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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Blues for Snaggletooth.
(Vintage Luke Skywalker, Vintage Blue Snaggletooth, Vintage Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi)
Hands down one of my favorite action figures back in the late ’70s was the short-statured red Snaggletooth. So it’s ironic that it was only about 3 years ago (when I began collecting as an adult) that I first heard about the rare and hallowed blue Snaggletooth.
It goes like this: in the original era of Star Wars action figure collecting information didn’t move in the mercurial manner it does today. If a toy wasn’t on your local shelves or reeling you in through a Saturday morning TV commercial it basically didn’t exist. And given that the blue Snaggletooth (available only in a very short run with a Sears Cantina playset) was neither, you can see how he escaped notice.
I’m glad I’ve got the blue Snaggletooth now. He’s exceptionally cool with his silver moon boots and, despite the hype I was still able to land him for well south of a hundred bucks. But when push comes to shove, it’s his small-fry counterpart that still wins me over.
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Kenobi v. Vader (OTC Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ralph McQuarrie Concept Darth Vader)
Modern Star Wars action figures do have their benefits. Accurate sculpts, articulating limbs, better weapons… trust me, I get it. This Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Original Trilogy Collection is a near bullseye. Everything perfect except for the ridiculously roomy cloak. And with two interchangeable head sculpts, the Ralph McQuarrie Concept Darth Vader is just all kinds of cool.
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Mos Eisley Three. (Vintage Obi Wan Kenobi, Vintage Chewbacca, Vintage Han Solo)
In early 1978 a dozen Star Wars action figures standing at a mighty 3.75″ hit suburban malls across the United States. These three — Ben (Obi Wan) Kenobi, Chewbacca, and Han Solo — were among that posse that led the way. Mind you I was only 7 years old at the time. Still, when I first caught wind of these little guys it felt like 40 years lost in the desert had finally come to an end. Salvation had arrived at $1.99 a pop.
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