revenge as the title suggests and along the way he gets caught up with a Corporate Sector Authority agent called Fiolla who is trying to break the slaving ring and Chewie has his paws full with a rodent-like debt collector trying to repossess the Falcon.
I'm continued to be surprised by the contributions Daley made to the Star Wars EU. In the previous novel I found out that Daley gave us Z95-Headhunters, vibroblades and Holocubes. In Han Solo's Revenge there is a thrilling 'swoop bike' chase. Different from the speeder bikes in Return of the Jedi, swoop bikes are more souped up and are essentially an engine with a seat. They crop up all over the place in the EU and off the top of my head I can remember a similar chase in Shadows of the Empire.
I thought this was a pretty cool story. A collector in England had one of those mail-away Kenner figures from the '80s which he bought for about £5. But it had never been opened. These figures were claimed by sending off the tokens from the cardbacks and were delivered in plain white cardbord boxes so it was impossible to know which figure was inside. Hoping that it may have been a rocket-firing Boba Fett (I don't think any of those were actually dispatched, but anyway...) the collector had the box x-rayed by Nottingham University which also produced a 3D scan of the figure. It turned out to be Emperor Palpatine but nevermind. Personally I just think it's cool to see an x-ray of a Kenner figure!
Aside from the trading cards and bubblegum packs Topps did in the late seventies, they also sold single bubblegum sticks wrapped in foil with a paper wraparound displaying four different characters. They supposedly enclosed a 'movie poster pin up' although I've never seen what one looks like and they must be minuscule 'posters'. It feels a little weird collecting 36 year old bubblegum, but they look pretty cool in the display cabinet.
Well, I've finally done it. I've collected every figure from Kenner's Star Wars run, that is, both the '78 and the '79 line. Here's the Class of '79 above. It's a much more colorful line up than the whites, blacks and greys of the original twelve. It's mostly robots and aliens, being mainly background characters as the main dudes were all done in the previous line. In fact the only ones with 'proper names' are the final three I got hold of which are featured in this post.
The first 'alternate costume' figure in Kenner's line, Luke in his X-wing gear was a natural choice seeing that the X-wing Fighter was released back in 1978. You had to have someone to fly it! That doesn't explain why a TIE Fighter figure wasn't released until the Empire Strikes Back line though. This figure's a pretty colorful one with his orange jumpsuit and the helmet is neat (but not removable). The red rebel insignias are pretty tricky to find un-rubbed off.
Greedo is more than just a 'cantina alien' in that he had a proper name, a speaking part and he even took a shot at Han Solo (or did he? Let's not get into that...). His lime green jumpsuit is a clashing complement to Luke's orange and doesn't really reflect his 'bodywarmer' getup in the movie. Nice detail on the head sculpt though.
What's this? The mysterious bounty hunter from the Empire Strikes Back in a 1979 toy line from the first movie? As most of you are no doubt aware, Boba Fett made his first appearance in the hilariously bad Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978. Toted as a major bad guy in the upcoming sequel, Kenner joined in the hype by releasing this figure in both their 3-31/4" and 12" lines in 1979. The big whoop about the smaller version was that it was a mail-away special and was going to have a 'rocket-firing' feature. Unfortunately due to a lawsuit resulting from a tragic mishap with a similar feature on the Battlestar Galactica toys, the plan was scrapped and the Boba Fett figures were sent out with their rockets glued firmly in place.
Just for fun, here's the complete collection showing both lines. Obviously this is minus the many variations like the blue Snaggletooth and the vinyl-cape Jawa as those are far beyond my budget. But we live in hope...
I seem to be collecting these in order, however inadvertently. Series 3 had the yellow borders.
Interesting look at a Jawa here, showing the electrical set up under the hood which make the eyes glow. Not sure if this is a behind the scenes shot or not.
Topps had dispensed with the 'Movie Facts' by this time and the backs all had 'Official Descriptions' of everything from characters to ships to lightsabers and the force.
As usual, there were two puzzles which I have dutifully put together. One is the famous shot of the three heroes and the other a more random scene of the droids and a rebel mechanic or whatever he is in the hanger on Yavin. This image was also used on one of the cards in this set.