Star Wars toys - my Rosebud

Last updated 11:47 10/08/2012

OK, just to warn you, a 35-year-old geek is about to wax lyrical about his old Star Wars toys.

I watched The Empire Strikes Back on Blu Ray at the weekend. It was awesome. If you haven't seen Star Wars on Blu Ray yet, I suggest you do. They are stunningly crisp and detailed. The sound will blow you away as well.

But the film reminded me of the Star Wars toys I had as a boy. My collection of Star Wars toys is my Rosebud. They were my proudest possessions, but somehow my mother persuaded me to give them away to some local kids once I outgrew them. I was a willing participant at the time, but have since painted this incident as an injustice of Dickensian proportions. I often jokingly accuse my mother of "stealing" my Star Wars toys and giving them away. Oh, the injustice!

This wrong was only recently put right, when, at the age of 30, I purchased a vintage Millennium Falcon on TradeMe. It is hanging on the wall above me as I write. Do you think Charles Foster Kane hung Rosebud on the wall and would occasionally glance at it with a sentimental grin? After all, it was still in his possession when he died. When I die, will my final words be: "Millennium Falcon"? I hope not, the Essex Princess would kill me.

To get some idea of how exciting Star Wars toys were in the 1970s and 80s, watch this vintage TV ad. Also, check out the slightly squibbly sound that is synonymous with the video era:


But, injustice and excitement aside, when watching Empire I was struck by how they made sure the vintage Star Wars toys were true to the film.

The best example is that the toy version of the tauntaun, the animal they ride around on the ice planet Hoth at the opening of Empire, had an "open belly rescue feature" so you could thrust your Luke Skywalker figure inside the animal, so to speak. Just like in the movie! They were so proud of the "open belly rescue feature" that it is written on the box twice and there is a picture demonstrating its genius:


Open Belly Rescue Feature would make a good band name.

Later in the film, C3PO has been blown to pieces and Chewbacca tries to puts him back together. You know, the bit where Chewbacca gets all Hamlet:


Chewie eventually fixes C3PO and carries him round in a bag on his bag. Well, you could do exactly that with the Star Wars figures. Just like in the movie! The C3PO figure had detachable limbs and a little carry bag that would fit snugly over the Chewbacca figure's shoulders. It was like one of those smug reusable shopping bags that will one day save the world. Here it is:


These were frivolous little bits of plastic, but the care and attention that was paid to their design was clear. It was cool that you could put Mark Hamill inside a dead animal in the comfort of your home.

Critics dismiss the toys as commercial dross that cheapened cinema, but for many children they were a way to commune with the films they love. It was a welcome extension of the movie universe, not a cheapening.

Do you remember these toys? What was your favourite? Did you have an AT-AT walker? How long did it take you to lose Han's tiny, tiny blaster? Do you remember the Princess Leia bounty hunter figure with the rubber helmet? Okay, I'll stop now.

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HDubNZ   #1   12:05 pm Aug 10 2012

My favourite of course was the original R2D2 and C3P0.

My second favourite was Luke Skywalker from Empire Strikes Back in Bespin Fatigues ie. what he was wearing after leaving Dagoba and prior to his first battle with Darth Vader. Loved that figure.

Ash   #2   12:13 pm Aug 10 2012

Do I remember these toys, I still have them and have aquired many many more over the years, 100's if not 1000's now. The first figure I got was Yoda and Luke so Luke could carry Yoda around, then had to get a Darth and Stormtrooper for them to have someone to beat up. :-)

Niri Tacen   #3   12:21 pm Aug 10 2012

I always wondered what Chewie said when he was holding C3PO's head.

"Alas, poor 3PO, I knew him Han. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."

Every time I watch Star Wars, I am now going to replace Chewie's vocals with pieces of Shakespeare dialogue, in much the same way I replace R2D2's with sweary-geordie speak.

C-3PO: We're doomed.

R2D2: Beepbippleboop. ("Of course we're doomed. We're in the f***ing desert, and it's not one of the ones with oil.")

bjammin   #4   12:41 pm Aug 10 2012

At the library the other day, I saw a Hayes Technical Spec manual for the Millenium Falcon. With technical drawings and everything.

I got it out. I'm 41. And anyone laughing at me can just shut up.

John A   #5   02:26 pm Aug 10 2012

Really looking forward to this game when it comes out. They even got the original models to make sure they got the scale right:

Do you remember these toys?

Oh yes, I wasn't a fan boy though so figures have lost most of their weapons and accoutrements.

What was your favourite?

My favourite was probably Luke in his X-Wing outfit.

How long did it take you to lose Han's tiny, tiny blaster?

Not long at all...

Do you remember the Princess Leia bounty hunter figure with the rubber helmet?

Wow I don't think I saw that one, certainly didn't have it.

Chris   #6   02:40 pm Aug 10 2012

I had them all, from the first time round. Only sold them on Trademe 2 years ago - fully boxed in the case of the craft. I had 2 speed-bikes that had an explode button, breaking them up and a 600mm long Rebel Transporter that could carry fifty or more figures. My favourite, though, was a rebel snowspeeder (the ones they used to tie up the At-At legs in 'Empire', which even had light and sound lazer cannons. they were great, but unfortunately they had to go!

T   #7   03:18 pm Aug 10 2012

I've recently begun collecting Star Wars figures (most acquired from a friend selling off his collection). Alas, I wasn't even a twinkle in my mothers eye when Star Wars was released. That makes you all feel old, doesn't it? Sorry. I've got a massive Millenium Falcon that lights up and makes noise and fits my figures in it. I just wish I had room to display it properly!

Dr Zoidberg   #8   03:28 pm Aug 10 2012

I had an Atari gaming machine from the 80s, the one with Pacman, Asteroid etc, in catridge form. I kept that safely in a cupboard at my Mum's house, knowing that one day I would want to play with it again. Went to find it the other day - gone. Thrown away. Crazy.

Paul B   #9   04:34 pm Aug 10 2012

I still have an AT-AT and a snowspeeder (which was always annoyingly out of scale with the AT-AT), a Slave 1, Darth Vader's Tie Fighter, Tie-Interceptor and an X-Wing (complete with Dagobah Battle Damage for all those who care!). Funnily enough I actually still have the Millennium Falcon - complete with a Han and Chewie in the cockpit - sad for a 40 year old, I know - but I just couldn't part with it. Out of the 300 figures I had as a child (and under similar circumstances 'gave' them away) these are pretty much the only figures I have left. I also have a very tatty R2D2, which was my first action figure bought for me by my father long before I even knew what Star Wars actually was. I also have a Boba Fett, who still remains the coolest part of my work desk paraphernalia. Alas no original boxes, but hey... great memories non-the-less!

Ben Lane   #10   04:48 pm Aug 10 2012

Aside from a replica General Lee or KITT, my childhood desire at age 4 or 5 was to have a Luke Skywalker with a green lightsaber as I had been fortunate enough to see ROTJ on the big screen (the others were released when I was too young to understand them) and was fascinated by this glowing green sword.

My mother searched all the department stores and toy shops in the area for a good portion of 1983 until she finally came across a Luke Skywalker in Bespin Fatigues from ESB... with an oddball YELLOW lightsaber. I was stoked, but it quickly turned to shame when all the local kids mocked me for having a 'weird' Luke figure and I was excluded from the SW figure games the neighbourhood kids staged.

*kids = mean!*

However, when my father spied a Jedi Knight robbed Luke in a Hamilton store on a business trip, he snapped it up and I became the only kid in my steet with the best Luke figure ever made, complete with green saber.

29 years later, I still own this figure, and his three accessories - the brown cloak, grey Palace Blaster (such a cool looking pistol) and the boss of all gear - the green saber. Probaly still in 7/10 condition and I am thankful to my dad for storing the weapons away in a matchbox in his drawer for years for fear of loss .. which were promptly discovered again when he remodelled the house in 2010. Currently on display in my nerd-station bookshelf which also houses MASK vehicles, Captain Power (remember that show?!) figures, Voltron Lions and a boxed Ultra Magnus figure.

Poor Bespin Luke was lost the sands of time though...

Yes, I am a manchild.

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