Sunday, 4 June 2023

Jedi: A Star Wars Toy Story

In this special edition of A Star Wars Toy Story, Nick Smith, our US-based collecting connoisseur, remembers when Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ruled toy aisles a long time ago...

Guest post by Nick Smith

It was 1983 and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was in movie theatres. Almost as exciting as the film were the new toys that came along with it.

I had no qualms about buying Ewoks - Wicket, Logray, Chief Chirpa - before fan wisdom decided that they were uncool. I marvelled at their little plastic outfits and primitive weapons; I could act out their man-eating rituals and pit them against my Biker Scout, who sadly lost his delicate head in a forest accident.

Most of my toys were from Jabba the Hutt’s Palace but my favourite was Luke Skywalker in his ‘Vaderish’ black costume. Sadly, I couldn’t afford a Speeder Bike, a Rebel Transport or the Ewok Village playset, although I did buy a Rancor for my son years later [shame we didn't meet until university in 1993 as I had almost all the things - Ed].

Even in the ‘80s, the number of action figures was becoming unmanageable and I, ahem, ‘borrowed’ one or two from friends to try to keep up. (Don’t worry, I gave them back). But Kenner 'only' released 17 new figures for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, a variety that pales into insignificance compared to what’s on offer today.

Hasbro is still pushing toys to commemorate Lucasfilm’s 50th Anniversary, marked in 2021. These include Black Series figures of a Tusken Raider, an Imperial Hovertank Driver, a Rogue One Shoretrooper, a Death Trooper, Darth Revan and Grand Admiral Thrawn, all 6” tall.

The good news about Hasbro’s deluge of dolls? Tie-ins have been released or are planned for all of the Disney+ live-action shows: The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor and The Book of Boba Fett.

There’s a ‘Star Wars Publishing’ line, which includes Mara Jade, plus tie-ins with The Bad Batch, The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, the 2023 video game Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and ‘Gaming Greats.’ Who doesn’t want to own a toy of Lando in his colourful Battlefront II outfit?

In an issue of the Star Wars comic book Infinities, Darth Vader turns Jedi (and white as a pint of milk). The Black Series has resurrected this toy from 2007. A retro collection brings back figures from the ‘70s and ‘80s. So, something to appease every fan, if not every wallet. You can buy ‘Boba Fett’s starship,’ nee Slave One, for a Hutt’s bounty of $200.

Gone are the days when a child could pick up a Star Wars toy for a buck or two. Hasbro has tried to cater to younger, cash-strapped fans with its basic retro figures, running about $12-15 each. The more detailed $25 Black Series is aimed at collectors and Richie Rich kids [that was me back in the day - Ed]. If parents really want to splurge, they can buy Fives from Clone Wars (a Walmart exclusive), the half-a-Han bust from Gentle Giant or a sweet-smelling Ewok from Scentsy.

What will they think of next? Expect Ahsoka tie-ins like an animatronic ‘chatter back’ Chopper, highlighted at this year’s Star Wars Celebration Europe, and a Black Series Cad Bane.

Since demand for toys seems to be increasing with every new streaming show on Disney+ the possibilities, as White Darth Vader would say, are infinite.

What are your memories of collecting original Star Wars trilogy toys? Let me know in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam. Stay on topic and do not embed links. Keep it family-friendly.

Thank you.