Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The End Of An Era

If you've been keeping up with my posts each week, you probably figured this one was coming this week.

Today we look at the end of an era in toy history - The last fifteen vintage Star Wars figures released under the Power of the Force banner in 1985. Many vintage collectors consider this entire line to be the holy grail of Kenner's original series.

Its rarity is driven by the period in which it was released. By 1985 there were no new Star Wars films on the horizon, and children of the 80's were quickly moving on to other properties such as He-Man and G.I. Joe. The thought of collecting Star Wars figures was furthest from a lot of young minds. As such, many of the figures drifted from pegs to clearance bins to the obscurity of history.

Part of this could have been contributed to Kenner's poor marketing attempts. While other action figures were selling action figures with unique features or massive amounts of articulation / accessories, Kenner instead opted to incorporate coins into the line - Something most kids didn't care about. Of course when people don't buy figures from stores, this attributes to their rarity - and boy is that the case here.

Compiling an entire set these days will set you back around $2,000.00 with each figure costing on average $150.00 each - With the exception of a few which can and will set you back much more. You also need a bit of patience as secondary market dealers seem to be riddled with the same problem - Missing or reproduction weapons.

Me personally, I did have the majority of the original vintage line figures as a kid. Out of all of them, I was missing only three of them. Too bad I didn't hold onto them. But, that "error" has been rectified, so let's take a look!

R2-D2 with Pop-Up Lightsaber was one of the few figures I ended up buying on its cardback. The reason for this was all the versions I was coming across either had reproduction lightsabers, missing lightsabers, poor condition stickers or a combination of all of them.

The beauty of buying it on card - well, short of getting this fantastic pristine condition one - was the resale value of the cardback and coin. For something I quite honestly would have thrown away in the long run I walked away with $25.00 bucks.

Artoo was one of the three figures I never had as a kid. So I was really excited to finally be able to put my own hands on one.

Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise was actually the first one I purchased. It was also one of the three figures I never had as a kid and unlike R2 was one I always wanted. I remember when I used to play with my figures I would pretend my regular Stormtrooper was the figure.

One of the downsides to this figure was the yellowing of the plastic. You can see from the one I ended up with even it wasn't exempt from this issue. The paint job on the back of the helmet also could have been better. I guess overall I was so eager to grab this figure I really didn't take the time needed to get the best one available.

Luke got a second figure in the Power of the Force line - Endor Battle Poncho. It's essentially nothing more than Jedi Luke with a poncho and helmet...Well, now that I type that so was Luke in the actual movie. It's not like he had anything different on under that poncho.

One of the things I like about this figure is the belt. Much like the Battle Poncho Princess Leia, it has a cool holster on it which holds the blaster. Granted, not very well due to the sheer size of it.

Han Solo in Carbonite was an awesome addition to the line. Though the figure didn't feature any weapons or accessories, the carbonite block itself is worth the price of admission.

Take a look at it for a moment. Totally trumps the smaller version originally packed in with the Slave I vehicle.

Lando in his General garb was a fantastic counterpart to Nien Nunb (who was released in the Return of the Jedi line). It also completed the duo for having a second set of pilots in your original Falcon.

I really like the cape on this figure. It flows nicely behind the character and adds that extra added touch of coolness. Finding one in great shape can be a little challenging, but it's well worth it to hold out for just the right one.

A-Wing Pilot not only got released in the Power of the Force line, but also in the Droids line which followed shortly after. What's interesting to note is that you won't actually find an A-Wing vehicle released in the line. Rather, you would  have to look to the Droids line for one.

The figure compliments the B-Wing Pilot (from the Return of the Jedi line) greatly when displayed next to each other. It's only too bad we never got a Y-Wing Pilot to round out the group of pilots.

Anakin Skywalker initially started out as a mail away figure during the final days of the 1984 Return of the Jedi line.

A disappointing aspect was that it didn't feature any accessories. Of course, being a representation of Anakin as a ghost this would make sense. It just doesn't make it any less disappointing.

Another figure to be released without any accessories was the Imperial Dignitary. He's one of those "blink and you'll miss him" characters from the Original Trilogy.

A lot of people harp on this figure for being unnecessary to the line, but I actually disagree. I wish Kenner would have made every character imaginable. I love them all! Plus, look at that great sculpt in the face and robe.

Imperial Gunner gets the "cool" award from the series. That awesome black jumpsuit, the silver Imperial logos and overall freaking cool sculpt - He's fantastic.

He's also one of the only two figures representing A New Hope in the Power of the Force line. The rest are from Return of the Jedi.

Kenner produced two additional Ewok figures; Romba (brown) and Warok (gray) for the line. For some reason Warok is difficult to find with his original bow and I'm not sure why. It doesn't seem like it should be all that rare of an accessory.

A lot of people confuse Lumat and Paploo as being part of the Power of the Force line. While they did get released on Power of the Force cards, these two were actually the last two figures released in the Return of the Jedi line, first appearing on 79 backs. So contrary to popular belief, no, Kenner did not produce four Ewoks in the last series of vintage toys.

Amanaman may very well be the largest figure in the vintage Star Wars line. I think he tops Gamorrean Guard by a few ounces of plastic.

He also has a rather terrifying accessory which doesn't necessarily fit in the realm of the Star Wars universe. Dead skulls on a stick? Seems more like something you'd see in Indiana Jones, not Star Wars.

If you're looking to spot Amanaman on screen, take a look at the scene where Jabba tells C-3PO and R2-D2 that he likes Captain Solo where he is. As the camera pans to Han in carbonite you can see Amanaman standing to the left of it.

Barada completes the Klaatu, Barada, Nikto trio of Jabba's palace creatures - The latter two being released in the Return of the Jedi line.

He kind of has a pirate motif going on, doesn't he?

I'm not sure how much screen time Barada gets as I've only spotted him once - Standing on the skiff which hovers over the Sarlac pit with our heroes. He doesn't last much longer past this point of the film.

EV-9D9 was a challenging one to find in decent condition. Its arms are known for being brittle on the joints and as such it's not recommended you move them - At all. Otherwise you risk breaking the figure.

I ended up buying this one on card because I was having difficulty finding one that wasn't damaged. Much like R2-D2, I put the cardback and coin on ebay to recoup a little bit of cash back. I didn't mention it above, but I also picked up Luke in Battle Poncho on card and did the same thing with its cardback and coin. I recouped about a hundred bucks between all three and I'm not going to hate on that concept.

It could be argued there were only fourteen figures in the Power of the Force line. The reason for this being that the 15th figure, Yak Face, was actually released only in foreign countries. For this reason, Yak Face is the third figure from the Power of the Force line I never had as a kid.

Despite only being released in foreign countries, many fans make it a point to track this final figure down and don't consider their personal collections complete until they have it. I can relate as I too am among those people.

Fun fact - Only the version carded on the Power of the Force line cards came with a weapon. The Tri-Logo versions had no accessories. However, you can easily take the staff from Nikto or Barada to make a "complete" one. At this point it's probably a safe bet to say there are more "complete" Yak Face figures out there than originally produced.

Yak Face can be seen in the film as majordomo Bib Fortuna leads R2-D2 and C-3PO into the presence of Jabba. As they come through the archway he is on the right with Ree-Yees. You can also catch a brief glimps of him on Jabba's skiff right as the chaos ensues when Luke picks his lightsaber out of the air and goes to town on everyone in arm's reach.

I wish I would have held out for a slightly better condition one. The one I ended up with has blue paint showing on the hands from where the flesh color has chipped away. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of this figure I had to settle for what I could get at the price point I was willing to spend at the time.

I won't discount the Ewoks and Droids lines, but for me, this essentially wraps up the entire vintage line. I'm very happy with my collection and have officially re-compiled all of the figures I had as a kid plus those last remaining three. Sure, the Droids and Ewoks lines are somewhere in the back of my mind. They're not a priority at the moment, but I can see myself eventually tracking them down.

If you're a fan of vintage Star Wars and planning your own strategy for collecting the entire line I would highly recommend starting with the Power of the Force series. Out of all of them, these are the most challenging to obtain 100% complete and they're also going to be the largest investment for you in the series. However, regardless of which figures you hunt down first I hope you adopt the creed so many have before you - "Say no to repro!" If there's one thing many collectors can't stand it's reproduction items. They have flooded the secondary market of Star Wars figures and in a way have really hurt many collectors who have invested high dollar amounts into what unfortunately turned out to be fake. Don't help spread that garbage around.

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