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...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kenner 3-3/4" Action Figures - Luke and Leia

The hero and heroine of Star Wars! Oddly enough these two were the last of the original 12 I picked up mainly due to their being a bit more pricey than their plastic companions. Don't know why the major players from the movie should be the hardest to come by in action figure form, but there it is.

I have never found an explanation as to why Luke came with a yellow lightsaber. It's not like Kenner didn't have that colour plastic as Obi-wan came with the correct blue variety. Just one of those little oddities that make the Kenner Star Wars figures so charming.

In comparison to the weird and wonderful figures Kenner put out in this and subsequent lines, the Luke figure is a pretty bland affair, most notably the face. Now I know in this age of 'laser-imaging' to get good character likenesses on action figures, it's easy to be overly critical of efforts in bygone eras, but even for the 70s, this is pretty bad. I don't know if its the bright yellow hair or the generic 'plastic-man' face that bears no resemblance to Mark Hamil whatsoever, but this figure has all the identity of a Lego man.

Princess Leia, for some reason has been the most difficult (and expensive) figure for me to track down from the original 12. I would have thought that the slightly rare figures like the Jawa would cost me a few bits but not one of the major characters. I'm guessing that Leia figures are quite rare today because it was mostly boys buying these things back in their hey-day and not too many boys are willing to tread that thin line between action figures and 'dolls'.

This is quite a nice figure with good attention to detail on the hair. She comes with a fairly unique blaster of the small slim 'ladylike' variety. As with other white figures, Leia has a tendency to discolour over time.


C.K. Dexter Haven said...

When the first batch of Star Wars figures came out in, what, 1978? I remember going to the Jefferson's store and choosing my first two figures ($1.99 each in those days). I wanted three: Vader, Stormtrooper, and Chewbacca; the interesting-looking ones appealed to me most. However, my mother would only allow me to get two, so Chewbacca had to wait.

Speaking of action figures, I found some photos of me from around '79-'80 with the figures actually in the picture; quite rare considering how often I was immersed in my--make that Lucas'-- imaginary world. It's a hilarious time capsule to see me and my grandparents' house in all its dated glory!

BTW, how old are you? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression that you came along after this period of Star wars history.

'77 - '80 Collector said...

It's great to hear stories from people who were kids back then as (you quite correctly guessed) I am a little younger than the items I blog about.

I was born in '83 so pretty much missed the boat with Star Wars. I did inherit a bunch of the Kenner figures from a neighbor when I was a kid so my love affair with them goes back almost as far as I can remember. Star Wars was still very much a part of 'playground mythology' then but it was starting to fade, overtaken by He-Man etc. I always got the impression that it had once been a far greater and grander thing. That's probably the cause of my infatuation with the earliest era of Star Wars as It was an era I just missed as a kid.

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I'll be sure to "regale" you with all my Star Wars-era stories! ;) It did make for a fun childhood, as well as being a comfort during the less-than-wonderful times. I was born in 1971, so the original trilogy did indeed span my childhood.

I have a similar fascination for the late '60s and early '70s pop culture. I was "too busy" being born to enjoy those times, but I find them just as interesting as someone who didn't get to appreciate the Star Wars period in which I grew up.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

Maybe it's because I was a kid then and I played with the old figures during the 1980s, but I prefer the look of them over the ones that came during the late 1990s and 2000s. I like the slender looks to the barrel-chested ones later on.

I still have lots and lots of those Star Wars toys in storage somewhere. And my office is decorated with the displays of the Micro-machine Star Wars toys (which I DID love, and purchased many of as an adult. :) )

Lance Arguello said...

Was wondering how much you paid for each of these figures. If ou don't mind sharing that is...