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...
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.
Well, I finally tracked down the original 6 issues of Marvel's Star Wars comic for bearable prices. Issues #1 - #6 was the adaptation of the movie and began in April 1977 (Marvel cover dates at this time were generally 3 months ahead explaining the 'July' on #1). There's some pretty crazy/loosely inspired cover art on show here. My favorite is #5 where the Death Star is attacking what is presumably Yavin IV and is depicted as a hovering ball thing emitting laser blasts as if it is no bigger than your average flying saucer.
I won't go through the whole plot here as I assume most of you reading this are familiar with this particular story arc (wink) but as the adaptation was based on the original script rather than the movie itself there are the occasional interesting inconsistencies which are worth taking a look at.
The major difference is the inclusion of the 'Biggs Darklighter' scene on Tatooine which was cut from the movie.
The second 'deleted' scene is, of course, the one with Jabba the Hutt. Here he is portrayed as some sort of yellowish walrus humanoid with long whiskers. I have no idea why he looks like this in the comic. In the novelization he is vaguely described as an overweight, hairy being (possibly human) and in the scene that was filmed he was portrayed by Declan Mulholland as a clearly human character in a furry costume. This Marvel version of the character turns up later in the series too.
Biggs turns up again in issue 5 for his second deleted scene; the one that was actually put back in the movie in 1997. An interesting line that didn't get put back in (or even filmed for all I know) is 'Red Leader''s mentioning that he knew Luke's father and what a hot-shot pilot he was back in the day.
The artwork gets a bit on the psychedelic side in some panels and the death of Ben is surprisingly shocking.
"By the immortal gods of the Sith!" - I wonder if that line was in the script before being replaced with the somewhat simpler "What!?"
The comic even gives its own explanation of why Chewie never got a medal. He was too tall! And of course, the adventures of the 'Star Warriors' continued in issue 7 and beyond...
One cool thing about the early comics is the letters pages. As the comic was released before the movie a lot readers hadn't seen it yet and there is a lot of speculation and hype about the movie's release. Also, many comparisons are made here between the comic and the novelization which readers seem to know inside out. Man, were people ready to see this movie!
This is the first bit of news relating to the recent Disney take-over of all things Star Wars that has got me excited. I was a bit skeptical at the prospect of the Mouse House running the show at first. The last thing Star Wars needs is more cutesy antics and goofy cartoon humor. To be honest I can live without a 'sequel trilogy'. I've always felt that Return of the Jedi brought things to a nice happy ending and never wanted to see too much of what happened next. The stand alone movies might be fun depending entirely on their subject matter. Clone Wars has officially been shut down at this point, although there has been a sneak peek at stuff already produced awaiting release. We may get a final season 6 or perhaps some feature length DTV followup. But that's not really relevant to this blog...
What is relevant is the recent announcement of an all new animated series called 'Star Wars: Rebels' which will be very much a return to the era of 'classic' Star Wars. From www.starwars.com: Star Wars Rebels takes place in a time where the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape. Presumably we will be back in the world of TIE Fighters, Stormtroopers, X Wings and all the other classic stuff that makes old school Star Wars fans like me giddy. Clone Wars director Dave Filioni is on board as executive producer. I don't know if that's any indication of the style of the animation we will be seeing, but I think it would be cool to see something that ties in with the existing TV series in terms of visuals. I'm also hoping for appearances from Vader and Tarkin.