Posts Tagged ‘star wars toys’



Happy Rancor: Mail-Away Star Wars Action Figures

Dan Brooks | April 16, 2014

Happy Rancor by Dan Brooks on the Star Wars Blog

Happy Rancor explores hidden gems in and around the orbit of Star Wars — from old video games to comics to underrated novels — that have maybe been forgotten, but deserve a little more consideration. In this installment, we take a look at Star Wars toys that require proofs of purchase, postage, and patience.

One element of Star Wars collecting that I’ve always found fascinating is the mail-away action figure, a designation usually reserved for characters especially important to the saga or those that are just visually interesting and mysterious. The process is pretty straightforward: clip and send in “proof of purchase” UPC bar codes from previously purchased items in exchange for a free (more or less, depending on whether or not a shipping payment is required), not-available-anywhere-else toy. It isn’t immediately evident, but mail-aways have quite a big legacy in the history of Star Wars merchandise. This piece is a light history of mail-aways, combined with some autobiography regarding my experience with these special figures.

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Collecting the Galaxy: BBC2′s Collectaholics and Building “The X-Wing”

James Burns | April 11, 2014

The X-Wing logo, inspired by Collectaholics

In January 2013 a TV crew invaded our house to record for a brand new collecting show for the BBC2 called Collectaholics. Around 100 days later we wrapped filming on April 12, but not until our house and my collection were literally turned upside down. This is that story…

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The Sears Wish Book and Star Wars Toys’ Real Value

Brad Ricca | March 31, 2014

Sears 1981 Wish Book

During the time of the first three films, there were significant barriers standing between kids and the Star Wars stuff they craved. The drive to Children’s Palace or Kiddie City or Gold Circle was, for most of us, insurmountable. The only way we could get to one of those places, with all their light and treasure, was usually at the tail-end of a larger negotiation of good behavior. Or a birthday. Or straight-up blackmail. As it has been for every generation, going to the toy store was never a frequent enough visit. And since there was no Internet or rec.star.wars.fanz.hanshotfirst.woot, the only place kids could interact with the Star Wars universe was in their front driveways, bashing their little brothers with a piece of plastic pipe stuck into an old bike grip.

There had to be a better way.

Luckily, there was. The best place where young fans of the film could interact with the toys, and thus the movie, was in the paper-thin pages of a Christmas catalog: the Sears Holiday Wish Book. And the best part? It was already being delivered to their homes for free.

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Fully Operational Fandom: Star Wars Collecting

Amy Ratcliffe | March 25, 2014

Fully Operational Fandom: Star Wars Collections

Just as there are many characters in the Star Wars universe, there are many sides to Star Wars fandom. Cosplay, comics, trading cards, art — we all focus our passion somewhere. Many fans channel their love of the saga through Star Wars collecting. When you keep at the hobby for years or even decades, you get to know fellow fans along the way. Some collectors look out for each other and keep eyes open for a treasure on someone else’s list and bonding over the hunt for memorabilia can lead to lifelong friendships. You not only acquire collectibles, you acquire connections.

I spoke with a few fans about their collections and people they’ve met along the way.

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Collecting the Galaxy: New LEGO Star Wars Releases in May

James Burns | March 24, 2014

LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary by DK Publishing

There are two new LEGO Star Wars related releases coming in early May, just in time for the annual May the 4th holiday. Both are updated and revised editions of previous releases but I don’t think either are something you’ll want to pass up…

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Collecting the Galaxy: 15 Years of LEGO Star Wars, Part 2

James Burns | March 19, 2014

LEGO Star Wars logo

In the part one of “15 Years of LEGO Star Wars, I looked at the introduction of the mashup franchise through to the end of 2005 and the release of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge on the Sith. Part two of this retrospective looks at the period between 2006 and 2010 which includes the 10th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars and the introduction of the first sets from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. By the end of 2005 we’d seen 124 sets released which included over 125 different minifigures.

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The 501st Legion’s Star Wars Toy Story

Albin Johnson | March 18, 2014

 

Star Wars has a rich legacy of firsts. When it first came out in 1977, A New Hope was wholly different from any science-fiction story ever told and it broke the mold. Not only that, but it recast how the business of movies could be run by revealing the power of merchandising. Nowadays every big kids’ movie has an obligatory toy line, but Star Wars was the first to see its potential. As a corollary to that, the 501st Legion was the first Star Wars fan club (or fan club of any franchise, really) to see itself plugged right into the product line of the very universe it sought to celebrate.

It’s both exciting and humbling to witness. Here is a fictional universe that one man imagined and countless millions have enjoyed. Thousands of artists, authors, and editors have contributed to populate it to George Lucas’ standards. But to imagine the fans themselves being welcomed into the canon is just inspiring.

The story of how the 501st became Star Wars canon is a story for another blog. Since 2004, Lucasfilm has owned the rights to the 501st Legion name and I couldn’t be happier. Every so often I browse a toy store or a convention floor and out of nowhere there’s 501st merchandise for the offering. Wow. So here’s a quick and incomplete list of the cool items I’ve seen come out. If you’ve seen more feel free to contact me and we’ll add it to the list.

Japanese Star Wars clone trooper action figure called Vader's Legion

At some point in late 2005 / early 2006 a blue clone trooper figure appeared in Japan stores featuring the title “Vader’s Legion.” This may seem a coincidence, but the bottom of the package left no room for doubt: amid the Japanese lettering, it read “501″ in the description. I can only guess they had not secured permission from us yet to use our name and found this description a good compromise.

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Star Wars in the UK: An Empire of Erasers

Mark Newbold | March 7, 2014

Star Wars in the UK

Vintage Star Wars erasers

In today’s world, when communication is conducted largely by the tapping of a keyboard and the click of a mouse and deletions are executed by the pressing of the backspace button, excitement over erasers — or rubbers, as we commonly call them here in the UK — may seem odd. But back in the day, when rubbers were among the many cool branded items you could grab at a cheap price that had the characters and vehicles of Star Wars on them, they were an essential purchase. And importantly, they were a great way of showing your love of the movie to your fellow fans at school while pretending to focus on the teacher at the front of the class. We had pencil cases, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, stationary sets, and more, but back in the days when fragrant erasers were still allowed to be sold in the UK, Star Wars erasers were an essential tool in one’s school supplies pouch.

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Fully Operational Fandom: Custom Star Wars Action Figures

Amy Ratcliffe | February 28, 2014

Fully Operational Fandom

Have you ever felt frustrated when you walk down the toy aisle at any given store and don’t see a figure of your favorite Star Wars character? As awesome as it would be to have at least one of every character ever seen on screen or mentioned in the Expanded Universe, it’s impossible for Hasbro to do. The costs of manufacturing all those figures and the accompanying packaging would be high enough to make Darth Vader come in to uh, cut some corners. Who needs consultants? A little Force choking will do the trick.

You don’t have to lose hope when you can’t find what you’re looking for; even if you dress like a Stormtrooper, you probably don’t give up as easily. With a handful of materials and patience, you can transform existing action figures into whatever you want. Tired of seeing Mara Jade in the black catsuit? Obtain a Mara figure and change her wardrobe. Don’t like the only Corran Horn figure on the market? Create your own.

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Kenner’s Star Wars Playsets, Part 2: From Icy Trenches to Ewok Campfires

Tim Veekhoven | February 26, 2014

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 box
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.

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