Monday, December 31, 2007

Twin-Pod Cloud Car (ESB)

Have you ever seen a more stunning vision of orangish-red? The Twin-Pod Cloud Car is a marvel of crimson engineering, and one of those few vehicles that seemed a little "off" if you didn't actually have more than one figure in it.

The Cloud Car is a rather sedate vehicle compared to others - no moving parts, no obvious guns, no playset-like bigness. It's like a flying peapod. The picture on the box is humorous because it is open to interpretation. Are the guards chastising Luke for stealing a Cloud Car? Is the crumbly white stuff it's on supposed to be ice, as in Hoth, or did Kenner take the name literally and mean it to be a cloud? To top it off, where's the Cloud Car pilot? They made one - was it not in time to get on the box?

The Cloud Car has two cockpits for figures, built-in guns (look closely on the fuselage, they're there), and landing struts that come down. However, it is unclear from other sources whether the Car floated on repulsorlifts when it was at rest and the struts may have just been something for the toy.

Why should you own this vehicle? Five reasons:

1. If you own the Cloud Car Pilot you must, or else his existence is for naught.

2. You have to own something that dared fire a warning shot by the Millennium Falcon.

3. That color! Where else can you see that besides the Maximillian robot from The Black Hole?

4. Probably the easiest Star Wars vehicle to hold - like having a built-in handle.

5. There's something strangely phallic about it...


The Storm IV Twin-Pod Cloud Car was built by Bespin Motors right in Cloud City. This explains the coloring, since it was made for atmospheric defense, and the color blends in nicely with Bespin clouds. It has central ion engine block for thrust, and mainly repulsorlifts for maneuverability. After the Empire occupied Bespin, the Cloud Car was sold to outside markets, and its design was also copied by other markets. It sported two small, but powerful, blaster cannons, and the twin cockpits allowed for a pilot and a gunner.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Squid Head (ROTJ 1983-84)

Now, even being a minor character - in the film, very minor - you have to admit that the action figure for Squid Head is actually pretty well done. The head, the bulky hands, the figure-trimming metal corset (or whatever the heck that thing is).

Squid Head comes with a blaster pistol that is grey, but is the same mold as used for the Lando and Bespin Guard figures. Squidee (as his friends call him) was only released on a ROTJ card, but was one of the first ROTJ figs released. Squid Head had some nice cloth robes, and the metal "corset" could be removed.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. As therapy reference for those things that used to abduct you at night.

2. The best representation of a squid in head form...ever.

3. Again, as said many times before, your Jabba diorama is not complete without this figure. At least until your girlfriend makes you take it down.

4. C'mon - the name? So ridiculous you have to get him.

5. The patron figure of accountants (see below).


Squid Head is a Quarren called Tessek. Quarrens actually originate from the same planet as Calamarians (Admiral Ackbar), Mon Calamari. Tessek had to flee his homeworld after an Imperial invasion. He ended up as an accountant for Jabba, and, like many of his acquaintances, planned the Hutt's death. He didn't get the chance to kill Jabba, but he did manage to escape the sand barge just in time.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weequay (ROTJ 1983-84)

That George Hamilton-like leathery skin and tan? It must be a Weequay! Seriously, no other figure so epitomizes a Hutt guard. Except maybe a Barada. Or a Nikto. Well, a Klaatu too. Oh yeah, Gamorrean Guard has “guard” in the name. Okay, so that theory is shot to hell.

Weequay is another Jabba palace regular, and more fodder for Luke and the gang’s escape from Jabba’s clutches. It comes with a force pike, the same one used to prod Luke off the end of the gangplank on the skiff. That was Weequay’s shining moment. Well, that, and screaming on the way down to the Sarlacc pit. Weequay only came on a ROTJ card.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. When you make your Sarlacc pit, you’re going to need a lot of figure fodder.
2. That tan wrinkled skin, the raggedy braids. Clearly this figure is vying for your attention.
3. If you were one of the lucky few to actually own a toy Skiff, you needed Weequay just for that gangplank moment.
4. No Jabba diorama would be complete without him.
5. Your chance to practice getting that Sarlacc-plunge-scream juuuuuuuust right.


Weequays comes from the planet or Sriluur, a hostile desert planet, explaining their leathery skin and more hooded eyes. Because of Sriluur’s proximity to Hutt space, many Weequays hire themselves out as mercenaries to Hutt factions.

Weequay society is very tribal, and members can communicate through pheromones, but not to members of a different tribe. Members are often so into the tribe they simply refer to themselves as their race rather than by name. Males have hair, which they braid for every year they are off-planet, and females are usually bald. They had two gods, one of which was Quay the moon god. Their race’s name literally means “follower of Quay.”

Weequays are found throughout the galaxy – working for Hutts, as bounty hunters, or even as Jedi in the Clone Wars.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sand People (SW 1978-79)

This figure represents a case of blatant false advertising, since it says “Sand People” and there is clearly only one Sand Person in the package. I’m still waiting for my lawsuit to make it through the courts.

I figured we would go with a Sand Person next because it’s another Tatooine denizen, and a close-cousin to the Jawa. A Sand Person came with a gaffi stick as an accessory (you know, where he stood over Luke and shook it in the air), and a vinyl cape already on. A known variation of the figure is hollow and solid face tubes right below the eyes. The Sand People figure was one of the original twelve, the first wave, and came on SW, ESB, and ROTJ cards. Its name was changed by the ROTJ card to read “Tusken Raider (Sand People).”

As a kid, this was always my WTF character, as in WTF was it? Yes, I knew it was a Sand Person, but it was kind of scary looking and I just didn’t like it. If there was ever a character that gave me the creeps (as much as the Star Wars movies did) it was the Sand Person. I don’t know what it was, but it might have been because the 18-minute Super 8 version we had of the first movie featured it prominently. Who knows?

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. Give that whiny Luke figure the beatdown he deserves.
2. Have it ride a Bantha, oh wait, that’s right. They never made one for the original line. But they made a frickin’ dewback!
3. Wait until C-3PO with removable arms comes out. Remove said arms. Raise gaffi stick in triumph.
4. Probably the closest you come to a post-apocalyptic “Road Warrior” type figure from Star Wars.
5. Combine it with your newer figures and, voila, Anakin Sand People Slaughter!


Sand People were an offshoot of a people indigenous to Tatooine for millennia. When a global disaster struck the planet, this civilization eventually evolved into Sand People and Jawas. Much later in their history, after a series of raids which forced out the colonists in the town of Fort Tusken, the Sand People became known as Tusken Raiders.

Unlike the Jawas, Sand People disregarded most technology. For attack and defense they used gaffi sticks, or gaderffii. They do occasionally gather enough metal scrap to make rifles, however. These can be seen in SW and Episode I. Sand People stay covered from head to toe to keep in moisture and protect them from the harsh desert climate. They roam in small tribes, and domesticate native banthas for transportation. Like the Jawas, they subsist mainly on native hubba gourds for nutrition and hydration.

About the only things that Sand People truly fear are krayt dragons, a large carnivore indigenous to Tatooine. In fact, the howl that Obi-wan makes in the first movie to scare the Sand People was a krayt dragon roar. The skeleton that C-3PO passes in the desert was that of a krayt dragon (the prop of which was left there and is still there today).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jawa (SW 1978-79)

Can’t trust a Jawa. Those beady eyes. Always after your ipod. The gun that looks like part of a muffler. Actually, did you ever see that scene in John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” where Kurt Russell uses the hot end of that flamethrower testing people’s blood? Yeah, the gun looks like that, only without a backpack. But that is neither here nor there.

The Jawa came with a “blaster pistol,” which was really more of a portable ion gun to neutralize machinery. It’s the same one used on R2 to take him down in the first movie. The gun looks like it has been warn down, but it is really lacking any good detail. Most Jawa figures also came with a cloth cape, but the earliest release had a vinyl cape, making it pretty rare. Underneath the cape on the figure itself is printed bandoliers (which were actually over the cape in the movies). The Jawa came on a SW, ESB, ROTJ, and POTF card. It was one of the original “12-back” figures. I have two left to do from the 12 – can you figure out which ones?

I have said this before and I’ll say it again, I was always miffed by the short figures when I was a kid. They seemed like such a rip off. At least when they came out with Jawas in the 1990’s line they made it a two-pack. No cloth cape though. The Jawas afforded a special place of honor as both the Remote-Controlled Sandcrawler and the Land of the Jawas Playset was made with them in mind.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. Finally figure out what’s underneath that hood. Ah-hah … wait … damnit!
2. Line up three and turn on your recording of the Lollipop Guild song from The Wizard of Oz.
3. Cloth cape = Jawa strip tease.
4. Get a heap of them and re-enact that little Jawa bonfire C-3PO and Obi-Wan got going.
5. Addendum to number 4: re-enact the missing scene where the Stormtroopers fight the Jawas. Sure, they can take out a sandcrawler full of Jawas, but they can’t take out some frickin’ Ewoks? The Empire deserved to die.

Jawas are native to Tatooine, and are very passive compared to other natives such as Tusken Raiders. They are descendants of race that once lived on the very habitable Tatooine, but was mercilessly bombed by a rival race, turning the planet into a desert. The climate change eventually created a divergence in the species: Jawas and Sandpeople.

Jawas live in tribes, scouring the desert for discarded junk and debris from colonists and space. The sandcrawlers they travel in are abandoned ore haulers; left behind when it was realized the ores of Tatooine weren’t worth the cost.

The Jawas were most prominent in capturing the two droids and selling them to Luke and his Uncle Owen. That tribe was killed because of that, but there are many more on the Tatooine landscape.
Their appearance is a mystery, since they wear special cloth strips over their faces to keep in moisture. That, and no one likes their smell.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Land of the Jawas Action Playset (SW) (playset of the week)

While the Land of the Jawas Action Playset was fairly routine for that time (cardboard background, plastic base), what it actually did was leave an enduring legacy. The same plastic base was used again – only changing its color – in not one, but two subsequent playsets: Hoth Ice Planet Adventure Set and Rebel Command Center Adventure Set.

The set came with a sandcrawler cardboard background with a manual figure elevator, a plastic base, and the droids’ escape pod. Molded into the base was a depression to put the pod in, sandcrawler tracks, and a little cave for a Jawa to hide in. You could put the Jawa on a rotating platform on the base and make him “shoot” R2, who fell down because of a little moving panel beneath him. You could put a figure in the elevator, and fit at least two figures in the escape pod. Oddly, enough, the European version of this set released through Palitoy did not include the escape pod. Many a British child went podless. The set only came out in a Star Wars logo box.

Now, while I admire Kenner’s moxie in re-using the base, they couldn’t modify it at all later? Like AT-AT tracks instead of sandcrawler tracks? A cave large enough to hold a wampa? Who knows? The playset itself was good, even though it replicated the elevator in a slightly worse way than the remote-control sandcrawler out at the same time. You could always own both and just use the base with the sandcrawler if you were so disposed. Or anal retentive. You decide.

Why should you own this set? Five reasons:

1. It was actually a neat, cheap little Tatooine playset.
2. Your parents wouldn’t pony up the cash for the remote control sandcrawler. You’ll show them!
3. You can market it to your parents as sister-friendly. “Land of the Jawas” evokes more of a Smurf-feel.
4. Recreate the scene where Stormtroopers stuff Jawa bodies in the cave, until they run out of room and leave them wherever.
5. Recreate the real scene where R2 gets a cap in his ass by a Jawa. Yes, a Jawa. This is the same droid that takes on multiple Mark II Battle Droids in Revenge of the Sith. Man, you’ve gone downhill.


Not much of a backstory, really. You can recreate the scene where R2 gets shot by a Jawa. You can put the droids in the martini-shaker escape pod. You can even set fire to the background as Stromtroopers kill the Jawas (no, don’t really do that). It’s just a playset to enact some Tatooine scenes on. I suppose you could even later use it to have a teenage Anakin ask a Jawa where his mom is…before he then kills a bunch of Tatooine natives.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Early Bird Certificate Package (SW 1977-78)

One of the most brilliant things that George Lucas ever did was to waive certain director payments to him from the first Star Wars film in order to secure the licensing rights to Star Wars for himself. Whether he thought “What the hell?” or what, he is now a very, very, very rich man because of that decision. Kenner, likewise, had a decision to make when they got the toy manufacturing rights to the Star Wars films – what to make? Well, the only things they could get out in time for Christmas 1977 were some Star Wars board games and puzzles (everyone and their mother had one of those puzzles). They couldn’t get the figures out in time, but what they could get out was an empty box. Yes, an empty box.

That empty box was known as the Early Bird Certificate Package. Okay, it wasn’t really empty, but it had no figures. What it had was a certificate to send away for four figures (Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and R2), a display stand (which you couldn’t really use until the figures came), a Star Wars Club membership card, and stickers.

The certificate insured that you would get the four figures, but they came after Christmas, in the first few months of the new year. The first sets included Luke with a double telescoping lightsaber, and Chewbacca’s bowcaster had a greenish hue. The mail-away came with all their accessories and feet pegs so they could stand on the display. There was a recent *kind of* reissue of the Early Bird package that was a Wal-Mart exclusive. The packaging was identical, but the figures are the new editions and much more detailed and realistic.

Why should you get this set? Five reasons:

1. It was the first time you could get any Star Wars figures.
2. In hindsight, this is now worth a lot of money. How much? Well, never mind – you couldn’t afford it. Check Ebay if you’re interested.
3. Stickers! Who doesn’t like stickers?
4. A membership card! Finally, you belong!
5. The ultimate Kenner Star Wars collector’s item. If you think you have everything but don’t have this, you…have…nothing!

Monday, December 24, 2007

TIE Fighter (SW)

It only makes sense that since I did the TIE Pilot yesterday, I would do the actual TIE fighter reasonably soon. Although the Fighter came before the pilot, one movie before to be exact. So I guess the egg came before the chicken – or something like that.

The TIE fighter came in all three boxes, SW, ESB, and ROTJ. However, it initially (and I’m sure many of you can attest to this) came in white. By the time of the ROTJ release, though, the color was changed to more of a navy blue, in keeping with the real color of the ship in the movies. The ROTJ release also came with “battle damage” decals, just like the ROTJ release of the X-Wing. Other changes:
-SW release said “TIE Fighter
-ESB release said “Imperial TIE Fighter” (is there any other kind?)
-ROTJ release said “ ‘Battle-Damaged’ Imperial TIE Fighter Vehicle” (got all that?)

The cockpit opened at the top for one figure. Unfortunately, if you turned it upside-down that figure often fell out (It’s outerspace! Make a locking hatch!). A little light on the front lit up red when you pressed the back panel, which also housed the battery for the light and sound. Two buttons on either side of the cockpit made the wings pop off. Wear it down enough and the wings stay off. The black stripes of the solar panels had to be applied with decals.

Why should you own this vehicle? Five reasons:

1. Frickin’ pop-off wings! No longer do you have to manually destroy your toys!
2. Promotes eco-friendliness with those big solar panels.
3. You can have some nice dogfights – even solo – against an X-Wing.
4. Starting with the first wave of figures, this and the X-Wing were the only vehicles you could fight with. Not like that pacifist landspeeder!
5. The Empire is really pushing toward these over the X-Wings. What could go wrong?

Technically called a TIE/IN Starfighter, they were built by Sienar Fleet Systems, and became a symbol of the Empire’s effectiveness. TIE actually stands for Twin Ion Engine, it means of propulsion (although this explanation never appears on a box from the original Kenner line). It had two powerful lasers below the front of the cockpit.

To increase speed and efficiency, the TIE lacks a hyperdrive and life-support, so pilots had to wear space suits and TIEs had to be in some sort of carrier ship from system to system. It did have an ejection seat, but was not often used to the likelihood of getting destroyed in the craft, and the little time a pilot could survive in their suit alone. The TIE evolved from earlier starfighter designs, some seen in Revenge of the Sith.

For the movies, the TIE fighter was actually inspired by the bow tie shape. They were mainly white in the first movie because blue screen techniques couldn’t have them too blue. This is also why R2’s blue panels always appeared black when in space. By ESB and ROTJ technology had caught up so the FX teams could make them a more navy blue.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

TIE Pilot (ESB 1980-82)

Poor TIE Pilot. This character was featured in the first Star Wars, usually right before getting blown up. Yet, he didn’t get a figure until ESB. Maybe this was a boon, since no TIE Pilot was actually shown during ESB. Yet, those glory-hog Snowtroopers got a lot of face time! Bastards.

The TIE Pilot came on an ESB, then ROTJ card, and came with a blaster pistol that looks a lot like a phaser from the old Star Trek series. His head did not turn, like most of the helmeted Imperial figures, but he still managed to look cool. Like other pilots, he did not get a figure shot but a vehicle shot on the background picture. When will they learn to look at the man and not the machine!?

Now this was a figure that came out a film later then the actual vehicle he was supposed to pilot. This happens again with the AT-ST driver. The least Kenner could have done was made a TIE Bomber (featured in ESB) to come out at the same time. But ooooh, no. They don’t come out with one until 2003, and then they make it a Wal-Mart exclusive. What? I can’t be bothered to get all dressed up to go to a Wal-Mart – who are they kidding? Then again in 2007: a Target exclusive. Well, I really can’t afford clothes to go in there.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. You’ve had the TIE Fighter since it came out – finally get a pilot! Then crash it.
2. Helmet. Imperial. Automatically cool.
3. The man in black, who takes no flack. Oh, yeaaaaaah.
4. Show that frickin’ upstart from Tatooine who’s boss. Oh, wait, his X-Wing has shields. My bad.
5. It’s really hard for one person to hold both the Falcon and a TIE Fighter at the same time to have a dog fight. Why not just fly the figures around instead. It’s like the same thing! Right?

Only ten percent of recruits that joined the TIE pilot program actually made it into the TIE fighter corp. Others were dispersed to do other military functions. TIE pilots had a full life-support system uniform, because TIE fighters didn’t actually have life-support. Unlike a ship such as an X-Wing, TIEs were ferried to their location by a supporting ship, like a Star Destroyer, so their actual flying time tended to be short. However, if they were shot down, their survival tended to be minimal, thus they were normally not given personal weapons or rations.

In the subsequent novels, there were a couple of TIE pilots that got a few pages, Baron Soontir Fel, and a TIE pilot that crashed during the original Battle of Yavin. He was discovered years later by Han and Leia’s kids when Luke founded a Jedi Academy on Yavin.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wicket W. Warrick (ROTJ 1983-84)

Wicket is, in my humble opinion, the worst deal for your money in the history of Star Wars figures. Why? It is the smallest, and for an accessory we just get the one little spear he poked Leia with (not in the Biblical sense). If you picked this card up by the back you might not even realize it had a figure attached – that’s how small it is. This is the only figure that needed a magnifying glass instead of a coin in the POTF line.

Wicket, the Ewok that inexplicably comes with three names, came on an ROTJ and a POTF card. The ROTJ card came in two variations: spear on right and spear on left.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. Despite its miniscule size, its arms and legs are still articulated.
2. It is a very accurate figure compared to the character.
3. Your dog chewed your other figures, but he swallowed this one. Wait, is that a plus?
4. Finally, a figure that can fit in your “fifth” jeans pocket. And get lost in there.
5. When you rigged the Ewok catapult for full launch capability, Wicket went the farthest.


Wicket Wystri Warrick was born to Deej (father) and Shodu (mother) in Bright Tree Village. His close friends were Kneesaa, Teebo, and Latara. He was probably about 12 years old when Empire built the second death star over his home planet of Endor. Prior to that time he had many adventures with his friends in the wilds of Endor (as shown in the Ewok animated series and the two Ewok movies). During ROTJ he befriended Leia and helped the Rebellion defeat the Empire. After ROTJ Wicket eventually married Kneesaa and succeeded Chief Chirpa as head of the village.

In the movie he was played by Warwick Davis, who went on to play him in the two Ewok movies. He also starred in another Lucas film, Willow. Wicket was originally supposed to be played by Kenny Baker, but he was sick that day. Baker then played Paploo, the one that stole the speeder bike.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Zuckuss (ESB 1980-82)

Zuckuss’s actual name is 4-LOM, since he is the droid and Zuckuss is the alien bounty hunter. This was mixed up in the original Kenner line (as stated in my last post) but corrected in subsequent lines and literature. The figure has a gun-metal gray finish, but the actual character is more of a navy blue with orange rusty highlights.

Zuckuss came with a rather large blaster rifle, and his body was very similar to C-3PO’s, aside from his insectoid head. He came on ESB and ROTJ cardbacks.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. As stated before, you must have all the bounty hunters. This is a coolness imperative.

2. He just looks like a badass with those glaring bug eyes.

3. Droids with guns are cool. Death Star Droid? Not so much.

4. Create your own scene where you finally figure who is the better droid bounty hunter: Zuckuss or IG-88?

5. All your non-geek friends will wonder who in the hell this is. All you geek friends will simply appreciate you for it.


4-LOM (as I will now correctly call him) was built by Industrial Automaton, who ripped off many of its design elements from Cybot Galactica’s 3PO series. 4-LOM’s earliest posting was on a luxury liner working as a cabin steward. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that the best way to protect passenger’s valuables was to take them himself. After modifying his own programming, he made crime more enjoyable, and after falling into the employ of Jabba the Hutt, started work as a bounty hunter.

He partnered with Zuckuss many time on bounties, the two becoming friends. After the Battle of Hoth, the two became Rebels for awhile, but eventually went back to bounty hunting after being almost destroyed by Boba Fett.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

4-LOM (ESB 1980-82)

Another bounty hunter! Although they got very little screen time in ESB, bounty hunters are just so damn popular. So popular, that in later years (after the original Kenner line) Hasbro came out with a full bounty hunter pack, even though Boba Fett is really the only one of consequence in the original films.

4-LOM and Zuckuss got their names mixed around in the original line - this has since been corrected in later lines. The one pictured here is actually Zuckuss, an alien. The one premiering tomorrow is the more appropriately named droid, 4-LOM.

This figure came with a unique blaster, and on an ESB and ROTJ card. His "robe" is made of a leathery material that is unlike anything found on other figures. Over that is a vest/backup combo which is part of the alien's survival suit.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. How often do you get the chance to own an actual bug-eyed alien?

2. That pleather robe makes me...feel kinda funny.

3. Two words: Bounty. Hunter.

4. Give it up for the shortest bounty hunter out there (excepting the late Boussh).

5. You have to feel sorry for the guy - they got his name wrong.


Zuckuss (as I will correctly call him) was a "findsman" and a native ammonia-breathing Gand. After the arrival of the Empire to his home planet he went off-world and found work as a bounty hunter due to his uncanny ability to find people (he was partially Force-sensitive). He was often forced to wear a containment suit while working in oxygen-based atmospheres, such as Vader's ship. He also was a schizophrenic with multiple-personality disorder, each personality able to speak a different dialect entirely.

Zuckuss eventually teamed with the droid 4-LOM, and they enjoyed a successful hunting career. During the Battle of Hoth, they rescued some Rebels in an attempt to infiltrate the Rebellion and gain access to Han Solo. Zuckuss, however, was in critical shape due to a previous lung injury. The Rebels befriended him, game him new lungs, and he an 4-LOM joined the Rebellion for a time. He later went back to bounty hunting, and eventually landed in a Coruscant jail.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Imperial Troop Transport (SW) (vehicle of the mid-week)

The Imperial Troop Transport was the first vehicle to be introduced that was *kind of* not seen in the films. I say *kind of* (love those asterisks!) because the Rebels did use a similar vehicle on both Yavin and Hoth that was briefly seen in SW and ESB. Granted, it's completely plausible that it was a generic vehicle in the Star Wars universe and both sides could have been using these, but Imperial use is never shown in the film.

The Imperial Troop Transport was first released during the first movie. It featured 6 "slots" for figures on the sides, two cockpit spaces that opened out like any car door, and space for two figures in the back prisoner area. It also came with two restraints that inexplicably covered the face and shoulders of the prisoners. Binders may have been a better choice, but considering the variation of figure sizes this might not have been practical.

The niftiest features were the rotating turret cannons on the top, and the six buttons that had more or less authentic sound effects from the film. The six included 2 different gun sounds, a vehicle, R2, C-3PO, and a Stormtrooper.

The vehicle was released again during ESB, but it was renamed Imperial Cruiser, it was a Sears exclusive, some decals were altered, and it lacked the sound effect buttons.

Despite its iffy official canon status, I always liked this vehicle because of the sheer number of figure you could fit in it, the moving guns, the fact you could wheel it instead of having to fly it all over (I was a lazy kid), and the sounds. It was hard to get your little brother to stop playing with the sounds though.

Why should you own this vehicle? Five reasons:

1. Finally, lock some Rebels up. Just a bunch of hippies anyway.

2. A vehicle you could really get going across the linoleum. Granted, you could do this with the Landspeeder, but that only fit 2 people, and had no guns. Daddy likes guns. And it scared your cat.

3. The sound effects were cool, even if it lead me to believe you were only suppose to act out capturing the droids. Wow. What a fight they would have put up.

4. The front is reminiscent of Boba Fett's helmet, who was only a glimmer in George Lucas's eye at the time, so it looks vaguely menacing.

5. It was kind of the figure case before there were figure cases you could play with. Heck, it held 10 figures despite it seeming relatively small.


The Reconnaissance Troop Transporter, as it was officially called, was built by Santhe/Sienar Technologies for the Empire. It used repulsorlifts for levitation and presumably some variation for propulsion. It appeared in several Marvel and Dark Horse Star Wars comics, and is now presumably an official vehicle in the Star Wars universe. When pictured in the comics, the Transport was actually almost exactly identical to the toy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rebel Commander (ESB 1980-82)

The Rebel Commander figure came with a blaster rifle which can be swung over his shoulder, and came on an ESB and ROTJ card. The figure itself, according to The Action Figure Archive, is based on the character that yells "Come on!" after an AT-AT gets tied up and crashes. The guy actually on the picture is a completely different person - no surprise in the original Star Wars line. I mean, look at 4-LOM and Zuckuss - their names were incorrectly given to each other until the corrected 90's line.

Unfortunately for Rebel Commander he wasn't given an actual name, like Commander James Hetfield or something. That would have been cool. Rooooooooock! I always wondered though, why did he yell "Come on!" and run towards the AT-AT? I mean, the rebels were all escaping off planet in the other direction right? If it was for some purpose of getting to the AT-AT, why was it then blown up by a snowspeeder? Mysteries.

Why should you own this figure? Five reasons:

1. The afore-hinted-at James Hetfield mustache (lead singer for Metallica, for those uneducated folk out there). This figure needs an ESP Custom Series M guitar, stat.

2. Finally act out the scene where we find out why the character was running towards the AT-AT: "Free AT-AT! Free AT-AT!" Kapow! "Ah, man..."

3. In the tradition of the "Death Star Commander" figure, rename him "Hoth Trench Commander." Or maybe "Macrobinoculars Commander." Or "C'Mon Guy."

4. Have him rally the Rebel Soldiers in Hoth gear: "Alright men. I know that all the weapons we are holding are completely ineffectual against what's coming at us. I know that our artillery guns do absolutely nothing. I know that I have no idea what we are doing out here since we can't do anything. Ah hell, let's go shoot some wampas instead."

5. Instead of James Hetfield, he could easily be Morgan Spurlock, with his new documentary, "Imperialize Me" where he exposes the outrageous nutritional content of Stormtrooper rations. Many of them then defect toward the more organic "Dagobah Diet."

A Rebel Commander was just another cog in the Rebel forces. A Commander ranked below captain, but strict hierarchies of command rank are sometimes loosely interpreted because of the rag-tag nature of the Rebellion. The Empire, though, whew! I heard they knew how to keep some discipline!

Monday, December 17, 2007

AST-5 (Vehicle of the week) (ROTJ)

The AST-5 (Armored Sentinel Tranport) is one of the many mini-rigs featured in the Kenner Star Wars line. Unlike many of the mini-rigs which took their inspiration from bigger vehicles in the movies (compare the mini sand skiff to the full sand skiff), the AST did not seem to have a larger counterpart. It was also one of the few mini-rigs never to be featured in any Star Wars novel, cartoon, or other media ever again. In fact, forget I ever mentioned it.

Why should you own this vehicle? Five reasons:

1. Because of its odd design, you can easily fool your friends into believing its from any one of a number of different toy line. Just hide the box.

2. It features not one, not two, but three different positions! "Sentry mode" (folded together standing up), "attack mode" (engine at a 90 degree angle), and "pursuit mode" (engine folded behind the cockpit).

3. It inspired today's folding cell phones. Maybe.

4. For those who missed that "just right" shade or red/orange that the Cloud City Pod Car came in.

5. It has two obvious guns, and when folded up it looks like one of the suits of Cobra armor from G.I. Joe... made by the same company...wait a sec.


The only backstory the AST has is provided by the box. It looks like it was used by Jabba's guards. Maybe for chasing down escaped prisoners. Maybe for manning the lifeguard stations at Jabba's private beach. Who knows? All we can suppose is that they kept it off-screen during ROTJ - maybe in the garage.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ROTJ Collections Catalog (1984) p.13-20

Here's the rest of the catalog. We have got some definitely cool vehicles like the Y-Wing and TIE Interceptor, and of course, the Falcon. The B-Wing is definitely cool, the Imperial Shuttle is some miracle of Kenner engineering, and then you have the kiddie stuff. However, in the last page you can sign up for the Star Wars fan club, and get your regular issue of Bantha Tracks!

It is unfortunate that an entire page of this catalog is relegated to stuffed Ewoks - most of which are only marginally different from each other. However, the Jabba Play-Doh set is cool (for you younger sibling), but definitely confusing since Jabba's palace is the more adult scene of the movies.

Why are these pages cool? Five reasons:

1. With the Y-Wing finally being produced, you can complete the Battle of Yavin!

2. The TIE Interceptor and a B-Wing? I've died and gone to heaven!

3. The Imperial Shuttle is the largest (debatable with the AT-AT) vehicle in the Star Wars arsenal. When you lower those wings, the thing is frickin' huge!

4. A Star Wars Fan Club! Not only do you get a newsletter, they send you a patch and a bunch of headshots of the cast. These are all still in my albums with my bubble gum cards.

5. A real-life lightsaber (as far as you know) and a speeder bike scout pistol that actually looked like the real thing.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ROTJ Collections Catalog (1984), p.7-12

Continuing on with our catalog "series," we see mini-rigs, vehicles, and a playset. Now, considering most of the action on Endor took place outside of the village, I question the playset. I mean, why not the bunker? The mini-ris are good, cheap vehicles. Basically, a quick and easy way to extend play value of the line without having to make another Imperial Shuttle - which was as big as yo mama. Now the page 7 accessories were actually featured in the films, the page 8 mini rigs, well, you can always say they existed in the Star Wars universe, just not on screen. The speeder bike and Jabba were a must, but I always thought the Rancor was a little limited in play value.

What's cool about these pages? Five things:

1. The nice set-up picture for the Rancor, and props to making the most gruesome monster from the movies into a figure (minus the Sarlacc).

2. Good or bad, the Ewoks assert themselves here in a big way: 2 vehilce and a playset. How do they rate?

3. The speeder bike - finally kids can pretend to fly something ridiculously fast until they break every lamp in the house.

4. The Ewok playset actually glorifies roasting chracters over a campfire.

5. Return of the Jedi made the Scout Walker cool - unless you were an Imperial. Then you were just Ewok fodder.