The Star Wars saga has shown us that Han, Luke, Leia, and company had regular brushes with danger, fighting their way out of close scrapes and situations. Here on Earth, the kids of the ’70s and ’80s faced similar terrors, albeit of a slightly less stellar nature. Moms and dads worldwide, desperate to find a way to get their kids to get into the daily routine of brushing their teeth, quickly realized that there was no better way to make it happen than to give their kids the coolest option in oral hygiene — Star Wars toothbrushes. And so it was that from the late ’70s to the mid ’80s kids were raging about their new toothbrushes, adorned with a selection of their favorite characters. Just think, you could brush and go with Threepio, fight the plaque to Hoth and back, scrub your gums with Rebel chums and safely chew thanks to Artoo. Battling tooth decay had suddenly become fun.
Posts Tagged ‘kenner’
In the first part of this series, I discussed the playsets of A New Hope. Onto the next batch!
Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer Action Playset (1980): This one has always been a bit of an ugly Nuna. Not because it’s a bad playset, but because personally I’ve always considered this to be a ship and not a playset. And the Star Destroyer doesn’t look like the Executor at all. The toy can roughly be interpreted as the bridge of Vader’s Super Star Destroyer. The box has an ominous reddish hue and it shows Boba Fett, Bossk, and IG-88 standing on the ship/playset. A picture on the side of box does the same (and even adds Dengar). On the back of the box you can spot a lot of the action features of the set, explained by black and white artwork. Another issue that makes this set rather odd is that most of its features never appear in The Empire Strikes Back.
Bernard Loomis, president of Kenner, decided to make the Star Wars action figures 3 ¾” tall. That decision caused a revolution in the toy industry, as action figures were usually made 12” or 8” tall. The new size meant that the figures could be offered for a reasonable price and that the line could also include spaceships, vehicles, and playsets. Playsets have always been an important part of the toy industry, from those in the Louis Marx Toy line to the Mego sets in the ’70s. With Star Wars, Kenner produced some of the most memorable playsets ever, rivaling classics like Castle Grayskull from Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe’s USS Flagg.
“R2-D2, where are you?” and “There’s one! Set for stun!” will probably be two of the best recognized quotes from the Star Wars movies by parents in the ’70s and ’80s. These phrases were among two of the six sounds produced by Kenner’s Imperial Troop Transport vehicle. It was announced recently during the panel of Star Wars Rebels at New York Comic Con that this iconic toy will appear in the upcoming animated television series. So it seems like a perfect timing to have a closer look at the Kenner vehicles that have not (yet?) made it into a Star Wars movie. But, be not mistaken. Several of these vehicles have already flown, hovered or rolled their way into other mediums of the Star Wars franchise.
Ever since I received my first Star Wars figures in 1981 I have always been an avid fan of Kenner’s vintage line. It brought me a lot of childhood memories and it has taken a prominent place in my collection. One of the charms of the Kenner line are the “naive” names given to a lot of the figures. I’ve always embraced and loved more realistic names like Ponda Baba and Momaw Nadon, but I keep calling the Kenner figures Walrus Man and Hammerhead. Lucasfilm rarely named background characters during the production of the classics so Kenner didn’t have much of a choice but to use the production names or a few monikers given in the novelizations or the comics.
What if Lucasfilm had already given all those characters their names when the figures were released? Let’s have a look at the contemporary and alternate names of the Kenner action figures.
I didn’t visit Paris to watch the conclusion of the Tour de France and I wasn’t planning to spot Quasimodo at the Notre Dame either. This time I had an appointment with history: an appointment with Star Wars toys. As president of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub, I received an invitation from a respected Belgian newspaper to visit the exposition called “Les Jouets Star Wars” (“The Star Wars Toys”) at the Les Arts Décoratifs museum. I went by Thalys from Brussels to Paris, armed with the latest Dark Horse comics and The Essential Reader’s Companion.