The Y-Factor

The Y-Factor (Vintage Y-Wing Fighter, Vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilots, Vintage R2-D2, Vintage C-3PO, Vintage Admiral Ackbar, Vintage B-Wing Pilot, Vintage A-Wing Pilot)

The Y-Factor
(Vintage Y-Wing Fighter, Vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilots, Vintage R2-D2, Vintage C-3PO, Vintage Admiral Ackbar, Vintage B-Wing Pilot, Vintage A-Wing Pilot)

All hail Kenner’s ‘Return of the Jedi’ Y-Wing Fighter! Quickly approaching it’s 30th anniversary of toy magic.

The vintage Y-Wing Fighter has some tremendous upsides. First, the battery-operated rooftop cannon is unmatched for taking out the enemy. Sweeping left to right at manic speed, it just can’t miss. And just in case you’ve sprayed a few too many turbo lasers, the chin cannons are there for backup! You could literally jab your target into submission with those two badboys. Also the vintage Y-Wing actually allowed you to insert your own droid as opposed to the X-Wing Fighter that used an artificial R2 substitute.

Downsides? A few. The rear engine extensions broke about as easily as eggshells. Also, while brilliantly conceived, the landing gear mechanism suffered from poor construction. Kenner tended to use plastic throughout their vehicles, even where a little metal would’ve really hit the spot. So even back in the day the wings of the Emperor’s Shuttle, the wings of the X-Wings, and the landing gear on this lovely Y-Wing all tended to stop doing what they were supposed to do once that plastic gave out.

The Y-Wing has one other peculiar design flaw. You see, the vehicle’s hull is put together kind of like a sandwich. There’s a top half and a lower half and when screwed together they keep in all the good stuff that controls the landing gear and electronics. What’s troublesome is that some of the decals need to go over the seam between the top and bottom halves, so that if you ever needed to open that sucker up you’d actually have to tear or otherwise remove the decals. As far as I know it’s the only vintage Kenner vehicle that can boast this.

So there you have it.

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The 2nd Annual Photo Contest Winner!

'An Evening with Ewoks' by Chiktabba.  France.

‘An Evening with Ewoks’ by Chiktabba. France.

Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

Congratulations to Chiktabba of Paris, France, for the landslide win! It’s a great achievement and one that’s clearly deserved. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that this photo is one of my favorite vintage action figure pics of all time.

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The 2nd Annual Photo Contest Finalists are Here.

The call was made and the call was answered! My profound thanks to all that entered this year’s contest. I’m proud to know that I inspired each of you to show off your own vision of vintage Star Wars love. And whether or not you made it to this stage: keep up the great work.

So it gives me great pleasure to present the eight finalists below. Please take some time to enjoy them and then register a vote for your favorite using the ballot at the bottom of this post. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section as well.

Voting in this contest ended Friday, February 8, 2013.

'Arrival on the Death Star' by Madezra.  New Zealand.

‘Arrival on the Death Star’ by Madezra
~ New Zealand ~

Ready for Action by Dennis (maniac79).  Germany.

‘Ready for Action’ by Dennis (maniac79)
~ Germany ~

'The Encounter' by Wbobafett.  Germany.

‘The Encounter’ by Wbobafett
~ Germany ~

'An Evening with the Ewoks' by Chiktabba.  France.

‘An Evening with the Ewoks’ by Chiktabba
~ France ~

'Supper Time' by Mr_Corvelay.  Sweden.

‘Supper Time’ by Mr_Corvelay
~ Sweden ~

'Twin Sons of Tattooine' by Skip. United States of America.

‘Twin Sons of Tattooine’ by Skip
~ United States of America ~

'Action Figures Sold Separately' by r2witco<br>~ United States of America ~

‘Action Figures Sold Separately’ by r2witco
~ United States of America ~

'Black Wampa Rises!' by Dr. Dengar~ The Netherlands ~

‘Black Wampa Rises!’ by Dr. Dengar
~ The Netherlands ~

They’ve done their hard work, now it’s time for you to do yours: pick a favorite. Good luck with that, ’cause I sure can’t decide. Please don’t forget the winner walks with a vintage 1983 Emperor’s Royal Guard, still sealed to his original card. Fate is in your hands my friend!


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X-Wing Pilots.

X-Wing Pilots. (Vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot)

X-Wing Pilots. (Vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot)

Would someone please wake me when it’s 1978 again?

Buying Notes on the Vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot

Check out the current vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot listings here.

Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot was a toy sold by Kenner from 1978 to about 1985. So there were (and still are) great numbers in circulation, and a fair number of these are still in excellent shape. But keep a few things in mind when tracking one down on eBay.

The Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot action figure probably had more paint applied to it in the production process than any other vintage Star Wars action figure. Face color, facial features, helmet details, vest, chest panel, hands, leg straps, boots. The guy has paint details everywhere. Be sure to see plenty of photos showing that the paint all looks good.

This was an action figure in the true sense of the word. Luke Skwyalker X-Wing Pilot was played with extensively by little kids in the 70s and 80s. If the seller hasn’t already declared that the joints are tight in the auction description, you definitely want to ask before bidding.

Lastly, the figure’s weapon is the Han Solo pistol type of Kenner blaster. Don’t forget: repro accessories suck. Make certain that it’s authentic if possible. You can check out the Imperial Gunnery for some excellent reference on the topic.

Feel free to add any more thoughts on this in the comments section and drop me a line if you get into trouble!

Check out the current vintage Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot listings here.

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Walking Wookiee Down the Hall.

Walking Wookiee Down The Hall. (Vintage Stormtroopers, Vintage Chewbacca)

Walking Wookiee Down The Hall.
(Vintage Stormtroopers, Vintage Chewbacca)

Happy New Year to all the passionate followers of this blog. You know who you are. Messing around with all these wonderful toys is fun, but it’s your involvement and encouraging words that really make it worthwhile. So a profound ‘thanks for coming around’ is definitely in order. With your support I vow to keep at it ’til the wheels come off!

From the bottom of my heart: to all a happy, safe, and prosperous 2013. Cheers everyone!

Buying Notes on the Vintage Stormtrooper

Check out the current vintage Stormtrooper listings here.

The vintage Stormtrooper is among the most iconic of the vintage Kenner figures. The good news is they’re plentiful and you can pull a gorgeous, like-new one off the auction table for not much dough. Certainly no more than $15 delivered. But you’ve got to be a bit careful as you go.

First it’s common to see reproduction accessories. The vintage Stormie came with a beautiful little imperial blaster that helped him shoot up jawas and rebels alike. But small and fun often equals small and lost. Enter the repro accessory makers and with them a lot of confusion on how to keep things straight. How to tell? Thanks to the good guys over at Imperial Gunnery, this is a nut easily cracked. Check out their awesome guide first before you buy something your unsure of.

Second, take a good look at the photos to spot yellowing. The vintage figures molded in white plastic are the ones most prone to a change in color due to plastic degradation. Some are yellowing and some aren’t, just keep a keen eye on what the seller is showing you and ask for more or better photos if its unclear.

And lastly be sure to inquire on whether or not the figure has loose joints or not. Stormtroopers saw a lot of play in their day and the limbs became loose quickly. If this is important to you (it’s important to me) drop the seller a line through the eBay message system before bidding.

Feel free to add any thoughts in the comments and drop me a line if you run into any trouble!

Check out the current vintage Stormtrooper listings here.

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Dark Side of the Vader.

Dark Side of the Vader. (Vintage Darth Vader, Vintage Darth Vader's Tie Fighter)

Dark Side of the Vader. (Vintage Darth Vader, Vintage Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter)

I normally don’t do grainy and obscure for these action figure shots, I’m more of the crisp and shimmering guy. But who’s more deserving of this treatment than Darth Vader?

Casting him in this light helps to underscore what’s been at stake from the very beginning: Darth Vader is not a Saturday morning, fall-on-his-ass-for-a-gag type of villain. He is frightening.

For better or worse (well definitely worse) we seem to be losing sight of that. Darth Vader can now be seen breakdancing at Disneyland and shilling for Volkswagen at the Super Bowl. Oh, how I long for the day when my worst nightmare couldn’t be so easily swapped with the likes of Ronald McDonald or Mickey Mouse!

[Longtime fans of this site will recognize that this is a companion piece to the Tie Fighter interior shot from a couple years back.]

Buying Notes on Vintage Darth Vader

Check out the current vintage Darth Vader listings here.

A nice vintage Darth Vader action figure is pretty much the alpha and omega of any collection. This is true for the beginner and advanced collector alike. A classic toy reaching back to 1978, the vintage Darth Vader has spun countless revisions and imitations but really has never been improved upon.

So I can’t blame you for thinking about picking one up. But because this item is so popular, it can be rough seas acquiring a good (and authentic) example for a reasonable price. Let’s go over some of the main points to consider before pulling the trigger on a vintage Darth Vader.

Once you’re on board at eBay the first thing you’ll notice is that the key words “Darth Vader” are used and abused ad nauseum to get your attention to buy other stuff. Don’t be discouraged and whatever you do don’t be distracted or tricked into buying something else. Your eyes will quickly learn to ignore all of the nonsense and aim strictly for the vintage gold. The links I’ve provided already do it to some extent, but you may also want to play around with the search engine’s advanced function on eBay to filter out the unhelpful stuff. Be especially aware of the new Hasbro toys labelled as “Vintage Collection”, “Original Trilogy”, etc. Their packaging is cleverly retro and aims to steer the newcomer off course.

Important to keep in mind with the vintage Darth Vader is that you’ve got two accessories to contend with: the vinyl cape and the light saber. Both were easily lost and/or damaged by their original owners so it’s common to see reproductions in the marketplace being passed off as original. There are excellent resources to read through at the Imperial Gunnery forum that will help you avoid pitfalls. Read them carefully. Go here for the light saber and here for the cape. This is also a good time to correlate a seller’s claims of authenticity with their feedback score. Have they sold a ton of toys? Do they score 100% with their buyers? If not, you can think twice about believing their claims. Don’t forget to double check the photos closely. Does the cape look torn anywhere? Do the arm-holes look distressed or sharp? How about that saber tip. Does it look straight and strong or does it like a toddler might have chomped on it for a snack once or twice?

As much as any other vintage figure, Darth Vader was a character that saw heavy play at the hands of us grubby kids in the 70s and 80s. If it’s not mentioned in the auction be sure to ask the seller in a message if the figure’s limbs and head are loose or stiff. Let the loose limbed Vaders go to the diorama builders. You want the guy that’s as close to package fresh as possible. The vintage Darth Vader had very little paint applied by Kenner so not much to worry about there. And chances are if you’re buying a figure with loose limbs there won’t be paint loss.

Feel free to add any thoughts in the comments and drop me a line if you run into any trouble!

Check out the current Darth Vader listings here.

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Vehicle of Choice.

Vehicle of Choice. (Vintage Landspeeder, Vintage C-3PO, Vintage Ben Obi Wan Kenobi)

Vehicle of Choice. (Vintage Landspeeder, Vintage C-3PO, Vintage Ben Obi Wan Kenobi)

You know, a lot of ink gets spilled about the significance of the first 12 (or 12-back) Star Wars action figures that hit toy store shelves in the Spring of 1978. But rarely given the same respect are the vehicles that were available at the same time.

If you consult the back of a 12-back action figure package you’ll see that Kenner was promoting a Tie Fighter, an X-Wing Fighter, and a Landspeeder. What a feast, right?

Personally I’m not certain that anything more than the Landspeeder was actually available at first. But in truth it was enough. As a kid of 7 years, playing with my new Star Wars guys was a heady experience to be sure. But it was the Landspeeder that provided the glue. With the Landspeeder, the action figures could live out their adventures rolling together as a team, no droid left behind!

Check out the Landspeeder here, slightly abstracted, but ready to whisk Ben and Threepio (you guessed it, 12-backs) into their next cosmic adventure.

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