Monday 6 June 2022

Stay on Target: A Star Wars Toy Story

In this edition of A Star Wars Toy Story delayed due to the pandemic, Nick Smith, our US-based collecting connoisseur, goes on a toy hunt to Target in search of exclusive bounty.

Let's hope Nick doesn't get locked in overnight like teenage crush Jennifer Connelly (Labyrinth) and Frank Whaley in Career Opportunities. Does he find enough cargo to fill a space cruiser?

Guest post by Nick Smith

Toys can tell us a lot about past generations, from the war toys of the ‘40s to Malibu Barbie in the ‘70s. Somewhere, however, there’s a cultural island of lost toys, where a plastic RoboCop hangs out with Rambo and Ripley, and Boba Fett is an outlawed choking hazard.

From spring 1978 onwards, the Star Wars line was a genius move, toys small enough to fit in a child’s hand but big enough to incorporate details like Han Solo’s holster, a snake necklace for Yoda and snaggly teeth for Snaggletooth. The other brainwave was to sell the toys at a pocket money price of $1.97 each. Over in the UK, for around a quid you could pick up a plastic replica of your fave star warrior.

Now, with the price of spice much too high to dump at the first sign of trouble, you need pretty big pockets to shell out for Target’s ‘prize bounty’ selection or Hasbro’s Black Series. Which means fans have to be more selective about our purchases.

Target is a big deal in the USA, with at least one megastore in every major city. Call it the wine-drinking man’s Walmart. Their toy section is huge, and although shoppers have to pop online for some exclusives, there are no less than 50 prize bounty toys, books, pin and knickknacks currently available.

These include a backpack that looks like Mandalorian Bo-Katan’s helmet, a red chrome Funko Pop! Boba Fett, character T-shirts from Star Wars Visions and an Axe Woves action figure (from The Mandalorian) in vintage-style packaging (confusingly, from the original Star Wars trilogy).

Most striking of all, however, is an eye-catching wookiee from the retro collection. It’s the prototype for the original Chewbacca toy with a red face and torso, one yellow arm and leg, a purple arm and a green left leg. The actual prototypes of this toy are extremely rare and sought after; now everyone can have one – at least, when the toy gets released. Pre-orders are sold out.

While the Chewbacca Prototype Exclusive makes a colourful talking point, it also smacks of desperation. All the main Star Wars characters – and a lot of minor ones - have been turned into toys and released.

Luckily, new shows like Andor, Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew and Obi-Wan Kenobi mean new toy choices. Until those shows inspire fresh merch, I can pick up Mandalorian and Grogu action figures at my local Five Below for five bucks a piece. Pocket money well spent.

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