Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Return To A Galaxy Far, Far Away...



...for the next chapter in the Star Wars Saga! Join the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2...And Darth Vader. Revenge of the Jedi!

Which as we all know would later evolve into Return of Jedi and of course follow with a fantastic line of Kenner toys.


For me, my collection had to start with Jabba the Hutt. Despite being classified as a "creature" in the vintage collection, I was dead set he was an essential character in the line.


I found one in great condition with all the appropriate accessories and waited (im)patiently for the auction to wind down to its last final moments. Then I bid a "reasonable" dollar amount. When the smoke cleared from all the last second bids, I remained on top and nabbed this bad boy up. I didn't notice at the time the collar and "chain" (thread) were missing, but I have since (this photo) rectified that for only a couple more dollars.


I love everything about this figure. From its highly detailed eyes, to the pipe, the throne all the way down to Salacious Crumb sitting atop his tail. It's not shown in the photos, but inside the throne is a ton more fantastic details of sculpted bones and skulls. This definitely stands out as one of the better pieces Kenner produced throughout the series.


The added bonus to bidding on the above Jabba figure was that the auction also included a full set of Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band.

(left to right) Sy Snootles*Max Rebo*Droopy McCool

Each figure came with all of its original accessories - microphones and respective instruments. The paint applications were also superb. Max Rebo himself has a nasty habit of the blue paint fading and turning green like.

The band was released during the seventy-seven card back era of the series.


To purchase a complete Jabba the Hutt and Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band separately I would have spent about $200.00 to $250.00. For the entire set I paid about $175.00. Definitely worth the patience of bidding.

The Return of the Jedi line officially starts with the Admiral Ackbar mail away promo during the final days of The Empire Strikes Back wave.


When he was first made available, Kenner was busy at work producing figures based on the original title of the film, Revenge of the Jedi. As such, the first promotion was advertised under this banner, but corrected on later cards.

The figure was also released on sixty-five card backs, which would be the first group of carded figures made available in the line.


Nien Nunb followed up Admiral Ackbar as the second mail away promotion in the series.


This figure too would make its way to the sixty-five card backs for mass retail release.


Which leads us head long into those particular card backs with Princess Leia in Boushh Disguise. Every time I spell the word "Boushh" I have to cross reference the name via sources as I always spell it wrong. You would think by now I would know it is two h's, one s, but nope.


The removable helmet on this figure adds to sheer awesomeness of it. It's like getting two figures in one. Sure, you could play with it as Princess Leia and act out all the glory of Jabba's palace. Adversely, you could keep the helmet on and play out your own untold adventures of Boushh the bounty hunter...I just got a picture in my head of Boushh in the role of Dog the bounty hunter on his own reality show - Yes, Boushh is a male.


The original version of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight came with a blue lightsaber...and a massive price hike vs. the green saber. Because of this I decided the green saber version would suffice.


What really bugs me about this figure, and maybe it's just mine, is that the weapons keep falling out of his hands. You can see in the photo I gave up on the blaster, which is sitting on the figure's stand. Sure, I could have bent the thumb more, but sometimes that has an unwanted effect of broken off appendages. I'd rather not risk it.


Lando Calrissian in Skiff Disguise is another one of those great duel purpose figures.


Much like Leia above, you can play out the Rebel infiltrating Jabba's palace or take him on his own adventure as a skiff guard hanging out in the presence of Jabba. Oh the possibilities of an imaginative mind.


Lando was one of the many figures from the line to come packed with a vibro axe. This was the go to weapon for Kenner when producing figures for this line. Specifically for patron's of Jabba's palace.

Which leads us into a fair amount of those palace creatures. First up is the majordomo himself, Bib Fortuna. As a kid, this was actually the very first figure from the line I ever saw - And it was the burgundy coat version. We were overseas and came across a street merchant who had the figure sitting on his table loose. I don't recall the conversation which was had in great detail, but he told me, "This is from the new Star Wars movie."


Granted, I didn't walk away with the figure that day - For whatever reason. I did however end up with my own fairly soon after that - Among many others in the line...And then again just recently.


Next up we have the Gammorean Guard. This is the kind of figure you could army build with all day. There were so many seen in the film that you can't honestly stop at just one...Well, I guess you can, because I did. But, you get my point. You could easily have three or four of these set up around a Jabba's palace type diorama.


One of the challenges I faced with getting this figure was finding one with a solid paint job on the head and axe. I finally settled on the one shown here, but even now I admit the missing paint on the right sandal kind of bugs me (as everyone looks at his foot now).



Ree-Yees is one of those blink and you'll miss him figures. He doesn't get a lot of screen time in the film, but that's okay. He's awesome all the same.


I really like the overall look of the sculpt on this figure. It's unique with its three eyes and pale flesh tone. The overall design of his garb may be bland, but the head and hands make up for it in spades. He's the kind of character that you find yourself asking, "Hey, what's his story?"

If you're looking for him on screen, he is predominately shown at the part where the Rancor is going after the Gammorean Guard and Luke. He is cheering the beast on from above the pit. You can also spot him in a couple more places. The first time you'll actually see him is when Bib Fortuna leads C-3PO and R2-D2 into the presence of Jabba. He is standing by the door talking to Yak Face. You can also spot him behind C-3PO when he is announcing the death sentence of our heroes as they hover on their skiff above the Sarlac pit.


Speaking of oddly unique figures, Squid Head is up next! He's another one of those characters who you'll search high and low on the screen to find in the film. You may miss him the first few times, but he's there. You can spot him swaying to the music as Sy Snootles first sings in the original cut of the film (and also in the Special Edition during the newly edited in song). Also take a look at the scene on Jabba's skiff where it cuts to Max Rebo playing his Nalargon (piano). Squid Head is hanging out to his right side.


Squid Head is cool and all, but he's no Ree-Yees. He does get points for having a unique cloth outfit, but why give him a Bespin blaster? Makes no sense.


Weequay is another of the many characters who came packed with a vibro axe. His overall design is rather unique to the series as his arms are actually sculpted in a way to wield his weapon, and not simply just hold it.


You can find Weequay (which is actually the species and not the character's name) during the battle over the Sarlac pit (in a couple places). He takes a header into the pit pretty much right from the start. Sucks to be him. Another gets thrown from Jabba's skiff as Luke scales the side of it to the top.


We got two versions of Klaatu, and while one is boasted as being "Skiff Guard", truth be told both versions can be found in the battle scene. Which leads to the question, is this the character's name or species? The answer - It's his name. So, what gives? Is Klaatu the equivalent of Bill in Star Wars?


This particular version of Klaatu gets his laser bolt deflected back into his chest by Luke when he climbs aboard Jabba's skiff. You can also spy him briefly before that when Jabba talks about Han in Carbonite to C-3PO and R2-D2. As the camera pans you'll see him walking past it. If you look even closer, you'll also spot Amanaman - A soon to be released Power of the Force figure.


As we continue our look at the sixty-five backs, we switch over to the remaining Rebels in the wave.

Admittedly, General Madine is a rather boring character. His minimal screen time, while necessary for narrative, doesn't translate well into a figure. Beyond going over the plan, the character really doesn't do anything, so why do I want to play with him?


Well, because he's part of the vintage line. Therefore necessary. You also can't play out the Rebel briefing without him.

What's interesting to note about this figure is that he was actually a little challenging to find in decent condition. Many of the ones I was coming across had all sorts of paint issues from head to toe. When I found this one I immediately clicked the "Buy it Now" button.


I always wondered why they never made a second version of the Rebel Commando akin to that of the Bespin Security Guard. You know what I'm talking about. Why only a Caucasian one? I mean, Kenner kind of set the precedence on this one themselves.


Rebel Commando also continues the somewhat yawn worthy Rebel troops the line was seeing. He's a soldier in green. Meh. He serves his purpose, but unlike those Jabba's palace characters he really doesn't invoke the thought of, "Hey, where did this guy come from? Where is he going?" You know what I mean?


Then we finally get to those controversial little things...The Ewoks. Fans seem split down the middle on these cuddly little warriors. People seem to love them or hate them with real no in between ground. Not to mention that whole demise of Endor theory once the Death Star blew up so close to its atmosphere.



For its first round, Kenner produced two Ewoks, Chief Chirpa and Logray. Personally speaking, I'm down with the Wok. They're really cool figures and featured some really unique accessories from head gear to pouches to weapons.



I may very well stand alone in a crowd of my own wishing Kenner had produced a few more of them. Then again, I could fill a book with a list of characters I wish Kenner would have gotten around to.

Biker Scout was, and to this day, remains one of my absolute favorite vintage characters from the Return of the Jedi line. He's just so awesome from head to toe.


It was imperative to me to find one bright white with good applications of black paint. I think I succeeded in that quest. This figure is pristine perfect! I may track down a Speeder Bike to rest his hump on.


Though he may not have been produced last, Emperor's Royal Guard is the last figure we're looking at from the sixty-five back era of figures.


I love the flowing cloth robe this guy got. Admittedly, as a child I was guilty of taking a spare one and "removing" said robe to see what was underneath - A maroon plastic figure for those of you wondering.


For those of you wondering why Kenner would release the Royal Guard prior to releasing The Emperor himself...Well, they technically didn't.


While the sixty-five back wave was in production, The Emperor became the next mail away incentive figure. He came packed with a cane, revealing no secrets of just how powerful he was. In a way, I respect and appreciate that in the figure.


Much like all mail away figures in the line to date, The Emperor would soon be released on his own cardback in the seventy-seven back wave.

Which actually leads us into those cards with Princess Leia in Battle Poncho.


Kenner was really upping their game in the quality factor of their figures. Granted, they still had minimal articulation when compared to Hasbro's G.I. Joe line which was quickly turning children's heads away from Star Wars in 1983.


Still, the added cloth poncho, removable helmet and belt with holster (which actually holds Leia's blaster) was leaps and bounds above the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back series.

Even Han Solo got the same treatment for his Endor style garb - With the exception of course of no helmet or holster...So, maybe he didn't actually get the "same" treatment. He did however get a pretty awesome trench coat.


The coat could be removed to have a perfect alternate Han Solo showing his brief appearance in his traditional vest and white shirt (as seen in the briefing scene for the final battle). Another great example of two figures in one.


The details on B-Wing Pilot - Specifically the helmet - Are fantastic. I love how Kenner went as far to include the tubing on the back of the helmet. The details really bring this character to life.


Of course, the whole reasoning behind producing the figure was so Kenner could produce and market the amazing B-Wing Fighter which was released in conjunction with the figure. Out of all the vehicles from the line, that's one I really wouldn't mind owning. It's a fantastic and fun toy.


The last Rebel figure to join the fray was Prune Face.


When I was a kid I had no clue this guy was a Rebel. Whenever I played with him it was in the fashion that he was yet another creature in Jabba's palace. It wouldn't be until I saw the film in Letterbox (in 1989) that I spotted this guy hanging out in the Rebel briefing scene sitting in the back row on the right. Too bad that's the only time you see this guy.


Speaking of Jabba's palace, let's head back there for the final wave of characters seen in his humble abode.

8D8 can be found in Jabba's torture chamber (gleefully) putting the heat to a Power Droid's feet.


Sadly the figure didn't include any accessories and as such wasn't one of my most desirable figures as a kid. He was kind of one of those, "What do I do with him?" characters. Still...Gotta have him!


If you recall, I mentioned above the character Klaatu got two different releases. This version of Klaatu, or Bill if you will, is the Skiff Guard version. Again though, if you watch the film you'll see both versions on Jabba's sail barge.


This particular version of Klaatu can be seen going toe to toe with Luke on the deck of the barge just after the scene where R2-D2 shocks Salacious Crumb off of C-3PO.


Then we had Nikto - A character which can be seen numerous times during the sail barge battle. Nikto gets a pass for showing up numerous times during this scene as unlike Klaatu, Nikto is actually the species.


Though you may be able to spot him sooner, I first saw him piloting the skiff which was carrying our heroes to the Saralac pit. He can then be seen again on the second skiff which Luke jumps to (which closer resembles the actual figure) and again as the guy shooting at the skiffs from Jabba's barge.


That's a whole lot of Nikto!

The last patron of Jabba's palace released was the Rancor Keeper himself (with the exception of the band members shown way at the top of this post who were released during the seventy-seven card back era).


Though we see him very briefly in the film after Luke dispatches his pet, the figure itself partners well with the actual Rancor creature toy. Overall though, there's not much I can really say about the guy.


Kenner produced two more Ewoks on the seventy-seven cardbacks. These two being Teebo and what many consider the main Ewok from the series, Wicket W. Warrick (shown first).



In comparison to the other figures in the line, Wicket may very well be the smallest of them all standing just a hair shorter than R2-D2.



Of course many fans have gone on to appreciate the work of the man (child) behind the mask who has seen great success in roles such as Willow, Leprechaun and of course several other Star Wars films. I'm of course talking about Warwick Davis who first took on the role as Wicket at the age of eleven. Lucky kid!

The final Imperial figure released for the Return of the Jedi line was AT-ST Driver. Coincidentally, it was also the last figure I received in collecting the line.


Much like the B-Wing Pilot, this figure was produced with the intentions of selling more toys - the AT-ST Walker to be exact. Despite this, it's by no means a bad figure. I really like the Imperial emblems on the shoulders and the overall design is somewhat cool (in a simplistic sort of way).


Kenner produced two final figures on what would become the very briefly known seventy-nine back cards. Paploo and Lumat are known to many collectors as part of the last seventeen - A term which refers to the final few figures produced in the vintage Kenner Star Wars line prior to its cancellation.



For some reason authentic bows are very difficult to come buy in the toy collecting world for Lumat. This has in turn caused quite a price increase for 100% authentic / complete figures. Some secondary market dealers ask as much as $80.00 just for the bow - Ridiculous!



Lumat and Paploo were actually two of the first figures I purchased for the Return of the Jedi line prior to diving in. In fact, I may have even picked them up prior to Jabba and the Rebo Band. In fact, now that I think of it, I'm sure I did.

Overall the Return of the Jedi line was far easier to find than any of the prior ones (and latter Power o the Force line). It seemed to be readily available on secondary markets. Sure, there were some figures which proved to be a little challenging to obtain complete with non-repro weapons. However, for the most part I swooped these up rather easily. In fact, the bulk of them I got from one seller - Which was really convenient.

If you haven't guessed by now, my next loose toy post will be based on the Power of the Force line. May as well get this wrapped up before moving on to other toys. 

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